Oklahoma City Zoo

Update: Wild Dogs Pups Raised by Surrogate Have Names!

Three pups

Three endangered African Wild Dog pups raised by a Golden Retriever at the Oklahoma City Zoo now have names refelecting their African heritage and their surrogate mother.

Four pupsPhoto Credit:  Oklahoma City Zoo

Born on November 7, the pups were removed from their mother when keepers observed that she failed to provide maternal care.  When the pups were a few days old, they were placed with  Lilly, a Golden Retriever who was a proven mother and had just delivered a single pup herself.  You can read the pups’ story in this ZooBorns post.

The pups, two females and one male, now weigh six pounds and have been weaned from Lilly.  

The zoo staff chose the pups’ names to reflect their African heritage and to honor their surrogate mom. Ayana’s name translates as ‘beautiful flower,’ while Zahra’s name means ‘flowering.’  Male pup Maji’s name translates as ‘water lily.’  Lilly’s pup has been named Uno.

All four of the pups have benefitted from their time together, as Lilly has taught them “dog etiquette” and many other important social skills.  Lilly, a former rescue dog, will soon leave the zoo with Uno.  

Ayana, Zahra, and Maji are gradually being introduced to the other members of the zoo’s African Wild Dog pack. For now, they can see and smell each other, but it may be several months before they fully integrate with the pack.

African Wild Dogs have vanished from much of their range in sub-Saharan Africa.  They live highly social lives in packs of 2-20 adults and their pups.  They specialize in hunting Gazelles, which they chase to exhaustion.  Food is regurgitated not only for pups, but for other adults as well, and this forms the basis of important social connections within the packs.  African Wild Dogs are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. 


Retired Rescue Dog Lilly Saves the Day Again

OKCZoo_African Wild Dogs and surrogate_2

A remarkable Golden Retriever, named ‘Lilly’, is helping save a litter of endangered African Wild Dogs, at the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden, by becoming their surrogate mother.

OKCZoo_African Wild Dogs and surrogate_4

OKCZoo_African Wild Dogs and surrogate_5Photo Credits: Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden (Images 1,3); Jaimee Flinchbaugh (Image 2,4,5)

The African Wild Dog puppies, one male and two females, were born early on November 7th, to mother ‘Xena’, a three-year-old female. Xena, an inexperienced mother, showed a lack of maternal care, and the Zoo’s animal care team made the decision to remove the pups.

“In preparation for the birth, we had been monitoring Xena 24/7 by video. We knew that she was an unproven mother and wanted to be ready to intervene if necessary,” said Laura Bottaro, Animal Curator. “We are hopeful that these dogs will thrive in Lilly’s care and when they reach an appropriate age for socialization we will be able to successfully reintroduce them to their pack.”

Zoo caregivers provided around-the-clock care for the puppies and started the process to find a surrogate mother for the litter. They initiated calls to colleagues, animal shelters, and dog rescue groups to find a lactating, domestic dog, that was proven to be a good mother and comfortable with people. Luck would have it that Lilly, a retired search and rescue dog living in Wichita, Kansas, was able to fulfill the role of surrogate mother for these African Wild Dogs. Lilly recently gave birth to a single puppy, and it is being raised alongside the African Wild Dog pups. The puppies are doing well and will remain under veterinary care and out of public view at the Zoo’s animal hospital. 

“Even though Lilly’s not an African Wild Dog, she’s still much better suited to surrogate for our pups than humans would be,” said Zoo Veterinarian, Dr. Jennifer D’Agostino. “This is a positive for both Lilly’s offspring and the African wild dogs, as they will benefit from initial socialization with a canine species.”

Working with a surrogate domestic dog is a new experience for the Oklahoma City Zoo’s animal care team, but a practice that has been used by other accredited zoos under the guidance of the African Wild Dog Species Survival Plan (SSP), of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). 

Both ‘Xena’, and the pups father, ‘Juma’, arrived at the Zoo in 2013, as part of a breeding recommendation made by the African Wild Dog SSP. Xena came from the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. While Juma hails from the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, Kansas.

More great pics, and info, below the fold!

Continue reading "Retired Rescue Dog Lilly Saves the Day Again" »

It’s All About that Pumpkin

African Lion Cub_San Diego Zoo

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!

