Denver Zoo

Fishing Cat Cub Is a First for Denver Zoo

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Denver Zoo is excited to announce its first successful birth of a Fishing Cat. The cub, whose sex is not yet known, is named Miso-Chi (MEE-soh-CHEE) and was born on January 25.

The cub was born to mother Namfon (NAAM-fawn) and father Ronaldo. Namfon was born at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, in Washington D.C., in May 2012 and arrived at the Denver Zoo in July 2013. Ronaldo was born in June 2013 at a private facility in Houston, Texas, that specializes in the propagation of rare and endangered species and arrived at Denver Zoo from there in April 2014. The two were paired under recommendation of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP), which ensures healthy populations and genetic diversity among zoo animals. Fortunately, the couple has proved to be an excellent match.

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4_baby_fishing_cat_02Photo Credits: Denver Zoo

Fishing Cats are scattered throughout southwest India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Malaysia, Thailand, Sumatra, Java and Pakistan, living primarily in wetland areas like swamps, marshes and densely vegetated areas along rivers and streams.

As their name suggests, Fishing Cats are powerful swimmers and fish form an important part of their diet. However, they are generalist feeders. Rodents, amphibians and aquatic birds are also fare. The cats have been observed attracting fish by lightly tapping the water’s surface with their paw, mimicking insect movement. They then dive into water to catch the fish that come near and, because their claws do not fully retract, use them like fishing hooks to spear the slippery fish. Fishing Cats also wade in shallow water to hunt for prey to scoop out.

Although they resemble a domestic house cat, they are about twice the size of an average house cat. They can grow from about two to almost three feet long, with a foot long tail. They also weigh 18 to 26 pounds and have stocky builds with short legs. Their fur is olive gray with dark spots arranged in longitudinal stripes down the back and a ringed tail tipped in black. They have flat-nosed faces with short round ears and six to eight distinctive dark lines running from above the eyes between the ears over the head to the neck. Fishing Cats are very much adapted to their semi-aquatic life, with water resistant fur and webbed hind feet to power them through the water. Their short, flattened tail acts as a rudder to help control direction as they swim.

Exact Fishing Cat population numbers in the wild aren’t known because they are so rarely encountered. However, it is believed there are less than 10,000 individuals, and their numbers are declining. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) currently classifies them as “Vulnerable”. Their biggest threats are wetland destruction and conversion to farmland. They are also threatened by pollution from industry, agricultural pesticides, and destructive fishing practices. The species is also threatened by poaching for food, medicine and body parts. In addition, Fishing Cats are often a target of local farmers in their native habitat. The farmers believe the cats are solely responsible for the killing of their small livestock and damage to their fishing nets. While this does happen occasionally, they are often blamed for acts other animals commit. Fishing Cats are also hunted for the exotic pet trade.

Denver Zoo recently voted to donate $1,500 to the Fishing Cat Fund, which seeks to educate the public about Fishing Cats as well as to conserve cats in the wild. The money for this comes from the Zoo’s membership animal care donation “check box,” which supports conservation projects for species of the AZA Species Survival Plan (SSP).

Visitors to the Denver Zoo can see the new cub, alongside mom, learning to dive for live fish in the waters of the Marynelle Philpott Fishing Cat Lagoon exhibit at Toyota Elephant Passage.


Baby Giraffe Gets Help From Two Zoos

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A baby Reticulated Giraffe born February 28 at the Denver Zoo received a plasma transfusion as a precaution after he experienced difficulties in his first few days of life. 

Staff at the Denver Zoo did not know until recently that the calf’s mother, Kipele, was pregnant. When she delivered her calf, which keepers named Dobby, staff was on hand to monitor the birth and the baby’s progress.  Baby Giraffes normally begin nursing within a few hours of birth and receive important antibodies from colostrum, which is the nutrient-rich milk produced at the end of pregnancy. When the staff noticed that Dobby was not nursing and had trouble standing, they stepped in to feed the calf and provide critical care.

