The El Paso Zoo announced Wednesday the loss of Ash, a 14-year-old Mexican gray wolf.
The animal care team at the zoo determined that euthanasia was the most humane option because medical intervention was no longer able to help her declining condition. Ash had a number of common age-related health issues, including arthritis in her knees and back, that were being managed by the animal care and Veterinary teams.
“I’ve been at the Zoo for over 15 years, so I’ve watched Ash and Ivy grow as part of the Zoo family,” said Area Supervisor Tony Zydonyk. “Ash was a longtime resident, and I know all of us are going to miss her, especially the keepers in her area.”
Ash and her sister Ivy were born at the Columbus Zoo, transferred to the Cincinnati Zoo, and both were later transferred to the El Paso Zoo.
Ash’s sister, Ivy, passed away last month, and pathology results are still pending to determine her cause of death.
Both had exceeded the life expectancy for Mexican gray wolves under human care. Zephyr, an 11-year-old male Mexican wolf, appears to be in good health.
The El Paso Zoo has worked diligently in efforts to conserve the Mexican wolf.
In addition to the wolves that currently live at the Zoo, the Zoo has sponsored various Mexican wolf conservation efforts, and recently, Zoo staff worked with the Turner Endangered Species Fund (TESF) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to vaccinate, examine and treat eleven Mexican wolves that were released into the wild.
The El Paso Zoo invites the community to celebrate Earth Day with a Party for the Planet from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, April 22 and 23, at the zoo.
The family-friendly celebration will include live entertainment, piñatas for the animals, games and fun activities. There will be Earth Day-related arts and crafts, interactive activities, booths, and kid-friendly yoga classes all weekend.
Part of the celebration incudes animal enrichment for Zoo animals like the elephants, meerkats, and orangutans.
Party for the Planet reminds the community about three things regarding the El Paso Zoo:
The zoo provides excellent and expert care for animals, prioritizing their welfare and wellbeing.
The zoo is actively saving wildlife from extinction through its conservation work at the zoo and in the field.
The zoo acts and communicates with the purpose of inspiring people to value wild animals, taking responsibility for their safeguarding and action for their stability.
The Junior League of El Paso’s Eco Garden Committee and the El Paso Zoo invite the community to the Grand Opening of the Eco Garden and Education Area at the El Paso Zoo.
The community is invited to stop by and see all the hard work that the committee has put in to the existing gardens and the expansion of the educational area this Saturday, April 22 (Earth Day) from 10:00a.m. to 2:00p.m.
The Eco Garden project fosters a culture of sustainability within the El Paso community. The Junior League of El Paso and the El Paso Zoological Society have partnered to develop, plant and grow an eco-community garden and provide educational opportunities for the community. The
Eco Garden will provide a platform for Junior League of El Paso volunteers to educate zoo visitors on how sustainability practices can be applied by citizens in their everyday lives.
WHO: Junior League of El Paso and El Paso Zoo
WHEN: Saturday, April 22, 2017 from 10:00 a.m. – 2 p.m.
WHERE: El Paso Zoo 4001 E. Paisano Dr., El Paso, Texas 79905
The El Paso Zoo has welcomed a new male peninsular pronghorn fawn to the herd.
Bowser weighed-in at approximately 8 pounds when he was born on exhibit March 31 to parents Princessa and Tabasco. It is fawning season, and there are at least two other pregnant peninsular pronghorns at the Zoo.
Two weeks ago, the El Paso Zoo staff was saddened over the loss of 2-year-old peninsular pronghorn, Peach. Peach was pregnant, but unfortunately the delivery required veterinary intervention, and the fawn did not survive. Peach also died during the night due to complications from the difficult labor and delivery.
“Fawning season is a critical stage in protecting the peninsular pronghorn species,” said Zoo Director Steve Marshall. “Losing Peach and her fawn was incredibly difficult for the entire staff, but we know situations like that can happen. We’re all just glad Princessa and Bowser made it through the birth without any complications.”
Zoo staff are monitoring Bowser and Princessa, and all pronghorns at the Zoo throughout fawning season.
