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January 2013

Rhino Calf Gets Bottle Feeding from Keepers at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Greater One-horned Rhino San Diego Zoo Safari Park 4

Keepers at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park gave five-week-old Rhino calf Shomili, or Mili, as keepers call her, a bottle feeding as part of her daily nutritional routine this morning. Animal care has been giving the Greater One-horned Rhino calf bottle feedings since first time mother Sundari has not been able to give her calf all of the nutrition that she needs.

Sundari is a young mother and her milk is not coming in the way keepers expected. Animal care staff made the decision to give a supplemental bottle feeding twice a day to make sure Shomili gets the nutrition a young, growing Rhino requires.

Greater One-horned Rhino San Diego Zoo Safari Park 1

Greater One-horned Rhino San Diego Zoo Safari Park 3

Safari Park keepers give a little TLC to a Greater One-horned Rhino calf, in the form of a soothing mud bath.

Greater One-horned Rhino San Diego Zoo Safari Park 2
Photo credits: Ken Bohn / San Diego Zoo Safari Park


Weighing 128 pounds when she was born December 13, Mili now weighs 245 pounds and is developing right on track, keepers report.

Beloved “Babysitter” Mourned at Linton Zoo


Arnie, a stray cat who became known for his extraordinary talent as a “babysitter” of abandoned newborn animals brought to the Linton Zoo, passed away peacefully last week.  Arnie’s favorite creatures were lion cubs, and he babysat all four of the zoo’s adult lions as well as some of their cubs. 




Photo Credits:  Linton Zoo

Arnie wandered onto the zoo property in 2000 and quickly worked his way into the hearts of the zoo staff.  Named after Arnold Schwarzenegger, Arnie gained fame after photos of him with a lion cub made international headlines.  Even after his moments in the spotlight, Arnie didn’t let fame go to his head.  He continued in his role as a friend to all, greeting zoo guests (especially those who were carrying tasty treats), controlling pests, and cheering up anyone who was feeling down.

Linton Zoo staff described Arnie as a “real live Garfield” whose outstanding personality will be missed by not only the people who loved him, but by his many animal friends around the zoo - especially the animals that he babysat over the years.  Rest in peace, Arnie. 

Meerkat Pups Emerge From the Den at Taronga Zoo


Two Meerkat pups born on December 15 at the Taronga Western Plains Zoo are emerging from the den to explore their surroundings. This is the fifth litter of pups for their mother, Umi, who keeps a close watch on her adventurous pups.

Keepers named the female pup Zola, meaning “love,” and the male Kato, meaning “second born of twins” in an African language.  “The two Meerkat pups are doing well and Umi is displaying all the right maternal behaviours, which is great to see,” said zoo keeper Karen Ellis.




Photo Credits:  Taronga Zoo

Both Umi and the father, Maputo, play an important role in rearing the pups.  Other members of the Meerkat troop pitch in to care for and protect the pups as they grow.  The zoo’s Meerkat troop now numbers 11 individuals.

Native to southern Africa, Meerkats live in large family groups within underground burrows.  Members of the group take turns acting as sentries, standing upright at the burrow entrance to warn others of threats.  When danger approaches, the sentry barks a warning, alerting the group to seek shelter in the burrow. 

Baby Orangutan Makes a Dramatic Entry at Zoo Atlanta

Orangutan infant_full size

A male Sumatran Orangutan infant born at Zoo Atlanta on January 10 came into the world in an unusual way:  he was delivered by Caesarean section with the help of human obstetricians, neonatologists, and veterinary anesthesiologists.   This Caesarian section is one of only three to be performed on Sumatran Orangutans in recent years. 

Zoo Atlanta’s animal care staff planned for this important delivery for months.  The baby’s 16-year-old mother, Blaze, is a small-bodied female, and she had a previous infant who did not survive the birth process, possibly due to Blaze’s small size.

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Photo Credits:  Zoo Atlanta

The Caesarian section was performed by the Zoo Atlanta Veterinary Team in conjunction with a human obstetrical team, a veterinary anesthesia team, and a human neonatal team (including a respiratory therapist, nurse, and neonatal cardiac specialist), all from nearby hospitals and universities.

