Columbus Zoo Sees First Elephant Calf in Ten Years

1_Asian Elephant Calf 1124 - Grahm S. Jones  Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

On Thursday, December 6, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium welcomed the much-anticipated birth of an Asian Elephant in the Zoo’s Asia Quest region. The female calf is the first elephant born at the Columbus Zoo in almost 10 years, and she is the first to be born at the Zoo as a result of artificial insemination.

Mother, Phoebe, is 31-years-old and arrived at the Zoo in January 2002. While Phoebe has had the opportunity to breed with 30-year-old, Hank, at the Columbus Zoo, the attempts were unsuccessful and she was also artificially inseminated with sperm from Hank and a male from another zoo. The father of the calf is not yet known and will be determined through a DNA test, with results expected in the coming weeks. Artificial insemination enables an elephant to be impregnated at her most fertile time. While still a relatively rare procedure for elephants, attempts to artificially inseminate elephants are becoming more frequent in an effort to bolster the numbers of endangered elephants, whose populations are rapidly declining in their native range.

The new calf joins the herd of six Asian Elephants in the Asia Quest region: males, Hank and Beco, and females, Phoebe, Connie, Sundara (Sunny) and Rudy. There have been three successful Asian Elephant births at the Columbus Zoo throughout the Zoo’s history, and all three have been born to Phoebe —this most recent calf, Beco in 2009 and male, Bodhi, who was born in 2004 and now resides at Denver Zoo. Coco, who passed away at the Columbus Zoo in 2011, was the sire of Beco and Bodhi.

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3_Asian Elephant Calf 3785 - Grahm S. Jones  Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

4_Asian Elephant Calf 3827 - Grahm S. Jones  Columbus Zoo and AquariumPhoto Credits: Grahm S. Jones/ Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

To provide Phoebe and her new baby with time to continue developing a strong bond, they will remain in a behind-the-scenes area. The Zoo will announce viewing information for guests as it becomes available.

“We are very proud to welcome Phoebe’s calf into the elephant herd here at the Columbus Zoo,” said Columbus Zoo President/CEO Tom Stalf. “Each birth contributes to the global population and sustainability of this endangered species and is one worth celebrating as a sign of hope for the future of these incredible animals.”

Elephants have the longest gestational period of all mammals, lasting approximately 22 months. Over the last several months, Phoebe has participated in regular ultrasounds to monitor the development of the calf through the imaging, as well as blood collections to monitor her hormone levels throughout her pregnancy. Phoebe and the unnamed calf will continue to be monitored around the clock by the Zoo’s expert animal care team to ensure they receive the best care possible.

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is a long-time supporter of several direct elephant conservation initiatives benefitting both African and Asian Elephants, including annual donations to the International Elephant Foundation and several research projects and grants over the last 23 years. Many of these research projects have focused on improving human-wildlife coexistence and monitoring elephant populations in their native ranges. Zoo visitors also have the opportunity to learn about elephant conservation and how they can contribute to the sustainability of this endangered species at the Zoo’s Elephant Conservation Station inside the “Vanishing Giants” building located in the Asia Quest region.

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Sleepy Little Polar Bear Dreams of Christmas

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One can only wonder what the sleepy little bear is dreaming about…perhaps Santa or a white Christmas?

Although still blind, deaf and about the size of a guinea pig, the growing Polar Bear cub at Tierpark Berlin is now twelve-days-old.

The cub still spends most of the day snugly nestled in mother, Tonja's, warm fur. Tonja gave birth to her youngster on the afternoon of December 1.

According to keepers, the newborn’s appetite is healthy, too. "The young animal now drinks at a fairly regular rhythm of two hours," explains Eisbären- curator, Dr. Florian Sicks. "So far we are very satisfied with the development. As in the last few years, Tonja takes excellent care of her offspring.”

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4_Tonja putzt ihr Jungtier_Tierpark Berlin_2018Photo Credits: Tierpark Berlin

Approximately 30 days after birth, eyes and auditory canals will open up for the young Polar Bear, as well. 

The new father, Volodya, moved to Zoo Berlin in the summer of 2018. In the wild, Polar Bears live as loners and the males are not involved in the rearing of juveniles.

