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September 2012
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October 2012

Turtle hatchlings part of 20-year success story at Oregon Zoo


Western Pond Turtles are making a comeback, and these week-old hatchlings at the Oregon Zoo are destined to aid in the species’ recovery.

For more than two decades the Oregon Zoo has been working to restore this species to its historic range, which once extended from Baja California to Puget Sound.  As a result, Western Pond Turtle (Actinemys marmorata) numbers are on the rise.  This species, which can live up to 70 years, has been profoundly affected by the construction of river dams, invasive plants, predation, and draining of wetlands.

Oregon zoo credit



In 1990, the Western Pond Turtle “head-starting” project was initiated, which accelerates turtles’ natural growth rates, and thus their ability to withstand predation. The Oregon Zoo collaborates with Woodland Park Zoo and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Other partners include Bonneville Power Administration and the U.S. Forest Service.

Each spring, scientists count, trap, mark and fit transmitters on adult females in the wild.  In summer, the females are monitored and nest sites are identified.  Hatchlings are collected in the fall to be cared for at the zoo.  Juveniles, some of whom are fitted with transmitters, are returned to the wild the following spring.

The first turtles released in 1991 in the Columbia River Gorge are reproducing and laying eggs in the wild. Over the past two decades, approximately 1,500 turtles have been released, and with good results: the gorge turtle population ranged from a low of 150 in 1990 to approximately 1,500 in 2011. Scientists tracking them estimate that 95 percent of the turtles released to sites in the Columbia River Gorge have survived.

Photo Credits: Carli Davidson, courtesy of the Oregon Zoo (top photo) and Michael Durham, courtesy of the Oregon Zoo


Mouth to Snout CPR Saves Tiny Tapir

Baby Tapir Dumadi at Denver Zoo 1

A newborn Malayan Tapir calf is alive and doing well thanks to the heroic efforts of two Denver Zoo staff members. On September 3, Denver Zoo's female Tapir, Rinny, gave birth inside the Rhino/Tapir building of Toyota Elephant Passage. Staff watched as Rinny unsuccessfully attempted to free the infant from inside its amniotic sac. Assistant Curator of Toyota Elephant Passage Rebecca McCloskey safely separated mother and calf then freed the newborn from the sac for inspection. Together with staff veterinarian Gwen Jankowski, they began providing mouth to snout rescue breaths and manually stimulated the baby for regular breathing and in order to expel liquid from his lungs. After a few minutes of rescue efforts, the infant successfully began to breathe on his own. The scene was captured on video tape inside the zoo's Toyota Elephant Passage exhibit.

"It's always a little scary when something like this happens, but thankfully we all have great resources and training," says McCloskey. "It was such a relief to see him finally take those first breaths."

Baby Tapir Dumadi at Denver Zoo 3

Baby Tapir Dumadi at Denver Zoo 2Photo credits: Denver Zoo

Thanks to the zoo staffers' efforts, the young infant named Dumadi is now walking and swimming just fine. The Tapir is currently doing well with his mother behind the scenes. This is the first birth of his species at the zoo and the first birth of any species in Toyota Elephant Passage.

Dumadi, named for the Indonesian word meaning "becoming," is the first birth for both Rinny and his father, Benny. Benny was born at the City of Belfast Zoo in Ireland in 2006 and arrived at Denver Zoo from Toronto Zoo in 2007. Rinny was born at Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo in 2007 and came to Denver Zoo from there in 2010. The two were paired under recommendation of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) which ensures healthy populations and genetic diversity among zoo animals. Fortunately, the couple has proved to be an excellent match.

See the rescue and the baby's first swim below!

As adults, Malayan Tapirs have a distinctive color pattern that some people say resembles an Oreo cookie, with black front and back parts separated by a white or gray midsection. This provides excellent camouflage that breaks up the Tapir's outline in the shadows of the forest. By contrast, young Tapirs have color patterns that more resemble brown watermelons with spots and stripes which help them blend into the dappled sunlight and leaf shadows of the forest and protect them from predators.

