Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Blissful Winter Baby Boom at Columbus Zoo

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The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium recently announced the arrival of seven babies, representing three at-risk species, born in late January and early February. The new additions are: five Asian Small-clawed Otter pups, a Silvered Leaf Langur baby, and a Humboldt Penguin chick.

According to the Zoo, each new little one contributes to maximizing genetic diversity within their species and sustaining populations of those facing serious threats to their future in their native ranges.

The baby boom began with the arrival of the five Asian Small-clawed Otter pups, born during the early morning hours of January 26.

Native to coastal regions from southern India to Southeast Asia, Asian Small-clawed Otters (Aonyx cinereus) are often threatened by habitat destruction, pollution and hunting. These factors place them at risk in their native range, and they are currently classified as “Vulnerable” by the IUCN.

The pups (three males and two females) were born to first-time parents, Gus and Peanut. Peanut was born in 2014 and arrived at the Columbus Zoo in April 2017 from the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. Father, Gus, was born in 2008 and arrived at the Columbus Zoo from the Bronx Zoo in 2014.

According to staff, the young pups are thriving under the watchful eyes of both of their parents and are expected to be on view to the public later this spring.

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3_Asia Small Clawed Otter Pups 2294 - Grahm S. Jones  Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

4_Asia Small Clawed Otter Pups 2271 - Grahm S. Jones  Columbus Zoo and AquariumPhoto Credits: Grahm S. Jones/ Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

The Columbus Zoo was also proud to welcome a female Silvered Leaf Langur baby on February 16. The female was born to mother, Patty, and father, Thai. Patty made her way to the Columbus Zoo from the Bronx Zoo in 2007 and has given birth to seven offspring. Thai arrived at the Columbus Zoo in 2015 from the San Diego Zoo and has fathered a total of four infants.

Patty, Thai, and the newest Langur arrival are currently on view in the Zoo’s Asia Quest region. Staff reports that the baby is easy to spot as Langurs are born bright orange, as opposed to their adult counterparts with black fur and silvered tips. This difference in coat color is believed to encourage other female Langurs to assist in raising the young, a practice called “allomothering”.

In their native ranges, Silvered Leaf Langurs (Trachypithecus cristatus) can be found in areas including Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia. The species’ populations in these countries are decreasing due to habitat loss as lands are cleared for oil palm plantations or destroyed by forest fires. Langurs are also hunted for their meat or taken for the pet trade.

The Columbus Zoo’s pairing of Patty and Thai was based on an SSP recommendation, and the birth of the new baby will play an important role in helping manage this at-risk species. Silvered Leaf Langurs are listed as “Near Threatened” by the IUCN, due to population declines caused by habitat loss. The arrival of this Langur baby at the Columbus Zoo is an important part of sustaining the population among AZA-accredited zoos, certified related facilities and conservation partners.

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Two Rare Gazelles Born at Columbus Zoo

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The Columbus Zoo & Aquarium welcomed not one but two rare Dama Gazelle calves in January. A male Dama Gazelle calf was born on January 14 to mom Layla and dad Zultan. Just three days later, a female calf was born to first-time mom, Susie Cruisie. Susie’s calf had difficulty nursing, so the animal care staff stepped in to provide bottle feedings. The calf is doing well and returns to the herd after each feeding.

The calves have not yet been named, and they are bonding with their mothers behind the scenes.

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Gaz 3Photo Credit: Columbus Zoo & Aquarium

The breeding of these Gazelles was recommended as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan® (SSP). The species is Critically Endangered, with fewer than 300 Dama Gazelles left in their native African range in Chad, Mali, and Niger. The biggest threats to Dama Gazelles are habitat loss due to livestock overgrazing, land development, and uncontrolled hunting. The Columbus Zoo supports the Sahara Conservation Fund (SCF), which monitors the Dama Gazelles’ population and their distribution in their native range.

Dama Gazelles are the largest of all Gazelles, with adults weighing up to 165 pounds. Both males and females have S-shaped horns. Calves are born after a gestation period of about six months, and can run as fast as adults by the time they are one week old.

 


Columbus Zoo Works to Preserve Pallas’s Cat

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The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is excited to announce the May 23rd birth of a Pallas’s Cat kitten. The kitten’s birth marked the second live offspring ever produced with artificial insemination in Pallas’s Cat.

Columbus Zoo's Pallas’s Cats breeding pair, Manda and Paval, were observed mating in the winter. However, the Zoo determined that the female, Manda, was not pregnant. Animal care staff and veterinarians worked with the Carl H. Lindner Jr. Family Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW) at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical garden to conduct an artificial insemination procedure in mid-March, near the end of the pair’s winter breeding season. The subsequent birth of the Pallas’s Cat kitten is the first offspring produced by Manda and Paval.

