New Gray Seal Pup at Smithsonian’s National Zoo

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The Smithsonian’s National Zoo’s American Trail team is celebrating the arrival of a female Gray Seal pup. She was born January 21 to mother Kara.

Keepers have been closely monitoring the pup, which appears to be nursing, moving and bonding well with mom. At 33 years old, Kara is the oldest Gray Seal to give birth in a Zoo. This pup is the third for Kara and 26-year-old father, Gunther.

Animal care staff are cautiously optimistic that the pup will thrive, and Kara is caring for her pup without interference. On January 24 the pup weighed-in at 37 pounds.

Around three weeks of age, the pup will wean and shed her white lanugo coat, revealing a gray and mottled pattern similar to that of the adults. Once she is weaned, keepers will slowly introduce the new pup to the other members of the colony. She will join the Zoo’s adult Gray Seals and two Harbor Seals, Luke and Squeegee, on exhibit and public view in the spring.

Kara_and_pup_day_2Photo Credits: Jacqueline Conrad/ Smithsonian’s National Zoo

Keepers initially suspected that Kara was pregnant based on her physical changes, appetite and weight gain, among other cues. They have trained the seals to voluntarily participate in radiographs and ultrasounds, with veterinarians present, as part of their routine medical care. An ultrasound in August confirmed Kara was pregnant, and animal care staff had been conducting bi-weekly ultrasounds to track the pup’s development. The Zoo will continue to provide updates on the Gray Seals through its Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.

Smithsonian’s National Zoo received a recommendation to breed Kara and Gunther from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan (SSP). An SSP matches individual animals across the country for breeding in order to maintain a healthy, genetically diverse and self-sustaining population.

Although once endangered, Gray Seals (Halichoerus grypus) are now listed as “Least Concern” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. In the wild, they range from North America to the Baltic Sea.


Third Litter for Otter Parents at Woodland Park Zoo

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Four Asian Small-clawed Otters were born December 9 at Woodland Park Zoo, in Seattle, Washington, to 7-year-old mother Teratai and 11-year-old father Guntur.

The births represent the third litter for the parents. The sex of the pups has not been determined. The new pups currently live off exhibit in a maternity den with their parents and three older sisters.

“The whole family pitches in to raise the pups,” explained Pat Owen, a collection manager at Woodland Park Zoo. “Mom nurses the newborns, and dad and older siblings provide supportive care. Occasionally, the adults go outdoors in the public exhibit but not for long. They prefer staying indoors to focus on caring for the pups.”

The parents have successfully raised two previous litters to adulthood and are giving the same level of appropriate care to their new pups.

“Our animal care staff keeps a close eye on the new pups but remains hands off as much as possible with little to no intervention except for wellness exams,” said Owen.

This week, the zoo’s veterinary staff will perform the pups’ first neonatal exam, which will include weigh-ins and vaccinations.

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4_20170111_151157_STAMPPhoto Credits: Woodland Park Zoo

The Asian Small-clawed Otter (Aonyx cinerea syn. Amblonyx cinereus), also known as the Oriental Small-clawed Otter, is the smallest among the 13 otter species.

Gestation lasts 60 to 64 days. At birth, these otters weigh just 50 grams, no more than the weight of a golf ball. Born without the ability to see or hear, the pups depend on the nurturing care of both parents until they begin developing their senses at about 3 weeks old.

“The pups have fully opened their eyes and are becoming more mobile,” said Owen.

As their mobility increases, the parents and older siblings will teach them how to swim—first, in a plastic tub. After mastering the tub, they will graduate to the next level: the outdoor exhibit and large pool where they will be taught to dive a few inches deep in the large pool, with their vigilant family by their side. The pups will be officially introduced to zoo-goers when they can swim and safely navigate the outdoor exhibit.

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Tiny Bat Pup Delivered by C-Section Defies Odds

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There’s a new “miracle baby” at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park—and this time, it has wings. A 12-day-old Rodrigues Fruit Bat is flying ahead of schedule in his development, despite a rough delivery.

