Tiny Sea Turtles Find Safety at Brevard Zoo

Green sea turtle

Brevard Zoo’s Sea Turtle Healing Center is caring for nearly 300 Green and Loggerhead Sea Turtle “washbacks” that were pushed ashore when Hurricane Leslie disrupted their habitat.

“When Sea Turtles hatch, they rely on energy stores from a yolk sac to make the multi-mile swim to offshore weed lines—floating masses of Sargassum seaweed that provide shelter and food,” explained Sea Turtle Program Manager, Shanon Gann. “If the seaweed is disrupted by a storm or strong winds that wash them back to shore, the little turtles do not have the energy to make the long swim again.”

Loggerhead sea turtle

Washbacks in waterPhoto Credits: Brevard Zoo

Healing Center staff and volunteers are caring for the washbacks for a few days until open ocean conditions improve; at that time, they will be transported offshore in a boat and placed in weed lines.

Sea Turtle Preservation Society (STPS) volunteers are transporting the turtles to the Healing Center. Individuals who find washbacks should immediately call STPS at 321-676-1701 or Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 1-888-404-3922 for rescue instructions.


Lion Cub Siblings Have Their Day in the Sun

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ZooParc de Beauval is home to 10,000 animals, including 600 different species. The Zoo is also the largest zoological maternity hospital in France, with about 750 births each year.

This past summer has been no different for the successful facility. On July 29, three energetic Lion cubs were born to mom, Malawi.

The Zoo recently announced that the bouncy cubs were given names. The two males have been named Kivu and Issa, and their sister has been named Sabi.

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4_bebes-ap9i4174-2Photo Credits: ZooParc de Beauval 

The Lion (Panthera leo) is native to grasslands and savannas of Sub-Saharan Africa. The species has been classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List since 1996 because populations in African countries have declined by about 43% since the early 1990s. Although the cause of the decline is not fully known, habitat loss and conflicts with humans are the greatest causes for concern.


Zoo Berlin's Baby Rhino Makes Her Debut

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On September 22, on World Rhino Day, 16-year-old Black Rhinoceros Maburi gave birth to a female calf at Zoo Berlin. Then, after spending about three weeks in the barn bonding with her mother, the little girl stepped confidently into the Rhino yard on October 12.

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Spitzmaulnashorn Maburi mit Jungtier_Zoo Berlin_2018Photo Credit: Zoo Berlin

Black Rhinos are born without horns, but you can already see two bumps on the calf’s snout. Her horns, which are made of the same material as human hair and fingernails, will gradually grow from these spots. Rhinos take about five to seven years to fully mature, and Maburi’s calf will nurse for about two years. Leaves, twigs, and vegetables will gradually be introduced to the calf’s diet.

The calf has not yet been named, but the zoo is accepting name suggestions on their Facebook page.  

Zoo Berlin has a long history of caring for and breeding Black Rhinos, with 20 calves born over the years. Black Rhinos are listed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Their numbers have dwindled to just a few thousand, and they survive mainly in southern and eastern Africa.

There are seven to eight subspecies of Black Rhino, and three of those subspecies have become extinct in the last 150 years; a fourth is precariously close to extinction. Rhinos are illegally poached for their horns, which are thought to have medicinal properties and spiritual powers, all of which are unproven. Even Rhinos under armed protection have been poached, highlighting the difficulty of advancing conservation goals amid the potential for illicit economic gains.


Chester Zoo Shares Photos of One-Day-Old Baby Gibbon

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A rare baby Gibbon is the latest addition to the “biggest baby boom of mammals” on record at Chester Zoo.

The Silvery Gibbon – one of the world’s most threatened primates – was born to mom Tilu, age 10, and 19-year-old dad Alven on October 10 after a gestation of around 210 days.

The tiny, pink-faced primate is much too small to be sexed and therefore has not yet been named.

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1. Baby silvery gibbon (6)Photo Credit: Chester Zoo



Gibbons are built for life in the trees and use their extra-long arms to swing from branch to branch, a technique called brachiation. As mom travels in the treetops, her baby clings tightly to her chest using its long fingers.

As the baby matures, it will begin to venture away from mom for brief periods. Like most Apes, Gibbons grow relatively slowly and depend on their mothers for a long period. Females give birth approximately once every three years. Silvery Gibbons are uncommon in zoos.

