The Chicago Zoological Society, which manages Brookfield Zoo, is happy to announce the birth of six Asian small-clawed otter pups on November 18, 2021. Since their birth, the otter-ly adorable and playful pups have been growing and bonding behind the scenes with their parents, Pearl and Adhi (pronounced AHH-dee). Guests will be able to see the two male and four female pups exploring their habitat in Tropic World: Asia once they are eating solid foods and have become proficient swimmers.
Since mid-September, there has been a baby boom of dwarf seahorses born at Brookfield Zoo’s Living Coast. Nearly 30 seahorse fry (name for baby fish) have been born, including nine on November 14. One of the animal care specialists, who cares for them, was at the right place at the right time and was able to capture the amazing moment on his cell phone. The video can be seen on the zoo’s social media channels.
The dwarf seahorse is one of the smallest species of seahorse, measuring about a ¼ inch at birth and up to 2 inches when full grown. To provide the best chance of survivability, the seahorses born at Brookfield Zoo are being reared by staff behind the scenes. However, several adult seahorses can be seen in their habitat at the Living Coast.
The seahorse and its close relative, the sea dragon, are the only animals that have a true reversed pregnancy in which the male gives birth to the fry. A female seahorse transfers her eggs to the male, where they are fertilized in his brood pouch. There, the developing seahorses are provided oxygen, nourishment and protection. When he is ready to give birth, the male opens his brood pouch and makes contractions to push out the babies. Once born, the adults have nothing to do with their offspring—the newborn seahorses are independent and fend for themselves.
According to International Union for Conservation of Nature, the dwarf seahorse population is declining due to habitat loss, pollution, residential and commercial development, and human activities.
Video credit: Mike Masellis
Brookfield, Ill. — A Kirk’s dik-dik, one of the world’s smallest antelopes, was born at Brookfield Zoo on October 13. At birth, the not-yet-named male calf weighed just over 1½ pounds. He is currently behind the scenes with his mother. To not disturb the bonding process between Buttons, the 2-year-old mom, and her offspring, animal care staff set up a GoPro camera to get video of the newest addition to share with the public. It can be viewed on the zoo’s social media channels.
Behind the scenes, there is a nest site, which is where a newborn dik-dik remains hidden for 10 to 20 days. It will nurse for about three to four months. Weaning is attained when the calf reaches a weight of about 4 pounds. Once full grown, the male can weigh up to 14 pounds and measure 14 to 16 inches tall at the shoulder.
This small antelope, native to Africa’s Kenya, Somalia, Tanzania, Angola, and Namibia, got its name from the sound it makes when threatened as well as after Sir John Kirk, a 19th century Scottish naturalist. Its coat varies in color from a yellowish-gray to reddish-brown. The species can be identified best by its large, striking, dark eyes that are each surrounded by a white ring. Only the males grow short corrugated horns. The elongated snout allows a dik-dik to help keep cool by rapidly panting to cool the air, and therefore its body. This system also helps minimize its need for water.
The calf at Brookfield Zoo will not be making his public debut until spring 2022, but guests can see an adult pair in their outdoor habitat during regular zoo hours, weather permitting. Currently, there are 25 Kirk’s dik-diks at 11 accredited North American zoos, including five at Brookfield Zoo.
Brookfield, Ill. — Things are really hopping at Brookfield Zoo—with wallabies that is. Three Bennett’s wallaby moms---Becky, Marion, and Talia—all gave birth to joeys in late 2020.
It is difficult to determine the exact date of a wallaby’s birthdate. When born, a joey is about the size of a bumblebee and weighs less than 0.03 ounces. Babies are born blind and hairless and migrate from the birth canal to the mother’s pouch without being noticed. There, they remain for approximately 280 days.
Becky’s joey, born approximately on October 31, 2020, spends the majority of its time outside of mom’s pouch. The youngest of the three joey’s was born to Talia around December 1, 2020, and has recently begun to emerge from its mom’s pouch and explore.
The third joey, a female named Whitney, was born November 12, 2020, and is being handreared, because her mom, Marion, required medical treatment. Out of an abundance of caution, veterinary staff determined it was in the best interest of both animals to remove the joey from Marion’s pouch.
Once Whitney is weaned from a bottle and more independent, she will be reunited with her mom and the rest of the wallabies, including the two joeys, at Hamill Family Wild Encounters. Until then, to keep Whitney socialized and active, animal care staff regularly take her outdoors to get plenty of exercise and sunshine. When not outside, she hangs out in a hand-sewn pouch that her caretakers carry while performing their tasks throughout the day. She seems to enjoy poking her head out and watching all the activity going on around her.
