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July 2014

Five Baby Capybaras Born at Zoo Berlin

Capybara_Zoo Berlin_1

Zoo Berlin recently welcomed five baby Capybaras to their South American exhibit!  Born just several weeks ago, the five pups, along with mother, Lucia, explored their enclosure for the first time!  Careful to stay close to mother and each other, they enjoyed their time investigating various aspects of their home at the zoo.

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Capybara_Zoo Berlin_4Photo credits: Zoo Berlin

Native to South America, the Capybara is classified as the largest rodent in the world.  They have a distinctly large, blunt head and a pig-like appearance. Capybaras are capable of running as fast as a horse.  However, they enjoy a semi–aquatic lifestyle and prefer habitats in lowlands, close to water.  They can be found in greater numbers on flooded grasslands, where water, dry ground, and pasture are readily available.  Capybaras possess physical traits that aid their love of swimming.  Their ears, eyes and nostrils are positioned high on their heads, enabling those features to remain above water as they swim.  Their bodies contain large amounts of fatty tissue, which provides buoyancy.  Also, they have partially webbed feet.

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Another Stellar Sea Lion Pup For Parents Woody and Eden


It's a boy!! The Alaska SeaLife Center is pleased to announce the birth of a male Steller Sea Lion pup at 12:14 pm on July 20, 2014. Parents are 14-year-old mother, Eden, and 21-year-old father, Woody. Eden and pup are healthy and doing well. The pup is not expected to be available for public viewing for a few months.
Eden and Woody became parents last summer with the birth of Ellie on June 20, 2013. Ellie marked the first Steller Sea Lion pup born in North American collections since the mid 1980s. 
10572058_10152212168046471_3278751748280155667_oPhoto credits: Alaska SeaLife Center
For almost 10 years, Steller Sea Lion research has continued to be one of the largest research focuses at the Alaska SeaLife Center. It is no wonder either—Steller Sea Lion populations in western and south-central Alaska are still below historic numbers, have not fully recovered from significant population declines, and remain listed as endangered on the Federal Endangered Species List. It is not only important to study this species to ensure their survival, but to also learn more about the marine ecosystems in which they inhabit, and how they adapt to environmental change.

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Baby Baboon Mimi Is Teething At Oakland Zoo


Oakland Zoo has so many adorable pictures of their new baby Hamadryas Baboon, Mimi, that they decided to post one every day this week on their Facebook page:

Oakland Zoo gives the baby Baboons baby toys like stuffed animals and baby teething toys and also baby rubber toys to give them something to chew on when they are teething. The infants teeth start to appear within 5 days of birth!



10469068_10154419886380228_8583844285846561387_oPhoto credit: Dannielle Stith

Rhino Calf is a Surprise for Burgers' Zoo


As keepers at the Netherlands’ Burgers’ Zoo were moving the White Rhino herd into the stables at the end of the day on July 23, they got a big surprise – Kwanzaa, a female Rhino, had delivered a male calf!

10351811_792013610871533_6350523479992007433_nPhoto Credit:  Burgers' Zoo

Kwanzaa refused to go into the stables so soon after giving birth, so she and her newborn calf remained outdoors.  Keepers left the stable doors open so Kwanzaa and her calf could move inside when they felt ready.  Sometime in the night, they did go into the stable, where they have remained for the last few days.  After a week or so, keepers plan to allow Kwanzaa and her calf to move back into the outdoor yard.

The Rhino calf’s arrival was not a complete surprise.  Pregnancy hormone levels in the Rhinos’ manure are tested regularly, and Kwanzaa was expected to deliver in about one month.  White Rhinos are pregnant for about 17 months.  The calf, who has not been named, weighed about 50 pounds at birth, and gains about 3 pounds per day. 

White Rhinos are threatened by illegal hunting in their African home ranges.  Poachers kill Rhinos only for their horns, which are used in traditional medicines and as coveted ornaments.

See more photos of the calf below.

