Minnesota Zoo

It’s All About that Pumpkin

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Pumpkins are everywhere, this time of year! They make great pies, Jack-O-Lanterns, and pretty awesome enrichment toys for zoo animals. Happy Halloween from ZooBorns!

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Photo Credits: Tammy Spratt/San Diego Zoo Safari Park (Image 1: African Lion Cub); Amiee Stubbs Photography (Image 2: "Charlie" the Porcupine at Nashville Zoo); Lincoln Children's Zoo (Image 3: "Lincoln" the Red Panda); ZooAmerica (Image 4: "Rainier" the Mountain Lion); Zoo Vienna Schönbrunn (Image 5: Elephants); Sue Ogrocki (Images 6-Gorilla,7-Red River Hogs,10-Galapagos Tortoise at Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Gardens); Minnesota Zoo (Image 8: Lynx); The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens (Image 9: Meerkats)

More great pumpkin pics below the fold!

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Minnesota Zoo Welcomes First Baby Tapir Born in Twenty Years

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The Minnesota Zoo announced the birth of this Malayan Tapir calf, the first born at the Zoo in more than 20 years. The newborn, a female, came into the world at approximately 9:15 p.m. on July 20, after a 419-day gestation period. Mom, Bertie, and her calf are doing well and are currently off-exhibit together, giving them time to bond. But you can watch them on the zoo's Tapir Cam.

The Malayan Tapir is one of the most endangered animals in Southeast Asia. Tapir populations are declining due to habitat loss from deforestation for agricultural purposes, flooding caused by dam building for hydroelectric projects, and illegal trade.

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Photo Credit: Minnesota Zoo

Watch the baby and mom in action:

Read more after the fold.

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It's Breakfast Time for Baby Sloth

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A baby Linne’s Two-toed Sloth, born on February 3 at the Minnesota Zoo, is slowly making its public debut.  The infant is only the second Sloth born at the zoo and is a significant achievement for the Sloth breeding program. 

The baby’s gender is not yet known, and it spends most of its time clinging to mom.  The video below captures mom and baby nibbling a nutritious breakfast of carrots, squash, hard-boiled eggs, and romaine lettuce, hand-delivered by zoo keepers.  In the wild, Sloths eat leaves, small twigs, berries, flowers, fruit, and occasionally insects and small prey.

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Photo Credits:  Minnesota Zoo

Sometimes called the slowest animals on earth, Sloths live high in the rain forest canopy of Central America and northern South America.  Their slow movements allow them to conserve energy and avoid detection from predators like Harpy Eagles and Jaguars.  Sloths sleep, eat, mate, and give birth hanging upside down in trees. They are also excellent swimmers.


Penguin Chick is a First for Minnesota Zoo

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An endangered African Penguin chick hatched at the Minnesota Zoo on March 2 – the first in the zoo’s history.  The chick, whose gender is not yet known, is being raised behind-the-scenes by Penguin foster parents.  The biological parents were not incubating the egg consistently so the egg was placed with this experienced pair.  

The photos below showcase the chick’s rapid growth. From top to bottom, the chick is one day, three days, five days, 12 days, and 16 days old.  The chick has grown from 2.4 ounces to over 1 pound, 6 ounces in that time span. The chick will eventually become an ambassador for its species in the Minnesota Zoo’s education programs.

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Photo Credits:  MIinnesota Zoo


African Penguins live and nest on the southwest coast of Africa, where they consume nearly 15% of their body weight in fish such as anchovies, sardines, and herring each day.  Large-scale commercial fisheries, oil spills, and habitat destruction have killed 80% of the African Penguin population in the last 50 years. 

Catastrophic food shortages, thought to be caused by climate change which has shifted fish populations further away from the coast, have accelerated the decline in the global population by forcing adults to abandon their nests and chicks.

Update: Tiny Bubbles for Tiger Cubs!


