Going Batty at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo

When you find the only mammal on earth that has developed the ability to fly, it’s definitely interesting. When you realize that one single member of that species can eat up to 1,200 insects an hour, it becomes that much more intriguing. And if the species also helps to pollinate crops and spread fruit seeds, then looking out for its health and welfare is critical. In this case, we’re discussing the role of the bat in nature, a creature too often maligned and misunderstood. Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo’s Linda Tomas, Animal Care and Registrar for the Zoo, has made protecting bats part of her life’s work. A visit to her office is a peek into her passion, with photos of bats, bat calendars, and bat books surrounding her desk. The first idea she’d like to dispel is that bats are somehow vicious. “When you see the photos of bats with their mouths open, they’re echo-locating,” she explains. Echolocation is a kind of sonar used by bats to emit sounds, and they then listen to the echoes from those sounds to locate objects—and avoid bumping into them. “They don’t want to come near you,” Tomas said. There are 40 species of bats in the United States; Connecticut is home to eight of them. They are: the Little Brown bat (Myotis lucifugus), the Big Brown bat (Eptesicus fuscus), the Eastern Long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis), the Tri-colored/Eastern Pipistrelle bat (Perimyotis subflavus), the Silver-haired bat (Lasionycteris noctivagans), the Hoary bat (Lasiurus cinereus), the Eastern Red bat (Lasiurus borealis), and the Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis).  The Eastern Small-footed bat (Myotis leibii) has not been has...

Making Moves: the Strategy Behind Zoo Animal Transfers

Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo’s Deputy Director Don Goff Guides the Nation’s Zoos in Ensuring the Survival of 18 Species of Big Cats A visit to a zoo to see the big cats, and small– tigers, lions, leopards and ocelots, among others– is a thrilling moment for many families. What’s invisible to the public is the careful genetic strategy that ensures that endangered species will be around for a future we can’t yet foresee. Sadly, poaching, climate change and habitat destruction has caused the decline of a number of cat species in the wild. A science-based breeding program overseen by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and their Species Survival Plan (SSP) is the lifeline for many species in zoo collections. The Species Survival Plan was designed in 1981 to oversee population management of select species in AZA-member zoos, and to enhance conservation of those species in the wild. Each of those programs, in turn, is overseen by a Taxon Advisory Group (TAG). There are 46 TAGs, each dedicated to a specific family of animals, from amphibians to wild pigs.  A lifetime devoted to caring for the cats has put Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo Deputy Director Don Goff in the Felid TAG catbird seat. He’s co-chaired the AZA’s Felid (cat species) TAG for the past five years. “When an AZA-accredited zoo has an animal birth, like the Canada lynx kittens born at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo last spring, it’s hardly ever accidental. As delightful as zoo babies are to our guests, zoo births only occur when the SSP group for that species has determined that a member zoo has an opening for that...

Bye Bye Babies! Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo Says It’s Time to Say Goodbye to Two Canada Lynx Kittens

Last Chance to See Kittens Before They Move to the Buffalo Zoo Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo will say goodbye soon to its two Canada Lynx kittens, Ruby and Penny, as they will move in the next several weeks to their permanent home at the Buffalo Zoo. Born on April 26, 2017, the six-month-old kittens are part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) program, which is designed to help ensure the survival of selected species, most of which are threatened or endangered in the wild. The Zoo announced the birth of the kittens on Endangered Species Day to emphasize the critical role of today’s accredited zoos in conservation programs. There is an SSP program in place for each family of animals through oversight by a group called the Taxon Advisory Group (TAG). The Felid (or Cat Family) Taxon Advisory Group makes breeding recommendations for big cats in zoos across the country, based on genetics, age and health of animals, and need for more of the species to protect future populations. Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo’s Deputy Director, Don Goff, is the Chairman of the National Felid TAG group. He leads a committee of AZA-accredited Zoo members whose goal is to save declining species through carefully researched breeding recommendations. “As sad as we are to say goodbye to Ruby and Penny, the kittens will be leaving us sometime this fall—as soon as their new home is ready,” said Goff. “The planned transfer of animals to other member zoos ensures the sustainability of a healthy, genetically diverse, and demographically varied AZA population.” “Wildlife conservation is one of our most...

Albertus Magnus College Hosts Experiential Education Event at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo

Discussion Centered on the Importance of Internships in Post-Graduate Education and Employment Albertus Magnus College hosted a professional development day on Experiential Education at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo on Friday, October 20. Created for guidance counselors and other education professionals, the group was addressed by Sean Michael Green, vice president of Enrollment Management, Patrick Clifford, director of Career Services, Wiley Dawson, Internship and Career counselor, and Devon DeLallo, a Veterinary Medicine student at the University of Wisconsin—Madison. As an example of a student who utilized this education concept to advance her studies, Devon DeLallo, an alumna of the Albertus Magnus class of 2017, leveraged internships at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo to earn admission into multiple doctoral programs in Veterinary Medicine. DeLallo graduated with a B.S. in Biology and a minor in Chemistry, and is currently a first year student at the University of Wisconsin—Madison, School of Veterinary Medicine. DeLallo interned for six animal-related organizations: Maritime Aquarium, Roxbury Animal Clinic, Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo, Milford Animal Hospital, Yale University Department of Comparative Medicine, and Albertus Magnus College Research. She credits her extensive resume as well as her lab research work at Yale for her multiple acceptances to veterinary schools.  “(College is) a lot of books and a lot of sitting down. I didn’t enjoy it until I discovered experiential opportunities, “ said Sean-Michael Green, vice president for enrollment management at Albertus Magnus and president of the board of directors at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo. After a stint in the Marine Corps., he went on to earn nine degrees, two of them in law. He has been both a student “with a deep intellectural curiosity,” and...

Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo Breaks Ground on New Green Infrastructure Projects

Second Stage Includes Two New Rain Gardens and Water-Permeable Parking Area The second stage of an ongoing green infrastructure project began this week at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo, designed to filter stormwater before it reaches the nearby Pequonnock River, and ultimately, Long Island Sound. Runoff from rainwater can wash pollutants into the river, including oil and chemicals from automobiles, bacteria, and other debris and sediment, potentially harming aquatic life. By installing two new rain gardens and more permeable pavers in the parking lot, the intent is to allow storm water to migrate through the soil and be biologically treated.  The project is a partnership between Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo and Connecticut Fund for the Environment (CFE)/Save the Sound. The project was launched in April 2016 with the installation of one rain garden and a small segment of porous walkway. This second phase will increase the amount of stormwater that can be captured from the parking lot and allowed to percolate in the soil before releasing clean water into the Pequonnock River. The rain gardens’ and walkway’s prominent locations also serve as a learning laboratory and public education site for Zoo guests. “We have rain gardens all around the Zoo grounds, “ said Zoo Director Gregg Dancho. “ Those gardens also become habitats, which we like. The gardens and permeable pavers are part of our focus on environmental conservation, caring about anything that affects plant, animal and human life.”   On Wednesday, October 18, Save the Sound co-hosted a green stormwater infrastructure workshop with the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) at the Zoo as part of the new construction phase. Participants learned the...