Previous month:
August 2013
Next month:
October 2013

September 2013

UPDATE! Bath-time for Kolmarden Zoo's Elephant Calf

Elephant calf bath
Photo credit: Kolmarden Zoo

Kolmarden Zoo's Elephant calf, born July 27, is growing up healthy and happy with his family. He especially loves his bath-time, when keepers spray him with a hose! The only thing that could make this scene cuter would be an elephant-sized rubber duckie...

To see photos of the elephant calf at two days-old, visit our first story about the calf here.

Help Name Dublin Zoo's Red Panda Twins!

1 red panda

Dublin Zoo's twin Red Panda cubs, born on July 14, are just starting to venture outside of their den at thee months old. The thriving cubs have a very strong bond with their parents, Angelina and Chota. The twins, one male and one female, weighed approximately .3 pounds (150 grams) at birth, but are growing steadily.

Team Leader Eddie O’Brien says, “Red pandas are endangered in the wild so we are over the moon that this is the third litter born to Angelina and Chota. The cubs are both doing very well and getting more adventurous and confident.”

Dublin Zoo is hosting a naming contest for the pair on their FaceBook page. They are looking for names that celebrate the Red Panda's Asian origin. To submit your ideas, just post a comment here

3 red panda

2 red panda

4 red panda

5 red panda

6 red pandaPhoto credits: Patrick Bolger / Dublin Zoo

Red Pandas are not closely related to Giant Pandas; rather, they belong in their own unique group that is more closely related to weasels. They are native to the eastern Himalayas and southwestern China. Fully grown, they are slightly larger than domestic cats. Red Pandas spend most of their time in trees, eating a variety of fruits, leaves and eggs. Their long bushy tails are excellent for balance, and also serve as a cozy wrap-around scarf for the Red Panda in cold weather. They also have fur on the soles of their feet to prevent them from slipping on wet branches. 

Although protected throughout most of their range, Red Pandas are threatened by poaching and habitat loss. They have been classified as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Species; it is estimated that there are fewer than 10,000 adult Red Pandas.

At Jenkinson's Aquarium, Tiny Horseshoe Crabs Have an Important Message

1 horseshoe crab

Early one morning in August, an aquarist at Jenkison's Aquarium in New Jersey came across some tiny surprises: several hundred Horseshoe Crab babies had hatched in an off-exhibit holding tank. They have been doing very well and some are now on exhibit in the aquarium's classroom to promote a message of shoreline conservation, as migratory shorebirds depend on Horseshoe Crab eggs for a food source during their long migrations. 

The Atlantic Horseshoe Crab has been called a 'living fossil' because we find fossilized Horseshoe Crabs from over 200 million years ago. They are actually more closely related to spiders and scorpions than to crabs. This arthropod is in a class by itself though - Merostomata - which means 'legs attached to the mouth'. Trilobites that lived over 500 million years ago are actually a closer relative to this creature.

2 horseshoe crab

3 horseshoe crabPhoto credits: Jenkinson's Aquarium

The Delaware Bay region is home to the largest population of the Atlantic Horseshoe Crab, which range along the east coast from Nova Scotia to the Yucatan. Three other species of Horseshoe Crab live in the coastal waters of Japan and Indonesia. Horseshoe Crab spawning usually takes place in May and June during evening high tides at full and new moons. The female will dig holes in the sand, depositing thousands of eggs at a time, and then drag the male over them to fertilize them. Incoming tide waters cover the nests with sand.

The Delaware Bay’s Horseshoe Crab population has declined by 90% over the last 150 years, mostly due to over-harvesting. Horseshoe crabs are used as bait for fishing, and their bright-blue blood is also used by the biomedical industry, as it contains a powerful bacterial decontaminant used in intravenous drugs. Biomedical harvesters use a catch-and-release method which is meant to reduce the mortality of these creatures. 

As the number of Horseshoe Crabs in the area has declined, so has the number of eggs available for consumption by migrating shorebirds. Shorebird population numbers are plummeting as well, as many cannot gain the amount of energy needed to complete their migrations. One such bird is the Red Knot, which has been placed on New Jersey’s Endangered Species list. Many other shorebirds will be at risk as well if Horseshoe Crab populations are unable to rebound.

The First Kiwi Hatches at Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Center

2 kiwi

It's no easy task to hatch out of an egg —just ask the season's first North Island Brown Kiwi chick to be hatched at Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Center in New Zealand. The chick, now 11 days old, is pictured at six days old, being fed its first meal of beef heart strips by captive breeding ranger Darren Page. It will soon start to feed by itself. At that stage it will be put into a safe pre-release enclosure and monitored closely for the next six to eight months. Once it reaches a goal weight of 2.6 pounds (1200 g), it will be released into the Pukaha Mount Bruce reserve.  Kiwis who reach this size are more able to survive the threat of predators such as rats, stoats and ferrets and will grow and flourish in the wild.

