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October 2012
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December 2012

November 2012

Cub vs. Stream: An Update on Zoo Antwerp’s Little Lion


Zoo Antwerp’s Lion cub made headlines on ZooBorns when he made his public debut about a month after he was born on August 29.  Now the male cub, named Nestor, has started exploring the Lion family’s large outdoor enclosure with his mother, Maouli.  (All of the babies born at Zoo Antwerp in 2012 have names that begin with N.)

As he toddled across the yard, Nestor’s biggest obstacle was a small stream in the exhibit.  After some hesitation, he dared to make the crossing, but alas, he fell in!  His second attempt was equally unsuccessful, resulting in another dunking (even though mom tried to lend a hand – er, paw).  But like the brave little Lion he is, Nestor was undeterred, and his third try was the charm – he made it! 




Baby Lion Growling

Like Nestor, wild Lions face challenges too – though theirs are much more serious.   Changes to their wild east African habitat have caused some Lion populations to shrink by more than half.  Zoos around the world are breeding Lions to maintain a healthy, genetically diverse captive population.

Photo Credit:  Zoo Antwerp

Go Hippo Go! Pygmy Hippo Born at Lowry Park Zoo

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A rare Pygmy Hippopotamus was born November 15 at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo to second-time mother Zsa Zsa. The birth is only the second in the Zoo’s history and is a significant conservation milestone for the managed population.

“The birth of this rare and endangered nocturnal forest species marks only the 55th individual in the managed population within North America and underlines the importance of our conservation efforts with this species.,” said Dr. Larry Killmar, vice president of animal science and conservation.  “With fewer than 3,000 Pygmy Hippos in the wild, each birth is vital if we have any hope of saving this truly unique species.”

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TLPZ Pygmy Hippo born

The zoo’s animal care team has monitored Zsa Zsa and the yet-to-be named female newborn since birth.  The mother appears to exhibiting appropriate behaviors and the calf and has been seen nursing routinely.  At birth, calves are about 20 inches long and weigh about 10 pounds.  Adults average 350-550 pounds, stand about three feet tall at the shoulder, and are four to six feet in length. 

The wild population of Pygmy Hippos is considered endangered.  The species is mainly confined to the lowland forests, swamps, and riverbanks of Liberia, with small numbers in neighboring countries. 

The zoo is holding an online naming contest for the baby.  Voters can choose from three African names starting with the letter Z in honor of mother Hippo Zsa Zsa. The name that receives the most votes through Monday, December 3, will be declared the winner:

  • Zawadi -- “gift”
  • Zola -- “to love”
  • Zuri -- “beautiful”

Photo Credits:  Lowry Park Zoo


Brookfield Zoo Welcomes 58th Giraffe Calf


Arnieta, a 5-year-old reticulated giraffe at Brookfield Zoo, gave birth to a male calf in the early afternoon on November 12. Mother and baby spent their first week together off exhibit to allow for good maternal bonding and to make sure the calf is developing normally.

The birth took place in an off-exhibit area. Soon after the birth, the 140-pound, 6-foot-2-inch-tall calf stood and began nursing. This week they are being introduced to the other females in the herd: Mithra, 22; Franny, 21; and Jasiri, 7, in the zoo’s Habitat Africa! exhibit.






This calf is the 58th giraffe born at Brookfield Zoo. His birth marks three generations of giraffes at Brookfield Zoo, as Franny is Arnieta’s mom. The sire, Hasani, 4, who arrived at Brookfield Zoo in 2010, is on a breeding loan from Lee Richardson Zoo in Garden City, Kansas. The calf’s birth is a very important addition to the North American zoo population because it is the first offspring for both Arnieta and Hasani. The pairing of the two was based on a recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Reticulated Giraffe Species Survival Plan (SSP). An SSP is a cooperative population management and conservation program for select species in accredited AZA zoos and aquariums. Each SSP manages the breeding of a species to maintain a healthy and self-sustaining population that is both genetically diverse and demographically stable.

Following a 14½-month gestation period, mother giraffes give birth while standing, resulting in an approximately five-foot drop delivery for the calf. Within an hour after birth, the calf born at Brookfield Zoo was standing. When fully grown, he could potentially reach 18 feet tall.

Giraffe numbers have declined by 40 percent in the last decade, and there are now fewer than 80,000 individuals in Africa. There are fewer than 5,000 reticulated giraffe left in East Africa.

Additionally, of the nine subspecies of giraffes in Africa, two—the West African giraffe and the Rothschild’s giraffe—are classified as endangered, with less than 250 and 670 individuals, respectively, remaining in the wild. The populations are declining due to a number of factors, including habitat loss and fragmentation coupled with human population growth and illegal hunting.

