Oregon Zoo

Oregon Zoo’s 12-year Effort to Save Endangered Pygmy Rabbits

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The Oregon Zoo’s 12-year effort to save the endangered Columbia Basin Pygmy Rabbit drew to a close on July 19, when the zoo released its last 14 breeding rabbits and their offspring at the Sagebrush Flat Wildlife Area in eastern Washington. The Pygmy Rabbit is America’s smallest native rabbit, weighing less than one pound when fully grown, and is the country’s only burrow-digging and sagebrush-climbing rabbit. The shy species is dependent on sagebrush, which makes up the majority of its diet and grows in deep, loose soil, where the rabbits dig burrows.

“We’ve helped give these rabbits a chance for survival, and now it’s time to send them off into the world,” said Michael Illig, Oregon Zoo animal curator. “Our hope is that they’ll continue to breed and establish a stable population at Sagebrush Flat. A strong Pygmy Rabbit population there will keep the local community involved and help preserve the habitat.”

The recovery program ends on a high note for these federally endangered bunnies. Nearly 30 kits were born under the Oregon Zoo’s watch this year. The rabbits, currently housed at the zoo’s Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation in rural Clackamas County, are headed for a six-acre transitional enclosure at Sagebrush Flat that will acclimate the animals to their surroundings, encourage breeding and protect them from predators. Rabbits recently released from the enclosure have been tracked and are successfully living in the area — a good indication for future population growth, according to Illig.

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Photo Credit: Oregon Zoo

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Oregon Zoo Keeper Cares for Bear Cub

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This post was reprinted in entirety from the Oregon Zoo's outstanding press release

"Michelle, we need your help."

So began a conversation that Michelle Schireman, an Oregon Zoo keeper known for taking in orphaned cougar cubs, realized would upend her life, both professionally and personally, for a while. It was her day off from the zoo, and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife was calling her at home.

As Schireman recounted that surprise phone call to zoo staffers a couple days later, a furry black animal about the size of a Labrador puppy wobbled Bambi-like around her boots, unsure of where to go next. Its tiny size, downy fur, and attachment to a nearby beaver plush toy suggested something harmless. But the sharp teeth and long claws confirmed its true identity: American Black Bear – and, of course, the reason for ODFW's call.

On April 23, state wildlife officials fielded a call from a Medford, Ore., family that had taken a young bear cub from the wild and brought it into their home. With no idea how to care for the helpless yet wild animal, they turned to professionals. Those professionals turned to Schireman.

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The animal keeper, who serves as the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' population manager for cougars, has fostered orphaned cougar cubs for several years, having placed nearly 75 during her time with the Oregon Zoo.

"I'm usually the first person fish and wildlife departments call when orphaned cougars are found in the wild," Schireman said. "Young cougars can't survive without their mothers, so I work with accredited zoos to find them new homes." Schireman's big heart and animal-care expertise led wildlife officials to believe she might find a home for this young bear cub too.

She got permission to house the cub temporarily at the zoo's Veterinary Medical Center during her workday, taking him home with her at night since the cub was still of nursing age and required around-the-clock care. At just a couple of months old, the bear weighed 4 pounds – about the same as a half-gallon of milk – which, surprisingly, is normal for an animal that could grow to be 6 feet tall and weigh up to 600 pounds.

42512BB-205-EditPhoto credits: Michael Durham / Oregon Zoo

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A Handful of Cougar Cubs at Oregon Zoo!

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Three orphaned cougar cubs with baby-blue eyes, fuzzy spotted coats, and much-too-big feet have briefly taken up residence behind the scenes at the Oregon Zoo until they can be moved to permanent homes in Nashville and Houston next week.

The 10-week-old cubs, all three male, were found in Washington state after their mother was illegally shot by a hunter. When wildlife officials learned the cubs were still alive, they quickly contacted Oregon Zoo keeper Michelle Schireman, who serves as the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ population manager for cougars.

“I’m usually the first person fish and wildlife departments call when orphaned cubs are found in the wild,” Schireman said. “Young cougars can’t survive without their mothers, so I work with accredited zoos to find them new homes.”

Keeper Liz Bailey, keeper Michelle Schireman and veterinary technician Kelli Harvison (from left).

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Photo Credit: Oregon Zoo

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Oregon Zoo's Caracal Kittens, Now Five Weeks Old

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My how you've grown! Oregon Zoo's three Caracal kittens, first introduced HERE, are now 5 weeks old, and their tufted ears – a distinguishing feature of the small African cats – are fully upright. At birth, the kittens’ ears were flat against their heads. The male and two females continue to do well, as does their mother, Peggy.
 
