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September 2017

Aquarium Breeds Endangered Frogs to Boost Wild Population

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The Vancouver Aquarium is helping one of the world’s most at-risk amphibians by raising and releasing hundreds of healthy Northern Leopard Frog tadpoles into the wilds of British Columbia, Canada. 

The release is part of the Northern Leopard Frog Recovery Team’s efforts to restore a species that was once widespread across Canada. Beginning in the 1970s, millions of frogs died, leaving just one small group of Northern Leopard Frogs remaining in western Canada. The Rocky Mountain population of this species is listed as Endangered in Canada.

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2017 Northern Leopard Frog Release_Mark Yuen for Vancouver Aquarium_IMG_1376Photo Credit: Mark Yuen for Vancouver Aquarium

Vancouver Aquarium was the first aquarium to breed the Frogs in captivity as an assurance population in case the wild population completely collapsed. A collaboration with researchers at the University of Ottawa utilizes hormones to induce spawning and mating behavior in the captive frogs.

Each year, tadpoles and young frogs bred at the aquarium are released back into the wild in suitable habitats to reestablish the species. By rearing the young in captivity, a process called “headstarting,” the odds of survival to adulthood are increased. Over the last five years, the aquarium has released thousands of Northern Leopard Frog tadpoles.

Headstarting programs are emerging as an important tool for rebuilding wild animal populations, and zoos and aquariums are perfectly suited for such projects. Zoos and aquariums have the expertise and facilities to care for and breed amphibians such as these frogs.

“We’re beginning to see the impact of our efforts to repopulate B.C.’s most at-risk amphibian, and have found animals that have survived the winter and are being located again year after release,” said Kris Rossing, senior biologist at Vancouver Aquarium. “Frogs are an important indicator species of environmental health. Overall, we’ve seen our conservation efforts make a difference, as we collectively move the needle a little bit every year through this vital program.”

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Langur Babies Debut at Los Angeles Zoo

Francois Langur Baby Photo 1 of 5 by Jamie Pham

The Los Angeles Zoo welcomed two bright orange male François’ Langur babies this summer. The first born was on June 23 to eight-year-old mother Vicki Vale and the second on July 12 to five-year-old mother Kim-Ly. The infants recently joined their mothers and 19-year-old father Paak in the outdoor habitat, a dense forest filled with tall trees and plenty of branches for climbing and swinging. The babies will eventually be introduced to the rest of the family on exhibit, 26-year-old female Mei-Chi and two-year-old Tao.

Francois Langur Baby Photo 2 of 5 by Jamie Pham
Francois Langur Mom and Baby Photo 3 of 5 by Jamie PhamPhoto Credit: Jamie Pham

“We’re very excited for guests to be able to observe this blended family in their new group dynamic,” said Roxane Losey, Animal Keeper at the Los Angeles Zoo. “Once the two boys are a little older, they will join their brother Tao and things will probably get a little rough and tumble when they play. These Monkeys are very acrobatic and like to jump and leap from branch to branch.”

The Monkey babies have a long tail, striking eyes, and orange and black fur that will fade to full black over time. François’ Langur infants nurse for close to a year, so they can often be seen in the arms of their mothers. This sometimes proves difficult for mother Vicki Vale who suffered a past injury that left her with limited mobility on her left side. Vicki Vale’s baby has adapted to the unique situation by sometimes hoisting himself onto his mother’s back to leave her hands free when navigating the branches in the habitat. This is not a trait you would find in the wild, as it leaves the baby open to capture by predators or being knocked down by tree branches. 

The babies will also spend time with the other adult female members of the group through a practice called alloparenting. This trait lets young females  gain experience caring for infants and builds bonds within the troop. It also gives mom a break! Sometimes, though, the animals disagree over how to raise the babies or how they interact with each other.

“The whole family will have minor squabbles from time to time, but you will actually see them come to each other and make up, sometimes with a hug,” said Losey. “You won’t see a lot of Monkeys with this hugging behavior, but Francois’ Langurs are a very gentle species.”

Native to southern China and northeastern Vietnam, François’ Langurs feed on shoots, fruits, flowers, and bark collected in the treetops or on the forest floor. François’ Langurs are listed as Endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List due to deforestation and illegal capture for use in traditional Asian medicines sold on the black market.

See more photos of the baby Langurs below.

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Screaming Hairy Armadillo Pups Are a First For National Zoo

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The Smithsonian’s National Zoo welcomed two Screaming Hairy Armadillo pups on August 11. The pups are the first ever born at the zoo.

