Philadelphia Zoo

Zoo Provides Foster Mom for Amur Tiger Cub

1_3 Sumatran cubs with Amur tiger cub Zoya on scale_ Zoya 2nd from Left 7.21.17 photo by Gretchen Cole

On July 21, the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden received a female Amur Tiger cub. The cub’s journey to Oklahoma is the result of the combined efforts of two amazing zoo teams and tiger conservation experts.

Born at the Philadelphia Zoo on July 10, the cub is named Zoya, meaning “life” in Russian. Zoya is the first offspring of 10-year-old mother, Koosaka, and 9-year-old father, Grom. Koosaka gave birth to five cubs, a large litter for tigers. Unfortunately, two were stillborn, a third was accidentally injured by Koosaka and did not survive, and a fourth developed a critical gastro intestinal issue that proved fatal, even with medical intervention by Philadelphia Zoo veterinarians.

The surviving cub, Zoya, was not being nurtured by Koosaka. According to experts, a lack of maternal behavior is not uncommon among first-time mother tigers who sometimes neglect or reject cubs. As a result, Philadelphia Zoo’s animal care team bottle-fed and continuously cared for the cub who continued to do well, gaining weight from about 2 pounds at birth to almost 4 pounds at 10 days old.

However, the Philadelphia Zoo’s animal care team was concerned about hand-rearing a single cub without the social opportunities that would be provided with either a mother or littermates.

“With this single cub, we knew that the best scenario for her was to find an opportunity for her to grow up with other tigers,” said Dr. Andy Baker, Philadelphia Zoo’s Chief Operating Officer.

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4_Philadelphia Zoo Tiger Team feeding Amur cub Zoya at OKC ZooPhoto Credits: Gretchen Cole (Image 1); Philadelphia Zoo (2-4); Oklahoma City Zoo (5); Gillian Lang (6,7)

In discussions with colleagues involved in the Tiger Species Survival Plan of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the Oklahoma City Zoo offered to attempt to integrate the Philadelphia Zoo cub with their new litter of Sumatran Tigers.

The Oklahoma City Zoo’s litter of three Sumatran Tiger cubs was born just one day before the Philadelphia Zoo’s Amur Tiger litter. Oklahoma’s six-year-old Sumatran Tiger mom, Lola, has been taking very good care of her own cubs.

After consultation between Philadelphia Zoo, the Oklahoma City Zoo, and other AZA colleagues, the teams decided the best option for the cub to grow up in a good social environment was for the Oklahoma City Zoo to attempt to cross-foster Zoya with Lola and her cubs.

Cross-fostering is the process of removing offspring from one mother and transferring them to another lactating mother with offspring of the same approximate age. “Cross-fostering in tigers is unusual, but with less than 500 Amur Tigers in the wild, every cub is important for the species’ survival,” said Dr. Rebecca Snyder, curator of conservation and science, Oklahoma City Zoo.

In 2011, the Oklahoma City Zoo successfully cross-fostered a litter of endangered African Painted Dogs with a Golden Retriever who had recently given birth. However, cross-fostering among tigers is rare, with only a few cases having ever been attempted and documented.

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Baby Gorilla Arrives With Help From Medical Team

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A baby Western Lowland Gorilla was born on June 2 at the Philadelphia Zoo with assistance from a team of veterinarians and human medical specialists.

The baby, a boy, has already integrated with the zoo’s Gorilla troop and can be seen with mom, 17-year-old Kira. This is Kira’s first baby.

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WesternLowlandGoril#4F1392FPhoto Credit:  Philadelphia Zoo

Mother and baby appear healthy, but will be monitored carefully in the coming weeks and months. Like a newborn human, a baby Gorilla is essentially helpless, relying completely on its mother for care.  “We are very excited to welcome Kira’s new baby,” says Dr. Andy Baker, Philadelphia Zoo’s Chief Operating Officer.  “This important birth is an opportunity to engage the world in caring about the future of Gorillas in the wild.”

