March Went “Out Like a Lamb” at SDZ Safari Park

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Two female Desert Bighorn lambs were born, to different mothers, in the San Diego Zoo Safari Park’s Bighorn Sheep habitat at Condor Ridge on March 19 and March 25.

“We are thrilled to welcome these lambs to the Bighorn herd, as they are important to the genetic population of Bighorn Sheep,” stated Karla Nielsen, keeper, San Diego Zoo Safari Park. “These little girls are thriving. They are nursing well and, within a few days of their birth, were climbing, jumping and running around their exhibit. They’re able to be very sure-footed on the rough terrain in their habitat, as their outer hooves are shaped to snag and grab onto rocky surfaces—and the bottom of each foot is soft, giving them the ability to grip.”

BigHorn_002_Med-860x450Photo Credits: San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Desert Bighorn Sheep (Ovis canadensis nelsoni) are found in dry, desert, mountain ranges of California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado and Mexico. Desert Bighorn Sheep inhabit rocky slopes and cliffs, canyons and washes, and they use their climbing ability and excellent vision to detect and escape from predators.

The most prominent feature of Desert Bighorn Sheep is their large brown horns, which continue to grow throughout their lives. Both male and female sheep have horns, but the males’ are much larger and will generally grow into a curve.

On an international scale, Bighorn Sheep are listed as “Least Concern” by the IUCN. However, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service classified Peninsular Bighorn Sheep as “Endangered”, and the species is protected under the United States federal Endangered Species Act. Their numbers have dropped over the past few decades due to competition from domestic animals for water and food, habitat fragmentation, disease and poaching.

According to staff at the park, San Diego Zoo Global is doing its part to conserve the species by working with its partners to study Bighorn Sheep populations in northern Baja California, Mexico. Using GPS telemetry, Population Sustainability and Recovery Ecology researchers are collecting detailed data on movement patterns that will indicate the most important movement corridors and habitat features that need to be protected for bighorn sheep populations.

Conservation Genetics researchers are using fecal pellets from wild Bighorn Sheep to obtain genetic profiles for population structure and connectivity analyses and Disease Investigation team members are examining the health status of Bighorn Sheep in the Sierra Juarez region, just south of the U.S./Mexico border.

For more information on this important conservation project, go here: http://institute.sandiegozoo.org/species/peninsular-bighorn-sheep .

Visitors to the Safari Park may see the Bighorn Sheep lambs, ewes and ram in their habitat at Condor Ridge.


Toronto Zoo Hatching a Plan to Save African Penguins

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Toronto Zoo is proud to announce the successful hatching of four African Penguin chicks!

The yet-to-be-named chicks will be viewable in their Indoor Viewing Area beginning Friday, April 14 from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm daily.

It was determined after hatching that three of the four chicks were female, which is good news for the North American zoo population, which is predominantly male. Male and female penguins look similar, so a DNA test was required to determine their sex.

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3_IMG_7785 (3)Photo Credits: Toronto Zoo

A new breeding pair, Thandiwe and Matata, laid the first two chicks. The couple was recommended to breed by the Species Survival Plan (SSP), and although they bonded very quickly, they didn’t do well at incubating their eggs.

Their first egg was laid on January 5, 2017 and the Keeper team swiftly intervened and swapped the egg to be raised by surrogate parents Ziggy and DJ, who have been great penguin parents in the past. Thandiwe laid the second egg a few days later on January 8, 2017, and Keepers were initially delighted to see her sitting on the egg very tightly, however she had to sit on the egg for seven days in a row. In the wild, penguin parents trade off egg-sitting duties as they both need to hunt and drink, however, Matata was a first-time parent and did not participate in sitting on the egg. As a result, the second egg was also given to another set of surrogates and proven parents, Shaker and Flap.

The last two chicks hatched from eggs that were laid by another brand new SSP pair, Eldon and Chupa, who are viewed as genetically important. This pair got along very well, however, given their genetic importance, it was decided to also use surrogates for their first egg. In fact, since DJ and Ziggy were viewed as the most reliable parents, this egg replaced the first egg from the other pair, which in turn went to another proven pair: Squeak and Pedro. A few days later on January 25, 2017, Eldon laid a second egg, which was left with the new pair to raise on their own and they did a great job. Needless-to-say, managing penguin chicks is tricky business! The chicks hatched on February 12, February 15, February 27 and March 4, respectively.

