This historic milestone marks the first time that any zoo or aquarium in North America has hatched 1,000 African Penguin chicks! The newest chick hatched on February 13th and is the thirteenth to have hatched at the Zoo during the 2017-2018 breeding season. The little one is being parent-reared, behind-the-scenes, in the Zoo’s Penguin Coast Conservation Center.
“I am sure the people who started this penguin colony in 1967 had no idea where it would take the Zoo over time,” stated Don Hutchinson, President/CEO of The Maryland Zoo. “But they had the foresight to manage the penguin colony strategically, applying new scientific techniques as they emerged, while creating one of the most historically memorable Zoo exhibits at Rock Island. Today, we welcome the 1,000th chick at the award-winning Penguin Coast exhibit. This is truly a momentous achievement.”
Photo Credits: The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore
The Maryland Zoo has been a leader in African Penguins for 50 years, hatching their first chick in 1969 and winning the prestigious Edward H. Bean Award for the “African Penguin Long-term Propagation Program” from the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) in 1996. The Zoo currently has the largest colony of African penguins in North America.
“This chick is not only the 1,000th to hatch, it also becomes the 94th in our Penguin Coast colony,” said Jen Kottyan, Avian Collection & Conservation Manager. “Our penguins are bred according to recommendations from the AZA African Penguin Species Survival Plan (SSP) which helps maintain their genetic diversity. Many of the penguins previously bred at the Zoo have helped establish new colonies at zoos and aquariums around the world.”
Penguins from the Zoo have moved to zoos and aquariums in thirty-five states and six countries including: Canada, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Hungary and South Africa.
Ruby was born October 9 to three-year-old Remy and sired by one-year-old Chopper, while Peggy, born on October 16, is the offspring of seven-year-old Lela and nine-year-old Hurley.
“Ruby is a healthy 14-pound calf,” stated Erin Cantwell, mammal collection and conservation manager at the Zoo. “Remy has been very attentive to her calf. The two are sharing space with others in the herd and have just begun exploring the outdoor behind-the-scenes area together with our month-old male calf Marcus and his mother Mousse.”
“Peggy, on the other hand, has had a bit of a rough start,” continued Cantwell. “Lela had a difficult delivery, and we decided it was best for both dam and calf that we hand-raise Peggy in close proximity to the herd. Animal care staff are bottle-feeding her a specialized milk formula six times a day. She has been steadily gaining weight and we are keeping a very close eye on her to ensure she thrives.”
Photo Credits: The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore
The Sitatunga (Tragelaphus spekii) is a species of antelope native to Central Africa. They live in semi-aquatic swamps, marshes and flood plains. Outside of protected areas, Sitatunga are vulnerable to over-hunting and habitat loss, as people drain and develop swampland. Currently, Sitatunga are not classified as threatened or endangered.
The Maryland Zoo’s Sitatunga herd is made up of 12 animals, including the new calves, and can be found in two exhibit spaces along the boardwalk in the African Journey section of the Zoo.
“We hope that Zoo visitors will able to spot Remy and Ruby in the Sitatunga yard, next to the tortoises…weather permitting. Because of her specialized care, Peggy will need additional time behind-the-scenes to ensure her continued health and integration into the herd.”
The calves’ births were the result of a recommendation from the Sitatunga Species Survival Plan (SSP) coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). SSPs provide breeding recommendations to maximize genetic diversity, with the goal of ensuring health of the individual animal, as well as the long-term survival of the species population to help save animals from extinction.
Julius the Reticulated Giraffe calf is taking baby steps toward recovery after facing several challenges in his first few weeks of life.
Born June 15 at the Maryland Zoo, the 143-pound, six-foot tall calf stood on wobbly legs just 20 minutes after birth to first-time mother, Kesi.
Photo Credit: Maryland Zoo
Giraffe calves normally begin nursing within an hour or two of birth, but this was not the case for Julius. Without this early nursing, Julius was missing out on important antibodies and nutrition in the first milk, known as colostrum, produced by his mother. By the next morning, keepers supplemented Julius’ feeding with a special colostrum formula delivered by bottle.