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The two little ones spend all of their time in the nest, and their eyes have not yet opened. However, the bony, armor-like plates that cover their bodies are already visible, and are covered with very fine hairs. At their last weigh-in, the pups weighed between five and six ounces each. It is still too early to determine if they are male or female.

The pups’ parents, Amber and Dylan Walter, were recommended to breed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Screaming Hairy Armadillo Species Survival Plan. These are the first pups for both parents. Visitors will be able to see the pups at the zoo after they have grown larger and have acclimated to their enclosure.

Screaming Hairy Armadillos are native to South America and are listed as a species of “least concern” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). They get their name from the squealing noise they emit if they are threatened and the greater amount of hair they have compared to other Armadillo species. At less than two pounds fully grown, Screaming Hairy Armadillos are the smallest of the three species of Hairy Armadillos.

 


Confiscated Tiger Cub Finds Refuge at San Diego Safari Park

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A tiny male Bengal Tiger cub that was being smuggled into the United States is receiving care at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The young Tiger was confiscated by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officers, who discovered the cub while inspecting a vehicle entering the U.S. from Mexico on August 23.

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36739400281_dff0fdaec8_oPhoto Credit: San Diego Safari Park

 

Once the cub was safely at the Safari Park, veterinary staff performed a thorough health exam and determined that he was in good health. “His heart and lungs sound good, his blood work looked great and, since he took a bottle from us, it’s a good sign he’ll continue to thrive,” said Dr. Jim Oosterhuis, principal veterinarian.

“I estimate the cub to be between 5 and 6 weeks old, and he weighs in at a little over 6 pounds,” Dr. Oosterhuis said. “He has teeth coming in, so he’ll be teething in the next week or two—so, animal care staff will have a little chore getting him through that.”

The cub is being cared for in the Safari Park’s nursery, and once his location became known, hundreds of eager fans gathered outside the nursery window hoping to see the tiny Tiger. He is now viewable most of the day, except when he is taking a ‘catnap,’ according to his keepers. The cub receives a bottle six times a day with a special formula made for exotic carnivores and is thriving under the watchful eyes of his care team. He is steadily gaining weight and now weighs more than seven pounds. His teeth are coming in and he’s chewing on everything in sight—stuffed toys, blankets, even his paws.

Guests watching the cub through the nursery window might see keepers using a wet cotton ball to give the cub a bath. This procedure mimics how wild mother Tigers bathe their cubs after feedings.

See more photos of the Tiger cub below.

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Five Adorable Meerkat Pups Emerge at Adelaide Zoo

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Adelaide Zoo recently announced the birth of five incredibly adorable Meerkat pups!

Born in the early hours of the morning on July 24, the month-old pups are the first offspring born to proud parents, Miney and Swazi.

The new arrivals are an exciting addition to the Adelaide Zoo family as they are the first Meerkats born at the zoo in seven years.

The yet-to-be-sexed youngsters have spent the first few weeks of life in their burrow being looked after by mum and dad, and have just started to venture outside.

Adelaide Zoo Meerkat Keeper, Jenna Hollamby, said, “The pups are absolutely tiny, probably tipping the scales at about 100 grams each.”

Hollamby continued, “The youngsters are still a little unsure of the big new world outside, but with a bit of encouragement from mum and dad they have started to explore their home. Miney and Swazi are doting first-time parents, tending to the pups every need and taking turns at sentry duty guarding their burrow.”

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3_Credit Gemma Louise Photography

21125786_1886139321412931_218536139321159402_oPhoto Credits: Adrian Mann (Image 1) / Adelaide Zoo (2) / Gemma Louise Photography (3) / Mark Hamilton Photography (4)

Visitors to Adelaide Zoo will start to see the pups in their habitat in front of the Giraffe for short periods each day, as they grow in confidence and start to explore the outside world.

“The pups are still spending a lot of time inside, but every day, they explore further from their burrow and are becoming more adventurous,” Jenna Hollamby said. “The best time for visitors to try and catch a glimpse of the new family is first thing in the morning or when the sun is shining.”

The pups’ sex will be confirmed during their eight-week check-up, where they will also receive their first vaccinations and an overall health examination.

As a conservation charity, which exists to save species from extinction, Adelaide Zoo is proud to have bred more than 80 Meerkats since 1993. Meerkats (Suricata suricatta) are native to southern Africa and can be found in the Kalahari Desert. They have adapted to living in very harsh conditions and climate, with little water, limited food and many predators.