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The Sacramento Zoo is asking the public to help NAME its baby giraffe. All proceeds from this naming contest and donation opportunity will go toward its campaign to build an amazing new, state-of-the-art zoological park (the first to be built in more than 30 years!)! All donations of $10 and more are entered for a chance to win a meet and greet with the new calf and her mother in the giraffe barn! And, of course, then there is the raffle to NAME the baby!
Shani the giraffe gave birth to a female calf on Sunday, January 22, at 12:28pm. Her Sacramento Zoo zookeepers noted signs of an impending birth on January 18, and Shani was moved into the maternity stall of the giraffe barn to be monitored. Although animal care and veterinary teams were suspicious that she might still be pregnant, just not on her original timeline, there were no definitive signs until very recently.
Back in April, an egg barely the size of a ping-pong ball arrived at the Woodland Park Zoo from the Sacramento Zoo, where its parents were not able to incubate it.
On April 17, a feisty little Burrowing Owl chick pipped its way out of that egg. The chick, a male, was named Papú. His name, which is pronounced like paw-POO, with emphasis on the second syllable, means “Burrowing Owl” in the dialect of the Yakama tribes of eastern Washington. Little Papú, who also goes by the nickname Pippin, was at hatching barely a few inches long, covered in white downy plumage, and his eyes were not open yet.
Because Papú will be reared by his keepers, it was decided that he will become an ambassador animal at the Woodland Park Zoo. In this very important role, Papú will meet zoo guests to help build a strong connection between people and wildlife. Right away, Papú captured the hearts of the animal keepers who will feed him, raise him, train with him throughout his life, and generally just let him become his best little Owl-self.
Papú is now nearly two months old and already adult-size, although he still has some of the downy plumage of a chick. Most baby birds are the same size as their parents by the time they’re ready to leave the nest—and Papú is just at that age. Adult feathers, which are mottled brown and white, are already starting to grow in, including those all-important flight feathers.
At this point, his flights are limited to practice take-offs and soft, but not always graceful, landings on his keepers’ laps or the ground. Within another week or so, he will probably take his first real flight, and by early autumn Papú will have his adult plumage and his eyes and beak will start turning yellow.
Burrowing Owls are small, long-legged Owls found throughout open landscapes of North and South America. These tiny predators—they’re only 8 to 11 inches tall and weigh between 5 to 8 ounces when fully grown—can be found in grasslands, rangelands and throughout the Great Plains.
They nest and roost in underground burrows that might have been dug out by prairie dogs or ground squirrels, although they can create their own burrows if needed. Unlike most Owls, Burrowing Owls are active day or night hunting for beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, mice and small lizards. The Burrowing Owl is endangered in Canada and threatened in Mexico. Although still common in much of the U.S., its population numbers are in decline and they are listed as threatened in several states due to the eradication of prairie dogs and loss of habitat.
See more photos below, including several of Papú right after he hatched.
Shani, a six-year-old Masai Giraffe at the Sacramento Zoo, gave birth to a healthy 163-pound male calf on April 10.
The calf has been given the name Rocket. Zookeepers chose the name based on his playful personality and "on-the-go" attitude.
Currently, mother and son spend most of their time behind-the-scenes in the barn, bonding, with periodic exercise sessions in the side-yard. Rocket is also becoming acquainted with his herd-mates, or “tower”, as they stick their head over fences or stall doors to inspect him. The calf is also learning to manipulate browse with his long, prehensile tongue, even though nursing is his still his main source of nourishment.
Based on the signs Rocket, Shani, and the rest of the herd are giving, zookeepers anticipate the pair making their public exhibit debut in mid-May. However much like other timelines at the Zoo, staff members confess that everything will be done on mom and the calf’s terms.
In the meantime, Rocket and Shani will have intermittent access to the giraffe barn’s side-yard, where lucky and quiet guests might catch a glimpse of Rocket. Staff report that these viewing areas will continue to remain quiet zones, creating a peaceful environment for the pair until the time that they venture out into the main exhibit.
