Santa Barbara Zoo
Vinnie the Banded Palm Civet
Vinnie the Banded Palm Civet was born to a pair of civets living behind the scenes at the Zoo and is just about a month old. Nashville Zoo’s veterinary team is hand-rearing Vinnie. The hope for Vinnie is that he will become an ambassador animal. Civets are nocturnal so Vinnie spends the majority of his day napping. He will be hand-reared until he is fully weaned, and the vet team estimates that it will be in about a month. Full-grown Civets can weigh around 6 pounds. You can come see Vinnie in the window of the neonatal room at Nashville Zoo's HCA Healthcare Veterinary Center.
Amur Leopard Cub
On August 6th at 4:05 am, the Santa Barbara Zoo’s Amur leopard, Ajax, gave birth to her first cub, and the two are doing well and currently bonding behind the scenes. The cub is a female and has been given the name Marta by her Premier Foster Feeder sponsors, Marta Holsman Babson and Henrietta Holsman Fore. The cub weighed in at 517 gms (1.1 lbs) at its first medical examination on August 6.
This is the first Amur leopard birth at the Santa Barbara Zoo in more than 20 years. Ajax is the most genetically valuable female Amur leopard in North America currently, so this first cub from her will contribute valuable genetics to the population in human care. Amur leopards are the most endangered of all the big cats, with less than 100 remaining in the wild, and the Zoo has been attempting to breed the species for several years now as part of the conservation efforts for this species. This is the fourth litter for Kasha, who arrived at the Zoo in March 2020, just prior to the first coronavirus closure. The pairing of Ajax and Kasha was recommended by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) as part of the Amur Leopard Species Survival Plan (SSP), a program to maintain genetic diversity of threatened and endangered species in human care.
Animal care staff at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) are hand-raising a male cheetah cub for several weeks before placing the cub with a foster cheetah mother at another zoo. The cub was one of a litter of three born to 7-year-old female Sukiri Sept. 16; the other two cubs were stillborn. Keepers report the cub is strong, active, vocal and eating well. The Cheetah Cub Cam is offline as the cub is no longer in the den.
While Sukiri nursed the surviving cub overnight, providing critical warmth, colostrum and hydration, she started to ignore the cub the morning of Sept. 17. She did not appear agitated when the cub was removed by keepers from her yard later that day and continues to behave and eat normally. Sukiri ate the two stillborn cubs, which is not unusual for a carnivore and in line with wild female cheetah behavior as a dead cub invites predators.
Animal care staff are staying around the clock to feed the cub every 2 to 3 1/2 hours in SCBI’s veterinary hospital. The cub is being fed a formula used successfully to hand-raise cheetah cubs at other zoos. In the coming weeks, a female cheetah at another AZA-accredited zoo is set to give birth. At the recommendation of the SSP, this cub will be introduced to that litter pending any other developments.
SCBI spearheads research programs in Virginia, the Zoo in Washington, D.C., and at field research stations and training sites worldwide. SCBI scientists tackle some of today’s most complex conservation challenges by applying and sharing what they learn about animal behavior and reproduction, ecology, genetics, migration and conservation sustainability.
Linton Zoo, UK
On Thursday 19th August, Linton Zoo’s female Tapir Tiana gave birth to a healthy female calf after a normal 13-month gestation. We are pleased to say that Mum, Dad and new baby, as yet un-named, are all doing well.
The Brazilian tapir is a large heavily built mammal of a strange prehistoric appearance. The tapir is in fact so well adapted to its environment that it has remained unchanged for about 30 million years. It lives deep in the Brazilian rainforest where, because of the destruction of its habitat and illegal hunting it is has already become extinct in part of its range. The tapir is a shy creature taking to water when threatened where it is able to stay submerged for hours using its long nose to snorkel until such time it feels it is safe to surface. They feed on roots and vegetation but never strip a bush bare of its leaves, zigzagging their way through the undergrowth, conserving the habitat.
Although tapir have survived for millions of years, living in harmony with nature, their future in the wild is by no means secure. A European breeding programme will provide a safeguard against extinction for these wonderful creatures.
On November 5, the Santa Barbara Zoo ’s African lion, Felicia, gave birth to her first cub, a female named Pauline. Pauline is a meaningful family name selected by her Premier Foster Feeder sponsors, the Mozilo family. The Mozilos also sponsor the cub’s parents, Felicia and Ralph.
