Fort Worth Zoo Asian elephant calf predicts Super Bowl LVI winner
FORT WORTH, Texas – An ele-fan favorite Fort Worth Zoo resident, baby Asian elephant Brazos, made quite the play Thursday, Feb. 10 by predicting that the Los Angeles Rams will win Super Bowl LVI this Sunday. The field was set with two boomer balls (elephant-sized footballs), each painted with the respective teams’ logos – Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals. With his No. 1 cheerleader, mom Bluebonnet, on the sidelines, Brazos took the field and never looked back. Without hesitation, the 600-pound, 5-star recruit tackled the Rams boomer ball for the official pick!
Weighing in at a whopping 540 lbs, Brazos turned months old Friday! These days are all about his toys and his trunk. He’s often kicking his ball around or picking up small tires and running with them around his trunk. He’s practicing throwing dirt and sand onto his back (the dirt acts as a natural sunscreen and insect repellent!), but for now he only takes small amounts that barely reach past his head. He’s testing out more and more foods while his teeth grow bigger, and he regularly reaches for lettuce over other options. You might catch him in the main habitat participating in short target training sessions with his keepers.
Don’t forget to utilize Fort Worth Zoo's Brazos forecast when planning your trip to the Zoo. When days are warm enough, he’ll be in the main yard from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. with his mom, Bluebonnet.
Fort Worth Zoo staff welcomed a 37-inch-tall, 255 pound male Asian elephant calf on Oct. 21, 2021. Brazos (BRA-zus) is the fourth calf born at the Zoo following his mother Bluebonnet in 1998 and his aunt Belle and half-brother Bowie, both born in 2013. As you can see, mother and calf are doing well, spending time bonding in the backyards of the Zoo.
Since establishing its elephant breeding program in 1986, the Fort Worth Zoo has become an international leader in elephant conservation. In 1998,the Zoo spearheaded the development of the International Elephant Foundation (IEF), a conservation organization dedicated to saving elephant species worldwide. Listed as endangered since 1976, Asian elephant populations continue to decline and if the trend continues, zoos are going to be the only place left for these animals. The birth of Brazos is another BIG conservation success.
FORT WORTH - Once common, the Texas horned lizard is now one of more than 1,300 species of concern across the state. But there is good news for the little “horned toad.” Today, a coalition of zoos and wildlife scientists released 204 captive-raised hatchlings into the wild (100 of them hatched at the Fort Worth Zoo), and this follows new evidence this year that previously released lizards are now reproducing. Meanwhile, a landmark bipartisan proposal now moving through Congress, the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, would bring the resources needed to save this species and hundreds like it.
For more than 10 years, the Texas Horned Lizard Coalition, including Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Texas Christian University and zoos in Fort Worth, Dallas, San Antonio and elsewhere, has been studying how to restore Texas horned lizards to formerly occupied habitats. Reintroduction efforts have happened at TPWD’s Mason Mountain and Muse Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) where extensive habitat management and restoration have provided vital “new homes” for the lizard.
Researchers tried translocating adult lizards, capturing them in the wild and then releasing them on the WMAs. This provided a wealth of valuable data, but it also highlighted challenges. Many relocated lizards died, killed by predators. Normal wild mortality ranges from 70-90% and scientists have seen this with translocated adults. Also, capturing and translocating sufficient adults in the wild to establish self-sustaining populations may prove unsustainable long-term.
For these reasons, in recent years the focus has shifted to captive breeding Texas horned lizards at partner zoos, which makes it possible to breed and release hundreds of lizards at once. Texas horned lizards have large clutch sizes with many eggs, often with multiple clutches each year.
The Fort Worth Zoo developed the breeding and husbandry protocols required to successfully breed and care for these animals in managed collections. These practices have since been implemented and modeled at several zoos around the state. The Fort Worth Zoo has the longest-running captive breeding effort in Texas and, in fact, the zoo hatched its 1,000th Texas horned lizard last week.
This August at Mason Mountain WMA, after years of captive-raised hatchling releases, TPWD biologists and graduate students discovered a breakthrough milestone. They found 18 hatchlings believed to be offspring of zoo-raised hatchlings released in 2019. To their knowledge, this marks the first time that captive-reared horned lizards have survived long enough to successfully reproduce in the wild.
Biologists remain optimistic that continued research and restoration work will ultimately lead to self-sustaining wild populations of Texas horned lizards. But they say the Recovering America's Wildlife Act would provide the funding needed to make this dream a reality. People can learn how to help in the online toolkit of the Texas Wildlife Alliance, a grass roots coalition formed to support RAWA.
Fort Worth Zoo announces name of newest giraffe calf … and maybe, just baby, something more.
FORT WORTH, Texas – After an open call for name suggestions for the Fort Worth Zoo’s newest giraffe calf on its social media pages, the Zoo narrowed down the nearly 500 responses to five contenders and invited the public to vote on their favorite name:
Lucchese – a Texas boot brand; we do live in Cowtown, after all!
