‘King’ of the Penguins Named at Kansas City Zoo

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There’s a new Penguin in the Kansas City Zoo’s ‘Helzberg Penguin Plaza’ exhibit!

Several months ago, the Zoo was fortunate to receive a King Penguin egg from the St. Louis Zoo. The Kansas City Zoo incubated the egg until it was ready to hatch, and on November 8, the new chick made its way out of his shell.

He was hand-raised, behind the scenes, by a group of dedicated Zookeepers until ready to acclimate to the temperatures and feathered friends that come with his permanent exhibit.

Now, through the course of voting via social media, the handsome young King Penguin has been given the very regal name “Louie”.

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The chick has grown a lot in two short months, and the Zoo encourages visitors to see him in his ‘penguin playpen’, right on the other side of the glass at the Helzberg Penguin Plaza.

The King Penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus) is a large species, second only to the Emperor Penguin in size. There are two subspecies: A. p. patagonicus (found in the South Atlantic) and A. p. halli. (found at the Kerguelen Islands and Crozet Island, Prince Edward Islands, Heard Island and McDonald Islands, and Macquarie Island).

King Penguins eat small fish, mainly lanternfish, and squid. They are less reliant on krill and other crustaceans than most Southern Ocean predators.


Endangered Orangutan Baby Brings In New Year

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Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo started the new year with the birth of a rare Bornean Orangutan. The endangered, female primate was born in the early morning of January 6 to experienced mother Dee Dee, weighing in at an estimated three pounds.

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4_26240581_10156972070591124_3949510601320895668_oPhoto Credits: Lowry Park Zoo

There are fewer than 100 Bornean Orangutans in 24 AZA-accredited institutions in North America, making this birth very significant for the species and the Tampa community.

Dee Dee is quite the experienced mother, already giving birth four times successfully, and this is father Goyang’s third baby at the Zoo. In October, a human pregnancy test confirmed that Dee Dee was pregnant. The Zoo’s animal care team and veterinary staff worked closely with Dee Dee to voluntarily participate during ultrasounds.

“Dee Dee continues to do well with her female baby. As an experienced mother, she didn’t show any signs of any possible issues. We determined that Dee Dee’s baby had turned during one of her regular ultrasound exams,” said Dr. Ray Ball, VP of Medical Sciences at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo. “Careful monitoring and pre-natal care are important, but so is privacy. With veterinary medicine, the baby determines the day of birth, but the mom determines the time. With no signs of a high risk pregnancy, we let her take care of the labor naturally - she determined when it would be time to deliver her baby.”

The Zoo is currently home to a group of seven endangered Orangutans and participates in the Bornean Orangutan Species Survival Plan (SSP). The program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) protects wildlife species at risk of extinction. The baby will be the tenth Bornean Orangutan born at the Zoo.

“This is a significant birth for the entire critically endangered Bornean Orangutan population,” said Chris Massaro, General Curator at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo. “It’s important to have the community along for this journey. We hope Dee Dee’s story inspires the public to become advocates for this incredible species and learn about the perils they face in the wild.”

Native to Malaysia and Indonesia, the Bornean Orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) can be found on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. The species is classified as “Critically Endangered” by the IUCN due to critical habitat loss, increased use of palm oil, poaching and pet trade. The population declined more than 50 percent during the last 60 years.

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Endangered Okapi Named ‘Meghan’ at ZSL London Zoo

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Zookeepers at ZSL London Zoo have named their new Okapi calf, “Meghan”, in honor of Prince Harry’s fiancée, Meghan Markle.

The name is particularly fitting since Okapis were first brought to the world’s attention in 1901 by another Harry - ZSL fellow, Sir Harry Johnstone.

Zookeeper, Gemma Metcalf said, “A new birth is always cause for celebration, but Meghan’s important arrival is also a great opportunity to draw attention to the Okapi, which is an extremely endangered species.”

