Oklahoma City Zoo

OKC Zoo Announces Birth Of Second Giraffe Calf

Worth the wait! Zoo’s giraffe, Julu, delivers her first calf, second giraffe birth this summer.

The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden is thrilled to announce another addition to its animal family, a giraffe calf born to six-year-old, Julu. First-time mom, Julu, gave birth to a female calf on Wednesday, September 15 at 8:21 a.m. at the Zoo’s giraffe habitat barn. The yet-to-be-named calf is the second to be fathered by four-year-old, Demetri, and the second calf born at the Zoo this summer following the arrival of Kioni, born on June 3, to mom, Ellie, 21. The Zoo’s newest youngster stood up in less than an hour after birth and began nursing shortly after. The calf weighs approximately 130 lbs. and stands at five-foot seven. She will continue to spend time bonding with Julu and her herd mates behind the scenes.

“Watching Julu grow from a young calf to becoming a mother herself has been a rewarding experience for the Hoofstock team,” said OKC Zoo’s Curator of Hoofstock and Primates, Tracey Dolphin. “We’re proud to welcome these two calves to our animal family as part of the Zoo’s commitment to preserving giraffes for generations to come.”

Julu was born at the Zoo in 2015 to herd matriarch, Ellie. The calf’s father, Demetri, arrived from the Fossil Rim in Glen Rose, Texas, in 2018, as part of a breeding recommendation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Giraffe Species Survival Plan® (SSP). SSPs are cooperative, long-term management programs designed to maintain genetically viable and geographically stable populations of specific species. Giraffes have been part of the Zoo’s animal family since 1954 and the first giraffe calf was born in 1967, making this new calf the 58th giraffe to be born at the Zoo. In addition to Julu, Ellie, Demetri and the two calves, the Zoo is home to three-year-old female, Mashamba.

Female giraffes give birth standing up, meaning the calves fall about six feet to the ground at birth. Giraffe calves are able to stand up within the first hour of life, and are able to run around 10 hours after birth! 

Native to East and South Africa, giraffes are currently listed as vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. There are approximately 111,000 giraffes remaining in the wild, an almost 40% decline since the 1980s. This population decline is caused by illegal poaching and habitat destruction. The Zoo has contributed to giraffe conservation for decades by supporting the Northern Rangelands Trust and the Giraffe Conservation Fund, as well as becoming a member of AZA’s Giraffe Saving Animals from Extinction (SAFE) partner organization in 2018.


OKC Zoo Announces Birth Of Rare Clouded Leopard Kitten

This significant birth contributes to the conservation of this vulnerable species.

The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden announces the birth of a rare clouded leopard kitten. Following approximately a 90-day gestation period, the OKC Zoo’s two-year-old female clouded leopard, Rukai, gave birth to a female kitten on Friday, August 6, 2021, at the Zoo’s Cat Forest habitat. This is the first successful birth of an offspring for Rukai and her mate two-year-old male, JD.

Because this is such a significant birth, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan® (SSP) for clouded leopards recommended the Zoo’s animal care experts hand-rear the kitten to ensure she thrives. Immediately following the kitten’s birth, the Zoo’s carnivore caretakers stepped in and began caring for this little cloudie. She was moved to a climate-controlled incubator to help regulate her body temperature and caretakers started round-the-clock bottle feedings of a specialty felid formula and continuous monitoring. Caretakers report the kitten is healthy and doing everything a newborn should be doing – eating, sleeping and growing! Additionally, her eyes are now fully open. Clouded leopards are born with their eyes closed and begin to open them at two weeks of age.

 “The kitten appears very strong and healthy, and we are thrilled by the progress she’s making,” said Tyler Boyd, OKC Zoo’s curator of carnivores. “For myself and entire team, the opportunity to care for this offspring, who is incredibly valuable to the conservation of this critically vulnerable species, is a career highlight.”

