Cincinnati Zoo

Dale the Takin Reunited with Mom at Cincinnati Zoo


A four-month-old Takin, named Dale, recently had a big day at Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens. He went on exhibit for the first time with his mom, Sally. 



4_CincinnatiZoo_TakinPhoto Credits: Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens (Images 1-5,7); DJJam (Images 6,8,9) 

Soon after his birth, Dale was pulled to be hand raised in the Zoo’s nursery. Sally, a first time Mom, wasn't caring for him. Keepers intervened and turned to another method to assist in Dale’s care. Blakely, the Cincinnati Zoo’s resident nursery dog and part-time nanny, was called into action to do what he does best, snuggle and play. His new companion was, then 3-week-old, Dale.

Nursery keepers gave Dale a bottle every three hours from 6am to midnight, and Blakely provided socialization and taught certain behaviors through play.

Blakely has, in the past, provided this same service for a Cheetah, an Ocelot, Bat-eared Foxes, an Aardvark, a Warthog and brother Wallabies. Dale remained in the nursery with Blakely, until recently when he was reintroduced to his mother.

Not only is Sally (born at the Zoo in 2009) a first-time mom, but this is also a first for Dale’s dad, Harry. Dale’s arrival marked the Cincinnati Zoo’s seventh live Takin birth. The Cincinnati Zoo is one of only 17 institutions in the U.S. that houses Takins.

Sally and Dale are getting along remarkably well and making up for lost time. Dale and his mom can now be seen together in the Zoo’s Wildlife Canyon exhibit.

The Takin (Budorcas taxicolor), also called Cattle Chamois or Gnu Goat, are large muscular hoofed mammals that reside in mountainous bamboo forests. Native to the Himalayas and Western China, they weigh anywhere between 550 and 770 pounds, and have a height range between 3 and 4 feet. Both males and females have unique horns that curve backwards and outwards, and range between 10 and 12 inches in length.

Takins generally live for 12 to 15 years and have a diet of grasses, leaves, buds, and shoots. They are most active in the early morning and late afternoon, using their split hooves to move easily over the rocky terrain.

Gestation lasts about seven months and young weigh about 15 lbs. (7 kg), at birth. Takin kids are much darker in color than adults, as camouflage from predators. They are born with a dark stripe along the back that disappears as they age. Their coat gets lighter in color, longer, and shaggier as they mature. Takin kids eat solid food and stop nursing at around two months of age, but they continue to stay near mom until her next calf is born. Horns begin to grow when the kid is about six-months-old.

Takin are currently classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Their main predators are bears and wolves, which they ward off with low roars and bellows.

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Meet the 50th Gorilla Born at Cincinnati Zoo

A female Gorilla born at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden on August 25 is extra special – she is the 50th Gorilla to be born at the zoo, and her name reflects her unique status.  

Photo Credit:  Jeff McCurry
The baby will be called Elle after zoo keepers submitted two names for an online vote.   The name Elle grabbed two-thirds of the 2,500 votes.

“It is a very rare thing for any zoo to have 50 babies born and we wanted that to be recognized in the baby’s name,” said Ron Evans, Curator of Primates at the Cincinnati Zoo.  

The letter L is the Roman numeral for 50. Elle, which is how the name will be spelled, means girl.  The keepers thought that the name was fitting, and voters agreed.  Goldie, suggested because gold is representative of 50, was the other choice.

There are about 765 Gorillas in zoos worldwide including approximately 360 in the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Program (SSP) for this species. Western Lowland Gorillas are critically endangered in the wild, with less than 175,000 individuals remaining. Due primarily to habitat destruction caused by logging, mineral mining and agricultural expansion, wild Gorilla numbers continue to shrink.  The bushmeat trade – the killing of wild animals to be used as human food – is also a major threat to the western lowland Gorilla population throughout the Central African rainforests.  Over 1,000 Gorillas are illegally poached for the bushmeat trade each year. 

See more photos of Elle below.

