Detroit Zoo

You Otter See What's New At The Detroit Zoo

Whisker and Pup -- Jennie Miller

For the second time in two years, the Detroit Zoo is celebrating the birth of North American River Otters. Two male pups – born April 2, 2014, to mother Whisker, 11, and father Lucius, 8 – made their public debut today.

The female River Otter delivers a litter of one to six pups after an eight-week gestation period. At around two months, the young ones get their first swimming lesson when their mother pushes them into the water. Otters are natural swimmers and, with maternal supervision, the pups quickly catch on.

Otter Pup Learning to Swim - Jennie Miller

Whisker and Pups Swimming - Jennie Miller (1)

Otter Pup Exploring Habitat - Jennie MillerPhoto credit: Jenny Miller

 

“Whisker is an experienced and attentive mother, guiding her pups through many new experiences – the most important of which is to encourage and reassure them as they strengthen their swimming abilities,” said Detroit Zoological Society Curator of Mammals Elizabeth Arbaugh.

The yet-to-be-named pups can be seen showing off their newfound aquatic skills at the Detroit Zoo’s Edward Mardigian Sr. River Otter Habitat. The naturalistic environment features a 5,900-gallon pool with a waterfall and waterslide, and the habitat is designed so that small children can view the otters at eye level as they swim.

The North American River Otter (Lontra canadensis) can weigh 20-30 pounds, and its slender, cylindrical body can reach 2-3 feet in length. The aquatic mammal sports short, dense, waterproof fur and profuse whiskers. The playful River Otter is swift on land as well as in the water, though its loping trot can look somewhat ungainly compared to its graceful slide through the water.

Once abundant in U.S. and Canadian rivers, lakes and coastal areas, River Otter populations have suffered significant declines as a result of fur trapping, water pollution, habitat destruction, pesticides and other threats. Today, they can be found in parts of Canada, the Northwest, the upper Great Lakes area, New England and Atlantic and Gulf Coast states.


Aardvark Aarives at Detroit Zoo

Aardvark Kaatie (3) by Tom Roy

A female Aardvark born at the Detroit Zoo on February 11 weighed less than four pounds at birth and has since more than quadrupled in size. The baby, named Kaatie, is the third offspring for 10-year-old Rachaael and 11-year-old Mchimbaji.

Aardvark Kaatie (1) by Tom Roy
Aardvark Kaatie (4) by Tom Roy
Aardvark Kaatie (2) by Tom RoyPhoto Credit:  Tom Ray

“Kaatie is healthy and adorable, and seems to be enjoying her time with mom, nestling in close and nursing throughout the day,” said Detroit Zoological Society Curator of Mammals Elizabeth Arbaugh. 

Animal care staff have been monitoring Rachaael and Kaatie closely since the calf was born. Aardvarks are small and fragile at birth, and the mothers are sometimes clumsy and can accidentally injure their little ones. “We are ready to intervene should mom decide to roll over or get up for a snack,” said Arbaugh. 

The Aardvark is an African mammal whose name derives from the Afrikaans word “earth pig.” The animal’s unusual appearance plays a role in its success as a forager. Its large ears point forward, enabling it to hear tasty insects during nocturnal feeding forays. The snout is long and filled with hair that acts as a filter, letting scents in and keeping dirt out. Strong limbs and spoon-shaped claws can tear though the sturdiest of termite mounds, allowing the Aardvark to trap insects with its sticky tongue, which can be up to 12 inches long. 


Tiny Southern Pudu Fawn Born at Detroit Zoo

Pudu baby and mother

The latest big thing at the Detroit Zoo is actually quite small. A female Southern Pudu, the smallest species of deer, was born on May 20th. The fawn is the fifth Pudu born at the zoo since the species was introduced in 2008. 

The fawn is a welcome addition to the captive population of Pudus, according to Detroit Zoological Society Curator of Mammals Robert Lessnau. “There are less than thirty Pudus in U.S. zoos, so this birth is significant, especially since the baby is a female.” 

The fawn joins her parents, 6-year-old Carol and 7-year-old T. Roy, and sister Hamill Girl – born in 2012 – in their habitat near two other South American mammals, the giant anteaters and bush dogs. 