Clouded leopard parents, Rukai and JD, arrived at the OKC Zoo in December 2019, after being paired together as part of a breeding recommendation through the clouded leopard SSP and the hope is they will continue to breed and their offspring, including this kitten, will contribute to the growth of a genetically diverse population.

The mission of an AZA cooperatively managed SSP Program is to oversee the population management of select species, including the clouded leopard, within AZA member institutions like the OKC Zoo and to enhance conservation of this species in the wild. Each SSP Program coordinates the individual activities of participating member institutions through a variety of species conservation, research, husbandry, management and educational initiatives.

Native to Nepal and Bangladesh, clouded leopards are the smallest of the big cat species. Adult clouded leopards weigh between 30 and 50 pounds and are about five feet long, with approximately half that length being their tail. They are the world’s strongest climbing cats, which gives them an advantage over the other big cats sharing their territory. The species is listed by the IUCN as vulnerable to extinction due to deforestation, poaching and the pet trade. Clouded leopards are protected in most range countries although enforcement in many areas is weak. Precise data on clouded leopard population numbers is not known (they are among the most elusive cat species) but researchers estimate there are around 10,000 clouded leopards in the wild.

As part of the clouded leopard SSP, this kitten will eventually relocate to another AZA-accredited organization to be paired with a mate. This is an important part of the breeding process and making this introduction at an early age is necessary as clouded leopards are often bonded for life. While being cared for at the Zoo, the kitten will remain off public view but we will share updates about her on social media.

Now in its summer hours, the Oklahoma City Zoo is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with the last entry no later than 4 p.m. Purchase advance tickets at  www.okczoo.org/tickets and avoid the entry lines. A summer deal just for you, the Zoo is offering free general admission for guests, weekday afternoons, August 16–20. Advance reservations are required at www.okczoo.org/tickets for all guests and ZOOfriends members wanting to visit, capacity is limited to six people per reservation.

Located at the crossroads of I-44 and I-35, the OKC Zoo is a proud member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the American Alliance of Museums, Oklahoma City’s Adventure District and an Adventure Road partner. Regular admission is $12 for adults and $9 for children ages 3-11 and seniors ages 65 and over. Children two and under are admitted free. Stay connected with the Zoo on FacebookTwitterInstagramTikTokLinktree and by visiting our blog stories. Zoo fans can support the OKC Zoo by becoming a ZOOfriends member. Starting at $45, memberships can be purchased at ZOOfriends.org and provide access to the OKC Zoo for an entire year plus, additional benefits and discounts. To learn more about Zoo happenings, call (405) 424-3344 or visit okczoo.org.


OKC Zoo Announces Birth Of Endangered Giraffe Calf

OKC Zoo’s giraffe matriarch, Ellie, welcomes a male calf, her sixth offspring to be born at the Zoo.

The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden is thrilled to announce the arrival of an endangered giraffe calf, born to 20-year-old, Ellie. Ellie’s sixth offspring to be born at the Zoo, a male, was born on Thursday, June 3, 2021, at 12:01 p.m. at the Zoo’s giraffe habitat barn. The calf, who is yet to be named, is the first to be fathered by four-year-old, Demetri. The Zoo’s youngest giraffe is healthy and strong, and weighs approximately 157 lbs. and stands six-foot one. He will continue to spend time bonding with his mother and herd mates behind the scenes. Ellie’s daughter, Julu, 5, is also pregnant and expected to deliver her first calf soon. It’s been neck and neck between this mother-daughter giraffe duo to see who would give birth first, and Ellie delivered! To view the giraffe birth, click here.

Giraffe Calf Credit Tracey Dolphin-Drees 1

“Witnessing Ellie and Julu experience pregnancy together has been the greatest joy and we’re thrilled to watch our herd grow with the addition of this little calf,” said OKC Zoo’s Curator of Hoofstock and Primates, Tracey Dolphin-Drees. “This birth is critical for the conservation of this endangered species and a true testament to the importance of the Zoo’s involvement in collaborative breeding efforts.”

Giraffe Calf Credit Tracey Dolphin-Drees 2

Ellie arrived at the Zoo in 2008 from the Birmingham Zoo, in Birmingham, Alabama. The calf’s father, Demetri, arrived from the Fossil Rim in Glen Rose, Texas, in 2018, as part of a breeding recommendation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Giraffe Species Survival PlanTM (SSP). SSPs are cooperative, long-term management programs designed to maintain genetically viable and geographically stable populations of specific species. The Zoo is also home to two-year-old female, Mashamba.

Giraffe Calf Credit Tracey Dolphin-Drees 3

The gestation period for giraffes is approximately 15 months. The average weight for a newborn giraffe is about 150 pounds. Newborns stand within an hour of birth at a height of around six-feet tall. According to giraffe caretakers, Ellie’s water broke around 10:40 a.m. and she was in active labor until the calf’s birth at 12:01 p.m. By 1:13 p.m. the calf was standing and attempting to nurse. 

Giraffe Calf Credit Tracey Dolphin-Drees 4

Native to East and South Africa, giraffes are currently listed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. There are approximately 111,000 giraffes remaining in the wild, an almost 40% decline since the 1980s. This population decline is caused by illegal poaching and habitat destruction. The Zoo has contributed to giraffe conservation for decades by supporting the Northern Rangelands Trust and the Giraffe Conservation Fund, as well as becoming a member of AZA’s Giraffe Saving Animals from Extinction (SAFE) partner organization in 2018.

Weather depending, Ellie and her calf will have access to the giraffe habitat yard over the weekend. The Zoo’s giraffe feeding experience will be tentative for the time being. Follow the Zoo’s social channels for updates about our growing giraffe family. 

               Love these gentle giants as much as we do? Save the Date for the Zoo’s World Giraffe Day celebration on Monday, June 21, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. presented locally by Bob Moore Subaru. Guests will enjoy information stations, biofacts, activities, photo opportunities and more.

The Oklahoma City Zoo is currently in its summer hours and open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with the last entry no later than 4 p.m. Purchase advance tickets at www.okczoo.org/tickets and avoid the entry lines. Located at the crossroads of I-44 and I-35, the OKC Zoo is a proud member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the American Alliance of Museums, Oklahoma City’s Adventure District and an Adventure Road partner. Regular admission is $12 for adults and $9 for children ages 3-11 and seniors ages 65 and over.

Children two and under are admitted free. Stay connected with the Zoo on FacebookTwitterInstagram and TikTok, and by visiting our blog stories. Zoo fans can support the OKC Zoo by becoming a ZOOfriends member. Starting at $45, memberships can be purchased at ZOOfriends.org and provide access to the OKC Zoo for an entire year plus, additional benefits and discounts. To learn more about Zoo happenings, call (405) 424-3344 or visit okczoo.org.


OKC Zoo Baby Rhino Update: It's a Girl! Zoo Hosts Contest to Name Calf

Facebook voting contest invites fans of all ages to help choose name for female Indian rhino calf

OKCity Zoo's baby rhino is here and you’re going to fall in love with her! The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden is inviting the public to help name its female Indian rhinoceros calf. As Oklahomans head to the polls this week, this is a fun opportunity for younger audiences to also participate in a voting process and choose a name for the Zoo’s newest arrival. The baby rhino naming contest will be hosted on the OKC Zoo’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/okczoo, now through Thursday, November 5.

OKC Zoo rhino mom Niki and her calf credit Sabrina Heise
OKC Zoo rhino mom Niki and her calf credit Sabrina Heise
OKC Zoo rhino mom Niki and her calf credit Sabrina Heise

The Zoo’s elephant and rhino caretaker team selected three name options for the calf that are representative of the species native habitat in India and Nepal. Voters can select from the following names:

A.      Narayani: Means “Goddess of wealth and power” in Sanskrit, also a river in Nepal.

B.       Oni: Hindu meaning “desired” or “wanted”.

C.       Yabi: An acronym for the Yayasan Badak, a group of rhino protection units in Java and Sumatra funded by the International Rhino Foundation, one of the Zoo’s conservation partners. This is the Caretakers Choice!