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Cincinnati Zoo Shares Photos of New Flamingo Hatchlings


Greater Flamingo chicks are starting to hatch at Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.  The eggs nestled safely in the mud mounds are one-by-one beginning to reveal their contents, and the Zoo is excited to share pics of the first few fluffy hatchlings.



4_11295648_10153281045410479_8272391589082796505_nPhoto Credits: Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

The Greater Flamingo is the most widespread species of the flamingo family. It is native to parts of Africa, southern Asia (Bangladesh and coastal regions of Pakistan and India), Israel, and southern Europe.

The Greater Flamingo is the largest species of flamingo and averages 43 to 60 inches tall and a weight of 4.4 to 8.8 lbs.

The bird prefers to reside in mudflats and shallow coastal lagoons with salt water. The Greater Flamingo feeds with the head down. Their upper jaw is movable and not fixed to the skull. Using their feet, they stir up mud, then suck water through their bill and filter out small shrimp, seeds, blue-green algae, microscopic organisms and mollusks.

When nesting, they lay a single egg on a mound of mud. Most of their plumage is pink and white, but the wing coverts are red, with black along primary and secondary flight feathers. Their bill is pink with a black tip, and their legs are entirely pink. Sub-adult flamingos are whitish-grey and only attain the pink coloration several years into adult life. The bird’s coloration comes from the carotenoid pigments in the organisms that live in their feeding grounds.

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'Chicks Rule' at Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden


A Steller’s Sea Eagle, a Raggiana Bird-of-Paradise chick, and three Spur-Winged Lapwings are among the significant hatchings reported in the past two weeks, at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.

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[Photo Credits: Cassandre Crawford (Image 1: Steller's Sea Eagle chick; Image 2: Raggiana Bird-of-Paradise chick; Image 3: Spur-winged Lapwing chicks)]

Steller’s Sea Eagles are one of the most rare raptors in the world. They are twice the size of, and much more aggressive than, their close relative, the Bald Eagle. The Cincinnati Zoo was the only Zoo in the U.S. to breed this species successfully, until the Denver Zoo hatched a chick last year. Cincinnati has now bred three pairs, and produced 12 chicks, in cooperation with the Species Survival Plan (SSP). There are currently 22 Steller’s Sea Eagles in 11 North American institutions.

Chick watch began on April 29, when Aviculture staff noticed the Sea Eagle parents looking down at their nest more frequently. A chick was first observed on May 3, and by May 7it looked to have doubled in size. Their incubation period can last 39 to 45 days and they lay one to three eggs (but only one chick usually survives).

As of 2009, the Steller’s Sea Eagle population was estimated at 5,000 birds worldwide, but that number is dropping. Although legally protected in Russia, Japan, China, and South Korea, other threats to these rare birds include fossil fuel energy developments, wind farms, pollution, habitat loss, hunting, and possibly global warming.

The Cincinnati Zoo hatched its first Raggiana Bird-of-Paradise chick on May 2. To date, San Diego, Honolulu, and Miami are the only Zoos in the U.S. to produce Raggiana Bird-of-Paradise chicks that lived at least 30 days.

The Cincinnati Zoo’s chick has almost reached that milestone and keepers are optimistic that it will stay in good health. The chick’s 13-year-old father is the most genetically valuable of his species (meaning his genes are the most needed in Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) collections to keep the population as healthy/genetically diverse as possible).

The Cincinnati Zoo has mimicked the life strategy of these birds in the wild.  Males get together and show off in a central tall tree (called a “lek”), while the females gather around to view the spectacle and select a mate.  They breed and she flies off to build her nest and raise her chick all by herself while the male goes back to dancing!

Bird-of-Paradise chicks often do well as hand-reared youngsters. They eat mostly insects, pinkie mice pieces, and papaya and are extremely intelligent birds that can learn to mimic many noises and sometimes speech. All Bird-of-Paradise species are protected, in Papua New Guinea, from the large-scale hunting that occurred there in the late 1800’s and nearly drove several species to extinction. Their feathers and skins were exported, by the thousands, for fashionable hats. Their biggest concern now is rainforest habitat loss.

