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June 2018

Critically Endangered Wild Ass Born at Zoo Miami


Zoo Miami celebrated the birth of a critically endangered Somali Wild Ass on June 16. The foal was born to 10-year-old dad Hakim and 13-year-old mom Stella. 

The unnamed foal, the 8th born at Zoo Miami, is now in the zoo’s exhibit habitat with Stella and seems to be integrating well into the small herd.  A neonatal exam determined that the foal is a male and appears healthy, weighing 46 pounds.

18Photo Credit: Ron Magill/Zoo Miami

Somali Wild Asses are the world’s most critically endangered Asses with less than 1,000 believed to still exist in the rugged, rocky deserts of eastern Africa.  This species is the last remaining ancestor of the modern Donkey and is the smallest of the wild Equids. Adults weigh approximately 500 pounds and mares typically give birth to a single foal after an 11-month gestation. 

Somali Wild Asses are characterized by a smooth gray coat and striped legs, which are a clue to their close relationship to zebras.

Zoo Miami began exhibiting the highly endangered Somali Wild Ass in 2011.  All the adult animals are on loan from the San Diego Wild Animal Park and arrived here as part of a carefully planned breeding program designed to maintain healthy populations of these extremely rare animals for generations to come.  

See more photos below!

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Little, ‘Fierce’ Wildcat Kittens Help Their Species

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Two rare Scottish Wildcats, born at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland’s Edinburgh Zoo, may help provide a lifeline for the iconic species.

The kittens will join a conservation breeding programme, which it is hoped will save the species from extinction in the wild through future reintroductions.

David Barclay, RZSS cat conservation project officer, said, “Scottish Wildcats are facing severe threats due to cross-breeding with domestic and feral cats, disease transfer and accidental persecution.”

“Wildcat populations have suffered a sharp decline in Scotland in recent decades with studies suggesting there may be as few as 115 Scottish Wildcats left in the wild, making them one of the UK’s most endangered mammals. Our conservation breeding programme and work with partners in Scottish Wildcat Action, the national conservation project, is therefore vital.”

David continued, “Every birth is a potential lifeline and improves the chances of a genetically healthy population that can act as a source for future wildcat release.”

Born in April, the kittens have recently started to emerge from their den and explore their habitat.

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4_Wildcatkitten_rzss 8Photo Credits: RZSS/Siân Addison

Although some similarities with domestic tabby cats exist, the two are not to be confused. The Scottish Wildcat (Felis silvestris) is the same species of wildcat found in continental Europe, but it has been separate since the end of the last ice age, around 9,000 years ago.

Males of the species are around 3.77–7.26 kg (8.3–16.0 lb), while females are smaller at 2.35–4.68 kg (5.2–10.3 lb). Scottish Wildcats have heavier skulls than domestic cats. They also have a larger body size. Their coats are distinctive, solid-striped tabby patterning without white feet. The tail is thick with a black, blunt tip and thick black stripes.

RZSS is a key partner in Scottish Wildcat Action, the first national project to save the highly threatened species from extinction. Scottish Wildcat Action brings together more than 20 other organisations in the conservation, scientific and land management communities, supported by Scottish Government and the Heritage Lottery Fund. Learn more at:

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Female Elephant Calf Celebrated as Breeding Success

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Taronga is thrilled to announce the birth of an Asian Elephant calf at Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo.

The healthy female calf was born in the zoo’s elephant barn on June 14 to mother Porntip, and was sired by Perth Zoo’s bull, Putra Mas, via artificial insemination in late 2016. The birth sees a new genetic bloodline created in the Australasian region’s Asian Elephant population.

“The fact that this calf is a female, and heralds the beginning of a new genetic blood line for the wider Asian Elephant conservation and breeding program, is a great achievement,” said Taronga Director and CEO, Cameron Kerr.

“I’m delighted to report that mother and calf are doing well and veterinarians are happy with the calf’s progress at this early stage.”

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4_elephant calf dubbo 2Photo Credits: Taronga Conservation Society Australia

The calf was standing on its own within the first hour and is now suckling from mother Porntip.

“We are absolutely delighted by the arrival of Taronga Western Plains Zoo’s second Asian Elephant calf. Experienced mother Porntip is doing a wonderful job and the keepers and veterinary staff are to be commended for their dedication and hard work, ensuring such a successful outcome. Every birth is so important for this endangered species and helps to secure their future,” said Zoo Director, Steve Hinks.