Facebook fans can cast their vote for their preferred name choice – A, B or C and share it as a comment on the Zoo’s page, www.facebook.com/okczoo. The winning name will be announced on the Zoo’s Facebook page Friday, November 6.

Born on Friday, October 23 to mom, Niki, 13, the Zoo’s youngest rhino is the sixth Indian rhino, also called the greater one-horned rhino, born at the OKC Zoo and Niki’s second offspring. Caretakers report that both mom and baby are healthy and Niki is an attentive mother, demonstrating good maternal behaviors such as nursing and keeping her daughter in close proximity.

Weather permitting, 50 degrees or higher, Niki and her daughter will have access to their outdoor habitat in a secluded section of Sanctuary Asia, viewable to guests riding on the Elephant Express tram.

The OKC Zoo has been home to Indian rhinos since 1981. Niki came to the Zoo in 2009 from the Bronx Zoo. Sanctuary Asia is also home to Indian rhino, Shanti, 32, who arrived from the Fort Worth Zoo in 2019. Native to India and Nepal, Indian rhinos, can weigh more than 3,000 pounds. These impressive animals are known for their single horn and tough skin that resembles body armor. Indian rhinos are currently listed as “vulnerable” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Through successful conservation programs and daily protection, Indian rhino populations in the wild have increased to more 3,600 animals. However, there is a continuing decline in the quality of their natural habitat and the species continues to be illegally hunted for its horn.

The OKC Zoo is helping save Indian rhinos by supporting the International Rhino Foundation’s efforts to protect vulnerable and critically endangered rhinos and their habitat in India with money from the Round Up for Conservation Fund. The Zoo’s Round Up for Conservation program encourages guests to donate their change from any Zoo purchase to help protect wildlife and wild places around the world. The Zoo’s American Association of Zookeepers chapter has raised more than $373,000 for rhinos in Asia and Africa through its fundraising efforts since 1990.

Show your love for our baby rhino and vote for a name! The Oklahoma City Zoo is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Advance tickets are required for all guests and ZOOfriends members and can be purchased at http://www.okczoo.org/tickets. Zoo tickets are limited each day to ensure safe social distancing among guests. Located at the crossroads of I-44 and I-35, the OKC Zoo is a proud member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the American Alliance of Museums, Oklahoma City’s Adventure District and an Adventure Road partner. Regular admission is $12 for adults and $9 for children ages 3-11 and seniors ages 65 and over. Children two and under are admitted free. Stay up-to-date with the Zoo on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and by visiting Our Stories. Zoo fans can support the OKC Zoo by becoming a member. Memberships can be purchased at ZOOfriends.org or any place admission is sold in the Zoo’s Entry Plaza during regular business hours. To learn more about this event and Zoo other happenings, call (405) 424-3344 or visit okczoo.org.


OKC ZOO ANNOUNCES BIRTH OF ENDANGERED INDIAN RHINO CALF

 

It’s a baby rhino! The Zoo welcomes new calf to its animal family as part of collaborative breeding program for Indian rhino. 

The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden is thrilled to announce that Niki, the Zoo’s 13-year-old Indian rhino gave birth to a healthy calf at 3:25 a.m. today, Friday, October 23, 2020. This new arrival is the first calf born to breeding pair Niki and father, Arun, 29, and the sixth Indian rhino, also known as the greater one-horned rhino, born at the OKC Zoo. The OKC Zoo has been home to Indian rhinos since 1981.

