Our American Trail recently welcomed North American beaver Juniper to the scene. Since April, Juniper has been learning to live with her new exhibit-mate, Aspen. Get to know Juniper in the Q&A with animal keeper Jackie Spicer.
What is Juniper’s backstory?
Juniper came to the Zoo from the Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center of Roanoke, Virginia. She was found at a campground at a very young age. Every effort was made to find her lodge or her family to return her to the wild. Unfortunately, her family was never found. Juniper was too young to survive in the wild without her mother, so the decision was made to hand raise her. Because Juniper spent the first months of her life in human care, rehabilitators determined that it was in her best interest to not be released into the wild.
Because of Juniper’s origins, we don’t know exactly how old she is. But based on her size and when she was found, we think she either just celebrated her first birthday, or will be celebrating soon.
What is Juniper’s personality like?
Since she is still young, her personality will probably change as she gets older. Juniper is very active and curious. She loves to chew on anything we provide her, and you can often see her rearranging the furniture in her lodge throughout the day.
She is also a bit of a foodie! Beavers are herbivores and only eat plant material. In the wild, they use their long claws on their front paws to dig up plant roots of tubers. They have very strong front teeth, which help with chewing and eating wood. Beavers only eat the bark and the first inner layer of a tree, known as the cambium. They will also eat leaves, berries, acorns and other plant material. At the Zoo, we feed the beavers a variety of vegetables, including sweet potatoes, carrots, corn on the cob, broccoli and squash. They also eat two types of pellets: a commercial rodent chow and an herbivore chow. And of course, they get leafy greens and a variety of local browse – woody material they can eat and chew on throughout the day. Juniper seems to enjoy the sweet potatoes most, and then corn on the cob. Both beavers love the chow biscuits we feed them, too.