Photo Credits: Sacramento Zoo
The Sacramento Zoo is now home to six giraffes: three female Reticulated Giraffes, one male Masai Giraffe (Chifu, the father of the new calf), one female Masai Giraffe (Shani, the mother), and the calf. In 2010, the Zoo completed renovations on the giraffe exhibit that includes a state-of-the-art, heated barn. This is the 19th calf born at the Sacramento Zoo, going back to 1964 when the species was first housed here.
The Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) is divided into nine subspecies. There are three subspecies most commonly found in zoological facilities: Reticulated, Rothschild, and Masai.
The Masai Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi), also known as the Kilimanjaro Giraffe, is the largest subspecies and tallest land mammal. It is native to Kenya and Tanzania.
In addition to a difference in size, Reticulated and Masai Giraffes have slightly different spot patterns; a Masai Giraffe's spots are usually darker and irregular in shape.
Gestation is 14 to 15 months with the female giving birth alone in a secluded spot away from predators. When a calf is born, it can be as tall as six feet and weigh 150 pounds. Within minutes, the baby is able to stand on its own.
According to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, the Masai may be the most populous of the Giraffe subspecies. There is an estimated fewer than 37,000 remaining in the wild, (though recent reports of significant poaching would suggest it likely to be significantly less) and approximately 100 individuals kept in zoos.
Habitat loss, poaching, disease and civil unrest pose the most significant threats to wild giraffe.
It’s been a busy hatching season for Western Pond Turtles at the Sacramento Zoo. So far, seven eggs have been collected from the zoo’s Turtles and placed in an incubator until they hatch after 13 to 17 weeks.
Photo Credit: Sacramento Zoo
The tiny hatchlings weigh only five grams at hatching – about the same as five paper clips. They’ll stay indoors under zoo keepers’ care until they are large enough to be released into lake exhibits within the zoo.
The Sacramento Zoo is home to one of the largest populations of Western Pond Turtles housed within a zoo. As Turtles are found in the zoo’s lakes, they are weighed and measured. This data set, compiled over the last two decades, adds to the body of knowledge on growth information for this species. Western Pond Turtles in zoos are managed by the AZA Species Survival Plan to maintain genetic diversity.
In the wild, Western Pond Turtles are native to the western coast of North America, from Canada to Baja California, living in marshes, ponds, and wetlands, where they often bask on logs and boulders. These Turtles have disappeared from much of the northern segment of their range because wetlands have been converted for agricultural use. As a result, Turtle populations have become fragmented. The species is listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Photo Credits: Erik Bowker (Images 1,2,3,4,5); Andrys Basten (Images 6,7,8,9,10)
The African Lion family of five has been together for a month now, and the interactions between the cubs and parents are amazing to watch. Lions are different from other cat species, living in prides instead of being solitary in their behavior. The 16-week-old trio of cubs are learning from their parents, testing boundaries and sometimes being scolded by mom and dad. They are learning how to be one of the pride, what their roles are and the hierarchy between the cubs themselves.
The cubs also learn specific behaviors from the same sex parent. The male cub pays close attention to how his sire acts, and you'll often see them spending time alone together as the cub learns how to be a male lion. The same goes for the pair of female cubs and time with their mom.
Along with chewing on grass, sticks and sometimes each other, the cubs are nursing less and starting to eat whole food following mom's example at mealtime. This switch will help the cubs get the nutrition they need during their rapid growth spurts.
The extra barrier in front of the lion exhibit, at the Zoo, has now been removed so visitors can enjoy a better view of the pride.
The Sacramento Zoo’s Lion Cub trio is now on public exhibit! The two female cubs and one male cub are now exploring the exhibit, with curiosity, under the watchful eyes of their mother.
Photo Credits: Amanda Watters
The mother and her nine week old cubs will have periodic access to the exhibit, giving them time for short romps and lengthy catnaps, as well as time away from the public. Zookeepers will be continuing off-exhibit introductions of the sire to the dam and her cubs, creating one family unit over the next few weeks.
