Connecticuts Beardsley Zoo

Tiger Sisters Raise Awareness for Endangered Species

Tiger cubs jan 23 2017

Remarkably, Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo’s ten-year-old Amur Tiger, Changbai, gave birth to four cubs on November 25.

However, only two survived. When keepers observed Changbai showing little interest in caring for the two surviving females, the cubs were removed and taken into the care of the keepers.

Zoo staff members were aware of the Changbai’s pregnancy through fecal hormone testing, and had been keeping a 24-hour watch on the expectant mom. A female tiger at the age of ten has only a twenty percent change of a successful pregnancy, so good husbandry and a quick response from the animal care team makes a difference. When Zoo staff saw that the first-born kitten unresponsive, and that Changbai was not interested in grooming or nursing the remaining kittens, a decision was made to remove them to begin feeding. A second kitten died later that first night.

Zoo veterinarians and animal care staff have since been providing around the clock care and supervision for the remaining cubs, named Reka and Zeya. The two kittens’ survival is an important step forward in maintaining the genetic diversity of Amur Tigers worldwide, an endangered species that is rapidly disappearing from the wild.

Tiger Cub Reka

Tiger cub by olivia grahamPhoto Credits: Beardsley Zoo (Images 1,2,4)/ Olivia Graham (Image 3)

Amur Tigers (Panthera tigris altaica), also known as Siberian Tigers, are very rare. According to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) statistics, today’s Tigers are thought to occupy less than seven percent of their original range: Korea, north-eastern China, Russian Far East, and eastern Mongolia. They are currently classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List. Threatened by habitat loss and degradation, poaching, tiger-human conflict, and loss of prey, four of nine subspecies have disappeared from the wild just in the past hundred years. The future of the Amur Tiger has been a major concern of the world’s zoos for many years.

All Tigers now have protected status in the wild, but that doesn’t guarantee their safety. A breeding program recommendation comes from the Species Survival Plan (SSP), administered by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums in accredited zoos. Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo is home to the parents: male, Petya, and female, Changbai, who joined the Zoo family last winter. Managed by the SSP, inter-regional transfers are arranged with careful attention to gene diversity in the hope that successful breeding will take place.

The Zoo recently announced that a webcam was installed in the nursery of Reka and Zeya, and it is now streaming images in real time, all thanks to Zoo sponsor, Blue Buffalo. Viewers can enjoy watching the cubs live from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week. The cubcam is set up in the nursery in the Zoo’s on-site Animal Health Care Center, where the two sisters have been cared for since their birth. To view the cubs, visit the Zoo website at: .

The Zoo recently launched a fundraising campaign through The Impact Vine to raise funds for the planning and design of a renovated Tiger habitat, raising more than $5,000 in a record six days. Donations are still being accepted for enlargement and enhancements to the habitat, which can be made through a link on the cubcam page. There has been intense interest in the cubs, which has helped to raise awareness about endangered species around the world.

Tiger cubs with raised paw

Connecticut's Only Zoo Now Home to Critically Endangered Red Wolf Pups!


Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo is pleased to announce the birth of four critically endangered Red Wolf pups! Today, just 100 Red Wolves roam their native habitats in eastern North Carolina, and nearly 200 Red Wolves are maintained in captive breeding facilities throughout the United States. Because of this, the birth of four pups – two male and two female - represents a welcome increase in the overall scarce population.

“We couldn’t be happier with how (the babies) are coming along,” stated Gregg Dancho, zoo director. “Both the Red Wolf mother and father are taking well to parenthood and the pups are just starting to venture out into the Wolf den for short periods of time.







Learn more about these rare pups below the fold...

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Otters Pups Get First Checkup at Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo

1 otter

Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo has welcomed four North American River Otter pups, born on February 15. The babies had their first exam by the zoo's veterinarian on April 17, revealing the sex and general health of the otters.

The pups are two females and two males. The females weighed in at 3.1 pounds (1/4 kg) and 2.29 pounds (1.04 kg) while the males weighed in at 3.06 pounds (1.4 kg) and 3.4 pounds (1.5 kg) Dr. Hochman, who has been a vet at the zoo for 43 years, checked their overall wellness, listened to their hearts, and gave them their first vaccination. The pups also had identification transponders inserted. (This is standard operating procedure and does not cause the animals any discomfort.)

2 otter

3 otter

5 otterPhoto credit: Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo

"At nearly nine weeks old, the pups have yet to venture out in public," explains Zoo Director Gregg Dancho. "They opened their eyes for the first time about two weeks ago and are just starting to explore the world around them. We expect that any day now, their mom will be coaxing them out to teach them to swim. If all goes well, these little ones will be swimming like pros within a week."

Mom, named Necedah, arrived at the only zoo in 2012 from the Minnesota Zoo and Dad, Rizzo, arrived in 2004 from the St. Louis Zoo. She is two years old and he is 11 years old. This is Necedah's first litter and Rizzo's fifth. Currently, Rizzo, Necedah, and their pups are the only otters in residence at the Zoo. The four pups are expected to be on exhibit at Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo through the fall, at which time some or all may be transferred to other Association of Zoos and Aquarium's member institutions for breeding.

See and read more after the fold.

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A Second Miracle at Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo


The Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo and Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s Lindner Center for Conservation & Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW) are excited to announce the birth of the world’s first endangered cat produced by Oviductal Artificial Insemination (AI)!  Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo’s veterinarian and a handful of other Zoo animal care specialists conducted their first physical examination of the Brazilian Ocelot kitten today, six weeks after its January 22 birth, and determined it’s a girl, weighing in at three pounds. This AI kitten is the second born to the mother, Kuma, who previously gave birth in 2008 to a healthy kitten conceived using the traditional AI method.  Kuma is the first Ocelot to have multiple pregnancies and kittens produced by AI. 





Photo credits: 1st photo by Chris Eastland / 2nd - 6th photos by Shannon Calvert

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Forget Jon and Kate: Hamton the Pig Plus Fourteen Piglets!

Hamton the pig had a busy spring at Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo, cozying up with not one but two charming Guinea Hog sows, Jodie and Olivia. This past week, both sows gave birth to big litters, eight and six respectively, making Hamton the proud father of fourteen little piglets! Guinea Hogs are a domestic breed that was once the most prevalent in the American Southeast, but today their are only about 200 individuals left.

Connecticuts beardsley zoo baby guinea hog pigs 1

Connecticuts beardsley zoo baby guinea hog pigs 4

Connecticuts beardsley zoo baby guinea hog pigs 3

Connecticuts beardsley zoo baby guinea hog pigs 2Photo credits: Shannon Calvert

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"Miracle Kitten" Born at the Beardsley Zoo

For only the third time in history, an ocelot kitten has been born via artificial insemination technology. Born at the Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport, CT, this little boy was dubbed the "miracle kitten" because of the long odds of success for this procedure, which has not been performed successfully for over a decade.

As part of the Association of Zoos and Aquarium's Species Survival Plan, this little ocelot will join the small population of Brazilian ocelots at zoos in the United States that may one day help to rebuild the wild population.

We here at ZooBorns would like to point out that if the Woodland Park Zoo's baby ocelot kittens didn't convince you that these are the cutest baby kitties in the world, Miracle Kitten pretty much seals the deal for the feline kitten title.





IMG_1126Photos by: Shannon Calvert

Incidentally, I (Andrew) grew up just a couple of miles from the Beardsley Zoo and it remains one of my all time favorites. If you don't happen to live in Connecticut, plan a stop over next time you're cruising between NYC and New Haven, or Boston, or Maine, or Canada. Definitely worth the trip.

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