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March 2013

Prickly New Baby Arrives at Stone Zoo


The Stone Zoo, part of Zoo New England, recently welcomed a few new members to their collection. Among them, was a Prehensile-Tailed Porcupine that was born just over a month ago on February 16th. The little one was born to mother Comica (14) and father Elvis (6), after a gestation of roughly six and half months. The breeding was a result of a recommendation by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums' Prehensile-Tailed Porcupine Species Survival Plan, which aims to conserve the species. 

Prehensile-Tailed Porcupines are born with the eyes already wide open, and are able to use their unique prehensile tails, which are used to grip various objects, right away. Babies have dense coats of reddish hair and sharp quills that are around 15 millimeters long. Not surprisingly, there isn't a whole lot of contact between the prickly mother and offspring, and the two only typically come together when it is time for the baby to nurse.  


Photo credits: Stone Zoo

Prehensile-Tailed Porcupines are native to Central and South America. They live primarily arboreal lives, and use their prehensile tail to help them navigate through the forest canopy. In the trees, they forge for their vegetarian diet of flowers, leaves, shoots, and a special cambium layer that can be found beneath the bark of certain trees. When threatened, porcupines will curl up into a ball and shake their spines vigorously to fend off potential attackers. 

San Francisco Zoo Announces Healthy Baby Tiger Is a Girl

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This Sumatran Tiger cub, born at the San Francisco Zoo on February 10 to mother Leanne, has had its first vet check this week... and it was determined that it’s a girl! To minimally interrupt mother-cub bonding, the exam was done in less than 5 minutes, revealing that the five-week-old is in excellent health and thriving under her mother’s care. And since this is a solo cub and there is no competition for milk, the baby has a nice big belly and weighed in at 8 pounds. Her next exam will take place around April 10, when she is 8 weeks old.

The Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris) is classified as Critically Endangered by IUCN and is on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The greatest threat to their survival is the destruction of their habitat, followed by poaching. Currently the wild Sumatran Tiger population is estimated at less than 400. As of September 2012, there were 74 Sumatran tigers in captivity at 27 accredited institutions of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) in North America.

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Tiger nap MHPhotos 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, & 9 credits: San Francisco Zoo / Marianne Hale. All additional photos: San Francisco Zoo

“Since the exam, we’ve been able to conduct brief socialization sessions with the cub to get her used to her keepers,” said Corinne MacDonald, Curator of Carnivores and Primates at the San Francisco Zoo. “As we learned with Leanne’s last litter, she is an extremely attentive mother and allows us in the same space as the cub as long as she is able to watch from an adjoining enclosure.” In fact, as the cub grows and becomes more stable on its feet, Leanne has started to bring the cub out of the nest box a few times a day while the keepers watch and is therefore showing her trust in the people who care for her.

Read more about these beautiful tigers, and see more pictures of the cub, after the jump:

Continue reading "San Francisco Zoo Announces Healthy Baby Tiger Is a Girl" »

Polar Bear Cubs Revealed to Public at Zoo Brno

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Two young Polar Bear cubs have been winning over the crowds at Zoo Brno in the Czech Republic. Although they were born over four months ago on November 24th, the public have just recently been able to catch glimpses of this playful duo, as they have only been on display for the past two weeks. 

The pair, a boy and a girl, were born to mother Cora. She has certainly had her paws full trying to keep a watch on the rambunctious siblings. They are very active and seem to have taken a liking to harassing their mother. They have not yet received names as the zoo is allowing the public to have a say in that decision through a poll on their website. Currently, the name "Nanuk" is in the lead for the little boy, and "Bella" is the lead for his sister. You can make your voice heard in the naming HERE.



Photo credit: Zoo Brno

See many more photos after the fold!

Continue reading "Polar Bear Cubs Revealed to Public at Zoo Brno " »

Ever Seen a Frog This Tiny? Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and Collaborators Successfully Breed Endangered Species

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The Limosa Harlequin Frog (Atelopus limosus), an endangered species native to Panama, now has a new lease on life. The Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project is successfully breeding the chevron-patterned form of the species in captivity for the first time. The rescue project is raising nine healthy frogs from one mating pair and hundreds of tadpoles from another pair.

“These frogs represent the last hope for their species,” said Brian Gratwicke, international coordinator for the project and a research biologist at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, one of six project partners. “This new generation is hugely inspiring to us as we work to conserve and care for this species and others.”

Nearly one-third of the world’s amphibian species are at risk of extinction. The rescue project aims to save priority species of frogs in Panama, one of the world’s last strongholds for amphibian biodiversity. While the global amphibian crisis is the result of habitat loss, climate change and pollution, a fungal disease, chytridiomycosis, is likely responsible for as many as 94 of 120 frog species disappearing since 1980.

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Photo Credit: Brian Gratwicke, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

See more pictures and read much more about these frogs, and the great efforts to preserve their species, after the fold:

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Baby Gorilla Gets a Name at Oklahoma City Zoo


A male Western Lowland Gorilla born at the Oklahoma City Zoo on Valentine’s Day was given a name on his one-month birthday:  the baby will be called Leom, which combines the last two letters of his mother’s name, Kelele, and his father’s name, Bom Bom.

Leom is the first birth for 19-year-old Kelele, who has ben providing excellent care to her newborn. Female Gorillas carry their infants 24 hours a day, never putting them down.  Leom’s father, Bom Bom, was a beloved 36-year-old silverback who died in July 2012 of cardiac arrest.




