Banner Day for Capybara Pups at Chester Zoo

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Chester Zoo is home to a grand total of eight new Capybara pups! Zookeepers spotted Capybara mum, Lochley, giving birth to her first two youngsters at around 7:30am on May 17. The third and fourth members of her new quartet arrived just before 11am, in front of amazed visitors. Later that same day, mum, Lilly, gave birth to four more pups!

2_Visitors to Chester Zoo were treated to the sight of four baby capybaras being born to mum Lochley. The capybara is the world’s largest rodent species.  (3)

3_Visitors to Chester Zoo were treated to the sight of four baby capybaras being born to mum Lochley. The capybara is the world’s largest rodent species.  (29)

4_Visitors to Chester Zoo were treated to the sight of four baby capybaras being born to mum Lochley. The capybara is the world’s largest rodent species.  (41)Photo Credits: Chester Zoo

Sometimes referred to as the ‘giant guinea pig’, the Capybara comes from South America and can grow up to 1.5m (4.9ft.) in length.

After the birth of the first four pups, James Andrewes, Assistant Team Manager at the Zoo, remarked, “Lochley gave birth out in the sunshine – her first two pups arriving before the zoo had opened with her second two born a little later, in front of a handful of rather astonished visitors. Within no time, all of the babies were up on their feet, running around, sniffing buttercups and clambering over mum.”

Andrewes continued, “We can already see that they’re going to be a bit of a handful for Lochley, but she’s looking fairly unfazed and I can see her keeping them in line without too much trouble. They’ll nurse around seven times a day and it’s at feeding time that they tend to settle down... for a short while at least!”

The Capybara is a large rodent of the genus Hydrochoerus of which the only other extant member is the lesser Capybara (Hydrochoerus isthmius). Although a close relative of Guinea Pigs and Rock Cavies, it is more distantly related to the Agouti, Chinchillas, and the Coypu. Native to South America, the Capybara inhabits savannas and dense forests and prefers to live near bodies of water. They are social and can be found in groups of up to 100 individuals.

Their bodies have been specially adapted for swimming - with webbed feet and their eyes, ears and nostrils located on top of their heads. They are able to stay submerged in water for around five minutes to help avoid detection by predators such as Jaguars, Anacondas and Caiman in their native South America.

Capybaras are herbivores, grazing mainly on grasses and aquatic plants, as well as fruit and tree bark. Their jaw hinge is not perpendicular and they chew food by grinding back-and-forth rather than side-to-side.

They are incredibly vocal animals, communicating through barks, whistles, huffs and purrs.

They have a gestation period of about 130 to 150 days and usually produce a litter of four. Newborn Capybaras will join the rest of the group as soon as they are mobile. Within a week, the offspring can eat grass, but they will continue to suckle, from any female in the group, until about 16 weeks.

While the Capybara is not currently classified as an endangered species, it is threatened by habitat degradation and illegal poaching for its meat and skin, which can be turned into leather. The zoo hopes their new arrivals will help to raise the profile of the often-overlooked species.

5_Visitors to Chester Zoo were treated to the sight of four baby capybaras being born to mum Lochley. The capybara is the world’s largest rodent species.  (37)


Baby Elephant Born After Rescue

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The Dallas Zoo welcomed a big new arrival on May 14:  a male African Elephant born to Mlilo, an Elephant rescued from drought-stricken Swaziland this spring.

The calf stands about three feet tall, and his tiny trunk is just over a foot long. His ears are light pink, contrasting with his darker gray body. He weighs 175 pounds, which is on the low end of the 150- to 300-pound range for newborn African Elephants. A low birth weight isn’t surprising, given the difficult conditions his mother encountered in Swaziland during his 22-month gestation.

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The calf, who isn’t yet named, is active and exploring the barn, although he doesn’t get too far from mom. He’s nursing and vocalizing as expected.

“This birth validates the critical importance of our rescue efforts and why we worked so hard to get these animals to safety as quickly as possible,” said Gregg Hudson, president and CEO of the Dallas Zoo.

