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June 2012

Marine Mammal Experts Work Round-the-Clock to Save Orphan Baby Beluga

Alaska SeaLife Center Bottlefeeding 2b

Four accredited U.S. aquariums have come together in an effort to save a newborn Beluga whale calf which was found stranded in South Naknek, Alaska last week - this is the first time in history that a live calf has been found and rescued in U.S. waters. Marine mammal experts with a combined 125 years of experience from Shedd Aquarium, SeaWorld and Georgia Aquarium immediately answered the Alaska SeaLife Center’s call for assistance to provide around-the-clock care for the calf during this rehabilitation period. The male, 112-pound calf is touch-and-go at this point and considered in critical condition – especially due to his immature immune system, and remains under 24-hour observation.

This is a great example of how the aquarium community comes together to work collaboratively in order do what’s best for an animal in need.

Alaska SeaLife Center Baby Beluga 1

DSCN0923Photo credits 1 and 2 and video: Alaska SeaLife Center. Photo 3: Provided by Shedd Aquarium featuring SeaWorld's Bill Winhall and Shedd Aquarium's Lisa Takaki

Three Baby Burrowing Owlets Hatched at ZooAmerica


Pennsylvania's ZooAmerica North American Wildlife Park has expanded its animal family with the arrival of several new babies. Among them include these hand-raised baby Burrowing Owls that hatched at the end of May. The fertile eggs were brought to ZooAmerica from the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. Unlike other owls, burrowing owls are active during the day and nest in the ground. The three Burrowing Owl chicks are currently in a holding area in the Animal Health Center, with plans to introduce two of them to The Great Southwest region in the future. The third owl will reside in the Zoo’s education department for outreach and onsite programming. The Zoo currently has one resident burrowing owl on exhibit. 

Like many zoos, ZooAmerica keeps most newborns off exhibit until the Zoo naturalists determine if the animal has matured enough to be placed on exhibit or sent to another zoo. These animals are kept in the Zoo’s Animal Health Center, where they are monitored and cared for daily. 


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Meet Rosamond Gifford Zoo's First Baby Fennec Foxes in 21 Years!


Syracuse, New York's Rosamond Gifford Zoo announced today the first birth of Fennec Fox kits in 21 years. The birth is a great breeding success for a species which is notoriously difficult to reproduce. Fennec Foxes are found throughout the deserts of North Africa and the Sinai and Arabian peninsulas. Their nocturnal habits help them survive in the searing heat of the desert environment, and some physical adaptations help, as well.

Their large ears not only help them locate insects, but they also help them to dissipate the harsh desert heat. Long, bushy tails serve as built in scarves which Fennecs wrap around their noses to keep warm when temperatures drop at night.



Photo credit: Amelia Beamish, taken at Rosamond Gifford Zoo

Fennec Foxes are part of a Species Survival Plan (SSP) - a collaborative effort between the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and zoos around the world to help ensure their survival.

See many more pictures and learn more beneath the fold...

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Chapman's Zebra Foal the Fourty-Fifth for Cotswold Park


A Chapman’s zebra foal, only a few weeks old, stays near its mother while taking in the surroundings of its new home at Cotswold Wildlife Park in Oxfordshire.The as yet unnamed foal was born on 5th June to twelve year old first-time mother Sarah. As one of the oldest and lowest ranking females in the group, Sarah hadn’t previously shown any signs of interest in mating with Dampy, the foal’s father, so it was to some surprise when she became pregnant. Usually dominant females within the group give birth, so the foal is an unexpected delightful addition to the herd. This new arrival marks the Park’s forty- fifth zebra birth.

Jamie Craig, Curator of Cotswold Park said, “We are always delighted with any birth at the Park but to arrive at work to the sight of a new born foal ambling around the zebra and rhino paddock was especially satisfying – watching the youngster settling in with the herd and familiarizing itself with the rhino under the watchful eye of its mother was a real treat for the visitors on the day. We look forward to watching it develop, hopefully with slightly more “African” weather!”

The new foal shares its large paddock not only with its family of Chapman’s zebras (Equus burchellii chapmanni) but with three white rhinos. Both fascinating species have been at the Park for over thirty years. 


