Oregon Zoo

Update! Oregon Zoo's Baby Elephant is Two Months Old!


Lily, the now two-month-old Asian Elephant at Oregon Zoo, is full of energy! And she expends it daily, running around her habitat and rolling in the dirt and hay, all joy in action. She was born on November 30, which you can read about HERE, and our follow-up HERE, when she turned one month old, on ZooBorns.

The Oregon Zoo is recognized worldwide for its successful breeding program for Asian Elephants, which has now spanned 50 years. Lily's grandmother, Me-Tu, was the second Elephant born at the zoo , and her great-grandmother, Rosy, was the first Elephant to live in Oregon.


Photo Credit: Oregon Zoo

See how playful Lily has become on the video below:

Orphaned Cougar Cubs Find a Home


A pair of young Cougar cubs found orphaned and starving near Missoula, Montana briefly took up residence at the Oregon Zoo before being transferred to a new, permanent home at Tennessee's Chattanooga Zoo.

Oregon Zoo keeper Michelle Schireman described the 5-month-old siblings, one male and one female, as "intensely cute, but far from cuddly."

"The cubs are about as large as medium-sized dogs, with paws as big as bread plates," Schireman said. "Without a mother, young Cougars lack the skills and resources needed to survive on their own.  They started eating right away the first night they were here."



Photo Credits:  Oregon Zoo

Montana wildlife officials said the pair had been seen around the Missoula area over a period of several weeks, occasionally attempting to raid poultry yards and with no mother in sight. They were eventually captured inside a chicken coop by local residents, who took them to Montana's Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) service.

Montana FWP officials quickly contacted Schireman, who serves as the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' population manager for Cougars, and she worked to find them a home at the Chattanooga Zoo.

Wildlife officials don't know what happened to the cubs' mother, but the two were emaciated when they were first rescued, Schireman said. After two weeks at FWP, with good veterinary care and a steady food supply, they filled out quite a bit. The male cub now weighs 37 pounds and the female weighs 32.

Staff at the Chattanooga Zoo were excited to greet the newcomers.  "They have long history of excellent care and had a space all ready for these cubs," Schireman said.

Cougars — also known as mountain lions, pumas and (in Florida) panthers — live mostly in the western United States and Canada. They weigh from 75 to 150 pounds and have a carnivorous diet both in the wild and at the zoo. Females are either pregnant or raising cubs for the majority of their lives. After three months of gestation, two to three cubs are usually born in a litter and live with their mother for up to two years.

With the exception of the Florida panthers, cougars are not listed as endangered, but they do face many challenges in other parts of the country due to human encroachment and habitat destruction.

UPDATE: Lil' Lily, Oregon Zoo's Baby Elephant, at One Month Old

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Oregon Zoo's Asian Elephant calf Lily is a little over one month old and has been developing into a joyful, energetic little elephant. You may have read about the baby, born November 30, HERE on ZooBorns. Her public debut was on December 14, when, for limited hours, the public could see her sticking close to Mom Rose-Tu. But even then her personality was evident, earning her the description of a 'spitfire' by her keepers.

Since then, she has grown not only in size but in confidence. She is out for longer hours now with the herd and when not napping, can often be seen skipping, rolling around and playing. She totters in a signature way that has been captured in these stills and on the video below. But she knows she can always return to the safety found under the sturdy legs and bellies of the grown ups! 

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Photo Credit: Oregon Zoo / Michael Durham

See more pictures of Lily after the fold:

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Breaking News! Feisty Little Elephant Girl Hits the Ground Running at Oregon Zoo!


The long wait is over. Rose-Tu, an 18-year-old Asian Elephant, gave birth to a 300-pound female calf at the Oregon Zoo at 2:17 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 30.

“We’re all delighted at the arrival of Rose-Tu’s new calf,” said Kim Smith, Oregon Zoo director. “The calf is beautiful, healthy, tall and very vigorous. As soon as she hit the ground — before she was even out of the amniotic sac — she was wiggling. And she’s vocalizing loudly. The first time we heard her, the sound was so deep and loud that we thought it was one of the older elephants. She’s definitely got a great set of pipes, and it looks like she’s going to be a real pistol.”


Photo credit: Oregon Zoo


Learn more about this exciting birth below the fold...

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Turtle hatchlings part of 20-year success story at Oregon Zoo


Western Pond Turtles are making a comeback, and these week-old hatchlings at the Oregon Zoo are destined to aid in the species’ recovery.

For more than two decades the Oregon Zoo has been working to restore this species to its historic range, which once extended from Baja California to Puget Sound.  As a result, Western Pond Turtle (Actinemys marmorata) numbers are on the rise.  This species, which can live up to 70 years, has been profoundly affected by the construction of river dams, invasive plants, predation, and draining of wetlands.

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In 1990, the Western Pond Turtle “head-starting” project was initiated, which accelerates turtles’ natural growth rates, and thus their ability to withstand predation. The Oregon Zoo collaborates with Woodland Park Zoo and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Other partners include Bonneville Power Administration and the U.S. Forest Service.

Each spring, scientists count, trap, mark and fit transmitters on adult females in the wild.  In summer, the females are monitored and nest sites are identified.  Hatchlings are collected in the fall to be cared for at the zoo.  Juveniles, some of whom are fitted with transmitters, are returned to the wild the following spring.

The first turtles released in 1991 in the Columbia River Gorge are reproducing and laying eggs in the wild. Over the past two decades, approximately 1,500 turtles have been released, and with good results: the gorge turtle population ranged from a low of 150 in 1990 to approximately 1,500 in 2011. Scientists tracking them estimate that 95 percent of the turtles released to sites in the Columbia River Gorge have survived.

