Rare Leopard Cub is Ready for Playtime

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A 4-month-old Amur Leopard cub at the Brookfield Zoo doesn’t know that he’s one of only 300 of these big cats alive today.  He just wants to play!

The 20-pound male cub, named Temur (pronounced Tee-moor), has been bonding behind the scenes with his mother, Lisa, since his birth on July 22.  He made his public debut at the zoo in November.

Amur Leopards are Critically Endangered, with fewer than 70 animals left in the Russian Far East.  Approximately 200 Amur Leopards live in zoos around the world. 

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Amur Leopard Cub-3Photo Credit:  Brookfield Zoo
With such a small group of animals, managers are careful to maintain genetic diversity in the population. By pairing unrelated animals for breeding and moving individuals among zoos, they have maintained 89 percent genetic diversity in the group.  For example, Lisa, the mother, was born at the Saint Louis Zoo and the sire, Kasha, came from Le Parc Des Felins in France. 

The biggest threats to these solitary animals are poaching; retribution hunting; habitat loss from fires, logging, and human settlement; and a decline in their prey. Temur’s birth marks a crucial addition to the population and will help raise awareness about the importance of conservation and the threats this species faces in the wild.

With keen hearing, vision, and smell, Amur Leopards hunt at night in Russia’s dense forests. Amur leopards are the northernmost subspecies of leopard in the world and are often mistaken for snow leopards.

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Milwaukee’s Tiger Cubs Make Public Debut

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The Milwaukee County Zoo’s three Amur Tiger cubs made their public debut on December 2 in the Zoo’s Florence Mila Borchert Big Cat Country. The cubs, one male and two females, have been named: Kashtan, Eloise and Bernadette.

The cubs were born September 14 to mother, Amba, and father, Strannik. ZooBorns introduced the trio in an article from October: “Tiny Trio of Endangered Tigers Born in Milwaukee”.

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While all three cubs are currently doing well, the male, Kashtan, was transferred to the Zoo’s Animal Health Center in October. Little Kashtan was not gaining weight steadily, and he had developed an abscess on one of his legs (possibly due to a lack of immunity). Vet staff cultured and flushed the abscess, and he was given a course of antibiotics. He returned to Big Cat Country on October 24.

When it becomes necessary to remove newborn Zoo animals from the family group, the mother may not always accept the animal when placed back into the group. Staff reports that Amba has consistently shown excellent maternal care with all of her offspring. But because Kashtan had an infection, and there can be many unknowns in reuniting him with mom after so much time passed, staff determined there were too many risks to putting them back together. Female Tigers also have the potential to injure offspring if reintroductions are attempted. The primary concern of the Zoo’s animal care staff is to avoid any risk of injury to the cub.

Kashtan is now being hand-raised by keepers; weaned from a bottle, and eating meat. He is regularly placed with his sisters, in one of the indoor exhibits, for socialization and exercise.

Zoo visitors can see Kashton, singularly, in one of the indoor exhibits in Big Cat Country. At times, zookeepers will be in the exhibit with Kashtan, offering him interaction, socialization and feedings, as part of the hand-raising process. The exhibit will also feature enrichment items (objects that allow him to show his natural behaviors), which are important for his neurocognitive and physical development.

As all three Tigers learn how to become adults, they need to interact with a variety of toys/enrichment items. Anyone interested in purchasing any of these items for the cubs can visit the Zoo’s Amazon Wish List: Tiger Cub Wish List

When the Tiger sisters, Eloise and Bernadette, are not on exhibit with Kashtan, they can be seen with mother, Amba, in the indoor Tiger Exhibit.

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New Mandrill Joins Troop at San Diego Zoo

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The San Diego Zoo’s Mandrill group welcomed a new addition to their ranks last week. Female, Kesi, gave birth to a baby boy, and he is the first Mandrill born at the Zoo in over 14 years.

Animal care staff had been watching for Kesi to give birth; but the night before, there were still no signs she was in labor. The next day, staff members said they were surprised to see Kesi walk out of her bedroom holding her new baby.

“It’s like every day we would come in, in the morning, and think like there might be a baby – we don’t know,” Jenny Baublit, senior primate keeper at the San Diego Zoo. “To actually see it was pretty incredible. Especially since she came in so quietly, just like a typical morning, but just happen to have a baby with her.”