Everyone needs play time - including this pair of Amur Tiger cubs at the Minnesota Zoo!  Thanks to the donation of a bubble machine from the zoo's "Animal Enrichment Wish List," the cubs enjoyed interacting with these mysterious new "toys!"

These two female cubs had a rough start in life:  both were removed from their mothers when they were less than a day old because they were not nursing successfully.  The first cub was born at the Minnesota Zoo on June 17. The second cub, born at the Saint Louis Zoo on July 1, came to Minnesota on July 19. The cubs were brought together to ensure the best socialization.  Now, nearly off bottles and growing strong, the cubs are on exhibit for part of the day in the Tiger Lair along the Zoo’s Northern Trail.  Read about the tigers' early days here.




Enrichment is a term that applies to novel items introduced to mentally and physically stimulate animals.  Enrichment can include unusual food items, often hidden so animals have to employ time and energy to locate them; toys such as boxes or tree branches; scents like spices and perfumes to stimulate olfactory senses; intensive behavioral training and interaction with zoo keepers; or unexpected items like the bubble machine.

Amur Tigers are among the rarest of wild cats, with only about 350 individuals remaining in the wilds of eastern Russia.  Cubs born in zos are especially significant to the genetic health of the captive population, hence the intense efforts undertaken by the Minnesota Zoo and the Saint Louis Zoo to hand rear these two cubs.

Photo Credit:  Minnesota Zoo

Minnesota Zoo's Tiger Cubs Are On Exhibit and There's Still Time to Help Name Them!


The Minnesota Zoo is holding a naming contest for its two female Amur Tiger cubs born this past summer. This contest is being conducted on Facebook and started October 3. Click here to submit your name suggestions through this Sunday, October 14.

Everyone who participates in the naming contest will be eligible for daily prize drawings, including a Family 4-Pack of tickets to the Minnesota Zoo and other great prizes.




Photo credit: (1-4) MN Zoo, (5) Ashley Ondricek / MN Zoo


Name suggestions will be accepted through Sunday, October 14, 2012. Zoo staff will then review all submissions and select the top three names for each cub to be posted on the Minnesota Zoo’s Facebook fan page to be voted on by the public, starting Thursday, October 18. The winning names will be announced on Monday, October 29.

Cubs Meet World: Amur Leopard Cubs Enter Exhibit for the First Time

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Two Amur Leopard cubs, born at the Minnesota Zoo on May 29, took their first tentative steps into their exhibit last week, charming zoo guests and the media.  The cubs, one male and one female, spent the last several months nursing, bonding with mom, and building up their strength.

Amur leopards are a part of a Species Survival Plan (SSP) through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). As part of a breeding recommendation from the SSP, the cubs’ mother, “Polina,” came to the Zoo in 2007 from the Audubon Nature Institute in Louisiana; the father, “Chobby,” came from Olomouc Zoo in the Czech Republic in 2009.

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Dr. Tara Harris, Director of Conservation at the Minnesota Zoo, said “These births are significant not only because Amur leopards are critically endangered, but also because reintroduction from zoo-bred lineages is under consideration in Russia. The Minnesota Zoo’s cubs are part of the global population that would be used for such a program.”

Amur leopards are silent, sleek, and strong hunters of deep forests. Their thick coats and long legs help them survive in the cold and snowy climate of eastern Asia. Strictly carnivores, the Amur leopard’s diet consists of mostly small deer. Once a kill has been made, they will carry their prey to a high point for safe storage. These stealthy, speedy hunters excel at climbing and jumping. Living alone, rather than in the company of other Amur leopards, they can keep and defend territories of up to 40 square miles.

Encroaching civilization and roads, poaching, and exploitation of forests have brought this animal to the brink of extinction. Fewer than 40 animals are estimated to remain in the wild, resulting in the classification of the Amur leopard as a critically-endangered species.

Photo Credit:  Minnesota Zoo

Bath Time for Tiny Tiger!