The second kiwi chick of the season was found hatched in its burrow and brought in to the center to be raised in safety, as many wild chicks do not survive when stoats are on the prowl. Three more eggs are currently in the incubators in the Kiwi house and more will be coming in throughout the next few weeks. Staff at Pukaha Mount Bruce expect to raise over 20 Kiwi chicks in their nursery for release during this breeding season. 

1 kiwi

3 kiwi

4 kiwi

5 kiwi

6 kiwi

7 kiwiPhoto credits: Wairarapa Times Age (1,2); Beau Elton (3-7) 

About the size of domestic chickens, Kiwis are flightless birds related to ostriches and emus. These shy, nocturnal birds are found only in New Zealand. All five species of Kiwi are decreasing in number, threatened by loss of habitat and by mammalian predators introduced by humans. Kiwis are fiercely territorial and the only birds in the world known to have nostrils at the end of their bills. This allows them to sniff for food including worms, grubs, insects and berries, during the night when they are active. North Island Brown Kiwis are listed as Endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species, with the wild population estimated at 35,000.

UPDATE! Lincoln Park Zoo's Eastern Black Rhino Calf Makes a Kingly Debut (With Mom, Of Course)

1 rhino

The Eastern Black Rhinoceros born last month at Lincoln Park Zoo in Illinois is making great strides. (See our first story about the birth here.) Recently, the calf, who now weighs 200 pounds, made his public debut at the zoo’s Harris Family Foundation Black Rhinoceros Exhibit with his mother, Kapuki. The calf also has also been named: King, after King Harris, who is longtime patron of the zoo.

Eastern Black Rhinos are a subspecies of the Black Rhinoceros, which are listed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Eastern Black Rhinos were nearly driven to extinction in the 1990s. They are a major target for poachers, mainly due to a misconception in some cultures that their horns have medicinal value. Recent estimates put the total number of wild Black Rhinos at around 5,000. The Western Black Rhino, another subspecies, was declared extinct earlier this year. 

“King will serve as an excellent ambassador for his species,” said Lincoln Park Zoo Curator of Mammals Mark Kamhout.

2 rhino

3 rhino

4 rhino

5 rhinoPhoto credits: Todd Rosenberg / Lincoln Park Zoo

See a video of King's debut:
Lincoln Park Zoo has housed Black Rhinos for over 30 years, including King, Kapuki and King’s father, 27-year-old Maku. In addition to the breeding program that resulted in King’s birth, Lincoln Park Zoo supports the species through field work in their native South Africa, collecting information on rhino hormone levels, parasites, and sleep patterns so that they have a better understanding of how to manage and conserve the species.

Oregon Zoo's Lion Pride Grows

1 lion

Neka, a 6-year-old African Lion at the Oregon Zoo, gave birth to three healthy cubs on September 7 between about 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. The litter represents the first offspring for Neka and Zawadi Mungu, the cubs' 5-year-old father. Veterinarians and animal-care staff conducted their first examination of the 12-day-old cubs on Septmeber 19, and answered a question that's been on a lot of people's minds: all three cubs are girls! The neonatal checkup took place a day earlier than planned after keepers, who had been monitoring the young lions via surveillance camera, noticed one of the cubs wasn't interacting with the other two.

"We had planned on doing our first exam tomorrow," said curator Jennifer Davis, who oversees the zoo's Africa and primate areas. "But this morning, keepers noticed one cub seemed lethargic and wasn't active with the other two. We reviewed our surveillance tapes, and saw that she hadn't nursed at any of the overnight feedings, so we decided to move the exam to today."

2 lion

3 lion

4 lion

5 lion

6 lionPhoto credits: Oregon Zoo / Michael Durham

See a video of the birth:


Sneak a peek at their first checkup:


Davis said animal-care staffers first separated Neka from the cubs by offering a treat.

"We gave her a nice hearty bone to enjoy while we conducted the exam," Davis said. "Neka did great and didn't seem upset at all that we were in there with her babies — it really shows the great relationship and trust she has with her care team."

With mom thus occupied, the zoo's animal-care staff entered the private maternity den and conducted a complete physical exam on all three cubs, confirming that all are female, with weights ranging from about 2½ to 4½ pounds.

"The one we are concerned about was dehydrated and had low body temperature and blood-sugar levels," Davis said. "We warmed her up and gave her some supplemental food and fluids. The other two appear to be robust and healthy. They've been nursing regularly, and they're moving around a lot and vocalizing. One is definitely larger and more 'outspoken' than the others — we've nicknamed her Feisty."

