Brevard Zoo Welcomes Tiny New Ungulate

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Brevard Zoo welcomed a new face on April 15 when three-year-old Klipspringer, Deborah, gave birth to a calf.

A neonatal exam revealed that the new arrival (who weighed less than two pounds at birth) is a female and is properly nursing from her mother. The tiny beauty has been named Clarice.

“This adorable little girl is doing wonderfully,” said Michelle Smurl, the Zoo’s director of animal programs. “Deborah is taking great care of her, grooming her often.”

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3_190418035Photo Credits: Brevard Zoo

The newborn, who was sired by four-year-old Ajabu, is currently behind the scenes with her mother and will be introduced to dad, Ajabu, before transitioning into the public-facing habitat in Expedition Africa.

The Klipspringer (Oreotragus oreotragus) is a small antelope found in eastern and southern Africa. As an adult, the species reaches 43–60 centimeters (17–24 inches) at the shoulder and weighs from 8 to 18 kilograms (18 to 40 lbs.).

After a gestation period of six to seven months, Klipspringer typically give birth to one offspring. They are sexually mature at one year and can live up to 18 years in human care. With specialized hooves each roughly the diameter of a dime as an adult, the Klipspringer is a skilled climber; it is typically found around mountains, hills and rocky outcrops in its native Africa.

The Klipspringer does not face any major threats, but it is sometimes hunted for use as meat or leather.


Cleveland Zoo Welcomes 101-pound Baby

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A male Masai Giraffe calf weighing 101 pounds was born on April 15 at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.

The calf’s parents are mom Jada and dad Bo. Bo came to the zoo in 2017 and this is the first calf he sired since his arrival. Bo is the tallest Giraffe in the zoo’s herd, standing nearly 17 feet tall. His offspring stood nearly six feet tall at birth. The newborn’s height and weight are impressive, but he is actually smaller than the typical newborn male. Some can weigh up to 150 pounds at birth. Therefore, the staff is monitoring the calf closely, although there are no problems so far.

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Photo Credit: Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

The calf has not yet been named. The zoo plans to announce a naming contest in a few weeks.

The calf will soon join his parents and the rest of the herd in the zoo’s Giraffe exhibit. Zoo guests can hand-feed the Giraffes from an elevated platform.

Wild Giraffes in Africa are in decline, with populations dropping 40% in the last 15 years to a current total of 80,000 individuals.  Giraffes are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo’s Future for Wildlife Fund helps protect giraffes by addressing poaching and illegal snaring, translocating animals to secure endangered populations, and also conducting studies on population and disease.


Zebra Foal Is LA Zoo's First In 20 Years

1 Grevy's Zebra Foal and Mom  Jamila  Photo by Jamie Pham

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.

9 Grevy's Zebra Foal  Photo by Jamie Pham
9 Grevy's Zebra Foal  Photo by Jamie PhamPhoto Credit: Jamie Pham   
Video Credit: Jeff Lee

“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.

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Litter of Four Elusive Sand Cat Kittens Born

Sand cat kitten_The Living Desert_4.23.19

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is delighted to announce the birth of four Sand Cat kittens. This is the inaugural birth in the Zoo’s Desert Carnivore Conservation Center, and is also the first sand cat birth at the Zoo since 2004.

The four kittens were born on March 25 to mother, Nadya, and father, Napoleon. Since their birth, the Zoo has been monitoring the kittens’ health and development through a webcam installed in their den box. On April 23, a well-baby exam was performed on the kittens, and they are progressing as expected. The two male kittens and two female kittens each weigh about 300-340 grams (approximately 10-12 ounces).

“I’m thrilled with how the kittens are developing,” said Dr. Andrea Goodnight, Head Veterinarian. “They are becoming more adventurous each day and will soon begin exploring the areas outside their den box. Sand Cat kittens are born with their eyes closed and weigh approximately one ounce at birth. At two weeks their eyes begin opening and by four weeks they have begun to walk and explore areas inside and near their den. By eight weeks they have weaned and are eating food and are independent from their mother.”