It's a Boy! Birth of Sumatran Rhino Calf a Collaborative Conservation Success


The International Rhino Foundation (IRF) and the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden are pleased to announce the birth of a bouncing baby boy Sumatran rhino! The calf was born to mother, “Ratu”, a 12-year-old Sumatran rhino living at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary in Indonesia’s Way Kambas National Park and father, “Andalas,” born at the Cincinnati Zoo in 2001 and the first Sumatran Rhino calf born in captivity in 112 years.  In 2007 he was sent to the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary with hopes that he would eventually sire calves with one or more of the females at the Sanctuary. 

The baby was born on June 23 and weighs 60-70 pounds. He was attended by Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary veterinarians, Ratu’s keepers and advisors from the Cincinnati Zoo and Taronga Conservation Society Australia. Ratu gave birth after two hours of second-stage labor and several days of restlessness. The calf stood about an hour after birth and began nursing almost immediately. Ratu is a very good mother and the baby is healthy and active.

“To say that we are thrilled is an understatement,” said Dr. Terri Roth, Vice President of Conservation and Science and Director of the Cincinnati Zoo’s Lindner Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW). “When we celebrated the monumental birth of Andalas at the Cincinnati Zoo in 2001, we never imagined he would play such a pivotal role in the survival of his species.  This international collaboration is conservation work at its finest.” Dr. Roth has been working in SE Asia for over a decade.

There are currently fewer than 200 Sumatran rhinos living in Indonesia and Malaysia. This is the first birth of a Sumatran rhino in an Indonesian facility and the first birth in an Asian facility in 124 years.



Photo Credit: International Rhino Foundation


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Seven Pups for Perth!


Last week Perth Zoo celebrated an important milestone when their seven African Painted Dog pups emerged from the den for the first time and received a clean bill of health. The veterinary check-up included weighing, determining sex, adding microchips and noting each pup's unique markings. 

Unlike most canines, African Wild Dogs allow their their pups to eat first and, in the case of young pups, feed them directly. The Zoo's Environment Minister, Bill Marmion, explained “The adult dogs have been regurgitating their meals to help feed the pups. This is natural behavior that ensures the young develop and become part of the group.”


APD-Pups-2012-3weeks_0065_edited003Photo and video credits: Perth Zoo

In the wild these unique animals are endangered due to poaching, car accidents and disease among other threats. Learn more about these unique animals on the Perth Zoo website. More photos below the fold.

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Portly Penguin Chicks Waddle into Tennessee

Macaroni Penguin Chick Tennessee Aquarium 1

Tennessee Aquarium aviculturists (bird keepers!) have their hands full caring for a pair of Macaroni Penguin chicks. “These baby penguins are absolutely adorable with fuzzy flippers, oversized feet and pudgy little bellies,” said senior aviculturist Amy Graves. “They are portly, but that’s great. We like to see vocal chicks that spend a good part of their day begging their parents for food.”

The first baby was born on May 24th to parents Hercules and Shamrock. This is their first chick at the Aquarium and the parents appear to be very diligent, although they don’t share the same duties. “Hercules is the protector. He only feeds the chick about 10 percent of the time,” said aviculturist Loribeth Aldrich. “But he is constantly watching over the baby even when mom is in the nest.” Fortunately, Aldrich says Shamrock really has a strong feeding instinct that more than satisfies a very vocal, and very hungry chick. “Normally chicks will beg and beg for food, but I’ve actually seen her feed this chick so full that he just stops begging,” said Aldrich. “He’s like, I’ve had enough.” Aquarium guests can see this baby penguin near the center of the exhibit inside an acrylic “playpen” which keeps it from accidently going into the water before it grows large enough to do so safely.

Macaroni Penguin Chick Scale 1

Baby Macaroni Penguin Chick 3

Paulie and Chaos, the Macaroni pair that successfully raised “Pepper” - the Aquarium’s first-ever baby penguin, are in a backup area with their chick. Paulie was involved in a scuffle with at least one other male early in the breeding season. “Aggressive behavior among males is not uncommon while they are building nests, so this couple was moved to a backup area for what was supposed to be a short time,” said Aldrich. “But when Chaos laid her second egg in this backup area, we decided they were comfortable enough to stay there until we saw what would happen with the egg. Now it looks like they’ll stay here until this chick is big enough to go on exhibit.” Both of the parents get time with the rest of the colony to swim and then they head back to feed and tend to their chick. As proven parents, they continue to feed this chick well.

