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February 2011

First-ever Chinstrap Penguin Chick for Moody Gardens

Moody-Gardens-Chinstrap-Penguin-4

Moody Gardens announced the birth of a new Chinstrap Penguin last week, making it the first Chinstrap chick ever born in the Moody Gardens Aquarium Pyramid. “We are one of only four institutions in the country to successfully hatch a Chinstrap Penguin,” said Diane Olsen, assistant curator at Moody Gardens. Olsen said the unnamed chick will only be on display until it learns to walk.  Because Chinstrap Penguins normally nest in beach areas with shallow water near the shore, it is important to keep the chick away from the deep, cold water of the exhibit.  While away from public view, the chick will be weaned from parents Hatcher and Carter, taught to swim and then reintroduced to its tuxedo-clad peers.

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Check out those feet!Moody-Gardens-Chinstrap-Penguin-2
Photo credits: Moody Gardens

Moody Gardens is one of five zoos and aquariums in the U.S. to feature the sub-Antarctic chinstrap penguins in captivity.  Olsen said the opportunity to see this chick is as rare and unique as the bird itself. “Our goal is to let people see these penguins to become more aware of and concerned for them so that when the issues of conservation and habitat destruction arise, visitors will be encouraged to take a stand for our animals and their environments,” she said.


Meet Dora and Diego the Maned Wolf Pups!

Dora and Diego, Maned Wolf puppies at the Houston Zoo

The Houston Zoo is proud to announce the births of two rare Maned Wolf pups. Born December 30, the pups are being hand reared at the Houston Zoo's Denton Cooley Animal Hospital. "This is the first successful birth of Maned Wolves at the Houston Zoo in over 10 years," said Houston Zoo Curator of Carnivores and Primates Hollie Colahan. "The pups weigh just over 5 pounds now and are being cared for around the clock by Zoo carnivore and animal hospital staff," added Colahan. The pups are fed 6 times each day and were just introduced to solid food last week. Maned Wolves are not closely related with any other living Canid (wolf, dog or fox) and one study suggests that they may be the sole South American surivivor of the mass extinction of large Canids at the end of the last ice age. 

Diego's weigh-in

Diego does his best puppy dog eyes at the Houston Zoo

Maned Wolves are native to the grasslands, savannahs and tall grass prairies of Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Bolivia. The species once thrived and ranged throughout much of South America.Unlike other wolves that live in cooperative breeding packs, Maned Wolves are solitary animals. Little is known about their lives in the wild where their populations are increasingly threatened by habitat loss to agriculture.

MUCH more cuteness below the fold...

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Rare Footage of a Papa Seahorse Giving Birth!

The Tennessee Aquarium's seahorse gallery is a busy nursery but actual footage of seahorses being born is still rare. Lucky for us Carol Haley, the Aquarium's Assistant Curator of Fishes, caught this amazing video of Lined Seahorses being shot-outta-Pop (that is not the technical term). Many people are surprised to learn that it's the father, not the mother, seahorse that gives live birth to the young.  In the video, you’ll notice the babies racing away from dad towards the surface. There’s a reason for that according to aquarist Elaine Robinson. “When they are born, Hippocampus erectus fry swim quickly to the surface of the water to gulp air for the primary phase of swim bladder inflation,” said Robinson.  “Lined seahorses tend to be pelagic, drifting near the surface of the water, in search of their prey.” 

In the pictures below, a toothbrush has been inserted for size reference Baby seahorses at Tennessee Aquarium 3

Baby seahorses at Tennessee Aquarium 3Photo credits: Thom Benson / Tennessee Aquarium

Aquarists quickly remove the babies to care for them in backup areas until they are strong enough to be placed on exhibit or shared with other AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) accredited institutions.

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Little Leopard Cub Meets the Snow

Little leopard cub out on the prowl 2

A critically endangered Amur Leopard cub, born at the Saint Louis Zoo on October 8, 2010 made her public debut last week and proved quite adventurous. The little female, Anastasia, has been with her mother, Mona, in a maternity den for the past three months. Now she can explore trees, rocks and even snow with her mother in her outdoor habitat. The Amur Leopard is considered one of the most endangered cats in the world.  It is believed fewer than 40 Amur Leopards remain in the coniferous forests of Primorye Province in far eastern Russia. Loss of habitat due to logging activities, human encroachment and poaching are some of the threats to their survival in the wild.

Amur Leopard ready to pounce 2

Amur Leopard cub gets a tongue bath from mom 2Photo credits: Saint Louis Zoo

The Saint Louis Zoo’s Amur Leopards are part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Amur Leopard Species Survival Plan (SSP), a program responsible for maintaining a genetically healthy population of Amur Leopards in North American zoos. The birth of this rare cub is a valuable genetic contribution to the North American group. In all, the population of Amur Leopards in zoos all around the world numbers just about 300 individuals. This small number and their lack of genetic diversity is a serious threat to their future.

More about Anastasia and Mona below the fold

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