BPZOO Welcomes Three Beaver Kits

BPZOO Welcomes Three Beaver Kits

The Buttonwood Park Zoo is proud to announce the birth of three American beaver babies, known as kits, an exciting addition to the Zoo’s diverse animal population. The kits, born May 16th to first time parents eight-year-old female Wicket and six-year-old male Justin, have already begun exploring their outdoor habitat. Beaver kits are born with their eyes open, their teeth fully erupted and capable of swimming – with one of them testing their skills at only fourteen days old!

BPZOO Veterinarian, Dr. Emmy Budas, examined all three kits on May 31st, determining they were all in good health and at healthy weights. The sex of each kit will be determined at a later date, as it will require an x-ray.

“All three beaver kits are growing at a fast and steady rate, ” reported Dr. Budas. “They have thick fuzzy coats, which helps keep them afloat when learning to swim. They are all beginning to explore eating solid foods, which is beyond adorable to watch. It has been such a joy seeing Wicket and Justin be so caring and attentive to their kits. This little family is definitely a heart-warming sight to see!”

While American beaver populations are stable in the wild, these new arrivals are excellent ambassadors for their species, giving BPZOO the opportunity to showcase the vital role beavers play in our ecosystems.

Acting as nature’s engineers, beavers are known for their extraordinary ability to transform their surroundings through activities such as dam building using sticks, mud, and stones. These dams create ponds and wetlands that support diverse ecosystems, serving as crucial habitats for fish, amphibians, birds, and many plant species, promoting biodiversity. The dams also play a critical role in maintaining water levels in streams and rivers. By trapping sediments and improving water quality, beaver dams contribute to healthier aquatic environments. The wetlands they create also act as carbon sinks, aiding in climate change mitigation. These industrious engineers are known to alter their environment the most compared to any other organism on Earth – except for humans.

Guests to BPZOO may be able to witness these natural dam building behaviors when visiting Wicket, Justin, and the three new kits this summer. Scheduled “Keeper Chats” may be held throughout the summer and provide an opportunity to learn more about beaver behaviors, their environmental impact, and BPZOO’s ongoing conservation efforts alongside them.

The Buttonwood Park Zoo is located at 425 Hawthorn St. in New Bedford and is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, apart from Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. Ticket prices for non-New Bedford Residents are $10 for adults/$6 for children 3-12; Ticket prices for New Bedford Residents are $7.50 for adults/$4.50 for children 3-12. Annual membership passes are also available.

BPZOO Launches Live-Streaming Web Cam

BPZOO Launches Live-Streaming Web Cam

New Bedford, Massachusetts: For the last five years, guests at the Buttonwood Park Zoo have been delighted by the adorable antics of the red pandas that call the Zoo home. Now, thanks to a partnership with local IT company, Micro Technology Solutions, Inc in Fairhaven, those same red pandas are making their mark on the world wide web. Check it out by clicking here.

BPZOO’s “Red Panda Cam”, streaming live on, showcases three red pandas – Jacob, Marie, and Sprout. Jacob has the distinction of being the first red panda at BPZOO and was introduced to the South Coast when his habitat opened in May of 2019. Marie arrived not long after the habitat opening, based on a recommendation as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP). She gave birth to her first cub, Kodo, in 2020, and in 2023 welcomed Pip and Sprout. Kodo, whose name is a Nepalese word for grain, left BPZOO in 2022 on her own breeding recommendation. Pip received a transfer recommendation in April of 2024, leaving Sprout as the only offspring remaining with Jacob and Marie. In the wild, red panda cubs leave their mother once they are self-sufficient. Breeding and transfer plans take into consideration the timeline of when cubs and parents are ready to separate.

