Saint Louis Zoo

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.  


Meet Lion Cubs Mtai and Serafina

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Female African lion “Cabara,” age 6, gave birth to four cubs on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, 2012, at the Saint Louis Zoo. Unfortunately, two of the cubs born did not survive because Cabara was unable to produce milk to feed them. Zoo staff intervened, and the two surviving female cubs are currently being hand-reared by staff in a behind-the-scenes nursery at the Children’s Zoo.

“In the wild, it is not uncommon for lion mothers to rear fewer than fifty percent of the cubs born in a litter,” says Steve Bircher, curator of mammals/carnivores at the Saint Louis Zoo. “The cubs are growing rapidly and appear to be healthy.”

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Photo credits: Rachael Macy/Saint Louis Zoo

The cubs’ names are “Mtai” (pronounced Muh-TIE), after a village in Tanzania, and “Serafina,” which means “angel” in African Swahili. At six weeks, they are eating some meat and drinking formula from bottles.


Peek And Pounce! Lion Cub Comes Out to Play

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Imani, the St. Louis Zoo’s two-and-a-half-month-old African lion cub, will be exploring a play habitat outdoors. The temporary play space is one of the snow leopard habitats, which is just the right size for a young lion cub that is just beginning to climb and pounce.  

 “It will be a gradual learning experience for Imani as she is introduced to one of the smaller outdoor habitats,” says Steve Bircher, curator of mammals. “When she gets a little older and more comfortable outdoors we plan to introduce her to the lion habitat.” The cub was moved from the veterinary hospital to the area called Big Cat Country several weeks ago. She now weighs 24 pounds, eats two pounds of meat a day, and is doing very well. While still being cared for by her keepers, she is gradually being introduced to her mother Cabara and father Ingozi through mesh or a “howdy gate” behind the scenes. The staff hopes to reintroduce the cub and mother sometime in the future. 

“Imani is a playful and energetic cub who seems to enjoy the company of both her parents as well as the carnivore keepers who have been caring for her over the past couple months,” says Bircher.

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Photo Credits: Rachael Macy/St. Louis Zoo

At this time, there is no date set for a public debut in the lion habitat. You can read more about Imani a our previous post HERE.


Rare Baby Sifaka Hangs on Tight to Mom

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A baby Coquerel’s Sifaka (CAHK-ker-rells she-FAHK), an endangered Lemur species from Madagascar, was born at the Saint Louis Zoo’s Primate House on January 9, 2011. This is the third baby for mother, Almirena (al-mah-REE-nah), age eight, from the Los Angeles Zoo, and father Caligula, age 12, from Duke Lemur Center. Almirena is a great mother and the newborn is very strong, according to zookeepers. For about a month, the baby held onto mom's belly, but has recently "graduated" to riding on her back. Zookeepers are observing the infant and mother every day, and a name will be chosen once it can be determined if it’s a male or female.

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Photo credits: Ethan Riepl/ St. Louis Zoo

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