Vancouver Aquarium Cares for Rescued Sea Otter Pup

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A tiny male Sea Otter pup, estimated to be just two to four weeks old, is now in 24-hour care at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, after concerned members of the public found it swimming alone in open water off northern Vancouver Island on Sunday.

Although the pup appears healthy, he requires care night and day from the Rescue Centre team, just as he would from his mother. Staff and volunteers are spending shifts feeding, bathing and grooming the newborn pup, which has not yet been named.

“Sea Otters have high energetic needs; after birth they spend about six months with mom, nursing, being groomed by her and learning to forage and be a Sea Otter, so this little guy is still a fully dependent pup. He would not survive on his own, and we’re providing him with the care he needs right now,” said Lindsaye Akhurst, Manager of the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, which is presented by Port Metro Vancouver.

According to the report provided to the Rescue Centre, boaters collected the Sea Otter pup after it approached and then followed their boat while vocalizing. There were no adult Sea Otters in sight. Once in Port Hardy, officers from Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) arranged for the transfer to the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre. Although well intentioned, both DFO officials and Rescue Centre personnel say the distressed animal should have been reported first rather than taken from the ocean. “Once they’re removed from the wild it’s impossible to determine if the mother is alive and if they could have been reunited, or if bringing him in was the appropriate action,” said Akhurst.

Paul Cottrell, Marine Mammals Coordinator, Pacific Region, DFO, reminds the public that touching or capturing wild marine mammals is illegal. Decisions about the pup’s future will be made by DFO.

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DSC02352-660x440Photo Credits: Vancouver Aquarium 

Once extinct from Canada, the Sea Otter (Enhydra lutris) has successfully been reintroduced to British Columbia, and mainly lives off Vancouver Island. Subsequent population growth and range expansion enabled the Government of Canada to change the listing of the species from “Threatened” to “Special Concern” in 2009, as recommended by COSEWIC.

Major causes of death among Sea Otters are lack of food, predators and environmental contamination. A recent study, conducted by researchers from UC Santa Cruz, U.S. Geological Survey and the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, found the energetic cost of rearing Sea Otter pups could also be leading to higher mortality rates in adult females, and more incidents of pup abandonment.

The Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, a hospital for sick, injured or orphaned marine mammals, is the only one of its kind in Canada. Under authorization from DFO, the team rescues, rehabilitates and releases more than 100 animals each year; in 2016, they rescued more than 170 animals. For every patient, the goal is to treat, rehabilitate and return it to the wild as soon as possible. The veterinary team provides medical treatment to Harbor Seals, Sea Otters, Sea Lions, Sea Turtles, Elephant Seals, Whales, Dolphins, and Porpoises.

This year’s rescue season is proving to be a busy one already. As well as the Sea Otter pup, the Rescue Centre has provided assistance and care to a California Sea Lion, a Steller Sea Lion pup, and 29 Harbor seals.

The Vancouver Aquarium would like to remind the public, if you see a stranded marine mammal, do not approach it and keep domestic pets away. Call the Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre at 604.258.SEAL (7325) for immediate assistance.

To report abandoned or injured wildlife in the United States, contact the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service at: 1.844.397.8477

*The Vancouver Aquarium is a self-supporting, accredited institution and does not receive ongoing funds to provide around-the-clock care for its rescued and rehabilitated animals. To make a contribution for the care of this Sea Otter pup, please visit support.ocean.org/rescuedotter.


Sea Lion Pups Worth the Wait at Brookfield Zoo

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Guests will be seeing double when they visit Brookfield Zoo’s Pinniped Point in a few weeks. Two California Sea Lion pups were recently born, and they are the first of this species born at the zoo in nearly 30 years.

The new pups are currently behind the scenes, bonding with their mothers, and learning how to swim, as well as being monitored by animal care staff. It is anticipated the pups will have access to their outdoor habitat in a few weeks.

The first pup, a female, was born on June 4 to seven-year-old Josephine. A week later, on June 11, Arie, who is estimated to be about nine-years-old, gave birth to a male.

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California Sea Lion pups are usually born in June and July and will weigh between 13 to 20 pounds. Pups do not swim for their first few weeks of life, but rather stay in tidal pools until they can go to sea with their mothers. They nurse for at least five months and sometimes for more than a year. In the wild, after giving birth, mother Sea Lions will leave their offspring for a short time while they forage at sea. As the pups grow stronger, the mothers leave them alone for longer periods. Mother Sea Lions recognize their pups through smell, sight, and vocalizations.