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Baby Orangutan Finds a Home at Brookfield Zoo


Kecil, a 6-month-old Bornean Orangutan, is winning the hearts of Brookfield Zoo fans, but most importantly, he is bonding with his surrogate mother, a 53-year-old Bornean Orangutan named Maggie.


Photo Credit:  Brookfield Zoo

Kecil (pronounced Ka-cheel, which is Indonesian for “little”), was born at the Toledo Zoo to an experienced mother, but she did not care for him.  The AZA’s Orangutan Species Survival Plan (SSP) and Hand Rearing/Surrogacy Advisory Group leapt into action and found a surrogate mother for Kecil at the Milwaukee County Zoo.  Unfortunately, Kecil and that female orangutan did not successfully bond, and the team identified Maggie as a potential surrogate.

Throughout the process of finding a suitable surrogate, staff members at all three zoos provided exceptional care for Kecil.  All baby animals have better outcomes when raised by members of their own species.  They typically are better socialized and become better parents themselves – a very important trait for endangered animals like Orangutans, where the genetic material of every animal is important to the survival of the species.

Upon his arrival at Brookfield Zoo, Kecil was given a brief physical examination and then taken to an off-exhibit area at the zoo’s Tropic World exhibit to be introduced to Maggie. Since the two have been together, animal care staff have seen very positive interactions. The two engage each other in play, and the young orangutan often sleeps in the crook of Maggie’s arm. He has shown interest in Maggie’s food, but for now he has been sampling softer foods like bananas, and baby cereal has become a staple. In addition, Kecil comes to the front of their enclosure on his own or with Maggie’s assistance to be bottle-fed, which will continue at least until he is a year old.

“Although it has been only a short time and we have a long road ahead of us, we are extremely optimistic due to Kecil and Maggie’s progress so far. Maggie is an easygoing and gentle Orangutan. The two have been together since Kecil’s arrival, and Maggie has provided care and attention that he needs to receive from an Orangutan.” said Jay Petersen, curator of primates and carnivores for the Chicago Zoological Society, which manages Brookfield Zoo.

Kecil was born on January 11, 2014, at Ohio’s Toledo Zoo. His mother, Yasmin, who has raised her own offspring in the past, showed little interest in caring for him following a difficult delivery. Toledo Zoo’s keepers and veterinary team worked tirelessly to offer the two private off-exhibit quarters, hoping that they would bond. However, after months of dedicated but unsuccessful efforts to encourage Yasmin to care for Kecil, they decided it would be best to place him with a surrogate at another zoo.

On May 19, at four months old, Kecil was taken to Milwaukee County Zoo to be placed with a possible surrogate named MJ. During the month Kecil was at Milwaukee, animal care staff worked around the clock to introduce Kecil to MJ, and the initial results were positive. However, the optimal level of bonding that staff had hoped to see was not achieved, and after various stages of progress, the situation seemed to have reached a plateau.

Once again, discussions took place to determine the next course of action for the infant. Because it is extremely important that Kecil be raised by Orangutans rather than humans, the animal care experts decided to try another potential surrogate, and he was moved to Brookfield Zoo to be introduced to Maggie.

During the transfers to Milwaukee County Zoo and Brookfield Zoo, an animal care staff member from the previous facility accompanied Kecil to help in his transition. “Kecil seems calm and adaptable to the changing situations in his young life. The moves don’t seem to have fazed him at all,” said Petersen. “We are all hoping that Brookfield Zoo will be his last move for a while.”

“The collaboration among the three institutions to ensure Kecil grows up in the best environment possible speaks to the commitment of everyone involved,” said Stuart Strahl, Ph.D., president and CEO of the Chicago Zoological Society.

It will be many months before Kecil and Maggie will be on exhibit for guests to see. Animal care staff want to give the two time to develop their relationship. In addition, Kecil needs to become much more agile and mobile before being introduced to the exhibit. 