This is the first baby for Kesi and male Mandrill, Jasper. So far, staff said, they are doing exceptionally well as new parents, and mom is being very attentive to the baby’s nursing needs.

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3_Mandril Baby Ride LGPhoto Credits: San Diego Zoo/Tammy Spratt

The Mandrill (Mandrillus sphinx) is the largest and most colorful of the Old World monkeys. They are easily recognizable by their furry head crests, manes and golden beards. Their bright coloration, red nose and lips, and thick purple and blue ridges along the sides of the nose are also well known.

Mandrills are native to small social units in the rain forests of equatorial Africa. These small groups often join with others to form larger groups called ‘hordes’ that can number in the hundreds and sometimes have more than 1,000 members.

The species is listed as “Vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. Their numbers are decreasing due to habitat loss from illegal logging and the bush meat trade (hunting wild species for food). This trade has become lucrative and, as human populations increase, it is becoming a greater threat to many species’ survival.

The San Diego Zoo's first Mandrills, Peter and Suzy, arrived in 1923. More Mandrills arrived in 1938, and a breeding program was established in an effort to bolster the population. More than 34 Mandrills have been born at the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park over the years.

Guests can visit the Zoo’s three Mandrills at ‘Monkey Trail in Lost Forest’. They share an exhibit with Guenons, including Spot-nosed Monkeys and Wolf’s Monkeys.

Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes on-site wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The work of these entities is inspiring children through the San Diego Zoo Kids network, reaching out through the Internet and in children’s hospitals nationwide. The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.


Endangered Map Turtles Hatch at Nashville Zoo

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Nashville Zoo is excited to announce the hatching of four endangered Yellow-blotched Map Turtles. This hatching ranks Nashville Zoo as the third AZA institution to ever successfully breed these beautifully patterned turtles.

“This is an exciting hatching for the Yellow-blotched Map Turtle and for the Zoo,” says Dale McGinnity, Nashville Zoo’s Ectotherm Curator. “We are bringing awareness to the community about this threatened species and hope to increase support for the protection of this rare turtle’s continued survival in the wild through our conservation efforts.”

During the breeding of this rare species, the Zoo’s Herpetology team was able to decide what sex the hatchlings would be by monitoring the temperatures during the 80-85 day incubation period. Incubating at cooler temperatures typically hatches males and incubating at warmer temperatures hatches more females. When the time is right and the turtles are ready to emerge from their shells, they are equipped with an egg tooth, which is a hardened piece of keratin that protrudes from the tips of their noses. A team of keepers was on standby during hatching to ensure the smooth and safe hatching of each of the four turtles.

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Yellow-blotched Map turtles (Graptemys flavimaculata) are found exclusively in the Pascagoula River, and its tributaries, in southern Mississippi.

This species was listed, in the United States, as federally threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1991. The State of Mississippi and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also classify the species as endangered. Yellow-blotched Map Turtles have been of long-term concern due to a very limited range and declining populations due to habitat degradation by pollution and river channel modifications.

Nashville Zoo participates in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan for Yellow-blotched Map Turtles to increase the captive population, as well as raise awareness for this rare and endangered turtle. Guests can see the Zoo's new turtles on-exhibit inside Unseen New World.


Happy Little Elephant Calf Given a Fitting Name

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Taronga Western Plains Zoo’s male Asian Elephant calf has been officially named ‘Sabai’, which means peaceful, happiness, relaxed or comfortable in Thai.

The name was chosen from almost 1500 suggestions. The competition called for suggestions that reflected the Thai origin of the Elephants. The winning submission came from Belle Lordan of Dubbo, NSW, Australia.

“We chose the name Sabai as the whole team felt it was fitting of his personality and demeanor and really suited a male elephant,” said Elephant Supervisor, Glenn Sullivan.

“Sabai is almost one month old and is continuing to progress well, meeting all the key milestones for a calf his age. He is very strong and confident and is steadily gaining weight,” said Glenn.

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3_Taronga Elephant Calf and Aunty Porntip_by Rick StevensPhoto Credits: Taronga Western Plains Zoo & Lachlan McFeeters (Image: 1) ; Rick Stevens (Images: 2,4)

Sabai was recently introduced to his brother, Luk Chai, through a fence, which was a very positive experience. Keepers hope to introduce Luk Chai to the herd in the future so Sabai can learn natural male elephant behaviors from his brother.

“Sabai is like most elephants and really loves the water, whether he is being hosed down by his keepers or splashing about in a shallow pool,” said Glenn.

