Stranded Beluga Whale Calf Gets Intensive Care

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A stranded Beluga Whale calf, struggling to survive on its own, was rescued from Cook Inlet, Alaska on Saturday, September 30. The male calf is undergoing intensive around-the-clock care at the Alaska SeaLife Center with the help of Marine Mammal experts from around North America.  The calf is a member of the critically endangered Cook Inlet Beluga Whale population, which has declined to approximately 328 individuals left in the wild.

The solitary calf, estimated to be four weeks old, was spotted alone and distressed by a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office of Law Enforcement (NOAA OLE) Enforcement Officer and Department of Public Safety / Alaska Wildlife Troopers Pilot returning from a helicopter patrol. No adult Belugas were seen in the area. Under authorization from NOAA Fisheries’ Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program (MMHSRP), the NOAA enforcement officer and the Alaska Wildlife Troopers pilot attempted unsuccessfully to encourage the animal back in the water. NOAA helped coordinate the transport of an Alaska SeaLife Center veterinarian to the site to assess the animal's condition. A decision was made to transport the Beluga calf to Anchorage for subsequent transfer to the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward. 

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Photo Credit: Alaska SeaLife Center

The calf is currently receiving treatment in the Alaska SeaLife Center’s I.Sea.U. “The calf appeared to have been stranded for several hours and was in a weakened condition; without evidence of major physical trauma. He is able to swim on his own and is breathing regularly, which are very positive signs. However, there are tremendous hurdles ahead. Because this animal is extremely young, there is a high risk of complications,” said Dr. Carrie Goertz, DVM, ASLC Director of Animal Health. With any cetacean [Whale or Dolphin] rescue, particularly with a neonatal calf, survival is estimated at less than 10 percent.

When a stranded animal arrives at the Alaska SeaLife Center, the first goal is to rehydrate the animal. Aminoplex is a formula that helps animals when they are in a severe state of dehydration.  This is the first fluid the calf received upon arrival at the Center’s I.Sea.U. The  calf was 64 inches long and weighed 142 pounds when it arrived at the Center.

The Beluga calf has graduated from drinking Aminoplex to a milk matrix with fish and antibiotics added. The calf actively suckles his formula, but the team is still determining the best way to deliver his meals. A bottle does not allow the calf to gain proper suction. They have found that the calf is able to suckle better from the tip of a wide tube inserted just inside his mouth. (This is not traditional “tube feeding,” in which food is delivered directly to the stomach via tube and the animal receives the food passively, without suckling.)

To best care for this endangered calf, Alaska SeaLife Center pulled together a team of first responders, which included on-site Marine Mammal experts with support from five North American aquariums with professional experience caring for Beluga Whales. Together, veterinarians and Marine Mammal experts at Alaska SeaLife Center, Georgia Aquarium, Vancouver Aquarium, Shedd Aquarium, SeaWorld, and Mystic Aquarium bring decades of hands-on experience caring for, raising, studying and transferring vital knowledge about Beluga Whales, including this critically endangered population. Several of the institutions operate Marine Mammal rescue centers or animal response teams and are deployed when a cetacean requires intervention to give it the best chance at survival – considered even more important when working collaboratively to rehabilitate a member of a critically endangered population.

“As Alaska’s only Marine Mammal rescue and rehabilitation center, our team of experts are responsible for the care of a variety of critical wildlife response situations across the state. To be able to have our expert colleagues assist us with this critically endangered Beluga calf is a true testament to the Marine Mammal community’s commitment to caring for and preserving wild cetacean populations,” said Tara Riemer, President and CEO at the Alaska SeaLife Center. “To witness everyone come together for this very young calf is heartwarming as he is receiving the best 24-hour care from experts across North America.”

 


Orphan Cougar Cubs Make Their Way to Toledo Zoo

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Three adorable, orphaned female Cougar cubs now reside at the Toledo Zoo and Aquarium, in Ohio.