“The kittens are very healthy and growing quickly,” said senior Africa keeper Asaba Mukobi. “In the past week, the male has put on about half a pound, and his sisters gained almost as much. Peggy is doing a great job of making sure they eat enough.”
 
The kittens are very active and enjoy playing on a series of climbing logs, which keepers recently placed in the behind-the-scenes area where Peggy and the kittens spend their time. The zoo’s Africa keepers are voting on possible names for the kittens.

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Photo Credit: Oregon Zoo

 

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Oregon Zoo's Caracal Kittens Turn 2 Weeks Old!

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The Oregon Zoo's Caracal triplets born June 8th are ready for their close-ups! These photos, taken just yesterday, show the cubs at precisely two weeks of age. Caracals live in the woodlands and savannas of North Africa, Southwest Asia and the Arabian Peninsula. While caracals are listed in the category of “least concern” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, hunting and habitat loss pose risks to wild populations. 

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Photo credits: Michael Durham / Oregon Zoo


Three Healthy Caracal Kittens are Born at Oregon Zoo

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Oregon Zoo Caracal Peggy gave birth to three healthy kittens, two females and one male, on June 8. According to keepers, the first-time mother and her babies are doing well, with all three kittens nursing regularly and starting to move around their behind-the-scenes nesting box.
 
“We are very proud of Peggy,” said senior Africa keeper Asaba Mukobi. “It’s really amazing to see her do everything she possibly can to care for her kittens. She’s very protective, makes sure everyone is nursing, and sets boundaries for the kittens now that they’re moving around.”

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Photo and video credits: Oregon Zoo

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"Brave and Feisty" Cougar Cub Debuts in Oregon

The Oregon Zoo's Cougar cub will be on exhibit starting Thursday, Nov. 11, though visitors will need to keep a sharp eye out to see the youngster. Like all baby Cougars, the female cub is well-camouflaged by the brown spots on her coat. Since her birth Sept. 19, the cub has lived in a maternity den with her mother, Chinook. She and Chinook will have access to the Cougar exhibit in the morning, while the cub's father, Paiute, will be on exhibit in the afternoon. The cub, who keepers describe as "brave and feisty," has ventured into the exhibit several times this past week, first with the exhibit's viewing areas completely closed and then with zoo staff watching from the viewing areas.

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Cougar Cub Oregon Zoo 1Photo by Michael Durham, © Oregon Zoo.

"As we expected, the cub quickly adapted to having people around," said Michelle Schireman, Oregon Zoo Cougar keeper. "She's quite the little explorer. Her comfort was the determining factor in our decision to open the exhibit to zoo visitors."

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Roly-poly Little Cougar Cub at the Oregon Zoo

First time mother Cougar, Chinook, gave birth to a healthy female cub Sunday, Sept. 19 at the Oregon Zoo. According to keepers, Chinook is taking good care of her cub, which weighed around 2 pounds at birth. "The cub is an adorable, roly-poly little cat covered in dark spots," said Michelle Schireman, Oregon Zoo cougar keeper. "Like all baby cougars, her coat will lose its spots as she grows — it should be fun to watch her coloring change to an adult pattern."

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Photo by Michael Durham, © Oregon Zoo.

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Western Pond Turtles Released in the Wild

Just a decade ago, Washington's Western Pond Turtle population had shrunk to only about 150 individuals. Habitat destruction, pollution and disease all took their toll on the turtles but the invasive bullfrog proved to be their greatest enemy. Bullfrogs eat tiny turtle hatchlings and the dramatic increase in predation pushed the Western Pond Turtle to the brink. Luckily, the Oregon Zoo in partnership with other organizations created a head-start program, under which baby turtles are collected in the wild and raised in captivity until they are old enough to be released and fend for themselves. By raising them in warm light for eleven months, the turtle hatchlings skip hibernation and in that short time they actually grow the equivalent of three years in the wild!

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"I'm scared Sarge!" "We're all scared son" (Huge ZooBorns kudos to whoever can identify this quote without Googling it)Photo credit Brock Parker, courtesy of the Oregon Zoo

A Western Pond Turtle raised at the Oregon Zoo is released into the beautiful Washington wilderness. I'd like to be released there...

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Oregon Zoo's Newest: A Tiny Baby Duiker

One of the Oregon Zoo's newest and smallest four-legged babies recently made his debut. A 2-month-old red-flanked duiker is now on exhibit with his mother in the zoo's Africa Rain Forest area. Duikers are among the smallest of antelope species and generally weigh only 20 to 26 pounds when fully grown.

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Photo credits: Carli Davidson / Oregon Zoo

 

 

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