Denver Zoo

Denver Zoo Welcomes Rare Clouded Leopard Cubs

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Denver Zoo is celebrating the birth of two Clouded Leopard cubs, born March 14. They are the first births of their species at the zoo. The unnamed cubs, a male and a female, are doing well now after zookeepers began steps to hand-raise them. Their mother, Lisu (LEE-soo), gave birth to the cubs in a private birthing stall inside Toyota Elephant Passage, but did not then tend to them. Zookeepers believe this is because first-time mother Lisu was hand-raised herself and lacks the experience to rear her own cubs. After a few hours, zookeepers moved the cubs to another building and began a protocol to provide food and medicine every three hours for the time being. The cubs will remain behind the scenes until they grow older.

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The cubs are not only the first births for Lisu, but her mate, Taji (TAH-jee), as well. Lisu was born at Nashville Zoo in March 2011 and came to Denver Zoo that following November. Taji was born at Tacoma, Washington’s Point Defiance Zoo in June 2011 and also arrived that November. 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.

Despite their name, Clouded Leopards are not actually a species of leopard. Because they are so unique they are placed in their own genus, Neofelis, which is a combination of Greek and Latin words meaning "new cat." They are considered a 'bridge' between typical big cats, like lions and tigers, and the small cats, like pumas, lynx and ocelots. Their body lengths can range from about two to almost four feet long and they can weigh between 24 and 50 pounds. Their tawny coats with distinctive cloud-shaped dark blotches provide excellent camouflage in their forest habitat, enabling them to stalk prey and also hide from potential predators.

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Denver Zoo Staff Help Save Tamandua Baby

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A newborn Southern Tamandua baby is alive and doing well at Denver Zoo thanks to the dedication of zookeepers and veterinarians who are caring for the infant around the clock. On March 7, Rio gave birth to her first offspring, believed to be female, whom keepers have named Cayenne. 

Zookeepers realized within 24 hours of Cayenne’s birth that she was not getting enough milk, as Rio, an inexperienced first-time mom, became inattentive to the baby and was not allowing her to nurse. Zookeepers and veterinarians began bottle feedings around the clock and monitoring Cayenne’s weight and temperature while she was housed in an incubator. Staff used established protocols obtained from experts at other zoos that have also had to hand rear baby Tamanduas. 

They continued to give Rio time to bond with and nurse her baby, and Rio is slowly learning her role as a mother. Little by little, Rio is becoming more accustomed to Cayenne behind-the-scenes at the zoo’s Gates Animal Housing Center.

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“We knew from our conversations with experts at other zoos that it can take a new Tamandua mother a while to develop maternal instincts, and first births of this species typically have low success rates,” says Denver Zoo Education Animal Programs Manager Kristin Smith. “We were determined, though, to make sure this baby would survive while Rio figured out how to be a good mom.”

Tamanduas are born following a 180 day gestation period. As her expected birth date approached, zookeepers provided Rio with a nest box that let her feel safe, yet still allowed zookeepers to monitor her status. Veterinarians regularly performed ultrasound examinations to measure the head and body size of the new baby as well to check both the mother and baby’s body condition. Zookeepers also slowly increased Rio’s diet based on her needs.

This is the first birth, not only for Rio, but also her mate, Quito. Rio was born in November 2004 at Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kansas and came to Denver Zoo in April 2005. Quito was born in August 2012 at Reid Park Zoo in Tucson, Arizona and arrived atDenver Zoo in April 2013. 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. Cayenne was named after the capital of French Guiana, in keeping with the tradition of her parents being named after notable South American cities.

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Okapi Bonds with Mom at Denver Zoo

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Denver Zoo has announced the birth of a rare Okapi! The male calf, named Jabari (Jah-bar-ee), was born to mother, Kalispell (Kal-lis-pell), and father, Sekele (seh-Kee-lee), on February 3. He is only the sixth birth of his species at the zoo. Jabari will remain behind the scenes for a little while longer, but visitors will soon be able to see the youngster as he grows and becomes more self-sufficient.

Jabari, Swahili for 'brave', is the first birth for both of his parents. Sekele and Kalispell were paired under recommendation of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan, which ensures healthy populations and genetic diversity among zoo animals. Kalispell was born at Denver Zoo in 2009 and was actually the Zoo’s last okapi birth prior to Jabari. Sekele was born in 2009 at the San Diego Zoo and arrived at Denver Zoo in 2010. 

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This rare species was only first described by science about 100 years ago. Very little is known about the behavior of the Okapi in the wild due to its shy, elusive nature. Much of what is known has been learned in zoos in the past 45 years. 

Okapis look like a cross between zebras and giraffes. In fact, the species is the closest living relative to the giraffe. In addition to long necks, okapis have reddish bodies, black-and-white striped legs and 12-inch, purple, prehensile tongues. Adult okapis weigh between 500 and 700 pounds (about 227 to 318 kg) and stand approximately five feet (1.5 m) tall at the shoulder. Females are generally larger than males. The Okapi’s gestation period is between 14 and 15 months.

