Smithsonian National Zoo

Black-footed Ferret Milestone Year!

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The Black-Footed Ferret, once thought to be extinct in the wild, was rediscovered in 1981 with a small population of 24 animals in Wyoming―30 years later the species’ future is brighter than ever. The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute is marking this anniversary with a record-breaking year―50 surviving Black-Footed Ferret kits were born at the Zoo’s Front Royal facility this year, helping to bolster the population of North America’s sole ferret species. Today more than 1,000 ferrets exist in the wild as the result of a successful reintroduction program at six breeding institutions, including SCBI. (For extensive information about SCBI’s success breeding the Black-footed Ferret, visit the Zoo’s Black-Footed Ferret press kit.)

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Above, Dr. JoGayle Howard holds ferrets resulting from artificial breeding in 1988. Below, Howard with pups born in 1997.

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Photo credits: Julie Larsen-Maher and Jessie Cohen (last 2) / Smithsonian's National Zoo

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National Zoo Announces 3rd Clouded Leopard Cub This Year!

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Smithsonian’s National Zoo’s Front Royal Facility's Clouded Leopard Jao Chu gave birth to one female cub May 13. As of July 25, the cub weighed approximately 3.6 pounds and has started on a diet that includes meat. The cub is the third born this year at the facility and has access to the older cubs, born March 28. Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) has been a leader in developing new techniques for successful breeding, including hand-rearing cubs from birth and matching them with mates when young. Clouded Leopards in the wild live throughout southeast Asia, in countries such as southern China, Taiwan and the Malaysian peninsula, and are listed as a vulnerable species by the IUCN.

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Photo credits: Mehgan Murphy, Smithsonian's National Zoo


2 + 2 = 4 Red Panda Cubs for National Zoo

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On June 17, two red panda cubs were born at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C. -- this on the heels of two previous cubs born in early June at the Zoo’s facility in Front Royal, VA., bringing their total to four red panda babies in 2011.

At the National Zoo, Shama, the female red panda, gave birth to two cubs in her den in their Asia Trail on June 17. Keepers suspected that she was caring for offspring when she did not respond to their call that morning. A slight squeal was the first indication of a cub!  Zoo staff left the mother alone to bond with and care for the cubs within their den. On the seventh day keepers conducted a quick cub check and, with a one-minute window of opportunity, were able to confirm that two cubs were in the nest box.

Likewise, red panda Lao Mei at the Zoo’s Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal gave birth to a pair on June 5. Keepers have confirmed all four cubs are female and have opened their eyes.

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Photo credits: Mehgan Murphy / Smithsonian's National Zoo

Staff is taking precautions to not interfere with the cubs during this critical time. As the opportunity presents itself, they enter the den areas to weigh the cubs and assess their health. Keepers wear a second set of cloth gloves over their standard rubber gloves, which have been rubbed with nesting material and scented with the mother’s feces to cover human scents. All four newborns are steadily gaining weight and appear healthy.

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Cheetah Cub Quintuplet gets its First Check-up

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Five Cheetah cubs were born on May 28, 2011, to six-year-old Amani at the National Zoo's Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia. Amani gave birth to a single male cub in December 2010. The cubs got their first exam with our veterinarians on July 12. The cubs, now seven weeks old, are healthy and thriving, and they're growing quickly. They now each weigh between four and five pounds. The veterinary team performed full physical examinations to make sure none of the cubs had any abnormalities. They were given their first vaccinations to protect against respiratory and gastrointestinal viruses, both of which commonly affect Cheetahs.

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Photo credits: Mehgan Murphy / Smithsonian National Zoological Park

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Five Cheetah Cubs!

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Five cheetah cubs were born at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Virginia on May 28, 2011. Recently the animal care staff had a few brief moments to weigh and inspect the animals. The results: the cubs appear to be healthy, doing well and are very active. On average, the cubs weighed about 2 pounds (less than 1k). Keepers will continue to monitor the newborns, while giving the mother, 6-year-old Amani, privacy to bond with her offspring. 

“When I was weighing the last cub, he was being a very tough little guy,” said Adrienne Crosier, SCBI cheetah biologist. “We’re already starting to see differences in their dispositions and look forward to watching them grow and learning all we can from them.”

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Photo Credit: Adrienne Crosier, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

Cheetahs, the fastest animals on land, are struggling to outpace threats to their survival in the wild. Because of human conflict, hunting and habitat loss, there are only an estimated 7,500 to 10,000 cheetahs left in the wild. The International Union for Conservation of Nature considers cheetahs a vulnerable species. You can read updates on the Smithsonian National Zoo's website.

Video of the cubs after the jump!

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Clouded Leopard Twins for National Zoo!

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A female Clouded Leopard at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) in Front Royal, Virginia, gave birth to a litter of two cubs Monday, March 28. Staff had been on a pregnancy watch of the two-year-old Sita for one day. Sita gave birth to the first cub at 1:15 p.m. and the second cub at 1:25 p.m. The male cub weighed 9.48 ounces and the female cub weighed 7.76 ounces. This is the first litter for Sita, who came from the Nashville Zoo, and the father, two-year-old Ta Moon. The cubs are being hand-reared by SCBI staff.

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Photo credits: Mehgan Murphy, Smithsonian's National Zoo

The cubs’ births are significant as they represent a second generation of genetically valuable clouded leopards at SCBI. Ta Moon’s birth in March 2009 marked the first time clouded leopard cubs were born at SCBI after 16 years. The breeding of clouded leopards has been a challenge, primarily because of male aggression. These new cubs are the direct result of SCBI’s scientific breakthrough in animal care science to introduce males to their mates when they are six months old. This allows the pair to grow up together and reduce the risk of agressive attacks.

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Rare Crane Chick "Wattles" Onto the Scene

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On the heels of spring’s arrival, a Wattled Crane (Bugeranus carunculatus) chick hatched at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo March 20, the third of its kind in the park’s history. National Zoo veterinarians examined the chick and took a blood sample when it was 4 days old, which they will use to determine its sex. Visitors can see the chick and its parents at the Crane Run, part of the Bird House’s outdoor exhibits.

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Photo credits: Mehgan Murphy, Smithsonian’s National Zoo

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Cheetah Cubs Receive Clean Bill of Health

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The two Cheetah cubs born at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in December received their first vaccinations yesterday. At about 8 weeks and 6 weeks old, both cubs appear to be healthy, Zoo veterinarians said after completing the cubs’ health exam. “We were encouraged by the exam,” said Dr. Margarita Woc-Colburn, associate veterinarian at the Zoo. “Both cubs were given a clean bill of health and were great patients. We are hopeful that under our care they will continue to remain healthy as they get older.”

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Photo credits: Mehgan Murphy, Smithsonian's National Zoo

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National Zoo's Lion Cubs Challenge Dad!

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The National Zoo's Lion pride is getting down to the business of playing rough. Keepers at the Smithsonian Zoo are gradually introducing their seven lion cubs (born to two different lionesses in late August and September) to their outdoor exhibit. When first introduced to to the rest of the pride, Lion cubs typically lack confidence around adults other than their mothers. Eventually, they begin "play" stalking and even challenging other adults within the pride. This activity prepares Lions in the wild for hunting.

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Photo credits: Alex Yates


National Zoo's Anteater Pup Thrives after Rocky Start

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On the evening of December 7, keepers at the Smithsonian National Zoo could see on the internal web cam that Giant Anteater Maripi (who gave birth in March of '09) seemed at long last to be in labor. At about 7:30 she gave birth to her pup, and within half an hour the baby had climbed up on its mother’s back, and all seemed to be proceeding normally. Maripi is an experienced mom, so when she curled up in her crate with the pup a little while later and stayed there, zoo officials all felt that she had the situation in hand. As with most animals Giant Anteaters prefer to give birth in solitude since that equals safety in the wild. Unless they saw that Maripi was in distress or wasn’t caring for the baby, their plan was to leave the two of them alone. They called it a night at 10 p.m. and looked forward to meeting their newest anteater in the morning...

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5334247104_9f4ef0fb9f_oPhoto credits: Mehgan Murphy / Smithsonian's National Zoo

When keepers arrived in the morning, the baby was laying on the floor and cold to the touch! Go below the fold for many more [PHOTOS] and to finish the story of Maripi's pup's birth as told by keeper Marie Magnuson!

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