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June 2019

Wild Dog Pups Thriving at Living Desert

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A litter of six African Wild Dog pups born on April 24 at The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens got their first well-baby exam in late May and were proclaimed healthy and thriving.

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African-wild-dog-puppy_5.24.19_The Living DesertPhoto Credit: The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

The pups, who represent the first litter for mom Beatrix and dad Kiraka, include five males and one female. This exam was the first time any of the zoo staff interacted directly with the pups. The African Wild Dog Species Survival Plan (SSP), a program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, recommends using a hands-off approach to allow for natural bonding and development of the pups.

Since birth, the pups have opened their eyes and become more coordinated. At their exam, each weighed between four and five pounds. They’ll soon begin weaning and will start nibbling on meat.  Any day now, the pups will start to venture out of their den and be visible to guests.

“We are so happy to learn that the puppies are healthy,” said Allen Monroe, President and CEO of The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens. “Beatrix has done an outstanding job caring for her puppies, and we are excited to continue watching them grow.”

Following the well-baby exam, the puppies were returned to the den, rubbed with dirt to eliminate the human smell, and then reunited with their mom. The animal care and veterinary teams will continue to closely monitor the family’s activity through den cameras which allow Beatrix and the puppies plenty of space, comfort, and security. 

Currently listed as Endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), fewer than 5,000 African Wild Dogs remain on the African continent. As one of the most endangered African carnivores, African Wild Dog populations are in decline due to human-wildlife conflict, habitat destruction and canine diseases, like distemper and rabies. The Living Desert supports specific African Wild Dog conservation projects that work to bolster wild populations.

See more photos of the pups below.

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Denver Welcomes First Mandrill in Sixteen Years

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Denver Zoo’s female Mandrill, Kumani, gave birth to a healthy female on May 10.

The baby, who her caretakers have named ‘Kesi’, is the first for seven-year-old Kumani and her mate, 11-year-old Jelani. The zoo’s animal care team says Kumani has already proven to be a great mom, providing Kesi with the care and attention she needs to thrive.

Kesi’s arrival marks the first Mandrill birth at the Zoo since 2003, when Denver Zoo went through a Mandrill baby boom with two females born in two years. Jelani joined the troop in 2013 followed by Kumani, who arrived in 2018 at the recommendation of the Species Survival Plan. At the end of 2018, the zoo’s animal care staff suspected Kumani might be pregnant, which was later confirmed via ultrasound.

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4_Baby Mandrill_Kesi 1Photo Credits: Denver Zoo

Mandrills, which are listed as “Vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, are found in the rainforests of central West Africa. You can spot mandrills by their bright blue and red face, and long teeth. Males are larger and usually have brighter coloring. They’re a social species and travel in groups known as “troops.”

Guests at Denver Zoo are encouraged to visit Kesi and the whole Mandrill troop in the Congo Basin area in Primate Panorama. Animal care staff says the best time to catch these colorful primates and catch a glimpse of Kesi is first thing in the morning or at lunchtime, when they are foraging for food. Be sure to follow the zoo on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for regular updates on Kesi!

Andean Bear Siblings Out and About at Queens Zoo

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Two Andean Bear cubs born at the Queens Zoo recently made their New York City debut.

The cubs, one female and one male, were born in January to six-year-old mother, Nicole, and eight-year-old father, Bouba. After spending several weeks in their den bonding with their mother, they have now started venturing into the zoo’s outdoor habitat.

Queens Zoo animal care staff have named the cubs Brienne and Benny, and staff are closely monitoring their health and development. The time the cubs spend in the outdoor habitat will vary until they become fully acclimated to it.

“These little cubs are tremendous ambassadors for their species,” said Scott Silver, Queens Zoo Director. “Andean Bears are rarely seen in the wild, so it’s extremely special to have an opportunity to watch cubs grow. Guests will also learn about our efforts to protect Andean Bears in the wild.”

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4_Julie Larsen Maher_9281_Andean Bear and Cubs_QZ_05 10 19Photo Credits: Julie Larsen Maher /WCS

Andean Bears (Tremarctos ornatus) are the only bear species native to South America. They are also known as spectacled bears due to the markings on their faces that sometimes resemble eyeglasses. They have characteristically short faces and are relatively small in comparison to some other bear species. As adults, males weigh between 250-350 pounds while adult females rarely exceed 200 pounds.

Andean Bears are classified as “Vulnerable” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Estimates indicate that there are fewer than 18,000 remaining in the wild.

The Queens Zoo is breeding Andean Bears as part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP), a cooperative breeding program designed to enhance the genetic viability and demographic stability of animal populations in zoos and aquariums accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). There are currently only 39 Andean Bears in AZA-accredited zoos and only six potentially viable breeding pairs in the SSP population.