After a 14-month gestation, it was a relatively speedy birth for first-time mum, Oni. The youngster emerged in just over half an hour on December 9, 2017. It wasn’t long before keepers, who were watching on camera from the next room, saw the newborn rise up to take her first tentative steps towards mum for a feed.

Gemma continued, “We’re very pleased with how mother and baby are doing. Oni is being very attentive, making sure she regularly licks her clean and keeping a watchful eye over Meghan as she sleeps.”

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4_Meghan okapi (c) ZSL London Zoo (6)Photo Credits: ZSL (Zoological Society of London)

An important addition to the Zoo family, Meghan is already a firm favorite among visitors. To find out more about Okapis and the 18,000 other incredible residents at ZSL London Zoo visit: www.zsl.org

The Okapi (Okapia johnstoni), also known as the ‘forest giraffe’ or ‘zebra giraffe’, is an artiodactyl mammal native to the northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Central Africa. Although the species bears striped markings similar to zebras, it is most closely related to the giraffe.

They are classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List. Major threats include habitat loss due to logging and human settlement. Extensive hunting for bushmeat and skin and illegal mining have also led to a decline in populations.

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Belgium’s First-Born Elephant Welcomes First Calf

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Planckendael’s famous Asian Elephant, Kai-Mook, recently gave birth to her first calf! Zoo staff shared that the much-anticipated baby made his entrance into the world sometime between the late hours of January 12 and early January 13.

According to keepers, the baby has a head of hair and has already exceeded the size of his niece, Suki, who was born on Christmas Day. During the delivery, the Zoo’s other female elephants provided support for Kai-Mook, just as they do in the wild.

Kai-Mook was pregnant for a total of 630 days. The baby was soon on his feet after the delivery and has been very active. The calf is very inquisitive, and Kai Mook is proving to be a caring mother to her baby. Zookeepers have not yet confirmed, but they suspect the calf is a boy. If this is the case, he will one day be an important and valuable candidate for the breeding program of the endangered Asian Elephant.

Zoo Coordinator, Ben, related after the birth: "[The calf] is a solid 100 kilos. I am very happy that everything went perfectly… a healthy elephant here…It can now grow together with our Christmas elephant, Suki.”

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3_PL_KaiMookMama_13jan18_JonasVerhulst-5Photo Credits: KMDA / Planckendael 

New mother, Kai-Mook, was born at ZOO Antwerp on May 17, 2009. She was the first elephant born in Belgium, and according to the Zoo, the whole country was “upside down” and in a festive mood at news of her birth almost a decade ago.

Asian Elephants at Planckendael are given Asian-inspired names. Kai-Mook means “pearl” and called the Christmas elephant was given the name Suki, which means “beloved”. The Zoo encourages their fans and supporters to offer name suggestions for the newest calf. The requirements are that it have an Asian influence and start with the letter “T” (each year, all babies born at the Zoo are named using the same beginning letter). Please share your suggestions via the Zoo’s Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram using the hashtag #KaiMookMama. For more info, visit their website: www.planckendael.be

Planckendael plays an active role in the international breeding program for the endangered Asian Elephant. Since the birth of Kai-Mook in 2009, RZSA supports the corridor project of Asian Nature Conservation Foundation (ANCF) in India. In Thirunelli Valley, in South India, human and elephants compete for the same lands: the people want to live and grow crops, the elephants like undisturbed passage, without coming into contact with conspecifics. In South India, the ANCF corridors (walking lanes) are there solely for the elephants. Elephants try to keep away from villages and this provides people with an alternative piece of land elsewhere to edit. Thus, the harmony between man and animal is restored there.

The Asian or Asiatic Elephant (Elephas maximus) is the only living species of the genus Elephas and is distributed in Southeast Asia from India and Nepal in the west to Borneo in the east. Asian Elephants are the largest living land animals in Asia.

