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October 2013
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November 2013

Fennec Fox Sisters are Animal Ambassadors at Chattanooga Zoo

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Two Fennec Fox sisters were born at Chattanooga Zoo in Tennessee! They have just been named Zahari, meaning blue in Arabic, and Zeiti, meaning green in Arabic. (To tell the sisters apart, they were each given a small spot of food coloring either blue or green on their backs.)

They were born on September 11, 2013 to first-time parents, mother Karoo and father Kalahari. The kits are incredibly active and are growing bigger by the day. They are very curious and playful and love to investigate new toys, sounds, and smells. When full grown, they will join the zoo’s animal ambassador and education programs, where they will play an important role in raising awareness about wildlife conservation.

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6 fennec foxPhoto credits: Chattanooga Zoo

Fennec Foxes (a ZooBorns favorite!) live in the deserts and semi-arid lands of northern Africa. Also called the Desert Fox, their most notable feature are their ears, which are enormous in proportion to their body size. An adult Fennec Fox measures about 16 inches (40 cm) in body length and has ears six inches (15 cm) long. These huge ears are used for cooling the body of excess heat and for locating prey, such as lizards, insects, and eggs, buried deep under the desert sand. Fennec Foxes are a species of Least Concern on the International Union for Conservation's Red List of Threatened Species. 


Prehensile-tailed Porcupette Gets Special Care at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

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On August 28, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo welcomed a Prehensile-tailed Porcupine, born mom Emma and dad Wilbur. There are times, both in zoos and in the wild, when parents has trouble accepting or caring for their offspring. Keepers noticed that Emma was not feeding her baby, and so the male porcupette has been getting supplemental bottle feedings from animal care staff. The parents have stayed nearby and are begining to show signs of bonding with their baby. In the photos, the porcupette is shown bonding with his father for the very first time on October 30.

In the meantime, his keepers are taking good care of him. 

"He's a trooper," says Steve Kinczel, a veteran  keeper for The RainForest exhibit who has been bottle-feeding the baby. "He's had a good appetite from the beginning." Kinczel, who named the baby Eddie, said he is eating solid food now but his diet continues to be supplemented with bottle feeding four times a day. His diet includes carrots, sweet potatoes and greens along with some rodent chow.

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5 porcupinePhoto credits: Gus Chan/The Plain Dealer, Cleveland 1, 2; Cleveland Zoo 3-6

Click here to see a slideshow of many more wonderful photos of Eddie the porcupette, taken by photographer Gus Chan.

Prehensile-tailed Porcupines are born with their eyes open and claws fully formed. Their quills, which are soft at birth, harden in about a week. These porcupines, a group of species native to South America, are named for their special ability to grasp and hang from branches by their tails. 


Gibbon Conservation Center Celebrates Birth of Critically Endangered Species

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The Gibbon Conservation Center in southern California just shared with us some photos of a newly-arrived Northern White-cheeked Gibbon! The buff colored gibbon holding the baby is the mother and the dark one is the father. Babies are born with light-colored hair, which will darken with maturity if the gibbon is male.

The center has welcomed six new infants in the last 18 months, a sure sign that the residents are comfortable and well cared-for. The gibbons live in family groups, adults and offspring, giving visitors the opportunity to observe family-oriented behavioral patterns, infant care and development. Though in captivity, these creatures are not tame: they are focused on their families, claiming their territories and on finding the food that is provided for them several times a day. 

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5 gibbonPhoto credits: Gibbon Conservation Center

The Gibbon Conservation Center focuses on the study and conservation of gibbons - small apes from the forests of South, East, and Southeast Asia. The center participates in the Species Survival Plan for Northern White-cheeked Gibbons, a captive breeding program that coordinates breeding of genetically diverse individuals between zoos. The Northern White-cheeked Gibbon is now extinct in southern Yunnan, China and is nearly extinct in northern Vietnam, and Critically Endangered in Laos. There are more Northern White-cheeked Gibbons in North American and European zoos than in the wild in China and northern Vietnam, where fewer than 500 are left. This gibbon species is the rarest primate in the wild currently in a successful captive breeding program.

See more photos after the fold!

Continue reading "Gibbon Conservation Center Celebrates Birth of Critically Endangered Species" »


It's a Boy! Akron Zoo Welcomes a Pygmy Slow Loris

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Akron Zoo in Ohio has announced the birth of a rare Pygmy Slow Loris! The baby, a male, was born August 21 and weighed less than an ounce (21 g) at birth. According to the zoo’s veterinary staff, the baby has been thriving and currently weighs about .4 pounds (185 grams). First-time mom Casey is doing an excellent job raising her baby behind-the-scenes in the zoo’s animal care center. 

The pygmy slow loris is a highly threatened primate and listed as a Vulnerable species on the Internation Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species. 

