New Little ‘Dear’ for the Indianapolis Zoo

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The Indianapolis Zoo excitedly announced the first Orangutan birth for the Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center. The female Sumatran Orangutan was born March 23 to mom Sirih.

Sirih gave birth in a behind-the-scenes area. The other resident Orangutans at the Center watched the entire birth very intently and were quiet and curious during and after the delivery.

“This baby Orangutan gives us special reason to be joyful,” said Dr. Rob Shumaker, Executive Vice President and Zoo director. “We are thrilled for the many visitors who will care more deeply for Orangutans and their conservation by watching the baby grow, learn and thrive. Sumatran Orangutans are critically endangered in the wild with only thousands left.”

The Zoo recently held a naming contest, via Facebook, and the winning name for the new girl is “Mila” (MEE-lah)! Mila means “dear one” in Indonesian.

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3_13131090_10154853724712576_8102568991043503813_oPhoto Credit: Vicki Townsend

The baby is the second for 23-year-old mother Sirih, who arrived at the Indianpolis Zoo last year from the Frankfurt Zoo in Germany. Both mom and infant are doing great. Sirih is a caring and attentive mother, doing everything an Orangutan should do. She keeps her daughter close and guests are able to see Mila hold on tightly to mom as she climbs around the Orangutan Center. Father, 14-year-old Basan, has also been introduced to the baby, as have most of the Orangutans in the center.

Sirih and first-time father, Basan, were recommended as a breeding pair through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan, a program ensuring a sustainable, genetically diverse and demographically varied AZA population.

The Sumatran Orangutan (Pongo abelii) is one of the two species of orangutans. They are found only on the island of Sumatra, in Indonesia, and are more rare than the Bornean Orangutan. Males grow to about 200 lbs. (90 kg), and females can weigh about 99 lbs. (45 kg). Compared to the Bornean species, they are thinner and have longer faces, and their hair is longer with a paler red color.

The Sumatran species also tends to be more frugivorous and especially insectivorous. Their preferred fruits include figs and jackfruits.

Female Orangutans reach sexual maturity at around 5 years of age and have a 22 to 30-day menstrual cycle. Females generally give birth to their first offspring at around 14 years of age, and they have a gestation period of about 9 months. There are usually eight years between pregnancies. Females do most of the caring and socializing of the young.

Sumatran Orangutans are classified as “Critically Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It’s estimated that less than 6,500 Sumatran Orangutans now remain in the wild, as a result of destruction of habitat for logging, wholesale conversion of forest to palm oil plantations, and fragmentation caused by roads and hunting.


Snow Day for Jaguar Cub at San Diego Zoo

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April 28th was a rainy morning in San Diego, but at the San Diego Zoo, the forecast called for snow! One-year-old Jaguar cub Valerio and his mom, Nindiri, woke up to an unexpected surprise: piles of fresh, glistening snow blanketing their habitat.

According to staff, the duo appeared cautious when they entered their exhibit, stepping gingerly on the snow, unsure how to react to the novel substance. However, after a few minutes, the pair started exploring, climbing, searching for buried meatballs and showcasing their natural behaviors while enjoying their chilly enrichment surprise. Animal care staff said the cats’ personalities really shined through, and it was fascinating seeing them venture to parts of their habitat they normally wouldn’t explore that early in the day.

The 8-tons of fresh powder was provided through a generous donation, to the Zoo’s animal care wish list, as an enrichment item for the Jaguars. The San Diego Zoo provides enrichment for the animals in its care, in an effort to encourage their natural behaviors and an attempt to provide them opportunity to thrive. The snow day marked the first time this mom and cub have ever encountered snow.

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3_JagSnow_01_LGPhoto Credits: San Diego Zoo

 

The Jaguar (Panthera onca) is a feline in the genus Panthera and is the only extant species native to the Americas. It is the third largest feline after the tiger and the lion. Their native range extends from the Southwestern United States and Mexico, across much of Central America, and south to Paraguay and northern Argentina. Apart from a possible population in southern Arizona and the lower south of New Mexico, the species has been largely extirpated from the U.S. since the early 20th Century.

