Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

The Columbus Zoo And Aquarium Family Grows By Two With Births Of Elephant Calf And Sea Lion Pup

There was a flurry of activity overnight at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium as staff welcomed two little ones—an Asian elephant calf and a California sea lion pup! These exciting births are important milestones and offer hope for the future of these species that are at risk in their native range.

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Photo credit: Grahm S. Jones, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Asian Elephant Calf

On Wednesday, June 16, 2021 at 8:48 p.m., the Zoo welcomed the much-anticipated birth of a male Asian elephant calf in the Zoo’s Asia Quest region.

As an experienced mother, 33-year-old Phoebe is providing exceptional care to her big bundle of joy. The calf appears to be strong and was observed nursing shortly after birth. While he currently prefers to stand closely between Phoebe’s legs, the calf is also starting to be curious of his surroundings behind the scenes in the Zoo’s elephant and rhino building. He is rather vocal, sometimes emitting a low grumble, and he continues to test out his trunk though he hasn’t quite yet sure figured out how to use it to its fullest potential. Phoebe has remained patient with him and calmly responds to the care team as they observe her and her baby.

Throughout her 22-month pregnancy, the Zoo’s Animal Care team monitored Phoebe closely. Thanks to the incredible bond she shares with her care team Phoebe voluntarily participated in regular ultrasound imaging, which enabled staff to monitor the calf’s development.

The purchase of endocrine equipment in 2018 by donor, Johanna Destefano, allowed the Animal Health team to run daily progesterone tests for Phoebe so they could more accurately predict the birth. On Sunday, June 13, Phoebe’s bloodwork showed that her progesterone levels had dropped enough that the Animal Health and Animal Care teams knew that the birth would happen sometime within the next 72 hours. The Animal Care team shifted from checking Phoebe via remote camera every two hours to monitoring her around the clock and working overnight shifts in the building, where they could be ready to assist as necessary.

Phoebe’s delivery went smoothly, and the arrival of this recent calf is also offering hope for Asian elephant conservation efforts. The pairing of Phoebe and 33-year-old father, Hank, was recommended by the Species Survival Plan® (SSP), a program coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to maintain genetic diversity of threatened and endangered species in human care. While Phoebe and Hank had the opportunity to breed, this has been unsuccessful in the past and she was artificially inseminated. Artificial insemination is carefully coordinated by animal health experts and enables an elephant to be impregnated at her most fertile time. While this is still a relatively rare procedure for elephants, most successful elephant artificial insemination attempts (approximately 20 in total) have occurred with African elephants. Artificial insemination is very uncommon with Asian elephants, with less than 10 successful outcomes. Two of these scientific achievements have occurred at the Columbus Zoo (with the first time occurring in Phoebe in 2016). Attempts to artificially inseminate elephants are becoming more frequent to bolster the numbers of endangered elephants, whose populations continue to rapidly decline in their native range.

Phoebe came to the Columbus Zoo in January 2002 and resides alongside the other five Asian elephants in the Asia Quest region—males Hank (this calf’s father) and Beco (Phoebe’s son), and females Connie, Sunny and Rudy. This calf is Phoebe’s fourth calf born at the Columbus Zoo and her fifth calf overall. Her last calf, Ellie, sadly passed away a few weeks after her birth in 2018 due to a bacterial infection despite aggressive treatment by the Animal Health team and outside specialists. Just two other live Asian elephants have been born at the Columbus Zoo throughout the Zoo’s history–Bodhi, who was born in 2004 and now resides at Denver Zoo, and Beco, who was born in 2009 and is still a part of the Columbus Zoo elephant herd.

To provide Phoebe and her new baby with time to continue developing a strong bond, they will remain in a behind-the-scenes area. When they show they are ready, they will also slowly be introduced to other members of the herd. The Zoo will announce viewing information—as well as more information about the calf’s name—for guests as it becomes available.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species,™ Asian elephants are listed as endangered in their native range across southern and southeastern Asia and are in decline due to various factors including habitat loss/degradation and poaching. The World Elephant Day organization estimates there are fewer than 40,000 Asian elephants and less than 400,000 African elephants remaining worldwide.

