Bronx Zoo

Porcupette Pokes About at Bronx Zoo

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A North American Porcupine was born April 24 at WCS’s (Wildlife Conservation Society) Bronx Zoo and is now on exhibit with his family in the newly renovated Children’s Zoo.

The male porcupette was born to mother, Alice, and father, Patrick, and this is the pair’s fourth offspring.

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4_Julie Larsen Maher_8294_North American Porcupine_CZ_BZ_05 20 16Photo Credits: Julie Larsen Maher/WCS’s Bronx Zoo

The North American Porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum), also known as the Canadian Porcupine or Common Porcupine, is a large rodent in the New World Porcupine family. The beaver is the only rodent in North America that is larger than the North American Porcupine.

The Porcupine’s most recognizable physical characteristic is its spiky quills. They can have as many as 30,000 quills covering their bodies and use them as a defense against predators. Despite popular belief, Porcupines cannot shoot their quills. The quills of the North American Porcupine have a tiny barb on the tip that, when hooked in flesh, pull the quill from the Porcupine’s skin and painfully imbed it in a predator’s face, paws or body.

Gestation lasts for 202 days. Porcupines give birth to a single young. At birth, they weigh about 450 g, which increases to nearly 1 kg after the first two weeks. They do not gain full adult weight until about two years old.

At birth, the quills are very soft. They begin to harden a few hours after birth and continue to harden and grow as the baby matures.

Female Porcupines provide all the maternal care. For the first two weeks, the young rely on their mother for sustenance. After this, they learn to climb trees and start to forage. They continue to nurse for up to four months, which coincides with the fall mating season. They stay close to their mothers.

The North American Porcupine is listed as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List. It is common throughout its range, except in some U.S. states in the southeast part of its range. However, they are threatened by hunting and habitat loss. As of 1994, it was listed as an endangered species in Mexico.


Take a Peek at Bronx Zoo's Otter Pup

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An Asian Small-clawed Otter pup made its public debut at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo in late April.

Born this spring, the pup is already dipping its toes in the family’s watery exhibit.

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Julie Larsen Maher_5826_Asian Small-clawed Otter_JUN_BZ_04 06 16_hrPhoto Credit:  Julie Larsen Maher/WCS
Like all Otters, the species is well adapted for a semi-aquatic life. Their elongated bodies and webbed feet make it easy for them to propel through the water. They have dexterous paws that aid in finding and consuming food, and their fur is extremely dense and waterproof for temperature regulation.

Asian Small-clawed Otters have a vast but shrinking Southeast Asian range that spans from India to the Philippines, Taiwan, and parts of southern China. The species is classified as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and is threatened by habitat loss and exploitation.

 


Two Lemur Species Debut Offspring at Bronx Zoo

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The Madagascar! exhibit at WCS’s (Wildlife Conservation Society) Bronx Zoo is now home to three new Lemur babies.

Two Ring-tailed Lemurs (Lemur catta) and one Brown Collared Lemur (Eulemur collaris) were born in late March and have made their public debut. Both species live in a naturalistic habitat depicting the Malagasy Spiny Forest along with critically endangered Radiated Tortoises and several bird species including Vasa Parrots, Red Fodies, Grey-headed Lovebirds, and Ground Doves.

Guests hoping to catch a glimpse of the new additions will have to observe closely as young Lemurs cling to their mothers and nestle in their fur.

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The Bronx Zoo has had tremendous success breeding Lemurs as part of Species Survival Plans, cooperative breeding programs designed to enhance the genetic viability of animal populations in zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

WCS works to save Lemurs and their disappearing habitat in the African island nation of Madagascar – the only place in the world where Lemurs are found in the wild.

Brown Collared Lemurs are native to the tropical forests of southeastern Madagascar. Ring-tailed Lemurs are native to the forests and bush in the south and southwestern portions of the island. Their habitats are being destroyed by human activity including charcoal production and slash-and-burn agriculture.

Ring-tailed Lemurs are very social and live in large matriarchal groups that often contain several breeding females. They are capable climbers, but spend much of their time on the ground. Newborns will ride on their mothers’ chest and back for the first few weeks and will begin move around on their own within two-to-four weeks, but still stay close to their mother.

Collared Lemurs use their long tails to balance when leaping through the forest canopy. They live in groups of males and females but are not matriarchal like many other Lemur species. The young ride on their mother’s back hiding in her fur for the first few months of their lives.

All Lemur species are in trouble due to devastating loss of suitable habitat. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies both Ring-tailed Lemurs and Brown Collared Lemurs as “Endangered” in the wild.

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Otter Pup Ready for Fun at the Bronx Zoo

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Monty, the Asian Small-clawed Otter pup, has been eagerly exploring his exhibit at the Bronx Zoo. In an effort to keep his curiosity from getting the better of him, mom and dad are never far behind.

It has been several years since a new otter pup has inhabited the Bronx Zoo’s Jungle World. Eleven-year-old mom, Jasmine, and nine-year-old dad, Gyan, are first time parents. So far, they have been doing an outstanding job with little Monty. Keepers have been giving them plenty of privacy and time to bond, only interrupting for quick weigh-ins to check the pup’s growth.

