Previous month:
October 2013
Next month:
December 2013

November 2013

Pampas Cats are Second Generation at Bioparque M’Bopicua


Two Pampas Cats born on October 30 at Uruguay’s Bioparque M’Bopicuá are the second generation of these little-known felines to be born at the facility.



DSC_1122Photo Credit:  Bioparque M’Bopicua

With sturdy, compact bodies, Pampas cats resemble domestic cats in many ways.  Because of their wide range along the western edge of South America, these cats are well adapted to a variety of habitats, from the pampas (grasslands) to forests, swamps, and cold deserts. 

Not much is known about wild Pampas Cats, but they were extensively hunted for their pelts until international trade was banned in 1987.  They are listed as Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  Habitat destruction poses the most significant threat to these cats today.

See more photos of the kittens below the fold.

Continue reading "Pampas Cats are Second Generation at Bioparque M’Bopicua" »

Orphaned Fur Seal on Track at Alaska SeaLife Center


An orphaned Northern Fur Seal left in a box outside the Alaska Department of Fish and Game offices is on track despite a rough start in life.



Photo Credit:  Alaska SeaLife Center

The Stranding Team at Alaska SeaLife Center took in the newborn Seal, who weighed only 9.5 pounds, on July 24.  A note on the box said that the pup’s mother had died giving birth.  The pup, named Chiidax by the staff, was underweight and dehydrated.

Today, Chiidax weighs 18 pounds and weaned at four months old, which is right on target for a wild Fur Seal.  Chiidax now enjoys whole fish rather than formula.

Now that Chiidax is weaned, he’s also molted his dark pup coat and sports the cream and brown coat of a young juvenile.

Northern Fur Seals inhabit the Pacific Coast of the United States, the Bering Sea, and the coast of the Russian Far East.  As a male Fur Seal, Chiidax is destined to weigh about 590 pounds (270 kg) when full grown.  Male Fur Seals weigh four to five times as much as females.  Northern Fur Seals are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

See more photos of Chiidax below the fold.

Continue reading "Orphaned Fur Seal on Track at Alaska SeaLife Center" »

UPDATE: Lion Cubs Thriving at Maryland Zoo


A five-week-old brother-and-sister Lion cub duo is thriving under the care of zoo keepers at the Maryland Zoo. 

ZooBorns introduced the cubs a few weeks ago.  Their mother died unexpectedly just few days after giving birth but thanks to round-the-clock care from the zoo staff, the cubs are in excellent health and are becoming more playful every day.  The cubs’ teeth are starting to come in, and keepers have started to introduce meat into their daily diet. 

Photo Credit:  Maryland Zoo

The cubs are not on public display yet, but the zoo expects to hold a naming contest for the cubs soon. 

See more photos of the cubs below the fold.


Continue reading "UPDATE: Lion Cubs Thriving at Maryland Zoo" »

After Fire, Meerkat Family Grows at Five Sisters Zoo

1 meerkat

Five Sisters Zoo in Scotland is celebrating the birth of two baby Meerkats. The pups made their first public appearance on November 12, at two weeks old. It is especially good news after the damaging fire that occurred at the zoo in April. Meerkat mom, Annie, suffered burns on her face but has made a great recovery, and is now settled and content with her two new babies and her mate, Phoenix. It is wonderful to see the zoo's Meerkat family growing!

Five Sisters Zoo is looking for name ideas. You can submit your suggestions at the Zoo's Facebook page. (Bear in mind that keepers aren't sure what sex the two babies are yet!)

Click here if you would like to make a donation to the zoo's Fire Fund, to help them rebuild and recover.

2 meerkat

3 meerkat

4 meerkat

7 meerkat

5 meerkat

6 meerkatPhoto credits: Five Sisters Zoo

The pups bond with dad (photo 6) and mom (photo 7). 

Tiny Dik-dik Plays Big Sister at Chester Zoo

1 dikdik

A tiny Kirk’s Dik-dik antelope, which was hand-reared by keepers after being rejected by her mom, has stepped in to help her much-smaller sibling. Eight-month-old Aluna is now playing the big sister to new arrival Neo at Chester Zoo in England, and the two have struck up a charming bond. 

Keeper Claire McPhee says, "Dik-dik mothers do not always take to their young, and unfortunately Neo and his mum didn’t quite hit it off. But happily, his not-so-big sister Aluna ­- who herself didn’t manage to bond with her mum - is drawing on her own experiences and is being a real calming influence on him. They spend lots and lots of time in each other’s company and she’s really helping with his development in his crucial early days.

“Little Neo is only 20 centimeters (8 inches) tall and a little bit shy, nervous and jumpy around other Dik-diks. But Aluna is dishing out lots of special care and attention and it’s helping him integrate into the wider family group. She’s helping him to settle in nicely and it’s lovely to see.”