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is a long-time supporter of several direct elephant conservation initiatives benefitting both African and Asian elephants, including annual donations to the International Elephant Foundation and several research projects and grants over the last 25 years. Many of these projects have focused on reducing human-elephant conflict and monitoring elephant populations in their native ranges. Additionally, Columbus Zoo staff leads AZA’s SAFE (Saving Animals From Extinction) Asian Elephant Program, an AZA initiative to leverage their large audiences and collective expertise to save animals from extinction. Zoo guests can also learn about elephant conservation and how they can contribute to the sustainability of this endangered species at the Zoo’s Elephant Conservation Station inside the “Vanishing Giants” building located in the Asia Quest region. Zoo veterinary staff also participate in a national Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpesvirus (EEHV) advisory group. The group aims to prevent, diagnose and treat this potentially fatal disease that affects elephants in their native range, and in human care.

Sea Lion Pup (Lovell) 7676 - Grahm S. Jones  Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Grahm S. Jones, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

California Sea Lion Pup

During the early morning hours of June 17, 2017, the Zoo’s Pinniped team in the Adventure Cove region also had cause to celebrate with the arrival of a sea lion pup!

The pup was born to experienced mom, Lovell, who will be turning 6 years old in July. Lovell is being very attentive to her nursing pup, whose sex has not yet been determined. The pup is already quite active but won’t be ready for swim lessons with mom until Lovell determines her calf is ready. For now, they will continue to bond behind the scenes.

Lovell arrived at the Zoo along with nine other sea lions (six males, three females) and four harbor seals (one male, three females) on May 17, 2020. Because the sea lions all live together for most of the year in a strong social group and there are several males, the father of the pup is currently unknown and will be determined through a blood test.

This most recent pup is the third sea lion pup ever to be born at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. The first sea lion pup, a female named Sunshine, was also born to Lovell on June 25, 2020. Sunshine still resides at the Columbus Zoo and has become independent of Lovell, making friends with other sea lions. The second sea lion pup at the Columbus Zoo was born to mom, Baby. When the team noticed that male pup, Norval, was not gaining enough weight, they stepped in to assist Baby by providing Norval with supplemental tube feedings. He continues to thrive, and Columbus Zoo guests can sometime catch him with Sunshine and another sea lion, Banana.

Guests can find the sea lions at the Zoo’s newest region, Adventure Cove, which opened in 2020. Thanks to the support of voters who passed the last levy and contributions from generous donors, the Columbus Zoo began construction in October 2017 on this brand-new, state-of-the-art region. Adventure Cove features a Pacific Northwest-inspired rocky coast and harbor setting for the sea lions and seals; Jack Hanna’s Animal Encounters Village, a colorfully-themed and immersive village highlighting animals from all around the world; and updated existing attractions.

Adventure Cove also furthers the Zoo’s commitment to sea lion rehabilitation initiatives led by institutions accredited by the AZA. The Columbus Zoo has provided financial support for years for rescue and rehabilitation efforts by The Marine Mammal Center (MMC) in Sausalito, Calif., and the Zoo’s Animal Health staff have trained with the MMC to nurse stranded and injured marine mammals back to health while expanding their knowledge of sea lions and seals.

Although California sea lions are not listed as a species of concern, the situation for sea lions in their native range is increasingly dire because there are a rising number of pup strandings. As climate change forces the mothers to hunt further away from shore, more of them are not coming back, leaving pups orphaned and unable to care for themselves. The MMC takes in many of these animals and works to restore them to health.

While Lovell and her pup will likely stay in the behind-the-scenes area for the near future to continue to bond and so that Lovell and the sea lion care team can ensure that the baby meets all of the important growth and development milestones (including swimming) before graduating into the larger habitat, guests who reserve a Behind the Marina Sea Lion Tour will have the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the pair and learn more about this intelligent, playful species. The experience is one of several new offerings designed to further inspire guests to connect with wildlife and take action to help protect these species’ future. Additional information can be found on the Zoo’s website under the Tours and Virtual Experiences page


Cheetah Cubs at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium are First Ever Born via In Vitro Fertilization and Embryo Transfers

Cheetah Cubs 2019 2 - Grahm S. Jones  Columbus Zoo and Aquarium-6Photos and video by: Grahm S. Jones, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

In a groundbreaking scientific breakthrough, two Cheetah cubs have been born through in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer into a surrogate mother at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

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The births are the result of careful planning and innovative medical expertise through a partnership between the Columbus Zoo, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) in Front Royal, Va., and Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose, Texas—three leading institutions with a commitment to conservation. These efforts were also part of a breeding recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan® (SSP) and the Cheetah Sustainability Program (CSP), developed to manage a sustainable population of cheetahs in human care.

