A Red-necked Wallaby joey was photographed out with her keeper on September 4, just before exploring her new home at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park’s newest exhibit: “Walkabout Australia”.
The almost 11-month-old Wallaby is one of three joeys—Laura, Thelma and Tatum—who’ve finally settled into their grassy habitat at Walkabout Australia after weeks of commuting back and forth from their previous home at the Ione and Paul Harter Animal Care Center, where they were hand raised.
Photo Credits: Ken Bohn/ San Diego Zoo Global
The joeys currently stand over 20 inches tall and weigh between 9 and 13 pounds each. When full grown, Wallaby females can weigh between 26 and 35 pounds and reach a length of up to 3 feet from head to tail.
Animal care staff continues to bottle-feed the trio three times a day, but they will be gradually reducing the amount until the joeys are completely weaned by the end of October.
Guests visiting the Safari Park can see the Wallaby joeys in Walkabout Australia—an immersive, interactive experience that allows guests to discover the wildlife and habitats of the Land Down Under, and learn how Australia’s one-of-a-kind species interact with humans who share their world.
There’s been a late summer baby boom at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, eliciting lots of “oohs and aahs” from visitors of all ages.
Among the new baby animals that can be seen at the Park, there’s a Greater One-horned Rhino calf, named Tio, who was born on July 9 to mom, Tanaya.
Also, a male Giraffe calf, named Kumi, was born August 6, and a handsome male African Elephant was born August 12 and has been named Umzula-zuli.
A young Scimitar Horned Oryx can be seen sticking close to his mom at the Park, and a one-month-old Grevy’s Zebra foal enjoys sunning with mom.
San Diego Safari Park visitors may see the baby animals and all the Safari Park has to offer from an African Tram Safari, a Caravan Safari or private Cart Safari.
Photo Credits: Ken Bohn/ San Diego Zoo Global
Since 1969, more than 37,600 animals have been born at the Safari Park, including 23,000 mammals, 12,800 birds, 1,500 amphibians and 40 reptiles. The Safari Park’s successful breeding programs help conserve numerous species, many of which are threatened or endangered, like the Scimitar Horned Oryx.
Animal care staff at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park are celebrating the birth of a baby Elephant, born just before midnight on World Elephant Day, August 12. The calf, a male, was born to mother Ndlulamitsi, better known as ‘Ndlula,’ without complications and began nursing shortly after birth.
Photo Credit: Ken Bohn/San Diego Zoo Safari Park
“Mother and baby were in a small area of the yard, separate from the rest of the herd,” said Curtis Lehman, animal care supervisor at the Safari Park. “This separation, much like what would occur in natural habitats in Africa, allows mom and baby time for bonding.”
The baby Elephant, named Umzula-zuli, tipped the scales at more than 270 pounds—making him the largest Elephant calf ever born at the Safari Park. A newborn calf generally weights 200 to 268 pounds at birth. By late morning, with the baby appearing healthy and well bonded to his mother, animal care staff offered the pair the opportunity to move into a larger area of the habitat with the rest of the herd.
“This morning’s introduction of ‘Zuli’ to the other 12 Elephants in the herd was one of the most endearing animal scenes I have had the privilege of seeing,” said Mindy Albright, lead keeper, San Diego Zoo Safari Park. “The other Elephants were clearly excited to meet the new baby—touching him, trumpeting and smelling him with their trunks.”
The average gestation period for African Elephants is 649 days, or 22 months, so Zuli’s birth had been long anticipated. When the Park opened at 9 a.m., guests at the African Elephant overlook were able to see Ndlula and her newborn interacting with the herd. The new baby and his herd may also be seen on the Safari Park’s Elephant Cam.
