Meet the new Gentoo Penguin at Milwaukee County Zoo! The chick hatched on December 18 to parents Oscar and Fiona.
The chick still has its soft, fluffy down feathers, which provide warmth but are not suited for swimming. Only when the chick molts into its waterproof plumage, usually around one or two months of age, will it begin learning to swim.
Photo Credit: Milwaukee County Zoo
Gentoo Penguin parents take turns feeding and caring for their chicks. Both Oscar and Fiona have reared chicks before. The gender of the new chick is not yet known, and will be determined by a blood test. It’s not possible to tell males from females by sight alone.
Penguin chicks at the zoo must learn to take fish from zoo keepers, and this training usually occurs after they have been weaned from their parents and begin to molt. It’s during the molt that the chick’s “baby fuzz” is replaced by sleek, waterproof feathers.
Once the chick has its shiny new feathers, it will be gradually introduced to the exhibit pool and to the other birds in the habitat.
Gentoo Penguins are native to Antarctica. They stand two to three feet tall as adults, making them the third-largest Penguin species, after Emperor and King Penguins. Gentoos live in colonies of several hundred birds along the Antarctic Coast and surrounding islands. These Penguins may dive as many as 500 times per day in search of fish, krill, and squid to eat.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists the Gentoo Penguin as a “Species of Least Concern,” though some individual populations have declined rapidly in recent years.
Milwaukee County Zoo visitors got quite a surprise on March 5 when they witnessed Bactrian Camel, Sanchi, give birth to her calf on exhibit! The handsome camel calf was named Patrick in honor of the Saint Patrick’s Day holiday!
Sanchi has given birth to several calves before, and she is quite accustomed to motherhood. This is the first offspring for dad, Stan. Accordingly, zookeepers are keeping Stan separate from Patrick until they can better assess his anticipated behavior near the calf. Big sister, AJ, also isn’t quite sure what to make of this new addition to the group, and has been keeping her distance for now.
The new guy weighed-in at about 100 pounds at birth and was walking less than two hours later. Zoo staff report that Patrick is extremely confident with loads of personality and was quite a handful during his first veterinary medical exam! Keepers are currently working on desensitizing Patrick to their touch, so his hooves, ears and other areas can be more easily examined by veterinarians as he grows.
For enrichment and as an outlet for his boisterous energy, keepers have been providing Patrick with “jolly balls”, commonly used with horses, which he very much likes to kick at. He is currently nursing from mom but will soon begin exploring solid foods, such as: hay, pellet mix, carrots and apples.
Photo Credits: Milwaukee County Zoo
The Bactrian Camel (Camelus bactrianus) is a large, two-humped, even-toed ungulate native to the steppes of Central Asia. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) uses the binomial name Camelus ferus for the wild Bactrian Camel and reserves Camelus bactrianus for the domesticated Bactrian Camel. (Their name comes from the ancient historical region of Bactria.)
There are currently three species of camels: the one-humped Dromedary, the domestic two-humped Bactrian Camel, and the wild Bactrian Camel. Wild Bactrian Camels are listed as “Critically Endangered” by the IUCN, primarily due to hunting and development associated with the mining industry in China and Mongolia.
Bactrian Camels are diurnal, sleeping in the open at night and foraging for food during the day. They are primarily herbivorous. They are able to eat plants that are dry, prickly, salty or bitter, and can ingest virtually any kind of vegetation.
Gestation lasts around 13 months, with most young being born from March through April. One or, occasionally, two calves are produced, and the female can give birth to a new calf every other year. Young Bactrian Camels are precocial, being able to stand and run shortly after birth, and are fairly large at an average birth weight of 36 kg (79 lb). They are nursed for about 1.5 years. The young calf will stay with its mother for three to five years, until it reaches sexual maturity, and often serves to help raise subsequent generations for those years.
The Milwaukee County Zoo hopes its Bactrian Camel herd can serve as ambassadors for the declining wild camel population.
Although the schedule may fluctuate, Patrick is usually on exhibit for several hours beginning at about 10 a.m. daily. He tends to be most active in the morning, so that is an ideal time for visitors to see him. The Zoo encourages visitors to stop by the outdoor Camel Yard and meet the new guy, Patrick!