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While the cubs’ biological mother is Kibibi, the cubs were delivered on Wednesday, February 19, 2020 at 9:50 p.m. and 10:20 p.m. by Isabelle (Izzy). The cheetahs’ care team observed the births through a remote camera and continue to monitor Izzy and her cubs closely. Izzy, a first-time mom, has been providing great care to her cubs at this time. The care team performed a well check on the cubs on Friday, February 21 and determined that Izzy gave birth to a male cub and a female cub. The cubs have been observed nursing, and the male currently weighs in at 480 grams and the female weighs 350 grams.

“These two cubs may be tiny but they represent a huge accomplishment, with expert biologists and zoologists working together to create this scientific marvel,” said Dr. Randy Junge, the Columbus Zoo’s Vice President of Animal Health. “This achievement expands scientific knowledge of cheetah reproduction, and may become an important part of the species’ population management in the future.”

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‘The Wilds’ Sees Greater One-horned Rhino Birth

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The Wilds, in Cumberland, OH, proudly welcomed a Greater One-horned Rhinoceros calf on August 24.

The female calf is receiving excellent care from her mother and is the eighth Greater One-horned Rhino to be born at The Wilds. The birth is a significant achievement as the species nearly went extinct during the 20th century.

The calf and mom, Sanya, are doing well and have been bonding in pasture on The Wilds property. The Animal Management team has been monitoring the pair closely and has not needed to provide any immediate assistance, as Sanya is an experienced mother and the calf appears to be strong and healthy. Calves usually weigh more than 100 pounds at birth and gain a few pounds every day. An adult Greater One-horned Rhino can reach weights of approximately 4,000 to 6,000 pounds.

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4_Greater One-Horned Rhino Calf 2337 - Amanda Carberry  Columbus Zoo and AquariumPhoto Credits: Amanda Carberry/ Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Sanya, born at the Toronto Zoo in 1999, has now given birth to five calves since arriving at The Wilds in 2004. The calf’s father, Jahi, was born at Zoo Tampa in 2011, moved to the Central Florida Zoo in 2013 and then arrived at The Wilds in 2017 as per a breeding recommendation through the Species Survival Plan® (SSP), a program coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to maintain genetic diversity of threatened and endangered species in human care. This newborn is Jahi’s first offspring.

The Wilds, home to three Greater One-horned Rhinos, is one of only 30 facilities in North America to care for this species. The Wilds is also home to 15 Southern White Rhinos. In total, more than 500 animals representing 28 species from around the world make up the animal population at the open-range, natural landscape at The Wilds.

Once listed as an endangered species, the Greater One-horned Rhino (Rhinoceros unicornis) has seen a steady population increase thanks to strict government protection and is now listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species as “Vulnerable”. According to the World Wildlife Fund, there were only 600 individuals surviving in their native ranges of India and Nepal by 1975. Since then, researchers estimate the population has grown to exceed 3,000 Greater One-horned Rhinos living in these areas.

“We are thrilled to welcome this little rhinoceros into our Wilds family! Every rhinoceros is important to the survival of his or her species. While there has been some success in rhinoceros conservation recently, unfortunately, there are still threats to all rhino species. They are being poached for their horn, even though it is made only of keratin— the equivalent of fingernails—and they are facing habitat destruction in their native ranges. We are proud to be able to contribute to rhino conservation by welcoming this incredible new arrival, as the calf represents hope for future generations of Greater One-horned Rhinos,” said Dr. Jan Ramer, vice president of The Wilds.

The new calf may be visible to guests during either an Open-Air Safari or Wildside Tour. For more information about The Wilds or to book your visit, please visit www.TheWilds.org .

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Columbus Zoo Welcomes Pair of Orphaned Manatees

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The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium has welcomed two young Manatees, marking the 30th and 31st Manatees to arrive at the Zoo for rehabilitation since the Columbus Zoo joined the Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP) in 1999. The two males, Bananatee and Tostone, were both found as orphans off of the coast of south Florida. The pair began their rehabilitation journey at the Miami Seaquarium before recently arriving at the Columbus Zoo.

Bananatee was rescued from the Indian Creek Waterway outside of Miami, FL as an orphan calf on July 27, 2018. When he was initially brought to the Miami Seaquarium, he weighed only 42 pounds. He now weighs approximately 225 pounds, which is still considered small for a Manatee, as they can weigh up to 1,300 pounds as mature adults. Since Bananatee is still under a year old, the animal care team at the Columbus Zoo will need to bottle feed him to help supplement his diet as he continues transitioning to eating lettuce.

Tostone was rescued from the Lake Worth Lagoon in Riviera Beach, FL on February 8, 2019. Tostone was also an orphan and had begun to show signs of cold stress. Upon his arrival at the Miami Seaquarium, Tostone weighed in at approximately 99 pounds and is now up to approximately 185 pounds.

Bananatee and Tostone have both joined the other three Manatees (Heavy Falcon, Carmen, and long-term resident, Stubby) at the Zoo’s 300,000-gallon Manatee Coast pool. However, while the new arrivals are still adjusting to their new environment, they will still have full access to behind-the-scenes areas.

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Manatees (Tostone and Bananatee) 0625 - Grahm S. Jones  Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Manatees (Tostone) 0471 - Grahm S. Jones  Columbus Zoo and AquariumPhoto Credits: Grahm S. Jones /Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

As part of the Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP), the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is a second stage rehabilitation facility that provides a temporary home for Manatees until they are ready for release back to the wild.

The MRP is a cooperative group of non-profit, private, state, and federal entities, which work together to monitor the health and survival of rehabilitated and released Manatees. Information about Manatees currently being tracked is available at www.manateerescue.org .

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium was the first program partner outside of the state of Florida and is one of only two facilities outside of Florida to care for Manatees.

“We are proud to play a role in Bananatee’s and Tostone’s rehabilitation and eventual return to Florida waters, as we have with the other 29 Manatees who we have helped to rehabilitate since 1999 through this collaborative program,” said Becky Ellsworth, curator of the Shores region at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. “Being part of the Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation program is incredibly rewarding, and each Manatee holds a very special place in our hearts as we assist them throughout their journey and work to protect the future of their species.”

The threatened Florida Manatee is at risk from both natural and man-made causes of injury and mortality, including exposure to red tide, cold stress, disease, boat strikes, crushing by floodgates or locks, and entanglement in or ingestion of fishing gear.

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium supports field conservation projects for three of four living species of Manatees through its Conservation Fund. Providing grants to researchers on three continents (North America, South America and Africa), the Zoo contributes to rescue and rehabilitation in Florida, environmental education focused on the Amazonian Manatee in Colombia, and critical population surveys for the least known species: the West African Manatee.


Help Name The Baby Elephant at Columbus Zoo

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The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium has announced a naming opportunity for the female Asian Elephant calf born on December 6. The baby is the first Elephant to be born at the zoo in 10 years.

You are invited to help name the calf by voting from a list provided by the Koblentz family in honor and memory of Kathryn Elisabeth Anderson Koblentz. Kathy served the zoo in many roles throughout her life, first as a budget analyst; progressing to Treasurer, President and Chair of the Board of Directors (the first woman to hold these offices); and as both an honorary and active docent at the zoo.  

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Asian Elephant Calf 0402 - Grahm S. Jones  Columbus Zoo and AquariumPhoto Credit: Grahm S. Jones/Columbus Zoo & Aquarium

Kathy’s husband Bob and his family, in conjunction with the zoo’s animal care team, selected the following potential names for the new baby Elephant:

  • Darcy: inspired by Kathy’ favorite book, “Pride and Prejudice,” by Jane Austen. Kathy and Bob also had a beloved collie named Darcy.
  • Lizzie: inspired by Kathy’s middle name Elisabeth, which is also a name variation of the central character, Elizabeth, in Kathy’s favorite book, “Pride and Prejudice,” by Jane Austen.
  • Ellie: inspired by Kathy’s middle name Elisabeth
  • Kobie: inspired by Kathy’s last name Koblentz

From December 12, 2018 until January 3, 2019, fans can vote for a single name once within each 24-hour period on the Columbus Zoo’s website. The name of the female calf will be announced on the Zoo’s social media accounts and website on January 4, 2019.