The cubs were all born in Washington state. The state of Washington’s Department of Fish and Wildlife reached out to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) for help in finding the Cougar cubs new homes following the loss of their mothers. There is no information to post as to how the cubs became orphans, but, according to the Toledo Zoo, their plight is the result of "human-wildlife conflict".

Toledo Zoo staff recently made the trip to Washington to bring the cubs back to their facility.

Zoo officials stated that the elder of the cubs, named Rainier, is 10-12 weeks old. She is eating solid foods, weighs about ten pounds, and is from southeast Washington. Rainier has also taken on the coloring of an adult Cougar and lost her ‘baby stripes’.

The younger cubs, named Columbia and Cascade, are approximately three weeks old. They are still being bottle-fed by staff, weigh about 3.5 pounds each, and are from northeast Washington. These younger cubs are from a litter of four. The other two cubs in that litter were sent to a New Jersey zoo.

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4_Puma_CougarCub-123Photo Credits: Corey Wyckoff / Toledo Zoo & Aquarium

Although the cubs are not yet on-exhibit, the public can view the younger cubs during veterinarian supervised bottle feedings at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. each day, near the indoor viewing of elephants in Tembo Trail.

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Rare Baby Chameleons Fit on Your Fingertip

Baby chameleons hatch in Chester Zoo first. Pictured with lead herpetology keeper Adam Bland  (6)

Three colorful Chameleons, so tiny they each fit on the end of a finger, have hatched at Chester Zoo.

This is the first time the zoo has successfully bred the species, known as Cameroon Two-horned Mountain Chameleons. The first in a clutch of three eggs, laid by a female named Ruby, hatched in late August with two more following soon after.

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Baby chameleons hatch in Chester Zoo first. Pictured with lead herpetology keeper Adam Bland  (3)Photo Credit: Chester Zoo

Lead Herpetology Keeper Adam Bland said, “These Chameleons have a really unusual appearance. They’re sometimes referred to as the Cameroon Sailfin, owing to a sail-like flap of skin running along their backs. The males of the species boast two large horns just above their upper jaw which they use for jousting with other males.”

“Even as babies they have their iconic large eyes which, at their current size, may appear a little too big for their body. However these give them 360° arc vision so they can see in two different directions at once and look out for predators,” added Bland.

As the name suggests, the Cameroon Two-horned Mountain Chameleons live at altitude in the West African nation of Cameroon. These lizards are usually green in color, but males turn blue when trying to attract a mate.

Dr Gerardo Garcia, Curator of Lower Vertebrates and Invertebrates at the zoo, added, “These Chameleons are thought to live in just 10 locations in the highlands of Cameroon as they only thrive at a very particular altitude (between 700m and 1,900m), in very specific forest habitat. As much of the highlands of Cameroon comprise of savannah and grasslands, it really restricts their range. Sadly, with that already small amount of available habitat being affected by human activity - degradation, agriculture and climate change - it’s making these Chameleons more and more vulnerable.

“Another big threat to their survival is the international pet trade. Thousands of live Chameleons have been taken from the wild and traded from Cameroon in the last dozen years,” Garcia added. The species is listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List.

See more photos of the little lizards below!

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Baby Mandrills Are Los Angeles Zoo's First in 40 Years

LA Zoo Female Mandrill Newborn Photo by Jamie Pham

The Los Angeles Zoo is thrilled to welcome two Mandrill babies to the troop.  Mandrills are the largest of all Monkey species and one of the most colorful. The female baby was born on August 3, 2017 to five-year-old mother, Juliette. The male baby was born on August 17, 2017 to four-year-old mother, Clementine.

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The first-time mothers came to the L.A. Zoo from Parc Zoologique de La Palmyre in France in April 2016 to be paired with the first-time father, six-year-old Jabari, as part of a Species Survival Program (SSP) to strengthen the gene pool of this Vulnerable species.

“This is a very new breeding group of Mandrills that has only been together for about a year, so we’re incredibly happy with how well things are going so far,” said L’Oreal Dunn, animal keeper at the Los Angeles Zoo. “This species comes from a small area in Africa that isn’t accessible to most people, so it’s very special that our guests can now observe babies here for the first time in over 40 years.”

