Jacksonville Zoo

First Photos of Baby Bonobo

Bonobo Kuni and Infant 8-6-16
A baby Bonobo born August 6 at the Jacksonville Zoo is an important addition to the Species Survival Plan for these endangered Apes.

Closely related to Chimpanzees, Bonobos are more petite and have black facial skin at birth (Chimpanzees have pink facial skin at birth). 

Bonobos are highly social and the arrival of an infant is an important event for the group.  The male baby, named Budir, will be carried by his mother Kuni for several months.  In zoos and in the wild, Bonobos remain with their mothers for about five years. 

Bonobo Kuni and Infant 2_8-6-16Photo Credits:  Becca Ledesma (top), Lynde Nunn

Like all Great Apes, Bonobos are highly intelligent and are capable of self-recognition in a mirror.  Along with Chimpanzees, they are humans' closest relatives in the animal kingdom.

Native to the deep forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Bonobos live in groups of up to 100 individuals and feed on fruit, leaves, honey, and eggs.

As one of only seven zoos in the country to house Bonobos, the Jacksonville Zoo participates in the Bonobo Species Survival Plan to preserve genetic diversity in the zoo-managed population. 

Wild Bonobos are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to habitat loss and encroaching human activity.  The Jacksonville Zoo supports the Bonobo and Congo Biodiversity Initiative, which works to protect Bonobos in the rainforests of central Africa.


The Coolest of Chicks Gets a Name

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The Magellanic Penguin chick, at Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, has a name. Meet Sharky!

When the little guy hatched June 3, his first-time parents, Troy and Victoria, were unable to care for him, so keepers stepped in to provide the life-saving help he needed.

Sharky is still being hand-reared by his keepers, and he has also been “adopted” by one of the Zoo’s female penguins, Lola. Keepers are hopeful that Lola will soon be able to take-over fulltime parental duties for Sharky.

(ZooBorns introduced readers to the chick on June 20: “Cool Chick Hatches at Jacksonville Zoo”)

13701018_10154414707058336_4771706323671687454_oPhoto Credit: DeeAnna Murphy/Pink Pelican Photography

The Magellanic Penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus) is native to the southern coasts of South America and is considered a warm-weather penguin. Its nearest relatives are the African, the Humboldt penguin and the Galápagos penguins. This species of penguin was named after Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, who spotted the birds in 1520.

Magellanic Penguins are medium-sized penguins, which grow to be 61–76 cm (24–30 in) tall and weigh between 2.7 and 6.5 kg (6.0 and 14.3 lb).

They travel in large flocks when hunting for food. In the breeding season, they gather in large nesting colonies at the coasts of Argentina, southern Chile, and the Falkland Islands, which have a density of 20 nests per 100 m2. Breeding season begins with the arrival of adults at the breeding colonies in September and extends into late February and March when the chicks are mature enough to leave the colonies.

Nests are built under bushes or in burrows. Two eggs are laid, and incubation lasts 39–42 days (a task the parents share in 10–15 day shifts). The chicks are cared for by both parents for 29 days and are fed every two to three days.

The male and female penguins take turns hatching, as they forage far away from their nests. Magellanic Penguins mate with the same partner year after year. The male reclaims his burrow from the previous year and waits to reconnect with his female partner. The females are able to recognize their mates through their call.

They are listed as “Near Threatened” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).


Tallest Giraffe Calf Ever for Jacksonville Zoo

1_LeShea Upchurch - calf and mother

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens proudly announced the birth of a male Reticulated Giraffe calf. Born in the early hours of June 12, his birth marks the 39th giraffe born at the Zoo. Mother, Naomi, has had four previous calves and father, Duke, is famous for being the sire of 15 other “little” ones.

Veterinary staff examined the calf early, the morning after the birth, and determined that it was a healthy boy. He measured 6’4” tall and weighed-in at 187 pounds, and he is the tallest giraffe calf ever born at the Zoo!

After trial introductions to his habitat the weekend after his birth, the calf and mother are now on exhibit with the rest of their herd.

