A Star Is Born - With Stripes!

Africa okapi calf 1 oct 3 2015A rare Okapi calf was born on September 24 atTampa’s Lowry Park Zoo! The yet-to-be-named newborn, a male, weighed 42 pounds at birth and is the second successful Okapi birth in the zoo’s history.Africa okapi betty and calf oct 3 2015

Africa okapi calf  oct 2 2015
Africa okapi calf 5 oct 2 2015Photo Credit:  Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo
Born to experienced mother Betty, the calf was able to stand within hours of birth.  The calf is expected to spend about two months “nesting” in the Okapi barn, which is similar to the hiding behavior that wild Okapi calves employ as protection from predators.

This calf is only the third Okapi born in the United States in 2015.  These large hoofed mammals are managed by the Okapi Species Survival Plan of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums to maximize genetic diversity of this Endangered species.  The managed population grows slowly due to a 14-16 month gestation period, and results in about four North American births per year.

Okapi are sometimes called “Forest Giraffes” and are native to the dense rain forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).  Shy and reclusive, Okapi are the only living relatives of Giraffes and were discovered by scientists in the 20th century.  Due to habitat loss and political unrest in the DRC, the wild population has declined by 50 percent in the last 20 years.

Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo participates in the Okapi Conservation Project to secure a protected area in the DRC's Ituri Forest.  The project's goals are to train and equip wildlife guards to protect the area from poachers, provide community assistance to people living around the reserve, educate people about sustainable use, and provide care for a breeding group of Okapi in the reserve. 

Akron Zoo's First Flamingo Chick

Seven days old2
A Chilean Flamingo chick that hatched on August 20 is the first of its species to hatch at Ohio’s Akron Zoo.

Forty-eight days old2
Forty-eight days oldPhoto Credit:  Akron Zoo

The Flamingo egg was laid in the zoo’s exhibit on July 25.  Keepers collected the egg and placed it in an artificial incubator to increase its chances of successfully hatching. After 26 days, the chick began to hatch, but it took 36 hours for the chick to fully emerge from the egg.

About 24 hours after the Flamingo chick hatched, zoo staff began to hand feed the chick an egg-based formula several times a day.

Eggshell membranes were sent for DNA gender testing, which revealed that the chick is a female. With a current weight of about two pounds, the chick is being raised behind the scenes until she is large enough to join the flock in the exhibit.   The photos show the chick at two days old (top) and 48 days old.

Chilean Flamingos are native to South America, where they inhabit shallow lakes and feed on blue-green algae and brine shrimp by straining water through comb-like structures in their beaks. Flamingo chicks are covered in gray down at hatching, but as adults they sport pink plumage.  The pink color comes from the high levels of beta-carotene in their food.   Chilean Flamingos are plentiful in the wild and not under threat.

New Ring-tailed Lemur at Taronga Western Plains Zoo

1_Mother and baby CREDIT Sasha Brook

Taronga Western Plains Zoo, in Australia, has welcomed a baby Ring-tailed Lemur! The female Lemur, which Keepers have named Imerina (after one of the old kingdoms of Madagascar), was born on August 25. 

2_Peekaboo CREDIT Sasha Brook

3_Close up CREDIT Sasha Brook

4_Ring tailed Lemur baby SM aPhoto Credits: Sasha Brook (1,2,3) / Taronga Western Plains Zoo

Zoo Keepers are thrilled with this breeding success, which comes three years after the arrival of three female Lemurs from Italy to commence the Zoo’s Ring-tailed Lemur breeding program.

“It’s wonderful to have a successful breeding season and a healthy baby on the ground,” Keeper Sasha Brook said. “Imerina is a strong baby and first time mother, Rikitra, is doing all the right things, nursing and grooming her baby well, which is great to see.”

In the past two to three weeks, Keepers have been delighted to see Imerina starting to explore a little bit independently of her mother.

“She has started to climb on her own and is also starting to mouth solid foods,” Sasha said. “Rikitra is never more than one to two meters away, keeping a watchful eye on her offspring, and rescuing her from any pickles she gets herself into! Imerina is also starting to jump onto her father Bruce’s back. Bruce is an experienced father so he’s taking things in his stride.”