Kira, a 17-year-old female Gorilla, went into labor on June 1, but had not delivered her baby by the next morning. Kira appeared to tire and behaved as if she were feeling worse over the course of the morning and there were no signs of the labor progressing. Typically, Gorilla labor is quick and the mother does not appear tired, distressed, or show symptoms of feeling poorly.

Concerned about the health of both Kira and her baby, Philadelphia Zoo’s veterinary staff contacted a pre-determined team of consultants who were prepared to assist if there were any problems with the pregnancy or delivery. The team of professionals from the veterinary and human medical field included an ob-gyn, surgeons, anesthesiologists and others, from leading area institutions such as University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Presbyterian Hospital and Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.

Once onsite, the medical team examined Kira after she had been placed under anesthesia and determined that she was fully dilated and that the baby was in position for a vaginal delivery.

After 1.5 hours the team delivered a healthy 5lb, 0 oz. baby boy, the process requiring many of the same tools and techniques used for human deliveries, including forceps and episiotomy. While there have been several successful C-section deliveries for Gorillas, the most recent known case of an assisted vaginal delivery occurred in 2000.

Because Kira was recovering from anesthesia, vet staff provided the newborn with initial neonatal care, holding and feeding him through the night. By the next morning, Kira was fully recovered and was quickly reunited with her new baby, and has been continuously cradling and nursing him since.  

“Our veterinary team had an advance plan in place that had us prepared for scenarios like this – and in this case that plan, and the skill of our keeper team, enabled a safe delivery for both Kira and her baby,” says Dr. Andy Baker. “We often take advantage of the expertise in Philadelphia to optimize health care for our animals, and working with valued partners such as U of P Health System, Penn Vet, and Jefferson, we were able to intervene and save both lives. It was an anxious and dramatic day at the zoo, but in the end a tremendously rewarding one,” said Baker.

“Though Kira is a first-time mom, we’re not surprised she’s acting like an expert already. She was a great older sister to younger siblings and has been very attentive while our other female Gorilla Honi has raised baby Amani,” says Baker. “Everybody is excited about these two future playmates.”

Western Lowland Gorillas are listed as Critically Endangered in the wild by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, with threats including habitat destruction due to palm oil and timber plantations as global demand for palm oil and paper continues to rise. The zoo works with the Species Survival Plan® (SSP) program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), whose goal is to protect and sustain populations of endangered and other species across AZA zoos.

 


‘It’s A Girl!’ for Philly Zoo’s Gorilla Troop

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Philadelphia Zoo is pleased to announce that its newest addition, a Western Lowland Gorilla baby, born August 26th…is a girl! The infant and her mother, 22-year-old Honi, are doing well and are currently on exhibit with the rest of their troop in the Zoo’s PECO Primate Reserve.

Gorilla babies solely rely on their mother for care during the first months of life, so Honi is in constant contact with the infant, confidently cradling, cuddling and carrying her 24 hours a day. Dad Motuba is sticking close by to guard and protect the family, a role that male Gorillas typically play in the group dynamic.

The infant lives in PECO Primate Reserve with her mother, 31-year-old father Motuba and another female Gorilla 17-year-old Kira.

Viewing times for the baby may vary. Visitors may see the family on exhibit inside of PECO Primate Reserve, in their outdoor habitat, or traversing the Zoo360 trail system (a campus-wide network of see-through mesh trails that affords more opportunities for animals to roam around and above the Zoo grounds). “Honi is a big fan of Zoo360 and has already carried her baby into the elevated trails,” says Dr. Andy Baker the Zoo’s Chief Operating Officer.

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3_WesternLowlandGorilla_Baby_09.07.16_4708Photo Credits: Philadelphia Zoo

Philadelphia Zoo recently enlisted the global community to help name the newborn, and they are using this opportunity to garner support for gorilla conservation. The Zoo partnered with the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education (GRACE) Center in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a sanctuary that rehabilitates highly endangered Grauer’s Gorillas (also called Eastern Lowland Gorillas) whose families were killed by poachers.

