Animals

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo prepares to welcome another baby giraffe

Posted By on Tue, May 21, 2019 at 5:51 PM

Msitu was born at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in 2009. She's due to give birth soon to her third calf. - COURTESY OF CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN ZOO
  • Courtesy of Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
  • Msitu was born at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in 2009. She's due to give birth soon to her third calf.

Less than a week after Cheyenne Mountain Zoo's two-toed sloth Chalupa had her first baby, the zoo announced it has another pregnant mammal in its midst: Msitu, a 10-year-old reticulated giraffe, is due to give birth sometime in the next couple of months.

Msitu has already given birth to two healthy calves. Emy, 5, now lives at Peoria Zoo in Illinois, and 2-year-old Rae is currently the youngest member of the herd at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.

Msitu bred with 11-year-old Khalid last April, which means she'll likely give birth sometime in June or July (giraffe pregnancies are 14-15 months).

You can try guessing the exact date, hour and minute Msitu will give birth at cmzoo.org/guess to win a "behind-the-scenes animal encounter" with the giraffe herd, zookeepers announced May 21.

Giraffe keepers and veterinarians will also provide weekly updates about Msitu's pregnancy on the zoo's Facebook page.

“Giraffe calves can be fragile, so we try to encourage people to be realistic about the risks while they enjoy the excitement of the hope we know giraffe calves bring to so many,” says African Rift Valley animal care manager Jason Bredahl, who was quoted in a statement from the zoo. “We’re optimistic that advances in medicine, like the availability of giraffe plasma and stem cell treatments, will help us navigate any medical needs the calf may have.”

Last summer, the zoo euthanized giraffe calf Penny just two months after mom Muziki gave birth to her. She faced an infection and dislocated hip that zookeepers and veterinarians determined would keep her from having a good quality of life.

While you eagerly wait for the zoo's live-streaming giraffe "birth cam" to activate on May 28, here's another cute sloth pic:

Chalupa bonds with her new baby. - COURTESY OF CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN ZOO
  • Courtesy of Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
  • Chalupa bonds with her new baby.
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Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Baby sloth born at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

Posted By on Wed, May 15, 2019 at 4:37 PM

We feel like "Junior" is a pretty good nickname for this wee creature. - COURTESY OF CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN ZOO
  • Courtesy of Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
  • We feel like "Junior" is a pretty good nickname for this wee creature.
Big news from Cheyenne Mountain Zoo: Two-toed sloth Chalupa gave birth to an adorable baby sloth at 12:15 p.m. on May 15.

"The baby appears to be strong, and first-time mom, 19-year-old Chalupa, is exhibiting quality maternal instincts," the zoo notes in a statement.

Before discovering Chalupa was pregnant during an unrelated check-up, zookeepers had no idea that Chalupa and the baby daddy, 27-year-old Bosco, were even into each other. They lived together four years and had showed no signs of breeding, but they apparently kept their relationship on the down-low.

Chalupa and "Junior" just chilling out. - COURTESY OF CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN ZOO
  • Courtesy of Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
  • Chalupa and "Junior" just chilling out.

“Sloths are famously adored for their slow-motion lifestyles,” Joanna Husby, Monkey Pavilion animal care manager, is quoted as saying. “Even successful breeding and conception can take longer for sloth parents than other animals. This baby was worth the wait, though."

The baby's gender won't be known for months, and there's no immediate plans to name the young sloth. Chalupa and baby are visible to guests in the Monkey Pavilion, but they're staying in an exhibit with a little more privacy, separate from the main sloth hangout over guests' path. They'll join Bosco in the main exhibit in a few months.

Here's a cute video of Mom and baby snuggling:

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Wednesday, May 1, 2019

719Heroes raise money for K9 officers

Posted By on Wed, May 1, 2019 at 2:50 PM

COURTESY CSPD
  • Courtesy CSPD
A month or so ago, we noticed a group of people with cameras outside our office next to a police car. Naturally, we asked them what was going on.

Turns out they were filming a promo video for an event to raise money for K9 officers. The police officer and pup in the video both work for the Colorado Springs Police Department. You can watch the full video below (make sure you have tissues handy):


The second annual Homes for Heroes Community Cares K9 Event, organized by 719Heroes, is scheduled for May 4 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Weidner Field.

"We try and help fund 27 — this year it happens to be 27 of the local canine officers — and three of the equine officers with the sheriff's department, which are the horses," explains local realtor Preston Smith, an event organizer. "They do have a budget from the city... but unexpected things pop up, and most of the time the officers who are the handlers who take the K-9 officers home with them ... incur those expenses sometimes on their own."

