Brandywine Zoo’s Haechan the Pudu, Dies

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control is deeply saddened to announce the Brandywine Zoo’s southern pudu, Haechan, died on June 25, 2022. He was three years old.

The cause of death is unknown at this time. Brandywine Zoo officials report that Haechan was lethargic the morning before his passing and coughing sporadically. Prior to this day, there had been no outward symptoms of illness or distress. The animal care team observed him closely and reported the small deer seemed to be more lethargic as the day went on, so he was moved from the pudu habitat to the Animal Care Center on the zoo grounds. On the morning of Saturday, June 25, his condition had declined further, and he was transferred to a veterinary clinic nearby in Pennsylvania, where he passed away.

“The onset and progression of symptoms was very rapid,” said Brint Spencer, director of the Brandywine Zoo, “and, at this time, we do not have a cause of death and won’t until after the necropsy.

The Brandywine Zoo, operated by the DNREC Division of Parks and Recreation, is working with the New Bolton Center of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, who will perform a necropsy, or the animal equivalent of an autopsy.

Haechan’s female companion, Clover, with whom he shared the pudu habitat, has no symptoms of illness. She is under careful observation.

The animal care staff, volunteers and guests at the Brandywine Zoo are heartbroken and stunned by Haechan’s unexpected passing. “Everyone is grieving here,” said Spencer. “It’s so sad, especially when the two pudu had bonded and seemed content.”

Haechan was born at the Los Angeles Zoo in December 2018. He was named by fans of the Korean pop music group NCT-127 for his resemblance to a singer in the group. The fan-driven Facebook fundraiser was successful in officially sponsoring the fawn and naming him Haechan. He arrived at the Brandywine Zoo in December 2021, sent there to meet his potential mate, Clover, under the guidance of the Species Survival Plan Program (SSP), where vulnerable species in human care are optimally matched for genetic diversity to increase the population. The SSP is coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. This pudu subspecies is considered Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species.

Southern pudu are the second smallest deer in the world at 14 to 17 inches at shoulder height. There are fewer than 10,000 southern pudu left in the wild in Argentina and Chile, and these numbers are rapidly decreasing because of habitat destruction, being hunted for food by humans, and killed by loose dogs. There are about 200 pudu in zoos around the world.

The Brandywine Zoo, managed by the DNREC Division of Parks and Recreation, is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums and is one of 240 accredited zoos and aquariums worldwide that meet the highest standard in animal care and welfare, and provide fun, safe, and educational experiences.

About DNREC
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities and educates Delawareans about the environment. The DNREC Division of Parks and Recreation oversees more than 26,000 acres in 17 state parks and the Brandywine Zoo. For more information, visit the website and connect with @DelawareDNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts: Nikki Lavoie, nikki.lavoie@delaware.gov; Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov


Delaware State Parks Wins National Competition for Excellence

Gov. John Carney announced Tuesday that Delaware State Parks won the prestigious 2021 National Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management, which Delaware also won in 2015. The award is given by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration with the National Recreation and Park Association. Pictured with the 2021 Gold Medal Grand Plaque, from left to right, are the Delaware State Parks staff who worked on the award application: Shauna McVey, public information officer; Joe Ulrich, photography/videography manager; Laura Parks, land preservation technician; Martina Adams, special project coordinator; and Elena Stewart, land preservation specialist; and DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin, DNREC Division of Parks and Recreation Director Ray Bivens; Gov. Carney; along with Parks section leaders Greg Abbott, manager of Administrative Services; Matt Ritter, manager of Planning, Preservation and Development; and Grant Melville, manager of Operations, Maintenance and Programming; and DNREC Deputy Secretary Lisa Borin Ogden. DNREC photo.

 

Gov. John Carney joined Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Shawn M. Garvin today to announce that DNREC Division of Parks and Recreation has won the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA) and National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) 2021 National Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management. This is the second time Delaware’s state parks received this prestigious award, having won it previously in 2015.

In May, Delaware, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas state parks systems were selected as finalists in the State Parks Division. This biennial Gold Medal award has only been given 13 times since its establishment in 1997. Delaware and Florida are the only state park systems to win the award more than once.

“To be awarded the National Gold Medal is a testament to the dedication of the Division of Parks and Recreation and our state’s natural and cultural resources,” said Governor Carney. “Delaware State Parks provide refuge for millions of Delawareans and visitors each year, and were critical to the public’s mental and physical health as we navigated the COVID-19 pandemic. Congratulations to the Division on this well-deserved national honor.”

“Our entire state is incredibly proud of this significant national recognition of Delaware’s first class park system,” Secretary Garvin said. “I get the opportunity to see daily that the passion, dedication and commitment of the Division of Parks and Recreation team (staff, volunteers and partners) that is second to none in stewardship of our award-winning state parks.”

