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July 2012
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September 2012

August 2012

Bon Voyage Baby Spooner!


Mystic Aquarium’s animal rescue team released a 6-month-old female Gray Seal named Spooner into the waters of Blue Shutters Town Beach in Charlestown, R.I., on Friday, August 24. Mystic Aquarium rescued Spooner on March 8, 2012, at Breakwater Village in Narragansett, R.I. after finding her with numerous infected wounds on her face and neck and a fractured tooth. She has since recovered after being treated with wound care, antibiotics and dental surgery. Spooner was named in honor of Dr. Tracey Spoon, Mystic Aquarium’s research scientist who passed away unexpectedly in May.






Photo credit: Mystic Aquarium


Saint Louis Zoo is Jumping with Joeys

Tree mouth

Meet the Saint Louis Zoo's new little pride and joeys! Two baby faces have emerged from within pouches this summer – a Matschie's [MAT-shees] Tree Kangaroo in Emerson Children's Zoo, and a Red Kangaroo in Red Rocks.

Seven months ago, Bexley, the Matschie's Tree Kangaroo, was born the size of a lima bean. He immediately moved into his mother's pouch to be nurtured and developed and has since grown to be the size of a small cat. Visitors who are patient may see Bexley climbing all the way out of the pouch, reaching for his mom's food and beginning to explore his world. At about 10 months old, he will officially move out of the pouch, but will continue to nurse until he is at least 16 months old.

This is the fourth offspring for mother Kasbeth and father Iri and the fourth Rree 'Roo ever to be born at the Saint Louis Zoo. Kasbeth and Iri were paired under the recommendation of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Species Survival Plan for tree kangaroos.

The endangered Matschie's Tree Kangaroo is a small marsupial found only in the thick, mountainous forests of Papua New Guinea, an island just south of the equator, north of Australia. A relative of terrestrial kangaroos, the reddish-brown and cream colored Tree Kangaroo also retains the legendary ability to jump. The Tree Kangaroo can leap as far as 30 feet from a tree to the ground.

Tree paw

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Don't miss the video below of this Tree Kangaroo playing with mom and biting her ear while she's trying to nap!!

Their Red Kangaroo joey, with an estimated birth date of January 14, was first spotted sticking his/her head out of mother Conundrum's pouch in June, and is now coming and going from the pouch quite regularly. Zoo staff have not yet determined the joey's gender. Like Bexley, the Red Kangaroo joey was born the size of a lima bean.

Red pouch

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Photo Credit: Robin Winkelman/Saint Louis Zoo

Red Kangaroos are the largest marsupials. They live in mobs on the plains of Australia, where they dine on grasses and leaves. Reddish-brown males and smaller grey females can cover a distance of 25 feet in one leap, often traveling as fast as 30 mph. Red Kangaroos were once considered to be pests and were threatened by overhunting, but with protection the wild populations have rebounded.

Keep scrolling down to watch this Red Kangroo baby nibbling greens along with mom while in the pouch!

A Meerkat Mom Shows Her Mothering Skills


At the UK's Dudley Zoological Gardens, three tiny Meerkat pups have been spotted exploring their surroundings, after opening their eyes for the first time this week. The triplets were born in one of the underground burrows around three weeks ago and made their public debut yesterday to join DZG's eight-strong mob of adults. A child's pacifier was dropped into the Meerkat enclosure and quickly picked up by their mother and brought over to the young pups!



Photo credit: Dudley Zoological Gardens

Newborn Meerkats are unable to open their eyes for around two weeks and stay close to the burrows, usually with an adult meerkat who has been chosen as the group's babysitter. Keepers will have to wait until the babies are eight weeks old to discover their sex.

Southern Hairy-Nosed Wombat Birth May Help Save the Critically Endangered Species


Taronga Zoo is celebrating breeding the Zoo’s first Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat in 30 years, unlocking secrets which could also help their critically endangered wild cousins. The female joey, named Turra (meaning shadow or shade from the Aboriginal Kaurna language group) recently emerged from mom Korra’s pouch and is a triumph for the Zoo’s efforts on behalf of the species; until recently they were thought to be completely extinct in New South Wales and have been notoriously difficult to breed in captivity.

After many unfruitful matings since efforts began in 2002, a few new factors were applied that led to success. “We decided this time to leave the male in with the females for the whole year,” said Keeper Samantha Elton. “We took a hands-off approach and also provided them with new soil to let them create their own burrows. Hoping our male, Noojee, would breed this year, we added a healthy dose of competition by placing another male in the den. Apparently wombats favor certain individuals, so compatibility certainly played a role.”



