ODNR Presents Conservation Award to The Wilds


Sunbury News Staff



COLUMBUS, OH – The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) presented the ODNR Cardinal Award to The Wilds, a private nonprofit conservation park near Zanesville.

“The Wilds has changed how we think of and work for conservation, not only here in Ohio, but all over the world,” ODNR Director James Zehringer said against a backdrop of more than 9,000 acres of land that was strip mined decades ago before being donated to the conservation project.

The Wilds thrives on old reclaimed coal mine land, restored since the 1980s “to lead and inspire by connecting people and wildlife.” By highlighting environmental impacts to animals found in Africa and Asia, The Wilds also reminds us about conservation issues here at home. The Wilds staff have recently helped ODNR with soil and plant life studies for other reclaimed mine land projects around Ohio.

“The Wilds has been transformed from a former strip mine into a unique conservation and safari park where people can enjoy a variety of ways to observe wildlife in lush pastures, learn about the conservation of critically endangered species, stay overnight in a number of lovely accommodations, and even take a zipline tour!” said Dr. Jan Ramer, vice president of The Wilds. “This would not be possible without the generous support of ODNR over the years.”

Besides exotic animal safari tours and fun activities such as zip lining, horseback riding and lodging, The Wilds has successfully utilized grants from ODNR as it has become a world leader in animal conservation and land restoration. These grants have helped The Wilds build winter homes for some animals and helped to further breeding programs. Former ODNR Director Sam Speck was also in attendance, recognizing the years of collaborative projects that The Wilds and ODNR have worked on together.

The Wilds also has dedicated staff and facilities for local endangered species as well, including the eastern hellbender, a 2-foot-long salamander found in Ohio streams, and the native burying beetle. Some species that are now extinct in the wild, such as Pere David’s deer, call The Wilds home.

The Wilds recently began working with the Mighty Oaks Warrior Program, a peer-based program designed to assist those who have served or are currently serving in the U.S. military in overcoming challenges from daily military life, combat deployments and post-traumatic stress (PTS). The Mighty Oaks Foundation is based out of California.

Open through October, ODNR encourages Ohioans and their families to plan a visit to this amazing resource about 90 minutes east of Columbus, just down the road from Blue Rock State Park.

The department’s Cardinal Award honors individuals and organizations demonstrating exceptional awareness and concern for ideals reflected in the department’s mission statement.

SECOND FIFTH-GENERATION WHITE RHINO BORN AT THE WILDS

Cumberland, OH – The Wilds welcomed a female southern white rhinoceros calf born in the pasture during the afternoon of Oct. 5. The calf is the second fifth-generation white rhino to be born outside of Africa—and both fifth-generation calves were born at The Wilds.

The new calf was born to second-time mother, Anan, and first-time father, Roscoe. Anan’s first calf, a male named Letterman (born at The Wilds in 2014), was the first fifth-generation white rhino to be born outside of Africa. Anan had a notable birth herself as she was the first fourth-generation rhino to be born outside of Africa, and she, too, was born at The Wilds. Anan’s mother, Zen, was the very first rhino born at The Wilds in 2004 and is still a part of the conservation center’s breeding herd.

The Wilds animal management team members have observed that the calf is strong and is nursing in the pasture. This is the 17th white rhino born at The Wilds; the conservation center has also produced seven Asian one-horned rhinos. The breeding recommendations are part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan® (SSP) to enhance conservation of these species in their native range and to maintain a sustainable population of rhinos in human care.

“Every birth at The Wilds is significant, but this one is particularly special to us. With each new generation of rhinos born, it is a testament to the success of the breeding program at The Wilds but more importantly a success for this species as a whole. The Wilds is proud to be a part of the conservation initiatives ensuring the survival of this species,” said Dr. Jan Ramer, vice president of The Wilds.

The white rhino population had dwindled to perhaps only 50-200 at the beginning of the 20th century, but through conservation efforts, the population of white rhinos in their native African range has rebounded to about 20,400 animals. However, even with the increase in numbers, the species remains classified as near threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). All five remaining rhino species in Africa and Asia (white rhinoceros, black rhinoceros, greater one-horned rhinoceros, Javan rhinoceros, and Sumatran rhinoceros) are persecuted by poachers who sell rhino horn for ornamental or traditional medicinal purposes even though there are no scientifically proven health benefits for its use. The horns are made of keratin—the same substance that makes up fingernails and hair. The International Rhino Foundation, which receives support from The Wilds, estimates that one rhino is killed every eight hours for its horn.

White rhino calves are born after a gestation of 16 months and they can grow to be 4,000 pounds and six feet tall at their shoulder. Their natural habitats are plains or woodlands, interspersed with grassy openings. Through reintroduction efforts, their current range in the wild is in southern and eastern African countries.