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Sand cat kitten weight_The Living Desert_4.23.19

Dr. Goodnight Head Veterinarian_The Living Desert_4.23.19Photo Credits: The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

Sand Cats are native to Northern Africa and southwestern and central Asia. They have thick fur that insulates them from the cold, heat, and blowing sand. Mostly solitary animals, except during breeding, Sand Cats have an average litter of four kittens.

“This is a historic birth for us,” said RoxAnna Breitigan, Director of Animal Care at The Living Desert. “Due to their very elusive nature and excellent desert camouflage, very little is known about Sand Cats, including their populations in the wild. We are proud to be participating in species conservation efforts that support these special felines.”

The Desert Carnivore Conservation Center was completed in March 2016 with the goal of expanding The Living Desert’s focused conservation efforts for small desert carnivores, more specifically small desert cats and foxes. The center is located behind-the-scenes, allowing the animals to have an undisturbed and quite area for breeding, which comes at the recommendation of the Species Survival Plans (SSP). The SSPs are cooperatively managed programs that ensures genetic and population sustainability.

“I am very excited to share this wonderful news,” said Allen Monroe, President/CEO. “The Desert Carnivore Conservation Center gives The Living Desert an opportunity to study the unique reproductive physiology of these animals to help support wild populations.”

The Sand Cats and their kittens will remain in the behind-the scenes Desert Carnivore Conservation Center.


Columbus Zoo Welcomes Pair of Orphaned Manatees

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The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium has welcomed two young Manatees, marking the 30th and 31st Manatees to arrive at the Zoo for rehabilitation since the Columbus Zoo joined the Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP) in 1999. The two males, Bananatee and Tostone, were both found as orphans off of the coast of south Florida. The pair began their rehabilitation journey at the Miami Seaquarium before recently arriving at the Columbus Zoo.

Bananatee was rescued from the Indian Creek Waterway outside of Miami, FL as an orphan calf on July 27, 2018. When he was initially brought to the Miami Seaquarium, he weighed only 42 pounds. He now weighs approximately 225 pounds, which is still considered small for a Manatee, as they can weigh up to 1,300 pounds as mature adults. Since Bananatee is still under a year old, the animal care team at the Columbus Zoo will need to bottle feed him to help supplement his diet as he continues transitioning to eating lettuce.

Tostone was rescued from the Lake Worth Lagoon in Riviera Beach, FL on February 8, 2019. Tostone was also an orphan and had begun to show signs of cold stress. Upon his arrival at the Miami Seaquarium, Tostone weighed in at approximately 99 pounds and is now up to approximately 185 pounds.

Bananatee and Tostone have both joined the other three Manatees (Heavy Falcon, Carmen, and long-term resident, Stubby) at the Zoo’s 300,000-gallon Manatee Coast pool. However, while the new arrivals are still adjusting to their new environment, they will still have full access to behind-the-scenes areas.

Manatees (Bananatee and Tostone) 0639 - Grahm S. Jones  Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Manatees (Tostone and Bananatee) 0625 - Grahm S. Jones  Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Manatees (Tostone) 0471 - Grahm S. Jones  Columbus Zoo and AquariumPhoto Credits: Grahm S. Jones /Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

As part of the Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP), the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is a second stage rehabilitation facility that provides a temporary home for Manatees until they are ready for release back to the wild.

The MRP is a cooperative group of non-profit, private, state, and federal entities, which work together to monitor the health and survival of rehabilitated and released Manatees. Information about Manatees currently being tracked is available at www.manateerescue.org .

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium was the first program partner outside of the state of Florida and is one of only two facilities outside of Florida to care for Manatees.

“We are proud to play a role in Bananatee’s and Tostone’s rehabilitation and eventual return to Florida waters, as we have with the other 29 Manatees who we have helped to rehabilitate since 1999 through this collaborative program,” said Becky Ellsworth, curator of the Shores region at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. “Being part of the Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation program is incredibly rewarding, and each Manatee holds a very special place in our hearts as we assist them throughout their journey and work to protect the future of their species.”

