Saint Louis Zoo

Endangered Rhino Wins Hearts at Saint Louis Zoo

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A male Black Rhinoceros calf was born at the Saint Louis Zoo on May 17. The calf has been named Moyo (“heart” in Swahili). He is the second offspring for mother, Kati Rain, and father, Ajabu.

According to keepers, the little male is nursing well and being cared for by his mother. The pair has been bonding in their barn behind the scenes in their River’s Edge exhibit. A date has not yet been set for their public debut.

This is the second Black Rhino to be born at the Zoo in 26 years and only the tenth in

Saint Louis Zoo’s history. Moyo’s older brother, named Ruka, was born in 2011. In the summer of 2015, Ruka moved to the Oregon Zoo to pair with a compatible female there, as recommended by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Black Rhino Species Survival Plan (SSP).

Kati Rain and Ajabu arrived at the Zoo’s River’s Edge in 2007. Kati Rain is from Sedgwick County Zoo, and Ajabu is from San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Both are 13 years old.

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Black-rhino-Moyo_photo-by-Kathryn Pilgram-Kloppe Saint-Louis-Zoo_5-19-2017_webPhoto Credits: Saint Louis Zoo/ Images 1 & 2: Elizabeth Irwin / Image 3: Kathryn Pilgram-Kloppe  

The Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis), also known as the Hook-lipped Rhinoceros, is a species native to eastern and southern Africa including Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Although it is referred to as “black”, its colors vary from brown to grey.

The critically endangered Black Rhino has experienced the most drastic decline of any of the five surviving Rhino species. Between 1970 and 1992, the Black Rhino population in Africa dropped by 96 percent. By 1993, only 2,300 individuals survived in the wild.

Black Rhinos are being pushed to the brink of extinction by illegal poaching for their horns, and to a lesser extent by loss of habitat. The horn is falsely believed to be medicine in many Asian cultures. Because of conservationists’ intensive anti-poaching efforts in the 1990s and 2000s, the number of Black Rhinos in the wild began increasing slowly.

The species overall is classified as “Critically Endangered” by the IUCN, and three subspecies, including the Western Black Rhinoceros, were declared extinct by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2011.

Current estimates show 5,055 individual Black Rhinos are alive in the wild. The Saint Louis Zoo’s Black Rhinos are part of the AZA Black Rhino SSP, a program to manage a genetically healthy population of Black Rhinos in North American zoos.

With the addition of Moyo, there are currently 60 Eastern Black Rhinos in 26 AZA institutions. The Saint Louis Zoo's WildCare Institute Center for Conservation in the Horn of Africa supports the Sera Rhino Sanctuary in northern Kenya in partnership with the Northern Rangelands Trust. Additionally, the Zoo’s WildCare Institute supports the Stop Poaching Now program through the International Rhino Foundation.


Lovely Okapi Calf Born at Saint Louis Zoo

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A female Okapi calf named Mahameli (Swahili for “velvet”) was born to mom Manala and dad Akia on January 5 at the Saint Louis Zoo.

Currently, the beautiful calf can be observed, most days, inside the zoo’s Antelope House.

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4_16797369_10154579302412917_4752486670014287620_oPhoto Credits: Saint Louis Zoo

The Okapi (Okapia johnstoni) is a giraffid artiodactyl mammal native to the northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Central Africa. Although the Okapi bears striped markings reminiscent of Zebras, it is most closely related to the Giraffe. The Okapi and the Giraffe are the only living members of the family Giraffidae.

The Okapi stands about 1.5 m (4.9 ft) tall at the shoulder and has an average body length of about 2.5 m (8.2 ft). Its weight ranges from 200 to 350 kg (440 to 770 lb). It has a long neck, and large, flexible ears. Its coat is a chocolate to reddish brown, much in contrast with the white horizontal stripes and rings on the legs and white ankles. Male Okapis have short, hair-covered horns called ossicones, less than 15 cm (5.9 in) in length. Females possess hair whorls, and ossicones are absent.

Okapis are primarily diurnal but may be active for a few hours in darkness. They are essentially solitary, coming together only to breed. Okapis are herbivores, feeding on tree leaves and buds, grasses, ferns, fruits, and fungi.

The gestational period for females is around 440 to 450 days, and usually a single calf is born. The juveniles are kept in hiding, and nursing takes place infrequently. Juveniles start taking solid food from about three months, and weaning takes place at six months.