Although Kesi nuzzled Julius and was protective of him, she still did not nurse her calf after two days. The Maryland Zoo staff contacted their colleagues at the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium to obtain Giraffe plasma in an effort to boost Julius’ immune system. The two teams drove through the night and met in West Virginia to hand off the life-saving plasma. Julius received a transfusion the next morning.
Meanwhile, the zoo staff monitored Julius’ weight and bloodwork daily, hoping that Kesi’s nursing instinct would kick in. But for reasons not known, Julius is still not nursing with any regularity. When Julius was about four days old, the staff began bottle-feeding him multiple times per day.
Except for feeding time and veterinary checks, Julius (so named because his father is called Caesar) spends all his time with Kesi. The two appear to have a strong bond, despite the lack of nursing.
Though Julius has good days, when he gains five pounds in 24 hours, he also has challenging days with minimal weight gain and overall weakness. His keepers tirelessly deliver expert intensive care, and though Julius still faces many hurdles, the staff remains optimistic about Julius’ future. They are especially heartened by community members and colleagues at Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) zoos who support #TeamJulius.
Julius’ story is a reminder that every Giraffe birth is important to the future of the species. The nine species and subspecies of Giraffe, all native to Africa, are in drastic decline. Their numbers have plummeted 40% in the last two decades. In December 2016, Giraffes were uplisted to Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.
The pair was found trying to survive in the wild without their mother. “Although no one likes the tragic circumstances that lead to the cubs coming here to the Zoo, we are pleased that we can offer a permanent home to these sisters,” said Don Hutchinson, president and CEO of The Maryland Zoo. “They are being well cared for and we plan to do so for many, many years.”
Photo Credits: The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore
The two female cubs originated on Confederated Salish (Say-lish) and Kootenai (Koot-nee) Tribal Lands in Montana. For several days, they were observed foraging by themselves with no mother in attendance. It became obvious that one cub was failing, and the decision was made by the tribal biologist to capture both cubs on Labor Day, September 5, 2016.
“The cubs were taken to a local veterinarian and upon examination, it was discovered that the smaller of the cubs had been shot,” said Dr. Ellen Bronson, senior veterinarian at the Zoo. “Luckily the wounds were not severe and the cub was able to be treated with antibiotics. The cubs, however, were starving having not quite learned how to forage for themselves at such a young age.”
They were moved to The Montana Wildlife Center, in Helena, which rehabilitates orphaned wildlife for the purpose of release back to the wild and is run by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP).
“Unfortunately, several weeks after their capture, the failing mother of the cubs was located with severe shotgun wounds to her face and was subsequently euthanized,” said Mike McClure, general curator at the Zoo. “DNA analysis was used to determine that this female grizzly was indeed the mother of the two cubs, who at the time were approximately six-months-old.”
Due to their age, they were not good candidates for rehabilitation and release to the wild, so in early November, Montana FWP put a request to the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) Bear Taxon Advisory Group (TAG) to assist with finding the cubs a permanent home.
“We learned of the cubs through the AZA Bear TAG and began to make inquiries about the possibility of bringing them to Baltimore,” continued McClure. “While we have not housed Grizzly Bears before, we do have experience with many of the extant species of bear, and staff agreed that we could definitely provide a good home for these two cubs.”
It was determined in late November that the zoo would be the home of the cubs, pending appropriate permits and approvals by zoo personnel. In mid-December, after the appropriate approvals and permits were obtained, Dr. Ellen Bronson and Mike McClure flew to Helena, Montana to complete a health check of the cubs and meet the transporter to prepare for the over-land travel from Helena to Baltimore. Due to severe weather in Montana, they were stranded in Helena for five days before the roads became clear enough to load the bears and begin the long drive to Baltimore. McClure and the bears had a 3-day trek back to Baltimore with the transporter. They arrived at the Zoo late in the evening of December 21, 2016.
The cubs were in quarantine for 30 days at the Zoo Hospital, after which time they were moved to the Polar Bear Watch exhibit to acclimate to their night quarters, the Animal Care staff and their outdoor yards. Just recently Zoo staff has been watching them from the public area to prepare them for their introduction to the public.
