Jacksonville Zoo

Threatened Snakes Hatch at Jacksonville Zoo

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Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens is celebrating the hatching of two Eastern Indigo Snakes. The hatchlings emerged on July 10 and 11, and they mark the first time the Zoo hatched this vulnerable species since 1997.

The species is listed as “Threatened” under the Endangered Species Act, and population numbers are decreasing rapidly in its native range of the southeastern United States due to habitat loss.

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4_Indigo hatchlingPhoto Credits: Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens recognized the importance of increasing the population of Eastern Indigo Snakes, and in 2012 received a pair with a breeding recommendation. The snakes recently reached sexual maturity and the female laid her first clutch. Eastern Indigos, while nonvenomous, can be both territorial and voracious eaters, so the breeding pair was only together for a brief time.

According to the Zoo’s Deputy Director for Animal Care & Conservation, Dan Maloney, “We are very proud and excited to welcome such significant new additions to the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens family. Six years ago, we acquired young snakes in hopes that they would be future parents. To finally have healthy hatchlings is extremely satisfying and lays the foundation for a successful, sustainable breeding program.”

The two hatchlings emerged from their 4-inch eggs after a 100-day incubation. They are 13-inches long now but will quickly grow into the longest native snake species in the United States.

Eastern Indigo Snakes are a top predator and have a wildly varied diet consisting of everything from small mammals, birds, and amphibians, all the way up to one of their favorite prey items, Eastern Diamond Rattlesnakes.

The decline of rattlesnake and Gopher Tortoise populations is contributing to the rapid decline in Eastern Indigo Snakes. Gopher Tortoise burrows serve as an important shelter for the snakes in winter months. These three threatened animals are linked by their habits and habitats, and their decline helps highlight the importance of keystone species to entire ecosystems.

The Zoo hopes that the new hatchlings can serve as ambassadors for local conservation efforts and reinforce our message of Living Well With Wildlife.

The mother of the two hatchlings can be viewed in the Wild Florida herpetology house. She shares her enclosure with a Box Turtle and a three-legged, rescued Gopher Tortoise.


‘Four-Pack’ of Cuteness at Jacksonville Zoo

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Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens hatched some delightful new additions last month. Two penguin chicks and two flamingo chicks are said to have waddled into the hearts of zoo staff.

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The darling pair of Magellanic Penguins hatched two days apart, on June 16 and 18 respectively. Their teeny little flippers, beaks, and everything else, have enchanted everyone who has met them. Both chicks are thriving under the care of each of their proud parents, and they will go on exhibit in the Zoo’s Tuxedo Coast at about three months of age.

The Greater Flamingo chicks got a later start, but they’re quickly giving the penguins a run for their money for title of ‘cutest birds in the zoo’. The first baby hatched on June 21, followed by the second on June 27.

The younger of the two flamingos can be seen on exhibit with its parents, while the older is being hand-reared. This means lots of up-close and personal time with keepers as it grows up and into those big feet. It will continue to be looked after by the attentive keepers until it is old enough to join the rest of the flock.

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Tiger Cubs Get Their 6-Week Exams - And Their Names

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Two male Sumatran Tiger cubs at Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens had a big week: they received their first round of vaccinations and were named!

Born on November 20, 2017 to mom Dorcas and dad Berani, the two male cubs are growing well and appear to be in great health. You first met the cubs here on ZooBorns.

The larger of the two cubs weighs 14 pounds and is named “Rocky.” His slightly smaller brother, who weighs about 12 pounds, was dubbed “Jaggar.”

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Tiger-cubs-5Photo Credit: Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens

The zoo’s veterinary staff gave each feisty cub a physical exam, including weighing the cubs, checking their eyes, and inspecting their tiny canine teeth. They cubs were vaccinated against respiratory infections and feline distemper – the same vaccinations given to house cats. Each cub was also microchipped for identification.

While the animal care team can be “hands-on” with the cubs, they never interact directly with adult Tigers. Thanks to daily training sessions that build trust between the animals and the care team, Dorcas voluntarily moves to an adjoining pen while the team examines the cubs.

Over the next two months, the cubs will receive two more rounds of vaccines including boosters and a rabies vaccination.

