Dynamite Pair of Emu Chicks Hatch at Brevard Zoo

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On March 14th and 15th, following an eight-week incubation, two Emu chicks emerged from their eggs at Brevard Zoo. The pair is the first shared offspring of six-year-old female, Lafawnduh, and 23-year-old male, Napoleon.

“Once the female lays the eggs, she skips town and the male takes over,” said Michelle Smurl, director of animal programs at the Zoo. “Napoleon did a great job of sitting on the eggs, but he wasn’t too interested in the chicks once they hatched.”

Animal care staff made the decision to hand-rear the chicks, which are thriving. A third chick began to hatch, but did not make it out of the egg. Two remaining eggs were removed from the nest and placed in an incubator.

“The chicks are living behind the scenes for the time being, but they’ll probably be out for guests to see in the next few weeks,” added Smurl. “We’re focused on providing the chicks and unhatched eggs with the best possible care right now.”

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4_adult emuPhoto Credits: Brevard Zoo

The Emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae) is the second-largest living bird by height, after its ratite relative, the Ostrich. It is endemic to Australia where it is the largest native bird.

Emu chicks weigh less than a pound upon hatching, but can exceed 100 pounds as adults. A national icon in its native Australia, the Emu is renowned for its stature, striking blue skin, and “goofy” demeanor. Its diet consists primarily of grasses and insects.

On an international level, the Emu is currently classified as “Least Concern” by the IUCN. However, the New South Wales Government classifies the population of the New South Wales North Coast Bioregion and Port Stephens as “Endangered”.

Although the population of Emus on mainland Australia is thought to be higher now, some local populations are at risk of extinction. The threats faced include: the clearance and fragmentation of areas of suitable habitat, deliberate slaughter, collisions with vehicles, and predation of the eggs and young.


Zoo Releases Footage of Bird-of-Paradise Hatching

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The Cincinnati Zoo recently announced the hatching of a Raggiana Bird-of-paradise chick. This is the Zoo’s third chick, and they are one of only four facilities in the U.S. to breed and raise the species in the last ten years. Only eleven AZA zoos house this species.

According to the Cincinnati Zoo, the parents have a habit of breaking their eggs. In an effort to do what is best for the survival of the chick, keepers opted for “ghost rearing”. “Ghost rearing” involves a procedure of feeding the chick from behind a screen, to disguise where the food is coming from, and prevent the chick from imprinting with humans. The Zoo plans to re-introduce the chick to its parents, once it is weaned.

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4_IMG_3316Photo Credits: Kathy Newton (Images 1,7) / Cincinnati Zoo (Images 2-6,8)

The Raggiana Bird-of-paradise (Paradisaea raggiana) is only found on the island nation of New Guinea. Their native diet consists mainly of fruits and arthropods, and the species is an important seed disperser of some fruiting trees in New Guinea.

The beautiful birds are best known for their extravagant courtship displays. They are unique in that they are a lekking species. Up to ten males at a time are known to congregate in leks (display arenas for visiting females) in an effort to impress a potential mate. Males put on a display, which involves clapping of their wings and shaking their heads.

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Bongo Boy Joins Herd at Virginia Zoo

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Virginia Zoo Keepers are delighted to share news of the birth of a baby Bongo. The male calf was born to mom, Betty, on March 23 and weighed-in at 50 pounds. This is the sixth offspring for Betty and the second for father, Bob.

The calf joins a herd that consists of his parents, two other adult females and Joy, the female calf who was born on December 25, 2017.

The Virginia Zoo invited the public to help select a name for the calf, and the winning name was recently announced---Baxter. Baxter and mom, Betty, can now be seen with the rest of their herd on exhibit in the Okavango Delta section of the Zoo.

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4_Virginia Zoo Bongo 2Photo Credits: Image 1: Maxine Bray Reilly / Images 2-4: Virginia Zoo

The Bongo (Tragelaphus eurycerus) is herbivorous and mostly nocturnal. They are a large-bodied, relatively short-legged antelope species with long spiraling horns that make one complete twist from base to tip. They have a rich chestnut coat that is striped with thin white vertical lines along the sides. The face and legs have patches of black and white, with white chevrons on the breast and below the eyes.

In general, the species inhabits lowland forests of Africa. The subspecies in Kenya lives in montane forests at (6,560-9,840 feet) altitude.

Herds are comprised of females and calves, while males are typically more solitary. Females give birth to one calf per year and the gestation period is nine months. Weaning of the calf occurs at about six months.

