San Francisco Zoo

Reticulated Giraffe Calf Born at San Francisco Zoo

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The San Francisco Zoo & Gardens recently welcomed a new addition. A female Reticulated Giraffe calf was born April 8 in the Bernard Osher Foundation Giraffe Barn.

Mother, Barbro, and her calf are in excellent condition, and the calf stood up and took her first steps within 30 minutes of birth. She’s already more than six-feet tall!

“It is such a special time when babies are born at the Zoo,” said Tanya M. Peterson, President of the San Francisco Zoo & Gardens. “You can’t help but fall in love with this calf the moment you see her. We are so fortunate to be able to share this exciting news with our community.”

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The newest arrival joins six other giraffes in the herd. The calf, not yet named, has a two-year-old sister, Sarah. Dad, Floyd, has fathered a number of giraffes at the Zoo.

The Reticulated Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata), also known as the Somali Giraffe, is a subspecies of giraffe native to savannas of Somalia, southern Ethiopia, and northern Kenya. Reticulated Giraffes can interbreed with other giraffe subspecies in captivity or if they come into contact with populations of other subspecies in the wild.

The Reticulated Giraffe is among the most well known of the nine giraffe subspecies. Together with the Rothschild Giraffe, it is the type most commonly seen in zoos.

A female has a gestation period of about 15 months and usually has only one young at a time, but a mature female can have around eight offspring in her lifetime. Females return to the same spot each year to give birth. The mother gives birth standing up and the calf falls seven feet to the ground. Calves can weigh up to 200 lbs. at birth and stand as tall as six feet. They are able to stand less than an hour after birth, and they are weaned at around one year of age.

In the wild, giraffes have few predators, but they are sometimes preyed upon by lions and less so by crocodiles and spotted hyenas. However, humans are a very real threat, and giraffes are often killed by poachers for their hair and skin.

Currently, there are thought to be less than 80,000 giraffes roaming Africa, and some subspecies are thought to be almost completely gone, with fewer than 100 individuals. Reticulated Giraffes are currently classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

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When Pigs Fly! Endangered Peccaries Born at San Francisco Zoo

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A litter of six Chacoan Peccary pups was born at San Francisco Zoo in early November. They are busy playing and exploring their outdoor habitat, in the company of the zoo's adult herd. The little ones love to leap and run in circles, an adorable behavior sometimes referred to as 'frisky hopping'. 

Chacoan Peccaries are an endangered species of New World pig, found in the dry shrub habitats of Paraguay, Bolivia and Argentina. They are threatened by loss of habitat and illegal hunting. Social animals, they live together in territorial groups, often extended families. They eat plants, including cacti, which they roll along the ground with their snouts to remove the thorns. 

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8 peccaryPhoto credits above the fold: Sandi Wong

See a video of the playful pups:

See more photos below the fold!

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Giraffe Calf Explores the Savanna at San Francisco Zoo


San Francisco Zoo welcomed a healthy female Reticulated Giraffe calf early in the morning of May 22nd. At birth, the calf was 130 pounds and 5’10” tall. Animal keepers report that the new calf has had positive interaction with the adult giraffe group and “has a lot of spunk.”


The calf's mother Kristin, an 11-year old Giraffe born at Busch Gardens in Tampa, has already given birth to three other calves. During this pregnancy the Zoo completed its first successful awake ultrasounds, which enabled animal staff to monitor the health of the fetus. “We are very excited about this birth,” said Jim Nappi, Curator of Hoofstock and Marsupials at the San Francisco Zoo. “Giraffes add a special majesty to our multi-species African Savanna exhibit. Their successful breeding means that our Zoo-wide Wellness Initiative is working as it should be; and when the animals are thriving, we are happy.”


Growing up to 18 feet tall, Giraffes are the tallest living land mammals. Males weigh up to 4,000 pounds with females weighing up to 2,600 pounds. The Reticulated Giraffe is characterized by its distinct "reticulated" grid-like pattern of narrow white lines and dark brown coloring. They are found throughout various regions of Africa.



UPDATE! Tiger Cub Explores the Great Outdoors


Fans at the San Francisco Zoo were finally able to see the zoo’s eight-week-old Sumatran Tiger cub for the first time when she explored her outdoor exhibit on Friday, April 12.

You met this unnamed female cub on the pages of ZooBorns after her first vet check-up, but since her birth on February 10, the little cub has been denned up with her mother Leanne.  Last week, the San Francisco Zoo staff determined that the 14-pound cub was strong enough to venture into her outdoor enclosure.  On Wednesday morning, the staff supervised a trial run for Leanne and her cub. A very attentive mother, Leanne immediately carried her cub to a safe, protected area in the exhibit, but the two were soon frolicking and playing. The cub eventually allowed Leanne to lead her up the exhibit’s stairs several times for practice, proving that Leanne is a seasoned mother who knows what’s best for her cub. 




Photo Credit:  Marianne Hale for the San Francisco Zoo


“Providing the cub the opportunity to explore the outside world is a significant step in her development,” says Curator of Carnivores and Primates Corinne MacDonald. “The cub will build up her strength and confidence watching her mother, Leanne, and she’ll learn from her while navigating her new environment. We are thrilled to finally be able to show our Tiger cub off outside to all of her fans!” 

The Sumatran Tiger is critically endangered, with fewer than 400 individuals remaining in the wilds of Sumatra.  As the smallest of the remaining Tiger subspecies, the Sumatran Tiger is well suited for life in the deep jungle. The greatest threat to survival is destruction of habitat, followed by poaching.

See more photos of Leanne and her cub below the fold.

