Meet Tahu, The Beardsley Zoo’s New River Otter

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Dec 192020

Tahu (Photo by Jack Bradley)

Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo is the new home for Tahu, a one-year-old female North American river otter newly arrived from the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Wash.

After the Zoo’s last river otter passed away in 2019 from advanced age, the Zoo engaged in long-planned improvements to the otter habitat. With renovations complete, Tahu has joined the Zoo family and will be joined by a male companion in the future. 

Tahu (Photo by Jack Bradley)

As a species, river otters have suffered from habitat loss, water pollution, and fur trapping. Their numbers are on the rise due to reintroduction programs in parts of the U.S., better water quality, and protection of their habitats.

Zoo Director Gregg Dancho said, “Our river otters have always been some of the most popular animals who make their home here at the Zoo, for their playful nature and intelligence as well as their role as an iconic North American animal. We’re pleased to welcome Tahu to the Zoo.” 

About North American River Otters

River otters, members of the weasel family, can run on land as well as swim. They are playful and agile athletes, sliding down hills of mud or snow to land with a splash in water. Their tails are muscular and comprise up to 40 percent of the otter’s body length. They can move through the water as fast as eight miles per hour and can dive to 36 feet. Found throughout most of North America, the river otter lives in aquatic habitats: streams, rivers, lakes, ponds and marshes. They prefer unpolluted water with minimal human disturbance. 

About Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo

Let your curiosity run wild! Connecticut’s only zoo, celebrating its 98th year, features 300 animals representing primarily North and South American and Northern Asian species.

Guests won’t want to miss our Amur tigers and leopards, maned wolves, and Mexican grey and red wolves. Other highlights include our new Spider Monkey Habitat, the prairie dog exhibit, and the Pampas Plain with Giant anteaters and Chacoan peccaries.

Guests can grab a bite from the Peacock Café and eat in the Picnic Grove. Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo is a non-profit organization approaching its 100th year at a time when the mission of helping fragile wildlife populations and eco-systems is more important than ever.

Getting Tickets

The Zoo reopened on June 1. Tickets must be purchased on the Zoo’s website at beardsleyzoo.org. Face masks are required for everyone over the age of two, with the exception of those with medical conditions that preclude wearing them.

Changbai Is Back!

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Dec 162020

(Photo by by Melanie Bradley)

Changbai, a thirteen-year-old Amur tiger and the mother of cubs born at the Zoo in 2017, has returned to Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo.

After arriving from her most recent home at the Columbus Zoo, Changbai underwent a normal quarantine period. Once again comfortable with her surroundings, Changbai is now residing in the tiger habitat in the predator area, next to her daughter, Reka.

Born on May 24, 2007, at the Philadelphia Zoo, Changbai resided at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo for two years before being transferred to Columbus as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’
(AZA) Species Survival Plan.

Amur tigers are very rare and are critically endangered in the wild.
According to the AZA, today Amur tigers are thought to occupy less than seven percent of their original range.

(Photo by Jack Bradley)

Threatened by habitat loss and degradation, poaching, tiger-human conflict, and loss of prey, four of nine subspecies have disappeared from the wild just in the past hundred years. The future of the Amur tiger has been a major concern of the world’s zoos for many years.

Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo’s Deputy Director, Don Goff, is the Co-Chair of the National Felid Taxon Advisory Group (TAG). He leads a committee of AZA-accredited zoo members whose goal is to help have sustainable populations of felid species.

“The planned transfer of animals to other member zoos ensures the sustainability of a healthy, genetically diverse, and demographically varied AZA population,” explained Goff. “We’re happy to welcome Chang back to the Zoo, where she can continue to be an ambassador for her species, educating our guests about the importance of conservation.”

About Amur tigers

The Amur tiger is a rare subspecies of tiger and the largest cat in the world. Adult male tigers can weigh up to 675 pounds, with females weighing up to 350 pounds, although they average 200-250
pounds. Chang is large for a female Amur tiger, weighing 340 pounds.

Similar to people’s fingerprints, no two tigers have the same striped pattern. Amur tigers differ from other tigers with fewer, paler stripes, and a mane that helps to keep them warm. They live in southeast Russia as well as small areas of China and North Korea.

They live for 10-15 years in the wild and up to 22 years in captivity.

Visit the Beardsley Zoo

The Zoo reopened on June 1. Tickets must be purchased on the Zoo’s website at beardsleyzoo.org. Face masks are required for everyone over the age of two, with the exception of those with medical conditions that preclude wearing them.

Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo Mourns the Loss of Red Panda

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Jul 312020

Meri, the Red Panda (Jack Bradley)

The family at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo is saddened to announce the passing of Meri, a seven-year-old female Red panda, on Monday, July 27. The Zoo’s animal care team found that she had passed away in her sleep during the night, with no obvious signs of distress. A post-mortem necropsy showed that the cause was a cardiac condition.

The Zoo sent out this notice today: Born on June 27, 2013, at the Detroit Zoo, Meri came to Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo on January 11, 2018, from the Brandywine Zoo in Wilmington, Delaware. She was named for Meriadoc Brandybuck, a character in J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Lord of the Rings. She was a beloved member of the Zoo family.