The Bongo is currently classified as “Near Threatened” by the IUCN. In the last few decades, a rapid decline in numbers has occurred due to poaching and human pressure on their habitat.


Zoo Wroclaw Welcomes First Manatee Calf

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Zoo Wroclaw has been preparing for the arrival of their new Manatee calf since this past November, when it was confirmed their female was expecting.

After consultation with other zoos, keepers at Wroclaw installed a special pen in their Manatee pool. They also stocked-up on special milk formula in preparation for the possibility that new mother, Ling, might have difficulty bonding with the calf.

When Ling’s labor began on March 3rd, staff members at Zoo Wroclaw were more than prepared for the new arrival. The little female entered the world at 10:41 a.m., and the Zoo managed to capture the beautiful scene on video.

According to keepers, right after birth, the female measured about 115 cm, and weighed about 20 kg.

The new Manatee calf is the first of her kind to be born at Wroclaw, so her caretakers opted to give her a fitting name—Lavia (from the word Vratislavia).

The Zoo’s prenatal preparations proved beneficial when it became apparent to keepers that Ling was not nursing her new calf as they had hoped. Staff began utilizing the special formula soon after the calf was born.

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4_DSC_2123Photo Credits: ZOO Wroclaw

Manatees are large, fully aquatic, mostly herbivorous marine mammals (also known as “sea cows”). They are found in the shallow, marshy coastal areas and rivers of the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico (Trichechus manatus, West Indian manatee), the Amazon basin (T. inunguis, Amazonian manatee), and West Africa (T. senegalensis, West African manatee).

Manatees are classified as “Vulnerable” by the IUCN. Because they are large, slow-moving animals that frequent costal waters, they are vulnerable to hunters seeking their hides, oil, and bones. They are often accidentally hit by motorboats and sometimes become entangled in fishing nets. Due to their threatened status, captive breeding in zoos plays an important role in manatee conservation. According to Zoo Wroclaw, these docile giants live in only 19 zoological gardens in the world, including 10 in Europe.

Each calf born is treasured, and each Manatee birth is a celebrated stepping-stone to the survival of the species.

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This Penguin Chick Will Have An Important Job

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A Humboldt Penguin chick that hatched on February 12 at Brookfield Zoo is thriving, and in the near future, may be taking on an important role. As early as this May, and depending on whether he chooses to participate, the unnamed chick will be an animal ambassador for the zoo’s Penguin Encounters.

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29542154_10156436472994170_1738579396798709760_nPhoto Credit: Brookfield Zoo

Currently being hand-reared by animal care staff, the chick is being carefully monitored. He is weighed three times a day—once each morning to determine how much weight was gained over a 24-hour period, as well as after each feeding to calculate how much of its diet of herring and marine smelt he consumed.

The chick will molt from his down feathers into juvenile plumage by two months of age, at which time he will be introduced to a shallow pool of water. Adult plumage will not be present until the chick is about two years old. In addition to possibly being an integral member of the Penguin Encounters, the chick will be introduced to and reside in the Humboldt Penguin colony in the rocky shores habitat at Brookfield Zoo’s Living Coast.

Each Penguin Encounter begins with a member of the animal care staff sharing fun facts about the zoo’s resident Humboldt penguins and communicating how to safely interact with the penguin during the session. During the program, penguins are free to roam and waddle up to anyone they choose – and while one animal may be camera-shy, another individual may enjoy a good selfie or two. The animals appear to find the encounters as enriching as guests and each penguin ambassador chooses whether to participate in the encounters. Staff also talk about the conservation work the Chicago Zoological Society is doing in Punta San Juan, Peru, to help preserve the habitat and abundant wildlife, including Humboldt Penguins that live along the South American coastline.

Humboldt Penguins are native to the Pacific coastlines of Peru and Chile. The population has fallen due to climate change, guano mining, and competition for food with commercial fisheries. The birds are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.


March of the Salamanders: Migration Studied at Tennessee Aquarium

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Each spring, thousands of Salamanders migrate within Tennessee’s woodlands, and biologists at the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute are studying their movements as part of an effort to better understand the animals.

Like their cousins the Frogs and Toads, Salamanders are Amphibians. Most Salamanders hatch from eggs laid in water and become aquatic larvae known as tadpoles. The tadpoles metamorphose into adults that live in warm, moist places on land.

