Pinocchio's News Page

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City Welcomes New Bear to Salisbury Zoo!
Salisbury, MD -Mayor Jake Day and Zoo Director Ralph Piland are excited to announce the arrival of Salisbury Zoo's  newest addition; Pinocchio the Andean Bear! Pinocchio is travelling, along with a team from Salisbury Zoo and sponsors Hertrich Family of Automobile Dealerships, from Ecuador to Miami today. Then, Pinocchio will begin his trek to Salisbury- joined at the Virginia/Maryland State line by sponsors Hertrich Family of Automobile Dealerships and the Salisbury Police Department for an escort to the Zoo on Saturday, November 10.
During the journey, follow along on the Salisbury Zoo's Facebook page, using #AndeanBearRoadTrip:, for all the updates on Pinocchio's arrival and acclimation to his new home!

Background Data:  Pinocchio

Scientific Name:  Tremarctos ornatus

Common Name:  Andean bear or spectacled bear

Native Range:  As their name implies Andean bears are found in South America's Andes Mountains.  Although their populations are fragmented they can be found in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela.

Conservation Status:  The International Union for the Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species identifies the Andean bear as "Vulnerable."  This is the same conservation classification as the giant panda, snow leopard, and polar bear.  Unlike the giant panda, however, the numbers of Andean bear in the wild are believed to be decreasing.  Ultimately this species needs much more study in the wild.

Number in the Wild:  20,000 to 30,000

Number in North American Zoos:  There are currently 35 Andean bears in the population managed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.  This number is not considered genetically viable without the importation of new founders.


This particular bear was found by a government official in July of 2013 in Cotopaxi province in Ecuador.  It was reported that the mother bear had abandoned the cub after she was harassed by local dogs.  Local farmers picked up the cub and began to maintain it as a pet.  After learning this information the Ministry of the Environment of Ecuador mobilized a rescue effort.  The cub was confiscated and transferred to a veterinary clinic for evaluation.  There it was found to be malnourished and dehydrated.  The cub received intensive care at the clinic for about a month before it was moved to a rehabilitation center at the Zoo San Martin.  There he was housed with a female bear named "Estrellita" who was a few months older.  Both were managed under a system designed to prepare them for release back into the wild.

In 2016, after reaching maturity, Estrellita and Pinocchio were moved to a pre-release center in the Cayambe Coca National Park.  Ultimately Estrellita was released into the wild where on-going research indicates that she continues to do well.  Pinocchio did not exhibit behaviors that conservation biologists felt would indicate a good potential for survival in the wild.  In late 2016 he developed a gastrointestinal infection that required him to be transferred to the Guayllabamba Zoo for medical attention.

Following his recovery Pinocchio was transferred to the Ilitio Rescue Center for evaluation.  There it was determined that his young age when separated from his mother did not make him a good candidate for rehabilitation and release.  Since that time he has remained at the Center awaiting a permanent home.

Finding a Home:

The Ministry of the Environment reached out to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and its Andean bear Species Survival Plan in hopes of finding placement for Pinocchio.  Scott Silver, Director of the Queens Zoo and Chair of the Andean bear SSP began working with counterparts in Ecuador to try to create a positive resolution to this dilemma.  Eventually the process connected Ecuador with Maryland.  The Salisbury Zoological Park was looking to replace its male Andean bear Gritto who had died of age related causes.  Gritto had fathered a female cub with the Zoo's resident bear Chaska.  Chaska's cub, Alba, had transferred to California's San Diego Zoo.  With Chaska's proven abilities as a mother and with a very small population of Andean bears in American Zoos it was desirable to look for a mate that was close to Chaska's age.  Pinocchio was a good fit in terms of age and the genetic diversity that he would bring to the captive population.

The Moving Process:

The international transfer of animals is a highly regulated process.  The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species is a multinational accord that regulates the shipment of threatened species between countries.  Its purpose is to prevent international trade that exploits endangered animals.  In order to receive Pinocchio the Salisbury Zoo needed to acquire a CITES export permit from Ecuador and a CITES import permit from the United States.  This lengthy administrative process was coordinated by the Zoo's Registrar Ian Shelley and involved extensive interactions with agencies in Ecuador and the United States.  In order to qualify for the import permit the Zoo needed to demonstrate that it had appropriate experience in managing the species, that this importation did not have a detrimental impact on the wild population, and that it would engage in positive actions to support the conservation of this species in its native habitat.

The logistical process of transporting an animal internationally is complex.  The Zoo shipped its special transport crate to Ecuador about a month before the targeted shipment date to begin a process making Pinocchio more comfortable and familiar with the crate.  Two members of the Zoo's staff experienced in bear transports will go to Ecuador to coordinate the final preparations and to accompany Pinocchio to his port of entry-Miami, Florida.  In Miami Zoo personnel will review documents and permits with wildlife and customs officials before Pinocchio is allowed into the country.  After those reviews are completed then Pinocchio will be transferred to begin the final leg of his journey to Salisbury, Maryland.