The new additions at Brookfield Zoo are very important to the genetic diversity of the accredited North American zoo population for the species because of the unique backgrounds of the two moms as well as of Tanner, the pups’ sire. All three adults were wild born and deemed non-releasable by the government for various reasons. All were taken in and given homes at three accredited facilities: Aquarium of Niagara, Brookfield Zoo, and Shedd Aquarium.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled with the birth of these two Sea Lion pups, which is a coordinated effort between us and our partner facilities,” said Rita Stacey, Curator of Marine Mammals for CZS.

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Two Pounds and Eight Inches of ‘Cute’ Born in Florida

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Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens has an adorable new addition. A male Southern Pudu was born on May 31 to mother, Posie, and father, Little Mac.

This is the first fawn for Little Mac, and he is proving to be an excellent father, doting on the yet un-named male fawn. Keepers often find him grooming his new son or sleeping next to him. Posie is also an excellent mother and shares a birthday with the little one.

Pudu, the smallest species of deer, are around 15 inches tall when full grown. Jacksonville Zoo’s new fawn weighed less than two pounds when born and stood less than eight inches tall.

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4_fawn 6Photo Credits: JZG Senior Mammal Keeper, Lynde Nunn

The two species of Pudus are: Northern Pudu (Pudu mephistophiles) from Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru, and the Southern Pudu (Pudu puda) from southern Chile and southwestern Argentina.

Adult Pudus range in size from 32 to 44 centimeters (13 to 17 in) tall, and up to 85 centimeters (33 in) long.

As of 2009, the Southern Pudu is classified as “Near Threatened”, while the Northern Pudu is classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List.

Southern Pudu fawns are born with spots, which form strips that will develop into a solid reddish-brown fur as they grow older.

The Pudus at Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens (JZG) are currently housed in the Wild Florida loop, next to the Manatee Critical Care Center. Keepers report they are naturally shy creatures, with the fawn usually hiding in the exhibit shrubbery.

More great pics below the fold!

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Keepers Celebrate Critically Endangered Hatchlings

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Keepers at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo’s Reptile Discovery Center are celebrating a conservation success five years in the making: a pair of Bourret’s Box Turtle hatchlings.

These young are the first of their species to hatch, both at the Zoo, and as a part of the North American Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) for Bourret’s Box Turtle.

Ever since the turtles emerged from their shells June 12, keepers have closely monitored them to ensure they are eating and gaining weight. They appear to be healthy and thriving, weighing 25 grams each (about 1/52 the size of their mother, who weighs 1,300 grams).

Staff have not yet verified the 10-day-old turtles’ sex, as they show no sexual dimorphism at this age. The young turtles, as well as the adult female and two adult males, will remain off-exhibit while under observation.

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4_20170616-07roshanpatelPhoto Credits: Smithsonian's National Zoo

The Bourret’s Box Turtles’ parents arrived at the Zoo in 2012 following a SSP breeding recommendation. From October to March, adult Bourret’s Box Turtles undergo a period of ‘brumation’: a hibernation-like state based on temperature cycling. It is only after completing this annual process that successful reproduction occurs. Despite the female producing eggs every year since 2013, this was the first year the eggs developed fully and hatched.

Bourret’s Box Turtle eggs can be difficult to hatch in human care, in part because the incubator’s humidity and temperature must be set at a specific range in order for embryonic development to occur. Keepers checked on the incubated eggs daily and made minor adjustments to maintain this range. The female laid her first clutch of this year on March 22, and these hatchlings emerged after a 12-week incubation. Keepers are cautiously optimistic that a second clutch, laid April 29, will hatch with similar success. The Zoo will share the information gathered about this species’ breeding and development with AZA for the benefit of other institutions that exhibit and want to breed this species.

Scientists estimate only 2,300 Bourret’s Box Turtles (Cuora bourreti) remain in their native habitat, the evergreen forests of Vietnam and Laos. These terrestrial turtles are classified as “Critically Endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, as their populations have declined more than 90 percent since the mid-1950s due to habitat deforestation and illegal trafficking in the food and pet trade.


Andean Bear Cub is a First for Great Britain

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The first Andean Bear to be born in mainland Great Britain has emerged from its den at Chester Zoo.