Thanks to new camera technology, the experts at Tierpark Berlin are able to follow the events in the litter cave around the clock. The mortality rate of young Polar Bears is particularly high. In their natural habitat, about 85% of the bears do not reach an age older than two years.

Since absolute rest for mother and offspring is a decisive factor for the success of the rearing, no one will approach the nesting cave in the coming weeks. Also, the Polar Bears are currently not visible to visitors.


Elusive Wildcat Kitten Caught on Camera

1_Britain’s rarest mammal – the Scottish wildcat – has been born at Chester Zoo (35)

A rare Scottish Wildcat has been born at Chester Zoo. The female kitten is part of a breeding programme that is striving to save Britain’s rarest mammal from extinction.

As few as 100 Wildcats – also known as the ‘Highland tiger’ – are estimated to remain in the UK.

The animals once thrived in Britain but were hunted to the brink of extinction for their fur and to stop them from preying on game birds. As the only remaining wild feline species, Scottish Wildcats are now protected under UK law but are still under huge threat from habitat loss, crossbreeding with domestic cats, and disease.

2_Britain’s rarest mammal – the Scottish wildcat – has been born at Chester Zoo (43)

3_Britain’s rarest mammal – the Scottish wildcat – has been born at Chester Zoo (34)

4_Britain’s rarest mammal – the Scottish wildcat – has been born at Chester Zoo (30)Photo Credits: Chester Zoo (Images 7-11: wildcat mum "Einich")

Chester Zoo is one of a number of conservation partners, which form Scottish Wildcat Action - a coordinated effort to bring the tenacious hunters back from the brink.

Conservationists have hailed the latest kitten as “another lifeline for the species” and it is hoped that future generations will be reintroduced to the wild.

Tim Rowlands, the zoo’s Curator of Mammals, said, “Unlike domestic cats who can have several litters a year, Scottish Wildcats will usually only have one, so every birth is really, really significant.”

“The kitten was born to parents, Einich and Cromarty, in August but, given their incredibly elusive nature, had not been caught on camera until now. It’s ever so special to see just how active the kitten already is and how she’s already starting to practice the skills that these magnificent, stealth hunters use to pounce on their prey.”

Tim continued, “Conservation breeding in zoos is a key component in the wider plan to prevent Scottish Wildcats from disappearing altogether – and each new arrival offers another lifeline for the species. The hope is that the safety net population being bred by our carnivore experts will be released into the highlands of Scotland in the future. We’re very much part of the vision to restore and maintain a wild population of the stunning Scottish Wildcat for the long term.”

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Tiny Polar Bear Cub Born at Zoo Sauvage

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On the morning of November 27, zoo keepers arrived at Zoo Sauvage and heard the strong cries of a newborn cub coming from the Polar Bear den. Female Aisaqvak had given birth to a cub.

No Polar Bear had raised a cub at Zoo Sauvage since 2009, and the Polar Bear care team worked diligently to bring about another pregnancy. In 2011, a new adult male named Yellé arrived, and the team had high hopes that he and Aisaqvak would produce a cub. But despite the fact that the two Bears showed great interest in each other over several years, Aisaqvak did not become pregnant. A new male named Eddy arrived from the Aquarium du Québec in 2015, but over two seasons, he and Aisaqvak did not produce a cub. The staff decided to bring back Yellé in 2017, and breeding success was finally achieved in 2018.

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2Screen Shot 2018-12-09 at 11Photo Credit: Zoo Sauvage

Why did Aisaqvak and Yellé produce a cub this year and not in previous years? No one knows for certain, but the staff is overjoyed at the baby’s birth. The cub is significant because it introduces new genetic material into the zoo-dwelling population of Polar Bears. Aisaqvak was born in the wild, and Yellé has never reproduced before.

Newborn Polar Bears are very tiny in comparison to their mothers. Babies weigh just over one pound, while Aisaqvak weighs 727 pounds. The cub’s chances of survival are still precarious. However, the team sees hopeful signs that Aisaqvak is taking excellent care of her newborn. In addition, closed-circuit cameras allow the staff to watch every move as Aisaqvak and the baby bond in their private den. They two will remain in the den for several months, which is how mother and baby Polar Bears behave in the wild. Cubs begin walking at about three months of age. The baby’s gender will not be known for several months.