2_LeShea Upchurch - giraffe calf smile

3_LeShea Upchurch - Duke, Naomi and calf

4_Susan Henken - 2 giraffe calvesPhoto Credits: Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens / Images 1-3 (LeShea Upchurch); Image 4 (Susan Henken); Image 5 (Aree Kongmuang)

The Reticulated Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata), also known as the Somali Giraffe, is a subspecies of giraffe native to savannas of Somalia, southern Ethiopia, and northern Kenya. Reticulated Giraffes can interbreed with other giraffe subspecies in captivity or if they come into contact with populations of other subspecies in the wild.

The Reticulated Giraffe is among the most well known of the nine giraffe subspecies. Together with the Rothschild Giraffe, it is the type most commonly seen in zoos. They are known to often walk around with birds on their backs. These birds are called tickbirds. The tickbirds eat bugs that live on the giraffe’s coat, and alert the animals to danger by chirping loudly.

A female has a gestation period of about 15 months and usually has only one young at a time, but a mature female can have around eight offspring in her lifetime. Females return to the same spot each year to give birth. The mother gives birth standing up and the calf falls seven feet to the ground. Calves can weigh up to 200 lbs. at birth and stand as tall as six feet. They are able to stand less than an hour after birth. The young are weaned at around one year of age.

In the wild, giraffes have few predators, but they are sometimes preyed upon by lions and less so by crocodiles and spotted hyenas. However, humans are a very real threat, and giraffes are often killed by poachers for their hair and skin. Currently, there are thought to be less than 80,000 giraffes roaming Africa, and some subspecies are thought to be almost completely gone, with fewer than 100 individuals. Reticulated Giraffes are currently classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List.

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Cool Chick Hatches at Jacksonville Zoo

PenguinChick1-DeeAnna Murphy

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens is happy to announce that a Magellanic Penguin chick hatched on June 3. The chick marks the second successful hatching at the Zoo since the opening of Tuxedo Coast in 2010. A male named CJ was hatched August of last year and quickly waddled his way into guests’ hearts.

The parents of the new chick are Troy and Victoria who came to JZG in 2010 from the San Francisco Zoo. Although they’ve been a bonded pair for 5 years, this is their first successful hatchling.

PenguinChick2-DeeAnna Murphy

PenguinChick3-DeeAnna MurphyPhoto Credit: DeeAnna Murphy/Pink Pelican Photography

The chick pipped (cracked the shell) on its own, but when there was no progression of the hatching process, keepers decided to intervene and help the little one along. Keepers are hand-rearing the extremely active two-week-old and have described the youngster as a “little jumping bean.”

The chick will be hand-reared by keepers for the next few months and then will be slowly and safely introduced to the rest of the colony of 16 penguins. JZG has past experience in raising a young penguin, as CJ required hand-rearing as well.

The young chick’s sex is not known at this time but will be determined soon through DNA testing. The little one is expected to make its public debut in the next few months.

The Magellanic Penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus) is native to the southern coasts of South America and is considered a warm-weather penguin. Its nearest relatives are the African, the Humboldt penguin and the Galápagos penguins. This species of penguin was named after Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, who spotted the birds in 1520.

Magellanic Penguins are medium-sized penguins, which grow to be 61–76 cm (24–30 in) tall and weigh between 2.7 and 6.5 kg (6.0 and 14.3 lb).

They travel in large flocks when hunting for food. In the breeding season, they gather in large nesting colonies at the coasts of Argentina, southern Chile, and the Falkland Islands, which have a density of 20 nests per 100 m2. Breeding season begins with the arrival of adults at the breeding colonies in September and extends into late February and March when the chicks are mature enough to leave the colonies.

Nests are built under bushes or in burrows. Two eggs are laid, and incubation lasts 39–42 days (a task the parents share in 10–15 day shifts). The chicks are cared for by both parents for 29 days and are fed every two to three days.

The male and female penguins take turns hatching, as they forage far away from their nests. Magellanic Penguins mate with the same partner year after year. The male reclaims his burrow from the previous year and waits to reconnect with his female partner. The females are able to recognize their mates through their call.

