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Friday , October 19 2018
Home | Tag Archives: el paso zoo

Tag Archives: el paso zoo

El Dorado Teacher Earns Grant to Give IB Students Unique El Paso Zoo Experience

El Dorado High School students took a behind the scenes tour of the El Paso Zoo giving them the opportunity for project-based learning in their International Baccalaureate biology class.

The unique experience was made possible after their teacher, Amber Berestein, won the Innovative Teaching and Training grant by the Texas IB Schools Association (TIBS). The award recognizes outstanding IB teachers and programs, and provides enriching academic experiences for students.

Berestein was one of six Texas educators to earn the $1,000 TIBS grant for her unit of study IB Biology HL Zoological Cooperative. The program is the first of its kind in El Paso. It allowed students to learn about wild animals, their habitats, conservation issues, and the ways in which they can contribute to their preservation.

“Ecology and conservation are a very important part of our curriculum,” Berestein said. “It’s one thing to talk about it in the classroom, but I wanted to bring the kids to ecology and conservation, and what better way than at the El Paso Zoo.”

Students appreciated the two-day hands-on approach to zoological preservation. Aside from seeing the exotic animals, they signed petitions to help the critically endangered Mexican Wolf, visited the medical facility, and the commissary where the animals’ diets are prepared.

“I really enjoyed the firsthand experience,” said Riley Perez, a senior at El Dorado. “I was never aware of the conservation project that the El Paso Zoo is a part of, and the role they play in conserving different species and animals.”

Another student, Kaitlyn Rodriguez, said her favorite part was touring the medical center, seeing the equipment they use on animals, and how they care for them to keep them healthy.

“This has been a really cool,” Rodriguez said “It’s relatable to what we learn in school. It’s like we get a visual of what we are learning.”

The program will help students become better ambassadors for environmental protection and conservation, Berestein said. 

“My students were impressed with the conservation programs,” she said. “They couldn’t believe how big behind the scenes is. It’s important to expose them because a lot of them haven’t been to the zoo since they were small and some of them haven’t been at all.”

The El Paso Zoo will work with Berestein to leverage the opportunity as a pilot for future high school programs with a science focus, said Zoo Director Steve Marshall.

“(Berestein) is an example of innovative teachers all over this region that think creatively and see the zoo as a powerful classroom resource,” Marshall said.

To view a gallery, courtesy SISD, click here.

El Paso Zoo, Big Bend National Park Partner for Wildlife Conservation

The El Paso Zoo will be piloting a Zoo-Park Partnership with for America’s Keystone Wildlife with Big Bend National Park to coordinate efforts to conserve wildlife.

“The natural recolonization of the black bear to Big Bend National Park from the cross border population in northern Mexico is one of the most important conservation stories in Texas,” said El Paso Zoo Education Curator Rick LoBello. “I was very fortunate to help document and launch current conservation efforts in Big Bend when I worked there many years ago.”

“Big Bend National Park has incredible diversity, including its wildlife. And the story of black bears in the park is unique among National Parks as it was the first of its kind of wildlife recolonizing a park area,” said park Resource Management Chief David Larson. “Bears are important to the ecology of the park, and we look forward to furthering their story and conservation.”

The zoo successfully worked with Big Bend National Park to create the Black Bear Habitat Improvement in Big Bend National Park Project to apply for the grant.

The project focuses on three components: (1) remove non-native invasive vegetation, (2) place food storage boxes in backcountry, and (3) bear-proof power poles in park.

This winter, the zoo will send a group of “citizen steward” volunteers and staff to work in the park to help complete the project.

Funding was made possible for this partnership when the El Paso Zoo and Big Bend National Park were awarded the $10,000 Winter 2018 America’s Keystone Wildlife Project Grant (AKW) from the Association of Zoos & Aquariums.

The Project partners zoos with National Parks and National Wildlife Refuges to help America recover the wildlife legacy lost during the fur trade and westward expansion era of the United States, and was founded by Julie Anton Randall, Project Leader.

The El Paso Zoo is among a small inaugural group of accredited zoos selected that meet certain criteria, including AKW Field Conservation, Reciprocal AKW Interpretation, and AKW Citizen Stewardship engaging communities in ensuring park sustainability.

