Oklahoma City Zoo Using New Technique for Flamingos

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Caretakers at the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden are developing a new technique with a Flamingo hatchling, enabling it to benefit from group socialization and parent rearing. This new partial hand-rearing method will allow the young bird to become a better mate and parent in the future. The chick, hatched July 13, has not yet been named, and the sex has not yet been determined.

During breeding season, staff closely monitors the birds’ nests and place resulting eggs in incubators. Dummy eggs are placed back in the nests to allow the birds to demonstrate their instinctual brooding behavior. Due to a multitude of natural predators (like owls and snakes) targeting Flamingo eggs and hatchlings, chicks have traditionally been completely hand-reared by caretakers for up to a year before being introduced to the flock. Partial hand rearing allows the chick to spend days with the flock under the watchful eyes of both caretakers and volunteers and nights safely inside, removed from the threat of potential predators.

“We would much rather have all of our birds be parent-reared,” said Holly Ray, assistant curator, birds. “Hand-rearing only occurs when it’s absolutely necessary for the safety and well-being of the animal. But if we can try something that will both help the animal thrive socially and physically while preserving its safety, it’s absolutely worth doing.”

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4_OKC Zoo Flamingo Chick 4 (1 of 1)Photo Credits: Oklahoma City Zoo

Uncertain if any of the Flamingos would be interested in parenting the hatchling, caretakers watched anxiously as the chick was introduced to the flock. Caretakers placed the chick on a Flamingo mound (nest) and after about 45 minutes were able to confirm that a Flamingo pair were demonstrating parental behaviors toward the chick. This Flamingo pair was not the actual parents of the bird, so staff began referring to the duo as the chick’s foster parents. Both stay close to the chick and feed him what’s known as crop milk, a reddish, pre-digested and regurgitated meal. The female Flamingo is 22 years old. The male flamingo is 56 years old and the last remaining member of the Zoo’s original flock that arrived in 1963. The AZA reports the median life expectancy for flamingos is 25.8 years.

Zoo staff conducted an inspection of the grounds and accomplished a number of “chick-proofing” measures such as filling holes, patching walls and draining one of the pools to a level low enough for the chick to wade through safely. Caretakers are confident, however, that the hatchling will soon be swimming safely alongside the other flamingos. Although caretakers report the hatchling is adorably clumsy, the chick has proven to be extremely rambunctious and active, always exploring and investigating new sights and sounds.

Three other Flamingo chicks hatched this month and are being raised in the traditional method. During the hand-rearing process, the chicks gradually transition to different enclosures with various surfaces (sandy, grassy, muddy, etc.) the Flamingos will encounter in their natural environment. The birds are kept together, not alone. The chicks are also walked twice a day to provide adequate exercise needed for weight management, leg conditioning and overall healthy development. They will be introduced to the habitat more gradually and will be part of the flock earlier than previous years’ chicks.

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Georgia Aquarium Welcomes First 'Puffling'

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The Georgia Aquarium was thrilled to share news of their first-ever Tufted Puffin hatchling.

The fluffy, female “puffling” arrived in late July, and fans have been able to watch her grow via the Aquarium’s nesting cam. Webcams are still up and live during certain hours. Check with the Georgia Aquarium web page for more info: www.georgiaaquarium.org/

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3_DSC_0015Photo Credits: Georgia Aquarium

The Tufted Puffin (Fratercula cirrhata), also known as Crested Puffin, is a medium-sized pelagic seabird in the auk family (Alcidae) found in the North Pacific Ocean. It is easily recognizable by its thick red bill and yellow tufts.

During breeding season, seabirds such as these return to land and form large colonies made up of many different species on steep coastal cliffs.

The seabirds form monogamous pairs that produce one to two eggs each breeding season. Nesting varies by species. Tufted Puffins prefer steep, grassy slopes suitable for burrowing.

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Red Panda Cubs Get Their Third Checkup

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Woodland Park Zoo’s veterinary team recently performed a third neonatal exam on the zoo’s twin Red Panda cubs. The 5-week-old female cubs, born on June 19, have opened their eyes and weigh just under two pounds each. At birth, they weighed about five ounces each. The parents of the cubs are two-year-old mom Hazel and 13-year-old dad Yukiko.

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Unnamed (1)Photo Credit: John Loughlin/Woodland Park Zoo

We first introduced the twins on ZooBorns shortly after their second neonatal exam last month.