Pudu Fawn
Photo credits: first photo by Lee Fisher, second photo by Patti Truesdell

Found in the temperate rainforests of southern Chile and Argentina, the Southern Pudu can reach a height of 18 inches at the shoulder and weigh up to 25 pounds at maturity.  The tiny deer has reddish-brown fur and diminutive features, including rounded ears, small black eyes and short legs. Fawns are weaned at two months old, and reach their full adult size at three months old. The Southern Pudu is listed as ‘threatened’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. A decrease in available habitat, subsistence hunting and poaching for the exotic pet trade contribute to their decline. Additional factors include predation by domestic dogs and competition with non-native species of deer. 

How Do You Do, Little Pudu?

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A tiny female Pudu fawn was born at the Detroit Zoo on September 7 to parents T. Roy and Carol.  Weighing only 2.3 pounds (1.06 kg) at birth, the diminutive deer is the fourth Pudu born at the zoo since 2008.

Due to habitat loss, Pudus are listed as Threatened by the IUCN.  Many programs are underway to protect Pudus from possible extinction, including releasing Pudus born in South American zoos back to their wild habitat.

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Pudus are the world's smallest deer species.  Weighing only about 26 pounds and standing 15 inches at the shoulder as adults, Pudus live in South America's temperate rain forests.  They feed on leaves and fruit as they move through the dense underbrush, and rarely need to drink due to the high water content of their diet.  Little is konwn about Pudus in the wild, because they inhabit remote regions on mountain slopes at relatively high elevations over 6,000 feet.  Despite their small size, they are agile climbers and jumpers.

Photo & Video Credits:  Lee Ann Fisher & Patti Truesdell


Detroit Zoo Welcomes Brown and White Bundle of Joy

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Detroit Zoo welcomed a brown and white bundle of joy to its fold on April 17th. After a 13 month gestation period, Jimmy the Grevy's Zebra foal stumbled onto the scene and was up on his feet in just a few hours. Wild Grevy's Zebras must quickly learn to stand and run to escape the potential threat of predators. This endangered East African species is declining in numbers due to habitat loss and competition with livestock.

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Meet Roxannne! Amani the Aardvark's Kid Sister

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Long time ZooBorns readers and anyone whose read our books will know Amani the Aardvark, born in December of 2008. Today, Detroit Zoo announces the arrival of Amani's kid sister, Roxanne, born on January 8th. “Aardvarks are believed to be relatively plentiful in the wild, but not in zoos.  Babies like Roxanne are special because they’re both uncommonly cute and just plain uncommon,” said Detroit Zoological Society Chief Life Sciences Officer Scott Carter.  “We’re excited to have our third baby Aardvark in two years and to help this small population in zoos grow.”

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Photo credits: Detroit Zoological Society

Detroit Zoological Society veterinarians and zookeepers are monitoring Rachaael and Roxanne closely.  Aardvarks are small, hairless and fragile at birth, and aardvark mothers are sometimes clumsy and can accidentally injure their little ones.  Roxanne weighed less than 4 pounds at birth and has since more than quadrupled in size.  Mature aardvarks can weigh from 90 to 145 pounds and grow 5 to 6 feet in length.

“Aardvarks are the real estate developers of their African grassland communities,” said Carter.  “They dig tunnels and burrows with ease, which are used by other animals when the aardvarks move on.”

More to read below the fold

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Lemur Twins Look Awfully Surprised

Black-and-white ruffed lemurs may look like stuffed animals come to life, but they are actually important ambassadors for their critically endangered species, native to Madagascar. These wide-eyed twins were recently born at the Detroit Zoo and serve as a reminder to the desperate conservation needs of their wild relatives. Donations can be made to help protect these adorable little guys via the Lemur Conservation Foundation.

Caught in the act... of being lemurs!
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If this isn't a ready-made donation postcard for the Lemur Foundation, I don't know what is.
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Naked into the World: Amani the Baby Aardvark

As we have said in the past, cute is in the eye of the beholder. Newborn baby aardvarks may not be your typical bundle of furry joy, but keepers and mama aardvark, Raachael, at the Detroit Zoo are enamored with their most recent arrival, baby Amani, born Dec. 8th.

Baby Aardvark Amani Detroit Zoo Photo

Oversized ears and a long snout make aardvark's experts at seeking out and slurping up termites. However, their relatively primitive brains (for a mammal) make them rather clumsy so keepers are keeping a close eye on the new family.

Baby Aardvark Amani Detroit Zoo

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Happy Hallzooween!

While babies are our specialty, we just couldn't resist the Halloween Spirit, and hope you'll enjoy the furry (and-sometimes-not-so-furry!) festivities going on at zoos around the world this week...

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Read on and see who else has a taste for pumpkin this year!

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