El Paso Zoo, Big Bend Park Awarded Zoo-Park Partnership Grant

Silver Spring, Maryland – The El Paso Zoo, in partnership with Big Bend National Park have been awarded the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) America’s Keystone Wildlife (AKW) grant recipients for 2018.

“The collaborations between AZA, our member zoos and aquariums, and government entities enable us to protect our nation’s native wildlife and wild places,” said Dan Ashe, president and CEO of AZA. “These partnerships have led to the successful recovery and reintroduction of American bison, black-footed ferrets, and other species once on the verge of extinction in our own backyards.”

Made possible by a Thoresen Foundation gift to AZA, these five $10,000 grants will be used to conduct conservation activities benefitting North American species on public lands as a part of Zoo-Park Partnerships, an initiative designed to unite zoos and National Parks, National Wildlife Refuges, and National Forests and Grasslands (“parks”) in restoring sustainable habitats and wildlife populations.

Zoo-Park Partnerships (ZPPs) help America recover the wildlife legacy lost during the Fur Trade and Westward Expansion era of U.S. history and improve wildlife population health, genetic integrity and habitat in ways that also benefit local communities on public lands today.

Zoos and parks also provide opportunities for inspired visitors to participate in “citizen stewardship” volunteer work that directly improves habitats and quality of life for AKW animals.  The Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) is a primary AKW Project partner.

The 2018 Grant Recipients include:

  • El Paso Zoo, partnering with Big Bend National Park
  • Blank Park Zoo, partnering with Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge
  • Dakota Zoo, partnering with Theodore Roosevelt National Park
  • Naples Zoo, partnering with Big Cypress National Preserve
  • Red River Zoo, partnering with Wind Cave National Park

“Wildlife are a vital part of the historical landscape our National Parks and Refuges sustain and interpret. Partnerships with AZA zoos build capacity for restoring healthy wildlife populations and habitats and provide a key platform to share this important story of stewardship with zoo and park visitors alike,” said Julie Anton Randall, ZPPs for AKW Project Leader.

All AZA-accredited facilities are eligible to receive funding. Successful grant recipients demonstrate ZPP plans centered on field conservation, interpretation, and/or citizen stewardship in line with the goals of the America’s Keystone Wildlife™ (AKW) Project.

To learn more, visit www.aza.org

El Paso Zoo to Host Final After Howlers Event Saturday

The El Paso Zoo invites the public to the final “After Howlers” event of the season from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., on Saturday, August 18.

The event will feature a “Zoo-per Heroes” theme where all guests are encouraged to dress as their favorite superhero or movie character. Additionally, the event includes a Meet the Keeper program and animal enrichments.

There will be live music by 7TH Ave Band, Last Train Home, and DJ Kid Notorious, and an evening bird show.  Visitors can also enjoy a special high flying Aerial Acrobatic Show by Odd-Lab.

Families will be able to enjoy their favorite’s spots like the Hunt Family Desert Spring, Foster Tree House Playground, the new Hunt Family Endangered Species Carousel, or grab some delicious food at Passport Café or the Beastro.

The zoo will be open from 9:30 a.m. 8:30 p.m. with the “After Howlers” event starting at 5 p.m.

For more information about the El Paso Zoo, call (915) 212-0966 or visit the zoo’s website.

El Paso Zoo Hosts $3 Thursdays in August

With summer starting to come to a close, the El Paso Zoo is inviting residents to come out and celebrate with $3 Thursdays held every Thursday in August.

Officials the the El Paso Zoo say, “The promotion is a great way for the community to come out and enjoy the last days of summer at the zoo.”

$3 Thursdays means for every purchase of a regular priced adult, senior or active duty military/spouse ticket one child or teen ticket will be discounted by $3 (regular price $7.50 or $9.00).

The zoo will also offer special pricing on those days, two people can ride for $3 on either the African Star Train or the new Hunt Family Endangered Species Carousel. Other special deals include $3 purchase of a regular drink and popcorn, or an ICEE, or a hot dog.

Additional information is available on the El Paso Zoo website.

El Paso Zoo to Install Giraffe Shade Structures

On Monday, the El Paso Zoo announced crews would begin replacing and increasing the number of shade structures to the giraffe exhibit starting August 1.

”We are excited to be able to begin this project to provide more shade for the Giraffes. The new shade structures will be wider and taller than the existing ones and thus will provide a larger area of shade for the Giraffes,” said El Paso Zoo Africa Collections Supervisor Amanda Leverett.

