BPZOO Participates in National Waterfowl Conservation Efforts

BPZOO Participates in National Waterfowl Conservation Efforts

BPZOO Participates in National Waterfowl Conservation Efforts

3 Trumpeter Swans started the next leg of their journey towards

re-introduction to the wild   

New Bedford, Massachusetts: Any regular visitor to the Buttonwood Park Zoo knows that no trip is complete until they have the opportunity to feed the ducks. Twenty-five cents per handful, these dispensers, perched along the long wooden bridge just inside the Zoo, are playing a major role in waterfowl conservation across North America.

Most recently, BPZOO participated in a comprehensive reintroduction program between Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited zoos, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and The Trumpeter Swan Society, by caring for a trio of young swans from 2021 until early spring 2023. Now fully grown, they were ready to begin the next leg of their journey towards reintroduction – a “soft release” in a protected area in Idaho. During this phase of the program, they will join with other zoo swans to become less habituated to humans and more acclimated to the wild environment. In 2024, the entire flock, or bevy, will be tagged and released in south central Oregon.

Once hunted almost to extinction – by the late 1800’s Oregon had lost all its trumpeter swans – a shift towards conservation and the dedication from so many agencies and facilities has made trumpeter swans a success story in several states where they once flourished long ago.

“BPZOO is proud to have played a role in the saving of this species,” said BPZOO Director Gary Lunsford. “Our participation in this conservation success story was made possible by the generosity of the many, many families over the years who have supported wildlife conservation through their visit to BPZOO.”

In addition to providing funding to waterfowl conservation efforts, BPZOO participates in the AZA’s Species Survival Plan (SSP) for Trumpeter Swans. The goal of the SSP is to cooperatively manage animal populations within AZA accredited zoos to ensure the sustainability of a healthy and genetically diverse population while enhancing the conservation of this species in the wild. The three trumpeter swans who briefly called BPZOO home, will hopefully contribute to a growing bevy in the wild.

Photos courtesy Zoo Idaho
Soiree at the Zoo

Soiree at the Zoo

Have a Wild Night at BPZOO

July 6, 2023

6:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Pictured: Mike Benjamin and the Keepers

Join us on Thursday, July 6th from 6:00 pm until 9:00 pm at the Buttonwood Park Zoo for a magically wild evening of delectable bites, cocktails, encounters with animal residents, our annual “Zoolala” auction, live music and dancing with Mike Benjamin and the Keepers.

Your support of this event helps us provide high-quality educational programs to the community, as well as helps BPZOO maintain a high standard of animal care.

“Take a bid on the wild side” and support the Buttonwood Park Zoological Society as you explore one-of-a-kind experiences, artful creations, unique gifts, and much more.

Your contribution provides critical support for New Bedford’s beloved local zoo. By participating, you protect endangered wildlife, connect our community to nature, and safeguard the sustainability of this treasured organization for generations to come.

Auction will go live at 8:00 am, Thursday, July 6th and close at 9:00 pm during the Soiree. 

Soiree at the Zoo








Thank You to Our Sponsors

Baby Sloth

Baby Sloth


The Buttonwood Park Zoo is proud to announce the birth of a second Hoffman’s two-toed sloth to 13-year-old female Sandy and 21-year-old male Bernardo. This new baby arrived on August 26, 2022 and is thriving under the care of both Sandy and BPZOO staff.

Zoo guests may have spied the new baby during routine, weekly weight checks that allow animal care staff to monitor growth and eventually determine sex, which can be an extremely tricky process in sloths. The baby will cling tightly to its mother’s fur, high in the trees, until it is old enough to begin exploring the habitat. Young sloths remain near their mothers for around a year. Ziggy, who turned one in June, recently moved into “Brazil”, the habitat directly next to “Peru”, to give the new baby a chance to bond with Sandy.

Bernardo, Sandy, big brother Ziggy and baby are four of 77 Hoffman’s two-toed sloths living among 34 facilities accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA). Buttonwood Park Zoo proudly cooperates with AZA members to manage the zoo population of this species through the Species Survival Plan while enhancing the conservation of this species in the wild.

BPZOO’s resident sloths serve as ambassadors for their species. Thanks to the donations made to our Conservation Kiosk, we proudly support The Sloth Institute in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica. Funded 100% by donations, The Sloth Institute works to protect and enhance the welfare and conservation of sloths through education, research, rescue, rehab, and release while also conducting vital research, conservation, and education programs to ensure their survival.

BPZOO offers a daily “Keeper Chat”, an opportunity to learn more about these fascinating, slow-moving animals, at 10:00 am in Rainforests, Rivers & Reefs.

About Hoffman’s Two-toed Sloths

Hoffman’s two-toed sloths, Choloepus hoffmanni, are native to Costa Rica in lower Central America, across Panama, northwestern Colombia and Ecuador, and into portions of Peru, Brazil, and Bolivia. Currently listed as a Least Concern species according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Hoffman’s two-toed sloths do not have any major threats at the global level. However, subpopulations in the northwestern part of its range, especially in Colombia and Central America, are declining due to severe habitat degradation and fragmentation. Wild-caught individuals, especially offspring, are sold as pets to tourists in Colombia. This illegal trade is increasing and represents a cause of concern due to its impact on the wild population. Two-toed sloths may live around 20 years in the wild and over 40 years in a zoological setting. This herbivorous, nocturnal mammal has been exhibited in AZA zoos since 1946.

