Riverbanks Zoo

Western Lowland Gorilla Born at Riverbanks Zoo

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Riverbanks Zoo and Garden is excited to announce the birth of a Western Lowland Gorilla. The infant was born to first-time mom, Kazi, and dad, Cenzoo, on June 4.

"This is an exciting time for Riverbanks, our members and guests, and the community," said John Davis, Director of Animal Care and Welfare at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden. "Kazi has been a great mother throughout her pregnancy, and we anticipate that she will continue to provide the best care for her infant."

With only an estimated 100,000 Western Lowland Gorillas remaining in the wild, the birth is a significant addition to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Gorilla Species Survival Plan® (SSP). For nearly 40 years, SSPs have ensured the continued existence of endangered animals through breeding and transfer plans among AZA-accredited facilities.

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4_34984692_10155691279200292_3380029684451377152_nPhoto Credits: Riverbanks Zoo and Garden/ Southern Hook Photography (Image 1) 

Twenty-two-year-old silverback, Cenzoo, 12-year-old Kazi, and two other female gorillas arrived at Riverbanks in August of 2015 to form the Zoo's family troop. Davis adds that the unit is extremely cohesive, and all are adapting nicely to the new member of their group.

"The infant began nursing shortly after delivery and appears to be bonding well with mom”, Davis said. "The first 72-hours post-partum is the most critical. Animal care staff will continue to closely monitor Kazi and her infant and the entire family troop."

The Western Lowland Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) is one of two subspecies of the Western Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla) that lives in montane, primary and secondary forests and lowland swamps in central Africa in Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.

They are currently classified as “Critically Endangered” by the IUCN. Major threats include: deforestation, farming, grazing expanding human settlements, and bush meat hunting.

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Koala Joey Hitches a Ride at Riverbanks Zoo

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A little Koala joey has started hitching a ride on mom Lottie’s back at Riverbanks Zoo.

The baby is about six months old, but has only recently emerged from Lottie’s pouch and started experiencing the outside world.

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28379527_10155460042705292_2100787867180373063_nPhoto Credit: Riverbanks Zoo

Koalas are marsupials (pouched mammals), and their joeys are only the size of a jellybean at birth. Shortly after birth, the tiny, underdeveloped joey crawls from the birth canal into the pouch, where it latches onto a teat. The joey grows and develops inside the pouch for months. Once it becomes mobile and is covered in fur at about six months of age, the joey peeks out of the pouch and takes tiny excursions away from mom. The joey will cling to mom’s back for transportation until it is about 12 months old.

Zoo guests can look for Lottie and her joey in their habitat. Koalas are sedentary and sleep up to 20 hours per day.

Koalas are native only to mainland Australia, where they inhabit forested areas and feed exclusively on the leaves of eucalyptus trees. Because many of Australia’s forests are being converted to agriculture use or swallowed by spreading urban areas, Koalas were listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List in 2016.

 


Koala Joey Ready for His Close-Up

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Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, in South Carolina, was recently greeted by a new Koala joey. The male juvenile, born in May to ‘Lottie’ and ‘Jimmie’, emerged from mother’s pouch and has become quite the attraction. 

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10866262_10152672701700292_760693107489027150_oPhoto Credits: JMB Photography

The birth of the new Koala is a rare occurrence for a zoo in the United States. There is only an average of seven joeys born per year in 11 U.S. zoos with Koala exhibits, and only two were born in 2014.

Native to Australia, the Koala’s closest living relative is the wombat. They are mostly nocturnal, marsupials that often sleep 18-20 hours each day.

They prefer to live in the tall eucalypt forests and low eucalypt woodlands of mainland, eastern Australia and on some islands off the southern and eastern coasts. Although, there are well over 600 varieties of eucalypts, Koalas eat only some of these. They are fussy eaters and have strong preferences for different types of gum leaves.

In the wild, young females generally give birth to one young per year, and older females will generally reproduce every 2-3 years.

After a gestation period of about 30-35 days, the 2cm long blind and furless joey makes his journey to the mother’s pouch. It relies on its well-developed senses of smell and touch and an inborn sense of direction. Once in the pouch, it attaches itself to one of the two teats. The joey stays in its mother’s pouch for about 6 to 7 months, drinking only milk.

Before it can tolerate gumleaves, which are toxic for most mammals, the joey must feed on a substance called ‘pap' which is a specialized form of the mother’s droppings that is soft and runny. This allows the mother to pass on to the joey special micro-organisms from her intestine which are necessary for it to be able to digest the gumleaves. It feeds on this for a period of up to a few weeks, just prior to it coming out of the pouch.

After emerging from the pouch, the joey will ride on its mother’s abdomen or back, and it will return to the pouch for milk until too big to fit inside. The joey leaves its mother’s home range between 1 and 3 years old, depending on when the mother has her next joey.


Too Big for the Pouch, but Perfect as a Backpack

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Too big for mom's pouch, Baby Koala Owen has finally emerged for visitiors at the Koala Knockabout exhibit at the Riverbanks Zoo. Born to mom Lottie back in May, Owen started out as a jellybean-sized joey nestled deep within mom's pouch, but has since grown to a perfect Koala-sized backpack. For the most part, Australian animals in non-Australian zoos are rare and the Riverbanks Zoo was lucky to receive Lottie from South Carolina's sister Australian state of Queensland in 2003. In the early 20th Century, Koalas were almost hunted to extinction for their fur, which was exported to Europe and North America. Today, anyone who even thinks of buying a Koala fur jacket should probably be slapped, or at the very least, de-friended on Facebook.

Owen the Koala clings to mom at the Riverbanks Zoo 2

Owen the Koala clings to mom at the Riverbanks Zoo 2

Owen the Koala clings to mom Lottie at the Riverbanks ZooPhoto credits: Richard Rokes / Riverbanks Zoo


Oliver the Koala Comes out to Play

Little Oliver the Koala was born back in April at the Riverbanks Zoo in South Carolina but, like other marsupials, spent his first months in mom's pouch. The little joey is only now too large for mom "Lottie's" pouch but still spends his days close by, usually clinging to her back or tucked under her stomach. 

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Photo credits: Riverbanks Zoo

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Riverbanks Zoo’s Giraffe Herd Grows by Six Feet

This leggy little girl was born overnight and was standing and alert when the keepers entered the giraffe barn on the morning of August 15. At birth, the calf was approximately 5' 6" tall and 119 lbs. Now, at 1 month, she is nearly 6' tall and 177 lbs. See her now at South Carolina's Riverbanks Zoo.

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Black-Necked Swan Cygnets under Mom's Wing

Displaying none of their parents' signature black neck, these downy white black-necked swan cygnets ventured out onto the pond at the Riverbanks Zoo's Bird Garden after only one day in the nest. Born March 6th, the cygnets will be on display until the fall.

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While wholly capable of swimming, sometimes it's easier to catch a ride with mom.

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