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.
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!
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.
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.
Photo credit: Denver Zoo
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.
A newborn Malayan Tapir calf is alive and doing well thanks to the heroic efforts of two Denver Zoo staff members. On September 3, Denver Zoo's female Tapir, Rinny, gave birth inside the Rhino/Tapir building of Toyota Elephant Passage. Staff watched as Rinny unsuccessfully attempted to free the infant from inside its amniotic sac. Assistant Curator of Toyota Elephant Passage Rebecca McCloskey safely separated mother and calf then freed the newborn from the sac for inspection. Together with staff veterinarian Gwen Jankowski, they began providing mouth to snout rescue breaths and manually stimulated the baby for regular breathing and in order to expel liquid from his lungs. After a few minutes of rescue efforts, the infant successfully began to breathe on his own. The scene was captured on video tape inside the zoo's Toyota Elephant Passage exhibit.
"It's always a little scary when something like this happens, but thankfully we all have great resources and training," says McCloskey. "It was such a relief to see him finally take those first breaths."
Photo credits: Denver Zoo
Thanks to the zoo staffers' efforts, the young infant named Dumadi is now walking and swimming just fine. The Tapir is currently doing well with his mother behind the scenes. This is the first birth of his species at the zoo and the first birth of any species in Toyota Elephant Passage.
Dumadi, named for the Indonesian word meaning "becoming," is the first birth for both Rinny and his father, Benny. Benny was born at the City of Belfast Zoo in Ireland in 2006 and arrived at Denver Zoo from Toronto Zoo in 2007. Rinny was born at Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo in 2007 and came to Denver Zoo from there in 2010. 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.
See the rescue and the baby's first swim below!
As adults, Malayan Tapirs have a distinctive color pattern that some people say resembles an Oreo cookie, with black front and back parts separated by a white or gray midsection. This provides excellent camouflage that breaks up the Tapir's outline in the shadows of the forest. By contrast, young Tapirs have color patterns that more resemble brown watermelons with spots and stripes which help them blend into the dappled sunlight and leaf shadows of the forest and protect them from predators.
Though they are most closely related to horses and rhinos, Tapirs are similar in build to pigs, but significantly larger. Malayan Tapirs have a large, barrel shaped body ideal for crashing through dense forest vegetation. Their noses and upper lips are extended to form a long prehensile snout similar to a stubby version of an elephant's trunk. Malayan Tapirs are the largest of the four Tapir species. They stand more than 3-feet-tall and can stretch from between 6 to 8-feet-long. They can also weigh more than 1,100 pounds. They are also excellent swimmers and spend much of their time in water. They can even use their flexible noses as snorkels!
Malayan Tapirs are the only Tapir native to Asia. Once found throughout Southeast Asia, they now inhabit only the rainforests of the Indochinese peninsula and Sumatra. With a wild population of less than 2,000 individuals they are classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to habitat loss and hunting.
The Denver Zoo is celebrating the birth of a critically endangered Amur (ah-Moor) Leopard cub born on April 25. The young male, named Makar (Mah-car), is the first birth of his species at Denver Zoo since 1996. Until now, Makar has been behind-the-scenes with his mother. He just received a clean bill of health from zoo veterinarians and guests can see him now inside the zoo's Feline Building.
Mom, Dazma (Dazz-mah), and dad, Hari-Kari (Harry Care-ee) 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 located along the Chinese-Russian border. Once found from South Korea to north of the China-Russian border, Amur Leopards are now nearly extinct in the wild and found along a small area in Eastern Russia. They are considered critically endangered with fewer than 40 animals remaining in the wild. Poaching for fur, loss of habitat and trophy hunting are the primary reasons for their decline.
Thirteen Reimann's (RYE-man's) Snake-Necked Turtles have hatched at Denver Zoo. The almost fully-aquatic, freshwater species can only be found in Papua New Guinea. As their name indicates, they are known for their long necks, so long that they aren't able to fully pull their heads into their shells. Instead they wrap their necks around the front and sides of their shell to provide predators less of a target. Though adults can grow to more than 10 inches long, the hatchlings are all about the size of a quarter. Some of them may soon be seen in Tropical Discovery's nursery.
The number 13 might be a lucky number after all. Denver Zoo is proud to announce the birth of four endangered Red Ruffed Lemurs, the first of their species born here in 13 years! The quadruplets, born March 12, include male, Rusty and females, Bordeaux, Chianti and Mena. They are now big enough to explore outside their nest box and can be seen with their parents in the Emerald Forest exhibit in Denver Zoo's Primate Panorama.
All photo credits: Dave Parsons / Denver Zoo
This is the first litter for both mother, Sixpence, and her mate, Mego. Sixpence was among the infants born in the last litter at Denver Zoo in 1998. Mego came to Denver Zoo from the Duke Lemur Center in April 2008. The two were paired together 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. Though inexperienced, Sixpence has shown she is a very attentive mother and lets Mego know what he needs to be doing. (More photos after the fold)
Denver Zoo recently welcomed two Palm Cockatoos from two different breeding pairs. The chicks hatched on January 18 and February 10 and their genders are still unknown. Though the hatchlings will eventually be on display at the zoo's Nurture Trail exhibit, they are currently growing and developing under the watchful eye of bird keepers in the zoo's Bird Propagation Center. These are the second and third Palm Cockatoo chicks to be hatched at North American Zoos in the last year.
Denver Zoo is thrilled to announce the birth of a male De Brazza's Monkey named Kanoa! He was born to mother, Marinda and father, Kisoro, on November 27. This is the second birth for Kisoro, who came to Denver Zoo after being rescued from a black market in the Congo. Like his sister Kanani, born December 19, 2009, Kanoa is described as very independent and precocious despite his mother's early attempts to be protective. This makes his name all the more appropriate. "Kanoa" is Hawaiian for "free one."
As Halloween draws near, Denver Zoo is hatching dragons! Komodo Dragons, that is. Four have already hatched and four more eggs remain in an incubator. The hatchlings began emerging from their shells a week ago. They are all behind-the-scenes now, but visitors should be able to see them in Tropical Discovery’s nursery in time for the zoo’s Halloween event, Boo at the Zoo.
A Komodo Dragon hatchling emerges from its shell (Below)