The Milwaukee County Zoo’s three Amur Tiger cubs made their public debut on December 2 in the Zoo’s Florence Mila Borchert Big Cat Country. The cubs, one male and two females, have been named: Kashtan, Eloise and Bernadette.
While all three cubs are currently doing well, the male, Kashtan, was transferred to the Zoo’s Animal Health Center in October. Little Kashtan was not gaining weight steadily, and he had developed an abscess on one of his legs (possibly due to a lack of immunity). Vet staff cultured and flushed the abscess, and he was given a course of antibiotics. He returned to Big Cat Country on October 24.
When it becomes necessary to remove newborn Zoo animals from the family group, the mother may not always accept the animal when placed back into the group. Staff reports that Amba has consistently shown excellent maternal care with all of her offspring. But because Kashtan had an infection, and there can be many unknowns in reuniting him with mom after so much time passed, staff determined there were too many risks to putting them back together. Female Tigers also have the potential to injure offspring if reintroductions are attempted. The primary concern of the Zoo’s animal care staff is to avoid any risk of injury to the cub.
Kashtan is now being hand-raised by keepers; weaned from a bottle, and eating meat. He is regularly placed with his sisters, in one of the indoor exhibits, for socialization and exercise.
Zoo visitors can see Kashton, singularly, in one of the indoor exhibits in Big Cat Country. At times, zookeepers will be in the exhibit with Kashtan, offering him interaction, socialization and feedings, as part of the hand-raising process. The exhibit will also feature enrichment items (objects that allow him to show his natural behaviors), which are important for his neurocognitive and physical development.
As all three Tigers learn how to become adults, they need to interact with a variety of toys/enrichment items. Anyone interested in purchasing any of these items for the cubs can visit the Zoo’s Amazon Wish List: Tiger Cub Wish List
When the Tiger sisters, Eloise and Bernadette, are not on exhibit with Kashtan, they can be seen with mother, Amba, in the indoor Tiger Exhibit.
The Milwaukee County Zoo is proud to announce the September 16th birth of a male Reticulated Giraffe. The last giraffe birth at the Zoo was in 2003.
The newest calf was born to first-time mom, Ziggy, and first-time dad, Bahatika. On September 17th, veterinarians completed the calf’s first exam, and they recorded a weight of 157 pounds and a height of 5 feet 9 inches tall. Zookeepers have been monitoring mother and baby; Ziggy has been very attentive to the calf, which is nursing regularly.
Photo Credits: Milwaukee County Zoo
Five-year-old Ziggy arrived at the Milwaukee County Zoo, in 2013, from Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Dad Bahatika is 10 years old and arrived at the Zoo, in 2006, from the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado.
The Reticulated Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata), also known as the Somali Giraffe, is a subspecies of giraffe native to savannas of Somalia, southern Ethiopia, and northern Kenya. Reticulated Giraffes can interbreed with other giraffe subspecies in captivity or if they come into contact with populations of other subspecies in the wild.
The Reticulated Giraffe is among the most well-known of the nine giraffe subspecies. Together with the Rothschild Giraffe, it is the type most commonly seen in zoos. They are known to often walk around with birds on their backs. These birds are called tickbirds. The tickbirds eat bugs that live on the giraffe’s coat, and alert the animals to danger by chirping loudly.
A female has a gestation period of about 15 months and usually has only one young at a time, but a mature female can have around eight offspring in her lifetime. Females return to the same spot each year to give birth. The mother gives birth standing up and the calf falls seven feet to the ground. Calves can weigh up to 200 lbs at birth and stand as tall as six feet. They are able to stand less than an hour after birth. The young are weaned at around one year of age.
The Snow Leopard cub at Milwaukee County Zoo has been busy playing with new toys and developing his skills! Patrons of the zoo are able to purchase toys and items from a wish list. The toys encourage behavior similar to what is seen in the wild, and they provide enrichment the growing zoo babies need to stimulate their minds and bodies.
Photo Credits: Milwaukee County Zoo
The cub, who arrived June 1, is the first Snow Leopard born at the zoo in fourteen years! His mother, “Tomiris”, at 14-years-old, is the oldest first time Snow Leopard mom in captivity. The cub’s father is 15-year-old “Genghis”. Yet to be named, the first-born of Tomiris will be revealed to the public sometime in the near future.
Snow Leopards are native to the mountain ranges of Central and South Asia. They are currently listed as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List, and their numbers in the wild are, unfortunately, decreasing. There are estimated to be only 3,500 to 7,000 in the wild. They have already disappeared completely from habitats where they formerly lived, such as parts of Mongolia. The major threats to the Snow Leopard in the wild include prey depletion, illegal trade, and lack of conservation capacity and awareness in their native areas.
According to the IUCN, “The general lack of awareness at both local and national levels for the need to conserve wildlife, and especially predators, further hinders conservation efforts. Up to a third of the Snow Leopard’s range falls along politically sensitive international borders, complicating trans-boundary conservation initiatives. Military conflict is taking place across much of the Snow Leopard's range, causing immense damage to wildlife through direct loss of species and destruction of habitat, losses to landmines, the demands of displaced peoples for food and fuel, and the encouragement of trade in wildlife”.
Kecil (pronounced Ka-cheel, which is Indonesian for “little”), was born at the Toledo Zoo to an experienced mother, but she did not care for him. The AZA’s Orangutan Species Survival Plan (SSP) and Hand Rearing/Surrogacy Advisory Group leapt into action and found a surrogate mother for Kecil at the Milwaukee County Zoo. Unfortunately, Kecil and that female orangutan did not successfully bond, and the team identified Maggie as a potential surrogate.
Throughout the process of finding a suitable surrogate, staff members at all three zoos provided exceptional care for Kecil. All baby animals have better outcomes when raised by members of their own species. They typically are better socialized and become better parents themselves – a very important trait for endangered animals like Orangutans, where the genetic material of every animal is important to the survival of the species.
Upon his arrival at Brookfield Zoo, Kecil was given a brief physical examination and then taken to an off-exhibit area at the zoo’s Tropic World exhibit to be introduced to Maggie. Since the two have been together, animal care staff have seen very positive interactions. The two engage each other in play, and the young orangutan often sleeps in the crook of Maggie’s arm. He has shown interest in Maggie’s food, but for now he has been sampling softer foods like bananas, and baby cereal has become a staple. In addition, Kecil comes to the front of their enclosure on his own or with Maggie’s assistance to be bottle-fed, which will continue at least until he is a year old.
“Although it has been only a short time and we have a long road ahead of us, we are extremely optimistic due to Kecil and Maggie’s progress so far. Maggie is an easygoing and gentle Orangutan. The two have been together since Kecil’s arrival, and Maggie has provided care and attention that he needs to receive from an Orangutan.” said Jay Petersen, curator of primates and carnivores for the Chicago Zoological Society, which manages Brookfield Zoo.
Kecil was born on January 11, 2014, at Ohio’s Toledo Zoo. His mother, Yasmin, who has raised her own offspring in the past, showed little interest in caring for him following a difficult delivery. Toledo Zoo’s keepers and veterinary team worked tirelessly to offer the two private off-exhibit quarters, hoping that they would bond. However, after months of dedicated but unsuccessful efforts to encourage Yasmin to care for Kecil, they decided it would be best to place him with a surrogate at another zoo.
On May 19, at four months old, Kecil was taken to Milwaukee County Zoo to be placed with a possible surrogate named MJ. During the month Kecil was at Milwaukee, animal care staff worked around the clock to introduce Kecil to MJ, and the initial results were positive. However, the optimal level of bonding that staff had hoped to see was not achieved, and after various stages of progress, the situation seemed to have reached a plateau.
Once again, discussions took place to determine the next course of action for the infant. Because it is extremely important that Kecil be raised by Orangutans rather than humans, the animal care experts decided to try another potential surrogate, and he was moved to Brookfield Zoo to be introduced to Maggie.
During the transfers to Milwaukee County Zoo and Brookfield Zoo, an animal care staff member from the previous facility accompanied Kecil to help in his transition. “Kecil seems calm and adaptable to the changing situations in his young life. The moves don’t seem to have fazed him at all,” said Petersen. “We are all hoping that Brookfield Zoo will be his last move for a while.”
“The collaboration among the three institutions to ensure Kecil grows up in the best environment possible speaks to the commitment of everyone involved,” said Stuart Strahl, Ph.D., president and CEO of the Chicago Zoological Society.