Three Spur-Winged Lapwings also join the list. Although they are not rare at all in the wild, they are still special to the Cincinnati Zoo and genetically significant offspring from first-time parents.

The Spur-Winged Lapwing breeds around the eastern Mediterranean and in a wide band from sub-Saharan West Africa to Arabia. The Greek and Turkish breeders are migratory, but other populations are resident. The species is declining in its northern range, but it is abundant in much of tropical Africa, being seen at almost any wetland habitat in its range. 

Dozens Of Babies Steal The Show At Cincinnati Zoo

2015-04-02 Lion Cubs 1 626The Cincinnati Zoo is celebrating a baby bonanza – dozens of babies have been born at the zoo in the past few months.  In fact, there are so many babies that the zoo is celebrating “Zoo Babies” month in May.Kea

2015-03-16 MonaJeffMcCurryPhoto Credit:  Cassandre Crawford, Jeff McCurry, Cincinnati Zoo

All the little ones have kept their parents – and zoo keepers – busy.  The three female African Lion cubs are particularly feisty, testing their “grrrl” power on a daily basis with their father John and mother Imani. 

Other babies include three Bonobos, two Gorillas, a Bongo, a Serval, two Capybaras, a Rough Green Snake, Giant Spiny Leaf Insects, Thorny Devils, Little Penguin chicks and Kea chicks.  “This is the largest and most varied group of babies we’ve had. We’re particularly excited about the successes we’ve had with the endangered African Painted Dogs and the hard-to-breed Kea,” said Thane Maynard, Cincinnati Zoo Executive Director.

See more photos of Cincinnati's Zoo's babies below.

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Cincinnati Zoo Receives Plume Award


The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden holds the largest collection of Kea (Nestor notabilis) in North America. The facility is home to 19 of the 45 total birds in Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) accredited institutions. Locally, nationally, and internationally, Cincinnati Zoo staff has worked to improve captive Kea husbandry standards and reproductive success. They also aim to increase public awareness of Kea reproduction research.



KeachicktwomonthsPhoto Credits: Cincinnati Zoo/ Cassandre Crawford

The Cincinnati Zoo’s determination and hard work was rewarded, recently, when it was announced that the facility had received the Plume Award for Noteworthy Achievement in Avian Husbandry, from the Avian Scientific Advisory Group.

The award recognizes excellence in a single facet of husbandry, such as: first-time breeding, reintroduction programs, breeding consortiums, reproduction of a difficult species or taking a leading role in population sustainability. Robert Webster, the Zoo’s Curator of Birds, and the Cincinnati Zoo Bird Department (Kimberly Klosterman, Jennifer Gainer, Cody Sowers, Dan Burns, Aimee Owen, Rickey Kinley, Steve Malowski and Jackie Bray) have worked tirelessly to achieve breeding success with a species known to have reproductive challenges. The Cincinnati Zoo’s Kea program consists of a breeding flock, an interactive exhibit and a partnership with Kea Conservation Trust in New Zealand.

The bird staff credits flocking and free mate choice as key contributors to the success of its breeding program, as well as assistance from many other Zoo departments and devoted volunteers.  “Best of all, we are able to share the insights we are learning with captive Kea-holders throughout the world and with the conservationists whose work we support in the birds’ native New Zealand,” said Webster.

During the last three years, the Cincinnati Zoo has successfully hatched 13 chicks, more than any other zoo in North America. 2014 was especially bountiful, with the fledging of six chicks. During the summer, the Kea flock shares the exhibit with several other avian species, including Nicobar Pigeons, Pied Imperial Pigeons, Magpie Geese, and Cape Barren Geese. Most recently the Aviculture department formed a partnership with the Zoo’s Lindner Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW) to start a foundation in Kea reproduction research. 

“I couldn’t be more excited about Cincinnati Zoo’s success with breeding Kea this year! This flock includes a number of genetically important birds and the population has been struggling with breeding in recent years, so these chicks represent a great move in the right direction. Cincinnati’s unique way of housing and managing Kea in a large flock has proven to be a great combination of guest experience and breeding opportunity for this species,” said Jessica Meehan, AZA Kea SSP Coordinator.