The Jaguar resembles the leopard, but it is usually larger, with behavioral characteristics closer to those of the tiger. They prefer dense, forested habitation. The Jaguar is largely solitary and is a stalk-and-ambush predator.

Gestation for Jaguars lasts 93-105 days, and females will give birth to up to four cubs (typical litters consist of two). The mothers do not tolerate the presence of males after giving birth (due to fear of infanticide). The young are born blind, and their eyes open at about 2 weeks. The cubs are weaned at three months, but they remain in the den for six months to learn hunting and life skills from the mother.

Unfortunately, demand for the Jaguar’s beautiful rosette-pattern fur is one of the reasons this species is listed as “Near Threatened” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). In addition, Jaguars are losing precious habitat, and human-Jaguar conflicts are causing their numbers to decrease rapidly. There are only an estimated 10,000 Jaguars left in the wild.

San Diego Zoo Global partners with the Wildlands Network and Latin American conservationists to study, monitor and protect Jaguars. Through those efforts, combined with educational outreach to local communities, the San Diego Zoo hopes to decrease human-Jaguar conflicts.

Zoo guests can visit Valerio, his mother Nindiri and their next-door lion mates, M’bari and Etosha, in their habitats at the Zoo’s Harry and Grace Steele Elephant Odyssey.


Take a Peek at Bronx Zoo's Otter Pup

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An Asian Small-clawed Otter pup made its public debut at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo in late April.

Born this spring, the pup is already dipping its toes in the family’s watery exhibit.

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Julie Larsen Maher_5826_Asian Small-clawed Otter_JUN_BZ_04 06 16_hrPhoto Credit:  Julie Larsen Maher/WCS
Like all Otters, the species is well adapted for a semi-aquatic life. Their elongated bodies and webbed feet make it easy for them to propel through the water. They have dexterous paws that aid in finding and consuming food, and their fur is extremely dense and waterproof for temperature regulation.

Asian Small-clawed Otters have a vast but shrinking Southeast Asian range that spans from India to the Philippines, Taiwan, and parts of southern China. The species is classified as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and is threatened by habitat loss and exploitation.

 


Snow Leopard Triplets Hit the Spot

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For the first time in Akron Zoo’s history, a set of Snow Leopard triplets was born at the zoo.  The three cubs, one female and two males, were born March 5, 2016 and remain in a private cubbing area with their mother Shanti until late May or early June.
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13096111_10153607994840866_4687845943556753128_nPhoto Credit:  Akron Zoo

This is the third litter for mom Shanti, but her first set of triplets.  At birth, the cubs weighed about one pound each, but they are developing right on schedule.  At two weeks, they opened their eyes, and by four weeks, they had become mobile and started exploring the den.  At about seven weeks, the trio began playing and climbing, and by eight weeks old they started tasting meat.

Snow Leopard breeding in accredited zoos is managed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP). These cubs mark the first Snow Leopards born in the United States at an AZA accredited zoo this year.  Managed breeding helps maintain genetic diversity within the zoo-dwelling population.

As in the wild, the cubs’ father, Roscoe, does not participate in the rearing process and will not have direct contact with the cubs.

Listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Snow Leopards are threatened by loss of habitat in their native Himalayan Mountains, and by illegal hunting for their pelts and body parts.  Snow Leopards are sometimes killed by local herders when these cats prey on livestock. There are 153 Snow Leopards in the SSP in the United States, and there are believed to be as few as 4,000 left in the wild.

See more photos of the cubs below.

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Giant of a Baby for Nashville Zoo

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A male Giant Anteater, named Demetrio, was born on April 6 at the Nashville Zoo. The pup weighed in at 3.8 lbs. and is currently being raised by his mother in the Zoo’s off-exhibit facility.

This is the second pup for this mother, and the 17th successful Giant Anteater birth at Nashville Zoo, since they acquired this species in 2000.