The calf and her mother, Phoebe, are now spending some time each day in the Elephant community room for limited hours from 3 p.m. until 6 p.m. while still offering them some privacy as they continue to bond behind the scenes. This schedule is determined by Phoebe and her calf and will be adjusted accordingly to best fit their needs.

The soon-to-be named calf is the first Elephant born at the Columbus Zoo in almost 10 years and the first to be born at the Zoo as a result of artificial insemination. Mother, Phoebe, is a 31-year-old Asian Elephant who came to the Zoo in January 2002. While Phoebe has had the opportunity to breed with Hank, a 30-year-old male Elephant at the Columbus Zoo, the attempts were unsuccessful and she was artificially inseminated with sperm from Hank and a male from another zoo. The father of the calf is not yet known and will be determined through a DNA test with results expected in the coming weeks. Artificial insemination enables an Elephant to be impregnated at her most fertile time. While still a relatively rare procedure for Elephants, attempts to artificially inseminate Elephants are becoming more frequent in an effort to bolster the numbers of endangered Elephants, whose populations are rapidly declining in their native range.

The calf joins the herd of six Asian Elephants in the Asia Quest region: males, Hank and Beco, and females, Phoebe, Connie, Sundara (Sunny) and Rudy. There have been three successful Asian Elephant births at the Columbus Zoo throughout the Zoo’s history, and all three have been born to Phoebe —this most recent calf, Beco in 2009 and male, Bodhi, who was born in 2004 and now resides at Denver Zoo. Coco, who passed away at the Columbus Zoo in 2011, was the sire of Beco and Bodhi.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, Asian Elephants are listed as endangered in their native range across southern and southeastern Asia and are in decline due to various factors, including habitat loss/degradation and poaching. The World Elephant Day organization estimates that there are less than 40,000 Asian Elephants and fewer than 400,000 African Elephants remaining worldwide.

 


Columbus Zoo Sees First Elephant Calf in Ten Years

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On Thursday, December 6, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium welcomed the much-anticipated birth of an Asian Elephant in the Zoo’s Asia Quest region. The female calf is the first elephant born at the Columbus Zoo in almost 10 years, and she is the first to be born at the Zoo as a result of artificial insemination.

Mother, Phoebe, is 31-years-old and arrived at the Zoo in January 2002. While Phoebe has had the opportunity to breed with 30-year-old, Hank, at the Columbus Zoo, the attempts were unsuccessful and she was also artificially inseminated with sperm from Hank and a male from another zoo. The father of the calf is not yet known and will be determined through a DNA test, with results expected in the coming weeks. Artificial insemination enables an elephant to be impregnated at her most fertile time. While still a relatively rare procedure for elephants, attempts to artificially inseminate elephants are becoming more frequent in an effort to bolster the numbers of endangered elephants, whose populations are rapidly declining in their native range.

The new calf joins the herd of six Asian Elephants in the Asia Quest region: males, Hank and Beco, and females, Phoebe, Connie, Sundara (Sunny) and Rudy. There have been three successful Asian Elephant births at the Columbus Zoo throughout the Zoo’s history, and all three have been born to Phoebe —this most recent calf, Beco in 2009 and male, Bodhi, who was born in 2004 and now resides at Denver Zoo. Coco, who passed away at the Columbus Zoo in 2011, was the sire of Beco and Bodhi.

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4_Asian Elephant Calf 3827 - Grahm S. Jones  Columbus Zoo and AquariumPhoto Credits: Grahm S. Jones/ Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

To provide Phoebe and her new baby with time to continue developing a strong bond, they will remain in a behind-the-scenes area. The Zoo will announce viewing information for guests as it becomes available.

“We are very proud to welcome Phoebe’s calf into the elephant herd here at the Columbus Zoo,” said Columbus Zoo President/CEO Tom Stalf. “Each birth contributes to the global population and sustainability of this endangered species and is one worth celebrating as a sign of hope for the future of these incredible animals.”