They are listed as “Near Threatened” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens (JZG) supports SANCCOB, a South African conservation organization whose primary objective is the rescue, rehabilitation and release of seabirds, especially African Penguins. Since 2009, the Zoo has donated funds from penguin-specific events like World Penguin Day and a portion of each admission ticket goes directly to conservation in the wild.


Jacksonville Zoo Set to Debut Sumatran Tiger Cub

1_Cub peeking out of her den Credit - John Reed

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens’ (JZG) first Tiger cub in 35 years will make her public debut on Saturday, February 13 at 10:00 a.m.

The 18-pound Sumatran Tiger cub will be on exhibit for the first time in JZG’s ‘Land of the Tiger’. The award-winning exhibit features a fortified trail system for her to explore that spans the length of two football fields—plenty of choices for the adventurous cub.  

“It has been so much fun watching our Tiger cub grow and play, and I can’t wait to share her with our visitors,” said Elana Kopel, Senior Mammal Keeper at JZG. “It is my hope that when they see her, it inspires them to support the conservation of these incredible, endangered animals.”

2_Cub sees a bug Credit - John Reed

3_Cub getting used to her surroundings in preparation for her debut Credit - John ReedPhoto Credits: John Reed

This will be an exciting time for the cub, allowing her the first opportunity to explore her new surroundings with her feline curiosity. She has spent the first few months of her life in a den, off-exhibit, to encourage and strengthen the loving bond with her mother, Dorcas. Her impressive new home provides a fully immersive experience for both guests and animals, and JZG can’t wait to introduce the Jacksonville community to this adorable youngster.

The Zoo will also announce the cub’s name, given by a generous donor, when she makes her exhibit debut.

The cub was born in the early morning hours of November 19. She is the first Tiger born at JZG in 35 years and was the fifth Sumatran Tiger born in the U.S. in 2015. First-time mother Dorcas (also known as Lucy) is 4-years-old, and first-time dad, Berani, is 14-years-old.

Continue reading "Jacksonville Zoo Set to Debut Sumatran Tiger Cub" »


A Tiger Cub’s Christmas List

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Jacksonville Zoo’s most adorable newcomer celebrated her first Christmas!

The 8-pound-plus Sumatran Tiger cub, at almost two-months-old, is at a rambunctious age and growing bigger each day. She now needs enrichment items to strengthen her teeth and muscles. Items such as wind chimes, windsocks, Boomer balls, and Bungee cords help promote playful instincts and challenge her mind.

Jacksonville Zoo compiled a Wish List in time for Christmas, and Zoo patrons have helped "Santa" fulfill many items on the list.

Toys and other items can still be purchased by anyone and shipped directly to the Zoo, via JZG’s Amazon Wish List. For more information, visit: www.jacksonvillezoo.org/wishlist

Items can also be mailed directly to the Jacksonville Zoo at this address: 370 Zoo Parkway, Jacksonville Florida 32218

2_Tiger Cub close up - Credit to Janel Jankowski

3_Tiger Cub 1 - Credit to Janel Jankowski

4_Tiger Cub 2 - Credit to Janel JankowskiPhoto Credits: Janel Jankowski

The cub was born in the early morning hours of November 19, less than a week before Thanksgiving. She is the first tiger born at JZG in 35 years, and the fifth Sumatran Tiger born in the U.S. this year. First-time mother Dorcas (also known as Lucy) is 4-years-old and came to JZG from the Oklahoma City Zoo. Berani, the 14-year-old father, is also a first-time parent who came to JZG from the Akron Zoo.

ZooBorns introduced the new cub in an article from the beginning of December: “Zoo Thankful for First Tiger Cub in Over Three Decades”, and we have been eagerly supplying updates on the tiger’s progress, to our readers.

The Sumatran Tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) is the smallest of the six subspecies in existence today. They are only found on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia. Originally, nine tiger subspecies were found in parts of Asia, but three subspecies have become extinct in the 20th century. Less than 400 Sumatran Tigers remain in the wild. They are currently classified as “Critically Endangered” on the IUCN Red List.