There are a total of 111 Giant Anteaters housed in Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) zoos across the country. Giant anteaters are listed as “Vulnerable” on the ICUN Red List, with the population declining 30% over the past 10 years due to habitat loss and deaths by fire and vehicular traffic.

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4_IMG_8310Photo Credits: Nashville Zoo

The Giant Anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla), also known as the Ant Bear, is a large insectivorous mammal native to Central and South America. It is one of four living species of anteaters and is classified with sloths in the order Pilosa. The species is mostly terrestrial. The giant anteater is the largest of its family, 182–217 cm (5.97–7.12 ft.) in length, with weights of 33–41 kg (73–90 lb.) for males and 27–39 kg (60–86 lb.) for females. It is recognizable by its elongated snout, bushy tail, long fore claws, and distinctively colored pelage.

The Giant Anteater can be found in multiple habitats, including grassland and rainforest. 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.

Though Giant Anteaters live in overlapping home ranges, they are mostly solitary except during mother-offspring relationships, aggressive interactions between males, and when mating. Mother anteaters carry their offspring on their backs until weaning them.

Giant anteaters can mate throughout the year. A couple may stay together for up to three days and mate several times during that period. 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 the pup on her back, and while doing so, the pup's black and white band aligns with its mother's stripe, providing an amazing camouflage for the baby.

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, ending by ten months, when young anteaters usually become independent.

Not only does the Nashville Zoo have success breeding these animals, but the facility is currently involved in numerous projects that include monitoring reproductive status in female Giant Anteaters by fecal hormone analysis, performing ultra-sonographic exams to monitor fetal development, and undertaking intensive diet studies. Nashville Zoo is currently writing the AZA’s husbandry manual for this species.


Things Are Going Swimmingly for Polar Bear Cub

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Lili the Polar Bear cub was born December 11, 2015 at Zoo am Meer Bremerhaven, Germany. Mom, Valeska (age 11), father, Lloyd (age 15), and the whole Zoo have been very happy about this second healthy little bear in two years.

(Lili´s sister Lale was born on December 16, 2013 and lives now in the Wildlife Adventure Zoo in Emmen, Netherlands.)

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4_12901248_1018519488183504_79784850217026468_oPhoto Credits: Zoo am Meer Bremerhaven

 

 

The new cub and her mother have been on-exhibit for a little more than a month. In the mornings, Lili plays extensively with Mom, and the two recently began swim lessons.

Recently, Lili impressed Keepers with her sudden preference for water sports. Mama took a dive into the water, and Lili went automatically afterwards.

Lessons continued for several weeks, and in the late afternoon of May 10, Keepers excitedly reported: “Lili swims!”

Now the young bear joyfully falls into the water…and doesn’t want to get out! Another step in the development of the small female Polar Bear is done.

Polar Bears are native to the circumpolar north, including the United States (Alaska), Canada, Russia, Norway and Denmark (Greenland). They are at the top of the Arctic food chain and primarily eat seals.

Populations are declining due to the disappearance of sea ice, and experts estimate that only 20,000-25,000 Polar Bears are left in the wild. Some scientists believe if the warming trend continues, two-thirds of the Polar Bear population could disappear by the year 2050. They are currently classified as "Vulnerable" on the IUCN Red List.

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Leaps and Bounds for Leap Year Leopard Cubs

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The almost-three-month-old Clouded Leopard sisters, Aiya and Shigu, born February 29 at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, are developing by leaps and bounds---literally!

At the end of April, the cubs were introduced to the Zoo’s main Clouded Leopard habitat to help keep them safe while they practice their new motor skills.

The transition to an enclosed exhibit will allow the cub’s greater independence to climb, pounce and leap in a supervised environment. For the near term, public viewing will continue once daily in the new location. A rotation through different natural environments provides essential sensory enrichment for continued development. Allowing guests to observe the cubs at play provides an educational opportunity to communicate the needs and perils of this rare and vulnerable species. The cubs’ long-term home has not yet been determined.