Silvery Gibbons, also known as Javan Gibbons, are found only on the Indonesian island of Java. These Apes are restricted to mountainous areas with dense forest cover. Though habitat loss is an issue on heavily-populated Java, the areas where Gibbons are found are very remote and rugged, so Gibbon populations have stabilized. Nonetheless, Silvery Gibbons are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Fewer than 5,000 individuals remain in more than 15 locations on the island. Only about half of the Gibbons live in protected areas.  

See more photos of the baby Gibbon below.

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Rare Western Pond Turtles at Woodland Park Zoo

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The forty-five Western Pond Turtle hatchlings at Woodland Park Zoo are not only tiny and cute, but also very rare and precious. As part of a collaborative recovery project with Washington state, the turtles were gathered as eggs from nests at a protected site and brought to Woodland Park Zoo where they will receive excellent care until they are released to specified sites next summer.

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4_WPZ-JLoughlin-TurtleHatchlings2019-82Photo Credits: John Loughlin/Woodland Park Zoo

Late each summer, turtles are brought as eggs or hatchlings and given a head start on life at Woodland Park Zoo and Oregon Zoo to improve their chance of survival in the wild. Unlike wild turtles, they are fed at the zoo throughout the winter so that by summer they are nearly as big as 3-year-old turtles that grew up in the wild. Once the turtles reach about 2 ounces—a suitable size to escape the mouths of invasive predatory bullfrogs—they are returned to protected sites and monitored by biologists.

The Western Pond Turtle once ranged from Washington’s Puget Sound lowlands, southward through Western Oregon and California to Baja California. By 1990, their numbers plummeted to only about 150 in two populations in the state of Washington. These last remaining individuals struggled for survival as they battled predation by the non-native bullfrog, disease and habitat loss. A respiratory disease threatened the remaining turtles and biologists could not find evidence confirming hatchling survival.

In 1991, Woodland Park Zoo and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) joined forces to recover Western Pond Turtles by initiating a head start program. In 1993, the state listed the Western Pond Turtle as endangered. In 1999, Oregon Zoo joined the recovery team and, over the years, other nonprofits, government agencies and private partners have contributed to the multi-institutional conservation project. Because of the Western Pond Turtle Recovery Project, more than 1,000 turtles thrive today at protected sites.

Over the last several years, an emerging shell disease affecting 29 to 49 percent of the wild population threatens decades of recovery progress. Known to cause lesions in a turtle’s shell, severe cases can lead to lowered fitness and even death. Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have joined the recovery efforts by collaborating to better understand the disease. The aquarium and university are looking at the disease from a microbial and pathological perspective to better understand its origin and the role environmental factors could play. The goal is to give young turtles a better chance at survival in the wild.

Woodland Park Zoo and Oregon Zoo are working with Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and other partners to address this urgent situation: studying the disease, treating severely diseased turtles, and providing overwinter care for turtles to allow their shells to heal before they are released back into the wild. After the treated turtles are released, WDFW monitors the turtles to determine if they remain healthy and are able to reproduce normally in the wild.

In 27 years, self-sustaining populations have been re-established in two regions of the state: Puget Sound and the Columbia River Gorge. More than 2,100 turtles have been head started and released, and surveys indicate that more than 1,000 of the released turtles have survived and continue to thrive at six sites.

The Western Pond Turtle is one of 19 species that are part of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ (AZA) SAFE (Saving Animals From Extinction) initiative, which focuses on the collective expertise within AZA’s accredited institutions and leverages their massive audiences to save species. AZA and its members are convening scientists and stakeholders to identify the threats, develop action plans, raise new resources and engage the public. AZA SAFE harnesses the collective power of all AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums and invites the public to join the effort.


Auckland Zoo’s Kiwi Chick Arrives for Special Month

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Auckland Zoo is part of ‘Operation Nest Egg’ (O.N.E), a national programme helping to increase Aotearoa’s Kiwi population. The Zoo’s latest fluffy hatchling is the second Kiwi chick this season. The chick is the first to hatch in October, which is also noted as “Save Kiwi Month”.

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Operation Nest Egg (O.N.E.) involves collecting eggs from selected areas around New Zealand, incubating and caring for them from hatch until they are at an age where they can be released to predator free islands or sites. These sites allow the chicks to grow big and strong while not under threat from predators, and then finally, when they reach around 1.2kg – a size where they are better able to defend themselves – they are released back to the mainland on predator-managed sites.