For the short term, Keepers have separated Rikitra and her baby, along with Bruce, from the group’s two other females, to give them time to bond and prevent interference from the females.

“The family is currently alternating access to their island exhibit with the two females, and during the day they have access to their night yards so they can choose to go where they feel most comfortable,” Sasha said. “In time we will introduce the two females back to the group, as it’s important to keep the group cohesive. The females enjoy each other’s company usually; but we’re giving them some space.”

When Imerina grows up she will play a vital role in the Zoo-based Ring-tailed Lemur breeding program, and with Lemurs endangered in the wild due to habitat destruction, her birth is very important for the future of her species.

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Otter Pup Ready for Fun at the Bronx Zoo

1_Julie Larsen Maher _3566_Asian Small-clawed Otters and Pup_JUN_BZ_09 04 ...

Monty, the Asian Small-clawed Otter pup, has been eagerly exploring his exhibit at the Bronx Zoo. In an effort to keep his curiosity from getting the better of him, mom and dad are never far behind.

It has been several years since a new otter pup has inhabited the Bronx Zoo’s Jungle World. Eleven-year-old mom, Jasmine, and nine-year-old dad, Gyan, are first time parents. So far, they have been doing an outstanding job with little Monty. Keepers have been giving them plenty of privacy and time to bond, only interrupting for quick weigh-ins to check the pup’s growth.

2_Julie Larsen Maher _3517_Asian Small-clawed Otters and Pup_JUN_BZ_09 04 ...

3_Julie Larsen Maher _3630_Asian Small-clawed Otters and Pup_JUN_BZ_09 04 ...Photo Credits: Julie Larsen Maher / WCSAside from his new desire to explore, Monty has started to eat solids and is getting better at swimming.  His parents take their jobs seriously. Jasmine continues to keep his nest in order, and dad has started bringing him bits of fish.

The Asian Small-clawed Otter (Amblonyx cinerea), also known as the Oriental Small-clawed Otter, is the smallest otter species in the world. Weighing less than 5.4 kg (11.9 lbs.), the species lives in mangrove swamps and freshwater wetlands of Bangladesh, Burma, India, southern China, Laos, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.

The otter’s paws are its distinctive feature. The claws don’t extend beyond the fleshy end pads of its partially webbed fingers and toes, giving it a high degree of manual dexterity for feeding on mollusks, crabs and other aquatic animals.

Asian Small-clawed Otters form monogamous pairs for life. The mates can have two litters of one to six young per year, and their gestation period is about 60 days. Newborn pups are immobile, and their eyes are closed.  The pups remain in their birthing dens, nursing and sleeping, for the first few weeks. They open their eyes after 40 days and are fully weaned at 14 weeks. Within 40 days, the young start to eat solid food and can swim at three months. Young otters will stay with their mother until the next litter is born. Males assist females in nest building and food procurement.

The Asian Small-clawed Otter is classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List. Threats to their existence in the wild are: habitat loss, pollution, and hunting. 

Endangered Zebra Foal on Exhibit at Denver Zoo

1_Dever Zoo Bosley and mom

Denver Zoo announced the birth of a Grevy's Zebra on October 8! The male foal was born, on exhibit, to mother Farasi, and keepers have named him Bosley. Zoo visitors can see the mother and newborn in their outdoor exhibit, weather permitting.

2_Dever Zoo Bosley and mom

3_Dever Zoo Bosley and momPhoto Credits: Denver Zoo

Farasi is not a first-time mother, but this recent birth marked the first time she has given birth at Denver Zoo. The father is 15-year-old Punda, who is the only male in the herd. Punda and Farasi were paired under recommendations of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP), which ensures genetic diversity and healthy populations among zoo animals.

The Grevy’s Zebra (Equus grevyi), also known as the Imperial Zebra, is the largest extant wild equid and the largest and most endangered of the three species of zebra, which includes the Plains Zebra and the Mountain Zebra. Native to Kenya and Ethiopia, the Grevy’s Zebra is named after Jules Grévy, who was president of France in the 1880s. French naturalist Emile Oustalet first described the species in 1882.