Their physical characteristics are two pointed horns and a wide mouth suitable for grazing. The name white rhinoceros originated from the Afrikaans word describing the animal’s mouth – wyd, meaning “wide.” Early English settlers in South Africa misinterpreted the word wyd for “white.”

To further protect the future of rhinos, The Wilds and the Columbus Zoo has provided more than $196,000 in the last five years in support of conservation projects benefiting rhinos in their native ranges, such as monitoring black and white rhinos in Zimbabwe’s Lowveld region through the International Rhino Foundation and protecting black rhinos in the Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary in Kenya through the African Wildlife Foundation.

About The Wilds

The Wilds, one of the largest conservation centers in North America, is home to rare and endangered animals from around the world along with hundreds of indigenous species. The mission of The Wilds, a nonprofit organization, is to lead and inspire by connecting people and wildlife. The Wilds is located at 14000 International Road in Cumberland, Ohio, about 90 minutes east of Columbus. Normal hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day from May through September, and on Saturdays and Sundays in October. For more information, visit TheWilds.org.

COLUMBUS ZOO AND AQUARIUM HOST GLOBAL ELEPHANT MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE

Powell, OH – The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium was selected to host the 2017 Elephant Managers Association (EMA) conference set for October 2-5, 2017. The Zoo’s staff and the EMA board of directors have partnered together to produce a premier gathering of leaders among the global elephant management community.

The EMA board selects each conference host facility based on its demonstrated commitment to the care of elephants, conservation and research efforts on behalf of the species, skills and experience, and hospitality and enthusiasm for fostering growth and development in other elephant programs.

“The EMA board of directors are thrilled that the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is hosting this year’s conference. Elephant professionals from around the world will have the opportunity to visit the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium’s recently renovated five-acre elephant complex, learn from their experience in bull management and breeding, and experience their first-rate hospitality. This conference will give the delegates plenty of opportunity to discover new ideas,” said Jessica Scallan, EMA president.

Each year the conference provides an affordable opportunity for up to 200 elephant care professionals to exchange knowledge and practices in their efforts to advance the fields of elephant management and conservation. Attendees receive cutting-edge information focusing on professional elephant management trends and hear presentations from elephant management leaders around the globe. The conference promotes research on elephant behavior, training and husbandry; addresses conservation issues relative to elephants; emphasizes high standards of safety and humane treatment in elephant training and husbandry; and disseminates accurate and scientifically based information about elephants. Attendees have the unique opportunity to see methods employed by other established elephant programs firsthand. This year, attendees will learn about the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium’s program of elephant care and management for a multigenerational herd.

“We are proud to work closely with the EMA and host this conference that brings together these wildlife professionals who are dedicated to providing exceptional care to elephants and implementing high standards of animal welfare, as well as protecting the future of endangered Asian and African elephants,” said Columbus Zoo President and CEO Tom Stalf. “With issues such as poaching and habitat loss devastating elephant populations, it is more important than ever that we continue to share our collective knowledge and best practices with one another, as well as help raise the public’s awareness, to advance efforts in saving these incredible animals.”

The Elephant Mangers Association (EMA) is an international, nonprofit organization dedicated to the welfare and survival of the world’s elephants. EMA membership is open to elephant professionals, such as elephant keepers, administrators, veterinarians and researchers who provide daily care to elephants in facilities throughout the world, or individuals who care about elephants and are interested in the EMA’s goals and objectives. The EMA participates in ongoing, constructive efforts with city, state and federal regulatory agencies, such as the USDA, on all matters relating to elephant welfare. Many EMA members work closely with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and the International Elephant Foundation (IEF) on issues of conservation and continuing professional development. Since 1988, the EMA has grown to represent more than 300 individual members and 30 institutions.

About the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium:

Home to more than 10,000 animals representing over 600 species from around the globe, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium leads and inspires by connecting people and wildlife. The Zoo complex is a recreational and education destination that includes the 22-acre Zoombezi Bay water park and 18-hole Safari Golf Course. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium also operates The Wilds, a 10,000-acre conservation center and safari park located in southeastern Ohio. The Zoo is a regional attraction with global impact; annually contributing $4 million of privately raised funds to support conservation projects worldwide. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the Columbus Zoo has earned Charity Navigator’s prestigious 4-star rating.

About the Elephant Managers Association:

The Elephant Mangers Association (EMA) is an international, nonprofit organization of professional elephant keepers, administrators, veterinarians and researchers. The Association is dedicated to the welfare and survival of the world’s elephants through improving communication, husbandry, research, education and conservation. Officially formed in 1988, the EMA grew from annual elephant workshops to an organization representing more than 300 individual members and 30 institutional members. For more information about the EMA, visit our website: http://elephantmanagers.com, email emaboard@elephantmanagers.com.

COLUMBUS ZOO AND AQUARIUM WELCOMES REHABILITATING MANATEE

Powell, OH — The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium family is announcing the arrival of an 18-month-old manatee. The female manatee, Agua, arrived late Friday evening from Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo after being in their care for a little over a year.

