Brookfield Zoo

Baby Gorilla Bonds with Mom at Brookfield Zoo

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Enjoy these new photos of a baby Western Lowland Gorilla spending quality time with her mom, Koola! The female baby Gorilla, born on November 4 at Chicago's Brookfield Zoo, can be seen with her mom during the zoo's remaining Holiday Magic days, December 30-31. (The Tropic World exhibit closes at 8 p.m.)

A newborn Gorilla weighs between 4 and 5 pounds at birth. As the baby grows, she will develop thicker hair and a white 'tail' tuft. The infant has a strong grip and will cling to Koola’s abdomen. At three months of age, zoo guests will be able to observe the baby riding on Koola’s back. About a month later, she will start to sample small pieces of food, however, nursing will continue until she is three to four years old. Also, at four months of age she will start to explore on her own, but will stay within arm’s reach of mom.  

The newborn joins a family of four: her big sister Kamboo (9), father JoJo (33), and maternal grandmother, Binti (25), along with her mother Koola (18). 

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JoJo arrived at Brookfield Zoo from Lincoln Park Zoo in May 2012 based on a recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Gorilla Species Survival Plan. A Species Survival Plan is a cooperative population management and conservation program for select species in accredited North American zoos and aquariums. Each plan manages the breeding of a species to maintain a healthy and self-sustaining population that is both genetically diverse and demographically stable. According to the Western Lowland Gorilla Species Survival Plan, JoJo is one of the most genetically valuable males in the zoo population. Currently, there are 342 Western Lowland Gorillas in 53 accredited North American zoos.

Gorillas live in social groups composed of one adult male, several adult females, juveniles, and infants. As they reach sexual maturity, both males and females typically leave the group in which they were born. They either establish a new group or join an existing one.

Western Lowland Gorillas are Critically Endangered due to habitat destruction, primarily from logging, disease such as the Ebola virus, the illegal pet trade, and poaching for bushmeat. It is not known how many Western Lowland Gorillas survive in their native West Africa (the forests of Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Nigeria, Congo, and Angola). Some recent estimates have been between 90,000 and 110,000 individuals, but new surveys are needed to determine whether or not this figure is exaggerated.

“We are extremely pleased that JoJo has successfully assumed the role as the silverback or leader of Brookfield Zoo’s gorilla group and has made a positive impact since his arrival,” said Stuart Strahl, Ph.D., president and CEO of the Chicago Zoological Society. “This infant represents an important contribution to the Gorilla population in North American zoos. We hope that when zoo guests see the infant and her family members they will be inspired to care for this Critically Endangered species.” 


A Dolphin Calf Joins the Pod at Brookfield Zoo

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Brookfield Zoo, managed by the Chicago Zoological Society, welcomed a newborn male dolphin calf on October 16. The calf, born to 31-year-old mother Tapeko, is approximately 40 pounds (18 kg) and 3.5 feet long (107 cm). Mother and calf are currently off exhibit, and the zoo’s dolphin presentations have been temporarily canceled to allow Tapeko and her calf time to bond and get acquainted with the other dolphins in the group.

Following the birth, it is important for the calf to demonstrate several key milestones, including nursing and slipstreaming, which is when the calf rests in the hydrodynamic wake made behind the mother as she swims. This allows the mother to use her own energy to help the calf glide behind her. Marine mammal and veterinary staff have observed the new calf displaying these behaviors and, encouraged by what they have seen so far, are cautiously optimistic that the little male is on the right track.

“We know that the first 30 days are extremely critical in the calf’s life,” said Rita Stacey, marine mammal curator for the Chicago Zoological Society. This time frame accounts for the largest rate of loss to dolphin populations both in the wild and under professional care, as compared to any other demographic age group. Beyond the critical first 30 days, the first year is also filled with challenges and milestones the calf must reach. 

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The little one is well cared-for. Tapeko is an experienced mother, having successfully reared four calves, one of which was her grandson as well as her daughters Allison, 7, and Noelani, 9, who are both members of the dolphin group living at Brookfield Zoo.

“This is an important time for our breeding group of females,” added Stacey. “As an experienced mom, Tapeko is able to demonstrate to the younger females how to care for a newborn calf.” This is especially timely as Spree, 11, is expected to give birth to her first calf later this fall. 


Snow Leopard Cub Born at Brookfield Zoo

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The Brookfield Zoo is proud to share the birth of a male Snow Leopard cub, born on June 13. The cub was born to first time mom Sarani and her mate, Sabu. At just over two months, the cub weighs about 10 pounds. The cub will remain off exhibit until he is about 3 months old. This will allow him time to bond with mom before making his public debut in mid-September.

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Saranti and Sabu, both about 3-years-old, were paired based on a recommendation from the AZA's Snow Leopard Species Survival Plan (SSP). SSPs help to manage the breeding population of a species in order to ensure that it is both genetically diverse and demographically stable. Including this cub, there are currently 140 Snow Leopards in 60 institutions in North America. The Brookfield Zoo has been home to Snow Leopards for nearly 80 years.

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Snow Leopards are an Endangered species, with an estimated population between 3,500 and 7,000 in the wild. They are native to high, rugged mountainous regions throughout central Asia. The species is threatened by human influences, such as poaching, depletion of prey, retribution killings, residential and commercial development and civil unrest.

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Photo Credit Brookfield Zoo

 


It's a Boy! Second Giraffe Calf in Eight Months Born at Brookfield Zoo

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Jasiri, a 7½-year-old Giraffe at Chicago's Brookfield Zoo, gave birth to a male calf on June 21. The first-time mom had the baby outside in an off-exhibit area. Soon after being born, the 173-pound, 5-foot-9-inch-tall calf stood, and was nursing not long after that. This calf is the 59th Giraffe born at Brookfield Zoo. Following a 14½-month gestation period, mother Giraffes give birth while standing. When fully grown, the new calf can potentially reach 18 feet tall.

Giraffe numbers have declined by 40 percent in the last decade, and there are now fewer than 80,000 individuals in Africa. There are fewer than 5,000 Reticulated Giraffes left in East Africa. Additionally, of the nine subspecies of Giraffes in Africa, two—the West African Giraffe and the Rothschild’s Giraffe—are classified as endangered, with less than 250 and 670 individuals, respectively, remaining in the wild. The populations are declining due to a number of factors, including habitat loss and fragmentation, coupled with human population growth and illegal hunting.

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Photo Credit: Brookfield Zoo

 

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Kangaroo Joeys Think Outside the Pouch at Brookfield Zoo

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Two Western Grey Kangaroos born at Brookfield Zoo have been spending time outside their mothers’ pouches exploring their outdoor habitat. The young Kangaroos, called joeys, were born on February 20 and March 13 of last year to moms Daisy, 7½, and Sheila, 11.

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Photo Credit: Jim Schulz/Chicago Zoological Society
 

The 10- and 11-month-old joeys only recently began hopping around and exploring their surroundings. They spent the first several months of life tucked into their mothers’ pouches, where they nursed and grew.  They will continue to nurse until they are 18 months old.  Of course by then, they’ll no longer be able to fit in the pouch.

At birth, a joey is extremely underdeveloped and is about the size of a jellybean. During this early stage of development, a mother produces low-fat milk for her young, and as a joey gets older and ventures out of the pouch, the milk becomes high in fat. A truly amazing attribute of this species is that if a mother Kangaroo is nursing a newly born joey and a juvenile already out of the pouch, she has the ability to produce both low-fat milk and high-fat milk at the same time.

Western Grey Kangaroos are one of 60 species of Kangaroos and Wallabies, all of which are native to Australia. 


Brookfield Zoo Welcomes 58th Giraffe Calf

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Arnieta, a 5-year-old reticulated giraffe at Brookfield Zoo, gave birth to a male calf in the early afternoon on November 12. Mother and baby spent their first week together off exhibit to allow for good maternal bonding and to make sure the calf is developing normally.

The birth took place in an off-exhibit area. Soon after the birth, the 140-pound, 6-foot-2-inch-tall calf stood and began nursing. This week they are being introduced to the other females in the herd: Mithra, 22; Franny, 21; and Jasiri, 7, in the zoo’s Habitat Africa! exhibit.

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This calf is the 58th giraffe born at Brookfield Zoo. His birth marks three generations of giraffes at Brookfield Zoo, as Franny is Arnieta’s mom. The sire, Hasani, 4, who arrived at Brookfield Zoo in 2010, is on a breeding loan from Lee Richardson Zoo in Garden City, Kansas. The calf’s birth is a very important addition to the North American zoo population because it is the first offspring for both Arnieta and Hasani. The pairing of the two was based on a recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Reticulated Giraffe Species Survival Plan (SSP). An SSP is a cooperative population management and conservation program for select species in accredited AZA zoos and aquariums. Each SSP manages the breeding of a species to maintain a healthy and self-sustaining population that is both genetically diverse and demographically stable.

Following a 14½-month gestation period, mother giraffes give birth while standing, resulting in an approximately five-foot drop delivery for the calf. Within an hour after birth, the calf born at Brookfield Zoo was standing. When fully grown, he could potentially reach 18 feet tall.

Giraffe numbers have declined by 40 percent in the last decade, and there are now fewer than 80,000 individuals in Africa. There are fewer than 5,000 reticulated giraffe left in East Africa.

Additionally, of the nine subspecies of giraffes in Africa, two—the West African giraffe and the Rothschild’s giraffe—are classified as endangered, with less than 250 and 670 individuals, respectively, remaining in the wild. The populations are declining due to a number of factors, including habitat loss and fragmentation coupled with human population growth and illegal hunting.