This year is also the 70th anniversary of Delaware State Parks. The division does not know the exact factors that set Delaware apart in the competition, but believes multiple items played into being selected as the 2021 Gold Medal state park system. Under the leadership of Director Ray Bivens, the Delaware State Parks system has seen tremendous growth and broken records in numerous areas, including camping/cabin stays, volunteer hours, park attendance and revenue. Bivens, named Delaware’s eighth state park director in 2013, received the 2021 National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD) Conference Distinguished Service Award Sept. 10 during the NASPD’s annual conference. Other distinctions that undoubtedly contributed to the Gold Medal recognition include:

  • Delaware State Parks welcomes more than 6 million guests annually and has seen record breaking growth during the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, campground nights booked grew by 57% from 70,880 nights in 2012 to 111,376 nights in 2020.
  • The division is committed to innovation, including creative public private partnerships such as the Fort Miles Museum, Big Chill Beach Club and the establishment of Auburn Valley State Park from one of the most contaminated and flood-prone sites in the state.
  • The division’s impact on the economy includes support for more than 6,000 jobs through concessionaire and partnership agreements.
  • The economic impact of visitors to the state includes $319 million in spending generated from Cape Henlopen, Killens Pond, Lums Pond, Delaware Seashore and Trap Pond state park campgrounds.
  • Despite being 20 times smaller than any other finalist state, Delaware boasts a diverse and robust state park system featuring ocean parks like Fenwick, Delaware Seashore and Cape Henlopen, urban parks such as Wilmington, Alapocas and Bellevue, historic parks such as Fort Delaware and First State Heritage Park and a variety of other amenities including Deerfield and Garrison’s Lake golf courses, Brandywine Zoo, Killens Water Park and the Indian River Marina.

“Our 2021 Gold Medal recipients show a remarkable resilience as well concern for their constituents and staff in continuing to provide critical services during this COVID pandemic,” said AAPRA Executive Director Jane H. Adams. “The pandemic has shed light on the essential services provided by park and recreation agencies.”

Agencies are judged on their ability to address the needs of those they serve through the collective energies of community members, staff members and elected officials. The National Gold Medal Awards program, sponsored by Musco Lighting, LLC, honors communities in the United States that demonstrate excellence in parks and recreation through long-range planning, resource management, volunteerism, environmental stewardship, program development, professional development and agency recognition.

The award is given in coordination by the AAPRA with the National Recreation and Park Association. To learn more about the Gold Medal Awards, visit www.aapra.org.

Additional photos are available for download and publication at this link.

About DNREC
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities and educates Delawareans about the environment. The DNREC Division of Parks and Recreation oversees more than 26,000 acres in 17 state parks and the Brandywine Zoo. For more information, visit the website and connect with @DelawareDNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts: Shauna McVey, shauna.mcvey@delaware.gov or Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov.

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DNREC Parks Director Earns National Award

DNREC Division of Parks and Recreation Director Ray Bivens /DNREC photo

 

The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control announced Division of Parks and Recreation Director Ray Bivens has received the 2021 National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD) Conference Distinguished Service Award Sept. 10 during the NASPD’s annual conference.

NASPD states on its website that “The Distinguished Service award is given to a state park director who has demonstrated a long-term, sustained record of professional accomplishment in the field of park and recreation management.”

“Ray is the perfect recipient of this national award. He is an innovative problem solver and leader whose passion for the environment, people and our state park system directly benefit the millions of people who visit Delaware State Parks each year,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin. “He is a true steward of park lands with a customer-centric focus who pushes his team to excel and provide the public with enjoyable experiences within our state parks.”

For 30 years, Bivens has dedicated his career to park stewardship with a passion for natural and cultural resources, customer service, training, partnerships and staff development. He is a hands-on leader who often works alongside Delaware State Parks field staff to gain perspective of the visitor experience.

He has placed a focus on youth during his 18-year tenure with Delaware State Parks, and played a lead role in creating the Delaware Children in Nature plan and the creation of the First State Heritage Park in Dover. One of his first acts as director was to establish the Delaware Youth Conservation Corps. Other accomplishments include having a key role in the creation of the Trap Pond and Killens Pond state park nature centers, and the development of multiple new trails and playgrounds.

Under Bivens’s leadership, the Delaware State Parks system, administered by the DNREC Division of Parks and Recreation, has seen tremendous growth and broken records in various areas, including camping/cabin stays, volunteer hours, park attendance, and revenue. Park users generate 65% of the revenue utilized to operate and maintain the parks. A recent economic impact study concluded that out-of-state visitors generate close to $400 million in impact on the Delaware economy thanks to the state park system. Other milestones include the dedication Delaware’s 17th state park, Auburn Valley, in 2018 and the creation of the division’s first strategic plan in 2020.

In 2016, the division was selected as the only small state to be awarded the National Gold Medal as the best managed state park system for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA). Delaware State Parks is currently a finalist for the 2021 Gold Medal award to be announced later this month.

“Delaware State Parks has an abundance of natural and cultural resources,” Bivens said, “but our greatest resource are the dedicated staff and volunteers who passionately give of their time and talents.”

