San Diego Zoo

San Diego Zoo's Pacific Pocket Mouse Nibbles on a Leafy Snack

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A Pacific Pocket Mouse at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park enjoyed a late-night snack in the zoo's off-exhibit breeding facilities. The mouse is part of the first-ever breeding program of the critically endangered species. The program has yielded five litters of pups since June. Pacific Pocket Mice are nocturnal animals. True to the name, these mice are pocket sized—they weigh less than 9 grams. Aside from the occasional lettuce, they eat seeds and have been known to eat insects. Interestingly, these rodents don't drink water. Instead, they are hydrated from the vegetation they eat. The breeding program is managed by the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife services. Scientists are working to increase the overall population and to maintain genetic diversity within the native-Californian species.


Okapi Calf Shows Her Stripes at San Diego Zoo

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This 24-day-old female Okapi calf took her first stroll around her exhibit at the San Diego Zoo last week. She stepped out first thing in the morning with her mother, Safarani, who she stayed close to for most of the time. While she appeared a little tentative she was nevertheless still quite curious about her new surroundings. Okapis are naturally shy in the wild as well, relying on the thick foliage found in their environment to protect them from predators.

Born on May 19, she had up until that day been raised behind the scenes and out of public view in the Zoo's Okapi barn with her mom. The Animal Care staff report the calf is healthy and progressing well. In fact, she almost doubled her birth weight in a little over two weeks! This is the fourth calf born to Safarani and the 23rd okapi born at the San Diego Zoo.

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Photo Credit: Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo

Okapis look a little like they might be related to horses or deer and yet have some stripes as if they were part zebra, but are in fact a relative of the giraffe. They are native to the Ituri Forest, a small,dense rain forest in Central Africa. The species is Near Threatened, mainly due to habitat destruction. It is believed there are currently less than 25,000 Okapis in the wild and less than 90 Okapis reside in zoos across the United States. 


UPDATE! Panda Cub's First Snow Day at San Diego Zoo

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It was all about new experiences as the youngest member of the Giant Panda family, Xiao Liwu, got to play in the snow for the first time today at the San Diego Zoo. The seven-month-old cub explored his snowy exhibit and had fun climbing all over mom Bai Yun, playfully nipping and wrestling with her in the snow.

Over 15 tons of fresh snow was blown into the pandas' exhibit early in the morning on March 19th as part of an enrichment surprise for the pandas. The snow for the Giant Pandas was made possible by generous donors who contributed enough funds to the Zoo's online Animal Care Wish List to provide 30,000 pounds of snow.

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Photo Credits: San Diego Zoo

Watch the pandas enjoying their snow day: 
 

See more photos after the fold.

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First Condor Chick of Season at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

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Wesa, a two-week-old California Condor chick, hatched on February 24, 2013, making this chick the first of the season at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Wesa has maintained a healthy weight and has quite an appetite according to keepers, eating up to 15 mice daily.

Ron Webb, a San Diego Zoo Safari Park senior Condor keeper, has been monitoring Wesa closely and has been puppet rearing the chick as part of preparing Wesa to be released into the wild one day.

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Photo credits: Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo Safari Park

 

"The puppet is like a fancy glove," said Rob Webb, senior Condor keeper, "It covers our hands so the chick does not get any beneficial experiences from people. We do not want it imprinting on people or getting used to us when it goes out into the wild.  We want it to be a nice, wild animal, not relying on people for food."

Wesa is a part of the San Diego Zoo Safari Park's highly successful California Condor breeding program.  Since the California Condor Recovery Program began in the 1980s, when there were only 22 condors left in the world, the Safari Park has hatched 173 chicks and released more than 80 birds into the wild. Today, there are over 400 condors, half of which are flying free at release sites in Baja California, Mexico, California and Arizona.


Southern White Rhino Calf Charges Into San Diego Zoo Safari Park

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On the afternoon of February 25th, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park welcomed the newest member of their East African Plains exhibit with the birth of a healthy male Southern White Rhino calf. The young boy has since been named Kayode, which means "he brings joy" in the African language of Yoruba. He is sure to do just that for the visitors who come to see him as the youngster is already showing lots of quirks and personality. "Kayode is a little tank, a very cute little tank, and he is showing lots of personality. He loves running and interacting with his mom, sticking out his tongue, and showing the buffalo in his enclosure he’s a rhino and he’s in charge," said the lead keeper at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, Jane Kennedy.

While Kayode was just an estimated 150 pounds when he was first born, this small stature, for a rhino that is, won't last long. In the first year of his life, Kayode will grow around 100 pounds each and every month. By the time he is full grown, he will be a massive 4,000-5,000 pounds.

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Photo credits (above): Ken Bohn / San Diego Zoo Safari Park
Photo credits (below): Greg Pinter

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Although Kayode is his mother Kacy's first offspring, she has been a fantastic mom thus far. She has taken care to protect her son and make sure he never strays too far off in their expansive enclosure. In addition, where Kacy's experience lacks, the staff at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park more than makes up for it. Kayode is the 93rd Southern White Rhino calf born at the facility in its 41 years in existence, more than any other zoo in the world. In addition, Kayode is just the sixth 3rd-generation calf born at the zoo.

See and learn much more after the fold!