The threatened Florida Manatee is at risk from both natural and man-made causes of injury and mortality, including exposure to red tide, cold stress, disease, boat strikes, crushing by floodgates or locks, and entanglement in or ingestion of fishing gear.

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium supports field conservation projects for three of four living species of Manatees through its Conservation Fund. Providing grants to researchers on three continents (North America, South America and Africa), the Zoo contributes to rescue and rehabilitation in Florida, environmental education focused on the Amazonian Manatee in Colombia, and critical population surveys for the least known species: the West African Manatee.


History-Making Rhino Calf Born at Zoo Miami

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After a 15-month pregnancy, Zoo Miami's seven-year-old Greater One Horned Indian Rhinoceros, Akuti, gave birth to a calf on April 23!

This is the second successful birth of this very rare species in the zoo’s history. However, what makes this birth truly historic is that it is the first successful birth of this species anywhere in recorded history to be the result of induced ovulation and artificial insemination!!

This is also the first baby for Akuti, whose name means “Princess” in Hindu. She was born at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in January of 2012 and arrived at Zoo Miami in February of 2016. The father is 18-year-old Suru, which means “a start” in Bengali. He was also born at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park and arrived at Zoo Miami in October of 2003.

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3Photo Credits: Zoo Miami/Ron Magill

After several attempts at natural breeding with no success, a special team from the South East Zoo Alliance for Reproduction and Conservation (SEZARC), along with Dr. Monica Stoops from the Cincinnati Zoo, met at Zoo Miami to artificially collect semen from Suru on January 8, 2018, and then artificially inseminated Akuti on January 9, 2018. SEZARC is dedicated to increasing the populations of rare and endangered species through reproductive science and has worked with several zoos and aquariums around the country.

Once Zoo Miami keepers were able to confirm that Akuti had indeed conceived, she was trained to receive regular ultrasound examinations, which enabled zoo staff to closely monitor the development of the fetus. Because they knew the exact date of conception, they were able to accurately estimate the birthdate and for the last several days, Akuti has been under 24-hour observation awaiting this very exciting event.    

Initial indications are that the newborn is healthy and doing well, but more detailed information will not become available until the veterinary team is able to do a neonatal exam. This will be performed when the staff feels that it can safely separate the infant from its very protective mother for the few minutes that the exam will take. It is critical that the mother and newborn are able to establish a bond, which can sometimes be a challenge for first time mothers. Because of the extreme sensitivity of the situation, there will be no media access until zoo management has determined that everything is stable and the new mother and baby have been able to adjust. If everything goes well, it will probably be a few weeks until mom and baby are on public display.

There are currently less than 3,000 Indian Rhinos left in the wild, occurring in small protected areas of Nepal, India, and Assam. Over the years, they have been poached extensively for their horn, which is used for medicinal purposes and for dagger handles that are revered in some Asian cultures. They are the world’s fourth largest land mammal, sometimes reaching a weight of 6,000 pounds.

This very rare birth is not only significant for Zoo Miami, it is incredibly important to the international efforts to maintain a healthy population under human care of this highly vulnerable species throughout the world.  

More amazing pics below the fold!

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River Otter Quad Reaches New Milestone

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Woodland Park Zoo’s quadruplet River Otter pups reached a milestone last week…the six-week-olds opened their eyes!

The North American River Otter pups (two females and two males) were born to mom, Valkyrie, and dad, Ziggy. They are the first offspring for their five-year-old parents, and, as far back as the zoo’s animal records go, they are the first River Otter births documented in the zoo’s 119-year history.

“River Otters typically open their eyes between 28 and 35 days, so they’re right on schedule,” said Deanna DeBo, an animal manager at Woodland Park Zoo. “Mom continues to provide excellent care for her pups, and we’re seeing appropriate weight gains. As they get stronger, they’ll soon be walking. Right now they’re using their bellies to move about.”

