The Los Angeles Zoo excitedly shared news of the birth of four Tadjik Markhor calves. Two calves arrived the first week of May, and two more followed the next week!
The new babies can be seen in the zoo habitat with the rest of their herd.
Photo Credits: LA Zoo
The Tadjik Markhor (Capra falconeri heptneri), also known as the Bukharan Markhor, is an endangered goat-antelope. It is native to Tajikistan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, and possibly also Afghanistan. The animal is one of about five subspecies of Markhor.
The Markhor (Capra falconeri), also known as the “Screw Horn Goat”, is a large species of wild goat that is found in northeastern Afghanistan, northern and central Pakistan, Northern India, southern Tajikistan, southern Uzbekistan and in the Himalayas.
The species, as a whole, was classified as “Endangered” by the IUCN, until 2015 when it was downgraded to “Near Threatened”. Numbers have increased by an estimated 20% for the last decade. The Markhor is notably known as the national animal of Pakistan.
Spring means lots of new babies at the Los Angeles Zoo! Guests can now observe two Sichuan Takin calves and two Chacoan Peccary piglets out in their habitats while an Eastern Bongo calf, two Ocelot kittens, and seven Peninsular Pronghorn fawns remain behind the scenes bonding with their mothers for a few more weeks.
Peccary/Jamie Pham Takin/Jamie Pham
"The Zoo does tend to see a rise in animal babies each spring, but there is a lot more thought and careful planning that goes into the process than one might think," said Beth Schaefer, General Curator at the Los Angeles Zoo. "A majority of our offspring this season are all members of Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) programs which aim to keep the North American populations of these species sustainable while also creating an insurance population, so these animals don't disappear from the planet."
One insurance population currently thriving at the L.A. Zoo is a breeding group of Peninsular Pronghorn, a species of antelope native to Baja California Sur, Mexico. The Zoo recently welcomed seven Peninsular Pronghorn fawns, born between March 4 and April 8. In 2002, the L.A. Zoo joined the Peninsular Pronghorn Recovery Project in the Vizcaino Desert Biosphere Reserve of Baja California Sur, Mexico because the species’ numbers were dwindling in the wild due to hunting, habitat destruction, and cattle ranching.
On April 4, the L.A. Zoo celebrated the birth of two endangered Chacoan Peccary piglets. These medium-sized animals are found primarily in Paraguay and Bolivia, and they have a strong resemblance to pigs. Chacoan peccaries are social animals that live in small herds of up to 10 individuals, and they are known for their tough snouts and rooting abilities. The L.A. Zoo is currently working with the only conservation project in existence for this endangered species called the Chaco Center for the Conservation and Research (CCCI) and hopes to help care for and breed this species whose numbers are dwindling primarily due to habitat loss and hunting.
The Los Angeles Zoo is thrilled to welcome two Mandrill babies to the troop. Mandrills are the largest of all Monkey species and one of the most colorful. The female baby was born on August 3, 2017 to five-year-old mother, Juliette. The male baby was born on August 17, 2017 to four-year-old mother, Clementine.
Photo Credit: Jamie Pham
The first-time mothers came to the L.A. Zoo from Parc Zoologique de La Palmyre in France in April 2016 to be paired with the first-time father, six-year-old Jabari, as part of a Species Survival Program (SSP) to strengthen the gene pool of this Vulnerable species.
“This is a very new breeding group of Mandrills that has only been together for about a year, so we’re incredibly happy with how well things are going so far,” said L’Oreal Dunn, animal keeper at the Los Angeles Zoo. “This species comes from a small area in Africa that isn’t accessible to most people, so it’s very special that our guests can now observe babies here for the first time in over 40 years.”
The half-siblings can be seen clinging tightly to their mothers, playing together, and testing their boundaries. They are learning to navigate their new habitat, a rainforest-like environment that supplies the group with plenty of trees, logs, and plant life to explore during the day and aerial lofts and ledges where they sleep at night.
The babies were born without the signature red and blue stripes on their faces that people often associate with the unique looking primate. Only their father, who is the dominant male in the group, has the vibrant coloring on his elongated muzzle. The red-and-blue-striped skin on a Mandrill’s face is a sign to females that a male is ready to mate. While female Mandrills can have colorful hues on their face as well, the markings tend to be paler in comparison.