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Tub of Spotted SalamandersPhoto Credit: Casey Phillips/Tennessee Aquarium

Why study Salamanders? Dr. Josh Ennen, a conservation biologist at the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute, says that because of their sensitivity to environmental changes, scientists consider Salamanders and other Amphibians to be a kind of living bellwether for the health of the surrounding habitat.

“They’re almost like a canary in a coal mine,” Ennen said. “They’re a kind of indicator species that reflect the health of their ecosystem as a whole.”

The spring migration occurs when the adults return to the same pond they hatched in.  There, they mate and lay their own eggs. The Salamanders don’t travel far – maybe a few hundred feet – but getting to water is essential. If not laid in water, the jelly-covered eggs could dry out and die.

Salamanders migrate to vernal pools – small bodies of water that fill with winter and spring rains. These ephemeral ponds may only last a few weeks or months before drying out, but they last long enough for Amphibians to complete their life cycles. Vernal pools’ temporary nature means fish can’t live in them – and that’s important because fish would eat the Amphibians’ eggs.

Dr. Emmen and his colleagues collected, tagged, and released hundreds of Spotted and Mole Salamanders in just one day of their study. He notes that Salamanders migrate to the same pools for generation after generation.

Learn more and see additional photos below.

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Newquay Zoo Welcomes First Armadillo of the Year

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Keepers at Newquay Zoo are currently giving round-the-clock care to a unique Six-banded Armadillo pup.

The zoo is one of only ten zoos in the UK to keep Armadillos, and this is the first pup to be born in the UK this year. Proud parents, Wallace (Dad) and Gromit (Mum), arrived at Newquay Zoo in March 2017.

Keepers at the zoo are overwhelmed by the cute new arrival. Head Keeper, Sam Harley, said, “We are delighted to have this little one - we made the decision to hand rear him to give him the best possible chance of survival. So this means round-the-clock care from the keeping team. We’ve been up through the night to bottle feed him, which can prove very tiring, but it’s all worth it!”

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The word Armadillo means, "little armored one" in Spanish and refers to the tough plated outer shell made of bone that gives protection from predators. Fossils have been found going back to the Ice Age. Armadillos have poor eyesight but a great sense of smell and are efficient burrowers.

Species are found throughout the Americas; the Six-banded Armadillo (Euphractus sexcinctus) comes from South America, mainly Brazil, and is the third largest of the species.

The baby is currently being fed from a bottle of special kitten milk replacement. At just three weeks old, the baby’s eyes are firmly shut, but they will begin to open at around 25 days. When he reaches around a month of age, he will begin to eat more solid food. Over the first four weeks the baby will quadruple in weight and will then start fending for himself.

The species is currently classified as “Least Concern” by the IUCN. Although there is a large population of Armadillos in the wild, they are often hunted for meat and for their armored shell.

Newquay Zoo is proud to be home to this exciting species; the little one will be on show to the public alongside mum and dad in the coming weeks. For more information, visit the zoo’s website at: www.newquayzoo.org.uk .

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New Dik-dik Is Music to Zoo Wroclaw’s Ears

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The months of February and March are traditionally the time of the year when Zoo Wroclaw welcomes new Dik-dik offspring. True to fashion, new mom, Lenonka, welcomed a female calf on February 26.

According to the Zoo’s tradition, newborns are given a music related name.

Because of their shared characteristic of blonde hair, the new Dik-dik is being called “Lady G” (a nod to Lady Gaga).

Zoo management has allowed the keepers a bit of creativity with the selection of names for the new births. As a result, Zoo Wroclaw is proud to relate that they are home to Elvis, Eminem, Lennon, Limahl, Loreen, and now Lady G!

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4_DSC00006 Ojciec Fedreiko i Matka LeonkaPhoto Credits: Zoo Wroclaw / Image 4: new parents, Federiko and Lenonka / Image 5: new mom, Lenonka / Image 6: dad, Federiko

Kirk’s Dik-diks have made their home at Zoo Wroclaw since 2014. The Zoo’s most known member of the herd is Lady G’s father, Federiko. Keepers state he is almost always in a location within the exhibit that is visible to the public, as if he is guarding the rest of the herd.

Kirk's Dik-dik (Madoqua kirkii) is a small antelope native to Eastern Africa and one of four species of Dik-dik antelope. Dik-diks are herbivores and are typically of a fawn color that aids in camouflaging in savannah habitats.

