Murrey, the common murre from Massachusetts, traveled more than 1,500 miles to find a home at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium. The seabird is now on exhibit in the Suzanne and Walter Scott Aquarium with common murre and puffins.
Found on February 11 on Nauset Beach in Orleans, Mass., Murrey was brought to Wild Care, Inc., a Cape Cod wildlife rehabilitation center, for treatment on a two-inch-long laceration on her left thigh. Although the animal care team did not expect the bird to survive through the night, Murrey was soon sutured up and on her way to recovery. Once the bird was fully stable and eating on her own, Wild Care, Inc. began conditioning her in order to regain waterproofing in one of its seabird therapy pools, which is full of salt water. Water proofing is important for seabirds because it provides insulation against cold ocean temperatures. Unfortunately the area around the wound was unable to return to normal, which made Murrey non-releasable.
“Having worked with the bird now for several months, our animal care team felt that this otherwise healthy bird, who had done so well in human care, would be a good candidate for an exhibit, or a breeding program,” said Stephanie Ellis, executive director at Wild Care, Inc.
On Wednesday, August 23, Murrey arrived in Omaha via private jet, which was provided by a Wild Care, Inc. private donor. She was placed in quarantine, which is a standard procedure, at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium for just under two weeks before joining the other seabirds.
Murrey is now part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) and could potentially breed with any of Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium’s males. If she were to breed, she would bring in new genetic diversity, ultimately strengthening the SSP. The common murre is currently listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, however, if wild populations were to decline to a point of concern, having a viable and genetically diverse population allows zoos to help rebuild wild populations. Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium has done this most recently with the Dusky Gopher Frog.