The now six-week-old cubs need to grow bigger before they are able to explore the outdoor habitat of the public viewing areas. Until then, a live-streaming video of the cubs in their behind-the-scenes nursery den is available on the Zoo’s YouTube channel.

Rocky and Jaggar spend much of their time nursing, sleeping, or being groomed by mom. Each day, the cubs are becoming more mobile and playful, much to the delight of faithful “cub cam” viewers.

See more photos of the cubs below.

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Tiger Cubs Get Their First Checkup at Jacksonville Zoo

Cub one with closed eyesJacksonville Zoo and Gardens is celebrating the birth of two critically endangered Sumatran Tiger cubs. The cubs’ mother, 6-year-old Dorcas, gave birth at 11:40 a.m. on November 20. The Tigers’ keepers were able to keep an eye on the process using a closed-circuit camera system.

Both cubs are male and represent the second litter for Dorcas and father, Berani. The Zoo’s first Sumatran Tiger birth in its 102-year history is big sister Kinleigh Rose, born on November 19, 2015 – two years and a day before the arrival of her little brothers. 

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Cub one with closed eyesPhoto Credit: Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

“One of the biggest pleasures as the Zoo’s Tiger-management program evolves, is watching the effect that it has on the wellness of our animals,” said Dan Dembiec, Supervisor of Mammals. “Dorcas started out as a skittish and shy Tigress, but she is now a confident and skilled mother.  She is a natural at providing her cubs with the necessary care to help them develop, and this is reflective of the care that she has received from the staff at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens.”

The cubs received their first medical exam on November 28. Zoo Animal Health staff were able to quickly and efficiently examine the cubs because of the exceptional bonding and training the keeper staff has established with the mother. Dorcas trusted her keepers and was therefore willing to be separated from the cubs when keepers requested it.

Dr. Yousuf Jafarey gave the cubs’ brief physical examinations and determined they look healthy, are nursing well, and have no congenital health problems. Both cubs weighed 4.5 pounds. Within minutes the cubs were back with their mother in the nesting box, behind-the-scenes in the Tiger viewing building.

The cubs will not be on exhibit for several months. They still require a series of health examinations and vaccinations. They’ll continue to strengthen the bond with their mom, and even require a swim test before the cubs are ready to explore their outdoor habitat in public viewing areas. A live video feed of the nest box can be seen in the Tiger viewing building, on either side of the donor wall.

The birth of two Sumatran Tiger cubs is especially significant because the Zoo’s Tigers are part of a globally-managed species program. Zoological facilities around the world, including Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens’ work to maintain a healthy population. There are currently less than 400 Sumatran Tigers in the wild.

See more photos of the cubs below.

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Jacksonville Zoo Welcomes Two Giraffes in One Week

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Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens is delighted to welcome another new Reticulated Giraffe to the family. The healthy female was born November 24 and is the second Giraffe born in the span of a week!

Much to the amazement of Zoo guests, the latest calf was born on exhibit. Guests were able to see the delivery from the Giraffe Overlook.  

This calf is the fourth for mom, Luna, and an impressive 18th offspring for sire, Duke. The most recent addition marks the 41st Giraffe calf born at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens (JZG).

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4_guests watching John ReedPhoto Credits: JJ Vitale / John Reed / JZG (Images 1-5: Female born Nov. 24, with mom Luna and Auntie Spock ; Images 6-8: Male born Nov. 19, with mom Naomi)

According to staff, Luna was not in labor the morning of November 24, but keepers felt confident in her previous pregnancy and birth experiences. She was encouraged to roam freely and comfortably with the rest of the herd, and knowing she was near the end of her pregnancy, keepers were closely monitoring her throughout the day.

When the calf’s front hooves made an appearance around 12:30 p.m. that day, keepers called most of the herd off exhibit to give Luna space. Another female, Spock, stayed with Luna and gave her privacy for the birth. However, Spock was quick to greet the youngster and help the new mom with the cleaning process. Although Spock has never had any offspring of her own, she has been an excellent “auntie” figure to many calves over the years.