Valkyrie and her pups continue to live off view in a private den, so the new family can nurse and bond. Animal care staff weighs the pups once a week to ensure continued weight gains and, as part of the zoo’s neonatal program, animal health staff will perform wellness exams every several weeks. The pups currently weigh between two and three pounds apiece.

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4_57592802_10157502614522708_2044411777290076160_oPhoto Credits: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo

The ability to swim is something that otter pups do not possess when they’re born. “Otters are such graceful, agile swimmers but it doesn’t come naturally to them. They’re born helpless and blind, so pups need swimming lessons by their mom,” explained DeBo. “It’s dunkin’ otter time as the mom grabs the pups by the scruff of their necks and dunks them in and out of the water. It may look scary but the moms know what they’re doing and otter pups are very buoyant,” explained DeBo.

Once the pups demonstrate they can swim, Valkyrie and her pups will be given access to the public outdoor habitat, where the pups can learn to swim safely in the deep pool and navigate the terrain.

The father, Ziggy, is currently separated and can be seen in the Northern Trail habitat with the zoo’s other river otter, a 21-year-old male named Duncan.

Valkyrie and Ziggy were introduced to each other in 2015 under a breeding recommendation through the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ Otter Species Survival Plan, a conservation breeding program across accredited zoos and aquariums to help ensure a healthy, self-sustaining population of otters.

Continue reading "River Otter Quad Reaches New Milestone" »


Belfast Zoo Sees Spring Baby Boom

1_Belfast Zoo has successfully bred this endangered species for many years. Visitors can see the new baby in its mountain-top habitat with stunning views across Belfast Lough.

With the start of spring, Belfast Zoo welcomed a Vicuña calf, a Red-backed Bearded Saki, and two White-belted Ruffed Lemur babies.

An adorable baby Vicuña was born on March 27 to mother, Gretchen, and her new mate, Ozzy. The zoo is now home to five Vicuña (Vicugna vicugna), which is a camelid species that originates from mountain and grassland areas of South America. The number of Vicuña living in the wild has decreased due to hunting and habitat destruction, and the species is dependent on breeding programmes to ensure population growth. Belfast Zoo has successfully bred this endangered species for many years. Visitors can see the new baby in its mountaintop habitat, with stunning views across Belfast Lough.

2_The zoo welcomed an adorable baby vicuña on 27 March to mother  Gretchen  and new male  Ozzy

3_Belfast Zoo is one of only two zoos in the UK to care for red-backed sakis  which originate from South America Photo Credits: Belfast Zoo

Zoo primates have also had recent breeding success. A Red-backed Bearded Saki (Chiropotes chiropotes) and two White-belted Ruffed Lemur (Varecia variegata subcincta) babies were born during April. Belfast Zoo is one of only two zoos in the UK to care for Red-backed Sakis, which originate from South America, and it was the first zoo in Europe to breed the species.

White-belted Ruffed Lemurs, from Madagascar, are facing a high risk of extinction in the wild due to habitat loss. Unlike other Lemur species, the baby doesn’t cling to their mother but instead is left to rest in a nearby tree or carried in its mother’s mouth.

Alyn Cairns, Zoo Manager, said, “We are absolutely thrilled with our recent baby boom at Belfast Zoo and hope our visitors will enjoy seeing our newest arrivals.”


Twin Porcupettes Make a Surprise Appearance

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Already squeaking and stamping their feet when just a few days old, twin Porcupettes were surprise arrivals at Cotswold Wildlife Park.

The baby Cape Porcupines, both males, stay close to mom Hannah and dad Prickles and have begun to show their unique personalities. The larger, more confident twin has been named Boulder. His shy brother has been named Shrimpy.  The pair recently ventured outdoors for the first time and closely followed Prickles during that big adventure.

