On Tuesday, July 12, two 3-month-old Amur leopard cub females, Anya and Irina (pronounced Ah-na and eye-REE-na), were given access for the first time to their outdoor habitat at Big Cat Country at the Saint Louis Zoo. The family has been bonding in a private maternity den since the cubs’ birth, allowing time for the cubs to grow large enough to safely navigate all of the obstacles in the outdoor habitat.
Their birth is important for the survival of this critically endangered big cat
(St. Louis, Mo - May 19, 2022) Two critically endangered Amur leopard cubs were born at the Saint Louis Zoo on April 21, 2022. The little females are the first cubs born at the Zoo since 2010 and their births are a significant contribution to the population of Amur leopards in North American zoos. This species is considered one of the most endangered cats in the world.
This adorable little boy joined the Saint Louis Zoo on Monday, March 21, 2022. The baby Guereza colobus monkey, named Ficus, can be seen with his family group at the Primate House or Primate Canopy Trails.
Ficus is the first monkey born at the Zoo since the opening of Michael and Quirsis Riney Primate Canopy Trails, a 35,000-square-foot outdoor expansion connected to the Primate House. The Zoo is excited to be able to offer baby and mom, along with the rest of the colobus family, access to this outdoor space, providing the baby with valuable time in nature, sunlight, and fresh air. For the first time, guests can welcome a new baby in this outdoor habitat.
Ten years ago, the Saint Louis Zoo celebrated the hatching of the world's first successful zoo-bred Ozark hellbenders at the Zoo. Today, our hellbender nursery has 1,333 recent hatchlings of endangered Ozark and eastern hellbender salamanders! From October through December this year, 750 second-generation Saint Louis Zoo-bred Ozark hellbenders hatched at the Charles H. Hoessle Herpetarium. In addition to this exciting progress, the Missouri Department of Conservation also brought Ozark and eastern hellbender eggs to us from Missouri river systems to safely hatch in our care, resulting in 583 of the 1,333 hatchlings. Located in a private space outside the Herpetarium are two large streams created specifically for breeding groups of Ozark hellbenders. The herpetology keepers scuba dive into these streams to collect the fertilized eggs and bring them into the Herpetarium for specialized care. The keepers also take this time to weigh and measure the adult hellbenders. In this video, go underwater with a keeper to collect hellbender eggs and see how the Zoo cares for them from egg to hatchling!
Utamu (pronounced oo-TAH-moo), an 18-year-old chimpanzee at the SaintLouis Zoo, gave birth to a yet-to-be-named female baby around 3:30 a.m. on Wednesday, October 28, 2020, at Jungle of the Apes.
“We are all very happy to have a new baby in the troop and it is so great to see Utamu become a mother,” said Heidi Hellmuth, Curator of Primates, SaintLouis Zoo.
The baby appears to be healthy and is clinging to mom well, according to the Zoo’s primate care team and veterinarians. The team will watch the mother and infant closely during the coming days and weeks, monitoring for nursing and observing the behavior of Utamu and the baby.
“We are hopeful that everything will continue to go well for both mom and baby. The next couple of months are critical,” said Helen Boostrom, Zoological Manager of Primates, SaintLouis Zoo. “Our highly skilled, experienced primate care team has built strong, trusting relationships with the chimpanzees, which are integral to providing the high level of care and training involved in preparing Utamu for birth and rearing her infant.”
Utamu and her baby will stay in a private maternity area for some time to allow them to continue to strengthen their bond. A public debut date is not known at this time. Zoo guests may see other members of the chimpanzee troop in the outdoor Donn and Marilyn Lipton Fragile Forest habitats, weather permitting.
The birth was the result of a breeding recommendation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Chimpanzee Species Survival Plan, a scientific program to manage a genetically healthy chimpanzee population for this critically endangered species.
Over a 10-week period, from November 20, 2018, through January 30, 2019, eleven calves from six different ungulate species were born at the Saint Louis Zoo!
The new calves— three Speke’s Gazelles, two Addaxes, a Soemmerring’s Gazelle, a Grevy’s Zebra, two Lesser Kudus and two Lowland Nyalas — are healthy and have been bonding with their mothers behind the scenes at Red Rocks.
New zebra foal, Nova, and her mom can be seen in their habitat, weather permitting.