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Minnesota Zoo’s 3-week-old Amur Tiger cub is growing strong and thriving under round-the-clock care from a crew of dedicated zoo keepers.  Born on June 17, the cub was removed from first-time mother Angara because she was not caring for her baby.  The cub is being hand-raised by zoo keepers.

Zoo staffers report that the female cub is very active and feeds every four hours, day and night.  The cub weighs 5.5 pounds and her eyes are now open.  Mother Tigers normally wash their cubs by licking them with their rough, sandpapery tongue.  To bathe this cub, zoo keepers gave the cub a bath with the help of water, soap, and a thick towel.  The result:  a clean and fluffy cub!

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The largest of all cats and one of six remaining tiger subspecies, Amur Tigers are a top predator of far eastern Asia. Thick fur and padded paws protect them against the extreme cold and icy winds of winter, while stripes help render them nearly invisible to prey. Amur Tigers are carnivores, eating mostly large mammals such as deer and wild boar. They will travel over extensive forest territories in search of food. With stealth, speed, and sheer strength, Amur Tigers are well-suited to their role as a hunter. 

Amur Tigers’ home range, reputation as a threat to livestock and humans, and value to poachers has led to their population decline. Around 1940, wild Amur Tiger populations in Russia were estimated to be as low as 20 or 30 individuals. In 2005, scientists estimated that the population had recovered to 430-500 individuals, but it is thought that wild Amur Tigers have declined since then to about 350. Concerted conservation efforts help protect the remaining endangered tigers from the persistent threats of poaching and habitat loss. 

Minnesota Welcomes A Tiny Striped Bundle of Joy

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The Minnesota Zoo is hand raising a brand new bundle of joy. On June 17, two endangered Amur Tiger cubs were born to first-time mother Angara and father Molniy after a 105 day gestation period. After observing the mother with her cubs overnight, Zoo officials decided to pull the babies for hand-rearing. Angara wasn't displaying the quality of maternal care required to successfully raise the cubs. During the critical first days under round the clock human care, the smaller of the two cubs passed away. About two thirds of Amur Tiger cubs survive the first 30 days of life.



Photo credits: Minnesota Zoo

The Amur Tiger’s home range, reputation as a threat to livestock and humans, and value to poachers has led to its population decline. Around 1940, the wild Amur Tiger population in Russia was estimated to be as low as 20 or 30. In 2005, scientists estimated that the population had recovered to 430-500 individuals, but it is thought that wild Amur Tigers have declined since then to about 350. Concerted conservation efforts help protect these remaining endangered Tigers from the persistent threats of poaching and habitat loss.

Continue reading "Minnesota Welcomes A Tiny Striped Bundle of Joy" »

Dhole "Toddlers" on Display at Minnesota Zoo

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On April 12, the Minnesota Zoo welcomed its first-ever litter of endangered Dhole pups and on April 14th, the Zoo welcomed a second litter! These births mark the 10th and 11th litters ever born in the United States. Dholes are exhibited at only two other North American institutions besides the Minnesota Zoo. This also marks the first time ZooBorns has shared these fascinating canines. 

The pups are currently in their “toddler” stage, just starting to venture outside of the den. At this time, the exact number of pups is unclear as keepers are giving mothers and pups time to bond and have not ventured into the den, but current estimates are around four pups. The two adult females are sharing maternal duties so the exact parentage of the pups is still unknown.

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Also known as Asian wild dogs, Dholes are a primitive canine species that reside in highly structured social packs. Highly adaptable, they live in diverse habitats in Thailand, Russia, China, and India in areas with plenty of prey, water and suitable den sites. Exclusive carnivores, the Dhole’s diet consists of mostly small to medium-sized deer and wild boar. They den in abandoned burrows and have litters of up to 12 pups. All members of the pack care for the litter.

With less than 2,500 in the wild, Dholes are an endangered species. Due to human population growth in Asia, major threats to the species include habitat loss, lack of prey, and disease from domestic and feral dogs. The Minnesota Zoo supports Dhole conservation in Thailand.