Previous month:
January 2013
Next month:
March 2013

February 2013

Penguin Baby Boom at Seneca Park Zoo


The African Black-footed Penguin flock at the Seneca Park Zoo grew by five chicks in the past month. October through April is the peak nesting season and these tiny additions need lots of help from their caretakers.  The Penguins pictured here range from one day to 18 days old.

On top of the normal two feedings a day, parents who are rearing chicks are offered extra fish daily. Zoo keepers diligently record fish intake, making sure each parent has enough to sustain themselves as well as their offspring. Every other day (from hatch to day 80 – when chicks are weaned from their parents) the Penguin chicks are weighed. If at any time a chick falls below an acceptable weight, night feedings are incorporated into the program.




Photo Credit: Photo 1, Kelli O’Brien, Photo 2,3,4: Kara Masaschi

On the days chicks are weighed, keepers also perform a mini physical exam: eyes should be bright and free of discharge, the chick should be vocal and alert, and after a couple of weeks they should be relatively mobile. Just as they would in the wild, parents do all the work, from the moment the egg is laid until the chick is weaned. That said, keepers are the first line of defense if something doesn’t seem quite right within these first, fragile few weeks of life.

In 2010, the African Black-footed Penguin was listed as an endangered species. In the early 1900s, the wild population was estimated at more than 1.5 million individuals. Today about 20,000 birds remain, with a 60% loss of population within the past 30 years. This is largely due to food base declines, competition with the fishing industry and Cape fur seals, as well as a major shift in prey due to changes in their ecosystem. Habitat destruction and oil spills have also contributed greatly to the decline in the African Black-footed Penguin population.

In an effort aimed to help their species, the Penguins at Seneca Park Zoo are carefully managed by a Species Survival Program (SSP). This program is a collaborative effort among AZA accredited zoos and aquariums in North America to breed the most genetically diverse population of this Penguin species.


Orphaned Cougar Cubs Find a Home


A pair of young Cougar cubs found orphaned and starving near Missoula, Montana briefly took up residence at the Oregon Zoo before being transferred to a new, permanent home at Tennessee's Chattanooga Zoo.

Oregon Zoo keeper Michelle Schireman described the 5-month-old siblings, one male and one female, as "intensely cute, but far from cuddly."

"The cubs are about as large as medium-sized dogs, with paws as big as bread plates," Schireman said. "Without a mother, young Cougars lack the skills and resources needed to survive on their own.  They started eating right away the first night they were here."



Photo Credits:  Oregon Zoo

Montana wildlife officials said the pair had been seen around the Missoula area over a period of several weeks, occasionally attempting to raid poultry yards and with no mother in sight. They were eventually captured inside a chicken coop by local residents, who took them to Montana's Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) service.

Montana FWP officials quickly contacted Schireman, who serves as the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' population manager for Cougars, and she worked to find them a home at the Chattanooga Zoo.

Wildlife officials don't know what happened to the cubs' mother, but the two were emaciated when they were first rescued, Schireman said. After two weeks at FWP, with good veterinary care and a steady food supply, they filled out quite a bit. The male cub now weighs 37 pounds and the female weighs 32.

Staff at the Chattanooga Zoo were excited to greet the newcomers.  "They have long history of excellent care and had a space all ready for these cubs," Schireman said.

Cougars — also known as mountain lions, pumas and (in Florida) panthers — live mostly in the western United States and Canada. They weigh from 75 to 150 pounds and have a carnivorous diet both in the wild and at the zoo. Females are either pregnant or raising cubs for the majority of their lives. After three months of gestation, two to three cubs are usually born in a litter and live with their mother for up to two years.

With the exception of the Florida panthers, cougars are not listed as endangered, but they do face many challenges in other parts of the country due to human encroachment and habitat destruction.

UPDATE! Playful Giant Panda Cub's Wiggly Vet Check at the San Diego Zoo

Panda tickle

Six-month-old Xiao Liwu, a Giant Panda cub born on July 29, 2012 at the San Diego Zoo, has become very strong, and isn't very interested in sitting still for his check-up! Despite that, Zoo staff were able to complete the exam on Wednesday morning, which started with Veterinary resident Matt Kinney, DVM, listening to the baby's heart and lungs. It took three sets of hands to measure the rambunctious baby, but the news was all good. 

Xiao Liwu weighed 19.4 pounds (8.8kg) and measured 24.6 inches long (88 cm). He's growing at the expected rate and is very healthy. The cub has also had more teeth break through his gums. This time around, both incisors could be seen. 

While his physique is slimming a bit, he has gained a lot of muscle in his back legs due to climbing trees and all the new activity he does in the exhibit. Despite his improved agility, Xiao Liwu has taken several tumbles while on view to the public. But it's all part of growing up; animal care staff expects the cub to take falls while he's learning to walk and climb. 

Xiao Liwu can be seen at play daily online, via the zoo's live Panda Cam.

Panda ball

Panda 1
Photo Credit: Ken Bohn/San Diego Zoo