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November 2015
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December 2015

Shedd’s Daring Dolphin Calf Gets a Name


What do you get a Dolphin calf for the holidays? A name!

After a full week of voting, Cetacean fans everywhere have spoken. The name for the newest member of Shedd Aquarium’s marine mammal family, a male Pacific White-Sided dolphin calf born on June 1, 2015, was revealed on December 16 during a live broadcast from the aquarium’s Secluded Bay habitat.

Nearly 3,500 votes were cast during the naming contest, and Makoa (Ma-ko-ah)—meaning ‘fearless’ in Hawaiian—was the clear winner over another exotic favorite, Kolohe (Ko-low-hey), meaning ‘rascal’.




Photo Credits: Brenna Hernandez / Video Credit: Sam Cejtin

 The six-month-old Makoa, who has nearly doubled in size since his birth and weighs a healthy 108 pounds, continues to achieve important milestones, such as bonding with mom Piquet, increasing in size, eating some whole fish, and interacting with trainers and fellow dolphins. As one of the most adventurous calves to have ever been born at Shedd, he has certainly lived up to his new name.

“Naming the Dolphin calf is Shedd’s way of welcoming him into the family, while also raising awareness about this fascinating open-water species that is extremely difficult to study in the wild,” said Tim Binder, executive vice president of animal care.

“With only four accredited North-American institutions caring for less than 20 Pacific White-Sided Dolphins, our understanding of this taxon is very limited, making any predictions regarding the resiliency of the species or disturbances in their native habitat very difficult. Observing the animals in human care increases our understanding of their biology, behavior and sensitivity to environmental change, allowing us to inform protection management strategies for those in the wild, as well as to provide better care for the animals in accredited zoos and aquariums.”

For more than 20 years, Shedd Aquarium has participated in collaborative efforts that help the scientific community better understand the hearing, acoustics, social behavior, reproductive physiology and immune system of Pacific White-Sided Dolphins, providing a window into this breathtaking species.

According to Binder, “Makoa will be an ambassador for Dolphins everywhere, helping the aquarium raise awareness about the importance of research and conservation, as well as furthering Shedd’s mission of connecting people to the living world, and inspiring them to make a difference.”

Continue reading "Shedd’s Daring Dolphin Calf Gets a Name" »

Polar Bear Cub Gets Her Fur

A Polar Bear cub born November 11 at the Toronto Zoo is steadily improving under the intensive care of her keepers. Her fuzzy fur is growing in, but her eyes haven't opened yet.

12356666_933087376727708_5000349610449351729_oPhoto Credit:  Toronto Zoo

The female cub was one of two born to mom Aurora.  Both cubs were attempting to nurse shortly after birth, but one of the cubs died soon afterward.  The staff eventually determined that Aurora, who was exhibiting good maternal instincts, was not producing any milk for her babies.

The surviving cub was moved to an incubator and remains there today, though the incubator’s temperature is slowly being lowered to room temperature.  The cub is fed eight times a day.  After feeding, she enjoys 10-15 minutes of “play time,” where she squirms about.

The zoo staff is pleased that the cub is doing well, but they point out that the first three months are critical for Polar Bear cubs.  For now, the cub remains in the zoo’s medical center, where she is not viewable by zoo guests.

Native to Arctic waters and land masses, Polar Bears are supremely adapted to survive in cold temperatures.  They spend most of their time on sea ice, from which they hunt for seals in the frigid waters.  Polar Bears are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  Tighter hunting regulations have helped some populations to rebound after decades of declining numbers.  Many scientists believe that climate change has negatively impacted Polar Bears, causing a reduction in sea ice.  As sea ice melts earlier in the season, Polar Bears are forced to move to shore before sufficiently building up their fat reserves for the coming winter. 

Baby Tamarin's Moustache Is Sprouting!

A baby Emperor Tamarin born on November 3 at Great Britain’s Blackpool Zoo is too young to sport an impressive moustache like her parents, but if you look closely at the photo, you’ll see that she already has a little “stubble” on each side of her nose!

Why do Emperor Tamarins have moustaches? No one knows for certain, but the bright white facial hair may aid communication among groups of these tiny monkeys. 

Tamarins are among the smallest of all monkeys – they’re about the size of squirrels and weigh only about one pound. Emperor Tamarins are native to the rain forests of western Brazil, eastern Peru, and northern Bolivia in the Amazon Basin.  At this time, the species is plentiful in the wild.

Photo Credit:  Jay Mayne


Introducing Werribee Open Range’s First Lion Cubs

1_Lion Cubs 5- Photo Cormac Hanrahan

Werribee Open Range Zoo, near Melbourne, Australia, has welcomed the arrival of three African Lion cubs.

Born in the early hours of October 20, this is the first litter for mom Nilo, and father Johari, and it is the first Lion birth in Werribee Open Range Zoo’s history.



4_12369009_10153441650573068_4676618566990063375_nPhoto Credits: Images 1,5,7: Cormac Hanrahan / Images 2,3,4: Zoos Victoria / Images 6: Will Watt 

Nilo and her cubs were off display in a special nesting den, with vets and keepers monitoring them closely via a video camera link, for the first few months.

The cubs marked a milestone with their six-week health check. Vets and Keepers were able to weigh and examine each of cubs, checking their heart, lungs, ears, eyes and movement.

Senior Veterinarian Dr. Natalie Rourke said that she was pleased with the health and development of the cubs, “All three cubs are a good, healthy weight and developing as they should. They are moving around well and have started wrestling with one another – which is a great sign they are strong and robust.”

While mum Nilo was enjoying time outside with her pride mates Johari and Nairibi, staff were able to enter the nesting den, to quickly examine, weigh, microchip and vaccinate the cubs. At six weeks, the cubs weighed in at approximately 6.8kg, and staff were also thrilled to finally determine the sex of the cubs – three boys.

Now, at two months of age, the cubs are beginning to explore the world around them, venturing out on public display with mum Nilo for short periods during the day.

At this age, mum’s tail is also a source of great fascination and they love playing amongst logs and branches.

As the cubs grow and develop, Keepers have also been introducing new items such as cardboard tubes, boxes and lots of new scents to encourage discovery and play.

During the day the cubs are also spending time in the dens to rest and to get to know the rest of the pride, including Lioness Nairibi and dad Johari.

Continue reading "Introducing Werribee Open Range’s First Lion Cubs" »

Nocturnal Newborn at Apenheul Primate Park


On December 9, at Apenheul Primate Park, in the Netherlands, a Panamanian Night Monkey was born. It has been six years since the park witnessed the birth of one of these small, nocturnal monkeys. The infant is doing well and can be seen with mom or riding its father’s back.

Apenheul has a special Night Monkey enclosure for all species with reversed circadian rhythms.

The Panamanian Night Monkey (Aotus zonalis), or Chocoan Night Monkey, is a species that was formerly considered a subspecies of the Gray-Bellied Night Monkey of the family Aotidae. It is native to Panama and Choco region of Colombia.

It is relatively small, with males weighing approximately 889 grams (31.4 oz) and females weighing about 916 grams (32.3 oz). The fur ranges from gray-brown to reddish-brown, and the belly is yellow.

Like other night monkeys, the Panamanian species has large eyes to accommodate its nocturnal lifestyle. But unlike many nocturnal animals, its eyes do not have a tapetum lucidum.

Arboreal and nocturnal, it is found in several types of forests, including secondary forests and coffee plantations. They live in small groups of between two and six. Groups are territorial and occupy ranges that overlap only slightly.

The species generally walks on all four legs and can run or leap when needed. They eat a variety of foods with a diet consisting of fruits, leaves, and insects.

The Panamanian Night Monkey is one of the few monogamous monkeys. A mating pair generally gives birth to a single infant each year, with twins occasionally. Gestation lasts about 133 days. The father will carry the infant from the time it is one or two days old, passing it to the mother for nursing.

