Philadelphia Zoo

Philly Zoo's First Ever Black-footed Cat Kittens are Thriving!

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Philadelphia Zoo's female Black-footed Cat Aza gave birth to a litter of kittens on April 8, 2014: the first Black-footed Cats ever to be born at the Philadelphia Zoo! Their names are Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viserion. Drogon and Viserion are male and Rhaegal is female.

Before making their debut, the kittens underwent a routine wellness check to make sure they’re healthy. In addition to weighing and sexing them, veterinarians completed full physical examinations of each kitten. They also gave the kittens dye marks so the keepers can tell them apart from a distance. Philly Zoo also baby-proofed the kittens' exhibit ahead of the big debut. They lowered the water level in the exhibit and added climbing structures so they could enter and exit their pool with ease, and before entering their exhibit, they practiced with different amounts of water in their indoor bedroom. They also added another feeding dish so Aza could eat separately from her kittens, and they placed the kennel they had been sleeping in inside the exhibit so they would have some familiar scents. A keeper is present to monitor them throughout the day to make sure they're maneuvering through their habitat well, but as you can see in these photos, they are feeling quite at home already.

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Just last week, the kittens received another checkup, which included vaccinations, reapplication of dye marks and weighing. Their weights now range from 631 to 757 grams (from a little more than 22 oz. to a little less than 27). All three babies are in great health.

These small but mighty cats are terrestrial and crepuscular (active at dusk and dawn). They are not great climbers, but are skilled diggers when looking for insects or creating birthing dens. They have been observed to have several hunting styles that include: fast hunting (running through and over vegetation, flushing out prey), slow hunting (slow, stalking movements- which indicates they are low to the ground in an almost serpentine motion), and finally "sit and wait" hunting (motionless vigilance at a rodent burrow waiting for an animal to come out of their den). All of these methods have proven successful for this cat. On the 2011 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the Black-footed Cat is listed as Vulnerable.

 


There's Snow at Philadelphia Zoo - Snow Leopard Cubs That Is!

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The Philadelphia Zoo welcomed two Snow Leopard cubs to its growing animal family on June 9 when Maya, the Zoo’s 3-year-old female snow leopard, gave birth to two cubs in the afternoon. This is Maya’s first litter as well as for their father Amga, who is 5-years-old. 

Maya was in constant physical contact with them once they were born, caring for and feeding them. The first 72 hours of the cub’s life are the most critical and monitored closely by the Zoo’s animal and veterinary staff. There is video of them at a very early age after the jump.

Mother and cubs are thriving, and normally the cubs would have made their public debut at around 3 months of age, but it was delayed due minor surgery to correct eyelid abnormalities in October. In this condition, called an upper eyelid coloboma, a portion of the upper eyelid fails to develop properly, leaving a gap at the edge of the eyelid which can lead to eye irritation. The cause of this condition is not well understood, but it occurs in a variety of animals and in humans, and appears to be more common in snow leopards than in other species. The cubs have otherwise developed well, playing, eating, running and jumping normally - see the video of them playing with their mom after the jump.

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Photo Credit: Philadelphia Zoo

More photos, videos and conservation information after the jump.

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Single Jaguar Cub A Welcome Addition

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On June 3, one tiny Jaguar cub was welcomed into the world by The Philadelphia Zoo. Kanga, the Zoo’s 10 year-old female, is the mother. The baby is the first offspring for Jutai, the Zoo’s 7-year-old male jaguar, who came to the Philadelphia Zoo in 2007 after being rescued as an orphan in Belize.

Jaguar cubs are essentially helpless, and in those early days Kanga was in constant physical contact with her cub from the moment it was born, caring for and feeding it. The first 72 hours of the cub’s life are the most critical and so the cub was monitored closely by the Zoo’s animal and veterinary staff via video (see below). When they finally were able to get close enough to determine the gender they learned it was a male. They've named him Lucha.

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Photo Credit: Philadelphia Zoo

Below is how the keepers watched as Mom Kanga cared for tiny Lucha back in June. The video below just following shows Lucha taking his first steps outside into the habitat with his mother, just a few days ago. 

 

 

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I Vant Them! Baby Vampire Bats!

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Two new vampire bats were born at The Philadelphia Zoo on March 9 and April 7, 2011. Though they ususally nurse for only three months, the babies are still able to be seen clinging to their mothers and are still nursing on her milk, as seen above. This one does look kind of cute and fuzzy in it's own way These bats do drink blood, so their teeth are few, but razor sharp. In the wild they hunt at night --usually feeding off sleeping cattle or horses -- and drink for about 30 minutes.

Bats have two means of locomotion: They are the only mammals that can fly, and the vampire bat is also able to run.Their small but strong legs can reach speeds up to 4.9 miles per hour!  The common vampire bat is found in the tropics of Mexico, Central America, and South America.

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Photo Credit: Philadelphia Zoo

Take a look at this video to see them in action, and learn more about this fascinating species:

 


Zoo Miami Makes History with Giant Otter Pups

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For only the second time in history, Giant River Otters have been successfully bred at a North American zoo. Born January 31st at Zoo Miami, there are two pups, one male and one female, each weighing between 2 and 3lbs. While they might be small now, these pups will grow up to be truly giant at a length of 6ft and a weight of around 75 lbs.! This landmark event represents the culmination of years of collaboration between Zoo Miami, the Philadelphia Zoo, the Cali Zoo in Columbia and the Brazilian Institute of the Environment.

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Photo credits: Ron Magill / Zoo Miami

Since their birth, the parents and pups have been left alone in seclusion because of how sensitive they can be to external activity. After giving the parents and pups several weeks alone to bond and establish themselves, they were briefly separated yesterday (for the first time) so that the Zoo’s veterinarian could perform a neonatal exam on the newborns.  Neither of the pups has opened their eyes yet but all indications from the quick exam are that they appear to be healthy and strong.

A first-time mother, Kara was born at the Philadelphia Zoo in March of 2005 and arrived at Zoo Miami on June 4th, 2008.  She is on loan from the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Natural Resources in Brazil.  The first time father’s name is “Witoto,” and he is on loan from the Cali Zoo in Cali, Colombia where he was born in April of 2004.  This is truly an international collaboration in an effort to preserve this extremely rare animal!  The pair has been a visitor favorite at “Amazon and Beyond” since the exhibit’s opening in 2008.

More photos below the fold!

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Smeagol! (the Aye-aye)

Meet Smeagol, the Philadelphia Zoo's new baby Aye-aye, named after the less than handsome character from the Lord of the Rings. These strange lemurs are the world's largest nocturnal primate and, despite their Gollum-like looks, they are shy and gentle. Born July 14, to the zoo’s female, named Medusa, it's a healthy 105g baby boy.

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Photo Credits: Courtesy of Philadelphia Zoo

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