What a summer it's been! With events like Blues at the Zoo, our "For Members Only" tours, Earth Day, Global Bazaar, Zoo Ed-Venture summer camps, weekend giraffe feedings, A Wild Affair and, most recently, the opening of Cat Canyon, it's been a little busy here at the zoo. The Friends added a new trackless train and two more Safari cycles to their fleet this summer, all of which have been incredibly popular! Not to be outdone, the animal collection grew by three otter pups, two red panda cubs, two Trumpeter swan cygnets, an addax, a Goeldi's monkey and three pterodactyls, I mean Hamerkop chicks in the aviary. The stork has been busy! New arrivals from other zoos include four red-ruffed lemurs, three pronghorn fawns not yet on display, a black footed ferret, another addax, four flamingos, a snow leopard, jaguar, bobcat kitten and a cougar, our zoo travel agent has been buried in paperwork, permits, health certificates and travel requests. Plans are in the works to bring in a new species in November for the exhibit previously home to the Pere David deer, as our last aged female passed away a few months ago. And while people don't usually get too excited about hoofstock, I think this new addition will be a pretty cool addition for the zoo. Stay tuned for more details.
All this, and it's only September! With the giant to-do list of preparations and finish work leading up to Cat Canyon's grand opening, it's been challenging to get the word out on other happenings, so here is a quick update. As our Trumpeter swan cygnets neared their anticipated fledging date, staff carefully collected them from the duck pond and began the health tests necessary to ship them to their new home. On Aug. 29, the birds were crated and flown by commercial airline to Oregon. Representatives from the Trumpeter Swan Society met them at the airport and, in conjunction with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, released the nearly flighted juvenile birds into the wild the following day on the waters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The birds were banded so biologists can track them and their migration travels, and when they are old enough to start families of their own, they will return with a mate to the place where they first learned to fly. The release of these and other birds at that location will help to restore this species into areas from which they have disappeared. The zoo is proud to participate in this field conservation program, and we anticipate another clutch of cygnets from our now experienced parents next year.
Our red-ruffed lemur boys are doing great in their new home just west of the aviary, and are a much more lively bunch than our previous group of sweet, but sedate, elderly lemurs. Stop by and say hello, and you may be rewarded with the loud and raucous response of their group alarm call. Who knew these calm and curious creatures could make such noise! And although it is an alarm call, they don't really seem all that concerned about whatever it is that sets them off, so don't worry too much. It is likely that their racket will bring a smile to your face, though.
If you haven't visited Cat Canyon yet, what are you waiting for? The cats are settling in nicely, and the jaguars are very active and curious about the visitors at their viewing window. They especially enjoy interacting with toddler-sized visitors, who they definitely view as tasty morsels. (If only that glass wasn't there!) Our new mountain lion (or cougar or puma, if you prefer) is also active but isn't opposed to a several hour long nap in his new rock cave. We have a little more landscaping and graphics to add, but this great exhibit is now open and waiting for you to come and enjoy it. Don't forget your camera!
Giraffe feeding has wrapped up for the summer season, and the zoo returned to regular 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. hours on the day after Labor Day. This Sunday, we'll be celebrating International Red Panda in Wild Asia from 1 to 4 p.m. It is unlikely the new cubs will be out yet, but 22-year-old Firecracker will be on hand to receive all the accolades for his endangered species! Come for kids' activities and fun! The Friends of the Zoo are gearing up for BOO! At The Zoo on Oct. 19, so if you want to sponsor a treat stop or volunteer, give us a call today. Remember, the zoo will be closed that day for set-up so plan accordingly.
Lastly, for all the kind folks who offered assistance and support in the weeks following the malicious attack on our roadrunner, Elmer, we have set up a fund to purchase a camera surveillance system that will function reliably in the extreme and challenging environment of our aviary (as well as other strategic locations in the zoo). At a cost of about $3,000, the system is not a budgeted expense, but one which we feel is necessary for the safety of the animals, and we would welcome donations of any size to help prevent such senseless activity in the future. Elmer was a favorite of staff and visitors alike, and his absence is strongly felt.
As always, there's still a lot more in the works, but I'll wait to share those items on a more timely basis, but this should catch everyone up on the last couple months of zoo news! Keep the zoo in mind for strolls and jogs and bike rides as you enjoy our changing fall weather!
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