On January 11, Bat keepers at the Safari Park noticed female Fruit Bat Patty was behaving abnormally and didn’t greet animal care staff during their morning rounds. Keepers determined that the first-time mother was having labor difficulties. Patty was brought to the park’s medical center, where veterinarians performed the first-ever emergency C-section on a Rodrigues Fruit Bat. Unfortunately, Patty did not survive. To ensure the pup’s survival, animal care staff is providing round-the-clock care until the pup is old enough to be introduced to the rest of the Bat colony.   

BatPup_002_MedPhoto Credit:  San Diego Zoo Safari Park

The male pup is the second Rodrigues Fruit Bat ever to be hand reared at the nursery. Patty was the first. Hand raising this winged mammal is no easy task: It requires a very detailed regimen and lots of affection. The pup spends all of his time attached to a “sock mom” that mimics his mother. To properly regulate his body temperature and provide enough humidity to maintain pliable wings, the pup stays in a controlled incubator set between 85 and 89 degrees Fahrenheit, with 75 percent humidity. Animal care staff feed the youngster inside the incubator every two hours, and feedings can take up to 45 minutes. “He tends to fall asleep during his feedings,” says Kimberly Millspaugh, senior animal keeper. “Sometimes he wants to play or just wants attention, so getting him to finish can be challenging.” Careful feedings are required to avoid asphyxiation. The pup receives human infant formula because Bats cannot synthesize their own vitamin C, which the formula contains. Following every feeding, the youngster is bathed with a damp cotton ball, dried off and wrapped in a warm blanket, to mimic his mother’s cradling wings.

The critically endangered Rodrigues Fruit Bat is only found on Rodrigues Island, located about 300 miles east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. Most of this Bat population is found in a single colony, at three roost sites they have used for more than 50 years. As tamarind and mango trees, which produce the Bats’ favored fruits, were cut to plant other crops, food sources for the Bats dwindled, as did the Bats’ numbers. Following a cyclone in 2003, which destroyed habitat and swept Bats out to sea, they numbered only about 4,000. The San Diego Zoo Safari Park has established a breeding colony as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan program in order to create a sustainable population. San Diego Zoo Global has also partnered with the Rodrigues Environmental Educator Programme, working with school and community groups to support Bat conservation.

Bats do more than earn their keep—insect-eating Bats prevent diseases like West Nile virus and help save crops from pests, and fruit-eaters pollinate plants and disperse seeds. Bat droppings support bacteria useful to humans, including the production of antibiotics.

 


Hippo Preemie Gets Intensive Care at Cincinnati Zoo

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A baby Nile Hippopotamus arrived six weeks ahead of schedule at the Cincinnati Zoo, and the staff is now providing critical care for the premature calf, which is the first to be born at the zoo in 75 years.

Seventeen-year-old Hippo Bibi gave birth on January 24 but the calf, a female, was not expected until March.  Because the premature calf was unable to stand and nurse from Bibi, the veterinary staff moved the baby to the zoo’s nursery where she can receive around-the-clock care. Hippos are pregnant for about 243 days.

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Hippo_pool-5Photo Credit:  Cincinnati Zoo



When the baby was two days old, staff placed her in a shallow pool.  The pool time will help her build strength and gain balance, and help to maintain an optimal body temperature of 96-98 degrees.  Most baby Hippos are born in the water, but they can't swim.

“We are giving her fluids and keeping her moist and warm,” said Christina Gorsuch, curator of mammals at the Cincinnati Zoo. “Her little system is underdeveloped, and getting her to a healthy weight will be a challenge. Vets and animal staff are doing everything they can to get her through this critical time.”

You can find daily updates from the Cincinnati Zoo about the baby, which has been named Fiona, here.

The baby weighs 29 pounds, which is about 25 pounds lighter than the lowest recorded birth weight for this species.  The normal range for newborn Hippos is 55-120 pounds. “She looks like a normal calf but is very, very small. Her heart and lungs sound good and she is pretty responsive to stimuli, but we aren’t sure how developed her muscles and brain are,” said Gorsuch.  Adult Hippos weigh one-and-a-half to two tons.

When Bibi showed signs of labor, zoo staff performed an ultrasound that showed a major shift in the baby and confirmed that it was on the way.  During the procedure, keepers were able to collect milk from her.

“We’re hoping to get the baby to drink Bibi’s milk and other supplements from a bottle. We’ll continue to milk Bibi so we can provide these important nutrients to the baby and also stimulate production so she’s ready to nurse when the baby is strong enough to be back with mom,” said Gorsuch.

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New Giraffe Calf Is a ‘Momma’s Boy’

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Megara, a Kordofan Giraffe at Planckendael, became a first-time mom on January 19. The male calf fell to earth and stood at 1.75 meters tall (5.7 ft). According to keepers, Megara is an excellent mother and has been spending time bonding with her new calf in their warm stable.

The delivery took place at dawn, before the arrival of the keepers, but the birth was captured on the cameras installed in the birthing barn. A Giraffe birth is an extraordinary moment because the baby falls about two meters to the ground and then quickly straightens up on small, fragile legs.

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4_fotolink-girafs-6Photo Credits: Planckendael / Jonas Verhulst

This is the first major newborn of 2017 for Planckendael. This birth also marks the kick-off of giving out names that begin with the letter “S”. (Each year, all newborns at the Zoo are given names that begin with the same letter.) Planckendael will soon announce the new Giraffe’s name.

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Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Celebrates New Penguin Chick

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Cheyenne Mountain Zoo recently celebrated the hatching of a healthy African Penguin chick on December 13.

When the new chick hatched, it weighed approximately 51 grams, or just shy of 2 ounces (about the same as two slices of bread). Thanks to successful care by its first-time parents, it has already grown to about 2.5 pounds, or 40 ounces, in just over a month. That means the chick has grown by 20 times its initial hatch weight in approximately 35 days.

“Even at just over 30 days old, it’s already pretty feisty,” said Patty Wallace, lead Aquatics animal keeper. “That’s a good sign, since it’s a natural defense mechanism for chicks in the wild.”

The chick is being cared for by its parents, Murphy and Joe, in an off-exhibit area for now and is not currently viewable to the public. Once the chick molts for the first time and grows its adult feathers, it will be safe for it to be socialized with the rest of the flock in the main exhibit. Until the adult feathers come in, the chick doesn’t have waterproof protection, so it needs to be kept away from the exhibit’s pool for safety.

Keepers named the chick “Penny”. Although they will not know the gender of the chick until DNA testing is conducted, this unisex name serves as a nod to Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s founder, Spencer Penrose, and the fact that the Zoo considers the chick their “lucky Penny.”

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3_IMG_20161231_133141154Photo Credits: Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

Although the Zoo has had previous Penguin hatchlings, past chicks were, unfortunately, not viable past 10 days. However, the Zoo felt that it was still important to allow the birds to do what came naturally by laying eggs, and keepers saw the egg incubating experience as helpful to the adults in the flock.

Veterinarians and Penguin experts are not sure why the offspring have been unsuccessful until now. However, several theories trace back to the Zoo’s aging Hippo and Penguin exhibit that was built in 1959. The Zoo is currently working to address those concerns with a $10.4 million capital campaign called Making Waves, which will fund new state-of-the-art buildings for both Hippos and Penguins.

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Cincinnati Zoo’s ‘Baby New Year’ Is Announced

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The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s first baby of 2017 is a Guereza Colobus. The little snow-white baby was born two weeks ago to first time mom, Adanna, and dad, Tiberius. Keepers report the infant is strong, alert and nursing. Once the sex is determined, a name will be given.

The species is a type of monkey once thought to be abnormal because it has no thumb, only a stub where the digit would usually be.

“Tiberius was born here and lived most of his 21 years in a bachelor group that included his father and brothers. Caring for this all-male group was best for the North American Colobus population, but also meant taking a multi-year break from breeding,” said Ron Evans, Cincinnati Zoo’s curator of primates. “With the Cincinnati line out of the breeding population for all those years, Tiberius became one of the most eligible bachelors in the population after he outlived his siblings,”

Four-year-old Adanna arrived at Cincinnati Zoo in 2015, along with another young female, on a breeding recommendation from the Species Survival Plan (SSP), a body that manages populations in Zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

“Their [the two females] playful nature rubbed off and we saw lots of lighthearted play behavior between the three of them,” said Evans. “Tiberius is in his senior years, so it’s significant that his genes are now represented in the North American Zoo population.”

