Fluffy, spiked, and ready to delight: three new faces at Zoo New England are small in stature but big in the cute factor. The arrival of two scaly-sided merganser ducklings at Franklin Park Zoo and a prehensile-tailed porcupette at Stone Zoo have given Zoo staff and guests alike reason to celebrate this spring.
Zoo New England
April is National Frog Month, and Stone Zoo is celebrating their first successful hatching of Dyeing Dart Frog eggs.
The eggs require special care to reach the tadpole stage. The water conditions must be just right. The first little tadpole (in photo below) has been named Thad. He shares his aquarium with a snail named Chad.
The tadpoles breathe with gills underwater. They gradually develop legs, then lungs. and they metamorphose into adult Frogs. Along with Toads and Salamanders, Frogs are Amphibians. Amphibians are known as indicator species, because they can absorb environmental toxins through their skin. Ecosystems with large numbers of Amphibians are generally healthy.
Dyeing Dart Frogs are a type of Dart-poison Frog. These Frogs live in the moist forests of Guyana, Surname, Brazil, and French Guiana, where they feed on ants, mites, and termites. Chemicals from their prey are accumulated in the Frogs’ skin glands, rendering the Frogs poisonous to the touch.
There are more than 170 species of Dart-Poison Frogs. About four of those species have been documented as being used to create poisonous blowdarts. To create these poisonous darts, indigenous peoples apply the Frogs’ skin secretions to the darts’ tips.
In the video above, a Magnificent Tree Frog, native to Australia, munches on crickets. Zoo keepers use the crickets to lure the Frogs from their hiding places each morning, allowing the staff to account for each Frog under their care.
Stone Zoo is a partner in the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project, which works to protect existing amphibian populations and introduce captive-bred Frogs into the wild.
Franklin Park Zoo’s new Baird’s Tapir made her exhibit debut last week, and now the sweet calf needs a name!
Zoo New England is running a naming contest via CrowdRise, with donations supporting Global Wildlife Conservation’s Nicaragua Tapir Project. With a $5 minimum donation, members of the public can vote for their favorite name for the calf, now through January 31. Follow this link to vote: https://www.crowdrise.com/babytapir
The female calf was born on January 1 to 28-year-old dad, Milton, and 13-year-old mom, Abby. This is the fourth offspring for both parents.
ZooBorns featured news of the birth in a January 8 post: “New Year, New Tapir at Franklin Park Zoo”.
Zoo New England participates in the Baird’s Tapir Species Survival Plan (SSP), which is a cooperative, inter-zoo program coordinated nationally through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). SSPs help to ensure the survival of selected species in zoos and aquariums, most of which are threatened or endangered, and enhance conservation of these species in the wild. Because the AZA managed Tapir population is so small – 29 males and 20 females (including the new calf) – every successful birth and survival helps to secure the captive population. The new female calf at Franklin Park Zoo helps to balance out this small, but male skewed population.
Stone Zoo recently announced the birth of a Markhor. The female kid was born on July 16 to parents, Maya and Tyrion. She recently had her first health check and was a healthy 8.8 pounds.
The new family can be seen within the Himalayan Highlands exhibit. Stone Zoo is now home to ten Markhor, including the new kid.
“Maya is very attentive to the kid, who has been nursing well and is strong and active. As with any new birth, we are closely monitoring the mother and baby,” said Dr. Alex Becket, Zoo New England Associate Veterinarian in the department of Animal Health and Conservation Medicine.
Zoo New England participates in the Markhor Species Survival Plan (SSP), which is a cooperative, inter-zoo program coordinated nationally through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). SSPs are designed to maintain genetically diverse and demographically stable captive populations of species. This birth is the result of a recommended breeding.
Markhors (Capra falconeri) are the largest species of wild goat. They are native to the Himalayan Mountains, and their range includes northern India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. They can typically be found living around or above the tree line.
Markhor have broad hooves and striking spiral horns that can grow to three feet long in mature males. The long corkscrew horns that males develop as they mature are much sought after by trophy hunters.
The Markhor is currently classified as “Near Threatened” on the IUCN Red List.
In the wild, this species faces a number of threats including hunting as well as competition for food. These animals are also competing against domestic livestock for food and water resources in their native habitat.
Zoo New England has supported a project in Pakistan that works with local communities to sustainably manage Markhor and other wildlife.
* "Zoo New England manages Franklin Park Zoo in Boston and Stone Zoo in Stoneham, MA. Both are accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Zoo New England's mission is to inspire people to protect and sustain the natural world for future generations by creating fun and engaging experiences that integrate wildlife and conservation programs, research, and education."
On April 27, Annakiya, an Eastern Bongo, gave birth to a female calf at Franklin Park Zoo.
The morning after her birth, the 42-pound-calf had her well-baby examination, which included a general physical examination and blood work.
Dr. Alex Becket, Zoo New England Associate Veterinarian in the department of Animal Health and Conservation Medicine, remarked after the exam, “The calf appears healthy. She is bright, alert and responsive, and is also very strong and active. As with any new birth, we are monitoring the mother and baby closely. Annakiya is an experienced mother and is doing everything a mother bongo should.”