“The cubs are probably around 11-months-old and are on permanent loan from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks,” continued McClure. “They are very curious about their outdoor yard, and have spent a lot of time digging up the mulch, rolling in the grasses and exploring the pool. Essentially, they are bear cubs just being bear cubs, which is fascinating to watch. We hope everyone enjoys seeing them and learning about grizzly bears here at the Zoo.”
The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore is thrilled to announce the birth of a female Reticulated Giraffe calf. Born on February 6, to four-year-old Juma and eleven-year-old Caesar, this new calf is the first giraffe to be born at the Zoo in over 20 years!
“We couldn’t be happier to welcome this beautiful calf to the Zoo family,” said Don Hutchinson, president/CEO of the Zoo. “She will bring a lot of excitement to the Giraffe House and make a wonderful addition to the herd.”
Juma went into labor at approximately 3:00 pm and the calf was born at 4:35 pm. “Standing is one of the first major milestones for a newborn giraffe, and she was able to fully stand on her own in just 50 minutes,” said Erin Cantwell, mammal collection and conservation manager. “It’s safe to say that we were all silently cheering her on and were very excited to see her up on four legs.”
“Juma is an amazing mother! Her instincts are on target,” continued Cantwell. “She is very attentive and has been very patient with the calf as she learns to nurse. Mother and calf are bonding well and appear to be settling into their new routine with ease. All the other giraffes are curious about this new addition -- it’s fun to watch them watching the calf.”
Photo Credits: The Maryland Zoo
During her first veterinary exam, the calf was measured at 6’1” and weighed approximately 125 pounds. “Health-wise everything looks pretty perfect so far,” stated Samantha Sander, associate veterinarian. “All signs so far indicate we have a very healthy and strong female calf, and certainly an excellent mom.”
The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore is pleased to announce the October 25th birth of a Coquerel’s Sifaka.
“We are so excited to have this new baby join our Sifaka troop,” stated Erin Cantwell, mammal collection and conservation manager. “Mom and baby have spent the past weeks bonding in a quiet off-exhibit area, and we have been gradually introducing them to the exhibit in the Chimpanzee Forest with Gratian and older sister Leo.”
This is the fifth offspring for The Maryland Zoo’s Sifaka pair: Anastasia (Ana), age 12, and Gratian, age 14. Their previously born offspring, Otto and Nero, were born approximately nine months apart in 2011. They eventually moved to their new home at the Duke Lemur Center in 2013. The pair’s son, Max, born in 2013, was moved to the Los Angeles Zoo in 2014. Leo, born in 2014, remains at the Maryland Zoo with her parents and new sibling.
“It’s exciting to have another baby at the Zoo and contribute to the population of this species of endangered Lemur,” continued Cantwell. “Ana is a very good mother and the baby is growing rapidly.” The gender of the baby has yet to be determined.
Photo Credits: Maryland Zoo
Sifaka are born with sparse hair and resemble tiny gremlins. In time, white hair soon grows in and they begin to resemble their parents. Newborn Sifaka ride on their mother’s belly for the first month, then graduate to riding on her back.
“By December, the baby should begin to sample solid food and crawl on Ana’s back periodically,” Cantwell said. “Before the New Year, when the baby is six to eight weeks old, he or she will begin to venture a few feet away from Mom, which is always nerve-wracking for us, but exciting for guests to watch.”
Sifaka males do not closely assist with the child rearing, although dad, Gratian, has taken a little interest in his previous offspring.
Coquerel’s Sifaka (Propithecus coquereli) are lemurs, native only to the island of Madagascar off the southeastern coast of Africa. Sifaka spend most of their lives in the treetops in two protected areas in the sparse dry, deciduous forests on the northwestern side of the island.
As with many species of Lemur, Coquerel’s Sifaka are classified as “Endangered” by the IUCN. Habitat loss due to deforestation is the leading threat to Sifaka, as is the case with many species of Lemur. Sifaka have a unique brown and white coloration, and are distinguished from other Lemurs by the way that they move. They maintain a very upright posture and, using only their back legs, leap through the treetops. They can easily leap more than 20 feet in a single bound. On the ground, they spring sideways off their back feet to cover distance.
