Nashville Zoo

Zoo Celebrates First Blue-billed Curassow Chick

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Nashville Zoo’s avian staff welcomed their first Curassow chick on May 5.

After 30 days of incubation, Nashville Zoo keepers and veterinary staff assisted the chick in hatching. Keepers opted to assist the chick due to inactivity during the second day, after its initial pip in the shell membrane. Keepers noticed the shell membrane was dry instead of wet, and they decided intervention was necessary.

“This is a very valuable animal, and we need to do everything we can to help it survive,” said Shelley Norris, Nashville Zoo Avian Area Supervisor. “This egg hatching is significant because Curassows are critically endangered in the wild.”

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4_41137968845_508862919c_oPhoto Credits: Kelsey White/Nashville Zoo

There are only 54 Blue-billed Curassows in zoos across the country and only about 750 in the wild. The population has been in decline due to habitat loss and fragmentation.

This is the first chick born from breeding pair, Albert (3) and Victoria (5), who both arrived in Nashville in 2015.

The Curassows at Nashville Zoo have laid eggs in the past. However, the eggs were either not viable or the female knocked the eggs out of the nest.

“She [Victoria] has no idea that she’s supposed to sit on the eggs,” Norris said. “We think it’s because she’s young and things haven’t kicked in yet."

Nashville Zoo's avian staff is currently working with Houston Zoo and the Species Survival Plan on where to best place this chick.

The Blue-billed Curassow (Crax alberti) is a species of bird in the family Cracidae, which includes the Chachalacas, Guans, and Curassows.

The bird is native to Colombia. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist lowland forest. The species is threatened by habitat loss and is currently classified as “Critically Endangered” by the IUCN.

Blue-billed Curassows are believed to live in the same areas in Colombia as Cotton-top Tamarins, a primate species that was recently introduced in the Nashville Zoo's new Expedition Peru exhibit. The Zoo is contributing to the conservation project “Proyecto Titi” that benefits sustaining the Cotton-top Tamarin population, which could potentially also benefit the Blue-billed Curassows with the installation of camera traps to monitor the species.

“We’re learning how best to care for them,” Norris said. “Right now, this species is just so critical, we basically are just keeping them alive in general until we can find a solution in the wild.”


Tiny Clouded Leopard Cub Born at Nashville Zoo

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Nashville Zoo is pleased to announce the birth of a female Clouded Leopard on Monday, February 19.

This is the sixth litter for eight-year-old mother Lom Choy and father Luk. The couple has been paired for mating since age one, and they had their first litter in 2011. Their newest cub weighed 188 grams (about six ounces) at birth. With the addition of this cub, the Zoo is home to nine Clouded Leopards. Nashville Zoo has had 32 Clouded Leopard births since 2009. There are currently 61 Clouded Leopards in accredited North American zoos and 274 under human care globally.

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27073664508_7ab02128aa_oPhoto Credits: Amiee Stubbs (1,2,4,5); Melinda Kommavongsa (3)

Lom Choy delivered three cubs on February 19 and within the days following, keepers observed that two of the cubs were victims of parental predation, a common occurrance in Clouded Leopards.  The third cub was immediately removed for hand rearing.

Because Clouded Leopards are normally shy and secretive, hand-rearing allows the animals to become better acclimated to a zoo environment. “Cubs that are hand reared are known to allow for easier keeper interaction, and [the hand-rearing process] reduces stress in the animal,” explained Dr. Heather Robertson, DVM. 

Nashville Zoo is a member of the Clouded Leopard Consortium and is part of the Clouded Leopard Species Survival Plan®, a program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Robertson is the nationwide Vet Advisor for this species and Nashville Zoo spearheads conservation efforts for this species in partnership with the Smithsonian National Zoo and Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium at Khao Kheow breeding facility in Thailand.

Clouded Leopards are native to the Himalayan foothills of Southeast Asia and China. The species is listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and is protected in most range countries, although enforcement in many areas is weak. Precise data on wild Clouded Leopard populations is not known, though some conservationists estimate that the total adult population is fewer than 10,000 individuals. The reduced number of pelts encountered at markets and fewer sightings of Clouded Leopards within their range suggest the species is in decline.

 


Nashville Zoo Celebrates Fourth Tapir Birth

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Nashville Zoo is pleased to announce the birth of a male Baird’s Tapir. The yet-to-be-named calf arrived on March 7 and weighed-in at 22.8 pounds. 

This is the second calf for four-year-old mom, Juju. The calf’s father, Romeo, passed-away last year. Romeo was also the father of Tybalt, the Nashville Zoo’s other male Tapir, who was born in August 2016.

With the addition of the new calf, the Zoo is now home to three Baird’s Tapirs. A total of four Baird’s Tapirs have been born at Nashville Zoo since the species was introduced there in 2008.

