Rosamond Gifford Zoo

Two Amur Leopard Cubs Boost This Rare Species

Cubs newborn pic

Two Amur Leopard cubs born at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo on June 19 had their six-week health checks last week. This was the first time that the care team has handled the cubs, who have been bonding with their mom, Tria, behind the scenes.  The cubs’ father is Rafferty.

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Male cub 7-31-19
Male cub 7-31-19

Amur leopard male getting weighed croppedPhoto Credit (all except top photo): Maria Simmons

Amur Leopards are the most endangered of all big Cats, so this birth is a significant boost for the species. Fewer than 90 individuals remain in the wild in their native habitat in the Amur River Basin in Far East Russia.

The zoo’s care team has been observing the cubs via closed-circuit camera with minimal intervention to allow Tria to care for them undisturbed, and she has proven to be a great mom. Veterinary staff were able to administer the cubs’ 6-week vaccinations during the checkup, as well as weigh them and check their development.  The male weighed 6.2 pounds, and the female weighed 5.6 pounds.

The zoo acquired Tria and Rafferty last year from the Greenville, SC. and San Diego zoos respectively as part of the Species Survival Plan for Amur Leopards.

This species faces extinction because of habitat destruction for logging and farming, overhunting of its prey by humans and illegal poaching for their beautiful coats. Those in the wild are now protected in a preserve established by Russia in 2012, but the wild population is so small that inbreeding has become another threat to the species’ survival.


Penguin Chicks Add to Conservation Success at Rosamond Gifford Zoo

Penguin chick Lima hatched May 4 2019Photo credit: Maria Simmons

Two Humboldt Penguin chicks hatched at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo on May 1 and May 4. The chicks made their public debut in early June.

The chicks are both males and are named Peru and Lima (“Lee-ma”) in honor of their native habitat off the coast of Peru.

Penguin chick Peru by Maria S
Penguin chick Peru by Maria S
Penguin chick Peru by Maria S
Penguin chick Peru by Maria SPhoto Credit: Maria Simmons

Both chicks are the offspring of Penguin parents Frederico and Poquita. Foster parents Venti and Isa are helping to raise the older chick, Peru, to give both chicks a strong start. The adults will feed the chicks until they are big enough to take fish directly from keepers. Penguins at the zoo are hand-fed twice a day so animal care staff can keep records of how much food each bird consumes.

Weighing only a few ounces at hatching, the chicks have grown rapidly. Each now weighs well over five pounds.

The new chicks bring the number of birds in the zoo’s Humboldt Penguin colony to 34. They will remain off exhibit with their parents until their waterproof feathers come in, then they will practice their swimming skills in the small indoor pool before joining the rest of the colony later this year.

Zoo Director Ted Fox said the new chicks were bred as part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP) for Humboldt Penguins overseen by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums. More than 55 Penguin chicks have hatched at the zoo since it joined the SSP in 2005, and many have gone to other AZA institutions to help preserve the species.

Humboldt Penguins are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. In historic times, their nesting grounds were destroyed by guano mining, where deposits of their excrement were dug up and sold as fertilizer. In recent decades, changes in ocean temperatures, ocean acidification, and overfishing in the Penguins' hunting waters have pushed populations even lower. Today, about 32,000 mature individuals are estimated to live on the coasts of Peru and Chile.


Bison Calf Awes Visitors at Rosamond Gifford Zoo

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While zoo visitors watched in awe, an American Bison calf was born on exhibit at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo. New mother, Sue, went into labor around 11 a.m. and the baby was born at 12:30 p.m. on May 9.

The calf is the second Bison baby to be born at the zoo to Sue and male, Harley. Sue had their first calf, Abigail, in 2017. The new calf has been named Madison as part of the zoo’s “I Love New York” theme of naming new arrivals after New York cities and towns. Animal care staff are not yet sure of the calf’s sex.

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60131115_10155968412741573_6488226220109463552_oPhoto Credits: Rosamond Gifford Zoo

American Bison once numbered in the millions, but they came close to extinction by 1900, when only about 1,000 remained. Conservation efforts led by the Bronx Zoo have restored the population to about 500,000 in zoos, preserves and protected parklands. In 2016, the American Bison was named the US National Mammal.

“With this second Bison birth, we are doing our part to contribute to the health of this species,” said Zoo Director, Ted Fox. “It is a great experience to participate in the conservation of this iconic animal.”

Onondaga County Executive, Ryan McMahon, said the birth represents another achievement for the zoo. “Our zoo is doing great things to help save endangered species, and this Bison calf is one more success story,” McMahon said. “My congratulations go out to zoo leadership, the animal care staff and the Cornell University Veterinary team that assists in medical care at the zoo.”

