Oregon Zoo

Endangered Flying Fox Pup Rescued by Zoo Keepers

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A tiny, critically endangered Rodrigues Flying Fox almost didn't live past her first day at the Oregon Zoo, but the pup is now one-month-old and well on the road to recovery.

"Rods," as Rodrigues Flying Foxes are often called in zoological circles, were once considered the most imperiled bat species on the planet, and each birth is considered an important step toward ensuring their long-term survival.

Oregon Zoo keepers were justifiably thrilled when, Sara, one of several Rodrigues Flying Foxes at the zoo's "bat cave," gave birth to a new pup on March 10. However, the day after the pup’s birth, excitement turned to concern when keepers found the tiny bat on the floor of the habitat, apparently rejected by her mom.

"Rods are big and fuzzy, and most of the time they keep their babies tucked up underneath a wing," said Laura Weiner, Senior Keeper for the zoo's Africa section. "When you see a baby on the ground, that's not a good sign."

The pup, which weighed less than 2 ounces, felt cold to the touch. Keepers scooped her up and rushed her to the zoo's veterinary medical center, where she was warmed, given fluids and determined to be in good health.

After several attempts to reunite the pup with her mother were met with rejection, the baby was returned to the vet hospital, where animal-care staff worked in shifts to administer formula feedings. She's out of ICU now, but she'll remain behind the scenes, until fall, during a long hand-rearing process that currently involves nine bottle feedings a day.

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3_040517BB-106Photo Credits: Oregon Zoo 

Weiner says the tiny survivor is not only "adorable," but a testament to one of the most inspiring conservation stories in history: living proof of the impact people can have, both positive and negative, on wildlife and species conservation.

"Every birth is significant for these bats," Weiner said. "Forty years ago, the Rodrigues Flying Fox was perilously close to extinction. The fact that they are here today shows what a difference people can make in helping wildlife."

The species is native only to Rodrigues, a tiny island in the Indian Ocean about 900 miles east of Madagascar, and plays an important ecological role on the island, where few other pollinators or seed dispersers exist. By the 1970s, much of this fruit bats' forest habitat had been cleared, and the species was on the brink extinction. After a cyclone hit the island in 1979, only 70 individuals remained, making the Rodrigues Flying Fox (Pteropus rodricensis) the most rare bat in the world.

The bats found a champion in English naturalist, Gerald Durrell, who translocated some survivors to form the nucleus of a breeding colony aimed at repopulating the species.

Although the Rodrigues Flying Fox is currently classified as “Critically Endangered” by the IUCN, the population has now increased to around 20,000, thanks to 40 years of conservation activity, including the Rodrigues Environmental Educator Project launched by the Philadelphia Zoo in 1998.

The Oregon Zoo began housing "Rods" in 1994, and has raised more than 40 pups since then, periodically sending bats to other zoos as part of the Rodrigues Flying Fox Species Survival Plan. (SSPs are Association of Zoos and Aquariums programs to ensure species that are threatened or endangered in the wild have sustainable populations in zoos and aquariums).


Twin Otter Pups Born at Oregon Zoo

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Tilly, a North American River Otter, is raising two tiny pups, born February 26 at the Oregon Zoo. The new arrivals — one male and one female — weighed around 4 ounces each at birth and have already doubled that thanks to their mother's naturally high-fat milk.

"Young River Otters are extremely dependent on their moms, and Tilly has been very nurturing," said Julie Christie, senior keeper for the zoo's North America area. "She did a great job raising her first two pups, Mo and Ziggy, both born in 2013. And she was a terrific adoptive mom to Little Pudding, the orphan pup who was rescued from a roadside in 2015. We expect she'll do well with her new babies as well."

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Tilly and her pups are currently in a private maternity den, and it will likely be another month or two before visitors can see them in their Cascade Stream and Pond habitat. Young River Otters usually open their eyes after three to six weeks, and begin walking at about five weeks. Surprisingly, swimming does not come naturally to River Otters — pups must be taught to swim by their moms.

Keepers have yet to decide on a name for the two new pups, though it is likely they will be named after Oregon rivers or waterways like their older siblings.

"This will be the first time Tilly has raised more than one pup at a time," said curator Amy Cutting, who oversees the zoo's North America and marine life areas. "It's exciting that they'll be growing up together and have the opportunity to play and wrestle with each other. Tilly's always been an extremely attentive mother, so it will be interesting to see what happens when her pups go in two different directions."