Sadly, only 5% of chicks that hatch in the wild will reach breeding age due to introduced mammalian predators, which has contributed to the decline of New Zealand’s national bird. Auckland Zoo, working together with the Department of Conservation, Kiwis for Kiwi, and Thames Coast Kiwi Care has successfully contributed to the survival of Northland and Coromandel Kiwi.

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OKCity Zoo's Elephant Mom Gives Birth After Almost Two-Year Pregnancy!

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After an almost two-year pregnancy, the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden is happy to announce the addition of a female calf to its Asian elephant herd. Kairavi, Sanskrit for moonlight, was born Tuesday, October 9, at 11:28 p.m., inside the OKC Zoo’s elephant habitat at Sanctuary Asia. Both mother, Asha, and newborn, Kairavi (Kai), are in good health and are now viewable to guests. Kai’s arrival brings the total number of Asian elephants at the Zoo to seven.

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Veterinary staff and animal caretakers were present for the delivery and reported the birth required no medical intervention with the entire process taking only 15 minutes. The entire elephant herd was in the inside habitat with Asha during the birth and got to see and hear the delivery, an important component to the herd bonding with the newborn calf. After the birth, vet staff performed a visual inspection of Kai and determined the calf to be strong and observed Asha demonstrating appropriate maternal behaviors. The team remarked that Kai hit important developmental milestones surprisingly fast: standing only 12 minutes post-delivery and nursing after just 40 minutes.

“Asha is an exceptional mother and there is no doubt our new arrival, Kai, will thrive with her elephant family,” said Nick Newby, assistant curator, large mammals. “Not only are we are excited to welcome this new addition to the herd after 22 months of waiting, Kai’s arrival is a testament to the Zoo’s commitment to elephant conservation, and we can’t wait to introduce her to our guests.”

The gestation period for elephants is 22 months, during which Asha gained approximately 1,000 pounds bringing her total weight to 8,500 pounds. During the pregnancy, veterinary staff conducted weekly ultrasounds and daily hormone level testing. When they noted a large drop in Asha’s progesterone levels on Monday, October 8, they knew Kai’s arrival was imminent. During the latter months of her pregnancy, animal caretakers provided extra comfort for Asha in the form of large sand piles, where she could lay comfortably for a good night’s sleep. She also participated in birth practice with her caretakers on a weekly basis and continued to exercise with the herd.

This is the third elephant calf born at the OKC Zoo and the third offspring for mother Asha, 23, who arrived in 2008 from Dickerson Park Zoo in Springfield, MO. Father Rex, 50, came to the Zoo in 2011 from Canada’s African Lion Safari. The pair produced Achara, 3, in 2014. The Oklahoma City Zoo’s Asian elephant herd also includes: Kandula, 17; Bamboo, 51; and Chandra, 22.

The OKC Zoo participates in the Asian Elephant Species Survival Plan (SSP), developed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Asian elephants are endangered and their African counterparts are vulnerable. Currently, the greatest threats to Asian elephants are habitat destruction and human-elephant conflict. About 60 percent of the total human population lives in Asia, and this population has nearly quadrupled in the last century. As human needs increase, more natural land is taken away from Asian elephants in order to build cities, homes, highways, farmland, etc. Habitat destruction is forcing animals, elephants in particular, to come in contact with humans in ways that can cause conflict. 


'Half-Shell Hero' Hatchlings Get Head Start in Oregon

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Fifteen baby Western Pond Turtles arrived last week at the Oregon Zoo. Smaller than a nickel, the hatchlings are extremely vulnerable to predators. To give them a fighting chance, the tiny turtles were collected from the wild and will be reared in the Zoo’s turtle conservation lab until they’re big enough to go back to the pond.

“Baby turtles are really small when they hatch, so they’re the perfect size for a lot of animals to eat,” said Shelly Pettit, the Zoo's Senior Keeper for Reptiles and Amphibians. “And the biggest problem they have right now are the invasive, or introduced, bullfrogs — they prey on turtle hatchlings right out of the nest.”

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4_09-27-2018wp-182Photo Credits: Oregon Zoo

The Western Pond Turtle is native to the United States. They are currently classified as “Vulnerable” by the IUCN. Several predators threaten this species, especially the hatchlings, due to their small size and soft shell.