The Safari Park is now home to 13 Elephants—4 adults and 9 youngsters. The adults were rescued in 2003 from the Kingdom of Swaziland, where they faced being culled. A lack of space and long periods of drought had created unsuitable habitat for a large Elephant population in the small southern African country. At the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, Elephant studies are underway on nutrition, daily walking distance, growth and development, and bioacoustic communication. Since 2004, San Diego Zoo Global has contributed $30,000 yearly to Swaziland’s Big Game Parks to fund programs like anti-poaching patrols, improve infrastructure and purchase additional acreage for the Big Game Parks. African Elephants are listed as Vulnerable to Extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Visitors hoping to glimpse three Cheetah cubs at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park weren’t disappointed when the trio debuted on February 22. The three siblings – one male and two females – watched the people, explored their surroundings, played with each other and, typical of any infant, after one of their five daily feedings, settled in for a long nap.
The 7-week-old Cheetahs were born January 6 at San Diego Zoo Global’s off-site Cheetah Breeding Center to an inexperienced mom named Malana. In an effort to care for her cubs, Malana inadvertently caused minor injuries to them. After being with their mother for five weeks, the cubs were taken to the Animal Care Center to be monitored for medical issues. Keepers will keep close watch over them, feeding them a special diet of soft carnivore food and formula, and weighing them to monitor their health. After they turn 12 weeks old and receive their three-month immunization, they will be returned to their home at the Cheetah Breeding Center.
Photo Credit: Ken Bohn
The Cheetah siblings don’t have names yet, but keepers call them “Purple,” “Yellow,” and “Blue” because of the colors of temporary ID markings placed on their tails. Purple is the smallest of the two sisters, and keepers describe her as feisty and very playful—and she has a big appetite. Yellow is also very playful and loves cuddling with her siblings; and Blue, the only male, loves to play and take extra-long naps.
Cheetahs are native to Africa and a small part of Iran. They are classified as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. It is estimated that the worldwide population of Cheetahs has dropped from 100,000 in 1900 to just 7,000 today, with about 10 percent living in zoos or wildlife parks.
The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is one of nine breeding facilities that are part of the Cheetah Breeding Center Coalition (CBCC). The goal of the coalition is to create a sustainable Cheetah population that will prevent extinction of the world’s fastest land animal. San Diego Zoo Global has been breeding Cheetahs for more than 40 years, with more than 160 cubs born to date.
Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. Their work includes on-site wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents.
Cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) are currently classified as “Vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The species has suffered a substantial decline in its range due to hunting, and several African countries have taken steps to improve Cheetah conservation. By late 2016, the population had fallen to approximately 7,100 individuals in the wild due to habitat loss, poaching, illegal pet trade, and conflict with humans. Some researchers suggest that the animal could soon be reclassified as "Endangered" on the IUCN Red List.
In light of the challenges facing the future survival of the Cheetah, animal care staff in charge of the new little cub made the decision to hand-rear. After birth, the little female was very small compared to her four brothers and one sister. She could not successfully compete with her litter-mates at nursing time and was not gaining weight. Since bottle feedings began, she is now thriving and gaining weight consistently.
Photo Credits: San Diego Zoo Safari Park
Animal care staff now reports that the cub has a “sweet personality” and is very vocal. According to them, she seeks interaction and attention from her keepers. Although she is still formula-fed, it is now being mixed with meat. The growing cub is eating four times a day and weighs just over four pounds.
Visitors to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park can see the curious cub daily in the nursery at the park’s Ione and Paul Harter Animal Care Center. She will remain at the Safari Park for about three months, and then will move to the San Diego Zoo, to become an ‘animal ambassador’.
The population of critically endangered Jamaican Iguanas is on the rise, thanks in part to the efforts of researchers at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research’s Kenneth and Anne Griffin Reptile Conservation Center (an off-exhibit breeding facility at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park).
Since September, four Jamaican Iguanas have hatched here from eggs of two different pairs of adult Iguanas. One egg from the first clutch hatched September 4, and three eggs from the second clutch hatched October 6, 7 and 11. With the addition of these four new animals, a total of 11 Jamaican Iguanas now reside at the Park’s Reptile Conservation Center.
Photo Credits: Ken Bohn/ San Diego Zoo Safari Park
The baby Iguanas now have a much lighter gray color overall, with more pronounced striping than they will have when they become adults. As they grow, their body will become dark gray and rust-colored, with greenish-blue highlights. Jamaican Iguanas continue to grow over their entire lifetime, and they can eventually reach up to three feet in length and weigh up to 15 pounds.
