For Immediate Release
Date: July 5, 2006
|For More Information
Contact: Cynthia Shipley
Supervisor, Public Relations
ZOO'S CANADIAN ANIMAL BREEDING PROGRAMS TAKE OFF in 2006!
July 6, 2006, Toronto, Ontario:
The Toronto Zoo is very proud of this year's breeding records for some of it's less well known, but Canadian, animals like the Vancouver Island marmot and the black-footed ferret, a species from the prairies of North America. A total of 18 Vancouver Island marmot pups were born in 2006, surpassing last year's record of 12, and 28 black footed ferret kits arrived with one female still to give birth. These births are a valuable addition to the recovery efforts for both of these critically endangered species.
Vancouver Island marmots, whose decline may be due to forestry, have chocolate brown fur with contrasting white patches. In conjunction with the Vancouver Island Marmot Recovery Team, the Toronto Zoo was the first zoo to establish a captive-breeding program for these animals with the goal of releasing them back into their wild habitat. Since marmots don't become sexually mature until the age of 4 years, and in the wild reproduce only every other year, marmot reproduction has presented some problems. Some animals, however, have been released back to four or five different mountain sites on Vancouver Island over the years. In mid-July, a decision as to the disposition of the pups born in 2006 will take place.
In 1992, the Toronto Zoo established a captive breeding program for the black-footed ferret, a yellowish-brown animal with a dark mask over the eyes and cheeks, which had been thought to be extinct in its habitat on the North American prairies until a few individuals were discovered in the wild in Meeteetse, Wyoming. These ferrets were placed in jeopardy when farmers exterminated their only food source, black-tailed prairie dogs. Since establishing the breeding program, the Toronto Zoo has, in conjunction with other zoos, worked to release these animals back into the wild. Current release sites are: the South Dakota Badlands, the Aubrey Valley in Arizona, the Shirley Basin in Wyoming, North West Colorado, Coyote Basin in Utah, and the Charles M. Russell Wild Refuge in Montana. "We are working towards releasing the ferrets into Grasslands National Park in Saskatchewan," notes Paula Roberts, Keeper Grade 3 with the Zoo's Black-footed Ferret Breeding Program. "Black-footed ferrets are released only after pre-conditioning which teaches them to hunt and kill their primary food source, black-tailed prairie dogs."
Zoo Hours to Sept. 4th - 9:00 am to 7:30 pm. Last admissions one hour before closing. General Admission 13-64 incl. is $19, Children 3 and under are free, Children 4-12 are $11 and Seniors 65+ are $13. Parking is $8. Events and admission prices subject to change without notice. The Zoo is open year round (except Dec. 25th). For general information, call (416) 392-5929 or visit our website at www.torontozoo.com