The half-siblings can be seen clinging tightly to their mothers, playing together, and testing their boundaries. They are learning to navigate their new habitat, a rainforest-like environment that supplies the group with plenty of trees, logs, and plant life to explore during the day and aerial lofts and ledges where they sleep at night.

The babies were born without the signature red and blue stripes on their faces that people often associate with the unique looking primate. Only their father, who is the dominant male in the group, has the vibrant coloring on his elongated muzzle.  The red-and-blue-striped skin on a Mandrill’s face is a sign to females that a male is ready to mate. While female Mandrills can have colorful hues on their face as well, the markings tend to be paler in comparison.

Mandrills may look like Baboons, but DNA studies have shown that they are more closely related to Mangabeys. These Monkeys have extremely long canine teeth that can be used for self-defense, though baring them is typically a friendly gesture among Mandrills.

Wild Mandrills live in the remaining rainforests of western Africa in Cameroon, Gabon, and southwestern Congo. Populations are under threat and declining due to habitat loss and fragmentation caused by the spread of agriculture and human settlement, so the species is listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Mandrills are often hunted for food as many Africans consider them to be a delicacy.

 


Zebra Foals ‘Horsing Around’ at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

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Two endangered Grevy’s Zebra foals were born this September at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo.

Female foal, Katie, was born to first-time mum Nafisa on September 10 and seemed delighted when a playmate joined her nine days later. Male foal, Kito, was born to mum Henna on September 19, and the two youngsters began tearing around their enclosure, much to the amusement of keepers and visitors.

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4_Katie and mum Nafisa (1) cZSLPhoto Credits: ZSL (Zoological Society of London)

Team Leader, Mark Holden said, “Like all zebras, when Katie and Kito were born they just seemed to be all ears and legs. It wasn’t long before they were bounding around together, running and jumping around at a huge pace, before eventually running out of steam and returning to their respective mums.”

“It’s all typical behaviour for young zebra foals, as they learn what their legs are for, then going back to mum for comfort. Katie and Kito are settling in really well, interacting with the rest of the group of Grevy’s Zebras here at the Zoo and exploring their surroundings.”

Grevy’s Zebras are classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List, and there are thought to be only around 2,600 Grevy’s Zebras left in the wild.

Mark Holden continued, “We’re very privileged at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo to have successfully bred this beautiful but endangered species for 29 years. Kito is our 36th Grevy’s Zebra foal born here as part of the European Endangered Species Programme.”

The Grevy’s Zebra (Equus grevyi) has much narrower stripes than the other two zebras species, and it can live on grasses, which are too tough for cattle to eat or digest. Originally from Northern Kenya and Ethiopia, a whole herd can be seen at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. They are successfully bred at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo as part of the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP).

The EEP is a tool used by zoos, aquariums and wildlife parks across Europe to manage conservation breeding programmes. Each species is managed by a studbook, and the studbook holder is responsible for pairing well-matched animals and recording details such as birthplace and parentage to ensure a healthy and diverse population of animals.

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Mongoose Lemur Baby Is a First for Zoo Ostrava

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Zoo Ostrava welcomed a female Mongoose Lemur baby on April 5.

The six-month-old is not only the first of her kind born at the Zoo; she is also the first-born in any Czech or Slovakian facility. The total population of this lemur species in European zoos is less than 50 individuals, with about 30 males and 18 females. Over the last five years, only four young Mongoose Lemurs have been raised in European zoos.

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4_IMG_2645Photo Credits: Pavel Vlček

The Mongoose Lemur (Eulemur mongoz) is a small primate in the Lemuridae family and is native to Madagascar and the Comoros Islands.

These arboreal animals have pointed faces, long bushy tails, dark brown upper parts, pale bellies and a beard, which is reddish in males and white in females. They live in family groups and feed primarily on fruits, leaves, flowers and nectar.