OKC Zoo rhino mom Niki and calf credit Katie Van Singel image 2
OKC Zoo rhino mom Niki and calf credit Katie Van Singel image 2
OKC Zoo rhino mom Niki and calf credit Katie Van Singel image 2

Photo Credits: Katie Van Singel and Rachel Emory

The calf was born in the early morning inside the Zoo’s rhino barn at Sanctuary Asia and discovered by caretakers when they arrived to start their day. An initial visual exam performed by the Zoo’s veterinary and animal care teams determined that both mom and calf are doing well. The calf is strong, standing on its own and nursing. At this time, the gender of the calf is still unknown as it continues to stay close to mom, enjoying some quality bonding time with her.  

  “We are very excited to welcome a new addition to our rhino group and to see that calf and mom are doing excellent,” said Rachel Emory, OKC Zoo’s curator of elephants and rhinos. “Indian rhinoceros are listed as a vulnerable species, so every successful birth is important, not just to us, but to the population as a whole.”

Mom Niki came to the OKC Zoo in 2009 from the Bronx Zoo and father Arun, 29, arrived from the Fort Worth Zoo in 2019 as part of a a breeding recommendation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Greater One-Horned Rhinoceros Species Survival Plan (SSP). SSP programs were developed by AZA to oversee breeding management and sustainability of select animal species within AZA-member zoos and aquariums. The Zoo’s Sanctuary Asia is also home to adult, female Indian rhino, Shanti, 32, who also came from the Fort Worth Zoo with Arun.

The gestation period for Indian rhinos is approximately 16 months. The average birth weight for an Indian rhino calf is 120 pounds. Newborn Indian rhinos lack the distinctive horn of the adult rhino. Instead, they have a flat, smooth oval plate that eventually forms into a horn.

Native to northern India and southern Nepal, Indian rhinos are currently listed as “vulnerable” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Through conservation programs, wild populations over the past century have recovered from under 200 animals to approximately 3,600 today. However, there is a continuing decline in the quality of their natural habitat and the species continues to be illegally hunted for its horn.

The OKC Zoo is helping save Indian rhinos by supporting the International Rhino Foundation’s efforts to protect vulnerable and critically endangered rhinos and their habitat in India with money from the Round Up for Conservation Fund. The Zoo’s Round Up for Conservation program encourages guests to donate their change from any Zoo purchase to help protect wildlife and wild places around the world. Plus, the Zoo’s American Association of Zookeepers chapter has raised more than $373,000 for rhinos in Asia and Africa through its fundraising efforts since 1990.

The Zoo will continue to share updates on the rhino calf and mom, Niki, on social. Weather permitting, the two could be visible to guests from their habitat at Sanctuary Asia as early tomorrow!

A sweet treat just in time for Halloween, come out to the Zoo this fall and meet our new rhino calf! The Oklahoma City Zoo is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Advance tickets are required for all guests and ZOOfriends members and can be purchased at http://www.okczoo.org/tickets. Zoo tickets are limited each day to ensure safe social distancing among guests. Located at the crossroads of I-44 and I-35, the OKC Zoo is a proud member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the American Alliance of Museums, Oklahoma City’s Adventure District and an Adventure Road partner. Regular admission is $12 for adults and $9 for children ages 3-11 and seniors ages 65 and over. Children two and under are admitted free. Stay up-to-date with the Zoo on FacebookTwitter and Instagram and by visiting Our Stories. Zoo fans can support the OKC Zoo by becoming a member. Memberships can be purchased at ZOOfriends.org or any place admission is sold in the Zoo’s Entry Plaza during regular business hours. To learn more about this event and Zoo other happenings, call (405) 424-3344 or visit okczoo.org.


Rescued Sea Lion's Amazing Journey to Oklahoma City Zoo

Sea Lion Isla at the Channel Islands Marine & Wildlife Institute (1 of 1)

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.

 



 


OKC Zoo Debuts ‘Mountain Lion Cub Cam’

1_OKC Zoo Mountain Lion Cubs at Oklahoma Trails Habitat

The Oklahoma City Zoo’s 11-week-old Mountain Lion cubs are ready to make their public debut, and fans can watch the wild fun unfold live, daily on the Zoo’s “Mountain Lion Cub Cam”!

