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Posted by Andrew Bleiman


Zookeepers at ZSL London Zoo are celebrating the arrival of the first Hanuman Langur born at the Zoo’s Land of the Lions exhibit.

2_Hanuman langur birth (c) ZSL (4)

3_Hanuman langur birth (c) ZSL (1)

4_Hanuman langur birth (c) ZSL (3)Photo Credits: ZSL London Zoo

Born to first-time parents, Saffron and Rex, after a 200-day gestation, zookeepers were delighted when they first spotted the tiny, female Hanuman Langur early on the morning of July 23.

Zookeeper, Agnes Kiss, said, “The first Hanuman Langur to be born to this troop at ZSL London Zoo and the first new arrival at Land of the Lions, this tiny primate is an exciting symbol of the success of this project.”

“To mark the occasion we’ve called her, Kamala, which means ‘lotus flower’ in Gujarati – the sign of beauty, fertility and prosperity.”

“Everyone is very pleased with Kamala’s progress so far,” said Agnes. “At the moment she has a pale face and downy dark fur, but it won’t be long before her skin turns black and her coat thickens and turns a magnificent silver - just like her parents.”

“She’ll also grow into her large ears, which are perfect for picking up subtle noises over long distances; in the Gir National Park, Hanuman Langurs act as an early warning system for other wildlife – making loud ‘barks’ from high in the treetops to warn of a lion’s approach. In Land of the Lions, the troop can often be heard vocalizing in response to the lions’ roars, which Kamala will learn how to do from her parents.”

Land of the Lions, which opened last year, is also home to ZSL’s Asiatic Lion pride: male Bhanu and lionesses Heidi, Indi and Rubi. The exhibit tells the story of the Gir, a unique area that is home to the last wild population of the Critically Endangered lion species.

Hanuman Langurs (Semnopithecus entellus) are widespread throughout Asia, and are named after the Hindu god of healing and worship: by contrast, there are just 500 Asiatic Lions left in the wild.

Kamala’s upbringing is already a community affair, which is natural for Hanuman Langurs; dad Rex is staying protectively close to his first born, while another female, Lucy, has been spotted carefully carrying Kamala around - giving Saffron a well-deserved rest every now and again.

5_Hanuman langur birth (c) ZSL (2)

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Posted by Andrew Bleiman

1_Banded Palm Civet - 2007 - Heather Robertson (6)

Nashville Zoo recently welcomed the birth of two Banded Palm Civets. The brother and sister were born on June 29.

At their first well check, the male measured 19 cm (7.5 in) with a weight of 105g (3.7 oz). The female’s body length was 20.5cm (8 in) with a weight of 100g (3.5 oz).

2_Banded Palm Civet - 2007 - Heather Robertson (4)

3_Banded Palm Civet - 2007 - Heather Robertson (3)

Photo Credits: Dr. Heather Robertson/Nashville Zoo

For the past decade, this is only the second successful birth in an Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) institution for the species. The first Banded Palm Civet birth was also at Nashville Zoo in September 2015.

Nashville Zoo is the only AZA accredited facility breeding this species. There are now a total of 11 Banded Palm Civets in the AZA’s collection, with ten being at Nashville Zoo and one at Cincinnati Zoo.

Nashville Zoo is heading a breeding research project to determine if Banded Palm Civets are seasonal breeders, as well as discovering other factors for fecundity.

The Banded Palm Civet (Hemigalus derbyanus), also called the Banded Civet, is rare species found in tropical forests across Myanmar, Malaysia, Thailand and on the Indonesian islands of Sipura, Sumatra and Borneo.

Roughly the size of a domestic cat, adults of the species measure from 41 to 51 cm (1.3 to 1.7 ft) in total length, and can weigh between 1 to 3 kg (2.2 to 6.6 lbs).

The Banded Palm Civet is carnivorous, and like other species of civet, it survives on a meat-based diet, supplemented by the plants or fruits.

After a gestation period that lasts for a couple of months, a female can give birth to up to four young.

The Banded Pam Civet is currently listed as “Near Threatened” on the IUCN Red List. It is under threat from deforestation and the loss of much of its natural habitat. Extensive deforestation in their habitat is a result of logging or to clear the land to make way for palm oil plantations.

Nashville Zoo currently does not have plans to place the Banded Palm Civet siblings on exhibit.

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Posted by Chris Eastland


The long-awaited birth of a precious Giant Panda cub at Zoo de Beauval, the first to be born in France, occurred on August 4 under the close scrutiny of zoo staff and their Chinese counterparts.