Okapis inhabit canopy forests at altitudes of 500–1,500 m (1,600–4,900 ft). They are endemic to the tropical forests of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where they occur across the central, northern and eastern regions.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) classifies the Okapi as “Endangered”. Major threats include: habitat loss due to logging and human settlement. Extensive hunting for bushmeat and skin and illegal mining have also led to a decline in populations.

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Colobus Monkey is ‘Jamming Good’ at Saint Louis Zoo

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A tiny male Eastern Black-and-white Colobus Monkey was born at the Saint Louis Zoo's Primate House on January 10. The little one was given the name Ziggy as a nod to rock star David Bowie who passed away on the day the infant was born.

Colobus infants are born with all white hair and a pink face. In contrast, adults are primarily black, with white hair encircling their faces and half of their tails. Adults have a distinctive mantle of long white hair extending from their shoulders around the edge of their backs. Infants will change gradually until they reach adult coloration at about 6 months.

Baby_colobus_monkey_with_big_sister_1-17-16_credit_Ethan_Riepl_Saint_Louis_Zoo_1542032_webPhoto Credits: Saint Louis Zoo Primate Keeper Ethan Riepl

 

Mom Cecelia (age 16) is the dominant female in the group, and she is an experienced mother who is taking great care of her newborn and 1-year-old Simon. Her 3-year-old daughter Kivuli is an eager "babysitter." Also in the family is 28-year-old matriarch Roberta, mother to 3-1/2-year-old daughter Pili, and 2-year-old daughter Binti. Nine-year-old father Kima watches proudly over the family.

"Everyone in the Colobus Monkey family has a role in caring for newborns," says Joe Knobbe, Zoological Manager of Primates at the Saint Louis Zoo. "Cecelia allows the young females some time with the infant, holding or even carrying him. They are learning important skills that will help them become great mothers, too, someday."

The family can be seen at the Zoo’s Primate House. Visitors can see the infant poking his head out to look at his new world.

The Eastern Black-and-white Colobus Monkey (Colobus guereza) is found throughout the forests of east and central Africa.

Colobus Monkeys grow to a max weight of about 15-30 pounds and a length of about 30 inches. They are strictly leaf-eaters and spend most of their time in treetops. They live in troops of about five to ten with a single dominant male and several females with young.

Gestation for the Colobus is about six months. There is no distinct breeding season, and females will typically give birth every 20 months. The entire troop may play a part in caring for the newborn. He will cling to the mother, or others allowed to care for him, for the first seven months of life. After that time, he will begin to play more with other juveniles.

The Colobus Monkey is currently classified as “Least Threatened” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. At one time the monkey was hunted for its beautiful fur for use in making dance costumes, capes, and hats. Today, their biggest threat is habitat encroachment by humans for the development of agriculture, housing and roads.

The birth at the Saint Louis Zoo is part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Colobus Species Survival Plan (SSP), a program created to manage a genetically healthy population of Black-and-white Colobus Monkeys in North American zoos.


Rare Horned Guans Hatch at Saint Louis Zoo

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The Saint Louis Zoo announced that two critically endangered Horned Guan chicks hatched at the Zoo on August 7—the first for the Zoo and only the second recorded breeding of the species in the United States. 

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Horned guan adult_David Merritt Saint Louis ZooPhoto Credits:  Ray Meibaum (1, 2, 3); David Merritt (4)

Because these are the first offspring for the inexperienced parents, the chicks are being hand-raised behind the scenes.

At two weeks old, the chicks weighed five ounces, stood about 8 inches tall and had fuzzy brown and black downy feathers. Their unique horns will start to develop at approximately 3 months of age. The horn begins with two bumps on the top of the head. These bumps gradually twist and grow together.

One of the rarest bird species in the world, the Horned Guan population in the wild is down to only 1,000 to 2,000 individuals in southeastern Mexico and Guatemala because their cloud forest habitat has been destroyed for logging, coffee plantations and other cash crops.

“This hatching is an important development in what has been a great effort to save this species; it was the result of many years of hard work,” said Jeffrey P. Bonner, Dana Brown President and Chief Executive Officer at the Saint Louis Zoo. “It took great attention to the welfare of the parents and enormous patience and persistence” from the zoo staff to achieve this milestone.

