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Beardsley Zoo Director Makes Big Announcement At Tiger Cubs’ Birthday Celebration

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Nov 252018
 

Fans of Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo are aware that the two female Amur Tiger Cubs, Reka, and Zeya turned one-year-old on Sunday, Nov. 25.

The birthday celebration included free tiger bookmarks for the first 500 people through the gate, and two encore presentations of Fostering Felines, a presentation from Animal Care Specialist Bethany Thatcher. Tiger Talks, highlighting the plight of Amur tigers in the wild, took place in front of the habitat throughout the day. Proceeds from the sale of Team Reka, Team Zeya, or Team Tiger Cubs t-shirts and tiger cub stuffed animals go to a proposed expanded tiger habitat.

Zoo Director Gregg Dancho, who began working at the zoo in 1975, and earned his way up to his current position, has always yearned to have a larger habitat for the Tigers who live there.

After the rare tigers were born, nurtured by caring human “parents” and thrived in spite of their 25% chance of survival, the zoo began an ambitious fundraising campaign to see Dancho’s dream come true, build a massive, more appropriate habitat for these beautiful cats.

While their caregivers placed the cubs’ birthday presents around their enclosure, Dancho addressed the crowd who’d come to attend the birthday celebration.

He gave a brief history of the tigers at the zoo and described the enormity of the proposed upgrade. Then he made a big announcement. Just in time for the Cubs’ first birthday, the zoo received a $1,000,000 donation for the tiger habitat from longtime zoo supporter, Pamela Hope Kochiss-Werth.

“The existing tiger habitat was built several decades ago and has been on our wish list to expand and renovate. Our intention is to create a habitat more in keeping with 21st century accredited zoo standards,” Dancho said. “We are overwhelmed with gratitude at Pam’s extreme generosity.”
“The Zoo is asking for matching donations,” Dancho said, “Everyone has an opportunity now to help. There’s no donation too small.”

This is the first grant made by Kochiss-Werth’s new foundation and reflects her individual philanthropy. “As a Bridgeport native, I have many fond memories as far back as 1958, of enjoying wonderful times with my family at Beardsley Park and the Zoo,” she said in a press release. “I feel honored and blessed to be able to contribute to the Zoo’s growth, important programs, and life-enriching contributions to Bridgeport and all Connecticut communities.”

And at 12 p.m., after the cubs received their presents, guests were treated to chocolate and vanilla striped cake and hot chocolate and hot apple cider.

FACTS: When these tiger cubs were born, they had only a 25 percent chance of survival and were the only two Amur cubs added to the Association of Zoos and Aquarium’s Amur tiger population in 2017.

Sadly, tigers are thought to occupy less than 7 percent of their original range, according to the AZA’s statistics. Threatened by poaching, tiger-human conflict, habitat loss and degradation, and loss of prey, four of nine subspecies have disappeared from the wild.

Zoo News: Rochan and Meri’s Habitat Opening Saturday Morning

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Oct 122018
 

For months frequent visitors of Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo, 1875 Noble Ave, Bridgeport, have anxiously been awaiting the opening of the new Natt Family Red Panda Habitat.
Rochan, the male red panda came to the zoo as a temporary visitor a couple of years ago, but his popularity led to his permanent residence and the addition of a female companion, Meri.
A brand new larger habitat with better viewing options for visitors has been constructed on the opposite side of the zoo (they are currently in front of the rainforest building) and will be moving to the isolated curved area where the pronghorn used to be (around the corner from the leopards).
The zoo announced today that the grand opening will be on Saturday, Oct. 13, with a ribbon cutting at 10:30 a.m.
Come help celebrate Rochan and Meri’s new home, with paid Zoo admission.

Zoo News: Tiger Habitat Expansion On The Horizon With Your Help

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May 232018
 

Orange Live has been committed to keeping its promise to limit its coverage area to the town of Orange, crossing into Woodbridge for Amity High School news, as this is where Orange residents send their teens to public high school.

The other place from which we will share information is the Beardsley Zoo. WHY? Because it is Connecticut’s Zoo, just a short car ride from Orange, and a valuable resource for children and adults alike to learn about the many endangered species of animals in the world and because we admire the Zoo’s commitment to conservation and its efforts to keep these animals from becoming extinct.

If you have been to the Orange Business Expo, especially if you are accompanied by a child, you delight in the Beardsley Zoo booth, and whatever creatures they’ve brought with them that day.

If you have visited the zoo recently, you know that Rochan, the Red Panda, has a new girlfriend “Mari,” and together they will soon have a lovely large new habitat. Jabba, the sloth, also has a new girlfriend “Hope,” and you can see them lounging around in the rainforest building.

The one thing that you may have lamented over in past years is the seemingly small Tiger cage. I know that my daughter and I have always wished they had more room. So imagine my delight when I learned a few weeks ago while talking to Zoo Director Gregg Dancho, that the Zoo plans to greatly expand the Tiger habitat.

Here is a press release from the Zoo about this very important project:

On November 25, 2017, the Zoo welcomed two female Amur tiger cubs. Both cubs were hand-reared by their care
staff and are growing up fast. These cubs are significant to the survival of their species as Amur tigers are endangered in the wild.

Amur tigers, once known as Siberian tigers, no longer carry that name since they are extinct in Siberia and are now found primarily near the Amur River in Russia. As zoos across the country work to support all endangered species, Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo is proud to play a vital role in the survival of Amur tigers.