Incubation by the parents occurs for just over a month, then the hatched chicks stay with their parents in the nest for another 3 weeks. By this point the chicks are large and mobile enough for the Penguin Keepers to hand-raise them.

Currently, Toronto Zoo Keepers are teaching the chicks to be hand-fed fish and to get on a scale for daily weigh-ins. Recently, the Keepers gave them their first swimming lesson. The Zoo’s hope is for them to be ready to “fledge” and join their colony at around 80 days.

The arrival of the four chicks signifies a great achievement for these new penguin parents and the Zoo’s African Savanna Wildlife Care staff. This breeding season the Zoo was able to reach 100% of their SSP pairing and breeding goals.

The Toronto Zoo penguins help draw attention to this imperiled species. Of the 18 penguin species around the world, the African Penguin (Spheniscus demersus) is one of the most endangered. They are officially classified as “Endangered” by the IUCN. The current population size in the wild for the African Penguin is less than half of what it was 40 years ago, which equals only about 3 generations for penguins. Factors still affecting their decline include lack of food (due to climate change and over-fishing), disease, predation, and pollution (mainly oil spills). Today, there are fewer than 20,000 breeding pairs left in South Africa.


Memphis Zoo’s Beautiful Bundle of Joy Needs a Name

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A big, beautiful bundle of joy has joined the Memphis Zoo family. The Zoo’s Nile Hippopotamus, Binti, gave birth to a healthy girl on March 23.

The 76-pound calf, which is soon-to-be-named, made her public debut April 8.

The Memphis Zoo is asking for help naming the calf. A contest is being held on the Memphis Zoo’s website: www.memphiszoo.org . The contest kicked off Thursday, April 6 and runs through Thursday, April 13 at noon.

“This is one of our most significant births in a long, long time,” said Matt Thompson, Director of Animal Programs at the Memphis Zoo. “It’s also incredibly special – as Binti and her baby are carrying on our legacy of Hippos in their brand new home, Zambezi River Hippo Camp.”

Mother and baby are bright and alert and can be seen in their new exhibit in Zambezi River Hippo Camp during the mornings.

“Binti is an extremely attentive mother and is very protective of her calf,” said Farshid Mehrdadfar, curator of the Memphis Zoo’s West Zone. “The little lady follows her mom around everywhere, and you can typically find her asleep on Binti’s nose or back.”

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4_Photo Mar 25  8 06 50 AMPhoto Credits: Memphis Zoo

This infant is the second for mother, Binti, and first for father, Uzazi. Nineteen-year-old Binti was born at the Denver Zoo. She arrived at Memphis in 2013 from Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Her name means “daughter,” or “young lady,” in Swahili. Uzazi, the 16-year-old father, arrived at the Memphis Zoo in 2016 in preparation for the opening of Zambezi River Hippo Camp. His name is derived from a Swahili word meaning “good parent.”

This is a significant birth for the Memphis Zoo, and for the greater Hippo population, as only about 79 Hippos are currently on exhibit throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico. The species is currently listed as “Vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s Red List.

For more information on the new calf, as well as the opportunity to vote in the naming contest, visitors are encouraged to visit: www.memphiszoo.org/hippo .

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Chester Zoo’s Giraffe Birth Caught on Camera

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CCTV cameras at Chester Zoo recently captured the beautiful moment a rare Rothschild’s Giraffe calf was born. The five-foot-tall male arrived April 3 to eight-year-old mum Orla. His fall to earth and first wobbly steps were also caught on camera.

Zookeepers say that Orla delivered her youngster smoothly following a four-hour labor; bringing an end to her 15-month pregnancy.

Sarah Roffe, Giraffe team manager, said, “Orla went into labor at around noon and, for a little while, we could just see two spindly legs poking out. She’s an experienced mum and a few hours later she delivered the calf safely onto soft straw as the rest of the herd, including her other young Kidepo and Millie, looked on.”

“Although it might be quite a drop, and they may fall to the ground with a bit of a thud, it’s how Giraffe calves arrive into the world and it stimulates them into taking their first breaths. That whole process, from a calf being born to it taking its very first steps, is an incredibly special thing to see.”

