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November 2012
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December 2012

Two More Rhino Calves Bolster Conservation Efforts


The Wilds conservation center welcomed two Rhinoceros calves this fall! Born within one month of one another, each young Rhino is actually a separate species. The Greater One-horned Rhinoceros (a.k.a. the Indian Rhino) was born Oct. 14, 2012 (pictured above and last), following shortly after the arrival of a Southern White Rhinoceros born Sept. 28, 2012 (pictured second).


Photo credit: The Wilds

The fourth Greater One-horned Rhino born at the Wilds, marks the continuing success of this southeast Ohio conservation center's breeding program. This is the second calf for dam "Sanya" and the first for sire "Rustum". "Rustum" is part of a group brought from India by the San Diego Zoo in 2007 to bolster the genetics of the U.S. one-horned Rhino population.

“Rustum came to us as a young male and took some time to mature. It is exciting to see that his bloodline will now be represented in the North American Rhino population,” said Director of Animal Management Dan Beetem.

Nineteen-year-old “Julie,” the Wilds oldest female Southern White Rhino, gave birth to her fifth calf on Sept. 28, 2012. The sire, 9-year-old “Fireball,” came to the Wilds in 2008 as part of the Southern White Rhinoceros Species Survival Plan (SSP). The calf is the twelfth Southern White Rhino born at the Wilds.

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Piké The Polar Bear Celebrates Her 30th Birthday at SF Zoo!


Last month, Santa sent 10 tons of fresh snow to help San Francisco Zoo celebrate the birthdays of San Francisco’s two special Polar Bears, Piké (30) and Ulu (32), two of the oldest Bears in accredited AZA zoos in the United States. Since the life span of a Polar Bear in the wild is approximately 15 years, the incredible longevity of these Polar Bears is a testament to the SF Zoo’s commitment to animal wellness and to the specialists at the SF Zoo who care for them. The incredible vintage video below (and these highlight screen grab images) shows Piké's adventures as a cub in her early days being hand-reared under the zoo's care.

Photo and video credit: San Francisco Zoo (photos) Paul Hedberg (video)


Remember that a portion of every sale of ZooBorns' new harcover book ZooBorns: The Next Generation, featuring Siku the baby Polar Bear, goes directly to wildlife conservation. Put a copy in someone's stocking today! Amazon:

First Penguins of the Season Hatch on Thanksgiving Day at Moody Gardens

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The staff of Moody Gardens in Texas had two new reasons to be thankful with the hatching of two Gentoo Penguin chicks during Thanksgiving weekend. Their parents, like all the Penguins in the collection, are identified by number-to-document statistics. Technically 404 and 415, the parents go by the names Stimpy and Porky. They've had chicks in the past but these two are the first of the season.

"We discovered the new chick at approximately 9:00 a.m. on Thanksgiving day,” said Moody Gardens biologist Hector Morale. “As we were changing light bulbs and cleaning inside the exhibit, the parents stood up and we found the chick tucked beneath them in the nest.” The next day, staff noticed the second egg.

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Penguin Wt

Photo Credit: Moody Gardens

The Penguins currently weigh in at 165 and 344 grams. Tests will be taken at a later date to determine their gender. Penguin chicks grow fast and will become full-grown in just eight weeks. The new chicks will be named in a Moody Gardens’ Facebook fan page contest launched yesterday. Click that link if you'd like to particiapte. In the mean time, you can watch the penguins on the Live Penguin Cam, if you aren't able to visit in person.

Read more about Penguins after the fols!

Continue reading "First Penguins of the Season Hatch on Thanksgiving Day at Moody Gardens" »

Update: Tiny Bubbles for Tiger Cubs!


Everyone needs play time - including this pair of Amur Tiger cubs at the Minnesota Zoo!  Thanks to the donation of a bubble machine from the zoo's "Animal Enrichment Wish List," the cubs enjoyed interacting with these mysterious new "toys!"

These two female cubs had a rough start in life:  both were removed from their mothers when they were less than a day old because they were not nursing successfully.  The first cub was born at the Minnesota Zoo on June 17. The second cub, born at the Saint Louis Zoo on July 1, came to Minnesota on July 19. The cubs were brought together to ensure the best socialization.  Now, nearly off bottles and growing strong, the cubs are on exhibit for part of the day in the Tiger Lair along the Zoo’s Northern Trail.  Read about the tigers' early days here.




Enrichment is a term that applies to novel items introduced to mentally and physically stimulate animals.  Enrichment can include unusual food items, often hidden so animals have to employ time and energy to locate them; toys such as boxes or tree branches; scents like spices and perfumes to stimulate olfactory senses; intensive behavioral training and interaction with zoo keepers; or unexpected items like the bubble machine.

Amur Tigers are among the rarest of wild cats, with only about 350 individuals remaining in the wilds of eastern Russia.  Cubs born in zos are especially significant to the genetic health of the captive population, hence the intense efforts undertaken by the Minnesota Zoo and the Saint Louis Zoo to hand rear these two cubs.

Photo Credit:  Minnesota Zoo

Cheetah Cub Trio Born at White Oak

Cheetah 1

On November 26 a cheetah female at White Oak, a 7,400 acre Florida conservation center, gave birth to three healthy cubs.  The cubs, a female and two males, are being cared for by their mother, Sweeney, a four-year-old cheetah who was also born at White Oak. 

Sweeney had not gained much weight during her pregnancy, so keepers were surprised when she delivered three cubs.  Despite being a first-time mother, Sweeney is expertly nurturing her three babies.  For a first- hand account of the cubs’ birth, check out White Oak’s keeper blog.

Cheetah 2

Cheetah 3


White Oak is one of the most successful cheetah breeding centers in the world, and these cubs mark the facility’s 145th, 146th, and 147th cheetah cubs. 

“Breeding cheetahs is very challenging and with only a small portion of the population reproducing, and it’s very exciting when we have cubs from a first time dam or sire, as this helps keep the population genetically healthy,” says White Oak cheetah expert Karen Meeks. “I’m very happy to see a first time mother so relaxed and content caring for her cubs.”  

The three new cheetah cubs will stay with their mother until they are about one year old.  The cubs will then be separated for placement in zoos and breeding centers, mimicking the natural dispersal process of cubs leaving their mother at that age. 

White Oak works with the Cheetah Species Survival Plan (SSP) and partners at the Conservation Center for Species Survival (C2S2) to sustain a healthy captive cheetah population.

The C2S2 consortium is comprised of five organizations, including White Oak, that collectively manage more than 25,000 acres devoted to endangered species study, management and recovery.  Together the C2S2 partners house over 80 cheetahs and account for a majority of the cubs born in North America each year.  Historically, the cheetah has low reproductive success in captivity, but the space, facilities, and expertise at White Oak and its C2S2 partners have resulted in increased success.

White Oak conserves and sustains some of the earth’s rarest wild animals through innovative training, research, education, and breeding programs that contribute to the survival of wildlife in nature.  The 7,400 acre facility is home to imperiled species from around the world including rhinos, cheetahs, and the elusive okapi. 

Photo Credit:  Brandon Speeg/White Oak