Toronto’s Giant Pandas Have Their 100-Day Celebration


On January 20, 2016, the Toronto Zoo released a new video highlighting the first 100 days for their Giant Panda cubs. The 100-Day Celebration follows an ancient Chinese tradition that when a child reaches his or her 100th day of life, he or she has survived the risky fragility of infancy and may be considered on track for a successful future.



4_12484598_945708048798974_2143192335449585135_oPhotos and Video Courtesy: Toronto Zoo


Er Shun gave birth to these beautiful twin Panda cubs on October 13, 2015. Born at only 187 grams and 115 grams, these cubs have grown from tiny, pink, and hairless to strong, fuzzy Pandas with distinctive black and white markings.

"The Toronto Zoo is very honored to be participating in the Global Giant Panda Conservation Breeding Program and extremely proud of the births of Canada's first Giant Panda cubs," said Mr. John Tracogna, Chief Executive Officer, Toronto Zoo. “We are very grateful for the ongoing partnerships with a number of institutions around the world who have contributed to our success,” he added.

The Toronto Zoo is hoping to introduce the Panda cubs to the public in mid-March. The Zoo would like to thank everyone for the outpouring of support for these cubs and for following them on this incredible journey.

Continue reading "Toronto’s Giant Pandas Have Their 100-Day Celebration" »

Penguin Chick Gets Hatching Help

Pingwin przyl_dkowy 6 Sometimes baby animals need a little help, and that’s exactly what an about-to-hatch African Penguin received at Poland’s Zoo Wroclaw on December 28.

Pingwin przyl_dkowy 2
Pingwin przyl_dkowy 4
Pingwin przyl_dkowy 5Photo Credit:  Zoo Wroclaw

The Penguin chick, named Janush by keepers, was positioned abnormally inside his egg.  With his head underneath his wing, Janush was unable to turn and push his way out of the egg.  To assist the little chick, keepers removed the egg from the nest and gently extricated Janush from the shell.

Once they knew the tiny chick was stable, keepers tried to place Janush back in the nest with his parents.  Unfortunately, mom and dad were tending another chick that had hatched earlier in the day.  Penguin parents can be quite aggressive when defending their chicks, and keepers were unable to place Janush back in the nest. 

So, keepers took over as Janush’s parents during the first critical days of his life.  Because the chick was still absorbing nutrients from his yolk sac, there was no need to feed him right away, but controlling the temperature was important.  Janush moved to a well-ventilated incubator where he could stay warm.

The next day, keepers began feeding Janush a “milk shake” made from chopped fish and vitamins via a syringe.  Fortunately Janush has a good appetite and doubled his weight in the first week.  He feeds four times a day, and at night he snuggles beside a plush toy in his incubator.  In the morning Janush greets his keepers with loud squeaks to let them know he’s hungry.

In the wild, African Penguins are native to South Africa’s coast and nearby islands.  Because people have harvested so many fish from these waters, there is little left to sustain the Penguin population and the species is listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  Oil spills have affected the population, and guano mining disturbs nesting sites.  Breeding programs in zoos around the world are an important part of efforts to save African Penguins.

A Six-foot Bundle of Joy


Utah's Hogle Zoo is pleased to introduce a six-foot bundle of leggy joy:  A baby Giraffe named Willow was born on January 13.

Unnamed (1)
Unnamed (2)Photo Credit:  Utah's Hogle Zoo

The female calf hit the ground - literally – shortly after noon. Giraffes deliver their babies standing up, so their calves face a four-foot drop as they enter the world.  This fall helps to break the umbilical cord and stimulates the baby to breathe.   Willow’s mom, 13-year-old Pogo, immediately began licking and cleaning her baby, and Willow stood and nursed within an hour of her birth.

Keepers estimate that Willow stood about six feet tall and weighed about 125 pounds at birth. Willow is the 17th Giraffe born at the Hogle Zoo.

The other Giraffes in the zoo’s herd are very interested in the new baby.  Willow’s father, 12-year-old Riley, leans over the wall of a neighboring stall to sniff her.  The other female Giraffes, who act as “aunties,” lick and sniff the newcomer as well.