“Those long legs take a little bit of getting used to but the new calf is doing ever so well, as is mum. She’s an excellent parent and is doing a fantastic job of nursing her new arrival.”

“The world may be waiting for April the Giraffe to have her calf over in America, but Orla has beaten her to it!”

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4_Giraffe calf born at Chester Zoo - first pictures (5)Photo Credits: Chester Zoo

The calf is the second Rothschild’s Giraffe to be born at the Zoo in the space of just four months, following the arrival of male, Murchison, on Boxing Day. Chester Zoo’s Giraffe keepers have chosen to call the new calf “Narus” in honor of a valley in Kidepo National Park in Uganda, where some of their Giraffe field conservation work is based.

Conservationists at the Zoo hope that both arrivals will help to throw a spotlight on the plight of the endangered species and the different threats faced in the wild. Rothschild’s Giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis camelopardalis) are one of the world’s rarest mammals and recent estimates suggest that less than 1,600 remain.

Tim Rowlands, curator of mammals, added, “Poaching in the wild over the last few decades has led to a 90% decline in wild Rothschild’s Giraffe numbers. Despite ongoing conservation efforts, the species is really struggling to bounce back as the constant threat of habitat loss continues to push the last remaining population ever closer to extinction.”

“Right now the Zoo is working hard out in Africa on a conservation action plan to ensure that populations don’t fall to an even more critical level. We’ve got to stand tall for these amazing animals.”

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Twelve Cheetahs Born at Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

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The arrival of spring brought a cheetah cub boom to the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) in Front Royal, Virginia, where two large litters were born over the course of a single week. Three-year-old Happy gave birth to five healthy cubs on March 23. Seven-year-old Miti gave birth to seven cubs March 28.  Two of Miti’s cubs were visibly smaller and less active at the time of birth and died, which is common in litters this large. Both mothers are reportedly doing well and proving to be attentive to the 10 surviving healthy cubs, which have all been successfully nursing. Each litter includes two male and three female cubs.

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Photo Credit: Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

“The average litter size is three, so this time we’ve got an incredible pile of cubs,” said Adrienne Crosier, SCBI cheetah biologist and manager of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Cheetah Species Survival Plan (SSP), which matches cheetahs across the population for breeding. “In just one week, we increased the number of cheetahs at SCBI by 50 percent. Each and every cub plays a significant role in improving the health of the population of cheetahs in human care and represents hope for the species overall.”

Both Miti and Happy bred in December and were matched with male cats that fit their temperaments and would help ensure genetic diversity within the population. Miti was matched with 6-year-old Nick, who is a first-time father and was the very first cub born at SCBI in 2010. This is Miti’s third litter, though she lost one litter in 2015 due to health complications. Happy bred with 10-year-old Alberto. While this is Happy’s first litter, it is Alberto’s fifth.

The two litters are also significant because they mark the second generation of cheetahs born at SCBI, extending the branches of the breeding facility’s cheetah family tree and making grandparents of two older cheetahs that were recently retired together, Amani and Barafu. These will likely be the last litters for both Alberto and Miti, who are now genetically well represented in the population. Forty-six cubs have been born at SCBI since the facility started breeding cheetahs in 2010.

Read more about the breeding program below.

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Clouded Leopard Cub Opens His Eyes

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A Clouded Leopard Cub that made history when it was born on March 1 now has a name and has opened his eyes.  The cub was named Niron, which means eternal and everlasting in Thai.

Niron was conceived through artificial insemination using frozen/thawed sperm, the first time this technique was successfully used in Clouded Leopards.  The project is a collaboration of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and the Nashville Zoo, where the cub was born.  The procedure is explained in the cub’s birth announcement on ZooBorns.

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Dr. Maragartia Woc Colburn17426228_10154867782260622_8801842816958139571_nPhoto Credits:  Kelsey White (2,3), Dr. Margarita Woc Colburn (1,4,5,6,7,8) 

All Clouded Leopard cubs are reared by hand at the Nashville Zoo, a technique that prevents predation by the parents, enables cubs to be paired at an early age, and allows the normally nervous species to become acclimated to human interaction. 

Clouded Leopards are one of the rarest and most secretive of the world’s Cat species, and little is known about them.  They inhabit remote areas of southern China and other parts of Southeast Asia.  Clouded Leopards are listed as Vulnerable to Extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, with fewer than 10,000 adults remaining in the wild.