Red pandas live in high-altitude temperate forests of Nepal, northeastern India, Bhutan and part of China. Listed as Endangered by the International Union of Conservation of Nature, the global red panda population has declined by 50% over the last 20 years. Primarily threatened by habitat loss, red pandas are also susceptible to climate change, poaching, livestock herding and disease. It is estimated that there are less than 10,000 and as few as 2,500 red pandas remaining in the wild. Currently, there are 219 red pandas at 87 AZA accredited institutions who are working together to save this endangered species.
Primarily bamboo eaters, red pandas need to eat 20-30% of their body weight each day due to the high amount of indigestible fiber present in bamboo. Thanks to the success of the Zoo’s Community Bamboo Program, the red pandas, elephants, and others enjoy various species of bamboo harvested from private landowners throughout the community.
BPZOO is a Partner in Conservation with the Red Panda Network by helping in their campaign to Plant a Red Panda Home in Nepal. Once restored, the critical forest corridor that connects Nepal and India will be part of the Panchthar-Ilam-Taplejung Red Panda Protected Forest in Eastern Nepal: the world’s FIRST protected area dedicated to red panda!

Of course, the adorable threesome can still be viewed in person. The Buttonwood Park Zoo is located at 425 Hawthorn St. in New Bedford and is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, apart from Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. Ticket prices for non-New Bedford Residents are $10 for adults/$6 for children 3-12; Ticket prices for New Bedford Residents are $7.50 for adults/$4.50 for children 3-12. Annual membership passes are also available.

Meet the Pandas!


Jacob arrived in 2018 and has the distinction of being the very first red panda in BPZOO history. Now 7-years old, Jacob is the only male red panda at BPZOO and is easier to distinguish from the others by the significantly redder fur on his face. Jacob can typically be seen draped on upper branches in back part of his habitat or curled up on the highest stump in the center. He is well known among staff for his love of red delicious apples – but do not try to tempt him with macintosh. He will most certainly turn his nose up at them!


Marie arrived at BPZOO in 2019 based on a recommendation as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP). She gave birth to her first cub, Kodo, in 2020 and in 2023 welcomed Pip and Sprout – both whom bare a significant resemblance to her. Marie can be distinguished from her offspring by the more prominent marking on her chin and her slightly rounder face. Marie prefers to hang out by the pine tree in the back corner of her habitat.


Sprout was born at BPZOO on May 27, 2023 along with her sister Pip. Sprout was a hearty newborn who was comfortable following her sister’s lead.  Sprout’s facial markings are similar to Marie’s – she has lighter colored fur with distinct white patches over her eyes. Look for Sprout up high in the perching, towards the center of her habitat – or wherever Marie is – because Sprout is a true Mama’s Girl. Sprout will remain at BPZOO until she receives a  breeding or transfer recommendation from AZA, 

BPZOO Mourns the Loss of Beloved Cougar

BPZOO Mourns the Loss of Beloved Cougar

The Buttonwood Park Zoo is sad to announce that Nikki, a fourteen-year-old female cougar, passed away on February 22nd, 2024, after a period of rapid decline due to end-stage chronic kidney disease.

Orphaned in the wild in Oregon in 2010, Nikki found a forever home at BPZOO alongside Riley, the male cougar she shared a habitat with. Described by team members as willful and stubborn, with a strong sense of what she did and did not want, Nikki held a special place in the hearts of her Zookeepers.

“You knew when she trusted you,” said Katie Harding, a member of the BPZOO’s animal care staff who spent thirteen years working with Nikki. “It wasn’t easy, but when you got there, you knew you were lucky to be part of her circle.”

Being part of that circle meant getting a peek inside her fun, and sometimes quirky, personality through training exercises and enrichment items – finding something that truly amused her could feel like a huge win.

Steph Durette-Medeiros smiled as she remembered watching Nikki explore various enrichment she provided.

“She had a love/hate relationship with large plastic items.  She would go crazy for the blue plastic barrel that was in her habitat with her. She also loved the mirror that was in there, as well as the buoys we used for target training – it brought us a lot of joy to see those natural behaviors come out because of things we made for her.”

It was also special to see the deep bond between Nikki and Riley – BPZOO’s male cougar – who spent their time together either snuggling or playing. At the advanced age of fourteen, Riley also shows signs of kidney disease, but is continuing to participate in treatments.