Now just over one week old, the male cub, affectionately called Mini Yuan Zi after his father, Yuan Zi, is gradually gaining weight as his mother, Huan Huan, learns to care for him. Pandas typically receive their official name on their 100th day, following Chinese tradition.

Eric Bassega 20728229_1708970955794510_4564956712573449980_nPhoto Credit: Eric Baccega (3,6); ZooParc de Beauval (1,2,4,6)

Newborn Giant Pandas are extremely weak and vulnerable, weighing less than a quarter of a pound (120 grams) at birth. For the first week of Mini Yuan Zi’s life, zoo staff supplemented him with bottle feedings. They also placed Mini Yuan Zi in an incubator between feedings to keep him warm because Huan Huan, a first-time mom, was not yet adept at nursing him or holding him. The staff has now discontinued bottle feedings as the cub and Huan Huan have successfully bonded.

Mini Yuan Zi was one of two infants born to Huan Huan. The second baby was very weak and despite the intensive efforts of the staff, did not survive its first day. In the wild, twins are born in about half of all Giant Panda pregnancies, and the mother typically cares only for the strongest infant.

The zoo has been working for years to reach this moment. Huan Huan and Yuan Zi were very young when first introduced in 2014. Female Pandas go into heat only once per year, for just 24 to 48 hours, meaning there is just one opportunity per year for them to mate. Huan Huan did not go into heat in 2015, and no mating occurred in 2016. In 2017, the two adults showed great interest in each other but did not successfully mate. That’s when the zoo team decided to try artificial insemination, and it worked!

Giant Pandas are pregnant for three to four months. Urine analyses, which measure hormone levels, were used to pinpoint the date of Mini Yuan Zi’s birth.

For now, Mini Yuan Zi will remain behind the scenes with his mother. In a few months, zoo visitors will be able to glimpse him in a special viewing area.

Giant Pandas are found only in a few areas in central China – a fraction of their original range – where they feed on bamboo in cool mountain forests. Fewer than 2,000 Giant Pandas live in the wild, and another 400 live in zoos and breeding centers. For many years, Giant Pandas were classified as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). In 2016, they were downlisted to Vulnerable, a reflection of the intense conservation efforts underway in China. The program to save the Giant Panda is regarded as one of the most intensive, high-profile efforts ever undertaken to save an endangered species.

All Giant Pandas living in zoos belong to China and are merely loaned to the zoo. The young eventually return to China and are introduced into the breeding program.

See more photos of the baby Panda below.

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Posted by Chris Eastland

!Rock hyrax triplets born at Chester Zoo (10)

Three baby Rock Hyraxes have made their public debuts at Chester Zoo.  The pocket-sized pups, which are yet to be named or sexed, arrived to mother Dassie and dad Nungu on July 21 weighing just over half a pound (250g) each – no heavier than a bar of soap!

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Rock hyrax triplets born at Chester Zoo (19)Photo Credit: Chester Zoo

Rock Hyraxes may be short in stature but these tiny animals have a surprising genetic link: they are more closely related to Elephants than any other species on Earth. Scientists posit that Hyraxes and Elephants evolved from a single common ancestor.

Rock Hyraxes’ two tusk-like incisor teeth constantly grow, just like the tusks of an Elephant. The two species also have similarly-shaped feet and similar skull structure.  

Small mammals often experience a short pregnancy period, but Rock Hyraxes are different, with their pregnancy lasting more than seven months. The young are well developed when born, just like miniature adults.

David White, Team Manager of small mammals at Chester Zoo said, “Rock Hyraxes have helped conservationists learn so much about the evolution of different animals, and how animals can evolve and adapt to the environments where they live – they really are special little creatures."

In the wild, Rock Hyraxes are known as ‘Rock Rabbits’ or ‘Dassies’ and can be found in large colonies across Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Scientists believe they even have their own form of language, using 20 different vocalizations in particular tones and orders to convey meaning.

More photos below!

As their name suggests, Rock Hyraxes live in rocky terrain, where they use their suction cup-like soles to grip and clamber down steep slopes. Hyraxes don’t drink much water, because they obtain most of the moisture they need from the plants and insects they eat. They have a special eyelid (called a nictitating membrane) for sun and dust protection.  A bulge in each iris acts as a built-in sun visor.

Rock Hyraxes are listed as a species of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), meaning they are not under threat at this time.