Mandrills may look like Baboons, but DNA studies have shown that they are more closely related to Mangabeys. These Monkeys have extremely long canine teeth that can be used for self-defense, though baring them is typically a friendly gesture among Mandrills.
Wild Mandrills live in the remaining rainforests of western Africa in Cameroon, Gabon, and southwestern Congo. Populations are under threat and declining due to habitat loss and fragmentation caused by the spread of agriculture and human settlement, so the species is listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Mandrills are often hunted for food as many Africans consider them to be a delicacy.
The Los Angeles Zoo is thrilled to announce the birth of two endangered Snow Leopard cubs!
A male and female were born on May 12 and May 13 to a three-year-old mother, Georgina, and a five-year-old father, Fred. The cubs are the first offspring for the adults, who were paired together in July 2015 as a part of a Species Survival Plan (SSP).
The new siblings spent several months behind the scenes bonding with their mother and getting to know the animal care staff. At four months old, the cubs have now gained enough strength and coordination to navigate their outdoor habitat and make their public debut.
“We’re so excited to welcome these cubs,” said Stephanie Zielinski, animal keeper at the Los Angeles Zoo. “There is less known about these beautiful cats than most of the other large cat species due to the extreme habitat Snow Leopards have evolved to live in the wild. This is why it’s such an honor to be able to educate the public and give them the opportunity to observe this elusive species here in Los Angeles.”
The Zoo’s animal care staff began working with the cubs early on, separating the mom for short amounts of time to allow her rest and to help her grow accustomed to animal care staff being around her young. These interactions with the cubs helped animal care staff conduct regular exams, give vaccinations, and eventually lead to an easier transition when introducing the cubs to the outdoor habitat.
Photo Credits: Los Angeles Zoo / Tad Motoyama (Images: 1,2,5) / Jamie Pham (3,4,6,7)
Snow Leopards in the wild are found in unforgiving environments in the cold, high mountains of Central Asia throughout 12 countries. The habitats range from alpine meadows to treeless, rocky mountains. Due to the high altitudes of its habitat, the animal has evolved to have a large nasal cavity to breathe the thin air and can retain oxygen well. The cats have a thick fur, which allows them to keep warm, and a long tail they can wrap around themselves for added warmth and protection for their ears and face. Their paws have hair cushions that act as snowshoes and also provide protection from sharp rocks. Smoky gray and blurred black markings on the cat’s pale gray or cream-colored coat provide them with handy camouflage in the mountains. Snow Leopards can tolerate extreme temperatures of 104 degrees Fahrenheit down to 40 degrees below zero.
While Snow Leopards have perfectly adapted to the cold, barren landscape of their high-altitude home, human threats have created an uncertain future for the cats. Habitat destruction, prey base depletion, illegal trade, poaching, and conflict with the local people have led to a significant decline with only an estimated population of between 2,000 to 7,000 Snow Leopards left in the wild.
The Los Angeles Zoo welcomed two bright orange male François’ Langur babies this summer. The first born was on June 23 to eight-year-old mother Vicki Vale and the second on July 12 to five-year-old mother Kim-Ly. The infants recently joined their mothers and 19-year-old father Paak in the outdoor habitat, a dense forest filled with tall trees and plenty of branches for climbing and swinging. The babies will eventually be introduced to the rest of the family on exhibit, 26-year-old female Mei-Chi and two-year-old Tao.
Photo Credit: Jamie Pham
“We’re very excited for guests to be able to observe this blended family in their new group dynamic,” said Roxane Losey, Animal Keeper at the Los Angeles Zoo. “Once the two boys are a little older, they will join their brother Tao and things will probably get a little rough and tumble when they play. These Monkeys are very acrobatic and like to jump and leap from branch to branch.”
