BPZOO Celebrates the Success of Annual Fundraiser

BPZOO Celebrates the Success of Annual Fundraiser

On June 27, 2024, the Buttonwood Park Zoological Society welcomed 219 guests to the second annual “Soiree at the Zoo” gala fundraiser. The event featured a variety of activities to showcase the Zoo’s work, a delicious spread courtesy of LaFrance Hospitality, and the musical stylings of Grammy nominated James Montgomery and the Boston Legends.

“We had a wonderful and supportive crowd at Soiree this year,” said Katie Sherman, Community Relations Manager at the Buttonwood Park Zoological Society. “One of the highlights was our ‘Ducky Drop’ raffle, where supporters could purchase a numbered yellow rubber duck that is then tossed into the seal pool. Blue, our male Atlantic harbor seal carefully selects a winner, by picking a ducky and bringing it over to one of our Zookeepers.”

Other exciting activities included a “Wine Toss” game, as well as a live elephant painting demonstration with Emily, BPZOO’s 60-year-old Asian elephant.

“Painting is a form of enrichment for Emily; she loves painting, and the crowd really enjoys watching her work,” said Sherman. The painting was then auctioned off during the event.

An unexpected evening highlight came courtesy of one of the “Boston Legend” band members, Wyc Grousbeck, co-owner of the Boston Celtics. Grousbeck, not only brought along the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy for guests to take selfies with, but also debuted the Celtic’s 2024 Championship banner.

Thanks to the support of a generous slate of sponsors, including three presenting sponsors,  the Bernheimer Family, the Joblon Family, and Baldwin Brothers, the many ticket holders, and auction bidders, the event raised just over $90,000.

“We are incredibly grateful to our community for the support we received at this year’s Soiree,” said Sherman. “We know the Zoo is a special place, and we feel privileged to be able to safeguard the sustainability of this treasured organization for generations to come.”

BPZOO Celebrates the Birth of Canada Lynx Kittens

BPZOO Celebrates the Birth of Canada Lynx Kittens

The Buttonwood Park Zoo is proud to announce the birth of two Canada Lynx kittens, one male, one female, on May 4th, 2024. This is the first successful litter for eleven-year-old female Canada lynx, Sylvie and thirteen-year-old male, Hutch.

Born covered in fur, but with closed ears and eyes, the kittens remained behind the scenes with Sylvie as they developed. At two weeks their eyes opened, and at approximately eight weeks old they had their first evaluation by BPZOO’s veterinarian staff.

“Both kittens are healthy, very curious, and great climbers,” said Dr. Emmy Budas, BPZOO’s veterinarian. “Their personalities were on full display during the exam, with the female showing her sweet and gentle side, while her brother was full of spunk and not afraid to speak his mind.”

The veterinarian and animal care team have also been impressed with how attentive Sylvie has been as a first-time mom.

Sylvie arrived at BPZOO in 2014 based on a breeding recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP). Hutch arrived in 2021 after the passing of the beloved Calgary, a male Canada lynx who called BPZOO home for 11 years. The goal of the SSP is to cooperatively manage lynx populations within AZA accredited zoos to ensure a healthy and genetically diverse population.

There are currently 65 Canada lynx residing in 28 AZA accredited institutions, including the four here at BPZOO.

The kittens are now beginning to explore the habitat, which is located just beyond the bison pasture.

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.