The El Paso Zoo is active in their home range conservation efforts. Bowser’s birth is part of a breeding recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan® (SSP) to aid in the species’ conservation. Peninsular pronghorn are currently listed as “critically endangered” in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™. This makes this species one category before “extinct.”
Bowser and the other peninsular pronghorns at the Zoo serve as an example of the Zoo’s three-pillars of wildlife conservation.
The Zoo is actively saving wildlife from extinction through its conservation work at the zoo and in the field.
The Zoo provides excellent and expert care for animals, prioritizing their welfare and wellbeing.
The Zoo acts and communicates with the purpose of inspiring people to value wild animals, taking responsibility for their safeguarding and action for their stability.
Staff Report March 22, 2017NewsComments Off on El Paso Zoo: Juno’s Cancer Treatment Procedure Successful412
Wednesday afternoon, Dr. Lisa DiBernardi of Gulf Coast Veterinary Specialists, Dr. Joe Impellizeri of Veterinary Oncology Services, and the El Paso Zoo animal care team successfully performed electrochemotherapy on Juno, one of the zoo’s Asian elephants.
“We broke the tumor down into four quadrants and treated each quadrant with the electrochemotherapy,” said Dr. Impellizeri. “This is an extremely large tumor, the largest I’ve ever treated, but if you break it down into quadrants, you can treat it like four or five smaller tumors.”
“We are all glad the procedure was completed without any complications,” said Zoo Director, Steve Marshall. “Because Juno is a geriatric elephant, we were careful in selecting a course of action that minimized both risk and recovery time. This is a cutting edge procedure and is a great example of an accredited zoo’s capacity to provide professional and compassionate care for the well-being of its animals.”
Juno was put under general anesthesia for approximately an hour and a half. During the procedure, the tumor was infused with a chemotherapy drug and then treated with a small electric pulse that draws the chemotherapy into the cancer cells. Juno is alert and walking and will be monitored closely as she recovers from the procedure. The Zoo’s short term follow-up will be to monitor the site of the procedure.
Dr. Victoria Milne, El Paso Zoo veterinarian, says the next steps of Juno’s treatment will be dictated by her response to the electrochemotherapy. “Depending on how she reacts to this procedure, she may undergo another round of electrochemotherapy. This type of procedure, unlike invasive surgical procedures, allows for multiple treatments, so for now, we’ll monitor her and see how she does over the next few weeks.”
Juno is one of two Asian elephants at the El Paso Zoo. Asian elephants are endangered according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, the classifying authority for species worldwide. Both of the Asian elephants at the El Paso Zoo are elderly, with ages beyond the average life expectancy for Asian elephants.
Juno was diagnosed with a malignant mass in her right mammary gland in January. After careful consideration due to her diagnosis and age, the Zoo decided working with Dr. DiBernardi and Dr. Impellizeri on this procedure was the best course of action for Juno.
Staff Report March 20, 2017NewsComments Off on El Paso Zoo Celebrates International Eagle Day by Debuting Bald Eagle at Bird Show393
The debut of “Patriot” is to celebrate International Eagle Day. Patriot is a non-releasable eagle who came to the El Paso Zoo from the Dickerson Park Zoo. He was found injured but has recovered, thanks to the help of dedicated caregivers.
Unfortunately, he has nerve damage in his foot, which makes him unable to hunt on his own in the wild.
Patriot is a juvenile bald eagle, which means he does not have the recognizable bald, white head. He will develop that over the next two or three years as he matures.
Patriot serves as an example of the Zoo’s three-pillars of wildlife conservation.
The Zoo provides excellent and expert care for animals, prioritizing their welfare and wellbeing.
The Zoo is actively saving wildlife from extinction through its conservation work at the zoo and in the field.
The Zoo acts and communicates with the purpose of inspiring people to value wild animals, taking responsibility for their safeguarding and action for their stability
WHO: The El Paso Zoo
WHAT: The El Paso Zoo is debuting its young bald eagle “Patriot” at the daily Wings of the World bird show as part of International Eagle Day
WHEN: Today, March 20, 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and 2:30 p.m.
The Fashion Ink show, dedicated to promote the cultural lifestyle of tattoo artists, fashion designers, inked models and business professionals within the industry, was held Thursday night at the El Paso Zoo.