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3_Julie Larsen Maher _3630_Asian Small-clawed Otters and Pup_JUN_BZ_09 04 ...Photo Credits: Julie Larsen Maher / WCSAside from his new desire to explore, Monty has started to eat solids and is getting better at swimming.  His parents take their jobs seriously. Jasmine continues to keep his nest in order, and dad has started bringing him bits of fish.

The Asian Small-clawed Otter (Amblonyx cinerea), also known as the Oriental Small-clawed Otter, is the smallest otter species in the world. Weighing less than 5.4 kg (11.9 lbs.), the species lives in mangrove swamps and freshwater wetlands of Bangladesh, Burma, India, southern China, Laos, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.

The otter’s paws are its distinctive feature. The claws don’t extend beyond the fleshy end pads of its partially webbed fingers and toes, giving it a high degree of manual dexterity for feeding on mollusks, crabs and other aquatic animals.

Asian Small-clawed Otters form monogamous pairs for life. The mates can have two litters of one to six young per year, and their gestation period is about 60 days. Newborn pups are immobile, and their eyes are closed.  The pups remain in their birthing dens, nursing and sleeping, for the first few weeks. They open their eyes after 40 days and are fully weaned at 14 weeks. Within 40 days, the young start to eat solid food and can swim at three months. Young otters will stay with their mother until the next litter is born. Males assist females in nest building and food procurement.

The Asian Small-clawed Otter is classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List. Threats to their existence in the wild are: habitat loss, pollution, and hunting. 


Bronx Zoo Announces Birth of Porcupette

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A North American Porcupine was born at Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo

The young male was born on July 28 to mother, Alice, and father, Patrick.  This is the pair’s third offspring, and the family is currently on exhibit in the zoo’s newly renovated Children’s Zoo.

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4_Julie Larsen Maher_1981_North American Porcupines and Porcupette_CZ_BZ_08 10 15Photo Credits: Julie Larsen Maher / WCS's Bronx Zoo

The North American Porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum) is a large rodent whose most recognizable physical characteristic are its spiky quills. They can have as many as 30,000 quills covering their bodies. The quills are modified hairs that are sharp, barbed hollow spines. They are used primarily for defense but also serve to insulate the body during winter. Despite popular belief, porcupines cannot shoot their quills, but when threatened, the porcupine contracts the muscles near the skin which causes the quills to stand up and out. The quills have a tiny barb on the tip that, when hooked in flesh, pull the quill from the porcupine’s skin and painfully imbed in the predators skin.

Porcupines are herbivores and eat leaves, twigs, and green plants. In winter, they may also eat tree bark.

Female porcupines are solitary, except during the fall breeding season. They have a long gestation period that lasts for 202 days and typically give birth to just one offspring. Baby porcupines (porcupette) weigh about 450 grams at birth. At birth, the quills are very soft but begin to harden a few hours after birth. The quills continue to harden and grow as the baby matures.

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It's Playtime! Two Baby Gorillas Debut at Bronx Zoo

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Two infant Western Lowland Gorillas are making their public debut at the Wildlife Conservation Society's Bronx Zoo. This is the second pair of Gorillas born at the Bronx Zoo in just over a year.  
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Julie Larsen Maher_7859_Western Lowland Gorillas and Babies_CON_BZ_04 14 15Photo Credit:  Julie Larsen Maher
 

The Bronx Zoo has a successful history breeding Gorillas as part of the Species Survival Plan, a cooperative breeding program designed to enhance the genetic viability of animal populations in zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. These are the 16th and 17th Gorillas born at Congo Gorilla Forest; there have been 52 Gorillas born at the Bronx Zoo since 1972.

Layla (16 years old) gave birth on January 17, and Kumi (also 16 years old) had her baby on January 19. Ernie (32 years old) is the father of both babies. The gender of the infants is not yet known.  The babies join 17 other Gorlllas at the zoo.  

Gorillas are the world’s largest primates. Weighing only about 4 to 5 pounds at birth, adult males weigh between 350-450 pounds and when standing upright can be up to six feet tall. Adult females weigh between 150-250 pounds and are up to four feet tall. 

Western lowland Gorillas are designated as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Their natural range spans tropical and subtropical forests in equatorial Africa. WCS works throughout Central Africa to protect Gorillas from habitat loss and illegal hunting.


Two Boys from the Bronx

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Two rare Snow Leopard Cubs have made their public debut at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo in New York.

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Both cubs are male and were born May 6th to first-time parents. They are on exhibit, with their mother, in the 'Himalayan Highlands', which received the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Exhibit Award for outstanding design in 1987.

Snow Leopards are classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List. They are among the world’s most endangered big cats, with only an estimated 3,500 to 7,500 remaining in the wild. Their range is limited to remote mountains of Central Asia and parts of China, Mongolia, Russia, India and Bhutan.

WCS’s Bronx Zoo is a world leader in Snow Leopard husbandry and participates in the Species Survival Plan, a cooperative breeding program designed to enhance the genetic viability of animal populations in zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The Bronx Zoo has had more Snow Leopard births (over 70) than any other zoo in North America and was the first zoo in the United States to exhibit the big cats in 1903.