Since 1986, the Asian Elephant has been classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List. The population has declined by at least 50 percent over the last three generations, estimated to be 60–75 years. The species is primarily threatened by loss of habitat, habitat degradation, fragmentation and poaching. In 2003, the wild population was estimated at between 41,410 and 52,345 individuals.


Playful African Painted Dog Pups Make Their Debut

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Seven endangered African Painted Dog pups have made their first public appearances at Chester Zoo.

The playful pups scampered out of their underground den, led by their mother K’mana who had kept them safely tucked away since giving birth to them on November 19.  Also known as African Wild Dogs, it is the first time the endangered animals have ever been bred at the zoo.

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Rare African painted dog pups make their playful debuts at Chester Zoo (7)Photo Credit: Chester Zoo


Tim Rowlands, Curator of Mammals at Chester Zoo, said, “After spending six-weeks deep inside their den under the watchful eyes of mum, the pups have now come out and they’ve most certainly come out to play!  These rare pups are incredibly important new arrivals and a major boost to the international breeding programme which is working to try and ensure a brighter future for these impressive and beautiful animals.”

African Painted Dogs are one of Africa’s most threatened carnivores and are listed as Endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Conservation experts fear there may now be fewer than 1,500 breeding Dogs left in isolated regions of eastern and southern Africa.

Mike Jordan, the zoo’s Collections Director, added, “With human populations increasing in Africa and villages expanding, Painted Dog numbers have plummeted as their habitat is converted to farmland. This puts them in direct conflict with local people, where they are hunted and poisoned for killing livestock and exposed to infectious diseases transferred from domestic Dogs.”

For more than 10 years, Chester Zoo has been a vital part of the George Adamson Wildlife Preservation Trust African Wild Dog Programme in Tanzania, working to return healthy and genetically diverse populations of Painted Dogs back to the wild. Zoo experts have helped conservationists working in Africa to re-establish viable populations of Painted Dogs, bred in special protected breeding areas in Tanzania, in two national parks – Tsavo and Mkomazi.

African Painted Dogs are named for their mottled coat with splotches of black, yellow, white, and brown. They live in packs and hunt cooperatively to bring down prey many times their size. They are known for their speed, reaching 44 miles per hour, and their stamina during hunts.

See more photos of the pups below.

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Tiger Cubs Get Their 6-Week Exams - And Their Names

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Two male Sumatran Tiger cubs at Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens had a big week: they received their first round of vaccinations and were named!

Born on November 20, 2017 to mom Dorcas and dad Berani, the two male cubs are growing well and appear to be in great health. You first met the cubs here on ZooBorns.

The larger of the two cubs weighs 14 pounds and is named “Rocky.” His slightly smaller brother, who weighs about 12 pounds, was dubbed “Jaggar.”

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Tiger-cubs-5Photo Credit: Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens

The zoo’s veterinary staff gave each feisty cub a physical exam, including weighing the cubs, checking their eyes, and inspecting their tiny canine teeth. They cubs were vaccinated against respiratory infections and feline distemper – the same vaccinations given to house cats. Each cub was also microchipped for identification.

While the animal care team can be “hands-on” with the cubs, they never interact directly with adult Tigers. Thanks to daily training sessions that build trust between the animals and the care team, Dorcas voluntarily moves to an adjoining pen while the team examines the cubs.

Over the next two months, the cubs will receive two more rounds of vaccines including boosters and a rabies vaccination.

The now six-week-old cubs need to grow bigger before they are able to explore the outdoor habitat of the public viewing areas. Until then, a live-streaming video of the cubs in their behind-the-scenes nursery den is available on the Zoo’s YouTube channel.

Rocky and Jaggar spend much of their time nursing, sleeping, or being groomed by mom. Each day, the cubs are becoming more mobile and playful, much to the delight of faithful “cub cam” viewers.

See more photos of the cubs below.

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Oakland Zoo Provides Home for Third Mountain Lion

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In just over one month, three orphaned Mountain Lion cubs have been rescued by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and all have found sanctuary at Oakland Zoo.