Wild Giraffes live only in Africa, where they inhabit grasslands and savannahs.  Until recently, Giraffe populations were thought to be stable, but scientists now know that their numbers have fallen dramatically in the last few decades.  As humans convert formerly wild lands to pastures and farms, wild animals have fewer places to live.  For large animals like Giraffes, loss of habitat is a significant threat to their survival.

Yellow-backed Duiker Born at Virginia Zoo


There is more news to report from the Virginia Zoo. A Yellow-backed Duiker was born there last week! The female calf was welcomed by mother, Dot, and father, Dash, and weighed 11.4 pounds at birth.

Dot arrived at the Virginia Zoo in early 2013 (via the Houston Zoo) and recently turned 5 years old. Dash is her younger-man at 2 years old, and he came from the Metro Richmond Zoo in 2014.

So far, Zoo staff have observed Dot nursing, cleaning and caring for her baby… all evidence she’s doing a great job. The family is currently being kept indoors, which gives them time to establish the needed familial bonds; and it allows the baby to stay warm in these cold winter days.


3_Virginia-Zoo-Baby-Diker-1Photos and Videos Courtesy: The Virginia Zoo



The Yellow-backed Duiker (Cephalophus silvicultor) is a forest dwelling antelope found mainly in Central and Western Africa.

At maturity, they weigh a max of about 60-80 kg (132-176 lbs.). They feed selectively on plants, but their main diet is fruits.

Yellow-backed Duikers are the largest of all the duikers (primitive antelope which diverged early in bovid history). Both males and females have short cylindrical horns, which are ribbed at the base, and reddish-brown hair sits between the horns.

The species is listed as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, with a total population estimated at more than 150,000. According to the IUCN: “In much of its range, especially outside protected areas, it has been reduced to low numbers or eliminated by forest destruction, and encroachment of human settlements, coupled with uncontrolled hunting for bushmeat. The species was formerly subject to strict taboos that once protected it in some parts of its range, and it is still considered a non-preferred game species in some areas; however, many of these taboos have broken down.”

Critically Endangered Tiger Brothers at the Virginia Zoo


Two Malayan Tiger cubs were born at the Virginia Zoo on January 6. The two males arrived, about 12 hours apart, to parents Api and Christopher.

The cubs were born after the typical 103 days gestation to a healthy mother. However, with several hours of close observation, the Zoo’s animal care and veterinary staff were not comfortable with the level of care that first-time mom Api was giving.

After much internal discussion and consulting with the National Species Survival Plan Chair for Malayan Tigers, the decision was made to remove the cubs from the mother and hand-rear them.

2_cubs-6-004 (1)


4_tiger-cubs-4-030Photos and Videos Courtesy: The Virginia Zoo




At the time of their removal from mom, the first cub weighed 1.6 pounds while the second weighed 2 pounds. Virginia Zoo staff are following previously developed hand-rearing protocols, and both cubs are active and thriving.

Tigers are born blind and helpless and are typically nursed by the mother for about two months, after which they will be introduced to a meat diet. In the wild, tiger cubs will begin to hunt for their own food at about 18 months of age.

Continue reading "Critically Endangered Tiger Brothers at the Virginia Zoo" »

Minnesota’s Penguin Chicks Are Put on the Scale


Three African Penguin chicks have hatched, so far this season, at the Minnesota Zoo.

When the eggs first hatch, keepers at the Minnesota Zoo weigh the chicks to ensure the parents are feeding them properly. The three chicks that hatched in December are steadily gaining weight—a testimony to the good parenting they are receiving!



4_12496079_10153807986428788_1417004124455515403_oPhoto Credits: Minnesota Zoo

The African Penguin (Spheniscus demersus) is a species confined to southern African waters. It is widely known as the “jackass” penguin for its donkey-like bray.

Like all extant penguins it is flightless, with a streamlined body, and wings stiffened and flattened into flippers for a marine habitat. Adults weigh, on average, 4.9 to 7.7 lbs (2.2 to 3.5 kg) and are 24 to 28 inches (60 to 70 cm) tall. It has distinctive pink patches of skin above the eyes and a black facial mask; the body upper parts are black and sharply delineated from the white under parts, which are spotted and marked with a black band. The pink gland above the eyes helps the penguins to cope with changing temperatures. The African Penguin is a pursuit diver and feeds primarily on fish and squid.