“The birth of this rare primate is critical to the future of this species,” commented Akron Zoo President & CEO L. Patricia Simmons. “Trying to save threatened species like the pygmy slow loris and educate people about them is the vital role we, as an accredited zoo through the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, play. Births like this are extraordinary and I commend our animal care staff for their hard work.”

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2 slow lorisPhoto credits: Akron Zoo

The Slow Loris gets its name in part from its slow, sloth-like movements. On average, full-sized adults weigh about 7-14 ounces (about 200-400 grams). The Pygmy Slow Loris is indigenous to Vietnam, Laos, China, Thailand, and Cambodia. Their diet generally consists of fruits, insects, vegetation and small mammals.They are primarily threatened due to deforestation, hunting and capture for pet trade. 

The new baby is the second to be born at the zoo. Frank, the baby’s father, is the also the father of the zoo's first Pygmy Slow Loris baby, born in 2008.

The Akron Zoo keeps these primates as part of the Pygmy Loris Species Survival Plan (SSP). The mission of an Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) Program is to cooperatively manage specific, and typically threatened or endangered, species population within AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums. Through scientifically-controlled managed breeding programs, SSP’s are a proactive approach to preventing extinction. SSP's were formed back in 1981 to help ensure the survival of endangered species. 


Dallas Zoo Welcomes 36th Okapi Calf

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The Dallas Zoo welcomed a healthy baby Okapi, born on August 14. Keepers have named her Almasi, the Swahili word for diamond. After a long 14-month gestation, Almasi weighed 47 pounds (21 kg) at birth, and is now up to 190 pounds (86 kg). When fully grown, she’ll stand more than 5 feet (1.5 m) tall at the shoulder and weigh more than 700 pounds (317 kg). This past weekend, she made her debut at the zoo's outdoor Okapi habitat. 

Almasi is the second calf born to her mother, Desi, who is taking very good care of her little one. For now, both remain in their nesting stalls, although Almasi is getting more adventurous every day.  

“Almasi’s birth is another major success in efforts to ensure that this incredible animal species survives,” said Lynn Kramer, D.V.M., vice president of animal operations and welfare for the Dallas Zoo. “The Dallas Zoo has a long history of caring for and learning about Okapi, and we will continue to be a leader in the fight to educate the world to protect these animals.” Almasi is the 36th calf born in the zoo’s 50-year history of caring for this rare species.

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3 okapiPhoto credits: Cathy Burkey / Dallas Zoo

See a video of the playful calf:

 

Okapi (pronounced oh-KOP-ee) are a unique and mysterious animal, so elusive that they have been nicknamed the African unicorn. Their black-and-white striped legs and horselike bodies resemble a zebra, but the okapi is most closely related to giraffes. Like giraffes, their heads have large ears that give them keen hearing and their long prehensile tongues let them strip leaves and shoots from trees.

Okapi in the wild are found exclusively in the Ituri rain forest of the Democratic Republic of Congo. They are difficult to see in the rain forest because of their striking camouflage. Because they’re very elusive and the Congo rain forest is so rugged, little is known about their behavior in the wild. However, researchers have found that their numbers are declining rapidly due to destruction of their rain forest home, despite their popularity in the African country. Okapi are even featured on the Congo’s 1,000-franc note.

“These animals have irresistible charm and behave unlike any other mammal,” said Megan Lumpkin, the Dallas Zoo’s lead keeper for the okapi. “They communicate using infrasound, a low-frequency sound undetectable to humans. It is critically important that they be protected.” 

Learn more about Okapi conservation after the fold.

Continue reading "Dallas Zoo Welcomes 36th Okapi Calf" »


Tiger Twins Debut at San Antonio Zoo

Sazootigercub3The San Antonio Zoo is celebrating the debut of twin female Sumatran Tiger cubs.  Born on August 3, the sisters are healthy and playful.  The photos chronicle their growth, from their first checkup to playing with pumpkins at Halloween.

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Photo Credit:  San Antonio Zoo

The zoo staff waited a few weeks before announcing the birth because the cubs’ mother, Kemala, was a first-time mom.  This gave the new family time to bond in their den – similar to how mothers with newborn cubs behave in the wild – without disturbances from staff and guests.  The cubs’ father, Raguno, has been moved to a separate enclosure since the birth.

Because Sumatran Tigers are critically endangered, these cubs represent an important contribution to the future of this species.  The breeding of Kemala and Raguno was recommended by the Sumatran Tiger Species Survival Plan, which seeks to ensure genetic diversity in zoo-managed populations of threatened species.   

Fewer than 400 Sumatran Tigers remain on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, where they are threatened with habitat destruction and poaching for their body parts.

See more photos of the cubs below the fold.

Continue reading "Tiger Twins Debut at San Antonio Zoo" »


Second Endangered Keeled Box Turtle Born in Tennessee

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For the second time in Tennessee Aquarium history, the institution welcomed a rare Keeled Box Turtle hatchling. Like many other Southeast Asian turtles, Keeled Box Turtles have been over-collected in the wild for food and the pet trade. Several conservation organizations are working to protect the remaining wild populations from illegal trade, while zoos and aquariums are building assurance populations so the species does not go extinct if these animals disappear in the wild. Currently the U.S. population of Keeled Box Turtles at AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums is less than twenty animals, seven of which are at Tennessee Aquarium.