Wallabies, which inhabit coastal areas, woodlands, and grasslands in Australia, are marsupials—mammals best known for their abdominal pouches. There are more than 270 different marsupial species found around the world. Wallabies have a stable population in their range. However, they are sometimes killed as an agricultural pest and hunted for their meat. Fully grown, wallabies can reach up to 3 feet in height and weigh between 24 to 59 pounds, depending on the gender. Wallabies are hardy all-weather animals. In warmer temperatures, they lick their arms and hands, which causes their saliva to evaporate, cooling them off.
Those interested in helping care for the Bennett’s wallabies at Brookfield Zoo can contribute to the Animal Adoption program. For $35, a recipient receives the Basic Package, which includes a 5-inch x 7-inch color photograph of a wallaby, a personalized certificate of adoption, a Bennett’s wallaby fact sheet, and an Animal Adoption program decal. To purchase, visit www.CZS.org/AnimalAdoption.
The public was able to meet one of Brookfield Zoo’s newest additions—a month-old North American river otter—during a “Bringing the Zoo to You” Facebook Live chat on Wednesday, March 3.
The male pup, born on January 20, is being hand-reared by animal care staff after it was determined that his mom, Charlotte, was not able to provide him with the proper nourishment he needed. Staff hope to introduce him back with Charlotte and his dad, Benny, once he is weaned, which will be towards the end of March.
(credit Jim Schulz/Chicago Zoological Society)
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The inquisitive and playful pup needs a name, and Brookfield Zoo is inviting the public to assist in the final selection. Those wishing, can cast a vote for their favorite on the zoo’s website at CZS.org/OtterName. The name choices are:
- Chippewa—name of rivers found in the upper Midwest where North American river otters are found
- Flambeau—a river in north-central Wisconsin also found in otters’ native habitat
- Pascal—name of otter character in a popular video game
- Ozzy—just a really a cute name
Voting began Tuesday, March 2, at 11:00 a.m. CT, and continues through Monday, March 15, at 5:00 p.m. CT. The name with the most votes will be announced on Tuesday, March 16.
The Illinois population of North American river otters—fewer than 100 individuals in the late 1980s—was once threatened due to over harvesting and habitat loss. However, a successful recovery program initiated in the early 1990s by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources helped increase the number of otters in the state. The program included relocating nearly 350 otters from Louisiana to central and southeastern Illinois. The state also engaged in conserving wetlands and wooded areas along streams and rivers, which is otter habitat. Today, the species is common throughout Illinois thanks to these effort as well as expanding otter populations in neighboring states.
Brookfield Zoo is thrilled to announce the birth of pygmy slow loris twins! Born August 26, 2020, these yet-to-be-named little ones belong to dam Chantu and sire Henderson. Located in Tropic World, we hope you'll be able to see these little ones soon.
Due to deforestation in their native Vietnam, pygmy slow lorises are considered endangered. Brookfield Zoo is proud to be part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP), which acts as a proactive approach to preventing extinction.
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The Chicago Zoological Society, which manages Brookfield Zoo, is getting right to the “point” by announcing the birth of a Prehensile-tailed Porcupine on July 2. The little male porcupette is the first of his kind to be born at Brookfield Zoo.
After monitoring the mother, 5-year-old Lucia, for an extended period of time, it became clear that she was not allowing the baby to nurse and would not be able to provide her offspring proper maternal care. At that time, animal care and veterinary staff made the decision to intervene and hand-rear the porcupette, who is now thriving.
Following a gestation of about 203 days, the baby was born weighing just under a pound. The baby has soft quills that protect the mom during the birthing process, but after a few days, the quills harden with keratin, which gives them their sharpness.
Baby porcupines are relatively mature and mobile immediately following birth. Prehensile-tailed Porcupines are born with a rusty-brown colored coat that help them blend in with their environment. Similar to a young deer fawn, a porcupette hides and waits for its mother to come to it for nursing. A baby will typically continue to nurse until it is weaned at approximately 10 weeks of age.
Both Lucia and the porcupette’s dad, 4-year-old Eddie, are members of Brookfield Zoo’s Animal Ambassador Program and can be seen in Hamill Family Play Zoo. Once the young porcupine is weaned from the bottle, he will also be a part of this program, which offers guests the opportunity to have up-close experiences with many of the animals.
Prehensile-tailed Porcupines are native to South America and live in high-elevation rain forests. Their long tail is used to wrap around branches while climbing.
Despite what some might think, porcupines do not shoot their quills, which are just modified hairs made out of the same substance found in human hair and fingernails. Porcupines have muscles at the base of each quill that allow the quills to stand up when the animal is excited or alarmed. Like all hairs, quills do shed, and when the porcupines shake, loose quills come out. The ends of Prehensile-tailed Porcupines’ quills have a small barb (like a fish hook) that snags the flesh, keeping the quill stuck.
More pics below the fold!
The Brookfield Zoo is thrilled to announce the birth of two male Amur Leopard cubs. Born on April 18, the now 8 and 9 pound, two-month-old cubs are doing well and bonding with their mom, Lisa, behind the scenes. It is anticipated they will be making their public debut to zoo guests in mid-July.
