Koala Joeys Emerge for Spring at Taronga Zoo

1_Baxter_Photo by Paul Fahy (4)

Spring, in Australia, has heralded the arrival of more tiny paws at Taronga Zoo, with two new Koala joeys emerging from the pouch to the delight of keepers and visitors.

2_TJ_Photo by Laura Jones (3)

3_TJ_Photo by Laura Jones (1)

4_TJ_Photo by Laura Jones (2)Photo Credits: Paul Fahy/Taronga Zoo (Koala Joey 'TJ': images 2,3,4,5,7,12 / Koala 'Baxter': images 1,6,8,9,10,11)

A male joey has appeared just in time to catch the warmer weather. The seven-month-old, who keepers have named TJ, is the first joey for mother Sydney.

“We’ve been seeing arms and legs and even a little pair of eyes peeking out from Sydney’s pouch in recent weeks, but he wasn’t ready to venture outside until this week,” said Koala Keeper, Laura Jones.

Sydney isn’t the only first-time mother at Taronga’s Koala Encounter, with neighbor Mallee also welcoming her first joey.

The male joey has been named Baxter, after a stringybark species called Eucalyptus Baxteri, and he’s already developing a taste for leaves.

“Baxter is chomping on leaves like a champion. He’s obviously still suckling from mum, but he’ll become more and more independent over the coming months,” said Laura.

“He loves climbing up near Mallee’s head to look around and I saw him step off on his own for the first time this week. He only lasted a few seconds before returning to mum, but he looked quite pleased with himself.”

Taronga’s Koala breeding program has now produced three joeys this season, with experienced mother, Wanda, welcoming a female joey in June.

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Threatened Ornate Box Turtles Hatch in Chicago

1_Ornate Box Turtle-6 (©Chicago Zoological Society)

The last of 26 Ornate Box Turtles hatched at Lincoln Park Zoo and Brookfield Zoo, in Chicago, this past week, as part of an effort to restore native populations in Western Illinois. The hatchlings come from nine different clutches provided by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS).

“Each year we learn more about Ornate Box Turtles and their preferred temperature for incubation and what conditions best enable them to grow before returning to their native habitat,” said Diane Mulkerin, curator for Lincoln Park Zoo. “The collaboration among conservation organizations enables us to take the head-start program one step further by increasing the number of turtles we re-introduce each year.”

2_Ornate Box Turtle-7 (©Chicago Zoological Society)

3_Ornate Box Turtle-1 (©Chicago Zoological Society)

4_Ornate Box Turtle-4 (©Chicago Zoological Society)Photo Credits: CZS/Brookfield/Chicago Zoological Society (Images: 1 - 6);Lincoln Park Zoo/Christopher Bijalba (Images: 7 - 12)The turtles will remain at their respective zoos for the next several months where they can thrive without the threat of predation or disease. Once the animals grow both in size and strength, they will be re-introduced into sand prairies protected by the Upper Mississippi National Wildlife and Fish Refuge in Savannah, Illinois.

“We’re thrilled to be working with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and Lincoln Park Zoo on this hatch and head-start program for the Illinois state-listed threatened Ornate Box Turtle,” said Andy Snider, curator of herps and aquatics for the Chicago Zoological Society, which operates Brookfield Zoo. “Assisting in cooperative conservation projects for local species, such as this, is one of many ways zoos can contribute to the overall health and welfare of wild populations.”

The Ornate Box Turtle (Terrapene ornata ornata) is one of only two terrestrial species of turtles native to the Great Plains of the United States. It is one of the two different subspecies of Terrapene ornata, and it is the state reptile of Kansas.

The Ornate Box Turtle is listed as “Threatened” in the state of Illinois, and it is a protected species in six Midwestern states: Colorado, Iowa, Indiana, Nebraska, Kansas, and Wisconsin. The IUCN Red List classifies the species as “Near Threatened”.

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Meet the 50th Gorilla Born at Cincinnati Zoo

A female Gorilla born at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden on August 25 is extra special – she is the 50th Gorilla to be born at the zoo, and her name reflects her unique status.  

Photo Credit:  Jeff McCurry
The baby will be called Elle after zoo keepers submitted two names for an online vote.   The name Elle grabbed two-thirds of the 2,500 votes.

