Important White Rhino Birth at The Wilds

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The Wilds welcomed a female Southern White Rhinoceros calf born in the pasture during the afternoon of October 5. The calf is the second fifth-generation White Rhino to be born outside of Africa (both fifth-generation calves were born at The Wilds).

The new calf was born to second-time mother, Anan, and first-time father, Roscoe. Anan’s first calf, a male named Letterman (born at The Wilds in 2014), was the first fifth-generation White Rhino to be born outside of Africa.

Anan had a notable birth herself, as she was the first fourth-generation Rhino to be born outside of Africa, and she, too, was born at The Wilds. Anan’s mother, Zen, was the very first Rhino born at The Wilds in 2004 and is still a part of the conservation center’s breeding herd.

The Wilds animal management team members have observed that the new calf is strong and is nursing in the pasture. This is the 17th White Rhino born at The Wilds; the conservation center has also produced seven Asian One-horned Rhinos.

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The breeding recommendations are part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan® (SSP) to enhance conservation of these species in their native range and to maintain a sustainable population of rhinos in human care.

“Every birth at The Wilds is significant, but this one is particularly special to us. With each new generation of Rhinos born, it is a testament to the success of the breeding program at The Wilds but more importantly a success for this species as a whole. The Wilds is proud to be a part of the conservation initiatives ensuring the survival of this species,” said Dr. Jan Ramer, vice president of The Wilds.

The White Rhino population had dwindled to perhaps only 50-200 at the beginning of the 20th century, but through conservation efforts, the population of White Rhinos in their native African range has rebounded to about 20,400 animals. However, even with the increase in numbers, the species remains classified as “Near Threatened” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). All five remaining Rhino species in Africa and Asia (White Rhinoceros, Black Rhinoceros, Greater One-horned Rhinoceros, Javan Rhinoceros, and Sumatran Rhinoceros) are persecuted by poachers who sell the horns for ornamental or traditional medicinal purposes, even though there are no scientifically proven health benefits for its use. The horns are made of keratin—the same substance that makes up fingernails and hair. The International Rhino Foundation, which receives support from The Wilds, estimates that one Rhino is killed every eight hours for its horn.

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Cheetah Cubs Born at Basel Zoo

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After spending months tucked away with their mother, two Cheetah cubs born at Basel Zoo can now be seen by zoo visitors. The cubs have been named Opuwo and Onysha.

Born on July 18 to first-time mother Novi and father Gazembe, the cubs’ birth is the result of careful planning and strategy by the zoo staff. 

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Geparden_mit_jungtieren_ZOB7306Photo Credit:  Basel Zoo

Cheetahs are solitary animals and will only tolerate having a partner nearby during mating season. To encourage breeding, male and female Cheetahs take turns living several enclosures behind the scenes. This allows each Cat to become familiar with a potential mate’s scent, which may encourage breeding.

If a female Cheetah shows interest in a male Cheetah, the zoo keeper must place them together immediately and hope that sparks fly. So far, this strategy has been successful for Basel Zoo with a total of 29 Cheetah cubs born there to date. The first Cheetahs arrived at Basel Zoo in 1936, but the first successful breeding occurred in 1993. Breeding Cheetahs remains a challenge for zoos. Of the more than 100 zoos holding Cheetahs in the EEP (European Endangered Species Programme), only around ten zoos had cubs this year.

It is typical for wild Cheetah mothers to move their newborns to new hiding places, so the family’s move to the zoo’s outdoor habitat on October 6 aligns with this instinct. 

Cheetahs are classed as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. According to an estimate by the IUCN, there were only 7,500 Cheetahs in all of Africa in 2008. This number is now thought to have dropped to 5,000.

See more photos of the Cheetah cubs below.

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Help Name This Baby Otter!

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A male Asian Small-clawed Otter at the Kansas City Zoo needs a name, and you can submit your favorite here until October 20.

The tiny male was born on August 27 to mom Cai, age 10, and dad Ian, age six.  Both parents are caring for their baby behind the scenes. The zoo staff says it will be a few more weeks before the family returns to their exhibit habitat.

