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April 2011

Little Aardvark Makes Big Debut at Busch Gardens

Baby aardvark at Busch Gardens 2

This young male aardvark was born at Busch Gardens on April 10. Busch Gardens’ animal care experts stepped in when they saw that the mother was not attentive. There are only about 35 aardvarks in zoos in North America. With fewer than a dozen successful births each year, aardvark births are not common. They are solitary by nature, only Busch Gardens is home to a male and female, with the cub making three. He will be raised in Jambo Junction – located in the Nairobi area of the park – and will become one of the park’s educational Animal Ambassadors. 

Baby aardvark at Busch Gardens 1

Baby aardvark at Busch Gardens 3

Baby aardvark at Busch Gardens 4

Detroit Zoo Welcomes Brown and White Bundle of Joy


Detroit Zoo welcomed a brown and white bundle of joy to its fold on April 17th. After a 13 month gestation period, Jimmy the Grevy's Zebra foal stumbled onto the scene and was up on his feet in just a few hours. Wild Grevy's Zebras must quickly learn to stand and run to escape the potential threat of predators. This endangered East African species is declining in numbers due to habitat loss and competition with livestock.




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Baby Owls Grow Better in Groups


Thirteen is turning out to be a lucky number for a group of baby Owls at The Fund for Animals Wildlife Center in Ramona, Calif. Since wild Owls are always raised in groups, having 13 babies together at the center ensures that they have plenty of company while they grow strong enough to be returned to the wild.


Spring always brings an influx of baby critters at the Wildlife Center. The baby Owls’ story is a familiar one: they were brought to the center after they fell from their nests. It is usually best to leave babies on the ground and watch to see if their parents are standing guard nearby. But sometimes well-intentioned people pick the babies up thinking they are in distress, and then they bring them to rescue and rehabilitation groups like the Wildlife Center. In some cases, it is clear that the birds need to be relocated for their own safety; one of the baby Owls at the Wildlife Center came from a nest located in a busy shopping plaza.


“These are perfectly healthy babies that were just in unfortunate circumstances,” says Wildlife Center Director Ali Crumpacker. The crowd of fluffy baby great Horned Owls and Barn Owls all enthusiastically eat a steady diet of specially prepared food at the Wildlife Center. But in the wild, great Horned Owls often prey on the smaller barn owls. That presented a brief dilemma for rehabilitation. “If the barn owls are constantly hearing great Horned Owls, they are constantly in a state of fear,”  Crumpacker said.

Crumpacker reached out to colleagues at a raptor rescue group in Lakeside, Calif. called Sky Hunters. Sky Hunters agreed to take the Barn Owls, and the Wildlife Center, in turn, agreed to take in some of Sky Hunters’ baby great Horned Owls for rehabilitation.


The center has also been raising a trio of baby Red-tailed Hawks (above). All the babies will likely stay at the Wildlife Center for about three months. They’ll grow their all-important wing feathers, then develop their flying muscles in an outdoor flight cage.


“We will make sure that they can maneuver properly,” Crumpacker says, “and then they will be released back into the wild where they belong.”

Photo credits: The Fund for Animals Wildlife Center

Nashville Zoo's Clouded Leopard Cubs at 1 Month


Nashville Zoo's troublemsome trio of Clouded Leopard Kittens is just over a month old. The three are beginning to fully open their eyes and are much more active than they were just four weeks ago. Clouded Leopards are vulnerable to extinction due to habitat loss. Nashville Zoo participates in the Thailand Clouded Leopard Consortium, which leads a multi-faceted conservation program that includes a viable self-sustaining breeding program.



Video and photo credits: Christian Sperka

See more pictures of the cubs after the jump

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Remy the Orangutan Finds a Surrogate Mother


An infant ape who journeyed from Texas to be fostered by one of the nation’s best surrogate mothers is now beginning to explore his outdoor habitat. Remy, a 4-month-old male Sumatran Orangutan from the Fort Worth Zoo, is adjusting well and has been accepted by Madu, a 27-year-old Sumatran Orangutan at Zoo Atlanta. The infant, whose full name is Rembulan Wajah (Rembulan means “moon;” Wajah, “face,” in Indonesian) was born on November 26, 2010. His biological mother became very ill and was unable to care for Remy. Although she has since improved, she remains under close veterinary supervision. The Orangutan Species Survival Plan (SSP) identified Madu as the top candidate for surrogacy, as she has successfully reared two previous foster infants.

Orangutan_madu_remy_041411_ZA_5072.jpg - 1
Photo credits: Courtesy of Zoo Atlanta

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Tiger Cubs open Their Eyes for the First Time


Two tiny Malayan Tiger cubs opened their eyes last weekend at the San Diego Zoo. Born to mom, Mek Degong, the two week old cubs represent hope for a species that has been reduced to about 500 individuals from 3,000 in the 1800s. After this check-up, the cubs were returned to the birthing den, a cozy room filled with straw, where they will stay and nurse for the next two months.