With excited guests cheering form the Overlook, the newborn calf was standing within 30-minutes of birth. Zookeepers observed the calf nursing well, and Luna and the calf will be allowed to stay on exhibit for as long as they are comfortable.

The male calf was born, just a few days prior, on November 19 to mom Naomi. Duke is also his father. A review of security cameras in the Giraffe exhibit show this calf was born at 5 a.m. on the 19th. Veterinary staff examined him late in the afternoon of his birth and measured him at 6’4” tall, with a weight of 191 pounds.

The new male, his mother Naomi, and auntie Spock will also join the new female and mom, Luna, on-exhibit. Both new calves are expected to be out with their herd, assuming the two mothers are comfortable with the situation.

The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens supports the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, whose sole focus is on the conservation and management of Giraffes in the wild.

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Two Pounds and Eight Inches of ‘Cute’ Born in Florida

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Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens has an adorable new addition. A male Southern Pudu was born on May 31 to mother, Posie, and father, Little Mac.

This is the first fawn for Little Mac, and he is proving to be an excellent father, doting on the yet un-named male fawn. Keepers often find him grooming his new son or sleeping next to him. Posie is also an excellent mother and shares a birthday with the little one.

Pudu, the smallest species of deer, are around 15 inches tall when full grown. Jacksonville Zoo’s new fawn weighed less than two pounds when born and stood less than eight inches tall.

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4_fawn 6Photo Credits: JZG Senior Mammal Keeper, Lynde Nunn

The two species of Pudus are: Northern Pudu (Pudu mephistophiles) from Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru, and the Southern Pudu (Pudu puda) from southern Chile and southwestern Argentina.

Adult Pudus range in size from 32 to 44 centimeters (13 to 17 in) tall, and up to 85 centimeters (33 in) long.

As of 2009, the Southern Pudu is classified as “Near Threatened”, while the Northern Pudu is classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List.

Southern Pudu fawns are born with spots, which form strips that will develop into a solid reddish-brown fur as they grow older.

The Pudus at Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens (JZG) are currently housed in the Wild Florida loop, next to the Manatee Critical Care Center. Keepers report they are naturally shy creatures, with the fawn usually hiding in the exhibit shrubbery.

More great pics below the fold!

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Jacksonville Zoo Keepers Are in ‘Hog Heaven’

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Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens is excited to announce the birth of four Warthog piglets on May 11. Two males and two females were born to first-time parents Chico and Acacia.

Father, Chico, was born at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens in 2011 and was also in a litter of four piglets. Acacia arrived at the Zoo in 2016 on a pairing arranged through the Species Survival Plan (SSP).

According to keepers, Chico and Acacia spent a few weeks getting to know each other, from the other side of some fencing, and were immediately showing positive interactions. Within minutes of being together for the first time, it was obvious the Zoo had a “love connection”. Keepers did not witness any breeding behavior after that first introduction back in November, which is a good indication that the breeding was successful.

The new litter of piglets received a check-up from Zoo Veterinarian, Dr. Yousuf Jafarey, and Veterinary Nurse, Dewey Maddox, when they were less than 24 hours old. Vet staff gave the litter a clean bill of health, and they were delighted to find the male piglets already have cute little warts. All four siblings were born with tiny tusks.

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Tony Vecchio (the Zoo's "pig aficionado"):

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The little ones have been spending quiet time with mom, Acacia, with occasional outings into the side yard of the Warthog enclosure. They are expected to make their debut into the main Warthog yard within the next two weeks.

Executive Director, Tony Vecchio (a self-described ‘pig aficionado’), is over the moon and eagerly expressed his excitement: “Piglets! What could be a better way for children around town to start their summer vacations than coming out and seeing our Warthog piglets?”

Warthogs (Phacochoerus africanus) are African hogs and members of the same family as domestic pigs.

Although their appearance would suggest a species with ferocious tendencies, they are basically grazers that eat grasses and plants. They also use their snouts to dig or “root” for roots or bulbs. When startled or threatened, they can run at speeds of up to 30 miles an hour.

Their large, flat heads are covered with warts (protective bumps). When faced with a threat, they prefer “flight” as apposed to “fight”, and they will hastily search for such a den to use as a hiding place. They retreat into the den rear-first, enabling them to use their prolific tusks to guard the entrance.