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All of the baby Otter names submitted through October 20 will be reviewed by the zoo staff. The top four names will be selected and announced on the zoo’s Facebook page for a final vote from October 20 through November 3. The zoo plans to announce the winner on November 10.

Asian Small-clawed Otters live in wetlands and mangrove swamps in Southeast Asia, where they feed on Crustaceans and Mollusks. Every aspect of the Otter’s body is designed for efficient swimming, including the long, torpedo-shaped body, muscular tail, flattened head, and webbed feet. These Otters are the smallest of the world’s 13 Otter species.

Due to habitat degradation, illegal hunting, and pollution of waterways, Asian Small-clawed Otters are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.  The Kansas City Zoo, along with other accredited North American zoos, participates in the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan to breed rare species and maintain a high level of genetic diversity in populations under human care.

 


Basketful of Binturongs Born at Tierpark Berlin

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On July 21, two Binturongs at Tierpark Berlin became proud parents. Vincent and Fiona welcomed four offspring when sixteen-year-old Fiona gave birth to two females and two males.

The four fluffy siblings have been tucked away with their mother since their birth, but on September 28 they received their first veterinarian exam and vaccinations. Visitors to the park can now see the curious quad exploring their outdoor exhibit.

"The special thing about this litter is that almost all the young animals look the same", explained park curator, Christian Kern. "Only one has a slightly lighter head. Usually, [Binturongs] siblings are quite different in the facial and skin coloring."

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4_22179911_10155585279830149_7434153292353878084_oPhoto Credits: Tierpark Berlin

The Binturong (Arctictis binturong), also known as a Bearcat, is a viverrid that is native to South and Southeast Asia.

Binturongs are omnivorous, feeding on small mammals, birds, fish, earthworms, insects and fruits.

The estrous period of the Binturong is 81 days, with a gestation of 91 days. The average age of sexual maturation is 30.4 months for females and 27.7 months for males. The binturong is one of approximately 100 species of mammal believed by many experts to be capable of embryonic diapause, or delayed implantation, which allows the female of the species to time parturition to coincide with favorable environmental conditions. Typical litters consist of two offspring, but up to six may occur.

It is uncommon in much of its range, and has been assessed and classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List due to a declining population trend that is estimated at more than 30% over the last three decades. The main threat to the species is severe destruction of habitats in their native parts of the world.

The EAZA has established a conservation breeding program for Binturongs, including Tierpark Berlin’s animals. Tierpark Berlin supports the organization ABConservation, which specializes in the protection of the Binturongs, at its Bearcat Study Program on Palawan Island in the Philippines.

"Binturongs are kept in a comparatively large number of European zoos, but their breeding does not work regularly. The pairs must harmonize well in order to reproduce. It is therefore all the more pleasing that our Berlin couple have regularly been up-and-coming since 2003," said Zoo and Tierpark Director Dr. Andreas Knieriem.

Currently, the Binturong at Tierpark Berlin are the only ones in Germany. The four siblings are also currently yet-to-be-named.


Black Jaguar Cubs Learn to Stalk at ARTIS

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The two Jaguar cubs born at ARTIS Zoo on June 28 recently explored their outdoor exhibit. Zoo visitors can now see the male and female on a regular basis, putting to practice their natural stalking abilities and big-cat skills.

The cubs are unique in their appearance. Both cubs have what is known as “color morphism” and are black in color (their father is also black). Color morphism is known to occur in the Jaguar species. Jaguars with melanism appear almost entirely black, although their spots are still visible on closer examination.

Melanistic Jaguars (or “black” jaguars) occur primarily in South America, and are virtually unknown in wild populations residing regions of North America. They are informally known as “Black Panthers”, but they do not form a separate species.

Extremely rare albino individuals, sometimes called “White Panthers”, also occur among Jaguars.

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The Jaguar (Panthera onca) is a big cat and is the only extant Panthera species native to the Americas. The Jaguar is the third-largest feline species after the Tiger and the Lion, and the largest in the Americas.

