Queens Zoo

Queens Zoo Helps Save New England Cottontail

1_Fitting transmitter on NECT

WCS’s (Wildlife Conservation SocietyQueens Zoo has successfully bred rare New England Cottontail Rabbits for introduction to their native New England states.

The Queens Zoo started breeding New England Cottontails, this year, as part of a collaborative effort with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), various state agencies in NY and New England, universities, public and private landowners, other conservation NGOs, and the Roger Williams Park Zoo (Providence, R.I.), in an effort to boost the wild population. 

2_NECT kit getting transmitter

3_Donna releasing rabbit at Great Bay

4_Released NECT with transmitter NHPhoto Credits: Scott Silver

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the New England Cottontail as “Vulnerable”. The rabbit was recently reviewed for listing as “threatened” or “endangered” under the federal Endangered Species Act. The USFWS found that federal protection was unnecessary, as current conservation efforts have shown productive results, and ongoing plans are in place to recover the species. 

New England Cottontails have light brown coats and look strikingly similar to the more populous Eastern Cottontail Rabbit, which is designated “Least Concern” by the IUCN. The Eastern Cottontail is not native and was introduced to the region in the early 1900s, primarily for hunting purposes. DNA analysis is the most reliable way to distinguish between the two species.

The Queens Zoo’s breeding program takes place in an off-exhibit space, and the rabbits are not on exhibit for public viewing. Special habitats and conditions have to be created to encourage courtship and breeding. The adult males and females are initially kept in their own enclosures, and then introduced in specially designed rabbit pens, where they get to know each other and hopefully reproduce. These pens have hay beds, nest boxes, and other features so they can pair up or separate much as they would in the wild. After a week of living together, the rabbits are separated, and each one goes back to its own enclosure. These environmental variations are important to the regular reproductive cycle of the species.

This season, 11 young rabbits (known as kits) were born at the Queens Zoo and sent to New Hampshire and Rhode Island. Once there, biologists from the partnering agencies first introduced them to a one acre outdoor acclimation pen and fitted them with transmitters to track the migration patterns of the rabbits. When ready, they were fully released into suitable forest and thicket-lined habitats. Overall, between all the partnering organizations, 41 rabbits were released this year.

“The New England Cottontail is an example of a species that can be saved if enough people and organizations come together to help protect it,” said Scott Silver, Director and Curator of the WCS Queens Zoo. “We’re proud to be part of this amazing coalition of agencies and the Roger Williams Park Zoo, dedicated to conserving this ecologically important animal.”

Jim Breheny, WCS Executive Vice President and General Director of WCS Zoos and Aquarium, said, “In only a few short months, the Queens Zoo’s new New England Cottontail breeding program has proven successful. The WCS zoos and aquarium inspire people to value nature when they visit our facilities, but we also have a commitment to conservation through our extensive on-site breeding programs for both local and global species that are experiencing challenges in the wild.”

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One-Pound Pudu Fawn Born at Queens Zoo

_Julie Larsen Maher 2083 Southern Pudu QZ 06 29 13

A rare Southern Pudu, the world’s smallest species of deer, was born at the Wildlife Conservation Society's (WCS) Queens Zoo in New York.  The young doe weighed one pound at her birth on July 8th, and could weigh as much as 20 pounds as an adult. The fawn is still nursing but will soon transition to fresh leaves, grain, kale, carrots, and hay.

Pudu are extraordinary creatures. Although small in stature, only 12 to 14 inches at the shoulder, Pudu are excellent jumpers, sprinters, and climbers. What the Pudu lacks in size, it makes up in strategy: when chased, Pudu run in a zigzag pattern to escape predation. They will bark when they sense danger and can climb fallen trees. 

_Julie Larsen Maher 2095 Southern Pudu QZ 06 29 13
Photo Credit: Julie Larsen Maher / WCS

Southern Pudu are native to Chile and Argentina, and are designated Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species. Using research and conservation practices, WCS is working in the Pudu’s range countries to grapple with habitat loss and other threats to wildlife. Visit WCS's website if you're interested in making a donation to help save wildlife and wild places.

There's a New Texan in Town


There's a new Texan in town, with big brown eyes, a white speckled coat, and a frisky gait. The Queens Zoo's longhorn calf lives with her mom and brother on the zoo's Farm exhibit. She seems particularly fond of her neighbors, the Scottish highland cows, who share her barnyard home.  

The female calf was born in May to Joan, a 7-year-old cow. The calf weighed 60 pounds at birth and is active and energetic. 

Texas longhorns are a domestic breed of cattle that developed as a result of cross breeding between feral and domestic cattle and are a popular symbol of the American Southwest.

Texas longhorns are known for their beauty and intelligence, and are named for their signature horns that can extend up to 6 feet from tip to tip. These hardy animals thrive in the Southwest's rugged terrain, and are the foundation stock of the region’s cattle industry. 



Photo Credit:  Julie Larsen Maher

Watch As Queens Zoo's Pronghorn Fawns Zip Around

Photo Credit: Julie Larsen Maher

The Queens Zoo saw the arrival of four Pronghorn Antelope fawns. The fawns were born to two different mothers one week apart, and include one set of female twins and a second male-female set, bringing the Zoo’s Pronghorn herd up to a total of eight.


Each fawn has a coat of soft brown fur and enormous dark-brown eyes. Already they can be seen prancing around their exhibits on their signature long legs, which give the species its incredible speed. Pronghorn are one of the world’s fastest land animals, second only to the cheetah. They also rank highly for endurance, second to Arctic caribou for the longest-distance migration in the Western Hemisphere.


Two of the fawns can be seen on the Farm, where visitors can watch zookeepers bottle-feed them a nutrient-rich formula several times a day, as you see in this video.

The two younger fawns remain in the Plains habitat which they share with a herd of bison just as they would in the wild. Those babies spend much of their time running through the large, open space. 

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Baby Lemurs Born at Busch Gardens

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay welcomed two endangered baby red-ruffed lemurs on April 21. The babies are the first lemurs to be born at Jambo Junction, home to the parks’ animal ambassadors, since parents Maditra and Bozeny arrived as babies three years ago.





Photo Credits: Courtesy of Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

The sex of the babies has yet to be determined, but they are developing well overall, according to trainers. They are getting braver each day, and exploring their habitat under the watchful eye of Mom and Dad. They currently weigh about 300 grams or a little more than half a pound; lemurs average about 80 grams, or .17 of a pound, at birth. They grow to be about 8 to 10 pounds.

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March out with Two Little Lambs

ZooBorns usually eschews domestic breeds but the recent announcement of twin Jacob's four-horned lambs at the Wildlife Conservation Society's Queens Zoo seemed appropriate for spring. Jacob's sheep may be descendants of Norse breeds brought to England by the Vikings during raids over 1,000 years ago.

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Horned sheep lambs queens zoo 4
Photo credits: Julie Larsen Maher / WCS's Queens Zoo

Watching the video below, ZooBorns co-founders can't help but think it vindicates their moderately crazy 10th grade English teacher and his analysis of Blake's poem The Lamb, "It's exciting to pet the lamb and see him spring about and all that." - Mr. B, 1996

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