Warthogs are currently classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.


Jacksonville Zoo's Cranes Raise Adopted Chick

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Keepers at Jacksonville Zoo recently discovered the egg their Wattled Cranes were sitting on was not fertilized. They contacted their friends at White Oak Conservation for assistance. White Oak happened to have a pair of Wattled Cranes who laid an extra egg.

The average clutch size of the Wattled Crane is thought to be the smallest of any of the world's cranes. Generally, in a nest of two or more eggs, only one chick will survive to hatch or fledge. Therefore, removing the extra egg was a possible ‘saving grace’ for the chick inside.

As a first step, keepers at Jacksonville Zoo decided to swap out the non-viable egg from their nest to a dummy egg, until they knew White Oak’s extra egg was close to hatching. When that time came, keepers at Jacksonville placed the egg in their birds’ nest. The egg hatched on March 5th, and they now have a healthy male chick!

The cranes are raising the ‘adopted’ chick as their own, and visitors to Jacksonville Zoo can see the new family at the African Boardwalk exhibit!

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4_17362666_10155147092603336_3231133601383594295_nPhoto Credits: Rob Bixby 

The Wattled Crane (Grus carunculata) is a large bird found in Africa, south of the Sahara Desert.

It is the largest crane in Africa, at a height of up to 175 cm (5.74 ft) and is the second tallest species of crane, after the Sarus Crane. The wingspan is 230–260 cm (7.5–8.5 ft), the length is typically 120 cm (3.9 ft) and weight is 6.4–7.9 kg (14–17 lb) in females, 7.5–9 kg (17–20 lb) in males.

The Wattled Crane is native to eleven sub-Saharan countries in Africa, including an isolated population in the highlands of Ethiopia. More than half of the world’s Wattled Cranes occur in Zambia, but the single largest concentration occurs in the Okavango Delta of Botswana.

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Angolan Colobus Baby Is a First for Jacksonville Zoo

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Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens welcomed the birth of an Angolan Colobus monkey on May 27. The infant was the first for mother, Moshi, and sixth for father, Andy.

Although the species was introduced to the Florida facility in 2008, this is the first time an Angolan Colobus has been born at the Zoo.

The female infant is continuing to do great. Keepers have noticed her jumping and climbing, while Mom supervises nearby. Her hair also continues to change, from the all white coloring from birth, to black and white as she grows!

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4_14409639_10154577826298336_7544370695060126542_oPhoto Credits: Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

Angolan Colobus monkeys (Colobus angolensis), native to the dense rainforest of the Congo, have a black coat and face with a mantle of long white hair and a white tip on their tails. Colobus newborns, however, are born solid white and the coat gradually turns to adult colors during the first six months of life.

An interesting aspect of Angolan Colobus family dynamics is that females of the group co-mother infants. Moshi is getting help from her older sister, Mkia, who is an experienced mother and often seen holding and grooming the babe.

Moshi and the infant are both doing well and are often observed nursing and napping together. The family is easily visible from the African boardwalk where they are housed across form the lions. They share their habitat with four Ring-tailed Lemurs and one Black-and-white Ruffed Lemur.

In the wild, they feed predominantly on leaf material, supplemented by fruits and seeds. In the Zoo they are fed a scientifically formulated chow supplemented with fresh greens, fruits, forage mix and vegetables. Keepers also provide fresh cut vegetation as part of their daily diet.

The gestation period of the Angolan Colobus ranges from 147 to 178 days, and a single offspring is generally born, though twins are possible. Infants are born strikingly white, and then turn grey and black. By six months of age, they change to the adult coloration of black and white. They are born throughout the year, but a birth peak is seen in September and October.

Of the twelve currently recognized Colobus species, one is near threatened, three vulnerable, three endangered, and two critically endangered. Angolan Colobus are not currently considered endangered and may be fairly abundant in parts of their range. However, they are vulnerable to habitat destruction and have suffered extensively by hunting for bush meat and skins, especially in highly populated areas. Populations are declining fairly rapidly in some areas, such as the Kakamega forest in Kenya.

The Angolan Colobus is officially classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

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First Photos of Baby Bonobo

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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.