San Diego Zoo Global first received a group of Jamaican Iguanas in 1996: three males and three females. The first successful hatching of this critically endangered lizard occurred in 2013, with the birth of a female that still lives at the Reptile Conservation Center. She will become part of the center’s breeding program when a suitable mate can be found for her.
"I'm very pleased with the results of our work this year,” said Jeff Lemm, conservation program specialist at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. “Our job is to help make the animals successful at reproducing through the husbandry we provide, and it's fantastic that we are starting to achieve these goals."
The Jamaican Iguana (Cyclura collei) is found only in the tropical dry forests of the Hellshire Hills outside of Kingston, Jamaica. They are Jamaica’s largest native species and believed to be extinct in the 1940s. However, in 1990, a pig hunter’s dog found a live specimen and the Iguana was brought to the Hope Zoo in Kingston, Jamaica. That same year, a survey of the Hellshire Hills found a small population of fewer than 100, and researchers began a large-scale program to try to save this Iguana from extinction. Due to deforestation and threats from non-native animals (including mongooses, cats, dogs and pigs), the Jamaican Iguana is currently listed as “Critically Endangered” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.
A 9-week-old Sumatran Tiger cub was introduced to a 7-week-old Bengal Tiger cub at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park’s Ione and Paul Harter Animal Care Center on September 11.
The Sumatran Tiger cub arrived from the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C. and was introduced to the Bengal Tiger cub, currently residing at the Safari Park.
The Sumatran Tiger cub was born at the National Zoo on July 11 and was rejected by its mother a short time later. After numerous attempts to keep the mother and cub together, the animal care team decided it was in the cub’s best interest to separate them.
Both the San Diego Zoo Safari Park and the National Zoo are members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), and in a collaborative effort, both zoos’ animal care teams determined the best solution for the well-being of the two cubs would be for them to become companions.
The cubs took to each other immediately, and interacted by wrestling, jumping and engaging in a lot of friendly roughhousing—things tiger cubs do.
Park staff explained how they are able to differentiate between the two tigers. Although Sumatran Tigers, in general, are the smallest subspecies of tiger, the opposite is currently the case with the two cubs. The Safari Park’s Sumatran cub is currently the larger and darker colored of the pair, however, it won’t be long before his new companion is larger.
Guests at the Safari Park can now see them through the nursery window at the Animal Care Center during Safari Park operating hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
A tiny male Bengal Tiger cub that was being smuggled into the United States is receiving care at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The young Tiger was confiscated by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officers, who discovered the cub while inspecting a vehicle entering the U.S. from Mexico on August 23.
Photo Credit: San Diego Safari Park
Once the cub was safely at the Safari Park, veterinary staff performed a thorough health exam and determined that he was in good health. “His heart and lungs sound good, his blood work looked great and, since he took a bottle from us, it’s a good sign he’ll continue to thrive,” said Dr. Jim Oosterhuis, principal veterinarian.
“I estimate the cub to be between 5 and 6 weeks old, and he weighs in at a little over 6 pounds,” Dr. Oosterhuis said. “He has teeth coming in, so he’ll be teething in the next week or two—so, animal care staff will have a little chore getting him through that.”
The cub is being cared for in the Safari Park’s nursery, and once his location became known, hundreds of eager fans gathered outside the nursery window hoping to see the tiny Tiger. He is now viewable most of the day, except when he is taking a ‘catnap,’ according to his keepers. The cub receives a bottle six times a day with a special formula made for exotic carnivores and is thriving under the watchful eyes of his care team. He is steadily gaining weight and now weighs more than seven pounds. His teeth are coming in and he’s chewing on everything in sight—stuffed toys, blankets, even his paws.
Guests watching the cub through the nursery window might see keepers using a wet cotton ball to give the cub a bath. This procedure mimics how wild mother Tigers bathe their cubs after feedings.
The San Diego Zoo recently welcomed a handsome new resident. Okapi mom, Mbaya, gave birth to her first calf—adding one more individual to a population that is in steady decline worldwide.