The unique name is derived from its call. When threatened, Dik-diks lay low. If discovered, they run in a swift zigzag until finding another safe hiding spot. During this time, they are known to emit a call that sounds like “zik-zik” and is intended to raise an alarm.

The lifespan of Kirk's Dik-dik in the wild is typically 5 to 10 years. In captivity, males have been known to live up to 16 to 18 years.

The species is currently classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List. They have many natural enemies in the wild: leopards, cheetahs, jackals, baboons, eagles, and pythons.

However, the biggest threat awaits them from the human side. Not only are they hunted for use of their meat and bone, but they are also hunted for the production of leather. It has been said that at least two individual Dik-diks must be slaughtered to produce as little as one pair of leather gloves.

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Polar Bear Cub Makes Long Awaited Debut

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Visitors to the Royal Zoological Society’s Highland Wildlife Park will now have the chance to see the first Polar Bear cub born in the UK in 25 years!

Born in December, the cub has taken its first steps into the park’s outdoor enclosure, which had previously been closed to the public to allow mum, Victoria, the privacy she needed.

Staff members at the park are advising visitors that the cub may only be visible for small periods of time to begin with. Una Richardson, head keeper, said, “Having spent four months in her maternity den, Victoria quickly took the chance to go outside. Understandably, her cub has been more cautious and is still getting used to new sights, smells and sounds.”

“While the cub will become more confident and start to explore the large enclosure with Victoria, this will take time and they will always have access to their den for peace and quiet. There is no guarantee all of our visitors will see the cub at this early age, but they may be lucky.”

“There is huge interest in the park and seeing a Polar Bear cub will be a once in a lifetime opportunity for many people, particularly those traveling from around the world.”

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Douglas Richardson, the park’s head of living collections, said, “Our pioneering captive Polar Bear management programme closely mirrors what happens in the wild and this birth shows our approach is working. This is vital because a healthy and robust captive population may one day be needed to augment numbers in the wild, such are the threats to the species from climate change and human pressures.”

“The reintroduction of Polar Bears would be an enormous task, but we need to have the option. While our cub will never be in the wild, there is a chance its offspring may be in decades to come.”

Chief Executive Barbara Smith added, “The birth of the first Polar Bear in the UK for a quarter of a century is a huge achievement for the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland and the team at our Highland Wildlife Park. We are hopeful our cub will help to raise awareness of the dangers to Polar Bears in the wild. Collectively, we must do all we can to protect this magnificent species.”

Staff at the park expects to be able to discover the cub’s sex in April or May, when health checks will be possible.

The Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus) is a carnivorous bear whose native range lies within the Arctic Circle, encompassing the Arctic Ocean, its surrounding seas and surrounding landmasses.

The species is currently classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List. Risks include: climate change, pollution in the form of toxic contaminants, conflicts with shipping, oil and gas exploration and development, and human-bear interactions including harvesting and possible stresses from recreational watching.

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Zoo Hosts Naming Contest for Giraffe Calf

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The Santa Barbara Zoo has a new Masai Giraffe calf. The female arrived on March 14, measuring 6’1” tall and weighing-in at 180 pounds. The Zoo reports that the calf and her mom, Audrey, will stay safely tucked away in the Giraffe Barn until animal care staff determines that she’s ready to venture out on exhibit.

In the mean time, the Santa Barbara Zoo has partnered with their local television station, KEYT NewsChannel 3,​ to host a naming contest for the female calf. Four names were pre-selected by the Hutton Parker Foundation and the Zoo’s giraffe team, but they are leaving the final decision up to the public. Visit the Zoo’s website to cast your vote: https://sbzoo.pivvit.com/name-audreys-giraffe-calf

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4_29386199_10155399660390509_368509362227904512_oPhoto Credits: Santa Barbara Zoo

The Masai Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi) is the largest subspecies of giraffe and is native to East Africa, particularly central and southern Kenya and Tanzania.

The species is classified as “Vulnerable” by the IUCN, and the Masai Giraffe population is reported to have declined by 52% in recent decades, mainly due to poaching.

As an AZA-accredited institution, the Santa Barbara Zoo participates in what’s called the Species Survival Plan for Masai Giraffes – which makes every giraffe calf born at the Zoo exceptionally important. Through this cooperative program, the calves born all serve a significant role: to help keep their species alive. Thanks to their father, Michael, they all carry rare and valuable genes that are vital to keeping the Masai Giraffe population genetically diverse and healthy.