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Baby_giraffe-Dobby_01Photo Credit:  Denver Zoo

Dobby began nursing and seemed to gain strength with his supplemental feedings, but blood tests showed that Dobby did not receive enough infection-fighting proteins from his mother due to his difficulties with nursing. So veterinarians provided colostrum-replacer and a transfusion of plasma to boost Dobby’s immune system.

Giraffe plasma is not easy to obtain, but fortunately the nearby Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, where Kipele was born, was able to help.  Keepers there had done voluntary training with their Giraffes, which hold still for injections and small blood samples. Recently, they were able to collect larger volumes of blood in order to bank plasma for emergency situations just like this one.

The cooperation between the Denver Zoo and Cheyenne Mountain Zoo staff is just one example of the tremendous cooperation among zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.  Zoos work together to save animals – from entire species on the brink of extinction to individual animals like Dobby.

See more photos below!

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“It’s the Great Pumpkin…!”

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Pumpkins and Jack-o-Lanterns are indicative of the fall season…and Halloween.

Zoo Keepers work hard to keep their animals healthy and happy. Enrichment toys and activities are an important tool that Keepers utilize to help in that pursuit. Enrichment items encourage natural behavior and stimulate the senses…and what could be more stimulating, this time of year, than celebrating by tearing into a bright orange pumpkin!

Happy Halloween from ZooBorns!

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Image 1: (Lynx) Tierpark Hellabrunn / Marc Muller

Image 2: “Red Pandas, Jung and Nima, get into the Halloween spirit”/ Chester Zoo

Image 3: (Snow leopard) Woodland Park Zoo

Image 4: (Amur Tiger) Woburn Safari Park

Image 5: Piglets-in-a-pumpkin/ Tierpark Berlin

Image 6: “Andean Bear, Bernie, tucks into honey-coated treats”/ Chester Zoo

Image 7: “Black Jaguar, Goshi, enjoys and early treat”/ Chester Zoo

Images 8, 9: Elephant Pumpkin Stomp/ Denver Zoo

Image 10: (Chimpanzee)/ Detroit Zoo/ Jennie Miller

Image 11: (Bison)/ Detroit Zoo/ Jennie Miller

Image 12: (Giraffe “Mpenzi”)/ Detroit Zoo/ Jennie Miller

Image 13: (Hippo)/ Woodland Park Zoo/ Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren

Image 14: (Tiger)/ Woodland Park Zoo/ Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren

Image 15: (Maned Wolf)/ Woodland Park Zoo/ Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren

More adorable Halloween pics, below the fold!

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Sweet Red Panda Sisters at Denver Zoo

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Denver Zoo welcomed the birth of two Red Pandas on June 6. The female cubs, named Lali and Masu, are currently in a nesting box and are being cared for by their mother, Faith.

On rare occasion, Zoo guests may see the mother bring the cubs outside the nesting box. However, the cubs will remain mostly behind the scenes until September, when they’re more developed and ready to fully join their father, Hamlet, in the Red Panda exhibit.

Zookeepers are keeping a close eye on Lali and Masu; Zoo veterinarians perform regular exams to check weight, temperature and overall wellness.

In their first weeks of life, the cubs were not gaining weight or regulating their body temperatures. Both were diagnosed with pneumonia and started on daily tube feedings, antibiotics and fluids. They slowly began gaining weight and recovering, and are now off of treatment and doing well under the care of their mother. Recently they began opening their eyes but, as newborns do, they sleep most of the day and night.

This is a first litter for both parents. Faith, the mother, was born in June 2014, and dad, Hamlet, was born July 2013. Faith made her way to Denver from Trevor Park Zoo, and Hamlet arrived from Toronto Zoo, last year, under breeding recommendation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan.

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Red_panda_cubs_03Photo Credits: Denver Zoo

In the wild, the Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens) inhabits the Himalayan mountains of China, India and Nepal, where they are threatened by habitat destruction and hunting. They are currently classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

The Red Panda communicates with squeaks, chattering noises and chipmunk-like sounds.