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4_TLPZ Clouded leopard cubs (3) by Dave ParkinsonPhoto Credits: Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo & Image 1: Lia Nydes; Images 2,3,4: Dave Parkinson; Images 5,6,7,8: Caitlin Chase; Images 9,10: Zootastic

 

 

Aiya and Shigu are the first set of multiples for the Zoo’s pair of 5-year-old adult Leopards. When their birth mother became anxious and stopped caring for them, the Zoo’s animal care team intervened to provide necessary assistance. Within the managed population, Clouded Leopard cubs are routinely hand-reared for the best chance of survival. This practice also improves socialization for early introductions to potential mates and reduces aggression between pairs. For their safety, the cubs will alternate exhibit time with the Zoo’s adult Leopards (they will not be reintroduced).

Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo participates in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Clouded Leopard Species Survival Plan (SSP) designed to support the conservation of select wildlife at risk of extinction. The Zoo’s parents, Yim (male) and Malee (female), were matched by the SSP and have lived together at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo since six months of age (2011).

The Clouded Leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) is a wild cat native to the Himalayan foothills through mainland Southeast Asia into China, and has been classified as “Vulnerable”, in 2008, by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Its total population size is suspected to be fewer than 10,000 mature individuals, with a decreasing population trend, and no single population numbering more than 1,000 adults.

Adult Clouded Leopards weigh between 11.5 and 23 kg (25 and 51 lbs.). Females vary in head-to-body length from 68.6 to 94 cm (27.0 to 37.0 in), with a tail 61 to 82 cm (24 to 32 in) long. Males are larger at 81 to 108 cm (32 to 43 in) with a tail 74 to 91 cm (29 to 36 in) long. Their shoulder height varies from 50 to 55 cm (20 to 22 in).

They are often referred to as a “modern-day saber tooth” because they have the largest canines in proportion to their body size, matching the tiger in canine length.

Both males and females average 26 months at first reproduction. Mating usually occurs during December and March. After a gestation period of 93 ± 6 days, females give birth to a litter of one to five, most often three cubs. The male is not involved in raising the kittens.

Initially, the young are blind and helpless, much like the young of many other cats, and weigh from 140 to 280 g (4.9 to 9.9 oz). Unlike adults, the kittens' spots are "solid" — completely dark rather than dark rings. The young can see within about 10 days of birth, are active within five weeks, and are fully weaned at around three months of age. They attain the adult coat pattern at around six months, and probably become independent after around 10 months. Females are able to bear one litter each year. The mother is believed to hide her kittens in dense vegetation while she goes to hunt, though little concrete evidence supports this theory, since their lifestyle is so secretive.

Continue reading "Leaps and Bounds for Leap Year Leopard Cubs" »


Critically Endangered Macaque Born at Chester Zoo

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A rare baby Sulawesi Crested Macaque, a species that’s critically endangered in the wild, is the latest arrival at Chester Zoo.

Keepers recently released the first pictures of the newborn monkey, which is being looked after by its mum Lisa after being born on April 17.

Sulawesi Crested Macaques are one of the world’s most endangered primates, and it’s estimated that fewer than 5,000 are left on their native island of Sulawesi in Indonesia.

The species is listed as “Critically Endangered” on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, largely because their habitat is disappearing due to illegal logging. They are also targets for poachers and are over-hunted for food as, in their homeland, macaques are considered a local delicacy and are served up on special occasions such as weddings. As a result, their wild numbers are believed to have plummeted by around 80% in the last 30 years.

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4_A week-old Sulawesi macaque is nursed by mum Lisa (15)Photo Credits: Chester Zoo

Dr. Nick Davis, the zoo’s assistant curator of mammals, said, “Our new arrival means we now have a group of 15 Sulawesi Crested Macaques. They’re a key part of a European endangered species breeding programme that is working to protect this charismatic species, which, sadly, is highly threatened in the wild.”

“Sulawesi Macaques are extremely intelligent and social animals, so a new arrival always creates excitement in the group. This is also the first baby to be fathered by dominant male Momassa, making it all the more special.”