Though they are most closely related to horses and rhinos, Tapirs are similar in build to pigs, but significantly larger. Malayan Tapirs have a large, barrel shaped body ideal for crashing through dense forest vegetation. Their noses and upper lips are extended to form a long prehensile snout similar to a stubby version of an elephant's trunk. Malayan Tapirs are the largest of the four Tapir species. They stand more than 3-feet-tall and can stretch from between 6 to 8-feet-long. They can also weigh more than 1,100 pounds. They are also excellent swimmers and spend much of their time in water. They can even use their flexible noses as snorkels!

Malayan Tapirs are the only Tapir native to Asia. Once found throughout Southeast Asia, they now inhabit only the rainforests of the Indochinese peninsula and Sumatra. With a wild population of less than 2,000 individuals they are classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to habitat loss and hunting.

Hip Hippo Hooray!


On September 8th, Zoo Wroclaw welcomed a baby Pygmy Hippopotamus. This is the third calf for parents Elpunia and Carlos. The female calf stays close to her mother and has been seen trying to eat veggies and leaves. According to zoo officials, the small but fearless hippo took a bath in a swimming pool during her first day of life. Pygmy Hippos are endangered due to habitat destruction. It is estimated that fewer than 3,000 remain in the wild.




Photo credit: Marcin Matuszak / Zoo Wroclaw

Twin Sooty Owls Ace Training at Taronga Zoo

Sooty two

Taronga Zoo has got a new pair of Sooty Owlets that are charming those who have seen them. The chicks arrived at the zoo in August and have grown tremendously since then. From tiny, almost down-less chicks, they are now really beginning to look like owls, developing their distinctive heart shaped faces-- and showing individual personalities too.

At the QBE Free-flight Bird Show, Grey, their trainer, has been raising the pair of chicks to be ambassadors for their wild cousins, but they’re already capturing the imagination of those lucky enough to see them behind-the-scenes. 

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Sootys in bin x

Sootys w trainer

Photo credit: Lorinda Taylor

Also known as the Greater Sooty Owl, this bird is largely found in south-eastern Australia, the rain forests of New Guinea. The females are lighter colored than the males, and larger, measuring 14.5-17 inches (37-43 cm) long and weighing 1.6-2.2 pounds (750-1000 gm); whiile the males length is about the same, they weigh only 1.1-1.5 pounds (500-700 gm). Both have a wingspan of almost 12-16 inches (30-40 cm).

They get their name from the dark gray silver or sooty black feathering on their faces with a heavy black edge. The upper part of the owl is black to dark gray and the under part is lighter, with spots on their wing feathers. The tail is short and the legs are feathered large black talons.

Their call is a piercing shriek which can last up to two seconds. They are nocturnal and hide in hollow tree trunks, caves and in tall trees with heavy foliage.

 See more pictures of the Sooty Owlets after the fold:

Continue reading "Twin Sooty Owls Ace Training at Taronga Zoo" »

Un, Deux, Trois Cheetah Cubs, Born in France at La Palmyre Zoo

Che 1

On September 22, something exciting happened: three female cheetah cubs were born at La Palmyre Zoo in France. Mom Nandi's gestation lasted 91 days. At birth, the cubs weighed between .95 and 1.05 pounds (435-480 grams). Now, at 3 weeks old, they weigh almost 4.5 pounds (2 kilos). Watch them being weighed on the video below. The cubs have also opened their eyes - the first after 8 days, the last on day 12. 

This is the third litter for 8-year-old mother Nandi, and these births are very good news for the European captive breeding program of cheetahs. The species is listed as "vulnerable" on the UICN Red List. It is threatened by habitat destruction, conflicts with humans (and thus hunting), competition with other large predators, like lions and hyenas, and due to the lack of genetic diversity within the species. 