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New Kid Makes Her Mark at Stone Zoo

Aug. 11th, 2017 05:12 pm
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Posted by Andrew Bleiman

1_markhor kid during first exam_Credit Zoo New England

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.

2_markhor - credit Bridget Collins Lyman

3_markhor kid on exhibit - credit Bridget Collins LymanPhoto Credits: Zoo New England (Image 1) / Bridget Collins Lyman (2,3)

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."

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Posted by Andrew Bleiman


Eastern Black Rhino calf, Kendi, was born three weeks ago at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. The new calf and his mom, Seyia, are now making brief appearances in their outdoor habitat at the Zoo.

“Kendi is a brave little guy and would probably run all over the yard if his mom would let him,” said Cincinnati Zoo’s senior Veldt keeper Marjorie Barthel. “She’s a first-time mom and is being protective. They have access to go outside and do walk out occasionally, but it will take time for mom to feel comfortable enough to let Kendi explore the entire outdoor space.”

According to Barthel, mom and baby take naps and nurse inside. “Kendi is starting to mouth solid foods, so we’re cutting everything we give to Seyia into pieces small enough for the calf to handle. He also likes to play in the water trough. We can’t wait to see him discover mud.”



4_35537163644_aabf8efd27_bPhoto Credits: Cincinnati Zoo / Kathy Newton (Images: 1,7) / Cassandre Crawford (2,4,6,8) / Mark Dumont (3,5) / DJJam Photo (10)

Kendi is only the fifth Eastern Black Rhino born in the last two years in North America, and the first to be born at the Cincinnati Zoo since 1999. There are fewer than 60 of his species in the entire North American Zoo population.

Eastern Black Rhinos, native to Eastern and Central Africa, have two large horns made of keratin that they use for defense, intimidation, and feeding. An adult can weigh anywhere between 1,760 and 3,080 pounds, and calves weigh between 73 – 121 pounds.

The species is classified as “Critically Endangered” by the IUCN, due to poaching and habitat loss. Fewer than 5,000 Black Rhinos remain in the world.

Kendi’s dad, Faru, is out daily in his neighboring yard. Black Rhinos are solitary animals, so there are no plans to unite the three. Cincinnati Zoo invites rhino fans to look for updates on the calf’s progress on via their website: www.CincinnatiZoo.org

Updates are also provided on the Zoo’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat.







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Posted by Andrew Bleiman


Tulsa Zoo’s Reptile and Aquatics department recently announced the hatching of six Desert Iguanas. The little lizards are currently on display in the Zoo’s Conservation Center reptile nursery.



4_20287207_10150878245034996_491240831625000089_oPhoto Credits: Matt Yockey and Ruth Holland / Tulsa Zoo

The Desert Iguana (Dipsosaurus dorsalis) is one of the most common lizards. It is native to the Sonoran and Mojave deserts of the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. They are also found on several Gulf of California islands.

The Desert Iguana is a blunt, medium-sized lizard that grows to a maximum size of about 61 cm (24 in), including the tail. They are grayish tan to cream in color, with a light brown reticulated pattern on their backs and sides. The belly is pale. During the breeding season, the sides become pinkish in both sexes.

Their preferred habitat is largely contained within creosote bushes on mainly dry, sandy desert scrubland below 1,000 m (3,300 ft). They can also be found in rocky streambeds. In the southern portion of its range, this lizard lives in areas of arid subtropical scrub and tropical deciduous forest.

The Desert Iguana can withstand high temperatures and are out and about after other lizards have retreated into their burrows. If threatened, they will scamper into a shrub and go quickly down a burrow. Burrows are usually dug in the sand under bushes like the creosote. They are also known to use burrows of kit foxes and desert tortoises.

Mating takes place in the early spring. One clutch of eggs is laid each year, and each clutch will have three to eight eggs.

Desert Iguanas are primarily herbivorous, eating buds, fruits and leaves of many annual and perennial plants.

Birds of prey, foxes, rats, long-tailed weasels, some snakes, and humans are all known predators of this lizard and their eggs. The Desert Iguana is currently classified as "Least Concern" on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.


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Posted by Andrew Bleiman


Great Cats keepers at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo have some big news to share about their new Sumatran Tiger cub…it’s a boy!

Over a period of a few days, keepers were able to get a quick look at the cub and weigh him when mother, 8-year-old Damai, left the den to eat. The cub appears to be healthy and strong. Shortly after his birth on July 11, he weighed about three-and-a-half pounds. A week ago, he weighed six-and-a-half pounds.