Lisa, 7, and the sire, Kasha, 8, were introduced back in 2015, and are also the parents of Temur, a 2-year-old male who was recently transferred to another accredited zoo. Both parents were brought to Brookfield Zoo in 2013—Lisa from Saint Louis Zoological Park, and Kasha from Le Parc des Felins in France—as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Amur Leopard Species Survival Plan (SSP). An SSP 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.
The Amur Leopard is critically endangered with less than 65 animals left in the wild. To help the species, in 2013, an Amur Leopard Global Species Management Plan (GSMP) was convened under the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA). The GSMP involves several regional zoo associations: the Association of Zoos and Aquariums in North America, the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA), the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and the Eurasian Regional Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EARAZA). Through the GSMP, each of the participating organizations is able to maximize the genetic health, diversity, and sustainability of the managed population, which is important in the event a reintroduction plan is established. It has also been beneficial in sharing information and has increased greater cooperation between the regions in order to strengthen both in situ and ex situ conservation efforts for this species.
Currently, there are 82 Amur Leopards in 42 accredited North American zoos. The work that Brookfield Zoo is doing and the successful birth of these two new cubs marks a crucial addition to the species population.
“We are all very excited about the births of our two Amur Leopard cubs,” said Amy Roberts, senior curator of mammals for the Chicago Zoological Society. “It is our hope that guests will not only enjoy seeing these very charismatic cubs exploring and playing in their outdoor habitat, but will also gain an appreciation for the species and learn why conservation efforts are so important for this Leopard.”
Amur Leopards, known for their keen senses of hearing, vision, and smell, are a nocturnal species. Their range previously encompassed the Amur River basin and the mountains of northeastern China and the Korean peninsula. Today, they are found only in one isolated population in the Russian Far East, although there may be a few individuals in the Jilin Province of northeast China. They are the northernmost subspecies of Leopard in the world and are often mistaken for Snow Leopards. Amur Leopards live in temperate forests with cold winters and hot summers, and typically rest in trees and dense vegetation or among the rocks during the day. The biggest threats to these solitary animals are poaching; retribution hunting; a decrease in their habitat from fires, logging, and human settlement; and a decline in their prey.
Bunny, a Reindeer at Brookfield Zoo, gave birth to a fawn on April 2 after a 7½-month gestation. Within just a few minutes of the birth, the fawn was up and walking.
The fawn, Bunny’s second, weighed just over 12 pounds at birth but is expected to double her weight in just two weeks, thanks to the richness of her mother’s milk. She will soon graze on solid food but will continue to nurse from Bunny for about six months.
Reindeer fawns are born with dark fur that absorbs radiant heat from the sun, which is important in the chilly northern regions where Reindeer live. At about two to three months, fawns begin to shed their dark fur as lighter-colored fur grows in. At about one month of age, little antler buds begin to develop, followed by short spikes within the first year.
Reindeer differ from other Deer species because their noses are covered with fur and both sexes have antlers. The antlers are made of solid living bone and no two sets are alike. Antlers grow out of small bony platforms called pedicles and are covered with velvet, a soft tissue that supplies necessary nutrients. Males shed their antlers in November and December and females in January or February. Both genders begin growing a new set of antlers in early spring.
A Humboldt Penguin chick that hatched on February 12 at Brookfield Zoo is thriving, and in the near future, may be taking on an important role. As early as this May, and depending on whether he chooses to participate, the unnamed chick will be an animal ambassador for the zoo’s Penguin Encounters.
Currently being hand-reared by animal care staff, the chick is being carefully monitored. He is weighed three times a day—once each morning to determine how much weight was gained over a 24-hour period, as well as after each feeding to calculate how much of its diet of herring and marine smelt he consumed.
The chick will molt from his down feathers into juvenile plumage by two months of age, at which time he will be introduced to a shallow pool of water. Adult plumage will not be present until the chick is about two years old. In addition to possibly being an integral member of the Penguin Encounters, the chick will be introduced to and reside in the Humboldt Penguin colony in the rocky shores habitat at Brookfield Zoo’s Living Coast.
Each Penguin Encounter begins with a member of the animal care staff sharing fun facts about the zoo’s resident Humboldt penguins and communicating how to safely interact with the penguin during the session. During the program, penguins are free to roam and waddle up to anyone they choose – and while one animal may be camera-shy, another individual may enjoy a good selfie or two. The animals appear to find the encounters as enriching as guests and each penguin ambassador chooses whether to participate in the encounters. Staff also talk about the conservation work the Chicago Zoological Society is doing in Punta San Juan, Peru, to help preserve the habitat and abundant wildlife, including Humboldt Penguins that live along the South American coastline.
Humboldt Penguins are native to the Pacific coastlines of Peru and Chile. The population has fallen due to climate change, guano mining, and competition for food with commercial fisheries. The birds are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.