Orangutans once lived over much of Southeast Asia, but their range and population have been dramatically reduced. Their natural habitat—the rain-forest islands of Sumatra and Borneo—continues to be decimated. Huge tracts of the rain forests are logged and converted to palm oil plantations. There are approximately 40,000 Bornean Orangutans left in the wild, and the population has declined by 50 percent since 1990. 

See more photos of Kecil and Maggie below.

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A Cheetah Cub and His Puppy Companion Build a Lifelong Bond

10496992_920383311311679_8853372725256295054_oPhoto taken on June 18, 2014, by Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

Seen here at just seven weeks old, San Diego Zoo Safari Park's Cheetah cub is getting to know his new dog companion as the two continue to bond and spend time at the Safari Park's Animal Care Center. The Rhodesian ridgeback puppy was paired with the cub after the Cheetah was rejected by his mother and had to be hand raised as an animal ambassador. The Cheetah and puppy will be raised together and the dog will serve as a lifelong companion to the Cheetah. 

Safari Park Cheetahs selected for training as ambassadors are paired early in life with a domestic dog. As the two companions grow up together, the dog's body language will communicate to the cheetah that there's nothing to fear in new or public surroundings, which relaxes and calms the Cheetah. The Safari Park currently has four cheetah ambassadors all of which are trained to participate in the Park's Cheetah Run experience.


‘IT’S A GIRL’ for Gugas and Kamili!

(5)  This is the second arrival at the gorilla house in eight months as Baako, the first baby gorilla to be born at the zoo in 16 years, was born on 3 August 2013.

Belfast Zoo recently announced the news that Kamili, the Western Lowland Gorilla, welcomed a little bundle of joy on Sunday 30 March 2014. During the early weeks newborn gorillas cling to the mother’s stomach and Kamili was so protective that it was impossible for keepers to find out what sex the infant was.

After weeks of patiently waiting, the zoo can now announce that the infant is a girl and, after much consideration, she has been named ‘Kibibi’ which means ‘little lady’ in Swahili.

(3)  Kamili and Kibibi are western lowland gorillas.  Gorilla populations have declined by more than 50% in recent decades and zoos are becoming more vital in the conservation of this iconic species.

(2)  During the early weeks newborn gorillas cling to the mother’s stomach and Kamili was so protective that it was impossible for keepers to find out what gender the infant was.


Zoo curator, Julie Mansell, is delighted to announce the news, “Kibibi is the second arrival within the last year for dad, Gugas, and she is the first girl! In 2012, with no sign of pregnancies, we tested Gugas’ fertility and the results were not promising. In fact, we feared that Gugas would never father any young. We are delighted that he has proven us all wrong with the arrival of Kibibi and Baako in the last year.”

Julie continues, “All apes are endangered or critically endangered and some professionals have even predicted that all species of ape will be extinct within 30 years. Gorilla populations have declined by more than 50% in recent decades and our role, as a zoo, in their conservation is becoming more and more vital.”

Baby Okapi Shows Off Stripes at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

OkapiCalfJacksonmedTammy Spratt, San Diego Zoo Safari Park.


Okapi mother Ayana watched over her 2-week-old calf as he took a break from nursing this morning at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The male calf, named Jackson, was born on July 6 and is spending time with his mother in the Okapi barn at the Safari Park as he gets to know his surroundings.
Okapi newborns can stand up within 30 minutes of birth and nurse for the first time within an hour of birth. They have the same coloring as an adult but have a short fringe of hair along the spine, which generally disappears by the time they are 12 to 14 months old. 
To honor those who devote their lives to animal care and conservation, the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, along with zoos nationwide, are celebrating National Zoo Keeper Week July 20 through 26. There are more than 6,000 zoo keepers across the U.S. who care for animals in fields that involve medical care, training, research, enrichment and education.  San Diego Zoo Global salutes the animal care professionals who contribute to wildlife care and help increase public awareness about the need to preserve habitats and the creatures that inhabit them. 