As a first-time mom, Hazel continues to provide attentive care in an indoor, climate-controlled den where she can nurse and bond with her cubs in a quiet environment; the den is off view to zoo guests. Yukiko does not yet have contact with his new family, but introductions will be planned in the near future.

The zoo anticipates putting Hazel and her cubs in their exhibit habitat by mid-October and the community will be invited to participate in a public naming later this summer.

Red Pandas share a name with Giant Pandas, but recent studies suggest they are closely related to Skunks, Weasels and Raccoons. An endangered species, fewer than 10,000 Red Pandas remain in their native habitat of bamboo forests in China, the Himalayas, and Myanmar. They share part of their range with Giant Pandas. Their numbers are declining due to deforestation, increased agriculture and cattle grazing, and continuing pressure from growing human populations.

Woodland Park Zoo supports the Red Panda Network, whose multi-prong approach aims to conserve this flagship species in Nepal.


Phoenix Zoo Introduces Rafiki the Giraffe

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A baby Masai Giraffe at the Phoenix Zoo now has a name! The female calf was named Rafiki after nearly 16,000 people participated in an online naming poll.

Rafiki was born on June 26 to mom Imara and dad Miguu. Under Imara’s attentive care, the calf is healthy and strong. The name Rafiki is a Swahili word meaning ‘friend.’

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36763514_10156413769819707_3290074622388600832_nPhoto Credit: Phoenix Zoo

The staff is gradually introducing Rafiki to other members of the zoo’s Giraffe herd. For now, Rafiki and Imara spend most of their time behind the scenes in the Giraffe barn, but they’ll soon be moving onto the savanna habitat.

Seven-year-old Imara arrived at the Phoenix Zoo in 2012 as recommended by the Masai Giraffe Species Survival Plan to breed with nine-year-old male Miguu. He came to Phoenix in 2010 from the Los Angeles Zoo.

Masai Giraffes are one of four species and five subspecies of Giraffes, all found in Africa. Only about 100,000 individuals are estimated to remain in the wild across the continent. Habitat loss, which occurs as wild places are degraded or converted for human use, is the main factor influencing Giraffes’ decline. The species as a whole is listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.

See more photos of Rafiki below!

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Amur Tiger Cubs Hit the Ground Running

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Four endangered Amur Tiger cubs at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo have finally taken their first steps outside.

The cubs, born June 23, were finally snapped stepping out as a family after mum, Naya, spent several days carrying them around in her mouth, one-by-one, to help them discover their surroundings. (ZooBorns shared photos of their first outing in a July feature: “Amur Tiger Mum Takes Cubs for First Outing”)

Team leader, Donovan Glyn, said, “Seeing all four of these endangered tiger cubs out and about, playing in the grass together, is the perfect way for us to begin the summer here at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. They are just as energetic and playful as one-month-old kittens would be, and we can’t wait to watch them learn and grow under their mum and dad’s watchful eyes over the next few months.”

“Naya has been such a patient, dedicated mum, picking up each cub in her mouth, and giving them little one-on-one tours of the enclosure, to help them get to know their surroundings and build their confidence.”

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4_Mum Naya and her cubs (4)Photo Credits: ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

The cubs were born only 121 days after seven-year-old tigress, Naya, arrived at the UK’s largest Zoo and was introduced to male mate, Botzman, as part of the European Endangered Species breeding Programme (EEP) which works with zoos across the continent.

Donovan Glyn continued, “There are only 500 Amur Tigers left in the wild, so we are delighted to have four incredible little Amur cubs here at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. It’s great news for the breeding programme, and we know our visitors will be thrilled to see them for themselves and learn more about the importance of protecting endangered species like these.”

The Amur Tiger (Panthera tigris altaica) is classified as “Endangered” by the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species. Thanks to the conservation efforts of organisations like ZSL (Zoological Society of London), which works with Amur Tigers in the Russian Far East, there are now an estimated 500 Amur Tigers left in the wild, ten times the number that were estimated to exist in the 1940s.

More pics below the fold!

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“For the Win!”- Tulsa Zoo Announces Giraffe Calf

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The Tulsa Zoo is proud of its latest addition, a Giraffe calf born on July 22. Mom, Lexi, and dad, Hekaya, welcomed the healthy male calf.