"It was an exciting honor to be included in this team of specialists to help Blaze give birth successfully," said Sandy Jun, MD, of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.  "It was very rewarding to use our human neonatal skills to deliver this orangutan newborn safely, and we were glad to find that many of those skills translated seamlessly across species. It is not something we will forget."

Blaze appears to be recovering normally from the procedure, and her infant is currently in a nursery unit in the care of the Zoo Atlanta Veterinary Team and primate care professionals. The team hopes to reintroduce the infant to Blaze as soon as possible so that the new mother may begin bonding with her newborn.

“We’re delighted that Blaze’s infant has arrived safely, and that infant and mother seem to be doing well,” said Raymond King, President and CEO. “We’re doubly grateful for the support and participation of such a wide range of outside medical experts, all coming together with our team to follow an extremely well-executed plan with a superb level of professionalism and dedication.” 

Blaze, who was trained to participate in voluntary ultrasounds throughout her pregnancy, has been under round-the-clock observation since her birth window began on January 2. 

The infant’s father, 33-year-old Benny, has been temporarily separated from Blaze but will be reunited with her and his new offspring soon. Zoo Atlanta is home to the nation’s largest zoological collection of Orangutans, now with 14 individuals.

Now believed to number fewer than 7,000 in the wild, Sumatran Orangutan populations have declined drastically in recent years as a result of habitat conversion to palm oil plantations, over-harvesting of timber, and human encroachment. Without targeted conservation efforts, experts predict that the species could be extinct in the wild within 10 years. 


UPDATE: Lil' Lily, Oregon Zoo's Baby Elephant, at One Month Old

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Oregon Zoo's Asian Elephant calf Lily is a little over one month old and has been developing into a joyful, energetic little elephant. You may have read about the baby, born November 30, HERE on ZooBorns. Her public debut was on December 14, when, for limited hours, the public could see her sticking close to Mom Rose-Tu. But even then her personality was evident, earning her the description of a 'spitfire' by her keepers.

Since then, she has grown not only in size but in confidence. She is out for longer hours now with the herd and when not napping, can often be seen skipping, rolling around and playing. She totters in a signature way that has been captured in these stills and on the video below. But she knows she can always return to the safety found under the sturdy legs and bellies of the grown ups! 

Ele run 1

Ele herd 2

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Photo Credit: Oregon Zoo / Michael Durham

See more pictures of Lily after the fold:

Continue reading "UPDATE: Lil' Lily, Oregon Zoo's Baby Elephant, at One Month Old" »

First Indian Rhino Baby Born in Poland at Warsaw Zoo


On Christmas day, Warsaw Zoo welcomed this newborn Indian Rhinoceros with great excitement, because he is the first ever rhinoceros born in a Polish zoo. At birth he weighed in at 121.5 pounds (55 kilos) and was named Byś. His parents are Shikari (born in 2006 in Stuttgart) and Kuba (born in 2004 in Berlin).

In the wild, it's estimated that only about 3000 Indian Rhinoceros remain. They are among the rarest mammals in the world today. While loss of habitat is a factor, poachers are the largest threat to these animals, who, tragically, hunt and kill them mostly for their horns. Conservation efforts are essential to ensure this species survival.

Andrzej Zielinski, from the zoo's Culture Department, said, "The birth of this rhinoceros is one of the most important events in the history of Polish zoos."



Photo Credit: Warsaw Zoo/Ewa Ziółkowska

Little Byś will not go into the outdoor habitat until the spring; until then, zoo guest can see him with his mother behind the scenes thanks to indoor cameras and exhibit screens.  Here he is at bathtime, which the little one enjoys every day.

UPDATE! Woodland Park Zoo's Lion Cubs Visit the Vet

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Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo Lion cub quadruplets just turned two months old and that meant it was time for a vet check. Each cub was carried to the exam table by keepers, held just like their mother would, as that comforting position relaxes them.


Now weighing in at 21 to 23 pounds (9.5 to 10.4 kg) each, the wriggly babies are getting harder to handle, so each were anesthetized for a part of this latest checkup. One cub gave a healthy hiss to the immobilizer mask!