The most recent, and youngest, arrived the night of December 23 in severe critical condition, more so than the first two cubs.

This third cub, estimated to be approximately 6-8 weeks of age, arrived near death, unable to stand or walk from such severe dehydration and starvation. Zoo vets found her starvation was so advanced, her body was consuming its own muscle mass. After six days of continuous IV fluids containing essential electrolytes and minerals, and round-the-clock bottle-feedings by Zoo veterinary staff, she began walking and showing signs of life. Vet staff joyously reports she is now regularly eating solid foods, showing spunky personality, and even ‘playing’ with her enrichment.

ZooBorns featured the story of the first two rescued cubs in an article from mid-December: Oakland Zoo Cares for Mountain Lion Orphans”.

As determined by the CDFW, these three cubs cannot be released back in to the wild once their rehabilitation is complete, they would have no chance of survival. Unfortunately, they need their mothers to be effectively taught to hunt and survive. In the wild, even when the mother is present, the survival rate of Mountain Lion cubs is slim. Mountain Lions are becoming critically endangered in the California, often struck by cars or shot when seen as a threat in encroaching urban areas and developments. Oakland Zoo partners with the conservation organizations like the Mountain Lion Foundation and the Bay Area Puma Project to try and help conserve the species in the wild.

“Mountain Lion cubs need up to two years with their mom in order to learn how to survive and thrive. Human survival training is not possible. The Bay Area Puma Project supports Oakland Zoo’s efforts to care for Pumas that cannot be released into the wild,” said Zara McDonald, Executive Director of the Bay Area Puma Project.

Oakland Zoo helped found BACAT (Bay Area Cougar Action Team) in 2013, an alliance with the Bay Area Puma Project and the Mountain Lion Foundation, to help support the CDFW save Mountain Lions caught in the human-wildlife conflict.

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4_Being examined byDr. Parrott at Oakland Zoo vet hospitalPhoto Credits: Monica Fox (Images 1-3) / Oakland Zoo 

Yet unnamed, the newest kitten seems to be thriving in the past several days. Upon arrival, Zoo vet staff began treating her in the ICU with nine daily and overnight bottle-feedings of KMR (kitten milk replacer formula), grooming her with a soft cloth to mimic a mother’s tongue, and monitoring her progress constantly. She is now eating solid food. Her favorite stew is a combination of raw meat from Primal Pet Foods, chicken baby food, frozen mice that is warmed, and cod.

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National Aviary Has New Sloth Ambassador

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The National Aviary recently introduced its new Linnaeus’s Two-toed Sloth. The female was born August 21, 2017 and has been named Vivien, in honor of the iconic actress, Vivien Leigh.

Measuring about 14 ½” long and weighing almost 2.5 pounds, Vivien made her appearance in the arms of her caretakers. Dr. Pilar Fish, National Aviary Director of Veterinary Medicine, conducted a checkup to assess Vivien’s growth and overall health, and at the end of the exam pronounced the little Sloth in excellent health.

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Vivien will be hand-raised by National Aviary experts, so she’ll be comfortable around people and well prepared for her role as an educational ambassador.

Linnaeus's Two-toed Sloth (Choloepus didactylus) is a species of sloth from South America. They are found in Venezuela, the Guyanas, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Brazil north of the Amazon River. Their habitats are rapidly diminishing due to human activity.

Guests who meet the new baby Sloth will learn about the importance of conservation and what steps they can take to protect rainforest creatures. Visitors can see the baby during daily “Sloth Talks” at 12:30 pm, beginning January 9 (included with admission). In addition, guests will have the opportunity to book an interactive encounter with her beginning February 1st in which guests can touch the Sloth, take photos, and interact with her in a comfortable, private setting.

Two other Sloths, Valentino and Wookiee, also make their home at the National Aviary.