Davis continued, “Macaques have very obvious individual personalities which can be seen in facial expressions, and so we’re looking forward to seeing what sort of character our tiny youngster will develop into. At the moment though, our new arrival will spend time playing and getting to know the rest of the group. We’re ever so pleased to say that both are doing very well so far.”

The new youngster, who is yet to be sexed or named, is the first of its kind to be born at Chester Zoo since its group of Sulawesi Macaques moved into their new state-of-the-art home. Islands (the UK’s biggest ever zoo development) showcases a vast array of threatened species from the region of South East Asia.

Johanna Rode-Margono, the zoo’s South East Asia conservation field programme officer, added, “It’s important to us that our new Islands zone, and the amazing species living in it, helps us to throw a spotlight on the conservation work that we’re doing out in the field to try and protect some of South East Asia’s most endangered animals.”

“We are working with the local people living in Sulawesi and providing support to help save the forests and the diverse animal species living there.”

Much more below the fold!

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Gentoo Penguins Hatch at Edinburgh Zoo

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With summer around the corner, the first of the Gentoo Penguin chicks at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo have started to poke their beaks out of their shells. The first fluffy chick hatched on May 5 and was soon followed by another three hatchlings, two of which are on the same nest.

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4_16_05_06_GentooPenguin_Chick_08_CR_KatiePatonPhoto Credits: Edinburgh Zoo / Maria Dorrian (Images: 1,6,7,8) & Katie Paton (Images: 2,3,4,5)

 

Penguin breeding season began in early March, with the annual placing of the nest rings and pebbles into Penguins Rock, before the male penguins sought out the best looking and smoothest pebbles to ‘propose’ to their potential mates. The first eggs were laid over Easter weekend, and, after a 33-35 day incubation period, the chicks of 2016 have started to hatch!

Dawn Nicoll, Penguin Keeper at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo, said, “This is our favourite time of year as the new Penguin chicks begin to hatch. The entire breeding season is an incredibly busy time, but it is all worth it when you see the tiny Penguins start to break out of their shells and be cared for by both their parents.

“The rest of the eggs should hatch over the next two to three weeks, as the Penguins don’t all lay their eggs at the same time. We had a very successful breeding season last year, with 16 chicks hatching, so we are hoping for another successful year as Gentoo Penguins are classified as near threatened.”

Once the chicks get a little older, they will leave the nest and join a nearby crèche, where they will learn all the skills essential to being a penguin, such as how to swim and feed.

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Prague Celebrates First Elephant Conceived and Born at Zoo

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Staff at the Prague Zoo are celebrating the April 5 birth of a male Asian Elephant, the first to be both conceived and born at the zoo.

Other Elephants have been born at the zoo, but they were conceived at other zoos, and the females were subsequently moved to Prague.  Elephants are pregnant for an average of 640 days.

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Foto_1_L1010502_export – kopiePhoto Credit:  Miroslav Bobek/Prague Zoo

This was the first baby for female Janita and male Tamara.  Keepers monitored Janita closely in the weeks leading up to her due date.  Levels of progesterone were measured frequently – these levels drop to nearly zero when the birth is imminent. 

Keepers were present during the birth and monitored this first-time mom closely.  Though the birth went smoothly, Janita became aggressive toward her calf immediately after the birth.  The zoo’s veterinarians say that this is not unusual in inexperienced Elephant moms and may be attributed to the pain associated with giving birth. To keep the calf safe, keepers pulled him aside while Janita quieted down. 

The baby was then gradually brought closer to his mother, and her behavior changed.  About four hours after the birth, the baby nursed from Janita.

Keepers report that both Janita and her baby are progressing well.  Asian Elephants are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, due to loss and fragmentation of habitat.  Elephants require huge home ranges to survive, so there are frequent conflicts with humans as their ranges shrink.  Elephants are also hunted illegally for their ivory tusks, which are present only in male Asian Elephants, though females may have small tusks present inside the mouth.