The Dallas Zoo collaborated with conservation officials in Swaziland, Africa, and two other accredited U.S. facilities to provide a safe haven for 17 African Elephants. The Elephants had destroyed trees and other vegetation in the managed parks where they lived, making the land uninhabitable for more critically endangered Rhinos. Swaziland managers planned to cull the Elephants in order to focus on Rhino conservation. The zoos’ collaboration to relocate the Elephants was conceived not only to save them, but to support Swaziland’s Rhino conservation efforts.

In a complex process that lasted nearly two years, the Dallas Zoo, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Wichita’s Sedgwick County Zoo applied for permission from the U.S. government to accept the animals. The permit was granted in January after extensive review, and a detailed move was planned for nearly two months. The Elephants were flown to the U.S. aboard a chartered 747 jet, arriving March 11, 2016.

Mlilo (pronounced “ma-LEE-lo”) arrived in Dallas showing signs of a possible pregnancy, but all tests conducted were inconclusive. Regardless, the Dallas Zoo staff was careful with the day-to-day care of Mlilo, creating positive conditions for her to have a successful birth. 

“This calf will be an excellent ambassador for his species, helping us teach guests about the grave crisis facing Elephants in Africa, and inspiring them to help protect this majestic species from extinction,” Hudson said.

This is the first birth of an African Elephant calf in the United States in nearly two years.

African Elephants face many threats, ranging from human encroachment on their habitat to extreme poaching, which claims the life of nearly 100 Elephants every day.

See more photos of the calf below.

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‘Tall Order’ for Giraffe Keepers at Paignton Zoo

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A Rothschild’s Giraffe has been born at Paignton Zoo. The male calf was born to mother Janica on the morning of May 19. Sadly, his mother rejected him, so zookeepers have stepped in to bottle feed him.

Senior Keeper, Craig Gilchrist, said, “He has taken milk from us; he is getting the hang of it. Mammal keepers, Helen Neighbour and Jim Dicks, are doing the feeding. He is separated from the group but can see them all. For the first few days, it is important to keep him separate to allow him to bond with the keepers so he feels comfortable enough to feed from them. As soon as possible, he will be reintroduced to the herd so he doesn’t forget he is a giraffe!”

Paignton Zoo Curator of Mammals, Neil Bemment, added, “At this stage we don’t know why Janica has rejected him. Giraffe mothers are fickle beasts. Sometimes they will rear their calves, sometimes they won’t. For example, Janica reared her first, Tonda, who is now the breeding bull at Chessington Zoo, Surrey, but declined to rear her second Valentino, who was successfully hand reared by the keepers, reintroduced to the family group, and is now in Port Lympne Zoo, Kent.”

Paignton Zoo is going to get through a lot of milk over the next few months. Craig added, “At the moment we need about 4 to 6 litres of gold top milk each day. He will take in around 10% of his body weight in milk each day and gain weight just as quickly. As he grows, so will his milk requirements.”

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Hand rearing a giraffe is a lot of extra work and commitment for the keepers. “He is fed 4 times a day and could need milk for up to 9 months. We will start weaning him when he is around 5 to 6 months, depending on how he gets on.”

The calf stands at nearly six feet tall at birth. The gestation period for a giraffe is between 400 and 460 days. The mother gives birth standing up, and the fall breaks the umbilical cord. The calf can stand and run within a few hours.

Father, Yoda, came from Givskud Zoo, Denmark, where he was born on 14th November 2004. He arrived at Devon in September 2006. Janica came to Paignton Zoo from Duvr Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic.

The Zoo’s other adult female is Sangha, who came from Liberec Zoo, also in the Czech Republic. The other youngsters at the Zoo are Otilie, who was born in September 2012, and Joanna, born in January 2014 (both to mother Sangha) and Eliska, born in January last year to Janica.

All the giraffes at Paignton Zoo Environmental Park (a registered charity in the UK) are Rothschild’s Giraffes.

Continue reading "‘Tall Order’ for Giraffe Keepers at Paignton Zoo " »


Stripy Tapir Calf Spotted at Edinburgh Zoo

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RZSS Edinburgh Zoo has welcomed the arrival of an endangered Malayan Tapir calf. The spotty and striped young male was born in the evening of May 19 to mother, Sayang, and father, Mowgli.

