Zoo branching out with new beaver

3-year-old Maple joins Filbert in zoo's Cascade Stream and Pond habitat

"Branch manager" Filbert welcomed a new coworker this month when Maple, a 3-year-old North American beaver, joined him at the Oregon Zoo's Cascade Stream and Pond habitat. According to care staff, Maple settled in right away and the toothy twosome are already swimming and playing together.

"Beavers are very social animals, so it's wonderful to welcome a new member to the family," said Julie Christie, senior keeper for the zoo's North American animals. "Filbert and Maple are getting along really well, and it's great for both of them to have a friend to play with."

Filbert was born at the zoo in 2011 to Willow and Aspen. Since they passed away last year, he's been getting a lot of special attention from his care staff, including adventure walks around the zoo. He's especially popular on the zoo's social media channels, where his industrious wood-gathering activities have earned him the title "branch manager."

Filbert is also known for his skills as a research assistant. In 2015, he lent his services to Oregon State University for its Beaver Genome Project.

Maple joins Filbert in the zoo's Great Northwest area, near the river otters and western pond turtles. The two beavers share a lodge, and spend their days chewing on wood to keep their large, powerful teeth worn down. To encourage these natural behaviors, keepers anchor branches to the beach or clamp the branches upright for them to chew.

Though Oregon is known for its beaver population, that hasn't always been the case. In the 19th century, American beavers were hunted and trapped for their fur; by about 1900, they were almost gone from many of their original habitats. Pollution and habitat loss also affected their survival. In the last 100 years, thanks to re-establishment programs and hunting regulations, beavers have made a very successful comeback. They are now listed as a species of least concern by the International Union of Conservation of Nature.

Metro, the regional government that manages the Oregon Zoo, has preserved and restored more than 90 miles of river and stream banks in the region through its voter-supported natural area programs. By protecting water quality and habitat, these programs are helping to provide the healthy ecosystems needed for beavers, fish and other wildlife to thrive. Beavers are frequently observed in Metro region waterways.

The Oregon Zoo is a service of Metro and is dedicated to its mission of inspiring the community to create a better future for wildlife. Committed to conservation, the zoo is currently working to save endangered California condors, Columbia Basin pygmy rabbits, Oregon silverspot and Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies, Western pond turtles and Oregon spotted frogs. Other projects include studies on black rhinos, Asian elephants, polar bears and bats.
The zoo relies in part on community support through donations to the Oregon Zoo Foundation to undertake these and many other animal welfare, education and sustainability programs. The zoo is located five minutes from downtown Portland, just off Highway 26 at exit 72. The zoo is also accessible by MAX light rail line. Visitors who travel to the zoo via MAX receive $1.50 off zoo admission. Find fare and route information online or by calling TriMet Customer Service at 503-238-RIDE (7433).
General zoo admission is $10.50 (ages 12-64), $9 for seniors (65 and up), $7.50 for children (ages 3-11) and free for those 2 and younger; 25 cents of the admission price helps fund regional conservation projects through the zoo’s Future for Wildlife program. A parking fee of $4 per car is also required. Additional information is available by calling 503-226-1561.

Media contact: 

Hova Najarian | 503-220-5714 | hova.najarian@oregonzoo.org

Kelsey Wallace | 503-220-5754 | kelsey.wallace@oregonzoo.org