The Jaguar's present range extends from Southwestern United States and Mexico across much of Central America and south to Paraguay and northern Argentina. The species has largely been extirpated from the United States since the early 20th century.

This spotted cat most closely resembles the Leopard physically, although it is usually larger and of sturdier build and its behavioral and habitat characteristics are closer to those of the Tiger.

Dense rainforest is its preferred habitat, but it will range across a variety of forested and open terrains. Its preferred habitats are usually swamps and wooded regions, but Jaguars also live in scrublands and deserts. It is notable, along with the Tiger, as a feline that enjoys swimming.

The Jaguar is largely solitary, opportunistic, and a stalk-and-ambush predator at the top of the food chain. It is a keystone species, playing an important role in stabilizing ecosystems and regulating the populations of the animals it hunts. The Jaguar has an exceptionally powerful bite, even relative to the other big cats. This allows it to pierce the shells of armored reptiles and to employ an unusual killing method: it bites directly through the skull of prey between the ears to deliver a fatal bite to the brain.

The Jaguar is classified as “Near Threatened” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and its numbers are declining. Threats include loss and fragmentation of habitat. While international trade in Jaguars or their parts is prohibited, the cat is still frequently killed by humans, particularly in conflicts with ranchers and farmers in South America.

ARTIS is part of the European Breeding Program for Jaguars. As a result, the black male and spotted female met at the end of last year, and several coverings were observed. Once pregnant, the two Jaguars were separated again. A female has a gestation period of about three to four months. The female raised the cubs on her own, and after one-and-a-half to two years, the young cubs become independent of their mother’s care.

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Critically Endangered Sisters Hatch at Zoo Knoxville

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Zoo Knoxville has successfully hatched two female Bali Mynahs as part of a collaborative effort of accredited zoos to save them from extinction.

The two females hatched to parents Zane and Kadek, both of whom arrived at Zoo Knoxville as a recommended pairing from the Species Survival Plan. Theirs are the first clutch of Bali Mynah eggs to hatch at the zoo since 1995, and this is the first time Zane and Kadek have successfully produced offspring.

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4_22181651_10159310045400648_8715219188370794436_oPhoto Credits: Zoo Knoxville

Zoo Knoxville is actively working with the Bali Mynah Species Survival Plan (SSP), a collaborative, nationwide effort by zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to save this species from extinction. Currently, approximately 1,000 Bali mynahs are part of the breeding population worldwide.

“We are focusing on species that need our help to make a difference for the future of those populations,” said Michael Ogle, Zoo Knoxville’s Curator of Ornithology and Herpetology. “Every chick counts when you have a population as vulnerable as the Bali Mynah, and the two hatched here in Knoxville are part of a bigger safety net that accredited zoos are working to maintain.”

The Bali Mynah (Leucopsar rothschildi), also known as Rothschild's Mynah, Bali Starling, or Bali Myna, or Jalak Bali, is a medium-sized (up to 25 cm (9.8 in) long) bird native to the island of Bali in Indonesia.

These birds are classified as “Critically Endangered” by the IUCN Red List. They have been driven to near-extinction due to unsustainable and illegal trapping to meet the demand for the pet trade. Fewer than 100 Bali Mynahs remain in their native range.

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Gelada Baby Debuts at Bronx Zoo

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A baby Gelada has made its public debut at the Bronx Zoo. The Bronx Zoo is the only zoo in the U.S. that breeds the Gelada and is one of only two that exhibit the species.

The newest baby was born on August 30, and at only four weeks old, the infant is still clinging to mom and drawing a lot of attention from the rest of the family unit. Altogether, the group is made up of one adult male, three adult females, two juveniles, and the new baby.

“This is an exciting time with a lot of interesting dynamics and activity, with an infant and two juvenile Geladas in our troop in the Zoo’s Baboon Reserve,” said Jim Breheny, WCS Executive Vice President, Bronx Zoo Director, and General Director of WCS’s Zoos and Aquarium. “Being able to watch the social interactions within the group allows visitors to better understand how Gelada live in their family units and behave during the various developmental stages. It is an inspiring sight that transports you to the East African highlands.”