In January, we asked for support to raise funds to create a concept rendering for a new tiger habitat. A new tiger
habitat is a dream of Zoo staff and we are committed to make this a reality, but we need your help.

The goals for redesigning the Amur tiger habitat are increased indoor and outdoor space, immersive wildlife experiences for guests and additional education space to include presentation opportunities, photo opportunities, and signage.

We just received a $15,000 challenge grant from the Bradshaw-Mack Family Foundation in support of the new
Amur tiger habitat. Every dollar you give today will double and 100% of your support will help us build a
new tiger habitat.

Give today and be a part of the new tiger habitat and your Zoo’s future.

Warm Regards,
Gregg Dancho, Zoo Director

P.S. Donors at the $2,500 level will be showcased on a ‘Founding Families’ plaque at the new habitat!

EDITOR’S NOTE: The zoo is not funded by the state and depends upon admission costs, donations and fundraisers to continue to keep the animals fed, happy and healthy.   

 

Beardsley Zoo: Have You (and Your Children) Visited The Tiger Cam Yet?

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Feb 132018
 

On Saturday, Nov. 25, the Beardsley Zoo welcomed a litter of extremely rare babies when their 10-year-old Amur tiger, Changbai, gave birth to four cubs. Only two of the four survived.

According to Zoo Director Gregg Dancho, There are only 500 Amur tigers known in the wild. “They are a sub-species of the Siberian tiger, and because the cubs are both female, they are among the most valuable big-cat cubs in the world.”

According to the zoo, Changbai became uninterested in nursing her kittens after the first one died. Zoo staff took the remaining three into their care, but another one died later that night.

The two surviving cubs, Reka and Zeya, are cared for in the Zoo hospital in a 90-degree ambient temperature enclosure to sustain the cubs’ warmth.

Dancho said, “Reka and Zeya almost never made it, and almost certainly would have died if they had been born in the wild. They were both underweight — just 2.2 pounds — and they were rejected by their mother.”

Now, at almost 3 months old, the cubs are spending most of the time in a playpen inside the zoo’s hospital building, cavorting with one another and exploring cardboard boxes and plastic chew toys. The sisters keep each other company, but, according to the zool if only one cub had survived, a dog would have had to be brought in as a surrogate sibling.

The zoo has set up a tiger cam so everyone can enjoy the girls’ antics from in their nursery every day, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The cubs take a lunch break from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m., but you can still watch earlier footage of them during that time!

Difficult Beginning

When the cubs were born, they were underweight as Dancho said. When they are mature, they will weigh about 350 pounds.

The Amur tiger is not doing very well in the wild (just 500). in addition to the wild tigers, there are several hundred in zoos worldwide, including about 130 in North America, according to zoo officials. Only seven surviving cubs were born in the USA in 2017.

It’s important to note that the tigers are not owned by the Beardsley Zoo, but by a zoo collective. The goal is that after they mature, they’ll be able to give birth to several litters of their own.

Dancho said he hopes people will contribute to the zoo to help finance the construction of an expanded tiger exhibit. The project has been on his bucket list for some time.

“The one that we have isn’t bad, but it was opened about 40 years ago and it’s showing its age,” he said.

If you would like to help the zoo with the tiger exhibit, click this LINK.

 

Beardsley Bart The Prognosticating Prairie Dog Makes His Prediction

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Feb 022017
 

Who needs Punxsutawney Phil when you have ‘Beardsley Bart?’ Beardsley Bart, Connecticut’s own Prognosticating Prairie Dog, came out early this morning to share his weather forecast with a small gathering of friends. Bart’s closest confidante, Gregg Dancho, director of Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo, served as his interpreter, along with Bridgeport Mayor Joseph P. Ganim.

“Beardsley Bart is a very early riser and when he came out this morning, he confirmed that he did not see his shadow,” explained Dancho. “He’s happy to report spring is just around the corner and he looks forward to all his friends coming to visit him soon.”

Mayor Ganim added, “According to Beardsley Bart, spring is coming to Bridgeport, and spring is coming everywhere.” He emphasized that Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo is everyone’s zoo. “It’s a great place and it’s the only zoo in the state. We need everyone to come and enjoy it,” he said.

NOTE: Punxsutawney Phil  ‘predicted’ six more weeks of winter, while Connecticut Groundhog Chuckles and Bart both predicted an early spring. — we’re with the local critters.

The Zoo Welcomes Changbai

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Jan 252017
 

An Amur Tiger

Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo, 1875 Noble Avenue, Bridgeport, welcomed a new family member this week according to Zoo Director Gregg Dancho.

Changbai, a female Amur Tiger arrived earlier this week from the Philadelphia Zoo.

In the weeks to come, check out the zoo’s Facebook page for the most up-to-date information on when she will make her debut.

About the Amur Tiger

The Amur Tiger is native to Siberia, northern China and Korea.

It’s life span is 12-14 years in the wild and up to 25 years in captivity.

Males and females come together to breed and then separate. Females give birth to 2 to 3 cubs. The cubs may stay with their mom for up to two years.

The Amur Tiger is a critically endangered subspecies of tiger. Only about 350 of these great cats survive in northern Asia. All tigers are endangered and protected worldwide. They suffer from habitat loss and poaching.

NOTE: What does this have to do with Orange? — The Beardsley Zoo is CT’s only public Zoo and it is only about 10 minutes from town. The zoo offers intern and teaching programs for children and teens, in which many Amity High School students participate. The zoo depends on fundraisers and visitor contributions to stay open. We are a vital part of its’ survival, just as the zoo is a vital part of it’s animals’ survival.