Fort Worth Zoo Welcomes First Dragon Hatchlings

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For the first time in its 108-year history, the Fort Worth Zoo proudly announces the hatchings of eleven Komodo Dragons. Upon hatching, the juveniles were approximately 12 to 15 inches long and weighed less than half a pound each (about as much as a bar of soap).


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The female Komodo Dragon arrived at the Zoo in 2012 from Prague. She is 7 years old, 6 feet in length and weighs 26 pounds. The male is 7 years old, 6.5 feet long and 44 pounds. This is the first clutch for both young parents. (Full-grown adult males can reach over 8 feet in length and weigh up to 200 pounds). The adult Dragons’ unique genetic material makes them valuable assets in the development of Komodo Dragons in managed populations in the United States. They have now introduced an entirely new bloodline of healthy, genetically diverse Komodo Dragons into the population, which contributes as a hedge against extinction of these vulnerable reptiles.

Typically, female Komodo Dragons lay about 20 to 30 eggs and the eggs incubate for about nine months. There is little research to support parental care of newly hatched Komodo Dragons; in fact, adults will often eat juveniles. For this reason, and to ensure the eggs were kept at a constant temperature and humidity, the Fort Worth Zoo herpetological team cared for the eggs in the incubation nursery housed inside the Zoo’s Museum of Living Art (MOLA) until they hatched. Each one of the hatchlings now resides in its own off-exhibit habitat; however, one is now on exhibit in MOLA, across from their parents’ exhibit.

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Blank Park Zoo’s Lioness Has Her Paws Full

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Iowa’s Blank Park Zoo recently announced that their Lioness, Neema, had successfully given birth to three cubs! Two females and one male were born on November 14.

The cubs have been spending time bonding with mom. At their first physical on November 20th, they individually weighed 1.46 kg, 1.37 kg and 1.2 kg.

“Neema has been a very attentive and protective mother to the cubs,” said Dr. June Olds, chief veterinary programs officer. “We suspect the cubs were a bit underweight at their first physical because it was a large litter.”

Staff has been supplementing the feeding of the smallest cub, the male, because he is currently a week behind in growth compared to the other cubs, and his condition is considered guarded. “We are going to continue to evaluate his milestones and supplement him as needed. I am very impressed that ‘Neema’ has been allowing us to do that,” said Olds.

Two other cubs, born four hours after the initial three, failed to thrive and unfortunately did not survive.

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Blank Park Zoo staff never goes directly into areas with dangerous animals such as Lions. For the keepers to attend to the cubs and perform exams, Neema had to ‘shift’ to another room.

Blank Park Zoo’s male lion, Deuce, arrived at the zoo in 2012. Neema and another female, Kadi, arrived at the zoo’s Tom and Jo Ghrist Great Cats Complex in June of this year from the Santa Barbara Zoo. The Lions are part of the Species Survival Plan. Deuce and Neema were given a breeding recommendation by the SSP.

“As we see populations of Lions declining in their natural habitats, these cubs will play an important role in saving Lions for the future,” said Mark Vukovich, CEO. “The population of Lions has decreased by more than 40 percent in the past 20 years.”

The cubs and Neema are still spending quality time together and are not currently available to be seen by visitors. Before visitors will be allowed to see them, the cubs must go through a series of vaccinations, which will take a few months. Blank Park Zoo will be setting up some remote viewing options for visitors in the coming weeks.

Zoo officials will be releasing plans for naming the cubs in the coming days, as well.

Blank Park Zoo will be giving a donation to the *Ruaha Carnivore Project in honor of the cubs. A portion of every dollar spent at Blank Park Zoo is used to help save animals in their natural habitats.

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Jacksonville Zoo Welcomes Two Giraffes in One Week

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Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens is delighted to welcome another new Reticulated Giraffe to the family. The healthy female was born November 24 and is the second Giraffe born in the span of a week!

Much to the amazement of Zoo guests, the latest calf was born on exhibit. Guests were able to see the delivery from the Giraffe Overlook.  

This calf is the fourth for mom, Luna, and an impressive 18th offspring for sire, Duke. The most recent addition marks the 41st Giraffe calf born at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens (JZG).

