Previous month:
March 2013
Next month:
May 2013

April 2013

Plush-Crested Jay Chick Gets Special Care at Houston Zoo

Houston Plush-Crested Jay 1

Bird keepers at the Houston Zoo have been busy lately as they have been providing care for their newest resident, a Plush-Crested Jay chick. The chick, who was the lone hatchling from its clutch, is being closely monitored by keepers. Caretakers in the zoo's bird department have been feeding the chick daily and closely monitoring its weight to make sure that it's growing at an acceptable rate.

Houston Plush-Crested Jay 2

Houston Plush-Crested Jay 3
Photo credits: Houston Zoo

Plush-Crested Jays are a type of Corvid native to the central regions of southern South America in Brazil, Bolivia, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. These medium sized birds have dark coloration with a whitish cream colored chest. Plush-Crested Jay chicks, like most birds, are very dependent on their parents after hatching, and don't even open their eyes until they are a week old.

UPDATE! It's Nap Time for Point Defiance Zoo's Sumatran Tiger Cub


Point Defiance Zoo's tiny baby Sumatran Tiger, whose birth was first announced HERE on ZooBorns, is growing. She's gaining weight too, as staff feeds and cares for her around the clock. This cub is a rare and precious gift, as she is one of only three Sumatran Tiger cubs born in North America so far this year. She does not yet have a name.  Her mom, Jaya, is back in the exhibit and doing well.

Sumatran Tigers are highly endangered. There are only 74 in North American zoos and approximately 200 in zoos around the world. Only about 250 to 300 remain in their native habitat on the Indonesian island of Sumatra.




Watch as the little one takes a snooze:

Photo Credit: Point Defiance Zoo

Zoo Boise Welcomes a Healthy, Prickly Porcupette

Porcupette 1

Zeus and Athena, a pair of North American Porcupines at Zoo Boise, had a porcupette on April 8th. The male baby hasn't been named yet. He is doing very well under the care of his mother Athena, and is on exhibit at the zoo. He weighed 517 grams at birth, and had gained 300 grams by his checkup just two weeks later. 

The little male is the second porcupette to be born at Zoo Boise: in July 2012, Olympus ("Oly") was born to the same pair. Mostly arboreal, Athena spends most of her day sleeping in the trees while her baby stays on the ground. She comes down to care for him and to sleep near him at night. Within a few weeks, the porcupette will begin to eat vegetation and will learn to climb trees with her. 

Porcupette 2



Photo credits: Zoo Boise

Porcupettes are born with open eyes and soft quills which harden within thirty minutes after birth.  Contrary to popular belief, porcupines do no shoot or throw their quills as a defense.  When attacked, a porcupine will tuck its head between its front paws and turn so their quills face the attacker. The hollow air-filled quills fall out of the porcupine’s skin easily.  One North American porcupine can have as many as 30,000 quills.

St. Louis Zoo Trumpets Arrival of Baby Asian Elephant

Ele front

Late on Friday night, April 26, Ellie, the Saint Louis Zoo's 42-year-old Asian Elephant, gave birth to a baby girl. The zoo's veterinarians and elephant caretakers were in attenance of the birth and will continue to monitor the baby's health. The calf is about 38 inches tall and weighs 251 pounds. Both Mom and baby spent the night quietly bonding and are doing well.

For the past two months, zoo staff has been on a 24-hour pregnancy watch. They monitored Ellie's progress with an ultrasound exam and tracked her progesterone levels every day. When Ellie's progesterone dropped five days ago, they knew she would deliver within 1-13 days. Martha Fischer, Curator of Mammals, said, "The baby appears healthy and is already walking around well. As an experienced mother and grandmother, Ellie was very nurturing, caring for her newborn from the very beginning. She did a great job."

