Bison Calves Are ‘Home on the Range’ at Bronx Zoo

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Six American Bison calves have been born at WCS’s (Wildlife Conservation Society) Bronx Zoo, and four of them are now on exhibit on the Zoo’s ‘Bison Range’.

The calves were born to a herd of seven females and one male that arrived at the Bronx Zoo from Ft. Peck, Montana in November 2016.

The herd was a historic gift from the Assiniboine and Sioux tribes. The Fort Peck Bison are from the Yellowstone National Park bloodline and are among the few pure Bison remaining. The vast majority of present-day Bison, or Buffalo, have trace amounts of domestic cattle genes, a reflection of past interbreeding efforts when western ranchers tried to create a hardier breed of cattle. (More information about the historic gift and transfer can be found at the WCS Newsroom: http://bit.ly/2qTVHvF ).

The female Bison were pregnant when they arrived at the Zoo, and the calves were born in late April. “These calves will bolster our efforts to expand our breeding program of pure Bison,” said Dr. Pat Thomas, WCS Vice President/General Curator and Associate Director of the Bronx Zoo. “They will eventually be bred with other pure Bison to create new breeding herds in other AZA-accredited zoos, and to provide animals for restoration programs in the American West.”

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4_Julie Larsen Maher_1918_American Bison and Calves_BZ_05 01 17Photo Credits: WCS/ Julie Larsen Maher

The Bronx Zoo has a long history of facilitating Bison conservation projects in the western U.S., and the birth of these calves provides a welcome boost to the Zoo’s ongoing efforts to establish a herd of pure Bison.

For more than five years, the Bronx Zoo has worked on developing a herd of pure bloodline through embryo transfer. The Bison from Ft. Peck will supplement those efforts. The bull, currently on exhibit with the females and calves, was the first American Bison born as a result of embryo transfer in 2012. (More information about the Bronx Zoo’s efforts to breed bison through embryo transfer can be found on the WCS Newsroom: http://bit.ly/2q6kji7 ).

The American Bison (Bison bison), also commonly known as the “American Buffalo” or simply “Buffalo”, is a species that once roamed the grasslands of North America in massive herds. They became nearly extinct by a combination of commercial hunting and slaughter in the 19th century and introduction of bovine diseases from domestic cattle.

However, the Bison is now an American conservation success story. In the early 1900’s, the species was on the verge of extinction: numbering fewer than 1,100 individuals, after roaming North America in the tens of millions only a century earlier. In 1907 and 1913, the Bronx Zoo sent herds of Bronx-bred Bison out west to re-establish the species in its native habitat.

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Otter Trio Debuts in Time for Mother’s Day

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A lively trio of North American River Otter pups recently made their debut at Oakland Zoo. A male and two females were born February 9, and they were introduced to the public prior to Mother’s Day weekend. According to keepers, their mom, Rose, has been doing a great job taking care of her new litter.

Zookeepers have also given names to the active pups. The boy has been named Si’ahl (“see-all”), and his sisters have been named Imnaha (“em-na-ha”) and Talulah (“ta-lou-la”).

The arrival of the pups brings the total number of North American River Otters, at Oakland Zoo, to six: their mom, dad Wyatt, and grandma, Ginger (Ginger is mother to Rose).

The pups are still nursing, but have begun eating solid foods consisting of fish and some meat.

Dad, Wyatt, is Oakland Zoo’s only adult male and was relocated to Oakland three years ago from the Abilene Zoo, in Texas, where the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) gave him a breeding recommendation.

“We are pleased to have our sixth healthy litter of Otter pups since 2011. This is Rose’s second litter, and we are happy that she is once again being a great mother to her pups. You can see Rose and her three pups daily at the Oakland Zoo, in the Children’s Zoo,” said Adam Fink, Zoological Manager, Oakland Zoo.

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4_Two and a half months old_3Photo Credits: Oakland Zoo

Zookeepers have been tracking the baby Otters’ growth and health with bi-weekly checkups, referred to as "pupdates" to Zoo staff. Rose has only very recently been venturing into the exhibit with her pups. Swimming is not instinctual; therefore, pups do not go on exhibit until they are strong enough swimmers and a certain size.

