Tails From The Zoo

The Lions Are Here! (Pass it on) May 27, 2010

Filed under: New Animals/Births,Zoo Animals — Scott Gray @ 10:11 pm
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Hey, did you hear? The lions are here!

Lions have officially arrived at the Assiniboine Park Zoo. See them in their newly renovated exhibit, across the path from the tigers. Stay tuned for details!

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Biodiversity – Our Life May 21, 2010

The Assiniboine Park Zoo and Canada’s other 24 accredited zoos and aquariums are launching a national awareness campaign to engage Canadians in supporting the preservation of biodiversity — the animals, plants, and countless other life forms that make up the world’s ecosystems.  May 22nd is the International Day of Biodiversity and many zoos and aquariums are holding special events to mark the occasion.  The Assiniboine Park Zoo is hosting a Biodiversity Display and Turtle Talk on May 22, 11 am to 3 pm, in the Tropical House, and is highlighting biodiversity conservation in many of its annual programs, such as school presentations, Spring and Summer Zoo Camps, and interpretive talks around the zoo.  Biodiversity promotional materials will also be available to zoo visitors.

2010 Biodiversity Logo

2010 is also the International Year of Biodiversity, and the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums and  its partners have identified the Arctic region as a priority concern for addressing challenges to Arctic species and their habitats. They are reaching out to Canadians everywhere to enlist their support in ensuring a sustainable future for this vital part of our country.  In connecting with Canadians from coast to coast to coast, CAZA will be working closely with its partners – Parks Canada, the Canadian Wildlife Federation and Polar Bears International.”

Throughout International Biodiversity Year 2010 and into the future, CAZA member zoos and aquariums will present a broad range of information and education about wildlife and environmental issues in Canada’s Arctic. Thousands of organisms – including bacteria, insects, plants, birds and mammals — live above, on and under a single square metre of the earth’s surface. All of these species are connected like the strands of silk in a spider’s web. If a species is lost or habitat disappears, the web starts to fall apart. When we lose this biodiversity, we lose life itself.

“It’s easy to forget that people are an integral part of Nature and that our lives are tied intimately to the living things around us.” said CAZA President Rachel Leger. “Biodiversity provides us with the oxygen, food, water, fuel, fibre, and medicine we need to survive. And our actions can either preserve or destroy these resources.”

 

Arctic Biodiversity Initiative May 20, 2010


Ottawa, May 20 – Canada’s accredited zoos and aquariums are launching a national awareness campaign to engage Canadians in supporting the preservation of biodiversity in our Arctic. May 22nd is the International Day of Biodiversity and many zoos and aquariums are holding special events to mark the occasion.

“2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity” declared Rachel Leger, President of the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums. “CAZA and its partners have identified our Arctic regions as a priority concern for addressing challenges to Arctic species and their habitats. We are reaching out to Canadians everywhere to enlist their support in ensuring a sustainable future for this vital part of our country. In connecting with Canadians from coast to coast to coast, we will be working closely with our partners – Parks Canada, the Canadian Wildlife Federation and Polar Bears International”.

Throughout International Biodiversity Year 2010 and into the future, CAZA member zoos and aquariums will present a broad range of information and education about environmental issues in Canada’s Arctic. The variety of life on earth – the plants and animals that make up ecosystems – is called biodiversity. Thousands of organisms – bacteria, insects, plants, birds and mammals – live and thrive above, on and under a single square foot of earth. All of these species are connected like the strands of silk in a spider’s web. If a species is lost or habitat disappears, the web starts to fall apart. When we lose this biodiversity we lose life itself.

At first glance its vast, icy surface might seem empty, but Canada’s Arctic is filled with extremely rich and active ecosystems. From tiny plankton to huge whales, entire communities of animals and plants make their homes on, under or at the edge of the ice.

The unique polar species that live in the Arctic are specially adapted to its extreme conditions – freezing temperatures, strong winds, deep snow, thick ice and permafrost. Even slight changes to the Arctic’s fragile habitats can have a huge impact on these species, and human activities are taking their toll. Pollution, climate change and development all affect Arctic temperature, habitat and available food sources. As their Arctic home continues to change, polar bears, belugas, caribou and the smaller northern animals and plants that support them face an uncertain future.

Protecting species and habitats with national parks, working jointly with Inuit communities to manage these parks, conducting scientific research and spreading the message to Canadians across the country are all part of the cooperative approach inspired by the International Year of Biodiversity and being implemented by CAZA and its three partners. Education programs, lectures, special events, community presentations and other activities will be carried out at each of the participating accredited zoos and aquariums across the country. CAZA members will also help out with Arctic field work and the research that supports it – and will invite Canadians to contribute to this worthwhile endeavour. This special effort is intended to build on the extensive work carried out by Canada’s accredited zoos and aquariums in captive breeding and population management programs.

A wealth of information about the Arctic, its biodiversity challenges and what is being done to address them can be found on a new, specially-designed website at www.ourarctic.ca

On behalf of the people of Canada, Parks Canada protects and presents nationally significant examples of Canada’s natural and cultural heritage, and fosters public understanding, appreciation and enjoyment in ways that ensure their ecological and commemorative integrity for present and future generations.