The Monkey babies have a long tail, striking eyes, and orange and black fur that will fade to full black over time. François’ Langur infants nurse for close to a year, so they can often be seen in the arms of their mothers. This sometimes proves difficult for mother Vicki Vale who suffered a past injury that left her with limited mobility on her left side. Vicki Vale’s baby has adapted to the unique situation by sometimes hoisting himself onto his mother’s back to leave her hands free when navigating the branches in the habitat. This is not a trait you would find in the wild, as it leaves the baby open to capture by predators or being knocked down by tree branches.
The babies will also spend time with the other adult female members of the group through a practice called alloparenting. This trait lets young females gain experience caring for infants and builds bonds within the troop. It also gives mom a break! Sometimes, though, the animals disagree over how to raise the babies or how they interact with each other.
“The whole family will have minor squabbles from time to time, but you will actually see them come to each other and make up, sometimes with a hug,” said Losey. “You won’t see a lot of Monkeys with this hugging behavior, but Francois’ Langurs are a very gentle species.”
Native to southern China and northeastern Vietnam, François’ Langurs feed on shoots, fruits, flowers, and bark collected in the treetops or on the forest floor. François’ Langurs are listed as Endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List due to deforestation and illegal capture for use in traditional Asian medicines sold on the black market.
A Red-flanked Duiker was born the end of January, at the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens. The diminutive bovid was recently photographed enjoying the California sun.
The Red-flanked Duiker (Cephalophus rufilatus) is a species of small antelope found in western and central Africa. They grow to almost 15 in (35 cm) in height and weigh up to 31 lb (14 kg). Their coats are russet, with greyish-black legs and backs, and white underbellies.
Red-flanked Duiker feed on leaves, fallen fruits, seeds and flowers, and sometimes twigs and shoots. The adults are territorial, living in savannah and lightly wooded habitats.
The females usually produce a single offspring each year. Breeding and births tend to occur year round as young animals have been seen during the wet and dry season. Gestation is about five-and-a-half months. Duikers are considered precocial but are concealed in vegetation by their mother for several weeks after birth. They are sexually mature when they are about one year old, but probably do not breed until later. Lifespan in captivity is up to 10 years.
Adult males and females are, in general, similar in appearance, but males have short backward-pointing horns up to 9 cm (3.5 in) long. Females are often hornless, or may have shorter horns. Both males and females have large preorbital glands on their snout in front of their eyes, which form bulges in their cheeks. These are common to all members of the genus Cephalophus but they are larger in the Red-flanked Duiker than in other species.
The Red-flanked Duiker is an adaptable species. The removal of trees by logging and the conversion of its natural habitat into more open savannah and farmland have allowed it to increase its range. It is fairly common in the areas in which it is found, though numbers are decreasing, in general, due to severe hunting pressure.
The Red-flanked Duiker was one of the four most frequent species of bushmeat on sale in the Republic of Guinea, along with Maxwell's Duiker (Cephalophus maxwelli), the Greater Cane Rat (Thryonomys swinderianus), and the Bushbuck (Tragelaphus scriptus).
The calf was born to six-year-old mother ‘Hasina’, and 18-year-old father, ‘Artemus’. This is the second calf for Hasina, who came from the San Diego Zoo in 2010.
This is a birth the L.A. Zoo is thankful for, as the population of giraffes across the African continent is drastically declining due to hunting and habitat loss.
A Los Angeles area couple also felt a connection to the baby giraffe, and they made the decision to ‘adopt’ the baby and chose to name him ‘Leo’. In making a significant gift to the Zoo’s animal acquisition fund, which promotes vital wildlife preservation and breeding projects locally and around the world, donors Patricia and Stanley Silver chose to name the baby giraffe after Mrs. Silver’s late father, Leo Guthman.
Leo can now be seen on exhibit with the other giraffes daily, weather permitting.
Related to sheep, Takin are a goat-antelope found in the eastern Himalayas. There are four different subspecies: the Sichuan or Tibetan Takin, the Mishmi Takin, the Shaanxi or Golden Takin, and the Bhutan Takin. The Takin is the national animal of Bhutan.
Photo credit: Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens
Takin live in family groups of up to 30 individuals, and travel seasonally to feed on leaves and grasses at different elevations. They are found in grassy alpine zones as well as forested valleys. Threatened by overhunting and habitat loss and fragmentation, the species is classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN.