Prospect Park Zoo

Introducing Prospect Park Zoo’s New Hamadryas Baboon

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A Hamadryas Baboon was born at WCS’s (Wildlife Conservation Society) Prospect Park Zoo and recently made his public debut.

The male infant was born October 22nd to his 12-year-old mom, Kaia, and 23-year-old dad, Bole. This is Kaia’s second birth at the Zoo.


Prospect Park Zoo breeds Hamadryas Baboons as part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP), a cooperative breeding program administered by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) designed to enhance the genetic viability and demographic stability of animal populations in accredited zoos. The two baboons born at the zoo last year have been sent to another AZA-accredited zoo as recommended by the SSP where they will eventually start their own breeding troop.

Hamadryas Baboons (Papio hamadryas) are native to northeastern Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. They are large, ground-dwelling primates that are found in rocky areas and cliffs. They live in troops that typically include one dominant male and many females. They are highly social and spend much of their time grooming one another, a behavior that maintains and reinforces social bonds within the troop.

The species is an ‘Old World monkey’ and was considered a sacred animal to the ancient Egyptians.

Female baboons typically give birth after a six-month gestation, usually to a single infant. The young baboon weighs approximately 400 grams and has a black epidermis when born.

Females are the primary caretakers of offspring, but another female in the troop may also help care for the infant. Infants are given much attention by the entire troop. The dominant male will prevent other males from coming in contact with their infants and protect them from predators. He will also occasionally play with the young and carry them. The young are weaned at about one-year-old.

The Hamadryas Baboon is classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List. There are currently no major range-wide threats, although the species may be at risk from habitat loss due to agricultural expansion and irrigation projects. Adults are also hunted for their skins (for ceremonial cloaks in Ethiopia). The species was formerly trapped in large numbers for medical research.

The Hamadryas Baboon exhibit is located in the Animal Lifestyles building at Prospect Park Zoo, which is also home to tamarins and marmosets (species of New World monkeys), various bird species, and Pallas cats. During inclement weather, the baboons have access to their night quarters. Mother and baby baboon may take shelter inside if it is too rainy or cold.

Photo Credit: Julie Larsen Maher / WCS ; Video Credit: WCS

Red Panda Twins Debut at Prospect Park Zoo

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Two Red Panda cubs, one male and one female, were born at the WCS’s (Wildlife Conservation Society) Prospect Park Zoo this summer and have made their public debut.

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3_Julie Larsen Maher_2550_Styans Red Panda_DIST_PPZ_11 02 15_hrPhoto Credits: Julie Larsen Maher / WCS

 WCS has a successful history breeding Red Pandas at the Bronx, Central Park, and Prospect Park Zoos as part of the Species Survival Plan, a cooperative breeding program administered by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums designed to enhance the genetic viability and demographic stability of animal populations in accredited zoos.

The Red Pandas at the Prospect Park Zoo, in Brooklyn NY, are a subspecies from the eastern portion of the Himalayas, known as Styan’s Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens styani). Their native habitat is, more specifically, southern China and northern Burma. The subspecies at the Bronx Zoo and Central Park Zoo---Western Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens fulgens)---is found in the western part of their Himalayan range, particularly Nepal, Assam, Sikkim, and Bhutan.

Styan’s Red Panda has been distinguished in some studies as having a longer winter coat, bigger skull, more strongly curved forehead, and darker coloring than the Western Red Panda.

Female Red Pandas are only fertile for just one day a year and can delay implantation until conditions are favorable. They give birth to between one and four young at a time, and the cubs are born with pale fluffy fur, which becomes coarser and darkens to the distinctive red coloration of the adults over the first three months. The cubs reach adulthood at around 18 months.

Red Pandas have an adaptation on their wrists that acts much like a thumb and enables them to grasp food items like bamboo as well as tree branches.

Red Pandas are listed as “Endangered” by the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to habitat loss caused by deforestation for timber, fuel and agricultural use. Despite international efforts, their population in the wild has plausibly declined by 50% over the last three generations (about 18 years).