Bouba came to Queens from Bioparc de Doue la Fontainein in France to breed with Nicole, who was born at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, DC and came to the Queens Zoo in 2015. This is the second time the pair has produced offspring at the Queens Zoo, and these cubs were two of only four Andean Bears born in zoos worldwide in the past year.

More great pics below the fold!

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Shedd Aquarium Welcomes Penguin Siblings

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Shedd Aquarium, a leader in animal care, recently welcomed two Magellanic Penguin chicks.

The chicks hatched following the annual breeding season that began with nesting. In late March, the Magellanic and Rockhopper Penguins began creating nests and preparing for the breeding season after animal care experts shifted the light cycle and scattered nesting materials in the aquarium’s Polar Play Zone exhibit.

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Magellanic Penguin Chick_BRH_1697Photo Credit: Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

Both Magellanic Penguin eggs were produced by the same breeding pair: Chile and JR.

“Chick 420” hatched on May 17, and bonding with the biological parents began immediately. Chick 420 will remain in the nest with both adults who will rear the young bird.

“Chick 421” hatched a few days later on May 20. Attending chicks is a full-time job with duties shared by both parents. By having the chicks raised by two different pairs, each chick gets individualized attention and the parenting birds all get additional experience as they learn how to best care for chicks. Therefore, the second egg was given to foster parents, Howard and Georgia. According to keepers, the pair has been taking turns feeding and incubating the chick like it was their own.

“Having a chick successfully hatch from its egg is just the first of many milestones that we look for in these first few weeks, but our team is cautiously optimistic,” said Lana Gonzalez, manager of Penguins and Sea Otters. “We’ll continue to monitor both chicks closely over the next few weeks, looking for consistent weight gain and to see how the parents are doing with sharing their responsibilities.”

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Rescued Sea Lion's Amazing Journey to Oklahoma City Zoo

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A California Sea Lion pup’s amazing journey includes her rescue near Santa Barbara, a three-month stay in a rehabilitation center, release back into the Pacific, crossing a busy street, visiting a hotel lobby, and an eventual arrival at the Oklahoma City Zoo.

Isla and Zoo Trainer Sierra at Channel Islands Marine & Wildlife Institute (1 of 1)
Isla and Zoo Trainer Sierra at Channel Islands Marine & Wildlife Institute (1 of 1)Photo Credit: Oklahoma City Zoo

The pup, named Isla, has experienced a lot in her 11 months of life. She was most likely born last spring off the California coast and was found emaciated and malnourished at the Santa Barbara Harbor in November 2018. When concerned citizens called the Channel Islands Marine and Wildlife Institution (CIMWI), volunteers came to rescue the little pup.

The pup was transported to CIMWI’s facility to be rehabilitated in hopes of returning her back to the wild. After 90 days at the center, which included medication, increased fish intake, and daily health checks, Isla was released 25 miles offshore around other wild Sea Lions.

Nine days later, Isla swam the 25 miles back to Santa Barbara Harbor, got out of the water, crossed a busy street, and made her way into the lobby of the Alma Mar Motel. Once again, the CIMWI staff was contacted to rescue Isla.

Once back at CIMWI, the staff found that in the nine days Isla had been back in the ocean, she had lost nine pounds, meaning that she was unable to forage for herself in the wild. After weeks of observation, it became clear that Isla was more habituated to humans than she was to the other marine mammals in the institute’s care. CIMWI caretakers were certain that Isla would not thrive in the wild, so for her safety and well-being, she was deemed non-releasable.

Once it was decided that Isla could not return to the wild, CIMWI contacted National Marine Fisheries Service (a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA) to locate a zoo or aquarium, accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), that could become Isla’s permanent home, and the Oklahoma City Zoo was selected. Two zoo staff members went to Santa Barbara to bring Isla to Oklahoma City in mid-May.

“By becoming a forever home for Isla and providing her with care, veterinary monitoring and an enriching environment, not only are we ensuring her survival, but we are also safeguarding the future of her species,” said Sierra Chappell, lead marine mammal trainer. “Her energetic spirit and inspiring story will resonate with Zoo guests and create a connection that will last a lifetime.”

Considered to be highly intelligent animals, California Sea Lions’ survival is based on the health of the ocean’s ecosystem. Sea Lions are threatened by plastic pollution and are vulnerable to the effects of climate change on ocean currents, which impact their fish prey abundance. They are also victims of bycatch in fisheries. The Oklahoma City Zoo participates in AZA’s Species Survival Plan for California Sea Lions.



