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December 2012

Help Name this Baby Patas Monkey!


New York’s Rosamond Gifford Zoo is pleased to announce the birth of its fourth Patas Monkey in just under two years. Parents Sara and M.J. welcomed the new baby early in the evening on November 30. You can get a peek at the new baby via web cam.

Though the baby’s gender is not yet known, you are invited to help the staff choose a name so they’ll have a moniker ready when the sex is determined.  Cast your vote here by 4 PM EST December 19.

Girl                               Boy                                        

Cheche                        Harry Patas
Kenya                          Jabari
Zarina                          Jabu




The Rosamond Gifford Zoo is one of only 15 American zoos to house Patas Monkeys. “The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) is working diligently to increase the Patas Monkey population,” said Ted Fox, zoo director. They are part of a Species Survival Plan (SSP) - a collaborative effort between AZA zoos to help ensure their survival. 

Patas Monkeys are members of the Guenon family, a diverse group of African monkeys found from the rain forests of Western Africa to the savannahs of Kenya. Patas Monkeys are one of the fastest primates, capable of reaching speeds of 30 mph. Patas are recognized by a black brow ridge and nose, as well as by a distinctive white area surrounding their mouths that resembles a mustache.

Photo credit:  Terri Redhead

Rare White Kiwi Chick Hatches at Wildlife Sanctuary

Kiwi 1

New Zealand’s Pukaha Mount Bruce received an early Christmas present when their third white Kiwi chick hatched at the national wildlife center.

North Island Brown Kiwis with white plumage are extremely rare.  This chick is the third white Kiwi ever born in captivity, according to center officials. The center is the same nursery where Manukura, the first white Kiwi and Mauriora, a second white Kiwi, was hatched in December last year.

The staff knew that the eggs, which were collected from the wild, had come from Manukura’s brown-feathered father, so they knew there was a 25% possibility of another white Kiwi, but it still came as a surprise.

Kiwi number three


A small number of North Island Brown Kiwi carry the recessive white gene which both the male and female must have to produce a white chick.

All three white chicks have the same father, who has been identified through his transmitter. Though the identity of the mother can’t be told for certain, center staff assumes she is the same because of the rarity of the white gene. There is a one-in-four chance of such a pair producing a white chick.

Local Maori iwi Rangitane o Wairarapa are delighted that Pukaha Mount Bruce has been blessed a third time. “We have always known the reserve at Pukaha Mount Bruce is a very special and spiritual place, this third white Kiwi is confirmation of what we have always known,” Rangitane chief executive and Pukaha board member Jason Kerehi said. The iwi will name this special chick over the next few days.

This white Kiwi is the seventh Kiwi chick to have hatched at the centre so far this season, and many more are expected. Another egg currently incubating in the nursery is from the same nest as this white Kiwi chick, so there is a 25% chance of a fourth white chick.

Within the Pukaha Mount Bruce reserve, Kiwis live as they would in the wild, but all males are tracked with transmitters because they incubate the eggs.   Any eggs laid are taken to the center for incubation.  Chicks are hand-reared and returned to the forest when they are about eight months old. 

There are five species of Kiwi, all native to New Zealand, and all populations are declining.  To protect the wild birds, a number of conservation programs, like this one at Pukaha Mt Bruce, have been established.  These shy, nocturnal, flightless birds are the national symbol of New Zealand.

Photo Credit:  Pukaha Mount Bruce

After 12-Year Effort by Zoos, Kihansi Spray Toads Returned to the Wild

5 Julie Larsen Maher 4881 Female Kihansi Spray Toad with Toadlet 01 27 10

The Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo, the Toledo Zoo, Tanzanian government, World Bank and other partners reintroduced 2,000 Kihansi spray toads into the Kihansi Gorge in Tanzania in October. This is the first example of an amphibian species that had been declared extinct in the wild being reintroduced into its native habitat.

The repatriation effort marks a major milestone for a species declared extinct in the wild in 2009. It is the result of a 12-year partnership to breed the toads in captivity while its habitat was restored. 

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2. Alyssa Borek 0339 Kihansi Spray Toads in Tanzania 10 00 12


 “The WCS Bronx Zoo has been working with our partners for more than a decade to save the Kihansi spray toad with the ultimate goal of  reintroducing it back into the wild,” said Jim Breheny, Executive Vice President and General Director of WCS Zoos & Aquarium and Director of the Bronx Zoo. “The curators in the Bronx Zoo and in the Toledo Zoo – whose expertise allowed them to develop a successful husbandry and propagation program for these unique little toads – have helped to ensure the reintroduction of an important living component back into the Tanzanian ecosystem.”

Continue reading "After 12-Year Effort by Zoos, Kihansi Spray Toads Returned to the Wild" »

ZooBorns Turns 2,000 Posts Old Today!

