Thirteen Chimps have been born at the Tulsa Zoo in the last 65 years, but that doesn’t make the newest baby any less special. A healthy male infant arrived on November 23 and was welcomed by the entire troop.
Mom Jodi was carefully monitored by zoo keepers during her 32-week pregnancy. Her care included routine ultrasounds to make sure the baby was developing normally.
Chimpanzees live in complex social groups, so the new baby is an important addition to Tulsa’s troop. The troop includes the new infant, his mother Jodi, Morris, Hope, Susie, Bernsen, and Vindi. After the first few months of the baby’s life, which will be spent clinging to Jodi, other members of the troop will participate in the baby’s care.
The birth of this baby was recommended by the Chimpanzee Species Survival Plan (SSP), which is administered by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums. The SSP seeks to maintain genetically healthy populations of zoo-managed species, with an emphasis on animals that are endangered in the wild.
Chimpanzees are native to West Africa and Central Africa, where populations are under pressure from poaching and habitat loss. They are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
An African Spotted-neck Otter pup, born on July 27, is now making a splash with its mom on display at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo.
Photo Credit: Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo
Following a two-month gestation period, female Spotted-neck Otters can give birth to one to two pups at a time. Spotted-neck Otter pups are born in dens, where they remain for the first two to three months of life. When the pups are ready to venture out on their own, mom teaches them how to swim and hunt for fish.
This birth is one of only two to occur this year among a network of eight Association of Zoos and Aquariums-accredited institutions that house the species. There are now 22 Spotted-neck Otters within accredited zoos.
African Spotted-neck Otters—named for the distinctive blotches of cream-colored markings on their throats and chests—are native throughout central and southern Africa, primarily around Lakes Victoria and Tanganyika.
Their fully webbed feet enable them to maneuver along the river’s edge, where they hunt for fish, crab, frogs, insects, birds and mollusks. In general, Otters are regarded as indicators of a healthy aquatic ecosystem.
Though Spotted-neck Otters have an extensive range and are not currently under threat, there is concern that their population could decline due to degradation of their aquatic habitat and hunting of Otters for bushmeat.
The Houston Zoo is proud to announce the birth of a baby Okapi. The yet-to-be-named male calf was born on November 6 and has been thriving under the care of his mother, Tulia.
Photo Credits: Houston Zoo
The pair will continue to bond behind the scenes for the next several weeks. This is the first successful birth of a baby Okapi at the zoo.
Okapis are also known as the “forest giraffe” and are native to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Central Africa. Since 2013, the species has been classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List, due to habitat destruction and poaching.
Zebra and giraffe live in herds, but Okapi usually live alone in the forest. Sometimes a mother will live with its one calf until the calf is grown. Like giraffes, Okapi have long tongues they use for plucking leaves, buds, and branches from trees to eat. Okapi are solitary creatures that hide in the dense forest where they live. They were not discovered until 1901. Okapi need thick rainforests to live, but their homes are being cut down. People are working to protect the rainforests to make sure Okapi have the food, water, and shelter they need to survive.
A newborn Thomson’s Gazelle, abandoned by its mother, was taken home by a senior keeper at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo and nursed back to health.
Photo Credits: ZSL Whipsnade Zoo
‘Larry’, who was born October 9th, is one of only four Thomson’s Gazelles in the UK, all of which live at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo.
After the little gazelle, Larry, was born, keepers noticed that his first-time mother was not returning to feed him, and they grew concerned for his survival. Senior staff-members at the zoo were forced to make the difficult decision to step in and hand-rear Larry, requiring Team Leader, Mark Holden, to bottle-feed the calf with goat milk five times a day and at regular intervals during the night.
Mark said, “It’s always a last resort to separate a calf from the group, but little Larry was getting very weak and needed our help. As soon as we got some milk into him he started to improve. We named him ‘Lazarus’---Larry for short---because for a moment there, we really didn’t think he was going to pull through.”
“We put a sky kennel in our lounge for him and he quickly settled into a routine. When he’d had his milk and a little walk-about, he’d just take himself back off to bed. It was a little tricky having Larry in the house. We had to keep an eye on him after each feed and get ready with a towel in case he started to urinate.”
Mark continued, “After two weeks, Larry was healthy enough to go back to ZSL Whipsnade Zoo and be reunited with the group, although he’s still getting a lot of extra care. He’s doing really well now, growing nicely and putting on weight. He has started to eat some solids like grass and hay, and he can be properly weaned in a few months.”
Biologists from the California Academy of Sciences excitedly announced that two African Penguin chicks have recently hatched, as part of the aquarium’s Species Survival Plan program.
Photo Credits: California Academy of Sciences
Hatched just days apart on November 1 and November 4, the two chicks, whose sexes will be announced in the coming days, are currently nesting with their parents behind-the-scenes and will soon go through what biologists refer to as “fish school.” There, they will learn to become proficient swimmers and grow comfortable eating fish hand-fed from a biologist to prepare them for twice-daily public feedings once they join the colony on exhibit.