“It is a very rare thing for any zoo to have 50 babies born and we wanted that to be recognized in the baby’s name,” said Ron Evans, Curator of Primates at the Cincinnati Zoo.  

The letter L is the Roman numeral for 50. Elle, which is how the name will be spelled, means girl.  The keepers thought that the name was fitting, and voters agreed.  Goldie, suggested because gold is representative of 50, was the other choice.

There are about 765 Gorillas in zoos worldwide including approximately 360 in the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Program (SSP) for this species. Western Lowland Gorillas are critically endangered in the wild, with less than 175,000 individuals remaining. Due primarily to habitat destruction caused by logging, mineral mining and agricultural expansion, wild Gorilla numbers continue to shrink.  The bushmeat trade – the killing of wild animals to be used as human food – is also a major threat to the western lowland Gorilla population throughout the Central African rainforests.  Over 1,000 Gorillas are illegally poached for the bushmeat trade each year. 

See more photos of Elle below.

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UPDATE: Jaguar Cub Gets His "Swagger"


A Jaguar cub born August 20 is thriving under the care of zoo keepers at Texas’s Ellen Trout Zoo.  The male cub, named Balam (the Mayan word for Jaguar), was removed from his mother’s care shortly after his birth because his mother was not nursing him.



11064722_967876099946391_1943007038755722702_nPhoto Credit:  Ellen Trout Zoo

You first read about Balam on ZooBorns here.  Now three weeks old, Balam is gaining weight – he currently weighs nearly four pounds – and is developing normally.  Balam’s keeper’s say he is becoming more coordinated, more active, and is increasingly aware of his surroundings, and although he still trips over his feet, Balam is developing his own Jaguar "swagger."

Jaguars are native to Central and South America, where they inhabit rain forests and wetlands, often living near rivers.  As the top predators in their ecosystem, Jaguars are dependent on sufficient prey levels to sustain themselves.  Jaguars populations are shrinking rapidly as forests are destroyed and converted to agricultural use.  These magnificent cats once ranged into the southwestern United States as recently as the early 20th century, but hunting and isolation from Central American populations put an end to a viable Jaguar population in the US.

See more photos of Balam below.

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Terrapin Hatchlings Get Ready for School


Recently, the National Aquarium’s Conservation team welcomed 51 hatchling Diamondback Terrapins from the aquarium’s site at Poplar Island. After passing their Animal Health exams, these tiny turtles have remained under watchful eyes for a few weeks, making sure they are gaining strength and a healthy appetite. 



4_20150824_BabyTerrapins_241Photo Credits: National Aquarium

Diamondback Terrapins (Malaclemys terrapin) are native to brackish coastal swamps of the eastern and southern United States. Their range stretches from Cape Cod to as far as the Florida Keys.

In a few weeks, the terrapin hatchlings will be distributed to schools throughout Maryland as part of the National Aquarium’s “Terrapins in the Classroom” program! Through this program, students and teachers are charged with caring for a little turtle all school year. They collect growth data, observe behaviors, learn animal care skills and research the natural history of the species. In late spring, the students release the terrapins back onto Poplar Island. The hatchlings are quarter-sized right now, but throughout the year they grow steadily in a warm, clean classroom tank with all the UVB and basking heat they could want…and without fear of predators! 

Scientists are studying the impact of this ‘head start’ on adult terrapin populations around Poplar Island. Last year, a female head start terrapin was found nesting on the island for the first time, which is great news! 

“Terrapins in the Classroom” is one of many National Aquarium programs that provide a unique, hands-on opportunity for students to form a meaningful connection to the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem. Terrapins are a protected species in Maryland, as well as the state reptile, and their population numbers have stabilized only recently due to the diligence of local experts and supporters. 

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Three Cuban Hutias Born at NaturZoo Rheine


Cuban Hutias are not commonly seen in zoos, but NaturZoo Rheine has been home to some of these fascinating rodents since the late 1980s. Their current colony, originating from the Munich Zoo, recently increased its size. On September 1, two hutia mothers delivered their young; one birthed twins and the other a single birth.



4_IMG_2360Photo Credits: NaturZoo Rheine

Also known as Desmarest’s Hutia, the Cuban Hutia (Capromys pilorides) is a species of rodent endemic to Cuba. Weighing up to 19 lbs. (8.5 kg), it is the largest of the extant species of hutia.