Polar Bears International (PBI) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the worldwide conservation of polar bears and their habitat through research, stewardship, and education. PBI provides scientific resources and information on polar bears and their habitat to institutions and the general public worldwide.

The Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums is a not for profit national organization that represents Canada’s 25 accredited zoos and aquariums. It sets standards through its accreditation program, leads and coordinates work in the fields of research, conservation and education, and represents its members’ interests with governments at all levels.

For further information:

Bill Peters

Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums

 

Ambulance Donated to Assiniboine Park Zoo May 18, 2010

Filed under: Member Notices,Special Events,Zoo Animals — Scott Gray @ 2:43 pm
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Zoo management is thrilled to announce that the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service donated an ambulance to the Assiniboine Park Zoo today. The vehicle, recently taken out of active service in Winnipeg, was retrofitted and will be used as a mobile means of treating sick and injured animals. The APZ previously used a cargo van as it’s mobile treatment vehicle for its animals.

Animal Ambulance

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Story links:

CBC News: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/manitoba/story/2010/05/18/mb-zoo-ambulance-winnipeg.html

Winnipeg Sun Online: http://www.winnipegsun.com/news/winnipeg/2010/05/18/14000476.html

Global Winnipeg: http://www.globalwinnipeg.com/receives+ambulance+animals/3044053/story.html

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Transition to Assiniboine Park Conservancy May 17, 2010

Welcome to the new world of the Assiniboine Park Zoo and the Zoological Society of Manitoba!

Why are we emphasizing the words – new world? Well, as the media has so enthusiastically reported over the past 12 months, there has been so many exciting announcements about major and significant improvements to our zoo and the Assiniboine Park overall we are quite literally on our way to a new world-class zoo!

As we have reported over the past number of years, the excitement of the transition of the Zoological Society of Manitoba into the new Assiniboine Park Conservancy is happening.  With that comes the realization of the development of a master plan for the entire park including the Assiniboine Park Zoo.

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In fact, under the leadership of the Board of the Assiniboine Park Conservancy and in cooperation with the Zoological Society of Manitoba in the last year over $30,000,000 has been raised for our Zoo and is now being put towards:

Arctic Exhibit –  world-class polar bear habitat and observation exhibit

International Polar Bear Conservation Centre – a unique polar bear conservation and research facility

Steller’s Sea Eagle Enclosure – one of the world’s largest exhibit for one of the world’s largest eagles

Lion Enclosure – we are bringing lions to our Zoo to provide our visitors the opportunity be upfront and close to the King of the Jungle

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This is just the beginning! With the transition of the role of the Zoological Society of Manitoba into the Assiniboine Park Conservancy in 2010, our Zoo is on course to becoming the jewel of Manitoba and North America once again!

Furthermore, our members will now have not only the benefits the Zoological Society of Manitoba has provided in the past, but will now be a part of the exciting new world of the entire Assiniboine Park!

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The Board and Staff of the Zoological Society of Manitoba have been involved in assisting the Assiniboine Park Conservancy Board and management with the planning and transitional activities associated with the Park overall.  Our commitment to the success of the Assiniboine Park Conservancy has been reflected in turn with the exciting opportunity to work with the Assiniboine Park Conservancy in planning how the Assiniboine Park Zoo will be shaped through significant capital investment into the future.

The time has now arrived for our zoo!  All of these significant improvements and announcements of capital for our Zoo have only occurred due to the creation of the Assiniboine Park Conservancy which includes the plan for the Zoological Society of Manitoba to transition all our operations and assets into the Assiniboine Park Conservancy in 2010.

The Board of Directors of the Zoological Society of Manitoba have worked in cooperation with the City of Winnipeg and the Assiniboine Park Conservancy Board and Management to ensure this transition occurs in the best interest of our Zoo, Members and Staff.  We are confident that the future of our zoo has never been brighter in its 100+ year history.

So please join us at our Annual General Meeting on June 21, 2010 to come and see all the new exciting activities happening at our Zoo and how the new Assiniboine Park Conservancy is going to be our future together.

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On behalf of the Board of Directors, I would like to personally thank:
All of our Society Staff and the Assiniboine Zoo management and staff, Event volunteers, Assiniboine Park Conservancy Board and Management, Assiniboine Park non-profit partners, City of Winnipeg, City Council, and most importantly our Members for their incredible commitment and our collective goal in2010 and onward as we help the Assiniboine Park Conservancy in its success in making the Assiniboine Park Zoo achieve its full potential into the future.

Mike Stevens, President
Zoological Society of Manitoba

 

A Sea Eagle Update May 7, 2010

Filed under: Birds,Exhibits,Teacher's Resources,Zoo Animals — Scott Gray @ 11:33 pm
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Now that the eagles have landed in their new home at the Assiniboine Park Zoo, I thought it would be good to update our Steller’s sea eagle fact sheet. So here you go!