“We are delighted to welcome another Sloth,” says National Aviary Executive Director Cheryl Tracy. “Public response to the arrival of Valentino in 2016 was, and has continued to be, overwhelmingly positive, and with so much interest in seeing and learning about this remarkable species, we felt that the time was right to introduce another. Like Valentino, this precious little girl Sloth will be an ambassador for her species, and for all those creatures that live in the rain forests and cloud forests of Central and South America. And we hope that one day, several years down the road, Vivien and Valentino will become parents to new Sloths born at the National Aviary.”

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New Year, New Tapir at Franklin Park Zoo

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New Year’s Day was extra special at Franklin Park Zoo… a Baird’s Tapir, named Abby, gave birth to a female calf.

The calf was born on January 1 to 28-year-old dad, Milton, and 13-year-old mom, Abby. This is the fourth offspring for both parents.

The soon-to-be-named calf recently had her first vet examination. The exam included blood work and a general physical. The calf weighed-in at 20.5 pounds and appears to be in good health.

“Abby is an experienced mother, and she is being very attentive to her new baby, who is strong and has been nursing well. As with any new birth, we are carefully monitoring the health of the new calf and the mother,” said Dr. Alex Becket, Zoo New England Associate Veterinarian in the department of Animal Health.

The baby’s arrival was long awaited by the Animal Care staff, as the gestation period for Baird’s Tapirs is thirteen months. Similar to a deer fawn, Baird’s Tapir calves are distinctly marked with watermelon like white stripes and spots, which help to camouflage them in the dappled light of the rainforest. The stripes begin to fade between five and six months of age.

“We are thrilled to share this wonderful news,” said John Linehan, Zoo New England President and CEO. “Given the small size of the North American captive population, this is a very important birth for this endangered species. Zoo New England is committed to Tapir conservation and has supported important field work being done on behalf of Baird’s Tapirs in Nicaragua.”

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ZNE participates in the Baird’s Tapir Species Survival Plan (SSP), which is a cooperative, inter-zoo program coordinated nationally through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). SSPs help to ensure the survival of selected species in zoos and aquariums, most of which are threatened or endangered, and enhance conservation of these species in the wild. Because the AZA managed Tapir population is so small – 29 males and 20 females (including the new calf) – every successful birth and survival helps to secure the captive population. The new female calf at Franklin Park Zoo helps to balance out this small, but male skewed population.

Baird's Tapir (Tapirus bairdii), also known as the Central American Tapir, is a species of native to Mexico, Central America and northwestern South America.

They are the largest land mammal found in South America and are classified as “Endangered” by the IUCN Red List. While they are hunted for food and sport, their greatest threat to survival is habitat destruction due to logging and clearing of land for agriculture and development. In addition to humans, jaguars are the only other significant threat to this animals’ survival in the wild.

The Baird’s Tapirs, at Franklin Park Zoo, make their home in the ‘Tropical Forest’ exhibit. The new baby is expected to make her public debut within a few weeks.


France's Giant Panda Cub Shows His Playful Side

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France’s first Giant Panda cub is growing up fast and revealing his daring personality at ZooParc de Beauval. Now five months old, little Yuan Meng was born to mother Huan Huan and father Yuan Zi and has captured the hearts of fans around the world.

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26060438_1849755118382759_7518380596883559367_oPhoto Credit: ZooParc de Beauval

After learning to walk back in November, Yuan Meng has begun discovering his surroundings. He is fearless, crossing obstacles without hesitation and climbing on everything in sight, including his mother. 

The care team completely renovated the indoor Panda habitat to create a safe and interesting environment for Yuan Meng. They built a low wooden climbing structure and added rocks for the cub to play on.

Yuan Meng has a unique appearance, with grayish, fuzzy fur (most baby Pandas have brighter white, smooth fur). The care team explains that Yuan Meng’s father, Yuan Zi, had the same appearance when he was a cub.

Yuan Meng spends most of his time with his mother and still nurses. But he has also started nibbling on bamboo, which will soon become is main diet.  

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