Virginia Zoo

Bongo Boy Joins Herd at Virginia Zoo

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Virginia Zoo Keepers are delighted to share news of the birth of a baby Bongo. The male calf was born to mom, Betty, on March 23 and weighed-in at 50 pounds. This is the sixth offspring for Betty and the second for father, Bob.

The calf joins a herd that consists of his parents, two other adult females and Joy, the female calf who was born on December 25, 2017.

The Virginia Zoo invited the public to help select a name for the calf, and the winning name was recently announced---Baxter. Baxter and mom, Betty, can now be seen with the rest of their herd on exhibit in the Okavango Delta section of the Zoo.

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4_Virginia Zoo Bongo 2Photo Credits: Image 1: Maxine Bray Reilly / Images 2-4: Virginia Zoo

The Bongo (Tragelaphus eurycerus) is herbivorous and mostly nocturnal. They are a large-bodied, relatively short-legged antelope species with long spiraling horns that make one complete twist from base to tip. They have a rich chestnut coat that is striped with thin white vertical lines along the sides. The face and legs have patches of black and white, with white chevrons on the breast and below the eyes.

In general, the species inhabits lowland forests of Africa. The subspecies in Kenya lives in montane forests at (6,560-9,840 feet) altitude.

Herds are comprised of females and calves, while males are typically more solitary. Females give birth to one calf per year and the gestation period is nine months. Weaning of the calf occurs at about six months.

The Bongo is currently classified as “Near Threatened” by the IUCN. In the last few decades, a rapid decline in numbers has occurred due to poaching and human pressure on their habitat.


Holiday Season Brings Bongos to Two Facilities

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The holiday season brought the bountiful gift of Bongos for two U.S. facilities. The Audubon Nature Institute and the Virginia Zoo both ended 2017 with the significant births of two female calves.

The groundbreaking conservation partnership between Audubon Nature Institute and San Diego Zoo Global recently welcomed the birth of a baby Eastern Bongo, a critically endangered species of antelope battling for survival in the jungles and forests of Africa.

Just months after its first animals arrived at Audubon’s West Bank campus in Lower Coast Algiers, staffers at the Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center welcomed the female Bongo calf on the morning of December 11.

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Babybongo26Photo Credits: Audubon Nature Institute (Images 1-3; Video) / Virginia Zoo (Images 4-6) 

The Bongo is the largest forest-dwelling antelope species and one of the most distinctive, sporting a glossy chestnut or orange colored coat, large ears, eye-catching vertical white stripes and long horns that spiral as high as three feet.

The Audubon Nature Institute/San Diego Zoo Global collaboration – known as the Alliance for Sustainable Wildlife – is akin to a modern-day ark designed to preserve species that are vulnerable in the wild and to sustain populations in human care.

There are only about 100 Bongos remaining in the wild, and their numbers continue to dwindle due to habitat loss from illegal logging, hunting and transmission of disease from grazing cattle.

“Zoos may be the last hope for the Eastern Bongo,’’ said Michelle Hatwood, curator of Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center.

“Bongo conservation in the wild is ongoing, but the effort continues to meet many challenges. Audubon Nature Center has joined zoos around the world to make sure this beautiful animal continues to exist.’’

Their Bongo newborn was conceived at Audubon Species Survival Center shortly after its parents arrived in mid-April from San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

Both parents were born in zoos and are part of the Species Survival Plan administered by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). That plan reviews the animals throughout its accredited facilities and makes recommendations about which should be moved where, given their genetics and personalities and the needs of potential mates at other zoos.

The soon-to-be-named calf weighed in at a healthy 46 pounds, Hatwood said. Both mother, known only as “3,’’ and father, Kibo, are five-years-old and experienced parents.

Hatwood continued, “The mother is displaying all the right behaviors to successfully raise her calf, including making sure curious herd mates behave around the little one.’’

Audubon officials expect their Bongo collection, which now comprises six females and one male, to continue to grow inside the new, four-acre enclosure.

“This is a water-loving, forest antelope,’’ Hatwood said. “And Louisiana has the perfect habitat for this beautiful species to thrive.’’

Once the new calf reaches the age when it would disperse from the herd naturally, Hatwood said the Species Survival Plan would determine the next move.