Elephants have the longest gestational period of all mammals, lasting approximately 22 months. Over the last several months, Phoebe has participated in regular ultrasounds to monitor the development of the calf through the imaging, as well as blood collections to monitor her hormone levels throughout her pregnancy. Phoebe and the unnamed calf will continue to be monitored around the clock by the Zoo’s expert animal care team to ensure they receive the best care possible.

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is a long-time supporter of several direct elephant conservation initiatives benefitting both African and Asian Elephants, including annual donations to the International Elephant Foundation and several research projects and grants over the last 23 years. Many of these research projects have focused on improving human-wildlife coexistence and monitoring elephant populations in their native ranges. Zoo visitors also have the opportunity to learn about elephant conservation and how they can contribute to the sustainability of this endangered species at the Zoo’s Elephant Conservation Station inside the “Vanishing Giants” building located in the Asia Quest region.

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The Wilds Celebrates Birth Of Giraffe Calf

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The Wilds is proud to announce the birth of a male Masai Giraffe calf on July 10. Guests taking an Open-Air Safari Tour witnessed the birth in the open pasture at The Wilds, creating an unforgettable experience. So far, the calf appears strong and healthy, staying close to his mother. The Giraffe care team monitors mom and baby as they make their daily rounds.

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Giraffe Calf 7303 - Grahm S. Jones  Columbus Zoo and AquariumPhoto Credit: Grahm S. Jones/Columbus Zoo & Aquarium

The calf’s father, Raha, was born at the Los Angeles Zoo in April 2006, and the calf’s mother, Lulu, was born at Cincinnati Zoo in October 2012. This calf is Lulu’s first, and he was born after a gestation period of about 15 months. Like all Giraffe births, Lulu delivered her calf while standing up. Within a few hours of his birth, the calf stood, nursed, and began walking.

The breeding of Raha and Lulu was based on a recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan® (SSP), a program designed to increase the genetic health and diversity of threatened and endangered species in human care.

“Welcoming a Giraffe calf to our herd is always an incredibly exciting time for our team,” said The Wilds Vice President Dr. Jan Ramer. “Not only is this birth a milestone here at The Wilds, but it also gives us great hope and a foothold to sustain declining populations of this species in their native ranges.”

Giraffes are listed as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, due to habitat degradation and poaching. In an effort to reduce threats to Giraffes, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and The Wilds support several conservation projects in Giraffe range countries across Africa, including the Serengeti Giraffe Project based in Tanzania, the Giraffe Research and Conservation Trust in Kenya, and the Giraffe Conservation Foundation in Namibia and Uganda.

Male Giraffes can grow to be 18 feet tall at their horn tips and weigh between 1,800 and 4,300 lbs. Females are 13 to 15 feet tall and weigh between 1,200 and 2,600 lbs. Giraffes are the tallest of all extant land-living animals and are the largest ruminants. Their native ranges are savannas, grasslands or open woodlands in central and southern African countries.

See more photos of the calf below.

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Orphaned Baby Manatees Find Refuge at Columbus Zoo

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The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium welcomed two rehabilitating Manatees on April 24. The two new additions, one male and one female, became the 28th and 29th Manatees to be rehabilitated at the Columbus Zoo since the zoo’s involvement in the Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP) began in 2001.

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Manatees (Group) 3412 - Grahm S. Jones  Columbus Zoo and AquariumPhoto Credit: Grahm S. Jones/Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

The 143-pound male calf is named “Heavy Falcon” – a nod to the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket launch that took place on February 6, 2018, which was also the day he was rescued. Heavy Falcon was found as an orphan in Crystal River, Florida and was taken to SeaWorld Orlando to begin his rehabilitation journey.

The female calf does not yet have a name and was rescued on February 8, 2018 with her mother off the coast of Florida. The female calf showed signs of cold stress, while her mother was negatively buoyant. Unfortunately, the calf’s mother succumbed to her serious injuries just two days after her rescue, leaving the female calf an orphan. After also beginning her rehabilitation at SeaWorld Orlando with Heavy Falcon, both Manatees have stabilized and will continue to recover in Columbus before their eventual releases into Florida waters.