The rare cub, which is yet to be sexed, arrived to parents Lima, age 5, and Bernardo, age 7, on January 11.  After spending months snuggled away in its den, the cub has started to venture out and explore for the first time.

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GB first. Rare Andean bear cub born at Chester Zoo (5)Photo Credit: Chester Zoo

Made famous in the UK through the classic children’s character Paddington Bear, the Andean Bear is the only Bear to inhabit South America. They are found in Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia.

The species is listed as Vulnerable to extinction by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Conservation experts from the zoo say the birth of this cub is especially significant given how threatened the species is. 

Tim Rowlands, curator of mammals at the zoo, said, “The cub was tiny when it was born but Lima is doing a fantastic job, particularly given that she’s a first-time mum, and the cub is developing quickly. Lima is keeping her new charge close and she certainly has her paws full. But even though she’s not letting it stray too from her side, we can already see that her cub has a real playful side."

“This is a momentous breeding success for us. To become the first zoo in mainland Great Britain to ever breed the species is an amazing achievement,” Rowlands said.

Little is known about Andean Bears in the wild. Information learned from the zoo birth will aid conservationists working to protect these Bears in South America.

Population estimates for the species were last made a decade ago, placing wild numbers at just 20,000. Conservationists are convinced that the Bears' numbers have decreased further, but are unsure how many remain in the wild.

The main threat to the Andean Bear is habitat loss, with some 30% of the forests that contain sufficient food disappearing in the past 20 years. Hundreds of Bears are also illegally killed by farmers and business owners every year, largely to prevent them from raiding crops and livestock.

Chester Zoo works with scientists in Bolivia to study Bear-human conflict.

See more photos of the cub below.

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Wolf Pups Trade Places to Boost Endangered Species

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Two Mexican Gray Wolf pups born at Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo swapped places with two wild-born pups in New Mexico as part of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service’s Mexican Grey Wolf Recovery Program. 

The pups born at Brookfield Zoo are now integrated with a wild Wolf pack in New Mexico, and the wild-born pups are being reared by the zoo’s Wolves.  This process, called cross-fostering, maintains genetic diversity in the wild and zoo-dwelling populations of this endangered species.

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DrCopper_BZexam_1250 (1)1Photo Credit:  Brookfield Zoo

In early May, teams from Brookfield Zoo gathered up the largest male and female pups from a litter of five born at the zoo on April 22.  At just 11 days old, the pups required feedings every four hours as they were transported by plane and van to the San Mateo Wolf pack’s den in New Mexico.

As the adults in the San Mateo pack moved down the canyon, the zoo’s field team entered the den and counted eight pups in the litter. Two were selected to bring back to the Brookfield Zoo.

Scents are important to Wolves, so each of the new puppies was rolled in their new den's substrate, urine, and feces to ensure that all the pups smelled the same and they’d be accepted as members of their new families.  The zoo reports that the zoo's pack is providing excellent care to the pups, and they emerged from the den with their foster siblings in late May.

Keepers Lauren Gallucci and Racquel Ardisana explained the thrill of participating in this meaningful conservation effort. “We began our careers in animal care because we want to make a difference in wildlife education and conservation, connecting zoo guests to the larger issues in our natural world. Having the opportunity to make such a direct impact on the conservation of a species for which we care every day really hit home!”

Native to southeastern Arizona, southern New Mexico, western Texas and northern Mexico, Mexican Gray Wolves were hunted to near-extinction in the 20th century. By 1927, they were thought to be extirpated from New Mexico. The last wild Mexican Gray Wolves known to live in Texas were killed in 1970.

After the species was listed as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act in 1976, plans to reestablish the species began. By the mid-2010s, more than 100 Wolves were living in the recovery area. 

The zoo’s participation in the Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Program shows how zoos can partner with other conservation organizations to help save species.

 


Red Ruffed Lemur Brothers Born at Jackson Zoo

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The Jackson Zoological Society is proud to announce the birth of two critically endangered Red Ruffed Lemurs.

On Saturday, May 27, Jackson Zoo keepers arrived at work in the early morning to discover two newborn males in the Lemur exhibit!

New mother, Nekena, arrived at the Jackson Zoo in December of 2016 from Wildlife Safari in Winston, Oregon. She joined the Zoo’s resident father and son, Timmy and Phoenix, respectively, as part of the Red Ruffed Lemur Species Survival Plan.