Masai Giraffe Calf Is Latest Arrival At Virginia Zoo

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The Virginia Zoo welcomed a 141-pound, six-foot-tall female Masai Giraffe calf on May 20, 2019. This is the sixth calf to be born to mom Imara and seventh for dad Billy.

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Virginia Zoo Photo 1
Virginia Zoo Photo 1Photo Credit: Virginia Zoo

The calf was standing within two hours of birth and has been observed by Animal Care Staff nursing from Imara. The experienced mom is taking great care of the newborn, and the two have been spending time together indoors, with optional access to an outdoor yard.  It’s important for mom and baby to bond during the calf's first few weeks of life.

Billy and the Zoo’s other adult female, Noelle, are very interested in the new arrival.

As of press time, the calf does not yet have a name. The naming rights were auctioned off for $5,000 at the Virginia Zoo’s annual fundraiser on June 1. Watch the Virginia Zoo’s social media feeds for an announcement of the name next week.

Masai Giraffe are the largest subspecies of Giraffe and the tallest land mammals on Earth. They are native to Kenya and Tanzania and are characterized by their jagged spots. Males reach heights of up to 18 feet tall and females grow to 14 feet tall. Giraffes may bear one offspring after a 15-month gestation period. When a Giraffe baby is born, it comes into the world front feet first, followed by the head, neck, and shoulders. Newborn Giraffes can stand and walk within one hour of birth. They begin to eat leaves at the age of four months but continue to nurse until they are six to nine months old.

Giraffes are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Their population has fallen by about 40% across Africa and the species is no longer found in many parts of its historic range.

Nashville Zoo Announces Birth of Binturong Kits


Nashville Zoo is pleased to announce that one of their behind-the-scenes Palawan Binturongs gave birth to two kits. New mom, Lucy, welcomed one male and one female on May 13.

“The kits are doing fantastic,” said Dr. Heather Robertson, Nashville Zoo Director of Veterinary Services. “However, Lucy was not able to produce milk for her babies, so we will be hand-raising the kits in one of our Veterinary Center Neonatal Care rooms, which includes a public viewing window."

The kits weighed between 299-312 grams each. With the addition of these cubs, the Zoo is now home to eight Binturongs. Nashville Zoo has welcomed a total of 10 kits since 2015. There are currently 14 Binturongs in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) care and 11 in facilities globally.



3_46954425695_6ec37bf09d_bPhoto Credits: Dr. Margarita Woc Colburn/Nashville Zoo

Four-year-old Lucy and the four-year-old father, Gru, are currently behind the scenes. For now, the new kits will stay at Nashville Zoo, with plans to eventually include them in ambassador animal programs at other zoos.

Nashville Zoo is the only zoo to have a breeding pair of Palawan Binturongs in its animal collection. In 2015, the Zoo welcomed the first two Palawan Binturongs born in the United States.

While five adult Binturongs at Nashville are currently not on exhibit, one of them, Wilbur, was hand raised by the Nashville Zoo Behavioral Husbandry team and can be seen along the Zoo's trails as part of the Zoo’s Ambassador Animal Program.

The Palawan Binturong (Arctictis binturong whitei) is a smaller subspecies of Binturong (also known as bearcat) only reaching around 40 pounds. While they aren’t considered endangered, the mammal is officially classified by the IUCN as “Vulnerable” due to destruction of habitat and the illegal pet trade.

Nashville Zoo contributes to the protection of this species by being a part of the Palawan Binturong Species Survival Plan® and providing species information to the Binturong Studbook.

Last of Duke’s Legacy Born at Jacksonville Zoo

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The baby boom continues at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens with the birth of a second Reticulated Giraffe calf in the early hours of May 19. The male was born to Luna. The calf is also the second son fathered by the late Duke, who passed-away in December. He joins a half-brother who was born just four days prior.

Keepers were anticipating the birth of the young giraffe, knowing Luna was close to her due date. She was in the birthing suite when she delivered the petite, but healthy, calf at 4:10 a.m. Birth-camera footage shows the calf standing soon after birth, and keepers are pleased to see healthy nursing.



4_20190515_Giraffe_Newborn03Photo Credits: Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

After the birth, veterinary staff preformed a neonatal exam on the young calf, giving him a visual inspection and his first round of vaccinations. The calf is only 5’9” tall and weighs 119 lbs. As a contrast, his half-brother, born last week to mother Naomi, is the tallest giraffe in the JZG herd at 6’4” and 187 lbs!

These two newborn boys will be the last of Duke’s offspring, and they will be the last giraffe births at the Zoo until a new bull giraffe can join the herd. Population management decisions will be made with the help of the Species Survival Plan, expert advisors who work together to maximize genetic diversity and sustainability of the animals in zoos across the globe.