Online voters were allowed to choose from a list of names honoring orphaned Gorillas being cared for by GRACE. Voters were asked to donate a minimum of $1.00 (with no maximum) per vote, with all of the proceeds benefitting GRACE’s Gorilla welfare and conservation work in DRC. The Philadelphia Zoo is also matching the donations, dollar-for-dollar, up to $10,000. Voting closed September 29th, and the Zoo plans to announce the winning name next week, via social media.

“We are thrilled to partner with Philadelphia Zoo on this naming campaign and thank them for supporting our efforts with Grauer’s Gorillas in DRC,” says Dr. Sonya Kahlenberg, GRACE Executive Director. “Over the past 20 years, Grauer’s Gorillas have experienced a catastrophic decline of nearly 80%, and if nothing is done, they could be the first great ape to become extinct in the wild. The Zoo’s support will help us give orphan Gorillas a second chance and will boost our work with local communities on conservation education and other programs critical for safeguarding wild Gorillas and their habitat.”

Kim Lengel, the Philadelphia Zoo’s VP for Conservation and Education, said, “We are pleased to support and partner with GRACE. The long-term survival of Gorillas in the wild will require the on-grounds efforts of organizations like GRACE as well as awareness, support and engagement of ‘local action/ global consequences’ on issues like climate change and deforestation-free palm oil, both of which impact Gorillas in parts of their native habitat. We hope that naming Honi’s new baby after an orphaned Gorilla at GRACE, and inviting our global community to select the name, will help make that connection and engage many in the efforts to save Gorillas and other wildlife.”

Both Western Lowland and Grauer’s Gorillas are listed as “Critically Endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Threats include: poaching, habitat destruction, illegal pet trafficking, and disease.

Grauer’s Gorillas are recognized as one of the 25 most endangered primates in the world by IUCN’s Primate Specialist Group ‘Conservation International’ and the International Primatological Society.

Philadelphia Zoo empowers guests to become great ape heroes by encouraging them to join the Zoo to save these majestic animals. Please find more information at this link: http://www.philadelphiazoo.org/Save-Wildlife/UNLESS-Campaign/UNLESS-Project/Send-a-Message.htm


Four Little Lemurs Born at Philadelphia Zoo

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Meet Philadelphia Zoo’s Black-and-white Ruffed Lemurs, born on February 21.  Together, these four fluffy babies weigh only one-third of a pound, but they add up to a ton of cuteness. 

The babies were born to 9-year-old Kiaka and 10-year-old Huey after a breeding recommendation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Species Survival Plan.  This program seeks to maintain genetically viable populations of rare and endangered animals.  Because of her genetic makeup, Kiaka is the most valuable breeding female of her species in the country.

Lemurs 2Photo Credit:  Philadelphia Zoo

 

An excellent mother, Kiaka carries the babies in her mouth from one nest box to another, a typical behavior as the babies cannot move around on their own for the first few months. The siblings will nurse until they are about five to six months old, but will try solid foods at six to eight weeks of age.

Native to Madagascar, Black-and-white Ruffed Lemurs are listed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature  due to poaching and habitat loss. 


Philly Zoo’s Red Panda Twins Need Names

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Philadelphia Zoo recently announced the birth of two Red Panda cubs. The twins, male and female, were born to parents Basil and Spark (both 5-year-olds), on June 26.

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4_PhillyZooRedPandaTwinsPhoto Credits: Philadelphia Zoo

 “We are thrilled at the birth of these new cubs,” said Kevin Murphy, Philadelphia Zoo’s General Curator. “The birth is important in the Zoo’s efforts in Red Panda conservation. We work with the Species Survival Plan® (SSP) breeding program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), whose goal is to manage populations of threatened, endangered and other species across AZA zoos, to maintain long-term genetic and demographic viability. This birth marks an important step towards the plan.”

