Maryland Zoo

Chick It Out: Penguins Hatch At Maryland Zoo


The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore announced the arrival of the first two chicks of the 2015-2016 African Penguin breeding season.

12239281_10150584014964987_6213476884560133968_oPhoto Credit:  Maryland Zoo in Baltimore

The chicks hatched on November 5 and November 9 to experienced parents Mega and Rossi. “Breeding season started in September with many of our penguins developing and defending their respective nests,” said Jen Kottyan, avian collection and conservation manager. “We are very excited to see these first two hatch and thrive under these proven Penguin parents.” The chicks, each weighing less than ¾ pound, are nesting comfortably with their parents.

Penguin chicks hatch 38 to 42 days after the eggs are laid. Zoo keepers monitor development of the eggs by candling them about a week after they are laid to see if they are fertile and developing. The eggs are then placed back with the parents. “With African Penguins, both the male and the female take turns sitting on the eggs,” said Kottyan. “Once the eggs hatch, parents take turns caring for their offspring; they each protect, feed, and keep the chick or chicks warm for 2-3 days and then switch off.”

After hatching, chicks stay with their parents for about three weeks and are fed regurgitated fish from both of their parents. During this time, zoo keepers and veterinarians keep a close eye on the development of the chicks, weighing and measuring them daily for the first week to make sure that the parents are properly caring for each chick.  When a chick is three weeks old, the keepers begin hand rearing the chick to start to teach it that keepers are their source of food and to acclimate them to human interaction.  “Over the years we have found that beginning the hand- rearing process at three weeks gives the chicks a great head start with their development,” continued Kottyan. “They will still retain the natural instincts of a wild penguin, while allowing us to properly care for them.”

When the chicks are between six and eight weeks old, they lose their downy feathers and become covered in the grey plumage that distinguishes juvenile Penguins from the adults. At this time, they begin to learn how to swim and will then be slowly introduced to the rest of the Penguin colony.

The Maryland Zoo has been a leader in breeding African penguins for over 40 years and  has the largest colony of the birds in North America, with over 60 birds currently residing at the zoo. “Our penguins are bred according to recommendations from the AZA African Penguin Species Survival Plan which helps maintain their genetic diversity,” said Kottyan. “Many of the African Penguins previously bred at the Zoo now inhabit zoo and aquarium exhibits around the world.”

African Penguins are native to the coast of southern Africa.  They are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  The wild population has decreased by 90% in the last 100 years.  At one time, these birds’ eggs were over-collected and their nest sites were disturbed due to mining for guano (accumulated seabird droppings).  Today, oil spills and over fishing are the main threats.

Meet the New Kids at the Maryland Zoo


The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore is happy to announce the birth of twin African Pygmy Goat kids.  The kids, one male and one female, were born, March 10th, to the Zoo’s African Pygmy Goat pair, ‘Lex’ and ‘Lois’.  




Photo Credits: Jeffrey F. Bill / Maryland Zoo

“We are so excited to have kids in the Farmyard again,” stated Carey Ricciardone, mammal collection and conservation manager at The Maryland Zoo. “The two new babies have been behind the scenes with Lois since their birth, giving them time to bond. Luckily she’s an experienced mother and is taking very good care of her kids.”

 The twins, named ‘Chloe’ and ‘Clark’, currently weigh 9 and 10 pounds respectively. “They are busy exploring their environment, napping and playing with their mother,” continued Ricciardone. “As always, our staff will continue to monitor them closely to ensure that they are doing well.”

Zoo visitors can now see Lois and her kids in the Zoo’s Farmyard area next to the sheep.  “Because they are pygmy goats, they are quite small and they do seek shady cool places to hang out sometimes,” concluded Ricciardone.  “They are becoming very active and will be jumping all over the place. I think everyone will really enjoy watching them grow!”

Pygmy Goats originated in the Cameroon Valley of West Africa. They were imported into the United States from European zoos in the 1950s, for use in zoos and as research animals. They were eventually acquired by private breeders and quickly gained popularity as pets and exhibition animals due to their good-natured personalities. Females can reach a maximum weight of about 75 lbs (34 kg), and males can grow up to 86 lbs (39 kg). Wither height ranges from 16 to 23 inches (41 to 58 cm). Their color and pattern of their coats can vary significantly.