Compared to the other zebra species, the Grevy’s Zebra is taller, has larger ears, and narrower stripes. It prefers to live in semi-arid grasslands and feeds on grasses, legumes and browse. It can survive up to five days without water. The Grevy’s Zebra differs from the other species in that it does not live in a harem and does not maintain lasting social bonds.

They can mate and give birth, year-round. Gestation lasts about 390 days. Females with young foals may gather into smaller groups, and mares may leave their foals in ‘kindergartens’ while searching for water, usually protected by a single adult male. In order to adapt to the semi-arid environment they are native to, Grevy’s Zebra foals have longer nursing intervals and wait until they are three months old before they start drinking water. The foals become less dependent on their mothers after 6 months, but they continue their association for up to three years.

The Grevy’s Zebra is classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List. It is estimated there are less than 2,500 Grevy’s Zebras still living the wilds of Africa. The main threats the species faces are: loss of habitat, competition for resources with livestock, and being hunted for their skins.

Yak Calf Debuts at Hellabrunn Zoo

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Hellabrunn Zoo, in Munich, Germany, welcomed a new male domestic Yak. Pedro was born September 10, and he is the first offspring of four-year-old mother, Kat, and two-year-old father, Norbu. 

2_Domestic Yak_Hellabrunn_2015_Bihler Photograpy (1)

3_Domestic Yak_Hellabrunn_2015_Bihler Photograpy (2)

4_Domestic Yak_Hellabrunn_2015_Bihler Photograpy (3)Photo Credits: Tierpark Hellabrunn / Bihler Photography

The Yak (Bos grunniens or Bos mutus) is a long-haired bovid found throughout the Himalaya region of southern Central Asia, the Tibetan Plateau and as far north as Mongolia and Russia. Most Yaks are domesticated (Bos grunniens). The small, vulnerable population of wild Yaks are ‘Bos mutus’.

The Yak may have diverged from cattle at some time in the past, and there is a suggestion that it may be more closely related to the bison that to the other members of its designated genus ‘Bos’.

The Yak is the largest native animal in their range. Wild Yak adults stand about 5.2 to 7.2 feet (1.6 to 2.2 m) tall at the shoulder and weigh 672 to 2,205 lbs (305 to 1,000 kg). Domesticated Yaks are much smaller, males weighing 770 to 1,280 lbs (350 to 580 kg) and females 496 to 562 lbs (225 to 255 kg).

Wild Yaks typically have black or dark brown hair, with a greyish muzzle. Wild Yaks with golden coloring are known as ‘Wild Golden Yak’ and are considered endangered in China. Domesticated Yaks have a wider range of coat coloring, with some individuals being white, grey, brown, roan or piebald. Hellabrunn’s new calf, Pedro, inherited the white coloring of his father, instead of the black his mother exhibits.

Gestation for Yaks lasts between 257 and 270 days. The female finds a secluded spot to give birth, but the calf is able to walk within about ten minutes of birth, and the pair soon rejoins the herd. Females of both the wild and domestic forms typically give birth only once every other year. Calves are weaned at one year and become independent shortly thereafter.

Wild Yaks usually form herds of ten to thirty individuals. Their diet consists largely of grasses and sedges. They also eat a smaller amount of herbs, shrubs, mosses, and occasionally lichen.

The wild Yak (Bos mutus) is classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It is inferred that the species has declined over 30% the last 30 years, based on direct observations, decline in range, and continued threats to their habitat.

Snow Leopard Sisters Debut at Brookfield Zoo

1_Brookfield Snow Leopard girls

Two 4-month-old Snow Leopard sisters, named Malaya and Daania, made their public debut October 7 at Brookfield Zoo. The highlight of the ‘debut’ was the chance to explore their outdoor habitat with four-year-old mom, Sarani. 

2_Brookfield Snow Leopard girls

3_Brookfield Snow Leopard girls

4_Brookfield Snow Leopard girlsPhoto Credits: Jim Schulz / Chicago Zoological Society

The Chicago Zoological Society (CZS), which manages Brookfield Zoo, happily announced the birth of the two Snow Leopard cubs on June 16. Until now, the girls and their mom have been safe and secure in their behind-the-scenes den.