7 First venture outside with dad Prickle (credit Estelle Morgan) (8)
7 First venture outside with dad Prickle (credit Estelle Morgan) (8)Photo Credit: Estelle Morgan

The babies are miniature versions of their parents and were born with a full set of quills. After a gestation period of approximately 112 days (the longest gestation period of any Rodent), the female gives birth to offspring covered in soft, moist and flexible quills, enclosed in a thin placental sac. Immediately after birth, the quills quickly harden in the air and become prickly. Porcupines are born relatively well developed with eyes open and teeth present.

Hannah and Prickles were only recently introduced to each other and the care team was surprised how quickly they bonded with each other.

According to their keeper, Hannah and Prickles immediately began grooming each other and slept side by side from day one of their introduction. Keepers hoped the pair would someday have their first litter, but they weren’t expecting babies quite so soon. This is only the second time in the Park’s forty-nine-year history this species has successfully bred.

Twenty-five different Porcupine species span the globe. Their Latin name means “quill pig,” a reference to the approximately 30,000 sharp quills that adorn their back. Contrary to popular belief, they cannot fire their quills at enemies, but the slightest touch can lodge dozens of barbed quills into a predator’s body. The quills are modified hairs made of keratin (the same material as human hair, fingernails and Rhino horns). Each quill has up to 800 barbs near the tip. If threatened, Porcupines reverse charge into a predator, stabbing the enemy with its sharp quills. The resulting wound can disable or even kill predators including Lions, Leopards and Hyenas.

Unfortunately, Porcupines’ unique defense is also the biggest threat to their survival. Although naturally shed, Porcupines are killed for their quills. In traditional African medicine, puncturing the skin with Porcupine quills is believed to heal ailments such as fainting, lethargy, swollen legs and lameness. Porcupine meat is also in demand for its reputed healing properties. Quills are sought after as ornaments and talismans. Cape Porcupines are native to the southernmost third of Africa.

See more photos of the Porcupettes below!

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Dusky Pademelon Joey Peeks Out of Pouch

Rare dusky pademelon born at Chester Zoo begins to peek out from mum’s pouch (5)

Keepers at Chester Zoo are celebrating the birth of the zoo’s first Dusky Pademelon – a small cousin of the Kangaroo from Indonesia.   

Rare dusky pademelon born at Chester Zoo begins to peek out from mum’s pouch  (21)
Rare dusky pademelon born at Chester Zoo begins to peek out from mum’s pouch  (21)
Photo Credit: Chester Zoo

The joey has just started to peek out from the pouch of first-time mother Styx. 

Dusky Pademelons, also known as Dusky Wallabies, are small, hopping marsupials found in forests on the island of New Guinea, as well as some neighboring islands. 

Infants are born 30 days after mating and then continue to grow inside their mother's pouch until they fully emerge at around seven months.

Dave White, Team Manager of the zoo’s Twilight team, said, “Just like Kangaroos and other marsupials, newborn Dusky Pademelons will climb up to the safety of mum’s pouch to nurse when they are merely the size of jellybeans. It’s in that pouch that they receive all of the nourishment and protection they need as they develop, right up to the moment they are old enough to begin exploring the outside world for themselves.” 

“An adult Dusky Pademelon’s pouch has a powerful muscle to prevent the joey from falling out, but it won’t be too long until it’s ready to fully emerge and start hopping around on its own two feet. That’s when we’ll discover whether it’s a boy or a girl and choose its name,” White said.

The Dusky Pademelon is listed as Vulnerable to Extinction by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Its population is estimated to have declined by 30% in the last 15-20 years, largely due to trapping, hunting and habitat loss.

Tim Rowlands, the zoo’s Curator of Mammals, said, “Relatively little is known about the Dusky Pademelon and we’re working to better understand these fantastic animals. Through the scientific observations we’re making at the zoo, and all that we’re learning as mum brings up her new joey, we’re able to better document Dusky Pademelon behavior. This could help add to the baseline of data that already exists and help other conservation teams to ensure its long-term survival in the wild.”

See more photos of the joey below.

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