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Penguin Peeks Out of Its Egg at Oregon Zoo

121216-100Staff at the Oregon Zoo recorded a rare Humboldt Penguin chick as it peeked out of a tiny hole it had made in its egg in preparation for hatching.

Like most baby birds, Penguins use a sharp bump on their beak called an “egg tooth” to “pip” or create an opening in the eggshell.  Once the initial hole is created, the bird creates a crack around the circumference of the egg, then uses its feet to kick the two halves of the egg apart.  Hatching is usually completed with no help from the parents.

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121216-101Photo Credit:  Michael Durham/Oregon Zoo



The Penguin chick’s hatching went smoothly, and parents Blue and Esquela lavished attention on their new offspring.  Adult penguins regurgitate their meals – which consist entirely of fish – creating a sort of “fish smoothie” for their chicks. 

This high-fat, high-protein diet helps Penguin chicks grow rapidly, reaching adult size in about six months.  But the chicks’ coloration gives their age away– they’ll remain grayish-brown for a few years before they develop their tuxedo-like black-and-white markings.  Once the chicks lose their downy feathers and grow their smooth, waterproof, sub-adult plumage, they’ll begin swimming in the zoo’s Penguin habitat.

Several Penguin pairs are sitting on eggs, and the staff expects several more chicks to hatch before the end of breeding season.

Humboldt Penguins, which live along the coastlines of Peru and Chile, are classified as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and in 2010 were granted protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Of the world's 17 Penguin species, Humboldts are among the most at risk, threatened by overfishing of their prey species, entanglement in fishing nets, and breeding disruption due to commercial removal of the guano deposits where the Penguins lay their eggs. Their wild population is estimated at 12,000 breeding pairs.

 


Lemurs, Tigers, and Pumpkins, Oh My!

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It's Halloween, and that means zoo animals around the world are enjoying encounters with pumpkins and gourds of all shapes and sizes.  Animals' reactions to pumpkins vary, but critters may sniff, munch on, or completely destroy their pumpkin treats.

The pumpkins are more than a seasonal celebration - they serve as enrichment for zoo residents. Enrichment provides physical, mental, or sensory stimulation and encourages natural behaviors in animals.  Happy Halloween from ZooBorns!

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Lion Cubs 9982 - Grahm S. Jones, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
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Photo Credits (top to bottom)
Ring-tailed Lemur:  Fort Wayne Children's Zoo
Galapagos Tortoise:  San Diego Zoo
Komodo Dragon:  San Diego Zoo
North American River Otter:  San Diego Zoo
Gorilla:  Paignton Zoo
Asian Elephant:  Oregon Zoo/Shervin Hess
Sumatran Tiger:  Fort Wayne Children's Zoo
African Lion:  Columbus Zoo & Aquarium/Grahm S. Jones
Red Panda:  Fort Wayne Children's Zoo
Spider Monkey:  Paignton Zoo
Satanic Leaf-tailed Gecko:  Dallas Zoo


Recently Named Caracal Kittens Go Exploring

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The Oregon Zoo’s two new Caracal kittens are now 6 weeks old, and they have just begun to explore their outdoor habitat in the zoo’s Predators of the Serengeti area. 

Peggy and her kittens will have outdoor access from 10 am to 2 pm daily, weather permitting, but keepers say they will be easy to miss. “They’ve spent a lot of time out of view of visitors so far,” said Beth Foster, the zoo’s lead Caracal Keeper. “The space is still new and unfamiliar to them, so they’ve been hiding a lot, taking things slowly and sticking close to mom.”

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4_Oregon Caracal kittensPhoto Credits:  Michael Durham / Oregon ZooCaracals are elusive animals by nature, and even the full-grown cats can be hard to glimpse, according to Foster. She says the best time for zoo visitors to try their luck is right at 10 am, when they first go outside.

Under the watchful eye of their mom, the kittens ventured outside for the first time last week, toddling through hollow logs, hiding in the tall grass, and chirping for mom whenever they lost sight of her.

“Peggy’s been an excellent and very attentive mother,” Foster said. “When her little ones call, she comes right away to check on them.”

Peggy gave birth to the kittens last month in a behind-the-scenes maternity den. The two siblings have been healthy since day one and continue to grow rapidly. They now weigh about 2 to 3 pounds each and are just a bit bigger than domestic kittens — but with enormous paws and ears.

“They’re in their super-adorable phase,” Foster added.

ZooBorns introduced readers to the kittens, here, in early October.

Oregon Zoo Keepers recently voted to call the pair by the Sanskrit names Nandi (male) and Nisha (female).

