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April 2015

Sooty Owl Chick Training for Bird Show


A very fluffy Lesser Sooty Owl chick has recently joined the Free Flight Bird Show team, at Taronga Zoo. At the moment, he looks more like a ball of fluff than an owl, but soon the nine-week-old male will be fully fledged and ready to fly.



11160040_919991424730416_4981664247546811123_oPhoto Credits: Taronga Zoo

The chick, named ‘Griffin’, arrived at Taronga from Featherdale Wildlife Park and is being hand-raised by Bird Show Supervisor, Matt Kettle, who says that the chick was a big hit when he started taking him home.

“As soon as I walked in the door with him and set him down in his box, my four year old daughter came up and started telling him a story. At home he stretches out in my lap while I watch TV and I give him a bit of a scratch. While nice for us, this is actually part of his training. This human interaction is important as he’ll be doing encounters and flying in the show one day, so it’s essential that he’s prepared for anything,” said Matt.

Griffin is growing up fast and is already starting to lose his fluffy down feathers. Matt continued, “Like most babies, he spends most of his time sleeping, but he’s starting to explore his surroundings more, and he’s jumping off things getting ready to fly.”

Sooty Owls are Australia’s most nocturnal species of owl, preferring very dark and dense rainforest habitat. Lesser Sooty Owls, like Griffin, are found in Northern Queensland; however, the more common Greater Sooty Owl ranges from Sydney, Victoria and into Papua New Guinea. Despite their wide range of habitat, it is very rare to actually see one of these birds in the wild.

Matt said, “They are very, very secretive birds. They aren’t very common to see. Even people who go out searching for Sooty Owls in Sydney find them very hard to find.”

“That’s why it’s so special for Griffin to be here with us as an ambassador for his species, so people can come in and learn about these stunning owls, which also hunt rats and mice.”

Matt plans to start taking Griffin for walks around the Zoo, to continue his training getting used to people, and the youngster will soon be practicing flying in the Bird Show amphitheater. 

Taronga’s birds have helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for wildlife conservation through encounters at the Bird Show.


Cincinnati Zoo Receives Plume Award


The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden holds the largest collection of Kea (Nestor notabilis) in North America. The facility is home to 19 of the 45 total birds in Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) accredited institutions. Locally, nationally, and internationally, Cincinnati Zoo staff has worked to improve captive Kea husbandry standards and reproductive success. They also aim to increase public awareness of Kea reproduction research.



KeachicktwomonthsPhoto Credits: Cincinnati Zoo/ Cassandre Crawford

The Cincinnati Zoo’s determination and hard work was rewarded, recently, when it was announced that the facility had received the Plume Award for Noteworthy Achievement in Avian Husbandry, from the Avian Scientific Advisory Group.

The award recognizes excellence in a single facet of husbandry, such as: first-time breeding, reintroduction programs, breeding consortiums, reproduction of a difficult species or taking a leading role in population sustainability. Robert Webster, the Zoo’s Curator of Birds, and the Cincinnati Zoo Bird Department (Kimberly Klosterman, Jennifer Gainer, Cody Sowers, Dan Burns, Aimee Owen, Rickey Kinley, Steve Malowski and Jackie Bray) have worked tirelessly to achieve breeding success with a species known to have reproductive challenges. The Cincinnati Zoo’s Kea program consists of a breeding flock, an interactive exhibit and a partnership with Kea Conservation Trust in New Zealand.

The bird staff credits flocking and free mate choice as key contributors to the success of its breeding program, as well as assistance from many other Zoo departments and devoted volunteers.  “Best of all, we are able to share the insights we are learning with captive Kea-holders throughout the world and with the conservationists whose work we support in the birds’ native New Zealand,” said Webster.

During the last three years, the Cincinnati Zoo has successfully hatched 13 chicks, more than any other zoo in North America. 2014 was especially bountiful, with the fledging of six chicks. During the summer, the Kea flock shares the exhibit with several other avian species, including Nicobar Pigeons, Pied Imperial Pigeons, Magpie Geese, and Cape Barren Geese. Most recently the Aviculture department formed a partnership with the Zoo’s Lindner Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW) to start a foundation in Kea reproduction research. 

“I couldn’t be more excited about Cincinnati Zoo’s success with breeding Kea this year! This flock includes a number of genetically important birds and the population has been struggling with breeding in recent years, so these chicks represent a great move in the right direction. Cincinnati’s unique way of housing and managing Kea in a large flock has proven to be a great combination of guest experience and breeding opportunity for this species,” said Jessica Meehan, AZA Kea SSP Coordinator.

“The international community has great interest in Kea because of their unique ecology, amazing intelligence, and charismatic personalities. There is no other avian species on Earth quite like them,” said Webster. “The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden recognizes that Kea are a wildlife gem and that their loss would be tragic. We have attempted to do everything in our power to ensure that Kea are around for future generations.”

Continue reading "Cincinnati Zoo Receives Plume Award" »

'Duke' the Gibbon’s Inspiring Story Continues


On April 29, 2013, it's doubtful anyone, at Greensboro Science Center, knew how much of an impact the tiny Javan Gibbon, born that day, would have on the facility or the community. The rare, endangered male was born to mom, ‘Isabella’, in the Center’s indoor Gibbon habitat.

In both the wild and in zoos, it’s not unusual for first-time mother Gibbons to abandon their first child, and that’s exactly what happened to the fragile newborn, who was discovered alone in the Gibbon habitat. Thanks to the expert care of zoo keepers, veterinarians, and the staff of a local hospital, the baby, named ‘Duke’, was revived and stabilized. To give Duke the best chance of survival, zoo staffers decided to hand-rear the baby for the next six months, and then try to reintroduce him to his parents, Isabella and Leon, in the exhibit.

ZooBorns shared Duke’s compelling story in two installments: in his birth announcement and in a later update that chronicled his progress


Duke5Photos: Greensboro Science Center ; Video: The University of North Carolina Center for Public Television

We have since learned there is more to Duke’s touching story. The University of North Carolina Center for Public Television recently produced a short segment for the program “North Carolina Weekend”, that aired on their local PBS station.

The segment chronicles Duke’s dramatic entrance into the world, his reintroduction to his family, and his traumatic ordeal with a broken arm.

Two-year-old Duke has become a symbol of perseverance, and his story also reiterates how important man is to the equation of conservation and stewardship of the animal kingdom.




Cheetah Cub Has New Puppy Companion


A Cheetah cub, being hand-raised by staff at Wildlife Safari, was recently introduced to a companion that will, hopefully, change her life for the better! 




Photo Credits: Wildlife Safari; Video Credits: The News-Review / Kate Stringer

Wildlife Safari, in Oregon, excitedly welcomed the birth of the new Cheetah cub, on February 28th. She was born to dad, ‘Roble’ and mom, ‘Sage’. 

Unfortunately, Sage was unable to produce enough milk to sustain the newborn. Safari staff explained that a mother Cheetah will sometimes abandon a single-born cub, for one of two reasons: the greater possibility of birthing a larger litter in the near future or inadequate lactation. Safari staff took Sage’s cub into their care, at a week old, and have been hand raising her, round the clock.

Because Cheetahs have a propensity to completely flatten themselves, while lying down, staff decided to honor this endearing quality by naming the new cub ‘Pancake’!  Pancake lived at the Safari’s nursery for the first few weeks of her life. After receiving her vaccinations, she was able to spend several weeks in the nursery of one of her keeper’s homes, where she worked on her socialization skills.

There have been plenty of humans to love and care for the cub, but Pancake needed a more comparable and permanent companion. So, on April 15th, ‘Dayo’ (which means “joy arrives”), a Rhodesian Ridgeback, made a trip from the San Francisco Bay area to Wildlife Safari, where the canine was introduced to his new foster sister, Pancake. 

Dayo and Pancake share the same birthday, and they will be raised together, providing companionship for each other. They will also be partners in helping to spread the conservation message so vital to the animal community.

Continue reading "Cheetah Cub Has New Puppy Companion" »

Tiger Trio Boosts Endangered Species

11174275_10152848601202106_7914475494008818571_oThree Tiger cubs born April 21 at theColumbus Zoo & Aquarium bring hope to the critically endangered Amur Tiger population.

Photo Credit:  Columbus Zoo & Aquarium

The trio, all males, each weighed about 2.5 pounds at birth.   They are the first litter for female Irisa.  Zoo staff spent the first day closely monitoring Irisa and her newborns via a remote camera system.  When it became clear that Irisa was not nursing her cubs, the zoo staff decided to hand-rear these important youngsters.