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3_39817096715_20ed153cdd_oPhoto Credits: Stephanie Edling / Nashville Zoo

Tapirs have a gestation period of approximately 13 months. Keepers had been closely monitoring Juju’s progress and noticed she was restless the day before she gave birth. Once Juju went into labor, she welcomed her new calf about five minutes later, without the help of keepers.

“Congratulations to the keepers who worked tirelessly to ensure a smooth birth for Juju,” said Jonathon Hankins, Area Supervisor for Hoofstock. “They know these animals down to the tiniest details, and it is this dedication that will help us make the future for this little guy as bright as possible.”

Keepers estimate the calf will go out on exhibit within a few weeks, once the mother deems the calf is fit to explore outside. Tapirs are also sensitive to colder temperatures, so they will not go outside unless the temperature is above 60 degrees F.

This birth is significant because this species is currently listed as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List. Baird’s Tapirs are threatened by hunting, population fragmentation and habitat destruction.

Baird's Tapirs (Tapirus bairdii) are broad, primitive creatures whose appearance has changed little in thousands of years. A relative of the horse and the rhino, Tapirs are the largest land animal in Central and South America.

Though an adult Baird’s Tapir’s coat is solid brown, babies are born with unique markings, similar to brown and white-striped watermelons. Juvenile tapirs lose these markings after one year.


Christmas Morning Surprise for Nashville Zoo

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Nashville Zoo recently announced the birth of a Giant Anteater pup on December 25, 2017.

A carnivore keeper and a docent walked into the Zoo’s Giant Anteater barn and were greeted with an adorable Christmas morning surprise.

“They were elated to discover that the female Anteater, Consuela, had delivered a special Christmas gift,” said Shawna Farrington, carnivore area supervisor. “Curled under Consuela's hair and clinging tightly, was a new baby female Anteater.”

The docent, Kerry Foth, has been volunteering with the Nashville Zoo in various departments since 2003, suggested the name “Noel” for the newest addition. Noel will stay with her mother for at least two years, until she is fully grown.

The Zoo shared that this is nine-year-old Consuela’s third pup, and it is the fourth offspring for 14-year-old father, Carib. This is also Consuela’s second female pup, and both mom and baby are reportedly doing well.

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Noel - Giant Anteater Pup - Christmas Day - Shawna Farrington (2)Photo Credits: Heather Robertson (Images 1,2) / Shawna Farrington (Image 3)

Since 2001, 18 Giant Anteaters have been born at Nashville Zoo’s off-exhibit breeding facility. These reproductive successes have been enhanced by research projects done at the Zoo that focus on the biology of Anteaters and their reproductive system.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the Giant Anteater as “Vulnerable”, although it is considered extinct in areas of Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Uruguay. Giant Anteaters are disappearing because of habitat destruction, hunting and road kills. Only about 5,000 Anteaters remain in the wild.

Nashville Zoo is paired with the conservation organization “The Giant Armadillo Project” and is recognized as a leader in caring for both Giant Anteaters and Tamanduas. The Zoo’s animal care and veterinary staff are currently working on an Anteater care manual, in conjunction with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Species Survival Program, that will provide husbandry guidelines and veterinary issues associated with these species.


Long-Awaited Anteater Pup at Nashville Zoo

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A Giant Anteater pup was recently born at the Nashville Zoo. The female arrived on October 22, and she is the first of her kind born at the Zoo since 2011.

The pup, named Isabel, has been under the careful attention of mom, Praim. According to sources, Isabel weighed-in at three pounds and was around 26 inches at birth.

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3_Praim's Baby Girl - 2017 - Margarita Colburn2Photo Credits: Nashville Zoo / Margarita Woc Colburn, DVM

The Giant Anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla), also known as the ‘ant bear’, is a large insectivorous mammal native to Central and South America. It is classified with Sloths in the order Pilosa.

The species is mostly terrestrial and is the largest of its family. It is especially recognizable by its elongated snout, bushy tail, and long fore claws. Adults can grow to a total length of around 7 feet and a maximum weight of around 90 pounds.

The Giant Anteater can be found in grasslands and rainforests. It forages in open areas and rests in more forested habitats. It feeds primarily on ants and termites, using its fore claws to dig them up and its long, sticky tongue to collect them.

They are mostly solitary, except during mother-offspring relationships. Giant anteaters can mate throughout the year. Gestation lasts around 190 days and ends with the birth of a single pup, which typically weighs around 1.4 kg (3.1 lb). Females give birth standing upright.