Charlie_Nashville Zoo

Red Panda_Lincoln Children's Zoo


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!

Continue reading "It’s All About that Pumpkin" »

Giraffe Calf Meets the Family at Oklahoma City Zoo

1 giraffe

The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden is celebrating a special fall delivery—a female giraffe born on September 26! The newborn is the sister of Sergeant Peppers, a male giraffe born in January 2012 to zoo favorites Ellie and Bogy.  Another sister, Keyara, was born at the Zoo in January 2010. The new arrival, who already stands six feet tall, will be named by her caregivers. The calf is pictured above with her brother, during her first day outside on October 1, as mom Ellie looks on. 

“Both mom and calf are doing well,” said Jaimee Flinchbaugh, the zoo's hoofstock supervisor. “Ellie is a doting mom and her calf is full of energy, personality and spunk.”

Average gestation for a Giraffe calf is approximately 15 months. Giraffes give birth while standing and unlike humans, the calf is born hooves-first. The calf then proceeds to stand, usually within one hour after birth. In the wild, it is important for a newborn Giraffe to be able to stand quickly to elude predators. 

5 giraffe

2 giraffe

3 giraffe

4 giraffe

6 giraffePhoto credits: Jaimee Flinchbaugh / Oklahoma City Zoo

Depending on weather conditions, zoo guests may be able to see the calf mid- morning through early afternoon hours. The zoo’s twice-a-day public Giraffe feeding opportunities will continue, weather permitting. However, mom Ellie will not be participating until her caregivers believe she is comfortable with the feeding platform area and crowds.

Baby Gorilla Gets a Name at Oklahoma City Zoo


A male Western Lowland Gorilla born at the Oklahoma City Zoo on Valentine’s Day was given a name on his one-month birthday:  the baby will be called Leom, which combines the last two letters of his mother’s name, Kelele, and his father’s name, Bom Bom.

Leom is the first birth for 19-year-old Kelele, who has ben providing excellent care to her newborn. Female Gorillas carry their infants 24 hours a day, never putting them down.  Leom’s father, Bom Bom, was a beloved 36-year-old silverback who died in July 2012 of cardiac arrest.




Photo Credits:  Andrea Wright (1,3,4,5); Gillian Lang (2)

The zoo’s three young male Gorillas, who have never seen a baby Gorilla before, are very curious about Leom.  Kelele, always protective of her baby, keeps her distance from them for now. 

With Leom’s birth, the Oklahoma City Zoo continues its involvement in the Gorilla Species Survival Plan (SSP) through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). One of the SSP's most important roles is to ensure that the Gorilla population remains healthy, genetically-diverse, and self-sustaining.

Baby Chimp Gets a New Family Through Compassion and Collaboration Between AZA Zoos

C teeth

The Oklahoma City Zoo is known nationally for their capacity to foster infant Chimpanzees, and now there is a new member to their troop. Seven-month-old Ruben arrived on July 30, after being hand-raised at Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo. Ruben's mother, Rukiya, died just 24 hours after giving birth during a medical proceedure. It was a rough start for baby Ruben both to lose his mom.  After being treated roughly by his biological dad and not be accepted by that zoo's surrogate mom, it was apparent: Ruben needed a new home.

Those who had given him round-the-clock care at Lowry Park Zoo accompanied Ruben when it came time to move, and stayed to monitor his progress during the first 72 hours of transition. And the effort has been a success! Just weeks later, Ruben is blending well and being accepted by his new chimp family. Starting with Kito, his surrogate mom, the baby has gradually been introduced to Mwami, the dominant male, and three others in the group.

R Kito

R front
Photo Credit: Oklahoma City Zoo

Our zoo has had two successful Chimpanzee surrogate situations, and we are gaining a good reputation among accredited zoos for it," said Laura Bottaro, Oklahoma City Zoo Mammal Curator. The first occurred in 2008, the second in 2011.