Pups working with the Colorado Springs Police Department, El Paso County Sheriff's Office, Fountain Police Department, Woodland Park Police Department and Colorado Parks and Wildlife will receive donations, Smith says.

The event is free to the public, and will feature vendors, food trucks, Broncos cheerleaders, dog demonstrations, and celebrity appearances from actor Judd Lormand of CBS show SEAL Team and motivational speaker Randy Sutton.

There's also a 5K race with a $25 registration fee (register here), a silent auction and the chance to win $10,000 in a soccer contest. For a donation, Smith adds, you can put on a "bite suit" as part of a dog demonstration.

Smith and his colleagues with the 719Heroes network, an affiliate of Homes for Heroes, give 25 percent of their commissions back to law enforcement officers who buy homes with them.
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Wednesday, January 9, 2019

El Paso County adds two new dog parks

Posted By on Wed, Jan 9, 2019 at 3:08 PM

ELBUD / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
  • elbud / Shutterstock.com

Pups will have 13 new acres on which to frolic on opposite ends of El Paso County, thanks to the addition of dog parks in Falcon Regional Park and Fountain Creek Regional Park.

Falcon Regional Park, about 20 miles northeast of Colorado Springs, will open an 8-acre park for large dogs and a 2-acre park for small dogs along Eastonville Road in March, the Trails and Open Space Coalition announced. The parks will include more than half a mile of trail, with benches and parking for 40 cars.

And 30 miles southwest, Fountain Creek Regional Park is constructing a 3-acre dog park, to include a new 1,600-foot trail and 22 parking spaces.

There's currently no dog park in the Falcon area, says Aaron Rogers, program and event coordinator for the Trails and Open Space Coalition.

"The closest one would be in Fox Run Regional Park," Rogers says. "So allowing people to have a place in Falcon will open up the eastern plains to those families and also give northeast Colorado Springs a spot, too, to take their dogs."

And Fountain Creek Regional park's new addition will be the southernmost in the region, Rogers adds, enhancing outdoor opportunities for families in Fountain, Widefield and Security.

Visitors should "be considerate and respectful of all the people who are using the parks and to pick up after their pets," Rogers says. "Dog waste is a big issue in all the parks across Colorado, and we need to all do our part to make sure we leave our parks cleaner."

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional reporting and to reflect a change in the parks' opening month.
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Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Senate bill could help Colorado's wildlife hit hard by brain disease

Posted By on Wed, Nov 21, 2018 at 4:44 PM

At least 37 percent of Colorado's elk herds are affected by chronic wasting disease. - COLORADO PARKS AND WILDLIFE / DAVID HANNIGAN
  • Colorado Parks and Wildlife / David Hannigan
  • At least 37 percent of Colorado's elk herds are affected by chronic wasting disease.

A fatal neurological disease that affects more than half of Colorado's deer herds is getting renewed attention on Capitol Hill.

Colorado's Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet joined Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Doug Jones (D-Ala.) in introducing a bill Nov. 15 that would authorize a national study on how to prevent chronic wasting disease from spreading. (A similar bill was introduced in June in the House, where it currently sits in committee.)

The disease is caused by a protein that "attacks the brains of infected deer, elk and moose, causing the animals to display abnormal behavior, become uncoordinated and emaciated, and eventually die," according to information on the Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) website. It's been cited by city councilors as one reason Colorado Springs should authorize urban hunting or hire professional shooters to control the deer population.

The bill, of which Barrasso is the lead sponsor, would require the U.S. Department of Agriculture to enter into an agreement with the National Academy of Sciences to review data and best management practices from state agencies. The goal is to "give state wildlife agencies and wildlife experts information to conduct targeted research on how the disease is transmitted, determine which areas are most at risk, and develop consistent advice for hunters to prevent further spread," according to a statement from Bennet's office.

CPW calls chronic wasting disease — which affects at least 57 percent of the state's deer herds, 37 percent of its elk herds and 22 percent of its moose herds — a "significant threat to the future health and vitality" of deer, elk and moose.

City Councilors Andy Pico, Don Knight and Merv Bennett had hoped the city would be able to hire professional hunters to cull a few dozen does within city limits in January. Though allowing urban bowhunting was one option councilors had originally discussed, they concluded at an August meeting with city and state officials that it was too close to the end of the season to implement such a policy.