The Mongoose Lemur has declined sharply in numbers because of habitat destruction and hunting. They are currently classified as “Critically Endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Zoo Ostrava and dozens of other European facilities are not only endeavoring to save the lemurs and other endangered animals by creating viable reserve populations in human care; they are also helping directly in Madagascar. Since 2005, Zoo Ostrava has been a member of the AEECL (The Lemur Conservation Association), a non-governmental organization that runs conservation and research activities in Madagascar and helps save endemic species of animals and plants that are not found anywhere else in the world.


Coin Sized Carrot-tail Viper Geckos Are Hatching

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Sedgwick County Zoo currently has two tiny Carrot-tail Viper Gecko hatchlings.

The Zoo reports there are several more eggs incubating, and if all goes well, they expect two geckos to hatch every couple of weeks.

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4_carrot-tail viper geckoPhoto Credits: Sedgwick County Zoo

The Carrot-tail Viper Gecko (Hemidactylus imbricatus) is native to arid rocky regions of southeastern Pakistan. They can be found under rocks during the day. Their distinctive pattern provides excellent camouflage amongst stones and pebbles.

Only about an inch in length at hatching, adults reach a total length of about three and a half inches.

To avoid the heat of the day, these tiny desert dwellers hunt for insects in the early morning and late evening. Their oddly shaped tail stores fat and water for when food is scarce.

Females lay one to two eggs per clutch, each the size of a pea, and the eggs are produced every two to three weeks for as many as twelve clutches per year. Incubation takes from 50 to 60 days, at temperatures of 81 to 86F.

The Carrot-tail Viper Gecko is currently classified as “Least Concern” According to the IUCN Red List: “Hemidactylus imbricatus has been assessed as Least Concern. Despite some habitat loss and degradation, its population is unlikely to be undergoing significant declines to qualify for listing in a threatened category. Further research is needed to identify if a significant future decline triggers a higher threat category.”

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Denver Zoo Announces Birth of Red Panda Brothers

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The Denver Zoo welcomed the birth of two, male Red Panda cubs on August 27. The brothers, who don't have names yet, have been quietly spending time behind the scenes with their mother, Faith, in a nest box.

Keepers say the cubs are doing well and growing fast; they currently each weigh just over one pound. They won't, however, be visible to the public for another few weeks, when they'll be more developed and ready to join their father, Hamlet, in the Zoo's Red Panda enclosure.

Denver Zoo animal care staff and veterinarians are keeping a close eye on the cubs, performing regular exams to check their weight, temperature and overall wellness. In their first days of life, the cubs received some supplemental feedings. However, keepers say the cubs and mother are thriving, and that the brothers are pretty feisty when they wrestle each other.

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3_6Z7A1518Photo Credits: Denver Zoo

This is both parents' second litter. Faith was born in June 2014 at Toronto Zoo; Hamlet was born in July 2013 at Lee Richardson Zoo in Kansas. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan (SSP) brought the two to Denver Zoo, Faith from Trevor Park Zoo in New York and Hamlet from Toronto Zoo, in 2015 under a breeding recommendation, which ensures healthy populations and genetic diversity among zoo animals. The couple’s first litter of cubs, Lali and Masu, was born at Denver Zoo in June 2016. By recommendation of the SSP, Lali moved to Scovill Zoo in Illinois, and Masu was moved to Norfolk Zoo in Virgina in April of this year.

Red Pandas (Ailurus fulgens) are native to Asia and are most commonly found in Nepal, India, Bhutan, Myanmar and China. As their name suggests, the animals are red and have off-white markings, large puffy tails and pointed ears. Red Pandas, like Giant Pandas, have very specialized diet requirements and eat a large amount of bamboo daily.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies Red Pandas as “Endangered”. According to the IUCN, their biggest threats come from habitat loss and fragmentation, habitat degradation and physical threats. Red Pandas are part of the Global Species Management Plan (GSMP) in zoos around the world. GSMP is allied with field conservation efforts for animals around the world.