“It can be difficult to determine the sex of a neonate cat because genitalia can look very similar for the first few weeks,” said Craig Saffoe, curator of Great Cats. “However, at a glance, it appears that Damai has a male cub! His first veterinary exam will take place in a couple of weeks, which includes a physical exam and vaccinations. We should be able to confirm the cub’s sex during that exam.”



4_16_sumatran_tiger_cub_dell_guglielmo_clip0027.00_01_05_22.still002Photo Credits: Roshan Patel/ Smithsonian's National Zoo

The cub’s birth marked an important milestone for the Zoo. This is the second litter for mother, Damai, but the first for 13-year-old father, Sparky. Keepers are monitoring Damai and her offspring via a closed-circuit camera, allowing the family time to bond. Although the cub will not make his public debut until later this fall, Zoo visitors can see Sparky and the cub’s half-sibling, 3-year-old male Bandar, at their Great Cats habitat. The Zoo will also provide updates on the cub via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) scientists play an active role in saving tigers in their native habitats by studying and working to protect them in range countries.

In collaboration with USAID and local partners, SCBI scientists collect and analyze field data on tiger behavior, prey and habitat. In the Sundarbans mangrove forest in Bangladesh, camera traps are used to estimate the Bengal Tiger population size. In an effort to prevent poaching and mitigate human-animal conflict, SCBI scientists train rangers to patrol the forest and provide them with equipment to assist population management.

Smithsonian’s National Zoo is home to Sumatran Tigers (Panthera tigris sumatrae), which are classified as “Critically Endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. It is estimated that only 300 and 400 exist in the wild.



New mom, Damai:


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Posted by Andrew Bleiman


The Downtown Aquarium at Denver welcomed a new Three Banded Armadillo on July 15.

The new guy, who has been named Alejandro, was born to first-time parents Lady Gaga and Howard Caruso. At his first weigh-in, Alejandro was 62g (2.2 oz.) and 1.5 inches long.



4_20229122_10155541341000148_6662293227210638679_nPhoto Credits: Downtown Aquarium-Denver

The Three Banded Armadillo can roll completely into a ball to protect itself from predators and thorny vegetation. The yellow-brown sides of the carapace extend beyond the skin, giving the armadillo a space to retreat its head, legs, and tail when curling up. The armor plating that covers the body is divided into two domed shells, with three armored bands in between, joined by flexible bands of skin.

Three Banded Armadillos reach a length of about 9 to 13 inches and weigh a max of about 3 to 3.5lbs.

They are found throughout the central region of South America: Southern Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Northern Argentina. They prefer mountain, tropical and temperate grasslands, as well as rainforest, tropical dry forest and swamps.

In the wild, they eat primarily insects, which includes: beetle larvae, ants, and termites. They are also known to consume plants, and other small animals.

In zoos, they are primarily fed cooked sweet potatoes, bananas, wax worms, crickets, and mealworms.

The gestation period is about 120 days. The female will typically give birth to a single young (pup). Pups are about the size of a golf ball at birth. The young will nurse for 10 weeks.


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Posted by Andrew Bleiman

Unnamed (3)

Last week marked a big milestone for Lulu, Woodland Park Zoo’s baby girl Giraffe. For the first time, the 1½-month-old Giraffe ventured onto the vast African Savanna exhibit with mom Tufani and the herd.

“Lulu’s adventurous spirit and self-confidence were on full display during her first introduction on the savanna. She crossed out to the savanna cautiously, but once she was out there, she explored, galloped, and met our Gazelle, Guinea Fowl and a few Ducks,” said Katie Ahl, a lead keeper at the zoo. “Lulu is very independent but you could tell mom and Lulu were keeping an eye on each other and it was good to see them check in with each other throughout the introduction.”

2017_08_01 Lula savanna intro DD 900-1
2017_08_01 Lula savanna intro 900-12Photo Credits: Dennis Dow/WPZ (2); Jeremy Dwyer-Lundgren/WPZ (1,3,4,5,6,7); J Loughlin/WPZ (8)

Lulu’s aunt Olivia and dad Dave also joined Lulu on the savanna, their first time since Lulu’s birth.

