Zoo Welcomes New Members to the Family!

Date: 
Thu, 09/02/2010

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - September 2, 2010 -- Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo, the state's only zoo, invites the public to meet its newest additions to the family - an Andean condor and three llamas. All four additions are acclimating well to their new homes and are ready to meet and greet the public.

The three year old male Andean condor is quite a bit younger than his predecessor, Thaao (pronounced TAY-OH), who passed away in January at nearly 80 years of age. Thaao was oldest known Andean condor living in captivity.

"Our new condor has some pretty big shoes to fill," joked Gregg Dancho, Zoo director. "Thaao was our ambassador, as the first animal to greet visitors as they came into the Zoo. We are confident that this spry guy will bring his youthful enthusiasm to that role."

The condor joins the Zoo from the White Oaks Conservation Center in Yulee, Florida, but he was hatched at the Denver Zoo. Andean condors are massive birds. With a wing span of up to 10.5 feet and reaching an average weight of up to 33 pounds, they are among the largest in the world that are able to fly. Condors are vultures, so they keep their sharp eyes on the lookout for the carrion that makes up the majority of their diet. The Zoo's new addition weighs in at 27 pounds and stands three feet tall.

The Zoo's long-term plan is to mate the condor as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP), a national effort to ensure the survival of certain endangered species. A mating pair of Andean condor produces only a single offspring every other year, and both parents must care for their young for a full year.

Visitors will be thrilled to see that llamas are once again part of the Zoo family. The three llama were donated to the Zoo from a Connecticut llama farm wishing to remain anonymous. All three are male, and two are 16 year old brothers. The brothers, Lawrence and George, are tan in color. The third, named Yugi, is six years old has black and white coloration. The popular animals will be housed in an exhibit adjacent to the prairie dogs.

The llama is a South American relative of the camel, though the llama does not have a hump. These sturdy creatures are domestic animals used by the peoples of the Andes Mountains. As herbivores, llamas graze on grass and, like cows, regurgitate their food and chew it as cud. Llamas can survive by eating many different kinds of plants and they need very little water.

"I am excited that there will be four new additions to our already impressive collection of beautiful animals. I urge everyone to visit and welcome the Andean condor and three llamas to our City!" said Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch.

While the Zoo's new condor and llamas are wowing the crowds, Labor Day weekend will be the last chance to experience the Wonders of Wildlife special summer show. This 20-minute interactive program introduces kids of all ages to some the world's most fascinating animals. Visitors are invited to explore exotic places like deserts, rain forests, wetlands, and even Connecticut's backyard forests while learning about the amazing adaptations that allow animals to call those places home. Presented at the Zoo's Learning Circle, this event is FREE with Zoo admission with performances Wednesday through Sunday, including Labor Day, at 11:00 A.M. and 2:00 P.M.

Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo is closer than you think and is open daily from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. Adult admission (ages 12 & older) is $11.00, children (ages 3 -11) and senior admission (62 and older) is just $9.00, and children under 3 years old and Zoo members are admitted free. Parking at the Zoo is free of charge.