There's a beaver pup behind the scenes at Zoo Budapest—but this little girl wasn't actually born at the zoo. She was rescued from the Rába River on June 8 during a huge flood of the Danube River system. Although she was old enough to be able to swim, she was too small to survive the strong current of the flooded river. She is in excellent condition after her rescue, and once she is a bit older, stronger, and more self-sufficient, she will be released back at the Rába River, her original environment. For now, she is well cared for by the zoo's dedicated rescue staff and by her foster mom, a snuggly plushie toy.
Each year, staff at Zoo Budapest rescue more than 1,500 wild animals native to Hungary, including many protected birds, small mammals, and reptiles. The European or Eurasian Beaver is listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as a species of Least Concern. However, their current stability is due to active conservation programs. Historically, European Beavers have been heavily exploited throughout Eurasia for their dense fur and for castoreum, a scent-gland secretion used for perfumes and also for artificial food flavorings. Loss of wetland habitats also contributed to their decline. Thanks to conservation efforts, reintroduced populations are successfully expanding in areas where beavers were once locally extinct. Unfortunately, their numbers are dwindling in Asia, where, according to the IUCN, conservation action is desperately needed.