According to the IUCN, major threats to the monkey are largely unknown, although deforestation is known to be taking place in parts of its home range. The species is known to occur in a number of protected areas of Colombia, Costa Rica, and Panama.

The Panamanian Night Monkey is currently classified as “Data Deficient” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. There is currently no information available on the species’ status to know of any major threats that would significantly affect the population.

Meet ZooParc de Beauval’s New Lion Cubs


There are two boys, two girls, and …they are two-months-old! Meet the Lion cubs of ZooParc de Beauval, in France.

The healthy cubs were born at the Zoo and have been given the names: Virunga, Atlas, Lawaya, and Tswanga.

The quad of siblings are still too young for the outdoor exhibit. For now, they are sticking close to mom and can be seen through the windows of the Zoo’s Lion House.



4_12371070_1174122749279336_5466431397085401409_oPhoto Credits: Zoo de Beauval / Image 5-"Proud Parents" by Bernadette Cumant

The Lion (Panthera leo) is one of the five big cats in the genus Panthera and a member of the family Felidae. The commonly used term African Lion collectively denotes the several subspecies found in Africa.

Lions do not mate at any specific time of year. The lioness has a gestation period of around 110 days, and generally gives birth to a litter of one to four cubs. Cubs are born blind, and their eyes open about a week after birth.

Usually, the mother does not integrate herself, or her cubs, back into the pride until the offspring are six to eight weeks old. Weaning generally occurs after six to seven months.

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New Giraffe Calf Joins Tower at Artis


Natura Artis Magistra, in the Netherlands, welcomed its newest Reticulated Giraffe on November 30th.

The new male calf is the third giraffe born at the Zoo this year. The new mother was also born at Artis in 2010, and this is her second offspring. The herd, or "tower" (as a group of giraffes is called), at Artis now consists of nine: five females and four males.



4_12339380_905624949512606_6088625754170277191_oPhoto Credits: Safi Kok

The Reticulated Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata), also known as the Somali Giraffe, is a subspecies of giraffe native to savannas of Somalia, southern Ethiopia, and northern Kenya. Reticulated Giraffes can interbreed with other giraffe subspecies in captivity or if they come into contact with populations of other subspecies in the wild.

The Reticulated Giraffe is among the most well-known of the nine giraffe subspecies. Together with the Rothschild Giraffe, it is the type most commonly seen in zoos. They are known to often walk around with birds on their backs. These birds are called tickbirds. The tickbirds eat bugs that live on the giraffe’s coat, and alert the animals to danger by chirping loudly.

A female has a gestation period of about 15 months and usually has only one young at a time, but a mature female can have around eight offspring in her lifetime. Females return to the same spot each year to give birth. The mother gives birth standing up and the calf falls seven feet to the ground. Calves can weigh up to 200 lbs. at birth and stand as tall as six feet. They are able to stand less than an hour after birth. The young are weaned at around one year of age.

In the wild, giraffes have few predators, but they are sometimes preyed upon by lions and less so by crocodiles and spotted hyenas. However, humans are a very real threat, and giraffes are often killed by poachers for their hair and skin. Currently, there are thought to be less than 80,000 giraffes roaming Africa, and some subspecies are thought to be almost completely gone, with fewer than 100 individuals. Reticulated Giraffes are currently classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List.

Continue reading "New Giraffe Calf Joins Tower at Artis" »

Endangered Spider Monkey Turns One-Year-Old


L’Oli, the Spider Monkey at Zoo Barcelona, just turned one-year-old!

The little primate has been in the care of the Zoo’s Keepers since birth. Unfortunately, new mother Pearl wasn’t sure how to care for her newborn and keepers stepped in to assist. Now, L’Oli is old enough to begin to try living among her peers. It has not been an easy process, but after many attempts at socialization, she is now living with the other Spider Monkeys at the Zoo.