Raccoons, otters, ospreys, coyotes, weasels, and bullfrogs are predatory threats to the Pond Turtle. The American Bullfrog is the largest frog species in North America. It can tip the scales at more than a pound and has been driving the Pond Turtle to the brink of extinction.

Last week, Pettit and her colleagues took charge of 15 Western Pond Turtle hatchlings, collected by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Service from sites in the Columbia Gorge. The zoo is “head-starting” these tiny turtles, caring for them until next spring when they will be large enough to avoid the bullfrogs and have a fighting chance on their own in the wild.

Unlike recovery programs for other endangered species like California Condors or Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterflies — which take place offsite or behind the scenes — this conservation effort is easy to see. Oregon Zoo visitors can watch the small turtles as they grow inside the zoo's Nature Exploration Station.

The turtles at the Zoo will experience summer year-round, with heat lamps and plentiful food, so they don’t go into hibernation.

“We keep these little turtles warm, safe and well-fed in the lab,” Pettit said. “As a result, they grow to about the size of a 3-year-old during the nine months that they stay with us.”

Once the turtles reach about 50 grams (a little more than 2 ounces), they are returned to their natural habitat and monitored for safety.

The Western Pond Turtle, once common from Baja California to the Puget Sound, is listed as an endangered species in Washington and a sensitive species in Oregon. Two decades ago, Western Pond Turtles were on the verge of completely dying out in Washington, with fewer than 100 left in the state. Since then, more than 1,500 zoo-head-started turtles have been released back into the wild.

“We’re at a critical point with this species,” said Pettit. “We really have to grow them up in their population numbers if we’re going to save them in time.”

The Western Pond Turtle Recovery Project is a collaborative effort by the Oregon Zoo, Woodland Park Zoo, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bonneville Power Administration, USDA Forest Service and other partners.


Kansas City Zoo Welcomes Second Giraffe Calf This Year

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Kansas City Zoo’s Masai Giraffe herd just got bigger! On Sunday, September 30, at 11:29 pm, six-year-old Makali gave birth to a male calf. The calf weighed 135 pounds and already stands 5 feet, 5 inches tall. A neonatal exam showed that the calf is in good health.

Right now, the calf is bonding with his mom behind the scenes, but fans can see him on the zoo’s Giraffe Cam.  He has not yet been named.

KCZoo Giraffe Calf Male 1Photo Credit: Kansas City Zoo

The new calf already has a playmate: female calf Dixie is eight months old and is sure to become fast friends with this youngster.

The calf’s father is nine-year-old Hamisi, the only male in the zoo’s herd. Hamisi has fathered several calves at his previous zoo and this is his second calf at the Kansas City Zoo. He also fathered Dixie.

Masai Giraffe are one of nine Giraffe species and subspecies found in Africa. Masai Giraffes live primarily in Kenya and Tanzania, and number around 32,000 individuals. The overall Giraffe population in Africa is decreasing due to growing human population pressure and illegal hunting. Giraffes are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.



Sumatran Tiger Cubs Have First Big Vet Check

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Tierpark Berlin’s four Sumatran Tiger cubs are now eight-weeks-old, and the quad had their first big veterinarian checkup on October 2.

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4_Tigervierlinge bei der U1_TierparkBerlin_2018_1Photo Credits: Tierpark Berlin

Although they aren’t even the size of a domestic house cat, the cubs can already “hiss” like full-grown big cats! Veterinarian, Dr. Günter Strauß, was also introduced to the future proficiency of their claws and teeth during the examination.

"Natural breeding of young animals also means that the offspring does not always make it easy and convenient for the vet," explained Veterinarian, Dr. Ing. Günter Strauss. "A wild animal defends itself when a human gets too close to it and that's a good thing."

Andreas Knieriem, Zoo and Animal Park Director, added, "The Tiger quadruplets survived their first investigation well. They are well fed, yet we now want to start feeding some meat to the young. We hope that they will soon be strong enough to follow the tiger mum, Mayang (age 7) on the large rock formation, so that also the Tierpark visitors can see the Tiger quad."

The two females and two males were born on August 4 to parents, Mayang and Harfan. The Zoo expects the cubs to be spending most of their time with mom for the present, but keepers anticipate the new family will be on exhibit in late October.