San Diego Zoo

Snow Day for Jaguar Cub at San Diego Zoo

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April 28th was a rainy morning in San Diego, but at the San Diego Zoo, the forecast called for snow! One-year-old Jaguar cub Valerio and his mom, Nindiri, woke up to an unexpected surprise: piles of fresh, glistening snow blanketing their habitat.

According to staff, the duo appeared cautious when they entered their exhibit, stepping gingerly on the snow, unsure how to react to the novel substance. However, after a few minutes, the pair started exploring, climbing, searching for buried meatballs and showcasing their natural behaviors while enjoying their chilly enrichment surprise. Animal care staff said the cats’ personalities really shined through, and it was fascinating seeing them venture to parts of their habitat they normally wouldn’t explore that early in the day.

The 8-tons of fresh powder was provided through a generous donation, to the Zoo’s animal care wish list, as an enrichment item for the Jaguars. The San Diego Zoo provides enrichment for the animals in its care, in an effort to encourage their natural behaviors and an attempt to provide them opportunity to thrive. The snow day marked the first time this mom and cub have ever encountered snow.

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3_JagSnow_01_LGPhoto Credits: San Diego Zoo

 

The Jaguar (Panthera onca) is a feline in the genus Panthera and is the only extant species native to the Americas. It is the third largest feline after the tiger and the lion. Their native range extends from the Southwestern United States and Mexico, across much of Central America, and south to Paraguay and northern Argentina. Apart from a possible population in southern Arizona and the lower south of New Mexico, the species has been largely extirpated from the U.S. since the early 20th Century.

The Jaguar resembles the leopard, but it is usually larger, with behavioral characteristics closer to those of the tiger. They prefer dense, forested habitation. The Jaguar is largely solitary and is a stalk-and-ambush predator.

Gestation for Jaguars lasts 93-105 days, and females will give birth to up to four cubs (typical litters consist of two). The mothers do not tolerate the presence of males after giving birth (due to fear of infanticide). The young are born blind, and their eyes open at about 2 weeks. The cubs are weaned at three months, but they remain in the den for six months to learn hunting and life skills from the mother.

Unfortunately, demand for the Jaguar’s beautiful rosette-pattern fur is one of the reasons this species is listed as “Near Threatened” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). In addition, Jaguars are losing precious habitat, and human-Jaguar conflicts are causing their numbers to decrease rapidly. There are only an estimated 10,000 Jaguars left in the wild.

San Diego Zoo Global partners with the Wildlands Network and Latin American conservationists to study, monitor and protect Jaguars. Through those efforts, combined with educational outreach to local communities, the San Diego Zoo hopes to decrease human-Jaguar conflicts.

Zoo guests can visit Valerio, his mother Nindiri and their next-door lion mates, M’bari and Etosha, in their habitats at the Zoo’s Harry and Grace Steele Elephant Odyssey.


Trouble Comes in…Fours?

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The “cute meter” hit an all-time high the morning of April 18, as the Meerkat mob at the San Diego Zoo showed off four new additions to the family. Mom Debbie gave birth to four adorable baby Meerkats, and the pups have left their den to explore the interesting world above ground.

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4_Meerkat pup Feeding_LGPhoto Credits: San Diego Zoo

 

Animal care staff became excited when they realized Debbie was pregnant with a new litter, and they began to diligently monitor her weight to estimate when the pups would arrive.

In March, Zoo staff noticed Debbie was spending her time underground, indicating it was time to give birth. Normally, Meerkat moms keep their newborns secluded underground for up to a week before allowing them to meet with the rest of the family; however, Debbie surprised everyone by introducing the babies after only three days!

The four youngsters are now regularly out of their den playing, eating and exploring their habitat. Animal Care staff explains that in Meerkat society, everyone has a job, whether it’s being a sentry or babysitting. Now that the pups are old enough, every member of the family (under the direction of Debbie, of course) will provide the babies with important survival training, including the most important Meerkat behavior: digging.