The calf is expected to be on exhibit for short periods of time for Mother’s Day weekend, weather permitting.
The Bongo (Tragelaphus eurycerus) is herbivorous and mostly nocturnal. It is among the largest of the African forest antelope species.
Bongos are characterized by a striking reddish-brown coat, black and white markings, white-yellow stripes and long slightly spiraled horns (both sexes have horns).
Bongos are classified into two subspecies. The Western or Lowland Bongo (T. e. eurycerus) faces an ongoing population decline, and the IUCN classified it as “Near Threatened” on the conservation status scale.
The Eastern or Mountain Bongo (T. e. isaaci) is found in Kenya. It has a more vibrant coat than the Western Bongo.
The IUCN Antelope Specialist Group has classified the Eastern Bongo as “Critically Endangered”. There are currently more specimens in captivity than in the wild.
Franklin Park Zoo has played a key role in growing the North American captive population through successful breeding. Since 1984, 17 Bongo calves have been born at Franklin Park Zoo.
Zoo New England participates in the Bongo Species Survival Plan (SSP), which is a cooperative, inter-zoo program coordinated nationally through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. SSPs are designed to maintain genetically diverse and demographically stable captive populations of species. This latest birth is the result of a recommended breeding between Patrick (age 6) and Annakiya (age 14). This is Annakiya’s third calf, but it is her first with Patrick.
Bongos are the largest, and often considered the most beautiful, forest-dwelling antelope found in the rainforests of equatorial Africa. Shy and elusive, Bongos are known for being almost silent as they move through dense forests.
The staff at Stone Zoo is pleased to announce the birth of a Linne’s Two-toed Sloth. The baby, born November 2, is the offspring of Nero (age 11) and Lunesta (age 12). Visitors can see the baby, whose sex is not yet known, with its parents inside the ‘Windows to the Wild’ exhibit.
“As with any new baby, we are closely monitoring its health. The baby appears healthy, bright and alert and is holding on tightly to its mother,” said Pete Costello, Assistant Curator of Stone Zoo, adding, “Lunesta is an experienced mom and she is being very protective of her baby.”
Stone Zoo and Zoo New England participate in the Linne’s Two-Toed Sloth Species Survival Plan (SSP), which is a cooperative, inter-zoo program coordinated nationally through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). SSPs are designed to maintain genetically diverse and demographically stable captive populations of species. The birth is a result of a recommended breeding and is the third offspring for Nero and Lunesta.
Linne’s Two-toed Sloths (Choloepus didactylus), also known as the ‘Southern Two-toed Sloth’, or ‘unau’ is a species of sloth from South America, found in Venezuela, the Guyanas, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Brazil north of the Amazon River.
They spend almost their whole lives dangling upside-down from branches that they hold on to with all four clawed feet. While these animals move really well through the branches, once they are on the ground they are very slow and vulnerable to predators, as they are not built for walking.
Sloths eat mainly a vegetarian diet of leaves and shoots, and they spend roughly 15 hours a day sleeping. Although they live in trees, sloths are not related to monkeys; rather, their closest relatives are the anteater and the armadillo.
In celebration of the new baby sloth, Stone Zoo is offering a limited edition mother and baby sloth Zoodopt. Through the zoo’s Zoodopts program, patrons can support the care, feeding and enrichment of the animals…including the sloths! For details visit http://www.zoonewengland.org/act/ways-to-give/zoodopt .
Morning walks, three feedings a day, and attentive care are all part of an Ostrich chick’s daily routine at Franklin Park Zoo.
The chick, hatched on September 3, weighed about 2 pounds at hatching and measured about eight inches tall. By the time it is six months old, the chick will weigh around 150 pounds and stand 6 feet tall. The hatching is a first for Franklin Park Zoo.
Because the zoo’s adult Ostrich pair has not been able to reproduce, staff decided to obtain an egg from another zoo accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, incubate it, and hand raise the chick once it hatched.
The not-so-little chick requires a lot of one-on-one time with keepers. Daily walks are important to encourage proper bone development. Diet, consisting of grain, greens, and chopped egg, is carefully monitored so that the chick does not gain weight too rapidly, which also ensures strong, straight leg development.
The male chick will be introduced to the adults when it is five to six months old. In the wild, Ostriches live in flocks that can number 100 birds.
There are four surviving subspecies of Ostrich, all native to Africa. Although all subspecies are in decline, only the North African Ostrich, which has disappeared from most of its original range, is listed as Critically Endangered.
Zoo New England supports the Sahara Conservation Fund’s work in Niger to protect the North African Ostrich.
Ostriches, which live on Africa’s grasslands, are flightless birds built for running. They use their wings for balance as they run. Their long powerful legs, flexible knees, and two-toed feet help them outpace predators and maintain speed over long distances. Ostriches can deliver powerful kicks in self-defense, and each of their toes has a long, sharp claw. Reaching speeds of 45 miles per hour, Ostriches the world’s fastest two-legged animal.
Male Ostriches are black with white primary flight feathers and tail. Females are gray-brown and white. At nearly two inches across, Ostriches’ eyes are the largest of any land animal. With eyes on the sides of their heads, Ostriches have a 350-degree view of their environment.