The OKC Zoo is excited to officially launch its new “Mountain Lion Cub Cam,” online at www.okczoo.org . Tune in and watch as young siblings, Toho, Tanka and Tawakoni, explore their new habitat at the Zoo’s Oklahoma Trails and get ready for all the pouncing, playing and sibling bonding you can handle!  

The Mountain Lion cubs arrived at the OKC Zoo in late January after being orphaned in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Game officials with the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks found the cubs and contacted the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to locate a permanent home for the litter because recovered cubs cannot return to the wild according to South Dakota state protocol. Learning of the cubs’ situation, the Zoo made the decision to provide a forever home for both Toho and Tanka. Tawakoni will be relocating to her permanent home at AZA-accredited Cameron Park Zoo in Waco, Texas, later this summer. Until then, she will remain with her brothers at Oklahoma Trails.

ZooBorns shared news of the cubs’ arrival at OKC Zoo in an earlier feature: “Orphaned Mountain Lion Cubs Thrive at OKC Zoo”  

2_OKC Zoo Mountain Lion Cub (2 of 3)

3_OKC Zoo Mountain Lion (3 of 3)

4_OKC Zoo Mountain Lion Cub (1 of 3)Photo Credits: Candice Rennels /Oklahoma City Zoo

The OKC Zoo’s new webcam provides a ‘purr-fect’ opportunity for virtual guests to get a live look at the cubs and stay connected with them as they grow. After completing a 30-day quarantine at the Zoo’s Joan Kirkpatrick Hospital, the cubs moved to Oklahoma Trails where they can be seen daily in the current bobcat habitat. The Zoo’s carnivore caretakers determined the bobcat habitat would be an easier space for the cubs to navigate at this time and cub-proofed the habitat before allowing the adventurous youngsters access. When the siblings are bigger, they will “graduate” to the mountain lion habitat. In the meantime, Cody, the Zoo’s bobcat, can be seen daily in the Mountain Lion habitat.

“Cub Cam” viewers will enjoy watching as the Mountain Lion cubs become familiar with their new environment and curiously explore it. The rambunctious trio is a sight to see as they investigate all the new smells and sounds around them. The “Mountain Lion Cub Cam” will be live at www.okczoo.org – 24/7 with optimal viewing of the cubs from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily, weather permitting.


Orphaned Mountain Lion Cubs Thrive at OKC Zoo

1_OKC Zoo Mountain lion cubs (2) credit Jennifer D'Agostino

The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden recently welcomed a litter of orphaned Mountain Lion cubs. The cubs, two males and a female, are approximately ten-weeks-old and arrived at the OKC Zoo in late January after being rescued from the wild.

Born in the Black Hills of South Dakota, the Mountain Lion cubs were found by game officials with the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks. Realizing the cubs’ mother was deceased and they were too young to survive on their own, game officials immediately intervened and began providing 24/7 care for the orphaned cubs. They also contacted the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to locate a permanent home for the litter because recovered cubs cannot return to the wild according to South Dakota state protocol.

Learning of the cubs’ situation, the OKC Zoo made the decision to take in the litter and provide a forever home for both male cubs at its Oklahoma Trails habitat. The female cub will be relocating to AZA-accredited Cameron Park Zoo in Waco, Texas later this summer, but will remain with her brothers at the OKC Zoo until then.

“By bringing these orphaned cubs to the OKC Zoo and providing them with the care, veterinary monitoring and enriching environment needed to thrive we are ensuring their survival.” said Tyler Boyd, OKC Zoo animal curator. “Since it opened in 2007, Oklahoma Trails has been home to Mountain Lions, and we are excited to watch these brothers grow and become beloved ambassadors for the habitat. We want to connect our guests to the importance of caring for native wildlife and wild places, and communicate why it’s vital to protect both.”