Photo Credits: Saint Louis Zoo /Speke’s Gazelle Calves (Images 1-3), Addax Calves (4-5), Soemmerring’s Gazelle (6), Grevy’s Zebra foal (7), Lesser Kudu calves (8-9), Lowland Nyala calves (10-11)
These important births were recommended by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plans (SSP), which are responsible for maintaining genetically healthy populations of these ungulate species in North American zoos.
Five of these SSPs are coordinated by Zoo staff. The Saint Louis Zoo’s WildCare Institute Center for Conservation in the Horn of Africa and Saharan Wildlife Recovery Center supports conservation of unique species in Africa.
A female Mongoose Lemur, born at the Saint Louis Zoo on March 19, can now be seen by visitors as she plays with her mom, Dahlia, and dad, Snuffy, in the Zoo’s Primate House.
This is the first successful birth and rearing of a Mongoose Lemur at the Zoo, a milestone for the critically endangered species and a credit to the hundreds of hours of work contributed by the entire animal care team at the Primate House.
Known as “Princess Buttercup”, the baby is healthy and very energetic. However, her first few months of life started off a bit rocky, requiring round-the-clock care and feeding by the Zoo’s primate care staff.
Photo Credits: Ethan Riepl (Images 1,3,4) /Mylisa Whipple (2)/ Saint Louis Zoo
Six-year-old Dahlia has previously been unsuccessful in raising her infants, so when this pregnancy was confirmed, primate keepers consulted with numerous colleagues and conservation organizations with extensive lemur experience for advice. After creating a comprehensive birth plan, a decision was made to intervene early after this birth.
From the beginning, Dahlia cared for the baby in every way except nursing. She groomed, kept her warm, and let Princess Buttercup hang onto her fur. The animal care staff hand fed formula to the 68.5-gram (about 2.4 ounces) newborn using a syringe and performed regular weigh-ins and check-ups to make sure she was gaining weight and progressing normally.
For the first three weeks, Princess Buttercup was fed every two hours and demanded almost constant attention. Through training and a trusting relationship between the keepers and the lemur parents, Dahlia and Snuffy allowed the keepers to feed, weigh and monitor their baby since her birth. At 3 ½ months old, she now receives three formula feedings a day and is trying out a variety of adult foods as well.
The entire team of dedicated primate keepers altered their schedules in order to provide 24-hour care for this new baby, making sure that she was healthy, comfortable and well fed.
“We are all thrilled that Princess Buttercup is thriving and that we were able to assist Dahlia in raising her baby,” said Mylisa Whipple, one of the primate unit keepers who was instrumental in preparing the birth plan. “It’s an exhausting process to raise a child – any parent can attest to this – but every Mongoose Lemur birth is extremely important for this endangered species and we wanted to do the absolute best for her. It’s an amazing feeling to see her doing so well after such a tough start.”
This birth is part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Mongoose Lemur Species Survival Plan, a program to manage a genetically healthy population of Mongoose Lemurs in North American zoos. With Princess Buttercup’s birth, there are now a total of 68 Mongoose Lemurs in all AZA zoos (38 female, 30 male).
The Mongoose Lemur (Eulemur mongoz) is a critically endangered species native to the dry forests of northwestern Madagascar, where it searches for its diet of nectar, fruit, flowers and leaves. The small lemur weighs only 3 to 4 pounds as an adult.
Like many other lemurs, the Mongoose Lemur is in danger of extinction in the wild, due to continued habitat loss, as their forest homes are logged for timber and turned into farmland.
*The Saint Louis Zoo is home to the international headquarters of the Madagascar Fauna and Flora Group, a consortium of zoos and aquariums committed to conserving lemurs and other wildlife species within their native habitat.
A male Black-and-white Colobus Monkey was born at the Saint Louis Zoo on December 29. Zookeepers will name the baby at a later date, but visitors can see the new family at the Primate House during regular Zoo hours.
Photo Credits: Saint Louis Zoo & Ethan Riepl (Images 1-3) / Robin Winkelman (Image 4)
Colobus infants are born with all white hair and a pink face. In contrast, adults are primarily black, with white hair encircling their faces and half of their tails. Adults have a distinctive mantle of long white hair extending from their shoulders around the edge of their backs. An infant’s hair coat will change gradually until they reach adult coloration at about 6 months.
