The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens is celebrating the successful hatching of two Louisiana Pine Snakes. Considered the rarest snake in North America, the species is found only in a few areas in Western Louisiana and bordering counties of Texas.
Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens participates in a cooperative Louisiana Pine Snake reintroduction program by partnering with other zoos to breed the critically endangered species and then release the hatchlings into the wild to bolster native populations.
Photo Credits: Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens
The Louisiana Pine Snake spends a lot of time in and around the burrows of pocket gophers – its main food source. The species is a non-venomous constrictor in the same family as Bull Snakes.
Louisiana Pine Snakes lay the largest eggs of any North American snake but have an average clutch size of only 3-4. By comparison, Rat Snakes found in the same habitat can produce as many as 24 eggs. Because of its small clutch size, coupled with threats including habitat loss and vehicle mortality, the Louisiana Pine Snake is in decline in the wild. Joint efforts by zoos are an important component of the conservation of the species.
Animal care staff at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park are celebrating the birth of a baby Elephant, born just before midnight on World Elephant Day, August 12. The calf, a male, was born to mother Ndlulamitsi, better known as ‘Ndlula,’ without complications and began nursing shortly after birth.
Photo Credit: Ken Bohn/San Diego Zoo Safari Park
“Mother and baby were in a small area of the yard, separate from the rest of the herd,” said Curtis Lehman, animal care supervisor at the Safari Park. “This separation, much like what would occur in natural habitats in Africa, allows mom and baby time for bonding.”
The baby Elephant, named Umzula-zuli, tipped the scales at more than 270 pounds—making him the largest Elephant calf ever born at the Safari Park. A newborn calf generally weights 200 to 268 pounds at birth. By late morning, with the baby appearing healthy and well bonded to his mother, animal care staff offered the pair the opportunity to move into a larger area of the habitat with the rest of the herd.
“This morning’s introduction of ‘Zuli’ to the other 12 Elephants in the herd was one of the most endearing animal scenes I have had the privilege of seeing,” said Mindy Albright, lead keeper, San Diego Zoo Safari Park. “The other Elephants were clearly excited to meet the new baby—touching him, trumpeting and smelling him with their trunks.”
The average gestation period for African Elephants is 649 days, or 22 months, so Zuli’s birth had been long anticipated. When the Park opened at 9 a.m., guests at the African Elephant overlook were able to see Ndlula and her newborn interacting with the herd. The new baby and his herd may also be seen on the Safari Park’s Elephant Cam.
The Safari Park is now home to 13 Elephants—4 adults and 9 youngsters. The adults were rescued in 2003 from the Kingdom of Swaziland, where they faced being culled. A lack of space and long periods of drought had created unsuitable habitat for a large Elephant population in the small southern African country. At the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, Elephant studies are underway on nutrition, daily walking distance, growth and development, and bioacoustic communication. Since 2004, San Diego Zoo Global has contributed $30,000 yearly to Swaziland’s Big Game Parks to fund programs like anti-poaching patrols, improve infrastructure and purchase additional acreage for the Big Game Parks. African Elephants are listed as Vulnerable to Extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Beginning on June 25, a total of 21 Caribean Flamingo chicks have hatched at Chester Zoo, bringing the total number in the zoo’s flock to 120.
All 21 youngsters are being hand fed by zookeepers at regular timed intervals, four times a day, and will require such special attention for several more weeks.
Photo Credit: Chester Zoo
Mark Vercoe, Assistant Curator of Birds, said, “Hand-feeding young Flamingos is a really intricate and demanding challenge, but these chicks will form part of another important breeding colony and so we need to make sure that each and every one makes it through to adulthood." The young chicks are white or grey in color, resembling little cotton balls, but they will develop their iconic pink feathers at around six months old. Flamingos get their pink color from pigments in the crustaceans and algae that they eat.
Once all of the new chicks are developed enough to fully feed themselves, the group will move to another zoo to help form a brand-new colony.