2 dikdik

3 dikdik

4 dikdik

5 dikdikPhoto credits: Chester Zoo

The Kirk's Dik-dik is native to Kenya, Tanzania and Namibia and is named after the sound it makes when fleeing danger. They can live for up to 10 years and reach a maximum size of about 16 inches (40 cm) tall, making them one of the smallest antelope species in the world. 

The tiny new arrival, born October 10, now weighs little more than a bag of sugar at 2.8 pounds (1.3 kg). Keepers chose the name Neo as it means ‘gift’ in Swahili. Aluna, born in February, was previously featured on ZooBorns. Aluna means 'come here' in Swahili. 

The last photo is a throwback: a younger Aluna visits with Curator of Mammals Tim Rowlands, who bottle-fed her five times a day.      

Oregon Zoo Finds Homes for Orphaned Cougar Cubs

1 cougar

A trio of Cougar cubs quietly moved in behind the scenes at the Oregon Zoo’s veterinary medical center. The three cubs were found orphaned in southwest Oregon in late October and stayed at the zoo temporarily while they awaited flights out of town to new, permanent homes in New York and Kansas. 

Oregon Zoo keeper Michelle Schireman described the seven week-old Cougar siblings, all female, as “incredibly cute, but definitely not cuddly.”

“They are tiny and feisty,” Schireman said. “They’re only 8 pounds [2.26 kg] right now— about the size of small house cats— but with feet the size of hockey pucks. They still have blue eyes and fuzzy spotted coats, which they will eventually grow out of.” 

Two of the cubs arrived October 29, and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) found and delivered the third a couple of days later.

2 cougar

3 cougar

4 cougarPhoto credits: Michael Durham / Oregon Zoo

“They’re nervous of course,” Schireman said. “But they’re starting to calm down. When we brought the third cub in, the first two were huddled in back of their crate, growling. Within 20 minutes, the third cub slinked out of her crate and joined her sisters, and then they all settled down together.”

Once they learned of the orphaned cubs, ODFW officials quickly contacted Schireman, who serves as the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) species coordinator for Cougars.

“I’m usually the first person wildlife departments call when orphaned cubs are found,” Schireman said. “Without a mother, young Cougars lack the skills and resources they need to survive on their own in the wild.”

Two of the cubs will be moving to the Lee Richardson Zoo in Garden City, Kansas, which recently opened a $1 million Cat Canyon habitat housing Bobcats, Jaguars and Cougars — including a 12 year-old male named Payton, who will be housed in an adjacent area, separate from the young pair.

The third cub will go to the New York State Zoo at Thompson Park, joining Ninja, a 2 year-old male placed there by Schireman in 2011. Ninja’s name was suggested by a New York kindergarten class “because he jumps like a ninja.”

“He’s been waiting for a buddy to get pouncy with,” Schireman said. “Both zoos have a history of excellent care for Cougars, and they have spaces all ready for these cubs.”

As an AZA species coordinator, Schireman has found homes for close to 85 Cougar cubs in zoos around the country. Most of the Cougars currently living in U.S. zoos are orphans placed by Schireman. In 2011, the National Association of Zoo Keepers recognized Schireman with a Certificate of Merit in Conservation for “outstanding work developing an orphaned animal placement program that gives assistance to state wildlife agencies and zoological institutions in placing orphaned pumas."

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 (34 to 68 kg) 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.

Anteater Pup Holds On Tight at Marwell Wildlife

1 anteater

Marwell Wildlife in the UK is celebrating its first successful Giant Anteater birth and you can help name the pup! The youngster was born to first-time mom Chiquita early November and weighs just three pounds. Check in here with the zoo's FaceBook page over the next few days for an opportunity to vote on your favorite name, and maybe win a family ticket to the zoo. 

Giant Anteaters are native to South America and are listed as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species. Females normally give birth to one baby after a gestation period of 190 days. Anteater pups cling to their mother's back or legs while they are young, and sometimes continue to do so for up to a year. The pup, still nursing for now, will begin to start eating solids at around three months old.

2 anteater

3 anteater

4 anteaterPhoto credits: Marwell Wildlife

Mother and baby are currently spending a lot of their time indoors and are enjoying the heaters in their den during the cold weather. They are difficult for visitors to see at the moment. However, animal teams are keeping an eye on the pair, and the two will move to a more visible position in a couple of weeks. 

Shelly Parkes, collection manager at Marwell Zoo said, “We are so proud to see Chiquita carrying the baby as it hitches a ride across her back and demonstrating maternal instincts, as it’s her first pup. She seems content and we can hear the pup feeding and occasionally whistling as it talks to mum.”

Chiquita, who is two years old, arrived at the zoo nine months ago from Warsaw. When she met the zoo's resident male Ernesto, the pair clicked. 

Ernesto, who is nine years old, had previously been unlucky in love. Ernesto’s first mate was described to Marwell as a female but when the new mate arrived the pair didn’t mix well. On closer inspection Marwell Zoo staff realized they had been sent a male Anteater instead of a female! This is an easy mistake to make as an Anteater’s gender is notoriously difficult to determine.