They are monogamous and breed in colonies, returning to the same site each year. The African Penguin has an extended breeding season, with nesting usually peaking from March to May, in South Africa, and November and December in Namibia. A clutch of two eggs is laid either in burrows dug in guano, or scrapes in the sand under boulders or brush. Both parents undertake incubation equally for about 40 days. At least one parent guards the chicks until about 30 days. After that, the chick joins the crèche with other chicks, and both parents head out to sea to forage. Chicks fledge at 60 to 130 days and go to sea, on their own.

Once extremely numerous, the African Penguin is declining due to a combination of threats and is currently classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Population declines are, according to the IUCN, largely attributed to: food shortages (resulting from large catches of fish by commercial purse-seine fisheries) and environmental fluctuations.

Toronto Zoo’s Polar Bear Has Her ‘Eyes Wide Open’


The Polar Bear cub, at the Toronto Zoo, continues to grow and gain strength. At just over two months old, she is still quite wobbly on her feet but works hard to get up on all fours.

She feeds six times a day and was recently introduced to eating from a bowl. The little female continues to explore and become more mobile, bright and alert. Her fuzzy white coat is also becoming thicker.

The cub is still in a critical period of development and is not yet visible to the public.


3_TorontoZooPolarCubTwoMonthsPhoto and Video Credits: Toronto Zoo


On November 11, 2015 the Zoo’s staff were delighted to find that Aurora, one of the Toronto Zoo’s two female Polar Bears, gave birth to two cubs. Despite Aurora showing perfect maternal instincts, including attempting to nurse the cubs shortly after birth, staff were saddened to discover that one of the cubs did not survive the first 24 hours. The remaining female cub was moved to the Zoo's intensive care unit (ICU) in the Wildlife Health Centre (WHC) to give her the best chance of survival.

"Aurora demonstrated good maternal instincts and her cubs did attempt to nurse, but it appears she was not producing any milk to feed her newborns,” said Eric Cole, Manager, Wildlife Care.

Once the cub was moved to the WHC, a team consisting of veterinary staff and animal care experts began the continuous process of monitoring her temperature, taking blood samples, weighing her and feeding her a special formula which has been perfected over time by the Toronto Zoo’s staff given their past experiences hand raising polar bear cubs.

The Polar Bear cub’s care staff are continuing to take the approach of ‘one day at a time’ and adjusting to her daily needs.

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. Polar Bear 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.

Toronto Zoo continues to be involved in a collaborative research project involving multiple accredited zoos to understand Polar Bear reproductive biology. To support their work in Polar Bear conservation, visit

‘Everybody Into the Pool!’ at the Maryland Zoo

1_Penguin Chicks swim practice

The African Penguin chick siblings, at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, are shedding their fluffy down feathers and growing their grey and white juvenile plumage.

Juvenile feathers are water resistant, so now there’s lots of swim practice for the brother and sister.

2_Female Chick_hatched Nov 9

3_Male Chick_hatched Nov 5

4_Penguin Chicks swim practicesPhoto Credits: The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore

The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore happily announced the arrival of the two African penguin chicks back in November, and ZooBorns shared news of the birth, as well. They were the first chicks to hatch during the 2015-2016 breeding season at Penguin Coast. The chicks’ parents are Mega and Rossi. The male hatched on November 5 and the female on November 9.

The Maryland Zoo has been a leader in breeding African Penguins for over 40 years, winning the prestigious Edward H. Bean Award for the “African Penguin Long-term Propagation Program” from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) in 1996.  

The Zoo has the largest colony of the birds in North America, with over 60 birds currently residing in Penguin Coast, along with six special penguins that are used as “Animal Ambassadors” and live in the Penguin Encounters building at the exhibit.

“Our penguins are bred according to recommendations from the AZA African Penguin Species Survival Plan (SSP) which helps maintain their genetic diversity,” said Jen Kottyan, Avian Collection and Conservation Manager. “Many of the African Penguins previously bred at the Zoo now inhabit zoo and aquarium exhibits around the world.”

Penguin chicks hatch approximately 38 to 42 days after the egg is laid. Zookeepers, at the Maryland Zoo, monitor development of the eggs by candling them about a week after they are laid to see if they are fertile and developing. The eggs are then placed back with the parents.