The city issued a request for proposals on Aug. 20 for deer management, which called for a plan to be submitted by Sept. 30. "The deer management program is intended to maintain deer as an asset to the community; prevent disease due to overpopulation of deer; reduce the public safety risks of deer-vehicle conflicts; and preserve and protect the land of private and public property owners," the RFP said.

From there, the councilors had hoped the city could issue a new RFP for a culling company to carry out the management plan.

When asked whether that timeline was still in place, Pico said in a Nov. 21 email that one firm submitted a response to the RFP for a management plan, but it recommended the city not proceed "based on several factors."

"Also, the state has to approve such a plan and none have been approved in the state that I’m aware of," he wrote. "So culling in January isn’t going to happen."

In the meantime, Pico points out that City Council will consider a "don't feed the wildlife" ordinance for final approval Nov. 27. The ordinance would implement a $500 fine, on top of the state's $50 fine, for providing food to bears, skunks, raccoons, wolves, coyotes, foxes, deer, elk, moose, antelopes and other urban wildlife. The city contends that feeding wildlife "endangers the health and safety of both residents and animals" via vehicle crashes and wildlife's reliance on food from humans.

"And in the near term," Pico writes, "we will continue to cull using Fords, Chevys and Toyotas."

The city reports that a CPW survey counted about 2,700 deer in an area west of Interstate 25, or about 70 deer per square mile. From January to November 2017, Public Works removed 306 dead deer from roads and elsewhere, and police report about 50 traffic crashes involving deer each year.

CPW estimates about 200 does per year need to be eliminated to have an impact on herds within the city limits, the city says.

Read the full text of the Senate bill here:

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Monday, November 19, 2018

'Manny the beaver' lives: Video captures evidence

Posted By on Mon, Nov 19, 2018 at 7:00 PM

ILLUSTRATION BY DUSTIN GLATZ WITH ASSETS FROM SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
  • Illustration by Dustin Glatz with assets from Shutterstock.com

Our Nov. 14 cover story (Beavers drive a wedge between Manitou Springs environmentalists, business owners) drew responses from readers empathetic to both the plight of Manitou's euthanized beavers, and to the decision of a motel owner to protect her property.

Two readers' letters are printed below. But perhaps the most intriguing development since we published the story is this video from Roy Chaney, director of aquatics and fitness at the Manitou Pool and Fitness Center.

A camera donated by Defenders of Wildlife proves Manny the beaver is still living in Schryver Park. We can't say exactly what he's doing, but it looks like he's moving with a purpose! Share with all your coworkers who need a little midday motivation to do the same.


Below, Heidi Perryman, founder of California nonprofit Worth a Dam, shares her thoughts:
I was sorry to read about the difficulties with beavers in Manitou Springs this morning, beaver challenges have become more common and many cities struggle to find resolution. Unfortunately, trapping is a short-term solution since population recovery means beavers will return to adequate habitat often within the year. In my city of Martinez California we faced a similar issue when beavers moved into our city creek in 2007. There were concerns from local business and residents about the potential for flooding and damage to trees. While the initial plan was to trap the beavers, residents protested this plan and recommended an alternative solution. We weren’t lucky to have an experienced woman like Sherri Tippie near by – so we had to bring in expert Skip Lisle (Sherri’s colleague) 3000 miles from Vermont to solve the problem.

That was a long time ago, the Castor Master Skip installed controlled flooding in our city for a decade which allowed the beavers to safely remain, bringing birds, wildlife, steelhead and tourism to the creek. We wrapped established trees and planted new ones. We even celebrate with a yearly beaver festival, and were featured in National Geographic and Ranger Rick Magazine this year.

Luckily for you, it is MUCH easier to solve beaver problems than it was a decade ago. There are now books, websites and even videos to teach you how. There are plenty of reasons even businesses should appreciate beaver, including drought and fire protection. I am hopeful that you can work together to make a plan on how to solve this issue next time. We would be happy to consult along the way.

Our motto is, any city smarter than a beaver, can keep a beaver – and knows why they should.

Heidi Perryman, Ph.D.
President & Founder
Worth A Dam
www.martinezbeavers.org

And here's Stacey Kaye, an educator in Lake George:

As a current educator and former landscape business owner, I was both sickened and exhilarated after reading "Leave It To Beavers."

In September, my students studied beavers with vigor, and enjoyed a field trip to view a beautiful beaver lodge and scout out beaver "signs." They are still talking about beavers to this day. The children embraced a beaver's place in our ecosystem, and after viewing the PBS Nature  film Leave It to Beavers, they realized that awareness and education allows for all of us to coexist peacefully.

