FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 16, 2018

MEDIA CONTACTS:
Saint Louis Zoo 314/781-0900
Billy Brennan, 314/646-4633, Brennan@stlzoo.org
Christy Childs, 314/646-4639, Childs@stlzoo.org
Mike De Pope, 314/646-4703, DePope@stlzoo.org


Armenian Vipers Born at Saint Louis Zoo

World Snake Day is today, July 16. 

National Zookeeper Week continues through July 21

On this World Snake Day, July 16, the Saint Louis Zoo is celebrating the birth of six Armenian vipers, a threatened species found only in the mountains of Armenia. The vipers were born at the Charles H. Hoessle Herpetarium on June 13 and 14 to two different females and weighed around 6 to 11 grams each at birth. The baby vipers are being cared for in a private area of the Herpetarium.

"The animal care team at the Herpetarium created a special temperature-controlled room for our Western Asian vipers, which has been key to breeding this species," said Mark Wanner, Zoological Manager of Herpetology and Aquatics, and Director of the Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Institute Center for Conservation in Western Asia. "The room is cooled down in the winter allowing these snakes a seasonal breeding cycle, much like they would experience in nature. The keepers meticulously monitor these snakes throughout the year, observing their health and reproductive status."

These births are a result of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Armenian Viper Species Survival Plan, a program to manage a genetically healthy Armenian viper population. The Saint Louis Zoo has been reproducing this species since 2002.

World Snake Day activities and keeper chats take place at the Herpetarium from 1 to 3 p.m. today.

National Zookeeper Week

National Zookeeper Week kicked off yesterday and continues through July 21.

This week and throughout the summer, Keeper chats are offered at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. every day, and animal enrichment and training presentations are at 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, at various locations. See schedule.

"The Zoo is happy to honor this amazing group of animal specialists," says Jeffrey P. Bonner, Ph.D., Dana Brown President and CEO of the Saint Louis Zoo. "Our zookeepers devote their lives to taking care of very special animals on a daily basis, to conserving species for the future and to educating the public about the need to preserve animals and their habitats."

The Saint Louis Zoo has more than 100 zookeepers on staff and most of them hold bachelor's degrees or higher in biology, zoology or a related field.

The Zoo's well-trained keepers provide the best possible care for the animals. This includes, but is not limited to: providing species-appropriate diets and enrichment for all of the Zoo's animals, keeping records, cleaning exhibits, monitoring animal health, conducting scientific research, educating the public and training animals using positive reinforcement, and much more.

Created by the Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK), National Zookeeper Week is celebrated each year in July. During the week, zoos nationwide honor animal care professionals and the work they do in animal care, conservation and education. There are approximately 6,000 animal care professionals in the United States. The St. Louis Chapter of AAZK was established in 2003 and includes zookeepers, Zoo staff and volunteers dedicated to professional animal care and conservation.

About Armenian Vipers
In the past 20 years, the Armenian viper went from being considered "common" to experiencing an 88 percent decrease in population. Most of the mountain vipers have restricted habitats in rocky, mountainous region and are highly vulnerable to extinction due to overgrazing, agriculture, over-collection for the exotic pet trade and unnaturally high mortality due to human persecution. The Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Institute Center for Conservation in Western Asia has been a leader in the conservation of mountain vipers in Armenia. In 2006, as a result of the Center's research on the spatial ecology of Armenian vipers, the Republic of Armenia Ministry of Nature Protection enlarged the boundaries of the Khosrov Forest State Reserve and Shikajogh State Reserve to offer the vipers more protected habitat.

About the Saint Louis Zoo
Chosen as America's top free attraction and best zoo in USA Today 10Best Readers' Choice Awards, the Saint Louis Zoo is widely recognized for its innovative approaches to animal care and management, wildlife conservation, research and education. One of the few free zoos in the nation, the Zoo attracts more than 3,000,000 visitors a year. For more information, visit stlzoo.org, facebook.com/stlzoo, instagram.com/stlzoo, twitter.com/stlzoo, Snapchat (saintlouiszoo), youtube.com/stlzootube and pinterest.com/stlzoo.

###