WCS works in China and Myanmar to help save Red Pandas and other Asian wildlife.

Endangered Chinese Big-headed Turtles Hatch at Prospect Park Zoo

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Five Chinese Big-headed Turtles have hatched at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) Prospect Park Zoo in New York City. These turtles, hatched in November, are the first to be successfully bred at a zoo accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).  

Chinese Big-headed Turtles are native to China, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. They can grow to be about seven inches in length. They have skulls of solid bone that is so large in proportion to their bodies that they cannot be withdrawn into the shell for protection.

The species is classified as Endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. They are threatened by trade demand across its Asian range countries.

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3 turtlePhoto credit: Wildlife Conservation Society / Julie Larsen Maher

See video of the little hatchlings:


In zoos, specific environmental and climatic conditions need to be manipulated in order to stimulate Chinese Big-headed Turtles to reproduce. Zoo experts were able to successfully recreate and document these conditions in the zoo’s propagation facilities, providing a road map for other organizations to successfully breed these turtles. 

Husbandry techniques were fine-tuned to promote breeding and successful incubation of the eggs. Before the breeding season, adults are isolated and placed in enclosures with environmental conditions that mimic the annual environmental cycles they would experience in the wild. These environmental cycles are important to the regular reproductive functions of the species. Room temperatures and lighting are adjusted depending on the time of year – colder and darker in the fall and winter, warmer and lighter in the spring and summer. During their “winter" the turtles hibernate. After awaking, males are introduced to females.

The Prospect Park Zoo is breeding this species as part of WCS’s global effort to save critically endangered turtles from extinction. The strategy draws on all of the resources and expertise across the institution – including its zoos and aquarium, Wildlife and Zoological Health Programs, and Global Conservation Programs – to take direct responsibility for the continued survival of some of the world’s most endangered tortoises and freshwater turtles.

“The success we are seeing at this point in our turtle propagation work is encouraging,” says Jim Breheny, WCS executive vice president of zoos and aquarium and Bronx Zoo director. “Our work on breeding endangered turtles utilizes the expertise found throughout the entire WCS organization as well as various partner organizations with whom we work.”

Learn more about turtle conservation after the fold!

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B Is For Brooklyn!


This Saturday, September 22, ZooBorns co-founder and co-author of ABC ZooBorns!Chris Eastland, will be at two special NYC Bookend Events as part of the Brooklyn Book Festival. The two events will offer guests and their children lively readings and book signings of ABC ZooBorns! You're invited to come join the fun at both! Also giving readings and signing books at both events will be Artie Bennett, author of Poopendous! and The Butt Book. The first event is at Coney Island's New York Aquarium, and will be followed by a second at Brooklyn's Prospect Park Zoo. Come on out and meet the authors, and enjoy a day at the zoo, the aquarium, or both! Details below...


A-Z Authors and Animals at the Aquarium

Enjoy a morning at the New York Aquarium! Come listen to lively author readings by Artie Bennett (Poopendous! and The Butt Book) and Chris Eastland (ABC Zooborns!), followed by book signings.

Location: New York Aquarium, Surf Avenue & West 8th Street

Time: 10:00 am – 11:30 am

Price: $14.95/Adult, $10.95/Child (Ages 3-12), $11.95/Senior



A-Z Authors and Animals at the Zoo

Enjoy an afternoon at the Prospect Park Zoo! Come listen to lively author readings by Artie Bennett (Poopendous! and The Butt Book) and Chris Eastland (ABC Zooborns!), followed by book signings.

Location: Prospect Park Zoo, 450 Flatbush Avenue (Prospect Park)

Time: 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm

Price: $8/adults, $5/children, $6/seniors



We hope to see you there!

Malagasy Jumping Rat Pup

More closely related to mice than rats, Malagasy jumping rats are highly endangered on their native island of Madagascar. Unlike many of their rodent brethren, Malagasy jumping rats are not prolific breeders, giving birth to only one pup a year, making this new arrival at the Prospect Park Zoo very special.

Baby malagasy jumping rat prospect park zoo

Mamma jumping rat is quite attentive to her rare little pup

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