The pitter patter of tiny flippers is being heard at the National Sea Life Centre in the United Kingdom as the staff celebrates the hatching of a Gentoo Penguin.
The chick was named Flash due to its speedy arrival just 12 hours after it began ‘pipping’ – the term used to describe how baby birds peck their way out of their eggs.
Photo Credit: National Sea Life Centre
The hatching is extra special because the parents traveled thousands of miles by airplane to pair up under a global breeding program.
Parents Prince, age one, and four-year-old Hyacinth are providing excellent care for Flash. The chick’s gender is not yet known.
Prince was unlucky in love during last year’s mating season, so the staff was happy to see Prince find a partner in Hyacinth.
Gentoo Penguins are difficult to breed in zoos, because they are particularly sensitive to their surroundings. The staff at the National Sea Life Centre worked hard to get every detail just right within the birds’ habitat.
In the wild, Gentoo Penguins nest on ice-free areas of Antarctica and sub-Antarctic islands. Some populations of Gentoo Penguins have declined rapidly in recent years suggesting that the birds could experience a larger decline from habitat loss, pollution, and illegal collection of their eggs.
Now, his legs have improved and he no longer needs corrective shoes. He still wears kinesiology tape to stimulate and stabilize his leg muscles.
Photo Credit: J. Laughlin/Woodland Park Zoo
Immediately after Hasani’s birth on May 2, the zoo’s animal health team noticed each rear foot was not in normal alignment. The condition, known as hyperextended fetlocks, is well documented in horses and has been reported to occur in Giraffes. One day after the Giraffe was born, the zoo’s animal health team applied casts on both rear legs to help stabilize his limbs.
The zoo’s veterinary team consulted with a Kentucky-based equine veterinarian who specializes in foot conditions. He visited the zoo to evaluate the calf, and crafted new custom shoes based on the zoo’s specifications and a modified design he has used to successfully treat numerous foals with the same condition.
After a few weeks, one of the shoes dropped off and Hasani appeared to be walking well without it so the staff did not intervene. Later that week, the veterinary staff removed the other shoe and cast material. “We’re pleased to report there is marked improvement in both rear limbs. Hasani’s walking well and continues to readily stand and lie down. He remains active like a calf his age should. We will continue to closely observe his gait, foot position, any limb and foot changes, energy and nursing,” says Dr. Tim Storms, associate veterinarian.
The baby Giraffe continues to wear kinesiology tape to help stimulate and support his leg muscles. “If his condition regresses, we’re prepared to outfit him with another pair of shoes but we’re optimistic we won’t have to. So far he’s showing remarkable progress,” adds Storms.
Hasani made his debut to zoo visitors a couple weeks ago. Since then, he has been introduced to Tufani, his aunt and Dave, his dad. Hasani remains curious and active, according to his care team.
Hasani's parents, Olivia and Dave, were paired under a breeding recommendation made by the Giraffe Species Survival Plan, a cooperative, conservation breeding program across accredited zoos to help ensure a healthy, self-sustaining population of Giraffes. Woodland Park Zoo participates in 111 Species Survival Plans, overseen by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums.
Giraffes are widespread across southern and eastern Africa, with smaller isolated populations in west and central Africa. New population surveys estimate an overall 40 percent decline in the Giraffe population; fewer than 100,000 exist today. Of the currently recognized subspecies of Giraffe, five have decreasing populations, while three are increasing and one is stable.
After 15 months of gestation, Lincoln Park Zoo was excited to welcome a new arrival. On May 19, Kapuki, an Eastern Black Rhinoceros, gave birth to a healthy male calf at the zoo’s Regenstein African Journey. Since the birth, the calf has surpassed critical milestones, including: standing, nursing, pooping, and following mom, Kapuki.
The first days of a calf’s life are critical, and animal care staff are closely monitoring both Kapuki and the calf, around-the-clock, via remote camera system.
“As with any birth, we are cautiously optimistic about the latest arrival,” said Curator of Mammals Mike Murray. “However, this calf stood successfully at only 53 minutes of age and was nursing by hour two. He is growing in size and strength each day.”
Photo Credits: Christopher Bijalba / Lincoln Park Zoo
Thirteen-year-old Kapuki was recommended to breed with Maku, age 33, as part of the Eastern Black Rhinoceros Survival Plan® (SSP), a collaborative population management effort among Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) institutions. Kapuki and Maku had previously been successful in producing offspring with the birth of King in 2013. As part of an SSP recommendation for the solitary species, King was transferred to Chicago Zoological Society/Brookfield Zoo in November 2016.
Lincoln Park Zoo is dedicated to rhino conservation and is home to three adult rhinos: Maku, Kapuki, and Ricko, along with its newest arrival.
“Although the calf is adorable, its birth means so much more than that,” said Murray. “Three rhinos are poached in Africa each day for their horns. At this alarming rate, this new calf gives us hope for the sustainability of the species.”
Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens is excited about their continued baby boom. They recently announced the birth of four Black and White Ruffed Lemurs on May 19.
This is the third litter for the parents, Hawk and Potter. Their first litter was born at the Jacksonville Zoo in 2015. Keepers were anticipating the birth and had worked with Hawk to allow voluntary sonograms and weight checks.
All four lemur infants are male; a fact that keepers like as this potentially allows the group to stay longer at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. Female lemur offspring become incompatible with mom around two-years-old.
Hawk has again proven herself to be a calm and capable mother with excellent instincts. Black and White Ruffed Lemur mothers do not carry their offspring around. Instead, they build a nest and leave the litter there, returning to nurse. The family will be bonding behind-the-scenes for the immediate future while the infants grow.
Four infants is a lot for any mother, and keepers are encouraging Hawk to eat and drink as much as possible and are supplementing her diet with foods items that support lactation. All of the little guys are nursing well and, because Hawk has such a calm disposition and trust in her keepers, she is allowing care staff to obtain regular weights to confirm their development.
Two of Hawk’s and Potter’s older offspring, a male named Pippen and a female named Frodo, are still at the Zoo and can be seen in a different group, often mixed with other lemur species, in the beautiful African Forest exhibit.
Like all lemurs, Black and White Ruffed Lemurs are native only to the island country of Madagascar. They are classified, by the IUCN, as “Critically Endangered” in the wild due to habitat loss from deforestation. Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens is a part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP), which helps manage the population in AZA accredited facilities.
“We love seeing animal babies and the joy they bring our guests,” said Zoo Executive Director Tony Vecchio, “but seeing four babies, who are so important to their species, born into our new African Forest exhibit is a great feeling for everyone at the Zoo!”
Three orphaned Mountain Lion cubs arrived at their new home at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in late May after being found alone in a den in Washington state. The two sisters and their brother were estimated to be about six weeks old at the time of their rescue.
Photo & Video Credit: Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) responded to a human-wildlife conflict that resulted in the cubs’ mother’s death. WDFW staff members reached out to the zoo community to find a home for the young Lions, who were too small to survive on their own in the wild.
“We’re excited to provide a home for these young, playful cubs,” said Rebecca Zwicker, senior lead keeper in Rocky Mountain Wild, where the cubs will live. “Of course, these situations are bittersweet. We wish we didn’t have to find homes for orphaned cubs, but we’re grateful for our partnerships, because we can offer the cubs an amazing life of choices, care, and compassion.”
This is the second litter of orphaned Mountain Lion cubs that Cheyenne Mountain Zoo has helped to rescue. The first litter came from Wyoming in 2006. Tocho, Motega and Yuma were all male members of the litter who have since passed. Kaya, the female Mountain Lion who lives in Rocky Mountain Wild, is the remaining member of the original litter. After the cubs earn a clean bill of health, the plan is to introduce them to Kaya.
“We’re hoping Kaya, who is blind and aging, will enjoy having company again,” Zwicker said. “We’ll take our time letting Kaya and the cubs have opportunities to interact from a safe distance, and then we’ll follow their lead. It would be ideal if they could live together, because the cubs can learn how to be Mountain Lions from Kaya.”
While the cubs are behind the scenes, they’ll receive vaccinations and veterinary checks to ensure they’re ready to explore their new home in Rocky Mountain Wild.
“Mountain Lions are part of our daily lives in Colorado,” said Zwicker. “These cubs will be ambassadors for their wild relatives, helping our guests learn about their species, their unique personalities and behaviors, their contributions to our ecosystem, and how we can live peacefully with them.”
A litter of six African Wild Dog pups born on April 24 at The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens got their first well-baby exam in late May and were proclaimed healthy and thriving.
Photo Credit: The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens
The pups, who represent the first litter for mom Beatrix and dad Kiraka, include five males and one female. This exam was the first time any of the zoo staff interacted directly with the pups. The African Wild Dog Species Survival Plan (SSP), a program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, recommends using a hands-off approach to allow for natural bonding and development of the pups.
Since birth, the pups have opened their eyes and become more coordinated. At their exam, each weighed between four and five pounds. They’ll soon begin weaning and will start nibbling on meat. Any day now, the pups will start to venture out of their den and be visible to guests.
“We are so happy to learn that the puppies are healthy,” said Allen Monroe, President and CEO of The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens. “Beatrix has done an outstanding job caring for her puppies, and we are excited to continue watching them grow.”
Following the well-baby exam, the puppies were returned to the den, rubbed with dirt to eliminate the human smell, and then reunited with their mom. The animal care and veterinary teams will continue to closely monitor the family’s activity through den cameras which allow Beatrix and the puppies plenty of space, comfort, and security.