Like human parents who “baby-proof” their homes, keepers prepared the Giraffe exhibit for Lulu’s arrival. “Giraffe-style baby bumpers were added to the exhibit in the form of branches and logs laid along steeper slopes. We also closed up any gaps where she could potentially wedge herself. The baby bumpers and the watchful eyes of her mom and aunt are a great safety net as she explores her new surroundings,” said Martin Ramirez, mammal curator.

Lulu was born June 20 to first-time parents Tufani, age 9, and 4-year-old Dave. Born  5’9” tall, Lulu currently stands at 7’6” and weighs 267 pounds. Her birth marked the second viable birth of a Giraffe at the zoo since 2013 and the third in 20 years.

Dave and Tufani were paired under a breeding recommendation made by the Giraffe Species Survival Plan (SSP), a conservation breeding program across North American accredited zoos that seeks to ensure a healthy, self-sustaining population of Giraffes.

Giraffes are widespread across southern and eastern Africa, with smaller isolated populations in west and central Africa. New surveys estimate a 36-40% percent decline in Africa’s Giraffe population in the last 30 years. Numbers fell from about 160,000 Giraffes in 1985 to just over 97,000 in 2015. Of the nine Giraffe subspecies, five have decreasing populations, while three are increasing and one is stable.

See more photos of Lulu below.

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Warthog Piglets Debut at Zoo Miami

Aug. 5th, 2017 06:00 am
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Posted by Chris Eastland


Four Warthog piglets, born June 20 at Zoo Miami, made their exhibit debut this week alongside their parents. At six weeks old, the piglets (one female and three males) explored the exhibit, rooted around in the soil, and tasted fresh vegetation under the watchful eyes of mom and dad.

9Photo Credit: Ron Magill/Zoo Miami

Three-year-old mother Erica came from the Indianapolis Zoo and three-year-old father Beebop is from the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. This litter of piglets is the first for both parents and the second successful birth of Warthogs at Zoo Miami.

Warthogs are found through much of sub-Saharan Africa and skyrocketed to fame following the release of “The Lion King,” which starred a lovable Warthog named Pumba.

Warthogs use their large, powerful tusks to dig for roots, tubers, and grubs to eat. Males develop larger tusks than females and use their tusks in combat to establish dominance. The tusks also offer protection: Warthogs enter their burrows rear-first, allowing the tusks to face outward at the burrow entrance to deter predators.

The large facial bumps or “warts” are not warts at all. Instead, they are fatty growths which protect Warthogs’ faces from the tusks of other Warthogs during skirmishes.

Warthogs are fairly numerous across their range. They are not currently threatened, but some localized extinctions have been recorded due to overhunting or drought.

See more photos of the piglets below!


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Posted by Andrew Bleiman

1_3 Sumatran cubs with Amur tiger cub Zoya on scale_ Zoya 2nd from Left 7.21.17 photo by Gretchen Cole

On July 21, the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden received a female Amur Tiger cub. The cub’s journey to Oklahoma is the result of the combined efforts of two amazing zoo teams and tiger conservation experts.

Born at the Philadelphia Zoo on July 10, the cub is named Zoya, meaning “life” in Russian. Zoya is the first offspring of 10-year-old mother, Koosaka, and 9-year-old father, Grom. Koosaka gave birth to five cubs, a large litter for tigers. Unfortunately, two were stillborn, a third was accidentally injured by Koosaka and did not survive, and a fourth developed a critical gastro intestinal issue that proved fatal, even with medical intervention by Philadelphia Zoo veterinarians.

The surviving cub, Zoya, was not being nurtured by Koosaka. According to experts, a lack of maternal behavior is not uncommon among first-time mother tigers who sometimes neglect or reject cubs. As a result, Philadelphia Zoo’s animal care team bottle-fed and continuously cared for the cub who continued to do well, gaining weight from about 2 pounds at birth to almost 4 pounds at 10 days old.

However, the Philadelphia Zoo’s animal care team was concerned about hand-rearing a single cub without the social opportunities that would be provided with either a mother or littermates.

“With this single cub, we knew that the best scenario for her was to find an opportunity for her to grow up with other tigers,” said Dr. Andy Baker, Philadelphia Zoo’s Chief Operating Officer.

2_Zoya examined at OKC Zoo

3_Zoya bottle fed for last time by Philadelphia Zookeeper 7.21.17

4_Philadelphia Zoo Tiger Team feeding Amur cub Zoya at OKC ZooPhoto Credits: Gretchen Cole (Image 1); Philadelphia Zoo (2-4); Oklahoma City Zoo (5); Gillian Lang (6,7)

In discussions with colleagues involved in the Tiger Species Survival Plan of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the Oklahoma City Zoo offered to attempt to integrate the Philadelphia Zoo cub with their new litter of Sumatran Tigers.