San-Diego-Zoo-Malayan-Tiger-Cubs-2Photo credits: San Diego Zoo

Don't miss this outstanding video!


Partially Blind Harbor Seal Proves a Perfect Mother

Harbor Seal Pup at Albuquerque Zoo 1

On April 13, eight-year old Harbor Seal Gracie, gave birth to a bouncing baby pup in a special birthing pool. Gracie arrived at the Albuquerque BioPark in 2004 after sustaining a gunshot wound which caused significant eyesight loss. BioPark staff were concerned that her impaired eyesight might be a problem in motherhood, but Gracie relies on her other senses to communicate. “Seals use scent and vocalization, so we’re finding that her eyesight is not an issue at all,” said Lynn Tupa, Zoo Manager. “The pup is so cute. She nurses often and communicates with mom constantly, so there is a lot of vocalization. Usually after nursing, they play in the pool together.”

Harbor Seal Pup and Mom Albuquerque Zoo 1

Harbor Seal Pup and Mom Kiss at Albuquerque Zoo

Harbor Seal Pup at Albuquerque Zoo 2Photo credits: Katie Mast, courtesy of ABQ BioPark

The pup will remain off exhibit with her mother in the birthing pool until able to eat solid food. See more below the fold...

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New Playpal for Kasi the Cheetah Cub

Cheetah and puppy at busch gardens 3

Busch Gardens’ Cheetah cub has a new companion! Since the young Cheetah cub is being hand-raised by keepers, staff decided to pair him with a Labrador puppy as a playpal to help the animal socialize. Both animals are quite playful and naturally curious about the other. They have been getting along wonderfully. While this is Busch Gardens' first puppy / cheetah pairing, the move is not uncommon at zoos. “Male cheetahs are social and often live together in coalitions,” explained animal curator Tim Smith. “This social bond will be a very similar relationship, and they will be together for life."

Cheetah and puppy at busch gardens 2

Cheetah and puppy at busch gardens 4Photo credits: Matt Marriott / Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

The Cheetah and puppy each received names yesterday selected by the public. The Cheetah's name, Kasi" means "one with speed" while the Lab's name, Mtani, means "close friend" in Swahili. See pics of Kasi as a young cub here.

American Jaguar Cubs Venture Out In Europe

Jaguar Cub at Bratislava Zoo by Emmanuel Keller 4

Just before and after Christmas, Zoo Bratislava welcomed two Jaguar cubs as part of the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums breeding program for this species. Both born to mother Laima, the pregnancy and successful birth was a small miracle since father Boris had initially exhibited significant aggression towards Laima. 

Leading up to the birth, Zoo staff prepared a wooden birthing box lined with wool in the back of the breeding facility, away from the visitors’ area. Even though it was Laima’s first birth she managed it without complications and since the first day she was a very dedicated mother, providing excellent care for her cubs. Typical for Jaguar, she aggressively protects her cubs. During the first month after the cubs’ birth, Laima would not tolerate her keepers in the vicinity of the birthing box. In order to minimize Laima’s stress, Zoo staff kept their distance.

These outstanding images were taken by the very talented Emmanuel Keller, a frequent contributor to ZooBorns.

Jaguar Cub at Bratislava Zoo by Emmanuel Keller 11

Jaguar Cub at Bratislava Zoo by Emmanuel Keller 11

Jaguar Cub at Bratislava Zoo by Emmanuel Keller 11

Jaguar Cub at Bratislava Zoo by Emmanuel Keller 11

Many more exceptional photos below the fold.

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Check Out Those Chompers!

Gibbon baby at Lincoln Park Zoo by John Kortas

Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo has confirmed their newest swinging sensation, a baby white-cheeked gibbon, is a boy – and boy is he cute! The 3-month-old critically endangered ape has also been given a name. “The baby has been named Sai, (pronounced ‘sigh’), which means ‘son’ in Burmese said Lincoln Park Zoo Curator of Primates Maureen Leahy. “He is the third offspring – all sons – for the mother Burma and father Caruso.” Lincoln Park Zoo is significantly involved in ape conservation efforts in the wild to help secure a long term future for endangered apes.

Gibbon baby at Lincoln Park Zoo by John Kortas 2

“Sai has been transforming right before my eyes over the last 3 months,” said Leahy. “His hair is beginning to darken in color, his baby teeth have grown in – he’s got an impressive set of choppers – and he’s already starting to venture an arm’s length away from his mother, reaching out to test his long arms on hanging vines,” said Leahy.  Check out the chompers on this little guy below!

Gibbon baby showing off his chompers by Anita YantzPhoto credits: #1 and #2 John Kortas, #3 Anita Yantz, #4 Lisa Rank (below) 

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