Native only to the Ituri Forest of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), survival of the Okapi is seriously threatened by unsettled political conditions and rebel military actions in that part of the DRC. Wild population estimates for the species are extremely difficult to determine because the forest is so dense, but scientists believe there are between 10,000 and 50,000 individuals. Their numbers are believed to be declining, and Okapis are classified as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Additional threats come from habitat loss and hunting.


Tawny Frogmouth Chick is a First for Denver Zoo

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Keepers at Denver Zoo in Colorado know from experience that Tawny Frogmouths are difficult to breed. Over the years they have struggled with problems such as infertility and finding compatible pairs. Two birds hatched at Denver Zoo in 1996, but they passed away less than two days after hatching. Now all the work has finally paid off: the zoo has successfully hatched and raised a Tawny Frogmouth chick for the first time!

The chick, named Kermit, whose sex is still not known, hatched on January 27. Lucky visitors may be able catch a glimpse of the new chick in its home of 'Bird World', where it is being brooded by its parents. Zookeepers monitor the chick's weight closely each morning and supplementally feed it as needed.

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Kermit is the first chick for both father, Nangkita (Nang-kee-tah), and mother, Adelaide. Nangkita hatched at Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo in June 2009 and came to Denver Zoo in January 2010. Adelaide hatched at Chicago's Brookfield Zoo in July 2012 and arrived at Denver Zoo a year later. The two were paired under recommendation of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Species Survival Plan, which ensures healthy populations and genetic diversity among zoo animals by recommending pairings that will prevent inbreeding. Fortunately, this pair has proved to be an excellent match.

As their name indicates, Tawny Frogmouths are known for their wide frog-like mouths, which they use to catch insects and other small animals. They are sometimes mistaken for owls as they have very similar body types, but are actually more closely related to birds like whippoorwills and nightjars. Tawny Frogmouths are also masters of disguise. Their beige and brown feathers remarkably resemble the tree branches in which they roost. When they feel threatened they sit perfectly still and rely on their camouflage to hide from predators.

Tawny Frogmouths inhabit forests and open woodlands in Australia and Tasmania. Scientists are not sure how many Tawny Frogmouths exist in the wild. Their greatest threats come from being hit by cars while feeding and exposure to pesticides. 


Denver Zoo Welcomes World's Most Endangered Cat

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Denver Zoo is celebrating the birth of a Critically Endangered Amur (ah-Moor) Leopard cub named Sochi, born December 3.

The young male, named for the Russian city hosting this year's winter Olympics, is the tenth birth of his species at Denver Zoo since Amur Leopards arrived at the zoo about 25 years ago. After spending some time bonding mom, Dazma (Dazz-mah), Sochi can now be seen by zoo guests inside the zoo's feline building.

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Sochi is the second cub for Dazma and her mate, Hari-Kari (Harry Care-ee). Hari-Kari was born at El Paso Zoo in 2003, while Dazma was born at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in 2001. The two came to Denver Zoo and 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.

Amur Leopards take their name from the Amur region in eastern Russia. Once found from South Korea to north of the China-Russia border, they are now nearly extinct in the wild due to poaching for fur, loss of habitat and trophy hunting. In fact, Amur Leopards are considered the most endangered cats on the planet. Though there are differing reports about just how many of them remain in the wild, the largest estimation is less than 50 individuals, compared to 96 in North American zoos. In 1989, when Denver Zoo's first Amur Leopard arrived, there were still less than 50 in the wild and only 10 in North American zoos.

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UPDATE: Misha Makes Her Debut at the Denver Zoo

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Misha the Snow Leopard, born on May 13, made her public debut this week at the Denver Zoo.

For the last two months, Misha and her mother Natasha have been bonding behind the scenes.  The curious cub is learning to climb, jump, and pounce under the watchful eye of her mother. As the only cub in her litter, Misha has been getting all the milk she wants and has gained nearly four pounds since her birth, now tipping the scales at about five pounds. As a full grown adult, she could weigh around 75 pounds. 

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Natasha and her mate Himal were paired under recommendation of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan, which ensures healthy populations and genetic diversity among zoo animals. Although this is Himal’s first cub, Natasha is an experienced mother, having given birth to cubs in 2005, 2007, and 2008. 

Snow Leopards are native to mountainous areas above the tree line in central Asia and in the Himalayan regions of Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan.  Snow Leopards are classified as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and their numbers are decreasing. Major threats to their survival include poaching for their fur, bones and other body parts, loss of habitat, and decreasing availability of prey animals. Currently, their wild population is estimated at between 2,000 and 7,000 individuals.


Denver Zoo Welcomes Endangered Grevy’s Zebra Foal

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There’s a new set of stripes in Denver Zoo’s Zebra yard today. An endangered female Grevy’s (Greh-veez) Zebra was born in the evening on June 13. Within the first day, the unnamed foal was already comfortably exploring her new home with her mother, Topaz, who kept near her new baby. Guests can see mom and daughter with the entire herd in the yard now.