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At the Assiniboine Park Zoo:

  • The relocation of our sea eagles places them into the Asian area of the Assiniboine Park Zoo, across the path from our Amur tigers.

Stanley:

  • Our male came to us in 2006 from the Lieberec Zoo in the Czech Republic. He was born in 2005.

Stella:

  • Our female came to us in 2005 from the Tallinn Zoo in Estonia. She was born in 2003.

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Fast Facts:

  • Scientific name means “Eagle of the open seas”
  • The Steller’s sea eagle has been designated a national treasure in Russia. They are also honoured in Japan where they are known as “O-Washi”.
  • Persecuted by hunters and poachers for stealing trapped animals.
  • They are diurnal (active during the day)
  • Adult eagles have about 7000 feathers.
  • They are named after Georg Steller (1709-1746), a German biologist. He also lent his name to the Steller’s jay, Steller’s sea lion (endangered), Steller’s eider (a type of duck – vulnerable), and the Steller’s sea cow (extinct).

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Status in the Wild: Vulnerable

  • Wild population estimated at 5000 and dropping according to the IUCN.
  • The wild population is declining due to habitat loss, water pollution (from DDT/PCB’s), over-fishing (loss of prey), lead shot hunting (lead poisoning from scavenging) and other factors.

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Sea Eagles:

  • Steller’s sea eagles (Haliaeetus pelagicus) are one of eight species of sea eagle
  • The Steller’s sea eagle is also known as the Pacific eagle and the white-shouldered eagle.
  • The Steller’s sea eagle is considered the most powerful and aggressive of its cousins, the bald eagle and the white-tailed sea eagle
  • This group frequent coasts, lakes and rivers
  • This species is dark brown but dramatically coloured when mature with a white tail, white shoulders, white rump, and white thighs

Stella and Stanley inspect one of their new nest boxes. Photo by Darlene Stack, Assiniboine Park Zoo

Height, Weight, Length:

  • Males: weigh up to 6kg
  • Females: weigh up to 9kg
  • Females average 2 to 4kg larger than males
  • Steller’s sea eagles are amongst the largest and heaviest eagles in the world. They are similar in size to the Philippine eagle and the harpy eagle from South America.

  • Adult Steller’s have an average wingspan of 2.3 metres (7.5 ft)
  • Females have a larger wingspan than males
  • Sea eagles stand 85 to 94cm high

Distribution:

  • Russia: Kamchatka / Amur river, Northern Korea, China and Japan
  • Breeds in Russia and over winters in Japan

Maturity:

  • 4 to 5 years for sexual maturity
  • 6 to 8 years for adult plumage

Sea Eagle Diet:

  • 80% fish (e.g. cod), 10% birds (ducks, gulls), 5% mammals, and 5% other (crabs, shellfish, squid, carrion)
  • Like other eagles, Steller’s also steal food from other birds.
  • Four Steller’s sea eagle hunting techniques have been recorded:

1. Diving off a perch for food

2. Flying over the water and picking up food

3. Wading in shallow water for food

4. Stealing food from other birds, a practice known as “kleptoparasitism”

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References:

  • IUCN Redlist, Arkive, Birdlife International, San Diego Zoo, National Geographic Society, Assiniboine Park Zoo Education Library
  • Revised May 3, 2010

Compiled by Scott Gray, Education Director

 

Sea Eagles Land in New Zoo Exhibit

Filed under: Birds,Member Notices,New Animals/Births,Zoo Animals — Scott Gray @ 1:02 pm
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Stanley and Stella, the Steller’s sea eagles at the Assiniboine Park Zoo, are officially moved into their new home today, May 7th, 2010.   An official opening was held to welcome the eagles to their expansive new Asian-shores home, which includes a bubbling creek, a pond, and lots of room to stretch their massive wings.

The Zoological Society of Manitoba raised over $200,000 for the new exhibit through its members’ contributions and events such as Safeway Boo at the Zoo.  The project was managed by Mr. Steve Stephanson, Director on the Board of the Zoological Society, and designed and constructed by Bridgman Collaborative Architecture and Tractus Projects.  During the opening ceremony, the Zoological Society turned over the keys of the exhibit to the City of Winnipeg’s Assiniboine Park Zoo.

The exhibit is "unveiled"

The Zoological Society of Manitoba hands over the key to the new sea eagle exhibit to the Assiniboine Park Zoo. Councillor Gord Steeves accepts the key on behalf of the City of Winnipeg

The Steller’s Sea Eagle is native to the sub-arctic west coast of Russia, although individuals occasionally migrate to Alaska and to Japan.  Weighing up to 9 kg and sporting a massive beak, it is the largest of all eagles (the Bald Eagle may reach 6 kg).  Stella arrived at the Zoo in 2005 from the Tallinn Zoo in Estonia, and Stanley in 2006 from the Liberec Zoo in the Czech Republic.   Aged seven and five, the birds have acquired their full size and attractive pattern of white and brown plumage, and have reached the potential reproductive age.  Zoo officials are hopeful that these eagles will soon begin a successful breeding career.  There are only 16 Steller’s Sea Eagles in North American zoos, and only one pair has bred to date.