Smithsonian National Zoo

Clouded Leopard Twins for National Zoo!


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.



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


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.


Photo credits: Mehgan Murphy, Smithsonian’s National Zoo

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Cheetah Cubs Receive Clean Bill of Health


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.”



Photo credits: Mehgan Murphy, Smithsonian's National Zoo

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National Zoo's Lion Cubs Challenge Dad!


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

National Zoo's Anteater Pup Thrives after Rocky Start


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...



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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Back to Back Cheetah Cubs - 2 Firsts for Smithsonian

Cheetah cubs smithsonian national zoo 1

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.

Cheetah cubs smithsonian national zoo 1

Cheetah cubs smithsonian national zoo 1

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Cheetah cubs smithsonian national zoo 5Photo and video credits: Lindsay Renick Mayer, Smithsonian's National Zoo

“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.”

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The Magnificent Seven Receive Seven Names


The seven Lion cubs born at the National Zoo are now sporting seven names. Just before the cubs made their debut in the Lion yard yesterday morning, the Zoo announced their names: John, Fahari, Zuri, Lelie, Baruti, Aslan and Lusaka. “We were touched to receive so many thoughtful name suggestions for the cubs from so many different sources,” said Dennis Kelly, director of the Zoo. “Each of the seven final names has a special meaning or connection that the cubs will carry with them during their time here at the National Zoo.”



Lion-Cubs_Smithsonian-Zoo6Photo credits: Mehgan Murphy, Smithsonian’s National Zoo

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Lion Cubs Graduate from Swim School

The National Zoo is preparing to let its newest little lion cubs into the main exhibit area. But before they do, they need to make sure the cubs know how to swim since there is a large water area for the big cats to enjoy. The video below documents the cubs first day at the Zoo YMCA.

Lion cub swimming smithsonian national zoo

Lion cub swimming smithsonian national zoo

Lion cub swimming smithsonian national zooPhoto credits: Meghan Murphy / Smithsonian National Zoo

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Unlike tigers, which seem to enjoy the occasional dip, lions typically only swim when they have to to cross a small body of water, and don't appear to relish the experience.

The Magnificent Seven Are Soon to Meet!

The National Zoo is making great progress with introductions between Shera and her cubs, Naba and her own cubs (born just 3 weeks after Shera's) and Luke, the father of all seven cubs. In recent weeks, keepers have been delicately observing how all three adult Lions interact with one another and the new arrivals. Naba spent some time away from her own babies to meet and even groom Shera's litter. The cubs' sire, Luke, is curious too. While still separate from the babies for their safety, he is able to visit them through a "howdy door" and his interest in the magnificent seven is a great sign. Below are recent pictures of Shera's quartet at 5 weeks old.

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Smithsonian zoo lions 5

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Photo credits: National Zoo

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Second Batch of Little Lion Cubs Appear Healthy and Strong

The Smithsonian's National Zoo is on a lion cub roll! On September 22, they welcomed three African Lion cubs, their second litter in just three weeks! Now at 2 weeks old, the three cubs born to 6-year-old Nababiep appear to be healthy, Zoo veterinarians said yesterday after completing the cubs’ first health exam.

Baby lion cub national zoo 1

“We’re happy to see that the cubs are growing and that each appears to be in good health,” said Dr. Jessica Siegal-Willott, supervisory veterinarian at the Zoo. “Naba has done a great job nursing them and we’ll continue to monitor their development.”

Baby lion cub national zoo 2

Baby lion cub national zoo 2

The veterinary team checked the cubs’ mouths and eyes, listened to their hearts and lungs and felt their bellies, but the animals are still too young to receive vaccines.

The cubs weigh between 7 and 8 pounds.Because the cubs are just 2 weeks old, animal care staff continues to be cautiously optimistic. The mortality rate for cubs younger than 1 year old in human care in 2009 was about 30 percent, compared to a 67 percent mortality rate for cubs in the wild.

Baby lion cub national zoo 3Photo credits: Mehgan Murphy / Smithsonian's National Zoo

The cubs’ next exam will be in about a month. On Sept. 17, the Zoo’s four other lion cubs, born to Naba’s sister, Shera, Aug. 31, underwent their first health exam and all four also appeared to be healthy.

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