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4_Julie Larsen Maher_2218_Gelada Baboon and Baby_AFP_BZ_09 25 17Photo Credits: Julie Larsen Maher / WCS

The Gelada (Theropithecus gelada) is a primate that is endemic to Ethiopia. They are sometimes called “Gelada Baboons” or “Bleeding Heart Baboons” for the characteristic red patch of skin on their chests, but they are more closely related to Mangabeys.

The female’s red patch becomes more pronounced during the mating season to attract males. The males have a beautiful flowing cape of long hair on their backs that resembles a shawl.

Geladas are “graminivores” (herbivorous animal that feeds on grass). They are unique among primates in that they feed primarily on grasses. Adult males have prominent canines that they use to display to other competing males, and they communicate to each other through a wide range of vocalizations, facial gestures, and body postures.

In 2008, the IUCN classified the Gelada as “Least Concern”, although their population had reduced from an estimated 440,000 in the 1970s to around 200,000 in 2008. Major threats to the Gelada are: reduction of their range as a result of agricultural expansion and shooting as crop pests.

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Stranded Beluga Whale Calf Gets Intensive Care

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A stranded Beluga Whale calf, struggling to survive on its own, was rescued from Cook Inlet, Alaska on Saturday, September 30. The male calf is undergoing intensive around-the-clock care at the Alaska SeaLife Center with the help of Marine Mammal experts from around North America.  The calf is a member of the critically endangered Cook Inlet Beluga Whale population, which has declined to approximately 328 individuals left in the wild.

The solitary calf, estimated to be four weeks old, was spotted alone and distressed by a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office of Law Enforcement (NOAA OLE) Enforcement Officer and Department of Public Safety / Alaska Wildlife Troopers Pilot returning from a helicopter patrol. No adult Belugas were seen in the area. Under authorization from NOAA Fisheries’ Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program (MMHSRP), the NOAA enforcement officer and the Alaska Wildlife Troopers pilot attempted unsuccessfully to encourage the animal back in the water. NOAA helped coordinate the transport of an Alaska SeaLife Center veterinarian to the site to assess the animal's condition. A decision was made to transport the Beluga calf to Anchorage for subsequent transfer to the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward. 

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The calf is currently receiving treatment in the Alaska SeaLife Center’s I.Sea.U. “The calf appeared to have been stranded for several hours and was in a weakened condition; without evidence of major physical trauma. He is able to swim on his own and is breathing regularly, which are very positive signs. However, there are tremendous hurdles ahead. Because this animal is extremely young, there is a high risk of complications,” said Dr. Carrie Goertz, DVM, ASLC Director of Animal Health. With any cetacean [Whale or Dolphin] rescue, particularly with a neonatal calf, survival is estimated at less than 10 percent.

When a stranded animal arrives at the Alaska SeaLife Center, the first goal is to rehydrate the animal. Aminoplex is a formula that helps animals when they are in a severe state of dehydration.  This is the first fluid the calf received upon arrival at the Center’s I.Sea.U. The  calf was 64 inches long and weighed 142 pounds when it arrived at the Center.

The Beluga calf has graduated from drinking Aminoplex to a milk matrix with fish and antibiotics added. The calf actively suckles his formula, but the team is still determining the best way to deliver his meals. A bottle does not allow the calf to gain proper suction. They have found that the calf is able to suckle better from the tip of a wide tube inserted just inside his mouth. (This is not traditional “tube feeding,” in which food is delivered directly to the stomach via tube and the animal receives the food passively, without suckling.)

To best care for this endangered calf, Alaska SeaLife Center pulled together a team of first responders, which included on-site Marine Mammal experts with support from five North American aquariums with professional experience caring for Beluga Whales. Together, veterinarians and Marine Mammal experts at Alaska SeaLife Center, Georgia Aquarium, Vancouver Aquarium, Shedd Aquarium, SeaWorld, and Mystic Aquarium bring decades of hands-on experience caring for, raising, studying and transferring vital knowledge about Beluga Whales, including this critically endangered population. Several of the institutions operate Marine Mammal rescue centers or animal response teams and are deployed when a cetacean requires intervention to give it the best chance at survival – considered even more important when working collaboratively to rehabilitate a member of a critically endangered population.