Caribbean Flamingos are the largest of all Flamingo species. They are native to the Caribbean islands, northern South America, and the Galapagos Islands, and sometimes live in flocks numbering thousands of birds. They are also known as American Flamingos.
The new baby has been given the name Coco, and mom, Noelia, and dad, Moreno, are caring for him. Although inexperienced, the new parents are doing well and receiving support from other adult females in their group.
Photo Credits: BIOPARC Valencia
Coco was named in honor of a breeding male from a Chimpanzee group that was moved from Viveros Zoo to BIOPARC Valencia in 2008. The original Coco was a rescued circus performer that lived for 27 years, until 2005, in the safety of Viveros. His group was later relocated to BIOPARC, where they remain today. Although there is no genetic link to the new baby and the original “Coco” (they belong to different subspecies), BIOPARC’s commitment remains the same: to the preserve the planet's biodiversity, preserve species at risk of extinction, and also to assist those animals that live amongst us that are not treated as they should by man.
The Western Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes verus) is a subspecies of the common Chimpanzee. It inhabits western Africa, mainly in Côte d'Ivoire and Guinea.
The IUCN classifies the Western Chimpanzee as “Critically Endangered” on their Red List of Threatened Species. There are an estimated 21,300 to 55,600 individuals in the wild. The primary threat to the species is habitat loss, although it is also killed for the bush meat trade.
The Alaska SeaLife Center had some recent hatches in their aviary. A Horned Puffling and two King Eider Ducklings emerged this summer.
The King Eider Ducklings are said to be growing fast. They are currently being fed bloodworms and a mixture of waterfowl feed. Keepers say they swim efficiently and love snuggling each other.
The Horned Puffling hatched to parents, Nemo and Clay. Staff members report that the little bird is doing well, but keepers are feeding it a supplement of sand eels, just to make sure it is getting enough food.
Photo Credits: Alaska SeaLife Center
The Horned Puffin (Fratercula corniculata) is an auk, similar in appearance to the Atlantic Puffin. It is a pelagic seabird that feeds primarily by diving for fish. It nests in colonies, often with other auks.
They are currently classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List. However, the population of the species has declined due to the introduction of rats onto some islands used for nesting.
The King Eider (Somateria spectabilis) is a large sea duck that breeds along Northern Hemisphere Arctic coasts of northeast Europe, North America and Asia. The birds spend most of the year in coastal marine ecosystems at high latitudes, and migrate to Arctic tundra to breed in June and July.
Due to its large population and vast range, the King Eider is listed as “Least Concern” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Predators include: Glaucous Gull, Common Raven, Parasitic Jaeger and the Arctic Fox.
A female L’Hoest’s Monkey made a dramatic entrance into the world at Zoo de La Palmyre, in France.
The infant was born on July 23 via emergency caesarean performed on her 9-year old mother. When dystocia (difficult delivery) was confirmed, the veterinary team intervened very quickly to assist in the birth.
Unfortunately, the baby did not present a sufficient grasping reflex (her mother was an inexperienced primiparous female). Therefore, after careful consideration, the vet decided hand rearing would be in the best interest of the newborn. She was put in an incubator at the Zoo nursery, where she immediately started being fed by the keepers.
A few days later, her incubator was put in the corridor of the monkey building, just in front of the L’Hoest’s Monkeys’ cage. This early return in close proximity to her group should allow the baby to have visual and auditory contact with her peers and facilitate her future reintroduction with them within a few months.
Photo Credits: Zoo de La Palmyre/ Florence Perroux (1,4)/ Sebastien Meys (2,3)For the time being the baby receives bottles of 20ml of milk every two hours from 8am to midnight. Keepers report that she’s very dynamic and reacts positively to the presence of the other L’Hoest’s Monkeys who are also very interested by this stirring baby.
L’Hoest Monkeys (Allochrocebus lhoesti) are native to the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, western Rwanda and Uganda. Adults have a brilliant white ruff around their neck and amber-colored eyes. Youngsters have brown-red coast that darken with age.
