Jacksonville Zoo

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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

 


First Leopard Cubs, Now a Baby Lion For Jacksonville Zoo!

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There is more cause for celebration at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. On the heels of the arrival of two Amur Leopard cubs comes a 3 and one-half pound bundle of joy. A tiny female lion cub was born June 30th to second time mother Tamu and father Mshoni. Mshoni is one of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' most genetically valuable Lions, making this a significant addition the AZA's population. With so little maternal experience, Tamu is unable to adequately nurse the newborn. Zookeepers and veterinarians have stepped in to supplement the cub's diet with formula bottle feedings and to closely monitor her to ensure her good health. This is first surviving lion birth at Jacksonville Zoo since 1974.

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Photo credit: Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens


First Day of Spring Brings New Baby Mandrill to Jacksonville Zoo

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The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens announced the birth of a Mandrill born on March 20 to 16-year-old dam Deanna, and 17-year-old sire Douglas. The gender of the infant is not yet known. Mother and infant are doing very well, and the baby appears strong and healthy. This marks the fourth offspring for Deanna and brings Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens’ mandrill collection to a total of five animals.

Kumani, another female offspring of Deanna’s, is currently sharing the living space with her mother and the newest addition and is gaining valuable experience by observing maternal behavior. Deanna and the little one were officially introduced to the public on March 23. From now on, they will rotate on and off exhibit with mandrills Douglas and Gucci.

Mandrills are the largest of all monkeys. Shy and reclusive, these primates are found only in African equatorial rain forests. They can easily be identified by their colorful blue and red facial markings and their bright pinkish-red behinds. Mandrills are threatened. Considered a delicacy by many Africans, they are hunted as bushmeat. In additon, the increase in the use of land for agriculture and human settlement is shrinking the rain forest they call home.

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Photo Credit: Mark Sheppe/Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens