Milwaukee County Zoo

Milwaukee County Zoo Announces Giraffe Birth


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.



4_MilwaukeeGiraffePhoto 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.

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Snow Leopard Boy and His Toys

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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.

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Snow leopard_Milwaukee_4Photo 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”. 

Baby Orangutan Finds a Home at Brookfield Zoo


Kecil, a 6-month-old Bornean Orangutan, is winning the hearts of Brookfield Zoo fans, but most importantly, he is bonding with his surrogate mother, a 53-year-old Bornean Orangutan named Maggie.


Photo Credit:  Brookfield Zoo

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. 

See more photos of Kecil and Maggie below.

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Sea Lion Pup Reunited With Mother After Receiving Special Care

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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.

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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.

See and learn more after the fold!

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UPDATE: Milwaukee's Jaguar Cubs Eat, Play, Grow


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 Jaguar's Journey."

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.

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Significant Birth: These Two Baby Jaguars, at Milwaukee County Zoo


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. 



Photo Credit: Amanda Ista, Milwaukee County Zoo


Lulu and Roscoe Romp Through Milwaukee County Zoo

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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. 

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Fennec_fox_kits_4-12-12 (22)Photo credits: Milwaukee County Zoo

Check Plus For African Lion Cubs First Check Up


Two little males and one female African lion cubs have just had their first trip to the vet at Milwaukee County Zoo. Born on July 24 and 25, these are the first offspring of mother, Sanura, and father, Themba, both of whom are 8 years old. The boys both weighed 5.2 kg (11.44 pounds) and the girl was 4.75 kg (10.45 pounds). These weights were taken on August 25th, when they were exactly one month old. 



Photo Credit: Michael A. Nepper, Milwaukee County Zoo

Early on, Zookeepers monitored Sanura and her cubs in an area not visible to the public mainly via video feed. They saw that the cubs were nursing, sleeping and showing signs of light activity. 

Twice daily, keepers entered into the off-public area for cleaning and feeding duties and reported that first-time mother Sanura was doing well with her cubs, paying attention to them and remaining calm and relaxed -- even with zookeepers nearby.


They are growing rapidly and are doing very well! It is the hope of Zoo staff that by three months of age, the cubs will make their “in person” debut to the public, when the youngsters can consistently shift on and off public exhibit with Sanura. The public can now see the cubs on a special video screen showing in the Florence Mila Borchert Family Big Cat Country. This will mark the first time the Zoo has exhibited lion cubs since 1974.

Meet Sequoia the Little Sea Lion Pup

On April 8th, Oceans of Fun based out of the Milwaukee County Zoo, welcomed a happy and healthy California sea lion pup. Named Sequoia, the pup weighed just 13lbs at birth. Oceans of Fun is dedicated to ocean conservation and serves as one of a handful of sea lion breeding centers in North America.

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Below: Sequoia plays with her chew toy and proves my theory that sea lions are basically Labrador retrievers with flippers.

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More below the fold

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Twin Tiger Girls Are a Handful

Our first submission from the Milwaukee County Zoo and it couldn't be better; two female tiger cubs born this summer made their debut earlier this month. We recommend you make your way to Milwaukee immediately to meet the new arrivals in person, but in the meantime, enjoy these outstanding pictures.

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The Siberian Tiger, also known as the Amur Tiger, once roamed from the coasts of Eastern Russia all the way to Turkey. Now it is endangered with only an estimated 350 left in the wild and those are confined to a small patch of Siberia. The primary threat to the existing tiger population is the Asian medicine market.