Wild Polar Bear populations are decreasing, as are populations within zoos. Polar Bears are classified as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). In 2006, 364 Polar Bears resided in zoos worldwide. In 2015, only 298 Polar Bears lived in zoos. Wild Polar Bears face threats from warming seas and shrinking sea ice, which affect their ability to hunt and capture prey.


Baby Baboon Joins a Big Family

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Oakland Zoo is celebrating its newest addition to the Hamadryas Baboon troop, which is now three generations strong.  Adult female Mocha gave birth to a baby boy, named Mousa, on November 3.  Mousa is Mocha’s first baby and she is proving to be a great mom. Mocha’s parents, Maya and Martijn, are still part of the troop, which now includes 17 members. 

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Baby Baboon born 20181103-3145Photo Credit: Oakland Zoo

 

Like most Baboon mothers, Mocha brought her baby outdoors when he was just one day old. In the close-knit troop, the other members have shown continuous support and have kept an eye on Mocha and the new baby. 

“Initially, Mousa’s aunts and uncles were especially interested in Mousa and formed an entourage going everywhere that they went, never more than a foot or two away and often much closer.  At almost three weeks old, Mousa is doing great,” said Andrea Dougall, Zoological Manager at Oakland Zoo. 

Mousa’s father, Kusa, was brought to Oakland Zoo by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) to begin his own harem with the offspring of Martijn. The genetic diversity that came with Kusa’s arrival strengthens the populations of Hamadryas Baboons at AZA-accredited U.S. zoos. Oakland Zoo’s animal care staff continues to work closely with the SSP to maintain and increase genetic diversity within the troop. 

Read more and se additional photos of Mousa below.

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Baby De Brazza’s Monkey for La Palmyre Zoo

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Zoo de La Palmyre announced the arrival of a De Brazza’s Monkey baby.

According to representatives from the French zoo, the one-month-old newborn is reportedly doing well and has started to eat solid food, though it is still suckling. Among cercopithecidae species, weaning is usually completed around one-year-old. The baby is yet-to-be-named, as the keepers haven’t confirmed its sex with certainty.

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4_MG_8208Photo Credits: Florence Perroux/Zoo de La Palmyre

De Brazza’s Monkeys (Cercopithecus neglectus) are born with a yellow-brown fur that darkens as they grow up. Adults have an orange crescent-shaped band of hair on their forehead and a white beard. De Brazza’s Monkeys mainly feed on fruits but also consume leaves and insects, and they frequently forage on the ground.

In the wild, the species is common and widespread. As it occurs in dozens of African countries, it is not threatened in short term but locally suffers from habitat destruction. Cercopithecidae are also hunted for their meat or because they sometimes destroy crops.


San Diego Zoo Surprised with Siamang Birth

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A 37-year-old Siamang, named Eloise, was recently photographed holding her infant after giving birth on exhibit, as volunteers and guests looked on, providing the San Diego Zoo with its first Siamang infant in more than 12 years.

Eloise and 35-year-old male, Unkie, had already been successful parents, and their genes are well represented in the Zoo’s Siamang population, so the pair’s breeding had been restricted for a number of years by chemical contraception. For that reason, the arrival of their newest youngster this week was a welcome surprise for animal care staff.

_A3P7439Photo Credits: Tammy Spratt/San Diego Zoo Global

The Siamang (Symphalangus syndactylus) is an arboreal black-furred gibbon that is native to the forests of Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. It is the largest of the species and can be twice the size of other gibbons. Siamangs, like many of the animals at the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park, take part in the Species Survival Plan (SSP), a breeding program designed to ensure healthy, genetically diverse populations of threatened and endangered species through a network of accredited zoos. The Siamang is currently classified as “Endangered” by the IUCN.