Each of the cubs has most of their baby teeth, which means they are starting to sample solid foods like ground turkey and raw beef. Vets noticed that their little tummies felt less full than they did at their last exam, which is likely because now that they eat some solid foods, they aren’t filling themselves up on mom’s milk as much as they used to.

Each were measured from head to tail to track their growth. All are on target, a positive sign that the zoo can start planning for their debut when outdoor temperatures reach a minimum of 50 degrees. Until then, they’ll continue to live in an off-view maternity den where they can bond and develop in a more controlled environment.




Photo Credit: Photo 2,3,4,5,6: Kirsten Pisto/Woodland Park Zoo, Photo 1, 7,8: Ryan Hawk

After the exam, the cubs were soothed by keepers as each woke up. They were then returned to their mom Adia.

See a video of these babies in action, find more pictures of the cubs and read about the species and conservation efforts to save them after the fold.

Continue reading "UPDATE! Woodland Park Zoo's Lion Cubs Visit the Vet" »

Significant Birth: Sloth Bear Twins Thriving at Tautphaus Park Zoo

Cub CU face

Two little Sloth Bears were born at the Tautphaus Park Zoo in Idaho Falls on November 29. Just about a week before, keepers performed an ultrasound on their pregnant female Sloth and saw a spine and got a heartbeat, so they knew there was one cub. Another ultrasound was planned for the 29th, but when they went to the den to perform it that morning, they saw proud mom Pria holding two cubs: one male, weighing just over a pound, and one female, just under a pound.

Pria has been an excellent mother. She's quite calm when she has had to separate from her cubs in order for them to get their weekly check up. For this Pria is rewarded with LOTS of peanut butter!

Meanwhile the cubs are weighed, checked for developmental milestones and have lots of photos taken to record their progress. And they have been growing beautifully. At three weeks their eyes started to open, and at four, their teeth began to come in. The babies have steadily gained approximately a pound a week, so now, at six weeks old, they weigh just about six pounds each. 

Cubs 1

Cub nap

Photo Credit: photo 1, 3 4, 5: Beth Rich photo 2: Darrell Markum

There are very few Sloth Bears breeding in North American zoos, so this birth is highly significant. Mom Pria, is 4 years old and arrived from the Sunset Zoo in Kansas in April of 2011. Mick, the father, is 14 years old, and arrived from Little Rock Zoo in Arkansas in April of 2011. This pairing was recommended by the Bear TAG. 

The cubs do not have names yet, but the zoo plans to have a local naming contest.

See more photos of the bears after the fold:

Continue reading "Significant Birth: Sloth Bear Twins Thriving at Tautphaus Park Zoo" »

Trio of Furry Bellies: Three Transvaal Lion Cubs Born at Honolulu Zoo

Lion Paws

Moxy, The Honolulu Zoo’s female lioness, gave birth to three lively cubs on Saturday evening, December 15.  Mammal Specialist Robert Porec said, "The birth went smoothly. The lioness and her cubs will remain in their birthing quarters for the near future."

Lion trio

Although Moxy is proving to be a very good mom, the family is being closely monitored by the zoo's veterinary staff -- and the babies are thriving. Last week, keepers were able to separate Moxy from her cubs so they could clean the pen, weigh the cubs and determine their sex -- a process which mom accepted calmly.

The cubs’ weights were 7.36 lbs. (3.34 kg) for the first born, a female, 8.11 lbs. (3.68 kg) for the male, and 6.92 lbs. (3.14 kg) for the third born, another female. They will receive their first set of vaccinations at 4 weeks of age, then again at 6 and 12 weeks. After completing their inoculations and upon the approval of Dr Ben Okimoto, Zoo Veterinarian, they will be introduced to their exhibit (estimated to be in Mid-March).

Lion cub corner

Lion duo CU

Lion face CU
Photo Credits: Claire Fukumoto / Honolulu Zoo

These are Transvaal Lions (Panthera leo krugeri), also known as the Southeast Lion, a subspecies named after the Transvaal region in South Africa where they can be found. Ekundu, the father, was born at the San Diego Safari Park in California, and Moxy was born at the Bronx Zoo in New York. The parents are at the Honolulu Zoo on a breeding loan.

Here is a video of the cubs nursing, taken on January 9, from the Zoo's closed circuit camera behind the scenes.