Baby alert! Los Angeles Zoo’s mandrill Juliette recently gave birth! The female infant is nursing well and bonding with her mother. “Every time I get to sit with Juliette and her new infant, I feel honored. Being able to watch the relationship between them develop is so special,” says Animal Keeper L’Oréal Dunn. “This is Juliette’s fourth offspring, and she is a great mom. She does a fantastic job demonstrating maternal care like cuddling, grooming, nursing, and removing the umbilicus off of the infant.” If you look closely, you can still see the umbilical cord in one of the video clips taken soon after birth.
Los Angeles Zoo
On April 2, the Los Angeles Zoo welcomed its first Zebra foal in more than 20 years. The unnamed female Grévy’s Zebra was born to parents Khalfani and Jamila as part of a breeding program designed to preserve this species, which is endangered in the wild.
“Grévy's Zebras are the largest and most threatened of the three zebra species,” said Alisa Behar, curator of mammals at the Los Angeles Zoo. “When this herd of zebras came to us a few years ago as part of a species survival plan, it was with the hope that they would get along and produce offspring. We are thrilled with the arrival of this female foal.”
Zebra foals are up and walking within just 20 minutes of birth, and they remain close to their mothers for the first weeks of life. During this important bonding period, mother and foal become familiar with each other’s scent and stripe patterns. As the zebra herd moves across the African plains, the foal must keep up with its mother as she finds food and water. Foals nurse for about six months and remain with the herd until they are sexually mature at two to three years old.
Grévy’s Zebras are the largest of the three Zebra species and the largest of all wild equids. Male Grévy’s Zebras can weigh up to 990 pounds and stand nearly five feet tall. They have narrower, more closely-spaced stripes than other Zebras. They inhabit dry grasslands in southern Ethiopia and northern Kenya.
The L.A. Zoo has participated in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan® (SSP) for Grévy’s Zebra since the 1980s. This program seeks to maximize genetic diversity in the zoo-dwelling population of rare animals. Grévy’s Zebras are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to habitat destruction, reduced access to watering holes, and competition with livestock.
See more photos of the foal below.
The Los Angeles Zoo is celebrating the arrival of two tropical Snake species and a Blue-throated Macaw, one of the rarest birds in the world.
Eight Bushmasters, which are venomous Pit Vipers native to Central and South America, hatched in December (second photo from top). This is the fourth clutch of this species to hatch at the Los Angeles Zoo since the first pair of Bushmasters arrived at there in 2008. The little hatchlings will eventually grow six to 10 feet long and weigh up to 15 pounds. Bushmasters inhabit forests and though their bites can be fatal, these Snakes are rarely encountered by humans.
Unlike Bushmasters, which hatch from eggs, a Mangrove Viper gave birth to five babies on December 26 (third photo from top). In Snakes that give birth to live offspring, the eggs are held inside the body until they hatch, resulting in live birth. This is the first time Mangrove Vipers have reproduced at the zoo. Mangrove Vipers are venomous Pit Vipers that live in India, Bangladesh, and Southeast Asia.
Staff working behind the scenes at the Avian Conservation Center are hand-rearing a Blue-throated Macaw chick that hatched in December (top photo). Normally, the chick’s parents would care for and feed the chick, but they experienced some minor health issues that required medication and could not feed their baby. Staff took over and offer food via a syringe several times a day.
Found only in a small region of Bolivia, fewer than 250 Blue-throated Macaws live in the wild. In the past, these Macaws were heavily exploited for the pet trade. Though this practice has been greatly reduced, trapping still occurs. Today, the Macaws' biggest threat comes from clearing of suitable nesting and feeding trees. These birds are listed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
See more photos of the Macaw chick and a Bushmaster hatching from its egg below.
A male Southern Pudú fawn born on December 19 at the Los Angeles Zoo has been named "Haechan" after a musician who, according to his fans, resembles the tiny deer species.
A member of the K-Pop group NCT, Haechan (the musician) has for many years been nicknamed “Pudú” by his fans. After the baby Pudú’s birth last month, Los Angeles Zoo staff decided to hold a Facebook fundraiser to gather support for the name. They exceeded their fundraising goal within hours.
More than $2,700 was raised. The funds will support conservation of endangered, vulnerable, threatened and near threatened species such as the Pudú, whose wild populations are decreasing due to habitat loss.
Little Haechan (the Pudú) is thriving under the care of first-time parents Steph and Mario. The tiny fawn prefers to stay close to Steph and can sometimes be difficult for zoo guests to locate. As he grows, Haechan will gain confidence and spend more time away from mom.
You can read Haechan’s birth announcement on ZooBorns here.
Both species of Pudú – Northern and Southern – are native to South America where they inhabit the dense undergrowth of temperate rain forests. Little is known about their lifestyle because they are so secretive. Pudú are the smallest species of deer in the world, with the Northern Pudú being slightly larger than the Southern Pudú. Fawns typically weigh less than three pounds at birth.