The male cubs were given the names Toho, meaning “cougar god”, and Tanka, from Wakan Tanka meaning “great spirit” in the Lakota language. The female cub has been named, Tawakoni, which is inspired by the Wichita tribe and means “river bend among red sand hills.”

According to the Zoo, all three cubs are in good health and weighed 9-10 lbs. at their last check. Once the cubs complete their 30-day quarantine at the OKC Zoo’s Joan Kirkpatrick Animal Hospital, they will be on public view at the Oklahoma Trails exhibit.

2_OKC Zoo Mountain lion cubs (4) credit Jennifer D'Agostino

3_OKC Zoo Mountain lion cubs credit Jennifer D'Agostino

4_OKC Zoo Mountain lion cubs (3) credit Jennifer D'AgostinoPhoto Credits: OKC Zoo/ Jennifer D'Agostino

The Mountain Lion (Puma concolor) is known by many names including catamount, cougar, panther or puma. Native to the Americas, Mountain Lions once roamed most of the United States including Oklahoma, but now the largest populations inhabit the western U.S.

Impressive in size and strength, Mountain Lions are considered apex predators meaning they are not prey to any other animals. These large carnivores are built for hunting and actually help control deer and other animal populations from reaching unhealthy levels. Adults are recognized for their solid tawny coats but cubs are born with spots that vanish before they are a year old. Cubs are also born with blue eyes that change to yellow around 16-18 months old.


OKCity Zoo's Elephant Mom Gives Birth After Almost Two-Year Pregnancy!

Elephant Calf Kai 28 (1 of 1)

After an almost two-year pregnancy, the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden is happy to announce the addition of a female calf to its Asian elephant herd. Kairavi, Sanskrit for moonlight, was born Tuesday, October 9, at 11:28 p.m., inside the OKC Zoo’s elephant habitat at Sanctuary Asia. Both mother, Asha, and newborn, Kairavi (Kai), are in good health and are now viewable to guests. Kai’s arrival brings the total number of Asian elephants at the Zoo to seven.

Elephant Calf Kai 19 (1 of 1)

Elephant Calf Kai 23 (1 of 1)

Elephant Calf Kai 31

Elephant Calf Kai 41 (1 of 1) 

Veterinary staff and animal caretakers were present for the delivery and reported the birth required no medical intervention with the entire process taking only 15 minutes. The entire elephant herd was in the inside habitat with Asha during the birth and got to see and hear the delivery, an important component to the herd bonding with the newborn calf. After the birth, vet staff performed a visual inspection of Kai and determined the calf to be strong and observed Asha demonstrating appropriate maternal behaviors. The team remarked that Kai hit important developmental milestones surprisingly fast: standing only 12 minutes post-delivery and nursing after just 40 minutes.

“Asha is an exceptional mother and there is no doubt our new arrival, Kai, will thrive with her elephant family,” said Nick Newby, assistant curator, large mammals. “Not only are we are excited to welcome this new addition to the herd after 22 months of waiting, Kai’s arrival is a testament to the Zoo’s commitment to elephant conservation, and we can’t wait to introduce her to our guests.”

The gestation period for elephants is 22 months, during which Asha gained approximately 1,000 pounds bringing her total weight to 8,500 pounds. During the pregnancy, veterinary staff conducted weekly ultrasounds and daily hormone level testing. When they noted a large drop in Asha’s progesterone levels on Monday, October 8, they knew Kai’s arrival was imminent. During the latter months of her pregnancy, animal caretakers provided extra comfort for Asha in the form of large sand piles, where she could lay comfortably for a good night’s sleep. She also participated in birth practice with her caretakers on a weekly basis and continued to exercise with the herd.

This is the third elephant calf born at the OKC Zoo and the third offspring for mother Asha, 23, who arrived in 2008 from Dickerson Park Zoo in Springfield, MO. Father Rex, 50, came to the Zoo in 2011 from Canada’s African Lion Safari. The pair produced Achara, 3, in 2014. The Oklahoma City Zoo’s Asian elephant herd also includes: Kandula, 17; Bamboo, 51; and Chandra, 22.