See more photos below.

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Special Package Arrives at Cango Wildlife Ranch

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Recently, a gentleman stopped at the entrance of Cango Wildlife Ranch, at Oudtshoorn South Africa, with a box containing a tiny, big-eyed Meerkat pup.

According to the gentleman, he discovered the baby hovering near mommy’s lifeless body in the middle of a road on the outskirts of Oudtshoorn. Sadly, mom had been hit by a car; and not wanting the youngster to suffer the same fate, the man caught the pup and quickly drove his little rescue straight to Cango Wildlife Ranch.

The baby Meerkat was fondly named Scout by his new keepers and went into round-the-clock care in the park’s Animal Care Centre.

Staff confirmed that Scout is a male, and they believe that, around the date of drop-off, he was between 6 to 8 weeks of age.

For the first few days, he was fed milk by syringe and later moved onto solids such as chicken. It is reported that he has formed devoted bonds with his carers, who are working hard to instill natural Meerkat behavior and enrichment into his daily routine.

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4_^F85296DE4C0DBEC6B12AE33E8B17685C77B8B28A7ADFD67516^pimgpsh_fullsize_distrPhoto Credits: Cango Wildlife Ranch

Due to the expertise of the staff at the Ranch, and their recently built animal hospital, they often accept the responsibility of caring for injured fauna that are brought to them by local travelers, residents, and farmers in accordance with Cape Nature.

In many cases, staff is able to rehabilitate and even release, specifically with injured snakes, tortoises and birds. However, some releases are simply not possible due to the extent of injuries and human contact experienced throughout the process of rehabilitation. Scout, for example, having been hand-raised, will join the Meerkat exhibit at Cango Wildlife Ranch indefinitely.

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Chester Zoo Welcomes Critically Endangered Baby

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Keepers at Chester Zoo are celebrating the birth of a critically endangered Bornean Orangutan.

The new arrival was born on the morning of April 2, in front of a handful of amazed onlookers. The first of its kind born at the Zoo in almost a decade, the newborn arrived following an eight-and-a-half-month pregnancy for mum Sarikei. The baby is a first offspring for dad, Willie.

Zoo conservationists say that the baby is a huge boost to a breeding programme, which is working toward saving the iconic species.

The most recent estimates indicate there could be as few as 55,000 Bornean Orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus) left on the island of Borneo in Indonesia, the only place they can be found in the wild. The species is heavily threatened by actions that have pushed the species to the very brink of existence: illegal hunting, habitat destruction and the conversion of their forest to palm oil plantations.

Chris Yarwood, primate keeper at the zoo, said, “Seeing mum Sarieki holding her tiny baby close is an amazing sight. It has been eight years since we last celebrated the birth of a Bornean Orangutan at the zoo, but it’s well worth the wait.”

“This is Sarikei’s third baby and although it’s very early days, she is so far doing a wonderful job of caring for her little one. She’s a great mum. It’s also the first youngster that our male Willie has sired. He has a great personality and we’re very hopeful that he will make a great father as he is still young himself and enjoys playing with the other Orangutans.”

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4_First Bornean orangutan born in almost a decade at Chester Zoo (11)Photo Credits: Chester Zoo

Last year the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) changed the status of the Bornean Orangutan from “Endangered” to “Critically Endangered”. Now more than ever, the species faces a very high risk of extinction in the wild.

Tim Rowlands, the zoo’s curator of mammals, added, “Bornean Orangutan numbers are plummeting at a frightening rate. A major threat to the survival of these magnificent creatures is the unsustainable oil palm industry, which is having a devastating effect on the forests where they live. They are also the victims of habitat loss and illegal hunting.”

“Those who are responsible for their decline have pushed them to the very edge of existence. And if the rate of loss continues, they could very well be extinct in the next few decades. It’s therefore absolutely vital that we have a sustainable population of Bornean Orangutans in zoos, and every addition to the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme is so, so important.”

“It’s also imperative that we continue to tackle the excessive deforestation in Borneo and show people everywhere that they too can make a difference to the long-term survival of Orangutans. Simple everyday choices, such as making sure your product purchases from the supermarket contain only sustainably sourced palm oil, can have a massive impact.”

