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Oregon Zoo Foundation

11/30/2021 | News release | Distributed by Public on 11/30/2021 15:31

Wildlife wins: Zoo celebrates conservation success stories

Donors and partners aid efforts to save endangered California condors and butterflies

In 2021, the Oregon Zoo worked to save species across the region, from majestic California condors to tiny Northwest butterflies.

Last spring, 10 fuzzy condor chicks hatched at the zoo's Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation - the biggest batch yet in the zoo's 18-year effort to save the critically endangered species from extinction. With scarcely more than 500 of these birds left in the world, each new arrival is vitally important.

Oregon Zoo Foundation donors and partners help make this work possible. Visible security cameras from Teledyne FLIR - installed at the Jonsson Center last December - are providing improved views into the nesting areas and 24/7 observation of the condors, helping zoo staff monitor the health of chicks and parents. Additional upgrades and new equipment at the center were made possible through a grant from the Avangrid Foundation.

"I'm very excited about a record year for condor conservation," said Julie Fitzgerald, the Oregon Zoo Foundation's executive director. "We know that we'll see California condors soaring in the skies of Oregon again and our donors will have helped make that happen."

While the condor chicks were wobbling in their nest areas, staff at the zoo's butterfly conservation lab roused more than 500 Oregon silverspot larvae from their winter dormancy, transferring the very hungry caterpillars into protective containers, where they munched on fresh leaves following a seven-month snooze.

Over the warmest days of summer, zoo butterfly specialists and their conservation partners released the silverspots at select sites in the coastal mountain range.

Early blue violets are the main food source for silverspot caterpillars as they mature into adult butterflies, and the Oregon coastal range is one of the few remaining areas where these flowers grow in large enough quantities to sustain a butterfly population.

"We've had a 98% survival rate of caterpillars coming out of diapause this year, which is the best we've ever seen," said Travis Koons, who oversees the zoo's butterfly recovery efforts. "It's a testament to rigorous protocols and painstaking attention of our care staff."

Donors to the Oregon Zoo Foundation provided more than $2 million in support of zoo conservation programs, helping to save endangered condors, butterflies and other species from extinction. To learn more, email [email protected] or call 503-220-2493.