The Oklahoma City Zoo’s litter of three Sumatran Tiger cubs was born just one day before the Philadelphia Zoo’s Amur Tiger litter. Oklahoma’s six-year-old Sumatran Tiger mom, Lola, has been taking very good care of her own cubs.

After consultation between Philadelphia Zoo, the Oklahoma City Zoo, and other AZA colleagues, the teams decided the best option for the cub to grow up in a good social environment was for the Oklahoma City Zoo to attempt to cross-foster Zoya with Lola and her cubs.

Cross-fostering is the process of removing offspring from one mother and transferring them to another lactating mother with offspring of the same approximate age. “Cross-fostering in tigers is unusual, but with less than 500 Amur Tigers in the wild, every cub is important for the species’ survival,” said Dr. Rebecca Snyder, curator of conservation and science, Oklahoma City Zoo.

In 2011, the Oklahoma City Zoo successfully cross-fostered a litter of endangered African Painted Dogs with a Golden Retriever who had recently given birth. However, cross-fostering among tigers is rare, with only a few cases having ever been attempted and documented.

After a 20-hour non-stop drive from Philadelphia, a team of four animal caretakers from Philadelphia Zoo arrived at the Oklahoma City Zoo with Zoya. Upon their arrival, the Oklahoma City Zoo veterinary team examined Zoya while conferring with the Philadelphia Zoo team regarding the cub’s introduction into the Sumatran Tiger litter.

“Though Sumatran and Amur (or Siberian) Tigers are different subspecies, they look almost identical as cubs,” said Eddie Witte, curator of carnivores at the Oklahoma City Zoo. “Our first step in cross-fostering Zoya is to add her into our litter of three cubs and cover her with the scent of the other cubs by rubbing her with hay from the den, tiger cub urine and even the other cubs. By doing this, we hope Lola will identify Zoya as one of her own.”

While Lola temporarily left her cubs for a feeding, the Oklahoma City Zoo animal care team entered the tiger cub den and prepped Zoya and the other cubs. As part of this process the zoo team weighed each cub and confirmed that all three Sumatran cubs were male. Meanwhile, Philadelphia and Oklahoma City Zoo animal teams gathered in the Joan Kirkpatrick Animal Hospital’s conference room to watch live video from the tiger’s habitat, broadcast on a large screen monitor. Everyone watched intently as Lola returned to her cubs and stood over the new cub Zoya. Within seconds, Lola began to lick and nuzzle Zoya to the great relief of the collective team.

True success for cross-fostering of a young tiger cub like Zoya happens when she begins to nurse from Lola. After more than a week of being bottle fed by Philadelphia Zoo’s animal team, Zoya would need to learn to nurse from a tiger for the first time. Both Philadelphia Zoo and Oklahoma City Zoo teams established round the clock monitoring of Lola and the cubs to confirm nursing behavior. After a brief nursing session on Friday night, the collective animal care teams were ecstatic to witness long nursing sessions early the next day, the following night and another the same day. During a brief morning exam, the Oklahoma City Zoo team confirmed that Zoya was gaining weight. With Zoya having established a steady nursing pattern with Lola, the Philadelphia Zoo team departed Oklahoma City.

“We are very happy that Zoya has integrated well with her new adoptive family,” said Donna Evernham, curator of carnivores and ungulates, Philadelphia Zoo. “She has made an incredible journey in her first two weeks of life and our Philadelphia Zoo team is thrilled to partner with the Oklahoma City Zoo to ensure Zoya’s well-being. With fewer than 500 Amur Tigers left in the wild, Zoya’s birth is significant to the entire population.”

“We are privileged to assist Philadelphia Zoo with this unique situation and understand how crucial this cross-fostering scenario is for Zoya’s survival and long-term well being,” said Barry Downer, deputy director/COO, Oklahoma City Zoo “This is an excellent example of how AZA-accredited zoos collaborate to provide exceptional care and long-term welfare to critically endangered animals. We continue to be cautiously optimistic that Zoya will continue to be integrated into our litter of Sumatran cubs and continue nursing with Lola,” says Downer.

Members from both Philadelphia Zoo and Oklahoma City Zoo will continue to monitor progress of the cubs and share updates, as they are available. The cubs will continue to bond and nurse with Lola in her habitat, off public view. In six to eight weeks, the cubs will be big enough to begin exploring their outdoor habitat and may step outside for visiting guests to see.