Only a few zoos in the United States house the endangered Okapi, and four-week-old Mosi (pronounced MO-see) became the first of his species to be born at the San Diego Zoo in four years.
Animal care staff said Mosi (Swahili for first-born) is a robust little guy who exhibits many of the same personality traits as his mom, including a calm and easygoing demeanor.
“This is her first calf, and she is allowing us to interact with this calf because she trusts us,” said John Michel, senior keeper at the San Diego Zoo. “It was a relationship we had developed over a long period of time prior to this calf being born. And so, the relationship we have with her is the same relationship we have with the calf—very trusting.”
Photo Credits: San Diego Zoo
The Okapi (Okapia johnstoni), the only living relative of the giraffe, is a large animal that lives in the Ituri Forest: a dense rain forest in central Africa, located in the northeast region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire). The species’ zebra-like white-and-black striped hindquarters and front legs give them added camouflage in the partial sunlight that filters through their rainforest habitat.
A very cautious animal, Okapis in the wild use their highly developed hearing to alert them before humans can get close. In fact, while natives of the Ituri Forest knew of Okapis, scientists did not know of the animal until 1900.
San Diego Zoo Global, and other zoos and conservation organizations, work with local residents to protect and support this rare and unusual forest dweller in its native habitat. In 1992, one-fifth of the Okapi habitat in the Ituri Forest was protected to create the Okapi Wildlife Reserve, a World Heritage Site providing the species a place removed from most human interference.
Okapis first arrived at the San Diego Zoo in 1956, and since then, there have been more than 60 births at both the Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.
Zoo guests can visit Mosi, his mom, and the other Okapis in their habitat along Hippo Trail in Lost Forest. Their exhibit is designed to let guests enjoy a good look at these beautiful animals without disturbing them.
Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes on-site wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The work of these entities is inspiring children through the San Diego Zoo Kids network, reaching out through the internet and in children’s hospitals nationwide. The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.
Two female Desert Bighorn lambs were born, to different mothers, in the San Diego Zoo Safari Park’s Bighorn Sheep habitat at Condor Ridge on March 19 and March 25.
“We are thrilled to welcome these lambs to the Bighorn herd, as they are important to the genetic population of Bighorn Sheep,” stated Karla Nielsen, keeper, San Diego Zoo Safari Park. “These little girls are thriving. They are nursing well and, within a few days of their birth, were climbing, jumping and running around their exhibit. They’re able to be very sure-footed on the rough terrain in their habitat, as their outer hooves are shaped to snag and grab onto rocky surfaces—and the bottom of each foot is soft, giving them the ability to grip.”
Photo Credits: San Diego Zoo Safari Park
Desert Bighorn Sheep (Ovis canadensis nelsoni) are found in dry, desert, mountain ranges of California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado and Mexico. Desert Bighorn Sheep inhabit rocky slopes and cliffs, canyons and washes, and they use their climbing ability and excellent vision to detect and escape from predators.
The most prominent feature of Desert Bighorn Sheep is their large brown horns, which continue to grow throughout their lives. Both male and female sheep have horns, but the males’ are much larger and will generally grow into a curve.
On an international scale, Bighorn Sheep are listed as “Least Concern” by the IUCN. However, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service classified Peninsular Bighorn Sheep as “Endangered”, and the species is protected under the United States federal Endangered Species Act. Their numbers have dropped over the past few decades due to competition from domestic animals for water and food, habitat fragmentation, disease and poaching.
According to staff at the park, San Diego Zoo Global is doing its part to conserve the species by working with its partners to study Bighorn Sheep populations in northern Baja California, Mexico. Using GPS telemetry, Population Sustainability and Recovery Ecology researchers are collecting detailed data on movement patterns that will indicate the most important movement corridors and habitat features that need to be protected for bighorn sheep populations.
Conservation Genetics researchers are using fecal pellets from wild Bighorn Sheep to obtain genetic profiles for population structure and connectivity analyses and Disease Investigation team members are examining the health status of Bighorn Sheep in the Sierra Juarez region, just south of the U.S./Mexico border.