Photo Credits:  Andrea Wright (1,3,4,5); Gillian Lang (2)

The zoo’s three young male Gorillas, who have never seen a baby Gorilla before, are very curious about Leom.  Kelele, always protective of her baby, keeps her distance from them for now. 

With Leom’s birth, the Oklahoma City Zoo continues its involvement in the Gorilla Species Survival Plan (SSP) through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). One of the SSP's most important roles is to ensure that the Gorilla population remains healthy, genetically-diverse, and self-sustaining.

Trio of Meerkat Kits Born at Paradise Wildlife Park

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On February 14, Meerkat mom Twig delivered three kits at the Paradise Wildlife Park in the United Kingdom.  The little Meerkats, all males, were named Mr. Darcy, Romeo, and Puck after characters in classic romantic stories.  The trio’s arrival brings the grand total of Meerkats at the park to 13.



Photo Credits:  Paradise Wildlife Park

It doesn’t take Meerkat kits very long to become busy, active members of their clan.  At about three weeks old, the kits emerged from the burrow for the first time and quickly learned to forage with the adults.  They now spend much of their day investigating their exhibit and playing with each other, according to the Park’s staff.

In the wild, Meerkats construct a complex system of underground burrows in which they sleep, bear young, and hide from predators.  They live in family groups of 20-30 individuals and often share duties parenting the young, acting as lookouts, and babysitting kits.  Meerkats spend most of the day foraging for insects, bird and reptile eggs, lizards, scorpions, spiders, and small mammals. 

Meerkats are native to southernmost Africa, where they inhabit portions of the Kalahari and Namib deserts, Angola, and South Africa.  They are not considered a threatened species. 

See more photos below the fold:

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It's Breakfast Time for Baby Sloth

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A baby Linne’s Two-toed Sloth, born on February 3 at the Minnesota Zoo, is slowly making its public debut.  The infant is only the second Sloth born at the zoo and is a significant achievement for the Sloth breeding program. 

The baby’s gender is not yet known, and it spends most of its time clinging to mom.  The video below captures mom and baby nibbling a nutritious breakfast of carrots, squash, hard-boiled eggs, and romaine lettuce, hand-delivered by zoo keepers.  In the wild, Sloths eat leaves, small twigs, berries, flowers, fruit, and occasionally insects and small prey.

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Photo Credits:  Minnesota Zoo

Sometimes called the slowest animals on earth, Sloths live high in the rain forest canopy of Central America and northern South America.  Their slow movements allow them to conserve energy and avoid detection from predators like Harpy Eagles and Jaguars.  Sloths sleep, eat, mate, and give birth hanging upside down in trees. They are also excellent swimmers.


Penguin Chick is a First for Minnesota Zoo

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An endangered African Penguin chick hatched at the Minnesota Zoo on March 2 – the first in the zoo’s history.  The chick, whose gender is not yet known, is being raised behind-the-scenes by Penguin foster parents.  The biological parents were not incubating the egg consistently so the egg was placed with this experienced pair.  

The photos below showcase the chick’s rapid growth. From top to bottom, the chick is one day, three days, five days, 12 days, and 16 days old.  The chick has grown from 2.4 ounces to over 1 pound, 6 ounces in that time span. The chick will eventually become an ambassador for its species in the Minnesota Zoo’s education programs.

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Photo Credits:  MIinnesota Zoo


African Penguins live and nest on the southwest coast of Africa, where they consume nearly 15% of their body weight in fish such as anchovies, sardines, and herring each day.  Large-scale commercial fisheries, oil spills, and habitat destruction have killed 80% of the African Penguin population in the last 50 years. 

Catastrophic food shortages, thought to be caused by climate change which has shifted fish populations further away from the coast, have accelerated the decline in the global population by forcing adults to abandon their nests and chicks.

UPDATE! Panda Cub's First Snow Day at San Diego Zoo

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It was all about new experiences as the youngest member of the Giant Panda family, Xiao Liwu, got to play in the snow for the first time today at the San Diego Zoo. The seven-month-old cub explored his snowy exhibit and had fun climbing all over mom Bai Yun, playfully nipping and wrestling with her in the snow.

Over 15 tons of fresh snow was blown into the pandas' exhibit early in the morning on March 19th as part of an enrichment surprise for the pandas. The snow for the Giant Pandas was made possible by generous donors who contributed enough funds to the Zoo's online Animal Care Wish List to provide 30,000 pounds of snow.

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Photo Credits: San Diego Zoo

Watch the pandas enjoying their snow day: 

See more photos after the fold.

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UPDATE! Buffalo Zoo's Baby Polar Bear Romps In First Snow and Takes a Dip In the Pool

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You may have first read about Buffalo Zoo's fuzzy white Polar Bear cub HERE on ZooBorns. Born on November 27 to Mom Anana and father, Nanuq, the female cub has been hand-raised by zoo staff. The results of a recent naming contest recently gave her the nickname Luna. It's expected that this little ball of fur will grow to be close to 600 pounds at adulthood.


Photo Credit: Buffalo Zoo

The zoo is currently raising funds for their Bear Necessities Campaign. They're hoping to raise $18 million dollars to facilitate building a brand new polar bear habitat.

She is too young to stay in the habitat full time, but got her first chance to play and explore in the snow just last week. Watch below as the little one scampers around with her keepers just last week.