DNREC’s Fort Delaware State Park to host annual Civil War-era P.O.W. weekends in July and August

DELAWARE CITY – This summer, Fort Delaware State Park will host its two annual prisoner-of-war (P.O.W.) living history weekends. Each historical event begins at 10 a.m. both days, Saturday and Sunday, July 14 and 15, and Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 11 and 12.

During these special weekends, Fort Delaware will come alive with re-enactors and historians dressed as they would have during the American Civil War. Visitors will be offered a fascinating and unique look at what life was like at Fort Delaware during the 1860s, including prisoners being processed, prisoner mail call, and firing demonstrations with blank charges of various 19th century weapons.

With a number of additional re-enactors from a wide geographic range participating in the days’ events, visitors will see Delaware history as it happened almost 160 years ago.

Fort Delaware is a Civil War-era structure built to protect the city of Philadelphia from attack via the Delaware River. During the Civil War, it was used as to house captured Confederates, Union criminals, and civilians arrested for acts of presumed disloyalty. Between the years 1862 and 1865, about 33,000 prisoners spent time at Fort Delaware. P.O.W. Weekends are the fort’s best opportunity to tell their stories.

Visitors also can view many of the park’s regular daily events, including seeing the fort’s blacksmith, listening to Civil War folk songs, watching musketry drills, and much more.

Admission is $12 for adults, $7 for children, and $11 for those 62 and older, and active military. Children under two get in free. Most special programs at the park are free with Pea Patch island admission.

The Fort Delaware ticket office and ferry launch is located at 45 Clinton Street, Delaware City, DE 19706. Fort Delaware is regularly open from 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays.

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

DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation’s Brandywine Zoo introduces two new red pandas to the public

Meet Sherman – male red panda. Profile: outgoing, curious, loves to sleep in large buckets, very intelligent and fast learner, and will approach keepers to see what kind of food and enrichment they’ve brought him for the day.

WILMINGTON – DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation’s Brandywine Zoo has made a red panda transfer and introduced two new pandas to the public. The zoo sent the panda predecessors to other zoos for breeding purposes, and Brandywine Zoo visitors are encouraged to welcome the newcomers to Delaware.

Mohu, a female Red Panda
Meet Mohu – female red panda. Profile: shy but coming out of her shell daily, loves apples and grapes but is crazy about dried cranberries, and has more white on her face than Sherman.

The zoo’s new residents are Sherman (above), a five-year-old male from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology institute in Virginia, and a four-year-old female, named Mohu (right), from the Blank Park Zoo in Iowa. Former resident sisters, Meridoc and Gansu, who have lived at the zoo since 2014, have been transferred to other accredited zoos, where they have been paired with mates.

Before Sherman and Mohu’s arrival, zookeepers were informed about each animal’s personality, dietary preferences, medical history, training techniques, and favorite enrichment activities. This helps the keepers make the transition as seamless as possible for the animals in their new home.

The transfer of red pandas is mandated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP), which tracks animal populations in human care in American zoos. The SSP is coordinated by a specialist management group that follows the genetics and demographics of their respective animal populations. Annual meetings are held to examine the health of the population, and make recommendations for transfers and breeding.

The current red panda population in North American zoos includes 150 animals in 58 AZA-accredited facilities. All of the red pandas were captive-born. The median lifespan for red pandas is 10 years with some living to 20 years. Taking this information into consideration, with a desire to maintain the current population size, the management group has recommended 23 births next year. As a result, pandas, like sisters Meridoc and Gansu, are transferred among different zoos for breeding with unrelated pandas to ensure genetic diversity for the population.

In the wild, red pandas can be found in mountainous regions of China, India, Bhutan, and Nepal. They face threats of habitat loss from deforestation caused by commercial logging, demand for firewood, and clearing for agriculture. This has led to reduced food supply for the red pandas and habitat fragmentation that threatens their ability to move about their territories. Another threat is ongoing hunting of red pandas for pelts.

Sherman and Mohu are not a reproductive pair. Sherman has several offspring already, and Mohu is not a breeding female. In the future, the zoo plans to add a new red panda exhibit that would allow for red panda breeding.

In addition to its newest residents, DNREC’s Brandywine Zoo features Andean condors, river otters, pygmy goats, llamas, rheas, and other animals native to the Americas and the temperate areas of Asia.

Accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, the Brandywine Zoo is one of only 200 accredited zoos and aquariums in North America, a distinction that marks its commitment to providing excellent animal welfare. The zoo is managed by the Division of Parks & Recreation with the support of the Delaware Zoological Society.

More information about the Brandywine Zoo is available at destateparks.com or brandywinezoo.org, or by calling 302-571-7747.

DNREC Division of Parks & Recreation announces Brandywine Zoo closure on April 16 – 17

DOVER – DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation announced today that the Brandywine Zoo will be closed Monday, April 16, and Tuesday, April 17, for routine tree removal.

It was determined that four trees need to be taken down and away from the zoo over the two days. The zoo is being closed as a precaution, to ensure the safety of animals and visitors.

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

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.

Cape Henlopen State Park campground closed to make way for improvements

LEWES – DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation announced today that the popular Cape Henlopen State Park campground has closed to make way for a third and final phase of improvements. Over the past three years, campground improvements have included new bathrooms and additional cabins. When the campground re-opens in June 2017, campers will see new electric hookups, a central path for pedestrian access, new walk-in sites, improved roadways and a new camp store, projects most requested by campers in recent surveys.

The total cost for this final phase is $3.5 million, half of which is covered by a federal Land and Water Conservation Fund grant. The remainder comes from 2017 state bond bill funds.

“With the aid of the Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund grant, the division is in the home stretch for completing significant upgrades to all of our state park campgrounds,” said Delaware State Parks Director Ray Bivens. “This concentrated, three-year effort has brought modern bathrooms, extremely popular cabins and fewer paved surfaces to the campground, making it more eco-friendly.

“When Cape Henlopen’s campground re-opens next spring, campers can enjoy numerous improvements and amenities,” Bivens said. “Wide asphalt roads currently used for RV setups will become one lane with one-way circulation, and concrete pads added for RVs. New walk-in sites will be constructed for campers, similar to those at other popular sites including Trap and Killens Pond state parks, and a limited number of newly-constructed pull-through and drive-in campsites will include electric and water hookups. And the new camp store is an amenity that campers have long requested.”

After multiple years of construction in Cape Henlopen, Lums Pond and Killens Pond state parks, Bivens said the division is prepared to meet the wide array of needs of today’s tent, cabin and RV campers. From primitive camping with no campsite amenities, to three-point hook-up service at 70 sites in Lums Pond Pond State Park, 88 campsites with full hookup service at the North Inlet of Delaware Seashore State Park, upgrades to electric with 50-amp service in two loops at Killens Pond State Park and bathhouse renovations at Trap Pond State Park, state park campgrounds have been modernized to service the camping public.

As construction continues through the fall and winter, parks officials encourage campers to enjoy the state parks system’s other 811 campsites and 32 cabins. The variety of camping experiences in state parks runs the gamut from primitive tent camping to luxury cottages. Delaware State Parks also feature more than 100 miles of trails for hiking and biking, rivers and lakes for boating, and historic and recreational programs.

Fall foliage is especially spectacular in state parks. Campers and other parks visitors can hike the trails or kayak in Trap Pond State Park to capture a stunning spectrum of red and orange colors from the bald cypress, red maple, tupelo and sassafras trees that dot the shoreline and forests. At Killens and Lums Pond state parks, it’s the golden and red hues of the hickory, red maple and black gum that transform the woods into flames of color throughout the month of October. It’s also a great time of year to walk the coastal trails at Delaware Seashore and Cape Henlopen state parks. Campers can also enjoy walking the trails at nearby Burtons Island, Thompsons Island and Fresh Pond.

As DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation celebrates its 65th anniversary, and its winning the 2016 National Gold Medal award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management, the division has measured a 19 percent increase in overnight visits from 2014 to 2015, as camping has become more popular for vacationing.

Delaware State Parks offers a list of events as well as promotional opportunities available throughout the year with weekly and seasonal discounts for campers. To take advantage of these special offers, visit destateparks.com and look for instructions to sign up for the monthly e-newsletter and weekly promotional offers. In addition, visit the website to make a reservation or call the state park call center at 1-877-98-PARKS.

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

Vol. 46, No. 337