Zoo guests are now able to watch the new pups in their exhibit daily. The River Otter exhibit is located in the Wayne and Gladys Valley Children's Zoo.

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Tiny Chicken Turtles Hatch at Tennessee Aquarium

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Three Chicken Turtles hatched in mid-April at the Tennessee Aquarium. The tiny trio hatched from eggs that were laid in January by adults in the Aquarium’s ‘Delta Swamp’ exhibit.

At their initial exam, each of these hatchlings measured less than two inches long. As adults, they will grow to about 10 inches in length.

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3_baby chicken turtle with rulerPhoto Credits: Tennessee Aquarium

The Chicken Turtle (Deirochelys reticularia) is an uncommon freshwater turtle native to the southeastern United States.

The name "chicken" commonly refers to the taste of their meat, which, at one time, was popular in southern U.S. markets. The species is characterized by a long neck and unique coloring, which could also contribute to the reason for their name.

The Tennessee Aquarium’s herpetologists often point out that Chicken Turtles look as if they are wearing striped pants when viewed from behind.

Chicken Turtles are semiaquatic turtles, found both in water and on land. They prefer quiet, still bodies of water such as shallow ponds and lakes, ditches, marshes, cypress swamps, and bays. They prefer water with dense vegetation and soft substrate.

The turtles are omnivorous, eating crayfish, fish, fruits, insects, invertebrates, frogs, tadpoles, and plants. During the first year of their lives, they are almost completely carnivorous.

Eggs hatch in about 152 days. The turtles lay eggs during the winter months, with the eggs hatching in the spring. The eggs undergo diapauses: meaning, the eggs don’t develop immediately after laying as with other species of turtles.

The Chicken Turtle is currently classified as “Least Concern” by the IUCN. Populations are currently considered stable throughout their range, although they do face potential threats.

Habitat destruction reduces suitable habitat for foraging, migration, and hibernation. Chicken Turtles are sometimes killed while crossing roadways, as they migrate between habitats.


Umi the Newborn Tapir Gets Her First Exam

Baby_tapir-Umi_01Denver Zoo is happy to announce the birth of Umi, an endangered Malayan Tapir. The female calf, whose name means “life” in Malayan, was born to mother Rinny and father Benny early in the morning on May 6. She is only the third Malayan Tapir ever  born at the Denver Zoo. 

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Baby_tapir-Umi_03Photo Credit: Denver Zoo



Rinny has already proven to be a very patient mother, calmly making sure Umi is nursing successfully. Rinny was born at Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo and Benny, who was born at the City of Belfast Zoo in Ireland were paired under recommendation of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) which ensures healthy populations and genetic diversity among zoo animals.

Though they are most closely related to Horses and Rhinos, Tapirs are similar in build to Pigs, but significantly larger. Malayan Tapirs have a large, barrel shaped body ideal for crashing through dense forest vegetation. Their noses and upper lips are extended to form a long, prehensile snout, similar to a stubby version of an Elephant’s trunk. Malayan Tapirs are the largest of the four Tapir species. As adults, they can stand more than three feet tall and are six to eight feet long. Adult Tapirs weigh between 700 and 900 pounds. They are excellent swimmers and spend much of their time in water. They can even use their flexible noses as snorkels!

As adults, Malayan Tapirs have a distinctive color pattern that some people say resembles an Oreo cookie, black in the front and back, separated by a white or gray midsection. This provides excellent camouflage that breaks up the Tapir’s outline in the shadows of the forest. By contrast, young Tapirs have color patterns that more resemble brown watermelons, with spots and stripes, which help them blend into the dappled sunlight and leaf shadows of the forest to protect them from predators.

Malayan Tapirs are the only Tapir native to Asia. Once found throughout Southeast Asia, they now inhabit only the rain forests of the Indochinese peninsula and Sumatra. With a wild population of less than 2,000 individuals, they are classified as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), due to habitat loss and hunting. 


Meet Pedro & Perdy the Penguins

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Two rare Humboldt Penguin chicks named Pedro and Perdy are being reared by keepers at Paradise Park Wildlife Sanctuary.