Although it shares the same name, the Red Panda is not related to the Giant Panda. In fact, the Red Panda is not related to any other animals, making it unique.

As with the Giant Panda, female Red Pandas are only fertile for just one day a year and can delay implantation until conditions are favorable. They give birth to between one and four young at a time, and the cubs are born with pale fluffy fur, which darkens to the distinctive red coloration of the adults over the first three months.

Red Pandas, like Giant Pandas, have very specialized diet requirements and eat a large amount of bamboo daily.

Red Pandas are part of the Global Species Management Plan (GSMP) in zoos around the world. GSMP is allied with field conservation efforts for animals around the world.


Gorilla Birth at Denver Zoo Is a Very ‘Good Thing’

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Denver Zoo is celebrating the birth of a critically endangered Western Lowland Gorilla. The female, named Whimsie Adepa (ah-DEEP-ah), was born to mother Tinga (TIN-gah), and father, Jim, just before midnight on February 25. She is the first birth of her species at the Zoo in 11 years and the fifth ever in the Zoo’s history. The second part of her name, Adepa, translates to “good thing” in the Akan (AH-khan) language of Ghana. Guests can see her now at the Zoo’s Great Apes building.

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4_gorilla_baby-Whimsie_02Photo Credits: Denver Zoo

 

This is Tinga’s first offspring, but zookeepers say she’s quickly learning her new role as a mother. She is with Whimsie Adepa at all times, vocalizes to her and pats her back to soothe her. Jim is now a second-time father, after his daughter, Jabali, was born in 2004. Zookeepers say he is noticeably protective and gentle.

Tinga, herself, was the last birth of her species at Denver Zoo, in May 2005. She was born while her troop, from Los Angeles Zoo, stayed at Denver Zoo during the construction of their new habitat. She returned to Denver Zoo in November 2014. Jim was born at Los Angeles Zoo in August 1987 and came to Denver Zoo in April 2003. The two were paired under recommendation of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP), which ensures healthy populations and genetic diversity among zoo animals. Fortunately, the couple has proven to be an excellent match.

Western Lowland Gorillas live in the lowlands, swamps and forests of western central Africa. They can grow to four to five and a half feet tall. Adult males can weigh up to 500 pounds, while females are significantly smaller and can weigh up to 300 pounds. Their fur is predominantly black with a brownish tinge and a reddish-brown cap on top of the head.

They are social animals and live in family groups, called troops, consisting of an adult silverback male, several adult females, and their offspring. Family groups may number from 2 up to 35 individuals but usually consist of five to 10 animals. The adult male and females usually stay together for life while the young leave when they reach maturity.

Wild populations of the species are difficult to estimate due to the dense forests and constant movement of family groups, but there are believed to be only 112,000 Western Lowland Gorillas and the number is declining. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies them as “Critically Endangered”. Their greatest threats come from habitat loss because of logging and agriculture, but recently, the hunting of primates, including gorillas, for the growing bush meat trade has further threatened their survival.


Denver Zoo’s Lion Cubs Make Public Debut

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Denver Zoo's two-month-old Lion cubs recently made their public debut in the maternity yard of the Benson Predator Ridge exhibit. Visitors may now see male Kalu (pronounced Kuh-LOO) and female Kamara (pronounced Ka-MAR-uh), along with the rest of the Zoo's lion pride, as they explore their new habitat, weather permitting.

Zookeepers say prime viewing hours will occur between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. The cubs will only be given outdoor access when it is 45 degrees F or warmer.

ZooBorns shared the cub’s birth announcement in late September.

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4_lion_cubs_04-a786ef24a9988fd9b0b8300a499ae9fePhoto Credits: Denver Zoo

 The sibling’s names were chosen after an online naming contest, held to thank voters for their support of the Scientific & Cultural Facilities District of Denver, Colorado, which provides nearly one-quarter of the Zoo's annual funding.