“The international community has great interest in Kea because of their unique ecology, amazing intelligence, and charismatic personalities. There is no other avian species on Earth quite like them,” said Webster. “The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden recognizes that Kea are a wildlife gem and that their loss would be tragic. We have attempted to do everything in our power to ensure that Kea are around for future generations.”

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Little Blue Penguins Hatch at Cincinnati Zoo


The Cincinnati Zoo is home to five species of penguins, and their colony of Blue Penguins recently increased their census with the hatching of their newest chicks!




Photo Credits: Cassandre Crawford/ Cincinnati Zoo

The Blue Penguin (also known as: Little Blue Penguin, Fairy Penguin, or Little Penguin) is the smallest species of penguin. It is native to the coastlines of southern Australia and New Zealand. They grow to an average of about 13 inches (33 cm) in height and 17 inches (43 cm) in length. Their name alludes to their slate-blue plumage.

Blue Penguins are diurnal and spend the biggest part of their day swimming and foraging for food at sea. During breeding and chick rearing seasons, they leave their nests at sunrise, forage for food throughout the day and return to nest just after dusk. Blue Penguins rub tiny drops of oil, from a gland above their tail, onto every feather. This task of preening with oil helps keep their feathers waterproof while swimming.

Blue Penguins mature at different ages. A female will mature at around two-years, and a male will, however, reach maturity at about three-years-old.  They remain faithful to their partner during breeding season and hatching. They will swap burrows at other times of the year, but they also exhibit site fidelity to their own nesting colony.

Nests are situated close to the sea in burrows excavated by the birds or other species. They will also nest in caves, rock crevices, under logs or in a variety of man-made structures (nest boxes, pipes, stacks of wood, buildings). They are the only species of penguin capable of producing more than one clutch of eggs per breeding season. The one or two, white or mottled brown, eggs are generally laid from July to mid-November. Incubation can take up to 36 days, and the chicks are brooded for 18-38 days. They fledge after 7-8 weeks.

The Blue Penguin is classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List. However, their populations are threatened by a variety of terrestrial creatures, such as: cats, dogs, rats, foxes, and large reptiles. Due to their diminutive size, some colonies have been reduced in size by as much as 98% in just a few years. A small colony near Warrnambool, Victoria, Australia was reduced from approximately 600 penguins in 2001 to less than 10 in 2005. Because of this threat, conservationists pioneered an experimental technique using Maremma Sheepdogs to protect the colony and fend of potential predators. 

Serval Kitten 'Jumps Right In' at Cincinnati Zoo


The Cincinnati Zoo’s newest resident is a two month old male Serval kitten!  ‘Zeke’ was born at the Gladys Porter Zoo, in Brownsville, Texas. 




Photo Credits: Cassandre Crawford

The feisty boy is currently in quarantine, at the Zoo’s nursery, to ensure he is healthy before introduction to the other animals. He will remain in nursery, for the remainder of the spring. During this time, staff will also have the opportunity to work hands-on with him and prepare him for future participation in the Zoo’s Cat Ambassador Program.

Cincinnati Zoo’s Cat Ambassador Program is a unique experience that allows visitors, by special arrangement, to see some of the beautiful cats, up-close and without bars. Not only are guests allowed to witness the cat’s athletic abilities, they are provided an opportunity to learn more about their importance to the world and the challenges they face as a species. Zeke will, eventually, become a member of the Cheetah Encounter Show, which features cats with exciting running and jumping prowess.

The Serval is a medium-sized African wild cat. They have the longest legs of any cat, relative to body size. Most of the increase in length is due to the greatly elongated metatarsal bones in the feet. The toes are also elongated, and unusually mobile, helping the animal to capture partially concealed prey. The Serval also possesses an acute sense of hearing, which is attributed to their large ears and auditory bullae in the skull.

In the wilds of Africa, they prefer to inhabit the savanna. They do, on occasion inhabit mountainous areas, but tend to avoid equatorial jungles. They are able to climb and swim, but have no partiality to either.