The tiny calf was born weighing 11kg (24 lbs), but he will double in size in the coming weeks, eventually growing up to weigh as much as 250kg to 320kg (550 lbs to 700 lbs)!

Malayan Tapir calves are born with brown fur and white stripes and dots, which provides camouflage in the forest. After a few months, Malayan Tapir youngsters start to lose their stripes and spots and, by six months of age, they look like miniature adults, with stocky black bodies and white or grey midsections.

Karen Stiven, Hoofstock Keeper at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo, said, “The tiny calf is doing very well and, whilst he is staying close to his mother, he has been rambling around a bit on his small shaky legs to explore his surroundings. On Monday afternoon he took his first tentative steps into the outdoor paddock and was even brave enough to take a few splashes in the pond.

“The birth of this calf is very significant as he will go on to play a role in the conservation of this rare species as, once he is old enough, he will join the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme to help augment a safety-net population for this species, ensuring they do not go extinct. RZSS Edinburgh Zoo has had great husbandry success with this increasingly threatened Tapir species.”

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4_16_5_23_Baby_Tapir_JP_4Photo Credits: RZSS/ Jon-Paul Orsi

 

The Malayan Tapir (Tapirus indicus), also known as the Asian Tapir, is the largest of four Tapir species and is the only Old World Tapir. They are native to the rainforests of Burma, Malaysia, Sumatra and Thailand. Their noses and upper lips are extended to form a prehensile proboscis, which they use to grab leaves. Tapirs normally measure 1.8 to 2.5m (6 to 8 feet) in length, with a shoulder height of 0.9 to 1.1m. (3 to 3.5 feet). Females have a long gestation period of 13 months before giving birth to a single calf.

Listed as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List, the Malayan Tapir is increasingly threatened, with population numbers continuing to decline as a result of habitat loss and fragmentation, as well as increasing hunting pressure. The population has been estimated to have declined by more than 50% in the last three generations (36 years) primarily as a result of Tapir habitat being converted into palm oil plantations.

More great pics, below the fold!

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Belfast Zoo Has New ‘Happy Capy’ Pups

(1)  Belfast Zoo keepers are hearing the ‘pitty patter’ of tiny webbed feet with the arrival of four capybara babies.

Belfast Zoo keepers are hearing the ‘pitter patter’ of tiny webbed Capybara feet as the parents, Charlie and Lola, welcomed four pups on May 10.

Capybaras (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris) are the largest rodent species in the world. These rodents are found in South America and are semi-aquatic mammals. They have webbed feet and can stay underwater for up to five minutes, which allows them to hide from predators. In fact, their scientific name even means ‘water hog’.

Zoo curator, Alyn Cairns, said “Our Capybaras live with some other South American ‘amigos’, including Giant Anteaters and Darwin’s Rhea. We have said ‘hola’ to quite a few new arrivals in this enclosure recently including a baby Giant Anteater, Darwin’s Rhea chicks and now four Capybara babies. We couldn’t be more delighted."   

Cairns continued, "While the Capybara is not currently classified as an endangered species, it is hunted and poached for its meat and skin. It is important that zoos, such as Belfast Zoo, help to raise awareness of this species and the increasing dangers which they face in their natural habitat. We have no doubt that our South American babies will soon be a firm favourite with visitors!”

(2)  The latest arrivals were born to mum, Lola and dad, Charlie.

(3)  Capybaras are the largest rodent species in the world.

(4)   The latest arrivals were born on 10 May 2016.Photo Credits: Belfast Zoo

The Capybara is a large rodent of the genus Hydrochoerus of which the only other extant member is the lesser Capybara (Hydrochoerus isthmius). Although a close relative of Guinea Pigs and Rock Cavies, it is more distantly related to the Agouti, Chinchillas, and the Coypu. Native to South America, the Capybara inhabits savannas and dense forests and prefers to live near bodies of water. They are social and can be found in groups of up to 100 individuals.

