Cincinnati Zoo

Rejected Cheetah Cub Finds a Home at Cincinnati Zoo

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Four Cheetah cubs in the Cincinnati Zoo’s nursery now have a brother from another mother:  A lone Cheetah cub, just 12 days older than the zoo’s litter of four, arrived in Cincinnati from Oregon’s Wildlife Safari after his mother was unable to care for him.

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25614535764_e41463f765_bPhoto Credit:  Mark Dumont   

Wildlife Safari and the Cincinnati Zoo, both members of the Cheetah Breeding Center Coalition (BCC), agreed that it would be beneficial for the single cub to join the four cubs being cared for in the zoo’s nursery.  “Socialization and companionship, ideally with other Cheetahs, is important at this age,” said Christina Gorsuch, Curator of Mammals at the Cincinnati Zoo.

Because the four premature cubs in the Nursery are still receiving critical care, it will be a week or two before they’re introduced to the bigger cub.  “He’s stronger and much larger than the other cubs.  We will supervise initial visits and ease him into the mix,” said Gorsuch.

All of the cubs will eventually become ambassadors for their species. Two males will move to another zoo and the others will remain in Cincinnati as part of the Cat Ambassador Program.        

Nursery and vet staff are doing everything they can to help the cubs gain weight and make it past the critical one-month milestone. They will remain in the nursery for four to six more weeks.   Visitors may be able to view the cubs through the nursery windows, but some feedings and exams will take place behind the scenes.   

Cheetahs are endangered, and their population worldwide has shrunk from about 100,000 in 1900 to an estimated 9,000 to 12,000 Cheetahs today. 

See more photos below.

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Brazilian Ocelot Births Help Conservation and Research

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Since 2010, three Brazilian Ocelot kittens (females “Milagre,” “Ayla,” and “Revy”) have been produced using artificial insemination (AI) techniques developed and performed by scientists from the Cincinnati Zoo’s Center for Conservation & Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW).

All three of these genetically valuable Ocelots have gone on to produce offspring of their own as a result of natural breeding. The most recent kitten was Neto who was born to Revy at the Santa Ana Zoo in December. Revy is the last of the three AI offspring to reproduce.

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4_neto -ethan fisherImage 1: Revy as a kitten by Bill Swanson ; Images 2,3,4,8: Revy and Neto by Ethan Fisher ; Images 5,6,7: Revy and Neto by Lauren Bergh ; Images 9,10,11,12: Milagre and kitten Matteo by Shannon Calvert ; Images 13 & 14: Ayla and kitten courtesy Dallas Zoo

“Without the AI option, Milagre, Ayla and Revy – and all of their subsequent offspring - would have never existed and the long-term genetic viability of our Brazilian Ocelot population would have been further diminished as a consequence,” said Dr. Bill Swanson, CREW’s Director of Animal Research and one of the world’s authorities on breeding endangered small cats. “Only 30 Brazilian Ocelots exist in North American Zoos, and seven, or nearly one quarter of the population, were born as a direct or indirect result of AI. That’s strong evidence that biotechnology can play a major role in species conservation.”

In October of 2014, on a recommendation from the Ocelot Species Survival Plan (SSP), which makes breeding pairings based on each individual’s genetic importance to the population as a whole, Revy moved from the Cincinnati Zoo, where she was born, to the Santa Ana Zoo to breed with “Diego,” a male from Oklahoma City Zoo. Because Diego’s parents were imported from Brazil to the United States in 2006 (a process that took six years to plan & execute), Diego’s genetic lineage was considered critically important to establishing a sustainable, genetically viable population.

“Revy and Diego are both extremely valuable to the Ocelot SSP due to the multiple founder lines they represent. The fact that they are compatible and have produced a kitten through natural breeding is a significant step toward conserving this species,” said Swanson. “Our objective is to use AI when necessary to produce offspring that then can breed on their own.”

The SSP’s goal is to increase the Brazilian ocelot population in North American zoos from 30 to 125 individuals. In some cases, however, the SSP’s carefully selected breeding pairs fail to reproduce naturally, sometimes due to behavioral incompatibilities (as with Revy’s parents) or, occasionally, physical impairments (as with Milagre’s and Ayla’s mother).

CREW scientists perform many of the AI procedures with wild cats in the U.S. They focus primarily on five priority small cat species: Ocelots, Pallas’ Cats, Black-footed Cats, Sand Cats, and Fishing Cats.

Dr. Swanson has also aided in AI procedures on tigers, lions, and leopards, in the past few years. “We have become the go-to source for AI in cats, as well as rhinos and polar bears, because of CREW’s expertise and past success. All cat SSPs have pairs that are not reproducing on their own for various reasons, so we try to help out with other cat species as much as possible,” said Swanson.