Threatened Narrow-headed Gartersnakes Born at Phoenix Zoo


The Phoenix Zoo’s Arthur L. and Elaine V. Johnson Foundation Native Species Conservation Center has announced the first-ever propagation of the threatened Narrow-headed Gartersnake (Thamnophis rufipunctatus).

In 2007, the Zoo received a small research population of wild-caught Narrow-headed Gartersnakes in hopes of developing a propagation and release program. On the morning of July 2, 2014, a four-year-old gave birth to 18 neonates in the Zoo’s specially designed outdoor Suzan L. Biehler Herpetarium. All 18 offspring are healthy and were observed capturing live fish within 48 hours. This reproductive event is the culmination of years of husbandry work and scientific research by the Zoo’s conservation staff. This significant birth comes at a critical time since on July 7, 2014 the species was listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act. The Zoo has also developed a husbandry manual for this species that is currently in use by members of the GCWG.




“The birth of the Narrow-headed Gartersnakes here is a fulfillment of Phoenix Zoo’s commitment to supporting native species conservation and recovery”, says Stuart Wells, Director of Conservation sand Science at the Phoenix Zoo. “Our dedicated staff has worked tirelessly for many years to achieve this goal. We are proud of this accomplishment and pleased to contribute to the recovery of this species." The Narrow-headed Gartersnake is a unique, highly aquatic species. Its numbers have been declining throughout its range in Arizona and New Mexico for over a decade. Many factors are contributing to the decline including drought, non-native invasive species, wildfire and agricultural/urban encroachment. Beginning in 2006, the Gartersnake Conservation Working Group (GCWG), a multi-partner, collaborative effort, was formed by US Fish and Wildlife Service to help conserve and recover the northern Mexican gartersnake and the Narrow-headed Gartersnake.

“The Narrow-headed Gartersnake is a mid- to high-elevation, stream-dwelling species that is very sensitive to environmental and physical stress”, explains Jeff Servoss, US Fish and Wildlife Service Chair of the Gartersnake Conservation Working Group. “These traits make this species a unique challenge for those trying to not only keep them alive in captivity, but also trying to produce offspring. After many years of trying, by many different institutions, the Phoenix Zoo has finally produced viable Narrow-headed Gartersnakes. This achievement is very noteworthy and a testament to the Zoo's relentless effort to identify the variables that have prevented breeding in the past. This is a significant achievement and a giant step forward for gartersnake conservation." The offspring are being head-started for a period of six to nine months before the majority is released to the wild. The remaining few will be retained for the breeding program. The Zoo is proud of this accomplishment and appreciates the opportunity to support the conservation of wildlife in Arizona and throughout the world.

Binder Park Zoo Makes Way for Some New Arrivals!


Binder Park Zoo will introduce to exhibit for the first time, not one, but two baby Giraffes born this summer! The first baby, born on June 12th, is a female named Kitovu. Her mother is 5 ½ year old Kayin. The second baby Giraffe is a male named Hulka, and he was born on June 16th to Makena.

With the opening of Binder Park's Wild Africa in 1999, the newest baby Giraffe arrivals are helping to celebrate 15 years of this award-winning exhibit.  For many years, the Zoo hadn’t had any baby Giraffes but that all began to change in 2009 when the first baby Giraffe in Binder Park Zoo history was born - since that time, there have been a total of nine Giraffes born at the zoo, including these two newest additions. On June 12th, 5 ½ year old Kayin, gave birth to a female calf weighing 104.5 pounds. This is Kayin’s second calf. The keepers named the calf “Kitovu” meaning belly button in Swahili.  Then just a few days later, on June 16th, zookeepers welcomed yet another baby. Makena, the Zoo’s 14 ½ year old female Giraffe, gave birth to her third calf. The keepers named the 159 pound male calf “Hulka” meaning nature. Out of the nine calves born at Binder Park, he is the largest.  Kasuku Mdomo, who is 7 years old, fathered both calves.