I sympathize with Evelyn Waggoner when the beavers felled trees and shrubs on her property.  That is devastating! For 25 years, I attempted to manage voles, deer, and bunnies in residential gardens. The damage caused was monumental, frustrating and costly. However, the very best control I found was barrier methods. Live and let live! If they can't get to the plants, they will move on.

I believe that education and awareness will help protect these amazing creatures!

Stacey Kaye
Lake George, CO
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Monday, October 29, 2018

Weed-eating goats are baaaack in Bear Creek Regional Park

Posted By on Mon, Oct 29, 2018 at 8:06 PM

Lani Malmberg stands among her herd in 2014. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Lani Malmberg stands among her herd in 2014.

A herd of 500 goats arrived in Bear Creek Regional Park on Oct. 26, and they'll stay there through the following weekend munching on weeds and poisonous plants.

Lani Malmberg and her son, Donny Benz, co-owners of Goat Green, are leading the eco-friendly effort in its 20th year. (We ran a profile on Malmberg, a self-proclaimed "gypsy goat herder," a few years ago.)

The herd will munch through 20 acres of the park surrounding the Charmaine Nymann Community Garden, according to a statement from El Paso County. The nonprofit Bear Creek Garden Association raises about $10,000 each year to pay for the organic weed control.

“The goats prefer the dry vegetation first—leaves, weeds and brush,” Malmberg is quoted in the statement. “They're browsers, not grazers like cows, and will only eat the green grass as a last resort. They like the dry prickly things and the herd will eat two to three tons a day. What they eat, they recycle — pure organic fertilizer — back into the soil. Plus, their 2,000 hooves work the soil, aerating and mulching as they go.”


The goats eliminate the need for harmful herbicides, and digest weeds and poisonous plants without spreading their seeds. Goat Green also does fire mitigation work in areas where dry brush poses a risk.

Planning to visit the weed eaters this week? Just keep in mind that the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department and Garden Association ask visitors to keep their dogs leashed, citing a few altercations between uncontrolled canines and goats in the past.

To help bring the goats back next year, you can send tax-deductible donations for the Bear Creek Garden Association Goat Fund to P.O. Box 38326, Colorado Springs, CO 80937.
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Thursday, August 9, 2018

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo: Two more animals dead after hailstorm

Posted By on Thu, Aug 9, 2018 at 12:54 PM

CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN ZOO
  • Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo continues to suffer from the consequences of a freak hailstorm Aug. 6, announcing the deaths of two additional animals that fell victim to baseball-sized hail that shattered skylights and pelted outdoor exhibits.

A meerkat pup, which had recently been born and wasn't yet named, went missing underground after the storm and has not been recovered. The zoo has assumed it passed away. The second new casualty is Snoop, one of the zoo's prized peacocks.

On Tuesday, the zoo had confirmed the loss of a rare cape vulture, Motswari, and Daisy, a Muscovy duck.

Among the injured animals is Twinkie, a Rocky Mountain goat who suffered an eye injury. She's improved since Monday, the zoo says, and an external veterinary team from the James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital at Colorado State University will visit her Friday. Other animals are improving or stable, and some have been removed from the zoo's list of medical concerns.

Many zoo guests and employees were injured during the storm, some rushed to the hospital. And vehicles in the uncovered parking lot were rendered undriveable by smashed windshields. The zoo says there's still about 100 cars waiting to be towed, down from more than 200 on Tuesday afternoon.

"Zoo security will continue to monitor the cars through 5 p.m. Aug. 9," reads an Aug. 8 statement. "At that time, if a vehicle is still in the lot, it will be towed to the south corner of the Zoo's parking lot without security monitoring...If vehicles are still not claimed by Tuesday at 8 a.m., they will be towed to a monitored facility at the owner's expense."

The zoo plans to reopen this Saturday, Aug. 11, at 8 a.m. for members and 9 a.m. for the general public. It will close at the regular time of 5 p.m. After that, the zoo will return to its normal schedule: seven days a week, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EdVenture programs for kids and teens (including birthday parties, ZOOMobile appearances, WildNights, Kids-Only WildNights, Zoo exploration tours and teen programs) are canceled until Monday, Aug. 13.

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is one of only nine zoos with accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums that doesn't have tax support. Instead, it operates on admissions, membership dues and donations, the zoo says.

