Posted by The News Journal on June 15, 2018 09:18:10The Potawats have made headlines for their love of animals.
They love dogs, and cats, and even a panda cub.
But there’s one thing they can’t seem to get enough of: their own offspring.
Potawatom babies are one of the biggest attractions at the zoo in Winnipeg.
“We have a potawatomy baby born today, so I’m happy for him, because he’s the first one that we’ve ever had here in Manitoba,” said Lisa VanDusen, vice-president of conservation with the Winnipeg Zoo.
VanDusan said potawats, which are native to the North American deserts, are one the world’s most abundant animals, with numbers in the tens of millions.
The animals are also the only species in North America to have their reproductive system inseminated.
Van Dusen said potaws are often kept in small groups of two to three people, and the babies are kept in the same pen for about three months before being released.
“You’ll see some young ones who will have very, very little brain development at that point,” she said.
“But they’re quite smart, and very, few things have been able to stop them.”
Potawats are one species of mammal found in the Western Hemisphere, and have been living in Manitoba for millennia.
But VanDuessen said the species has been declining for decades, with only about 200,000 remaining.
Vandusen has been trying to find solutions to the potawato problem, and says her team is focused on breeding animals to increase their population.
VanNesse said it’s possible the population could increase by 100 per cent by 2025.
“I think it would be very difficult to breed a population that’s declining, so we’ll have to make a decision about how to manage that population,” she added.
“This is a species that, if it continues to decline, it would have a tremendous impact on the environment.”
VanDueden said pota’s survival would depend on how many people want to bring the animals into Manitoba.
“That’s why we’re going to have to do a lot of work in Manitoba.
We can’t just give them away,” she told CBC Manitoba.
Van Nesse said there’s no way to predict when potawatos might be released back into the wild, but it would probably be sometime after the zoo opens its new exhibit in the fall.
VanBrennen said the zoo has been thinking about releasing potawattas into the world for many years, but now they are the focus of public awareness.
“They’re the one that is very hard to get their attention because they’re the only thing that they’re known for,” she explained.
“Because they’re so rare, there’s really not a lot that people can do about it.”
Follow the reporter on Twitter: @craigjordan