There are only about 400 Amur Tigers (formerly called Siberian Tigers) remaining in Russia’s Far East, making each zoo-born cub extremely important to the genetic diversity of the species.  The wild population once dipped as low as 40 animals in the 1940s, but improved law enforcement and conservation programs have boosted the population in recent decades.  Poaching continues to be the number one threat to these magnificent cats, which are the largest of the six surviving Tiger subspecies.  Three Tiger subspecies have gone extinct in the last 100 years.

The Columbus Zoo participates in the Species Survival Plan for Amur Tigers, which aims to sustain a genetically healthy population of these rare cats.


Baby Tortoise Will Grow Up Flat As a Pancake

Baby pancake!!

A baby Tortoise hatched on April 4 at the Como Zoo will grow up to be as flat as a pancake – but that’s exactly what this species, called the Pancake Tortoise, is supposed to be.

Pancake quarter
Pancake quarterPhoto Credit:  Como Zoo

In their native homes of Kenya and Tanzania, Pancake Tortoises’ flat shells allow them to escape predators by squeezing into tight crevices among rocks.  Their shells are extra flexible, and these reptiles are remarkably good climbers.  The combination of flexibility, speed, and agility is key to Pancake Tortoises’ survival. 

Como Zoo’s little hatchling began as an egg laid in October 2014.  Zoo staff incubated the egg for 170 days at 88 degrees Fahrenheit in hopes of producing a female because Pancake Tortoise gender is determined by incubation temperature. Now the size of a golf ball, the hatchling will grow to about six inches in length and weigh about one pound as an adult. This is the first Pancake Tortoise to hatch at the Como Zoo.

Though they are protected in both Kenya and Tanzania, Pancake Tortoises are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to collection for the pet trade and loss of native habitat to agricultural use.  The Como Zoo participates in the Species Survival Plan for Pancake Tortoises to sustain a genetically viable zoo population.  

Zebra Foal’s First Spring at Tiergarten Delitzsch

TD Zebra foal_5

On April 11th, a lovely Chapman’s Zebra foal was born, at Tiergarten Delitzsch, in Germany!  The healthy female and her mother, ‘Daisy’, have been enjoying the pleasant spring weather, on exhibit, with three other adult zebras and three Eland Antelopes.

TD Zebra foal_4

TD Zebra foal_1

TD Zebra foal_3Photo Credits: Tiergarten Delitzsch

The Chapman's Zebra eats mainly grass and occasionally shrubs. They are currently at low risk status on the IUCN Red List, but like other animals, are still under threat because of habitat destruction and illegal poaching.

Chapman's Zebra is distinguished by stripes on the lower halves of the legs, which break up into many irregular brown spots. The pastern is not completely black on the lower half. When foals are born they have brown stripes, and in some cases, adults do not develop the black coloration in their fur and keep their brown stripes. Males usually weigh 600–800 pounds and stand at 48–52" tall. Females approximately weigh 500–700 pounds and stand as tall as the males

Like most members of the horse family, zebras, in general, are highly social. Their social structure, however, depends on the species. Like horses, zebras sleep standing up, and only sleep when neighbors are around to warn them of predators.

Female zebras mature earlier than the males, and a mare may have her first foal by the age of three. Males are not able to breed until the age of five or six. Mares may give birth to one foal every twelve months. She nurses the foal for up to a year. Like horses, zebras are able to stand, walk and suckle shortly after they are born. 

More great pics, below the fold!

Continue reading " Zebra Foal’s First Spring at Tiergarten Delitzsch" »

Superstar Clouded Leopard Meets His Fans

Asia clouded leopard cub 8 apr 14 2015

A rare Clouded Leopard cub, born March 7 at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, has reached a new step in his development: introduction to the great outdoors (and his adoring fans). He also has a new name: ‘Mowgli’, after the main character in Rudyard Kipling’s famous collection, “The Jungle Book”. ZooBorns has followed his story, since his birth was first announced.

Asia clouded leopard cub 11 apr 14 2015

Asia clouded leopard cub 8 apr 17 2015

Asia clouded leopard cub 3 apr 17 2015Photo Credits: Dave Parkinson

The Zoo’s veterinary professionals, who are providing round-the-clock care under industry protocols, have introduced outdoor exercise and playtime into Mowgli’s daily routine. For a limited time, Lowry Park Zoo guests can get an unforgettable glimpse at this rare and precious creature while he explores a grassy area under the watchful eye of the animal care team. Public viewing is at 10 a.m., to coincide with the cub’s morning feeding time (weather permitting and subject to change).

