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BPZOO Mourns the Loss of Beloved Black Bear

BPZOO Mourns the Loss of Beloved Black Bear

Zoo Says Goodbye to Toby

The Buttonwood Park Zoo said goodbye to Toby, a 23-year-old black bear and one of BPZOO’s most iconic animals.

A team of veterinary and animal care staff at BPZOO had been managing a variety of Toby’s age-related illnesses for quite some time, including spondylosis (arthritis of the spine) and ankylosis (joint stiffness). Over the course of the last two years, Toby had responded well to treatment and keeper staff had been able to modify training, enrichment opportunities and his habitat to help ensure he was able to remain active and comfortable.

Late August 2022, the staff became increasingly concerned when Toby’s condition and quality of life began to decline, exhibiting sporadic loss of the use of his hind legs. It was at this point, with no further options for treatment and his condition worsening, that the Zoo’s animal care and veterinary team made the difficult decision to humanely euthanize him.

“Letting go of our animal residents is always challenging, particularly with those so beloved by our team and community,” said BPZOO Director, Gary Lunsford. “Our hearts go out to those who provided his care over his many years.”

Toby is the last of the three black bears that came to live at BPZOO in 2000. Hailing originally from Clark’s Trading Post in New Hampshire, he resided with fellow black bears, Amy and Ursula, who both passed away in 2020 of age-related illnesses.

Toby’s caretakers describe him as a gentle giant who loved all food – except broccoli and zucchini – and one who loved to be the center of attention.

Kristy Kaeterle, BPZOO’s Senior Zookeeper, worked with Toby for over 20 years.

“He was a big ham – he always made us laugh at how he would lounge in the sun in the funniest positions or steal all the hay overnight to make himself a king-sized bed.”

The largest of the three black bears, Toby could easily toss a large log with just one paw, but his gentle nature endeared him to all those who knew him.

“He was such a handsome guy. He was adored by all, and he will be sorely missed,” said Kaeterle.

While there is no replacing Toby, Ursula, or Amy, BPZOO is hoping to continue to care for black bears in the coming years.

“We will take a little time to make some upgrades to the habitat before moving forward,” said Lunsford. “In the meantime, we will be exploring the best candidates for making Buttonwood Park Zoo their new home.”

American black bears are one of eight species of bears found around the world. Once common across North America, they are now present in 40 U.S. states, 12 provinces and territories of Canada, and 6 states of northern Mexico. Loss of habitat and unregulated hunting/persecution resulted in extirpation of black bears across large portions of their range by the early 1900s. While loss of forest cover has eliminated black bears from many areas, their numbers are increasing. Climate change seems to have enabled black bears to range farther north. American black bears are the smallest of the three bear species in North America, ranging from 200 – 600 pounds, with males being significantly larger. Average life expectancy for American black bears is 20 years.

BPZOO Welcomes New Director

BPZOO Welcomes New Director

Buttonwood Park Zoo Welcomes New Zoo Director

The Buttonwood Park Zoo is proud to announce Gary Lunsford as the Director of Zoological Services for the City of New Bedford. Lunsford’s 27-year zoo career spans across five institutions and two countries. He comes to BPZOO from the Milwaukee County Zoo where he served as Director of Animal Management & Health before accepting the role in New Bedford.

“I am thrilled to join the Buttonwood Park Zoo and the City of New Bedford as the Director of Zoological Services,” said Lunsford. “I am excited to move forward with the redevelopment of the Zoo and working towards the Master Plan coming to fruition.”

Lunsford started his zoo career in 1995 in the Aquatics facilities of the Oklahoma Zoo & Botanical Garden. He later relocated to the Tulsa Zoo & Living Museum where he served as Zookeeper, Area Supervisor, Curator and Zoo Registrar. He then became a part of the Zoo leadership team in Winnipeg, Manitoba where he served as Head of Animal Care, Director of Zoological Operations and Senior Director of Animal Care and Conservation for the Assiniboine Park Conservancy. During his time in Winnipeg, the Zoo team achieved their first accreditation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), as well as commissioning of the $90 million Journey to Churchill capital project.

“We are thrilled to have Gary onboard and to have him lead BPZOO into the next phase of redevelopment,” says Sarah Henry, Executive Director of the Buttonwood Park Zoological Society. “He is extremely passionate about conservation projects and will ensure the Zoo remains at the forefront of location conservation efforts while building on the support we provide to global projects.”

In addition to his work within the accredited zoo community, Lunsford currently serves the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, an accrediting body dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums, as a zoo accreditation inspector, as well as a member of the Bear Taxon Advisory Group, the Polar Bear Species Survival Plan® program and the Annual Conference Program Committee.