UPDATE! Help Name Maryland Zoo's Lion Cubs


The Maryland Zoo is asking the public to help name the brother and sister Lion cubs that were born on October 4. The cubs are now nine weeks-old and full of Lion cub mischief. They were given a clean bill of health during their most recent veterinary exam and are now eating several pounds of meat a day.  

The names were selected by the zoo keepers who have been caring for them since their mother, Lioness Badu, died from complications relating to the birth.  Zoo staff say that their personalities have really just begun to emerge.  The male cub has a lighter coat of fur and is more laid-back, a pretty relaxed cub who likes to stay near his sister.  The sister is covered in dark spots. She has a fiery personality, is always the first one to check out new things and she is the instigator in all of their lion cub tussles. With that in mind, the names the keepers have selected are:

1) Luke and Leia: brother/sister from Star Wars who were also orphaned

2) Bart and Maggie: Simpson’s siblings

3) Kulu and Madoa: Kulu means “huge” and Madoa means “spotted”

4) Lear and Circe: King Lear, for the lion is the king of the jungle and Circe, a minor goddess in Greek mythology who turned men into animals with her wand.

The voting closes today (December 19), so go ahead and vote!




5 lionPhoto credit: Jeffrey F. Bill / Maryland Zoo

See a video of the cubs exploring their new home:

See more photos after the fold!

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UPDATE: Lion Cubs Thriving at Maryland Zoo


A five-week-old brother-and-sister Lion cub duo is thriving under the care of zoo keepers at the Maryland Zoo. 

ZooBorns introduced the cubs a few weeks ago.  Their mother died unexpectedly just few days after giving birth but thanks to round-the-clock care from the zoo staff, the cubs are in excellent health and are becoming more playful every day.  The cubs’ teeth are starting to come in, and keepers have started to introduce meat into their daily diet. 

Photo Credit:  Maryland Zoo

The cubs are not on public display yet, but the zoo expects to hold a naming contest for the cubs soon. 

See more photos of the cubs below the fold.


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Keepers Step In To Raise Maryland Zoo's First-ever Lion Cubs

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Zoo keepers have stepped in to raise the Maryland Zoo’s first-ever Lion cubs after their mother died a few days after their birth.

The cubs, born on October 3, appear healthy and are receiving around-the-clock care in an off-exhibit area.   “They are very young, and we are measuring their progress and evaluating the situation day by day,” stated Margie Rose-Innes, assistant general curator. “Ideally they will be able to be introduced to the other Lions, but that will be some time in the future.  For now, their continued health and well-being will be our focus.”



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Photo Credit:  Jeffrey F. Bill / The Maryland Zoo

Though the staff is deeply saddened by the loss of the cubs’ mother, Badu, they are taking on the challenge of rearing her cubs.  The brother-and-sister duo have not yet been named. 

A day after the birth of her two cubs, Badu’s health declined and the staff intervened.  “Two additional cubs had to be removed surgically, neither of which survived,” stated Dr. Ellen Bronson, senior veterinarian at the Zoo.  Badu continued to have complications from the surgery, and despite the efforts of the staff, she died a few days later.

The cubs’ birth is the result of a recommendation from the Lion Species Survival Plan (SSP) coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. SSPs provide breeding recommendations to maximize genetic diversity, with the goal of ensuring the long-term survival of the captive population and the health of individual animals. Lions are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature because their wild population has declined significantly over the past 50 years.  Only about 32,000 individuals remain in the wild, down from over 100,000 in the mid-20th century.

See more photos of the cubs below the fold.

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Prairie Dog Pups Pop Up at Maryland Zoo

The Prairie Dog habitat at the Maryland Zoo is popping with pups – literally!  The staff reports that new pups are poking their little heads out of their burrows daily.  They’ve counted 17 so far.


Black-tailed Prairie Dogs live a social life.  These rodents live in family groups called coteries, and many coteries group together form a colony or town of Prairie Dogs.  Members of a family group communicate constantly, often by “kissing” or grooming each other.   



