Zoo’s ‘Beaver Branch Challenge’ puts Filbert and Maple to the test

Zoo’s ‘Beaver Branch Challenge’ puts Filbert and Maple to the test

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The Oregon Zoo’s latest web series is all about the branch managers. In each episode of the Beaver Branch Challenge, a wildlife expert challenges zoo residents Maple and Filbert to find special branches — and shares some knowledge about beavers and their important role in the ecosystem.

The idea for the new series came from the beavers’ regular walks around their marsh habitat, which have become popular with their many fans at the zoo and on social media.

“Maple and Filbert love to gnaw down big branches and drag them back to their lodge,” said Zach Shoemaker, a zoo care staff member who appears in two episodes of the Beaver Branch Challenge. “This series helps us show that natural behavior and teach people more about beavers in the process.”

Experts who appear on the show include Shea Fuller of The Wetlands Conservancy, who challenged the beavers to a “treelay race,” Metro naturalist Alejandra Cortes, who shared her knowledge of beaver teeth, and Liz Musich, an Oregon Zoo condor keeper who bet against the beavers finding two maple branches planted in the marsh. This week’s finale features Jade Ashcroft, a City of Portland biologist who worked with the zoo on a wild beaver relocation in 2021.

Filbert and Maple have acquired thousands of fans at the zoo and online, where their industrious wood-gathering activities have earned them the title “branch managers.” Filbert is also an experienced weather furcaster and research assistant. In 2015, he helped Oregon State University with its Beaver Genome Project.

In the 19th century, American beavers were hunted and trapped for their fur. In the last 100 years, thanks to re-establishment programs and hunting regulations, they have made a strong comeback.

 

For more information, visit https://www.oregonzoo.org/lights