The two new arrivals are now living in the zoo’s 300,000-gallon Manatee Coast pool. Both Manatees will also have access to behind-the-scenes areas as they continue to adjust to their new environment.

As part of the Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP), the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is a second-stage rehabilitation facility that provides a temporary home for Manatees until they are ready for release back to the wild.

See more photos of the calves below.

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Blissful Winter Baby Boom at Columbus Zoo

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The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium recently announced the arrival of seven babies, representing three at-risk species, born in late January and early February. The new additions are: five Asian Small-clawed Otter pups, a Silvered Leaf Langur baby, and a Humboldt Penguin chick.

According to the Zoo, each new little one contributes to maximizing genetic diversity within their species and sustaining populations of those facing serious threats to their future in their native ranges.

The baby boom began with the arrival of the five Asian Small-clawed Otter pups, born during the early morning hours of January 26.

Native to coastal regions from southern India to Southeast Asia, Asian Small-clawed Otters (Aonyx cinereus) are often threatened by habitat destruction, pollution and hunting. These factors place them at risk in their native range, and they are currently classified as “Vulnerable” by the IUCN.

The pups (three males and two females) were born to first-time parents, Gus and Peanut. Peanut was born in 2014 and arrived at the Columbus Zoo in April 2017 from the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. Father, Gus, was born in 2008 and arrived at the Columbus Zoo from the Bronx Zoo in 2014.

According to staff, the young pups are thriving under the watchful eyes of both of their parents and are expected to be on view to the public later this spring.

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4_Asia Small Clawed Otter Pups 2271 - Grahm S. Jones  Columbus Zoo and AquariumPhoto Credits: Grahm S. Jones/ Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

The Columbus Zoo was also proud to welcome a female Silvered Leaf Langur baby on February 16. The female was born to mother, Patty, and father, Thai. Patty made her way to the Columbus Zoo from the Bronx Zoo in 2007 and has given birth to seven offspring. Thai arrived at the Columbus Zoo in 2015 from the San Diego Zoo and has fathered a total of four infants.

Patty, Thai, and the newest Langur arrival are currently on view in the Zoo’s Asia Quest region. Staff reports that the baby is easy to spot as Langurs are born bright orange, as opposed to their adult counterparts with black fur and silvered tips. This difference in coat color is believed to encourage other female Langurs to assist in raising the young, a practice called “allomothering”.

In their native ranges, Silvered Leaf Langurs (Trachypithecus cristatus) can be found in areas including Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia. The species’ populations in these countries are decreasing due to habitat loss as lands are cleared for oil palm plantations or destroyed by forest fires. Langurs are also hunted for their meat or taken for the pet trade.

The Columbus Zoo’s pairing of Patty and Thai was based on an SSP recommendation, and the birth of the new baby will play an important role in helping manage this at-risk species. Silvered Leaf Langurs are listed as “Near Threatened” by the IUCN, due to population declines caused by habitat loss. The arrival of this Langur baby at the Columbus Zoo is an important part of sustaining the population among AZA-accredited zoos, certified related facilities and conservation partners.

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Two Rare Gazelles Born at Columbus Zoo

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The Columbus Zoo & Aquarium welcomed not one but two rare Dama Gazelle calves in January. A male Dama Gazelle calf was born on January 14 to mom Layla and dad Zultan. Just three days later, a female calf was born to first-time mom, Susie Cruisie. Susie’s calf had difficulty nursing, so the animal care staff stepped in to provide bottle feedings. The calf is doing well and returns to the herd after each feeding.

The calves have not yet been named, and they are bonding with their mothers behind the scenes.

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Gaz 3Photo Credit: Columbus Zoo & Aquarium

The breeding of these Gazelles was recommended as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan® (SSP). The species is Critically Endangered, with fewer than 300 Dama Gazelles left in their native African range in Chad, Mali, and Niger. The biggest threats to Dama Gazelles are habitat loss due to livestock overgrazing, land development, and uncontrolled hunting. The Columbus Zoo supports the Sahara Conservation Fund (SCF), which monitors the Dama Gazelles’ population and their distribution in their native range.

Dama Gazelles are the largest of all Gazelles, with adults weighing up to 165 pounds. Both males and females have S-shaped horns. Calves are born after a gestation period of about six months, and can run as fast as adults by the time they are one week old.