The cubs were born to mother, Neliah, and father, Sango, on the morning of September 10. For the last two months, Kalu and Kamara have spent their time behind the scenes, bonding with their mom and adjusting to their new surroundings. The two were later introduced to the rest of the pride, dad Sango and female Sabi. Zookeepers say Sabi has been very attentive to the cubs, while Sango is relatively hands-off. Zookeepers say the five are already behaving as a very cohesive group. They will continue to stay together.

The cubs currently weigh around 20 pounds each and are growing at a rate of two to four pounds per week. While they are still nursing, they recently began consuming solid foods. Zookeepers describe the male cub, Kalu, as playful and energetic, while female, Kamara, is a bit more timid. Regardless, both still enjoy running around and wrestling with each other and other members of the pride.

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Endangered Zebra Foal on Exhibit at Denver Zoo

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Denver Zoo announced the birth of a Grevy's Zebra on October 8! The male foal was born, on exhibit, to mother Farasi, and keepers have named him Bosley. Zoo visitors can see the mother and newborn in their outdoor exhibit, weather permitting.

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3_Dever Zoo Bosley and momPhoto Credits: Denver Zoo

Farasi is not a first-time mother, but this recent birth marked the first time she has given birth at Denver Zoo. The father is 15-year-old Punda, who is the only male in the herd. Punda and Farasi were paired under recommendations of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP), which ensures genetic diversity and healthy populations among zoo animals.

The Grevy’s Zebra (Equus grevyi), also known as the Imperial Zebra, is the largest extant wild equid and the largest and most endangered of the three species of zebra, which includes the Plains Zebra and the Mountain Zebra. Native to Kenya and Ethiopia, the Grevy’s Zebra is named after Jules Grévy, who was president of France in the 1880s. French naturalist Emile Oustalet first described the species in 1882.

Compared to the other zebra species, the Grevy’s Zebra is taller, has larger ears, and narrower stripes. It prefers to live in semi-arid grasslands and feeds on grasses, legumes and browse. It can survive up to five days without water. The Grevy’s Zebra differs from the other species in that it does not live in a harem and does not maintain lasting social bonds.

They can mate and give birth, year-round. Gestation lasts about 390 days. Females with young foals may gather into smaller groups, and mares may leave their foals in ‘kindergartens’ while searching for water, usually protected by a single adult male. In order to adapt to the semi-arid environment they are native to, Grevy’s Zebra foals have longer nursing intervals and wait until they are three months old before they start drinking water. The foals become less dependent on their mothers after 6 months, but they continue their association for up to three years.

The Grevy’s Zebra is classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List. It is estimated there are less than 2,500 Grevy’s Zebras still living the wilds of Africa. The main threats the species faces are: loss of habitat, competition for resources with livestock, and being hunted for their skins.


Denver Zoo Announces Birth of Lion Cubs

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Two African Lion cubs were born, at Denver Zoo, on September 10 to lioness Neliah. The brother and sister are currently with their mother, behind the scenes, in the Zoo's Benson Predator Ridge exhibit. Zookeepers are monitoring the family via a closed circuit camera and giving them space during this critical bonding period. They will remain off exhibit during this time.

"This is the first time we've had lion cubs at Denver Zoo since 2006, and we are thrilled," says Denver Zoo Vice President of Animal Care Hollie Colahan. 

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4_Father 'Sango'_oPhoto Credits: Denver Zoo (Image 3: Mom 'Neliah'; Image 4: Dad 'Sango')

The cubs were born in the early morning to parents Neliah and Sango, and, so far, mother and cubs are doing great. Zookeepers say they are precocious, moving around frequently, vocalizing and naturally competing when trying to nurse at the same time. Neliah, a first-time mother, has done a wonderful job. Keepers say she is very calm and attentive, regularly grooming the two and allowing them to nurse.