On November 19, the cub became critically ill as she was not getting enough milk from her mother (and became hypothermic and hypoglycemic), so the Zoo’s animal care team made the decision to move her to the veterinary hospital for intensive care, where she has been in the incubator, receiving fluid therapy, and has been learning to nurse formula from a bottle.
“The first month of a lion cub’s life is precarious in terms of survival, particularly when born to a first-time mother,” shared Dr. Julie Barnes, the Zoo’s Vice President of Animal Care & Health. “Felicia is a young first-time mother and this situation that has occurred with her cub is not uncommon with inexperienced mothers. We are very happy to report that the cub has been responding well to treatment and is now successfully nursing from a bottle. The cub will remain in the hospital for a little longer and then she will move back to the lion holding area so that she can be in close proximity to her parents, Felicia and Ralph, but will continue to be bottle-fed until she is weaned.”
“We’re happy and relieved to know the cub has recovered and is doing well,” shared Rich Block,
President & CEO of the Santa Barbara Zoo. “I’d like to acknowledge our incredible animal care team who expertly handled the birth and the cub’s critical care needs, and continue to provide around-the-clock care for the cub. This is just the kind of warm and fuzzy news we think everybody can appreciate right now, and we look forward to introducing the new cub to everyone soon!”
The Zoo’s animal care staff were strongly suspicious Felicia was pregnant based on her physical
changes and fecal hormone analysis. Lion pregnancies are only approximately 110 days and although pregnancy can be determined by measuring hormone levels in the female's feces, this is not done until 60 days after mating due to the possibility of a pseudo-pregnancy. If the hormone levels are still elevated 60-70 days after mating, then the female is confirmed pregnant.
“We were encouraged from the very beginning to see how quickly and easily Felicia and Ralph bonded, and observed them breeding frequently as soon as they were introduced,” said Barnes. “As lion populations have been steadily declining in the wild, we’re proud to be a part of the conservation efforts of these majestic animals and to know that these lions are a successful breeding pair.”
This is the first cub for both Felicia (two years old) and Ralph (five years old), who arrived at the Zoo this past May. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) recommended the pairing of Felicia and Ralph as part of its Species Survival Plan to maintain a sustainable population of lions in North America. As part of the AZA’s cooperative breeding program, the Zoo started the planning process to bring in new lions even before the passing of longtime beloved lion, Chadwick, in December of 2019.
Felicia and the cub will remain behind the scenes for approximately eight weeks before making their official public debut. The Zoo will share viewing information as soon as it becomes available, but in the meantime, the public is encouraged to tune in to the Zoo’s social media channels ( Facebook , Instagram , and Twitter ) for updates.
Support the pride! The public is invited to help welcome the new lion cub by becoming a Foster Feeder sponsor of the African lion. New Foster Feeders at all levels will receive a personalized digital Foster Feeder certificate (includes honoree’s name and lion photo), and recognition on the Foster Feeder board at the Zoo. Various donation levels are available on the website with different, wild benefits! For more information or to become a Foster Feeder, click here: https://sbzoo.pivvit.com/african-lion
About African Lions
African lions are the second largest big cat after tigers and are the only truly social cats. In the wild, they live in groups called prides, which consist of six to seven lions on average. All females in a pride are typically related, and outsiders of either gender are not tolerated. Listed as “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature , their population is steadily decreasing in the wild. In just two decades, populations decreased by 43 percent, and it’s estimated that as few as 23,000 remain today. Threats to lions include habitat loss, poaching, and retaliation killings by farmers attempting to protect their livestock. One of the main causes is the alarming rate at which they are losing their habitats due to expanding human populations and the resulting growth of agriculture, settlements, and roads.
About The Santa Barbara Zoo
The Santa Barbara Zoo is open with limited capacity. Online ticket reservations are required for all guests, including Zoo Members, available at www.sbzoo.org . Known as one of the world’s most beautiful zoos, the Santa Barbara Zoo is located on 30 acres of botanic gardens and is home to more than 500 individual animals in open, naturalistic habitats. The Santa Barbara Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), representing the highest level of animal care, and participates in AZA endangered species programs for Masai giraffe, California condor, island fox, and Western lowland gorilla, among others. As a private 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, the Santa Barbara Zoo depends on community support, not tax dollars, for operations and improvements. Visit sbzoo.org .