Destruction of their rain forest habitat has resulted in both Pudú species being under threat of extinction. Breeding programs like those of the Los Angeles Zoo are critical to gaining understanding of these elusive and endangered creatures.
See more photos of the Pudú fawn below.
A male Southern Pudu was born at the L.A. Zoo on December 19, 2018.
The tiny fawn was born to first-time parents, Steph and Mario. The playful newborn may be difficult for visitors to spot in its habitat. According to keepers, he likes to spend a lot of time tucked away, close to mom.
The Pudús consist of two species of South American deer from the genus Pudu, and they are known as the world's smallest deer. Pudús range in size from 32 to 44 centimeters (13 to 17 in) tall, and grow up to 85 centimeters (33 in) long.
The Northern Pudú (Pudu mephistophiles) is found in Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. The Southern Pudú (Pudu puda) is native to southern Chile and southwestern Argentina.
As of 2009, the Southern Pudu remains classified as “Near Threatened”, while the Northern Pudu is currently classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List.
As a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Los Angeles Zoo participates in the Species Survival Plan (SSP) for the Southern Pudu, whose population is declining in the wild.
The Los Angeles Zoo excitedly shared news of the birth of four Tadjik Markhor calves. Two calves arrived the first week of May, and two more followed the next week!
The new babies can be seen in the zoo habitat with the rest of their herd.
The Tadjik Markhor (Capra falconeri heptneri), also known as the Bukharan Markhor, is an endangered goat-antelope. It is native to Tajikistan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, and possibly also Afghanistan. The animal is one of about five subspecies of Markhor.
The Markhor (Capra falconeri), also known as the “Screw Horn Goat”, is a large species of wild goat that is found in northeastern Afghanistan, northern and central Pakistan, Northern India, southern Tajikistan, southern Uzbekistan and in the Himalayas.
The species, as a whole, was classified as “Endangered” by the IUCN, until 2015 when it was downgraded to “Near Threatened”. Numbers have increased by an estimated 20% for the last decade. The Markhor is notably known as the national animal of Pakistan.
Spring means lots of new babies at the Los Angeles Zoo! Guests can now observe two Sichuan Takin calves and two Chacoan Peccary piglets out in their habitats while an Eastern Bongo calf, two Ocelot kittens, and seven Peninsular Pronghorn fawns remain behind the scenes bonding with their mothers for a few more weeks.
"The Zoo does tend to see a rise in animal babies each spring, but there is a lot more thought and careful planning that goes into the process than one might think," said Beth Schaefer, General Curator at the Los Angeles Zoo. "A majority of our offspring this season are all members of Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) programs which aim to keep the North American populations of these species sustainable while also creating an insurance population, so these animals don't disappear from the planet."
One insurance population currently thriving at the L.A. Zoo is a breeding group of Peninsular Pronghorn, a species of antelope native to Baja California Sur, Mexico. The Zoo recently welcomed seven Peninsular Pronghorn fawns, born between March 4 and April 8. In 2002, the L.A. Zoo joined the Peninsular Pronghorn Recovery Project in the Vizcaino Desert Biosphere Reserve of Baja California Sur, Mexico because the species’ numbers were dwindling in the wild due to hunting, habitat destruction, and cattle ranching.
On April 4, the L.A. Zoo celebrated the birth of two endangered Chacoan Peccary piglets. These medium-sized animals are found primarily in Paraguay and Bolivia, and they have a strong resemblance to pigs. Chacoan peccaries are social animals that live in small herds of up to 10 individuals, and they are known for their tough snouts and rooting abilities. The L.A. Zoo is currently working with the only conservation project in existence for this endangered species called the Chaco Center for the Conservation and Research (CCCI) and hopes to help care for and breed this species whose numbers are dwindling primarily due to habitat loss and hunting.
More photos and video below.
The Los Angeles Zoo is thrilled to welcome two Mandrill babies to the troop. Mandrills are the largest of all Monkey species and one of the most colorful. The female baby was born on August 3, 2017 to five-year-old mother, Juliette. The male baby was born on August 17, 2017 to four-year-old mother, Clementine.
The first-time mothers came to the L.A. Zoo from Parc Zoologique de La Palmyre in France in April 2016 to be paired with the first-time father, six-year-old Jabari, as part of a Species Survival Program (SSP) to strengthen the gene pool of this Vulnerable species.
“This is a very new breeding group of Mandrills that has only been together for about a year, so we’re incredibly happy with how well things are going so far,” said L’Oreal Dunn, animal keeper at the Los Angeles Zoo. “This species comes from a small area in Africa that isn’t accessible to most people, so it’s very special that our guests can now observe babies here for the first time in over 40 years.”
The half-siblings can be seen clinging tightly to their mothers, playing together, and testing their boundaries. They are learning to navigate their new habitat, a rainforest-like environment that supplies the group with plenty of trees, logs, and plant life to explore during the day and aerial lofts and ledges where they sleep at night.
The babies were born without the signature red and blue stripes on their faces that people often associate with the unique looking primate. Only their father, who is the dominant male in the group, has the vibrant coloring on his elongated muzzle. The red-and-blue-striped skin on a Mandrill’s face is a sign to females that a male is ready to mate. While female Mandrills can have colorful hues on their face as well, the markings tend to be paler in comparison.