Chris Eastland with Llama RS  Shedd Beluga Kiss 2 RS 230
Us! Chris Eastland (left) and Andrew Bleiman (right)

In September of 2008, we had an idea - let's take all those adorable animals born at zoos and aquariums around the world, share them in one place, and showcase them as ambassadors for conservation. We could educate while we entertain. Puppy and kitten websites are great, but they felt like empty calories. 

Four years later, this marks our 2000th post. It appears baby animals haven't gone out of style. Who would have guessed…? Favicon (1) To mark the occasion, for the first time in four years, we wanted to do something different - introduce ourselves. 

Some people are surprised to learn that ZooBorns was founded by two dudes… Andrew Bleiman and Chris Eastland (us), now in their early 30s. We've been friends since acolyting together at Trinity Episcopal in Fairfield, Connecticut then attending middle school and boarding school together. As a child in CT, Andrew forced his parents to take him to the Bronx Zoo every month. Chris spent his days drawing his pet degu, parrots and rat. 

Andrew went on to the University of Pennsylvania and a career in marketing and new media and Chris studied and taught classical portrait painting in Florence, Italy. Cesar BitingFrom 2004-2006, we shared a very crowded, very dirty, five story walk-up together on New York's Upper West Side with three other guys and a homicidal cat named Cesar. In this photo, Cesar is giving Andrew an excrutiatingly painful love bite.

Today, Andrew lives in Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood with his wife Lillian and his first daughter due 12/23 (Avery). Chris lives, paints and designs from his home studio in Park Slope (technically Windsor Terrace) with his cat Georgie. 

After years of wrangling ZooBorns posts in the hours before and after full-time jobs, sales of the ZooBorns books have enabled us to devote a slice of our "real-life" work day to zooborning. For those of you have purchased them already, thank you. We also rely on the support of our two freelancers, Rochelle Joseph and Cheryl, who help us sort through the reams of baby animal submissions and craft excellent posts.

So here's to 2,000 posts, eight books, one calendarone app, and some friendly and thoughtful readers. Thank you for letting us do what we love, sharing baby animals and spreading awareness and support for conservation.

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Chris and Andrew at the Phoenix Zoo with Ralph, the Galápagos Tortoise

What's Inside a Mermaid's Purse? These Baby Skates, at the Mystic Aquarium

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Photo Credit: Cheryl Miller

Once in awhile something so unique comes along, we only have one picture, and this is one of those times.

What is this? And is this a face looking back at you? These are baby Winter Skates, found in the Mermaids Purse exhibit at Connecticut's Mystic Aquarium. Skates are flat, cartilaginous fish, that very in size and shape, from rounded to diamond-shaped. They are found in most parts of the world, from tropical to near-Arctic waters and from the shallows to depths of more than 8,900 feet (2,700 meters). The two dots that look like eyes in the picture above are spiracles that bring water into the gills for respiration. You can then see the mouth, gills, abdominal cavity and pelvic fins, which they use to maneuver in the water.

Skates have slow growth rates and therefore reproduction is low, since they take time to sexually mature. As a result they are vulnerable to overfishing, and hence are suffering reduced population levels in many parts of the world. In 2010, Greenpeace International added the Barndoor Skate, Bottlenose Skate, Spotback Skate, and Maltese Skate to its seafood red list (a list of fish that are commonly sold in supermarkets around the world which have a very high risk of being sourced from unsustainable fisheries).

CLICK HERE to see a fascinating video on the aquarium's website about the actual Mermaid's Purses - a kind of external womb where they grow and from which they hatch. Watch how Keepers carefully create little windows in the purses so guests can witness the development of these animals before they are ready to come into the world!

San Diego Zoo's Baby Giant Panda Naps After Vet Check


Being a Giant Panda cub can be exhausting, and Xiao Liwu proved that the other morning when he fell asleep during his weekly exam (see it in the video below)! Thankfully the San Diego Zoo's Giant Panda Team was able to get a good look at him before he snoozed.

Only 1,600 Giant Pandas are believed to exist in the wild, and the species is primarily threatened by habitat loss. The San Diego Zoos Giant Pandas are on a research loan from the People's Republic of China. As part of this long-term program, the zoo is also collaborating with the Chinese Academy of Science in studies of behavior, ecology, genetics and conservation of wild Pandas living in the Foping Nature Reserve. San Diego Zoo Global, in conjunction with Chinese Panda experts, continues to work on science-based Panda conservation programs. 


Photo Credits: ZSSD Copyright 2012 © with Jimi Li at San Diego Zoo.

Veterinarian Tracy Clippinger, DVM, who conducted the exam, saw eight teeth with more ready to break through the gums. She felt his muscles, which are getting stronger, and observed that his crawling has improved; his paws are growing, which will give him more surface area to support his body. His back left paw measured 4.7 inches (12 cm) long. And he's thinning out - the cub weighed 12.5 pounds (5.7Kg) and measured 26.7 inches (68 cm) from nose to tail. 