Keepers and vets monitored Porntip throughout the labor and birth of the calf, with staff staying overnight at the elephant barn for the past week to keep a close eye on her.

“Everything went to plan with the birthing process. Porntip and the calf are doing well and are spending time together in the elephant barn and behind the scenes paddock. Porntip is a very maternal elephant and already we are pleased with the attentive and nurturing behavior we are observing,” said Elephant Keeper, Bradd Johnston.

“Porntip gave birth to her first calf, Pathi Harn at Taronga Zoo in 2010 and has since been a very supportive and caring aunty to Sabai here in Dubbo,” said Bradd.

Taronga has now welcomed six elephant calves, across both Zoos, since the breeding program commenced 12 years ago, with four calves born in Sydney and two at Dubbo.

This successful breeding program is just one aspect of Taronga’s work in conserving this species. Taronga is working in the field with governments and conservation agencies in Asia to turn around the decline of Asian Elephants. Taronga also funds wildlife protection units and ranger stations in Thailand and Sumatra to help suppress elephant poaching.

Taronga Western Plains Zoo is now home to nine Asian Elephants, following the arrival of bull Gung in early 2018 and now Porntip’s calf in June 2018.

Mother and calf will be given further time to bond behind-the-scenes before making their public debut, and the Zoo will soon be announcing a competition to help choose a name for the calf.

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Chester Zoo Waits Almost Decade for New Chimpanzee

1_The first chimpanzee to be born in nearly a decade at Chester Zoo has arrived to doting mum ZeeZee (83)

A critically endangered Western Chimpanzee has been born at Chester Zoo. Primate experts say the baby, born June 4, is in good health and inseparable from 24-year-old mum, ZeeZee.

ZeeZee was born at Chester Zoo on February 15, 1994. Her new infant marks the first time in almost ten years that the Zoo has welcomed a baby Chimpanzee. The last, Tina, was also born to mum ZeeZee in February 2009.

The birth follows a scientific project, spanning several years, which has carefully assessed the genetics of all Chimpanzees in zoos across Europe. The study has confirmed that the chimps at Chester Zoo are the highly threatened West African subspecies – one of the rarest in the world – establishing the group as a critically important breeding population.

Mike Jordan, Collections Director, said, “The new arrival is particularly important as it contributes to better genetic diversity in the European Western Chimpanzee population. It comes after a five-year-long scientific study of Chimpanzees in zoos across Europe confirmed that the group of chimps at Chester is one of the rarest in the world – making it even more important to conservation breeding than was ever thought.”

“In the wild, the Western Chimpanzee is under huge threat from bush-meat hunting as well as extensive and increasing habitat loss and fragmentation from human activity, so much so that it is the first ever Chimpanzee subspecies to join the list of critically endangered great apes. It makes the group at Chester an important conservation insurance population and the new baby is hugely significant.”

2_The first chimpanzee to be born in nearly a decade at Chester Zoo has arrived to doting mum ZeeZee (27)

3_The first chimpanzee to be born in nearly a decade at Chester Zoo has arrived to doting mum ZeeZee (30)

4_The first chimpanzee to be born in nearly a decade at Chester Zoo has arrived to doting mum ZeeZee (18)Photo Credits: Chester Zoo

The Western Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes verus) is found in West Africa where it is patchily distributed from Senegal to Ghana and is already thought to be extinct in Benin, Burkina Faso and Togo.

At Chester Zoo, the new arrival has increased the number of their group to twenty, and zoo primate experts say the baby has excited other chimps in the family.

Tim Rowlands, Curator of Mammals, added, “Mum and baby have bonded positively, and ZeeZee is naturally being incredibly protective of her newborn. She’s a wonderful, experienced mother and has learnt much of her parenting skills from her own mum Mandy, who is also part of the group and always on hand to lend her support.”

“The interactions between the group are incredibly fascinating to watch. A new baby brings a new dynamic and the group is in a real state of excitement – particularly given that they haven’t seen a baby in their group for the best part of a decade.”  