The OKC Zoo participates in the Asian Elephant Species Survival Plan (SSP), developed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Asian elephants are endangered and their African counterparts are vulnerable. Currently, the greatest threats to Asian elephants are habitat destruction and human-elephant conflict. About 60 percent of the total human population lives in Asia, and this population has nearly quadrupled in the last century. As human needs increase, more natural land is taken away from Asian elephants in order to build cities, homes, highways, farmland, etc. Habitat destruction is forcing animals, elephants in particular, to come in contact with humans in ways that can cause conflict. 


Oklahoma City Zoo Using New Technique for Flamingos

1_Flamingo Chick hatchling 4 (1 of 1)

Caretakers at the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden are developing a new technique with a Flamingo hatchling, enabling it to benefit from group socialization and parent rearing. This new partial hand-rearing method will allow the young bird to become a better mate and parent in the future. The chick, hatched July 13, has not yet been named, and the sex has not yet been determined.

During breeding season, staff closely monitors the birds’ nests and place resulting eggs in incubators. Dummy eggs are placed back in the nests to allow the birds to demonstrate their instinctual brooding behavior. Due to a multitude of natural predators (like owls and snakes) targeting Flamingo eggs and hatchlings, chicks have traditionally been completely hand-reared by caretakers for up to a year before being introduced to the flock. Partial hand rearing allows the chick to spend days with the flock under the watchful eyes of both caretakers and volunteers and nights safely inside, removed from the threat of potential predators.

“We would much rather have all of our birds be parent-reared,” said Holly Ray, assistant curator, birds. “Hand-rearing only occurs when it’s absolutely necessary for the safety and well-being of the animal. But if we can try something that will both help the animal thrive socially and physically while preserving its safety, it’s absolutely worth doing.”

2_OKC Zoo Flamingo Chick 2 (1 of 1)

3_OKC Zoo Flamingo Chick 1 (1 of 1)

4_OKC Zoo Flamingo Chick 4 (1 of 1)Photo Credits: Oklahoma City Zoo

Uncertain if any of the Flamingos would be interested in parenting the hatchling, caretakers watched anxiously as the chick was introduced to the flock. Caretakers placed the chick on a Flamingo mound (nest) and after about 45 minutes were able to confirm that a Flamingo pair were demonstrating parental behaviors toward the chick. This Flamingo pair was not the actual parents of the bird, so staff began referring to the duo as the chick’s foster parents. Both stay close to the chick and feed him what’s known as crop milk, a reddish, pre-digested and regurgitated meal. The female Flamingo is 22 years old. The male flamingo is 56 years old and the last remaining member of the Zoo’s original flock that arrived in 1963. The AZA reports the median life expectancy for flamingos is 25.8 years.

Zoo staff conducted an inspection of the grounds and accomplished a number of “chick-proofing” measures such as filling holes, patching walls and draining one of the pools to a level low enough for the chick to wade through safely. Caretakers are confident, however, that the hatchling will soon be swimming safely alongside the other flamingos. Although caretakers report the hatchling is adorably clumsy, the chick has proven to be extremely rambunctious and active, always exploring and investigating new sights and sounds.

Three other Flamingo chicks hatched this month and are being raised in the traditional method. During the hand-rearing process, the chicks gradually transition to different enclosures with various surfaces (sandy, grassy, muddy, etc.) the Flamingos will encounter in their natural environment. The birds are kept together, not alone. The chicks are also walked twice a day to provide adequate exercise needed for weight management, leg conditioning and overall healthy development. They will be introduced to the habitat more gradually and will be part of the flock earlier than previous years’ chicks.

5_OKC Zoo Flamingo Chick 6 (1 of 1)

6_OKC Zoo Flamingo Chick 8 (1 of 1)