WCS has worked for decades on Snow Leopard conservation programs in the field with current projects in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and western China. Past projects have also included work with Snow Leopards in Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia.

In Pakistan, WCS has been implementing a community-based conservation program since 1997 to help protect the Snow Leopard and other wildlife. The program includes education, training, and institution building for community resource management. WCS has helped create over 60 natural resource committees and trained over 100 community rangers to monitor Snow Leopards and other wildlife, in an effort to stop deforestation and poaching that threaten these species.


Orphaned Tigers Cubs Rescued in Russian Wilderness

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Three orphaned Siberian Tiger cubs, alone in the snowy Russian Far East, were rescued from certain death last fall by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), which operates the Bronx Zoo.  The capture and rehabilitation of the cubs – who are part of a rapidly vanishing species – illustrate the challenges of saving Tigers, one animal at a time.  Fewer than 500 Siberian Tigers, which are the largest of all Tiger subspecies, survive in the wild, including 330-390 adults.  Worldwide, only about 3,200 Tigers exist in the wild, and they face poaching, a reduction in prey species, and habitat loss.

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Photo Credits:  Dale Miquelle © WCS

WCS assisted Russian wildlife officials by deploying two of their staff members, brothers Kolya and Sasha Rybin, who are expert Tiger trackers. The cubs were seen stalking a dog near a small village, so the team knew where to start.  Fresh tracks led the team to the forest, where they found the cubs staring curiously at them from the middle of a road.  Moments later, the cubs vanished into the forest, but the team was able to capture the smallest cub, which weighed only 35 pounds.  The cubs were determined to be about four months old.

Researchers believe that the cubs’ mother was likely killed by poachers.  A 20-year WCS project determined that poaching accounts for nearly 75% of adult Tiger deaths.  Bones and body parts from a single adult Tiger can fetch up to $5,000 for the poacher alone, and once processed for use in traditional Asian medicine, far more.  Female Tigers with cubs seem to be the most vulnerable, because they will defend their cubs rather than flee.

These three cubs probably remained in the spot where their mother was killed, leaving only when they became too hungry to wait any longer.

The team was unable to capture the two remaining cubs for several days.  One was followed for 13 kilometers, yet managed to avoid capture until it ventured onto a military base.

The third cub eluded the team for two more days.  Weak and struggling to walk in the deep snow, the dehydrated animal was captured, warmed, and given fluids and food before making the four-hour trip to the rehabilitation center to meet his siblings.

Over the next seven to eight months, the Tiger cubs will have very limited interactions with people to avoid associating humans with food.  This spring, small prey will be introduced so that the cubs can learn to hunt. They will eventually be released in a remote part of Siberia – three living, breathing symbols of hope for this imperiled species.


Bronx Zoo Hatches Extremely Rare Yellow-headed Box Turtles

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Five Chinese Yellow-headed Box Turtles have hatched at the WCS Bronx Zoo.They are a part of WCS’s strategy to save some of the most critically endangered turtle species in the world. 

Chinese Yellow-headed Box Turtles are considered to be one of the 25 most endangered turtles in the world, with fewer than 150 individuals remaining in the wild. They once thrived in streams in the highlands of the Anhui Province of eastern China. But the population collapsed due to human consumption, use in traditional medicine, pollution, habitat loss, and the pet trade. 

Chinese Yellow-headed Box Turtles require the artificial manipulation of specific environmental and climatic conditions in order to be stimulated to breed. But the experts at WCS’s Bronx Zoo were able to successfully recreate these conditions in propagation areas in the zoo’s Reptile House. 

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“The biology of the species requires the adults to hibernate prior to breeding,” said Don Boyer, Curator of Herpetology at WCS’s Bronx Zoo. “We carefully monitor the environment and gradually reduce the temperature in order to induce a natural state of hibernation. Following hibernation, turtle pairs are introduced and carefully monitored to watch for evidence of courtship and breeding activities.”

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Photo Credit: Julie Larsen Maher

Read more about WCS's fine conservation efforts below the fold:

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After 12-Year Effort by Zoos, Kihansi Spray Toads Returned to the Wild

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The Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo, the Toledo Zoo, Tanzanian government, World Bank and other partners reintroduced 2,000 Kihansi spray toads into the Kihansi Gorge in Tanzania in October. This is the first example of an amphibian species that had been declared extinct in the wild being reintroduced into its native habitat.

The repatriation effort marks a major milestone for a species declared extinct in the wild in 2009. It is the result of a 12-year partnership to breed the toads in captivity while its habitat was restored. 

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 “The WCS Bronx Zoo has been working with our partners for more than a decade to save the Kihansi spray toad with the ultimate goal of  reintroducing it back into the wild,” said Jim Breheny, Executive Vice President and General Director of WCS Zoos & Aquarium and Director of the Bronx Zoo. “The curators in the Bronx Zoo and in the Toledo Zoo – whose expertise allowed them to develop a successful husbandry and propagation program for these unique little toads – have helped to ensure the reintroduction of an important living component back into the Tanzanian ecosystem.”

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