Prior to being named Delaware’s eighth state park director in 2013, Bivens served as the division’s chief of interpretation and operations section manager. Bivens’s natural resources career started as a teenager in the Maryland Youth Conservation Corps. He served as a park naturalist for various Maryland state parks including Rocky Gap, Tuckahoe and Point Lookout state parks. Bivens and his wife, Becky Bivens, reside in Frederica.

About DNREC
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities and educates Delawareans about the environment. The DNREC Division of Parks and Recreation oversees more than 26,000 acres in 17 state parks and the Brandywine Zoo. For more information, visit the website and connect with @DelawareDNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts: Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov or Shauna McVey, shauna.mcvey@delaware.gov

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DelDOT Celebrates Phase II Capital City Trail Completion

This afternoon, DelDOT’s Secretary Nicole Majeski, DNREC Division of Parks and Recreation Director Ray Bivens, Representative Lyndon D. Yearick, City of Dover’s Councilman Andre Boggerty, county and local officials participated in a ribbon cutting ceremony for the completion of Phase II-Capital City Trail.

“With each completed phase of work the Capital City Trail we move closer to completing what will ultimately be a nearly 15-mile trail around the city of Dover,” said Secretary of Transportation Nicole Majeski. “Building this interconnectivity gives our residents a safe and convenient alternative to using a vehicle to get around the city and surrounding areas and we are excited for the benefits this will provide to users of all ages.”

“DNREC has enjoyed and looks forward to continuing a great working relationship with DelDOT in developing trails throughout the state that bring more and more people in touch with Delaware’s natural beauty and recreational resources,” said Ray Bivens, Director of the DNREC Division of Parks and Recreation. “We cannot endorse strongly enough the expansion of the trail network across the state, thus providing public access to more opportunities for both recreational pursuits and alternative transportation.”

Representative Andria Bennett said, “Delaware’s wide array of pristine multi-use trails have proven to be a great success, allowing residents to experience the beauty of our state while enjoying the great outdoors. With the completion of the Capital City Trail, which runs through the heart of historic Kent County, our community will be connected in a way that benefits locals, visitors, and businesses alike. I’m grateful for DelDOT’s commitment to expanding and improving this important trail, which showcases the vitality of our area while providing people of all backgrounds with an environmentally friendly mode of transportation.”

“I want to thank DelDOT’s efforts to improve the pedestrians and bikers’ safety on the road. Throughout the state, we need to make a conscientious effort to improve the safety of our roads, and this is a step forward in central Kent County,” said Representative Lyndon D. Yearick.

Mayor Tracy Torres said, “I think it’s fantastic to have a trail providing accessibility to the parks and historic attractions in this area as well as the Dover Air Force Base. This provides options for those who desire a healthy lifestyle, it’s a safe way for families to explore the area. I’m very happy this connection will soon include Camden.”

Phase II-Capital City Trail is a new multi-use path along Route 10 from Gateway Shopping Center to South State Street for pedestrians and cyclists. This work included the following: sidewalks, transit improvements, ADA curbs, gutters, paving, fencing, signage, and landscaping. The section of this trail is part of the overall Capital City Trail which connects Downtown Dover, Camden/Wyoming, DAFB Housing, Brecknock Park, Caesar Rodney High School, Schutte Park, Danner Campus, and points between.

The entire length of the trail once complete will be approximately 14.5 miles in length. The remaining section of the trail from South State Street to US 13 is scheduled to be constructed in conjunction with the Camden Bypass Project. The pathway is another example of additional to our low stress multi-model network. The next phase of the trail is scheduled to begin next year from South State Street to a connection point with the Camden Bypass. The state of Delaware has more than 500 miles of pedestrian and bicycle trails.


DNREC Announces Temporary Brandywine Zoo Weekday Closures

The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control will close the Brandywine Zoo on weekdays from Tuesday, Sept. 8 through at least Monday, Sept. 21 for construction. The walkway for the new Madagascar Exhibit, which is currently under construction, will be tied into the existing zoo walkway during the closure.

The Madagascar Exhibit is part of the Brandywine Zoo’s recently approved master plan and will be the largest capital improvement in the zoo’s history. The master plan focuses on improved animal welfare and guest experiences, species of conservation concern, and the inclusion of more mixed-species exhibit.

This new exhibit will be home to three Radiated Tortoises, and three species of lemurs: the Black and White Ruffed, Ring-Tailed and Crowned. Construction on the exhibit is expected to be completed this fall.

The Brandywine Zoo will remain open on Saturdays and Sundays. To schedule a visit to or for general information about the zoo, visit https://brandywinezoo.org/ or call 302-571-7747.

About DNREC

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities, and educates Delawareans about the environment. The Division of Parks and Recreation oversees more than 26,000 acres in 17 state parks and the Brandywine Zoo. For more information, visit the website and connect with DNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts: Shauna McVey, shauna.mcvey@delaware.gov or Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov.