National Aviary Has New Sloth Ambassador

1_National Aviary_Baby Sloth Looks Right at the Camera_Jamie Greene

The National Aviary recently introduced its new Linnaeus’s Two-toed Sloth. The female was born August 21, 2017 and has been named Vivien, in honor of the iconic actress, Vivien Leigh.

Measuring about 14 ½” long and weighing almost 2.5 pounds, Vivien made her appearance in the arms of her caretakers. Dr. Pilar Fish, National Aviary Director of Veterinary Medicine, conducted a checkup to assess Vivien’s growth and overall health, and at the end of the exam pronounced the little Sloth in excellent health.

2_National Aviary_Baby Sloth Profile_Jamie Greene

3_National Aviary_Baby Sloth Close Up_Jamie Greene

4_National Aviary_Baby Sloth Drinking from Bottle_Jamie GreenePhoto Credits: National Aviary/Jamie Greene (Video features a joint announcement with special friend of the National Aviary and Ellen Degeneres, Violet Spataro.)

Vivien will be hand-raised by National Aviary experts, so she’ll be comfortable around people and well prepared for her role as an educational ambassador.

Linnaeus's Two-toed Sloth (Choloepus didactylus) is a species of sloth from South America. They are found in Venezuela, the Guyanas, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Brazil north of the Amazon River. Their habitats are rapidly diminishing due to human activity.

Guests who meet the new baby Sloth will learn about the importance of conservation and what steps they can take to protect rainforest creatures. Visitors can see the baby during daily “Sloth Talks” at 12:30 pm, beginning January 9 (included with admission). In addition, guests will have the opportunity to book an interactive encounter with her beginning February 1st in which guests can touch the Sloth, take photos, and interact with her in a comfortable, private setting.

Two other Sloths, Valentino and Wookiee, also make their home at the National Aviary.

“We are delighted to welcome another Sloth,” says National Aviary Executive Director Cheryl Tracy. “Public response to the arrival of Valentino in 2016 was, and has continued to be, overwhelmingly positive, and with so much interest in seeing and learning about this remarkable species, we felt that the time was right to introduce another. Like Valentino, this precious little girl Sloth will be an ambassador for her species, and for all those creatures that live in the rain forests and cloud forests of Central and South America. And we hope that one day, several years down the road, Vivien and Valentino will become parents to new Sloths born at the National Aviary.”

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6_National Aviary_Cathy Schlott Smiles at Baby Sloth_Jamie Greene

New Year, New Tapir at Franklin Park Zoo


New Year’s Day was extra special at Franklin Park Zoo… a Baird’s Tapir, named Abby, gave birth to a female calf.

The calf was born on January 1 to 28-year-old dad, Milton, and 13-year-old mom, Abby. This is the fourth offspring for both parents.

The soon-to-be-named calf recently had her first vet examination. The exam included blood work and a general physical. The calf weighed-in at 20.5 pounds and appears to be in good health.

“Abby is an experienced mother, and she is being very attentive to her new baby, who is strong and has been nursing well. As with any new birth, we are carefully monitoring the health of the new calf and the mother,” said Dr. Alex Becket, Zoo New England Associate Veterinarian in the department of Animal Health.

The baby’s arrival was long awaited by the Animal Care staff, as the gestation period for Baird’s Tapirs is thirteen months. Similar to a deer fawn, Baird’s Tapir calves are distinctly marked with watermelon like white stripes and spots, which help to camouflage them in the dappled light of the rainforest. The stripes begin to fade between five and six months of age.

“We are thrilled to share this wonderful news,” said John Linehan, Zoo New England President and CEO. “Given the small size of the North American captive population, this is a very important birth for this endangered species. Zoo New England is committed to Tapir conservation and has supported important field work being done on behalf of Baird’s Tapirs in Nicaragua.”



4_IMG_9874Photo Credits: Zoo New England/Sarah Woodruff

ZNE participates in the Baird’s Tapir Species Survival Plan (SSP), which is a cooperative, inter-zoo program coordinated nationally through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). SSPs help to ensure the survival of selected species in zoos and aquariums, most of which are threatened or endangered, and enhance conservation of these species in the wild. Because the AZA managed Tapir population is so small – 29 males and 20 females (including the new calf) – every successful birth and survival helps to secure the captive population. The new female calf at Franklin Park Zoo helps to balance out this small, but male skewed population.

Baird's Tapir (Tapirus bairdii), also known as the Central American Tapir, is a species of native to Mexico, Central America and northwestern South America.

They are the largest land mammal found in South America and are classified as “Endangered” by the IUCN Red List. While they are hunted for food and sport, their greatest threat to survival is habitat destruction due to logging and clearing of land for agriculture and development. In addition to humans, jaguars are the only other significant threat to this animals’ survival in the wild.

The Baird’s Tapirs, at Franklin Park Zoo, make their home in the ‘Tropical Forest’ exhibit. The new baby is expected to make her public debut within a few weeks.

France's Giant Panda Cub Shows His Playful Side


France’s first Giant Panda cub is growing up fast and revealing his daring personality at ZooParc de Beauval. Now five months old, little Yuan Meng was born to mother Huan Huan and father Yuan Zi and has captured the hearts of fans around the world.

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After learning to walk back in November, Yuan Meng has begun discovering his surroundings. He is fearless, crossing obstacles without hesitation and climbing on everything in sight, including his mother. 

The care team completely renovated the indoor Panda habitat to create a safe and interesting environment for Yuan Meng. They built a low wooden climbing structure and added rocks for the cub to play on.

Yuan Meng has a unique appearance, with grayish, fuzzy fur (most baby Pandas have brighter white, smooth fur). The care team explains that Yuan Meng’s father, Yuan Zi, had the same appearance when he was a cub.

Yuan Meng spends most of his time with his mother and still nurses. But he has also started nibbling on bamboo, which will soon become is main diet.  

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Rare Sri Lankan Leopard Cubs Born at Zoo Brno

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Two Endangered Sri Lankan Leopard cubs at the Czech Republic’s Zoo Brno had their first veterinary checkup last week.

Born in November 2017 to female Nayana, the cubs – one male and one female – were proclaimed healthy and strong by the veterinary team. Each weighs a little over four-and-a-half pounds.  

26173533_1636575439714201_4204586484020348069_oPhoto Credit:  Zoo Brno

The cubs have spent their first weeks of life tucked into the den with Nayana, where they nurse, sleep, and play with each other.  They are the first Ski Lankan Leopard cubs to be born at the zoo in 17 years.

Sri Lankan Leopards are one of nine Leopard subspecies recognized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).  (Some taxonomists recognize only eight Leopard subspecies.) Even though Leopards are considered highly adaptable and live in mountains, forests, deserts, and grasslands in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, all Leopard subspecies are in decline. Sri Lankan Leopards are listed as Endangered by the IUCN, with the primary threats coming from loss of habitat, loss of prey species, and poaching for body parts.


Christmas Morning Surprise for Nashville Zoo

Noel - Giant Anteater Pup - Christmas Day 2017 - Heather Robertson (3)

Nashville Zoo recently announced the birth of a Giant Anteater pup on December 25, 2017.

A carnivore keeper and a docent walked into the Zoo’s Giant Anteater barn and were greeted with an adorable Christmas morning surprise.

“They were elated to discover that the female Anteater, Consuela, had delivered a special Christmas gift,” said Shawna Farrington, carnivore area supervisor. “Curled under Consuela's hair and clinging tightly, was a new baby female Anteater.”

The docent, Kerry Foth, has been volunteering with the Nashville Zoo in various departments since 2003, suggested the name “Noel” for the newest addition. Noel will stay with her mother for at least two years, until she is fully grown.

The Zoo shared that this is nine-year-old Consuela’s third pup, and it is the fourth offspring for 14-year-old father, Carib. This is also Consuela’s second female pup, and both mom and baby are reportedly doing well.

Noel - Giant Anteater Pup - Christmas Day 2017 - Heather Robertson (1)

Noel - Giant Anteater Pup - Christmas Day - Shawna Farrington (2)Photo Credits: Heather Robertson (Images 1,2) / Shawna Farrington (Image 3)

Since 2001, 18 Giant Anteaters have been born at Nashville Zoo’s off-exhibit breeding facility. These reproductive successes have been enhanced by research projects done at the Zoo that focus on the biology of Anteaters and their reproductive system.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the Giant Anteater as “Vulnerable”, although it is considered extinct in areas of Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Uruguay. Giant Anteaters are disappearing because of habitat destruction, hunting and road kills. Only about 5,000 Anteaters remain in the wild.

Nashville Zoo is paired with the conservation organization “The Giant Armadillo Project” and is recognized as a leader in caring for both Giant Anteaters and Tamanduas. The Zoo’s animal care and veterinary staff are currently working on an Anteater care manual, in conjunction with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Species Survival Program, that will provide husbandry guidelines and veterinary issues associated with these species.

Litter of Eight Cheetahs Born at Saint Louis Zoo

7_Cheetah cubs 3 weeks old 12-18-17_credit Carolyn Kelly Saint Louis Zoo_web

For the first time in Saint Louis Zoo history, a Cheetah has given birth to eight cubs. Three males and five females were born at the Saint Louis Zoo River’s Edge Cheetah Breeding Center on November 26, 2017.

In over 430 litters documented by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), this is the first time a female Cheetah has produced and reared on her own a litter of eight cubs at a zoo. The average litter size is three to four cubs.

The first few months of life are critical for newborn Cheetahs. The Saint Louis Zoo’s animal care staff is closely monitoring the new family and it appears that all eight cubs are healthy. Four-year-old Bingwa (BING-wah), which means “champion” in Swahili, continues to be an exemplary mother, according to the Cheetah care team.

“She has quickly become adept at caring for her very large litter of cubs: grooming, nursing and caring for them attentively,” says Steve Bircher, curator of mammals/carnivores at the Saint Louis Zoo.

5_Cheetah cubs 3 weeks old 12-19-17_credit Carolyn Kelly Saint Louis Zoo_web

12_Cheetah cubs 2 weeks old 12-12-17_credit Saint Louis Zoo_web

6_Cheetah cubs 3 weeks old 12-19-17_credit Carolyn Kelly Saint Louis Zoo_webPhoto Credits: Carolyn Kelly & Saint Louis Zoo (Images 1,2,4) / Saint Louis Zoo (Images 3,5)

Bingwa is on loan to the Saint Louis Zoo from Wildlife Safari in Winston, Oregon. The cub’s nine-year-old father, Jason, is on loan from White Oak Conservation in Yulee, Florida. The birth of these eight cubs is a result of a breeding recommendation from the AZA Cheetah Species Survival Plan (SSP), a program to manage a genetically healthy population of cheetahs in North American zoos.

“We’ve brought together Cheetahs from great distances to continue this important breeding program,” says Bircher. “These handsome cats add genetic diversity to the North American Cheetah SSP population.”

Since 1974, the Zoo has been a leader in Cheetah reproductive research and breeding. Over 50 cubs have been born at the Saint Louis Zoo’s Cheetah Breeding Center.

Historically, Cheetahs have ranged widely throughout Africa and Asia. Today, fewer than 10,000 individuals inhabit a broad section of Africa, and less than 100 remain in Iran. Over the past 50 years, Cheetahs have become extinct in at least 13 countries. The main causes of decline are human-cheetah conflict, interspecific competition and lack of genetic diversity.

To help protect Cheetahs in the wild, the Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Institute Center for Conservation of Carnivores in Africa is working with its partners in Tanzania and Namibia to coordinate cheetah conservation efforts, including education, research and other programs to mitigate human-cheetah conflicts.

“Cheetahs are frequently persecuted for killing livestock. Our conservation partners are finding ways to improve the lives of local herders by providing education opportunities, food and medical supplies, so they can live peacefully with Cheetahs and support their protection,” says Bircher.

According to staff, the Zoo’s mother and eight cubs are doing well and will remain in their private, indoor maternity den behind the scenes at River’s Edge for the next several months.

10_Cheetah cubs 2 weeks old 12-12-17_credit Saint Louis Zoo_web

Holiday Season Brings Bongos to Two Facilities


The holiday season brought the bountiful gift of Bongos for two U.S. facilities. The Audubon Nature Institute and the Virginia Zoo both ended 2017 with the significant births of two female calves.

The groundbreaking conservation partnership between Audubon Nature Institute and San Diego Zoo Global recently welcomed the birth of a baby Eastern Bongo, a critically endangered species of antelope battling for survival in the jungles and forests of Africa.

Just months after its first animals arrived at Audubon’s West Bank campus in Lower Coast Algiers, staffers at the Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center welcomed the female Bongo calf on the morning of December 11.


Babybongo26Photo Credits: Audubon Nature Institute (Images 1-3; Video) / Virginia Zoo (Images 4-6) 

The Bongo is the largest forest-dwelling antelope species and one of the most distinctive, sporting a glossy chestnut or orange colored coat, large ears, eye-catching vertical white stripes and long horns that spiral as high as three feet.

The Audubon Nature Institute/San Diego Zoo Global collaboration – known as the Alliance for Sustainable Wildlife – is akin to a modern-day ark designed to preserve species that are vulnerable in the wild and to sustain populations in human care.

There are only about 100 Bongos remaining in the wild, and their numbers continue to dwindle due to habitat loss from illegal logging, hunting and transmission of disease from grazing cattle.

“Zoos may be the last hope for the Eastern Bongo,’’ said Michelle Hatwood, curator of Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center.

“Bongo conservation in the wild is ongoing, but the effort continues to meet many challenges. Audubon Nature Center has joined zoos around the world to make sure this beautiful animal continues to exist.’’

Their Bongo newborn was conceived at Audubon Species Survival Center shortly after its parents arrived in mid-April from San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

Both parents were born in zoos and are part of the Species Survival Plan administered by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). That plan reviews the animals throughout its accredited facilities and makes recommendations about which should be moved where, given their genetics and personalities and the needs of potential mates at other zoos.

The soon-to-be-named calf weighed in at a healthy 46 pounds, Hatwood said. Both mother, known only as “3,’’ and father, Kibo, are five-years-old and experienced parents.

Hatwood continued, “The mother is displaying all the right behaviors to successfully raise her calf, including making sure curious herd mates behave around the little one.’’

Audubon officials expect their Bongo collection, which now comprises six females and one male, to continue to grow inside the new, four-acre enclosure.

“This is a water-loving, forest antelope,’’ Hatwood said. “And Louisiana has the perfect habitat for this beautiful species to thrive.’’

Once the new calf reaches the age when it would disperse from the herd naturally, Hatwood said the Species Survival Plan would determine the next move.

The Bongo may remain at the Species Survival Center, or it could be sent to another zoo - a decision that will consider both the animal’s needs and the genetic health of the AZA’s zoo population.

“Bongo are one of the first species of antelope I’ve ever gotten the privilege to work with,’’ said Hatwood. “They are secretive, curious and they have a special place in my heart. I hope they continue to flourish in AZA zoos so future generations can fall in love with them too.’’

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Aadorable Aardvark Born at Cincinnati Zoo


Meet the latest “aaddition” to the Cincinnati Zoo: a little male Aardvark! Born on December 21 to mom Ali, the newborn is healthy and weighs just over four pounds. For now, the baby is bonding with Ali behind the scenes.

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Aardvarks are mammals, so the babies nurse from their mothers. They are nocturnal creatures, emerging from burrows at sunset to feed on ants at termites all night long. Aardvarks are found in all types of habitats south of Africa’s Sahara Desert.

The Aardvark’s long snout is held close to the ground while foraging for food. Once ants or termites are detected, they Aardvark uses its strong foreclaws to dig out enough dirt to reveal the insects. Using its long, sticky tongue, the Aardvark can collect up to 50,000 insects in a single night. The large ears remain upright, helping to detect predators while the Aardvark is feeding.

Aardvarks are not listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as being under threat, but some believe their numbers may be declining.


Baby Elephant Born on Christmas Day


The staff at Belgium’s Planckendael Animal Park received an amazing Christmas present: a female Asian Elephant was born on Christmas Day, December 25.

Female Elephant May Tagu gave birth surrounded all the females in the zoo’s Elephant herd, including her sister, Kai-Mook. Planckendael staff called this the “best conceivable delivery scenario.”

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In Elephant society, the birth of a baby generates great excitement. Female herd members gather around the mother during childbirth and welcome the newborn by sniffing and touching the baby with their trunks. This gathering allows young females to witness childbirth and better prepare them for their future roles as mothers.

May Tagu gave birth after being pregnant for 629 days – more than 20 months. May Tagu’s newborn stood about 25 minutes after birth and held her tiny trunk in the air.

Mom and baby appear healthy, and May Tagu is a caring mother. The zoo staff are thrilled with the successful birth because May Tagu’s first baby, born about two years ago, died of liver failure shortly after birth.

The newborn’s father is Chang, who recently moved to the zoo in Copenhagen. Chang is also the father of two more baby Elephants expected to be born in the coming months at Planckendael. May Tagu’s sister, Kai-Mook, is pregnant, and Phyo Phyo, the mother of May Tagu and Kai-Mook, is also expecting a baby.

All of these young Elephants will be valuable additions to the European breeding program for this Endangered species. The wild Asian Elephant population is threatened by the degradation and fragmentation of habitat, which leads to more frequent conflicts between Elephants and people. Elephants are also illegally killed for their ivory tusks.


Rare Malayan Tiger Cubs Show Their Personalities


Two Critically Endangered Malayan Tiger cubs at the Prague Zoo are beginning to show their personalities.

The cubs – one male and one female – were born on October 3 and only recently came out of the den with their mother, Banya. The animal care team chose the name Bulan for the male and Wanita for the female.

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From the start, Wanita was smaller than her brother. She experienced some health problems shortly after birth and has since recovered completely, but Wanita has yet to catch up with her brother’s growth.

Bulan currently weighs 17.5 pounds, and Wanita weighs 13.1 pounds. But keepers say that Wanita makes up for her smaller size with a big personality. Feisty little Wanita is not afraid of anything, while Bulan is more timid. Plus, Wanita has figured out how to roar properly!

Both cubs are healthy and active, and have begun tasting bits of meat in addition to nursing from Banya. They are hugely important to the global effort to save this rare Cat species from extinction. Experts say only 250-340 Malayan Tigers remain in the wild – a precariously low number – and only about 200 are of breeding age. They inhabit only the Malay peninsula in Southeast Asia.

Fragmentation of habitat is a major threat to Malayan Tigers, as is illegal poaching for use of body parts in traditional Asian medicine.

See more photos of Wanita and Bulan below.

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