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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).

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 BPZOO Provides Home to Orphaned Black Bear Cubs 

 BPZOO Provides Home to Orphaned Black Bear Cubs 

BPZOO Provides Home to Orphaned Black Bear Cubs

New Bedford, Massachusetts: The Buttonwood Park Zoo has a deep, rich history of caring for black bears and is once again providing a home for an adorable pair of cubs recently orphaned in the wild.

BPZOO has been without black bears since last September, with the passing of 23-year-old Toby. He, along with two females Amy and Ursula, had lived at BPZOO since 2000.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game contacted BPZOO in late June, inquiring if there was space for two cubs who had been orphaned because of bear/human conflicts in Homer and Eagle River in Alaska.

“Providing a home to orphaned, non-releasable wildlife is paramount to our mission,” said Zoo Director Gary Lunsford. “Given that BPZOO has been caring for black bears since our inception in 1894, we jumped at the opportunity to work with officials in Alaska to provide a forever home to these cubs in need.”

The two cubs, an approximately eight-month-old male, and a seven-month-old female, arrived at BPZOO the last week in August and are currently quarantining under the watchful eyes of BPZOO vet staff.

“We are already getting a clear picture of their individual personalities,” said BPZOO Veterinarian

Emmy Budas. “He is the sweet and gentle type – gently taking treats from us, while she is showing us her sassy side. Both cubs are eating well and appear to be in excellent health.”

After spending time getting to know their personalities, zookeepers and veterinarian staff carefully considered names for the cubs. With a nod to their Alaskan homeland, the male cub has been named Moose, the official state land mammal, and the female Oona, named after an inland lake, not far from Juneau.

Moose and Oona will remain in quarantine for approximately 30 days to ensure they are in good health and to give them time to adjust to their new environment.

Black bears have been making local headlines this summer, spotted lumbering through towns on the South Coast and South Shore. As their natural habitats here, and in Alaska, continue to shrink, bear/human conflict increases with detrimental implications for the animals. The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, or MassWildlife, offers a variety of resources on their website to prevent conflicts with black bears, including limiting food sources, protecting pets, crops, bees, and livestock with electric fences, or removing bird feeders.

“We look forward to introducing the new bears to the community,” Lunsford said. “We expect this will happen sometime towards the end of September. In the meantime, please do your part to keep bears wild. You should never feed or otherwise approach a wild bear. Be respectful of nature so that we can protect it together.”

About Black Bears

American black bears are one of eight species of bears found around the world. Common across North America, they are currently present in 40 U.S. states, 12 provinces and territories of Canada, and 6 states of northern Mexico. Loss of habitat and unregulated hunting resulted in the extirpation of black bears across large portions of their range by the early 1900s. While the 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. The average life expectancy for American black bears is 20 years.

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BPZOO Welcomes Two Endangered Red Panda Cubs

BPZOO Welcomes Two Endangered Red Panda Cubs

We Welcome Two Endangered Red Panda Cubs

New Bedford, Massachusetts: The Buttonwood Park Zoo is proud to announce the birth of two red panda cubs, the second successful litter in BPZOO’s 129-year history.

two new baby red panda cubs born May 2023
red panda cubs born may 2023 at buttonwood park zoo

Red Panda cubs at 9 days old

BPZOO’s female red panda, 5-year-old Marie, gave birth to two cubs on May 27, 2023. The cubs underwent initial health screenings at 3 days old and with one weighing in at 58 grams and the other at 125 grams. Marie, now a seasoned mom, is spending time behind the scenes bonding with the cubs. Mom and babies are all doing well.

The cubs will remain in the nest box, which is inside the red panda’s night house, for approximately the next two months. Red pandas are born with their eyes closed and they typically open somewhere between day 17 and 19; now 30 days, both cubs’ eyes have opened, and they have begun to explore the nest box. The cubs will venture outside when they can safely navigate the perching in their habitat.

The cubs will remain with Marie for at least a year.

BPZOO is offering a unique opportunity to glimpse behind the scenes at these adorable babies with a series of photos and videos available through the “Red Panda Pals” program. For a $50 donation, participants receive exclusive content, have the chance to submit a name suggestion, a limited-edition symbolic adoption package, and a chance to meet the cubs once they join their parents in the outdoor habitat. A portion of the proceeds from this program will support BPZOO’s global red panda conservation efforts.

Jacob, BPZOO’s 6-year-old male red panda, and Marie were brought to New Bedford based on a recommendation as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan (SSP), which the Buttonwood Park Zoo is actively participating in. The goal of the SSP is to cooperatively manage animal populations to ensure the sustainability of a healthy and genetically diverse population while enhancing the conservation of this species in the wild.

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!

About Red Pandas

Red pandas, Ailurus fulgens fulgens, 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 240 red pandas at 85 AZA-accredited institutions that 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.

A Gift That Lasts All Year! 

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

Bear’s Den is Open

Bear’s Den is Open

BEAR’S DEN CAFE IS OPEN

Got a hankering for a warm, soft pretzel, a bag of hot, buttered popcorn, or maybe a delicious ice cream treat?

BPZOO’s Bear’s Den Café has got you covered!

 

With the gorgeous woodland mural and life-sized stuffed bear, the Bear’s Den Café, operated by the Buttonwood Park Zoological Society, features ready-made sandwiches and salads from On the Go Catering, as well as a variety of snacks to take along on your zoo adventures.

The Bear’s Den Café is open from 11:00 am until 2:00 pm daily, with indoor seating available. Snacks and drinks can also be purchased in the Northwood’s Gift Store as well as from the two vending machines located outside the Wildlife Education Center.

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 Mass.gov, 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.