Stone Zoo

Blue the Cougar Debuts at Stone Zoo

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The staff at Stone Zoo has even more reason to celebrate this holiday season with the recent public debut of ‘Blue’, the 10 week old Cougar kitten.

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10830982_10152600085056989_6257364334333993673_oPhoto Credits: Dayle Sullivan-Taylor

In early November, Blue made the journey from central Idaho to his new home in Massachusetts. At approximately four weeks old, Blue was found alone and unable to survive on his own. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game sought a new home for him, and Zoo New England answered that call.

“Blue is continuing to thrive. He has been practicing his pouncing and stalking skills, and is a very curious kitten,” said John Linehan, Zoo New England President and CEO. “While we do wish that Blue would’ve been able to remain in the wild, it just was not possible for his survival. We are happy that we can provide a home for him, and we know that he will bring joy to so many as they have the opportunity to watch him grow. He is truly an ambassador for his species.”

Blue recently moved to his new temporary nursery after a month-long stay at the Zoo hospital at Franklin Park Zoo. Throughout the first several weeks, he required dedicated care and was bottle-fed by Zoo staff every four to five hours throughout the day. Blue was recently weaned off of bottle feedings.

At this point in his development, it is important for Blue to have some social interaction, opportunities to climb and explore, as well as plenty of enrichment so he can develop his natural Cougar skills. As he becomes bigger, the staff will have increasingly less interaction with him. He is expected to make his exhibit debut within the Treasures of the Sierra Madre exhibit in the coming months at Stone Zoo.

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Orphaned Cougar Kitten Finds a Home at Stone Zoo

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A four-week-old orphaned Cougar kitten traveled from central Idaho to Boston, where he will eventually make his new home at Zoo New England’s Stone Zoo

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Photo Credit:  Dayle Sullivan-Taylor
 
Blue, a male kitten weighing five pounds, was found near Salmon, Idaho and taken to a local veterinary clinic. The next day, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game returned the kitten to the location where he was found in hopes that the mother was nearby. Following this attempt to reunite the kitten with his mother, persons unknown found the kitten and it was once again returned to the veterinary clinic. At that time, Idaho Department of Fish and Game determined that the kitten could not be returned back to the wild and that a permanent home would need to be found. 

“This late-season kitten emphasizes the need to be diligent about leaving wild babies alone. While the outcome is not what was hoped for, it is the best situation for the kitten under the circumstances,” said Dr. Mark Drew, Idaho Department of Fish and Game Wildlife Veterinarian. 

Pete Costello, Assistant Curator of Stone Zoo, traveled to Idaho last week to pick up the male kitten and bring him home to Massachusetts. The trip was made possible through coordination with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, as well as through the generosity of JetBlue, which provided the travel arrangements and safety oversight.

Caring for the kitten will require significant attention from the zoo’s skilled animal management and veterinary teams. Currently, the kitten is being bottle fed every four to five hours throughout the day. He is being cared for at the zoo hospital, located at Franklin Park Zoo, for at least the first 30 days.

“Given the challenges he has faced in his first few weeks of life, we are thrilled to be able to provide a home for this kitten. Our staff prepared for his arrival and for the special care that this kitten will need during these early days. An ambassador for his species, our guests will have the unique opportunity to learn more about Cougars as they watch him grow up,” said John Linehan, Zoo New England President and CEO. “His journey to Boston is the result of a truly collaborative effort. We are incredibly grateful to JetBlue, whose team went above and beyond every step of the way in assuring a smooth travel experience. In honor of all of their support, the new kitten will be named Blue.” 

When Blue is big enough, he will move to his new home at Stone Zoo. He is expected to debut in the Cougar exhibit in winter 2015. 

One of the largest of North America's wild cats, Cougars are also known as Panthers, Painters, Mountain Lions, Pumas and Catamounts. Although the Cougars' United States range has diminished throughout the last century, they still have the widest distribution of any land mammal in the Western Hemisphere. They range from the Yukon in Canada through the western portion of the United States and a small portion of the eastern United States to Patagonia. Cougars are found in a wide variety of habitats including lowlands, mountainous regions, deserts, and tropical forests. 

Females typically give birth between April and September to one to six kittens, which are born with a spotted coat and blue eyes.


Reindeer Calf is Stone Zoo's First

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A Reindeer calf born on April 27 is the first ever born at the Stone Zoo in Massachusetts and is already in the exhibit with mother Holly and father Cornelius.Reindeer calf

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Mom and babyPhoto Credit:  Zoo New England/Dayle Sullivan Taylor
The newborn male Reindeer, which weighs 15 pounds, appeared healthy, bright and alert at his first well-baby examination. As with any new birth, the veterinary and animal management staffs are closely monitoring the mother and baby. 

“We are thrilled to share news of this exciting birth,” said John Linehan, Zoo New England President and CEO. “Holly is a protective first-time mother and she is being very attentive to her newborn calf. The baby has been standing and walking, and he is nursing well. Visitors are going to take great delight in watching this baby grow up.”

The gestation period for Reindeer is about 7 months. Pregnant Reindeer do not shed their antlers until a few days to a week after giving birth. Reindeer are the only species of cervid (member of the deer family) where both males and females have antlers.

The Reindeer is one of 36 species of deer in the world. These animals can be found in the arctic tundra, as well as in boreal forests in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. They have been domesticated in Scandinavia for thousands of years. The Reindeer has two thick coats – an outer coat and undercoat – that help it stay warm in cold temperatures. The Reindeer’s two-toed hooves help prevent slips and falls in icy conditions. Reindeer are herbivores and feed on leaves, bark, moss and lichen.


Prickly New Baby Arrives at Stone Zoo

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The Stone Zoo, part of Zoo New England, recently welcomed a few new members to their collection. Among them, was a Prehensile-Tailed Porcupine that was born just over a month ago on February 16th. The little one was born to mother Comica (14) and father Elvis (6), after a gestation of roughly six and half months. The breeding was a result of a recommendation by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums' Prehensile-Tailed Porcupine Species Survival Plan, which aims to conserve the species. 

Prehensile-Tailed Porcupines are born with the eyes already wide open, and are able to use their unique prehensile tails, which are used to grip various objects, right away. Babies have dense coats of reddish hair and sharp quills that are around 15 millimeters long. Not surprisingly, there isn't a whole lot of contact between the prickly mother and offspring, and the two only typically come together when it is time for the baby to nurse.  

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Photo credits: Stone Zoo

Prehensile-Tailed Porcupines are native to Central and South America. They live primarily arboreal lives, and use their prehensile tail to help them navigate through the forest canopy. In the trees, they forge for their vegetarian diet of flowers, leaves, shoots, and a special cambium layer that can be found beneath the bark of certain trees. When threatened, porcupines will curl up into a ball and shake their spines vigorously to fend off potential attackers.