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Two polar bears at the Oregon Zoo are helping researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey study how climate change is affecting wild polar bears in the Arctic.
Five Humbolt penguin chicks are now waddling for audiences at the Oregon Zoo.
This week, the Oregon Zoo broke ground on Elephant Lands, a $53 million expansion. It's the result of years of planning by the Director of Elephant Habitats, who won't have the job much longer.
Editor's Note: Both the Oregon Zoo and the Have Trunk Will Travel company have made it clear that the newborn baby elephant will remain at the zoo. In light of this development, our segment today will take a broader look at elephants living and breeding in captivity. The Seattle Times has published a contract (pdf) between the Oregon Zoo and a compay called Have Trunk Will Travel which stipluates that the baby elephant born at the zoo Friday does not actually belong to the zoo. The female baby's mother, Rose-Tu, is owned by the zoo but her father, Tusko, belongs to Have Trunk Will Travel. According to the contract, the second, fourth and sixth offspring of the pachyderm couple belong to the company, as of 30 days after their birth. The calf born Friday is their second. A statement from the Oregon Zoo says,
It is true that, per the contract, Have Trunk Will Travel is designated the official owner once the calf has lived 30 days, but that does not mean they take possession of her.
1962 was a big year for the Oregon Zoo. A 225 lb baby was born — a baby elephant named Packy. The birth of this "precocious pachyderm" as he was often called, launched the zoo (then called the Portland Zoological Gardens) into the national spotlight because he was the first elephant born in the Western Hemisphere in over 44 years. That year baby Packy drew a record number of visitors to the zoo — more than 1.2 million. Today Packy is close to an elephant senior citizen. He'll turn 49 this spring. Most elephants live to be 60 to 70 years old. The man who helped bring him into the world — the zoo's first veterinarian — Matthew Maberry, has written a book with his wife Patricia that chronicles Packy's story, simply called, Packy & Me.
Portland author Monica Drake says she drew on her experience interning at the Oregon Zoo for one of the storylines in her new novel, The Stud Book. She worked on charting the baby elephants' behavior every 45 seconds. Sarah, one of the book's main characters, struggles with infertility in her personal life, even as she is surrounded by reproducing animals and zoo patrons who seem to be teeming with offspring. Drake says the themes that emerge as her characters lives unfold include an implicit questioning of how we decide whether and when to reproduce. The snow leopard for instance, will not reproduce unless there is adequate room to roam and hunt. She says the issues of population growth are at once global and deeply personal — both in real life and for the characters in The Stud Book. Oregon Art Beat profiled Drake after her first book, Clown Girl, was published.