Having spent many years at institutions that are more than twice the size of BPZOO, Lunsford says that what BPZOO lacks in acreage, it makes up for in charisma and charm.

“One of the things that struck me the most about this Zoo was the beautiful city around it, that clearly loves and supports the Zoo. BPZOO provides an important service to New Bedford and the surrounding communities,” Lunsford went on to say. “It is important that we continue to meet the needs of the community, where they are, by expanding and enhancing our various program offerings.”

Although picking a favorite species is never an easy task for someone who has spent almost three decades caring for so many of them, Lunsford admits to having a soft spot for all aquatic species and marine mammals, with a particular passion for turtles and polar bears.

First Taste of Fall

First Taste of Fall

 

SIP. SAMPLE. SUPPORT.

 

 

Saturday, September 24th | 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Support the Buttonwood Park Zoological Society as you sample local breweries, wineries, and food trucks at our First Taste of Fall event happening Saturday, September 24th, 2022!

Ticket purchase provides you with zoo admission, your own souvenir sampling glass, unlimited beer/wine samples, animal encounters, and great live entertainment.This is a 21+ event, so have your ID ready at the gate! Doors open at 4:00 pm.Food will be available for purchase during the event.A portion of the proceeds will benefit the continued growth of the Buttonwood Park Zoo’s educational programs, ensuring that Southcoast families will always have a way to experience nature close to home.

VIP IS SOLD OUT

Meet the Food Trucks

Phoenix on the Go

The Beverage Line-Up

Official VIP Lounge Drink Sponsor

Special Thank You To All Our Sponsors

Zoolala Auction

Zoolala Auction

Support the Buttonwood Park Zoological Society as you explore one-of-a-kind experiences, artful creations, unique gifts, and much more – all from the comfort of your home!

Your contributions provide 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.

THANK YOU TO OUR GENEROUS SPONSORS

Red, White and Brew at the Zoo

Red, White and Brew at the Zoo

Red, White and Brew Returns!

Come join the fun at Buttonwood Park Zoo on Friday, May 20th for our annual Red, White & Brew beer tasting event!

You will enjoy UNLIMITED samples from these awesome breweries!

  • Narragansett Brewing
  • Two Roads Brewing
  • Shipyard Brewing/Sea Dog Brewing
  • Bull Spit Brewing
  • Greater Good Imperials
  • Devil’s Purse Brewing
  • Dogfish Head Brewing
  • Castle Island Brewing
  • Moat Mountain Brewing
  • Long Trail Brewing/ Otter Creek Brewing
  • Carlson’s Orchards
  • Topo Chico & Arnold Palmer Hard Teas
  • Vizzy Seltzer & Blue Moon Brewing
  • Lone River Ranch Water & Guinness Nitro Coffee Stout

 

 

  • Aeronaut Brewing Company
  • Exhibit A Brewing
  • Gardner Ale House (Moon Hill Brewing)
  • Moby Dick Brewing
  • Sam Adams
  • Buttonwood Brewery
  • Sons of Liberty Brewing
  • Whalers Brewing Company
  • Medusa Brewing Company
  • Sour Not Sorry
  • Buzzards Bay Brewery
  • Mayflower Brewing Company
  • The Sangria Lady
  • Newport Craft Brewing

Ticket purchase provides you with zoo admission, your own souvenir sampling glass, unlimited beer/wine samples, animal encounters, and great live entertainment by The Khourys and Craig DeMello!This is a 21+ event, so have your ID ready at the gate! Doors open at 6:00pm.Food will be available for purchase during the event.A portion of the proceeds will benefit the continued growth of the Buttonwood Park Zoo’s educational programs, ensuring that Southcoast families will always have a way to experience nature close to home.

So, if you LOVE craft brews and the great outdoors, grab your friends and enjoy a wild night at the Zoo!

Want your brewery, winery, or food truck to join in on the fun? Contact Kris at kcaisse@bpzoo.org to learn more on how to register your business!

Designated Driver tickets are available!

(please note, this ticket does NOT include beer & wine tasting)

We can hardly wait!

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America’s Small Zoos Face Grim Future Amidst Shutdown

America’s Small Zoos Face Grim Future Amidst Shutdown

The zoo sits on the southeast coast of Massachusetts on the way to Cape Cod. It’s one of the oldest and most unique in the country, sitting only 7 acres in size.

“Everything from Asian elephants to small monkey species, otters, a lot of native species. A diverse animal population here that the community really loves,” said zoo director Keith Lovett of the animals.

It survives on city funds, fundraising, and like most other zoos, admission. Closing was, and still is, a tough financial hit. This is the time of year when Buttonwood makes the most money.

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