Tails From The Zoo

Mayor Officially Welcomes Zoo’s Lions June 15, 2010

Thanks to ChrisD.ca for the following video from today’s press conference:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0RsRyhdw58Q

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From the City of Winnipeg’s Press Desk:

The Mane Attraction: Zoo visitors will be excited to hear that lions are now back on display at the Assiniboine Park Zoo.

While the Zoo has displayed a number of lions over its long history, a decision was reached in 1981 to discontinue with this species due to inadequate winter facilities. Continuing public enquiries about lions prompted Zoo officials to bring in a family of lions on a temporary basis in 2005, and visitors were enthralled by the King of Beasts. Consequently, the Assiniboine Park Zoo and the Zoological Society of Manitoba began planning a major renovation of the former Giant Panda building to permanently house a pair of lions.

The Zoological Society contributed $350,000 to help upgrade the facility, and to create a new interpretive hall and displays, which could also serve as an attractive space for educational activities and meetings. The displays focus on the lion’s natural history, family life, current status, how human cultures have viewed the lion over the millennia, and the ancestry of big cats and Sabretooths around the world.

The young lions have now arrived from a zoo in Ontario, and are undergoing a period of introduction. The 4-year old female is named Kaya and the 3-year-old male is Xerxes, who has not yet developed his full mane. This beautiful Pavilion of the lions gives visitors an idea of the exciting developments being planned at the Zoo and other locations at the Assiniboine Park.

Additional background:

  • Although the lion evolved in Africa 3.5 million years ago, it diversified into various races as it spread over temporary land bridges into Eurasia, North America and South America.
  • This species had the largest-known distribution of any large mammal and was common throughout the Americas (including Manitoba) until it died out here 10,000 years ago.
  • The American lion (Panthera leo atrox) was the largest cat that ever walked the earth – at least a third larger (up to 380 kg; 838 lbs) than today’s African lion.
  • Originally numbering in the millions over its vast world range, the lion has been persecuted for thousands of years, and currently fewer than 18,000 survive in Africa and 300 in India. There is concern that the species may be eliminated from the wild by the end of the century.

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Check out Chris D’s sea eagle video too:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8WheJCOgfl8

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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.

 

New Exhibit Update February 12, 2010

Filed under: Birds,Exhibits,Member Notices,New Animals/Births — Scott Gray @ 1:29 pm
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Steller’s Sea Eagle Enclosure
Stanley and Stella are just waiting for spring to arrive and  for the completion of the landscaping of their new home before moving in.  The new enclosure is in the Northwestern section of the zoo, next to the Sichuan takin enclosure and across the path from the Amur tigers.

The Lion Pavilion
The Lion Pavilion is nearing completion with lions expected to arrive in the spring.  This is a very exciting development for the Assiniboine Park Zoo.  Lions have not had a permanent home here in Winnipeg in 40 years. Lions made a visit to the Assiniboine Park Zoo back in 2005 as a summer special and were a crowd favorite. Watch for news of the arrival of our new friends coming soon.

 

Steller’s Sea Eagles – CJOB Zoo Knew December 4, 2009

Filed under: Birds,Zoo Animals — Scott Gray @ 5:38 pm
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Amur tigers were discussed on “Zoo New”, Sunday November 29, 2009 on the CJOB 68 Weekend Wakeup Show with Chris Reid.

Steller’s Sea Eagle

At the Assiniboine Park Zoo:

Male: Stanley came from a zoo in the Czech Republic. He was born in 2005.

Female: Stella came from a zoo in Estonia. She was born in 2003

The Assiniboine Park Zoo’s Steller’s sea eagle are the only ones on exhibit in Canada

IUCN Red List Status: Vulnerable

Due to habitat loss, pollution DDT/PCB’s, over fishing (loss of prey), lead shot hunting (lead poisoning from scavenging)

  • Wild population estimated at 5000 (as of 2006)

Sea Eagles:

  • One of eight species of sea/fish eagle
  • Close relatives: North American bald eagle and the white-tailed eagle
  • Frequent coasts, lakes and rivers

A Bit of Biology/Ecology:

Weight:

  • Males: weigh up to 6kg
  • Females: weigh up to 9kg (females 2 to 4kg larger than males)
  • Steller’s sea eagles are similar in size to the Philippine eagle and the harpy eagle.

Average wing length:

  • Males = 590mm /1.9 ft.
  • Females = 660mm/2.1 ft
  • Total wingspan: up to 8 ft for females

Height: 85 to 94cm

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 9 years for adult plumage

Lifespan: unknown

Sea Eagle Diet: 80% fish, 10% birds, 5% mammals, and 5% other

Fast Facts:

  • Very little is known about these birds
  • Scientific name means “Eagle of the open seas”
  • Are honoured in Japan. Their Japanese name is “O-Washi”.
  • Persecuted by hunters and poachers for stealing trapped animals.
  • Are diurnal (active during the day)
  • Adult eagles have about 7000 feathers.
  • Are named after Georg Steller (1709-1746), a German biologist who also lent his name to the Steller’s jay, Steller’s sea lion (endangered), Steller’s eider (duck- vulnerable), and Steller’s sea cow (extinct).

Compiled by Scott Gray, Education Director, Zoological Society of Manitoba

Website References:

Arkive   http://www.arkive.org/, Birdlife International   http://www.birdlife.org/, San Diego Zoo    http://www.sandiegozoo.org/, IUCN Redlist