When the Weather Outside is Frightful at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo

Keeping Animals Healthy and Safe in Frigid Winter Temperatures BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – January 5, 2018 – Whether it’s a blustery day of snow, or a number of days in a row with bitterly cold temperatures, the animal care staff at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo is prepared to keep their animal charges safe and warm. For most of the animals, their exhibits offer them the opportunity to choose whether they are outside or in, and they spend the day going back and forth. Some of the Zoo’s animals are delighted to be in the midst of snow and ice, ignoring their heated dens. That includes the North American River otters with their dense fur that prepares them for a deep freeze. The Amur leopards and Amur tigers are also frigid-weather hardy, as their native range is the cold winters of the Russian Far East and China, and they happily choose the snow and wind.  The Canada lynx is another species that finds January weather a breeze, with a native habitat that extends into Siberia, Alaska, and Canada. Many of the North American species have evolved in cold weather climates, with heavy fur to keep them warm in spite of harsh winds and deep snow. Species like the Bison, the Pronghorn, and the Red panda are well suited to the coldest temperatures. For the alligators and outdoor aviary turtle pond, the pool heater is turned up to 65 degrees. By increasing the temperature the heat rises off the water, and birds perch over the pond and absorb the radiant heat from the water. Christmas trees are put out for the raptors and...

Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo Receives $10,000 grant from the PSEG Foundation

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – January 3, 2018 – Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo has received a $10,000 grant from the PSEG Foundation and the Corporate, Culture, and Citizenship Department on behalf of the Zoo’s Conservation Discovery Corps (CDC). The PSEG Foundation provides grants where PSEG Power Connecticut does business, including Bridgeport and New Haven, Conn. Their goal is to partner with the most effective organizations to strengthen communities and enhance quality of life in their territories. The CDC is a yearlong program designed to allow high school students to work side by side with field biologists, study the role of zoos in conservation, and help educate zoo guests. The CDC is accepting applications now, through January 15, 2018. Training begins in February. “Our CDC Program encourages teens to become stewards of wildlife,” said Zoo Director Gregg Dancho. “We’re grateful for our partners in supporting teens in our community, giving them the opportunity to gain hands-on experience and learn more about animal welfare.” Power Plant Manager Karl Wintermeyer said, “PSEG Power Connecticut believes that partnering with local organizations such as Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo and their CDC Program is part of our core mission of excellence in environmental stewardship. Our strong relationships within the community help us identify and implement innovative environmental solutions, and contribute to the wellbeing and prosperity of the communities where we live and work.” “These partnerships support our ability to invest in areas such as energy efficiency and solar energy, which are critical to our sustainable energy future,” he added. The Zoo is grateful to its many members, supporters, and corporate partners that help to educate, delight, and bring animal...

Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo Receives Neighborhood Assistance Act Grant from AVANGRID

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – Dec. 21, 2017 – Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo has received a $9,384 grant from AVANGRID and its Connecticut companies, United Illuminating, Southern Connecticut Gas and Connecticut Natural Gas, aimed at helping improve energy efficiency and save on energy costs. Zoo Director Gregg Dancho accepted the grant, awarded under the auspices of Connecticut’s Neighborhood Assistance Act Tax Credit Program. The state’s Neighborhood Assistance Act (NAA) Tax Credit Program provides a corporate tax credit to encourage businesses to provide financial support to qualified local nonprofit organizations. Since 2010, the Connecticut AVANGRID companies have awarded more than $2.9 million in grants through the program. “We are grateful to AVANGRID for their donation, which helps us allocate more resources to Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo’s mission of animal conservation, education, research, and recreation,” said Dancho. “The Tax Credit Program is an effective way for corporations to help support our Zoo, and provide a positive impact for Connecticut residents.” “For our nonprofit partners, we know every dollar saved on energy is a dollar that can be spent on programs and services in the community,” said Anthony Maron III, president and CEO of Connecticut operations for Avangrid...