The new baby will be given a health check once Chiquita is settled and the sex of the pup will be determined when it is older.

Peek Behind-the-scenes at Tennessee Aquarium's Baby Stingrays!

1 stingray

A new Haller's Round Stingray arrived at the Tennessee Aquarium with a surprise of her own to share: she gave birth to a litter of five on October 21, soon after her arrival. Each baby now measures about three inches (7.6 cm), minus the tail, and could grow to be slightly larger than 12 inches (30 cm) in disk size as adults. Stingrays give birth to live young, which absorb nutrients from a yolk sac and then a special uterine 'milk' before birth. Born fully developed, the babies are immediately able to swim and feed, requiring no parental care. 

The mother gave birth while going through a routine quarantine period. The mother and eight other adult Stingrays acquired at the same time will be put on display in the zoo's touch tank once the quarantine period is complete. The babies will be raised off-exhibit until they are large enough to be displayed. 

3 stingray

2 stingray

4 stingray

5 stingrayPhoto credits: Nikki Eisenmenger / Tennessee Aquarium

The Haller’s Round Stingray is a common species native to the coastal waters of the eastern Pacific. Haller’s Round Stingrays prefer sandy or muddy bottoms in shallow waters close to beaches. Round sting rays eat primarily benthic invertebrates – organisms that live in or on the sediment of the ocean floor - and small fish. 

Five Wild Ass Foals Boost Endangered Species

Somali wild ass foal-9_photo by Robin Winkelman Saint Louis Zoo_8-27-13_large

A record five Somali Wild Ass foals were born between August 19 and October 15 at the Saint Louis Zoo, making a significant addition to the zoo population of these critically endangered animals. Only 51 Somali Wild Asses live in zoos, with 11 at the Saint Louis Zoo.

Photo Credit: Robin Winkelman/Saint Louis Zoo


Meet the foals:

  • A male named Hirizi (Swahili for charm or amulet) weighed 48 pounds at birth.
  • A female named Farah (which means joy or cheerfulness) weighed 58 pounds at birth.
  • A female named Luana (which means enjoyment) weighed 53 pounds at birth.
  • A male named Tristan (which means clever one) 66.5 pounds at birth.
  • A male named Rebel weighed 52 pounds at birth.

The father of all five foals is Abai, who came from Switzerland’s Basel Zoo in 2005. Abai has had a total of nine offspring born at the Saint Louis Zoo.

The Somali Wild Ass is a critically endangered member of the Horse family, with only 1,000 individuals surviving in desert areas of Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia. An expanding human population, subsistence hunting, and poitical unrest in the region threaten the Somali Wild Ass’s future.

The youngsters have the same markings as their parents – gray body, white belly, and horizontal black stripes on the legs, similar to Zebras.

The Somali Wild Ass is the smallest of all wild Horses, Asses and Zebras. Adults stand about four feet tall at the shoulder and weigh about 600 pounds. Long, narrow hooves—the narrowest of any wild horse -- enable the animals to be swift and surefooted in their rough, rocky habitat.

See more photos below the fold.

Continue reading "Five Wild Ass Foals Boost Endangered Species" »

Elvis the Beagle Sniffs Out Pregnant Polar Bears


What do a two-year-old Beagle named Elvis and pregnant Polar Bears have in common?  Scientists at the Cincinnati Zoo’s Center for Conservation & Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW) have brought them together to detect pregnancy in Polar Bears living in zoos.

Elvis at Work1Photo Credit: Cincinnati Zoo

Traditional pregnancy detection methods like hormone monitoring and ultrasounds don’t work well in Polar Bears.  With climate change threatening wild Polar Bear populations, CREW’s staff is getting creative to help save this important species, and they’ve found a possible helper in Elvis the Beagle. 

Working with professional dog trainer Matt Skogen, CREW is trying to determine if the sensitive noses of canines like Elvis can distinguish a pregnant Polar Bear from a non-pregnant Bear simply by smelling fecal samples.

“This is the first time sniffer dogs have been used in biomedical research as it relates to any wildlife species, making this project truly one-of-a-kind,” said CREW’s Dr. Erin Curry. Currently, Elvis is demonstrating 97% accuracy in positive identification of samples from pregnant females – which is not only incredible but nearly as accurate as over-the-counter human pregnancy tests.

Since January, Matt has used more than 200 training samples collected from Polar Bears of known pregnancy status to help Elvis refine his detection technique. 

Last month, Elvis’s skills were put to the test.  He tested samples from 17 female Polar Bears whose pregnancy status is unknown.  The zoos are eager to know if these females are pregnant so they can monitor these Polar Bears and make preparations.  Pregnant Bears could be isolated with minimal disruption while being closely monitored by camera 24/7 in anticipation of a birth, whereas non-pregnant females would remain swimming and socializing all winter with their exhibitmates.

Read more about Elvis and Polar Bears below the fold.

Continue reading "Elvis the Beagle Sniffs Out Pregnant Polar Bears" »