Getting a Bear:

Getting a bear is no easy process.  It takes a lot of time, planning and money to complete a transfer, even once the permits are signed.  The Hertrich Family of Automobile Dealerships has made a significant investment to help us bring a second Andean Bear to the Salisbury community.   They have been involved with the process for over a year and it is because of their contribution and sponsorship of the transportation that we are able to bring Pinocchio to Salisbury. 

In November of 2016, the Hertrich Family of Automobile Dealerships acquired their 18th location, Hertrich Buick GMC of Salisbury, their first venture in to the Salisbury community. Talk of Pinocchio coming to Delmarva started about the same time.  As new members of the community, Hertrich was eager to get involved with the Salisbury Zoo.  Hertrich is dedicated to the education of young people and believes the zoo is a pillar of the community.   When Hertrich contacted the zoo to see how they could help, they found out that they weren't the only ones looking to join the community and immediately volunteered to provide transportation of the bear to Salisbury.  Chaska has always been a community favorite and Hertrich is excited to welcome our new friend Pinocchio!

Salisbury zoo, Hertrich family of automobile dealerships partner to bring a second bear to Salisbury


 Salisbury, MD- October 10, 2017- The Salisbury Zoo and the Hertrich Family of Automobile Dealerships are partnering to bring a new bear to the Salisbury Zoo! Male Andean Bear Pinocchio is scheduled to make the journey from Ecuador sometime next month and will join the bear exhibit with community favorite, female Andean Bear Chaska. Hertrich, who is sponsoring the bear and providing his transportation, has been working with the zoo for over a year now to plan for Pinocchio's arrival.  The arrival of Pinocchio is part of a conservation effort that will hopefully bring international attention to the Salisbury Zoo and lead to bear cubs on Delmarva.


Pinocchio is a rescue bear.  He was taken from the wild illegally and rescued by the Ministry of the Environment in Ecuador.  Ultimately conservation biologists determined that, because of the young age at which he was taken from the wild, he was not likely to survive if he were released.  The Salisbury Zoo has offered to provide a home for Pinocchio in the hopes that he will make a good companion for our female bear.  Together they can provide new genetic material to the captive bear population.  Thanks to the generous support of Hertrich, the Salisbury Zoo was able to meet the substantial cost of transporting an Andean bear, and Pinocchio will soon be on his way to his forever home.   


Talk of Pinocchio coming to Delmarva started about the same time that Hertrich joined the Salisbury community with the addition of their Hertrich Buick GMC of Salisbury dealership at the end of 2016. When Hertrich contacted the zoo to see how they could help, they found out that they weren't the only ones looking to join the community and immediately volunteered to provide transportation of the bear to Salisbury.

"As a partner in the community we see great value in the Salisbury Zoo and the impact it has on the education of young people," says Regional Vice President Matt Kugle. "We felt sponsoring Pinocchio the Andean Bear would be a great way of demonstrating that to the residents of Delmarva and also support the Salisbury Zoo." 


Mayor Jake Day said, "Thanks to this new partnership with our friends at Hertrich, the Salisbury Zoo will soon be home to another beautiful Andean bear. Since 1974, when longtime Zoo resident 'Poopsie' was sent to us from the Baltimore Zoo, our City has demonstrated loyalty and love for our Spectacled friends, and I'm excited to see that tradition continuing with 'Pinocchio.' We thank Hertrich for their sponsorship, and we're happy to say 'Welcome home, 'Pinocchio!'"



Ever since the arrival of our first Andean bear 1974, Salisbury has proven to have a big heart for these majestic animals, and we're happy to see the tradition continuing with Pinocchio."


The process of transferring the bear from Ecuador to the United States is very complex requiring several international permits.  The Zoo needed to determine that Pinocchio was an animal that would benefit the management of the captive population of Andean bears.  Ecuador needed to be assured that Salisbury would be capable of providing appropriate care and support for their native animal.  And all parties wanted to take steps that were beneficial to the sustainability of the world's population of Andean bears.


Then comes the preparation for the actual transport. A crate had to be specially designed to have shift doors on both sides which can be connected to a wall and allow the animal to transfer safely. 


The crate was shipped to Ecuador last week where trainers at the facility in Ecuador will begin to work with Pinocchio to get him comfortable with transferring to the crate. This process will take about 2-3 weeks. Once the bear is crate trained, two zookeepers from the Salisbury Zoo will travel to Ecuador where they will meet Pinocchio and learn about Ecuador's Andean Bear Conservation Program that has led to Pinocchio coming to Delmarva. They will then escort the bear on a flight back to the Southern part of the United States and continue to make the journey all the way to Salisbury. 


Once Pinocchio is at the Salisbury Zoo, he will undergo a quarantine under the watchful eye of the zoo veterinarians that will last approximately 30 days.  From there, he will move to his new home and get settled in before finally being introduced to his new friend Chaska.


Pinocchio is expected to be on view for the public around the end of the year, but the arrival of the bear is only the beginning of the celebration.  Keep an eye on both the Hertrich and Zoo websites and Facebook pages to hear more about how you can join us in welcoming Pinocchio to Delmarva.



The Hertrich Family of Dealerships

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