A rare Fishing Cat kitten is being hand-reared after he was born by cesarean delivery at Oklahoma City Zoo.
The baby was born on March 31 after his mother, Miri, surpassed her expected due date. The gestation period for Fishing Cats is between 63 and 70 days. Eleven-year-old Miri was five days past her due date and showed no signs of entering labor. The zoo’s veterinary and carnivore teams chose to intervene to ensure that her pregnancy was viable. Although the first-time mother was closely monitored by her caretakers throughout the entire pregnancy, the risks associated with waiting for a natural birth became far too great for Miri and her kitten.
Photo Credit: Oklahoma City Zoo
This was the first cesarean delivery of a Fishing Cat in the zoo’s history. The entire procedure lasted three hours and consisted of an ultrasound, radiographs, bloodwork, a physical exam and the cesarean delivery, which resulted in the birth of a male kitten. The kitten is the first offspring of Miri and 3-year-old Boon.
For approximately 1 hour after his birth, the kitten, weighing 164 grams (0.4 pounds), needed help breathing. After two days in the animal hospital, the kitten’s health was stable, and his care team decided that he could be introduced to mom Miri.
Unfortunately, when the kitten was placed with Miri, she displayed no signs of maternal care. The veterinary and carnivore teams began hand-rearing the kitten.
On July 21, the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden received a female Amur Tiger cub. The cub’s journey to Oklahoma is the result of the combined efforts of two amazing zoo teams and tiger conservation experts.
Born at the Philadelphia Zoo on July 10, the cub is named Zoya, meaning “life” in Russian. Zoya is the first offspring of 10-year-old mother, Koosaka, and 9-year-old father, Grom. Koosaka gave birth to five cubs, a large litter for tigers. Unfortunately, two were stillborn, a third was accidentally injured by Koosaka and did not survive, and a fourth developed a critical gastro intestinal issue that proved fatal, even with medical intervention by Philadelphia Zoo veterinarians.
The surviving cub, Zoya, was not being nurtured by Koosaka. According to experts, a lack of maternal behavior is not uncommon among first-time mother tigers who sometimes neglect or reject cubs. As a result, Philadelphia Zoo’s animal care team bottle-fed and continuously cared for the cub who continued to do well, gaining weight from about 2 pounds at birth to almost 4 pounds at 10 days old.
However, the Philadelphia Zoo’s animal care team was concerned about hand-rearing a single cub without the social opportunities that would be provided with either a mother or littermates.
“With this single cub, we knew that the best scenario for her was to find an opportunity for her to grow up with other tigers,” said Dr. Andy Baker, Philadelphia Zoo’s Chief Operating Officer.
Photo Credits: Gretchen Cole (Image 1); Philadelphia Zoo (2-4); Oklahoma City Zoo (5); Gillian Lang (6,7)
In discussions with colleagues involved in the Tiger Species Survival Plan of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the Oklahoma City Zoo offered to attempt to integrate the Philadelphia Zoo cub with their new litter of Sumatran Tigers.
The Oklahoma City Zoo’s litter of three Sumatran Tiger cubs was born just one day before the Philadelphia Zoo’s Amur Tiger litter. Oklahoma’s six-year-old Sumatran Tiger mom, Lola, has been taking very good care of her own cubs.
After consultation between Philadelphia Zoo, the Oklahoma City Zoo, and other AZA colleagues, the teams decided the best option for the cub to grow up in a good social environment was for the Oklahoma City Zoo to attempt to cross-foster Zoya with Lola and her cubs.
Cross-fostering is the process of removing offspring from one mother and transferring them to another lactating mother with offspring of the same approximate age. “Cross-fostering in tigers is unusual, but with less than 500 Amur Tigers in the wild, every cub is important for the species’ survival,” said Dr. Rebecca Snyder, curator of conservation and science, Oklahoma City Zoo.
In 2011, the Oklahoma City Zoo successfully cross-fostered a litter of endangered African Painted Dogs with a Golden Retriever who had recently given birth. However, cross-fostering among tigers is rare, with only a few cases having ever been attempted and documented.
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.
Photo 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.
Photo 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.
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.
Photo 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
Photo Credits: Oklahoma City Zoo
Read more about this little Red Panda after the fold:
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.
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.