Gladys Porter Zoo

Making History: Endangered Species Hatches at GPZ 

Brownsville, Texas (Aug 15, 2022) – Staff at the Gladys Porter Zoo are extremely proud to announce the historic hatching of six endangered Mangshan pit vipers. The Gladys Porter Zoo is now one of only three institutions in the United States to have successfully bred this rare species. There are only about 500 left in the wild which makes this hatching such a momentous event.

“The Herpetology Department is overjoyed to finally hatch this species! We have been working with them for over 12 years, and it was always a dream of ours to reach this point,” says Clint Guadiana, Curator of Reptiles and Amphibians. 

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Baby Cassowaries Growing Up At Gladys Porter Zoo

Brownsville, TX’s Gladys Porter Zoo’s Cassowary chicks are 5 months old now and they’ve grown a lot in that time. DNA testing determined there are 2 males and 1 female. They will soon outgrow their temporary pen outside of the building where they hatched.  An exhibit area next to the parents, Clementine and Irwin, is being baby-proofed so that staff can soon move them onto display for our public to enjoy.

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World’s “Most Dangerous” Bird Hatches at Gladys Porter Zoo

In Brownsville, TX, Gladys Porter Zoo’s three cassowary chicks hatched on May 20th, May 22nd and May 27th. The mother is Clementine (36 years old) and the father is Irwin (6 years old). Irwin is a first-time father. Clementine’s last successful brood was in 1997. It’s been 24 years since then so this is very exciting for everyone at the zoo, especially the Bird Department.  They’ve done an amazing job.


Tiny Pancake Tortoises Hatch at Gladys Porter Zoo

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Three Pancake Tortoises have hatched at Gladys Porter Zoo in Texas. The first tortoise began to pip on March 31st, followed by two more hatchlings on April 1st and 10th. 

Found on rocky hills and savannas of east Africa, Pancake Tortoises have unusually flat and thin shells. These flexible and agile tortoises are excellent climbers, and escape from predation by fleeing or squeezing into tight crevices instead of hiding in their shells. Due to habitat loss and poaching, they are listed as a vulnerable species by the IUCN.  

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Photo credits: Gladys Porter Zoo

In the wild, Pancake Tortoises live in isolated groups, and many individuals may be found sharing the same rocky crevice. Males compete for females during the breeding seaon in January and February, and nesting occurs in July and August. Females generally lay one egg at a time, but may lay several eggs over the course of a few months. In captivity, females will breed year-round, with an incubation period of four to six months.  The tiny young are independent as soon as they hatch.


New Baby Orangutan Makes It Three Generations at Gladys Porter Zoo

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On the night of February 14, a female Sumatran Orangutan was born at Gladys Porter Zoo. Maya, the baby Orangutan, was born to Dodie, who is 35 years old. Although Dodie only has one arm, she has proven to be an excellent mother. She delivered naturally and immediately started to provide maternal care for baby Maya. And the two are quite playful with each other.

Sumatran Orangutans are classified as Critically Endangered by the IUCN.There are only about 6,600 individuals estimated to live in the wild. Experts and statistics based on their population decline suggest that Orangutans could become the first Great Ape species to become extinct. The greatest threat that this species faces is habitat loss. The forests that are home to the Orangutans are being turned into palm oil plantations at an alarming rate. More than half of their habitat has been destroyed within the last 25 years.

Three generations of Sumatran Orangutans can be seen on exhibit at Gladys Porter Zoo. Suzie, Maya's 50 year old grandmother, Dodie, her mother; and baby Maya are currently on display.

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Photo Credit: Gladys Porter Zoo

See more of this wonderful pair after the fold:

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Little Brocket Deer Arrives at Gladys Porter Zoo

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A male Red Brocket Deer was born at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas on March 25.  Barely over two weeks old, the little fawn is already actively exploring the exhibit alongside his mother.

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Photo Credit:  Gladys Porter Zoo

All Brocket Deer are small, but at about 30 inches tall at the shoulders, Red Brocket Deer are the largest of the ten Brocket species found in Central and South America.  Because these diminutive Deer are shy and secretive, not much is known about their habits, and there is some confusion about the taxonomy of the 10 species.  At this time, there is not enough data about the Red Brocket Deer to evaluate its conservation status.

Browsing on leaves and fruit, Red Brocket Deer inhabit dense forests and live solitary lives.  Males competing for mates will fight, using their short horns to inflict injury on their opponent. 

See more photos below the fold.

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Rare Pygmy Hippo Baby Debuts at Gladys Porter Zoo

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With chubby cheeks and an upturned nose, a baby Pygmy Hippopotamus may look more like a video game character than a real animal.  But this male baby, born on February 22 at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas, is an important addition to the population of this critically endangered species.

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Photo Credit:  P. Scanlan (1), Gladys Porter Zoo (2,3,4,5)

The male calf, who will be named in a soon-to-be-announced contest, made his public debut alongside his nine-year-old mother last week.  Zoo staffers report that the baby rarely strays far from his mother as he explores his surroundings. 

Pygmy Hippos are native to West Africa, where they live secretive lives in the deepest jungles.  Found only in small pockets of Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Ivory Coast, and Nigeria, Pygmy Hippos are about half as tall and a quarter of the weight of their cousins the Common Hippos.  Pygmy Hippos spend the day submerged in rivers, emerging at night to eat ferns, fruits, and leaves.  To mark their territories, they wave their tails while defecating to spread feces as far as possible. 

There are fewer than 3,000 Pygmy Hippos remaining in the wild, and little is known about their habits.  Though not intensely hunted, Pygmy Hippos are losing habitat to agriculture and unsustainable forest logging.  Programs like the Species Survival Plan of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums seek to maintain genetically diverse captive populations of Pygmy Hippos and many other endangered species.   

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