Jabali – meaning “strong as a rock” in Swahili
Mwezi – “moon” in Swahili, because the tallest land mammals reach high in the sky
Hickory – standing as tall as this Texas tree
Thor – a superhero name for his super-large size
The Zoo received more than 8,000 votes and an overwhelming majority selected Lucchese! As an iconic Texas boot brand, it fits the newest calf in Cowtown well. How does the saying go? “If the shoe fits!”
Lucchese was born May 7 to parents Kala and Walter. The calf was born weighing 174 pounds and standing more than 6 feet tall. This is Kala’s seventh calf and Walter’s first. The Fort Worth Zoo houses reticulated giraffes, a name that describes the mammal’s chestnut-brown rectangular markings. Like human fingerprints, each giraffe pattern is different. Native to the African savannas, a giraffe’s most distinguishing feature is its long neck, which can account for 7 feet of its height. Lucchese brings the Zoo’s herd to nine.
Lucchese took his first strides in the African Savanna this morning with the rest of the herd. And SURPRISE! There’s another new baby out in the Savanna. Peaches, the lesser kudu calf, was born May 5 to parents Umbrella and Martini. The lesser kudu is an African hoofstock species characterized by its coat consisting of one white line down its back with 11 to 14 stripes branching off. This pattern helps camouflage the kudu in the brush where it lives. The lesser kudu’s large ears capture and funnel sound, which makes it easier for the animal to hear approaching predators. Peaches’ ears are definitely easy to see! She’s sticking pretty close to mom for now, but guests can see both babies romp in the African Savanna on their next visit to the Zoo.
The nationally acclaimed Fort Worth Zoo has been voted the No. 1 zoo in North America by USA Today, the Best Zoo in Texas by Yahoo Travel, the No. 5 zoo in the nation by USA Travel Guide, the No. 1 family attraction in the DFW Metroplex by Zagat survey and a Top 10 Zoo or Aquarium by FamilyFun magazine. Home to more than 7,000 animals, the Zoo is in the third of a four-phase, $100-million master plan. The first phase, African Savanna, opened in 2018; the second phase, Elephant Springs, opened in April 2021. The third, Hunters of Africa and Asian Predators, is currently under construction and set to open in 2023. The institution’s focus on education and conservation is second to none, enhancing the lives of more than 1 million visitors a year and the animals that live here.
You aren’t going to see this guy on the big screen any time soon, but he and others just like him may end up in their native habitat very soon. This tiny toad is the world’s first Puerto Rican crested toad hatched from in-vitro fertilization (IVF) utilizing frozen semen collected from the wild.
The Fort Worth Zoo and its partners from Mississippi State University came together at the Fort Worth Zoo this summer to continue their efforts with assisted reproduction technology (ART) for critically endangered amphibians. For the first time ever, they were able to successfully conduct IVF using the eggs from two Zoo females and frozen semen from six wild males. To celebrate this conservation success, the first egg to be fertilized and hatched has been named Olaf! (Yep, just like that Olaf.)
This is a significant advancement for the critically endangered species as it will allow zoos, researchers and other conservationists to expand their population genetics used to increase the overall population while keeping the toads in their wild, natural habitat. These ART efforts will help maintain a genetically diverse, self-sustaining population of toads in the managed population without removing animals from the wild!
Since 2006, Zoo staff has coordinated and managed a Puerto Rican Crested Toad conservation program, under the direction of Fort Worth Zoo Curator of Ectotherms Diane Barber. Through this cooperative program, thousands of Puerto Rican crested toad tadpoles are released into the wild each year. As the longest continuous reintroduction program for any amphibian species, the Puerto Rican crested toad project has released over 510,000 tadpoles at six reintroduction sites since 1992 – the Fort Worth Zoo alone has released 70,988 of those tadpoles.
For the first time in its 108-year history, the Fort Worth Zoo proudly announces the hatchings of eleven Komodo Dragons. Upon hatching, the juveniles were approximately 12 to 15 inches long and weighed less than half a pound each (about as much as a bar of soap).
Photo Credits: Fort Worth Zoo
The female Komodo Dragon arrived at the Zoo in 2012 from Prague. She is 7 years old, 6 feet in length and weighs 26 pounds. The male is 7 years old, 6.5 feet long and 44 pounds. This is the first clutch for both young parents. (Full-grown adult males can reach over 8 feet in length and weigh up to 200 pounds). The adult Dragons’ unique genetic material makes them valuable assets in the development of Komodo Dragons in managed populations in the United States. They have now introduced an entirely new bloodline of healthy, genetically diverse Komodo Dragons into the population, which contributes as a hedge against extinction of these vulnerable reptiles.
Typically, female Komodo Dragons lay about 20 to 30 eggs and the eggs incubate for about nine months. There is little research to support parental care of newly hatched Komodo Dragons; in fact, adults will often eat juveniles. For this reason, and to ensure the eggs were kept at a constant temperature and humidity, the Fort Worth Zoo herpetological team cared for the eggs in the incubation nursery housed inside the Zoo’s Museum of Living Art (MOLA) until they hatched. Each one of the hatchlings now resides in its own off-exhibit habitat; however, one is now on exhibit in MOLA, across from their parents’ exhibit.
On August 25, the Fort Worth Zoo welcomed a male Grant’s Zebra foal to the herd – the first to be born there since 1996!
The foal was born to first-time mom Roxie, and both mom and baby are doing well. He was up and walking shortly after his birth and soon learned to maneuver on his long, wobbly legs.
Photo Credit: Fort Worth Zoo
At birth, the soon-to-be named foal weighed 60 to 70 pounds and stood roughly 30 inches tall. When fully grown, he will weigh 650 to 750 pounds and measure about 44 inches tall at the shoulder.
The Fort Worth Zoo houses Grant’s Zebras, which are the smallest of the six subspecies of Plains Zebra. Native to Africa’s savannahs, Zebras feature a striking black-and-white-striped coat. Although the black and white lines on a Zebra’s coat are easy for human eyes to spot, it is difficult for Zebras’ predators, such as Lions, to differentiate individual Zebras in a herd. Plus, when a Zebra is standing in tall grass, it can be surprisingly difficult to see. Like human fingerprints, each Zebra's stripe pattern is unique.
Grant’s Zebras feed on grasses and move about in large herds, often mingling with Wildebeest. They are listed as Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. Grant's Zebras are the most numerous of all Zebra species or subspecies, but recent wars in their home countries have caused drastic declines in the population.
Today is ‘World Giraffe Day’, and what better way to celebrate than by announcing a new Giraffe birth!
On June 8, the Fort Worth Zoo welcomed a male Reticulated Giraffe to the herd. At birth, the soon-to-be named calf weighed 185 pounds and stood roughly 6 feet tall. When fully grown, he will weigh up to 3,000 pounds and measure about 18 feet from head to hoof.
The Fort Worth Zoo houses Reticulated Giraffes, and their name describes the mammal’s chestnut-brown rectangular markings. Like human fingerprints, each Giraffe pattern is different. Native to the African savannas, a Giraffe’s most distinguishing feature is its long neck, which can account for 7 feet of its height.
The new calf, along with the rest of the herd, will soon join several other species in the Zoo’s new African Savanna exhibit, scheduled to open next year. Guests will not only see mixed species interacting and sharing the space, but will also have an opportunity to stand eye-to-eye and feed these gentle giants.
Photo Credits: Fort Worth Zoo
According to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF): “World Giraffe Day is an exciting annual event initiated by GCF to celebrate the longest-necked animal on the longest day or night (depending on which hemisphere you live!) of the year – 21 June – every year!
Not only is it a worldwide celebration of these amazing and much loved animals, but an annual event to raise support, create awareness and shed light on the challenges giraffe face in the wild. By supporting World Giraffe Day (WGD) you directly help save giraffe in Africa. With only 100,000 giraffe remaining in the wild, the time is right to act NOW!
Zoos, schools, NGOs, governments, institutions, companies and conservation organisations around the world are hosting events on 21 June every year to raise awareness and support for giraffe in the wild.”
The Fort Worth Zoo, in Texas, proudly announced their first-ever Western Lowland Gorilla birth. The male primate was born on Saturday, Dec. 5 to first-time parents Gracie and Elmo.
The yet-to-be-named ape is staying close to his mother as he gets acclimated to his surroundings in the Zoo’s World of Primates exhibit. He will be viewable in indoor or outdoor exhibits, at various times during the day, which will be dictated by weather conditions and his activity level.
Photo Credits: Jeremy Enlow / Fort Worth Zoo
The Fort Worth Zoo is the only zoo in the nation to house representatives of all four great ape species: Gorillas, Orangutans, Chimpanzees and Bonobos.
The Western Lowland Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) is one of two subspecies of the Western 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.
Females don’t reach sexual maturity until the age of 8 or 9. Gestation is about 9 months and newborns typically weigh about four pounds. Infants ride on their mothers’ backs from the age of four months to two or three years of age. Infants remain dependent on the mother for up to five years.
Western Lowland Gorillas are listed as “Critically Endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to hunting and disease. Gorillas also have an alarmingly low reproductive rate (at an observed rate of 3 percent population increase), so even if there was a drastic decline in hunting and disease, it could take at least 75 years for population recovery to occur in optimistic scenarios. The Fort Worth Zoo participates in a cooperative breeding program for Gorillas that maintains a healthy, self-sustaining population of vulnerable animals to help prevent their extinction.