Audubon Zoo

Penguin Chick's Name May Stick Like Glue

A Black-footed Penguin chick hatched at the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas was named for the glue used to repair its shell, which cracked during incubation.

Photo Credit:  Audubon Aquarium of the Americas

Elmer, as keepers are temporarily calling the chick, hatched on August 31 and was reared by zoo keepers behind the scenes – a routine practice that allows the Penguins to become accustomed to daily hand feedings. 

Elmer’s name may not stick, though, because keepers don’t know yet if the chick is male or female.  They’ll determine its gender in a few months. 

Though less than months old, Elmer has grown rapidly, as all Penguins do.  Elmer’s downy feathers will soon begin to fall out in a process called molting, and they’ll be replaced by the sleek gray feathers of a juvenile Black-footed Penguin.  Until those feathers come in and Elmer is able to swim, the young Penguin is segregated from the rest of the flock and most importantly, the exhibit pool. For now, Elmer can see the Penguin flock through a Plexiglas partition.

To maximize genetic diversity among zoo-dwelling birds, Black-footed Penguins are managed by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums Species Survival Plan.  Elmer is the second chick for parents Millicent and Puddles.  

Native to southern Africa, Black-footed Penguins are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  Populations have decreased dramatically in the last decades as Penguins' prey has been reduced by overfishing, and oil spills have killed thousands of birds.

See more photos of Elmer below.

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True or False: Rare Gharials Hatch at Audubon Zoo


It's true!  Two False Gharials hatched at the Audubon Zoo in September are the first ever to hatch there and the first to hatch in captivity in the United States since 2009.

Fbb7f315-9b9e-4814-95e3-a3eb9fd32b13Photo Credit:  Audubon Zoo
False Gharials are freshwater crocodilians native to Southeast Asia.  They have long, very thin snouts and inhabit swamps and rivers in Malaysia, Borneo, and Sumatra.

The two hatchlings increase the population of False Gharials at the Audubon Zoo to four.  Only about 30 False Gharials live in American zoos.

Breeding False Gharials is difficult because they require jungle-like conditions in captivity.  Audubon Zoo had been trying for years to breed their pair of False Gharials, and finally achieved success. Melanie Litton, senior reptile keeper at Audubon, said the success may be due, in part, to putting the male Gharial on a diet. “Obesity can effect potency in all kinds of animals, including humans,” Litton said.

Of a clutch of about 20 eggs, two were successfully fertilized, she said. Audubon Zoo will keep one hatchling, while the other will go to the Houston Zoo.

They are only a few inches long now, but will grow up to 15 feet long in adulthood.

False Gharials are considered one of the most threatened of all crocodilians, and were alarmingly close to extinction in the 1970s. They are threatened by habitat loss due to human encroachment and disruption of populations through fishing and hunting.  In recent years, however, there have been signs of recovery in the wild population. 

Trio of Endangered Penguins at the Audubon Aquarium


Three endangered African Blackfooted Penguins were born at the Audubon Aquarium in March. The chicks were born to parents Voodoo and Tag, Snake and Quatloo, and Endymion and Kenickie. They are growing quickly and have already joined the penguin colony exhibit.


The chicks were initially fed a special hand-blended formula of fish, krill, half-and-half, an electrolyte solution, proteins and vitamins. This provided them with the nutrients they needed to grow healthy during their first few weeks. 

Penguin Number Three resting on Darwins finger

The chicks are a testament to the success of the Audubon Penguin Breeding Program. “With their numbers decreasing by as much as 90% in the past century, the hatching of multiple African penguin chicks is especially significant and makes me incredibly proud of the program’s accomplishments,” says Audubon Senior Aviculturist Darwin Long. Audubon Aquarium works to build genetically-diverse captive populations to ensure the survival of the species. They have raised 46 chicks since the Aquarium opened in 1990.

Skua 3

Photo Credit Audubon Aquarium

See more photos below the fold.

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Rare Cats Born Through Amazing Science!


Some adorable newborn kittens at Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species have no idea just how special they are.  Two African Black-Footed kittens, members of an endangered species rarely seen in captivity, are the first of their kind to be born from a frozen embryo via in-vitro fertilization. This ground-breaking birth is the latest advance in assisted reproduction for endangered species from Audubon Nature Institute in New Orleans.




Photo credits: Audubon Institute

The youngsters, both males, were born to surrogate mother Bijou on February 13, 2011, but their story goes all the way back to 2003, when sperm was collected from a 6 year old male named Ramses in Omaha, Nebraska. Experts at the Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo Center for Conservation and Research – Reproductive Sciences Department froze the sperm and sent it to Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species.  It was combined with an egg from Zora, a Black-Footed Cat living at Audubon research center, creating embryos in March, 2005. Those embryos were frozen for almost six years before being thawed and transferred to Bijou on December 7, 2010. Sixty-nine days later, the two kittens became the first of their species to be born as a result of in-vitro fertilization utilizing frozen/thawed sperm and a frozen/thawed embryo.

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Baby Giant Anteater at the Audubon Zoo

Like something out of a Dr. Seuss book, this baby Giant Anteater was born January 8th, at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans. Only a few weeks old and already sporting a snout that would make any mama anteater proud, the gender is not yet determined, as the little guy or gal spends all day clinging to mom's shaggy coat. (Note: the video can take a little while to load)

Baby giant anteater audobon zoo

Video: Giant baby anteater on display for first time

Photo and Video: Jennifer Zdon / The Times-Picayune

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