Macaroni Penguin Chicks at Tennessee Aquarium 2Senior aviculturist Amy Graves and aviculturist Loribeth Aldrich hold the Tennessee Aquarium’s two new macaroni penguin babies

Keepers will continue to monitor the progress of both chicks closely as there are still many potential pitfalls for young birds to overcome. But if they continue to progress as quickly as they’ve started, Aquarium guests might see them outside the nests in a few weeks. “We’ll begin supervised walkabouts with the other penguins when their swim feathers grow in,” said Graves. “But even then we’ll have to see how the other birds react to the newcomers.”

Three Little Lemurs Thriving at Duke Lemur Center


Red Ruffed Lemur triplets were born May 10 to mom, Pyxis, and dad, Hunter, at the Duke Lemur Center at Duke University in North Carolina. There are two males and one female and they are all healthy and well.  Whereas last week Pyxis was still carrying them in her mouth, and on nice days might take them to a high shelf on her outdoor habitat,  they are now at the stage where they are making their first independent, albeit clumsy, forays away from their mom and the laundry basket that has served as their nest.

Hunter has been locked inside from free-ranging and is living in an adjacent area. He has been introduced to Pyxsis and their offspring. While he doesn’t interact with them much, he does appear to stand guard over them on the rare occasions when Pyxis leaves to eat. Male guarding behavior in Ruffed Lemurs is fairly common.

Nurse 2


Photo Credit: Duke Lemur Center

Rare Onager Foal an Important Birth at Chester Zoo


Chester Zoo in England is celebrating the arrival of a very special foal: a rare Onager. The unnamed male was born to first time mom Zarrin on June 10. Tim Rowlands, Curator of Mammals, said, “Our young Onager is doing very, very well and Zarrin is proving to be a natural mother."

Related to the domestic donkey, the onager is an Asiatic Wild Ass, which lives in the semi-desert regions of Iran. Once common in most of the central and southern plains of Iran, Onagers are now found in just two protected areas. Threatened by illegal poaching, overgrazing and disease passed from domestic livestock, there are believed to be around just 400 left in the wild and very few zoos in the world keep the species.

However, Chester is part of an international conservation scheme and thanks to the success of a breeding program is helping to ensure these beautiful animals are not lost forever. "The species is critically endangered and so the new foal is a valuable addition to the safety net population found in zoos," Rowlands added. "Sadly, as the rarest species of equid in the world, there is a very real possibility that they could become extinct in the wild and so constant conservation attention is required to secure the future of the species.”

CU mom


Photo Credit: Chester Zoo

Wide-eyed Lemur Triplets for Binder Park Zoo!

Baby Ruffed Lemur Binder Park Zoo 1

It’s triplets at Binder Park Zoo! Phin and John, the Zoo’s pair of Black and White Ruffed Lemurs, have their hands full. On Sunday April 29th, Phin, a 7 year old female, gave birth to three healthy Black and White Ruffed Lemur babies.This is a significant birth for this endangered species and is only the second time in 35 years that Binder Park has welcomed baby Ruffed Lemurs. Black and White Ruffed Lemurs have a gestation of around 3 months and usually have twins but can have up to six babies at once.

Ruffed Lemurs are from Eastern Madagascar and live in evergreen rainforests. In the wild, female lemurs usually build a nest 60 to 80 feet high in trees. Phin was given the choice of several man-made nest boxes in her indoor holding area. She routinely moves the babies from nest to nest, as she would in the wild. The babies are fully mobile and do not cling to their mother as many other lemur infants do. The babies will stay in the nest for several weeks but mature rapidly so they can travel with their mother in search for food. 

Baby Ruffed Lemur Binder Park Zoo 2

Ruffed Lemurs eat lots of fruit, but will also eat leaves, nectar, flowers, fungi and even dirt! Fathers take no part in child care, but the triplets are old enough to be introduced back to their father, John, and they should be a compatible social group.