You may have noticed Como’s 4-year-old male cougar, Jasper, eyes are shut. There’s a reason for that, but first, let’s get to know Jasper. Jasper was orphaned after his mother, which was reportedly killing sheep, was shot and killed under a California legal depredation permit. In the state of California, a person who suffers property damage by mountain lions is entitled to obtain a depredation permit to protect their property. Jasper (and his habitat companion Ruby, who was also orphaned under different circumstances) arrived from California to Como in 2018 after being cared for by Oakland Zoo wildlife specialists.
Jasper’s ocular problems were first noted in June 2020 when cloudiness was noted in his corneas (the clear part of his eyes). Treatment for this consisted of surgical implants around his eyes which required immobilization and replacement at 12 to 18 month intervals.
Over the last year, we noticed Jasper was having problems navigating his environment. Follow-up examination by our veterinary ophthalmologist revealed he had progressive retinal atrophy – a disease that is not treatable and eventually resulted in his complete blindness. More recently we noticed he had inflamed, red eyelids likely as a result of reduced blinking/tear production that was being treated, but not improving. All of these issues made us come to the conclusion his comfort and overall health would be best addressed by removal of his eyes.
On Sunday, April 16, Jasper underwent a bilateral enucleation (eye removal) surgery. The decision to perform the surgery was based on thorough evaluation of Jasper by a veterinary ophthalmologist and lengthy discussions with zookeepers, animal management and zoo veterinary staff. Jasper had been receiving ongoing treatments for eye problems and his comfort level was a main concern (especially as a young animal). Removal of the nonfunctional eyes eliminated this discomfort and the potential for future problems.
The surgery went extremely well, Jasper recovered uneventfully and is back on exhibit with Ruby. He may be more cautious at this point moving around exhibit, but his activity will likely appear normal since he was unseeing prior to the surgery and was accustomed to his habitat.
When you now see him on exhibit you’ll notice his eyelids are permanently closed. He may or may not be sleeping when you see this – although cats do appreciate spending quite a bit of time resting.
A huge thank you to everyone involved with this procedure, advocating for Jasper’s wellbeing and to Minnesota Public Radio for sharing his remarkable story. You can read that piece HERE.
Below is an episode of Como Live featuring Jasper and Ruby.
Photo Credit: Steve Solmonson
Party For The Planet sponsored by Xcel Energy! April 22 & 23, 10AM – 4PM
Sponsored by our friends at Xcel Energy, Como’s annual Earth Day and conservation celebration is a full weekend of family activities, crafts and interpretive opportunities to learn more about the earth’s amazing animals and plants, and what we can do to protect them.
See a 4K time-lapse of the Spring Flower Show change-over!
Spring Flower Show runs March 25 through April 30, 2023.
Spring is here! – The 2023 Spring Flower Show will have formal topiaries, along with thousands of tulips, daffodils, ranunculus, foxglove, acorus, hydrangea, hyacinth, and pansies in a color pallet of chartreuse green, purple, pink, and yellow which is sure to provide some color therapy to Minnesotans weary of winter.
The Sunken Garden offers beautiful floral shows, updated seasonally. This ever-changing display is as artful as it is fragrant. Perfect for a romantic walk or a curious exploration.
Enjoy amazing azaleas and festive poinsettias in winter, multicolored tulips in spring, prized roses and geraniums in summer and cheery chrysanthemums in autumn.
Visit our current exhibit today.
Como’s Summer Teen Volunteer Program Returns! Application Now Being Accepted!
The deadline for applying to join Nature Walk in the summer of 2023 has passed. Check back early next year to apply for the summer of 2024.
We are so excited to bring back Nature Walk, Como’s summer youth volunteer program for rising 8th – 12th graders. Program runs mid-June through mid-August. Training days in May and June. For more details and to apply, click HERE!
Hop Into Spring March 25 & 26
Spring is almost here…can you feel it in the air? Show your excitement by jumping up and down…or how about hopping? March 25 & 26 we celebrate spring with the opening of the Spring Flower Show and a special “Hop Into Spring Weekend” with games, crafts, activities, special ambassador animals, SPIRE Sparky Shows and more!
Cell Phone Recycling March 25 & 26
Gorillas on the Line…Answer the Call!