Little is known about the development of Wombat pouch young, however Korra is very relaxed in her environment, often sleeping on her back, giving Taronga Keepers the unique opportunity to monitor and measure the joey.

“This has provided invaluable information. We were very lucky to have been able to check on the joey from when it measured just 6 cm and was still hairless,” Samantha added.

Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat numbers in the wild are in decline with loss of habitat, road deaths, drought, competition for food from introduced species, and, more recently, the debilitating infestation of Sarcoptic Mange. Information gained from zoo breeding programs is crucial in ensuring the survival of this species. 

Photo Credit: Peter Hardin

Read more about conservation efforts for the three species of wombats below the jump.

Continue reading "Southern Hairy-Nosed Wombat Birth May Help Save the Critically Endangered Species" »

Red Panda Cubs Are Thriving in South Dakota

Great Plains Zoo Red Panda Cubs 1

It seems love was in the air for two Red Pandas earlier this year at South Dakota's Great Plains Zoo and Delbridge Museum of Natural History. Zoo officials are now hearing the pitter-patter of little feet. The Zoo’s eight-year-old Red Panda “Ruth” gave birth to a litter of cubs earlier this summer. The two cubs weighed 3.45 ounces and 4.23 ounces at birth, and were born with their eyes and ears closed.

Both in the wild and in captivity, Red Panda cubs have trouble with thriving in their first year of life. Zookeepers recognized that the cubs needed additional care, and began hand-rearing them in the Zoo’s Veterinary Hospital. The Zoo’s animal care staff continues to monitor the cubs, and bottle feeds them three times a day. They now weigh 3.7 and 3.1 pounds. Until last week, one cub was separated in an oxygen chamber. She continues to do well and now only receives oxygen treatments twice a day.



“Our animal care staff has worked tirelessly to ensure the Red Panda cubs receive the best care possible,” said Elizabeth A. Whealy, President and CEO of the Great Plains Zoo. “We have high hopes for these cubs – not just for the fun it will be for us to watch them grow up, but for their importance to the Red Panda population worldwide.”  

Red Pandas are part of the Zoo’s endangered species breeding program. This species faces a tenuous future in the wild; fewer than 10,000 Red Pandas survive in the wild. The forests they inhabit are shrinking due to logging and the spread of agriculture.

Tasmanian Devil Joeys Health Check Brings Hope for Species


Taronga Zoo’s Tasmanian Devil keepers got their first hands-on check today of three little Tasmanian Devil joeys, the first to be born at Taronga this breeding season. The youngsters, born to second-time mother, Nina, were snuggled tightly in their maternal nest and keepers gently lifted them out to check their body condition and determine their sex. 

Tasmanian Devil keeper Tony Britt-Lewis said: “We have known for some time that Nina was carrying joeys in her pouch, and now they’re older, Nina will leave them alone in her nest which is the perfect opportunity for us to do an overall check. We were really happy to discover that of the three, one is a female, and she will play a vital role in the breeding program in the future. The other two are males and one of them is already showing signs of being very feisty.”

With Tasmanian Devils under threat from extinction due to a contagious cancer that causes fatal facial tumours, the birth of these three joeys is encouraging for the species and for the network of mainland zoos managing insurance populations. Sadly, the fate of wild Tasmanian Devils is not promising, with the species listed as endangered. Field monitoring has shown a dramatic fall in the population of devils since the disease emerged in 1996. After getting the disease, devils generally do not live longer than six months.




Photo Credit: Taronga Zoo

Britt-Lewis added, “After successfully mothering a litter of four joeys last year, Nina is definitely a great mum. This year’s litter makes a total of seven offspring, proving she is a significant contributor to the insurance breeding program for this iconic Australian species.”


Baby Beluga Born to Mauyak at Shedd Aquarium

Mauyak and Calf Shedd Aquarium Resize 3

At approximately 2:00 AM yesterday morning, August 27, Chicago's Shedd Aquarium welcomed a healthy Beluga calf to mother Mauyak. Shedd’s animal care team estimates that the calf is 4½ feet long and weighs about 150 pounds. Both mother and calf appear to be doing well and will remain under 24-hour observation by the animal health staff in Shedd’s Abbott Oceanarium.