BPZOO veterinarian and animal care team noticed a change in Nikki over the past few weeks. Her appetite began to decrease, and she was noticeably lethargic. Once she began refusing food, medication was no longer an option. The decision was made to humanely euthanize Nikki, surrounded by those she carefully selected to be in her inner circle.

“These decisions are always difficult,” said Gary Lunsford, Director of Zoological Services.  “The team does everything possible to provide the best lives for our animal residents, and it isn’t easy to let them go.  Animals in professional care at accredited zoos often live well beyond their normal life expectancy with ongoing veterinary care.  It is a challenging week for the team as we are engaged in similar discussions regarding our cow, Daisy, as she succumbs to a chronic uterine tumor.”

“I am truly honored to have gotten to work so closely with Nikki,” said Dr. Emmy Budas, BPZOO’s Veterinarian. “We have been doing daily training sessions with her for the past few months to improve her treatment plan. Nikki is normally very picky about the people she chooses to trust, and I am very grateful to have been considered one of those people.”

Dr. Emmy and her team will continue to monitor Riley’s health closely over the next few weeks and months. BPZOO continues to be a sanctuary for non-releasable, rehabilitated wildlife and is prepared to answer the call if the opportunity to provide a home for a young cougar arises.

Nikki will be deeply missed by everyone at BPZOO.

BPZOO Supports International Red Panda Conservation Initiatives

BPZOO Supports International Red Panda Conservation Initiatives

There is no arguing that BPZOO’s red panda family are among some of the most charismatic, adorable, and beloved animals in New Bedford. They are also working overtime as ambassadors to their species, inspiring the New Bedford community to care about red panda conservation efforts in the wild. Thanks to this community commitment, BPZOO has again been recognized as a Reforestation Sponsor of the Red Panda Network for a recent $5,000 donation.  This donation was made in honor of International Red Panda Day on September 17, 2023. A day of celebration and education, inspired guests donated an impressive $500 which contributed to the Zoo’s 2023 Reforestation Sponsorship.

Founded in 2007, the Red Panda Network has become a world leader in efforts to save red pandas and their habitat. They use an integrated, landscape-level approach to conservation that is built on the support and participation of local communities. Their conservation programs extend to over one million acres of forest and 50% of Nepal’s red panda range. BPZOO has contributed $10,000 over the last two years helping to protect five acres of critical red panda habitat through purchasing, growing, and planting trees. The sponsorship also supports the salary of one local land steward 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 as well as provides alternative and sustainable income opportunities for local families. With BPZOO’s continued 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.

In 2019, Buttonwood Park Zoo unveiled its first ever red panda habitat. Since then, thanks to the success of our Conservation Donation Kiosk and the commitment of our staff, we have donated $17,000 to the Red Panda Network. Resident red pandas, Jacob, Marie, and their cubs, serve as ambassadors for their species and together we will continue to inspire our guests and work to protect wildlife and wild places.

“BPZOO is proud to be part of a community that shares our deep commitment to conservation,” said Gary Lunsford, Director of Zoological Services. “It is through this shared value that we have again been recognized as a conservation partner to vital organizations like the Red Panda Network. I cannot thank our community enough for their efforts in making this happen.”

About Red Pandas

Red pandas are an endangered species 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 and fragmentation is the primary threat, and it is compounded by increasing human population, livestock herding, free-roaming dogs and disease, poaching and illegal trade, logging, world climate change, and inadequate enforcement of laws and regulations. While this sounds grim, there is hope for this species thanks to the dedication of AZA accredited facilities and their partner conservation organizations.

BPZOO’s Seal Pod is Now at Three

BPZOO’s Seal Pod is Now at Three

BPZOO’s Seal Pod is Now at Three

Pictured Above: Luna

New Bedford, Massachusetts: The Buttonwood Park Zoo is thrilled to introduce two new female harbor seals to the New Bedford community – Luna, age two, and Conway, age one. These new residents arrived in early November from the New York Aquarium in Brooklyn, NY, and have already bonded with long-time zoo resident, Blue.