The Santa Barbara Zoo has a new Masai Giraffe calf. The female arrived on March 14, measuring 6’1” tall and weighing-in at 180 pounds. The Zoo reports that the calf and her mom, Audrey, will stay safely tucked away in the Giraffe Barn until animal care staff determines that she’s ready to venture out on exhibit.
In the mean time, the Santa Barbara Zoo has partnered with their local television station, KEYT NewsChannel 3, to host a naming contest for the female calf. Four names were pre-selected by the Hutton Parker Foundation and the Zoo’s giraffe team, but they are leaving the final decision up to the public. Visit the Zoo’s website to cast your vote: https://sbzoo.pivvit.com/name-audreys-giraffe-calf
The Masai Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi) is the largest subspecies of giraffe and is native to East Africa, particularly central and southern Kenya and Tanzania.
The species is classified as “Vulnerable” by the IUCN, and the Masai Giraffe population is reported to have declined by 52% in recent decades, mainly due to poaching.
As an AZA-accredited institution, the Santa Barbara Zoo participates in what’s called the Species Survival Plan for Masai Giraffes – which makes every giraffe calf born at the Zoo exceptionally important. Through this cooperative program, the calves born all serve a significant role: to help keep their species alive. Thanks to their father, Michael, they all carry rare and valuable genes that are vital to keeping the Masai Giraffe population genetically diverse and healthy.
The Santa Barbara Zoo’s Giant Anteater, Anara, recently gave birth to a rare set of twins! The female pups were born overnight and discovered by keepers on Monday, November 21.
Twins are unusual in this species, and the likelihood for survival of both pups, if left with the mother, is extremely low.
“We monitored the newborn pups and allowed them both to stay with their mother for as long as possible,” says Dr. Julie Barnes, Director of Animal Care and Health. “We had several plans to implement, depending on how they progressed. Although Anara did an amazing job in the first few days, we were starting to see a significant weight discrepancy between the pups. That indicated it was time to start hand-rearing the smaller pup in order to increase the chances of survival of both pups.”
Giant Anteater babies grow fast, and providing enough milk for more than one infant is difficult. In addition, the mother carries the baby on her back until they are nearly her size. Therefore, carrying both twins would prove impossible for the mother after just a few weeks. Anara herself is a twin and was hand- raised at the Fresno Zoo.
Keepers identify the larger pup by two black stripes on her back, while the smallest of the pair has only one stripe. Currently, the smaller pup is in an incubator at the Animal Hospital and is being fed every three hours, around the clock. She will not be on view to the public for several months.
Anara and the larger pup she is caring for are expected to go out on exhibit within the next two weeks, and the pup will be seen clinging to her mother’s back.
“Anara is doing well and is a great mother,” adds Dr. Barnes. “We are delighted that both pups are female, as her previous two surviving pups were male. We need more females in order to ensure we have a genetically healthy population for his species in North America. Her mate Ridley, who came from Germany, has valuable genes that are not well represented so far. Those genes go with his offspring and help diversity the genes of Giant Anteaters in human care in zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.”
Although the birth of twins is rare for Anteaters, it is not so much the case for Anara, as this is her second set of twins out of three pregnancies with Ridley. The pair’s first offspring were twins, a male and female, born in March 2014, but the female newborn did not survive. The male pup was hand-reared and is now at the Tennessee Zoo. Nine months later, another male pup was born and successfully raised by Anara. He now resides at the Birmingham Zoo.
Since 1975, a total of 29 Giant Anteaters have now been born at the Santa Barbara Zoo. Prior to Anara and Ridley’s first litter in 2014, the last time a Giant Anteater was born there was in 2006.
The Zoo was a leader in an early nationwide study of Giant Anteaters, thanks in great part to a special female named ‘Grandma’. The average lifespan for this species is between 20 and 23 years of age, and Grandma lived to be 31 years old. During her life she produced fifteen offspring. She was the oldest Giant Anteater in captivity when she died in 2002.
The Giant Anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla) was once found from northern Argentina to southern Belize, in savannas, grasslands, swampy areas, and humid forests. They have since disappeared from Belize, Guatemala, and probably Costa Rica. In South America, they are also gone from Uruguay and portions of Brazil.
The Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) estimates population loss of at least 30% over the past 10 years, and classifies the species as “Vulnerable.”
Giant Anteaters have a body length of 3 to 4 feet with a tail that is an additional 2 to 3 feet, and weigh 40 to 85 pounds, though some captive Anteaters have weighed more than 100 pounds.