Penguins typically lay two eggs a few days apart. When the first chick hatches, it receives all of mom and dad’s attention. Penguin chicks are very demanding and squeal loudly as they appeal for food, which is regurgitated by the parents.  By the time the second chick hatches a few days after its sibling, the older chick, which may have nearly doubled in size by now, continues to get all the attention and parents may ignore the younger chick. The younger chicks in penguin nests often do not survive in nature.

Because Humboldt Penguins are rare, keepers took the Pedro and Perdy, who were both second chicks, into their care to ensure the birds’ survival.

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Two penguin Chicks 4 - Paradise ParkPhoto Credit: Paradise Park
Keeper Bev Tanner explains, “Pedro and Perdy are being hand-reared as often in a nest with two chicks only one is successfully raised by the parents. As this is an endangered species it is very worthwhile for us to take the second chick and rear it to increase our flock.”   

When chicks are in the nest, they have fluffy grey down feathers. They remain in the nest for about three months, at which time they have developed the waterproof plumage needed for swimming. Juveniles are grey and white, developing the distinctive black-and-white adult plumage at one year old. The pattern of dark speckles on the adult’s lower chest is unique to each Penguin and helps to identify each individual.

Humboldt Penguins are native to the western coast of South America, where they fish in the cold Humboldt current for which they are named.  They are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  Historically, Humboldt Penguins were threatened by extensive mining for their guano (accumulated droppings), which was used for fertilizer. Today, the main threats are habitat loss and competition with invasive species.

See more photos of Pedro and Perdy below.

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‘Mother’s Day’ for Critically Endangered Bongo

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On April 27, Annakiya, an Eastern Bongo, gave birth to a female calf at Franklin Park Zoo.

The morning after her birth, the 42-pound-calf had her well-baby examination, which included a general physical examination and blood work.

Dr. Alex Becket, Zoo New England Associate Veterinarian in the department of Animal Health and Conservation Medicine, remarked after the exam, “The calf appears healthy. She is bright, alert and responsive, and is also very strong and active. As with any new birth, we are monitoring the mother and baby closely. Annakiya is an experienced mother and is doing everything a mother bongo should.”

The calf is expected to be on exhibit for short periods of time for Mother’s Day weekend, weather permitting.

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4_bongo baby April 2017 - Credit Zoo New EnglandPhoto Credits: Kayla St. George (Images 1-3) / Zoo New England (Images 4, 5)

The Bongo (Tragelaphus eurycerus) is herbivorous and mostly nocturnal. It is among the largest of the African forest antelope species.

Bongos are characterized by a striking reddish-brown coat, black and white markings, white-yellow stripes and long slightly spiraled horns (both sexes have horns).

Bongos are classified into two subspecies. The Western or Lowland Bongo (T. e. eurycerus) faces an ongoing population decline, and the IUCN classified it as “Near Threatened” on the conservation status scale.

The Eastern or Mountain Bongo (T. e. isaaci) is found in Kenya. It has a more vibrant coat than the Western Bongo.

The IUCN Antelope Specialist Group has classified the Eastern Bongo as “Critically Endangered”. There are currently more specimens in captivity than in the wild.

Franklin Park Zoo has played a key role in growing the North American captive population through successful breeding. Since 1984, 17 Bongo calves have been born at Franklin Park Zoo.

Zoo New England participates in the Bongo Species Survival Plan (SSP), which is a cooperative, inter-zoo program coordinated nationally through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. SSPs are designed to maintain genetically diverse and demographically stable captive populations of species. This latest birth is the result of a recommended breeding between Patrick (age 6) and Annakiya (age 14). This is Annakiya’s third calf, but it is her first with Patrick.

Bongos are the largest, and often considered the most beautiful, forest-dwelling antelope found in the rainforests of equatorial Africa. Shy and elusive, Bongos are known for being almost silent as they move through dense forests.

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Zoo Provides Special Care for Special Little Lemur

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On April 9, a rare Blue-eyed Black Lemur at La Palmyre Zoo gave birth to a tiny female. Due to a low birth weight, the newborn was transferred to the zoo’s nursery.

According to the zoo, there are only about thirty individuals in the Blue-eyed Black Lemur European Endangered Species Programme (EEP); therefore, each birth is of crucial importance.