“As Alaska’s only Marine Mammal rescue and rehabilitation center, our team of experts are responsible for the care of a variety of critical wildlife response situations across the state. To be able to have our expert colleagues assist us with this critically endangered Beluga calf is a true testament to the Marine Mammal community’s commitment to caring for and preserving wild cetacean populations,” said Tara Riemer, President and CEO at the Alaska SeaLife Center. “To witness everyone come together for this very young calf is heartwarming as he is receiving the best 24-hour care from experts across North America.”

 


Orphan Cougar Cubs Make Their Way to Toledo Zoo

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Three adorable, orphaned female Cougar cubs now reside at the Toledo Zoo and Aquarium, in Ohio.

The cubs were all born in Washington state. The state of Washington’s Department of Fish and Wildlife reached out to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) for help in finding the Cougar cubs new homes following the loss of their mothers. There is no information to post as to how the cubs became orphans, but, according to the Toledo Zoo, their plight is the result of "human-wildlife conflict".

Toledo Zoo staff recently made the trip to Washington to bring the cubs back to their facility.

Zoo officials stated that the elder of the cubs, named Rainier, is 10-12 weeks old. She is eating solid foods, weighs about ten pounds, and is from southeast Washington. Rainier has also taken on the coloring of an adult Cougar and lost her ‘baby stripes’.

The younger cubs, named Columbia and Cascade, are approximately three weeks old. They are still being bottle-fed by staff, weigh about 3.5 pounds each, and are from northeast Washington. These younger cubs are from a litter of four. The other two cubs in that litter were sent to a New Jersey zoo.

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Although the cubs are not yet on-exhibit, the public can view the younger cubs during veterinarian supervised bottle feedings at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. each day, near the indoor viewing of elephants in Tembo Trail.

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Rare Baby Chameleons Fit on Your Fingertip

Baby chameleons hatch in Chester Zoo first. Pictured with lead herpetology keeper Adam Bland  (6)

Three colorful Chameleons, so tiny they each fit on the end of a finger, have hatched at Chester Zoo.

This is the first time the zoo has successfully bred the species, known as Cameroon Two-horned Mountain Chameleons. The first in a clutch of three eggs, laid by a female named Ruby, hatched in late August with two more following soon after.

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Baby chameleons hatch in Chester Zoo first. Pictured with lead herpetology keeper Adam Bland  (3)Photo Credit: Chester Zoo

Lead Herpetology Keeper Adam Bland said, “These Chameleons have a really unusual appearance. They’re sometimes referred to as the Cameroon Sailfin, owing to a sail-like flap of skin running along their backs. The males of the species boast two large horns just above their upper jaw which they use for jousting with other males.”

“Even as babies they have their iconic large eyes which, at their current size, may appear a little too big for their body. However these give them 360° arc vision so they can see in two different directions at once and look out for predators,” added Bland.

As the name suggests, the Cameroon Two-horned Mountain Chameleons live at altitude in the West African nation of Cameroon. These lizards are usually green in color, but males turn blue when trying to attract a mate.

Dr Gerardo Garcia, Curator of Lower Vertebrates and Invertebrates at the zoo, added, “These Chameleons are thought to live in just 10 locations in the highlands of Cameroon as they only thrive at a very particular altitude (between 700m and 1,900m), in very specific forest habitat. As much of the highlands of Cameroon comprise of savannah and grasslands, it really restricts their range. Sadly, with that already small amount of available habitat being affected by human activity - degradation, agriculture and climate change - it’s making these Chameleons more and more vulnerable.

“Another big threat to their survival is the international pet trade. Thousands of live Chameleons have been taken from the wild and traded from Cameroon in the last dozen years,” Garcia added. The species is listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List.

See more photos of the little lizards below!

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