Friday, September 18, 2020
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Miracle Baby Born at Gladys Porter Zoo!

What a surprise! Say hello to the Gladys Porter Zoo’s new miracle baby…a baby gorilla! Penney, a 33-year-old female gorilla, to everyone's surprise, gave birth to a healthy baby on Thursday, August 20.

Night keepers at the Zoo were astonished to find Penney cradling a newborn in her arms as they were making their usual rounds on Thursday evening. Not only were the night keepers shocked but so was the entire Zoo staff, especially the Zoo’s medical team. This was totally unexpected.

“Years ago, when evaluating Penney for her lack of reproductive success, it was discovered that she had a tumor on her pituitary gland that, in turn, raised her prolactin levels, making it difficult for her to conceive. Thanks to a 45-day, targeted treatment, she was able to reproduce once after the tumor diagnosis was made,” said Gladys Porter Zoo Director, Dr. Patrick Burchfield.

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Four-day birding event features photography-focused, beginner options

good chickadee e1598912445738Written by Susan Himes, Susan.Himes@ag.tamu.edu

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service announced registration is open for the 2021 Birding the Border event.

The event will take place April 29 -May 2, starting with a kickoff social the evening of April 29 at Val Verde Winery.

Del Rio will host the event, which will feature birding trips to a mix of private, restricted-access and public lands in Kinney and Val Verde counties.

The cost of registration is $50 and includes seminars, which will be held April 30-May 1 at the Del Rio Civic Center and feature AgriLife Extension experts. There are also spouse-of-birder passes available to allow participants to bring a plus one to the seminars and social events. If you prefer to register by phone, call Teri Gaston at 830-278-9151 ext. 283.

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Fall Lawn Care Tips

Healthy lawn image MelindaMyersLLCby Melinda Myers

As summer transitions into fall, it is time to help lawns recover from summer stress. Let the weather and the condition of your lawn help you develop a plan suited to your landscape.

Continue mowing actively growing lawns. Mow high, leaving cool season grasses like bluegrass and fescues at least 2 ½ preferably 3 ½ inches tall after cutting. Warm season grasses like bermudagrass, carpetgrass, centipedegrass and zoysia should be grown at 1 to 2 inches tall, while St. Augustine should a bit higher at 2 to 3 inches for best results. Taller grass is better able to compete with weeds, is more drought tolerant and less susceptible to insects and disease.

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Join "Lights Out Texas" Now To Protect Migrating Birds

Yellow Warbler Brian E Kushner Courtesy Cornell Lab of OrnithologyOne of the most extraordinary events in nature has begun—autumn bird migration. Starting now, reducing or eliminating nighttime lighting can make the journeys safer for the more than one billion birds that migrate through Texas. The Lights Out Texas project even sends an alert for nights that will have the heaviest bird migration traffic and when cutting the lights will do the most good.

Lights Out Texas asks that homeowners, businesses, and managers of tall buildings eliminate or reduce lighting between 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. during the September 5 through October 29 migration window.

Read more: Join "Lights Out Texas" Now To Protect Migrating Birds

Otters Will Be Making a Splash at the Gladys Porter Zoo

Check out what’s making a splash at the Gladys Porter Zoo these days . . . North American river otters! Tallulah and Imnaha will be making their public debut in their brand new exhibit on August 28th. Construction of their new habitat is expected to be completed this week and the Zoo’s staff can’t wait to see how much they love their new hangout.

Three year-olds Imnaha and Tallulah are sisters from the same litter. They were born at the Oakland Zoo in California. Just like humans, they have their own unique personalities – one is shy and one is a bit of a troublemaker. But together, they manage to get into all kinds of fun and mischief.

North American river otters are semi-aquatic mammals that spend most of their time in the water. They have thick, protective fur to help them keep warm while swimming in cold waters. They have short legs, webbed feet, and long, streamlined bodies for fast swimming. A powerful tail acts as a rudder and facilitates fast, agile turns.

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The Magic of the Mesquite

20200714 Honey Mesquite 2Colleen Curran Hook, Executive Director, Quinta Mazatlán

We’ve all heard of the mesquite tree in Texas –either sitting around a mesquite fire cooking fajitas or enjoying the shade of the beautiful tree. It has been dubbed the “Tree of Life” because of its ability to offer life-giving sustenance in harsh environments. The tree has an amazing history and provides native people, past and present, with the Big Five; food, fuel, fertilizer, furniture, and fence posts. Literally, every part of the tree is useful.

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How Birds Beat the Heat

By John Brush, Urban Ecologist, Quinta Mazatlán in McAllen

20200708 Verdin red berriesWe all feel it; the sun peering intently, directly down on us, the oven-like heat rising from streets and sidewalks, the instantaneous beads of sweat appearing as we take two steps outdoors. We are in the hottest months of the summer, and it changes us. We sweat more, spend more time indoors, and crank up the air conditioning – all in the effort of keeping our bodies from overheating, and, let us be honest, for general comfort. Birds, excepting grocery store sparrows, do not have access to air conditioning, which raises the question: how do birds beat the intense summer heat?