Read more after the fold:

Continue reading "Baby Chimp Gets a New Family Through Compassion and Collaboration Between AZA Zoos" »

Meet KayDee, the Oklahoma Zoo's Rambunctious Baby Red Panda


On June 6, Oklahoma City Zoo staffers quietly witnessed the eleventh Red Panda birth in the zoo’s history - a female. This is the first baby for Mom Jaya, who came to the zoo at the end of 2011, but the ninth cub for Yoda, the father. The newborn was named KayDee in honor of Oklahoma City Thunder player Kevin Durant -- known to fans as K.D. -- whose team won it’s first Western Conference championship on that very same night.

“We’ve been eager to introduce KayDee to the public since June,” said Newton “but she needed time to bond with her mother and grow a little before we did.”

After a four-and-a-half month gestation period, KayDee was born weighing less than a pound (.45 kg). First-time mom Jaya cared for her well, and now, at three months old, she weighs approximately 4 pounds (1.8 kg). KayDee is transitioning from nursing to eating solid foods; she's begun chewing bamboo just like her parents and shortly she’ll be able to eat high-fiber, nutritional biscuits, apples, pears, grapes and various enrichment foods. And she is rambunctious - bouncing around and snorting as baby pandas are wont to do! 


Panda 2
Photo Credits: Oklahoma City Zoo

Read more about this little Red Panda after the fold:

Continue reading "Meet KayDee, the Oklahoma Zoo's Rambunctious Baby Red Panda" »

It's Raining Red Pandas! Rare Triple Birth in Oklahoma


Three’s a charm as the Oklahoma City Zoo celebrates the birth of three Red Panda cubs! Born on June 25 to mom “Celeste” and dad “Yoda,” the cubs, two males and one female, are now discovering their outdoor habitat by Zoo Lake. This was the third set of cubs for both parents and a rare occurrence of a triple birth – usually Red Pandas only give birth to two cubs at a time. The cubs mark the eighth, ninth and tenth red panda births to occur at the zoo, with the most recent cub births in June of 2010. The 2010 cubs, a male a female, moved to other zoos in 2010 as part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP). The male went to the Central Park Zoo in New York and the female to the Indianapolis Zoo. These photos are courtesy of the Oklahoman newspaper.


Photo credits: Bryan Terry, Copyright 2011, The Oklahoman

The birth of the cubs is a great success for the red panda Species Survival Plan, or SSP. The program was developed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and is a cooperative effort among AZA accredited zoos throughout North America created to help promote genetic diversity through this species management program.

Continue reading "It's Raining Red Pandas! Rare Triple Birth in Oklahoma" »

Bat-Eared Fox Kits Snuggle Up

OK fox trio

Five Bat-eared fox kits - 4 males and 1 female - were born on May 4 in their den at the Oklahoma City Zoo. This was the first offspring for both of their parents and the first litter of bat-eared foxes born at the Zoo since 2005. The kits weigh approximately one to two pounds each. 

Bat-eared foxes are primarily nocturnal and the kits are still spending the majority of their time inside the den and out of sight. Lucky Zoo visitors might catch them scurrying about their yard in the early morning or late evening hours as they start to get older and more active. 

Bat-eared foxes can grow to be about 2 feet long and can weigh anywhere from six to 12 pounds. They are a sandy brown color with darker markings on their ears, nose, feet and tails. Their feet have claws perfectly suited for digging, whether going after a tasty insect or hollowing out a cozy burrow.           

Ok solo

Photo Credit: Jaimee Flinchbaugh

In the wild, Bat-eared foxes live in the dry savannas and brush of eastern and southern Africa and are easily recognized by their huge 5-inch ears. These large lobes serve multiple purposes – they are full of blood vessels that help disperse heat and keep the fox cool, and they give them acute hearing for listening for their primary diet of insects. They can even hear the underground movement of a termite or beetle larvae!

Snow Leopards Cubs Debut in Oklahoma

On May 12th, the Oklahoma City Zoo welcomed two little Snow Leopard cubs but waited until the cubs had had their second round of shots and time to bond with mom before debuting them to the public yesterday. This is the second set of cubs for mother Kiara, who was born at the Tulsa Zoo. Despite being bottle-fed herself, Kiara has proven to be a capable and attentive mother. The cubs are still too young, and the weather too hot, for the cubs to go outside but they will make it out within a few weeks.

Snow leopard cubs oklahoma city zoo 1

Snow leopard cubs oklahoma city zoo 2

Photo credits: Oklahoma City Zoo (see more on their Facebook album)