“Meri will be deeply missed by all of us here at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo,” said Zoo Director Gregg Dancho. “She had a unique personality and related well both to her companion, Rochan and to her animal care staff. It has been our privilege to have known her for the past two years.

The Zoo remains home to Rochan, a six-year-old male Red panda who has been part of the Zoo family since October 2015. The Natt Family Red Panda Habitat opened in October 2018, a gift from Bob and Helen Natt of Easton, also funded by monies raised by supporters and from the Werth Family Foundation.

The Red panda habitat offers indoor and outdoor viewing access for the Red pandas with air-conditioned indoor living quarters and a yard landscaped with bamboo and plenty of treetop spots for sunbathing.

Rochan and Meri were part of the Species Survival Program (SSP), a breeding and management program designed to preserve the long-term sustainability of captive-based animal populations. Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo will work with the Association of Zoos and Aquarium’s (AZA) Species Survival Plan to identify another female Red panda as a new companion for Rochan.

Beardsley Zoo Opens On Monday – Here’s What You Have To Do

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May 282020

With the Coronavirus, our lives have changed in many ways. We can’t just go to the supermarket and zoom down an aisle for something then backtrack if we forgot an item (one-way traffic).

Well, going to the zoo is no different. You can’t just show up on a whim due to stricter protocols.

The Beardsley Zoo is opening up again for the first time since March 17 on Monday, June 1, and things have changed. Not only do they have several new animals, including a female companion for Peanut the wolf.

Watch this VIDEO so you will know what to expect before going and once you get there.

Beardsley Zoo Re-Opening Plans Announced

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May 192020

Some Good News From Zoo Director Gregg Dancho:
As we move to re-open, I want to share with you our plan. The Zoo will open on Monday, June 1.  We are implementing a new online ticketing system to welcome everyone back safely and efficiently. The Zoo will be splitting the day into two sessions allowing for up to 500 guests per session. We will open the Zoo at 9 a.m. and will close at noon for cleaning. We will then re-open at 1 p.m. and close at 4 p.m.
We will be requiring all guests to wear a mask. And the more creative the better!
We have created a one-way loop around the Zoo so guests can explore while social distancing. All buildings will be closed to the public; however, guests will be able to pre-order food online from the café and pick it up from our take-out window. Also, the gift shop will be open for online purchases which will be made available for pick up at gift shop kiosk.
Ticket prices will be reduced from $16 to $15 for an adult and from $13 to $10 for a child and a senior and as always children under 3 are free. We will not be able to accept coupons or allow for any partner discount at this time. We also will not be able to rent wheelchairs or strollers.

A zoo volunteer interacts with the goats.

As we welcome you back under these new circumstances, we appreciate your patience as we look to be able to provide you the best Zoo experience in the safest manner possible.

We ask that you also please continue to check our website www.beardsleyzoo.org and our Facebook page for the most up-to-date information. We greatly appreciate all your support. We are thrilled have the sights and the sounds of guests back at your Zoo.
And I promise to continue to send you updates.

Beardsley Bart

would like to know what you are thinking. If you have a question, comment or concern please feel free to email me at info@beardsleyzoo.org. As always, I look forward to hearing from you.

Even though we have been continuing to work behind the scenes and even as we continue to provide enrichment every day for our animal residents, nothing is the same without you.
Your Zoo family, both two and four-legged, can’t wait to see you!

Beardsley Zoo Welcomes Kawoni the Red Wolf

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May 082020

Kawoni. (Photo by Jack Bradley)

Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo is pleased to announce the newest addition to the Zoo family, an eight-year-old female Red wolf named Kawoni. Arriving at the Zoo in February 2020 before the Zoo’s temporary closing due to the pandemic, Kawoni spent her first weeks in quarantine, required for all new arrivals. Once she was verified to be in excellent physical condition by the Zoo’s on-site veterinarian, Kawoni joined the Zoo’s existing male Red wolf, Peanut, in the Red wolf habitat.

In the Cherokee language, Kawoni means “Flower Moon.” May’s full moon appears this week, and according to ancient traditions, it is known as the Flower Moon for the abundance of flowers this month.

Kawoni was born at the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in May 2012 in Tacoma, Wash. She arrived from the Miller Park Zoo in Bloomington, Ill. When the Zoo reopens, guests will be able to view Kawoni and Peanut between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. from their habitat beside the W.O.L.F. Cabin.