Mandrills may look like Baboons, but DNA studies have shown that they are more closely related to Mangabeys. These Monkeys have extremely long canine teeth that can be used for self-defense, though baring them is typically a friendly gesture among Mandrills.
Wild Mandrills live in the remaining rainforests of western Africa in Cameroon, Gabon, and southwestern Congo. Populations are under threat and declining due to habitat loss and fragmentation caused by the spread of agriculture and human settlement, so the species is listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Mandrills are often hunted for food as many Africans consider them to be a delicacy.
The Los Angeles Zoo is thrilled to announce the birth of two endangered Snow Leopard cubs!
A male and female were born on May 12 and May 13 to a three-year-old mother, Georgina, and a five-year-old father, Fred. The cubs are the first offspring for the adults, who were paired together in July 2015 as a part of a Species Survival Plan (SSP).
The new siblings spent several months behind the scenes bonding with their mother and getting to know the animal care staff. At four months old, the cubs have now gained enough strength and coordination to navigate their outdoor habitat and make their public debut.
“We’re so excited to welcome these cubs,” said Stephanie Zielinski, animal keeper at the Los Angeles Zoo. “There is less known about these beautiful cats than most of the other large cat species due to the extreme habitat Snow Leopards have evolved to live in the wild. This is why it’s such an honor to be able to educate the public and give them the opportunity to observe this elusive species here in Los Angeles.”
The Zoo’s animal care staff began working with the cubs early on, separating the mom for short amounts of time to allow her rest and to help her grow accustomed to animal care staff being around her young. These interactions with the cubs helped animal care staff conduct regular exams, give vaccinations, and eventually lead to an easier transition when introducing the cubs to the outdoor habitat.
Snow Leopards in the wild are found in unforgiving environments in the cold, high mountains of Central Asia throughout 12 countries. The habitats range from alpine meadows to treeless, rocky mountains. Due to the high altitudes of its habitat, the animal has evolved to have a large nasal cavity to breathe the thin air and can retain oxygen well. The cats have a thick fur, which allows them to keep warm, and a long tail they can wrap around themselves for added warmth and protection for their ears and face. Their paws have hair cushions that act as snowshoes and also provide protection from sharp rocks. Smoky gray and blurred black markings on the cat’s pale gray or cream-colored coat provide them with handy camouflage in the mountains. Snow Leopards can tolerate extreme temperatures of 104 degrees Fahrenheit down to 40 degrees below zero.
While Snow Leopards have perfectly adapted to the cold, barren landscape of their high-altitude home, human threats have created an uncertain future for the cats. Habitat destruction, prey base depletion, illegal trade, poaching, and conflict with the local people have led to a significant decline with only an estimated population of between 2,000 to 7,000 Snow Leopards left in the wild.
The Los Angeles Zoo welcomed two bright orange male François’ Langur babies this summer. The first born was on June 23 to eight-year-old mother Vicki Vale and the second on July 12 to five-year-old mother Kim-Ly. The infants recently joined their mothers and 19-year-old father Paak in the outdoor habitat, a dense forest filled with tall trees and plenty of branches for climbing and swinging. The babies will eventually be introduced to the rest of the family on exhibit, 26-year-old female Mei-Chi and two-year-old Tao.
“We’re very excited for guests to be able to observe this blended family in their new group dynamic,” said Roxane Losey, Animal Keeper at the Los Angeles Zoo. “Once the two boys are a little older, they will join their brother Tao and things will probably get a little rough and tumble when they play. These Monkeys are very acrobatic and like to jump and leap from branch to branch.”
The Monkey babies have a long tail, striking eyes, and orange and black fur that will fade to full black over time. François’ Langur infants nurse for close to a year, so they can often be seen in the arms of their mothers. This sometimes proves difficult for mother Vicki Vale who suffered a past injury that left her with limited mobility on her left side. Vicki Vale’s baby has adapted to the unique situation by sometimes hoisting himself onto his mother’s back to leave her hands free when navigating the branches in the habitat. This is not a trait you would find in the wild, as it leaves the baby open to capture by predators or being knocked down by tree branches.
The babies will also spend time with the other adult female members of the group through a practice called alloparenting. This trait lets young females gain experience caring for infants and builds bonds within the troop. It also gives mom a break! Sometimes, though, the animals disagree over how to raise the babies or how they interact with each other.
“The whole family will have minor squabbles from time to time, but you will actually see them come to each other and make up, sometimes with a hug,” said Losey. “You won’t see a lot of Monkeys with this hugging behavior, but Francois’ Langurs are a very gentle species.”
Native to southern China and northeastern Vietnam, François’ Langurs feed on shoots, fruits, flowers, and bark collected in the treetops or on the forest floor. François’ Langurs are listed as Endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List due to deforestation and illegal capture for use in traditional Asian medicines sold on the black market.
See more photos of the baby Langurs below.