"Although the Zoo is fully covered by insurance, the revenue lost during these high-season days will still be a hit for our non-profit budget," the statement reads. "Our employees are also stretched financially, due to personal vehicle losses."

Those wishing to help the zoo and its employees recover from the storm can donate at https://bit.ly/2OYtInY.
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Friday, August 3, 2018

Urban deer: Officials set tentative timeline for culling

Posted By on Fri, Aug 3, 2018 at 2:26 PM

A mule deer crosses a road on the Air Force Academy. - U.S. AIR FORCE/MIKE KAPLAN
  • U.S. Air Force/Mike Kaplan
  • A mule deer crosses a road on the Air Force Academy.

City Councilors' plans for dealing with Colorado Springs' overpopulation of deer are moving forward, though not quite at the pace they'd originally hoped.

At a meeting Aug. 3, officials from Colorado Parks and Wildlife met with city staff and Councilors Merv Bennett, Don Knight and Andy Pico to review staff research on deer population control.

The consensus: It's too close to the end of the season to attempt to allow urban hunting, but officials hope to get the ball rolling on Council action soon so professional shooters can "bait and cull" a few dozen does by this Jan. 31. (After that, some does will be too far along in their pregnancy to kill without raising social and political concerns, says Frank McGee, area wildlife manager for state Parks and Wildlife.)

The first step in the process is for the city to issue a request for proposal, or RFP, for an outside company to create a management plan. The plan will have to include information about the best places in the city for commercial hunters to bait and cull deer, most likely using rifles. Location is important because although hunters would work at night for safety reasons, many city parks that might be a hotspot for wildlife are also popular with homeless campers.

The city will probably be able to issue an RFP for the management plan in the next couple of weeks, says Deputy Chief of Staff Bret Waters. Money for that study could come from the city's excess revenue this year, says Councilor Don Knight, adding that funding would have the mayor's support and "we [Council] don't have to appropriate the funds before we put out the RFP." For culling to occur this January, State Parks and Wildlife needs that plan by Oct. 1, McGee says.

The next RFP would be for culling companies, who would coordinate that process.

A plan probably wouldn't be able to make its way through City Council until the end of this year — assuming the ordinance changes needed to allow culling had support — meaning that the selected company would have about one month to shoot does. Knight suggested that the goal should be to take out 50 deer in the first month of 2019. Next year, the city could hopefully allocate enough money to cull "100 to 200 for next September," Knight says.

State Parks and Wildlife has said that in order to reduce Colorado Springs' deer population (currently 2,700) by one-half, 200 does would need to be "harvested" every year for the next five years. Alternatively, 95 does could be harvested each year for the next 10 years. Cost estimates calculated in March showed that culling 200 deer would cost the city between $115,000 and $250,000.

Officials say culling deer is necessary because Colorado Springs has reached its "biological carrying capacity" of deer. Many of the animals are infected with chronic wasting disease, which apparently reduces quality of life.

Data from the Colorado Springs Police Department, according to a presentation at the meeting, shows 192 reports of incidents involving "vehicles vs. wild animals" between 2015 and 2017. (That also includes wild animals other than deer.)

The deer are also creating ecological damage by feeding on plants, McGee says.

The statistics don't mean there's not an obvious PR problem with killing hundreds of deer within city limits.

To illustrate: McGee points out that one problem possibly contributing to urban deer overpopulation is people feeding deer on their property. Sometimes, they're even indifferent to the state's $50 fine for each offense.

"We've had people tell us before, 'I'll continue to pay these tickets'" in order to keep feeding deer, McGee says.

Councilor Merv Bennett recalled a time when he and his wife would have "40 to 50" deer a day on his Cedar Heights property near Garden of the Gods, because "we could not get [a neighbor] to stop feeding them."

One solution officials have proposed to placate deer-loving citizens is to donate the deceased animals (that have tested negative for chronic wasting disease) to Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado. Potentially, they could give deer meat to animal sanctuaries such as the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center in Divide, but Knight thinks feeding the meat to humans would make a culling plan "easier to sell" to the public.

Officials mulled having state Parks and Wildlife cull a few deer in a city park, such as Ute Valley Park, sometime in the near future as "proof of concept." Parks staff would keep a low profile for such a test run.

Additionally, councilors plan to look at cracking down on deer feeders, possibly raising fines or creating new regulations.

A town hall on the deer issue will be held Aug. 15 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at City Hall. (A previously scheduled meeting for Aug. 23 has been canceled.)
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