Gorilla Family Matriarch Passes Away
It is with deep sadness that the staff of the Gladys Porter Zoo report the death of Katanga, the matriarch of its multi-generational Western lowland gorilla family. She arrived at the Zoo in July of 1970, over a year before it opened its gates to the public. “Katanga was a member of the Zoo’s family. I knew her and worked with her for 47 years,” said Jerry Stones, Gladys Porter Zoo’s Facilities Director. “She was born in Cameroon around February 1963, meaning she lived approximately 52 years.” With a median life expectancy of 37 years for a captive gorilla, she had outlived the vast majority of other female gorillas residing in zoos. Katanga had 10 living offspring with her long-time mate, Lamydoc. The pair produced 14 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren.
After several weeks of illness, Katanga was recently anesthetized and underwent a complete physical exam. Biopsies taken during the procedure revealed she was suffering from squamous cell carcinoma, an aggressive and invasive cancer. After discussions with a local internist, an oncologist, and a tenured veterinarian from a major zoo holding a large group of gorillas, it was decided that an aggressive treatment regimen involving radiation, surgery and skin grafting would cause more discomfort than benefit. Her keepers and Zoo curatorial staff then met to discuss her terminal condition, options, and quality of life issues. The decision was made to euthanize Katanga to prevent her further discomfort. Zoo director, Pat Burchfield, reflected, “She was a treasured icon to all of us. We have grown old together, and she will truly be missed.”
Western lowland gorillas are an endangered species native to the rain forests of the Central African Republic, Cameroon, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo. They stand 4 to 6 feet tall and weigh from 150 to 400 pounds. Gorillas live in troops, which generally number from 4 to 8 individuals. The average life span for wild lowland gorillas is 35 years. They are gentle plant eaters and are very intelligent; in captivity they have even been taught sign language.
Two Brownsville Institutions Named Finalists for National Award
The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has named the Gladys Porter Zoo and Children’s Museum of Brownsville as finalists for the 2015 National Medal for Museum and Library Service. The prestigious award is the United States’ highest honor for institutions that make a significant impact on their local communities. U.S. Representative Filemon Vela nominated both organizations for the medal. “I congratulate the Children’s Museum of Brownsville and the Gladys Porter Zoo – two of the finest institutions of learning in South Texas – and wish them luck in the process,” U.S. Rep. Vela said. “Knowing these organizations, which serve a great need in our local community, are among the best in the country is welcoming news. In my book, they are winners already.”
The two Brownsville institutions, both located in the Mitte Cultural District, will join an elite group of 28 other finalists from throughout the entire nation. Brownsville is the only city in the nation to have two museums from the same city to receive the distinction of being named a finalist.
“The 2015 National Medal finalists have made real and lasting contributions to their local communities through programs that engage and inspire the public,” said Maura Marx, acting director of the Institute of Museum and Library Service. “These institutions serve as trusted providers of education resources, skills development, and civic engagement. We salute these museums and libraries, which play a key role in shaping our future by providing boundless opportunities for lifelong learning.” National Medal winners will be named later this spring, and representatives from winning institutions will travel to Washington, D.C. to be honored at the National Medal award ceremony.
The Gladys Porter Zoo and Children’s Museum of Brownsville would appreciate the support of the community for this esteemed recognition. You are encouraged to share your story on how these institutions have made an impact in your community. To share your story, please visit www.facebook.com/USIMLS.
Ocelot Conservation Day - Saturday, March 7, 2015 / 10:00 – 4:00
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Friends of Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge and Zoo are hosting a special day to highlight the endangered ocelot. There will be ocelot related activities, performances by an ocelot from the Cincinnati Zoo’s Cat Ambassador Program. Plus, mention ocelot at the admission gate and get a 20% discount off an adult or child admission.
Winter Texan Walking Tours January – Mid-March
The Gladys Porter Zoo’s docents are conducting Winter Texan walking tours around the Zoo, upon request. Tours begin the first week of January 2015. Docents not only provide a tour of the facility but they also tell a range of stories, from the history of the Zoo to animal anecdotes. The tour can also be customized to the participant’s level of interest, mobility and time available. Walking tours are free with regular admission or Zoo membership. To schedule a tour, please call the Education Department at (956)548-9453 or email firstname.lastname@example.org at least a week in advance
Saturday Safari – January to May
Enroll your child for Saturday morning fun at the Zoo. You can join, too! Register now for any or all of the classes to reserve your space. Zoo tour included in each class, plus arts & crafts, animal encounter and snacks. Download the flyer for details and schedule or contact the Education Department at (956) 548-WILD (9453) ext. 337 or email email@example.com.