“The 2017 Breeding and Transfer Plan was published this past February. At that time we had 187 Red Ruffed Lemurs in the Species Survival Plan®(SSP), where we recommended 18 males and 16 females for breeding,” said Christie Eddie, Red Ruffed Lemur SSP Coordinator at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo. “We are in the midst of birthing season and these offspring are among birth reports from five SSP institutions. I expect more to come!”

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3_Lemurs on a pillowPhoto Credits: EJ Rivers/ Jackson Zoo

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the Red Ruffed Lemur (Varecia rubra) as “Critically Endangered”. Found only in a small area of Madagascar, they are the most endangered type of Lemur in the world due to increased cyclones, illegal logging, and the illegal exotic pet trade. According to the IUCN, there are only approximately 35 Lemurs on average per square kilometer in their native habitat and declining rapidly. Less than 65% of newborn young survive to three-months of age in the wild, and there are less than 600 in zoos or refuges in the world.

“We are absolutely delighted to see these two little ones arrive, both for our park and the species as a whole” said Jackson Zoo Executive Director, Beth Poff. “More than a third of the animals at the Jackson Zoo are either endangered or threatened, and although every birth here is special to the staff, adding numbers to an endangered species is that much more precious.”

The Jackson Zoological Society participates in Species Survival Plans for many other animals, including successful births for the Pygmy Hippo and the Sumatran Tiger. The Jackson Zoo also regularly submits information and samples to dozens of ongoing international studies.

Now barely three weeks old, the Red Ruffed Lemur brothers are getting stronger every day. Unfortunately, it was the first pregnancy and birth for their hand-raised mom, Nakena, whose inexperience with newborns was apparent. Vet Tech, Donna Todd, stepped in and has been hand-raising the endangered babies ever since May 27th.

According to the Zoo, the two are like ‘night-and-day’ when it comes to temperament (one decidedly vocal, one much quieter). But both boys are eating well, have bright eyes, are jumping and playing equal amounts, and are more curious about their surroundings every day.

Special public viewings at the Jackson Zoo Vet Hospital are being arranged, and the Zoo hopes to be able to let the public “meet” them (at a distance) within the next month or so.

Visitors and Jackson Zoo members can visit the adult Lemurs during regular zoo hours (seven days a week from 9 am to 4 pm), and follow the Jackson Zookeepers on Instagram (@JacksonZoo) for close-ups and behind-the-scenes photos of all the park residents. People can also “adopt” the baby Lemurs (or their parents) for twelve months by contacting EJ Rivers at: ejrivers@jacksonzoo.org.


First Porcupine Twins for Cotswold Wildlife Park

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Cotswold Wildlife Park is celebrating the birth of the first Porcupine twins in the Park’s forty-seven-year history!

The as-yet-unnamed and unsexed twins were born recently to first-time mother, Stempu, and father, Prickle. The newborns are currently on show in the enclosure they share with a trio of inquisitive Dwarf Mongooses.

According to Cotswold staff, the twins are perfect miniature versions of the adults, even born with a full set of quills, which begs the question visitors have been keen to ask keepers: “How does the female give birth without injury?” After a gestation period of approximately one hundred and twelve days (the longest gestation period of any rodent), the female gives birth to offspring covered in soft, moist and flexible quills, enclosed in a thin placental sac. Immediately after birth, the quills quickly harden in the air and become prickly. The babies, also known as Porcupettes, are also born relatively well developed, with eyes open and teeth present.

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4_Porcupettes 20 (5)Photo Credits: Cotswold Wildlife Park

African Crested Porcupines (Hystrix cristata) are the largest of the twenty-five Porcupine species. They are also the third largest rodent in the world, behind the Beaver and Capybara.

Their Latin name means, “quill pig”. Porcupines possess a spiny defense that is unique among rodents: approximately thirty thousand sharp quills adorn their back. Contrary to popular belief, they cannot fire their quills at enemies, but the slightest touch can lodge dozens of barbed quills into a predator’s body. Quills are modified hairs made of keratin (the same material as human hair, fingernails and the horn of a Rhino). Each quill can boast up to eight hundred barbs. If threatened, Porcupines reverse charge into a predator, stabbing the enemy with its sharp quills. The resulting wound can disable or even kill predators including Lions, Leopards and Hyenas.