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Black Duiker Mom Plants a Kiss on Her Baby at the San Diego Zoo

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Meet Rashidi, the nosy new member of the Black Duiker family at the San Diego Zoo. Born in mid December, his name means "rightly guided" in Afrikaans. He nursed for the first few weeks, forming a close bond with his mother, Robin. He has now moved on to solid foods and is growing as he should, starting from about 5 pounds at birth to weighing 17 pounds now, at a little over 7 weeks old. He will continue until he reaches between 25 to 55 pounds at full maturity.

This is the second offspring for parents Robin and Luke. Kodi, their first baby, was the first Duiker to be born at the San Diego Zoo. The species is categorized as Near Threatened in the wild, mainly due to natural predators and agricultural burn off, making these babies significant for the genetics of the species. Black Duikers are native to the continent of Africa and get their name from the Afrikaans word duikerbok, which means "diving buck," because when frightened they tend to dive into bushes to hide.

Zoo staff captured this kiss from Mom to her baby just the other morning! 

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Photo Credit: Ken Bohn/Sand Diego Zoo

Click the video below to see the little one enjoying his favorite snack - acacia leaves - and nosing the camera, while in the habitat that the Duiker family shares with two Okapis.


Takin Baby Arrives in the Early Morning at the San Diego Zoo

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Visitors at the San Diego Zoo were in for a surprise this past Saturday when they were unexpectedly greeted by the zoo's newest inhabitant, a newborn Takin. The baby boy, born sometime between 7:30 and 8:00 AM on February 2nd, was quick to its feet as mother Summer immediately started work on cleaning her new son off. While this was not Summer's first child, it was the first for his father Lian. Summer's grown daughter Mei Long was also there to help her mother care for her new half brother. These photos, taken less than an hour and a half after the birth, document some the intimate first hours of this newborn's life.

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Photo Credits: Rita Petita

Takins, closely related to the Sheep, are native to China and the eastern Himalayas. They have many specialized adaptations to cope with this cold environment such as a secondary coat of fur and a special nasal cavity that helps warm up the cold air they breath in. As herbivores, Takin eat essentially any vegetation that they come across including tough leaves, bark and bamboo. Although they are considered national treasures in their native China, Takin are still facing a declining population, primarily due to habitat loss. This has led to their classification as an endangered species by the IUCN. 

See more photos after the fold.

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UPDATE! Playful Giant Panda Cub's Wiggly Vet Check at the San Diego Zoo

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Six-month-old Xiao Liwu, a Giant Panda cub born on July 29, 2012 at the San Diego Zoo, has become very strong, and isn't very interested in sitting still for his check-up! Despite that, Zoo staff were able to complete the exam on Wednesday morning, which started with Veterinary resident Matt Kinney, DVM, listening to the baby's heart and lungs. It took three sets of hands to measure the rambunctious baby, but the news was all good. 

Xiao Liwu weighed 19.4 pounds (8.8kg) and measured 24.6 inches long (88 cm). He's growing at the expected rate and is very healthy. The cub has also had more teeth break through his gums. This time around, both incisors could be seen. 

While his physique is slimming a bit, he has gained a lot of muscle in his back legs due to climbing trees and all the new activity he does in the exhibit. Despite his improved agility, Xiao Liwu has taken several tumbles while on view to the public. But it's all part of growing up; animal care staff expects the cub to take falls while he's learning to walk and climb. 

Xiao Liwu can be seen at play daily online, via the zoo's live Panda Cam.

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Photo Credit: Ken Bohn/San Diego Zoo


Rhino Calf Gets Bottle Feeding from Keepers at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

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Keepers at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park gave five-week-old Rhino calf Shomili, or Mili, as keepers call her, a bottle feeding as part of her daily nutritional routine this morning. Animal care has been giving the Greater One-horned Rhino calf bottle feedings since first time mother Sundari has not been able to give her calf all of the nutrition that she needs.

Sundari is a young mother and her milk is not coming in the way keepers expected. Animal care staff made the decision to give a supplemental bottle feeding twice a day to make sure Shomili gets the nutrition a young, growing Rhino requires.

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Safari Park keepers give a little TLC to a Greater One-horned Rhino calf, in the form of a soothing mud bath.

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Photo credits: Ken Bohn / San Diego Zoo Safari Park

 

Weighing 128 pounds when she was born December 13, Mili now weighs 245 pounds and is developing right on track, keepers report.


UPDATE! San Diego Zoo's Panda Cub's Toys Prepare Him for Foray into Habitat

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Yesterday was a big day for the San Diego Zoo's Giant Panda cub, Xiao Liwu: this was his first time greeting onlookers. The cub stepped into the outside habitat by himself in morning on January 9 and climbed through the bamboo as employees and media representatives got their first glimpses of the five-month-old.

Panda staff say the cub is a confident climber but may have some tumbles while he's getting used to the new habitat, which is very normal. There are trees, a moat and rocks to climb over, which are all new elements for the cub. In late December he was given toys during his vet exam that helped him prepare for outside exploration, including a doughnut-shaped plastic ring (perfect for panda sitting), a stick of bamboo and a plastic ball. 

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Photo Credit: Ken Bohn/San Diego Zoo

Only 1,600 Giant Pandas are believed to exist in the wild, and the species is primarily threatened by habitat loss. San Diego Zoo Global, in conjunction with Giant Panda experts from the People's Republic of China, continues to work on science-based panda conservation programs at the Zoo and in China.  

Here's a video of little Xiao Liwu as he navigates the great outdoors with mom.