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4_guests watching John ReedPhoto Credits: JJ Vitale / John Reed / JZG (Images 1-5: Female born Nov. 24, with mom Luna and Auntie Spock ; Images 6-8: Male born Nov. 19, with mom Naomi)

According to staff, Luna was not in labor the morning of November 24, but keepers felt confident in her previous pregnancy and birth experiences. She was encouraged to roam freely and comfortably with the rest of the herd, and knowing she was near the end of her pregnancy, keepers were closely monitoring her throughout the day.

When the calf’s front hooves made an appearance around 12:30 p.m. that day, keepers called most of the herd off exhibit to give Luna space. Another female, Spock, stayed with Luna and gave her privacy for the birth. However, Spock was quick to greet the youngster and help the new mom with the cleaning process. Although Spock has never had any offspring of her own, she has been an excellent “auntie” figure to many calves over the years.

With excited guests cheering form the Overlook, the newborn calf was standing within 30-minutes of birth. Zookeepers observed the calf nursing well, and Luna and the calf will be allowed to stay on exhibit for as long as they are comfortable.

The male calf was born, just a few days prior, on November 19 to mom Naomi. Duke is also his father. A review of security cameras in the Giraffe exhibit show this calf was born at 5 a.m. on the 19th. Veterinary staff examined him late in the afternoon of his birth and measured him at 6’4” tall, with a weight of 191 pounds.

The new male, his mother Naomi, and auntie Spock will also join the new female and mom, Luna, on-exhibit. Both new calves are expected to be out with their herd, assuming the two mothers are comfortable with the situation.

The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens supports the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, whose sole focus is on the conservation and management of Giraffes in the wild.

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Four Otter Pups Come Out of the Den at Woburn Safari Park

Otter-pup-1_715x589Four Otter pups were born at Woburn Safari Park in late September, and they’re now out of the den exploring their exhibit.

The Asian Small-clawed Otter pups are the second litter born to parents Kovu and Kelani. The first litter of five pups was born in July 2016. The one-year-olds are proving to be great helpers to Kovu and Kelani when it comes to managing the newborns.

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Photo Credits: Woburn Safari Park (1,3,4,5); Linda McPherson (2)

The four new pups, one female and three males, recently received their first hands-on health check from keepers.  The pups were microchipped, sexed, and given a quick exam. All four are doing well.

Animal keeper Louise Moody said, "We are really excited that Kelani has welcomed another litter successfully and that all the pups are doing well. Their older siblings are helping out their parents and bringing food for them all into the nest box.”

The four pups and seven adult Otters can now be seen playing together in their outdoor enclosure, and the pups are learning to swim. The water level in the exhibit pool has been temporarily lowered until the little Otters grow a bit bigger.

In a few months, the family will say goodbye to the older pups.  They will be sent to other zoos to become part of Otter breeding programs.

Asian Small-clawed Otters are listed as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. They live in coastal wetlands in South and Southeast Asia, and their habitat has been degraded and reduced significantly in recent decades.

 


Baby Giraffe Joins the Tower at Zoo Wroclaw

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On October 24, Poland’s Zoo Wroclaw welcomed a female Reticulated Giraffe to their tower (a herd of Giraffes is called a tower).

The baby, named Irma, stood just under six feet tall at birth, and is the tallest of all the babies born at the zoo to date.  Irma’s parents are Imara, the mom, and Rafiki, the father. Two other young females, named Nala and Shani, also live in the tower.

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Photo Credit:  Zoo Wroclaw

Like all Giraffes, Irma was born while her mother was standing up. The baby dropped six feet to the ground and soon afterward was standing and nursing. The standing birth and the minimal time the baby spends on the ground are essential to survival in the wild, where a newborn baby could be targeted by predators.

Giraffes were once plentiful across Africa, but today the nine subspecies live in fragmented populations, and many of those populations are declining. As a whole, Giraffes are listed as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, due to illegal hunting and degradation of their habitat. Only about 80,000 Giraffes are estimated to remain today.  Zoo breeding programs are an important part of the species’ future.

See more photos of Irma below.

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Southern Black Rhino Calf Born in Australia

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Taronga Western Plains Zoo is pleased to announce the arrival of a rare Southern Black Rhinoceros calf, born on October 31 to mother Bakhita and father Kwanzaa.

The yet-to-be-named male calf is the second Black Rhino calf to be born at the Zoo this year, boosting the Zoo’s successful Black Rhino breeding program.