And while it’s unknown if he’s inked up or not, our very own Andres Acosta was there and brings you his view in today’s ‘Story in Many Pics’
Staff Report March 3, 2017NewsComments Off on El Paso Zoo’s Juno the Elephant will Receive Cancer Treatment1,097
The El Paso Zoo has chosen a treatment protocol for Juno, the 49-year-old Asian elephant diagnosed with a malignant mass in her right mammary gland in January.
The zoo team discussed her case with elephant experts and veterinary specialists around the United States to determine the best course of action. Cancer is rare in elephants, and this type of tumor has never been previously reported.
With the assistance of Dr. Joe Impellizeri of Veterinary Oncology Services in New York and Dr. Lisa DiBernardi of Gulf Coast Veterinary Specialists in Houston, Juno will receive a new tumor treatment that involves localized chemotherapy enhanced with electro-stimulation to the site, known as electrochemotherapy.
The procedure will take place later this month with Juno being put under general anesthesia for a short time. The tumor will then be infused with a chemotherapy drug and then treated with a small electric pulse to make it more susceptible to the chemotherapy drug.
This advanced procedure requires a much smaller amount of the chemotherapy drug and reduces the side effects that come with chemotherapy drugs in her system.
“We’re encouraged to have found a treatment option that is more aggressive than monitoring but without the risks that come with an invasive surgery or traditional chemotherapy,” said Zoo Veterinarian Dr. Victoria Milne. “There is less risk with this treatment, but we’re still tackling this tumor.”
Given Juno’s size and age, there is always a certain level of risk when going under general anesthesia. This less invasive treatment also minimizes her time under anesthesia compared to surgery.
Dr. DiBernardi is double board-certified in veterinary medical and radiation oncology. “I am enthusiastic and honored to participate in Juno’s care at the El Paso Zoo,” DiBernardi said. “We are all optimistic the nontraditional approach will control her cancer while offering an excellent quality of life.”
Dr. Impellizeri, a board-certified veterinary oncologist, echoed her sentiments. “I am privileged to be involved in Juno’s cancer treatment. We are hopeful that this advanced, targeted cancer treatment with electrochemotherapy will control Juno’s cancer and provide a shorter recovery period.”
“We are fortunate to be working with Dr. DiBernardi and Dr. Impellizeri”, said Zoo Director Steve Marshall. “They are incredibly experienced veterinary oncologists, and we are glad they are available to provide Juno with this kind of care. Juno’s a member of our Zoo family, and this is just what we do when one of our animals needs treatment. We use our means and resources to provide care.”
Asian elephants are endangered according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, the classifying authority for species worldwide. Both Asian elephants at the El Paso Zoo are elderly, with ages beyond the average life expectancy for Asian elephants.
Asian elephants are also one of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) SAFE species. SAFE stands for “saving animals from extinction,” and the program focuses the collective expertise within AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums and leverages their massive audiences to save species.
Staff Report March 2, 2017NewsComments Off on El Paso Zoo Mourns the death of Mexican Wolf480
The El Paso Zoo is sad to report the unexpected death of Ivy, the 15-year-old Mexican wolf.
Zookeepers found Ivy dead Thursday morning. The cause of death is not yet known, but a full necropsy has been scheduled.
“I’ve been at the Zoo for almost 20 years, so I’ve been with Ivy since she first got here,” said Area Supervisor Tony Zydonyk. “She was a longtime resident and a great animal. Everybody loved her, and she’s going to be missed.”
Ivy was born at the Cincinnati Zoo and later transferred to the El Paso Zoo. She has been a part of the El Paso Zoo family for more than 12 years.
The male Mexican wolf, Zephyr, and other female wolf, Ash, appear to be in good health. Mexican wolves in zoos have a 12-year life span.
The El Paso Zoo has worked diligently in efforts to conserve the Mexican wolf. In addition to the wolves that currently live at the Zoo, the Zoo has sponsored various Mexican wolf conservation efforts.
Recently, Zoo staff worked with the Turner Endangered Species Fund (TESF) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to vaccinate, examine and treat eleven Mexican wolves that were released into the wild.
