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December 2013

Cockatoo Chick is a First for Prague Zoo


It’s been three years since a European zoo successfully hatched a Pam Cockatoo chick, but the Czech Republic’s Prague Zoo achieved this rare feat for the first time this fall.  A single chick hatched, weighing only 20 grams (less than 1 ounce).  When fully frown, this ungainly chick will be covered in glossy black feathers with bright red cheek patches and a large black crest.

Photo Credit:  Tomáš Adamec, Zoo Praha
Prague Zoo first began caring for this species in 2008, when they took possession of several Palm Cockatoos confiscated from smugglers. 

Palm Cockatoos are native to the northernmost tip of Australia and the island of New Guinea, where they inhabit forested areas.  Their powerful bill enables them to crack hard nuts and seeds, such as those found on palm trees.  Palm Cockatoos are not considered threatened by the International Union for Conservation of nature, but trade of these birds is restricted under Appendix I of CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

See more photos below the fold.

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Penguins Are a Perfect Present for Moody Gardens


Just in time for the holidays, four Gentoo Penguin chicks – the first of the 2013 breeding season – have hatched at Moody Gardens in Galveston, Texas. 

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Photo Credit:  Moody Gardens

The down-covered chicks, who weighed only a few ounces each at hatching, are growing quickly and will attain their adult size and weight in about eight weeks. 

In the wild, Gentoo Penguins breed on many sub-Antarctic islands, where they build large circular nests from stones.  

These chicks, along with six other Gentoo Penguins, will move to Hull, England in February for a new Penguin exhibit at The Deep.  

"In the spirit of international cooperation, we're pleased to be able to send the Penguins to The Deep," said Diane Olsen, assistant curator at Moody Gardens, who traveled to England to oversee the Penguin transfers.  "They have a brand new exhibit that has passed very stringent accreditation standards."  

This cooperative management is typical of zoos that are accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).  AZA zoos, along with their European counterparts, share a goal of maintaining genetically healthy animal populations.

Oregon Zoo's Otter Pup Has a Name!


A North American River Otter pup born at the Oregon Zoo on November 8 now has a name!  The zoo’s River Otter staff came up with three waterway-inspired names for their fans to choose from, and the winner is…Zigzag, or Ziggy for short.  

Nearly half of the 8,000 voters chose this name over two other options, Willamette and Trask.  All three names are references to Oregon rivers.

902586_10151782058576109_1408170927_oPhoto Credit:  Oregon Zoo

ZooBorns first reported on the birth of this pup here.  Born to experienced mother Tilly, the pup has been growing quickly under her diligent care.  Young River Otters are completely dependent on their mothers, and even need to be taught how to swim. 

North American River Otters are relatively common in the Pacific Northwest, but are rare in other parts of the United States.  These sleek, playful mammals require healthy river systems to thrive.  They feed on mollusks, fish, crayfish, and other river fauna.

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Zebra Plays Outside for the First Time at Planckendael

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A newborn Grevy's Zebra colt has joined the herd at Planckendael in Belgium! The colt, born December 2, has been named Oscar. He joins a herd of eight other Zebras, including his year-old sister Noni, mom Betina, and father Chris.

Grevy's Zebras, also known as Imperial Zebras, are the world's largest living species of horse. These horses are territorial and live in small groups that consist of a several females and one dominant male. Non-dominant males form separate 'bachelor' groups. Individual Zebras have stripe patterns on their hind legs that are as unique as a human's fingerprint.

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5 zebraPhoto credit: Planckendael Zoo

Grevy's Zebras are the most Endangered of the three species of Zebra, with an estimated 2,500 individuals left in Ethiopia and northern Kenya. Over the past 30 years, their numbers have decreased by 80 percent. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, these Zebras have undergone one of the greatest reductions in habitat range of any African mammal. This habitat loss and degradation is largely due to overgrazing by livestock. Zebras are forced to compete with livestock not just for food but also for limited sources of water. They are also threatened by poaching and disease. 