Amur Tigers are classified as “Endangered”, and Sumatran Tigers are classified as “Critically Endangered” by the IUCN. Fewer than 500 Sumatran Tigers may survive on that Indonesian island. Amur Tigers, also called Siberian Tigers, are found in far eastern Russia, with a few surviving in northeastern China. Sustained conservation efforts have resulted in recovery from near extinction for the Amur Tiger. Fewer than 50 were thought to survive in the 1930’s and 1940’s, but the population has grown to less than 500 today.

Although Amur Tigers have increased in the wild, tigers overall continue to be under tremendous threat. There are thought to be fewer than 4000 total tigers surviving across their entire range in Southeast Asia, Sumatra, China and Russia. The primary threat to tigers is poaching for their skins, bones and other body parts that are used in traditional Asian medicine. Habitat loss and depletion of prey species is also a threat in many areas.

In 2016, the Oklahoma City Zoo began a partnership with Rainforest Trust, a conservation organization whose mission is to work with local partners to purchase and protect threatened tropical forests. Using funds donated by guests through the Zoo’s grassroots program, Round Up for Conservation, Rainforest Trust purchased 13,000 acres of rainforest in central Sumatra, an area five times the size of Oklahoma City’s Lake Hefner. This lowland forest is rich in biodiversity and is now designated as a protected area, safe from conversion to palm oil plantations and logging. The area is patrolled to prevent illegal activities such as poaching. It is home to some of the Zoo’s most popular and endangered species, including: Asian Elephants, Sumatran Orangutans, and Sumatran Tigers.

Gorillas, tigers, orangutans, and other animals living in tropical forests are losing habitat as plantations for palm oil and pulp and paper expand to meet growing global demand. Palm oil is the world’s most widely produced vegetable oil. It can be found in more than 50% of the foods we eat as well as our soaps, lotions, shampoos, cleaning products, and cosmetics. Plantations for pulp and paper are responsible for roughly 30% of Indonesia’s forest loss while an expansion of industrial logging in the Democratic Republic of the Congo threatens the second largest tropical rainforest in the world.

In 2012, the Philadelphia Zoo launched the UNLESS Project, a positive advocacy campaign focused on protecting and restoring forests for wildlife by increasing the use of “deforestation free” palm oil – or palm oil grown without destroying forests. Through the UNLESS Project, Philadelphia Zoo is mobilizing on-site and online audiences to build a community of well-informed advocates for wildlife and inspiring them to action that will raise awareness of the connection between palm oil and orangutans and tigers.

By driving demand for palm oil that’s “deforestation-free,” reducing waste, and reusing and recycling paper products, UNLESS Project advocates can help protect the forests where tigers and other wildlife live. Philadelphia Zoo encourages visitors onsite and online to send a message from the UNLESS Project thanking and supporting companies who are moving toward sustainably-sourced palm oil, sign up to stop receiving junk mail, to use less paper, save energy, and help reduce the impact of climate change.

6_Sumatran tiger Lola nursing her cubs and new Amur tiger cub Zoya 7.21.17

Foster mom, Lola: 

7_OKC Zoo Sumatran tiger Lola 2 by Gillian Lang

8_OKC Zoo Sumatran tiger Lola by Gillian Lang

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Posted by Andrew Bleiman

1_(4)  Photo credit - Jon Lees    Belfast Zoo born red squirrels have been released to protected areas as a ground-breaking conservation effort.

Belfast Zoo is celebrating another conservation success with the birth of five Red Squirrel kittens.

The kits were spotted outside of their drey (squirrel nest) for the first time at the start of July and can now be spotted in the zoo’s Red Squirrel Nook.

2_(6) The kittens stay in the drey (nest) for the first few months and are starting to explore their surroundings.

3_(1)  Photo credit - Jon Lees    Belfast Zoo is celebrating another conservation success with the birth of five red squirrel kittens.

4_(2)  Photo credit - Jon Lees     The kits were spotted outside of their drey for the first time at the start of July and can now be spotted in red squirrel nookPhoto Credits: Images 1,3-5: Jon Lees (Northern Ireland Environment Agency) / Images 2,6: Belfast Zoo

The Red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) is a small, tree-living rodent, which is believed to have been present in Ireland for more than 10,000 years. Many people are familiar with this iconic native species, its bright red coat, creamy white belly, bushy tail and distinctive ear tufts. However, the Red Squirrel in Northern Ireland is in serious trouble. The population has dramatically declined due to the loss of their forest habitats in addition to competition from the invasive Grey Squirrel that carries a lethal pox virus.