See and read more after the fold!

Continue reading "Oregon Zoo's Lion Pride Grows " »

Cub is Third Generation of Zoo Praha's Tiger "Dynasty"

A Sumatran Tiger cub born at Zoo Praha is getting supplemental feedings from zoo keepers because his mother is not fully caring for him, possibly a result of her tranquilization and evacuation during catastrophic flooding in the Czech Republic in June.

Photo Credit: Tomáš Adamec, Prague Zoo

Despite the cub’s rocky start, he is thriving.  Construction crews have halted repair work on the Tigers’ exhibit, which was damaged in the flood, to allow the mother, Surami, to bond peacefully with her cub.

The baby boy is the third generation of a Sumatran Tiger “dynasty” at Zoo Praha:  his father, Falco, was born at the zoo in 2007, and his grandfather, Dustin, was born there in 1994.

Sumatran Tigers are in peril in their native home in Sumatra, Indonesia.  Fewer than 400 of these cats are thought to remain in the wild, clinging to isolated patches of intact rain forest.   



San Diego Zoo's Newest Ambassador Needs A Name!

The youngest member of the San Diego Zoo's animal ambassador team is a five-month-old Linnaeus's Two-toed Sloth, and this female baby needs a name!

Photo Credit:  Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo

The zoo staff has selected four names for the public to vote on:

Xena (pronounced ZEE-nah): The taxonomic superorder Xenarthra is comprised of Armadillos, Sloths and Anteaters.

Dulce (pronounced DUEL-say): This is Spanish for sweet

Guiana (pronounced gee-ON-a): Two-toed sloths are native to this region in northeastern South America.

Subida (pronounced soo-BEE-dah): In Spanish, this word means rise, increase, ascent, and way up.

Visit this website to cast your vote.    The baby Sloth is currently being trained to meet people up close during special animal presentations and outings.

Sloths are slow-moving, solitary, arboreal, forest-dwelling nocturnal herbivores, found in tropical forests and cloud forests in Central and South America. Their sharp claws are 3 to 4 inches long and come in handy for hanging onto trees. Sloths sleep 15 to 18 hours per day and (slowly) look for food the rest of the day.

UPDATE! National Zoo’s Giant Panda Cub is a Healthy Girl


The Giant Panda cub born at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo on August 23 received her first veterinary exam on September 16. (See our first story here.) She was given a clean bill of health. Mother Mei Xiang (may-SHONG), who has spent much of the past three and-a-half weeks cradling the cub, put down her baby and left her den at 4:11 p.m. The panda team, which has been preparing for an opportunity to perform a full veterinary exam, retrieved the cub while Mei Xiang ate bamboo and drank some water in the adjacent enclosure. The speedy exam was completed by 4:31 p.m.


“It’s amazing to see how much she has grown in less than one month,” said Brandie Smith, senior curator of mammals and Giant Pandas. “Mei Xiang continues to be a great mom, as she was with her first cub, Tai Shan, and it shows.”


Since her preliminary health check on August 25, the cub has more than doubled her weight. She now weighs slightly less than two pounds (.9 kg), up from 4.8 ounces (146 g), and has the signature black markings of a Giant Panda. Her heart rate was 130 beats per minute, and her respiratory rate was 42. From nose to tail she is 10.6 inches (27 centimeters) long and 9.8 inches (25 centimeters) wide around her belly. Her eyes have not opened yet.


After the exam was completed, Mei Xiang returned to her den and immediately picked up her cub and began grooming her. The David M. Rubenstein Family Giant Panda Habitat has been closed to the public since August 2, and will remain closed until further notice to provide quiet for Mei Xiang and her cub. Both are visible on the live panda cams



Photo Credits; Courtney Janney, Smithsonian's National Zoo

Meet Lincoln, the Red Panda Cub

2 panda

A rare Red Panda cub was born in July at Lincoln Children's Zoo in Nebraska. Baby Lincoln, as zookeepers are calling him, is currently being hand-raised because his mother is unable to care for him. He is one of only four Red Panda cubs in the country being hand-raised. Lincoln spends his days in an incubator with around-the-clock care, and is growing stronger and healthier every day. Like his older brothers, Rusty and Wayne, he will eventually move to another zoo. Zookeepers named him Lincoln to represent the city of Lincoln and state of Nebraska when he moves to a new home in the future. 

1 panda

3 panda

4 panda

5 pandaPhoto credits: Lincoln Children's Zoo

See a video of the cub in his nursery:


See and read more after the fold.

Continue reading "Meet Lincoln, the Red Panda Cub" »