The Bongo may remain at the Species Survival Center, or it could be sent to another zoo - a decision that will consider both the animal’s needs and the genetic health of the AZA’s zoo population.

“Bongo are one of the first species of antelope I’ve ever gotten the privilege to work with,’’ said Hatwood. “They are secretive, curious and they have a special place in my heart. I hope they continue to flourish in AZA zoos so future generations can fall in love with them too.’’

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Help Lion Conservation by Voting for New Cub’s Name

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The Virginia Zoo’s new African Lion cub needs a name, and the Zoo is asking for your help! By submitting and voting on potential names, you’ll also be helping to save Lions in their native Africa.

The naming contest began Monday, December 11 at 9 am and will conclude on Friday, December 22 at Noon. Participants can submit a name to the contest by paying $1. Each subsequent vote for a name is $1. The name with the most votes wins and will be announced on Christmas morning.

The Virginia Zoo will donate 100-percent of the naming contest proceeds to the Pride Lion Conservation Alliance (pridelionalliance.org), which leads efforts in four key Lion ranges, researching and protecting 20-percent of Africa’s existing wild Lion population.

“Now is your chance to name the cub and help to secure a future for all Lions!” said Greg Bockheim, Executive Director of the Virginia Zoo.

To cast a vote, visit: www.virginiazoo.org/lion-cub-naming.

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4_IMG_2131Photo Credits: Virginia Zoo 

The male cub was born on October 28 to experienced mom, Zola, and dad, Mramba. The cub weighed just three pounds-five ounces at birth and was an immediate joy to all his keepers.

The cub now weighs approximately 12 pounds. According to keepers, he climbs in and out of his nest box, chases mom’s tail, and has been exploring his enclosure.

“The birth of any animal is always exciting,” said Greg Bockheim, Executive Director of the Virginia Zoo. “The birth of this Lion cub specifically is a significant contribution to its genetic population and also provides a fun educational opportunity to our community.”

Thirteen-year-old Zola gave birth in her indoor den in the Zoo’s Africa-Okavango Delta exhibit. According to keepers, she immediately displayed natural instincts of nursing and grooming the cub. Routine physical exams will be performed as the cub grows, and he will receive vaccinations to strengthen his immune system before going out on exhibit.

For more information, visit: www.virginiazoo.org .

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Virginia Zoo Is Naming Their Tiger Cubs

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If you’ve ever wanted to name a tiger cub, now is your chance! The Virginia Zoo will be auctioning off the naming rights for both male Malayan Tigers born in January.

The online auction began April 14, 2016 and will conclude at the Zoo’s upcoming fundraiser, “Zoo To Do”, on May 14, 2016.

If you are unable to visit the Virginia Zoo’s fundraiser, online bids can be placed at the following link: http://bit.ly/263LhpS . Bidding starts at $100. The proceeds raised from the event and auction will go to the “Defining Moments” capital campaign which funds the Zoo’s newest expansion, World of Reptiles.

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4_12901340_10154210228293054_5043478179320769504_oPhoto Credits: Virginia Zoo

The two Malayan Tiger cubs were born at the Virginia Zoo on January 6. The males arrived, about 12 hours apart, to parents Api and Christopher.

The cubs were born after the typical 103 days gestation to a healthy mother. However, with several hours of close observation, the Zoo’s animal care and veterinary staff were not comfortable with the level of care that first-time mom Api was giving.

After much internal discussion and consulting with the National Species Survival Plan Chair for Malayan Tigers, the decision was made to remove the cubs from the mother and hand-rear them.

(See ZooBorns original post introducing the brothers—which includes video! “Critically Endangered Tiger Brothers at the Virginia Zoo”)

The cubs are getting bigger by the day. Recently, they had their 12-week vaccines and each boy weighed-in at 25 pounds.

The boys have their deciduous set (baby set) of incisors and canine teeth. They are also still teething and enjoy chewing on their toys. At around 6 months of age, their baby teeth will fall out and adult/permanent teeth will come in.

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Yellow-backed Duiker Born at Virginia Zoo

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There is more news to report from the Virginia Zoo. A Yellow-backed Duiker was born there last week! The female calf was welcomed by mother, Dot, and father, Dash, and weighed 11.4 pounds at birth.