Zoo staff says that, for Meerkats raising new pups, it takes a village—or, in this case, a mob. “The rest of the family, made up of older siblings, is also very involved with raising the pups,” says Liz Johnson, keeper. “They are great babysitters and are constantly checking on them. The pups are very vocal, and their siblings are quick to respond if they call out.”

Although their name may cause some confusion, Meerkats are not cats. The Meerkat, or Suricate (Suricata suricatta), is a small carnivoran belonging to the mongoose family. They are native to all parts of the Namib Desert in Namibia and southwestern Angola, and in South Africa.

Gestation for Meerkats is about eleven weeks. In the wild, Meerkats give birth in underground burrows to help keep the newborns safe from predators. To shield the pups from dust in their subterranean homes, they are born with their eyes and ears closed. Meerkat babies are also nearly hairless at birth, though a light coat of silver and brown fur begins to fill in after just a few days.

The babies nurse for about nine weeks, and they grow very quickly. Though they weigh only about an ounce at birth, by six months old, the pups are about the same size as the adults.

These desert-dwellers are highly social critters and live in groups, called mobs, which can include dozens of individuals from multiple families.

Meerkats have scent pouches below their tails and will rub these pouches on rocks and plants to mark their territory. The dark patches around their eyes act to cut down on sun glare and help them see far into the distance.

Meerkats have four toes on each feet and very long, non-retractable claws to help them dig. They can also close their ears to keep dirt out while digging.

As a species they have an interesting feeding approach as they will always maintain visual and vocal contact whilst foraging, with one of the group standing on its hind legs and acting as sentry on the lookout for predators. They feed mostly on invertebrates and plant matter.

They are currently classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. In the wild, they are present in several large and well-managed protected areas. However, population densities can fluctuate due to predation and rainfall variations.

Wild populations are currently stable. However, over the past couple of decades, movies and television shows have brought Meerkats a lot of attention, with many people wondering if they can keep a Meerkat as a pet. Although they may look cute, Meerkats, like all wild animals, do NOT make good pets, and they are illegal to own without the proper permits and licenses!

San Diego Zoo guests can see mom Debbie, her four adorable pups and the other 12 members of the mob play, nap and eat in their habitat.

*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.


Brown Kiwi Chick Thriving at San Diego Zoo

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The San Diego Zoo’s Avian Propagation Center is caring for a Brown Kiwi chick for the first time in more than a decade. The female chick hatched from its egg March 11, and as is typical of this species, it didn’t eat for the first six days. The chick began eating and gaining weight, and on April 5, 2016, it weighed 11.8 ounces (333.6 grams).

It is typical for this bird species to lose weight for two weeks after it has hatched. San Diego Zoo animal care staff report the female chick lost 26 percent of her body weight before she began gaining weight the last week of March.

The Kiwi has several unique and unusual traits: it does not fly, the mothers do not feed their chicks, and the egg is four times the expected size for a bird of the Kiwi’s proportions.

Animal care staff will continue to monitor the Brown Kiwi chick, measuring its weight and observing the young bird in a brooder over the next several weeks.

The San Diego Zoo successfully reared its first Brown Kiwi in 1983, and the recent hatching marks the Zoo’s 11th chick. The San Diego Zoo is one of just six zoos in the United States working with these endangered birds.

Kiwi_002_LGPhoto Credits: Ken Bohn/ San Diego Zoo

The North Island Brown Kiwi (Apteryx mantelli; Apteryx australis or Apteryx bulleri) is a species of Kiwi that is widespread in the northern two-thirds of the North Island of New Zealand and, with about 35,000 remaining, is the most common Kiwi. This bird holds the world record for laying the largest eggs relative to its body size.

Females stand about 40 cm (16 in) high and weigh about 2.8 kg (6.2 lb). Males weigh about 2.2 kg (4.9 lb). Their plumage is streaky red-brown and spiky. The North Island Brown Kiwi is the only species of Kiwi found internationally in zoos.