Photo Credit:  Maryland Zoo

Native to the North American plains, Prairie Dogs are often considered pests by ranchers and farmers because they eat grasses and disturb fields.  But studies show that Prairie Dogs are an important prey species that plays a crucial role in the grassland ecosystem.  They are the primary food source of endangered Black-footed Ferrets, whose decline is associated with the extermination of Prairie Dogs in parts of the American West.

See more Prairie Dog pups below the fold.

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There's a New Kid at the Maryland Zoo


Baltimore's Maryland Zoo announced the birth of an African pygmy goat kid.  Born on June 10 to the Zoo’s African pygmy goat pair Lex and Lois, Lana is the first kid to be born at the Zoo in many years. “Lex and Lois came to the Zoo in December with the hope that they would breed,” stated Mike McClure, general curator for The Maryland Zoo. “It became apparent a few weeks ago that breeding had been successful, and we have been preparing the barn for this new arrival. Sunday morning keepers found the kid newly born and resting with her mother.”

Lana weighs 3 pounds, and began to walk approximately one hour after birth.  “A first time mother, Lois is properly caring for her offspring and we have seen the kid actively nursing,” continued McClure. “Keepers have been watching mom and baby and will continue to monitor them closely to ensure that they are doing well.”

Zoo visitors can see Lois and Lana in the Zoo’s Farmyard area next to the sheep.  “Lana is quite small and she likes to nap behind the water bowl in the exhibit,” concluded McClure.  “For now, visitors will need to look carefully for a little furry black baby with white ears, but as she grows she will become very active.”

Photo Credit: Maryland Zoo

What's Black and White But White All Over? Maryland Zoo's Baby Colobus Monkey


The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore announced the birth of black-and-white Colobus Monkey, born on exhibit on April 21. This is the first baby for parents, Keri, age 14, and Bisi, age 19. The infant, whose gender is not yet known, is covered in white fur, and is a little hard to see as it clings tightly to its mother's belly. The staff are monitoring things very closely, and have seen the baby nurse. When appropriate they will do the first veterinary check.

“We have been hoping that this pair would breed successfully, however they are secretive breeders and we were not certain she was pregnant,” stated Mike McClure, general curator. “We were very happy to see this new offspring arrive this morning. We want the mother and baby to be as comfortable as possible, so we are not attempting to bring them off exhibit to check on the infant at this time."

The species is considered in decline as they are threatened by loss of forest habitat across equatorial Africa, and are also hunted for their meat and fur. This birth is the result of a recommendation from the Colobus Species Survival Plan (SSP) coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). SSPs provide breeding recommendations to maximize genetic diversity and appropriate social groupings, with the goal of ensuring the long-term survival of the captive population and the health of individual animals. 

Photo Credit: Maryland Zoo

Read more about the colobus after the jump:

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Meet Nero, Maryland's Brand New Baby Sifaka!


The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore is pleased to announce the birth of a second male Coquerel’s Sifaka (CAHK-ker-rells she-FAHK) baby born on Saturday, November 12, 2011, almost nine months to the day that his older brother Otto was born.  “We observed changes in Anastasia which made us suspect she might be pregnant, but we were not sure if it was just wishful thinking on our parts so soon after Otto’s birth,” stated Mike McClure, general curator.  “We are very pleased to see that the baby is healthy, and to observe that the Sifaka family is bonding quite nicely in a quiet off exhibit area for now.”



Photo and video credits: The Maryland Zoo

More pics below the fold...

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Endangered Gazelle Fawn, Elvira, Finds Her Feet


The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore is welcoming a new arrival – a female Addra Gazelle calf born on Sunday, October 30, 2011, at approximately 8:00 am. The calf, named Elvira, weighed 4.95 kg (11 pounds) at birth, and is strong and healthy. Her parents are 9-year-old Pearl and 4-year-old Makuru. 

“Pearl, who gave birth to our male calf Ray-Ray in February, is unfortunately showing no signs of interest in her new offspring,” stated Mike McClure, general curator of the Zoo. “Because the calf is so significant to the overall population of this endangered species, we decided that a quick intervention was necessary in order to keep her healthy.”


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