This is the third foal for Topaz and she is still proving to be an excellent mother, carefully shepherding the young foal around their yard. Topaz and the foal’s father, Punda, 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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Photo Credit: Denver Zoo

Take a look at baby and mom outside in the sun!

Grevy’s Zebras are considered endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), with a wild population estimated at fewer than 2,000 individuals. Their largest threats come from loss of habitat, competition with livestock, and poaching. They have disappeared from most of their former habitats and are now only found in dry deserts and open grasslands in northern Kenya and southeastern Ethiopia.

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Endangered Snow Leopard Cub Born in Denver

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Photo Credit: Denver Zoo

Though summer has just begun, the Denver Zoo just received a wintery resident, a baby Snow Leopard. Born on May 13th, the zoo's newest resident, a female cub, has been named Misha.

For now, visitors will have to wait to catch a glimpse of Misha as she remains in her mother's den, as she would in the wild, until she gets a little bigger. Once her mother determines it is time for Misha to explore the world, they will venture out together for all to see.

While Misha's mother Natasha is an experienced three time mother (she had offspring in 2005, 2007 & 2008), it is the first offspring for her father Himal. The pair were brought together in Denver in 2010 per a recommendation by the Association of Zoos & Aquarium's Snow Leopard Species Survival Plan with the hopes that they would bear offspring. The pair have valuable genetics, and their reproduction together is a huge boost the captive Snow Leopard population.

Snow Leopards are native to the mountains of central Asia and the Himalayas. They live at high elevations, above the tree line, and have a number of adaptations to survive in this harsh environment. They possess a very well-developed chest, short, powerful limbs, and a long thing tail that help them navigate the steep rocky terrain. Their large paws act as snowshoes, helping them walk along the snowy mountaintops.

Snow Leopards are classified as "endangered" by the IUCN. With a population estimated to be between 2,000 and 7,000 and dropping quickly due to poaching for their fur and habitat loss, every birth is a victory in this species' fight for survival.




Endangered Przewalski's Foal Born at Denver Zoo

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Denver Zoo celebrated the birth of an Endangered Przewalski's (sheh-VAL-skee’s) Horse foal, on the morning of May 31. The unnamed foal, whose gender is still not known, is not only the first birth for mother, Yisun, and father, Bataar, but also the first birth of its species at Denver Zoo since 1991. The foal is quietly exploring its yard under the watchful eye of its mother, but guests can see them both from the zoo’s main pathway.

The Przewalski’s Horse is considered the only remaining, truly wild horse in the world, and may be the closest living wild relative of the domesticated horse. There are a number of other wild equine species, including three species of zebra, and various subspecies of the African wild ass, onager and kiang.

Captive breeding programs, supported by zoos, helped keep this species from disappearing completely from the globe. Recent estimates indicate that there are now more than 300 in the wild and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies them as Endangered. Denver Zoo has a small herd, which helps support these efforts. This new foal is an exciting addition to the world population!

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Przewalski’s Horses, also called Mongolian Wild Horses or Asiatic Wild Horses, once roamed throughout Europe and Asia. Today they are only found on reserves in Mongolia and China and in zoos around the world. The species was actually extinct in the wild for almost 30 years, before reintroduction projects began in the early 1990’s. The horses faced a number of threats that may have led to their extinction, including hunting, military activities and competition with livestock for resources.   

Learn more about Denver Zoo’s conservation programs at: http://www.denverzoo.org/conservation/fieldConservation.html

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Denver Zoo Welcomes Royal Lion Cub Trio From Qatar

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The pitter patter of little paws can be heard at Denver Zoo's Predator Ridge exhibit with the arrival of three Lion cubs from the Royal Family of Qatar. The trio, made up of males, Tsavo and Enzi, and female, Sabi, were born June 24, 2012 and will likely only live at Denver Zoo temporarily until permanent homes are determined. Weather permitting; visitors can see the triplet cubs in Predator Ridge during the next few months of their temporary stay.

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This is the first time Denver Zoo has had Lion cubs since 2006. The trio was donated by Sheik Khalid Hamad Al Thani, son of Qatar's ruling emir. He received the cubs' parents as a gift from the country of Sudan a few years ago. The Lions bred and the female died after a difficult birth. With the Lion family having doubled in size, the sheik contacted zoos in the United States that could better meet the needs of this Lion pride. Denver Zoo was asked to assist as Curator of Large Mammals Hollie Colahan is also the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Lion Species Survival Plan (SSP) Coordinator, which determines the best home for Lions in North American zoos. SSPs are cooperative animal management, breeding and conservation programs that work to ensure long-term species survival. Colahan travelled to Qatar, met with veterinarians caring for the Lions and personally oversaw the import process in late October.

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