For the past month, the nursery team at La Palmyre Zoo has been taking care of the small, fragile female, who has been named Ikopa. Keepers feed her milk every two hours, from 8am to 9pm. Since two weeks of age, she has also been given fruits (apple, pear, kiwi) and vegetables (salad, cucumber).

Ikopa’s parents and older brother (born in 2015) have been transferred to an adjacent cage so the family can maintain visual and sound contact between all the individuals. When weaning is completed, Ikopa will be reintroduced to her parents and sibling.

As for the keepers, they are in contact with the baby only for feeding her or when the incubator is to be cleaned (imprinting being the worst enemy of the animals raised at the nursery).

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4_MG_2419Photo Credits: F. Perroux/Zoo de La Palmyre

The Blue-eyed Black Lemur (Eulemur flavifrons), also known as the “Sclater's Lemur”, is a species of true lemur. It inhabits primary and secondary sub-tropical moist and dry forests in the northwestern tip of Madagascar.

The species can attain a body length of 39–45 cm, a tail length of 51–65 cm- a total length of 90–100 cm, and a weight of 1.8-1.9 kg. A primate, this lemur has strong hands with palms like a human, which have a rubbery texture to give it a firm grip on branches. Its tail is longer than its body and non-prehensile.

Active during day and night, the Blue-eyed Black Lemur lives in multi-male/multi-female groups of up to a dozen individuals. It feeds mainly on fruits and leaves. Like many other lemur species, females are dominant over males.

In the wild, females give birth to one or two offspring in June or July, after a gestation of 120 to 129 days. The young are weaned after about 5–6 months, and reach maturity at about 2 years of age. They may live between 15–30 years in captivity.

A victim of habitat fragmentation (slash and burn destruction) and poaching, it is currently classified as “Critically Endangered” on the IUCN Red List. It is believed that only about 1,000 individuals remain in the wild.

The Association Européenne pour l’Etude et la Conservation des Lémuriens (AEECL), supported by La Palmyre Zoo since 2002, has been developing a conservation program in the home range of the species in Sahamalaza (northwestern Madagascar), where eco-guards protect the forest from fires and illegal incursions, the area being recognized as a national park since 2007. The AEECL also supports the education of children and the sustainable development of communities.

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Cotswold Wildlife Park First in UK to Breed Rare Lizard

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Cotswold Wildlife Park has become the first zoological collection in the UK to breed the rare Chinese Crocodile Lizard.

The sex of the newborn is currently unknown, and the baby Lizard is currently off-show in the specialist Reptile rearing room. However, visitors to Cotswold can see the adults in their enclosure in the Reptile House. In the future, the newest Lizard will go on to be part of a breeding programme for this rare species.

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4_Chinese Crocodile Lizard baby 1 (photo Debbie Ryan)Photo Credits: Cotswold Wildlife Park (Images: 1,2,5,6) / Debbie Ryan (3,4,8) / Callum O'Flaherty (7) 

The Chinese Crocodile Lizard (Shinisaurus crocodilurus) is semiaquatic and found only in the cool forests of the Hunan, Guangxi and Guizhou Provinces of southern China, and the Quảng Ninh Province in northern Vietnam. Very little is known about this rare species. It was first collected in 1928, and it remains the most recently named Lizard genus.

The species is viviparous, meaning it gives birth to live young. It has a gestation period of approximately nine months and litters consist of between 1-12 young.

In the wild, it frequently spends hours, motionless, perched on rocks or branches above slow-moving streams and ponds.

Due to habit destruction, illegal poaching, capture for the pet trade, and local consumption, population numbers of this Lizard are under serious threat. Unfortunately, this species is still widely used in traditional Chinese medicine. The Lizard’s ability to remain immobile for hours, occasionally days, led to the belief that it could cure insomnia. In China they are also known as “the sleeping serpent”.

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Meet the First Andean Bear Cub Born in NYC

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An Andean Bear cub, born over the winter at Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) Queens Zoo, recently made his public debut. This is the first Andean Bear born in New York City!

The male cub was born over the winter to mother, Nicole, and father, Bouba. Now weighing 25lbs, the yet-to-be-named cub is ready to venture into the zoo’s bear habitat with mom to start exploring.

