News Column

Beaver making Turtle Bay his home

August 15, 2014

By Damon Arthur, Redding Record Searchlight, Calif.



Aug. 15--REDDING, California -- Turtle Bay Exploration Park's newest animal made its debut Thursday in a kiddie pool.

The seven-week-old beaver swam laps in the wading pool while about 30 park visitors watched and members of the media snapped photos and shot video.

The as-yet-unnamed rodent came from the Minnesota Zoo in Apple Valley, Minneapolis. Turtle Bay officials say the beaver will live in the Viewable River Aquarium inside the museum.

The 22,000-gallon aquarium, which opens up to the outdoors on the other side of the viewing glass, will be enclosed with netting material to keep birds out. The park will also build a barrier so the beaver can't dig out.

As far as chewing down trees, one of two signature beaver behaviors, park staff will provide him with sticks and branches instead, said Sharon Clay, curator of animal programs at the park.

As for building beaver dams?

"We would really prefer that he not dam up the aquarium. We are sure he will try," Clay said.

Beavers are the largest rodents in North America, Clay said, but the baby beaver is now only about 9 pounds. When full grown he will weigh up to 60 pounds, as much as a medium-sized dog.

Park staff members were interested in expanding the types of species living in the aquarium to better represent the diversity of animals in the Sacramento River. Currently they have numerous types of fish on display.

Park officials held an informal poll at a Turtle Bay fundraising event last spring where attendees said they wanted to see a beaver in the aquarium, Clay said.

The young male beaver was born into a litter of three at the zoo in late June. Since he arrived Wednesday, he has been living with the park's animal training staff, Clay said.

Park officials declined to say how much they raised or the cost to retrofit the aquarium. Clay said the beaver will get to swim in the aquarium occasionally as he gets older. She said they hope to finish making it beaver-friendly by the end of this year.

The park is also waiting 30 days before naming the beaver.

But 7-year-old Mattea Lader, who watched the beaver take his first public swim Thursday, has a suggested name for park officials.

"He was really cute. I would name him Brownie because all his body is brown," Mattea said.

The beaver joins a menagerie of other wild animals at the park, which include an eagle, fox, an owl, badger, bobcat and porcupine.

What would you name the beaver? Mobile users can tell us here: http://bit.ly/TBbeaver

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(c)2014 the Redding Record Searchlight (Redding, Calif.)

Visit the Redding Record Searchlight (Redding, Calif.) at www.redding.com

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Source: Record Searchlight (Redding, CA)


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