This Blue Duiker Baby Has a Red Rudolph Nose!


It's actually just the lighting in the photograph making her nose shine so bright. A tiny female Blue Duiker calf was born Dec. 8 at Fresno Chaffee Zoo. The calf weighs 1lb and stands 5 inches tall at her withers. Duikers are among the smallest of Antelope species and generally weigh only 20 to 26 pounds when fully grown.




Photo credit: Fresno Chaffee Zoo

Duikers are found throughout sub-Saharan Africa in wetlands, rainforests and timber-heavy regions. Although they browse on grass, leaves, shrubs and trees, Duikers are classified as frugivores because the main component of their diet is fruit. They have also been observed eating carrion and insects, which isn't common among most Antelope but provides protein to their diet.

Phoenix Zoo Needs Help Naming Its Baby Zebra!


Two months ago a male Grevy's zebra was born at Phoenix Zoo. Now they are asking the public to weigh in on his name! Voting ends this Friday, December 14, at 8 p.m. PT. The choices are as follows, but be sure to visit this link to cast your vote:

Utambo – Meaning “prancing” in Swahili, as the baby zebra likes to run and prance when he and his mom, Afiya, head out onto exhibit in the mornings.
Nissa – Nissa is the name of one of the many fantastic Masai safari guides at the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya, Africa, whom a Phoenix Zoo hoofstock keeper got to meet and work with while visiting Lewa earlier this year. Kenya is also where the majority of wild Grevy's zebra are currently found.
Pembe – Meaning “horn” (as in an animal horn) in Swahili. Obviously, zebras do not have horns, but the Grevy’s zebras’ history range encompasses the majority of a territory known as the Horn of Africa.
Ally – Pronounced “ollie”. Ally is the name of an exchange student from Kenya who is currently staying with the family of a Phoenix Zoo hoofstock keeper.



Photo credit: Phoenix Zoo


Two Rare Tayras Born at Prague Zoo!

Tayra 3.jpg

These two little female Tayras were born on August 8 at the Prague Zoo and are being successfully raised by their parents. Tayra babies are very rare. There are only three zoos in Europe who can actually breed this species. These babies are the second in the CZ; in 2011 the Prague Zoo bred them for the very first time in the history of Czech zoos. 

Two to four babies are the norm in a litter. These girls should grow to be about 24 inches (60 cm) long, plus an 18 inch (45 cm) tail. Most Tayras have either dark brown or black fur with a lighter patch on its chest. The fur on its head changes to brown or gray as it ages. Tayras grow to weigh an average of 11 pounds (5 kgms).

The Tayra is an omnivorous animal, from the weasel family. The species as a whole is listed as Least Concern by the IUCN, but the northernmost subspecies, Eira barbara senex, is listed as Vulnerable. They live in the tropical forests of Central America, South America and on the island of Trinidad. Wild Tayra populations are slowly shrinking, especially in Mexico, due to habitat destruction for agricultural purposes. 



Photo Credit: Prague Zoo

Tayras travel both alone and in groups during both the day and the night. They are expert climbers, and can leap from treetop to treetop when pursued; they can also run fast and swim well. Tayras eat mainly rodents, but also consume carrion, other small mammals, reptiles, birds and fruits. They live in hollow trees, burrows in the ground, or terrestrial nests made of tall grass. Tayras are opportunistic eaters, hunting rodents and invertebrates, and climbing trees to get eggs and honey. In Central Brazil they are called "Papa Mel" (honey eater). They are attracted to fruit and can be found raiding orchards.

Following the Growth of the Sunbittern, a Rare Chick Hatched at Woodland Park Zoo


Growing more elegant each day, this Sunbittern chick is the first of its kind hatched at Woodland Park Zoo (on November 20) in nearly 15 years. This chick was photographed from one to nine days old to show its progress. At one day old, the chick is covered in fluffy down feathers. Adult feathers begin to grow in after 3 weeks.


Zoo staff regularly weighs the chick to keep track of its growth and make sure it is hitting all of its developmental benchmarks. At its latest weigh-in, it added up to about 3 ounces (90 grams).The chick rests on a nesting structure atop the scale, with a craggy texture designed to make it easy for the bird to grip with its feet. (And yes, it does look like a plate of worms!)



The call of the sunbittern is one of the most recognizable sounds in the rain forest exhibit. This little chick isn’t very vocal so far, though it does hiss a bit when it’s surprised. The sunbittern has large feet that spread the bird’s weight making it easier to walk on muddy rain forest terrain. 


Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo

Seen here at 9 days old, the Sunbittern’s characteristic long neck begins to distinguish itself. Note the long legs—a forest floor walker with a slow and deliberate gait—already growing in at 9 days old.