The zoo will be installing four new structures that will be 24 feet in height and retrofitted with 20 foot canopies. The two existing shade structures are approximately 18 to 20 feet in height and have a 12 foot diameter umbrella.

Construction will require zoo staff to take the giraffes off of exhibit. The giraffes will return on exhibit August 12 through August 26 then taken off exhibit until installation is done in September.

“The construction of these large structures requires contractors to have full access to the exhibit, so for everyone’s safety we will be unable to let any of our hoof stock roam the Upper Savannah during construction,” said Leverett.

In addition to providing shade, the structures will have a crank and pulley system that keepers can hang enrichment at the height of giraffes. The structures will also cast more shade for the smaller animals, including the Kudu and Addax.

This project demonstrates the commitment that the El Paso Zoo has to meet and exceed the standards of care set by the United States Department of Agriculture and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

The project is expected to be finished in early September.  For more information residents can visit the zoo’s Facebook page.

Video+Story: El Paso Zoo Celebrates National Zoo Keeper Week

In celebration of animal care professionals during National Zoo Keepers Week – July 15 through the 21 – the El Paso Zoo will be hosting a variety of educational and fun activities for the public.

“Zoo keepers are the heart and soul of a zoo, and the amazing work that they’re able to do for the animals in their care and the relationships they build with many of them, is awe inspiring,” said El Paso Zoo Animal Curator John Kiseda.

Zoo keepers are animal care experts, teachers, conservationists and more. There are more than 40 zoo keepers at the El Paso Zoo, who work 365 days a year caring for the animals.

The public is invited to celebrate NZKW by visiting with zoo keepers during the Meet the Keeper program. The Zoo will also offer a special $5 children’s ticket price for kids 12 years and younger. To get the discounted price, children are asked to draw or color a picture of an animal and present it at the gate. The promotion ends Friday, July 20.

Visitors can also dress like a zoo keeper or a favorite animal for the After Howlers event at 5 p.m. on Saturday, July 21. The zoo will be open until 8:30 p.m. and there will be live music, entertainment, Meet the Keepers, and an evening bird show.

In addition, the El Paso Zoo is featuring some of the dedicated animal care professionals on the zoo’s Facebook and Instagram social media sites.

In 2007, House resolution 509 was passed by Congress creating NZKW to celebrate each year beginning on the third Sunday in July. NZKW recognizes the contributions zookeepers make to the care and conservation of captive exotic animals and to research, public education, and recreation. During the week, zoos nationwide honor animal care professionals and the work they do.

Just last week, the Mayor’s Office, along with City Council, awarded a special proclamation during the council meeting recognizing National Zoo Keepers Week.

To plan a visit and catch a Meet the Keepers program visit click here.

El Paso Zoo Opens New Asia Gateway, Hunt Family Endangered Species Carousel

On Friday, the El Paso Zoo announced the opening of the new Asia Gateway featuring the Hunt Family Endangered Species Carousel.

“This project was my first project here at the Zoo, and I was amazed at the coordination it took and how much all of the vested parties care so much for our Zoo,” said Zoo Capital Projects Administrator Lili Gutierrez.

The new addition to the Zoo is in an area that will take visitors into a new walkway and plaza featuring the 36-foot carousel.

The carousel is a gift from the El Paso Zoological Society that was made possible with the generous support from the Hunt Family Foundation.

The carousel will feature thirty hand-painted animals representing endangered species from around the world. The ticket booth and the Americans with Disabilities compliant swan chariot was funded by the Robert E and Evelyn McKee Foundation.

The Foundation also financed the landscaping.

As guests make their way into the plaza, they will walk pass two southeastern Asian temple ruins and continue under 24-foot high penjor arches with six hanging metal baskets.

The plaza has a grass lawn, trees, benches, and a moon gate.

A special touch of the Asia Gateway is the El Paso Veterinary Medical Association Animal Wall of Fame.

The wall features spinning plaques that pay tribute to some of El Paso’s most memorable and loved animal ambassadors.

The Zoo broke ground on the new Asia Gateway on October 20, 2017, and is the most recent improvement funded by the City of El Paso’s 2012 Quality of Life Bond.