With several school field trips visiting the zoo on May 9, a small crowd gathered at the Bison exhibit as onlookers realized an animal was giving birth. Zookeepers stood by, observing from several vantage points, while a couple of keepers answered visitors’ questions.

Many visitors refer to the Bison as “buffalo,” but only Bison are native to North and South America as well as Europe. According to Ted Fox, many people confuse the two species of hoofed mammal, but Buffalo only reside in Africa and Asia.

For information on the zoo, visit www.rosamondgiffordzoo.org . For info on zoo events, visit www.syracusezooevents.org .


Handsome Elephant Born at Rosamond Gifford Zoo

Baby 1-24-19 by Maria Simmons

A healthy Asian Elephant was born at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, New York, on January 15.

The male calf arrived at 5:30am and is the second calf born to female, Mali, and bull elephant, Doc (both age 21). At birth, the baby weighed 268 pounds and measured about 3 feet tall.

The Rosamond Gifford Zoo is among 30 accredited zoos that participate in the Species Survival Plan for Asian Elephants overseen by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA).

Mom and Baby by Ashley Sheppard

Laying down in hose day 5Photo Credits: Rosamond Gifford Zoo

“Asian Elephants are critically endangered in the wild, so it’s a huge accomplishment to be able to breed them in human care,” Onondaga County Executive, Ryan McMahon, said. “I congratulate the zoo and its dedicated animal care staff, as well as the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine team that assisted them in preparing for this birth.”

“An elephant’s gestation period ranges from 20 to 24 months. Mali’s pregnancy lasted an estimated 660 days,” said Zoo Director Ted Fox. “After determining the pregnancy was progressing well over a year ago, the elephant care and veterinary team began preparing for a Christmas 2018 due date,” Fox said.

In recent months, the team conducted birthing drills in the elephant husbandry barn, using a life-size inflatable elephant to represent Mali and a giant boat buoy to represent the baby.

Mali started showing signs of active labor at 5:30 a.m. January 15, and the baby was born less than a half hour later. Mother and baby are reportedly both doing fine, and staff will monitor them closely while giving Mali and her newborn time to bond.

The zoo will be posting photo and video updates on its social media platforms so the public can see the baby’s progress leading up to a springtime introduction to the public.

The zoo is in the midst of a construction project to expand its Asian Elephant Preserve from 4.5 acres to 6 acres and improve viewing access to elephants and other species on the Wildlife Trail. The construction is expected to be completed by Memorial Day weekend.

Asian Elephants are the species the Syracuse Zoo is most famous for helping to save as part of its AZA wildlife conservation mission. Of several thousand zoos and aquariums in North America, only 232 have passed the rigorous inspections required for AZA accreditation. Of those, 30 have Asian Elephants and only 11 have breeding programs for this endangered species.

The new addition brings the zoo’s elephant herd to eight animals, including a three-generation family group that includes Mali and Doc’s first calf, Batu, a male who turns 4 in May, and Mali’s mother, Targa, 35. The Preserve also is home to the calves’ three unrelated “aunties” -- matriarch, Siri, who turns 52 this year, as well as Romani, 41, and her daughter Kirina, 23.

Asian Elephants are classified as “Critically Endangered” in their native habitat in Asia and India due to habitat destruction and hunting and poaching by humans. Only about 30,000 are estimated to remain in the wild.

The zoo’s successful participation in the AZA Species Survival Plan, its state-of-the art elephant care facilities – including a 50,000-gallon elephant watering hole with green infrastructure – its experienced elephant care team and its Cornell Veterinary team set it apart as a model for elephant programs around the world.


Red Panda Brothers Born at Rosamond Gifford Zoo

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Twin Red Panda cubs were born June 21 at Rosamond Gifford Zoo. The two healthy male cubs were born to the Zoo’s resident breeding pair: mother, Tabei, and father, Ketu.

The cubs are currently being hand-raised by keepers. Zoo Director, Ted Fox, shared that Tabei demonstrated some initial difficulty in caring for them on her own. Keepers are providing bottle-feeds every four hours and monitoring the cubs’ intake and weights.

Keepers have named the cubs ‘Loofah’ and ‘Doofah’, from the film, “The Land Before Time” (also a nod to the Zoo’s summer-long Dinosaur Invasion exhibit).