Neliah arrived from Florida's Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens in November of last year. The 3-year-old joined the Zoo's young lion pride, with male Sango and female Sabi, both also 3-years-old. Neliah was born at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens on June 30, 2012 and arrived at Denver Zoo through a recommendation of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums' (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP), which ensures healthy populations and genetic diversity among zoo animals. Sango, the Zoo's only adult male lion, was born on July 28, 2012 at Ellen Trout Zoo in Lufkin, Texas, and arrived at Denver Zoo in 2013. The cubs are his first offspring, as well.

African Lion cubs are born after a relatively short gestation period of between 100 and 110 days, and they come into the world with spotted coats and their eyes closed. Lionesses normally give birth to between two and four cubs. For the first two months, the cubs drink only their mother's milk and are fully weaned by the time they are seven months old.

The lion (Panthera leo) is one of the five big cats in the genus Panthera and a member of the family Felidae. The commonly used term African Lion collectively denotes the several subspecies found in Africa. With some males exceeding 550 lbs. (250 kg) in weight, it is the second-largest living cat after the tiger. The lion is currently listed as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List, having seen a major population decline in its African range of 30-50% per two decades during the second half of the 20th century.

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Sea Lion Pup Dives In at Denver Zoo

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There's a new set of flippers splashing around Colorado's Denver Zoo. A California sea lion pup, born on the evening of June 11, is the first of its species born at the zoo since 2010. Weighing in at just 20 pounds, the unnamed male pup is starting to learn how to swim with the help of his mother,  Luci.

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Photo credits: Denver Zoo

 

 Although pups can see and vocalize at birth, they usually don't learn to swim for a week or two. Keepers say that he's turning out to be very vocal, making lots of sheep-like noises, and he's starting to show a curious and independent personality in his swimming sessions with mom. 

Luci makes a wonderfully attentive mother. At night, she wakes her pup to make sure he is nursing regularly, and keeps a close eye on him when the two are at the seal pool. She's been eating 20 pounds of fish per day to ensure that the pup is receiving milk that is high in nutrients. The pup will spend his first year nursing while transitioning to fish.

Visitors can watch mother and pup exploring the zoo's Northern Shores exhibit, weather permitting. 

The pup is the second offspring for Luci and father, Nick, who welcomed female Ady in 2010. (Luci was born in Orlando, Florida at Sea World in 2001 and came to Denver Zoo two years later. Nick came to Denver Zoo from the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach, California in 2008.) 

California Sea Lions are found along the west coast of North America from Baja California to British Columbia. They are highly social animals, gathering in large groups called colonies. Their streamlined bodies allow them to swim at speeds of 25 to 30 miles per hour (40 to 48 km/hr), and their remarkable vision allows them to see well during the day and at night. They are listed as a species of Least Concern on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List.

Sea Lions are born after a 12-month reproductive cycle. This begins with a 3-month delayed implantation, when the embryo lies dormant before implanting into the uterus. This process is followed by a 9-month gestation period. The little pup has a lot of growing to do: adult males weigh 500 to 800 pounds (227 to 363 kg) as adults, while adult females are between 200 and 250 pounds (91 to 113 kg). 


Prickly New Litter at Denver Zoo

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Denver Zoo has an adorable new prickle of baby Hedgehogs!    

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20150202_baby_hedgehogs077_CBPhoto Credits: Denver Zoo

The babies were born in the zoo’s education department. They are currently with their mother, off exhibit, but once old enough, they will be used for outreach and other programs sponsored by Denver Zoo.

Depending on the species of Hedgehog, the gestation period is anywhere from 35-58 days. The average litter is 3-4 young for larger species and 5-6 newborns for the smaller species. Hedgehogs have a relatively long lifespan for their size. Larger species live 4-7 years in the wild, and smaller species live 2-4 years (4-7 in captivity).

Hedgehogs are born blind with a protective membrane covering their quills, which dries and shrinks over the next several hours, after birth. The infants are born with quills beneath the skin, like pimples, and pass the skin after they have been cleaned. Eventually, the young will shed their baby spines (called “quilling”), and they will be replaced with adult spines.

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