Pittsburgh Zoo

Erika Beras / 90.5 WESA

Razi, age 6, has idiopathic epilepsy, a neurological disease that causes intermittent seizures. He was diagnosed two years ago and was having about two seizures a year. This summer, though, they started happening monthly.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium officials said Tuesday the facility dropped its membership with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums willingly and won’t lose its famed sea turtle rehabilitation program.

The zoo has participated in the Sea Turtle Second Chance program since 2009, taking in several turtles a year and, ideally, releasing them all back into the wild again, according to Zoo President and CEO Barbara Baker. Of the 17 treated in 2015, 13 have been returned, including two newly slated for the North Carolina shore.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

A conservationist dedicated to saving African elephants one healthy birth at a time was chosen to receive the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium’s first-ever Legacy Conservation Award.

Zoo officials will honor Thomas Hildebrandt, head of the reproduction management department at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin, Germany, in a local ceremony on Thursday.

Questions Raised About Pittsburgh Zoo's Treatment of Elephants

Feb 4, 2015
Alanak / Flickr


Following complaints from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, a U.S. Department of Agriculture inspection has called into question the Pittsburgh Zoo's practice of using dogs to control elephants.

The USDA report indicated dogs showing aggressive behavior that caused the elephants distress. We talk with Margaret Whittaker, Director of Elephant Care for The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee, the nation's largest natural-habitat refuge developed specifically to meet the needs of endangered elephants.

Whittaker refers to the Pittsburgh Zoo’s situation as unique since dogs are commonly used to control domestic animals while elephants are classified as wild animals. However, there is history of elephants being afraid of dogs and also some who do not seem to mind dogs.

Purposefully using dogs as a control mechanism for elephants is related to the dog’s representation of aversive training techniques for elephants, says Whittaker. Positive re-enforcement training is known to be very effective in controlling animal behavior.

Michael Lynch / 90.5 WESA

After a six-year absence, zebras have returned to the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium.

Penny and Spencer grazed and trotted their way around the new African Overlook exhibit for just the third time this morning. The pair of Grant’s zebras will eventually share their habitat with the giraffes, but for now, the animals are taking turns getting used to the environment.

Ken Kaemmerer, the curator of mammals at the zoo, said the animals have taken a liking to their new digs.

90.5 WESA's Michael Lynch

Ajamu, Ramses, Nalah and Zola arrived in the U.S. from Africa more than six months ago, but today, the four young cheetahs made their first public appearance at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium.

The cats moved slowly from their temporary habitat into their new 7,500 square-foot enclosure next to the African Overlook. But within minutes, the world’s fastest land animals showed just how quick they can be, sprinting their way around the new surroundings.

For the podcast this weekend, 90.5 WESA’s Josh and Yelp’s Rachel ask the deep questions: What's your favorite animal, and are meerkats related to cats?

Of course, the Social Club has some suggestions for how to spend your weekend beyond these animal-related inquiries. Listen in for why, “Adults and face painting don’t often go together, but I think whiskey maybe is the missing ingredient there.”

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Galapagos tortoises can live more than 100 years and can weigh up to more than 400 pounds.

The two visiting the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium for the summer aren't that old, or that big. The male and female tortoises were born in 1992, and weigh in at 160 and 120 pounds. Both were born in captivity.

“All Galapagos tortoises are highly endangered,” said Ken Kaemmerer, curator of mammals for the zoo. “There’s only about 20,000 left in the wild.”

The Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium has agreed to pay $4,550 to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, ending the agency's investigation into the death of a child who was fatally mauled after falling into the wild African Painted dog exhibit.

Barbara Baker, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Zoo, said it’s the right time to take the next step.

“Safety is always our top priority,” she said in a written statement. “All of our exhibits meet the highest USDA and AZA standards and we will continue to work with both agencies to ensure those standards are met and exceeded.”

Cheetahs are More than Just an Attraction at the Pittsburgh Zoo

Jan 15, 2014
Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

The cheetahs at the Pittsburgh Zoo are more than strikingly beautiful and graceful animals. They could play an important role in the breeding of future cheetahs.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

From South Africa to Pittsburgh — four cheetahs are now living at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium.

The animals are considered “genetically valuable” according to Dr. Ginger Sturgeon, the zoo's director of animal health. The goal of acquiring such animals is to ensure that future populations of the endangered cats can continue to be diverse.

Pennsylvania’s Somerset County isn’t exactly the African Savanna, but as many as 20 elephants could be calling it home in the next few years.

The International Conservation Center broke ground Saturday on a 1-acre elephant cow and calf barn, to add to the 724-acre facility.

Pittsburgh Zoo CEO Barbara Baker said the barn will focus on elephant breeding to try and combat the declining population.

Deanna Garcia/90.5 WESA News

Wednesday February 27th is International Polar Bear Day, a day aimed at raising awareness to the continuing threat to polar bear habitat and encourage action to reduce individual carbon footprints.