Phptp Credits:  Brookfield Zoo

UPDATE! Fishing Cat Kittens Play Till They're Tuckered Out at Smithsonian's National Zoo


The Fishing Cat kittens at the Smithsonian National Zoo are growing up purrfectly, spending their days romping around their yard and catching fish! And yes, Fishing Cats do like to get into the water. They use their flatened tail like a rudder to steer them when they paddle around. But sometimes all that activity wears them out and they need to take a kitten nap.

Cat fish

Cat paw

Cat lift

Born May 18 to Mom Electra, the kittens are now six months old. Their birth was an important milestone for the National Zoo, as it was the first time Fishing Cats had successfully bred and given birth there. You can read more about them and see all their baby pictures right here on

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Photo Credit: Photo 1: FONZ Photo Club member Barbara Statas, Photo 2- Smithsonian National Zoo

Watch Out for That Tongue! Baby Anteater Debuts at St. Louis Zoo

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Who's that draped across her mother’s back? Blending in with the stripes and long hair is Sabia (pronounced sah-BEE-ya), a baby Giant Anteater born at the Saint Louis Zoo on August 14. She just made her public debut with Mom in early November.

With a long snout and black-and-white stripes, she’s a miniature version of her parents – mother Wendy, age 15, born at Phoenix Zoo and father Willie, age 11, born at Oklahoma City Zoo. This is the second baby for the parents, whose first was born in 2005. She weighed just 3 pounds (453 grams) at birth but is growing nicely, nursing from mom as she will for a total of 6 months. In the video below you get a look at her very long tongue, which she will use once she begins to eat.... ants!The tongue of an anteater will extend up to two feet to capture their prey.

Giant Anteaters are in danger of extinction in the wild. They've disappeared from most of their historic range in Central America -- victims of habitat loss. In South America, these animals are often hunted as trophies or captured by animal dealers.

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Photo Credit: Rachael Macy/St. Louis Zoo 

Adult Giant Anteaters are the largest of the four Anteater species and can grow up to be 50 inches long, adding 25 to 35 inches of fan-like tail. After a pregnancy of six months, anteaters give birth to a single baby who will stay with the mother until it reaches maturity - for up to two years. The newborn must learn to crawl up on the mother’s back to rest while mom looks for food. Adult giant anteaters will eat up to 30,000 ants in one day. 


UPDATE! San Diego Zoo's Panda Cub Gets His Name (and a Few New Teeth)


If you’ve been following the San Diego Zoo’s Giant Panda cub’s progress on ZooBorns, you’ll know the Zoo follows the Chinese cultural tradition of waiting to name Panda babies until they are at least 100 days old. The cub was named Xiao Liwu, which means "little gift," at a public ceremony held on Nov. 13, 107 days after he was born.

You may also know he has a weekly check up. Yesterday Giant Panda team member Jennifer Becerra carried Xiao Liwu from his den to the exam room where he had his final vaccination. And "little gift" is getting bigger!  He weighed 10.8 pounds and measured 25.5 inches... and the vet saw and felt several teeth coming through in his mouth!

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Photo Credit: Photo 1: Tammy Spratt/San Diego Zoo, Photo 2: Ken Bohn/San Diego Zoo

The animal care staff set out a ball, a chew toy and some bamboo on the exam floor so the cub would have different items to explore. Matt Kinney, DVM, noted that while he's crawling better than in previous weeks, they don't feel Xiao Liwu is yet able to navigate the uneven terrain of Panda exhibits. So he’ll continue to practice his crawling and walking skills in an off-exhibit suite of rooms before he and his mother, Bai Yun, are given access to a public exhibit. You can watch Mom and baby in their den online at the Zoo's Panda Cam.

The San Diego Zoo's Giant Pandas are on a research loan from the People's Republic of China. As part of this long-term program, the Zoo is also collaborating with the Chinese Academy of Science in studies of behavior, ecology, genetics and conservation of wild pandas living in the Foping Nature Reserve.


A Little White Shadow Arrives at the St. Louis Zoo

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A black-and-white Colobus (CAHL-uh-bus) Monkey was born at the Saint Louis Zoo’s Primate House on October 31-- Halloween! Her name is Kivuli (pronounced Kih-VOO-lee), which, fittingly for her birthdate, is Swahili for ghost or shadow.

Colobus infants are born with all white hair and a pink face. In contrast, adults are primarily black, with white hair encircling their face and half of their tail. They have a distinctive mantle of long white hair extending from their shoulders around the edge of their back. Infants will change color gradually until they reach adult coloration at about 6 months. Colobus Monkeys are found throughout the forests of east and central Africa. The birth is part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Colobus Species Survival Plan (SSP), a program to manage a genetically healthy population of black and white colobus monkeys in North American zoos.


Mom Cecelia, age 13, is raising her first baby under the watchful eye of the group’s matriarch, Roberta, age 25, who has two offspring of her own — 1-1/2-year-old male, Mosi, and 5-month-old female, Pili. The family of six, including dad Kima, age 6, is now on view at the Primate House. Visitors can see the infant poking its little white head out to look at its new world. 