“With African Penguins, both the male and the female take turns sitting on the eggs,” said Kottyan. “Once the eggs hatch, parents take turns caring for their offspring; they each protect, feed, and keep the chick or chicks warm for 2-3 days and then switch off.”

After hatching, the two chicks stayed with their parents for about three weeks and were fed regurgitated fish from both of their parents. During this time, zookeepers and veterinarians kept a close eye on the development of the chicks, weighing and measuring them daily for the first week to make sure that the parents were properly caring for each chick.

At three-weeks-old, the keepers began hand rearing the chicks to start to teach them that keepers are a source of food and to acclimate them to human interaction. “Over the years we have found that beginning the hand- rearing process at three weeks gives the chicks a great head start with their development,” continued Kottyan. “They will still retain the natural instincts of a wild penguin, while allowing us to properly care for them.”

The siblings are now starting to lose their downy feathers, and the grey plumage that distinguishes juvenile penguins from the adults now covers them. They are learning how to swim and will now be slowly introduced to the rest of the penguin colony.

You can follow their growth and development on the Zoo’s website ( and Facebook page (

Bright Orange Babies Join Columbus Zoo's Langur Troop

Langur 6727 - Grahm S. Jones, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium started off the new year with a pair of bright orange babies:  Two Silvered Leaf Langurs were born December 1 and January 11, with the latest being the zoo’s first birth of the new year.

Langur 6871 - Grahm S. Jones, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
Langur 6845 - Grahm S. Jones, Columbus Zoo and AquariumPhoto Credit:  Grahm S. Jones

These births also mark the Columbus Zoo’s first Langur babies since 2011, and the first time two infants were born in a troop since 2010.

Langurs, which have black fur with silvered tips as adults, are born with bright orange fur. This marked difference in coat color is believed to encourage other female Langurs to assist in raising the young, a practice called allomothering.

The births are also important for the breeding recommendations outlined by the Species Survival Plan (SSP), a program coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to manage threatened or endangered species.  Silvered Leaf Langurs are listed as Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to population declines caused by habitat loss. These two babies will help to sustain the langur population among AZA-accredited zoos. 

Patty, age 16, gave birth December 1 to her fifth offspring, who has since been determined to be a girl. Gumby, age 14, gave birth to her sixth offspring, the gender of which has not yet been determined, on January 11. Both mothers mated with Thai, who is 4.5 years old, and are experienced caregivers.

Neither baby has been named yet.  Young Langurs begin to sit and walk on their own after about two weeks.  The babies’ orange fur will gradually be replaced by silvery fur by the time they are six months old.  The older of the two babies is already showing signs of graying in her face, hands, and tail.

The range of the Silvered Leaf Langur includes Brunei, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Wild populations are losing their habitats as lands are cleared for oil palm plantations or destroyed by forest fires. Langurs are also hunted for their meat or captured to serve as pets.

See more photos of the babies below.

Continue reading "Bright Orange Babies Join Columbus Zoo's Langur Troop " »

Baby Giraffe Arrives With the New Year

Nyah1_RickStevens (2)
As zoo keepers walked their early morning rounds on New Year’s Day at Australia’s Taronga Western Plains Zoo, they discovered the zoo’s first baby of 2016:  a female Giraffe calf with her mother, Ntombi.

Nyah1_RickStevens (4)
Nyah1_RickStevens (1)
Nyah1_RickStevens (6)
Photo Credit:  Rick Stevens

Keepers named the calf Nyah, which means “purpose” in Swahili.

Nyah is Ntombi’s third calf.  Keepers say Ntombi is very protective of her calf, but she is showing all the right maternal behaviors.

“The Giraffe calf is on exhibit with the rest of the herd, however, she is still a little shy, spending a lot of her day at the back of the exhibit,” said Giraffe keeper Jackie Stuart. “Over the coming weeks, she will start to become more confident and explore the rest of the exhibit.”

Wild Giraffe numbers have decreased dramatically over the past decade.  Scientists estimate that fewer than 80,000 Giraffes remain in Africa’s wild grasslands and savannahs. The 30% drop in numbers is due to poaching for bush meat and human encroachment into formerly wild lands.

The zoo participates in programs such as Beads for Wildlife, which provides income for Kenyan communities thereby reducing dependence on livestock, which require grazing.  With less livestock, the number of wildlife/livestock conflicts can be reduced, as well as reducing pressure on food and water sources.