El Paso Zoo Helping Rescue Nearly 10,000 Tortoises

An El Paso Zoo (EPZ) staff member will travel to take part in an effort to save more than 10,000 critically endangered radiated tortoises; after EPZ answered a call dispatched to Animal Experts from Accredited Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

The tortoises were discovered in April by local police in a private residence in Toliara, Madagascar.  The floors of virtually every room in the house were covered with tortoises that had no access to food or water.  The tortoises have since been transferred to “Villages des Tortues,” a secure wildlife facility in Ifaty where conservation partners from around the world are headed to assist.

Luis Villanueva, an EPZ zoo keeper, will be in Madagascar for two weeks working with Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA) the organization that launched the rescue mission.

“The radiated tortoise is critically endangered due to poaching and deforestation. These magnificent animals can live up 180 years old and are some of the most beautiful Tortoises in the world, which leads to exploitation in the pet trade,” said Villanueva. Hundreds of the tortoises have already died from dehydration and illness.

This is not the first time EPZ has sent staff to help an international cause. In 2016, EPZ worked together with other AZA Zoos to help hand rear baby Penninsular pronghorn antelopes in the El Vizcaino Biosphere Preserve in Baja California Sur, Mexico to create an insurance population for the diminishing species. “El Paso Zoo, as an AZA accredited zoo, demonstrates that its staff has acquired the experience needed to work with endangered species,” said Villanueva.

It is estimated that the radiated tortoise population in the wild has declined more than 80 percent in the last 30 years.  There is a real chance they could be extinct in the wild in less than two decades.

Mr. Villanueva leaves Saturday morning at 6 a.m. and will be gone for two weeks. “I am proud of Luis for offering to represent us and that he gets to go and help with this huge project,” said Tammy Sundquist, Americas Collection Supervisor.

Mr. Villanueva will not have any form of communicating with EPZ, but you can learn more and read the Zoo blog where information will be posted by visiting our website and clicking on the El Paso Zoo Adventures link.

El Paso Zoo’s After Howlers Returns for the Summer

The El Paso Zoo is hosting its first late evening hours of the season with its After Howlers event this Saturday, June 16 with a special Anime theme where guests are encouraged to dress as their favorite anime character.

The After Howlers extended hours event will take place on the third Saturday of each month through August (July 21 and August 18) from 9:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

In addition, there will be music, a bird show and a chance to meet zookeepers. Families will also be able to enjoy the Hunt Family Desert Spring and Foster Tree House playground, or grab some delicious food at the Passport and Grasslands Café.

For more information on the After Howlers event, visit the El Paso Zoo website.

El Paso Zoo Shows off New Pride of Lions

On Friday, officials with the El Paso Zoo announced a new exhibit that is the culmination of  six years of work: a family pride of four lions.

“This has taken an enormous amount of staff time, patience, planning, initiative, flexibility, ingenuity, expertise, decision-making, and all-out love and dedication for the animals and our work,” said El Paso Zoo Africa Collections Supervisor Amanda Leverett. “Our staff couldn’t be happier for Rudo and his new family. It was worth the effort everyone put in.  It is truly heart-warming to see them all together now.”

In 2007, the zoo acquired three lionesses, Zari, Malaika, and Kalliope, but when the newest member of the family, Rudo, arrived in 2012 it was clear the introduction process would be a long one.

At 1½ years old, Rudo was not ready to join the pride of adult lionesses. His youth and immaturity made him vulnerable during social interactions with the more mature females. Zoo staff felt he needed to mature, gain more confidence and courage before it was safe for him to be around the lionesses.

Staff in the Africa section of the Zoo spent two years closely monitoring the lions’ behavior during carefully staged introductions, making sure all of the lions were doing well together during each progressive step.

“Planned introductions are important to allow animals to feel comfortable around each other and avoid injury,” zoo officials said.

According to the Zoo officials, “Lions are ambassadors for conservation, helping the zoo bring attention towards efforts to help wild lions in Africa whose populations are largely in decline.”

The zoo also pays the salary for a Lion Guardian in Africa who helps effectively minimize conflict between people and wildlife, monitors lion populations and helps communities live with lions.

El Paso Zoo to Host Reptilia Weekend

The El Paso Zoo invites the public to learn more about slithery, slimy, and scaly animals during Reptilia from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 2, and Sunday, June 3.

Zoo officials say, “Guests will be able to explore all the things that make reptiles unique, learn about threats in the wild and find out what the zoo is doing to protect these species. ”

Reptilia also gives the public the opportunity to understand how reptiles play a critical role in the environment.