The Serval is mainly nocturnal, and they generally stick to hunting of smaller prey.  Because of their legs, they are record jumpers and are also able to run at speeds of, up to, 50mph /80 km/h.  They are also known to be highly intelligent and lovers of mischief.

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It's a Girl, a Girl, and Another Girl for Cincinnati's Lion Family

Lioncubs-2_loThe Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s three lion cubs, born November 13 to three-year-old mother Imani and four-year-old father John, got their first health checkup last week.  The zoo’s veterinary staff and animal care team weighed the feisty felines, administered vaccines, and determined that all cubs are female!

10896179_10152957413230479_622878698910617856_oPhoto Credit:  Cinncinnati Zoo

Now that genders are known, the zoo is inviting fans to suggest names on the zoo’s Facebook and Twitter accounts using the tag #CZBGLionCubs. 

“The three cubs behaved just as you would expect during their first wellness physical.  Being handled by strange two-legged creatures who poked and examined them, all the while being separated from the safety and security of mom, the cubs hissed and tried to get away,” said Josh Charlton, Curator of Mammals.

According to vet staff, the cubs are healthy and right on track with each weighing about 20 pounds. The next big step will be to introduce John to Imani and the cubs.  “The introduction process has already begun.  John and the cubs have had positive interactions during several nose-to-nose ‘howdy mesh’ sessions in the past two weeks. We’ll continue to monitor their behavior and will put the pride together when the time is right,” said Charlton.

“African Lions in the wild are disappearing at an alarming rate. These cubs will be great ambassadors for their species and inspire people to act for wildlife,” said Thane Maynard, Executive Director of the Cincinnati Zoo. “We look forward to seeing the whole Lion family out in the Africa exhibit together this spring.”

Imani was born at the Saint Louis Zoo and came to the Cincinnati Zoo as the result of a breeding recommendation from the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) Lion Species Survival Program (SSP).  She was introduced to John earlier this year, and this is the first litter for both of them.

Lions are considered vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as the result of climate change, hunting, and habitat loss. Following a review of the best available scientific information, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently proposed listing the African Lion as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The agency’s analysis found that Lions are in danger of extinction in the foreseeable future.

See more photos of the female feline trio below.

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Gorilla Baby Finds New Home at Cincinnati Zoo

Baby(pat story)

Primate Keepers and staff, at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, have traded in their uniforms for faux-fur vests. The team is working ‘round the clock to care for a female baby Gorilla.  

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Kamina.jpg 1693Photo Credits: Photo 1 (Pat Story); Photos 2,3,4 (Michelle Curley/Cincinnati Zoo)

“Kamina” (Kuh-me-nuh), born August 16th at the Oklahoma City Zoo, was abandoned by her mother, “Ndjole”, immediately after her birth. Keepers at Cincinnati Zoo were previously successful in raising another Gorilla baby, “Gladys”, via surrogate human moms, and were eager to assist Kamina and provide the care she needed. 

Ron Evans, head of primates, and Head Nursery Keeper, Dawn Strasser went to Oklahoma City to spend time with Kamina and her caregivers before bringing the baby back to Cincinnati. Kamina came to Cincinnati on a private jet, held by Evans and Strasser.

Non-stop holding is a vital part of the human surrogacy program. The bond between a mother Gorilla and her baby is intensely close, so infant Gorillas need to be held and loved. It needs to be part of their growth process even if their mother cannot provide it. The human surrogates wear a felt vest covering when holding Kamina to their chest. It resembles the chest of a Gorilla mother.

There is no known reason why mother Gorillas reject their babies. Ndjole had successfully connected with her first child. One theory is that it may have been a difficult birth that put Ndjole off to motherhood this time around.

Today, Kamina's outlook is positive. She will be raised by a team of 10-15 people at the Cincinnati Zoo who are responsible for her 24 hours a day, seven days a week. These people will also wear knee pads and mimic gorilla behavior. This will take place for the next three months, at least. During this time, Kamina will be shown to the other gorillas at the zoo. They will be able to observe each other, but for the time being, they will not be able to touch.