This baby was the only one to hatch out of seven eggs laid in July. The incubation time was 92 days at a toasty 82 degrees Farenheit and the tiny hatchling weighed just 0.41 oz (11.7 grams).

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The Tennessee Aquarium has one of the largest turtle collections on public display with more than 500 individuals representing seventy-five species. Their Senior Hereptologist, Bill Hughes, manages the Keeled Box Turtle Studbook and serves as the Species Survival Plan Coordinator for Spiny Turtles, Four-eyed Turtles, and Arakan Forest Turtles. 


Keepers Step In To Raise Maryland Zoo's First-ever Lion Cubs

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Zoo keepers have stepped in to raise the Maryland Zoo’s first-ever Lion cubs after their mother died a few days after their birth.

The cubs, born on October 3, appear healthy and are receiving around-the-clock care in an off-exhibit area.   “They are very young, and we are measuring their progress and evaluating the situation day by day,” stated Margie Rose-Innes, assistant general curator. “Ideally they will be able to be introduced to the other Lions, but that will be some time in the future.  For now, their continued health and well-being will be our focus.”

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Photo Credit:  Jeffrey F. Bill / The Maryland Zoo

Though the staff is deeply saddened by the loss of the cubs’ mother, Badu, they are taking on the challenge of rearing her cubs.  The brother-and-sister duo have not yet been named. 

A day after the birth of her two cubs, Badu’s health declined and the staff intervened.  “Two additional cubs had to be removed surgically, neither of which survived,” stated Dr. Ellen Bronson, senior veterinarian at the Zoo.  Badu continued to have complications from the surgery, and despite the efforts of the staff, she died a few days later.

The cubs’ birth is the result of a recommendation from the Lion Species Survival Plan (SSP) coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. SSPs provide breeding recommendations to maximize genetic diversity, with the goal of ensuring the long-term survival of the captive population and the health of individual animals. Lions are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature because their wild population has declined significantly over the past 50 years.  Only about 32,000 individuals remain in the wild, down from over 100,000 in the mid-20th century.

See more photos of the cubs below the fold.

Continue reading "Keepers Step In To Raise Maryland Zoo's First-ever Lion Cubs" »


Rescued Polar Bear Cub Makes a Splash at Assiniboine Park Zoo

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Assiniboine Park Zoo’s newest Polar Bear is comfortably settling into her new home less than 24 hours after arriving on October 28 from Churchill. Officials from the zoo, located in Winnipeg, Canada, travelled to northern Manitoba to rescue the female cub after she was found wandering alone near the airport last week. 

Believed to be 11 months-old, the 94-pound (38 kg) cub wouldn’t have otherwise survived on her own, as Polar Bears rely on protection from their mothers for up to two years. Now that she’s at Assiniboine Park Zoo's International Polar Bear Conservation Centre (IPCC), the wild bear seems to feel right at home: she is eating well on her own, playing with enrichment toys, and splashing around in her kiddie pool. For the next 30 days, she will remain in quarantine, as is zoo standard procedure. This will allow close monitoring of her health and ensure that the new bear will not pass on any pathogens when she is eventually introduced to the two other bears at the zoo. Besides a few broken teeth and some bumps, she is generally in good condition, and does not appear to be stressed by her new surroundings. 

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4 polar bearPhoto credits: Assiniboine Park Zoo

See a video of the curious bear as she investigates her new surroundings:
 
See a news story about the bear:
 
The yet-unnamed bear is the third resident bear at the zoo and could eventually be placed into a breeding program to help conserve wild Polar Bears. She will be the center's first resident female, and their first orphaned rescue. 

"It's one of those feel-good stories that we can save her. It's a shame that you have an animal like this that you have to take from the wild, but with no chance of survival, it's the only thing that makes sense," says Don Peterkin, chief operations officer for the Assiniboine Park Conservancy. "The IPBCC was built for orphaned cubs. We recognized that there would be other needs, but we all have a soft spot for an 11-month-old cub who has lost Mom and has no chance of survival in the wild at all. She's just too young to ever hope to survive on her own." 

“Without the Center here, the options are fairly limited. We have tried in the past to adopt out orphan cubs with a mother and one cub, but those attempts have all failed,” says Dr. Jim Duncan of Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship.

The International Polar Bear Conservation Centre opened almost two years ago and is part of the larger Journey to Churchill exhibit that is still under construction, but is expected to open in the summer of 2014. The Centre has outdoor habitats for the polar bears as well. Eventually the three resident bears will move into one of the larger outdoor Polar Bear habitats in Journey to Churchill. The zoo is also looking at a fourth bear from Argentina that may join the others as early as the spring.