Currently listed as Endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), fewer than 5,000 African Wild Dogs remain on the African continent. As one of the most endangered African carnivores, African Wild Dog populations are in decline due to human-wildlife conflict, habitat destruction and canine diseases, like distemper and rabies. The Living Desert supports specific African Wild Dog conservation projects that work to bolster wild populations.
Denver Zoo’s female Mandrill, Kumani, gave birth to a healthy female on May 10.
The baby, who her caretakers have named ‘Kesi’, is the first for seven-year-old Kumani and her mate, 11-year-old Jelani. The zoo’s animal care team says Kumani has already proven to be a great mom, providing Kesi with the care and attention she needs to thrive.
Kesi’s arrival marks the first Mandrill birth at the Zoo since 2003, when Denver Zoo went through a Mandrill baby boom with two females born in two years. Jelani joined the troop in 2013 followed by Kumani, who arrived in 2018 at the recommendation of the Species Survival Plan. At the end of 2018, the zoo’s animal care staff suspected Kumani might be pregnant, which was later confirmed via ultrasound.
Photo Credits: Denver Zoo
Mandrills, which are listed as “Vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, are found in the rainforests of central West Africa. You can spot mandrills by their bright blue and red face, and long teeth. Males are larger and usually have brighter coloring. They’re a social species and travel in groups known as “troops.”
Guests at Denver Zoo are encouraged to visit Kesi and the whole Mandrill troop in the Congo Basin area in Primate Panorama. Animal care staff says the best time to catch these colorful primates and catch a glimpse of Kesi is first thing in the morning or at lunchtime, when they are foraging for food. Be sure to follow the zoo on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for regular updates on Kesi!
Two Andean Bear cubs born at the Queens Zoo recently made their New York City debut.
The cubs, one female and one male, were born in January to six-year-old mother, Nicole, and eight-year-old father, Bouba. After spending several weeks in their den bonding with their mother, they have now started venturing into the zoo’s outdoor habitat.
Queens Zoo animal care staff have named the cubs Brienne and Benny, and staff are closely monitoring their health and development. The time the cubs spend in the outdoor habitat will vary until they become fully acclimated to it.
“These little cubs are tremendous ambassadors for their species,” said Scott Silver, Queens Zoo Director. “Andean Bears are rarely seen in the wild, so it’s extremely special to have an opportunity to watch cubs grow. Guests will also learn about our efforts to protect Andean Bears in the wild.”
Photo Credits: Julie Larsen Maher /WCS
Andean Bears (Tremarctos ornatus) are the only bear species native to South America. They are also known as spectacled bears due to the markings on their faces that sometimes resemble eyeglasses. They have characteristically short faces and are relatively small in comparison to some other bear species. As adults, males weigh between 250-350 pounds while adult females rarely exceed 200 pounds.
Andean Bears are classified as “Vulnerable” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Estimates indicate that there are fewer than 18,000 remaining in the wild.
The Queens Zoo is breeding Andean Bears as part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP), a cooperative breeding program designed to enhance the genetic viability and demographic stability of animal populations in zoos and aquariums accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). There are currently only 39 Andean Bears in AZA-accredited zoos and only six potentially viable breeding pairs in the SSP population.
Bouba came to Queens from Bioparc de Doue la Fontainein in France to breed with Nicole, who was born at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, DC and came to the Queens Zoo in 2015. This is the second time the pair has produced offspring at the Queens Zoo, and these cubs were two of only four Andean Bears born in zoos worldwide in the past year.
Shedd Aquarium, a leader in animal care, recently welcomed two Magellanic Penguin chicks.
The chicks hatched following the annual breeding season that began with nesting. In late March, the Magellanic and Rockhopper Penguins began creating nests and preparing for the breeding season after animal care experts shifted the light cycle and scattered nesting materials in the aquarium’s Polar Play Zone exhibit.
Photo Credit: Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez
Both Magellanic Penguin eggs were produced by the same breeding pair: Chile and JR.
“Chick 420” hatched on May 17, and bonding with the biological parents began immediately. Chick 420 will remain in the nest with both adults who will rear the young bird.
“Chick 421” hatched a few days later on May 20. Attending chicks is a full-time job with duties shared by both parents. By having the chicks raised by two different pairs, each chick gets individualized attention and the parenting birds all get additional experience as they learn how to best care for chicks. Therefore, the second egg was given to foster parents, Howard and Georgia. According to keepers, the pair has been taking turns feeding and incubating the chick like it was their own.
“Having a chick successfully hatch from its egg is just the first of many milestones that we look for in these first few weeks, but our team is cautiously optimistic,” said Lana Gonzalez, manager of Penguins and Sea Otters. “We’ll continue to monitor both chicks closely over the next few weeks, looking for consistent weight gain and to see how the parents are doing with sharing their responsibilities.”
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.
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.