Dot arrived at the Virginia Zoo in early 2013 (via the Houston Zoo) and recently turned 5 years old. Dash is her younger-man at 2 years old, and he came from the Metro Richmond Zoo in 2014.

So far, Zoo staff have observed Dot nursing, cleaning and caring for her baby… all evidence she’s doing a great job. The family is currently being kept indoors, which gives them time to establish the needed familial bonds; and it allows the baby to stay warm in these cold winter days.

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3_Virginia-Zoo-Baby-Diker-1Photos and Videos Courtesy: The Virginia Zoo

 

 

The Yellow-backed Duiker (Cephalophus silvicultor) is a forest dwelling antelope found mainly in Central and Western Africa.

At maturity, they weigh a max of about 60-80 kg (132-176 lbs.). They feed selectively on plants, but their main diet is fruits.

Yellow-backed Duikers are the largest of all the duikers (primitive antelope which diverged early in bovid history). Both males and females have short cylindrical horns, which are ribbed at the base, and reddish-brown hair sits between the horns.

The species is listed as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, with a total population estimated at more than 150,000. According to the IUCN: “In much of its range, especially outside protected areas, it has been reduced to low numbers or eliminated by forest destruction, and encroachment of human settlements, coupled with uncontrolled hunting for bushmeat. The species was formerly subject to strict taboos that once protected it in some parts of its range, and it is still considered a non-preferred game species in some areas; however, many of these taboos have broken down.”


Critically Endangered Tiger Brothers at the Virginia Zoo

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Two Malayan Tiger cubs were born at the Virginia Zoo on January 6. The two males arrived, about 12 hours apart, to parents Api and Christopher.

The cubs were born after the typical 103 days gestation to a healthy mother. However, with several hours of close observation, the Zoo’s animal care and veterinary staff were not comfortable with the level of care that first-time mom Api was giving.

After much internal discussion and consulting with the National Species Survival Plan Chair for Malayan Tigers, the decision was made to remove the cubs from the mother and hand-rear them.

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4_tiger-cubs-4-030Photos and Videos Courtesy: The Virginia Zoo

 

 

 

At the time of their removal from mom, the first cub weighed 1.6 pounds while the second weighed 2 pounds. Virginia Zoo staff are following previously developed hand-rearing protocols, and both cubs are active and thriving.

Tigers are born blind and helpless and are typically nursed by the mother for about two months, after which they will be introduced to a meat diet. In the wild, tiger cubs will begin to hunt for their own food at about 18 months of age.

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Masai Giraffe Calf ‘Smiles for the Camera’

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The Virginia Zoo is proud to announce the birth of a baby Masai Giraffe on July 23.  The yet-to-be-named male calf was born to five-time mother Imara and father Billy.  At birth, the calf weighed in at 152 pounds and measured in at 75 inches tall. 

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Giraffes give birth standing up, so newborns get an abrupt introduction to the world by dropping up to 6 feet to the ground. The baby could stand and walk within the first few hours after birth.

Zoo staff are monitoring the baby’s health and will keep the public posted on the baby’s well being. “We are keeping a close watch on mom and baby,” said Dr. Amanda Guthrie. “So far the baby looks healthy, Imara is an experienced and attentive mother and we’re optimistic that she’ll do a great job.” 

Under the watchful eye of mother Imara, the baby giraffe will begin to explore his surroundings in the upcoming weeks. Visitors to the indoor giraffe exhibit might catch a glimpse of mom and baby. For those who can’t make a trip to the Virginia Zoo, a “Giraffe Cam” has been set-up in their living quarters.

Check out the Giraffe Cam on the Zoo’s website and see what the new calf is up to: http://virginiazoo.org/animals-plants/animals/mammals/animal-cams/giraffe-cam/

This birth is a significant contribution to the North American population of Masai Giraffe, as there are only a little over 100 in North America.  “This birth is important to the Species Survival Plan (SSP) as Billy, the father, is a genetically important male for the species,” commented Joseph Svoke, Zoological Manager. The Virginia Zoo is committed to these large and charismatic species, from captive management to field conservation.