They feed on invertebrates. They have two-three clutches a year with two eggs in each clutch. Chicks are fully feathered at hatching and leave the nest and can fend for themselves within one week.

The North Island Brown Kiwi is classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Their major threats come from predators, such as dogs, cats, and stoat Mustela erminea.

Nationwide studies show that, on average, only five percent of Kiwi chicks survive to adulthood. However, in areas under active pest management, survival rates for North Island Brown Kiwi can be far higher.

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 important conservation and science work of these entities is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.


Sensational Six Cheetah Cubs at San Diego Zoo

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San Diego Zoo Safari Park visitors can now see a female Cheetah and her six cubs. The cubs were born at the off-exhibit Cheetah Breeding Facility at the Safari Park on November 21, 2015.

This is the second litter for mother Addison, and it is the largest litter ever raised by a Cheetah at the Safari Park. There are four female cubs (Darlene, Geisel, L.C., and Mary Jane) and two male cubs (Donald and Copley).

Mother and cubs live in their exhibit just off the African Tram Safari route, and while they have access to their “bedrooms” at any time, mom and cubs often choose to stay outside and explore their new surroundings---which include a view of the East Africa exhibit with Rhinos, Giraffes and African Crowned Cranes.

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4_Addison mom cleaning cubPhoto Credits: Ken Bohn / San Diego Zoo Safari Park

 

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is one of nine breeding facilities as part of the Cheetah Breeding Center Coalition (BCC). 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 150 cubs born. It is estimated that the worldwide population of Cheetahs has been reduced from 100,000 in 1900 to just 10,000 left today, with about 10% now living in zoos or wildlife parks.

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.

Continue reading "Sensational Six Cheetah Cubs at San Diego Zoo " »


Once Believed Extinct, Rare Insects Hatch at San Diego

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Once thought to be extinct, 73 critically endangered Lord Howe Island Stick Insects hatched at the San Diego Zoo as part of an international breeding program to save these rare Australian insects.

24847567383_d87daa6a15_oPhoto Credit:  Tammy Spratt/San Diego Zoo

Lord Howe Island Stick Insects – also known as Tree Lobsters – was believed to be extinct after rats invaded the Australian island from cargo ships in the 19th century and ate all the insects.  But in the 1960s, scientists found one small colony – fewer than 40 individuals – living on a single shrub on a remote volcanic island off the coast of Australia.

From this fragile colony, scientists from the Melbourne Zoo collected a few individuals to begin a captive breeding program to save the species.  From those offspring, colonies were established at zoos around the world, including the San Diego Zoo, as insurance populations should a disease or natural disaster strike the original group.  The population has since grown to more than 9,000 individuals. 

Three hundred eggs went to the San Diego Zoo in January 2016, and the first 73 have hatched.  At this stage, the green insects are called “nymphs” and are experiencing their first “instar” or growth period between molts. They will molt their hard exoskeletons several more times, becoming darker each time, until they reach maturity at about seven months of age.  Adults are dark brown and measure five to six inches in length.   

Scientists hope to eventually reintroduce these insects to their former home on Lord Howe Island.


San Diego Zoo Welcomes Pygmy Hippo

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The San Diego Zoo recently released a photo of a tiny Pygmy Hippo, nestled in straw a day after his birth. The calf was born November 11th and is an important addition to the population of the world’s smallest species of hippo. This is the first surviving Pygmy Hippo birth at the San Diego Zoo in more than a decade.

The tiny youngster, weighing just 12 pounds, 2 ounces (5.5 kg), was born to its mother, Francesca, in the early hours of the morning. Mom and calf are doing well, and they are taking some quiet time in a barn, out of the public eye, until keepers think the youngster is ready to try the larger pool available for swimming in the main exhibit area.