Photo Credit: Ray Meibaum Saint Louis Zoo

Baby Giant Otter Swimming Lessons!


Two baby Giant Otters - the first to ever be born at Chester Zoo - have been given their first swimming lessons. The pups were taken for a dip in the pool by mum Icana and dad Xingu as the duo made their first public appearance, after being born in mid-September. Having been looked after in their dens by the parents for the last seven weeks, each of the youngsters is now being individually taught how to swim now that mum and dad are confident that they are ready.

Chester Zoo's Curator of Mammals, Tim Rowlands, said: “It might surprise some to learn that a species so well adapted to living around water actually needs to be taught how to swim at first, but that’s exactly what happens and it’s a really family effort. Dad Xingu has been taking them by the scruffs of their necks and throwing them in at the deep end. And after each has had a little splash mum Icana then dives in and drags them back out. They are such a charming and charismatic species and it really is fascinating to see these swimming lessons taking place.”


Giant Otters Learn to Swim
Photo and video credit: Chester Zoo


While they might be small now, the pups will grow up to be truly giant at a length of 6ft and a weight of around 75 lbs (34kgs).Their arrival has been cause for great celebration at the zoo as it is the first time the species has successfully bred there. This landmark event has occurred only six months after the otters were given access to new state-of-the-art breeding facilities and dens at the zoo – including the UKs first underwater viewing zone for the species.

Tim added: “They’re an endangered species that have rarely bred in zoos before and so we’re very, very pleased indeed. Achieving our first ever successful breeding is a real landmark for us and now, with the excellent new facilities and real skilled keeping staff we’ve got at our disposal, we hope we can play a pivotal role in the future conservation of the species.”

In the wild Giant Otters are found in remote areas within some freshwater lakes, rivers, creeks, and reservoirs of tropical South America, where it is estimated that as few as just 1,000 may remain. Their numbers have been drastically reduced due to fur hunting and habitat destruction.

First Look at Woodland Park Zoo Lion Cubs Toddling Around

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Three-year-old mother Adia and her four new cubs are together in an off-view maternity den at the Woodland Park Zoo, where the family can bond in a quiet environment. Keepers have been monitoring the litter via an internal web cam and are very pleased with Adia’s maternal care and protectiveness.

As a first-time mom, she’s providing attentive care the way a good mother Lion naturally does. The cubs continue to grow and are showing positive signs of good health. The zoo's intention is to leave Mom alone as much as possible without intervening. 

As part of the exemplary animal care and health program for the zoo’s thousand-plus animals, zoo veterinarians will perform health checkups every couple of weeks for weight monitoring, vaccinations, and critical blood and fecal sampling. All four cubs have opened their eyes; each appear to be nursing well and demonstrating increased mobility. The genders of the babies are not yet known.

Watch the video below to see the newborns cubs tottering around! And Mom does something funny at the very end.


Photo Credit: Woodland Park Zoo

White Rhino calf travels cross-country to new home


A male Southern White Rhinoceros calf born on an unusually cold night at Florida's White Oak Conservation Center is now being hand-reared by the staff at New Mexico's ABQ BioPark, thanks to a unique arrangement between the two facilities. 

After the baby was born in Florida on October 30, the White Oak staff observed that the 169-pound calf was slow to start nursing and did not establish a strong bond with his mother, so they decided to hand-rear the calf. 

Because the calf’s father is Bully, a male Rhino sent from the BioPark on a special loan to White Oak, the calf belongs to the BioPark.  White Oak Conservation Center partners with zoos to conserve threatened species through breeding and other programs.





The calf is bottle-fed a mixture of skim and 1% cow's milk with extra dextrose and vitamins added. This formula mimics the very sweet, low-fat milk of Rhino mothers. The baby Rhino is hand-fed around the clock, every 3-4 hours, at the BioPark.

"We are pleased that Albuquerque can offer a good home to this Rhino calf," said Mayor Richard J. Berry, shown feeding the calf in the photo above. "We know that our Zoo will give him top-notch care, and what a great treat for families to watch this little guy grow up."

"The calf is very playful and rambunctious," said Zoo Manager Lynn Tupa, who traveled with the two-week-old calf from Florida. "He did great during the trip, and we enjoyed getting to know him. He loves his fuzzy blankets, which he rolls around on and drags with him."

The calf's first few months at the BioPark will be spent behind-the-scenes as he gets accustomed to staff and the three adult Rhinos Bertha, Lulu and Bernie.

The Southern White Rhinonoceros (Ceratotherium simum simum), native to southern Africa, is the world’s third largest land animal, but nearly became extinct in the early 1900s, when hunting reduced the White Rhino population to 100 animals. Today, there are more than 20,000 individuals. Conservation efforts such as captive breeding have been an integral part of this success story. Zoos and other facilities have been able to provide social, open spaces for Rhino groups to breed and thrive. Unfortunately, poaching for Rhino horns continues to threaten the future of the species.

Photo Credit:  ABQ BioPark