Masai Giraffe are the largest subspecies of giraffe and the tallest land mammal on Earth. They are native to Kenya and Tanzania and are characterized by their jagged spots. Males reach heights of up to 18 feet tall and females grow to 14 feet tall. Giraffes may bear one offspring, after a 15-month gestation period. When a giraffe baby is born, it comes into the world front feet first, followed by the head, neck, and shoulders. Newborn giraffes can stand and walk within one hour of birth. They can also eat leaves at the age of four months, but they will continue to nurse until they are 6 to 9 months old.


New Birth Has Virginia Zoo Seeing Stripes

Foal With Abbey

‘Abbey’, a 14-year-old Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra, at the Virginia Zoo, gave birth to a female foal April 13th. This is the second foal for Abbey and the first for 11-year-old father ‘Zack’.

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Foal Scale

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This is a significant birth for the species, as Hartmann’s Mountain Zebras are threatened in the wild, and there are less than 60 captive individuals in the North American Species Survival Plan (SSP).

“The foal appears very healthy and Abbey is an excellent, experienced mother,” says Virginia Zoo veterinarian Dr. Amanda Guthrie. “We are optimistic that this youngster will thrive and be an important member of the Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra SSP population.”

Female zebras produce a single foal every one to three years, after a gestation of approximately one year.  Each zebra has a unique stripe pattern, and after giving birth, the mother will position herself, between her foal and the rest of the herd, so the foal can imprint upon her stripe pattern. The foal will stay with its mother for a little over a year before being weaned.

Abbey and the filly are being given plenty of time to bond behind the scenes before being introduced to the rest of the herd. The Zoo will also make a special announcement when the time comes for the pair to go on public display.

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Prickly Situation for Porcupine Newborn

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On December 6, 2014, a Prehensile-Tailed Porcupine was born, on exhibit, at the Virginia Zoo. 

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VirginiaZoo_prehensile-tailed porcupine_3Photo Credits: Virginia Zoo / (Image 2: Meg Puckett)

After several days of close observations, animal care and veterinary staff were not comfortable with the level of care that first-time mom,‘Cayenne’, was giving the youngster, so after much internal discussion as well as consultation from experts at the National Zoo, it was decided to remove the baby from the parents and hand-rear it.  The baby is yet to be named and its sex is not physically able to be determined at this point.

The birth of this unique animal illustrates the Virginia Zoo’s breeding and conservation success. This birth is significant because it provides opportunities for Zoo staff and visitors to learn more about these unique animals and their role in our world. It also helps to maintain and support a healthy and self-sustaining population that is genetically diverse and demographically stable.

Prehensile-Tailed Porcupines are native to Central and South America. They are closely related to other Neotropical tree porcupines. Aside from their unspined prehensile tails, their other notable features are: front and hind feet modified for grasping, enabling them to be adept climbers.

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Screaming Animal Ambassador Born at Virginia Zoo

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The Virginia Zoo has a new addition, a baby Screaming Hairy Armadillo! The little guy was born on August 18 to parents ‘Savanna’ and ‘Chaco’. 

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ScreamingHairyArmadillo_1Photo Credits: Virginia Zoo

The armadillo parents, Savanna and Chaco, serve a dual purpose at the Virginia Zoo. They're a breeding pair, but they're also part of the Program Animal collection. They are used for education and special animal encounters. It will be a while before the new baby makes his public debut, but he will mostly likely join his parents as an Animal Ambassador once he's all grown up.

The Screaming Hairy Armadillo is native to central, southern South America, specifically the Chaco region of Bolivia, Argentina, and Paraguay. They are omnivores and thrive in tropical and subtropical dry forests, grasslands, savannas, scrublands, pastures, sandy soils, and deserts, where they can burrow. The Screaming Hairy Armadillo is distinguished from other species of armadillos by its long, wiry hairs sticking out through its hard shell and over its body, making it more hairy than most armadillos. One of the smallest of their genus, Chaetophractus, the adjective “screaming” comes from their squeal-like response to being threatened or bothered.

Although, they are classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List, this armadillo is heavily hunted for its meat in parts of the Chaco region in Bolivia. It is at times considered an agricultural pest and killed by hunting dogs. The disjunctive population, of coastal Buenos Aires Province, Argentina, is adversely affected by mining activities. The carapace is particularly sought for making ‘charangos’, a South American musical instrument akin to a lute.