Zoo presents a new member to the family, a rhinoceros calf.
The Zoo presents a new member to the family, a rhinoceros calf. Julie, a white rhinoceros that arrived to the Zoo in June, was expected to give birth near the end of October; however, the 125 pound calf came unexpectedly on the morning of August 30th. It has been 20 years since the Zoo has last had a baby rhino.
The calf, affectionately named Abigail, along with her mother, Julie, has been off-exhibit since the birth and doing well. “It’s easier for us to keep an eye on them. We don’t have to worry about aggression between the mother (Julie) and the other female (Tilly),” states Walter Dupree, Curator of Mammals. Behind the scenes, keepers have been working to socialize the three rhinos, while also making sure the exhibit is safe for the calf. Finally after a month, both mom and baby made their debut to the public on Saturday October 11th.
Due to poaching, these creatures are on the verge of extinction. There are only about 11,000 white rhinoceros living in the wild today. Abigail is part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP), which manages the captive rhinoceros population to ensure that all breeding animals will contribute to a healthy and genetically diverse population.
Make sure to stop by the Zoo and view the newest baby on exhibit
About the Russell Aquatic Ecology Center
The Russell Aquatic Center at the Gladys Porter Zoo is all about the aquatic habitats of South Texas and the animals and plants that live there. Some of the exhibits feature naturally occurring habitats, such as the open ocean, resacas, sea grass beds and mangroves, while other exhibits display man made habitats such as jetties and piers.
The 30,000 gallon Deep Water Exhibit is the largest exhibit in the Aquatic Center – six feet deep with a footprint of 26 feet by 26 feet. This exhibit will house representatives of the larger marine fish and invertebrates commonly found in the bay and near shore waters, such as red snapper, black drum, sandtrout, sheepshead, spadefish, snook, lookdowns, jacks, orange spotted filefish, pufferfish, giant red hermit crabs and of course everyone's favorite – sharks!
A rehabbed sea turtle on loan from Sea Turtle, Inc. will make the 2,800 gallon Ancient Mariners Exhibit its home. Fish commonly found living in and around South Texas jetties will also make it their home, such as snappers, mullet, pompano, sergeant majors and blennies.
The Freshwater Giants Exhibit will feature the fish, plants and reptiles found in the resacas of South Texas, including alligator gar, spotted gar, Rio Grande cichlids, catfish, bass, softshell turtles and snapping turtles.
Most of the marine habitats in South Texas have sandy or muddy bottoms, however, there are a few rocky reefs such as the 7 ½ Fathom Reef near Corpus Christi. In this exhibit, you will find many of the colorful fish often associated with coral reefs such as angelfish, damselfish, butterflyfish and moray eels.
Fiddler crabs will be displaying their large claws in the 400 gallon Mangrove Exhibit that they will share with terrapins and smaller fish commonly found in mangroves. This includes sheepshead minnows, killifish, cowfish, burrfish and the young of many species including redfish, snappers and jacks.
The open ocean is represented by the Keppel AmFELS Ghostly Jellyfish Exhibit, which features . . . you guessed it . . . moon jellies (and yes, you can call them jellyfish if you prefer – as long as you understand that they are not actually fish!). In addition, a variety of smaller exhibits will be scattered around the Aquatic Center, which will allow us to display animals that tend to get lost in the larger exhibits, such as seahorses, octopus, sea robins, stargazers, live shrimp, crabs and live snails.
And finally, the Stingray Touch Tank, crowning glory of the Aquatic Center, will house a variety of local stingrays, cownose rays, southern rays and Atlantic rays. Visitors will be able to touch these animals. Hopefully, in the near future during designated times, visitors will be able to purchase food to feed the rays once they become acclimated and more comfortable in their surroundings.
The Russell Aquatic Ecology Center will be open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily. There is no additional fee to enter the center.
Discovery Tile Program
Support the Zoo by purchasing a Discovery Tile to recognize or honor a family member or loved one. Every tile purchase supports our cause: completion of our new education building. The South Texas Discovery Center is scheduled to open in 2013. If you need additional information or want to purchase your tile contact the Education Department at firstname.lastname@example.org or (956) 548-9453 ext. 319. Download an order form today.
Order Form l Native Flora & Fauna List l Inscription PDF
For more information, please call (956) 546-7187