Their bodies have been specially adapted for swimming - with webbed feet and their eyes, ears and nostrils located on top of their heads. They are able to stay submerged in water for around five minutes to help avoid detection by predators such as Jaguars, Anacondas and Caiman in their native South America.

Capybaras are herbivores, grazing mainly on grasses and aquatic plants, as well as fruit and tree bark. Their jaw hinge is not perpendicular and they chew food by grinding back-and-forth rather than side-to-side.

They are incredibly vocal animals, communicating through barks, whistles, huffs and purrs.

They have a gestation period of about 130 to 150 days and usually produce a litter of four. Newborn Capybaras will join the rest of the group as soon as they are mobile. Within a week, the offspring can eat grass, but they will continue to suckle, from any female in the group, until about 16 weeks.

You can support the care of Belfast Zoo’s Capybaras by taking part in the animal adoption scheme. Find out more at www.belfastzoo.co.uk/adoption .

(5)  Keep up to date with Belfast Zoo news at www.belfastzoo.co.uk

(6)  Belfast Zoo's capybaras share their home with some other South American 'amigos' including giant anteaters and Darwin's rheas.

(7)  There will be animal feeding times throughout this bank holiday weekend!  Call by to see Belfast Zoo's latest arrivals.


NaturZoo Rheine’s Penguins Go to Kindergarten

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NaturZoo Rheine considers themselves very lucky to be able to announce the hatching and rearing of nine Humboldt Penguin chicks this year.

NaturZoo’s breeding success with this species has been so huge over the past four decades, their Humboldt Penguin’s, known as “made in Rheine”, are spread all over Europe. Care must be given for a balanced distribution of bloodlines.

After brooding for 40 days, all of the eggs from this season have hatched. At an age of approximately six-weeks, the young penguins have now moved from their parents’ den nests to the “kindergarten” or crèche.

When they have successfully completed kindergarten and have molted to the first full plumage, the young Humboldt Penguins will return to the colony or move to another zoo.

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The Humboldt Penguin (Spheniscus humboldti) (also known as the Chilean Penguin, Peruvian Penguin, or Patranca) is a South American penguin that breeds in coastal Chile and Peru. Its nearest relatives are the African Penguin, the Magellanic Penguin and the Galápagos Penguin. The penguin is named after the cold water current it swims in, which is named after Alexander von Humboldt, an explorer.

Humboldt Penguins are medium-sized, growing to 56–70 cm (22–28 in) long and a weight of 3.6-5.9 kg (8-13 lbs). They have a black head with a white border that runs from behind the eye, around the black ear-coverts and chin, and joins at the throat. They have blackish-grey upper parts and whitish underpants, with a black breast-band that extends down the flanks to the thigh. Juveniles have dark heads and no breast-band. They have spines on their tongue, which they use to hold their prey.

Humboldt’s nest on islands and rocky coasts, burrowing holes in guano and sometimes using scrapes or caves.

Penguins, for the most part, breed in large colonies. Living in colonies results in a high level of social interaction between birds, which has led to a large repertoire of visual as well as vocal displays in all penguin species.

Penguins form monogamous pairs for a breeding season. Most penguins lay two eggs in a clutch. With the exception of the Emperor Penguin, where the male does it all, all penguins share the incubation duties. These incubation shifts can last days, and even weeks, as one member of the pair feeds at sea.

Continue reading "NaturZoo Rheine’s Penguins Go to Kindergarten" »


Hellabrunn Zoo Is Hatching a Plan for Flamingos

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A Flamingo chick pecking its way out of an egg was an almost daily occurrence for several weeks at Hellabrunn Zoo.

Warmed and well protected, the chicks at Hellabrunn Zoo began hatching on May 9th. Currently, seven chicks have been seen under their parents, and about a dozen chicks are still waiting to hatch from their eggs.

Zoo director, Rasem Baban, is delighted with the new births, "A total of seven chicks have been hatched. The Flamingos incubate about 20 eggs, in nest mounds made from mud. Once the sun comes out and the temperatures rise, the colorful offspring become independent and strike out on their own."

The Flamingo group at Hellabrunn Zoo Munich currently contains over 130 birds of the species’ American Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber) and Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus).