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Pet Food Drive-Thru Launches at Palm Valley Animal Society

Palm Valley Animal Society (PVAS) is launching a pet food drive-thru to assist families struggling to feed their pets. The first drive-thru will be held on Saturday, August 15, starting at 10 a.m. at the PVAS Laurie P. Andrews Center.

“The RGV community is resilient and strong,” said Donna Casamento, Executive Director of PVAS. “First with the effects of COVID-19, and then with the destruction of Hurricane Hanna - these are hard times but the community has been coming together and we want to help as much as possible.”

The pantry’s drive-thru format requires participants to arrive in a vehicle, where they should remain while PVAS staff requests, from a six-foot distance, information on the household pets then loads the pet food into the trunk or hatchback. Quantities are limited and food will be available for cats and dogs while supplies last. PVAS requests that those interested drive safely and line up on Roegiers Road by the IDEA Edinburg school.

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Wag-A-Thon Kicks off to Raise the Roof for PVAS

Edinburg, TX – Hurricane Hanna ripped through Palm Valley Animal Society’s (PVAS) two centers, damaging roofs, fences, trees, and dog kennels. To raise funds for repairs, PVAS is kicking off a Wag-A-Thon. Runners, walkers, bikers, and swimmers can pledge miles and laps for support. PVAS has a goal to raise at least $30,000 for repairs.

“Thankfully, no animals or staff were hurt. But our roof at Trenton needs repairs - that building houses dogs and cats, and that’s where we do adoptions,” said Adam Ricci, Director of Operations.

The community stepped up to help foster, and for the first time ever, PVAS' team was able to get all pets into the main buildings at Trenton and Andrews. While both the Laurie P. Andrews Center and Trenton Center suffered, most damages hit the older Trenton Center.

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Learn to Bird workshop set Oct. 23-25 in Del Rio

owlWritten by Susan Himes, TAMU

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service will be holding a multi-day workshop for beginning birders Oct. 23-25 in Del Rio. Learn to Bird will feature focused birding trips lead by professional guide Bryan Calk and educational presentations by AgriLife Extension faculty. Space is limited to 11 participants.

Maureen Frank, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension wildlife specialist in Uvalde, and Emily Grant, AgriLife Extension agent for Val Verde County, created Learn to Bird in response to feedback from the AgriLife Extension Virtual Birding Seminar.

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When do you need to water your yard?

wateringWritten by Kay Ledbetter, TAMU

Heading into the heat of the summer, homeowners begin asking, “how much do I need to water my yard.” Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service’s WaterMyYard program has a new, free mobile app just for that purpose. (It might not be available in your area yet, so check the app periodically)

When does the grass need watered? There’s an app for that. 

“This app has several enhancements compared to the WaterMyYard website-based program we’ve offered the past few years which should improve user experience and the accuracy of water recommendations, including push notifications directly to the mobile device as well as texts and emails,” said Guy Fipps, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension irrigation engineer, College Station.

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Online Acting Class at Pharr Community Theater this month

Ensemble of actors at PCTThe Pharr Community Theater (PCT) is offering eight 1/2 hour online acting classes from July 6, 2020 to July 31, 2020 for kids, teens and adults. Learn the basics of acting and a little more including auditioning tips and digging deeper to discover characters for real acting. Classes will be via zoom and instructed by Pedro Garcia, a member of the screen actor guild since 1994 and current PCT artistic Director.

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Concert in the forest featuring Cicadas

Cicada 2Would you like a sound track of cicadas singing in the forest? The cicada concert is happening now in the Thornforest at Quinta Mazatlán. The high-pitched song of the insect is a mating call belted out by males. The females do not sing but respond by flicking their wings together. The noise can be heard up to a half-mile away, which makes the cicadas, pronounced suh-KEI-duh, one of the loudest insects in the world.

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The Number One Reptile Show in the Country Coming to Quinta Mazatlan

Reptile Show closeupVisit Quinta Mazatlán on Thursday evening July 2 for a live Reptile Adventure with Danny Conner. Among the stars of the show are Juanita, a Reticulated Python; “Spartacus”, a 100 year old Alligator Snapping Turtle; and last but not least, “Apollo”, an Albino Burmese Python.

Danny Conner is the owner of Reptile Adventures. He has been keeping and caring for reptiles for over 30years and has a unique background blend of education, science, and theater. Danny educates, entertains and fascinates crowds of all ages as he shares his love, knowledge, and respect for these amazing animals. Danny is well respected, and is often an expert source among his colleague and other reptile professionals. He is known for his passion, his diverse and impressive collection, and for his general love of all animals, especially the cold-blooded kind.

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World’s Best Cactus Hotel Is In the Valley

Prickly Pear orangeBy Colleen Hook, Executive Director at Quinta Mazatlán

The best cactus hotel in the world is right in our backyard, the Prickly Pear Hotel. This hotel offers everything from food, water, shelter, medicines and beautiful South Texas landscapes.

So what is there to eat at the Prickly Pear Hotel? Everything, but carefully! The Prickly Pear cactus obviously gets its name from its sharp spines. The cactus is thought to have originated from Mexico and South America and has the ability to grow where there is little water.

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