"Protecting tigers involves protecting the animals they prey upon,” said John Lukas, Conservation and Science Manager at JZG. “Illegal hunting and snaring removes natural tiger food from the forest and forces tigers to kill domestic livestock to survive.”

To combat extinction of those tigers in the wild, Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens supports a Wildlife Protection Unit on the island of Sumatra. The unit patrols the national forest, removing traps and snares that harm Sumatran Tigers and their prey, and they also keep poachers out of the reserve.


Jacksonville Zoo Announces Sex of New Sumatran Tiger

1_JZG female Sumatran Tiger cub_n

The Sumatran Tiger cub, at Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens (JZG), had its first wellness check recently, and the Zoo’s vets confirmed that the cub is healthy and… a female!

The cub is almost 48 cm (19 inches) long, weighs 3.46 kg (7.5 pounds). She's eating well and mom is taking excellent care of her. Mom normally feeds in a separate room for the first few days. When the mother separates from the cub, Zoo Staff gradually extend the time period to see how comfortable she is. Once the staff have gained the trust of the mother and feel she is comfortable, they cautiously and quickly take that opportunity to exam the cub. The entire check up lasted about five minutes.

Guests can try to catch a glimpse of the cub via television monitor in the Zoo’s ‘Land of the Tiger’ exhibit building.

2_JZG female Sumatran Tiger cub_n
3_JZG female Sumatran Tiger cub_n

4_JZG female Sumatran Tiger cub_nPhoto Credits: John Reed / JZG

The cub was born in the early morning hours of November 19, less than a week before Thanksgiving. She is the first tiger born at JZG in 35 years, and the fifth Sumatran Tiger born in the U.S. this year. First-time mother Dorcas (also known as Lucy) is 4-years-old and came to JZG from the Oklahoma City Zoo. Berani, the 14-year-old father, is also a first-time parent who came to JZG from the Akron Zoo.

ZooBorns introduced the new cub to our readers in an article from the beginning of the month: “Zoo Thankful for First Tiger Cub in Over Three Decades

The Sumatran Tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) is the smallest of the six subspecies in existence today. They are only found on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia. Originally, nine tiger subspecies were found in parts of Asia, but three subspecies have become extinct in the 20th century. Less than 400 Sumatran Tigers remain in the wild. They are currently classified as “Critically Endangered” on the IUCN Red List.

"Protecting tigers involves protecting the animals they prey upon,” said John Lukas, Conservation and Science Manager at JZG. “Illegal hunting and snaring removes natural tiger food from the forest and forces tigers to kill domestic livestock to survive.”

To combat extinction of those tigers in the wild, Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens supports a Wildlife Protection Unit on the island of Sumatra. The unit patrols the national forest, removing traps and snares that harm Sumatran Tigers and their prey, and they also keep poachers out of the reserve.

5_JZG female Sumatran Tiger cub_n


Zoo Thankful for First Tiger Cub in Over Three Decades

1_Tiger3LR - Credit Janel Jankowski

In the early morning hours of November 19, less than a week before Thanksgiving, Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens (JZG) welcomed the arrival of a single, critically endangered Sumatran Tiger cub.

”This rare cub’s birth is so exciting for the zoo and our community. We can’t wait to see the youngster grow, develop and explore the special features we designed into our newest Land of the Tiger habitat, especially the unique trail system,” said Dan Maloney, Deputy Director of Animal Care and Conservation.

2_Tiger1LR - Credit Janel Jankowski

3_Tiger2LR - Credit Janel JankowskiPhoto Credit: Janel Jankowski

The cub, whose gender is unknown at this time, is the first tiger born at JZG in 35 years, and the fifth Sumatran Tiger born in the U.S. this year. First-time mother Dorcas is 4-years-old and came to JZG from the Oklahoma City Zoo. Berani, the 14-year-old father, is also a first-time parent who came to JZG from the Akron Zoo.

Berani was labeled a ‘behavioral non-breeder’ because he couldn’t quite get the correct ‘technique’ when it came to mating. However, when placed with Dorcas, Berani earned his stripes and successfully fathered their first cub.