They are found in a wide range of habitats throughout Cuba. In northern Cuba, they tend to be centered on areas where mangroves are abundant, and southern populations tend to favor terrestrial habitat.

Cuban Hutias normally live in pairs, but can be found alone or in small groups. They are diurnal and do not burrow. During the night, they rest in hollows of rocks or trees. They are omnivorous, eating mostly bark, leaves and fruit, but they will occasionally take in small vertebrates, such as lizards.

They breed throughout the year with a gestation period of between 110 to 140 days, although peak season is in June or July. They typically produce one to three young. The offspring are precocial, with fur, fully opened eyes and the ability to walk. In captivity, they are known to share nursing and rearing duties of all young within the colony. They are weaned at around five months and reach sexual maturity at about ten months.

Hutias were traditionally hunted for food in Cuba, as their quality of flesh and size provides a substantial meal. At one time, they were also raised as a minor stock animal. In 1968, it was made illegal to hunt or kill hutias without a permit from Cuba’s Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. Cuban Hutias are currently classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. However, all other species of hutia are considered threatened (excluding the Prehensile-tailed Hutia, which is classified as “Near Threatened”). At least one third of the identified species of hutia are now extinct.

More great pics, below the fold!

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First Moose Born in Fifteen Years at Northwest Trek

1_image001She is tough and resilient and as beautiful as an integral piece of the Northwest landscape. So it’s not surprising that members of the public picked "Willow" as the name for Northwest Trek Wildlife Park’s 7-week-old moose calf.



4_11928739_10153245902819862_5537067840285774548_oPhoto Credits: Oona Copperhill/Northwest Trek Wildlife Park

Willow is the first moose born at the 725-acre wildlife park near Eatonville, Washington, in 15 years, and she arrived as a very special delivery on July 17 – Northwest Trek’s 40th birthday.

Staff members nominated three Northwest-themed names for the calf: Willow, Lily and Aspen. The public chose Willow through voting in an online survey over the last month.

Willow’s mother, Connie, was named in honor of Northwest Trek co-founder Connie Hellyer. Her father, Ellis, was named in memory of Dave Ellis, a longtime deputy director of the wildlife park.

One other adult moose, Nancy, also wanders the 435-acre Free-Roaming Area at Northwest Trek. The moose are often visible to members of the public as visitors ride trams for a narrated tour of the forests and meadows.

Anyone visiting Northwest Trek is up for a possible peek at the moose family, as well as up-close views of other animals in the Free-Roaming Area, which is home to American bison, Roosevelt elk, deer, and bighorn sheep. And, of course, there also are black and grizzly bears, gray wolves, foxes, Canada lynx, bobcats, coyotes, a cougar, beavers, a river otter, fishers, badgers, skunks, raccoons, owls and other animals in natural exhibits along paved pathways in the main area of the wildlife park.

In the Free-Roaming Area, Willow continues to thrive, Northwest Trek Deputy Director Alan Varsik said, “She is still nursing and also sampling browse, such as willow and maple cuttings, and she’s starting to show a little more independence,” he said. “Connie is taking the occasional time out, where she leaves Willow for a brief period of time. Under the watchful eye of Connie, Willow has also had positive encounters with our other moose.”

The moose (alces alces) is the largest extant species in the deer family. Moose are distinguished by the palmate antlers of the males. They typically inhabit boreal and mixed deciduous forests of the Northern Hemisphere in temperate to subarctic climates. Unlike most other deer species, moose prefer to be solitary and do not form herds.

Although generally slow-moving and sedentary, moose can become aggressive and move surprisingly quickly if angered or startled. Their mating season in the autumn can lead to spectacular fights between rivaling males.

The moose is a herbivore and is capable of consuming many types of plant or fruit. Much of a moose’s energy is derived from terrestrial vegetation, mainly consisting of forbs and other non-grasses, and fresh shoots from trees such as willow and birch.

Moose lack upper front teeth, but they have eight sharp incisors on the lower jaw. They also have a tough tongue, lips and gums, which aid in the eating of woody vegetation. A moose’s upper lip is also very sensitive, to help distinguish between fresh shoots and harder twigs. Their lip is also prehensile, for grasping their food.

Moose are excellent swimmers and are known to wade in search of aquatic plants. Moose are known to dive underwater, as well, to reach plants on lake bottoms. Their complex snout allows such a feat; it is equipped with fatty pads and muscles that close the nostrils when exposed to water pressure.