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3_DoofahPhoto Credits: Rosamond Gifford Zoo

Red Pandas are an endangered species, with fewer than 10,000 estimated remaining in the wild in the Himalayan Mountains. They are called pandas because, like the Giant Pandas of China, they eat primarily bamboo. The word “panda” comes from a Nepali word meaning “bamboo eater.”

The Rosamond Gifford Zoo is involved in increasing the Red Panda population through the Species Survival Plan (SSP) for Red Pandas overseen by its accrediting organization, the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA). The Red Panda SSP works to pair unrelated animals from a diverse gene pool in the interest of producing healthy offspring for survival of the species.

Onondaga County Executive, Joanie Mahoney, praised the Zoo for its success in breeding these endangered animals: “Having recently celebrated National Zookeeper Week, we can say that we are very proud of our Zoo staff and we appreciate their dedication and hard work on behalf of all the animals in their care.”

The new cubs are Tabei’s third set of offspring since 2015. Her first cubs, males Rohan and Pumori, went on to start their own families at the Central Park Zoo and the Erie Zoo. Ravi and Amaya, a male and female born in 2016, are now at the Detroit Zoo and the Sacramento Zoo respectively.

The new cubs will continue to be hand-fed and monitored by zookeepers while being kept in an isolette in the Zoo’s Veterinary Clinic. As they get larger, they will be moved to the glass-enclosed room off the Rosamond Gifford Zoo’s upper lobby. According to keepers, they should be ready to move to the Red Panda habitat on the zoo’s Wildlife Trail later this year.


Now Hear This: Red Panda Cubs Make Their Debut

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A Red Panda cub appears to give its twin an earful as they make their media debut last week at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo.   The cubs were born on June 27, but they’ve still got a lot of growing to do before they enter their exhibit habitat to meet zoo guests.

The cubs, one male and one female, are named Ravi, which means “king,” and Amiya, translated as “delight.” Second-time mother Tabei has been caring for the cubs in an off-exhibit nest box since their birth. Their father, Ketu, is a second-time dad.

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RGZ Red Panda Cubs 2016
RGZ Red Panda Cub 2016 -4Photo Credit:  Maria Simmons



Zoo keepers have been conducting regular weight and wellness checks to monitor the cubs’ growth and health. Daily observations will continue until they are weaned around five to six months of age.  Right now, the cubs have opened their eyes and can move about, but aren’t quite ready to climb out of the nest box. 

In the wild, Red Panda cubs begin leaving the nest for short periods when they are about three months old. 

As an accredited zoo, The Rosamond Gifford Zoo is part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan (SSP) for Red Pandas.

“The successful birth of these cubs is important to the North American population and comes after careful planning and preparation by our animal staff on the recommendation of the SSP. We are thrilled to share this good news and remain optimistic that the cubs will continue to thrive under their mother’s care,” says Zoo Director Ted Fox.

Red Pandas are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, with less than 10,000 individuals remaining in the eastern Himalayas and southwestern China. The loss of nesting trees and bamboo due to deforestation has caused a decline in their numbers.

 


Red Panda Duo Debuts at Rosamond Gifford Zoo

1_RGZ red panda 1_JaimeAlvarez

The Rosamond Gifford Zoo, in Syracuse, New York, is pleased to announce the birth of two Red Pandas. The male cubs, named Pumori and Rohan, were born on June 25. The zoo estimates that the cubs weighed around two to three ounces at birth, as staff was hands-off for the first 10 days of life. Rohan currently weighs a little over one pound and Pumori a little under.

Their mother, Tabei, is a two-year-old first-time mom. Their father, Ketu, is a four-year-old first-time dad. He came to Syracuse from Hamilton Zoo, in New Zealand, and is valuable to the genetic pool of the North American Red Panda population. 

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4_RGZ red panda 5_Pumori_MariaSimmonsPhoto Credits: Rosamond Gifford Zoo

Like his father Ketu, little Pumori is named after a Himalayan mountain. Rohan means  “ascend” in Sanskrit. Their mother, Tabei, is named after Junko Tabei, the first woman to reach the summit of Mt. Everest.

“It is always exciting to have new babies at our zoo. These Red Panda cubs are important to the North American population and a testament to the hard work of our zoo staff. I commend the dedicated keepers and veterinarians for their continued success,” said County Executive Joanne M. Mahoney.

“We are very proud of our Red Panda parents, Tabei and Ketu, and the work of our animal staff. We continue to have a successful Red Panda breeding program here at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo working with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums as part of the Species Survival Plan. The births of Pumori and Rohan will help ensure the survival of this endangered species,” says Zoo Director Ted Fox.