In cats, AI has been used to produce offspring in 12 species (tiger, snow leopard, cheetah, clouded leopard, leopard cat, ocelot, tigrina, fishing cat, Pallas’ cat, golden cat, leopard, puma), but half of those AI births consist of only a single pregnancy.   Historically, cheetahs have been most successful, with about 13 AI pregnancies produced since 1991 (but none since 2003) followed by the ocelot (with 5 pregnancies).

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Nursery Dog Cares for Orphan Cheetah Cubs

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Five Cheetah cubs have been receiving critical care in the Cincinnati Zoo’s nursery since they were born on March 8. The cubs were born via C-section, to mom Willow, at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s Cheetah Breeding Facility.

Unfortunately, their mother has passed away. Zoo vets were hopeful that the five-year-old Cheetah would make a full recovery following surgery, but Willow remained lethargic and recently lost her appetite.

“Cheetahs are a fragile species and this difficult birth proved to be too much for her to pull through," said Thane Maynard, Director of the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. “Willow was able to contribute to the survival of her species by producing five Cheetah cubs. Without the C-section, we likely would have lost both the mom and the cubs.”

Nursery staff have been bottle-feeding the premature cubs every three hours and closely monitoring their weight. Australian Shepherd “Blakely,” the Zoo’s resident nursery companion and former nanny to several Zoo babies, has been called into action to provide snuggling, comfort and a body to climb.

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4_25645696440_e87706eaee_zPhoto Credits: Images 1,2 (Mark Dumont); Images 3,4 (DJJAM Photo); Image 5 (Cincinnati Zoo)

  

  

“They really turned a corner this weekend. They opened their eyes, had good appetites and, most importantly, they pooped!” said Head Nursery Keeper Dawn Strasser of the cubs. “It’s important to keep their digestive system moving. We’ve been massaging their bellies and giving them opportunities to exercise as much as possible.”

Blakely will have his paws full with this assignment. “His first job is to let the cubs climb on him, which they did as soon as they were put together. They need the exercise to build muscle tone and get their guts moving,” said Strasser, who supervises daily climbing sessions and other interactions with Blakely.

As the cubs grow, Blakely’s role in their development will shift from climbable companion and hairy warm body to teacher and role model. He taught his last student, a baby Takin named Dale, to jump up on rocks and to keep his head butts in the gentle range. Blakely’s first charge, a single Cheetah cub named Savanna, learned the difference between a playful bite and the start of a fight from Blakely.

The cubs (3 boys and 2 girls) will remain in the nursery for at least 8-12 weeks. After that, they will be hand-raised and trained to be Cheetah Ambassadors. Zoo visitors may be able to view the cubs through the nursery windows, but some feedings and exams will take place behind the scenes.

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Rescued Manatee Finds A Home At Cincinnati Zoo

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A two-year-old Manatee rescued in Florida arrived at the Cincinnati Zoo to continue his rehabilitation before being released back into the wild.

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Djjam (8)Photo Credit:  Cincinnati Zoo
 
BamBam was rescued from a canal in Brevard County, Florida in January 2015.  He was treated for severe cold stress at SeaWorld Orlando before moving to the Cincinnati Zoo in October.

“He is quite energetic, which is what you’d expect from a young Manatee in a new environment. The cold stress on his tail has caused some tissue damage, however it does not appear that his mobility is compromised at all,” said Cincinnati Zoo curator Winton Ray. “Upon his arrival in Cincinnati, BamBam weighed 335 pounds, which represents a healthy, 100-pound weight gain since June.”

He joined 25-year-old Manatee Betsy, who weighs almost seven times as much as he does, in the zoo’s Manatee Springs tank. “Since being introduced to Betsy, keepers have seen exactly what they expected and were hoping for,” says Ray. “He is very ‘clingy’ towards her, and she is patient and gentle with him.”

The Cincinnati Zoo is one of two United States zoos outside of Florida that participate in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Manatee Rescue, Rehabilitation and Release Program. The goal of this program is to rescue and treat sick or injured Manatees and then release them back into the wild.

A subspecies of West Indian manatees, Florida Manatees are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  They are at risk from both natural and man-made causes of injury and mortality. Exposure to red tide, cold stress, and disease are all natural problems that can affect Manatees. Human-caused threats include boat strikes, crushing by flood gates or locks, and entanglement in or ingestion of fishing gear.

See more photos of BamBam below.

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Dale the Takin Reunited with Mom at Cincinnati Zoo

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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. 

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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

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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.  

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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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