Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

A Polar Bear Cub's Favorite Things

12803096_10153473306087106_5047792844480017729_nWhat do a traffic cone, a swimming pool, and a boomer ball have in common?  They’re favorite toys of Nora, a playful Polar Bear cub at the Columbus Zoo.

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12792275_10153473306197106_2442624859636011837_oPhoto Credit:  Columbus Zoo

As reported by ZooBorns, Nora was ignored by her mother just days after her November 6 birth.  Raising a Polar Bear cub is no small task, but the zoo staff decided to hand-rear the tiny cub.  Weighing just 1.5 pounds when keepers took her in, Nora now weighs 29 pounds and has started eating meat in addition to her soft food diet. 

Nora’s care team reports that she loves to play with the above mentioned toys and has a very independent nature.   They are pleased with how she is developing so far.

Wild Polar Bears are under threat due to melting sea ice in their Arctic habitat and other threats.  Because Polar Bears use ice floes as platforms for hunting Seals, the disappearing ice forces Polar Bears to swim longer distances in search of food.  As the sea ice melts earlier in the spring, Polar Bears are forced to the mainland before they have built up sufficient food reserves to survive the fall, when food is scarce.   

About 20,000-30,000 Polar Bears remain in the Arctic.  They are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.


“Hello, My Name Is…”

Polar Bear Cub 9168 - Grahm S. Jones, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

The public has spoken! Following a worldwide online poll, the three-month-old Polar Bear cub born at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium finally has a name…Nora!

The name was one of four options the Zoo put to a public vote between January 19 and February 3.

The name ‘Nora’, a combination of the cub’s parents’ names, Nanuq and Aurora, garnered the most votes followed by: ‘Kaya’, meaning “little but wise”; ‘Sakari’, meaning “sweet”; and ‘Desna’, meaning “boss”. The Columbus Zoo’s animal care staff had selected the four names, and participants were able to cast their vote online once every 24 hours.

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Polar Bear Cub 9246 - Grahm S. Jones, Columbus Zoo and AquariumPhoto Credits: Grahm S. Jones / Columbus Zoo

 

The cub has gathered a strong following on the Columbus Zoo’s social media pages, where fans have been able to watch videos of her growth. Voting participants spanned the globe, with 115 countries represented in the voting. The top five participating countries were the United States, France, Brazil, Canada and the United Kingdom for a grand total of 88,061 votes.

“We are thrilled and inspired that so many people around the world helped name this young Polar Bear,” said Tom Stalf, president and CEO of the Columbus Zoo. “We hope that those who have been watching Nora grow will continue to do so throughout her life, and remember that we all have a role to play in protecting wild Polar Bears for generations to come.”

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Columbus Zoo Hatching a Plan for Beaded Lizard

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A Beaded Lizard hatched on January 17, at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, and more emerged on January 21 and 22! 

This is the first successful Beaded Lizard hatching at the Zoo since 2000! The recommendation to breed this vulnerable lizard, which is protected under CITES II, comes from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan.

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3_Beaded Lizard emerging at ColumbusZoo

4_Beaded Lizard emerging at ColumbusZooPhoto Credits: Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

The Beaded Lizard (Heloderma horridum) is found in rocky regions of Central and western Mexico, as well as down to northern Central America, but due to habitat loss and poaching their numbers are diminishing.

The Beaded Lizard (also known as the Mexican Beaded Lizard) is the most known of the four species of venomous lizards found in Mexico and Guatemala. The species is larger than the Gila Monster, but it has a more dull coloration-- black with yellow bands.

The lizard becomes sexually mature at six to eight years. The female lays a clutch of two to 30 eggs. In the wild, mating typically occurs between September and October. The eggs are usually laid between October and December, and they hatch the following June or July.

The Beaded Lizard is currently classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Guests to the Columbus Zoo cannot see the little lizards until spring, but the adult Beaded Lizards can be seen at the Zoo’s Reptile Building.


Bright Orange Babies Join Columbus Zoo's Langur Troop

Langur 6727 - Grahm S. Jones, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium started off the new year with a pair of bright orange babies:  Two Silvered Leaf Langurs were born December 1 and January 11, with the latest being the zoo’s first birth of the new year.

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Langur 6845 - Grahm S. Jones, Columbus Zoo and AquariumPhoto Credit:  Grahm S. Jones
 

These births also mark the Columbus Zoo’s first Langur babies since 2011, and the first time two infants were born in a troop since 2010.

Langurs, which have black fur with silvered tips as adults, are born with bright orange fur. This marked difference in coat color is believed to encourage other female Langurs to assist in raising the young, a practice called allomothering.

The births are also important for the breeding recommendations outlined by the Species Survival Plan (SSP), a program coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to manage threatened or endangered species.  Silvered Leaf Langurs are listed as Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to population declines caused by habitat loss. These two babies will help to sustain the langur population among AZA-accredited zoos. 