Red Panda Conservation

Red Panda Conservation


Red pandas are endemic to the Himalayas in Nepal, India, Bhutan, Myanmar (Burma) and southern China. The global red panda population has declined by 50% in 20 years and there may be as few as 2,500 remaining in the wild. Habitat loss is the primary threat, but there is hope for this charismatic species. 

What are we doing to protect this endangered species?

BPZOO is proud to partner with Red Panda Network, the world leader in efforts to protect red pandas and their habitat, as a 2022 Reforestation Sponsor. 

Our most recent donation of $5,000 will support the land purchase, reforestation, and the salary of a local land steward for one hectare of red panda habitat in the Panchthar-Ilam-Taplejung (PIT) corridor in eastern Nepal: a critical location for red panda conservation that has been heavily fragmented and degraded by deforestation.

Red pandas are unique, important and unfortunately endangered. They are a flagship species, meaning their conservation has landscape-level impacts, and like an umbrella, the entire ecoregion — its forests and wildlife — are protected when red pandas are conserved.


In 2019, Buttonwood Park Zoo unveiled its first ever red panda habitat. Since then, thanks to the success of our Conservation Donation Kiosk, we have donated $12,000 to Red Panda Network. Resident red pandas, Jacob and Marie, serve as ambassador for their species and together we will continue to inspire our guests and work to protect wildlife and wild places.


Shown here is land that needs to be restored in Ilam district. The barren land near Jaubari is a major population bottleneck location for red pandas (and other endangered wildlife) in the Panchthar-Ilam-Taplejung (PIT) corridor.

The majority of tree saplings for planting and restoration come from forest conservation nurseries which are being managed by local Community Forest User Groups (CFUGs), livestock herders and local councils. All trees are native species and red panda food species are prioritized.

In addition to restoring critical habitat, our Reforestation Sponsorship provides alternative and sustainable income opportunities for local families.

With our support, the Red Panda Network will be able to establish a bio-bridge that connects the fragmented patches of Community Forest on the Nepal side with the protected areas in India.


Way to go Jacob and Marie! 

Creature Creations

Creature Creations


Join us for Creature Creations, an indoor painting class led by instructor Kathleen Patrick and a zoo educator. This fun program will introduce your child to a featured animal, either inside the classroom or at an animal habitat.

The next program is happening on Sunday, November 20th at 12:30 and 2:30pm.

White-tailed Deer Fawns

White-tailed Deer Fawns

BPZOO’s Herd Grows by Three

The Buttonwood Park Zoo has a long history of providing a home to non-releasable, rehabilitated wildlife and welcomed three female white-tailed deer fawns to its existing herd this summer.

The three young females, or does, came to BPZOO thanks to a strong partnership with the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, or MassWildlife. This is the second time in two years that orphaned fawns have been placed at BPZOO.

BPZOO Director Gary Lunsford is extremely proud of this relationship with MassWildlife, as it appeals directly to his passion for local conservation – especially when it includes rescuing and rehabilitating wildlife.

“I see so much potential for BPZOO to contribute to our local conservation efforts, including providing a forever home when release isn’t an option. Having tangible impacts on the lives of animals is one of the most rewarding outcomes of zoo conservation efforts.”

The three fawns, now affectionately referred to as Annabelle, Acorn, and Thistle, were only weeks old when they arrived at BPZOO and required hand-rearing by animal care staff. After completing their required quarantine, the fawns began exploring their temporary habitat near their future home in the Zoo’s roughly ½ acre pasture. The three youngsters will eventually share that space with fellow white-tailed deer Autumn and Olive and approximately 16 species of waterfowl.

And while this story ends as a happy one, the circumstances under which two of the fawns came into human care could have easily been avoided. MassWildlife offers extensive information on their website about what to do if you encounter a fawn in the area that you believe might be in trouble.

“The number one thing to remember is to leave the fawn where it is,” says Lunsford. “It may look scared, weak, or vulnerable, but it is likely exhibiting typical fawn behaviors. If you have any questions at all, you can visit MassWidlife’s website, or give them a call and let them reassure you.”


According to a post on, if you have briefly interfered with a fawn, there are immediate steps that can be taken to rectify the situation.

“If you have taken a fawn into your care, you should immediately return it to where you found it, or to safer cover nearby (within 200 yards),” the post reads. “Then, quickly leave the area to ensure the fawn doesn’t follow you and so the mother feels safe enough to return. The mother will soon return to nurse the fawn, even after it has been handled by humans.”

About White-tailed Deer 

White-tailed deer can survive in a variety of terrestrial habitats, from the big woods of northern Maine to the deep saw grass and hammock swamps of Florida. Ideal white-tailed deer habitat would contain dense thickets (in which to hide and move about) and edges (which furnish food). White-tailed deer fawns nurse for 8 to 10 weeks before they are weaned. Young males leave their mother after one year, but young females often stay with their mother for two years. Nervous and shy animals, white-tailed deer wave their tails characteristically from side to side when they are startled and fleeing. They are extremely agile and may bound at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour. White-tailed deer are also good swimmers and often enter large streams and lakes to escape predators, insects or to visit islands.