The animal care staff at the El Paso Zoo have received a biopsy report indicating a mass in 49-year-old Asian elephant Juno’s right mammary gland appears malignant, meaning the cells in the mass are exhibiting cancerous characteristics.
These results come after several months of close observation and multiple diagnostic procedures. Since receiving the biopsy results, zoo veterinarians have been actively researching safe treatment options and consulting with national elephant health experts to determine the best course of action.
“Cancer of any kind is extremely rare in elephants,” said Zoo Veterinarian Dr. Victoria Milne. “There is no record of a malignant mammary gland tumor ever reported in all of veterinary literature or in the collective veterinary knowledge.”
Since there is not any veterinary literature or research on mammary gland cancer in elephants, there is no way to predict if or how Juno’s mass will progress. Using existing techniques for determining the possible spread of the cancer, such as ultrasounds and X-rays, is not an option because of Juno’s size.
“When a human is diagnosed with cancer, treatment decisions are based on the results gathered from very specific test results and a long history of thousands of cases and outcomes,” said Milne. “For elephants, none of that information exists. So, while the mass looks malignant on a microscopic level, there is no way to be sure what will happen next and there is no previous treatment experience to guide us.”
As the El Paso Zoo veterinary staff continues investigating viable treatment options, some known factors they are continually taking into consideration are the high risks of anesthesia and surgery in geriatric elephants, and elephants’ frequent difficulty in healing from surgical procedures.
“Currently, there are no verified safe treatment options, and only one team has previously performed an elephant mammary gland removal,” said Milne. “No one knows how harmful this mass may or may not be to Juno’s health, but we do know that all of the traditional cancer treatment options could be highly damaging. Healing from this kind of invasive surgical procedure could take up to two years because elephant surgical wounds very frequently become infected and have delayed healing – and it could be incredibly difficult for Juno.”
The El Paso Zoo is taking a conservative approach while continuing to gather additional information. Because of the extreme rarity of cancer in elephants, national elephant experts, including Dr. Michele Miller, Association of Zoos & Aquariums Species Survival Program veterinary advisor, are being consulted. At this time, there are not any elephant health experts who are recommending surgical removal of the mass.
“Surgery in elephants is a serious decision. Healing is often slow and can result in other problems such as infection,” said Miller. “In Juno’s case, it seems prudent to take a more conservative approach to minimize any discomfort and complications associated with surgery.”
Zoo veterinarians and keeper staff are continuing to carefully monitor Juno’s overall health and wellbeing.
The Zoo’s veterinarians will be consulting further with veterinary cancer treatment specialists and the veterinarians who performed the one known previous elephant mastectomy procedure. These additional insights and recommendations will assist staff in creating the best care plan for Juno.
“Our main concern is Juno’s welfare, wellbeing and stress levels,” said El Paso Zoo Director Steve Marshall. “Each of these factors will be constantly taken into consideration when exploring potential treatment options.”
Asian elephants are endangered according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, the classifying authority for species worldwide. Both of the Asian elephants at the El Paso Zoo are elderly, with ages beyond the average life expectancy for Asian elephants.
Staff Report January 9, 2017NewsComments Off on El Paso Zoo Celebrates Save the Eagles Day548
Save the Eagles Day is held every year on January 10 and the El Paso Zoo is part of the celebration that honors these majestic birds of prey and gives thanks to conservation efforts that prevent their extinction.
During the past ten years, the zoo has played an integral role in nursing injured and ill golden eagles back to health. According to El Paso Zoo Veterinarian Dr. Victoria Milne, each of these eagles would likely have died from illness or injury were it not for the efforts of the zoo’s veterinary staff and rehab partners such as Last Chance Forever Bird of Prey Conservancy in San Antonio and Gila Wildlife Rescue in Silver City, New Mexico.
“Our vet team treats the eagles for injuries like fractures and gunshot wounds and infections like West Nile Virus,” said El Paso Zoo Veterinarian Dr. Victoria Milne.
“Once they are healthy, we send them to a wildlife rehabilitator where they prepare the eagles to be released. Like any athlete, the eagles have to get back in shape to fly in the wild after being in the hospital recovering and healing.”