Chester Zoo is also actively involved in the conservation of some of the world’s rarest Chimpanzee subspecies in the wild and, for more than 20 years, has supported the last stronghold of another of the rarest Chimpanzee subspecies, the Nigeria-Cameroon Chimpanzee, in Gashaka Gumti National park in Nigeria.

The Western Chimpanzee is classified as “Critically Endangered” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). It is estimated that there could be as few 18,000 remaining in the wild.

More beautiful photos, below the fold!

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Two New Yak Calves for Hellabrunn Zoo

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Hellabrunn Zoo is proud to introduce their two male Domestic Yak calves.

Keepers opted for names indicative of the youngsters’ unique coloring. “Skunk” was born on May 18, and “Snowy” on May 25.

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4_Yaknachwuchs_Hellabrunn_2018_Dominik Greenwood (3)Photo Credits: Hellabrunn Zoo /Dominik Greenwood (Images 1,3,4-5,8) / Michael Thomas (Images 2,6-7)

The Domestic Yak (Bos grunniens) is a longhaired domesticated bovid found throughout the Himalayan region of the Indian subcontinent, the Tibetan Plateau and as far north as Mongolia and Russia. It is descended from the Wild Yak (Bos mutus).

Contrary to popular belief, Yak have little to no detectable odor when maintained appropriately in pastures or paddocks. A Yak's wool is also naturally odor resistant.

Gestation lasts between 257 and 270 days and generally results in the birth of a single calf. The mother will find a secluded spot to give birth, and the calf is able to walk within about ten minutes of birth. Females of both the wild and domestic forms typically give birth only once every other year. Calves are weaned at about one-year-old and become independent shortly thereafter.

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Cotton-top Tamarin Duo Arrives at Auckland Zoo


Auckland Zoo recently welcomed two critically endangered Cotton-top Tamarin babies to the world.

The pair was born on the evening of June 11. It has been 16 years since the Zoo has bred Cotton-top Tamarins.

Primates team leader, Amy Robbins, says that both babies and parents are doing well, so far. “We’re all buzzing about the new arrivals. It’s exciting to have our Cotton-top parents starting to build their troop, and being a critically endangered species makes the babies arrival even more special. They’re showing signs of being great parents, with Mum feeding and Dad carrying them.”

Keepers won’t know the sex of the pair for some time, but the Zoo will be providing updates on their progress.

The new troop are still adjusting to the world, but Amy says they’re becoming more and more confident, so visitors may get a glimpse of the two new babies during their next visit.



4_cotton-top-babies-gallery-8Photo Credits: Auckland Zoo

The Zoo’s Cotton-top parents, “Mr. and Mrs. Nuri” (male from Germany and a female from Italy), have settled in well since their arrival in December and share their Rainforest home with three female Agouti’s.

Cotton-top Tamarins are critically endangered in the lowland forests of South America having lost 80% of their original habitat over the last 40 years to deforestation for agriculture, paper and timber supplies.

For this reason, Auckland Zoo’s Cotton-tops have an important advocacy role to help visitors connect with the species and be a voice for their wild cousins. Consumers can help the cause by buying only rainforest friendly paper products to help protect our forests for future generations.

The Cotton-top Tamarin (Saguinus oedipus) is a small New World monkey weighing less than 0.5 kg. They are arboreal (tree dwelling) in wet tropical forests or dry thorn forests in northern Colombia. They live in the mid to lower levels of the forest and have an important role as a seed disperser within their ecosystem.

These primates live in family groups of about 15 animals. Tamarins are monogamous animals (mate for life). Females dominate Tamarin society and only one female has babies at a time in each group. Males care for the babies and even assist at the birth and look after them throughout the early stages.

The specie is currently classified as “Critically Endangered” by the IUCN due to large-scale deforestation and habitat destruction, as the Columbian northwestern lowland forests have been reduced to 5% of their previous area. It is estimated that there are only 6,000 individuals left in the wild.





200th Giraffe Calf Receives Special Care

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Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is caring for Penny, a Giraffe calf whose birth on June 4 marked the 200th Giraffe birth in the zoo’s history. Penny was found splayed the stall she shared with her mom, Muziki. Since then, the Zoo’s animal care and veterinary teams have been partnering to provide the best possible care to support the calf’s well-being.

