News from Zoos
Red Wolf Fostering is a Success
Two red wolf pups, born at the North Carolina Zoo and inserted into a wild wolf den earlier this year, have been confirmed to be alive and in excellent health. This success marks new potential for fostering as an effective tool in red wolf recovery.
In May of this year, the North Carolina Zoological Park donated two red wolf pups to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Red Wolf Recovery Program to help foster the captive-born pups into the world's only wild red wolf population. The two-week-old siblings, one male and one female, were transferred to the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, and later inserted into the den of a wild wolf female. The adult female, who was already raising two wild pups, accepted the two zoo pups as her own, and went about the daily business of raising a litter of four pups of similar age. Throughout the summer, red wolf biologists monitored the pack from a distance using radio telemetry. However, the pups were routinely well hidden in thick vegetation, and attempts to confirm their status visually were unsuccessful.
Recently, all four pups of this litter were not only seen, but also captured, and found to be in excellent health. Each pup was given a physical exam and vaccinations against parvo-virus, distemper and rabies. Each was also fitted with a radio collar and released back into the wild. All four pups returned to their original territory and rejoined their family group.
Fostering has been a successful practice within the red wolf captive-breeding program, but this marks the first time zoo-born red wolves have been placed into the wild at a very young age. To date, all red wolves released into the wild have been young adult wolves, often coming from island propagation sites in South Carolina and Florida. The ability to foster captive–born red wolves into the wild population holds many positive implications for their recovery. Fostering enhances the genetic diversity of the wild red wolf population and increases their overall chance of survival because it allows the pups to be raised by a wild mother.
Through its participation in the Red Wolf Species Survival Plan (SSP), the North Carolina Zoological Park plays an essential role in red wolf recovery. This zoo and 36 other American Zoo and Aquarium (AZA)-accredited zoos and aquariums who also participate in the Species Survival Plan provide housing, care and breeding expertise for captive red wolves. Bud Fazio, Team Leader for the Red Wolf Recovery Program, praises their work, "We work hard to restore red wolves back into the wild. Participants in the Captive Breeding Program are vital to red wolf recovery. We thank our SSP cooperators for maintaining the red wolf population long enough for us to develop and implement an effective plan to restore red wolves to the wild, where they can live out their lives wild and free." [Adapted from an article on the Red Wolves of Alligator River Web site, www.ncredwolf.org]
Saint Louis Zoo Awarded Two Grants for Sustainability
Project in Bosawas Reserve, Nicaragua
The Saint Louis Zoo has been awarded a five-year USAID grant of $250,000 through the Nature Conservancy and has also received a Conservation Endowment Fund (CEF) grant of $36,868 from the AZA, partially funded by Walt Disney World Company. Both grants will be used for a community-based program in the Bosawas Biosphere Reserve in Nicaragua.
Bosawas, a 2,000,000-acre reserve in northeast Nicaragua, is home to 13,000 Miskito and Mayangna Indians. This area was relatively untouched by outsiders until the end of the Nicaraguan civil war. Now the indigenous tribes of Bosawas are striving to resist the invasion of mestizo colonists with their slash-and-burn agriculture. The tribes have sought the help of anthropologists and biologists to document their hunting practices and determine whether they are sustainable. Since 2000, the Saint Louis Zoo has helped native peoples on a Mayangna territory within the reserve document their wildlife and the impact hunting practices are having on that wildlife.
Working with Saint Louis Zoo field researcher Dr. Paule Gros, a group of park rangers records data on mammals and helps set mist nets for capturing birds for identification and banding. Gros has documented that among endangered mammals living in the reserve are jaguar, ocelot, margay, Baird's tapir, white-lipped peccary, Central American spider monkey and giant anteater. Important bird species include the harpy eagle, great green macaw, scarlet macaw, mealy parrot, red-fronted parrot, chestnut-mandibled toucan and keel-billed toucan.
Now, with the USAID grant, the Saint Louis Zoo will continue Gros' groundbreaking work in the Mayangna territory. The CEF/Disney grant will expand her study to a Miskito territory and develop another facet of training in Bosawas - conservation education in the primary schools. At the same time, the Zoo will work with the national zoo in Managua to create programs that highlight the importance of maintaining the nation's biodiversity. A third goal of the project is to use Bosawas to interest U.S. students and teachers in methods of scientific inquiry and in the Nicaraguan community's search for a sustainable lifestyle.
Lake Superior Zoo to Add Renewable Energy Sources
Lake Superior Zoo, in Duluth, MN, has been chosen as the first site for northeastern Minnesota's first Rebuild Minnesota Renewable Energy demonstration project. The project is designed to improve energy and environmental performance at the zoo, while demonstrating the benefits to a large and diverse audience.
Each component of the $300,000 project will not only upgrade existing facilities, but also provide a unique education on renewable energy. Some of the improvements include: solar hot water and space heating for the animal barn; a photovoltaic (cells which convert sunlight directly into electricity) fueling station for electric vehicles; and a geothermal heat exchanger which will cool the polar bear and seal pools.
"Thousands of people will have the opportunity to learn first-hand about the value of energy and its relationship to our environment and the creatures that live in it," said Mike Janis, Lake Superior Zoo director. "It is also a great opportunity to showcase the Rebuild Minnesota initiative to zoos all over the world."
Rebuild Minnesota is part of the U.S. Department of Energy's Rebuild America program, creating partnerships to conserve energy in the buildings where we live, learn, and work.
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