Como Park Zoo & Conservatory is partnering with Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) institutions across the globe for Gorillas on the Line, a cell phone recycling initiative. Looking around your own home is a great way to start; almost everyone has one or two outdated devices laying around. Visitors can recycle their old cell phones, small electronic devices, and battery chargers in the collection box at Como’s Visitor Center. The campaign at Como kicks off during the Hop Into Spring Weekend through September 24.
Taking small steps, such as recycling old small electronics, can have an impact on gorilla conservation. Coltan (a mineral compound used to manufacture small electronics, cell phones, tablets, and battery chargers) is hand-mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is prime gorilla habitat. The deforestation and mining of coltan continues to displace these critically endangered species.
Recycling old phones and electronics raises money to directly support gorilla conservation initiatives through Gorilla SAFE programs.
With a heavy heart, we say goodbye to Daisy
It is with heavy hearts that Como Zoo announces the passing of a beloved member of its reticulated giraffe herd, Daisy.
Daisy, 23, suffered from severe degenerative arthritis which, for a large herbivore who spends 20 hours a day on her feet, can be crippling. It was apparent that it had affected her mobility, her ability to rest, and that she was in pain. Como’s animal care staff and veterinary staff worked together on a pain management plan to keep Daisy comfortable for as long as possible to manage her degenerative arthritis. Daisy was considered geriatric for a giraffe, and her quality of life had steadily declined to a point that the difficult decision was made to humanely euthanize her early this morning, Thursday, March 9, 2023. These decisions are never easy and are made after exhaustive discussions and all options are considered. At the end, Daisy was surrounded by those who loved and knew her best.
Daisy came to Como Park Zoo and Conservatory from San Diego Wild Animal Park in October 2002 at almost 3 years old on a breeding recommendation from the Species Survival Plan (SSP). Daisy had eight calves in her lifetime, many of which are living around the country in other AZA Accredited zoos.
“Daisy was a strong, beautiful matriarch – quick to judge and slow to accept her human coworkers” said Senior Zookeeper Jill Erzar. “She was a fierce and protective mother who would do anything to keep her calves safe. She was an extraordinary ambassador for giraffe, helping us connect visitors to her wild counterparts by telling her story.”
“The entire Giraffe SSP shares Como’s heartbreak over this sad event” stated Amy Schilz, Giraffe Species Survival Plan Coordinator. “Como Zoo has provided excellent care and welfare for Daisy that has allowed her to live a long life. At 23 years old, she has far surpassed the life expectancy of female giraffes in the Species Survival Program”.
As the matriarch of Como Zoo’s giraffe herd, and after almost 20 years at Como, she touched the hearts of staff, volunteers, and the public. She will be extremely missed by all. Como’s herd now consists of female Clover and male Skeeter.
Music Under Glass Final Sunday – February 26 4:30-6:30
Join us in the tropical gardens, and beat the “winter-blahs” as live, local musicians play blues, bluegrass and ballads from 4:30-6:30pm. The concerts are free and beer and wine will be available to purchase. No reservations required. These concerts are standing room only. Because of fire code regulations, there are no chairs set-up.
Join us for Bouquets, a night of extraordinary wine, beer, food, and fun
POSTPONED TO MARCH 23RD, 2023 | 6:00 PM – 9:30 PM
Please register for the event by February 1, 2023 REGISTER FOR EVENT
COME IN FROM THE COLD AND FEEL YOUR SENSES UNFURL IN THE BALMY BEAUTY OF BOUQUETS, AN INTIMATE, AFTER-HOURS BENEFIT FOR COMO PARK ZOO & CONSERVATORY, PRESENTED BY COMO FRIENDS
From the soaring Palm Dome to the fresh and fragrant Sunken Garden, the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory is the verdant backdrop for Como Friends’ annual winter fundraiser, Bouquets, featuring extraordinary wine, beer, food, and fun. A favorite mid-winter tradition for Como supporters, proceeds from Bouquets help to keep all the plants and animals at Como Park Zoo & Conservatory growing and thriving throughout the year and to help sustain free admission for every visitor.
Bouquets guests will soak up the temperate, tropical feel of the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory, and to take part in a fantastic silent auction featuring exceptional vintages, food experiences, and more. Your support for Bouquets brings the Como Friends mission to life, to protect the free admission, family-friendly programs, and first-class animal habitats and beautiful gardens that make Como Park Zoo and Conservatory a community treasure.