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4_13248548_1178689685498638_2938850905119961602_oPhoto Credits: Tierpark Hellabrunn/Marc Müller (Images 2-4); Tierpark Hellabrunn / Marisa Segadelli-MGsee (Images 1,5-10)

Flamingos are among the oldest groups of birds. It is said they have existed on earth in their present form for about 30 million years.

Flamingos often stand on one leg, the other leg tucked beneath the body. The reason for this behavior is not fully understood. Research indicates that standing on one leg may allow the birds to conserve more body heat, given that they spend a significant amount of time wading in cold water. However, the behavior also takes place in warm water. As well as standing in the water, flamingos may stamp their webbed feet in the mud to stir up food from the bottom.

Young Flamingos hatch with greyish reddish plumage, but adults range from light pink to bright red due to aqueous bacteria and beta-Carotene obtained from their food supply. A well-fed, healthy flamingo is more vibrantly colored and thus a more desirable mate; a white or pale flamingo, however, is usually unhealthy or malnourished. Captive flamingos are a notable exception; many turn a pale pink, as they are not fed carotene at levels comparable to the wild.

The American Flamingo breeds in the Galápagos, coastal Colombia, Venezuela, and nearby islands, Trinidad and Tobago, along the northern coast of the Yucatán Peninsula, Cuba, Hispaniola, The Bahamas, and the Turks and Caicos Islands. The American Flamingo was once also found in southern Florida, but since the arrival of Europeans, it has been all but eradicated there. Sightings today are usually considered to be escapees. From a distance, untrained eyes can also confuse it with the Roseate Spoonbill.

The Greater Flamingo is the largest and most widespread species of the Flamingo family. It is native to Africa, Indian subcontinent, the Middle East and southern Europe.

Continue reading "Hellabrunn Zoo Is Hatching a Plan for Flamingos " »


Meet Zoo Basel's Four Reindeer Calves

Rentier_jungtiere_ZO21291Four Reindeer were born at Zoo Basel in quick succession between April 20 and May 5.  All four calves were healthy, following their mothers and nursing within just a few hours of their births. 

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Rentier_jungtiere_ZO21033Photo Credit:  Zoo Basel

Zoo staff are always pleased to see babies nurse soon after birth, because this is the only time when the mothers produce colostrum milk.  Colostrum is rich in antibodies that protect against disease in newborns with underdeveloped immune systems. Reindeer milk is rich in fat, which allows the young animals to grow very quickly in a short period of time – something vital for their survival in the bitterly cold Arctic tundra.

Before giving birth, pregnant female Reindeer separate themselves from the herd and look for a quiet location, usually a stall in the barn. When a calf is born, the zoo’s veterinarians examine the newborn, insert an ID chip, deliver a selenium and Vitamin E shot to prevent white muscle disease, and antibodies to boost their immune system. Their navel is also disinfected with an iodine solution. 

Reindeer have unusual feeding habits, and the nutritional quality of their food is more important than the quantity.  In the Arctic tundra where they live, Reindeer feed mainly on lichens, which are a good source of energy.  They do not graze on grasses, which are high in fiber and low in nutrients.  At the zoo, the Reindeer receive hay, vegetables, and pelleted food supplemented with vitamins and minerals.

Reindeer are the only species of domesticated deer and the only one where the females have antlers. On their seasonal migrations, huge herds of more than 100,000 Reindeer migrate up to 3,000 miles - the longest migration of any land mammal. Reindeer have another peculiar characteristic, which can be heard if you stand close by:  when they walk, they make a soft clicking noise. This sound comes from a tendon on their hind legs that slips over the bone as they walk.

See more photos of the calves below.

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Prairie Dog Pups Pop Up at NaturZoo Rheine

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A passel of Prairie Dog pups popped up this spring at Germany’s NaturZoo Rheine.  Seven playful and social babies make the colony busy and active all day long.

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Zbph_lPhoto Credit:  Eva Bruns/NaturZoo Rheine

The seven pups are from three different litters born to three different mothers.  All were born in the colony’s network of underground burrows and chambers.  In this extensive burrow system, there are special “rooms” for sleeping, toileting, and nursing babies.  The zoo's colony is home to 20 Prairie Dogs.