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San Francisco Zoo Announces Healthy Baby Tiger Is a Girl

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This Sumatran Tiger cub, born at the San Francisco Zoo on February 10 to mother Leanne, has had its first vet check this week... and it was determined that it’s a girl! To minimally interrupt mother-cub bonding, the exam was done in less than 5 minutes, revealing that the five-week-old is in excellent health and thriving under her mother’s care. And since this is a solo cub and there is no competition for milk, the baby has a nice big belly and weighed in at 8 pounds. Her next exam will take place around April 10, when she is 8 weeks old.

The Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris) is classified as Critically Endangered by IUCN and is on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The greatest threat to their survival is the destruction of their habitat, followed by poaching. Currently the wild Sumatran Tiger population is estimated at less than 400. As of September 2012, there were 74 Sumatran tigers in captivity at 27 accredited institutions of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) in North America.

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Tiger nap MHPhotos 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, & 9 credits: San Francisco Zoo / Marianne Hale. All additional photos: San Francisco Zoo

“Since the exam, we’ve been able to conduct brief socialization sessions with the cub to get her used to her keepers,” said Corinne MacDonald, Curator of Carnivores and Primates at the San Francisco Zoo. “As we learned with Leanne’s last litter, she is an extremely attentive mother and allows us in the same space as the cub as long as she is able to watch from an adjoining enclosure.” In fact, as the cub grows and becomes more stable on its feet, Leanne has started to bring the cub out of the nest box a few times a day while the keepers watch and is therefore showing her trust in the people who care for her.

Read more about these beautiful tigers, and see more pictures of the cub, after the jump:

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Piké The Polar Bear Celebrates Her 30th Birthday at SF Zoo!


Last month, Santa sent 10 tons of fresh snow to help San Francisco Zoo celebrate the birthdays of San Francisco’s two special Polar Bears, Piké (30) and Ulu (32), two of the oldest Bears in accredited AZA zoos in the United States. Since the life span of a Polar Bear in the wild is approximately 15 years, the incredible longevity of these Polar Bears is a testament to the SF Zoo’s commitment to animal wellness and to the specialists at the SF Zoo who care for them. The incredible vintage video below (and these highlight screen grab images) shows Piké's adventures as a cub in her early days being hand-reared under the zoo's care.

Photo and video credit: San Francisco Zoo (photos) Paul Hedberg (video)


Remember that a portion of every sale of ZooBorns' new harcover book ZooBorns: The Next Generation, featuring Siku the baby Polar Bear, goes directly to wildlife conservation. Put a copy in someone's stocking today! Amazon:

Giants Fans: San Francisco Zoo Has a New "Rally" Baby!


A black and orange baby arrived at the San Francisco Zoo in synch with the baseball Giants' playoff success. The good luck baby is a female Francois' Langur Monkey. She is the 17th of her kind to be born at the zoo since 1985. San Fransisco is one of the most successful zoos at breeding this rare monkey, of which only around 2000 remain in the wild.

Parenting duties are shared amongst females in the Langur group. This gives mom a break and allows the infant's aunts and sisters to gain valuable mothering experience. The baby will remain orange and black for the next three to sixth months.




Photo credit: Marianne Hale / SF Zoo



Holy Penguins Batman!

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It's that time of year again! At the very end of May, the pegnuin colony at the San Francisco Zoo hatched several Magellanic penguin chicks. One of the keepers managed to get rare footage of one of them just hours after it came into the world. That video is below. 

Young penguins first exchange their silvery down for an immature set of soft gray feathers without the distinctive striping of the adult. They molt into their “tuxedo” in their second year. After training at the Zoo's Fish School, where they will learn to swim and fish during the first few months of their lives, the chicks will march to their new residence at Penguin Island. There they will join over fifty other penguins who live at the colony. This much anticipated March of the Penguins event occurs annually and is quite a sight! 

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Photo Credit: Amy Frankel, San Francisco Zoological Society

The video below of a just hatched penguin chick is rare. Normally parents will not let anyone or anything as close as this. You can only get an idea of how tiny the chick near the end, when the parent sticks it's beak and head into the frame! 

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Big Day for a Little Joey


The San Francisco Zoological Society is proud to announce the birth of a female Queensland, Koala. This is the first Koala birth at the Zoo since 2000 and the new joey began to emerge from her pouch in January. She will make her first public debut today. San Francisco zookeepers confirmed the birth during a pouch check in December and caught their first glimpse of the bean-sized joey in mid-January. A small hand appeared and over the next few months, little by little, she slowly made her way out of the pouch. It wasn’t until February that the joey made it all the way out and onto her mother’s back.


Photo credits: San Francisco Zoo

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Rescued Alligator Finds Home at San Francisco Zoo


There is a new face at the San Francisco Zoo and he is indeed one lucky Alligator. Named after one of the jazzy legends of New Orleans, Miles is a young American Alligator that was rescued in the thick grasses of East New Orleans. He now joins the Zoo family and will become an important ambassador in many of the Zoo’s education programs.

Photo credits: San Francisco Zoo

Miles was found on the grounds of a school and was rescued by an individual who was mowing the lawn on a ride-on mower. The individual saw something moving in the grass and stopped to find out what was causing the stir. To his surprise, it was a tiny Alligator. Miles was brought to the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans, but it was too late for him to be released back into the wild with another group of young Alligators. The San Francisco Zoo had an older alligator that was ready to return to the wild, which allowed the Zoo to provide a home for this rescued gator. This was the perfect scenario for young Miles, and Zoo staff anticipate he’ll be on exhibit sometime next week at the Koret Animal Resource Center.

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