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Tierpark Berlin Determines Sex of New Polar Bear

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Tierpark Berlin’s Polar Bear, Tonja, gave birth to a cub on November 3, 2016. Zoo officials announced that keepers were recently allowed to carry out their first physical exam of the cub.

Dr. Andreas Knieriem (veterinarian and Park Director), Detlef Balkow (keeper), and Dr. Günter Strauß (veterinarian) entered the nesting box to carry out the examination. The young bear was weighed, chipped and dewormed. The team was also able to finally determine the new Polar Bear is a male!

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4_csm_ErsteUntersuchung_Eisbaerjungtier_TierparkBerlin2017__6__17c68577aaPhoto Credits: Tierpark Berlin

For about seven weeks, keepers worked to prepare Tonja for the exam day. Andrea Fleischer, zoo veterinarian, slowly approached the stable of the young Polar Bear family and conducted daily visits.

In order to ensure that the small offspring could be safely examined, mom Tonja was also temporarily locked into the neighboring box. There she was kept busy with snacks of grapes, carrots and meat.

According to the examination team, the Polar Bear baby has developed quite fantastically. Thanks to the extremely nutritious mother's milk, with a fat content of 30%, the baby has grown rapidly in recent weeks. Keepers report, at the moment, he nurses for about three hours.

The little male was measured by the team and is currently 67 cm from the nose to the tail tip, and the bear now weighs-in at 4.6 kg.

"It was a great pleasure for me to be able to be part of the first vet check of our young Polar Bear. The little one struggled and was very curious, "notes Dr. Knieriem. "So, keeping a small Polar Bear on the arm is always a special experience."

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Ocelot Kitten Starts the New Week with a New Name

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The Buffalo Zoo recently announced the birth of their newest Brazilian Ocelot kitten. The adorable little male was born on November 17 to mom, Ayla (age 6), and dad, Pedro (age 12).

The Zoo has been sharing sweet videos, via social media, of the new guy at play, but one thing has been missing…a name! Keepers compiled a list of four potential names and recently asked the public to assist in the voting. The four possible monikers were: Javiar, Nico, Pablo, and Tacito.

The contest recently ended, and the final votes were tallied. The winning name, with 68% of the votes, is…Nico!

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1_15994525_10154350376678995_8544600553783491020_oPhoto Credits: Buffalo Zoo

Nico is the second kitten born to Ayla and Pedro. Their first offspring was born in 2013.

Learn more about Nico’s mom Ayla, and the work being done to help save this beautiful species, in this past ZooBorns article: “Brazilian Ocelot Births Help Conservation and Research” .

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Elephant Birth Caught on Camera at Chester Zoo

It's a boy! Second rare Asian elephant born in a month sparks joy at Chester Zoo (19)
A rare Asian Elephant has been born at Chester Zoo, and the whole delivery - as well as the first moments between the baby and the herd - were caught on closed-circuit TV.

The male calf arrived to 20-year-old Sithami Hi Way on January 17 after a 22-month gestation and a 20-minute labor.  Keepers – who stayed up late to monitor the birth live on CCTV - say mom and her calf, who is yet to be named, are doing well.  The healthy new arrival was born onto soft sand and was on his feet and nursing within minutes.

In the video, you can see Sithami stimulating her newborn calf and encouraging him to get up by kicking up sand around him.  The rest of the herd then gathers around and helps the baby up.

It's a boy! Second rare Asian elephant born in a month sparks joy at Chester Zoo (13)
It's a boy! Second rare Asian elephant born in a month sparks joy at Chester Zoo (3)Photo Credit:  Chester Zoo

The calf has been welcomed by the rest of the Elephant herd, including his future playmates:  one-month-old baby Indali Hi Way and one-year-old half-sister Nandita Hi Way.

Asian Elephants are listed as Endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Chester Zoo conservationists are working in India to protect the species from human-wildlife conflict. The new calf is an invaluable addition to the breeding program for this species.

Asian Elephants are threatened by habitat loss due to logging, agricultural and urban development; poaching for ivory, disease, and conflict with humans. As their natural habitat is lost, more animals are wandering into farmed areas causing crop damage. Increasing numbers of people have also died as a result of Elephant encounters, leading to retaliatory hunting by some communities.

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