“Thong Dee and [Aunty] Porntip are continuing to be very caring and nurturing of the young calf and he is often seen running from one adult to the other,” said Glenn.

Over the next few weeks keepers will expect to see the calf continue to grow in confidence and be increasingly inquisitive about the environment around him.

ZooBorns introduced readers to the little calf in an article from early November: Little Asian Elephant Calf Is a Really ‘Big’ Deal.

The calf was the first Asian Elephant born at Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo. He was born November 1 to mom, Thong Dee, and dad, Gung.

Taronga has now welcomed four Elephant calves, across both of its zoo facilities, since the breeding program commenced 10 years ago (with three calves born in Sydney).

The Asian or Asiatic Elephant (Elephas maximus) is the only living species of the genus Elephas and is distributed in Southeast Asia from India in the west to Borneo in the east. Three subspecies are recognized: E. m. maximus from Sri Lanka, the E. m. indicus from mainland Asia, and E. m. sumatranus from the island of Sumatra. They are the largest living land animals in Asia.

Since 1986, E. maximus has been listed as “Endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The population has declined by at least 50% over the last three generations, estimated to be 60–75 years. The species is primarily threatened by degradation, fragmentation and loss of habitat, and poaching.


What's In a Name? Ask These Babirusa Piglets

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Ginger and Ivy, two rare Babirusa piglets born at the Audubon Zoo, recently made their public debut. The piglets are the third litter born at Audubon Zoo to mom Betty and dad Wrigley.

Born October 14, the piglets’ names have significance:  Ivy gets her name from the foliage which adorns the walls of the Chicago Cubs’ Wrigley Field. The theme started with dad Wrigley and continued with the two of the newborns' siblings - Clark and Addison - who are named after two streets that intersect outside the ballpark.

The choice of Ginger is simpler: It's a favorite browse treat of Audubon Zoo's Babirusa family.

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Babirusapiglets5098Photo Credit:  Audubon Zoo



Audubon Zoo, which has produced eight Babirusa piglets since 2005, is one of the few facilities in the United States that exhibit this species.  The zoo participates in the Babirusa Species Survival Plan in partnership with other Association of Zoos and Aquariums members.

Babirusa are found primarily on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi north of Borneo. Even though Babirusa are a protected species, they are threatened in the wild due to illegal hunting and habitat loss.

Babirusa are omnivores and will eat fruits, nuts, leaves, small invertebrates, birds, and even turtles in the wild. Males typically have two sets of tusks, one on the lower jaw and one that grows from the top jaw through the top of the snout towards the head. Babirusa means "pig deer'' in the native Malay language. One theory posits that the Sulawesi people gave the Babirusa this moniker because its large canines are similar in appearance to deer antlers.

Like most pigs, Babirusa enjoy wallowing in mud, which helps protect their skin from insect bites and the tropical sun. Babirusa are excellent swimmers and very intelligent, social animals who enjoy interaction with animal care staff, particularly when training.

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Endangered Zebra Born at Brookfield Zoo

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A baby Grevy's Zebra born at the Brookfield Zoo is already earning his stripes as a valued addition to the population of this endangered species.

Born November 9, the foal is doing well as he bonds with Mypa, his nearly 7-year-old mom.  The not-yet-named foal weighs between 75 and 100 pounds. The pairing of Mypa and the sire, Nazim, was based on a recommendation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Grevy’s Zebra Species Survival Plan (SSP). An SSP manages the breeding of a species in order to maintain a healthy and self-sustaining breeding population that is both genetically diverse and demographically stable. Currently, nearly 175 Grevy's Zebras live at 38 accredited North American zoos. 

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Zebra foals are born with a wooly coat of russet stripes that are darker on the head, neck, and legs. A bushy mane, which a Zebra begins to shed at about 3 weeks of age, runs from just behind the ears to the tail, as well as down the midline of the belly. The coat changes to the more familiar adult short hair and black stripes at about 5 months of age. A Zebra’s stripes are like fingerprints: no two are the same.

Grevy’s Zebras are listed as endangered on the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature Resources. According to the Grevy’s Zebra Trust, the species has undergone one of the most substantial reductions of range of any African mammal. Once found more widely across the Horn of Africa, their range is now confined specifically to southern Ethiopia and northern Kenya. In the late 1970s, the global population of Grevy’s Zebras was estimated to be about 15,000 individuals. In 2008, an updated survey estimated approximately 2,800 animals representing more than an 80 percent decline over the past four decades. The species’ demise is due to habitat loss, hunting, and competition for resources with other grazers, as well as cattle and livestock.