It will be many months before Kecil and Maggie will be on exhibit for guests to see. Animal care staff want to give the two time to develop their relationship. In addition, Kecil needs to become much more agile and mobile before being introduced to the exhibit.
Orangutans once lived over much of Southeast Asia, but their range and population have been dramatically reduced. Their natural habitat—the rain-forest islands of Sumatra and Borneo—continues to be decimated. Huge tracts of the rain forests are logged and converted to palm oil plantations. There are approximately 40,000 Bornean Orangutans left in the wild, and the population has declined by 50 percent since 1990.
On April 17th the Oceans of Fun exhibit at the Milwaukee County Zoo welcomed its newest resident, a female California Sea Lion pup. Born to mother Sonoma and father Slick, the newborn girl has been named Talise, which is a Native American name meaning "beautiful waters." While Talise was a healthy weight of 17 pounds at birth and is now thriving, her life wasn't without some struggles early in life.
Sonoma is a first time mother, and like in many species, Sea Lion mothers often lack the skills needed to nurse and take care of their first pup. When Sonoma failed to nurse Talise upon birth, the Oceans of Fun staff and Milwaukee Zoo veterinarian team jumped into action to provide the newborn with 24 hour care. They monitored the pup intently and provided her with specially developed formula to serve as a substitute for Sonoma's milk. Attempts were also made to provide Talise with a surrogate, experienced mother Makika, who unfortunately did not accept little Talise.
Photo credits: Milwaukee County Zoo
Thankfully, after just a week of care, keepers were able to reunite Talise with Sonoma who is now nursing like a pro. Keepers are reporting that the pair are doing well and developing a strong bond. Talise and Sonoma have been communicating vocally day and night, a strong sign that they are developing a proper relationship. The first few days of life are vital in a Sea Lions life, and keepers are happy with the progress that has been made in the vital connection between mother and offspring.
Two Jaguar cubs at the Milwaukee County Zoo can now be viewed in
person by zoo visitors for the first time since their birth on November 13. As you can see from the photos, the cubs are
active, inquisitive, and growing fast!
The cubs were first introduced to ZooBorns fans here
when they were about a month old. Since then the cubs have been expertly cared
for by their mother, Stella. The cubs’
father is Pat, who, unlike most zoo animals, was born in the wild. These two male cubs represent an important contribution
to the Jaguar gene pool because of Pat’s wild heritage.
Photo Credits: Milwaukee County Zoo
Pat was captured in Central America after becoming a
nuisance by attacking cattle. Once Pat
was safely living in Milwaukee, students in Milwaukee partnered with students
in Belize to write a book about Pat, entitled "Pat the Great Cat: A
Now the zoo is taking the same approach to name the two
cubs. One of the cubs will be named
through an online
contest. The other will be named by
the Belizean children who helped write the book.
See and learn more about the Jaguar cubs below the fold.
The Milwaukee County Zoo announced the birth of two Jaguar cubs. The two babies were born on November 13 to first time mother Stella, and to father, Pat. Zookeepers continue to monitor Stella and her cubs in an area not visible to the public, mainly via video feed, and report the cubs are nursing, sleeping, and even hissing and scratching. They will nurse until about 5 to 6 months of age, and begin to sample meat once they are about 5 weeks old.
The cubs will receive their first exams and vaccines from Zoo veterinary staff at six weeks of age, and at the same time their sexes will be determined. The cubs currently weigh about 5.4 and 5.9 pounds (2.4-2.8 kgs). Both are steadily gaining weight.
This birth is
significant in that the father is a rescued, wild-born animal and
considered a founder to the population. Pat not only brings new genes to the captive Jaguar population, but
serves as an ambassador to the wild population and to the conservation of the
species. At approximately 14 years
old, Pat has adapted extremely well to his Zoo surroundings -- and now has the
added success of siring offspring. The last time the Zoo displayed jaguar cubs was 1975.
Meet Lulu and Roscoe, the Milwaukee County Zoo's newest Fennec Fox kits. Born January 27th, the cubs recently made their public debut accompanied by mom, Daisy, and father, Duke. Fennec foxes' oversized ears act like natural air conditioners, radiating heat away from their bodies and cooling their blood in the light desert breeze. Their ears also help detect tasty prey at night, including small insects scurrying nearly-silently atop the sand.
Keepers describe the kits as very playful, enjoying their toys and rough-housing with each other.