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July 2011

2 + 2 = 4 Red Panda Cubs for National Zoo


On June 17, two red panda cubs were born at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C. -- this on the heels of two previous cubs born in early June at the Zoo’s facility in Front Royal, VA., bringing their total to four red panda babies in 2011.

At the National Zoo, Shama, the female red panda, gave birth to two cubs in her den in their Asia Trail on June 17. Keepers suspected that she was caring for offspring when she did not respond to their call that morning. A slight squeal was the first indication of a cub!  Zoo staff left the mother alone to bond with and care for the cubs within their den. On the seventh day keepers conducted a quick cub check and, with a one-minute window of opportunity, were able to confirm that two cubs were in the nest box.

Likewise, red panda Lao Mei at the Zoo’s Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal gave birth to a pair on June 5. Keepers have confirmed all four cubs are female and have opened their eyes.




Photo credits: Mehgan Murphy / Smithsonian's National Zoo

Staff is taking precautions to not interfere with the cubs during this critical time. As the opportunity presents itself, they enter the den areas to weigh the cubs and assess their health. Keepers wear a second set of cloth gloves over their standard rubber gloves, which have been rubbed with nesting material and scented with the mother’s feces to cover human scents. All four newborns are steadily gaining weight and appear healthy.

More pics below the fold...

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Happy Capy Babies Explore Howletts Wild Animal Park

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Keepers at Howletts Wild Animal Park near Canterbury, England were pleased to introduce a new litter of Capybara pups to the park recently. “Capybaras are the largest of the rodent species and have big bodies with short heads and shorter front legs than back legs. Their feet are slightly webbed with 4 toes on the front and 3 toes on the back feet. When they dive they can remain under water for up to 5 minutes!” Said Keeper Joel Bunce.

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Howletts Wild Animal Park has a group of six Capybara; five female and one male. The group has three breeding females and litters are normally weaned around 16 weeks. Joel said: “These lovely animals are great to look after, the pups are so curious at the moment and at feeding time make the funniest noises as they jumble over each other for the food.” Capybaras are not endangered in the wild although their numbers are declining in some areas due to hunting. Their natural predators are large constrictors.

Bat-Eared Fox Kits Snuggle Up

OK fox trio

Five Bat-eared fox kits - 4 males and 1 female - were born on May 4 in their den at the Oklahoma City Zoo. This was the first offspring for both of their parents and the first litter of bat-eared foxes born at the Zoo since 2005. The kits weigh approximately one to two pounds each. 

Bat-eared foxes are primarily nocturnal and the kits are still spending the majority of their time inside the den and out of sight. Lucky Zoo visitors might catch them scurrying about their yard in the early morning or late evening hours as they start to get older and more active. 

Bat-eared foxes can grow to be about 2 feet long and can weigh anywhere from six to 12 pounds. They are a sandy brown color with darker markings on their ears, nose, feet and tails. Their feet have claws perfectly suited for digging, whether going after a tasty insect or hollowing out a cozy burrow.           

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Photo Credit: Jaimee Flinchbaugh

In the wild, Bat-eared foxes live in the dry savannas and brush of eastern and southern Africa and are easily recognized by their huge 5-inch ears. These large lobes serve multiple purposes – they are full of blood vessels that help disperse heat and keep the fox cool, and they give them acute hearing for listening for their primary diet of insects. They can even hear the underground movement of a termite or beetle larvae!

Cheetah Cub Quintuplet gets its First Check-up


Five Cheetah cubs were born on May 28, 2011, to six-year-old Amani at the National Zoo's Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia. Amani gave birth to a single male cub in December 2010. The cubs got their first exam with our veterinarians on July 12. The cubs, now seven weeks old, are healthy and thriving, and they're growing quickly. They now each weigh between four and five pounds. The veterinary team performed full physical examinations to make sure none of the cubs had any abnormalities. They were given their first vaccinations to protect against respiratory and gastrointestinal viruses, both of which commonly affect Cheetahs.





Photo credits: Mehgan Murphy / Smithsonian National Zoological Park

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Second Rare Hatching of North Island Brown Kiwi Chick

Kiwi #2  G. Jones

It was big news when a North Island Brown Kiwi Chick hatched on Mar. 23, 2011 at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, which you can read about HERE. And now, just months after their historic first hatching of this unique bird species, a second hatched on Jun. 25. Only six Kiwis, including the two chicks at the Columbus Zoo, have hatched in the past five years in the whole of North America.   

“The first hatching of a Kiwi at the Columbus Zoo was a notably rare occurrence” said Columbus Zoo and Aquarium President and CEO Dale Schmidt. “To have a second Kiwi hatch, especially so soon after the first one, is further proof our animal care team’s efforts are firmly based on science and expertise.”

