SALISBURY, Md. – The Salisbury Zoo’s adult male Andean bear, Pinocchio, will soon leave Salisbury to go on a breeding loan to the Nashville Zoo.
Pinocchio was recommended for the breeding loan by the Species Survival Plan, which manages the Andean bear population in the United States. Pinocchio’s pairing with a female at the Nashville Zoo is genetically valuable to the captive population of Andean bears because it will provide much-needed genetic diversity.
Pinocchio, who is 10 years old, is owned by the Salisbury Zoo and will return to Salisbury at a later point.
“We will miss Pinocchio, but we know that this breeding loan is important for the Andean bear population,” said Salisbury Zoo Director Leonora Dillon. “It will also be nice for us and the Zoo guests to have a little more time with one of the cubs.”
So far, the Salisbury Zoo’s female Andean bear, Chaska, has stayed with her cubs, Inti and Raymi, who are now 16 months old. At some point within the next year, she is expected to determine that it is time for them to separate from her. Once Pinocchio leaves for the breeding loan, this will allow at least one of the cubs to stay at the Salisbury Zoo longer and be separated from Chaska.
“Though this is bittersweet news, it has been the utmost honor and pleasure of the City of Salisbury to have Pinocchio as part of our Zoo and we look forward to welcoming him back in the future,” said Mayor Jack Heath. “From our first Andean bear, Poopsie, in 1972, to today, I am confident that our great Andean bear exhibit will continue to grow and thrive for many decades to come.”
Pinocchio came to the Salisbury Zoo in November 2017. He was born in the wild in Ecuador, but his mother abandoned him. Although steps were taken to see if he could be released back into the wild, conservation biologists determined he would not fare well in that situation. A home was found for Pinocchio in Salisbury so that he could mate with Chaska, the Salisbury Zoo’s female Andean bear. He has fathered three cubs – Inti, Raymi and before that, Sinchi.
A date has not been determined, but Pinocchio is expected to leave Salisbury before the end of June.