“We are very happy with the arrival of a healthy male calf born overnight on 31 October. Every birth is special, but to have two Black Rhino calves born in one year is particularly exciting. We’re thrilled,” Keeper Scott Smith said. “The birth occurred in the early hours of Halloween, following a 15-month gestation period for Bakhita. It was a smooth delivery, and the calf is strong, healthy and well. Bakhita is an experienced and nurturing mother, and while she’s protective of her baby, she is relatively relaxed and trusting around Keepers.”

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4 - Black Rhino calf with mother BakhitaPhoto Credits: Rick Stevens/ Taronga Western Plains Zoo

“At just two weeks of age, the calf was showing his confidence and interacting with Keepers via a ‘creep’ yard - a fence opening large enough for the baby to pass through, but too small for Bakhita,” Scott said. This ‘creep’ yard allows the calf to get close to Keepers and grow used to their presence, while Bakhita comfortably eats hay nearby. By encouraging this interaction from a young age, Keepers can develop an important bond with him, which helps to make working with the calf a positive experience as he grows into an adult Rhino.

“The new calf is one of the biggest Black Rhino calves born here at the Zoo, with an estimated birth weight of 35 to 40 kilograms. We’re pleased to see he is suckling very well from Bakhita,” Scott said. “He has already been seen galloping around his behind-the-scenes enclosure and venturing a considerable distance from Bakhita for short periods of time. He’s an active calf and is very inquisitive about his surroundings.”

The calf is imitating eating behaviors by mouthing browse (leaves), but will only start to eat solid food at around three months of age. While Black Rhino are born without horns, the calf’s horn will soon begin growing at a rate of around half a centimeter to one centimeter per month.

The calf’s mother, Bakhita, is the first Black Rhino female to be born at Taronga Western Plains Zoo, with her arrival in 2002 being a widely celebrated occasion. The Zoo currently has three generations of Black Rhino. Bakhita’s daughter, Kufara, currently has a calf of her own - Mesi, born in April this year.

The best time to see Kufara and Mesi is at the Black Rhino Keeper Talk at 9.25am daily. Bakhita and her baby will remain behind the scenes as they continue to bond as mother and calf, and they will be on exhibit for the public to see early next year.

Taronga Western Plains Zoo is the only zoo in Australia to have successfully bred three species of Rhino: the Black Rhino and White Rhino from Africa, and the Greater One-horned Rhino from Asia. The new calf is the 14th Black Rhino calf to be born at Taronga Western Plains Zoo.

Every Rhino birth is extremely important. Southern Black Rhinoceros are critically endangered with only an estimated 4000 left in the wild, predominantly due to poaching for their horns. Taronga is a founding member of the International Rhino Foundation, and in addition to the breeding conservation program, actively supports conservation efforts for wild Rhinos in Africa, Indonesia and India in areas including habitat protection, anti-poaching and reduction of human-rhino conflict.

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Cheetah Cub Arrives at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

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A six-week-old female Cheetah cub arrived at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, on November 13, from Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose, Texas.

Cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) are currently classified as “Vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The species has suffered a substantial decline in its range due to hunting, and several African countries have taken steps to improve Cheetah conservation. By late 2016, the population had fallen to approximately 7,100 individuals in the wild due to habitat loss, poaching, illegal pet trade, and conflict with humans. Some researchers suggest that the animal could soon be reclassified as "Endangered" on the IUCN Red List.

In light of the challenges facing the future survival of the Cheetah, animal care staff in charge of the new little cub made the decision to hand-rear. After birth, the little female was very small compared to her four brothers and one sister. She could not successfully compete with her litter-mates at nursing time and was not gaining weight. Since bottle feedings began, she is now thriving and gaining weight consistently.

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Animal care staff now reports that the cub has a “sweet personality” and is very vocal. According to them, she seeks interaction and attention from her keepers. Although she is still formula-fed, it is now being mixed with meat. The growing cub is eating four times a day and weighs just over four pounds.

Visitors to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park can see the curious cub daily in the nursery at the park’s Ione and Paul Harter Animal Care Center. She will remain at the Safari Park for about three months, and then will move to the San Diego Zoo, to become an ‘animal ambassador’.


Endangered Iguanas Hatch at SDZ Safari Park

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The population of critically endangered Jamaican Iguanas is on the rise, thanks in part to the efforts of researchers at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research’s Kenneth and Anne Griffin Reptile Conservation Center (an off-exhibit breeding facility at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park).

