Conserving the Nature of America
Press Release
Zoo celebrates Pacific lamprey at World Rivers Day
Sept. 29 World Rivers Day Event Honors History of “Ancient Neighbor,” Celebrates Future of Pacific Lamprey Conservation

September 24, 2019


Zoo:    Hova Najarian | 503-220-5714 |

Kelsey Wallace | 503-220-5754 |

USFWS: Amanda Smith | 503-872-2852 |

CRITFC: Jeremy FiveCrows |503) 731-1275 |

Pacific Lamprey at the Oregon Zoo

Pacific Lamprey at the Oregon Zoo Credit: Oregon Zoo
Higher Quality Version of Image

PORTLAND, Ore. — From the Columbia in Oregon to the Nile in Egypt, rivers sustain life. The Oregon Zoo, The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and The Columbia River Intertribal Fish Commission (CRITFC) and many tribal partners will celebrate these vital habitats on World Rivers Day, Sept. 29, with cultural events and conservation activities throughout the zoo, including the official grand opening of the zoo’s Pacific lamprey habitat.

“We’ve set aside this day to honor our 400-million-year-old neighbor — the Pacific lamprey — and the rivers that are so important to the people and wildlife of our region,” said Grant Spickelmier, the zoo’s curator of conservation and learning. “We look forward to celebrating with everyone who has joined together to welcome lamprey back to their home streams and keep them off of the endangered species list.”

Pacific lamprey are a tribal trust species for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), a species of concern for the states, and a species of immense cultural significance to Pacific Northwest tribes.

“Not only does this exhibit represent how lamprey connect us to a rich past and, with our help, a promising future, it shows an incredible connection among partners,” said Robyn Thorson, Regional Director for the USFWS Pacific Region. “By working together on this exciting new exhibit, we introduce new generations to their “ancient neighbor” and continue our conservation mission into the future.” 

As part of this event, the zoo is extending free admission to all American Indian/Alaska Natives for both World Rivers Day (Sept. 29) and Indigenous Peoples’ Day (Oct. 14) with proof of tribal affiliation or descendent status (tribal ID, CDIB, etc.).  Free admission will be offered for up to four family members per card.

Keeper talks and conservation activities will take place throughout the day, with help from members of the Umatilla Tribe, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Clean Water Services, Clackamas River Basin Council, Tualatin Soil and Water Conservation District, Tryon Creek, Oregon Wild/Wolf Ways, SOLVE, Columbia Gorge Refuge, Metro Parks and Nature, Master Gardeners, Friends of Tualatin River, U.S. Forest Service, Cow Creek lamprey biologists and the Willamette Falls Legacy Project.

See a collection of Pacific lamprey photos and video here

Read the Oregon Zoo news release here

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit

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