The cubs father, Roucky, is 3.5 years old and was transferred to La Palmyre last spring from the Wadi Al Safa Wildlife Centre in UAE. 

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Che scale

Che weigh cu

Che weigh cu side

Photo credit: F. Perroux/La Palmyre ZooL

2012 is also the 20th anniversary of the first cheetah birth at La Palmyre Zoo. Between 1992 and 2012, the zoo has registered more than 70 cheetah births. This success rewards the efforts of Zoo Palmyre vet Thierry Petit, who implemented a specific protocol consisting in separating females from males on a regular basis in order to stimulate heats and matings.

Che trio

With Only 600 Remaining In the Wild, A Baby Black Rhino Bolsters Captive Population


Chester Zoo has welcomed a very important baby - a Black Rhino calf. She may not have a name yet but she does have an important role to play as the two-week-old is another step towards sustaining a Black Rhino population which, in the wild, has been ravaged by poachers.

Keeper Helen Massey said, "She's a very attentive mum. She is doing everything right and both her and her calf seem very, very happy.” The birth brings the number of critically-endangered Black Rhinos housed by the zoo to eight. Mrs Massey added, "Black rhino face a very real threat of extinction and so every birth is vital to ensure their survival.



Photo credit: Chester Zoo

Continue reading "With Only 600 Remaining In the Wild, A Baby Black Rhino Bolsters Captive Population" »

Giants Fans: San Francisco Zoo Has a New "Rally" Baby!


A black and orange baby arrived at the San Francisco Zoo in synch with the baseball Giants' playoff success. The good luck baby is a female Francois' Langur Monkey. She is the 17th of her kind to be born at the zoo since 1985. San Fransisco is one of the most successful zoos at breeding this rare monkey, of which only around 2000 remain in the wild.

Parenting duties are shared amongst females in the Langur group. This gives mom a break and allows the infant's aunts and sisters to gain valuable mothering experience. The baby will remain orange and black for the next three to sixth months.




Photo credit: Marianne Hale / SF Zoo



Live Tweet of Giraffe Birth From Cincinnati Zoo; Now Help Name Her!

Gir face

It's a girl! Ohio's Cincinnati Zoo welcomed a new baby Masai Giraffe early Friday morning, October 12. Mom Tessa gave birth at about 8:30 a.m. after a two hour labor. Only 52 minutes after birth, the calf was standing, interacting with her mom and Dad Kimba, and nursing successfully.

The zoo live-Tweeted the entire series of events with a variety of pictures which helped the public share in the excitement, starting from when Tessa went into labor. Keepers updated as the baby was coming out and up until baby was cleaned by mom and stood up. 

And just yesterday the zoo announced that name suggestions for the baby giraffe will be accepted on their Facebook and Twitter pages through end of day on Wednesday, October 17. Then, on October 18, the zoo will post the top three names, chosen by zoo staff, on its Facebook page, where you can vote for your favorite! The winning name will be announced on Friday, October 19! 

Gir belly Cin Zoo Giraffe 1

Photo Credit: Cincinnati Zoo

The newborn was given time to bond with mom and the herd over the weekend, and on Monday, October 15, went on exhibit. Zoo visitors can view the family through windows on the Giraffe Ridge deck. 

See more pictures of the new baby after the fold:

Continue reading "Live Tweet of Giraffe Birth From Cincinnati Zoo; Now Help Name Her!" »

Baby Capybaras Born in The RainForest at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo


Just ten days ago, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo welcomed the birth of three baby Capybaras. The new babies bring the Zoo’s group of Capybaras up to six including mom Shoya, dad Budha, and another adult female, Bonita. They can all be seen on exhibit together on the second floor of The RainForest.

Capybaras are the largest rodents in the world. They can grow up to 4.5 feet long and weigh up to 150 pounds. They are native to South America and can be found throughout most of the continent east of the Andes Mountains.





Photo credit: Cleveland Metroparks Zoo