Ele nurse

Ele side

Photo credits: Katie Pilgram/Saint LouisZoo

The Saint Louis Zoo has been actively involved with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan for Asian Elephants. Dr. Jeffrey P. Bonner, Dana Brown President & CEO of the Saint Louis Zoo said, "There are only between 35,000 and 50,000 Asian Elephants left in the wild, and they are facing extinction. Given the shrinking population of Asian Elephants, the Saint Louis Zoo shares a common vision with other professional elephant conservation organizations and with our elephant care colleagues—a vision that includes elephants in the world's future forever, both in zoos and in the wild."

The Zoo will soon announce a naming poll through a news release, social media and its website.

Read more about the Elephant family and the Zoo's conservation program below the fold: 

Continue reading "St. Louis Zoo Trumpets Arrival of Baby Asian Elephant" »

Wolf Pup Gets a New Home in Colorado


Kenyi, a British Columbian Tundra Wolf pup, has a new home after traveling across the country to the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center.  Born in Florida, Kenyi and his two siblings were unplanned, so there was not enough room for them to remain at their birthplace.




Photo Credits:  Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center

The sanctuary’s staff has already started introducing Kenyi to some of its resident wolves, albeit through the safety of a fence. 

The Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center is a sanctuary for a variety of canids, including Timber Wolves, Alaskan Wolves, Arctic Wolves, Mexican Grey Wolves, Swift Foxes, and Coyotes.  The sanctuary is accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA). 

As an AZA facility, the center supports conservation efforts by participating in Species Survival Plan programs for Mexican Grey Wolves and Swift Foxes.


White Rhino Calf Charges In at Colchester Zoo


After a 16 month wait, the Colchester Zoo announced the birth of a female Southern White Rhinoceros calf to female Rhino Emily on April 13.

This is the first Rhino calf to be born through a natural mating at Colchester Zoo and is the first calf for Emily and male Rhino Otto. Curator Sarah Forsyth said, “Emily is proving to be a very protective but excellent mother and the calf is very healthy and already building a close relationship with her keepers.”


Photo Credits:  Colchester Zoo


Zoo keeper Jo Row expressed the excitement of the staff. “This birth is brilliant news not just for Colchester Zoo but also for conservation. It is a great privilege to be a part of the life of this new arrival and we look forward to watching baby develop and grow!”

The calf, which has not yet been named, will be on display for only short periods each day until she is introduced to the other members of the zoo’s Rhino herd.  She will not be mixed with her father, Otto, for 4-6 months.

See more photos below the fold.

Continue reading "White Rhino Calf Charges In at Colchester Zoo" »

Prickly Porcupette a Surprise for Woodland Park Zoo


Sometimes zoo babies are a surprise, and that’s exactly what happened when Molly, a North American Porcupine, surprised keepers at the Woodland Park Zoo by delivering a male porcupette (the actual name for a baby Porcupine) on April 18.

Molly and her mate Oliver joined Woodland Park Zoo in June 2011 shortly after their second birthdays. At such a young age, zookeepers expected that Oliver was a year shy of sexual maturity, but Oliver wasn’t paying attention to the zoo keepers’ timetable. As keepers look back, they now realize that Molly became pregnant in September, giving her a seven-month gestation period before birthing the pair’s first baby.




Photo Credit:  Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo

A porcupette is born with a full coat and open eyes, in contrast to many other rodents. Within hours of birth its soft coat of quills begins to harden, immediately preparing it for protection from predators. The baby becomes active quickly and—as a natural tree dweller—its climbing instincts take hold within weeks of delivery. That climbing ability will come in handy as the youngster weans itself from mom and transitions to an herbivorous diet of leaves, twigs, and bark.

Molly and the newborn are currently in an off-exhibit den, though Molly sometimes leaves to stretch her legs in their exhibit. In the wild, a mother Porcupine would leave the newborn to nest in a safe area on the ground and she would retreat to the trees for food and shelter.

In the warmth of their den box, the pair nuzzles close to one another until the porcupette breaks free from her embrace and explores their shared space. Time and time again, Molly will swoop her paws beneath his belly and pull him back to her chest for what looks like a Porcupine hug. 