“Splay” is a term used to describe when an animal’s legs go out from under them in an unnatural way. In Giraffe, splaying can result in moderate or even life-threatening damage to the hips and legs. The Zoo’s staff immediately assessed the condition of the calf and determined the most urgent medical need was to raise her blood sugar levels. When those levels were under control, Penny was reunited with Muziki to see if the calf would nurse and gain strength. When those nursing efforts were unsuccessful and the calf splayed again, the difficult decision was made to separate Penny from Muziki and begin hand-rearing protocols.

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Although Penny can walk on her own, staff helps the baby stand up and lay down, to prevent further injury. The extent of any injuries to her legs and hips is still being evaluated, and likely will be for some time. Penny has thus far been resistant to bottle feeding, so she is receiving tube feedings. Another attempt to have her nurse from mom had mixed results, with the calf nursing for a brief time, but ultimately splaying again.

The Zoo’s care teams are well-equipped to treat the calf, and Cheyenne Mountain Zoo has been recognized nationally for advances in veterinary medicine. However, the staff is not yet able to predict the outcome for Penny’s condition.


Two Rare Amur Leopard Cubs Born at Brookfield Zoo

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The Brookfield Zoo is thrilled to announce the birth of two male Amur Leopard cubs. Born on April 18, the now 8 and 9 pound, two-month-old cubs are doing well and bonding with their mom, Lisa, behind the scenes. It is anticipated they will be making their public debut to zoo guests in mid-July.

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Amur leopard cubs-3Photo Credit: Cathy Bazzoni/Chicago Zoological Society

Lisa, 7, and the sire, Kasha, 8, were introduced back in 2015, and are also the parents of Temur, a 2-year-old male who was recently transferred to another accredited zoo. Both parents were brought to Brookfield Zoo in 2013—Lisa from Saint Louis Zoological Park, and Kasha from Le Parc des Felins in France—as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Amur Leopard Species Survival Plan (SSP). An SSP is a cooperative population management and conservation program for select species in accredited North American zoos and aquariums. Each plan manages the breeding of a species to maintain a healthy and self-sustaining population that is both genetically diverse and demographically stable.

The Amur Leopard is critically endangered with less than 65 animals left in the wild. To help the species, in 2013, an Amur Leopard Global Species Management Plan (GSMP) was convened under the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA). The GSMP involves several regional zoo associations: the Association of Zoos and Aquariums in North America, the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA), the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and the Eurasian Regional Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EARAZA). Through the GSMP, each of the participating organizations is able to maximize the genetic health, diversity, and sustainability of the managed population, which is important in the event a reintroduction plan is established. It has also been beneficial in sharing information and has increased greater cooperation between the regions in order to strengthen both in situ and ex situ conservation efforts for this species.

Currently, there are 82 Amur Leopards in 42 accredited North American zoos. The work that Brookfield Zoo is doing and the successful birth of these two new cubs marks a crucial addition to the species population.

“We are all very excited about the births of our two Amur Leopard cubs,” said Amy Roberts, senior curator of mammals for the Chicago Zoological Society. “It is our hope that guests will not only enjoy seeing these very charismatic cubs exploring and playing in their outdoor habitat, but will also gain an appreciation for the species and learn why conservation efforts are so important for this Leopard.”

Amur Leopards, known for their keen senses of hearing, vision, and smell, are a nocturnal species. Their range previously encompassed the Amur River basin and the mountains of northeastern China and the Korean peninsula. Today, they are found only in one isolated population in the Russian Far East, although there may be a few individuals in the Jilin Province of northeast China. They are the northernmost subspecies of Leopard in the world and are often mistaken for Snow Leopards. Amur Leopards live in temperate forests with cold winters and hot summers, and typically rest in trees and dense vegetation or among the rocks during the day. The biggest threats to these solitary animals are poaching; retribution hunting; a decrease in their habitat from fires, logging, and human settlement; and a decline in their prey.

Vancouver Aquarium Releases Endangered Tadpoles

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More than 1,600 endangered Northern Leopard Frog tadpoles, raised at Vancouver Aquarium, an Ocean Wise initiative, were released into a natural habitat in the Kootenays on June 6, 2018.

This is the sixth consecutive breeding year for the conservation program that aims to boost the wild population of the Northern Leopard Frog (the most endangered amphibian in British Columbia) and the second largest number of tadpoles produced in a single year. In collaboration with the Northern Leopard Frog Recovery Team, Vancouver Aquarium has raised and released more than 7,100 Northern Leopard Frog tadpoles since 2013.