This species uses powerful claws to rip apart termite and ant mounds, and an 18 to 24 inch tongue to eat termites, ants, and grubs. In the wild, they may consume as many as 35,000 ants in a single day. At the Santa Barbara Zoo, they eat a specially formulated insectivore diet, plus avocados, bananas, crickets, and worms. The avocados must be ripe because anteaters do not have teeth; they break open the skin with their long sharp claws.
Anteaters in the wild are solitary, except for females with young, and spend most of their days with their noses to the ground searching for food using exceptional senses of smell and hearing. Their sense of smell is 40 times more powerful than a human’s.
Giant Anteaters typically spend their first months of life clinging to their mother’s backs, where their black and gray stripes line up with those of the mother.
The new Giant Anteaters twins, like many of the animals at the Santa Barbara Zoo, can be named by making a donation to the Zoo. By donating for a chance to name the pups, sponsors also support the AZA Giant Anteater cooperative breeding program, with the goal of increased genetic diversity in North American zoos.
For more information, visit www.sbzoo.org .
A pair of Asian Small-clawed Otters at the Santa Barbara Zoo produced their first litter of pups. Three healthy offspring were born in a nesting box in their holding area on October 7.
As in the wild, Otter parents prefer to keep their pups safely tucked in a den. The Zoo’s newborn Otters will not leave the behind the scenes holding area until they are old enough to safely swim and have grown the teeth needed to eat solid foods.
Depending on how their development progresses, keepers estimate the pups could go on exhibit as early as mid-December.
Animal Care staff had recently confirmed that new mom, Gail, was pregnant and estimated that she was due any day. When keepers arrived the morning of October 7, Gail and the father, Peeta, remained in the nesting box.
“The parents didn’t come out to greet us, and then we heard squeaks,” said the Zoo’s Curator of Mammals Michele Green. “That’s how we knew Gail had given birth.”
Gestation is 68 days, and after birthing, the female stays in the nesting box with the pups. Otter moms are given some relief, however, when new dads take over care for short periods of time.
Both of the adult Otters are first-time parents. According to keepers, the pair is showing excellent parenting skills toward the two females and one male.
“Gail only arrived in March and it’s been fun to watch them bond, and now become parents,” says Green. “She’s a young mom, but doing very well. Peeta is attentive and diligent.”
Peeta was born at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. in 2008. Gail was born at the Greensboro Science Center in North Carolina in 2013. The two were paired as part of a cooperative breeding program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The names (inspired by characters in the popular “Hunger Games” books and movies) were given by their Santa Barbara Zoo sponsors, Peter and Pieter Crawford-van Meeuwen.
Another female, Katniss, was first paired with Peeta, but they did not breed. She passed away in December 2016 from a kidney ailment.
The last time Asian Small-clawed Otters were born at the Zoo was in May 2011 when six pups were born to a pair named Jillian and Bob. That pair also produced five young in August 2010, the first of the species to be born at the Zoo in more than 20 years. The entire family group later moved to the National Zoo, where they live today.
Keepers predict that by January, the pups should be proficient swimmers, and will be on-exhibit at that time. Information on the progress of the Otter pups will be made available at the Zoo’s website: www.sbzoo.org .
Although the Asian Small-clawed Otter (Aonyx cinerea syn. Amblonyx cinereus) is only listed as “Vulnerable” by the IUCN, the species is seriously threatened by rapid habitat destruction for palm oil farming and by hunting and pollution. They are considered an “indicator species,” meaning their population indicates the general health of their habitat and of other species.
The species is the smallest Otter in the world and lives in freshwater wetlands and mangrove swamps throughout Southeast Asia, including southern India and China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Borneo, and the Malay Peninsula. They prefer quiet pools and sluggish streams for fishing and swimming.
Unlike Sea Otters, they spend more time on land than in water, but they are skillful, agile swimmers and divers, with great endurance. They can stay submerged for six to eight minutes.
Asian small-clawed otters are about two feet long and weigh less than ten pounds (half the size of North American River Otters). Their claws do not protrude beyond the ends of the digital pads, thus their names, and their feet do not have fully developed webbing and look very much like human hands.
They are one of the few species of Otter that live in social groups. The bond between mated pairs of Asian Small-clawed Otters is very strong. Both the male and female raise the young and are devoted parents. In the wild, Asian Small-clawed Otters live in extended family groups of up to 12 individuals. The entire family helps raise the young, which are among the most active and playful of baby animals.
