Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Every morning, the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium’s new 177-pound baby African elephant takes a stroll through the grounds.

“She knocks over the trash cans, she knocks over any signs she can find,” said Willie Theison, elephant program manager at the Pittsburgh Zoo. “She just thinks she’s the baddest little girl.”

Paul A. Selvaggio / Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium

At the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, inside a tall concrete room, kept warm and humid, is a series of cages filled with the most illegally trafficked animal in the world: the pangolin.

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Paul A. Selvaggio / Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium

Pygmy hippopotamuses, giant anteaters and a zipline are all part of the newest attraction at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium, Jungle Odyssey.

The exhibit is the second of the zoo’s four-phase “Top of the World” project, with The Islands opening in 2016. Dr. Barbara Baker, President and CEO of the zoo, said the latest area will educate visitors about some of the world’s most vulnerable animals.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Caretakers at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium’s International Conservation Center in Somerset County are preparing for a new calf. 

A 23-year-old African elephant named Seeni is getting close to her due date, estimated for this summer. Seeni is somewhat new to the area though, so caregivers are trying to ensure they bond with her so she can bond with the calf.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Game of Thrones fans have three new reasons to visit the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium’s new Jungle Odyssey exhibit.

Joining the exhibit are three 4-and-a-half-year-old capybaras – who can weigh 150 pounds and are known as the world’s largest rodent – all named after an interesting slew of Thrones characters, including Lysa, Varys and Melisandre.

Lead mammal keeper Kathy Suthard said she chose the names based on the dynamics she observed between the three animals.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Last July, the Pittsburgh Zoo sent five sand tiger sharks to a Florida marine park to mate. When they left, a northern elephant seal named Coolio was brought to Pittsburgh to take their place.

This happens with zoos all the time—they trade and loan animals depending on their population’s needs. The person who oversees and coordinates the movements of animals is Ken Kaemmerer, the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium’s curator of mammals.  

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Otis, a 10-foot-long, 450-pound North American alligator rested his head against the cool exterior of his well-heated indoor pen.

It’s where he vacations each winter when it’s too cold to stay outdoors at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium. Otis summers in a pond inside Kids Kingdom and moving him to the reptile building just behind the elephant exhibit takes up to 12 people and some serious muscle, once they get him inside his crate.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

 

The Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium has received the American Humane Association’s Humane Conservation Program certification, an award doled out to only a handful of animal institutions nationwide.

Independent auditors spent four days this summer evaluating the critters, including their standard of living, physical well-being and a consistently happy report with zookeepers.

“Of which all of our keepers do, because they really love their animals,” said Tracy Gray, manager of media and public relations for the zoo. 

John Antczak / AP

Technically we’re not in a heat wave, yet.  

National Weather Service officials in Pittsburgh said that’s because, in Moon Township where their office is located, the temperature has not hit 90 degrees for at least three days in a row.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium is sending its five sand tiger sharks to a Florida marine park, with the goal of mating them.

But before that can happen, the zoo has the task of transporting the large creatures to Marineland of Florida, a park operated by the Georgia Aquarium, in mid-August. Curator of Aquatic life for the PPG Aquarium Dwayne Biggs said it’s no easy job.

“Transporting a 400-pound Sand Tiger Shark is a big effort,” he said.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

When Dakila arrived last year, Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium doctors decided something wasn't quite right.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

The Stanley Cup chase has prompted a little friendly fire between Steel City and San José institutions.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium showed off its Amur leopard cub on Friday, as zoo keepers continue to help it acclimate to its enclosure.

The 3-month-old cub was born in February, the first for mother Candy, and is the first of its kind born at the zoo in 16 years, officials said. Curator of Mammals for the zoo, Ken Kammerer, said he's been watching the cub very closely because the Amur leopard is the rarest animal in the world. 

Pittsburgh Zoo Developing Tuberculosis Treatment For Elephants

May 4, 2016
Bill Damon / flickr

Researchers at Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium are developing treatments for elephants with tuberculosis. The strain, which is the same for both humans and elephants, can attack kidneys, spine, bones and the brain. We’ll talk with Willie Theison, elephant curator at the Zoo, about what they’re looking into and how it could impact the worldwide elephant population.

Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium

A Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium leopard gave birth to a new Amur cub last week, zoo officials announced Tuesday.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

The penguins at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium took a field trip from their regular enclosure to the outdoor cheetah yard on Wednesday.

With the cheetahs indoors for the winter, a fresh coating of snow and temperatures in the 20s, it was the perfect condition for a snowy, penguin play day.

The six penguins were carried in by zoo staff in plastic tubs and released into the yard. Some walked around and poked their faces in spectators' cameras; others plopped on their bellies and frolicked in the snow.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

In the summer months, Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles migrate closer to the New England shore where the water is warm, then back to the warmer waters of the Gulf Stream as seawater cools.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

The National Aviary on the North Side has received another five years of accreditation from the National Association of Zoos & Aquariums for its high standards of care and conservation of wildlife.

The aviary has been accredited from the organization for the last 30 years. The process took about a year and included a review of fiscal management, animal care, veterinary programs, conservation, education and safety.

Courtesy: Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium

The Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium on Friday received its largest single grant ever-- $9 million from the Richard King Mellon Foundation.

The grant supports the expansion of the Zoo’s conservation programs at both the zoo and the International Conservation Center (ICC) in Somerset County, a 742-acre space dedicated to helping endangered and threatened species.

“This will help us expand in our zoo and in our International Conservation Center, our wildlife programs, all of the different animals that we can work with now with this wonderful grant to be able to help wildlife here in the states and also in their native country,” said Barbara Baker, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium.

Epileptic African Lion Treated At Pittsburgh Zoo

Sep 4, 2015
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.

Flickr user Robert Bratton

Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Stephen Bucar is advocating that police officers in Zone 5, which includes the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium, be trained in animal behavior so they can properly respond to incidents involving dangerous animals.

The proposed agreement would also include training for zoo employees on the use of live firearms and tranquilizer guns.

The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium is defending its use of dogs to help elephant handlers control the animals.

The move comes as the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, released a USDA inspection report that was critical of the practice. That report noted that the dogs displayed aggressive behavior toward the elephants and that the elephants were subjected to unnecessary anxiety from the encounter.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Fourteen very sick sea turtles are recovering at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium after being stranded on the beaches of New England in what is being described as a “mass cold stunning event.”

The endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtles are just a few of the more than 900 that washed up on northeastern shores after becoming hypothermic as ocean waters cooled. They arrived in Pittsburgh last Sunday, from the New England Aquarium in Boston.

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.

Flickr user Todd Shirley

Heth’s Run Valley hasn’t been much of a valley for a while. The area underneath Heth’s Run bridge—a portion of Butler Street between Morningside and Highland Park—had long been a dumping site for industrial waste. City Councilwoman Deb Gross, whose district includes the area, said many of her constituents didn’t even know a bridge was there.

But that area is slated to get a major facelift, which Gross said has been a long time coming.

Jessica Nath / 90.5 WESA

There’s a new bird in Pittsburgh, but instead of being giant and yellow, this one barely weighs two pounds and has a soft black coat of baby down fur.

The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium welcomed its first-ever macaroni penguin hatchling May 12.

Though it isn’t even a month old, lead aquarist and penguin keeper Katy Wozniak said it has become quite vocal.

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