“The calf was active immediately, and within two hours stood and began nursing, all of which are excellent signs in such a short time period," says Zoological Curator-Mammals, Jordan Piha.

“The labor, birth and hours that followed were monitored by animal care and health staff”, Piha shared. “Keepers remained on-grounds overnight to monitor the new mother and calf, a standard practice with mammal births at the zoo.”

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3_IMG_3650Photo Credits: Associate Veterinarian Dr. Jen Kilburn, DVM / Tulsa Zoo

The Tulsa Zoo first announced the pregnancy on World Giraffe Day, June 21. At that time, the Zoo also announced completion of a million-dollar Giraffe barn renovation. The Osage Casino Hotel Giraffe Barn provides more than double the indoor space, improved facilities for staff to manage a multigenerational herd, and year-round viewing for guests.

The Tulsa Zoo temporarily closed access to the barn’s new public viewing area to give Lexi and her calf privacy for bonding. Hekaya and herd mate, Pili, a nine-year-old female, will be able to examine the new calf from the main yard. This temporary separation allows time for the calf to grow and learn to maneuver a smaller space before moving to the larger habitat with the adults, Piha says.

The young calf was recently given the name Ohe (pronounced o-He), which means, "to win". The Zoo also recently reported that their little “winner”, Ohe, is happily exploring his new world, letting the herd groom him through the fence line.

More great pics, below the fold!

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'Soon-to-be-Named' Snow Leopards Raise Funds

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Cleveland Metroparks Zoo recently announced a naming opportunity for their new Snow Leopard cub triplets that were born on April 22.

Until tomorrow, August 7, fans can cast their vote to help name the three-month-old cubs and contribute to species conservation efforts.

The naming opportunity coincides with the cubs move to the new state-of-the-art Asian Highlands destination that opened at the Zoo in June. Following several months of growth and development, the cubs and their mom, Sombra, are now ready to enjoy the larger and more complex spaces offered by Asian Highlands, including the cub yard with specially designed climbing platforms for younger cats.

To participate in the naming opportunity, guests of the Zoo and fans can cast their vote(s), in person, at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo in the Asian Highlands destination or online with a donation to Cleveland Metroparks Zoo through the Future for Wildlife Fund at www.futureforwildlife.org/cubnamin.

The cub trio is made up of two males and one female. Voters can choose from the following names:

Bodhi – meaning enlightenment

Goji – meaning goji berry, a fruit native to Asia

Nisha – meaning night

Omid – meaning hope

Zara – meaning flower

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4_38036870_10160738858630002_4342707777345421312_oPhoto Credits: Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

Funds raised will directly support Cleveland Metroparks Zoo’s conservation efforts to protect Snow Leopards in Central Asia in partnership with the Snow Leopard Trust. The cub names will be selected based on three names that receive the highest combined donation total online and on Zoo grounds. Online votes can be made at: www.futureforwildlife.org/cubnaming . Voting ends at midnight August 7, 2018.

Scientists estimate that there are fewer than 7,000 Snow Leopards remaining in the remote mountains of central Asia. Poaching, prey loss and habitat loss are the primary threats to this solitary and elusive cat.

The cub triplets were born weighing just over one pound each and now each top more than 13 pounds. The cubs will remain with their mom, Sombra, until they become independent, which typically occurs around 1.5 years of age.

More great pics, below the fold!

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Meet Betty Bantu, Belfast's Blesbok Calf

(4)  For the first few weeks  keepers were giving Ariel and her calf time to bond.  The new arrival is a female who has been named Betty Bantu  after the African Bantu tribe.

Belfast Zoo is celebrating the birth of a Blesbok calf. The latest arrival was born to mother Ariel and father Aurthur on May 28. 

For the first few weeks after the calf’s birth, keepers gave Ariel and her calf time to bond. They recently learned that the calf is a female and have named her Betty Bantu, after the African Bantu tribe. She is the 11th Blesbok calf to be born at the zoo.

(1)  Belfast Zoo is celebrating the birth of a blesbok calf!
(1)  Belfast Zoo is celebrating the birth of a blesbok calf!
(1)  Belfast Zoo is celebrating the birth of a blesbok calf!Photo Credit: Belfast Zoo

Unlike most Antelope species, which hide their young in brush to avoid predators, Blesbok calves walk and follow their mothers within an hour of birth. 