“CREW scientists have been working in collaboration with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Pallas’s Cat Species Survival Plan (SSP) and the Columbus Zoo for several years to apply reproductive sciences, such as semen freezing and artificial insemination (AI), to improve Pallas’s Cat propagation and conservation,” said Dr. Bill Swanson, Director of Animal Research for CREW. “We are pleased with the results and look forward to continuing to build an understanding of our role in the preservation of this threatened species.”

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19989264_10154892566092106_159425387795079120_nPhoto Credits: Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Animal care and animal health staff have only recently determined that the kitten is a female. While the kitten and her mother are venturing into the habitat, father, Paval, will not be back on view with Manda again until the kitten is ready to be on her own at around nine-months-old.

The Pallas's Cat (Otocolobus manul), also called the ‘manul’, is a small wild cat with distribution in the grasslands and mountains of Central Asia.

Since 2002, the species has been classified as “Near Threatened” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It is negatively affected by habitat degradation, predation from species (including domestic dogs), poaching, and secondary poisoning from farming pesticides and rodent control.

The Pallas's Cat was named after the German naturalist Peter Simon Pallas, who first described the cat in 1776 under the binomial Felis manul.


Polar Bears Get Ready for Important Mother’s Day

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ZooBorns introduced readers to Columbus Zoo and Aquarium's trio of Polar Bear cubs in our featured article posted on International Polar Bear Day: "A Trio of Polar Bears for 'International Polar Bear Day' ".

On November 8, first-time mom, Anana, gave birth to twins at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium (unfortunately, one of the cubs passed away soon after). On November 16, Anana’s own twin sister, Aurora, also gave birth to twins!

Aurora and her twins recently made their much-anticipated public debut, and it was announced that the twins are male and female. Anana and her female cub also made their first public appearance!

The Zoo reports that the three cubs will not be on view together, as female Polar Bears typically raise their young independently.

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and The Wilds staff are naming the twins through one of the many employee initiatives raising funds for conservation.

However, Polar Bear fans can vote for the moniker of Anana’s female cub through a naming contest via the Zoo’s website: www.ColumbusZoo.org/NameTheCub

Just follow the link to their page and cast a vote for one of the pre-selected names before May 2. The names for all the cubs will be announced on Mother’s Day, May 14!

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4_Anana's polar-bear-cub-slide-29521c932bd2f67d7bdc2ff0000bf4b43Photo Credits: Columbus Zoo and Aquarium (Images 1-4: Anana and her daughter / Images 5-8: Aurora and her male and female twins)

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A Trio of Polar Bears for 'International Polar Bear Day'

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Today is ‘International Polar Bear Day’, and in honor of the efforts to save this species, we are introducing you to a trio of adorable new cubs!

On November 8, a Polar Bear named Anana gave birth to twins at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. On November 16, her sister, Aurora, also gave birth to twin cubs. However, this great news was met with the unfortunate passing of one of Anana’s cubs.

This is Aurora’s third time producing twins; the first litter did not survive and the now famous, Nora, was born in the second litter on November 6, 2015. Nora was hand reared by the Zoo team after Aurora left her alone in the den when she was six days old.

Activity inside the dens was being monitored using remote cameras, and the reason for the loss of Anana’s cub will likely never be known. Animal care staff members, who had been observing Anana and Aurora 24 hours a day, noted the cub stopped moving, but Anana continued to groom the cub and held it in position to nurse.

“At this time, both Anana and Aurora are attentively caring for their cubs but the sudden loss of one of Anana’s cubs is a sad reminder of how fragile their lives are both in our care and in their native Arctic environment,” said Carrie Pratt, Curator of North America and Polar Frontier. “We remain hopeful for the survival of these cubs as well as for the future of Polar Bears.”

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4_Anana's_Polar Bear Cub 5545 - Grahm S. Jones, Columbus Zoo and AquariumPhoto Credits: Columbus Zoo & Aquarium / Grahm S. Jones (Images: 1-9,11,12) ; Amanda Carberry (Image: 10)

The sire to all the cubs is 28-year-old Nanuq who came to the Columbus Zoo in 2012. As long as Aurora and Anana continue to care for cubs in their dens, Nanuq is the only Polar Bear visible to guests.

Anana and her cub are taking baby steps to explore other areas of the maternity den. The little one is now eating chow and will also steal little slivers of meat from mom. The cub is also climbing and running on sand piles and sod. After being introduced to a few inches of water (up to the belly), the cub is a big fan. The cub’s sex will be confirmed during the vet wellness check-up in the coming weeks, and both mom and baby will remain off-view until spring.