Rare Amur Tiger Cubs Born at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo

Zoo Staff Providing Critical Care to Two Kittens,  Important to Survival of Critically Endangered Tiger Species BRIDGEPORT, Conn. –— December 11, 2017 – Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo’s ten-year-old Amur tiger (Panthera tigris altaica), Changbai, gave birth on November 25 to four tiger cubs, although only two survived.  The two surviving cubs, both females, were removed from Changbai when she showed no interest in taking care of them. Both two-week-old cubs are in seclusion in the Zoo hospital, housed in a 90-degree ambient temperature enclosure, with a base warmed to 85 degrees to sustain the cubs’ warmth.  “We are hand feeding the babies five times a day,” explained Zoo Director Gregg Dancho. “They are being given a feline milk replacement formula, supplemented with vitamins. They are a little underweight, possibly due to the age of their mother and the fact that there were four kittens in the litter.” Survival of the two remaining cubs is still a challenge. Zoo veterinarians and animal care staff are doing everything they can to get them through this critical time. It will be several more weeks before the cubs will be available for viewing by the public. Zoo staff was aware of the tiger’s pregnancy through fecal hormone testing, and had been keeping a 24-hour watch on Changbai for the past few weeks. A female tiger at the age of ten has only a twenty percent change of a successful pregnancy, so good husbandry and a quick response from the animal care team makes a difference.  When Zoo staff saw the firstborn kitten unresponsive and that Changbai was disinterested in grooming or nursing the remaining...

Reindeer Arrive at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo

Santa’s Helpers Visit the Zoo for the Holiday Season  BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – Nov. 24, 2017 – A pair of reindeer are visiting the Zoo for the holiday season. Santa’s helpers Sam and Jacob arrived from the Far North and are settled into their new home, a temporary exhibit near the Victorian Greenhouse. The yearling males will be Zoo guests until New Year’s, with the possible exception of Christmas Eve.  (Their short departure on that evening would take place after the Zoo closes for the evening, and they would be back in their enclosure on the morning of December 26, when the Zoo re-opens after Christmas.) “Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo is proud to welcome our reindeer guests. It’s been a long time since we’ve had reindeer at the Zoo, so we encourage everyone to come visit them while they’re here,” said Gregg Dancho, zoo director. “It’s an incredible opportunity for our guests to see these fascinating animals up close.” The zoo is grateful to our special exhibit sponsors for making the reindeer visit possible: People’s United Bank, Wheels Up, and Aquarion Water Company. About Reindeer Reindeer are medium-sized deer entirely covered in fur from their noses to their hooves. They are the only deer species to have fur completely covering their nose. Their antlers are the Reindeer’s most striking characteristic, and in comparison to their body size, Reindeer have the largest and heaviest antlers of all living deer species. They are also the only species where both males and females have antlers. Reindeer weigh between 240 and 600 pounds, and are between four and five feet tall. They are uniquely adapted...

Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo and Fairfield University Use Ground Penetrating Radar to Map Prairie Dog Burrows

Study Partners Include State Archeologist, the Connecticut State Museum of Natural History, and United States Department of Agriculture  BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – November 20, 2017 – Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo’s bellwether behavioral studies program in concert with the Biology Department at Fairfield University has gone one step further to improve animal welfare and conservation: using the latest technology to solve an underground mystery. An encounter between Ashley Byun, Ph.D., Fairfield University’s associate professor of biology and Brian Jones, Ph.D., state archaeologist, at a recent TEDx event in Danbury spurred the idea for using Ground Penetrating Radar to map the complicated maze of burrows that is home to two Black-Tailed prairie dog colonies at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo. Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) mapping equipment was brought to the Zoo by Jones. David Colbert, program and public information coordinator for the Connecticut State Museum of Natural History, and Debbie Surabian, state soil scientist with the United States Department of Agriculture, assisted in the work. The team was joined by Scott Brady, with the Friends of the Office of State Archaeology (FOSA), and Jim Knox, curator of education for the Zoo, along with Linda Tomas Zoo Registrar, and Animal Care Specialists Greg Westman and J.T. Warner. Rope lines and colored flags identified a path for the radar equipment to follow, corresponding to careful measurements of the burrows beneath the ground. The GPR equipment was guided over the uneven terrain on a wheeled cart. “We’ve been tracking the prairie dog colony for three years now,” said Byun. “We’ve tried a lot of different ways to figure out the different burrow connections and the population dynamics in...