Zoo Planckendael participates in the European breeding program to conserve this species, and also supports the Marwell Wildlife conservation project in Kenya. Using transmitters attached to collars, the group collects data on the movements and territories of wild Zebras in order to set up effective management and conservation strategies to save the species. 

UPDATE! Help Name Maryland Zoo's Lion Cubs


The Maryland Zoo is asking the public to help name the brother and sister Lion cubs that were born on October 4. The cubs are now nine weeks-old and full of Lion cub mischief. They were given a clean bill of health during their most recent veterinary exam and are now eating several pounds of meat a day.  

The names were selected by the zoo keepers who have been caring for them since their mother, Lioness Badu, died from complications relating to the birth.  Zoo staff say that their personalities have really just begun to emerge.  The male cub has a lighter coat of fur and is more laid-back, a pretty relaxed cub who likes to stay near his sister.  The sister is covered in dark spots. She has a fiery personality, is always the first one to check out new things and she is the instigator in all of their lion cub tussles. With that in mind, the names the keepers have selected are:

1) Luke and Leia: brother/sister from Star Wars who were also orphaned

2) Bart and Maggie: Simpson’s siblings

3) Kulu and Madoa: Kulu means “huge” and Madoa means “spotted”

4) Lear and Circe: King Lear, for the lion is the king of the jungle and Circe, a minor goddess in Greek mythology who turned men into animals with her wand.

The voting closes today (December 19), so go ahead and vote!




5 lionPhoto credit: Jeffrey F. Bill / Maryland Zoo

See a video of the cubs exploring their new home:

See more photos after the fold!

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UPDATE! Toronto Zoo's Polar Bear Cub Grows Steadily in Intensive Care

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In November we learned that a Polar Bear cub was in the intensive care unit at Toronto Zoo's Wildlife Health Center. The little cub was born at the zoo on November 9th, but was the only one to survive out of a litter of three. 

Almost six weeks later, the cub is growing under the care of exceptional veterinary staff, the wildlife health care team, and keepers, who continue to monitor the little male cub 24 hours a day. As with any new birth, this little cub’s progress continues to be determined on a day-to-day basis. Caretakers ensure that he feeds from a bottle, continues to gain weight at an appropriate rate, avoids infections and continues to digest his formula to receive the nutrients a young cub needs. 

He is currently feeding 9 times a day and growing steadily. The veterinary staff have fondly nicknamed him 'Remy', as he was received into the Wildlife Health Centre on Remembrance Day. 

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3 polar bearPhoto credit: Toronto Zoo

Hand-raised Lion Cubs Growing Strong at San Diego Zoo Safari Park


Lions Izu and Oshana of San Diego Zoo Safari Park are parents again! On December 6, Oshana gave birth to two healthy cubs, one male and one female. Although Oshana is an experienced mom who nursed and cared for her previous litters, she shows no interest in nursing these two. We may find it upsetting, but animal mothers both in captivity and in the wild may reject their young for many reasons, and we don't always understand why.

Zoo staff are hand-raising this litter in the zoo's animal care center, so that the little Lions will be able to grow up healthy and safely. So far the yet-to-be-named cubs are doing well under the care of dedicated staff. Keep an eye out—zoo visitors will be able to see them in the coming weeks!

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3 lionPhoto credits: San Diego Zoo Safari Park. First photo credit: Ken Bohn / San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Hand-raised Sloth Thrives at Rosamond Gifford Zoo

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A little Hoffman's Two-toed Sloth is being hand-raised at Rosamond Gifford Zoo in New York. The young Sloth, a female, has named named Araña, the Spanish word for spider.

Says Zoo Director Ted Fox, “It is extremely rare for Sloths to be hand-reared, especially from such a very early age. The dynamic of our Sloth group led us to make the decision to hand-raise her, and we could not be more pleased with the remarkable success we have had.”