See more photos of the Ostrich chick below.
A four-week-old orphaned Cougar kitten traveled from central Idaho to Boston, where he will eventually make his new home at Zoo New England’s Stone Zoo.
Photo Credit: Dayle Sullivan-Taylor
Blue, a male kitten weighing five pounds, was found near Salmon, Idaho and taken to a local veterinary clinic. The next day, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game returned the kitten to the location where he was found in hopes that the mother was nearby. Following this attempt to reunite the kitten with his mother, persons unknown found the kitten and it was once again returned to the veterinary clinic. At that time, Idaho Department of Fish and Game determined that the kitten could not be returned back to the wild and that a permanent home would need to be found.
“This late-season kitten emphasizes the need to be diligent about leaving wild babies alone. While the outcome is not what was hoped for, it is the best situation for the kitten under the circumstances,” said Dr. Mark Drew, Idaho Department of Fish and Game Wildlife Veterinarian.
Pete Costello, Assistant Curator of Stone Zoo, traveled to Idaho last week to pick up the male kitten and bring him home to Massachusetts. The trip was made possible through coordination with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, as well as through the generosity of JetBlue, which provided the travel arrangements and safety oversight.
Caring for the kitten will require significant attention from the zoo’s skilled animal management and veterinary teams. Currently, the kitten is being bottle fed every four to five hours throughout the day. He is being cared for at the zoo hospital, located at Franklin Park Zoo, for at least the first 30 days.
“Given the challenges he has faced in his first few weeks of life, we are thrilled to be able to provide a home for this kitten. Our staff prepared for his arrival and for the special care that this kitten will need during these early days. An ambassador for his species, our guests will have the unique opportunity to learn more about Cougars as they watch him grow up,” said John Linehan, Zoo New England President and CEO. “His journey to Boston is the result of a truly collaborative effort. We are incredibly grateful to JetBlue, whose team went above and beyond every step of the way in assuring a smooth travel experience. In honor of all of their support, the new kitten will be named Blue.”
When Blue is big enough, he will move to his new home at Stone Zoo. He is expected to debut in the Cougar exhibit in winter 2015.
One of the largest of North America's wild cats, Cougars are also known as Panthers, Painters, Mountain Lions, Pumas and Catamounts. Although the Cougars' United States range has diminished throughout the last century, they still have the widest distribution of any land mammal in the Western Hemisphere. They range from the Yukon in Canada through the western portion of the United States and a small portion of the eastern United States to Patagonia. Cougars are found in a wide variety of habitats including lowlands, mountainous regions, deserts, and tropical forests.
Females typically give birth between April and September to one to six kittens, which are born with a spotted coat and blue eyes.
A Reindeer calf born on April 27 is the first ever born at the Stone Zoo in Massachusetts and is already in the exhibit with mother Holly and father Cornelius.
Photo Credit: Zoo New England/Dayle Sullivan Taylor
The newborn male Reindeer, which weighs 15 pounds, appeared healthy, bright and alert at his first well-baby examination. As with any new birth, the veterinary and animal management staffs are closely monitoring the mother and baby.
“We are thrilled to share news of this exciting birth,” said John Linehan, Zoo New England President and CEO. “Holly is a protective first-time mother and she is being very attentive to her newborn calf. The baby has been standing and walking, and he is nursing well. Visitors are going to take great delight in watching this baby grow up.”
The gestation period for Reindeer is about 7 months. Pregnant Reindeer do not shed their antlers until a few days to a week after giving birth. Reindeer are the only species of cervid (member of the deer family) where both males and females have antlers.
The Reindeer is one of 36 species of deer in the world. These animals can be found in the arctic tundra, as well as in boreal forests in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. They have been domesticated in Scandinavia for thousands of years. The Reindeer has two thick coats – an outer coat and undercoat – that help it stay warm in cold temperatures. The Reindeer’s two-toed hooves help prevent slips and falls in icy conditions. Reindeer are herbivores and feed on leaves, bark, moss and lichen.
The Stone Zoo, part of Zoo New England, recently welcomed a few new members to their collection. Among them, was a Prehensile-Tailed Porcupine that was born just over a month ago on February 16th. The little one was born to mother Comica (14) and father Elvis (6), after a gestation of roughly six and half months. The breeding was a result of a recommendation by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums' Prehensile-Tailed Porcupine Species Survival Plan, which aims to conserve the species.
Prehensile-Tailed Porcupines are born with the eyes already wide open, and are able to use their unique prehensile tails, which are used to grip various objects, right away. Babies have dense coats of reddish hair and sharp quills that are around 15 millimeters long. Not surprisingly, there isn't a whole lot of contact between the prickly mother and offspring, and the two only typically come together when it is time for the baby to nurse.
Prehensile-Tailed Porcupines are native to Central and South America. They live primarily arboreal lives, and use their prehensile tail to help them navigate through the forest canopy. In the trees, they forge for their vegetarian diet of flowers, leaves, shoots, and a special cambium layer that can be found beneath the bark of certain trees. When threatened, porcupines will curl up into a ball and shake their spines vigorously to fend off potential attackers.