Exhibit times will vary until the cub becomes fully acclimated to its outdoor exhibit.

Andean Bears are the only bear species native to South America. They are also known as “Spectacled Bears” due to the markings on their faces that sometimes resemble glasses. They have characteristically short faces and are relatively small in comparison to some other bear species. As adults, males weigh between 250-350 pounds, while adult females rarely exceed 200 pounds.

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4_Julie Larsen Maher_1638_Andean Bear and Cub_QZ_05 01 17Photo Credits: WCS / Megan Maher (Images 1,5) / Julie Larsen Maher (Images 2-4, 6-8)

The Queens Zoo is breeding Andean Bears as part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP), a cooperative breeding program designed to enhance the genetic viability and demographic stability of animal populations in zoos and aquariums accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

The cub’s sire, Bouba (age six), moved to Queens from a zoo in France to breed with Nicole (age four), who born at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, DC and arrived at the Queens Zoo in 2015. This is the first cub born to this pair. There are currently only 42 bears in AZA accredited zoos and only six potentially viable breeding pairs in the SSP population.

Queens Zoo Director and Animal Curator, Scott Silver, leads the national breeding program as the SSP coordinator. Silver said, “This is a significant birth for the Queens Zoo and the Andean Bear SSP breeding program. This little guy may be adorable, but more importantly he reminds us of what we stand to lose when a species is in danger of extinction. We are excited to introduce the cub to New York and to share the work WCS and our partners are doing to save Andean Bears and many other species in the wild.”

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Endangered Penguins Hatch at Zoo Vienna

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Since mid-April, Zoo Vienna Tiergarten Schönbrunn has welcomed eleven Northern Rockhopper Penguin chicks!

After about 33 days of incubation, the hatchlings were greeted by caring penguin parents that have since been providing all the food and warmth they need.

The species is currently classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Therefore, conservation efforts in zoos around the world are important for their survival.

"The Northern Rockhopper Penguin breeds on the island group around Tristan da Cunha, in the southern Atlantic, and is strongly endangered. The main causes of its threat are the overfishing and pollution of the seas, as well as climate change," explains Animal Garden Director, Dagmar Schratter.

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3_PA_Felsenpinguin3Photo Credits: Daniel Zupanc

Currently, only 96 Northern Rockhopper Penguins live in European zoos. The largest colony, with 45 adults, can be found in Schönbrunn. The Tiergarten also runs the European Conservation Program (EEP) for this endangered and distinctive penguin. Since 2004, the Tiergarten has delivered 41 Rockhopper Penguins to other zoos.

Schratter continued, "Through our many years of experience in breeding, we would like to help build up colonies in other zoos..."

The Northern Rockhopper Penguin (Eudyptes moseleyi) is also known as “Moseley's Rockhopper Penguin”, or “Moseley's Penguin”.

More than 99% of them breed on Tristan da Cunha and Gough Island in the South Atlantic Ocean. Rockhopper Penguins have been considered to consist of two species: Northern and Southern Rockhopper (research published in 2006 demonstrated morphological, vocal, and genetic differences between the two populations).

In the wild, the Northern Rockhopper Penguin feeds on krill and other sea life such as crustaceans, squid, octopus and fish.

The species prefers to breed in colonies in a range of locations from sea level or on cliff sides, to sometimes inland. An interesting difference between the two subspecies is their mating ritual. They both use different songs and head ornaments in their mating signals. The reproductive isolation has led to not only physical difference but also behavioral. Adults feed their chicks lower trophic level prey than they themselves consume.

A study published in 2009 showed that the world population of the Northern Rockhopper had declined by 90% since the 1950s, possibly because of climate change, changes in marine ecosystems and overfishing for squid and octopus by humans. Other possible factors in the decline include: disturbance and pollution from ecotourism and fishing, egg harvesting, and predation and competition from sub Antarctic fur seals. Surveys show that the birds are also at risk of infection by goose barnacles. House mice (Mus musculus) have also been introduced into their environment by human sea expeditions, and the mice have proven to be invasive, consuming Northern Rockhopper eggs, as well as hunting their young.