Endangered Aye-Aye Born at Duke Lemur Center

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The Duke Lemur Center recently welcomed an endangered baby Aye-aye. The female is the first Aye-aye born at the Duke Lemur Center in six years, and she is one of only 24 of her kind in the United States.

Third-time mom, Medusa, gave birth on June 7, and the infant has been named “Agatha” after prolific mystery writer, Agatha Christie.

Mother and baby have been kept behind the scenes, giving Agatha a chance to gain strength. Born weighing a mere 74 grams, Agatha was only two thirds the typical birth weight for her species so early care was given round-the-clock.

Cathy Williams (Veterinarian at the Duke Lemur Center for 21 years) stated in a Duke Lemur Center article: “Agatha was a unique case. She required intervention by the veterinary staff to provide supplemental warmth and formula until she gained enough strength that she could return to her mom full time.”

Between feedings, veterinary staff used a “baby cam” to monitor interactions between Agatha and Medusa. The staff reports that the big-eared infant, now three months old, is thriving. According to Steve Coombs, Agatha’s primary technician, “She’s tapping branches. She sleeps with Medusa in the nest box, and the interaction I see is mostly nursing. She’s calm, and Medusa is back to her easygoing self.”

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4_DSC2756EDSHP2_Dm-7279-agatha-675x540_cPhoto Credits: Duke Lemur Center / David Haring

The Aye-aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis) is a lemur that is native to Madagascar. It combines rodent-like teeth that perpetually grow and a special thin middle finger.

It is known as the world's largest nocturnal primate, and is characterized by its unusual method of finding food. The Aye-aye taps on trees to find grubs, then gnaws holes in the wood using its forward slanting incisors to create a small hole in which it inserts its narrow middle finger to pull the grubs out. This foraging method is called “percussive foraging.” The only other animal species known to find food in this way is the Striped Possum.

The Aye-aye is currently classified as Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Logging, slash-and-burn agriculture, and hunting are suspected to have cut their numbers in half in recent decades.

Some villagers in Madagascar believe these lemurs are evil omens and can curse a person by pointing their middle fingers at them; hence many Aye-ayes in their native territory are killed on sight. According to Cathy Williams from Duke Lemur Center, “They’re not at all aggressive, they’re extremely curious and energetic and they’re very intelligent. They learn very quickly.”

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Snow Leopard Cub Takes It Outside

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When Woodland Park Zoo keepers opened the door allowing Aibek, a 2-month-old Snow Leopard, to leave the maternity den for the first time, the cub zipped outside so fast that he beat his mom into the outdoor habitat.

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2017_09_19 Aibek snow leopard 900-1wmPhoto Credit: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo

Aibek immediately began pouncing, climbing, and stealthily sneaking around the enclosure amid a light drizzling rain. He climbed to the top of the habitat’s rocky hill and promptly found a spot that was nearly out of sight to the crowd that had gathered to greet him – typical of Snow Leopards, which are elusive in the wild, too.

You first met Aibek, who was born July 6, on ZooBorns when he was just a few weeks old. Like all wild Snow Leopards, he spent the first two months of his life snuggled in a cozy den with his mother, feeding exclusively on her milk. While mom Helen and her cub were bonding in the den, keepers were able to conduct occasional wellness checks and observed that Helen was providing excellent care for her cub. Now a healthy 10 pounds, Aibek has started eating meat but still nurses from his mom.

Aibek is the first single cub to be born at the zoo. Snow Leopards typically have litters of two or three cubs, so keepers expected Aibek to be rather timid since he had no siblings to wrestle and play with. But so far, Aibek has demonstrated confidence as he explores the outdoors, and Helen is an experienced mother who knows how to keep her cub safe.

Snow Leopards are listed as a Vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. These cats live in the high mountain ranges of Russia and several Central Asian nations, including in Afghanistan, China, India, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal and Pakistan. According to the Snow Leopard Trust, the wild population of Snow Leopards is estimated to be between 3,920 and 6,390 individuals.

More photos and info below!

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