DNREC’s Brandywine Zoo updated with new animal species and exhibits this spring

WILMINGTON – DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation and the Delaware Zoological Society have announced that new animal species, and new and updated exhibits, are now on display for visitors to the Brandywine Zoo.

“We are pleased that visitors can now enjoy all of the new animals, exhibit updates and renovations going on at the Brandywine Zoo, which are part of the zoo’s master plan,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin. “Visiting the zoo is a cherished childhood memory for Delawareans and visitors alike. The 114-year tradition is ongoing, as new generations discover animals from around the world and become inspired to care and learn about the larger world and their role in it.”

The former otter pond exhibit has been transformed into a large goat contact area, where children of all ages can interact with the animals. The resident African pygmy goats were moved to the new exhibit, and have just met the Nubian newcomers, Harry and Lloyd. More goat breeds will be added in the coming months.

What was the zoo’s previous goat-petting area has been updated to house three new Bennett’s wallabies, also known as red-necked wallabies, in residence through the summer. Although not for petting, the wallabies serve as “ambassadors” to engage children in learning about species’ diversity and conservation. The new wallabies, Lulu, Mia and Jack, will remain at the zoo until the fall.

Two common ravens have moved into the large aviary they will share with the zoo’s American bald eagles. All of the birds in the exhibit are non-releasable because of health issues. Ravens resemble crows, but are much larger. The ravens, Kanga and Dichali, arrived from the National Zoo in Washington D.C., and will be permanent residents.

The zoo’s Nature Play Area has been completed, and includes a bird blind, ambassador animal exercise yard, a climb-through log, and an amphitheater that has become the focal site for animal presentation programs, storytime gatherings, concerts, and Zoo Kids activities.

“Appreciation and respect for animals, and acting to conserve wild habitats are top-tier learning objectives at the Brandywine Zoo, said Michael T. Allen, executive director of the Delaware Zoological Society. “The public can experience education programs and special events year-round at the zoo, and engage off-site with our Traveling Zoo programs, which visit schools, libraries and children’s hospitals.”

Other improvements for the season are in the works, including the new goat breeds and a new alligator exhibit, which is expected to open in a few days. Other species are expected to be added in the upcoming months.

The changes being made this year are to create a sense of excitement for visitors, and position the zoo for its first major exhibit – a new Madagascar exhibit, featuring several species of lemurs and radiated tortoises scheduled to open in 2020.

The Brandywine Zoo is home to Andean condors, llamas, bobcat, swift fox, serval, capybara, golden lion tamarin, red pandas, and many birds and reptiles.

About 50,000 people a year visit the Brandywine Zoo and take part in educational and social programs, and more than 15,000 children each year experience the Travelling Zoo program.

The Brandywine Zoo is managed by DNREC’s Division of Parks and Recreation with the support of the Delaware Zoological Society, a non-profit partner organization that supports the mission of the zoo.

Contact: Beth Shockley, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 49, No. 109


DNREC’s Brandywine Zoo caring for American alligator recovered during recent Pennsylvania drug bust

DOVER – DNREC’s Brandywine Zoo assisted Chester County, Pa. law enforcement by taking into the zoo’s care a two-foot-long, juvenile American alligator that was found inside a Coatesville, Pa. home during a Feb. 8 drug bust in the town some 40 miles northwest of Philadelphia.

The Brandywine Zoo agreed to house the alligator at the request of Chester County District Attorney Thomas P. Hogan, and it will become an educational animal for zoo visitors during the summer. Afterward, the alligator will be moved to the St. Augustine Alligator Farm and Zoological Park, an Association of Zoos and Aquariums-approved facility in Florida that loans the Brandywine Zoo alligators for its summer exhibit.

“We will provide care for the alligator and ensure it is healthy during its stay with the zoo,” said
Brandywine Zoo Director Brint Spencer. The zoo, managed by DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation, “is glad we could be of assistance to Chester County law enforcement in placing the alligator in a healthy environment,” he said.

The alligator was discovered as police in Chester County executed a search warrant at a home in Coatesville, and seized heroin, crack cocaine, suspected fentanyl, cash, and drug packaging materials. Police also found the alligator living in the kitchen of the residence. Three defendants in the case have been charged with drug trafficking and related offenses, and remanded to Chester County Prison.

“Chester County law enforcement deeply appreciates the assistance of zoo director Spencer and the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control,” said Chester County District Attorney Hogan. “The zoo and Director Spencer were immediately available to help us deal with the safe handling of the alligator. DNREC’s help provided us with both short-term and long-term placement of the alligator, making sure that it will be treated humanely.”

DNREC’s Brandywine Zoo is temporarily closed through the end of February while construction and improvement projects are made to the zoo’s campus in Wilmington. The zoo’s education building will remain open to host upcoming programs scheduled throughout the month.

The construction projects, undertaken ahead of implementing the zoo’s master plan for operations recently approved by DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation, include the conversion of the zoo’s otter exhibit into a new small animal contact area, and improvements to the honeybees and beehive educational display, and to the Andean condor exhibit. The improvement projects also include installation of new zoo signage, and renovation of the exhibit for the zoo’s South American capybaras – better known as the world’s largest living rodents.