Pups are born with eyes closed and begin to open them after six days. The mother carries its pup on its back for the first few months. The pup's black and white band aligns with its mother's, camouflaging it. The young communicate with their mothers with sharp whistles and use their tongues during nursing. After three months, the pup begins to eat solid food and is fully weaned by ten months. The mother grooms her offspring during rest periods lasting up to an hour. Grooming peaks during the first three months and declines as the young reaches nine months of age. Young Anteaters usually become independent by nine or ten months.

The Giant Anteater is currently listed as “Vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. It has been extirpated from many parts of its former range, including nearly all of Central America. Threats to its survival include: habitat destruction, fire, and poaching for fur and bush meat.


Meerkat Pups Emerge for Mischief at Nashville Zoo

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Nashville Zoo is pleased to announce the birth of three Meerkats on August 17.

The trio is the first offspring for parents Calvin (age 11) and Victoria (age 9). The pair has been together for 2.5 years but never successfully produced pups.

“Calvin and Victoria are proving to be great parents and have shown constant attention to the new additions,” said Sabrina Barnes, Area Supervisor of Primates. “We are very excited to once again have Meerkat pups at Nashville Zoo!”

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3_36387283684_3985559802_bPhoto Credits: Rachel Schleicher

Keepers have noticed Calvin and Victoria taking turns caring for the pups. When Victoria is not in the burrow nursing, Calvin is inside caring for them. Meerkat society is centered around family groups (known as “mobs”), relying heavily on group cooperation. The pups will stay at the Nashville Zoo to live in a family group.

The average litter size for Meerkats ranges from 1 to 6 pups, and pups average 25-35 grams in weight when born.

Meerkats are currently listed as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List. They live throughout southern Africa and are present in several protected areas, with no major threats at this time.

Nashville Zoo participates in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan for this species to maintain the captive population.


Banded Palm Civets Born at Nashville Zoo

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Nashville Zoo recently welcomed the birth of two Banded Palm Civets. The brother and sister were born on June 29.

At their first well check, the male measured 19 cm (7.5 in) with a weight of 105g (3.7 oz). The female’s body length was 20.5cm (8 in) with a weight of 100g (3.5 oz).

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3_Banded Palm Civet - 2007 - Heather Robertson (3)

Photo Credits: Dr. Heather Robertson/Nashville Zoo

For the past decade, this is only the second successful birth in an Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) institution for the species. The first Banded Palm Civet birth was also at Nashville Zoo in September 2015.

Nashville Zoo is the only AZA accredited facility breeding this species. There are now a total of 11 Banded Palm Civets in the AZA’s collection, with ten being at Nashville Zoo and one at Cincinnati Zoo.

Nashville Zoo is heading a breeding research project to determine if Banded Palm Civets are seasonal breeders, as well as discovering other factors for fecundity.

The Banded Palm Civet (Hemigalus derbyanus), also called the Banded Civet, is rare species found in tropical forests across Myanmar, Malaysia, Thailand and on the Indonesian islands of Sipura, Sumatra and Borneo.

Roughly the size of a domestic cat, adults of the species measure from 41 to 51 cm (1.3 to 1.7 ft) in total length, and can weigh between 1 to 3 kg (2.2 to 6.6 lbs).

The Banded Palm Civet is carnivorous, and like other species of civet, it survives on a meat-based diet, supplemented by the plants or fruits.

After a gestation period that lasts for a couple of months, a female can give birth to up to four young.

The Banded Pam Civet is currently listed as “Near Threatened” on the IUCN Red List. It is under threat from deforestation and the loss of much of its natural habitat. Extensive deforestation in their habitat is a result of logging or to clear the land to make way for palm oil plantations.

Nashville Zoo currently does not have plans to place the Banded Palm Civet siblings on exhibit.


Sweet Pack of Red Ruffed Lemurs Born in Nashville

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Nashville Zoo is pleased to announce the birth of four Red Ruffed Lemurs on May 30. A little male, who has been named Emilio, and his three demure sisters (named Demi, Ally, and Andie) are the second group of Lemurs to be born at Nashville Zoo since the Zoo moved to their Grassmere property in 1996. This is also the second litter for their nine-year-old mom, Lyra.

The new babies weighed roughly 75 to 90 grams each at birth, and were approximately 8-10 inches long.

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4_NashvilleZooRedRuffedLemur_AndiePhoto Credits: Nashville Zoo (Image 1: Emilio/ 2: Demi/ 3: Ally/ 4: Andie)

With the addition of the four babies, Nashville Zoo is now home to a total of nine Red Ruffed Lemurs.

Unlike other primate species, Red Ruffed Lemurs do not carry their young. Instead, they keep their young in a nest, nursing and caring for them until they are more independent and mobile.

Zoo guests can see the new litter’s three older siblings and dad, Dino, on exhibit along ‘Bamboo Trail’. The four newest additions will remain indoors with mom until they are old enough to venture outside, which zookeepers estimate to be in about a month.