12339514_1231999230149066_2639963306567815513_oPhoto Credits: Zoo Barcelona

 Spider Monkeys, of the genus Ateles, are New World monkeys native to the tropical forests of Central and South America, from southern Mexico to Brazil. The genus contains seven species, all of which are under threat; the Black-headed Spider Monkey and Brown Spider Monkey are “Critically Endangered”.

Spider Monkeys form loose groups of 15 to 40 individuals. During the day, groups break into smaller subgroups to search for food. They communicate using posturing and barks. The monkeys are diurnal and spend the night sleeping in carefully selected trees.

They are among the largest New World monkeys and have an average weight of 11 kilograms (24 lbs.) for males and 9.66 kg (21.3 lbs.) for females. Their prehensile tails can be up to 35 inches long.

The Spider Monkey’s gestation period ranges from 226 to 232 days. Females average a single birth every three to four years. Infants rely on their mothers for up to 10 months of age. Males have no involvement in rearing the offspring. For the first month after birth, a mother carries her infant around her belly

The monkeys are considered an important food source due their size and are widely hunted by local human populations. Their numbers are also threatened by habitat destruction due to logging and land clearing. They are also used as lab animals in the study of malaria. According to the IUCN, their population trend is decreasing; one species is listed as “Vulnerable”, four are listed as “Endangered”, and two as “Critically Endangered”.

Meet the National Zoo's Newest (and Prickliest) Baby

On October 5, Smithsonian’s National Zoo welcomed its newest (and prickliest) baby: Charlotte, the Prehensile-tailed Porcupine!

23573662281_6acbefd0a8_kPhoto Credit:  Jen Zoon/Smithsonian’s National Zoo

Whenever the zoo welcomes a baby animal, keepers work closely with veterinarians and nutrition staff to ensure newborns are healthy. For Charlotte, this meant regular weigh-ins to ensure that she was nursing and gaining weight. Vets gave her a clean bill of health during her first wellness exam, but then she began to lose weight. The animal care team determined that Charlotte was not able to nurse properly and was therefore not receiving enough milk.

The zoo’s nutrition staff created a formula using a mixture of puppy milk replacer, exotic milk replacer,  and egg whites, which resembled the composition of North American Porcupine milk. Once they were able to express milk from Charlotte’s mother, nutrition staff compared it to the formula to ensure Charlotte was getting the nutrition she needed.

To manage Charlotte’s dietary and medical needs, zoo vets surgically inserted an esophagostomy tube and fed her formula every three hours, around the clock, for five days. The feeding tube was removed on November 11 because Charlotte was consistently eating all of her diet by mouth. Today, at 2.8 pounds, Charlotte is healthy and developing normally.

Native to the forests of South America, Prehensile-tailed Porcupines feed on leaves, flowers, and tree bark.  Their prehensile (grasping) tails are not covered in spines and help these animals climb about in trees.  When threatened, these rodents curl into a ball, erecting their spines to appear larger and more intimidating.  They cannot shoot their spines (nor can any Porcupine), but the spines are loosely attached and can become painfully embedded in an attacker.

World's Tiniest Hoofed Mammal Born at Prague Zoo

A tiny Lesser Mouse-Deer was born on November 1 at the Prague Zoo.  This species is the smallest of all known hoofed mammals.  Adults have bodies about the same size as rabbits, have legs the size of pencils, and weigh only about four pounds.

DSC_5337_exportPhoto Credit:  Prague Zoo

Mouse-Deer fawns usually stand within 30 minutes of birth, an important survival tactic for these leaf-eating animals.  Females will safely tuck their fawns into the brush and leave them hidden while they go out to feed.  Fawns are weaned when three to four months old, and are sexually mature at about six months.

This fawn is the second born at the Prague Zoo since they acquired Lesser Mouse-Deer in 2011.  Also known as Lesser Malay Chevrotains, this species is found across Southeast Asia.  The wild population is not well studied, but for now, Lesser Mouse-Deer are not under significant threat.