Modifying the exhibits not only will enable the zoo to move some animals into upgraded facilities, but also helps the zoo to prepare for the arrival this spring of new species. Brandywine Zoo Director Spencer said that during construction, some of the animals are being shifted to zoo housing away from the construction work areas, where they will be fully engaged by keepers until returning to their exhibit space.

Contact: Beth Shockley, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 49, No. 31


DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation’s Brandywine Zoo to close on Tuesday, June 26, for fallen tree removal

WILMINGTON – DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation’s Brandywine Zoo will be closed on Tuesday, June 26, while a tree that fell Sunday night is removed. The falling tree damaged the porcupine exhibit (no animals were harmed) and minor damage was reported to the roof of the animal hospital.

The zoo will re-open Wednesday, June 27, at its usual time of 10 a.m.


DNREC Division of Parks & Recreation announces weekday closure of ‘Swinging Bridge’ in Brandywine Park

DOVER – DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation announced today that the “Swinging Bridge,” a pedestrian foot bridge in Brandywine Park in Wilmington, will be closed on weekdays beginning Monday, Feb. 12. The bridge will be open for weekend use.

The Swinging Bridge straddles the Brandywine River between North and South Park Drives. The closure is necessary for the repair of the bridge decking. Repairs are expected to take up to one month to complete.

An alternate river crossing for pedestrians is on the Van Buren Street Bridge to the south.

For more information, contact the Wilmington State Parks Office at 302-577-7020.

Media Contact: Beth Shockley, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902.


Gov. Markell cuts ribbon to open Brandywine Zoo’s new Eagle Ridge

DOVER – Governor Jack Markell, DNREC Secretary David Small, Delaware Zoological Society President Megan McGlinchey, DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation Director Ray Bivens, state legislators and stakeholders joined together today for the ceremonial ribbon cutting that marked the opening of the Brandywine Zoo’s new Eagle Ridge area.

Ribbon cutting at Brandywine Zoo
Gov. Jack Markell, left, looks on as Megan McGlinchey, president of the board of directors of the Delaware Zoological Society, cuts the ribbon for the Brandywine Zoo’s new Eagle Ridge area which makes a hillside at the zoo fully accessible for observing the zoo’s bald eagles and river otters. Left to right, Gov. Markell; Nnamdi Chukwuocha, Wilmington City Council member; Theo Gregory, Sr., Wilmington City Council president; City of Wilmington Mayor’s Office chief of staff Gary Fullman; Ms. McGlinchey; and State Representative Charles Potter.
/DNREC Photo

The Eagle Ridge improvement project, which broke ground in October 2015, has transformed the hilly, multi-story area surrounding the bald eagle and river otter exhibits, making it fully accessible for all visitors. With an attractive viewing platform and gently sloping walkway, Eagle Ridge offers visitors better views of the popular eagle and otter exhibits.

“The Brandywine Zoo is a Delaware treasure that appeals to both the young and the young at heart,” said Gov. Jack Markell. “It offers diverse exhibits and activities that engage its 100,000 annual visitors in unique educational experiences that connect them to our broader world. The completion of Eagle Ridge is another reason why the Brandywine Zoo is one of the best small zoos in the country.”

Eagle Ridge was made possible by Delaware State Parks’ zoo officials, the Delaware Zoological Society and a group of five state legislators – Reps. Gerald Brady, Stephanie Bolden and Charles Porter; and Senators Harris McDowell and Robert Marshall – who secured $100,000 in construction funds for the project.

“We are grateful to the legislators, the Delaware Zoological Society, and our many friends and stakeholders, for making Eagle Ridge a reality,” said DNREC Sec. David Small. “The partnership between DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation and the Delaware Zoological Society, along with our supporters in the legislature and many other friends, continues to set the zoo on a path to grow and expand in the future.”

“Eagle Ridge is a great addition to the Brandywine Zoo,” said Brandywine Zoo Director Gene Peacock. “It offers our visitors better views of our eagle and otter exhibits, while at the same time, providing better access to that area for all zoo visitors.”

Architect Bob Grove, the board treasurer of the Delaware Zoological Society, donated his design services for the project.

“Our heartfelt thanks go out to Bob Grove and our five legislative supporters for all their assistance with Eagle Ridge,” said Mike Allen, executive director of the Delaware Zoological Society, the non-profit volunteer organization which supports the zoo’s mission.

Zoo Director Peacock noted that Eagle Ridge is ready just in time for “Spring Opening Weekend” on Saturday and Sunday, March 12 and 13, from 10 a.m. – 3:45 p.m., with a special member preview on Saturday March 12, from 9:30 – 10 a.m.

During the opening weekend, the zoo will offer visitors activities and learning stations centered on the zoo’s animals, and provide the opportunity to see new animals, including reptiles and a great horned owl. In addition, the Brandywine Zoo is home to a tiger, red pandas, golden lion tamarins, condors, llamas, and many other mammals, reptiles and birds.

Fees for the opening weekend are as follows: children 3-17, $3; children under 3, free; adults 18-61, $5; seniors 62+, $4; Delaware Zoological Society members with cards, free. The zoo has a full calendar of events, shows, workshops and camps available on its website, www.brandywinezoo.org or call 302-571-7747.

The Brandywine Zoo is managed by DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation with the support of the Delaware Zoological Society. It is an accredited member of the American Association of Zoos and Aquariums, a distinction that marks its commitment to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for visitors and a better future for all living things.

Media Contact: Beth Shockley, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 46, No. 72