Born on August 1, Araña is the 49th Sloth baby to be born at the zoo, but the first to be hand-raised. Hand-raising a baby Sloth is not an easy task; zoos seldom choose to hand-raise Sloths, as past attempts have rarely been successful. But little Araña is thriving under very dedicated and careful attention, making the Rosamond Gifford Zoo the first known zoo in the United States to successfully hand-raise a Hoffmann’s Two-toed Sloth. 

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6 slothPhoto credit: Rosamond Gifford Zoo / Jaime Alvarez

Hand-raised Sloth babies are typically habituated through hands-on contact with their keepers and supplemental feedings, but remain with their mothers. Other U.S. zoos have hand-reared the Linne’s Two-toed Sloth, and the Sloth Sanctuary in Costa Rica has had success in hand-raising the Hoffmann’s. 

“Our zoo has a long history with Hoffmann’s Two-toed sloths; the species first arrived here in 1983. I commend the animal staff for their excellent work in caring for Araña, particularly given her unique situation,” said County Executive Joanie Mahoney.

Sloths are adapted for life in the tree canopy in lowland and upland tropical forests, and are native to Central America and northern South America, including portions of Peru and central Brazil. They are nocturnal and the world's slowest mammal, typically sleeping 15 hours or more each day. They travel hand-over-hand through the tree tops up to 120 feet (36 m) off the ground, and only venture to the ground about once a week.

Hoffman's Two-toed Sloths have long and well-developed limbs with two long, curved claws on their front feet and three on their hind, which enable them to hang upside down from tree limbs. They have difficulty with mobility on the ground because they are physically incapable of truly walking, but are actually good swimmers using a type of overhand stroke.

Sloths are not on the endangered species list. However, their habitat is quickly being destroyed, leaving them homeless and vulnerable to a decrease in their population size. They are part of a Species Survival Plan, a collaborative effort between the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and zoos around the world to help ensure their survival. These programs coordinate breeding between zoos, so that populations in captivity can retain healthy genetic diversity. 

Ah-choo! Tiger Cubs Arrive at Little Rock Zoo

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Early in the morning on November 12, Suhana the Malayan Tiger gave birth to four healthy cubs at the Little Rock Zoo.  The zoo staff monitors the family with remote cameras, where they captured this video of a sneezing cub.

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Photo Credit:  Little Rock Zoo


For now, the cubs are with Suhana in their den, where they will remain for several more weeks, and all signs indicate that the cubs are progressing exactly as they should.  Once the cubs are weaned at three to five months, they will move into the zoo’s newly-renovated outdoor Tiger habitat.

The breeding of Suhana, age five, and her mate, nine-year-old Liku, was recommended by the Species Survival Plan of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which seeks to maintain a genetically-diverse zoo population of Malayan Tigers. 

Malayan Tigers are one of six existing Tiger subspecies.  Three subspecies – Javan, Caspian, and Bali – have gone extinct within the last 80 years.  In the wild, fewer than 500 Malayan Tigers remain in the forests of the Malay Peninsula and the southernmost tip of Thailand. The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists all Tigers as Endangered.

Ahoy, Shark Pups!


Seven Bonnethead Shark pups are cruising the waters at the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores.  Born in mid-November, the pups are thriving in a behind-the scenes tank at the aquarium.

Photo Credt:  North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores

Bonnethead Sharks are the smallest of the Hammerhead Sharks.  The purpose of their wide, shovel-like heads, known as cephalofoils, has been debated for decades. It is now believed that their flat heads, with eyes located on the outer edges, give them a very wide field of vision.  Sharks in the Hammerhead family can see 360 degrees, meaning they can see to the front, to the sides, and behind themselves.  The placement of the eyes also allows the Sharks to see above and below themselves as well.

Such a visual field is an advantage for any animal, allowing it to more easily spot predators and prey. 

Bonnethead Sharks are found along the east and west coasts of North and South America.  Adults are shy and harmless, growing three to five feet long.   They are often seen swimming together in small groups.

See more photos of the pups below the fold.

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