Photo Credit: Ken Bohn / San Diego Zoo

The Pygmy Hippopotamus (Choeropsis liberiensis or Hexaptrotodon liberiensis) is a species from the forests of West Africa.  Reclusive and nocturnal, it is one of only two extant species in the Hippopotamidae family (the other being the larger cousin: Hippopotamus amphibious) Like its larger cousin, the Pygmy Hippo is semi-aquatic. It is herbivorous and feeds on ferns, broad-leaf plants, grasses, and fruits.

Gestation for the Pygmy Hippo ranges from 190 to 210 days, and usually results in the birth of a single calf. Common hippos mate and give birth only in water, but the Pygmy Hippo will mate and give birth on land or water.  Young Pygmy Hippos can swim almost immediately after birth. They are fully weaned between six and eight months of age.

The Pygmy Hippo is classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. There were estimated to be about 2,000 left in the world a decade ago, when the last population survey was done. Since then, political unrest, habitat destruction and wildlife trafficking in their native habitats are likely to have reduced the wild population to critically low numbers.


Lemurs, Tigers, and Pumpkins, Oh My!

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It's Halloween, and that means zoo animals around the world are enjoying encounters with pumpkins and gourds of all shapes and sizes.  Animals' reactions to pumpkins vary, but critters may sniff, munch on, or completely destroy their pumpkin treats.

The pumpkins are more than a seasonal celebration - they serve as enrichment for zoo residents. Enrichment provides physical, mental, or sensory stimulation and encourages natural behaviors in animals.  Happy Halloween from ZooBorns!

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Lion Cubs 9982 - Grahm S. Jones, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
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Photo Credits (top to bottom)
Ring-tailed Lemur:  Fort Wayne Children's Zoo
Galapagos Tortoise:  San Diego Zoo
Komodo Dragon:  San Diego Zoo
North American River Otter:  San Diego Zoo
Gorilla:  Paignton Zoo
Asian Elephant:  Oregon Zoo/Shervin Hess
Sumatran Tiger:  Fort Wayne Children's Zoo
African Lion:  Columbus Zoo & Aquarium/Grahm S. Jones
Red Panda:  Fort Wayne Children's Zoo
Spider Monkey:  Paignton Zoo
Satanic Leaf-tailed Gecko:  Dallas Zoo


Sumatran Tiger Born at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

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A single male Sumatran Tiger cub was born at 1:54 a.m. Sept. 14, at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park’s Tull Family Tiger Trail, to first-time parents Teddy and Joanne.

Although Joanne cared for the cub the first few days, keepers noticed the cub was losing weight, and felt he wasn’t receiving the proper care he needed to thrive. The Safari Park’s animal care team made the difficult decision to hand-rear the cub. He was moved to the Ione and Paul Harter Animal Care Center, at the Safari Park, where he is now being cared for around the clock.

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Baby Tiger Feeding_WEBPhoto Credits: San Diego Zoo Safari Park

The cub is the 26th endangered Sumatran Tiger to be born at the Safari Park, and he is the first cub to be hand-reared at the park since 1984. At the care center, he’s being bottle fed seven times a day with an easily digestible goats’ milk formula, made especially for carnivores.

“We’re very happy with our little cub’s progress; he took to the bottle and started nursing right away,” said Lissa McCaffree, Lead Keeper, Mammal Department. “He’s been gaining weight very consistently each day, and last night he reached a milestone—he opened his eyes for the first time.”

The cub now weighs 3.36 pounds and is gaining strength in his legs, walking around his nursery enclosure. He’s also learning to make tiger vocalizations, such as meows, grunts, and low chuffing sounds. Chuffing is a vocalization tigers make as a way to express excitement, or as a greeting.

Guests will be able to see the cub in the near future at the Ione and Paul Harter Animal Care Center in the Safari Park during his bottle feeding times, which will be posted daily in front of the viewing window.

With the addition of this tiny cub, the Safari Park is now home to seven Sumatran Tigers. There are fewer than 350 Sumatran Tigers in the wild, and that number continues to drop. Scientists estimate that this species could be extinct in its native Sumatra by 2020, unless measures are taken to protect and preserve it.