Blue was born at BPZOO in 2003 to Yellow, a female Atlantic harbor seal who passed away earlier this year, one week shy of her 40th birthday. Wanting to ensure companionship for Blue, as well as support the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan, Zoo leadership eagerly accepted the recommendation to bring Luna and Conway to BPZOO.

Both seals were introduced to Blue straight away, and they quickly acclimated to their new home.

“There were lots of nose-to-nose breath exchanges at first and then Luna immediately sat on Blue’s back – who was not bothered by it in the least,” said Kristy Kaeterle, BPZOO’s head Zookeeper. “We knew then that this was going to go well!”

Kaeterle describes Conway, who had darker coloring and more obvious white markings, as a little seal with lots of personality. “She made herself at home immediately – she follows us around quite a bit and is very interested in the enrichment we offer. Luna is a little more reserved but is coming out of her shell more and more each day.”

Luna, who was born on the night of a lunar eclipse and named after Luna Park on Coney Island, has a similar appearance to Blue – lighter grey with darker spots. Conway was named after the late Dr. William Conway, an iconic conservationist who retired as the president and general director of the Wildlife Conservation Society, the organization that manages the Brooklyn Aquarium.

BPZOO has cared for seals for over five decades and as a waterfront community, is dedicated to connecting visitors to the importance of marine mammal conservation.

“The team is excited to welcome the new harbor seals to our pod at the Buttonwood Park Zoo. We are grateful to have this opportunity to create new zoo families through partnerships with our accredited zoo neighbors and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). ” said Gary Lunsford, Zoo Director.

All three seals are currently visible in the seal habitat, located in the middle of the Zoo.

Keeper Kyler with Yellow the Harbor Seal

Pictured Above: Conway

About Atlantic Harbor Seals

Seals are part of a group of mammals called pinnipeds, which translates to “fin-footed”. There are a total of 18 species in the Phocidae family. Harbor seals are part of the true seal family. All true seals have short forelimbs, or flippers. They also lack external ear flaps and instead have a small hole (opening to the ear canal) on either side of their head. Harbor seals live in temperate coastal habitats along the northern coasts of North America, Europe, and Asia. They weigh up to 285 pounds and measure up to 6 feet in length. In North America males are slightly larger than females, and seals in Alaska and the Pacific Ocean are generally larger than those found in the Atlantic Ocean. Harbor seals, like all marine mammals, are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and are currently listed as Least Concern according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

A Gift That Lasts All Year! 

BPZOO Memberships make a perfect gift for the animal lover in your life.

Art Gone Wild

Art Gone Wild


The auction opens on Monday, November 27th, and closes on Monday, December 11th, 2023 at 9:00pm.

BPZOO’s Art Gone Wild online auction, now in its 10th year, features over 35 unique art creations by your favorite zoo artists.

Calling all animal aficionados and art enthusiasts! Get ready to embark on a wild journey as we unveil the Art Gone Wild online auction, celebrating its 10th year of unleashing the creativity of our talented zoo residents.

Our artists in residence are not your typical painters—some use paws, claws, tails, and scales to create masterpieces that are truly one-of-a-kind. It’s a wild world out there, and our zoo animals are ready to showcase their artistic prowess!

Join us as we present over 35 unique art creations crafted by your favorite zoo artists. Each masterpiece comes meticulously wrapped in plastic and includes a card, a photo of the artist (yes, the animal!), a certificate of authenticity, and some fascinating fun facts about the creators behind the brushstrokes.

But here’s the best part—when you bid on these incredible works of art, you’re not just adding a unique piece to your collection; you’re supporting the future of wildlife. All proceeds from Art Gone Wild go directly to fueling the Zoo’s education and conservation programs.

So, let your love for art and animals collide in this wild online auction, where every bid makes a difference!

Art Gone Wild