Agua and her mother were brought to Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo on June 24, 2016 after her mother was struck by a boat near Clearwater, FL. Unfortunately, Agua’s mother succumbed to her serious injuries on August 12, 2016. After beginning her rehabilitation in Florida and her condition was stabilized, Agua moved to Columbus to continue her healing journey and eventual release to Florida waters.

Agua joined the other manatees at the Zoo’s 300,000-gallon Manatee Coast pool visible to the public on Friday evening, but she will still have access to behind-the-scenes areas while she is adjusting to her new environment.

As part of the Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP), the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is a second stage rehabilitation facility that provides a temporary home for manatees until they are ready for release back to the wild.

The MRP is a cooperative group of non-profit, private, state, and federal entities who work together to monitor the health and survival of rehabilitated and released manatees. Information about manatees currently being tracked is available at www.wildtracks.org. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium was the first program partner outside of the state of Florida and is one of only two facilities outside of Florida to care for manatees.

“We are incredibly proud to participate in this partnership as a second-stage rehabilitation facility for manatees,” said Becky Ellsworth, curator of the Shores region at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. “Agua marks the 26th manatee we have helped rehabilitate through this collaborative program, and we are looking forward to monitoring her progress as she grows stronger.”

The threatened Florida manatee is at risk from both natural and man-made causes of injury and mortality, including exposure to red tide, cold stress, disease, boat strikes, crushing by flood gates or locks, and entanglement in or ingestion of fishing gear.

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium supports field conservation projects for three of four living species of manatees through its Conservation Fund. Providing grants to researchers on three continents (North America, South America and Africa), the Zoo contributes to rescue and rehabilitation in Florida, environmental education focused on the Amazonian manatee in Colombia, and critical population surveys for the least known species: the West African manatee.

COLUMBUS ZOO AND AQUARIUM MANATEE RESIDENTS RETURN TO FLORIDA

Powell, OH – The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium bid farewell to two manatees, Jedi and Junebug, late Monday night as they began their journey back to Florida following completion of their 11-month rehabilitation after being rescued as orphans off the coast of Florida.

Jedi was rescued in March 2016 from Stuart Canal, while Junebug was rescued from Outer Clam Bay in Naples in June 2015. Since their initial arrival in Columbus in November 2016, both manatees have grown into strong, independent manatees. Both Jedi and Junebug traveled from Columbus with a member of the animal care team and one of the Zoo’s staff veterinarians to the Miami Seaquarium, where they will complete their final preparations to be released back to the areas from which where they were initially rescued. They arrived at the Aquarium this morning, and the manatees are doing well.

“Each manatee is incredibly special to us. While it’s a bittersweet moment to say goodbye, more than anything, we are always thrilled as they enter the final stages of preparations for returning to their native range. It’s a great testament to the success of this collaborative program benefiting the lives of individual animals like Jedi and Junebug and their species, and we’re proud to continue caring for other manatees in need of our assistance,” said Becky Ellsworth, Shores region curator.

The Zoo recently welcomed another manatee for rehabilitation. On September 29, 2017, 18-month-old female manatee, Agua, arrived at the Columbus Zoo from Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo after being in their care for a little over a year. Agua and her mother were brought to Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo on June 24, 2016 after her mother was struck by a boat near Clearwater, FL. Unfortunately, Agua’s mother succumbed to her serious injuries on August 12, 2016. After receiving care in Florida and her condition was stabilized, Agua moved to Columbus to continue her rehabilitation journey and eventual release to Florida waters.

Currently, the Columbus Zoo is caring for four manatees: Agua, twins Millennium and Falcon, and long-term resident, Stubby. Due to the extensive injuries she received from a boat strike, Stubby would not survive if she returned to her native range. Instead, she has often assumed the role of a surrogate mother looking after the other manatees and was the first to greet Agua during her introduction to the Zoo’s Manatee Coast habitat.

As part of the Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP), the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is a second stage rehabilitation facility that provides a temporary home for manatees until they are ready for release back to the wild.

The MRP is a cooperative group of non-profit, private, state, and federal entities who work together to monitor the health and survival of rehabilitated and released manatees. Information about manatees currently being tracked is available at www.wildtracks.org. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium was the first program partner outside of the state of Florida and is one of only two facilities outside of Florida to care for manatees.

The threatened Florida manatee is at risk from both natural and man-made causes of injury and mortality, including exposure to red tide, cold stress, disease, boat strikes, crushing by flood gates or locks, and entanglement in or ingestion of fishing gear.

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium supports field conservation projects for three of four living species of manatees through its Conservation Fund. Providing grants to researchers on three continents (North America, South America and Africa), the Zoo contributes to rescue and rehabilitation in Florida, environmental education focused on the Amazonian manatee in Colombia, and critical population surveys for the least known species: the West African manatee.

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Sunbury News Staff

ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.

ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.