This latest birth, at the Maryland Zoo, is the result of a recommendation from the Sifaka Species Survival Plan (SSP) coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). 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. The Maryland Zoo is one of only ten accredited zoos that house the 63 Coquerel’s Sifaka in the U.S.
During the winter, Zoo visitors can see Ana, Gratian, Leo and the new baby in the Sifaka exhibit inside the zoo’s Chimpanzee Forest. “The Sifaka will remain in their indoor habitat until mid-Spring when they will move to their outdoor habitat on Lemur Lane,” concluded Cantwell.
The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore is excited to announce the hatching of three African Penguin chicks. They are the first to hatch during the 2016-2017 breeding season at the Zoo’s Penguin Coast exhibit. The first chick hatched on October 20 to parents Portia and Beckham while the next two chicks, offspring of Ascot and Dennis, hatched on October 22 and October 25.
“This breeding season is off to a wonderful start,” said Jen Kottyan, Avian Collection and Conservation Manager. “As soon as the nest boxes were made available to the Penguins again for the start of breeding season, the birds began exhibiting breeding behaviors and claiming their nests. We are really excited about the prospects for this season, and these three are just the beginning.”
Photo Credits: Maryland Zoo
Breeding season for the African Penguins at Penguin Coast begins in mid-September and lasts until the end of February, mimicking the spring/summer breeding season for these endangered birds in their native South Africa.
Penguin chicks will hatch 38-42 days after the eggs are laid. Zookeepers 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 warm for 2-3 days and then switch off.”
At Penguin Coast, chicks stay with their parents for about three weeks after they hatch and are fed regurgitated fish from their parents. During this time, zookeepers and vets 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 remove it from the nest, and start to teach the chick that they are the source of food. This step is critical, as it will allow staff to provide long term care for the birds including daily feeding, regular health exams and both routine and emergency medical care.
The Maryland Zoo has been a leader in breeding African Penguins for close to 50 years, winning the prestigious Edward H. Bean Award for the “African Penguin Long-term Propagation Program” from the AZA in 1996. The Zoo has the largest colony of African Penguins in North America, with now over 75 birds.
“Our Penguins are bred according to recommendations from the AZA African Penguin SSP, 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.”
The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore released news of two of its newest babies: a male Lesser Kudu calf (born June 18th) and a male Sitatunga calf (born June 25th).
The Kudu calf was born to six-year-old Lemon and sired by five-year-old Ritter. He currently weighs almost 19 pounds and has been named Jalopy.
The Sitatunga calf, named Chopper, weighed 13.1 pounds at his first health check. His mother is six-year-old Lela, and the father is eight-year-old Lou.
Photo Credits: The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore
“The calves are being well cared for by their mothers inside their barns,” noted Margaret Inness, assistant general curator at the Zoo. “We like to give them time and space to bond during their early days and keep them as relaxed as possible for the health and wellbeing of all.”
Both calves now have limited access to the outdoor areas for a few weeks as they become acclimated to the yards and zoo visitors.
The Lesser Kudu calf had a few complications at birth, including a heart murmur discovered by veterinarians during his first health check. “This little guy had a bit of a rough start, but he’s nursing well and gaining weight as he should,” continued Innes. “Lemon is taking great care of him and we are pleased with his progress so far.”
Lesser Kudu (Tragelaphus imberbis australis) are one of eight species of African Spiral-horned Antelope. Male Lesser Kudu horns can grow to be 72 inches long, with 2 ½ twists. In the wild, they live in dry, densely thicketed scrub and woodlands of northern east Africa. Interestingly, they rarely drink water, apparently getting enough liquid from the plants that they eat.
At The Maryland Zoo, the Lesser Kudu herd of five can be found in the African Watering Hole exhibit, along with Addra Gazelle and Saddle-billed Storks.
