Maryland Zoo

Endangered Sifaka Born at the Maryland Zoo

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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.

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3_JFB9758Photo 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.


First Penguin Chicks of the Season at Maryland Zoo

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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.”

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4_DSC_3632(Parentsofchick2+3)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.” 

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Doubling-Up on Cuteness at The Maryland Zoo

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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.

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4_Kudu Lemon & Jalopy DSC_9702Photo 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.

More great pics, below the fold!

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Three New Antelope Calves for the Maryland Zoo

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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).

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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.

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‘Everybody Into the Pool!’ at the Maryland Zoo

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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.

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4_Penguin Chicks swim practicesPhoto 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.

You can follow their growth and development on the Zoo’s website (www.marylandzoo.org) and Facebook page (www.facebook.com/marylandzoo).


Chick It Out: Penguins Hatch At Maryland Zoo

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

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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

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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’.  

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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

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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!

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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

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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. 

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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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