Cricket, the kittens’ father, will be on exhibit after 2 pm. Cricket was born at the Lory Park Zoo and Owl Sanctuary in South Africa, and moved to the Oregon Zoo in winter 2011. Peggy came to the zoo in 2009 from a conservation center in Mena, Ark.

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which coordinates nationwide breeding programs for many of the species housed by zoos, recommended Cricket and Peggy as a breeding pair because the cats are from the same subspecies.

The zoo’s Caracal habitat, part of the Predators of the Serengeti exhibit, was built with substantial support from community members and organizations like Portland General Electric. The Caracals have access to a heated den and a spacious landscape dotted with trees, shrubs, heated rocks and grassy knolls.

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Oregon Zoo Introduces Newest Caracal Kittens

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Peggy, a Caracal living in the Oregon Zoo's Predators of the Serengeti area, gave birth to two kittens on September 11, and the Zoo recently shared their first video of the male and female siblings.

Adult Caracals are known for their huge black-tufted ears, which help them locate prey, but like all cats, they are born with eyes closed and ears folded down. At their two-week checkup, the female kitten's ears had already popped up, but the male's were still flat against his head.

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4_CaracalKittensOregonPhoto Credits: Shervin Hess / Oregon ZooAccording to keepers, Peggy and her babies are doing well, with both kittens nursing regularly and starting to move around their behind-the-scenes den box.

"Peggy has been a terrific mom," said senior Africa keeper Laura Weiner. "She's very protective. We put a bunch of straw in her den box as bedding, and she's been covering the little ones up with it, hiding them. Wild cats of all species hide their kittens like that to protect them from predators."

While Peggy and the kittens will be behind the scenes for a while, zoo visitors can still see the kittens' father, Cricket. Cricket was born at the Lory Park Zoo and Owl Sanctuary in South Africa, and moved to the Oregon Zoo in winter 2011. Peggy came to the zoo in 2009 from a conservation center in Mena, Ark.

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which coordinates nationwide breeding programs for many of the species housed by zoos, recommended Cricket and Peggy as a breeding pair because the cats are from the same subspecies.

The Oregon Zoo's Caracal habitat, part of the Predators of the Serengeti exhibit, was built with substantial support from community members and organizations like Portland General Electric. The Caracals have access to a heated den and a spacious landscape dotted with trees, shrubs, heated rocks and grassy knolls, all of which are enriching for the feline residents.

The Caracal (Caracal caracal) is a medium-sized wild cat that is around 3.3 feet (one meter) long. It is sometimes called the desert lynx or African lynx, but it is not a member of the Lynx genus. The Caracal is native to Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, Central Asia, and Southwest Asia. 

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Oregon Zoo Cares for Feisty Cougar Orphans

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Three fuzzy, orphaned Cougar cubs have briefly taken up residence, behind the scenes, at the Oregon Zoo's veterinary medical center.

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4_Oregon Cougar orphansPhoto Credits: Kathy Street / Oregon Zoo

At about 10-days-old, the cubs (two females and one male) were discovered in Washington State in mid-September. Upon rescuing the orphans, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife officials quickly contacted Oregon Zoo keeper Michelle Schireman, who serves as the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' species coordinator for Cougars.

"Without a mother, young Cougars can't survive on their own in the wild," Schireman said. "So I work to find them suitable homes. We have a couple of options we are considering right now, and the cubs should only be in our care for a couple of weeks at the most."

The cubs arrived in Portland Sept. 18, weighing just a pound and a half each. They had yet to cut their teeth, and their eyes were barely open — still cloudy blue and unable to focus. But since their arrival at the Zoo, they have been eating well and are very vocal, according to Schireman. "They're loud," she said. "When you come to feed them in the middle of the night, you can hear them all the way out in the parking lot."

In 2011, the American Association of Zoo Keepers recognized Schireman with a Certificate of Merit in Conservation for her "outstanding work developing an orphaned animal placement program." As AZA species coordinator, she has found homes for nearly 120 Cougar cubs in zoos around the country. Most of the Cougars currently living in U.S. zoos are orphans placed by Schireman.

"In most cases, we try to arrange for orphaned cubs to go directly to their new homes," Schireman said. "But in special situations, and depending on whether we have space, we sometimes take care of them at the zoo until their health has stabilized. It's a lot to ask of our staff, but everyone here is incredibly dedicated to helping wildlife. Our vet staff and keepers have been taking shifts to make sure the little ones receive around-the-clock care with bottle feedings every four hours.