“We are thrilled to welcome the newest member of the Shedd Aquarium family. A newborn calf must reach several milestones in its first days and months so we remain cautious; however, the calf has demonstrated incredible progress,” said Ken Ramirez, executive vice president of animal care and training at Shedd. “Mauyak is an experienced mom having given birth to two calves in the past, so the labor was quick and went very smoothly.”

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“In less than 24 hours after birth, the calf achieved the first critical milestones that we look for, including taking its first breath, bonding with mom and we’ve seen attempts at nursing,” continued Ramirez, who has nearly four decades of marine mammal expertise, including serving as the past president of the International Marine Animal Trainer’s Association (IMATA). “Shedd’s long history of research and care of these animals tells us that these initial behaviors indicate a strong calf; but we will continue to monitor for signs of development, including steady nursing and growth.”

Animal care is Shedd’s top priority, so mother and calf are currently off exhibit in the Secluded Bay habitat of the Abbott Oceanarium. During the first few critical days following a birth, Shedd’s animal care experts do not physically interact with the whales. Instead, the team observes day and night, allowing time for the mother to nurture her newborn and build a strong bond. As a result, the marine mammal staff has not determined the calf’s gender through a physical examination. 

Beluga Calf Close-up Shedd Aquarium RS1Photo credits: ©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

Watch the baby breath, swim and frolic in its first few hours of life!

Video credits: ©Shedd Aquarium

More photos and information below the fold!

Continue reading "Baby Beluga Born to Mauyak at Shedd Aquarium" »

Baby Sholo Goes Solo at Drusillas Park


Gibbons have a reputation as the trapeze artists of the animal kingdom. They are able to glide up to almost 40 feet (12 meters) through the air using their elongated arms to move from branch to branch in an effortless motion. Born in December 2011 at Drusillas Park in the UK, this young Lar Gibbon named Sholo is just a quarter of the size of the adults, but that doesn’t stop him from asserting his independence. Over the last few weeks he has started branching out alone and getting into the swing of life at the zoo. Following in the arm-steps of many Gibbons before him, Sholo is developing his skills, moving between the trees and ropes in his habitat -- although mom Tali never lets him get too far away.

Throughout the early years, Gibbon babies remain dependent on their mothers for both warmth and food. Sholo will be nursed for up to two years and will not reach full maturity until the age of eight. But since May, Sholo has been feeding himself little amounts of food; grapes seem to be a particular favorite. Lar Gibbons mostly eat fruit, leaves, flowers and seeds, but they will also eat small animals in the wild. 

Lar Gibbons are found throughout the forests of Southeast Asia, where populations are threatened mainly due to hunting and loss of habitat. They live in family groups and are monogamous, mating for life. 

Photo Credits: Ian Standivan

Grevy Zebra Foal for Planckendael


There is a new baby Grevy’s Zebra, at KMDA Planckendael, born last Monday evening. Mom Betina gave birth to a strong and healthy female foal weighing just over 66 pounds (30 kg). She looks just like a mini-version of her mother and has been named Noni, an African name meaning gift of God.

Grevy's Zebra are endangered; Planckendael takes an active part in the European breeding program for this zebra species and has done so successfully. There are now 5 in Planckendael Grevy's on African Savannah living with their giraffe herd: Mom Betina, mares Fanny and Asra, breeding stallion Chris and now Noni, the new foal.

This is the first foal of young stud Chris. He arrived at Planckendael last year as a new breeding stallion and immediately took to his task! After about 13 months gestation, he was father. Noni is the fourth foal for Betina.


Photo Credit: Planckendael

Sooty Owl chicks hatch at the Taronga Zoo


Two Sooty Owls hatched on August 3 and August 5 at the Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia.  The chicks are being hand-reared for future use in the zoo’s free-flight bird show, which introduces zoo visitors to the wonderful world of birds.

Taronga Zoo Keeper Grey Fisher is caring for the Sooty Owl chicks round-the-clock.  In an online diary detailing the chicks’ daily care, Fisher describes waking at 5:00 AM to chop mice to hand-feed the owlets; cleaning up castings regurgitated by the birds; seeing the owls open their eyes for the first time; and watching them learn how to preen their brand-new pinfeathers.  Fisher notes that both birds are steadily gaining weight and becoming feistier as they grow. 

Sooty Owls are native to southeastern Australia and the forests of New Guinea, where they hunt for small mammals, birds, and insects.   As adults, they have distinctively large dark eyes, with a dark gray or sooty black facial disk.  Sooty Owls produce a wide range of calls, including one that sounds like a “falling bomb.”




Photo Credits:  Taronga Zoo