A pair of Red Panda cubs was born recently at RZSS Highland Wildlife Park. The duo was welcomed in July by mum, Kitty, and dad, Kevyn.
Keepers say it will be a rare opportunity for visitors to catch glimpses of the two fuzzy cubs. The first four months of their lives will be spent, for the most part, safely tucked in their den with mum.
The Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens) is native to the eastern Himalayas and southwestern China. It is arboreal, feeds mainly on bamboo, but also eats eggs, birds, and insects.
The species has been classified as “Endangered” by the IUCN. Its wild population is estimated at less than 10,000 mature individuals and continues to decline due to habitat loss and fragmentation, poaching, and inbreeding depression.
Visitors to Chester Zoo were left stunned when an Eastern Black Rhino, named Malindi, gave birth in front of them.
While most Rhino births typically happen at night or in the early hours of the morning, the 12-year-old critically endangered mum shocked onlookers when she went into labour at around 12:30 in the afternoon on July 31.
A healthy male calf was delivered safely, less than half an hour later, in what zoo conservationists have described as a “very rare and special event” to witness.
This is mum, Malindi’s, second calf, and 19-year-old dad, Magadi, has sired five previous calves.
The little one was up on its feet within 15 minutes and was seen running around soon after, before returning to suckle from mum.
Photo Credits: Chester Zoo
Tim Rowlands, Curator of Mammals at the zoo, said, “Visitors to the zoo were treated to something incredibly special when Eastern Black Rhino, Malindi, went in to labour in front of them. With just 650 Eastern Black Rhino left in the wild, seeing the birth of a new calf and it’s very first steps is a very rare and special event indeed.”
“The newborn was delivered onto soft wood mulch and within next to no time it was up on its feet and running around – it couldn’t have gone any smoother.”
Rowlands continued, “Although it’s still very early days, the little one is showing great signs by feeding regularly and mum and calf appear to have bonded very quickly.”
“We just hope this new calf helps us to raise some much needed attention to this truly magnificent species, and inspires urgent action to protect their future on this planet. We cannot and must not allow this subspecies to become extinct – a fate which has, tragically, already become of some of its cousins.”
Conservationists now fear that less than 650 Eastern Black Rhino remain across Africa, with the animals listed as “Critically Endangered” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The staggeringly low wild number is a result of the illegal wildlife trade, driven by the increasing demand for Rhino horn, which supplies the traditional Asian medicine market, where it is currently changing hands for more than gold and drugs.
Mike Jordan, Collections Director at Chester Zoo, added, “This new arrival is a real boost to a critically endangered species. It increases the number of Eastern Black Rhino at Chester to 11 and is another vitally important success story in a Europe-wide breeding programme for these highly threatened animals. A thriving, healthy population of this high profile species in good zoos is vitally important to the future of this species and a key component of our mission to prevent their extinction.”
In tandem with its acclaimed breeding programme, Chester Zoo is also fighting for the survival of Eastern Black Rhino in the field and has long supported conservation efforts to protect Black Rhinos and continues to fund, and provide expertise, to numerous sanctuaries, partners and wildlife reserves in Africa.
A trio of 9-month-old Komodo Dragons made their public debut at Denver Zoo recently. The two males, Ryu and Bai, and one female, Saphira, currently weigh about 2 lbs. and measure 18 inches in length, but they will reach up to 9 ft. and 100 lbs. when fully grown.
Photo Credits: Denver Zoo
Komodo Dragons are the largest lizard in the world and can live for more than 50 years. They are native to only five islands in southeastern Indonesia: including the islands of Komodo, Flores, Rinca and Padar.
Ryu, Bai and Saphira arrived at the Denver Zoo from the Fort Worth Zoo back in April as part of the Species Survival Program, a coordinated effort between institutions accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to ensure the survival and genetic diversity of select species, and to enhance conservation of those species in the wild. They join the Zoo’s two other adult Komodo Dragons, 15-year old Raja and 8-year-old Kristika, in the Komodo wing in Tropical Discovery.