Golden eagles are the national bird of Mexico and one of the largest birds in North America. Known to be impressive hunters, these birds are able to dive at more than 150 miles per hour.
When birds of prey are removed from an area due to injury or illness, the impact on the ecology is profound, making rehabilitation efforts vital to ensure healthy ecosystems.
“We have worked with the El Paso Zoo to release hundreds of hawks, falcons, owls, and eagles,” said founder of the Gila Wildlife Rescue Dennis Miller. “This kind of success rate is almost unheard of in rehab work. The expertise and compassion of the zoo’s veterinary staff is both impressive and heartwarming. We are so glad that we have developed this wonderful partnership with them.”
In addition to caring for golden eagles, the zoo is now home to a male bald eagle named Patriot. Patriot is a rehabilitated bird that could not be released into the wild because of permanent damaged caused by a previous leg injury. Currently, he is working with “The Birdman,” Joe Krathwohl, to acclimate to his new surroundings before meeting the community during the zoo’s Wings of the World bird show.
Staff Report December 20, 2016NewsComments Off on El Paso Zoo Supports long-term Mexican Wolf Conservation812
Earlier this week, photographer and journalist Christina Selby began a 2-day photo shoot with the Mexican wolves at the El Paso Zoo that will support long-term Mexican wolf conservation.
“I am creating a portfolio of images that powerfully tells the story of Mexican wolves,” explained Selby. “I hope to be able to dispel myths about wolf behavior, shed light on the challenges the wolves face, and support the important recovery work that’s happening in our region.”
During her time at the Zoo, Selby is working with zookeepers to photograph the wolves inside their habitat. She has also set up a motion-triggered camera that will allow for closer, more intimate photos.
“The work that zoos do to protect endangered species is really important,” said Selby. “Especially as the wild population is struggling. Zoos will play an increasingly important conservation role going forward and I’m excited to be able to document those efforts here at the El Paso Zoo.”
Supporting Selby’s work is one of the many ways that the El Paso Zoo is investing in Mexican wolf recovery. In October, Zoo staff members assisted conservation organizations in building boundary fences to protect wild wolf populations in the Gila Wilderness.
In addition, during two separate trips in November, members of the Zoo staff helped round up wolves near Truth or Consequences at the Turner Foundation’s Ladder Ranch where they conduct endangered species conservation research and breeding.
During these trips, Zoo staff assisted with physical exams, vaccines, and parasite treatments that prepared the wolves for being released into the wild in Mexico.
“It’s all about partnering,” said Zoo Director Steve Marshall. “No one organization can do it all on their own, but by joining together, we are actively saving animals from extinction. I am very proud that the El Paso Zoo is able to consistently support such important conservation and recovery efforts.”
Selby is a photographer and writer based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She writes about nature, the environment, conservation science, and travel. Her work has appeared in High Country News, Ensia, and Mongabay, among other places.
Selby recently completed a fellowship in science writing with The Open Notebook.
Staff Report December 20, 2016NewsComments Off on El Paso Zoo gets a Pony for the Holidays395
The holidays came early at the El Paso Zoo with the highly-anticipated arrival of Brianna, the Zoo’s first female Przewalski’s horse.
Brianna arrived on Tuesday, December 6, and will soon join Vitalis, the Zoo’s male Przewalski’s horse, to become the Zoo’s first breeding pair of these endangered horses.
“In the 1960s, Przewalski’s horse were extinct in the wild,” explained Zoo Director Steve Marshall. “We are proud to join the important ongoing effort to preserve these magnificent creatures and reintroduce them to their natural habitats.”
Brianna came to the El Paso Zoo from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia. Born at the Bronx Zoo, she is eight years old and weighs approximately 775 pounds. The transfer comes as a recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), whose Species Survival Plan®(SSP) works to conserve species such as the Przewalski’s horse through breeding and transfer plans.
These plans are designed to empower accredited zoos, including the El Paso Zoo, to protect and breed endangered animals in order to save them from extinction.
“Now that Brianna has arrived at the Zoo, she will go through a 30-40 day quarantine period,” explained Zoo Veterinarian Dr. Misty Garcia. “We just want to make sure she is healthy and has some quiet time to adjust to her new surroundings. So far she is doing very well.”