Zoo Manager, Alyn Cairns, explained, “Here at Belfast Zoo, we care for some of the most endangered species from around the globe but the problem is closer to home than most people think! Animals on our own doorstep are facing increasing threats and populations are disappearing at an alarming rate. Recognizing this alarming trend, the Belfast Zoo team formed a native species group in 2004 to work on a number of native species projects. In 2012, following the culmination of many years of work and consultation with local wildlife organizations, we opened Red Squirrel Nook.”

Alyn continued, “The aim of the nook was predominantly to interact with visitors to educate them about this iconic native animal and the risks threatening the Red Squirrel. However, from the beginning, the hope was that the squirrels would be sufficiently content in the nook to breed. In anticipation of this, release arrangements were drawn up by Belfast Zoo, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, and the Northern Ireland Squirrel Forum. The aim was for Belfast-Zoo bred [squirrel] kittens to supplement current populations in protected areas around Northern Ireland. This innovative project therefore led to the release of the first Belfast Zoo-born Red Squirrels into Glenarm Estate in 2014. This success was duplicated with the release of further animals into Ballykinler Estate in 2015.”

“Red Squirrel Nook initially became home to three animals when it first opened. The key to the formation of a successful breeding programme, and safety net population, is genetic diversity. The zoo’s breeding male was therefore released in Ballykinler in 2015 with the aim of introducing a new breeding male to the group. In January 2017, we were approached by the PSNI who had rescued a young male Red Squirrel who could not return to the wild. It is this rescued male that has now become our breeding male and the father of our latest five kittens! We are delighted with the continued success of Red Squirrel nook and the zoo’s continuing native species projects.”

More information about the Northern Ireland Squirrel Forum is available at: https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/topics/bio-diversity/northern-ireland-squirrel-forum

5_(3)  Photo credit - Jon Lees    Belfast Zoo has formed the first captive breeding programme for red squirrels in Northern Ireland.

6_(5) The aim of Belfast Zoo's red squirrel nook is education but plays a vital and leading role in red squirrel conservation in Northern Ireland

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Posted by Andrew Bleiman


Burgers’ Zoo is now home to five Golden Jackal pups!

Until recently, they have been safely tucked away with mum in their underground den, which makes it difficult for keepers to pinpoint their exact birthdate. They are now spending more time above ground and keepers estimate them to be about three-months-old.

The little Jackals are becoming quite popular with visitors to Burgers’ Zoo, and staff describes one of the pups as being especially curious and “cheeky”.


3_LI9A7724Photo Credits: Burgers' Zoo

The Golden Jackal (Canis aureus) is a canid native to southeastern and central Europe, Asia Minor, the Middle East and South Asia.

A social species, its basic social unit consists of a breeding pair and any offspring it might have. The Golden Jackal is omnivorous and an opportunistic forager; its diet varies according to season and habitat.

Although similar to a small Grey Wolf, the Golden Jackal is distinguished by a more slender build, a narrower, more pointed muzzle, a shorter tail, and a lighter tread. Its winter fur is also more reddish in color.

Golden jackals are monogamous. The number of pups in a single litter varies geographically. Pups are born with shut eyelids and soft fur, which ranges in color from light grey to dark brown. At the age of one month, their fur is shed and replaced with a new reddish colored pelt with black speckles. Their eyes typically open after 8–11 days, with the ears standing erect after 10–13 days. The length of the nursing period varies with region. The pups begin to eat solid food at the age of 15–20 days. Once the lactation period concludes, the female drives off the pups.

Golden Jackals feature prominently in Middle-Eastern and Asian folklore and literature, where they are often described as tricksters (very much like the fox and coyote of European and North American tales).

The Golden Jackal is currently classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List, due to its widespread range in areas with optimum food and shelter. According to the IUCN: “The Golden Jackal is a widespread species. It is fairly common throughout its range with high densities observed in areas with abundant food and cover. A minimum population estimate of over 80,000 is estimated for the Indian sub-continent. Population estimates for Africa are not available. Due to their tolerance of dry habitats and their omnivorous diet, the golden jackal can live in a wide variety of habitats. They are opportunistic and will venture into human habitation at night to feed on garbage.”


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August 2011

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