Mother and twins are doing very well. Spark, an excellent mother, is tending to the very active cubs. The duo are nursing from Spark, as well as eating independently. Their diet consists of fresh bamboo, grapes, apples and biscuits formulated for Red Pandas.

Keepers continue to observe the cubs and their mother, while providing as much privacy as needed. The cubs made their public debut on Wednesday, November 18.

Currently, the Zoo is enlisting the help of Zoo visitors and social media followers to name the Red Panda cubs. Today, November 25, is the final day to vote on the selected names for the twins.

To caste your vote, check out the Philadelphia Zoo’s special webpage: http://philadelphiazoo.org/vote-for-cuteness.htm

The Zoo has preselected the following groups of names for the contest:

Ning (pronounced Nink) - male means of peace

Liling (Pronounced LiLink) - female means white Jasmine sound

Betsy - Ross

Benjamin – Franklin

Sawyer

Scarlett

Ceba - Tibetan for "dear to hold"

Pabu- Tibetan for "puffball"

Ponga-  (from Nepali nyala ponga, meaning "eater of bamboo") 

Kaala- (name used by the Limbu people of Nepal meaning "dark")

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New Lambs at Philly Zoo Are ‘Spot On’

11025948_10152719069257934_4040006812025222370_oKidZooU, at the Philadelphia Zoo, is home to two new baby Jacob Sheep! 

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11018870_10152719069267934_1840938447650503660_oPhoto Credits: Philadelphia Zoo

Born to mom, ‘Cambria’, both lambs are strong, healthy, and bonding well with their mother. The pair were standing, walking, and nursing within an hour of birth. 

The Jacob Sheep is a rare breed of small, multi-horned sheep. Mature rams weigh about 54 to 82 kg (120 to 180 lb), while adult ewes weigh about 36 to 54 kg (80 to 120 lb). They may have anywhere from two to six horns, but they typically have four. Both sexes grow horns, but females exhibit smaller, shorter, and more delicate horns than rams. They are ‘piebald’ (colored with white spots), and their most common coloring is black-and-white.

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Pride at Philly Zoo Now Complete

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In early September, ZooBorns introduced you to four new African Lion Cubs, at the Philadelphia Zoo.  The cubs have now been joined by their father in the zoo’s First Niagara Big Cat Falls exhibit.

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10368807_10152478806807934_2393254229883012435_oPhoto Credits: Philadelphia Zoo

Gradual reintroductions between the cubs and their father proved successful. The cubs are now in residence with their five-year-old dad, ‘Makini’, and the entire pride can be seen together, regularly, in the exhibit.

Two of the cubs were born on June 25, 2014, and the other two were born the next day on the 26th.  The proud mother is four-year-old ‘Tajiri’. They are the first lion cubs born at the Philadelphia Zoo since 1996!

The Philadelphia Zoo conducted a contest, through social media, and the public was able to cast votes for their favorite names for the cubs.  ‘Mali’, ‘Kataba’, ‘Sabi’, and ‘Msinga’ are already known to be as unique as their new monikers.  Kataba has marks on both front feet, Mali has no dye marks, Msinga has a lighter mark on the left front foot, and Sabi has a mark on the left hind foot.

The African Lion is classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List. Main threats to lions include: killing to protect livestock and depletion of their prey. Habitat loss and conversion for agriculture have also led to a decline in some population sizes.

The Philadelphia Zoo works in partnership with the Ongava Research Centre (ORC), part of one of the largest private nature reserves in Namibia, Africa. Their research projects closely monitor the activities of lions in the wild, specifically, how lions form groups and how those groups expand and disperse.


New Pride at Philly Zoo

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The Philadelphia Zoo recently celebrated the public debut of some amazing new residents: Four African Lion cubs!