“We’re thrilled to welcome these two new chicks into our African Penguin colony and are even more delighted about our continued success in maintaining a healthy, genetically diverse population among zoos and aquariums,” says Bart Shepherd, Director of the Academy’s Steinhart Aquarium. “By engaging the public about why sustaining these and other threatened species is so critical, we hope to inspire people around the world to join us by supporting conservation efforts locally and internationally.”
African Penguins were classified as an endangered species in 2010 and are at very high risk of extinction in the wild. The Academy’s African Penguins are part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan (SSP), aimed at maintaining genetic diversity of captive populations through controlled breeding and collaborative exchange of offspring among partner zoos and aquariums. The Academy has a long and successful history of breeding African Penguins as part of the SSP for this species. In January 2013, the Academy hatched its first chick, since moving into its new Golden Gate Park facility in 2008.
Photo Credits: Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden (Images 1,3); Jaimee Flinchbaugh (Image 2,4,5)
The African Wild Dog puppies, one male and two females, were born early on November 7th, to mother ‘Xena’, a three-year-old female. Xena, an inexperienced mother, showed a lack of maternal care, and the Zoo’s animal care team made the decision to remove the pups.
“In preparation for the birth, we had been monitoring Xena 24/7 by video. We knew that she was an unproven mother and wanted to be ready to intervene if necessary,” said Laura Bottaro, Animal Curator. “We are hopeful that these dogs will thrive in Lilly’s care and when they reach an appropriate age for socialization we will be able to successfully reintroduce them to their pack.”
Zoo caregivers provided around-the-clock care for the puppies and started the process to find a surrogate mother for the litter. They initiated calls to colleagues, animal shelters, and dog rescue groups to find a lactating, domestic dog, that was proven to be a good mother and comfortable with people. Luck would have it that Lilly, a retired search and rescue dog living in Wichita, Kansas, was able to fulfill the role of surrogate mother for these African Wild Dogs. Lilly recently gave birth to a single puppy, and it is being raised alongside the African Wild Dog pups. The puppies are doing well and will remain under veterinary care and out of public view at the Zoo’s animal hospital.
“Even though Lilly’s not an African Wild Dog, she’s still much better suited to surrogate for our pups than humans would be,” said Zoo Veterinarian, Dr. Jennifer D’Agostino. “This is a positive for both Lilly’s offspring and the African wild dogs, as they will benefit from initial socialization with a canine species.”
Working with a surrogate domestic dog is a new experience for the Oklahoma City Zoo’s animal care team, but a practice that has been used by other accredited zoos under the guidance of the African Wild Dog Species Survival Plan (SSP), of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).
Both ‘Xena’, and the pups father, ‘Juma’, arrived at the Zoo in 2013, as part of a breeding recommendation made by the African Wild Dog SSP. Xena came from the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. While Juma hails from the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, Kansas.
The Sacramento Zoo was excited to announce the birth of three African Lion cubs on October 24th! The cubs are now four weeks old. They have learned to walk and are beginning to play with one another, and their first-time mother is continuing to do a fantastic job caring for her cubs.
“So far, we are pleased with the progress of the female and her cubs. Females would naturally take some ‘maternity leave’ from the rest of the pride for the first 4-8 weeks,” said Dr. Adrian Fowler, Acting Director of the Sacramento Zoo. “Our own female will be off-exhibit for a while to allow her the same kind of mother-cub bonding. If all goes well, we are hopeful that the cubs will be ready to explore their exhibit in the weeks running up to Christmas.”
A female lion’s gestation is 3 ½ months with a litter typically ranging from two to four cubs. They are born with eyes closed and rely entirely on their mother for the first few months. Mother and cubs will be inside the den, away from public view, while the babies gain strength and coordination.
Lions usually spend 16 to 20 hours a day sleeping and resting, devoting the remaining hours to hunting, courting and protecting their territory. They protect their territory and keep in contact with one another by roaring loud enough to be heard up to five miles away. African Lions are excellent hunters. Although they are mostly nocturnal, they are opportunistic and will hunt anytime, day or night. Females do 85 to 90 percent of the pride’s hunting, while the males patrol the territory and protect the pride.
Lions are classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List, but they are considered regionally endangered in West Africa, where an estimated 42% of major lion populations are declining. Their habitats are now only in game reserves in Eastern and Southern Africa. Loss of genetic diversity from inbreeding, fragmentation, diseases and habitat loss are all problems that continue to threaten this species. Diseases from domestic cats and dogs have also made an impact on wild populations.
The Sacramento Zoo participates in the Lion Species Survival Plan (SSP). The Lion SSP works with captive populations to increase awareness of the problems that face this big cat.
A four-week-old orphaned Cougar kitten traveled from central Idaho to Boston, where he will eventually make his new home at Zoo New England’s Stone Zoo.
Photo Credit: Dayle Sullivan-Taylor
Blue, a male kitten weighing five pounds, was found near Salmon, Idaho and taken to a local veterinary clinic. The next day, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game returned the kitten to the location where he was found in hopes that the mother was nearby. Following this attempt to reunite the kitten with his mother, persons unknown found the kitten and it was once again returned to the veterinary clinic. At that time, Idaho Department of Fish and Game determined that the kitten could not be returned back to the wild and that a permanent home would need to be found.