A Message From Beardsley Zoo Director Gregg Dancho

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May 022020

Dear Friends,
After 40 years in the Zoo business, I thought I might have seen it all. Never would I have anticipated closing our doors, as spring began, without knowing when we could welcome you back. Never could I have anticipated my staff wearing masks throughout their workday to protect each other and the animals under our care. And never did I ever think I would get so many questions about a Netflix series.
Every day of this quarantine has given me the opportunity to reflect on my career here at the Zoo. What I found was my joy always came from the same place – my interactions with you!
Over the past 7 weeks, I have received calls from people I hadn’t heard from in years offering words of encouragement. The Zoo has received an abundance of cards and well wishes from our friends’ ages 2 to 92. We have received donations of hundreds of dollars and donations pooled from children’s allowances. And we have received donations from every corner of the world. The outpouring of support has made an impact on the entire staff as they continue to come to work each day to care for our animal residents.
I am overwhelmed by how the Zoo has played such a significant role in so many of your lives and how so many of you have asked what you can do to support your Zoo.
With that being said, I want to share with you some incredible news.
The Zoo just received a $100,000 challenge match from Pam Kochiss-Werth. Pam’s generous donation means that every dollar donated to our Emergency Operating Fund will be matched! Being able to raise $200,000 will have a significant impact on our recovery efforts.
As we continue to make hard decisions in order to protect the future of your Zoo, every dollar donated makes a difference. Our operating funds shortfall began on March 17 and continues today. Even once we reopen, many sources of income will remain unavailable to us as we continue social distancing.
As Governor Lamont begins to re-open Connecticut’s economy, it looks like the Zoo will soon be able to welcome you back. Our number one priority is keeping you, our staff, and our animals safe as we move forward. We appreciate your support and patience as we work together to figure out the coming months. Please look at our website for all the up-to-date information.
Please, share this incredible donor match opportunity with your friends and family.
We can’t do this without you!
All my best and please stay safe,
Click HERE to make a donation.

Sad News From The Beardsley Zoo

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Jan 112020

We are sad to announce that due to advanced age, declining health and quality of life considerations, the Zoo bid farewell to our North American bison, Sweetpea, through euthanasia.

Sweetpea was born at the Zoo, and is remembered by her animal care staff and friends as a “gentle giant.”

Animal Care Specialist and Zoo Registrar Linda Tomas summed up the feelings of Zoo staff in her comment: “I will always remember her for her eager anticipation for treats, her happy play with a new tree or pumpkin in the yard and her soft fuzzy head. I miss her and am grateful for having had the chance to be a part of her life.”

Fantastic! — Amur Leopard Cubs Now On Display At the Beardsley Zoo

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Jun 182019

The Beardsley Zoo welcomed two rare Amur Leopard cubs in January. The male looks like his parents (brown with spots) But his sister looks more like a panther. she also doesn’t have that magnificent tail — it had to be amputated after her mom cleaned her soon after birth.
As far as her coloring, well, here’s a press release from the zoo that thoroughly explains that:
One of the two Amur leopard cubs  (Panthera pardus orientalis) at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo has a condition known as melanism. The male cub has the usual spotted coat, while the female cub is melanistic, a condition where the body produces an excess of black pigment, the opposite of albinism.
At first, a melanistic cat might look solid black, but even melanistic leopards are spotted. If you get a close look, you may be able to discern a pattern of black rosettes on a black background. Researchers have found that frequencies of melanism in leopards vary significantly across habitat types—highest in tropical moist forests and near zero in open habitats.
A melanistic cat living in deep jungle amid thick vegetation—where there are significant areas of dark shade—can blend into the background. But in the Amur leopard’s open-forest habitat, areas of dark shade are harder to come by, making a melanistic leopard much easier to spot.

For a leopard, survival depends on spotting prey before being spotted, so blending into the background is important. For that reason, while the Zoo’s female cub may one day be recommended for breeding, any of her descendants would not be included in reintroduction plans. For reintroduction, the intent is to produce genetic lines that will maximize survival in the wild. A melanistic cat, while normal in all other aspects, is at a disadvantage in the wild, because they would be more noticeable than typically spotted leopards.

While 11 percent of leopards alive today are thought to be melanistic, most are found in Southeast Asia, where tropical forests offer an abundance of shade. Melanism provides additional camouflage in those habitats, giving the predators an advantage when hunting. An extremely rare melanistic leopard was recently sighted in Africa for the first time in a century. There is currently one other melanistic Amur leopard in this country at the San Diego Zoo.

NOTE: The babies are now on display in their mother’s usual habitat with a viewing window. On Monday they didn’t come out until around 1 p.m. but that could change.
Before your children go off to summer camp, make sure you bring them to the zoo to see these magnificent cats.

Orange Day At The Beardsley Zoo

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Sep 292018

It only happens once a year, and that time is coming soon.

Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo, 1875 Noble Avenue, Bridgeport will host Orange Day on Sunday, Sept. 30.

Orange residents can enjoy a day of fun at the zoo from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for a reduced admission cost of just $5 with an ID as proof of residence.

This is a great time to visit the zoo. Rochan the Red Panda and his new mate Mari are preparing to move into their new habitat. Shy, the Red Wolf has a new companion named Peanut. And of course, the two tiger cubs are getting bigger and more beautiful every day.

One of the most exciting things to happen this past summer is the birth of a baby Giant Anteater on July 30. The previous one was born a couple of years ago and everyone had a wonderful time watching it grow.

Unfortunately, you probably won’t be able to see this little boy by Orange Day as he’s still a little too young.

So, mark your calendars and cross your fingers for excellent fall weather on Sept. 30. Don’t forget your ID!