Patty, age 16, gave birth December 1 to her fifth offspring, who has since been determined to be a girl. Gumby, age 14, gave birth to her sixth offspring, the gender of which has not yet been determined, on January 11. Both mothers mated with Thai, who is 4.5 years old, and are experienced caregivers.

Neither baby has been named yet.  Young Langurs begin to sit and walk on their own after about two weeks.  The babies’ orange fur will gradually be replaced by silvery fur by the time they are six months old.  The older of the two babies is already showing signs of graying in her face, hands, and tail.

The range of the Silvered Leaf Langur includes Brunei, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Wild populations are losing their habitats as lands are cleared for oil palm plantations or destroyed by forest fires. Langurs are also hunted for their meat or captured to serve as pets.

See more photos of the babies below.

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UPDATE: Columbus Zoo Polar Bear Still Needs Helping Hand

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The Polar Bear cub, at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, is now one-month-old!

Two cubs were born November 6, at the Ohio zoo. (ZooBorns posted a November 23rd article sharing the story.) Animal Care staff first observed new mom, Aurora, caring for the newborns. However, despite her efforts, only one cub survived.

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4_12244571_10153301035967106_2713312182985211251_oPhoto Credits: Columbus Zoo & Aquarium

Initially, Aurora was caring for her surviving cub, and the Columbus Zoo animal team, in conjunction with recommendations from other Polar Bear breeding facilities, made the decision not to intervene. Polar Bear cubs are difficult to hand rear and disrupting Aurora’s maternal care was not advised.

Unfortunately, the surviving cub was pulled from the den by the Zoo’s Animal Care staff after Aurora stopped caring for it. Aurora began taking breaks from caring for her cub. When these breaks continued throughout the day and became longer, the Zoo’s Animal Care staff made the decision to remove the cub from the den and began to hand-rear the newborn.

A little over one month later, the cub is doing well. The hand rearing team stays with her 24 hours each day, and she is feeding every 3 hours. The cub is growing at a rapid pace, and as of last week, she was 14.25 inches from the end of her snout to the tip of her tail.

She continues to gain weight and keepers are anxiously waiting when her eyes will open, which should happen very soon. The Polar Bear cub care staff are taking the approach of ‘one day at a time’ and adjusting to her daily needs.

Polar Bears are native to the circumpolar north, including the United States (Alaska), Canada, Russia, Norway and Denmark (Greenland). They are at the top of the Arctic food chain and primarily eat seals. Polar Bear populations are declining due to the disappearance of sea ice, and experts estimate that only 20,000-25,000 Polar Bears are left in the wild. Some scientists believe if the warming trend continues two-thirds of the Polar Bear population could disappear by the year 2050. They are currently classified as "Vulnerable" on the IUCN Red List.


Polar Bear Cub Gets Helping Hand at Columbus Zoo

1_Polar Bear Cub 7503 - Grahm S. Jones, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Two Polar Bear cubs were born November 6 at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. Animal Care staff observed new mom, Aurora, caring for the newborns. However, despite her efforts, only one cub survived. 

Initially, Aurora was caring for her surviving cub, and the Columbus Zoo animal team, in conjunction with recommendations from other Polar Bear breeding facilities, made the decision not to intervene. Polar Bear cubs are difficult to hand rear and disrupting Aurora’s maternal care was not advised.

Unfortunately, last week, the surviving cub was pulled from the den by the Zoo’s Animal Care staff after Aurora stopped caring for it. Aurora began taking breaks from caring for her cub late on the morning of November 19. When these breaks continued throughout the day and became longer, the Zoo’s Animal Care staff made the decision to remove the cub from the den and began to hand-rear the newborn.

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4_Polar Bear Cub 7411 - Grahm S. Jones, Columbus Zoo and AquariumPhoto Credits: Grahm S. Jones / Columbus Zoo & Aquarium

  

At this time, the cub, a female, is healthy and feeding regularly. She weighed in at 1.5 pounds and gained 10 grams soon after Zoo Staff took over. At 2-weeks-old, she is continuing to gain weight, and grows about a half inch every two days. Her nose is turning black and fur is growing on her ears, as well as on the bottom of her paws. Staff will continue to monitor and care for her around-the-clock. The team assesses her daily and makes changes to her routine as need be. They are cautiously optimistic and are pleased with how well she is doing.

Polar Bear reproduction is a very complicated process, which leads to the species having one of the lowest reproductive rates of any mammal. Female Polar Bears generally have their first set of cubs between the ages of four and eight years. Due to delayed implantation, the gestation period can range from about 195 to 265 days. Delayed implantation is a point of time during a Polar Bear’s gestation when a fertilized egg will free-float in the uterus for roughly four months to ensure the cub is born the best time of year for survival.