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PhillyZooLionCubs_3Photo Credits: Philadelphia Zoo

Two of the cubs were born on June 25th, and the other two were born the next day on the 26th.  The proud mother is four-year-old Tajiri, and their father is five-year-old Makini. They are the first lion cubs born at the Philadelphia Zoo since 1996, and the quad makes their home at the zoo’s First Niagara Big Cat Falls.

Keepers have tried to keep first time mom, Tajiri, as comfortable as possible and allow her as much space as she desires with her new family.  It will be a little while longer before keepers are allowed to get close enough to the cubs to determine their sexes. However, the cubs have been given names. The Philadelphia Zoo conducted a contest, through social media, and the public was able to cast votes for their favorite names for the cubs.  Mali, Kataba, Sabi, and Msinga are already known to be as unique as their new monikers.  Kataba has marks on both front feet, Mali has no dye marks, Msinga has a lighter mark on the left front foot, and Sabi has a mark on the left hind foot.

See more, learn more, below the fold.

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Philly Zoo's First Ever Black-footed Cat Kittens are Thriving!

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Philadelphia Zoo's female Black-footed Cat Aza gave birth to a litter of kittens on April 8, 2014: the first Black-footed Cats ever to be born at the Philadelphia Zoo! Their names are Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viserion. Drogon and Viserion are male and Rhaegal is female.

Before making their debut, the kittens underwent a routine wellness check to make sure they’re healthy. In addition to weighing and sexing them, veterinarians completed full physical examinations of each kitten. They also gave the kittens dye marks so the keepers can tell them apart from a distance. Philly Zoo also baby-proofed the kittens' exhibit ahead of the big debut. They lowered the water level in the exhibit and added climbing structures so they could enter and exit their pool with ease, and before entering their exhibit, they practiced with different amounts of water in their indoor bedroom. They also added another feeding dish so Aza could eat separately from her kittens, and they placed the kennel they had been sleeping in inside the exhibit so they would have some familiar scents. A keeper is present to monitor them throughout the day to make sure they're maneuvering through their habitat well, but as you can see in these photos, they are feeling quite at home already.

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Just last week, the kittens received another checkup, which included vaccinations, reapplication of dye marks and weighing. Their weights now range from 631 to 757 grams (from a little more than 22 oz. to a little less than 27). All three babies are in great health.

These small but mighty cats are terrestrial and crepuscular (active at dusk and dawn). They are not great climbers, but are skilled diggers when looking for insects or creating birthing dens. They have been observed to have several hunting styles that include: fast hunting (running through and over vegetation, flushing out prey), slow hunting (slow, stalking movements- which indicates they are low to the ground in an almost serpentine motion), and finally "sit and wait" hunting (motionless vigilance at a rodent burrow waiting for an animal to come out of their den). All of these methods have proven successful for this cat. On the 2011 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the Black-footed Cat is listed as Vulnerable.

 


There's Snow at Philadelphia Zoo - Snow Leopard Cubs That Is!

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The Philadelphia Zoo welcomed two Snow Leopard cubs to its growing animal family on June 9 when Maya, the Zoo’s 3-year-old female snow leopard, gave birth to two cubs in the afternoon. This is Maya’s first litter as well as for their father Amga, who is 5-years-old. 

Maya was in constant physical contact with them once they were born, caring for and feeding them. The first 72 hours of the cub’s life are the most critical and monitored closely by the Zoo’s animal and veterinary staff. There is video of them at a very early age after the jump.

Mother and cubs are thriving, and normally the cubs would have made their public debut at around 3 months of age, but it was delayed due minor surgery to correct eyelid abnormalities in October. In this condition, called an upper eyelid coloboma, a portion of the upper eyelid fails to develop properly, leaving a gap at the edge of the eyelid which can lead to eye irritation. The cause of this condition is not well understood, but it occurs in a variety of animals and in humans, and appears to be more common in snow leopards than in other species. The cubs have otherwise developed well, playing, eating, running and jumping normally - see the video of them playing with their mom after the jump.

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Photo Credit: Philadelphia Zoo

More photos, videos and conservation information after the jump.

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