“This late-season kitten emphasizes the need to be diligent about leaving wild babies alone. While the outcome is not what was hoped for, it is the best situation for the kitten under the circumstances,” said Dr. Mark Drew, Idaho Department of Fish and Game Wildlife Veterinarian.
Pete Costello, Assistant Curator of Stone Zoo, traveled to Idaho last week to pick up the male kitten and bring him home to Massachusetts. The trip was made possible through coordination with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, as well as through the generosity of JetBlue, which provided the travel arrangements and safety oversight.
Caring for the kitten will require significant attention from the zoo’s skilled animal management and veterinary teams. Currently, the kitten is being bottle fed every four to five hours throughout the day. He is being cared for at the zoo hospital, located at Franklin Park Zoo, for at least the first 30 days.
“Given the challenges he has faced in his first few weeks of life, we are thrilled to be able to provide a home for this kitten. Our staff prepared for his arrival and for the special care that this kitten will need during these early days. An ambassador for his species, our guests will have the unique opportunity to learn more about Cougars as they watch him grow up,” said John Linehan, Zoo New England President and CEO. “His journey to Boston is the result of a truly collaborative effort. We are incredibly grateful to JetBlue, whose team went above and beyond every step of the way in assuring a smooth travel experience. In honor of all of their support, the new kitten will be named Blue.”
When Blue is big enough, he will move to his new home at Stone Zoo. He is expected to debut in the Cougar exhibit in winter 2015.
One of the largest of North America's wild cats, Cougars are also known as Panthers, Painters, Mountain Lions, Pumas and Catamounts. Although the Cougars' United States range has diminished throughout the last century, they still have the widest distribution of any land mammal in the Western Hemisphere. They range from the Yukon in Canada through the western portion of the United States and a small portion of the eastern United States to Patagonia. Cougars are found in a wide variety of habitats including lowlands, mountainous regions, deserts, and tropical forests.
Females typically give birth between April and September to one to six kittens, which are born with a spotted coat and blue eyes.
Audrey, a Masai Giraffe at the Santa Barbara Zoo, delivered her third calf in four years on November 13. The baby, a male, arrived less than two hours after keepers observed the onset of labor.
Photo Credit: Santa Barbara Zoo
Most Giraffe calves stand within about an hour of birth. This calf, named Buttercup by zoo donors, attempted to stand just 15 minutes after birth. The floor was slippery due to the birth fluids, and keepers decided to step in and help Buttercup get upright. After they moved him to a drier spot on the floor, the calf got his footing and took his first wobbly steps.
Another indicator of a healthy calf is nursing within a few hours of birth. Buttercup nursed about two-and-a-half hours after birth. At four days old, Buttercup visited the zoo’s Giraffe exhibit with Audrey, where he met the zoo’s other adult female Giraffe, Betty Lou, and saw the Zoo Train for the first time.
“Our professional staff prepared for and implemented the plan for an easy and healthy birth,” said Zoo Director Nancy McToldridge. “Everything went smoothly, even when Buttercup needed to be moved to a drier spot in order to stand up.”
“Because there are just over one hundred Masai Giraffes in captivity in North America, each birth and each Giraffe is very important,” said Sheri Horiszny, Director of Animal Care. “I’m very proud of our sire Michael, as he’s now clearly a proven breeder, and his genetics greatly help the diversity of our Masai population.”
Betty Lou is also pregnant, and Giraffe keepers estimate that she will give birth in March 2015. The sire in both pregnancies is Michael, the zoo’s only male Giraffe. Giraffes have a 14.5-month gestation period.
Masai Giraffes are the tallest of all Giraffe subspecies and are found in Kenya and Tanzania. Like all Giraffes, this subspecies is declining in the wild due to loss of habitat. Conservation programs hold the key to survival for all wild Giraffes.
Denver Zoo welcomed the birth of an adorable, Asian Small-Clawed Otter on August 26. The male, named ‘Jilin’ (JEE-Lin) has been under the care of mother, ‘Asha’, and father, ‘Bugsy’.
Photo Credits: Denver Zoo
Zookeepers are giving the young pup the choice to stay behind the scenes or venture into public view. Viewing of the pup may be limited for the next few weeks, but keepers expect him to be out very soon. Asha came to Denver Zoo from Smithsonian’s National Zoo in 2012. Bugsy, who arrived here in 2013, is from Zoo Atlanta. Both were born in 2005. Bugsy, who comes from a large family, is known for his caring personality. Both Asha and Bugsy have proved to be great first-time and very hands-on parents.
The name Jilin, which is also a Chinese province formerly known as Kirin, pays homage to one of Denver Zoo’s other Asian Small-Clawed Otters, ‘Barry Kirin’.
Keepers say the pup has a playful spirit. He enjoys playing with clam shells and plastic balls, hiding from mom and dad and learning to swim. Keepers say he is becoming more playful and brave as he grows older.