Muscular and stocky with light brown bodies and bristly black manes, Przewalski’s horses are the only wild, undomesticated horse remaining in the world. Their name, pronounced “shuh-VAL-skee” comes from Nikolai Przewalski, the 19th-century explorer who is credited with their discovery.
Through the collaborative efforts of AZA-accredited zoos and conservation partners, hundreds of Przewalski’s horses have returned to the wild. While there are still threats to the Przewalski’s horse’s survival, including climate change and encroaching private farms, active conservation strategies and breeding initiatives such as these will help ensure a stable, genetically-diverse population that will roam the wild for years to come.
Staff Report December 14, 2016NewsComments Off on El Paso Zoo Opens State-of-the-Art Wildlife Amphitheater611
The El Paso Zoo is pleased to announce the opening of the latest Quality of Life Bond Project at the zoo, the new Wildlife Amphitheater.
The unique, new venue boasting 300-seats in a state-of-the-art amphitheater, is one of the several exciting Quality of Life Bond projects that has now been completed throughout the City of El Paso. The theater serves as a place for guests to engage and learn in a whole new way through animal encounters, educational programs, concerts, and much more.
The El Paso Zoo invites to public to attend the first show, Wings of the World, at the Wildlife Amphitheater stage at 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, December 17. Shows will take place at 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. on weekends and 12:30 p.m. on weekdays.
The El Paso Zoo is proud to welcome Wings of the World thanks to a generous sponsorship from Paul and Alejandra Foster and the El Paso Zoological Society.
Wings of the World is a world-renowned free flight bird show and will be a one-of-a-kind opportunity for Zoo guests to experience the majesty of animals as they swoop, soar, and dive through the air. The show will be led by Joe Krathwohl, known as The Birdman, who has dedicated himself to the care and preservation of birds and has developed the largest free flight bird show in the world (and the only show featuring trained condors and cassowary!).
Zoo officials say that, “The Wildlife Amphitheater project was made possible through the 2012 Quality of Life Bond, through which the El Paso Zoo was approved for $50 million to complete a 10-year master plan that will allow the Zoo to continue to be an engaging place of discovery, a respected center for informal environmental education, a contributor to stewardship-based conservation action and a destination for great fun.”
During their regular city council meeting on Tuesday, El Paso City Council approved two donations totaling nearly $900,000 for the El Paso Zoological Society.
The first donation, part of a two million dollar gift from Paul Foster, will be used to purchase a Point of Sale (POS) system for the Zoo. This system will allow guests to purchase admission tickets online, RSVP for Zoo events, and reserve spots at scheduled zoo events.
“This system will make a big difference for Zoo guests,” said Executive Director of the El Paso Zoological Society Renee Neuert. “It will be a great way for families to be able to plan ahead and skip the lines!”
The second donation, $800,000 from the Hunt Family Foundation, will be used to purchase a 36-foot carousel and shade structure. The carousel will feature a wide variety of endangered species, including: lions, tigers, elephants, zebras, giraffes, gorillas, red pandas, sea otters, and even a triceratops. The carousel will also feature a bird’s nest spinning tub and a wheelchair-accessible swan chariot.
The endangered species carousel, built by Chance Rides, will be located inside the new Asia entrance, a project funded by the 2012 Quality of Life bonds. The entrance will feature a Southeast Asia Gateway, themed landscaping and lighting, and a shaded seating area around the carousel.
Construction is scheduled to begin in 2017.
“The new carousel is an important part of our 10-year master plan and will be a wonderful addition to our Zoo,” said Director of the El Paso Zoo Steve Marshall. “We greatly appreciate the support of the El Paso Zoological Society and the generous donors.”
With the approval from City Council, the El Paso Zoological Society will now move forward with both projects, purchasing the POS system and putting a deposit on the carousel in early December.
“We are very thankful for the generous support of community leaders like Paul Foster and the Hunt Family who believe that building a great Zoo is building economic development for our City,” said Neuert. “This is a wonderful opportunity for the Zoological Society to once again support our El Paso Zoo.”