Blesbok live on the open grasslands of South Africa.  They get their name from the word ‘bles,’ which means ‘blaze’ in Afrikaans, a reference to the very broad white marking on the face.  Both males and females have horns which can be up to 15 inches long.

When European settlers arrived in what is now South Africa in the 17th century, Blesbok were so plentiful that the herds were said to stretch as far as the eye could see. But by the 19th century, after decades of being hunted for their skin and meat, Blesbok faced extinction.

Protections were put in place to save the Blesbok, which is now thriving in the wild and is no longer listed as Endangered. The Blesbok’s story shows that conservation efforts can have a happy ending.

See more photos of Betty Bantu below.

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Leopard Cubs Play With Mom

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Using a tiny high-resolution camera, zoo keeper Theo Kruse filmed two little Sri Lankan Leopard cubs playing and nursing from their mother in the family’s private maternity den at Burgers’ Zoo in The Netherlands.

The footage shows the two-month-old cubs, a male and a female, climbing on their mother and jostling for a prime nursing spot on mom’s belly.  The family has access to a spacious outdoor habitat but still spends a great deal of time in the cozy maternity den.

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Lo res LI9A1947Photo Credit: Royal Burgers' Zoo

The cubs’ first veterinary exam, which was covered last month on ZooBorns, showed that the cubs are healthy and strong.

Sri Lankan Leopards are one of nine Leopard subspecies and live only on the island of Sri Lanka. With fewer than 1,000 of these Cats remaining in the wild, Sri Lankan Leopards are classified as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

Burgers’ Zoo has had great success breeding these rare Leopards and participates in the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP) of EAZA zoos (European Association of Zoos and Aquaria). Both parents are genetically valuable to the breeding program because they represent a new bloodline. This helps to keep the European zoo population as genetically diversified as possible.

See more photos of the cubs below.

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Lively Litter of Seven Cheetahs Cubs Born

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The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) welcomed a litter of seven chirping Cheetah cubs July 9.

The cubs were born to first-time mother, Erin. Staff members report she has been attentive and immediately started caring for the cubs after they were born. The cubs appear to be healthy and doing well. Keepers will perform a health check on the cubs when Erin is comfortable leaving them for an extended period of time. In the meantime, the keepers will continue to monitor the mother and cubs closely through den cameras and visual checks to ensure they are growing and developing normally.

“It is really exciting to have such a large and healthy litter of cubs, especially from first-time parents,” said Adrienne Crosier, cheetah biologist. “Two of these cubs’ grandparents also live at SCBI, so they are the third generation from some of the first Cheetahs to ever live and breed here. That’s really good news for the Cheetah population worldwide. A global self-sustaining cheetah population in human care is becoming even more important with the continued decrease of animal numbers in the wild.”

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The cubs are important to the population of Cheetahs living in zoos because Erin’s genes are not well represented in the population of Cheetahs living in human care in North America. This is also the first litter of cubs sired by the cubs’ father, Rico. It is the 12th Cheetah litter bringing the number of cubs born at SCBI since 2010 to 53. Erin's cubs will likely move to other zoos or facilities accredited by the Association of Zoo and Aquariums (AZA) when they are mature and join the AZA Cheetah Species Survival Plan.

SCBI scientists are using a new fecal hormone test to determine pregnancy in cheetahs. Fecal samples from Erin will contribute to this research. Cheetah pregnancies last approximately 90 days, and it is difficult to tell if a female is pregnant until 60 days have passed. However, SCBI scientists are developing a non-invasive test to detect levels of IgJ, a protein synthesized by the immune system, in cheetah feces to determine if a female is pregnant in the first 30 days of her pregnancy.

Cheetahs are currently listed as “Vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. There are only about 7,000 Cheetahs in the wild living in very fragmented habitats. SCBI is building a healthy and genetically diverse population of Cheetahs in human care using natural breeding and assisted reproduction techniques.

SCBI plays a leading role in the Smithsonian’s global efforts to save wildlife species from extinction and train future generations of conservationists. SCBI spearheads research programs at its headquarters in Front Royal, Virginia, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C., and at field research stations and training sites worldwide. SCBI scientists tackle some of today’s most complex conservation challenges by applying and sharing what they learn about animal behavior and reproduction, ecology, genetics, migration and conservation sustainability.