More pics below the fold!

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New Giraffe Calf Honors His Father’s Legacy


The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens welcomed an exciting addition to the Reticulated Giraffe herd on May 15. The Zoo’s 42nd giraffe calf was born to mother, Naomi.

Many visitors of Jacksonville Zoo will remember that the patriarch of their giraffe herd, Duke, passed away in December 2018 at 21-years-old from age-related degenerative disease. At the time of his death, keepers were hoping that one or two of the females in the herd were pregnant…and they were! The birth of this youngster is a touching tribute to the high-profile bull that was so well known by the Jacksonville community. This special calf is Duke’s 18th offspring.

“The arrival of our beloved Duke’s son is an especially moving way to honor his amazing legacy. We’re all looking forward to watching this little guy grow and develop,” shared Dan Maloney, Deputy Zoo Director.



4_IMG_0005Photo Credits: Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

On the day of the calf’s birth, keepers monitoring the overnight cameras noticed birth activity around 4:30am, so they rushed to the Zoo to supervise the significant birth and make sure everything progressed smoothly. Zoo staff were also watching when the calf stood up for the first time at 6:20am. Their excitement continued when they saw healthy nursing behavior at 7:11am. According to keepers, Naomi is a calm and experienced mother, with this being her 7th calf.

Veterinary staff examined the calf soon after the birth and determined it to be a boy in good health. He weighed in at 187 lbs. and was nearly 6’4” tall.

Naomi and the calf were allowed to bond behind the scenes after the birth, but they are now on exhibit with the rest of their herd.

More incredible photos, below the fold!

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Baby Giraffe Goes Outside And Shows Off New Shoes

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A baby Giraffe born May 2 at Woodland Park Zoo reached three milestones in the past two weeks: he was given a name, got new shoes, and went outdoors for the first time.

The little Giraffe will be called Hasani, after his paternal grandfather. The name was chosen by zoo staff for this handsome calf who has already stolen hearts across the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

Then, on May 17, Hasani went outdoors for the first time to show off custom-made therapeutic shoes designed to correct a foot problem.

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2019_05_12 giraffe new shoes metal-3Photo Credit: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo

Immediately after female Giraffe Olivia gave birth to her calf, the zoo’s animal health team noticed that the baby’s rear feet were not in normal alignment. The condition, known as hyperextended fetlocks, is well documented in Horses and has been reported to occur in Giraffes. One day after the Giraffe was born, the zoo’s animal health team applied casts on both rear legs to help stabilize his limbs. 

A week after the calf's birth, Woodland Park Zoo’s exhibits team constructed temporary therapeutic shoes for the baby Giraffe. Meanwhile, the zoo’s veterinary team consulted with a Kentucky-based equine veterinarian who specializes in foot conditions. He visited the zoo to evaluate the calf, and crafted new custom shoes based on the zoo’s specifications. He modified a design that he has used to successfully treat numerous foals with the same condition. The shoes will do the heavy lifting in the next phase of treatment of the baby’s rear leg abnormalities. Huge thanks to Dr. Scott Morrison and Manuel Cruz of Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital for their support and expertise with this shoe design. 

The new shoes are made of metal with a textured bottom for extra grip. An acrylic molding wraps around to secure the shoe to the hoof. “This whole-toe wrap binds the toes more snugly to stabilize the shoe and provide a stronger grip to the hoof,” says Dr. Tim Storms, associate veterinarian at Woodland Park Zoo. The shoes are more water-resistant than the previously made wooden shoes. “This will be better for walking outdoors on wet ground and will allow him to exercise more, which is critical to his development.” 

Kinesiology tape – often used by runners and athletes – helps to stimulate and support Hasani’s muscles and replaces the bandages that were put on his legs right after birth.

Hasani’s treatment may last several months. “While we are happy with Hasani’s response so far and these new shoes, he’s not out of the woods yet. His condition is still guarded and we’re keeping him under close observation. We’ll continue assessing the best course of action to help him walk and grow normally, and to find a good balance between supporting his limbs and strengthening his tendons,” adds Storms. 

Other than the abnormalities in his rear legs, Hasani remains in good health and is nursing and bonding with mom. He weighed 155 pounds at birth and now weighs 180 pounds, so he is growing and growing!

Giraffes are widespread across southern and eastern Africa, with smaller isolated populations in west and central Africa. New population surveys estimate an overall 40 percent decline in the Giraffe population; fewer than 100,000 exist today. Of the currently recognized subspecies of Giraffe, five have decreasing populations, while three are increasing and one is stable.