Pregnant Polar Bears den in the fall and give birth, generally to two cubs, in the winter. The cubs typically weigh about one pound at birth. After birth, the survival rate for a Polar Bear cub during the first few weeks of life is very low due to a number of factors. Some of these factors can be eliminated in a zoo setting though this is still a very delicate time for a newborn.

Polar Bears, much like Giant Pandas, are highly specialized animals that give birth to very small babies, which makes them fragile during their first year of life. Survival rates in human care are around 50%, which is similar to that of wild bears.

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Lemurs, Tigers, and Pumpkins, Oh My!

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It's Halloween, and that means zoo animals around the world are enjoying encounters with pumpkins and gourds of all shapes and sizes.  Animals' reactions to pumpkins vary, but critters may sniff, munch on, or completely destroy their pumpkin treats.

The pumpkins are more than a seasonal celebration - they serve as enrichment for zoo residents. Enrichment provides physical, mental, or sensory stimulation and encourages natural behaviors in animals.  Happy Halloween from ZooBorns!

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Lion Cubs 9982 - Grahm S. Jones, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
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Photo Credits (top to bottom)
Ring-tailed Lemur:  Fort Wayne Children's Zoo
Galapagos Tortoise:  San Diego Zoo
Komodo Dragon:  San Diego Zoo
North American River Otter:  San Diego Zoo
Gorilla:  Paignton Zoo
Asian Elephant:  Oregon Zoo/Shervin Hess
Sumatran Tiger:  Fort Wayne Children's Zoo
African Lion:  Columbus Zoo & Aquarium/Grahm S. Jones
Red Panda:  Fort Wayne Children's Zoo
Spider Monkey:  Paignton Zoo
Satanic Leaf-tailed Gecko:  Dallas Zoo


Tiny Primate Has a Really Tiny Baby at Columbus Zoo

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A very tiny primate at the Columbus Zoo had a very tiny baby on June 9!  Pygmy Slow Lorises weigh only one pound as adults, and their babies weigh only a few ounces but are born fully-developed and with eyes wide open.

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11428237_10152971562502106_5357639955651629422_oPhoto Credit:  Columbus Zoo

First-time parents Gouda and Muenster were paired through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan.  The baby’s gender is not yet known, but it is already climbing with mom Gouda in the zoo’s nocturnal house. 

These little Lorises are not monkeys, but belong to a group of primates called prosimians.  Prosimians include Lemurs, Lorises, Aye-ayes, and Tarsiers.  Slow Lorises produce a toxin from scent glands on their elbows.  When alarmed, they lick the scent glands so the toxin becomes mixed with their saliva, rendering bite from these animals dangerous.

During the day, Pygmy Slow Lorises sleep curled up in the treetops. At night, they emerge to forage for leaves, fruits, and insects.

Pygmy Slow Lorises are native to southeast Asia, including Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. Their habitat was devastated during the Vietnam War, and they are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  


Tiger Trio Boosts Endangered Species

11174275_10152848601202106_7914475494008818571_oThree Tiger cubs born April 21 at theColumbus Zoo & Aquarium bring hope to the critically endangered Amur Tiger population.

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Photo Credit:  Columbus Zoo & Aquarium

The trio, all males, each weighed about 2.5 pounds at birth.   They are the first litter for female Irisa.  Zoo staff spent the first day closely monitoring Irisa and her newborns via a remote camera system.  When it became clear that Irisa was not nursing her cubs, the zoo staff decided to hand-rear these important youngsters.

There are only about 400 Amur Tigers (formerly called Siberian Tigers) remaining in Russia’s Far East, making each zoo-born cub extremely important to the genetic diversity of the species.  The wild population once dipped as low as 40 animals in the 1940s, but improved law enforcement and conservation programs have boosted the population in recent decades.  Poaching continues to be the number one threat to these magnificent cats, which are the largest of the six surviving Tiger subspecies.  Three Tiger subspecies have gone extinct in the last 100 years.

The Columbus Zoo participates in the Species Survival Plan for Amur Tigers, which aims to sustain a genetically healthy population of these rare cats.

 


Penguins Hatch at Columbus Zoo

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The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Ohio has welcomed three Humboldt Penguins to the zoo’s Shores region. The chicks hatched in March and are three of over 20 Humboldt Penguins to hatch at the zoo since 1996.  

Although animal care staff can tell the chicks apart by personality, they will place a colored wing band on the chicks to easily identify them as they start to explore their habitat. All three chicks are doing well and have passed their wellness check-up with flying colors.

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8 penguinPhoto credit: Colombus Zoo

The first to hatch weighed 85 grams, the second weighed 79 grams and the third chick, which hatched last, week weighed in at 56 grams. The first two chicks are males, but the third chick’s sex has yet to be determined.

See and read more after the fold.

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