The parents of the two chicks are a male, age 12, who arrived at the zoo nine years ago and a female, 7, who arrived five years ago from the Cloud Forest Ambassadors Program at the Africam Safari Zoo in Puebla, Mexico, where they hatched. In 2007, the Saint Louis Zoo became the first accredited zoo in the nation to exhibit this species. Currently 56 Horned Guans are found in five institutions primarily in Mexico.  

Large and dramatic, the adult Horned Guan (seen in the bottom photo) has a unique two-inch-long red horn of bare skin extending from the top of its head. This horn is thought to be ornamental to attract a mate. This bird has a bright white chest laced with fine lines of black feathers and a body covered with a jet black plumage that shines an iridescent blue in the sun. They are about the size of a small turkey and are arboreal, rarely coming to the ground in their native mountain forests. Horned Guans are related to some of the most endangered birds in the world—Curassows, Guans and Chachalacas.

The Saint Louis Zoo began working intensively with other species of Guans in 1997, when it received a $25,000 Institute of Museum Services grant to investigate artificial insemination techniques in this highly endangered group of birds.  The zoo was also the location for the first ever hatching of a chick—a common Piping Guan—from the artificial insemination of a cracid species. Cracids are a family of game birds, like the Horned Guan, that are found predominantly throughout the Latin American tropics.

Since then, the zoo has worked with this endangered family of birds in Trinidad and Columbia and, in 2004, founded the WildCare Institute and the Center for Conservation of the Horned Guan. The Horned Guan Conservation Center staff has worked for a decade with its partners to conduct research on this elusive species. The complex dynamics of seed dispersal and habitat utilization are little understood.

The Center also is encouraging improved habitat management—advocating for increasing the protected area that is home to the Horned Guan and working to limit the factors that threaten vulnerable wildlife in this area. In addition, the Center has initiated an education program to teach local communities how to farm in more habitat-friendly ways and to strengthen community conservation participation.

“These programs, coupled with enforcement action, are expected to help reduce the threats caused by illegal timber removal and hunting,” said Center Director Michael Macek. “There is hope for this species thanks to efforts to reduce coffee plantations and to form additional reserves that can provide potential for eco-tourism, resulting in alternative economic opportunities for local communities.”

 


Black and White and Loved All Over

Colobus-monkey112832_Jan-2015_Ethan-Riepl-Saint-Louis-Zoo_webA male black and white Colobus Monkey named ‘Simon’ was born at the Saint Louis Zoo’s Primate House on December 30, 2014.

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Colobus-monkey115558_Jan-2015_Ethan-Riepl-Saint-Louis-Zoo_webPhoto Credits: Ethan Riepl / Saint Louis Zoo

Colobus infants are born with all white hair and a pink face. In contrast, adults are primarily black, with white hair encircling their faces and half of their tails. They have a distinctive mantle of long white hair extending from their shoulders around the edge of their backs. Infants will change gradually until they reach adult coloration at about 6 months.

‘Cecelia’, age 16, is an experienced mother who is taking great care of her newborn and 2-year-old daughter ‘Kivuli’. Also in the family is 27-year-old matriarch, ‘Roberta’, mother to 2-1/2-year-old daughter ‘Pili’ and 1-year-old daughter ‘Binti’. Nine-year-old father, ‘Kima’, watches proudly over the family.

“A new infant is always the focus of so much excitement and attention for the family,” says Joe Knobbe, Zoological Manager of Primates at the Saint Louis Zoo. “It’s important for everyone to have a role in the care of the newborn. Older sister Kivuli has taken particular interest in her new baby brother and is often seen holding or even carrying him. She’s learning important skills that will help her become a great mother, too, someday.”

The family can be seen at the Primate House. Visitors can see the infant poking his head out to look at his new world.

The Colobus Monkey, a threatened species, is found throughout the forests of east and central Africa. The birth is part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Colobus Species Survival Plan (SSP), a program to manage a genetically healthy population of black and white Colobus Monkeys in North American zoos.


Help Name This Rare Baby Orangutan!

Baby-orangutan-Jan-1-2015_IMG_8312_Stephanie-Braccini-Saint-Louis-Zoo_webThe Saint Louis Zoo welcomed a rare baby Sumatran Orangutan on December 14, one of only two born in United States zoos in 2014.

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Merah_Baby_Dec14_BracciniPhoto Credit:  Stephanie Braccini

The baby, a female, was born to mother Merah, age 45, and father Cinta, age 10.  Mother and baby are doing well, but they will remain behind the scenes for at least a month.  The first 30 days of a baby Orangutan’s life are critical for developing a strong bond between mother and baby.

The baby hasn’t been named yet, and you can help choose the name!  The zoo's Great Ape care team was asked to select a few potential female names, and you can vote for your favorite. The four name choices are: Marigold, Lucy, Cranberry and Ginger.

Now through 11:50 p.m. on January 16, you can cast your vote online in the Name the Baby poll

Zoo staff will reveal the baby’s name at a baby shower in honor of Merah and the newborn on Monday, January 19.

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums Orangutan Species Survival Plan recommended the birth as part of its role in creating a sustainable managed population for this critically endangered species.

"Merah is an excellent and experienced mother," said Stephanie Braccini, Ph.D., Saint Louis Zoo Zoological Manager, Great Apes. "She is carrying the infant, facilitating nursing, essentially doing everything right."

Prior to the birth, Merah's caretakers had conditioned her to allow voluntary ultrasound examinations by zoo veterinarians; these examinations allowed the team to proactively monitor the health and development of the baby during gestation. Merah and her baby continue to be monitored closely by a team of caretakers, veterinarians, and a nutritionist.

This is the fifth baby for Merah, the grandmother of two and the great-grandmother of one. She was born in the Netherlands and became a first-time mother in 1982.

Both Bornean Orangutans, endemic to Borneo, and Sumatran Orangutans, endemic to Sumatra, are highly endangered due to alarming habitat loss. A global demand for palm oil has resulted in widespread deforestation and subsequent drastic declines in the number of Orangutans that survive in the wild.

See more photos of the baby below.

Continue reading "Help Name This Rare Baby Orangutan!" »


A Baby Sifaka Joins the Family at Saint Louis Zoo

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A female baby Coquerel’s Sifaka (CAHK-ker-rells sh-FAHK), an endangered lemur species from Madagascar, was born at the Saint Louis Zoo’s Primate House! The baby’s name is Kapika (kah-PEE-kah), which means 'peanut' in Malagasy. Born on January 21, the baby can now be seen by visitors indoors at the Primate House. 

This is the fourth baby for mother, Almirena (al-mah-REE-nah), age 12, from the Los Angeles Zoo, and father Caligula, age 16, from Duke Lemur Center.

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4 sifakaPhoto credit: Ray Meibaum / Saint Louis Zoo

See video of the lemur family:

 

The zoo’s Sifakas are part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Coquerel’s Sifaka Species Survival Plan, which is responsible for maintaining a genetically healthy population of Sifakas in North American zoos. The birth of this rare lemur in St. Louis represents a valuable genetic contribution to the North American Sifaka population.

Learn more after the fold!

Continue reading "A Baby Sifaka Joins the Family at Saint Louis Zoo" »


Five Wild Ass Foals Boost Endangered Species

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A record five Somali Wild Ass foals were born between August 19 and October 15 at the Saint Louis Zoo, making a significant addition to the zoo population of these critically endangered animals. Only 51 Somali Wild Asses live in zoos, with 11 at the Saint Louis Zoo.

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Photo Credit: Robin Winkelman/Saint Louis Zoo

 

Meet the foals:

  • A male named Hirizi (Swahili for charm or amulet) weighed 48 pounds at birth.
  • A female named Farah (which means joy or cheerfulness) weighed 58 pounds at birth.
  • A female named Luana (which means enjoyment) weighed 53 pounds at birth.
  • A male named Tristan (which means clever one) 66.5 pounds at birth.
  • A male named Rebel weighed 52 pounds at birth.

The father of all five foals is Abai, who came from Switzerland’s Basel Zoo in 2005. Abai has had a total of nine offspring born at the Saint Louis Zoo.

The Somali Wild Ass is a critically endangered member of the Horse family, with only 1,000 individuals surviving in desert areas of Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia. An expanding human population, subsistence hunting, and poitical unrest in the region threaten the Somali Wild Ass’s future.

The youngsters have the same markings as their parents – gray body, white belly, and horizontal black stripes on the legs, similar to Zebras.

The Somali Wild Ass is the smallest of all wild Horses, Asses and Zebras. Adults stand about four feet tall at the shoulder and weigh about 600 pounds. Long, narrow hooves—the narrowest of any wild horse -- enable the animals to be swift and surefooted in their rough, rocky habitat.

See more photos below the fold.

Continue reading "Five Wild Ass Foals Boost Endangered Species" »


UPDATE: Asian Elephant Calf Debuts at Saint Louis Zoo

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On May 22, a three-week-old Asian Elephant calf met her fans for the first time at the Saint Louis Zoo.  Born April 26, the female calf, named Priya, was with her mother Ellie and older sister Maliha at her debut.

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Photo Credit: Ray Meibaum (1, 2, 3); Saint Louis Zoo (4)

 
During her first days of life, Priya met her aunties and older sisters who warmly welcomed her into the three-generation family.  As an experienced mother and grandmother, Ellie has provided excellent care for her calf. 

This is Ellie’s third baby and the fourth for the baby’s father Raja, the first Elephant ever born at the Saint Louis Zoo. 

The Saint Louis Zoo has been actively involved with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan for Asian Elephants. “Because Asian Elephants are so endangered in the wild, the birth of this Elephant is important to the conservation work we do with other North American zoos,” says Dr. Jeffrey P. Bonner, Dana Brown President & CEO of the Saint Louis Zoo. “Together AZA-accredited zoos cooperatively manage the breeding of Asian Elephants to maintain healthy populations that are as genetically diverse and as demographically stable as possible.

“There are only between 35,000 and 50,000 Asian Elephants left in the wild, and they are facing extinction. Given the shrinking population of Asian Elephants, the Saint Louis Zoo shares a common vision with other professional Elephant conservation organizations and with our Elephant care colleagues—a vision that includes Elephants in the world’s future forever, both in zoos and in the wild.”

 


UPDATE: Baby Elephant Gets Her First Bath at Saint Louis Zoo

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The Saint Louis Zoo's baby Asian Elephant, born on April 26, is experiencing new adventures every day as she explores the world under the watchful eye of her mother, Ellie. You saw the not-so-little calf's first baby pictures here on ZooBorns (she weighed 251 pounds at birth!).

In the video below, you'll see the female calf enjoying her first bath, courtesy of a zoo keeper with a hose! You can help name the baby on the zoo’s website through Sunday.

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Photo Credits:  Liz Martin (1), Saint Louis Zoo (2), Stephanie Richmond (3,5), Sarah Riffle (4)

 

Mother and baby are not yet on public display, and a debut date has not been set. This is Ellie’s third baby and the fourth for the baby’s 20-year-old father, Raja.

“An experienced mother and grandmother, Ellie was, of course, very nurturing, caring for her newborn baby from the very beginning,” said Curator of mammals Martha Fischer. “She did a great job of carrying and giving birth to a beautiful baby girl.”  

“Elephants form deep family bonds and live in tight matriarchal family groups of related females so the addition of a fourth female youngster further cements these strong ties and mirrors the natural family structure for Asian Elephants found in the wild,”  Fischer said.

The Saint Louis Zoo has been actively involved with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan for Asian Elephants. “Because Asian Elephants are so endangered in the wild, the birth of this Elephant is important to the conservation work we do with other North American zoos,” says Dr. Jeffrey P. Bonner, Dana Brown President & CEO of the Saint Louis Zoo. “Together AZA-accredited zoos cooperatively manage the breeding of Asian Elephants to maintain healthy populations that are as genetically diverse and as demographically stable as possible.

“There are only between 35,000 and 50,000 Asian Elephants left in the wild, and they are facing extinction. Given the shrinking population of Asian Elephants, the Saint Louis Zoo shares a common vision with other professional Elephant conservation organizations and with our Elephant care colleagues—a vision that includes Elephants in the world’s future forever, both in zoos and in the wild.”

In addition to participating in the AZA Species Survival Plan, the Zoo supports the welfare and conservation of Asian Elephants in Sumatra and other countries in Asia through the International Elephant Foundation, as well as the conservation of African Elephants in Kenya.

Also, with Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpesvirus (EEHV) a common health issue for Elephants both in the care of zoos and in the wild, the Saint Louis Zoo has been instrumental in pursuing the latest EEHV detection and testing protocols. For several years, the Zoo has joined other North American Elephant care facilities in actively supporting an EEHV research effort.  The International Elephant Foundation is facilitating this study to find a cure.