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Celebrate ‘World Giraffe Day’ With This New Calf

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Today is ‘World Giraffe Day’, and what better way to celebrate than by announcing a new Giraffe birth!

On June 8, the Fort Worth Zoo welcomed a male Reticulated Giraffe to the herd. At birth, the soon-to-be named calf weighed 185 pounds and stood roughly 6 feet tall. When fully grown, he will weigh up to 3,000 pounds and measure about 18 feet from head to hoof.

The Fort Worth Zoo houses Reticulated Giraffes, and their name describes the mammal’s chestnut-brown rectangular markings. Like human fingerprints, each Giraffe pattern is different. Native to the African savannas, a Giraffe’s most distinguishing feature is its long neck, which can account for 7 feet of its height.

The new calf, along with the rest of the herd, will soon join several other species in the Zoo’s new African Savanna exhibit, scheduled to open next year. Guests will not only see mixed species interacting and sharing the space, but will also have an opportunity to stand eye-to-eye and feed these gentle giants.

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According to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF): “World Giraffe Day is an exciting annual event initiated by GCF to celebrate the longest-necked animal on the longest day or night (depending on which hemisphere you live!) of the year – 21 June – every year!

Not only is it a worldwide celebration of these amazing and much loved animals, but an annual event to raise support, create awareness and shed light on the challenges giraffe face in the wild. By supporting World Giraffe Day (WGD) you directly help save giraffe in Africa. With only 100,000 giraffe remaining in the wild, the time is right to act NOW!

Zoos, schools, NGOs, governments, institutions, companies and conservation organisations around the world are hosting events on 21 June every year to raise awareness and support for giraffe in the wild.”

For more information on ‘World Giraffe Day’, please see GCF’s website: https://giraffeconservation.org/

More great pics below the fold!

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SeaWorld Orlando Welcomes First Walrus Calf

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Kaboodle, a 14 year-old Walrus at SeaWorld Orlando, welcomed her first calf in early June. This is a first for the SeaWorld Orlando family, and they are justifiably excited!

According to SeaWorld’s animal care ambassadors, who kept a close watch on Kaboodle throughout her pregnancy, mom and calf immediately bonded and have been inseparable ever since.

Guests won’t be able to see Kaboodle and her calf, just yet. The adorable pair is currently under 24-hour care with their husbandry team to make sure than mom and calf are growing and thriving together.

Check with SeaWorld’s social channels and website for updates: https://seaworld.com/

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The Walrus (Odobenus rosmarus) is a large flippered marine mammal with distribution about the North Pole in the Arctic Ocean and subarctic seas of the Northern Hemisphere. It is the only living species in the family Odobenidae and genus Odobenus. This species is subdivided into three subspecies: the Atlantic Walrus (O. r. rosmarus) which lives in the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Walrus (O. r. divergens) which lives in the Pacific Ocean, and O. r. laptevi, which lives in the Laptev Sea of the Arctic Ocean.

Adult Walruses are recognized by their prominent tusks, whiskers, and bulkiness. Adult males in the Pacific can weigh more than 2,000 kg (4,400 lb) and are exceeded in size only by the two species of Elephant Seals.

Walruses live mostly in shallow waters above the continental shelves, spending significant amounts of their lives on the sea ice looking for benthic bivalve mollusks to eat. Walruses are relatively long-lived, social animals, and they are considered to be a "keystone species" in the Arctic marine regions.

Gestation lasts 15 to 16 months. The first three to four months are spent with the blastula in suspended development before it implants itself in the uterus. This strategy of delayed implantation, common among pinnipeds, presumably evolved to optimize both the mating season and the birthing season, determined by ecological conditions that promote newborn survival. Calves are born during the spring migration, from April to June. They weigh about 45 to 75 kg (99 to 165 lb) at birth and are able to swim.

Mothers nurse for over a year before weaning, but the young can spend up to five years with the mothers. Calves are born with robust whiskers, which help identify the shellfish they can eat. Because ovulation is suppressed until the calf is weaned, females give birth at most every two years, leaving the Walrus with the lowest reproductive rate of any pinniped.

Walruses live about 20-30 years in the wild.

While Walruses are not yet classified as a threatened species by the IUCN, they have been adversely affected by global climate change. That’s where SeaWorld Orlando has stepped in to help. With the permission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the park has been able to aid and care for orphaned Walrus calves.