Phptp Credits:  Brookfield Zoo


Southern Hairy-Nosed Wombat Joey out and about at Brookfield Zoo

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Some guests to Brookfield Zoo may not know what a Southern Hairy-Nosed Wombat is since there are only 10 in four North American zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). But if they visit Brookfield Zoo’s Australia House, they will get to see several of these marsupials, including a female joey that was born February 18, 2012.

The not-yet-named joey is the fourth offspring of 12-year-old Kambora, who was born at San Diego Zoo, and the second for Wilbur, 20, who was wild-born in Australia. Although the joey was born more than eight months ago, it wasn’t until mid-September that zookeepers were able to get a good look at the youngster because, like all marsupials, Wombat joeys develop in a pouch.

Immediately after birth, the tiny joey which was about the size of a bumblebee—crawled into Kambora’s pouch, where she has been sleeping and nursing to get all the necessary nutrients she needs to fully develop. Now predominantly out of her mom’s pouch, the inquisitive joey has been exploring her new surroundings.

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Photo credit: Jim Schulz/Chicago Zoological Society


Last month, the Chicago Zoological Society (CZS), which manages Brookfield Zoo, held the first North American international symposium on Southern Hairy-Nosed Wombats. During the three-day meeting, representatives for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and from Australia shared information on care, husbandry, conservation, and management of the species. Participants discussed local and regional Wombat conservation issues in Australia, as well as the importation process that has been established with the Australian government. This past summer marked a significant milestone for the Southern Hairy-Nosed Wombat program in the United States in that it was the first importation of this species in several decades.

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Tawny Frogmouth Chicks Are Not Impressed.

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On July 9th and 11th, the Brookfield Zoo welcomed two Tawny Frogmouth chicks. Often mistaken for owls, these Australian birds also hunt at night, but prefer to relax and let their prey come to them, sometimes literally waiting for insects to crawl onto their feathers before snacking.

For reasons unknown, these chicks' parents—Eunice, who is on loan from Riverbanks Zoo in South Carolina, and Gullet, who is from SeaWorld Orlando—abandoned the nest about halfway during the incubation period. To give the unborn chicks a chance at life, staff pulled the eggs and placed them in an incubator. Once the eggs hatched, they received round-the-clock care. Now at 3 weeks old, they have grown, are eating well, and appear to have a bright future ahead of them.

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The pairing of the adults was based on a recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Tawny Frogmouth Species Survival Plan (SSP). An SSP is a cooperative population management and conservation program for select species in accredited AZA zoos and aquariums. Each SSP manages the breeding of a species to maintain a healthy and self-sustaining population that is both genetically diverse and demographically stable. Until the chicks are a little older, they will remain off exhibit while being cared for by Animal Programs staff. Guests are able to see the adult pair in the zoo’s Feathers and Scales building. The species is monogamous.

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Bison Baby Born at Brookfield Zoo

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It is not exactly the sound of a stampede but more like the pitter-patter of little hooves that guests can hear at Chicago's Brookfield Zoo’s Great Bear Wilderness exhibit with the addition of a Bison calf born on May 16. The female calf marks the first birth of this species at Brookfield Zoo since the early 1970s.

The birth is a welcome addition for mom Leotie, age 3, and father Ron, age 12, considering the species was slaughtered to near extinction in the late 1800s. Bison were hunted for their meat and bones but primarily for their hides, which were made into clothing, machine belts, and rugs. Historically, tens of millions of bison traveled hundreds of miles over the same route through the Great Plains, shaping the land and enriching the soil. Remnants of their deeply worn paths are still visible. But by the end of the 19th century, bison populations were eliminated over 98 percent of their range in the lower 48 states, resulting in fewer than 1,000 individuals remaining.

Calves are usually born in late spring and weigh 40 to 70 pounds at birth. Their coat is reddish at first, and darkens over a period of about 15 weeks. They are able to stand within half an hour of being born and can run after a few hours. Calves begin grazing when they are just shy of a week old but continue to nurse for several months.

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Photo Credit: Brookfield Zoo

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Brookfield Zoo Black-footed Kitten Bonanza!

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The Chicago Zoological Society, which manages Brookfield Zoo, is happy to announce its newest addition, and a first for the zoo: a Black-footed Cat born on February 14.

Although staff are now cautiously optimistic about the kitten’s future, such was not the case in the beginning. Hours after his birth, Animal Programs staff became concerned about the male kitten’s well-being because his 4-year-old mother, Cleo, appeared not to be providing proper maternal care. The kitten was not nursing and his body temperature was alarmingly low. Additionally, he was significantly underweight at birth.

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Photo credits: Jim Schulz/Chicago Zoological Society

 

To ensure that he had a chance for survival, staff quickly decided to intervene and handrear the kitten at the Chicago Zoological Society’s Animal Hospital, where he received round-the-clock care. He was placed in an incubator to increase and maintain his body temperature. Now 6 weeks old and gaining weight, the kitten is being fed a milk formula from a small bottle and is starting to eat solid foods.

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