The Santa Barbara Zoo has a new Masai Giraffe calf. Audrey, aged eight, gave birth to the calf on the evening of March 26 in the Zoo’s Giraffe Barn, after approximately five hours of labor.
The male calf has been named “Chad” in honor of long-time Santa Barbara Zoo supporters, the Dreier Family. The Dreier Family has sponsored seven Giraffes at the Zoo including Chad’s parents Michael and Audrey. “Chad” represents many members of the Dreier family whose first or middle names contain the appellation.
At the calf’s first exam by the Santa Barbara Zoo Animal Care team, the male was measured at six-feet-six-inches-tall and weighed 191 pounds.
According to the Santa Barbara Zoo’s director of animal care, Sheri Horiszny, Giraffe calves are born after a gestation of roughly 14.5 months and are typically 125-150 pounds and six feet tall at birth. Chad should grow approximately three feet during his first year of life. Horiszny is also the Program Leader for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Masai Giraffe Species Survival Program.
Chad recently made his public debut and explored the outdoor exhibit with mom Audrey. Zoo staff say the best time to catch a glimpse of Chad is between 10am and noon.
The Zoo’s Giraffe herd is part of the population of 120 Masai Giraffes that live at 28 North American zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Michael, the calf’s sire, is considered the most genetically valuable male Masai Giraffe in captivity, because he has few relatives in zoos other than his offspring born here at the Zoo, which now numbers five.
“Michael’s genetics greatly help the diversity of the North American Masai population,” said Sheri Horiszny, director of animal care. “Every Masai Giraffe born here is critical to keeping the gene pool robust.”
This is the fourth birth for Audrey at the Zoo. Her last calf, Buttercup, born in November 2014, is currently part of the Zoo’s herd. The Zoo’s other female, Betty Lou, is also pregnant, and is expected to give birth in July 2016. This is her third pregnancy and her other offspring are at other accredited zoos as part of a cooperative breeding program of the AZA’s Species Survival Plan. Giraffes have a 14.5-month gestation period.
Audrey, a Masai Giraffe at the Santa Barbara Zoo, delivered her third calf in four years on November 13. The baby, a male, arrived less than two hours after keepers observed the onset of labor.
Most Giraffe calves stand within about an hour of birth. This calf, named Buttercup by zoo donors, attempted to stand just 15 minutes after birth. The floor was slippery due to the birth fluids, and keepers decided to step in and help Buttercup get upright. After they moved him to a drier spot on the floor, the calf got his footing and took his first wobbly steps.
Another indicator of a healthy calf is nursing within a few hours of birth. Buttercup nursed about two-and-a-half hours after birth. At four days old, Buttercup visited the zoo’s Giraffe exhibit with Audrey, where he met the zoo’s other adult female Giraffe, Betty Lou, and saw the Zoo Train for the first time.
“Our professional staff prepared for and implemented the plan for an easy and healthy birth,” said Zoo Director Nancy McToldridge. “Everything went smoothly, even when Buttercup needed to be moved to a drier spot in order to stand up.”
“Because there are just over one hundred Masai Giraffes in captivity in North America, each birth and each Giraffe is very important,” said Sheri Horiszny, Director of Animal Care. “I’m very proud of our sire Michael, as he’s now clearly a proven breeder, and his genetics greatly help the diversity of our Masai population.”
Betty Lou is also pregnant, and Giraffe keepers estimate that she will give birth in March 2015. The sire in both pregnancies is Michael, the zoo’s only male Giraffe. Giraffes have a 14.5-month gestation period.
Masai Giraffes are the tallest of all Giraffe subspecies and are found in Kenya and Tanzania. Like all Giraffes, this subspecies is declining in the wild due to loss of habitat. Conservation programs hold the key to survival for all wild Giraffes.
See more pictures of Buttercup below.
Photo Credit: Santa Barbara Zoo
This small Monkey species hails from the Brazilian rainforest, where they are highly endangered due to development, deforestation and agriculture.
For the first 10 days following birth, Kimmer cared for the twins herself, but recently passed one off to her mate Kovu, who has fathered several offspring at the Santa Barbara Zoo. Twins Karen and Frank, born from a different mother in 2012, remain in the exhibit to learn how to care for newborns.