To ensure appropriate mother-cub bonding, the newborn will remain with Dorcas in an isolated area with little contact from staff for the next several weeks. Tigers are solitary animals, and since males do not play a role in raising offspring, Berani will remain at a distance as he would in the wild.

In a wonderful twist to the "tail", Dorcas’ sister from the same litter, Leeloo, gave birth to her first cub just five days earlier at Zoo Miami. Coincidentally, the sire’s name is also Berani (no relation to the Berani at Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens). ZooBorns shared news of the cub at Zoo Miami in our article from November 28, 2015.

The Sumatran Tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) is the smallest of the six subspecies in existence today. They are only found on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia. Originally, nine tiger subspecies were found in parts of Asia, but three subspecies have become extinct in the 20th century. Less than 400 Sumatran Tigers remain in the wild.

"Protecting tigers involves protecting the animals they prey upon,” said John Lukas, Conservation and Science Manager at JZG. “Illegal hunting and snaring removes natural tiger food from the forest and forces tigers to kill domestic livestock to survive.”

To combat extinction of those tigers in the wild, Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens supports a Wildlife Protection Unit on the island of Sumatra. The unit patrols the national forest, removing traps and snares that harm Sumatran Tigers and their prey, and they also keep poachers out of the reserve.


Meet Jacksonville Zoo’s Photogenic Giraffe Calf

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The New Year started off amazing for Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, in Florida! On January 17th, the zoo welcomed a 193 pound female Reticulated Giraffe. 

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10931697_10153109864863336_1786564894065325151_oPhoto Credits: Brittney Hendricks 

The calf stood 6 ft. 2 inches, at birth. She has been on exhibit, enjoying becoming acquainted with the rest of the zoo’s young giraffes. Proud parents of the new girl are ‘Naomi’ and ‘Duke’. 

Giraffes are the tallest animals on earth and can reach a maximum height of 18 feet. Both males and females have horns, and each animal has unique markings that grow darker with age. In the wild, giraffes can live up to 25 years, and they have been known to live as long as 28 years, in captivity.

In the wild, they prefer to eat leaves and shoots of trees. However, in zoos, they are fed alfalfa hay, grain, browse, fruits, and vegetables.

Observations in the wild indicate that they lie down only 5-6 hours per night. During most of this time, the animals remain alert with their necks erect and their eyes alternately opened and closed. Giraffes may go into a deep sleep for just 5 minutes each night. During deep sleep a giraffe bends its neck backward in an arch and rests its head behind its back legs or on an extended back leg.

The gestation period for giraffes is about 15 months. Breeding can occur throughout the year and a single calf is born, rarely twins. Calves are usually 6 feet tall and can stand up 20 minutes after birth. Females are excellent mothers and defend their calves vigorously. In the wild, lions are the principal predators of calves, although hyenas, leopards and even wild dogs may also kill newborns up to three months of age. Male calves are weaned at approximately 15 months. Female calves are weaned a couple of months later. There is no difference in the mortality rate between male and female calves.

Jacksonville Zoo acquired their first giraffe, a male named ‘Long John’, in December 1957.


Rare Leopard Twins Born at Jacksonville Zoo

Amur leopard exam Jacksonville Zoo 120313 WRK 066

Two critically endangered Amur Leopards were born at Florida’s Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens on November 16 while the zoo staff watched via remote video monitoring system.

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Amur leopard exam Jacksonville Zoo 120313 WRK 044
Photo Credit:  Bill Konstant

“We are very proud of our leopards and our animal care team who have successfully brought two more of these extremely rare cats into the world,” said Dan Maloney, deputy director of conservation and education.

This is the third litter for female Makarii her mate Nicolai. The cubs were active immediately after birth and have been nursing frequently, which is a good indicator of the cubs’ strength and health.

Makarii and Nicolai have reared two previous litters in 2011 and 2012.  Amur Leopards are managed under a Species Survival Plan program through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Amur Leopards are one of the world’s rarest cats:  only about 30 remain in the boreal forests of far eastern Russia.  Zoo breeding programs are critical to the survival of this magnificent species.