Red Ruffed Lemurs (Varecia rubra) are one of more than 100 species of Lemurs on the island of Madagascar. The IUCN has classified the species as “Critically Endangered” in the wild due to habitat loss, illegal hunting and pet trade.

Nashville Zoo participates in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan for this species to increase the captive population. The Zoo also contributes financially to SAVA Conservation, which works on saving the Lemur species in the wild. More information can be found at: http://lemur.duke.edu/protect/conservation/sava-conservation/ .


Clouded Leopard Cub Opens His Eyes

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A Clouded Leopard Cub that made history when it was born on March 1 now has a name and has opened his eyes.  The cub was named Niron, which means eternal and everlasting in Thai.

Niron was conceived through artificial insemination using frozen/thawed sperm, the first time this technique was successfully used in Clouded Leopards.  The project is a collaboration of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and the Nashville Zoo, where the cub was born.  The procedure is explained in the cub’s birth announcement on ZooBorns.

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Dr. Maragartia Woc Colburn17426228_10154867782260622_8801842816958139571_nPhoto Credits:  Kelsey White (2,3), Dr. Margarita Woc Colburn (1,4,5,6,7,8) 

All Clouded Leopard cubs are reared by hand at the Nashville Zoo, a technique that prevents predation by the parents, enables cubs to be paired at an early age, and allows the normally nervous species to become acclimated to human interaction. 

Clouded Leopards are one of the rarest and most secretive of the world’s Cat species, and little is known about them.  They inhabit remote areas of southern China and other parts of Southeast Asia.  Clouded Leopards are listed as Vulnerable to Extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, with fewer than 10,000 adults remaining in the wild.

See more photos below.

Continue reading "Clouded Leopard Cub Opens His Eyes" »


Clouded Leopard Cub's Birth Is History Making

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Nashville Zoo and the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute are pleased to announce the birth of a male Clouded Leopard on March 1.

The cub was conceived from an artificial insemination (AI) procedure using frozen/thawed semen. This accomplishment is a first for this species and a giant step for global conservation efforts.

“This is an enormous accomplishment for both Nashville Zoo and the team at the Smithsonian,” said Dr. Heather Robertson, Director of Veterinary Services at the Zoo. “It means we can collect and preserve semen from Clouded Leopard populations around the globe and improve pregnancy outcomes from AI procedures in this species.”

Dr. Robertson and Nashville Zoo Associate Veterinarian, Dr. Margarita Woc Colburn, used hormones to induce ovulation in a female named Tula who was born and raised at Nashville Zoo. The Smithsonian’s research staff, Adrienne Crosier, Ph.D., Pierre Comizzoli, D.V.M., Ph.D., and Diana Koester, Ph.D, collected semen a week earlier from a male named Hannibal at Smithsonian’s National Zoo. The team used a new technique depositing a very small volume of semen into the oviduct where the eggs normally rest after ovulation.

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32823941010_97cf2149c6_oPhoto Credits: Amiee Stubbs Photography

After birth, the cub was removed for examination and will be hand-raised by keepers to ensure survival and wellbeing. This process also lowers animal stress for future hands-on care. The cub will stay at Nashville Zoo with plans to eventually introduce him to a potential mate.

Nashville Zoo and the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute have a long history of working together on Clouded Leopard conservation. Since 2000, they have collaborated with Point Defiance Zoo and Thailand’s Zoological Park Organization to form the Clouded Leopard Consortium and develop breeding programs as well as field monitoring projects for Clouded Leopards in Thailand.

Because the captive Clouded Leopard population is not self-sustaining, it necessitates the need for intensive reproductive management techniques to maintaining captive populations not only in the U.S. but also throughout the world.

“This cub, the first Clouded Leopard offspring produced with cryopreserved semen, is a symbol of how zoos and scientists can come together to make positive change for animals and preserving global biodiversity,” said Dr. Crosier. “Collaboration is the key to conservation of Clouded Leopards, along with so many other rare and endangered species we care for and study.”

The first successful Clouded Leopard AI was performed at Nashville Zoo in 1992 by Smithsonian scientist JoGayle Howard and Nashville Zoo President Rick Schwartz. In 2015, Dr. Comizzoli contributed to a successful birth using cooled semen and the new AI technique at the Khao Khew Open Zoo in Thailand.

Clouded Leopards are among the most rare of the world’s cat species and one of the most secretive. Due to limited knowledge of this species, they have proved difficult to breed in captivity. They are sensitive to auditory and visual disturbances, increasing the stress levels during captive breeding programs. This factor leads facilities, such as Nashville Zoo, to work with artificial insemination specialists to increase the size and diversity of the captive bred population.