While Mowgli’s primary home is the Zoo’s new veterinary hospital, a rotation through different environments provides essential sensory enrichment for continued development. Interaction and socialization is carefully managed to help build confidence. Allowing guests to observe the cub at play provides an educational opportunity to communicate the needs and perils of this rare and vulnerable species.

When Mowgli is a bit older, the next step in his development will be a transition to supervised independence. He will move into a temporary outdoor enclosure that will help him make the adjustment to a permanent habitat. His future home has not yet been determined.

Mowgli’s dad, ‘Yim’, and mom, ‘Malee’, live at the Zoo and are on exhibit together in the Asian Gardens habitat area. The male cub is their first offspring. Lowry Park Keepers made, what some would consider, a controversial decision by choosing to hand-raise the cub, but it has been demonstrated that hand-rearing this particular species helps facilitate increased socialization among young animals and reduces fatal attacks by aggressive adult males. 

Clouded Leopards are the smallest of the “big cats,” weighing 30- 60 pounds in adulthood and measuring about five feet long (including the long tail). Native to Southeast Asia, Clouded Leopards are found in forests and rainforests. They are known as shy and reclusive cats. 

As a forest-dependent species, the leopard’s native range is undergoing the world's fastest regional deforestation rates. High levels of hunting and poaching also make the species vulnerable to extinction. The Clouded Leopard is listed as “Endangered” under the United States Endangered Species Act, and they are classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List.   

For more than a decade, Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo has been a member of the Clouded Leopard Species Survival Plan, a conservation program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.  The Zoo has also supported a conservation research program known as WildAid: Thailand Carnivore Project, a non-invasive study of Thailand’s wild cats including the Clouded Leopard.

More incredible pics, below the fold!

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Second Generation Tapir Born at Linton Zoo

Brazilian Tapir calf photographed at 36 hours old born at Linton Zoo on 11.04.15 with mum Tiana (8)

On April 11th, ‘Tiana’, a Brazilian Tapir, gave birth to a healthy male calf, at Linton Zoo

Brazilian Tapir calf photographed at 36 hours old born at Linton Zoo on 11.04.15 with mum Tiana (7)

Brazilian Tapir calf photographed at 36 hours old born at Linton Zoo on 11.04.15 with mum Tiana (1)

Brazilian Tapir calf photographed at 36 hours old born at Linton Zoo on 11.04.15 with mum Tiana (5)Photo Credits: Gary Chisholm / Linton Zoo 

Mom, ‘Tiana’, and dad, ‘Thiago’, are both part of a European Breeding Programme aimed at saving them from extinction. The birth of their yet-to-be-named son is extra exciting for keepers, as it represents a second generation of this family at Linton. Tiana was born at the UK zoo in 2010, and Thiago was born at nearby Paradise Wildlife Park, in Hertfordshire. The latest little one is the 14th Tapir calf to be born at Linton Zoo.

The Brazilian Tapir is a large, heavily built mammal of a strange prehistoric appearance.  The Tapir is, in fact, so well adapted to its environment that it has remained unchanged for about 30 million years.  It lives deep in the Brazilian rainforest, and because of the destruction of its habitat and illegal hunting, it is has already become extinct in part of its range.  The Tapir is a shy creature, taking to water when threatened, where it is able to stay submerged for hours, using its long nose to snorkel until such time it feels it is safe to surface. They feed on roots and vegetation but never strip a bush bare of its leaves, zigzagging their way through the undergrowth, conserving the habitat.

The coloring is a dark reddish brown, but offspring are covered in a beautiful pattern of white spots and stripes, which they will retain until about six months of age. This provides a very efficient camouflage in the dappled shade of the forest.

The Brazilian Tapir is currently classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List.

More amazing pics, below the fold!

Continue reading "Second Generation Tapir Born at Linton Zoo" »

Duke Lemur Center Giving Away Our New Book and an Adopt-a-Lemur Package!

Duke Lemur Center is now giving away one of three FREE copy of "ZooBorns Motherly Love", our latest hardcover book along with an Adopt-a-Lemur Package. Be sure to 'like' the post on THEIR facebook page to enter to win! Duke Lemur Center contributed images of Hiddleston the Blue-eyed Black Lemur to "Motherly Love". This is a picture of the young, bright-eyed Hiddleston.

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Buy "ZooBorns Motherly Love":

Just in time for Graduation/Mother's Day, our ZooBorns: Motherly Love Giveaway starts now! "Like" this post in the next...

Posted by Duke Lemur Center on Tuesday, April 21, 2015