Visitors can expect reptile encounters, arts and crafts stations, reptile cutout photo opportunities, educational games, live entertainment, animal enrichments, and activities throughout the zoo.

Guests can also cool off in the splash pad, take part in giraffe feedings, or visit the bio facts station. There’s also a chance to purchase a ticket for the Galapagos Tortoise Behind the Scenes Tour.

For more information on the Reptilia event, visit the El Paso Zoo online or on Facebook.

Public Invited to Meet Newborn Asian Horse at El Paso Zoo Memorial Day Weekend

The El Paso Zoo (EPZ) is excited to announce the birth of an Asian Wild Horse (AWH), a species that came close to extinction.

“It’s great to be able to be at this next step in the survival plan,” said El Paso Zoo Animal Curator John Kiseda. “Producing a youngster is important for maintaining and hopefully enhancing the genetic variability within the population. It’s great for our guests to see our work with endangered species.”

Mother Brianna gave birth to a female on Thursday, April 25. The foal – named Misha – will be on exhibit for a limited number of hours from Friday through Monday this Memorial Day Weekend.

These mammals are a unique representative wild horse from the regions of Mongolia and China, but at one time, they were extinct in the wild.

The zoo acquired the male Asian Wild Horse in 2016 from the Minnesota Zoo and Brianna, a female Asian Wild Horse, in 2016 from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute for Species Survival (SCBI).

The Minnesota Zoo and SCBI have joined efforts to conserve the Asian Wild Horses in the Hustai Nuruu National Park in Magnolia through the Association of Zoos and Aquarium’s Species Survival Program (SSP). Brianna is part of the SSP cooperative breeding program among accredited zoos.

Misha is not the only EPZ birth linked to a critically endangered species; the zoo welcomed an addax named Chopper in February.

Zoo officials say, “These significant births are great examples of the global impact and important role the El Paso Zoo plays in worldwide conservation efforts.”

El Paso Zoo Raising Orangutan Awareness with M.O.M. Event on Mother’s Day

The El Paso Zoo is inviting the public to participate in the international Missing Orangutan Mothers (M.O.M) campaign that brings attention to the plight of orangutans in the world.

“Orangutans are losing their habitat and way of life and we need to be their voice to bring about their preservation thru awareness and action. Orangutan mothers have one baby every 7 to 8 years; they raise their young and teach them everything about survival in the wild,” said El Paso Zoo Collections Supervisor Griselda Martinez. “This event means a lot to us and we contribute by holding this event yearly on Mother’s Day and donating monies to credible orangutan sanctuaries.”

The event will offer animal enrichment programs, Biofacts in the Asia Discovery Center, and educational engagement throughout the zoo. It will include a variety of activities and educational presentations.

The event hopes to raise awareness of the crisis facing these apes by encouraging people to help protect them.

Join El Paso Zoo staff and volunteers as they celebrate and honor the zoo’s own orangutans, and take action to help those in the wild. Every day orangutan mothers go missing due to poaching, black market pet trade and palm oil farms that encroach on their living space.

The event will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, May 13 at the zoo.

El Paso Zoo to Close Early Today to Address Some ‘Pesky Guests’

The El Paso Zoo will close early today, April 23, to improve animal and guest comfort and everyday experience. The closure set for 2:30 p.m. will allow crews to address an insect problem.

According to zoo officials, the facility has an “unprecedented high number of biting black flies, which have been seriously disrupting the behavior and comfort of zoo animals, as well as guests and staff.”

The biting flies are more than a minor nuisance. They have led to the hospitalization of two zoo birds, cancellation of several Wildlife Theater bird shows, and restriction of a few zoo animals to their indoor quarters.

Officials add, “Despite treatments aimed at repelling the flies and protecting the animals, the black fly population has persisted. In order to provide a more thorough treatment zoo wide, we will be closing early on Monday to allow our pest control contractor to fog service areas and guest pathways where the biting insects are the most active. The fogging schedule may be modified due to weather as the treatment is not as effective under windy conditions.”

The insecticide will be a short acting local fog that will not have lingering effects. Dr. Vikki Milne, Zoo Veterinarian, has been working closely with our pest control service to ensure safe application of the insecticide, and hopefully some relief for our animals, staff, and guests.

The Zoo will reopen at normal hours on Tuesday and through the week.

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