Free Evening Talk: Elusive and Endangered Northern California Mammal

Mountain beaver - Bill ZielinskiMarch 4, 2013

March’s Sequoia Park Zoo conservation lecture will introduce us to one of the least known and most endangered mammals in Northern California – the Point Arena mountain beaver.

On Wednesday, March 13, Bill Zielinski, a Research Ecologist at the US Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Research Station in Arcata, will open a window onto the world of the mountain beaver, a football-sized burrowing animal that is one of the most primitive mammals in North America. Neither a true beaver nor necessarily a mountain resident, the mountain beaver has a number of idiosyncrasies, including the need to drink large volumes of water every day and a penchant for spontaneous sleep, among others. This animal was listed as federally endangered in the early 1990’s but little field research had been conducted, so this talk will bring to light the research that has been done, as well as familiarize people with mountain beavers in general and describe the conservation actions and research results that have been used to learn more about this little-known species.

“I’m looking forward to introducing a new audience to the unique world of the mountain beaver,” says Zielinski. “I will weave the results of our research into a story about the necessary elements of a conservation plan for the Point Arena mountain beaver. Along the way, I’ll share some important and sometimes painful lessons we learned during the course of our research on endangered species.”

Bill Zielinski is a Research Ecologist at the US Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Research Station in Arcata, California, where he has worked for over 20 years. His research focuses on the habitat and population ecology of forest carnivores and other mammals of conservation concern. He has also developed methods of detecting, surveying and monitoring mammal populations with special attention to non-invasive methods that do not require animals to be subjected to the stress of capture or handling. Zielinski is also interested in approaches to monitoring ecosystem health and the effects of forest management on populations, species and biological communities.

The talk will take place in the Zoo’s classroom in the Secrets of the Forest building at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 13, and a reception will be held half an hour beforehand. There is no charge to attend, and both Zoo members and non-members are invited. Enter through the main Zoo gates.

“Almost no one has heard of – let alone seen – a mountain beaver, and yet they are a local species. They may even have lived here in Sequoia Park.” says Gretchen Ziegler, Zoo Manager and Chair of the Conservation Advisory Committee. “To call some attention to them, we have a model of one in our Western pond turtle exhibit at the Zoo.”

This is the last lecture in the 2012-13 series. Stay tuned for announcements relating to the 2013-14 series later this year.

Contact: Gretchen Ziegler, Zoo Manager
Phone:   (707) 441-4227
E-mail:    zoomanager @


Please contact the Zoo Ticket Booth for admission prices. (707) 441-4263


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