Red Pandas are born blind. Their mother cares for them for the first two to three months of life, until they are weaned. They typically open their eyes around two to three weeks of age. Pumori and Rohan are currently being weaned and will be on exhibit during the day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. inside the zoo’s former birthday party room, located near the Jungle Café seating area. (Schedule subject to change.)

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Baby Elephant Is Third Generation At Rosamond Gifford Zoo

DSC_0041_CassieGuerraWhat kind of baby weighs 281 pounds and stands three feet tall at birth?  The newest member of Rosamond Gifford Zoo’s Asian Elephant herd!

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DSC_0018_JaimeAlvarezPhoto Credits:  Jaime Alvarez (3,7,8,9); Cassie Guerra (1,2,4,5,6)

Eighteen-year-old Mali gave birth to the male calf on Tuesday, May 12.  The calf’s father is 17-year-old Doc.  The calf hasn’t been named yet.

The calf represents the third generation of his family to live at the zoo.  His grandmother Targa gave birth to Mali in 1997.  This calf is Mali’s second offspring.  Another female is expecting a baby later this summer, which will bring to total number of Elephants in the herd to eight.

Asian Elephants are highly social animals, so the calves will thrive in the herd with their mother, grandmother, and “aunties” to look after them. 

The calf’s birth was recommended by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums' Species Survival Plan (SSP) for Asian Elephants to maintain a high level of genetic diversity in the North American population of this endangered species.  Only about 35,000 of these magnificent beasts remain in the wild. 

See more photos of the Elephant calf below.

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Rosamond Gifford Zoo ‘Feeling Cheesy’ about Otter Duo

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The Rosamond Gifford Zoo is home to two new North American River Otters. The adorable male pups were born March 8th to six-year-old mom, ‘Brie’, and nine-year-old dad, ‘Johann’, and the cheese-tastic newborns have been named ‘Monterey’ and ‘Jack’. 

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RGZotters_5_JaimeAlvarezPhoto Credits: Jaime Alvarez (Images:1,2,4,5,6,7,8); Maria Simmons (Images:3,9)

The pups weighed about four ounces at birth and were born blind. Newborn otters don’t open their eyes till about four to five weeks of age, and they require significant care by their mother in order to survive. Due to this fact, and Brie’s previously unsuccessful attempts at rearing offspring, zoo staff installed cameras in the otter’s nest box. This has allowed keepers to monitor her pregnancy, and due to their observations, staff made the decision to pull her pups for hand-rearing.

“It is always exciting to have new babies at our zoo. Our animal staff has had remarkable success over the years in hand-rearing animals. I wish them continued success with these new otter pups and commend them for their hard work,” said County Executive Joanne M. Mahoney.

“We are very pleased to welcome Monterey and Jack and look forward to their growth and development over the next few months,” says Zoo Director Ted Fox. “Their father, Johann, is extremely energetic and a guest favorite. The eventual introduction of the pups to the otter exhibit will prove to be a very exciting time for our guests and staff.”

Monterey and Jack will be introduced to the otter exhibit at a later date. For now, the zoo intends for guests to observe feedings. While the pups are being raised behind the scenes, parents Brie and Johann can still be seen daily in the otter habitat, located in the social animal area of the zoo. 

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Good Things Come in Threes

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The Rosamond Gifford Zoo, in Syracuse, New York, recently announced that three new Humboldt Penguin chicks had hatched in the last three weeks.

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IMG_6985Photo Credits: Maria Simmons/Rosamond Gifford Zoo

The zoo’s 40th chick hatched on January 9 to ‘Mario’ and ‘Montaña’ and weighed 79 grams. The 41st chick hatched on January 17 to ‘Frederico’ and ‘Poquita’ and weighed 65 grams. The 42nd chick hatched on January 21 to ‘Frederico’ and ‘Poquita’ and weighed 61 grams.

Zoo staff were able to determine a gender for the 41st chick, and it’s a girl! Staff asked local County Executive, Joanie Mahoney, to help name the chick. She chose ‘Lucia’, which means “light.”

Ted Fox, zoo director, said, “The Rosamond Gifford Zoo continues to play an important role in conserving Humboldt Penguins. Penguins from our colony will travel to other zoos and aquariums to ensure efforts to continue populating the species.”

Humboldt Penguins live along the coast of Peru and Chile in the Humboldt Current. They are endangered, with an estimated 10,000 to 12,000 surviving in the wild.The three chicks will remain under the care of their parents until they are weaned.  They will join the rest of the colony on exhibit at the zoo’s Penguin Coast, later this spring.

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