“Kovu is an outstanding father,” says Sheri Horiszny, Director of Animal Care. “He raised Karen and Frank by himself after their mother, Bella, died from an infection when they were five weeks old. Now Karen and Frank can observe how he and Kimmer care for the new offspring, just as young Golden Lion Tamarins do in the wild, to prepare for their own future babies.
Frank and Karen will soon move to another zoo as part of a cooperative breeding program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), in which accredited member zoos and institutions collaborate to manage endangered species populations. The Zoo has exhibited Golden Lion Tamarins since 1983.
Adult Golden Lion Tamarins weigh about 1 to 1 1/2 pounds and are roughly 10 inches tall, with tails up to 15 inches long. The infants are now about the size of a stick of butter and spend most of their time on their parents’ backs. The new twins appear to be in good health and will be examined by the Zoo veterinarian at 30 days old to determine their sexes and weights, and receive vaccinations.
“The young are getting more alert and curious every day,” adds Horiszny, “and the adults are always very active.”
Golden Lion Tamarins have silky, golden coats and manes around a dark face, giving the lion-like impression. They live in the forest canopy, above the forest floor, in the lowland forests of southeastern Brazil. They face huge challenges in the wild as more than 99 percent of their forest habitat has been cut down for lumber, agriculture and housing.
Adults are monogamous and share in the care of their young. Upon birth, the young climb atop their parents’ backs. An infant does not have to leave its mothers back to nurse – her teats are almost under her arm pit, so they just slide under her arm. Both parents are involved in raising the young, who are weaned at approximately 12 weeks.
Golden Lion Tamarins are among the most endangered mammals on earth. Deforestation and habitat loss have relegated the species to a small region in eastern Brazil. Almost all Golden Lion Tamarins found in U.S. zoos, including those at the Santa Barbara Zoo, are considered to be on loan from the Brazilian government for captive breeding. Golden Lion Tamarins born in U.S. zoos have been reintroduced into the wild, and now one-third of the wild population comes from captive stock.
It's been an exciting two weeks for Santa Barbara Zoo, with two Masai giraffe calves born within ten days of each other! Five year-old Audrey gave birth to the first calf, a male named Dane, on April 18th. On April 28th, five year-old Betty Lou gave birth to a female, Sunshine. Both calves are healthy and under their mothers' care. Dane is six feet three inches tall and weighs 156 pounds. Slightly smaller, Sunshine stands six feet tall and weighs 133 pounds.
The mother-calf pairs will be rotated on and off exhibit, to allow them time to bond behind-the-scenes in a quiet barn. While both mothers are attentively caring for their own calves, Betty Lou is especially protective, and zoo staff are making sure that she and her calf are introduced safely into the group.
Michael, the father of the two calves, is separated from the young calves for now by a baby fence, simply because he is so large. “The calves need to get a little bigger, a little smarter and learn how to be giraffes,” says Sheri Horiszny, director of Animal Programs.
See photos of Dane below.
Photo credits: Santa Barbara Zoo
See the calves' debut on exhibit:
Masai giraffes are the largest subspecies of giraffe, growing up to eighteen feet tall and weighing up to 2,700 pounds. Recently, Masai giraffe populations have begun to decline in the wild. Santa Barabara exhibits Masai giraffes as a part of a regional giraffe management program with other West Coast zoos. This programs allows the zoos to breed healthy giraffes, maintaining genetic diversity while minimizing the distance giraffes have to be transported. The calves' father, Michael, is a particularly valuable asset to the program. Because of this, the two calves may eventually be transported to other zoos as a part of the breeding program, but will stay at Santa Barabara Zoo until they are about two years old.
See more photos below the fold.
The Santa Barbara Zoo is flush with Chilean Flamingo chicks - thirteen of them to be exact. The past two months have been very successful breeding time for their Flamingo flock. Eight of the new chicks are now on exhibit for visitors to enjoy. The additional five are being hand-raised in the zoo's vet hospital, where they are fed special formula and are doing well.
Flamingo chicks have downy grey feathers for the first two years of their lives before they take on the light pink color of adults. Their spindly legs need to be strengthened enough to hold up their conparatively large bodies, so the chicks will be encouraged to do their exercise -- daily walks and swims -- as they grow.
Chilean Flamingos do come from Chile but are also found in southern Peru, Bolivia, Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina and southern Brazil They tend to live and nest in saltwater lakes and lagoons. This lovely bird is classed as Near Threatened.