Mom, Sarani, and her five-year-old mate, Sabu, arrived at Brookfield Zoo in October 2011 from Tautphaus Park Zoo in Idaho Falls, Idaho, and Cape May County Park & Zoo in Cape May Court House, New Jersey, respectively. This is the second litter of cubs for the couple. Their pairing was based on a recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Snow Leopard Species Survival Plan (SSP).

An SSP is a cooperative population management and conservation program for select species in AZA zoos and aquariums. Each SSP manages the breeding of a species to maintain a healthy and self-sustaining population that is both genetically diverse and demographically stable. There are currently about 145 Snow Leopards living in 63 institutions in North America. Brookfield Zoo has exhibited Snow Leopards since 1936.

The Snow Leopard (Panthera uncia) is classified as “Endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the world’s oldest and largest global environmental organization.

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Meerkat Trio Born At Perth Zoo


Three Slender-tailed Meerkat kits are out of the den at Australia’s Perth Zoo!   Born in September to mom Tilly, the kits have recently opened their eyes and started exploring their habitat.

Tilly is an experienced mother – this is her third litter in the past 12 months.

Meerkat kits grow quickly, and the kits will soon start to eat insects, meat, and vegetables like the adults.  In just a few months, they will be the same size as their parents.

Native to southern Africa, Meerkats are extremely social.  Living in groups of up to 30 individuals, they forage, hunt, and care for their young as a group.  Like many social animals, they have a wide vocal repertoire to communicate alarm, danger, and contentment.  One Meerkat is often on sentry duty, standing erect at the burrow entrance on watch for predators and threats.

Meerkats are plentiful in the wild and not under significant threat. 

Photo Credit:  Perth Zoo

Peek-A-Boo - It's a Baby Tree Kangaroo!


Who’s peeking out of that pouch?  It’s a Matschie’s Tree Kangaroo, saying hello to the world for the first time.  Born at Zoo Miami, the joey is only the second of this endangered species born in the United States this year.

Photo Credit:  Ron Magill

Still mostly hairless, the joey was about the size of a jelly bean when it was born five months ago. It crawled unassisted into the pouch, where it latched onto a teat. Since then, the joey has been nursing and growing inside mom’s pouch.  The joey will remain in the pouch for several more months, but will gradually start to explore the world on its own until it is weaned at about one year of age.  The pouch, however, will remain a safe haven – most joeys try to squeeze inside even when they are far too large to fit. 

The joey’s gender has not been determined, but it will eventually become part of an international zoo breeding program. 

Found only in the mountainous rain forests of northeastern New Guinea, Matschie’s Tree Kangaroos spend most of their time in the trees feeding on leaves, ferns, moss, and bark.  Because the forests in which they live have been logged or converted to agriculture, these marsupials are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  Zoo Miami has been a long time contributor to Matschie’s Tree Kangaroo conservation efforts in the wilds of New Guinea. 

See more photos of the joey below.

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Houston Zoo Cares for Valuable New Gem ‘Opal’

1_Houston Nyala Opal

Opal is one of four baby Nyala born at the Houston Zoo over the past two months, and keepers have formed a special attachment to the new calf. 

2_Houston Nyala Opal

3_Houston Nyala Opal

4_Houston Nyala OpalPhoto Credits: Houston Zoo

The Zoo’s keeper team noticed, soon after she was born on August 25, that she wasn’t nursing very well from mom, Ruby. They quickly intervened and taught the calf to bottle-feed, but kept her living with her mother so the pair could continue to bond behind-the-scenes. Soon, however, the keepers saw Opal nursing from Ruby! Recently, the team ended all bottles for Opal, and she is continuing to successfully nurse from mom. Opal now eats solid food, as well, which includes grain, hay, and produce.

Opal and her mom will continue to stay in their barn for a few more weeks, but guests and Zoo members can see the other three new Nyala frolicking around the yard, every day, at the Houston Zoo’s West Hoofed Run. Additional baby Nyala include: Wallace (mom Willow), born July 29; Fancy (mom Lola), August 12; and Fern (mom Ivy), September 8.

The Nyala (Tragelaphus angasil), also called inyala, are mid-sized members of the antelope family. Native to southern Africa, the spiral-horned males can weigh up to 275 pounds, and females weigh up to 150 pounds. When born, Nyala generally weigh around 10 pounds.

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