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.
Smithsonian National Zoo
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.
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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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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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.”
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!
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.
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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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.
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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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.
Photo credits: Alex Yates
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...
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!
Many years of research are celebrated in the birth of two cheetah cubs at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute—the first Cheetahs born at the Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park facility in Front Royal, Va. The cubs were born to two separate females; the first to 5-year-old Amani Dec. 6, the second to 9-year-old Zazi Dec. 16. Cheetahs that give birth to only one cub, called a singleton, cannot produce enough milk to keep the cub alive. Typically, females in the wild will let a single cub die, after which they will enter estrus and breed again to theoretically produce a larger litter. So scientists at SCBI resorted to an alternative technique. The cub born to Amani, a first-time mother, was hand-raised for 13 days before being placed with Zazi, creating a litter of two that will likely help stimulate milk production from Zazi. Researchers have observed both cubs nursing from Zazi.
“When we realized that Amani had a singleton, we removed the cub to hand rear it,” said Adrienne Crosier, SCBI cheetah biologist. “So when Zazi gave birth, we decided it was the perfect opportunity to give both cubs a chance at survival as one litter under her care without any additional interference by us. Only a few institutions in North American have ever successfully cross-fostered cheetah cubs and this is a first for SCBI.”
More pictures, video and info after the jump...