Aurora and her twin cubs are also experiencing similar milestones as her sister and cub. The cubs are being introduced to more of the behind-the-scenes yards with sand and sod (slowly growing their world) and they are doing great. They are also eating chow and sneaking bits of meat from mom. The twins have been introduced to a few inches of water. According to keepers, they will put all four paws in, splash around and stick their snouts in. Afterwards, they like to roll on the sod to dry off. The twins’ sex will be confirmed during their vet wellness check-up in the coming weeks, and, as with Anana and cub, both mom and babies will likely be on view in the spring.

Nanuq is the oldest male Polar Bear to reproduce in a North American zoo. Nine-year-old twins Aurora and Anana arrived at the Columbus Zoo in 2010 when the Polar Frontier region opened. All three bears came from other zoos on breeding loans as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan (SSP) for the threatened species.

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. Pregnant Polar Bears den in the fall and give birth, generally to two cubs, in the winter. The cubs grow quickly on their mother’s fat-rich milk before emerging from the den in the spring.

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 population could disappear by the year 2050.

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, in partnership with Polar Bears International (PBI), has provided support to 14 conservation projects in three countries since 1998. In recognition of the Zoo’s conservation and education programs, PBI has designated the Columbus Zoo an Arctic Ambassador Center.

For more information on the work PBI does, and 'International Polar Bear Day', please see their website: www.polarbearsinternational.org 

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Rescued Manatees 'Millennium' & 'Falcon' Land in Columbus

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Twin Manatees orphaned after their mother suffered fatal boat-related injuries arrived at the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium this month as part of the zoo’s Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership.

Weighing about 100 pounds each, the twin calves were rescued from Florida waters earlier this year.  Twins are extremely rare among Manatees, making up about one to four percent of births.  The pair have been named Millennium and Falcon.

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Manatees 9077 (Falcon) - Grahm S. Jones, Columbus Zoo and AquariumPhoto Credit:  Grahm S. Jones/Columbus Zoo & Aqaurium
The twins will join Stubby, a long-time resident of the zoo, and new arrivals Jedi and Junebug.  Manatees are very social animals and keepers expect the five to get along well. 

Most of the orphaned Manatees taken in by the Columbus Zoo and its partners are released back into the wild once they reach adulthood and are deemed able to survive on their own. 

Manatees give birth to live young and nurse their babies just like humans and other mammals.  Adults typically weigh more than 1,000 pounds.  They feed only on vegetation that grows on the sea floor and move slowly, never leaving the water.  Manatees live in coastal waters, rivers, and inlets, where they may encounter motorboats or become tangled in fishing nets.  They are listed as Vulnerable to extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. 

See more photos of the twins below.

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A Cheetah and His Dog

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The Columbus Zoo’s ten-week-old Cheetah cub, Emmett, recently met his new companion puppy, seven-week-old Cullen!

Emmett was born at the Wilds in Cumberland, Ohio. Due to a bout of pneumonia, he was hand-reared, for several weeks, while receiving treatments. After his recovery, he was moved to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

Emmett picked Cullen to be his companion dog, and the two have become quite the pair! Cullen will help Emmett to be more confident and calm. Emmett will soon begin his travels with Jungle Jack Hanna’s team and be an ambassador for his cousins in the wild. Cullen will be with him every step of the way!

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4_14188436_10153934649177106_4843894163779890520_oPhoto Credits: The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

The Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) is a big cat that is native to eastern and southern Africa and a few parts of Iran.

The Cheetah is characterized by a slender body, deep chest, spotted coat, a small rounded head, black tear-like streaks on the face, long thin legs and a long spotted tail. It reaches nearly 70 to 90 cm (28 to 35 in) at the shoulder, and weighs 21–72 kg (46–159 lb). Though taller than the leopard, it is notably smaller than the lion.

Cheetahs are active mainly during the day, with hunting its major activity. Adult males are sociable despite their territoriality, forming groups called "coalitions". Females are not territorial; they may be solitary or live with their offspring in home ranges. Cheetahs mainly prey upon antelopes and gazelles.

The speed of a hunting Cheetah averages 64 km/h (40 mph) during a sprint; the chase is interspersed with a few short bursts of speed, when the animal can clock 112 km/h (70 mph). Cheetahs are induced ovulators, breeding throughout the year. Gestation is nearly three months long, resulting in a litter of typically three to five cubs (the number can vary from one to eight). Weaning occurs at six months; siblings tend to stay together for some time. Cheetah cubs face higher mortality than most other mammals, especially in the Serengeti region. Cheetahs also inhabit a variety of habitats: dry forests, scrub forests and savannahs.

The Cheetah is classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List. The species has suffered a substantial decline in its historic range due to rampant hunting in the 20th century. Several African countries have taken steps to improve the standards of conservation.


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…”

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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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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.