Tigers face many challenges in the wild, from loss of habitat to conflicts with humans, but the biggest threat continues to be poaching. Tigers are killed by poachers who illegally sell tiger body parts, mostly for folk remedies. People can help protect wild tigers by avoiding products made with non-sustainable palm oil, an industry that harms tiger habitat; and by refusing to purchase items made from endangered wildlife.

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.


San Diego Zoo’s Jaguar Cub Needs a Name

1_SanDiegoJaguarCub_byDebbieBealsZooBorns has been following the San Diego Zoo’s Jaguar cub since he was born, to mom ‘Nindiri’, on March 12th.  Our features, “Jaguar Cub Debuts at San Diego Zoo” and “Jaguar Cub Is a Handful…and Mouthful”, were filled with adorable pics and are testimony to why the cub has become so popular.

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4_SanDiegoJaguarCub_byNancieCunninghamCaseyPhotos: Debbie Beals(1); Penny Hyde(2); Mike Wilson (3,5); Nancie Cunningham Casey (4); Neil Solomon (6)

The Zoo is asking for help in selecting a name for the amazing little cub. They have compiled a list of seven names and are encouraging fans and zoo supporters to cast their vote.

San Diego Zoo has set up a page, just for voting! Follow this link: https://srv2.shoutlet.com/service/v2/canvas_wa/5542786392f4882141000009 or check out the Zoo’s facebook page for more info and updates: https://www.facebook.com/SanDiegoZoo

The Jaguar is the only extant Panthera species native to the Americas. It is the third-largest feline after the tiger and the lion, and it is the largest big cat in the Western Hemisphere. The Jaguar’s present range extends from the Southwestern United States, Mexico, across much of Central America, south to Paraguay and into northern Argentina.

Continue reading "San Diego Zoo’s Jaguar Cub Needs a Name" »


Jaguar Cub Is a Handful…and Mouthful

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San Diego Zoo’s photogenic Jaguar cub is proving himself to be quite the handful…and mouthful. 

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SDZooJaguar_4_Darlene McAfee

SDZooJaguar_1_Ion MoePhoto Credits: Nancy Cunningham Casey (Image 1); Debbie Beals (2); Darlene McAfee (3); Ion Moe (4)

ZooBorns introduced you to the yet-to-be-named-cub last week, with a series of adorable photos. He was born March 12th to mother, ‘Nindiri’, and he has been putting her mom-skills to the test.

The Jaguar is the only extant Panthera species native to the Americas. It is the third-largest feline after the tiger and the lion, and it is the largest big cat in the Western Hemisphere. The Jaguar’s present range extends from the Southwestern United States, Mexico, across much of Central America, south to Paraguay and into northern Argentina.

Unlike many other cats, Jaguars do not avoid water. They are known to be quite good swimmers. Rivers provide prey in the form of fish, turtles, or caimans. Jaguars also eat larger animals such as deer, peccaries, capybaras, and tapirs. They sometimes climb trees to prepare an ambush, killing their prey with one powerful bite.

Most Jaguars are tan or orange, with distinctive black spots, dubbed "rosettes" because they are shaped like roses. Some Jaguars are so dark they appear to be spotless, though their markings can be seen on closer inspection.

Jaguars live alone and define territories of many square miles by marking with their waste or clawing trees.

Females have litters of one to four cubs, which are blind and helpless at birth. The mother stays with them and defends them fiercely from any animal that may approach—even their own father. Young Jaguars learn to hunt by living with their mothers for two years or more.

The Jaguar is classified as “Near Threatened” on the IUCN Red List. The loss of parts of its range, including its virtual elimination from its historic North American areas, and the increasing fragmentation of the remaining range have contributed to this status. Jaguars are still hunted for their attractive fur. Ranchers also kill them because the cats sometimes prey upon their livestock.