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Brevard Zoo Keepers Raising Rare Oryx Calf

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On February 28, Brevard Zoo welcomed its second Scimitar-horned Oryx calf of the year!

Unfortunately, first-time mother, Kitcha, displayed no interest in the female newborn. Tests performed the day after birth showed the calf had not yet nursed, and a decision was made to pull her from the exhibit. She is now living in an area where she can see and smell the rest of the herd, and she is currently being hand-reared by the Zoo’s dedicated animal care staff.

“She was quite small as a newborn, so we are monitoring her weight and food intake,” said Michelle Smurl, the Zoo’s director of animal programs. “For the first four days, she was eating every four hours. As her weight increases, we increase her food intake and she is now eating three times a day.”

Mom, Kitcha, was born at Brevard Zoo in 2009. The new calf’s father, Nuri, came from Smithsonian’s National Zoo and now lives at Lion Country Safari. Nuri also fathered the male calf born at Brevard on February 3.

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The Scimitar-horned Oryx (Oryx dammah) is also known as the Sahara Oryx. It is a straight-horned antelope that stands just over 1 m (3.3 ft) at the shoulder. Both sexes have horns, but those of the females are more slender.

They are social and prefer to travel in herds. Their habitat in the wild was steppe and desert, where they ate foliage, grass, herbs, shrubs, succulent plants, legumes, juicy roots, buds, and fruit. They can survive without water for nine to ten months because their kidneys prevent water loss from urination (an adaptation to desert habitats). They can also get water from water-rich plants.

Both males and females reach sexual maturity at 1.5 to 2 years of age. Gestation lasts about nine months, after which a single calf is born, weighing 20 to 33 pounds (9.1 to 15.0 kg). Twin births are very rare. Both mother and calf will return to the main herd within hours of the birth. The female separates herself from the herd for a few hours while she nurses the calf. Weaning starts at 3.5 months, and the young become fully independent at around 14 weeks old.

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Five Fabulous Felines Born at Monarto Zoo

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Five incredibly cute and feisty felines have joined the Monarto Zoo family, with the birth of a healthy litter of Cheetah cubs to first-time mum Kesho. Born on March 24, the cubs are an exciting addition to the zoo family as they are the first litter to be born at Monarto Zoo since 2012.

Carnivore keeper Michelle Lloyd said four-year-old Kesho was a doting mum and the cubs were doing very well under her attentive care. “Everyone’s thrilled to welcome the new arrivals to our Cheetah coalition; it’s really exciting to see Kesho as a first-time mum,” Michelle said.

“She is doing a fantastic job caring for her young and tending to their every need. For the time being, we’re giving the family complete privacy and monitoring the cubs’ development via a security camera in the den.”

The litter is an important addition to the regional Cheetah population and the Zoo’s work as a conservation charity, with the cubs having the power to educate Australians about the plight of Cheetah in the wild.

2_Cheetah Kesho and cubs -screen grabPhoto Credits: Monarto Zoo (Image 3: Mum Kesho in foreground / Image 4: Dad Innis)

The world’s fastest animal, the Cheetah is also Africa’s most endangered big cat with just 6,700 estimated to be remaining in the wild of eastern and southwestern Africa.

“It’s devastating to think that in the last 35 years, we’ve lost almost half of the wild Cheetah population,” Michelle said. “The decline is primarily due to habitat loss and fragmentation, and the killing and capture of Cheetah to protect livestock against predation. This decline makes breeding programs like ours incredibly important to secure the future of this species.”

The Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) is a large felid of the subfamily Felinae that occurs mainly in eastern and southern Africa and a few parts of Iran.

Uniquely adapted for speed, the Cheetah is capable of reaching speeds greater than 100kph in just over three seconds, and at top speed their stride is seven meters long.

The species is currently classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The Cheetah has suffered a substantial decline in its historic range due to rampant hunting in the 20th century.

The cubs, which have not yet been sexed, will live with mum in a den in an off-limits area of the Zoo until they’re old enough for their public debut in the not too distant future.

Mum, Kesho, was born in the last litter welcomed to Monarto Zoo in 2012. Dad, Innis, arrived at Monarto Zoo last year from National Zoo and Aquarium in Canberra and is on a breeding loan.

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4_Cheetah - Father of cubs  Innis. Photo credit Adrian Mann  Zoos SA