Young Prairie Dogs are born blind and hairless, and they remain safely underground until about six weeks of age.  The babies in the photos are seven to eight weeks old.

Prairie Dogs live colonies containing a few dozen to thousands of animals.  Their burrowing habits cause them to viewed as pests by ranchers in central and western North America, where they favor open grassland and rangeland.  Once numbering in the millions, their habitat has been fragmented and their numbers drastically reduced.  However, Prairie Dogs are not considered under threat of extinction at this time.

See more photos of the Prairie Dogs below.

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Endangered Mexican Gray Wolf Pups at Brookfield Zoo

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The Chicago Zoological Society (CZS) is excited to announce the birth of a litter of five Mexican Gray Wolves at Brookfield Zoo on April 25. This is the second litter born to mom, Zana (age 4), and dad, Flint (age 6).

Currently, three of the puppies are in a den, being nurtured by their pack, at the zoo’s Regenstein Wolf Woods habitat. Animal care staff anticipates they will begin to emerge from the den site and be visible to guests in a few weeks.

As part of the Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Program, the remaining two puppies, Blaze (M1471) and Brooke (F1472), were placed in the Arizona-based Elk Horn Pack of wild wolves, which will foster them with their own litter. In pup fostering, very young pups are moved from one litter to another litter of similar age so that the receiving pack raises the pups as their own. The technique, which has proven to be successful in this species, as well as in other wildlife, shows promise to improve the genetic diversity of the wild wolf population.

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4_0016Photo Credits: Images 1-4, 5-8, 10, 11: Chicago Zoological Society / Image 9: Interagency Field Team

Following a neonatal examination, the pups, accompanied by CZS animal care staff, were flown to Arizona on April 30. There, staff met up with a team of biologists from the Mexican Wolf Interagency Field Team, who successfully placed the pups in a den in which the alpha female had just given birth to her own litter.

Since 2003, the Society has been a partner in this significant recovery program, which is a multi-agency collaboration between the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Arizona Game and Fish Department, the White Mountain Apache Tribe, the USDA Forest Service, and the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service—Wildlife Services, as well as private organizations. As part of this program, adult and offspring wolves at Brookfield Zoo are potential candidates for release to the wild.

“We are extremely proud to be able to contribute to this important conservation effort for the Mexican Gray Wolf population,” said Bill Zeigler, senior vice president of animal programs for the Society, which manages Brookfield Zoo. “The collaboration with USFWS and the other participating organizations is a real team effort and demonstrates the dedication of all parties to make this a successful program while also raising awareness for this highly endangered and iconic North American species.”

The Chicago Zoological Society plays a pivotal role in the recovery program, demonstrating its commitment to helping the Mexican Gray Wolf population. The first successful fostering of Mexican Gray Wolf pups occurred in the wild and included offspring born to a wolf from Brookfield Zoo, who was the alpha female of the Coronado Pack living in the Gila National Forest in western New Mexico. Sadly, she was found deceased in January 2015, but her legacy lives on with her pups.

The fostering of Blaze and Brooke is only the second time in the history of the program that pups born in professional care were placed with an established wild pack.

“The USFWS is extremely grateful to the Chicago Zoological Society. We value our partnership with the Society and other member institutions of the Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan managed breeding program who have contributed so much to the recovery of the species," said Benjamin Tuggle, the Service’s southwest regional director. “Pup fostering is just one of the management tools we can use to improve the genetic health of the wild population.”

In addition to Zana, Flint, and the puppies, the wolf pack at Brookfield Zoo also includes the pair’s four yearlings, born in 2015. The pups born last year will assist their parents in rearing the new additions by regurgitating food for them and engaging them in play, among other behaviors. In addition, the yearlings will learn important parental skills from Zana and Flint for when they have their own litters.

“As the pups grow, zoo guests will have an amazing opportunity to witness the complex social structure of the wolf pack as they interact with each other,” said Joan Daniels, associate curator of mammals.

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