“This year was a banner year for our Northern Leopard Frog conservation program and we couldn’t be more pleased. We added two large frog ponds to the existing three and, as a result, saw improved breeding, more fertilized egg masses, and more tadpoles,” said Kris Rossing, senior biologist at Vancouver Aquarium. “We know that changes in environment impact Northern Leopard Frogs and their reproductive cycles both in the wild and here at the Aquarium; this results in varying numbers of egg masses and tadpoles produced. Every year we learn more and more about these frogs and their reproductive needs which helps us continually refine our propagation practices and maximize the impact of our conservation efforts.”

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3_2018 Northern Leopard Frog Release - New Ponds - Credit Ocean Wise

4_2017 Northern Leopard Frog Release_Mark Yuen for Vancouver Aquarium_IMG_1118Photo Credits: Vancouver Aquarium/Ocean Wise (Image 3)

For the past six years, Northern Leopard Frogs produced at the Vancouver Aquarium have been dedicated to re-establishing a population in a natural habitat near Brisco, B.C. For the past two years, the Recovery Team has heard adult males calling at this release site; this is a positive indication that the frogs are surviving winter and reaching sexual maturity, and that the program is successful in helping the vulnerable Rocky Mountain population.

Early morning on June 6, the tadpoles were diligently transported to the Kootenays, first by car to YVR then by plane to Cranbrook, B.C. Received by members of the Recovery Team, the tadpoles were then transported by car for an additional two hours, and then by kayak to their new home in the marshy wetlands along the Columbia River near the Alberta border.

Vancouver Aquarium was the first aquarium to breed the amphibians as part of an assurance population and is part of a worldwide effort, along with other zoos and aquariums, to conserve this and other amphibian species under the Amphibian Ark (AArk) project.

A key component of the propagation process involves collaboration with Dr. Vance Trudeau at the University of Ottawa and the use of a hormone treatment he created called Amphiplex. The treatment, which is a painless injection into the frogs, has been used to help induce spawning and spur the animals into amplexus — when the male mounts and holds the female frog to induce ovulation and then fertilizes the eggs as they are laid.

Beginning in the 1970s, populations of Northern Leopard Frogs (Lithobates pipiens) across western Canada declined by the millions, making them one of the most at-risk amphibian species, especially in B.C. Research continues into the cause of these sharp declines in the Rocky Mountain population of the Northern Leopard Frogs. The Rocky Mountain population that occurs in B.C. is listed as Endangered by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) and is on the provincial Red List.

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Western Lowland Gorilla Born at Riverbanks Zoo

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Riverbanks Zoo and Garden is excited to announce the birth of a Western Lowland Gorilla. The infant was born to first-time mom, Kazi, and dad, Cenzoo, on June 4.

"This is an exciting time for Riverbanks, our members and guests, and the community," said John Davis, Director of Animal Care and Welfare at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden. "Kazi has been a great mother throughout her pregnancy, and we anticipate that she will continue to provide the best care for her infant."

With only an estimated 100,000 Western Lowland Gorillas remaining in the wild, the birth is a significant addition to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Gorilla Species Survival Plan® (SSP). For nearly 40 years, SSPs have ensured the continued existence of endangered animals through breeding and transfer plans among AZA-accredited facilities.



4_34984692_10155691279200292_3380029684451377152_nPhoto Credits: Riverbanks Zoo and Garden/ Southern Hook Photography (Image 1) 

Twenty-two-year-old silverback, Cenzoo, 12-year-old Kazi, and two other female gorillas arrived at Riverbanks in August of 2015 to form the Zoo's family troop. Davis adds that the unit is extremely cohesive, and all are adapting nicely to the new member of their group.

"The infant began nursing shortly after delivery and appears to be bonding well with mom”, Davis said. "The first 72-hours post-partum is the most critical. Animal care staff will continue to closely monitor Kazi and her infant and the entire family troop."

The Western Lowland Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) is one of two subspecies of the Western Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla) that lives in montane, primary and secondary forests and lowland swamps in central Africa in Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.

They are currently classified as “Critically Endangered” by the IUCN. Major threats include: deforestation, farming, grazing expanding human settlements, and bush meat hunting.