Photo Credits: Carli Davidson, courtesy of the Oregon Zoo (top photo) and Michael Durham, courtesy of the Oregon Zoo


Oregon Zoo’s 12-year Effort to Save Endangered Pygmy Rabbits

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The Oregon Zoo’s 12-year effort to save the endangered Columbia Basin Pygmy Rabbit drew to a close on July 19, when the zoo released its last 14 breeding rabbits and their offspring at the Sagebrush Flat Wildlife Area in eastern Washington. The Pygmy Rabbit is America’s smallest native rabbit, weighing less than one pound when fully grown, and is the country’s only burrow-digging and sagebrush-climbing rabbit. The shy species is dependent on sagebrush, which makes up the majority of its diet and grows in deep, loose soil, where the rabbits dig burrows.

“We’ve helped give these rabbits a chance for survival, and now it’s time to send them off into the world,” said Michael Illig, Oregon Zoo animal curator. “Our hope is that they’ll continue to breed and establish a stable population at Sagebrush Flat. A strong Pygmy Rabbit population there will keep the local community involved and help preserve the habitat.”

The recovery program ends on a high note for these federally endangered bunnies. Nearly 30 kits were born under the Oregon Zoo’s watch this year. The rabbits, currently housed at the zoo’s Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation in rural Clackamas County, are headed for a six-acre transitional enclosure at Sagebrush Flat that will acclimate the animals to their surroundings, encourage breeding and protect them from predators. Rabbits recently released from the enclosure have been tracked and are successfully living in the area — a good indication for future population growth, according to Illig.

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Photo Credit: Oregon Zoo

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Oregon Zoo Keeper Cares for Bear Cub


This post was reprinted in entirety from the Oregon Zoo's outstanding press release

"Michelle, we need your help."

So began a conversation that Michelle Schireman, an Oregon Zoo keeper known for taking in orphaned cougar cubs, realized would upend her life, both professionally and personally, for a while. It was her day off from the zoo, and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife was calling her at home.

As Schireman recounted that surprise phone call to zoo staffers a couple days later, a furry black animal about the size of a Labrador puppy wobbled Bambi-like around her boots, unsure of where to go next. Its tiny size, downy fur, and attachment to a nearby beaver plush toy suggested something harmless. But the sharp teeth and long claws confirmed its true identity: American Black Bear – and, of course, the reason for ODFW's call.

On April 23, state wildlife officials fielded a call from a Medford, Ore., family that had taken a young bear cub from the wild and brought it into their home. With no idea how to care for the helpless yet wild animal, they turned to professionals. Those professionals turned to Schireman.




The animal keeper, who serves as the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' population manager for cougars, has fostered orphaned cougar cubs for several years, having placed nearly 75 during her time with the Oregon Zoo.

"I'm usually the first person fish and wildlife departments call when orphaned cougars are found in the wild," Schireman said. "Young cougars can't survive without their mothers, so I work with accredited zoos to find them new homes." Schireman's big heart and animal-care expertise led wildlife officials to believe she might find a home for this young bear cub too.

She got permission to house the cub temporarily at the zoo's Veterinary Medical Center during her workday, taking him home with her at night since the cub was still of nursing age and required around-the-clock care. At just a couple of months old, the bear weighed 4 pounds – about the same as a half-gallon of milk – which, surprisingly, is normal for an animal that could grow to be 6 feet tall and weigh up to 600 pounds.

42512BB-205-EditPhoto credits: Michael Durham / Oregon Zoo

Read more and enjoy many photos after the jump

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A Handful of Cougar Cubs at Oregon Zoo!


Three orphaned cougar cubs with baby-blue eyes, fuzzy spotted coats, and much-too-big feet have briefly taken up residence behind the scenes at the Oregon Zoo until they can be moved to permanent homes in Nashville and Houston next week.

The 10-week-old cubs, all three male, were found in Washington state after their mother was illegally shot by a hunter. When wildlife officials learned the cubs were still alive, they quickly contacted Oregon Zoo keeper Michelle Schireman, who serves as the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ population manager for cougars.

“I’m usually the first person fish and wildlife departments call when orphaned cubs are found in the wild,” Schireman said. “Young cougars can’t survive without their mothers, so I work with accredited zoos to find them new homes.”

Keeper Liz Bailey, keeper Michelle Schireman and veterinary technician Kelli Harvison (from left).



Photo Credit: Oregon Zoo

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Oregon Zoo's Caracal Kittens, Now Five Weeks Old

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My how you've grown! Oregon Zoo's three Caracal kittens, first introduced HERE, are now 5 weeks old, and their tufted ears – a distinguishing feature of the small African cats – are fully upright. At birth, the kittens’ ears were flat against their heads. The male and two females continue to do well, as does their mother, Peggy.
“The kittens are very healthy and growing quickly,” said senior Africa keeper Asaba Mukobi. “In the past week, the male has put on about half a pound, and his sisters gained almost as much. Peggy is doing a great job of making sure they eat enough.”
The kittens are very active and enjoy playing on a series of climbing logs, which keepers recently placed in the behind-the-scenes area where Peggy and the kittens spend their time. The zoo’s Africa keepers are voting on possible names for the kittens.

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Photo Credit: Oregon Zoo


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Oregon Zoo's Caracal Kittens Turn 2 Weeks Old!


The Oregon Zoo's Caracal triplets born June 8th are ready for their close-ups! These photos, taken just yesterday, show the cubs at precisely two weeks of age. Caracals live in the woodlands and savannas of North Africa, Southwest Asia and the Arabian Peninsula. While caracals are listed in the category of “least concern” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, hunting and habitat loss pose risks to wild populations. 





Photo credits: Michael Durham / Oregon Zoo