 


Calf Strengthens Gene Pool of Endangered Giraffe

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BIOPARC Valencia recently announced the birth of a lovely female Rothschild’s Giraffe.

The healthy calf has been spending time bonding with mom, Bulería. Father Julius and the rest of the herd have also been introduced to the almost-one-month-old Giraffe.

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4_Cobijo interior de BIOPARC Valencia - Cría de jirafa Baringo recién nacida - noviembre 2016 (2)Photo Credits: BIOPARC Valencia

The Rothschild’s Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis rothschildi), also known as the Baringo Giraffe, is one of the most threatened of the nine sub-species of giraffe. It is named after the Tring Museum’s founder, Walter Rothschild.

All individuals living in the wild are in protected areas in Kenya and Uganda.

The Rothschild’s Giraffe is at risk of hybridization and is currently classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List, due to habitat destruction and poaching. Its geographic distribution includes central Kenya, northern Uganda and southern Sudan. According to latest figures, there are fewer than 1,500 individuals in the wild.

BIOPARC Valencia participates in the EEP (captive breeding program for endangered species), and this new breeding is involved in this important initiative to preserve biodiversity.

The Rothschild’s Giraffe is distinguishable from other subspecies because of its coloring. Where as the Reticulated Giraffe has very defined dark patches, with bright channels between, the Rothschild’s has paler, orange-brown patches that are less defined. Also, the Rothschild’s has no markings on the lower leg.

This subspecies mate any time of year and have a gestation period of 14 to 16 months, typically giving birth to a single calf. They prefer to live in small herds, with adult males and females only mixing for mating. Males are larger than females and tend to be darker in color.

According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: “Current estimates of population size [of the Rothschild’s Giraffe] are well below 2,500 mature individuals, numbers are declining overall and no subpopulation is estimated to contain more than 250 mature individuals. The population is potentially close to meeting the population threshold for Critically Endangered under criterion C, depending on the number of individuals, if any, that survive in south Sudan.”


Lemur Quad Is Black-and-White…And 'Ruffed' All Over

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A pair of Black-and-white Ruffed Lemurs, at the National Zoo and Aquarium Canberra, Australia, became first time parents recently. Polo and Masina welcomed four adorable offspring in late October.

The Zoo shares the new parents’ excitement, as the babies will be important additions to the international breeding program for their species. The baby Lemurs are also the first of their species to be born at the National Zoo & Aquarium.

Keepers report that the fuzzy quadruplets are happy and healthy and are getting along well with Mum and Dad.

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4_B&W Ruffed Lemurs ZOO ACT 2016 Nov 1 (51a)Photo Credits: Image 1: Katie Ness/ National Zoo & Aquarium; Images 2,3,4,5: Rodney & Deborah Ralph

The Black-and-white Ruffed Lemur (Varecia variegata) is the more endangered of the two species of Ruffed Lemurs (both are endemic to the island of Madagascar).

The species has a complex social structure and is known for its loud, raucous calls. It is considered somewhat unusual because it exhibits several reproductive traits typically found in small, nocturnal Lemurs, such as: short a gestation period, large litters and rapid maturation. In captivity, they can live up to 36 years.

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Rare Stingray Pups On-Exhibit at Zoo Basel

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Zoo Basel welcomed nine rare Black-tailed Antenna Stingrays on November 5th. The small, yet sensational pups are doing well and can be seen in the zoo’s aquarium exhibit.

The Black-tailed Antenna Stingray (Plesiotrygon nana), also known as the Dwarf Antenna Ray, is a freshwater Stingray that is native to the rivers and sections of the rear Amazon Basin in Eastern Peru. The small Stingray was scientifically described for the first time in 2011. They are one of two recognized species in the family Potamotrygonidae (the other being the Long-tailed River Stingray).

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The species does not lay eggs. Stingrays are ovoviviparous: bearing live young in litters of five to 13. The female holds the embryos in the womb without a placenta. Instead, the embryos absorb nutrients from a yolk sac, and after the sac is depleted, the mother provides uterine "milk". Shortly before the actual birth, the young press themselves out of the eggshell and are immediately independent.

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