Jacksonville Zoo

Meet Jacksonville Zoo’s Photogenic Giraffe Calf


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. 


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!


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.



Photo credit: Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

First Day of Spring Brings New Baby Mandrill to Jacksonville Zoo


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

It's a New Baby Giraffe for Jacksonville Zoo


The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens announced the birth of a male reticulated giraffe on January 11. The calf weighs approximately 145 pounds (65.7 kg), is six feet tall (1.82 m), and doing well. Guests riding the Zoo train may see the calf and its mother in the outdoor holding area, pending weather conditions or feeding and health care

“The neonatal or ‘well baby’ exam has been completed, and the calf is off to a good start,” said Tony Vecchio, executive director of Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens.  “The calf was standing on all fours within one hour of the birth and is now walking, sitting, standing and nursing properly. The keepers and animal healthcare staff will continue to monitor the newborn closely.” 

This is the second offspring for mom, five-year-old Naomi, since she arrived at Jacksonville Zoo in October 2006. The calf’s father is Duke, the 14-year-old patriarch of the giraffe herd, who has now sired a total of seven offspring since he came to the Zoo in April of 2003. The Zoo now has nine giraffes in its collection and this is the 31st giraffe born there.

In the wild, poaching, human population growth and habitat loss, fragmentation and degradation continue to impact giraffes across the African continent. Current estimates by the Giraffe Conservation Foundation have the giraffe population at less than 80,000 individuals across all subspecies. This is a considerable drop in the last decade, where, in 1999, it was estimated by the IUCN that there were more like 140,000 giraffes.

Gir up


W mom


Photo Credits: Jacksonville Zoo 

Yipes! Stripes! It's a Rare Grevy's Zebra Foal!


A male Grevy’s Zebra was born at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens on Saturday, February 26. Eclipse, the 17-year-old mother of the foal, came to the Jacksonville Zoo from White Oak Conservation Center, where she was bred in January 2010.   Officials from White Oak advised that the father of the foal is an unnamed resident stallion born in 1999.  This is Eclipse’s sixth birth.  The foal weighed 108 pounds and stood at three and a half feet tall at the shoulders at birth.  Guests can see the foal frolicking after his mother in the Zoo’s Plains of East Africa exhibit.  Naming rights will be auctioned off at the Zoo’s annual ExZOOberation evening fundraiser on April 16, 2011.



Photo credits: John Reed Photography

Unlike other types of Zebras, Grevy’s Zebras face a dire extinction crisis.  More than 15,000 of these animals roamed the savannas of Africa in the 1970s, but scientists estimate only 2,200 remain in the wild today.  The Zoo supports conservation efforts to save the Grevy’s zebra, including participation in a Species Survival Plan (SSP) through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).  This SSP allows the Zoo to work with other AZA-accredited organizations to help ensure the survivability of the Grevy’s Zebra for future generations.

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Jacksonville Zoo Welcomes a Baby Giant Anteater


A Giant Anteater was born at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens on February 22.  The mother (dam), named Stella-Abril, and her offspring are doing well.  Stella was born on April 28, 1997, and this is her fifth offspring since arriving at the Jacksonville Zoo on May 6, 1998.  Killroy, the father (sire), was born October 15, 1999 and arrived at the Zoo on August 16, 2000. This is the 15th Giant Anteater born at the Jacksonville Zoo. This was a highly anticipated birth, in part because veterinary and keeper staff had been performing routine ultrasounds, enabling close monitoring of fetal development. Stella was an excellent patient for these procedures, especially since they were completely voluntary and didn’t require any sedation--just a steady supply of ripe avocado.


Photo credits: Jacksonville Zoo

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Hand-rearing a Cheetah Cub

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Busch Gardens' animal care team has something new keeping them up at night -- a four-week-old baby cheetah that requires regular feedings and 24-hour care. The new cub was born at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens to a mother who wasn't able to care for him. When zoo keepers saw that the baby was not eating and having trouble gaining weight, they made the decision to hand-raise him at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. Now, at a little more than two pounds, the cub is eating well, getting stronger and eagerly exploring his new home. Do NOT miss the video.

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Cheetah Kitten Busch Gardens Tampa Bay 1

Cheetah Kitten Busch Gardens Tampa Bay 3Photo credits: Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Once he is old enough, he will join the group of cheetahs living in Cheetah Run, the innovative new habitat opening alongside the Cheetah Hunt launch coaster that will bring guests face to face with these agile predators. Upon reaching maturity, he may also become an important part of Busch Gardens’ plans for a cheetah breeding program that will help boost the population of these critically endangered animals.

Learn more below the fold.

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Critically Endangered Little Leopard

Last week the Jacksonville Zoo announced the the birth of a rare Amur Leopard cub. Born August 27th, the baby was initially not gaining weight properly and so the zoo decided to hand-rear the cub. Amur Leopards are critically endangered in the wild with only 50 estimated to live in the Russian Far East - their native land. The Amur Leopard and Tiger Alliance works to protect these beautiful animals and you can learn more on their site

Amur Leopard Cub Jacksonville Zoo 1

Amur Leopard Cub Jacksonville Zoo 1Photo credits: Jacksonville Zoo

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Bonobo Baby Born at Jacksonville Zoo

The Jacksonville Zoo is a-buzz about its new baby bonobo.  Born on November sixth to 24-year-old mother Kuni, the female infant couldn't be in better hands. “The mother has wonderful maternal skills,” said the Zoo’s Director of Animal Programs, Delfi Messinger. “She seems so proud, and shows her baby to the ‘aunties’ in the group, as well as to her human caretakers. The pair will be on exhibit intermittently beginning this weekend depending on social grouping and the weather.”



photos credit: Marian Brickner / Jacksonville Zoo

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