Animal care staff plans to perform a full exam on the infant in the months ahead, and will be able to determine its sex at that time. Currently, Eloise, Unkie, and their newest addition are doing well, and Zoo guests can visit the trio in their habitat along Orangutan Trail, inside the Zoo’s Lost Forest.


Red Panda Brothers Practice Their Climbing Skills

1_red panda kits Pokhara and ShimlaFour-month-old Red Panda kits, Pokhara and Shimla, have begun to venture outside and try out their newfound climbing skills at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland’s Highland Wildlife Park.

Born in July, the brothers first began spending time outside their den under the watchful eye of mum Kitty.

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4_red panda kits Pokhara and ShimlaPhoto Credits: RZSS/Alyson Houston

The Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens) is a mammal native to the eastern Himalayas and southwestern China. It is classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List. The wild population is estimated at fewer than 10,000 mature individuals and continues to decline due to habitat loss and fragmentation, poaching, and inbreeding.

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Red Panda Twins Debut at Belfast Zoo

1_However  red panda numbers are declining dramatically due to habitat loss and illegal hunting for their fur.

Belfast Zoo is celebrating the birth of endangered twin Red Panda cubs! The pair was born to parents, Chris and Vixen. Chris arrived at Belfast Zoo, from Beekse Bergen Safari Park in the Netherlands, in 2013. As part of a collaborative breeding programme, he was joined by Vixen (who arrived from Dresden Zoo in April 2017). The pair hit it off straight away and after a gestation period of approximately 135 days, Vixen gave birth to two healthy female cubs on 19 June 2018.

Zoo curator, Julie Mansell, said, “Red Panda cubs are born blind and develop quite slowly. They therefore spend the first few months in the den. It is for this reason that, despite being born back in June, the twins have only recently started to venture outside. Over the last few weeks the twins have become more adventurous and visitors will hopefully get the chance to spot our colourful little arrivals as they start exploring their habitat!”

2_Vixen gave birth to two healthy female cubs on 19 June 2018.  Red panda cubs are born blind and develop slowly.  They spend the first few months in the den.

3_Over the last few weeks the twins have become more adventurous and visitors will hopefully get the chance to spot the colourful arrivals.

4_The Nepalese term for the species ‘nigalya ponya’ which translates as ‘bamboo footed’ and refers to their bamboo diet.Photo Credits: Belfast Zoo

Red Pandas are also known as ‘lesser’ panda or ‘firefox’. It is believed that their name comes from the Nepalese term for the species ‘nigalya ponya’ which translates as ‘bamboo footed’ and refers to their bamboo diet. It was originally thought that this species was related to the raccoon family or even the other bamboo eater, the Giant Panda. They have since been classified as a unique species in their own family, called Ailuridae. Red Panda spend most of their time in the trees. Their sharp claws make them agile climbers and they use their long, striped tails for balance.

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First Litter of Rare African Painted Dogs for Zoo

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ZooTampa at Lowry Park has been celebrating the births of seven rare African Painted Dog pups. The multi-colored pups are the first of this endangered African species to be born at the Zoo. They also are the first pups born to the parents, Layla and Hatari, who both arrived at the Zoo earlier this year as part of a collaborative species conservation program.

Also called African Wild Dogs (Lycaon pictus), the species is native to sub-Saharan Africa. They are currently classified as “Endangered” by the IUCN. The global population is currently less than 6,600 and still declining due to human conflict, habitat fragmentation and widespread diseases such as rabies and distemper.

“We are one of only a few zoos playing as leading role in the work to save the charismatic African Painted Dog. The birth of these pups is a significant step in helping save the population that is under severe threat,” said Dr. Larry Killmar, senior vice president and chief zoological officer at ZooTampa at Lowry Park. “When we welcomed Layla and Hatari to our zoo, our hope was for a healthy litter that will be part of AZA’s African Wild Dog Species Survival Plan (SSP) designed to help to save this important species.”

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4_PaintedDogs_Print_11Photo Credits: Matt Marriott/ ZooTampa

The pups will stay close to their mother for the next three to four weeks before leaving their den. As the colorful pups get bigger and more independent, visitors can watch them grow up at the zoo and learn about what the ZooTampa is doing for this and other endangered animal species.

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