Zoo Rescue Operation Saves Endangered Condor Chick


A critically endangered California Condor chick hatched at the Oregon Zoo on April 11, but not without a little help.

Zookeepers and veterinarians performed an emergency “assisted hatch,” helping the little bird out of its egg and into the world. The chick had become stuck in the wrong position for hatching, unable to move inside its shell, and would not have survived much longer without the intervention.



Photo Credits:  Michael Durham for Oregon Zoo

“We only do this as a last resort,” said Kelli Walker, the zoo’s lead Condor keeper. “It’s kind of the Condor equivalent to an emergency C-section. There are so few of these birds in the world that each new chick is incredibly important to the recovery of the species.”

The egg, laid on February 14, had been placed in an incubator to keep it safe until the hatch, while the Condor parents, Malibu and Maluk, sat on a dummy egg. Usually, Walker waits for the chick to begin rotating in its shell, then returns the egg to its nest to hatch beneath the parents. This egg, though, proved unusual.

On April 7, monitoring the egg through a process called candling — using a bright light source behind the egg to show details through the shell — Walker could see that the chick was getting ready to hatch. At this point, keepers can usually see a “pip,” or mark, inside the shell, where the chick has begun chiseling its way out, but no internal pip was visible.  

The next day, Walker saw that the chick was turned 180 degrees from normal hatching position. Because it was able to breathe and was still getting nutrition from the egg, Walker waited to see if it would rotate properly, but two days later there was still no change. The chick was stuck. 

Growing concerned, Walker contacted zoo veterinarian Mitch Finnegan. Realizing that the chick would be unable to hatch alone, the two gently removed a portion of the shell and the chick popped its head out.

After a health checkup and a night spent in ICU, the chick was placed in the shell of a nonfertile egg Walker had saved from the previous year, and swapped for the dummy egg in the parents’ nest box.

“The chick was extremely mad and vocal, which is good,” Walker said. “I think Maluk must have heard it vocalizing, because he came into the nest area right away and started brooding. The chick seems to be doing well and is very active.”

Read more below the fold:

Continue reading "Zoo Rescue Operation Saves Endangered Condor Chick" »

Pair of Lion Cubs Born at Seneca Park Zoo


Seneca Park Zoo has welcomed two African Lion cubs born on March 7. The pair, a male and a female, were born to first time parents Asha and Chester. Soon after their birth, in consultation with the Lion Species Survival Plan (SSP) Program, the Seneca Park Zoo’s animal care staff began hand-raising them. This decision became necessary when the mother stopped nursing and caring for her babies. After two months of care by zoo staff, the cubs will re-join their parents.




County Zoo Director Larry Sorel said, "Because our lions' genetics ar so valuale to lions in conservation care, it was important we do everything we could to ensure their survival. Lions are considered a vulnerable species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Most live in eastern and southern Africa, where their numbers are rapidly decreasing due to habitat loss and conflict with humans.

All photos by Kelli O'Brien except #4 and #7 by Pam Cowan

Continue reading "Pair of Lion Cubs Born at Seneca Park Zoo" »

UPDATE: Baby Tapir at Salzburg Zoo is a Girl!

Tapir 1

Salzburg Zoo's new baby South American Tapir that ZooBorns first covered HERE is growing and thriving. Though it was born on March 1, vets only recently determined that it's a girl! Since then, the zoo has been asking the public to submit names for her and will decide on one very soon.

In the mean time, Mom Bibi has had to keep a watchful eye, since her little one has been into all sorts of mischief. What kind? You can see for yourself on the zoo's webcam, found on their website's homepage. You can tune in to see the the baby napping, playing or cuddling with Bibi, or nursing as seen on the webcam yesterday morning.

Tapir 4 webcam

Tapir 3

Tapir 2

Photo Credit: Zoo Salzburg

The IUCN lists the South American Tapir as vulnerable, due to the 30% population decline that has occurred over the past three generations. They are threatened by deforestation, competition with grazing livestock, and hunting. As large foragers, they are especially sensitive to habitat disruption.