Although moose rarely gather in groups, there may be several in close proximity during the mating season (September and October). Females have an eight-month gestation period, usually bearing one calf. Newborn moose have fur with a reddish hue, which is a contrast to the brown appearance of an adult. The young will stay with the mother until just before the next young are born. The life span of an average moose is about 15-25 years.

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Gentoo Penguin Chicks Hatch at Tennessee Aquarium

1_Baby Penguins at the TN Aquarium 2015

Three baby Gentoo Penguins are warming the hearts of Tennessee Aquarium guests this summer. Like the Macaroni Penguin, which was the first to hatch at the Aquarium in 2015, this trio has made remarkable progress since they first arrived at the end of June.

Two of the chicks are actually siblings, but are being raised by different penguin mothers. “When Bug and Big T’s first egg hatched, they were having a tough time keeping both the second egg and the chick underneath them,” said senior aviculturist Loribeth Lee. “Biscuit and Blue did not have a viable egg this year, so we were able to move the second egg into their nest. It hatched a couple of days later and they have done a beautiful job caring for their adopted chick.”

2_Baby Gentoo Penguins at the TN Aquarium 2015


4_IMG_5700Photo Credits: Tennessee Aquarium

This is the first time a baby penguin has been raised at the Aquarium by surrogate parents. In the past, aviculturists have supplemented feedings for any chicks that were not receiving enough nourishment from their parents. “We always prefer to let the parents raise their chicks, but we’ll intervene whenever necessary,” said Lee. “Since Biscuit and Blue have been diligent parents in the past, we believed they would do a great job caring for Bug and Big T’s chick and they have.”

In addition to their rapid growth, the three newest Gentoos are now showing their individuality. The experts caring for them say these penguins have personalities that range from passive to positively pecky. “The chick in Biscuit and Blue’s nest acts pretty mellow, preferring to hide its head under mom or dad,” said Lee. “Bug and Big T’s other chick is pretty perky and active, but nothing like Nipper’s chick. He acts feisty just like his father and loves to bite and squawk a lot.”

These traits will be interesting for Aquarium guests to watch over time. Lee and the other experts spend quite a bit of time pointing out the chicks and talking about their lives during penguin programs, which take place at 10:30am and 1:30pm each day.

The gender of the penguin chicks will be determined later this fall when every bird in the colony undergoes a thorough physical examination. A blood sample will be collected from the juvenile birds that will be sent to a lab for DNA testing to determine whether the new additions are male or female. A naming contest on the Aquarium’s Facebook page will begin after the genders are announced.

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New Giraffe Debuts at Como Zoo

1_11900058_10155989449560068_7294586433678829458_nComo Park Zoo & Conservatory, in Saint Paul, Minnesota, is excited to welcome a new Reticulated Giraffe to its herd. Coming into the world at just under six feet, the baby stands tall with mother, Clover, shadowing over her.

2_giraff calf 3


4_11947787_10156011069485068_5121173980227368983_oPhoto Credits: Como Zoo / Outdoor pics courtesy "Zookeeper Allison"

The female giraffe, born August 24th, is the 6th calf born to Clover and the 19th giraffe birth at Como Zoo in the last 22 years. The yet-to-be named calf weighed 135 pounds and measured 5’ 8” tall, at birth. Como Zoo’s current herd consists of Clover, Daisy, Skeeter (the new calf’s father), Skye, and the new female.

The baby made her public debut, recently, and enjoyed the last of the summer sun with her mom. The giraffes, at Como, have the option to roam their outdoor yard or stay behind the scenes, but Clover is often more apt to stay behind the scenes than the other giraffes at the Zoo.

Giraffes are the tallest of all land-living animal species. They can be as tall as 18 feet and have a prehensile tongue (used for grasping), which can be as long as 18 inches. During the first two years of a giraffe’s life, it doubles in height, often standing over 12-feet tall. Giraffe gestation lasts between 14 and 15 months, after which a single calf is born. Like human fingerprints, the markings or spots of a giraffe’s coat are unique to each individual.

Reticulated Giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulate) are native to the dry savannahs and open woodlands of Somalia, southern Ethiopia, and northern Kenya. Also known as the Somali Giraffe, the Reticulated Giraffe is one of the most well-known of the nine giraffe subspecies. They are currently classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

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