Arrivals and Departures

Just decades ago, many animals were captured in the wild and moved to zoos. Today, thanks to advances in husbandry, standards of care and successful breeding programs, most zoo animals are born in zoos. Each of these animals has a story that begins with where it was born and includes all the zoos it has lived in. Significant effort is made to document the movement of each animal. Zoo animals are rarely bought and sold in modern zoos. This is part of the effort to avoid putting a price on a wild animal that might encourage illegal trade.

At Miller Park Zoo, most of our animals were born here or at other zoos. When an animal is moved from one zoo to another, it could be for several reasons. First, most animals in the wild don’t live in the same family unit in which they were born. Animals are raised, mature, and leave the family to find and start families of their own. Zoos may manage a species in that same way when an animal matures, sending them to a different zoo to be paired up to start a family, or to join a group of animals their same age.

Zoos may move animals for other reasons, including to give them more space, to let new zoos start to exhibit and promote the species, or to allow their parents the space to have more offspring.

All animals that arrive or depart the zoo are listed on the Acquisitions and Dispositions Report.

Since the pandemic, fewer animals have been moved due to restrictions on travel and zoos abilities to fund many moves. In 2022, the presence of Bird Flu across the country further restricted the transport of birds across the US. At the same time, all animals’ shipments were hampered by the unusually high summer temperatures. Zoos and airlines agree that it is not safe for animals flying cargo in extreme weather.

Arrivals include animals moved to the zoo for breeding, ones needed for new exhibits, ones to replace animals that died or moved to other zoo, those needing temporary housing, and animals born here. Departures include animal sent to other zoos for breeding, ones need to expand exhibits at other zoos, and those that died.

In 2006 Enrique, the saki monkey, was born at our zoo and continues to live here. Kashmir, the red pandas born at our zoo later moved to the Kansas City Zoo where she had babies last spring.

In 2022, we had several San Clemente Island Goats. One animal went to an east coast zoo, two went to a private breeder’s farm in Indiana. Two more are destined to leave for the farms of enthusiasts of the San Clemente Breed in Oregon and in Wisconsin. One unfortunately developed a debilitating health condition. Despite the significant efforts of her keepers and the vet staff, her condition did not improve, and the team chose humane euthanasia. It is the last choice the zoo wants to make, but always with the best interest of the animal coming first.

Getting from Here to There

The first step in moving an animal is to determine where it came go and how it will be transported. Small insects can be sent UPS or FedEx. Medium size animals can be placed in crates and transported in vans, trucks, or on airplanes. Large animals must be transported by companies that specialize in moving animals nationwide.

Arranging transport involves a lot of planning and paperwork for both the zoo sending the animal and the zoo receiving it. Documents needed can include health certificates, proof of the agreement between the zoos, and species-specific animal permits. A crate to meet the specific needs of the animal must be assembled. For all animals this includes food, water, and non-skid flooring. For birds, it may include a perch, while a rodent species will certainly need a crate made of a material it cannot just chew through. The five dwarf mongooses shipped from the San Diego Zoo to us shared a crate because they were a family used to being together. However, animals from the same zoo may need to ship in separate carriers if they do not know each other.

When animals are shipped by plane the crate is placed in the cargo hold. In the rare instance where an animal cannot be placed in the cargo area it may travel in a crate strapped to a seat on the plane. A ticket is purchased for that seat and one for the keeper who accompanies the animal. Airlines have very specific rules for shipping animals. USDA and federal regulations apply. For an animal to be shipped by plane the temperatures must be between 45° and 85° Fahrenheit for the duration of the flight. Moving animals between AZA zoos is easier because they have met many of the requirements during their accreditation process.

Typically, the receiving zoo pays the cost of shipping. The Ewing foundation, established in 1967, has very generously covered the cost for all animals shipped to and from Miller Park Zoo.

Once an animal arrives at its destination it must be quarantined to ensure it does not transmit

any diseases. Typically quarantine lasts 30 days during which the animal cannot be viewed by zoo guests and keepers must obey quarantine rules to care for them separately from the rest of the zoo collection. If the new animal habitat is a confined space and it will not be in contact with other animals, it can quarantine in its new home. Keepers still must handle them under quarantine regulations. But in these cases, visitors will be able to see it right away. An example of this is the mongoose exhibit which is completely glassed in and separate from other species. This made it possible for them to be quarantined in the exhibit which allowed guests to see our five new residents as soon as they arrived.

Moonpie, the female wolf, arrived in style in 2022 when a pilot landed his private plane at the Bloomington Airport. He is one of 308 volunteer pilots who help move conservation related animals between zoos. This minimized stress on the animal, reduces the time necessary for the move, and eliminated most cost.

The movement of animals between zoos requires planning and coordination which goes on constantly and moves more animals that most people would guess.