The newest chick, whose sex will be determined through DNA testing, is currently being cared for behind the scenes. The first chick is a male and animal care staff named him “Ariki” (ah-ree-kee), meaning first-born or chief in the species’ native New Zealand. Including these chicks, there are now five kiwis at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and a total of 21 kiwis in three United States zoos.

Kiwi #2 hands- G. Jones

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Photo Credit: G. Jones, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

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New Kids on the Block


Two female Nigerian Dwarf Goats were born July 14, 2011 at the Racine Zoological Gardens in Racine, WI. Both kids are doing really well, nursing, starting to adventure away from mom, and learning to nibble on the grass hay provided to them. Mom has been attentive and listens for their calls when they have wandered off too far or calls for them herself when she does not feel them at her feet.  They have not grown into their long lean legs quite yet and thus have not been able to climb the wooden platforms provided but they have discovered that underneath them is a fun place to hide from the older kids when they start to roughhouse.



Get Your Fuzzy Here: Glossy Black Cockatoo Chick Hatches at Taronga

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The keepers at Australias' Taronga Conservation Society have proudly announced a very special new arrival, a Glossy Black Cockatoo chick. The chick hatched on the 25th of May, and initially only resembled a small ball of yellow fluff with one very large beak making it very cute looking indeed. 

First time mother Gloucester was hatched at Taronga in 2004 with the help of bird keepers as her mother had never raised a chick properly before. Poor Gloucester also fell ill 12 months ago, so has really come around to pair up, lay, incubate her own egg and now also be a great mum! 

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Photo Credit: Taronga Conservation Society

At seven weeks of age the chick is doing very well and will be expected to fledge from its tree hollow in around three weeks time. This will be when visitors may glimpse Gloucester and her chick exploring their dense Bush bird aviary opposite the Koala Walkabout at the top of the zoo. 

It has been seven years since Taronga Zoo was last successful at hatching a Glossy Black Cockatoo -- Being both complex and specialised in their needs, there have been many challenges along the way. But they finally led to this very welcome event. 

Help Name Tampa's Newest Arrival: An Endangered Rhino Calf!


An endangered Indian Rhinoceros (also known as the greater one-horned Rhinoceros) was born Wednesday evening, July 13, at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo to second-time mother “Jamie,” in the rhino barn within the Zoo’s Asian Gardens exhibit area.  The Indian Rhino birth is the second for the Zoo in two years, and a significant conservation milestone for the species with fewer than 60 animals in the managed population.

The Indian Rhino calf is not yet named, but the Zoo has launched a naming contest on its Facebook page for the online community to participate.  A selection of Hindi names -- starting with the letter J in honor of mother Jamie -- are below (in alphabetical order). 

  • Jahi (JA-hi)“dignified”
  • Jamil (JA-mil)  “handsome”
  • Janmesh (JAN-mish) “king”
  • Jaskaran (JAS-ka-ran) “good deeds”

The male calf will receive the name with the most votes through Monday, August 1.




Photo credits: Courtesy of Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo

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Koala Joeys Galore for Australia's Dreamworld


Meet the as-yet-unnamed joey Koala, one of a whopping 11 baby Koalas at Australia's Dreamworld’s Wildlife Experience who are getting close to emerging from their mother's pouches . They will be the latest additions to the Koala colony there. Mom Beejay and her little 5 month old joey is featured in today’s post.

While gestation is only 34 days, the baby koala then lives in it's mother's pouch for about another 6 months, where it continues to grow to the point of making an appearance.

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Photo Credit: Dreamworld Australia

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Sleight of Hand Helps Flamingo Moms Rest


On July 13, three Flamingo chicks went on exhibit at Columbus Zoo. In recent years, the zoo has been increasingly successful in breeding Flamingos. Keepers have found that hand rearing chicks makes these typicaly easily spooked birds more manageable in their adulthood. Columbus Zoo lightens the load for Flamingo moms by positioning a wooden decoy egg in the nest after removing the real eggs for incubation. This ensures that the females won't continue to lay, since egg laying is a taxing operation.



Photo credits: COurtesy of H. Misner and Columbus Zoo

Unlike adult Flamingos, chicks hatch covered in a fluffy white down which will remain white or grey during the first two years of their lives. The Flamingo's trade mark pink plummage appears in the second or third year. This trio will be on display for an hour each day (from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.) with the other 32 flamingos in the Zoo's flock. The rest of the time they'll be behind the scenes eating a special formula and getting plenty of sleep.