The Sitatunga (Tragelaphus spekii) is a species of antelope native to Central Africa. They live in semi-aquatic swamps, marshes and flood plains. Outside of protected areas, Sitatunga are vulnerable to over-hunting and habitat loss, as people drain and develop swampland. Currently, however, Sitatunga are not classified as threatened or endangered.
The Maryland Zoo’s Sitatunga herd is made up of ten animals, including the new calf, and can be found in two exhibit spaces along the boardwalk in the African Journey section of the Zoo.
Both of the calves’ births are the result of a recommendation from the Species Survival Plan (SSP) for each species, coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). SSPs provide breeding recommendations to maximize genetic diversity, with the goal of ensuring health of the individual animal, as well as the long-term survival of the species population to help save animals from extinction.
The Maryland Zoo, in Baltimore, recently welcomed a male Lesser Kudu on December 18, 2015…the first Lesser Kudu to be born at the Zoo!
The Zoo also welcomed two more members of the genus Tragelaphus, female Sitatunga calves born on December 7 and Christmas Day, 2015. The girls are the third and fourth Sitatunga calves born this season at the Zoo, joining males Riri and Carl (born in April and June respectively).
Photo Credits: The Maryland Zoo / Images 1,2,5,6 : Lesser Kudu / Images 3 and 4 : Sitatunga
The first of the female Sitatunga calves was born to two-year-old Remy and has been named Jess by zookeepers. She currently weighs approximately 21 pounds. The second female calf, named Noel, weighed almost 15 pounds at her last health check. Her mother is two-year-old Mousse. Eight-year-old Lou sired both girls.
“Both calves are healthy and are being well cared for by their mothers, inside the warmth of the Africa Barn,” stated Carey Ricciardone, Mammal Collection and Conservation Manager at the Zoo. “As a first time dam, Mousse is very protective of Noel, but Remy is a much more relaxed mother.”
Both calves will remain behind the scenes in the barn until warm weather returns.
The male Lesser Kudu calf, Kaiser, was born to two-year-old Meringue and sired by five-year-old Ritter. “This little guy has long, spindly legs and huge ears right now; he’s adorable,” continued Ricciardone. “Meringue is taking great care of him and we are pleased with his progress so far.”
Kaiser stands about three-feet-tall and weighs in at 26 pounds. He will also remain off exhibit with his mother until spring.
The African Penguin chick siblings, at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, are shedding their fluffy down feathers and growing their grey and white juvenile plumage.
Juvenile feathers are water resistant, so now there’s lots of swim practice for the brother and sister.
Photo Credits: The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore
The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore happily announced the arrival of the two African penguin chicks back in November, and ZooBorns shared news of the birth, as well. They were the first chicks to hatch during the 2015-2016 breeding season at Penguin Coast. The chicks’ parents are Mega and Rossi. The male hatched on November 5 and the female on November 9.
The Maryland Zoo has been a leader in breeding African Penguins for over 40 years, winning the prestigious Edward H. Bean Award for the “African Penguin Long-term Propagation Program” from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) in 1996.
The Zoo has the largest colony of the birds in North America, with over 60 birds currently residing in Penguin Coast, along with six special penguins that are used as “Animal Ambassadors” and live in the Penguin Encounters building at the exhibit.
“Our penguins are bred according to recommendations from the AZA African Penguin Species Survival Plan (SSP) which helps maintain their genetic diversity,” said Jen Kottyan, Avian Collection and Conservation Manager. “Many of the African Penguins previously bred at the Zoo now inhabit zoo and aquarium exhibits around the world.”
Penguin chicks hatch approximately 38 to 42 days after the egg is laid. Zookeepers, at the Maryland Zoo, 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, the two chicks stayed with their parents for about three weeks and were fed regurgitated fish from both of their parents. During this time, zookeepers and veterinarians kept a close eye on the development of the chicks, weighing and measuring them daily for the first week to make sure that the parents were properly caring for each chick.
At three-weeks-old, the keepers began hand rearing the chicks to start to teach them that keepers are a 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.”
The siblings are now starting to lose their downy feathers, and the grey plumage that distinguishes juvenile penguins from the adults now covers them. They are learning how to swim and will now be slowly introduced to the rest of the penguin colony.