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Meet Little Pudding, Oregon's Orphaned Otter Pup

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A boisterous, squeaky River Otter pup — orphaned last month near Oakridge, Oregon, and now living at the Oregon Zoo — has a name. The 4-month-old will be called Little Pudding, named for a tributary of Oregon’s Pudding River.

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Photo Credit:  Oregon Zoo

"A lot of the animals here get their names from nations or cultures associated with the species' native habitats," said Julie Christie, senior keeper for the zoo's North America area. "For the river otters, we like to choose names based on local waterways."

After narrowing their list of potential names to three choices — J.R. Papenfus and Hobson were the other two — keepers last week invited the public to vote for their favorite via the zoo website. More than 5,500 Otter fans weighed in, with Little Pudding earning around 36 percent of the votes.

The pup was alone, hungry and dehydrated when he was spotted wandering alongside a local highway. He was taken to the Chintimini Wildlife Center in Corvallis. Since the young Otter would not be able to survive in the wild without its mother, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife contacted the zoo to see if space was available once the pup's health stabilized.

Once threatened by fur trappers, North American River Otters are now relatively abundant in healthy river systems of the Pacific Northwest and the lakes and tributaries that feed them. Good populations exist in suitable habitat in northeast and southeast Oregon, but they are scarce in heavily settled areas, especially if waterways are compromised. Because of habitat destruction and water pollution, River Otters are considered rare outside the region.


Name Dropping at the Oregon Zoo

OregonZoo_AfricanLionCubs_2On September 8th, beautiful African Lion Cubs were born at the Oregon Zoo. The healthy trio was the first offspring for their seven-year-old mother, ‘Kya’, and father, ‘Zawadi Mungu’. Now, the cubs are 4-weeks-old, adventurous, feisty…and they need names! 

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OregonZoo_AfricanLionCubs_5Photo Credits: Michael Durham /Oregon Zoo

Until now, the zoo's animal-care staff has referred to the two females and one male by the last digit of the numbers they were assigned as part of the International Species Information System: 6, 7 and 8.

"They're bonding well, and we're starting to see their personalities," Laura Weiner, senior keeper for the zoo’s Africa section said. "We think it's time to give them names that suit them."

Keepers have selected two possible names for each cub and are asking the public to vote.

Votes can be cast via an online survey, linked here: “Lion Cub Name Vote

Votes will be accepted through Thursday, Oct. 9. The zoo will announce the winning names on Friday, Oct. 10.

"A lot of animals at the zoo get their names from nations or cultures associated with their species' native habitats," Weiner said. "And for these cubs, we wanted to bring attention to what's happening in their range countries. Just two decades ago, lions were plentiful in much of Africa, but today they are vanishing at alarming rates. The wild lion population is estimated to have dropped by 75 percent since 1990."

The zoo's three adult lions (Zawadi, Neka and Kya) came to the Oregon Zoo, in 2009, based on a breeding recommendation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Species Survival Plan for African Lions. Zawadi, the male, came from the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and the females, Neka and Kya, came from the Virginia Zoo and Wisconsin's Racine Zoo respectively.

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African Pygmy Hoglets Poke About at Oregon Zoo

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Hakuna Matata, an African Pygmy Hedgehog at the Oregon Zoo, gave birth to a litter of five on July 7!  The tiny, spiny hoglets weigh just a tenth of a pound each, and when curled up in a ball they are about the size of a doughnut hole. 

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Oregon_hoglets_134Photo Credits: Oregon Zoo/Michael Durham

 

Keepers aren't completely sure of the little ones' sexes yet, but they believe there are three males and two females. Two of the hoglets resemble their mother, a black-eyed cinnicot with mostly white spines; the other three take after their father, Burundi, who is a dark gray. Their quills are actually modified hairs, which fall out and grow back throughout their lives.

"When we think of African predators, we often think of lions and cheetahs and painted dogs," said Tanya Paul, who supervises the Oregon Zoo's education program animals. "But African Pygmy Hedgehogs are a great example of a smaller predator that is also important. They are insectivores, so they help keep bug populations down. They can also tolerate a fair amount of toxins in their diet, and sometimes will even feast on scorpions."

Although hedgehogs are cute, Paul warns, people should think twice before considering one as a pet. "They're very difficult to care for because of their diet and the need for special veterinary care," she said. "Many vets don't specialize in treating exotic animals like a hedgehog."

For now the hoglets are not viewable by visitors, but staff are working on ways to let people see them once the babies are about six weeks old and have been weaned. 

See more photos below.

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