ZooBorns introduced the cubs to readers, back in November. The cubs were born October 24. The lioness has been taking excellent care of her charges, in the behind-the-scenes dens, as they learn to follow her (which is important in Lion society as prides are often on the move) and develop all their skills.
Unlike other cat species that are fairly solitary, Lions live in groups or “prides.” If multiple females in a pride have cubs, they will pool them into a larger cub communal group called a “crèche.” These females will take turns caring and overseeing the crèche, until the cubs are around two years of age.
Lions usually spend 16 to 20 hours a day sleeping and resting, devoting the remaining hours to hunting, courting and protecting their territory. They are highly territorial and keep in contact with one another by roaring loud enough to be heard up to five miles away. African Lions are excellent hunters. Although they are mostly nocturnal, they are opportunistic and will hunt anytime, day or night. Females do 85 to 90 percent of the pride’s hunting while the males patrol the territory and protect the pride.
The Sacramento Zoo was excited to announce the birth of three African Lion cubs on October 24th! The cubs are now four weeks old. They have learned to walk and are beginning to play with one another, and their first-time mother is continuing to do a fantastic job caring for her cubs.
“So far, we are pleased with the progress of the female and her cubs. Females would naturally take some ‘maternity leave’ from the rest of the pride for the first 4-8 weeks,” said Dr. Adrian Fowler, Acting Director of the Sacramento Zoo. “Our own female will be off-exhibit for a while to allow her the same kind of mother-cub bonding. If all goes well, we are hopeful that the cubs will be ready to explore their exhibit in the weeks running up to Christmas.”
A female lion’s gestation is 3 ½ months with a litter typically ranging from two to four cubs. They are born with eyes closed and rely entirely on their mother for the first few months. Mother and cubs will be inside the den, away from public view, while the babies gain strength and coordination.
Lions usually spend 16 to 20 hours a day sleeping and resting, devoting the remaining hours to hunting, courting and protecting their territory. They protect their territory and keep in contact with one another by roaring loud enough to be heard up to five miles away. African Lions are excellent hunters. Although they are mostly nocturnal, they are opportunistic and will hunt anytime, day or night. Females do 85 to 90 percent of the pride’s hunting, while the males patrol the territory and protect the pride.
Lions are classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List, but they are considered regionally endangered in West Africa, where an estimated 42% of major lion populations are declining. Their habitats are now only in game reserves in Eastern and Southern Africa. Loss of genetic diversity from inbreeding, fragmentation, diseases and habitat loss are all problems that continue to threaten this species. Diseases from domestic cats and dogs have also made an impact on wild populations.
The Sacramento Zoo participates in the Lion Species Survival Plan (SSP). The Lion SSP works with captive populations to increase awareness of the problems that face this big cat.
Sacramento Zoo's Red Panda cub is making good progress! The cub, a male born on June 9th, weighs about one and a half pounds (685 grams), and eats about twenty percent of his body weight every day over the course of four feedings. Zoo staff decided to hand-raise the cub at two weeks-old because his mom did not seem to be producing enough milk. (You can read our first story about the cub here.) So far, the effort has been a success: he is exactly where he should be developmentally for his age, slowly gaining coordination and testing out his climbing abilities on veterinarians. His ears have perked up too!
A baby Red Panda born on June 9 at the Sacramento Zoo is thriving under the constant care of his zoo keepers.
Photo Credit: Mike Owyang
The cub, a male, was the first offspring for the zoo's Red Panda pair. When the cub was about two and a half weeks old, the zoo staff observed that the female may not have been providing enough milk for her cub, so they decided to hand-rear the cub, as described here on ZooBorns.
The cub is a voracious eater, consuming about 20% of his body weight every day in four bottle feedings. Keepers report that he is on track developmentally for his age, and practices his climbing skills on the veterinarians!
Zoo guests can see the cub being fed twice a day through the window of the zoo's Veterinary Hospital.
Red Pandas are under threat in their native range in the mountains of Nepal and China due to habitat loss. The name "panda" is derived from a Nepalese word meaning "bamboo eater."
See more photos of the Red Panda cub below the fold.