"Spare" an afternoon and help save rhinos by participating in Bowling for Rhinos, an annual fundraiser sponsored by the El Paso del Norte Chapter of the American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK) 2 to 5 p.m. tomorrow, Saturday, July 23, at Fiesta Lanes in El Paso.

El Paso Zoo’s keeper staff, through their professional organization, AAZK, invites the community to join them to “strike” out extinction at this fundraiser. At the national annual bowl-a-thon for the conservation of endangered rhinos, 100 percent proceeds go toward saving the last five rhino species.

Spaces are still available for bowlers! Bowlers may register individually for one hour of bowling including all rentals for $10, or tickets will be available at the door. Participants may also reserve a full lane with no limit on bowlers for 90 minutes for $150. The full lane package includes rentals for 6.

In addition to the fun on the alleys, Bowling for Rhinos features an auction, prize raffle and more information on ways to help save rhinos worldwide. Individuals can support Bowling for Rhinos in several ways: by participating in the bowling event, making a donation to AAZK or by sponsoring a lane during the event. All donations are tax deductible.

The community may purchase tickets to or support the bowling event here: http://squ.re/29Q8mWY

EL PASO, Texas – El Paso Zoo’s keeper staff do more than shovel and rake – the staff here travelled the world doing research and working with animals. The El Paso Mayor’s Office along with City Council have proclaimed this week National Zoo Keeper Week, July 17 to 23, in El Paso. Now, the Zoo is celebrating its animal expert zoo keepers.

The El Paso Zoo invites the public to celebrate National Zoo Keeper week by coming to the Zoo’s Meet the Keeper program or by joining the El Paso Zoo keepers at their Bowling for Rhinos conservation fundraiser Saturday, July 23.

“Our zoo keepers are professionals, most of whom have bachelor degrees or higher, who continue to advance their education by attending workshops, conferences, and certificate programs annually,” said Zoo Director Steve Marshall. “Working with animals requires constant complex problem solving and progressive learning. Beyond their daily duties, keepers are involved in research projects, field work and conservation organizations.”

Created by the American Association of Zookeepers (AAZK), Inc, National Zoo Keeper Week is celebrated each year beginning on the third Sunday 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. There are currently 40 zoo keepers at the El Paso Zoo, who work 365 days a year caring for the Zoo’s animal collection.

“Our goal with this campaign is to encourage zoo keepers and aquarists to share their interest and passion for animal care with the general public during individual encounters,” AAZK National President Penny Jolly said. “Every individual makes a difference and by inspiring children and young adults about conservation, we are making a difference for the future.”

The El Paso chapter of AAZK is hosting its Bowling for Rhinos fundraiser 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday July 23 at Fiesta Lanes. The required donation is $10 for one hour of bowling with all rentals included. All proceeds benefit worldwide rhino conservation efforts. The community may purchase tickets to the bowling event here: http://squ.re/29Q8mWY

El Paso Zoo staff said goodbye to 28-year-old Andean bear, Guapo. He was euthanized this morning due to age related issues from arthritis.

Zoo keeper and veterinary staff had been managing his health and determined that the prognosis for a good quality of life was poor, and humane euthanasia was the best course of action

“With many of our geriatric residents at the Zoo, we have to manage problems that we know will never go away and will be progressive over time. Keeping them as comfortable and active as possible is our goal, and Guapo was still enjoying life up until these last few days,” said Zoo Veterinarian Dr. Victoria Milne. “Eventually we run out of reasonable options and have to give them a humane and compassionate way out.”

Guapo had been receiving treatment for arthritis for approximately a year and a half. Within that time period, he had received increasing doses of medication and additional medications which were working successfully. Within the last couple weeks, animal care staff noticed that he wasn’t enjoying his exhibit like he normally did.

“He was good natured and very mellow. It was a pleasure to have cared for Guapo. He will be missed,” said Area Supervisor Tony Zydonyk. “Guapo loved his pool, had a favorite place to sleep and loved training sessions with his zoo keepers because he got treats. Guapo was food motivated and loved his enrichment. He would work on an enrichment toy all day if he had to in order to get all the treats out.”

Guapo was a cancer survivor. He was born at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park and came to the El Paso Zoo in 2009.

Median life expectancy for Andean bears is 26 years in a zoo setting. The only bear native to South America, Andean bears, also known as spectacled bears, are found in the mountainous regions of western Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. Andean bears have suffered a dramatic decline due to deforestation over the past several decades. Andean bears are listed as “vulnerable” in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ and are a part of the AZA Species Survival Plan® (SSP) Program.

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