Since September, four Jamaican Iguanas have hatched here from eggs of two different pairs of adult Iguanas. One egg from the first clutch hatched September 4, and three eggs from the second clutch hatched October 6, 7 and 11. With the addition of these four new animals, a total of 11 Jamaican Iguanas now reside at the Park’s Reptile Conservation Center.

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Jamaican_003_LGPhoto Credits: Ken Bohn/ San Diego Zoo Safari Park

The baby Iguanas now have a much lighter gray color overall, with more pronounced striping than they will have when they become adults. As they grow, their body will become dark gray and rust-colored, with greenish-blue highlights. Jamaican Iguanas continue to grow over their entire lifetime, and they can eventually reach up to three feet in length and weigh up to 15 pounds.

San Diego Zoo Global first received a group of Jamaican Iguanas in 1996: three males and three females. The first successful hatching of this critically endangered lizard occurred in 2013, with the birth of a female that still lives at the Reptile Conservation Center. She will become part of the center’s breeding program when a suitable mate can be found for her.

"I'm very pleased with the results of our work this year,” said Jeff Lemm, conservation program specialist at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. “Our job is to help make the animals successful at reproducing through the husbandry we provide, and it's fantastic that we are starting to achieve these goals."

The Jamaican Iguana (Cyclura collei) is found only in the tropical dry forests of the Hellshire Hills outside of Kingston, Jamaica. They are Jamaica’s largest native species and believed to be extinct in the 1940s. However, in 1990, a pig hunter’s dog found a live specimen and the Iguana was brought to the Hope Zoo in Kingston, Jamaica. That same year, a survey of the Hellshire Hills found a small population of fewer than 100, and researchers began a large-scale program to try to save this Iguana from extinction. Due to deforestation and threats from non-native animals (including mongooses, cats, dogs and pigs), the Jamaican Iguana is currently listed as “Critically Endangered” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.


Jaguar Cubs Explore With Mom at Houston Zoo

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The Houston Zoo’s four-month-old Jaguar cubs recently made their public debut.

Fitz and his sister, Emma, were born to first-time parents Maya and Tesoro on July 20. The cubs have been behind-the-scenes with mom the past few months.

During most mornings, the family can be seen exploring their outdoor habitat. According the zoo, the cubs and their mom also have access to their “night houses” or caves if they choose to have privacy.

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4_23456221_10156096682252526_6083372874291509906_oPhoto Credits: Houston Zoo

The Jaguar (Panthera onca) is a big cat and is the only extant Panthera species native to the Americas. The Jaguar is the third-largest feline species after the Tiger and the Lion, and the largest in the Americas.

The Jaguar's present range extends from Southwestern United States and Mexico across much of Central America and south to Paraguay and northern Argentina. The species has largely been extirpated from the United States since the early 20th century.

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Zoo Osnabrück’s Otter Pups Make Public Debut

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Zoo Osnabrück recently released photos of four Asian Small-clawed Otter pups. The pups were born to mother, Haima, and father, Ambu, in early August, but keepers wanted to give the new family time to bond before they made a public debut.

According to veterinarians, the pups all appear healthy. Staff was able to ascertain that two of the pups are females and one is certainly male, however, the smallest and quickest of the litter has yet to allow staff that close-up of an exam. Zoo Veterinarian, Thomas Scheibe, smiled and said, "A small, agile otter is really difficult to catch. One of the four cubs hid completely, so we could only catch and examine three of the cubs. But…we'll catch up soon!”

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4_23215718_1912625722097697_2821923821153530414_oPhoto Credits: Zoo Osnabrück

As part of their routine vet examinations and care, the Asian Small-clawed Otters at Zoo Osnabrück are regularly vaccinated against distemper, a viral disease that often occurs in dogs or some wild animals. "Because the Zoo is not an isolated area, we vaccinate the animals that are susceptible to distemper," explains the wildlife veterinarian.

During the time of the recent exam, each of the pups weighed about 500 grams.

In addition to the vaccination, the otter pups received a microchip, which is also used in pets or horses. "The chip is used for the animals, so that they are individually recognizable. Within one to two years, the young animals will leave us for another zoo, "explained Tobias Klumpe, research associate responsible for the Zoo’s animal transfers.

Visitors can watch the busy family life of the Asian Small-clawed Otters in Zoo Osnabrück’s outdoor area of ​the Tetra Aquarium. Until about the end of November, the small predators will use the outdoor area before they are moved into their winter quarters inside the Tetra Aquarium, where they will also be on-exhibit.

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