Colobus live in multi-female families and take turns caring for each other’s newborns, which is known as ‘allomothering’. Eighteen-year-old, Cecelia, is the dominant female and an experienced mother who is taking great care of the newborn, as well as her one-year-old daughter, Willow. Also in the family, or troop, are brothers Ziggy (age 2) and Simon (3), and their half-sister, Binti (4). Eleven-year-old father Kima can be seen watching stoically over his family and interacting with the youngsters.
The baby will stay with mom for nursing and sleeping. But at other times throughout the day, it’s will be common to see older sister, Binti, take the baby while mom eats or interacts with other members of the family, according to zookeepers. This is a skill necessary for female youngsters to learn so they become successful mothers in the future.
“The new baby is doing really well and becoming very interested in everything happening around him,” says Brooke Johnson, Saint Louis Zoo primate keeper and Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) institutional representative for the Black-and-white Colobus Monkey. “Brother and sister, Binti and Simon, are doing a great job taking care of and looking after their new sibling; and one-year old Willow is adjusting very well to sharing her mom with her baby brother."
The Abyssinian Black-and-white Colobus Monkey (Colobus guereza), also known as the Mantled Guereza, the Guereza, or the Eastern Black-and-white Colobus is a Black-and-white Colobus (a type of Old World monkey).
Black-and-white Colobuses (or colobi) are monkeys of the genus Colobus and are native to Africa. They are closely related to the Brown Colobus Monkeys of genus Piliocolobus.
The new birth at the Saint Louis Zoo is part of the AZA Colobus Species Survival Plan (SSP), a program to manage a genetically healthy population of Black-and-white Colobus Monkeys in North American zoos.
For the first time in Saint Louis Zoo history, a Cheetah has given birth to eight cubs. Three males and five females were born at the Saint Louis Zoo River’s Edge Cheetah Breeding Center on November 26, 2017.
In over 430 litters documented by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), this is the first time a female Cheetah has produced and reared on her own a litter of eight cubs at a zoo. The average litter size is three to four cubs.
The first few months of life are critical for newborn Cheetahs. The Saint Louis Zoo’s animal care staff is closely monitoring the new family and it appears that all eight cubs are healthy. Four-year-old Bingwa (BING-wah), which means “champion” in Swahili, continues to be an exemplary mother, according to the Cheetah care team.
“She has quickly become adept at caring for her very large litter of cubs: grooming, nursing and caring for them attentively,” says Steve Bircher, curator of mammals/carnivores at the Saint Louis Zoo.
Photo Credits: Carolyn Kelly & Saint Louis Zoo (Images 1,2,4) / Saint Louis Zoo (Images 3,5)
Bingwa is on loan to the Saint Louis Zoo from Wildlife Safari in Winston, Oregon. The cub’s nine-year-old father, Jason, is on loan from White Oak Conservation in Yulee, Florida. The birth of these eight cubs is a result of a breeding recommendation from the AZA Cheetah Species Survival Plan (SSP), a program to manage a genetically healthy population of cheetahs in North American zoos.
“We’ve brought together Cheetahs from great distances to continue this important breeding program,” says Bircher. “These handsome cats add genetic diversity to the North American Cheetah SSP population.”
Since 1974, the Zoo has been a leader in Cheetah reproductive research and breeding. Over 50 cubs have been born at the Saint Louis Zoo’s Cheetah Breeding Center.
Historically, Cheetahs have ranged widely throughout Africa and Asia. Today, fewer than 10,000 individuals inhabit a broad section of Africa, and less than 100 remain in Iran. Over the past 50 years, Cheetahs have become extinct in at least 13 countries. The main causes of decline are human-cheetah conflict, interspecific competition and lack of genetic diversity.
To help protect Cheetahs in the wild, the Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Institute Center for Conservation of Carnivores in Africa is working with its partners in Tanzania and Namibia to coordinate cheetah conservation efforts, including education, research and other programs to mitigate human-cheetah conflicts.
“Cheetahs are frequently persecuted for killing livestock. Our conservation partners are finding ways to improve the lives of local herders by providing education opportunities, food and medical supplies, so they can live peacefully with Cheetahs and support their protection,” says Bircher.
According to staff, the Zoo’s mother and eight cubs are doing well and will remain in their private, indoor maternity den behind the scenes at River’s Edge for the next several months.