Matchmaking for Endangered Species

This post was contributed by Kristen Bullard, librarian for the National Zoological Park. Have you ever wondered why Rusty the red panda was paired with the female, Shama?  Or been curious about how the black-footed ferret was saved from extinction in the wild?  If so, then this Valentines’ themed post is for you!

A Day at a Convivium

One of the truly wonderful “perks” of working at the Smithsonian Institution is being able to participate in presentations of current research.  Recently I was lucky enough to attend a daylong Science Convivium at the Front Royal, Virginia headquarters of the National Zoological Park’s science arm, the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI).  What’s a convivium, you ask?  Briefly, according to Webster’s Third New International Dictionary a convivium is a convivial gathering.   Hmmm, alright.  And if you’re being convivial you’re “relating to, or occupied with feasting, drinking, and good company”.  Well, there was definitely good company, a nice lunch and a wine and cheese social hour in the afternoon!

Smithsonian Libraries Surpasses 10,000 Items in Digital Repository

In February the Libraries deposited the 10,000th publication in the Smithsonian Digital Repository, part of the Smithsonian Research Online program. This milestone was achieved with a collaborative paper by Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute researcher Ben Hirsch and the Smithsonian’s National Zoo geneticist Jesus Maldonado.

Elephant Appreciation Day

The first elephants acquired by the National Zoological Park were ‘Dunk’ and ‘Gold Dust’ in April of 1891.

National Zoo Keeper Week

Charles Hedley, Wild Animals of the World: Being a Popular Guide to Taronga Zoological Park Sydney, Australia: Trustees of Taronga Zoological Park, 1923 You might want to visit a zoo or aquarium to help celebrate National Zoo Keeper Week, which runs from July 18-24, 2010. From the National Capitol chapter of the The American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK): AAZK's mission is to provide a resource and a forum of continuing education for the animal care professional and to support zoo and aquarium personnel in their roles as animal care givers, scientific researchers, public educators and conservationists; to promote zoos and aquariums as cultural establishments dedicated to the enrichment of human and natural resources; to foster the exchange of research materials, enrichment options and husbandry information through publications and conferences that will lead to a greater understanding of the needs and requirements of all animals. Related links: Keepers and creatures at the national zoo. Peggy Thomson; photographs by Paul Conklin. Edition: 1st ed. Publisher: New York: Crowell, c1988. National Zoological more »

Polar Bear Day

Polar bears (family name Ursus maritimus) are the largest land carnivore in the world today. Males typically reach an adult weight of between 880 lbs to over 1300 lbs; females are smaller, ranging between 440 to 770 lbs. Their habitat is the southern edge of the Arctic ice cap, mostly on coastal land or nearby annual ice where they dine on their preferred meal: seal. But they are known to also eat whale and walrus carcasses, other smaller land mammals, and some vegetation. The National Zoological Park (NZP) acquired its first polar bears in 1892, shortly after its establishment. Interestingly, there have been a few instances at the NZP of interbreeding between polar bears and Alaskan Kodiak bears, producing hybrid cubs. This began in 1931 as a ‘love story’ between Snowy, a male polar bear, and Ramona, a female Kodiak bear. When Snowy arrived he was placed in a cage with a female polar bear and Ramona. Apparently the sparks flew between Snowy and Ramona, and in 1935 the first more »

Visit the Zoo Day—Dec. 27th!

Take a break from the holiday hubbub and visit your National Zoological Park just off Connecticut Avenue, in northwest Washington. The daily programs don’t stop, most buildings and exhibits are open and entrance is FREE. If the weather is a little chilly you might want to ‘come in from the cold’ and visit the Amazonia Habitat Exhibit. This is the largest and most complex exhibit built at the National Zoo to date—seven years in the making—the exhibit opened in 1992.  Experience the tropical warmth and humidity which makes it possible for hundreds of plant species and dozens of animal species to thrive. Rainforest flora here include 50-foot-tall trees, spiky bromeliads, tropical vines and exquisite orchids. The most visible animals are fish and birds. There are other species but they may take more patience and deeper searching to see them. There is a cascading waterfall, the perfect place to take a moment for contemplation. Finish up your visit in the Amazonia Science Gallery, the 8,000-square-foot education gallery.  The gallery includes exhibits, more »

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