Oregon Zoo

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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It's Pool Time for Lily the Baby Elephant!

10382337_10152170705216109_2175553080066726608_oLily, a one-and-a-half-year-old Asian Elephant, enjoyed some splash time with the entire herd this week at the Oregon Zoo.

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10460907_10152170708686109_3506961265514086908_oPhoto Credit:  Shervin Hess

The Oregon Zoo’s Elephant herd includes Lily, her mother Rose-Tu, her father Tusko, brother Samudra, adult males Rama and Packy, and adult females Chendra and Sung-Surin.

Elephants regularly enter lakes and rivers to drink, bathe, and play.  Elephants are also good swimmers!  They paddle with their legs and use their trunks as snorkels.  Elephants are rarely far from fresh water, and drink up to 50 gallons of water a day.

Asian Elephants are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  Once ranging across Southeast Asia, their habitat is now fragmented due to extensive development for agriculture and a growing human population.  


The Penguins are Hatching at Oregon Zoo

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Three new chicks have joined the Oregon Zoo’s Humboldt Penguin colony! Visitors can look for the young penguins this summer, once the chicks fledge and begin to explore the rugged terrain of the zoo’s penguinarium, which simulates the endangered birds’ native habitat along the rocky coast of Chile and Peru.

For now, keepers say, the recent arrivals are keeping cozy in their nest boxes, growing strong on a diet of regurgitated 'fish smoothie' provided by their parents. The first Humboldt hatchling of the year, who arrived March 11 to parents Milo and Vivo, has already been eating with enough gusto to have earned the nickname Porker.

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3 penguinPhoto credit: Oregon Zoo / Michael Durham

“The chicks look like velvety gray plush toys,” said curator Michael Illig, who oversees the zoo’s birds and species recovery programs. “They weigh just a few ounces and can fit in the palm of your hand.”

By summer, the chicks will be nearly as tall as the adult Humboldts, but easy to tell apart by their plumage: They will be grayish-brown all over and won’t develop the distinctive black-and-white tuxedo markings for a couple more years.

Read more after the fold.

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UPDATE: Ziggy the Otter Learns to Swim at Oregon Zoo

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Ziggy, a two-month-old North American River Otter at the Oregon Zoo, is living up to his name as he learns to swim with the help of his mom, Tilly.

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Photo Credit:  Shervin Hess, courtesy Oregon Zoo

 
The pup, born November 8 and named after Oregon’s Zigzag River, is growing into his name, keepers say — zigging this way and that and scampering away from his mom, Tilly, when she tries to lead him indoors.  “He’s a little motorboat,” said senior keeper Julie Christie. 

“Otter pups are very dependent on their mother and they don’t know how to swim right away,” said Christie. “The mother actually has to teach them.”

Tilly is experienced in giving swim lessons – Ziggy’s older brother Molalla, nicknamed Mo, learned to swim under her tutelage just last year. 

Recently Tilly has been offering similar instruction to Ziggy, nudging her new pup to the water’s edge and then plunging in with a firm grip on the scruff of his neck, just as Otter moms do in the wild.

“Tilly has been teaching Ziggy to do some deep dives,” Christie said. “Otter pups are very buoyant, so it takes them a little bit to learn how to go underwater.”

Both of Ziggy’s parents — mom, Tilly, and dad, B.C. — are rescue animals who had a rough start to life.

Tilly was found orphaned in 2009. She was about 4 months old, had been wounded by an animal attack and was seriously malnourished. Once her health had stabilized, Tilly came to the Oregon Zoo.   B.C. was also orphaned in 2009 and after being taken in by the Little Rock Zoo, moved to Oregon as a companion for Tilly.

North American River Otters are relatively abundant in healthy river systems in parts of their range, but were extirpated (locally extinct) in many areas of the United States in the 20th century.  Thanks to reintroduction programs, Otters have been reestablished in several states.   


Rescued Cougar Cubs Arrive at Oregon Zoo

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More Cougars! This time, it's a trio of two-week-old cubs that were orphaned in the wild. They were rescued last week by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife brought to Oregon Zoo's Veterinary Medical Center for care. 

At just two weeks old, Cougar cubs are completely dependent on their mother, who raises them without the help of a mate. Their eyes have been open for just a few days. They wouldn't have made it on their own without a mother to nurse them, protect them, and teach them the survival skills they will need. 

These guys are now in experienced, caring hands. They'll receive care at Oregon Zoo until they move to their permanent home at the North Carolina Zoo

See video of a bottle-feeding and checkup:

 


Oregon Zoo's Otter Pup Has a Name!

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A North American River Otter pup born at the Oregon Zoo on November 8 now has a name!  The zoo’s River Otter staff came up with three waterway-inspired names for their fans to choose from, and the winner is…Zigzag, or Ziggy for short.  

Nearly half of the 8,000 voters chose this name over two other options, Willamette and Trask.  All three names are references to Oregon rivers.

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ZooBorns first reported on the birth of this pup here.  Born to experienced mother Tilly, the pup has been growing quickly under her diligent care.  Young River Otters are completely dependent on their mothers, and even need to be taught how to swim. 

North American River Otters are relatively common in the Pacific Northwest, but are rare in other parts of the United States.  These sleek, playful mammals require healthy river systems to thrive.  They feed on mollusks, fish, crayfish, and other river fauna.

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River Otter Delivers Her Second Pup at Oregon Zoo

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Tilly, a North American River Otter at the Oregon Zoo, gave birth to a pup on November 8 —her second this year. The new arrival weighed just shy of 5 ounces (28.3 g) at birth and has nearly tripled that thanks to mom’s naturally high-fat milk.

“We’re pretty sure this pup’s a male,” said Julie Christie, the zoo’s senior North America keeper. “But Tilly is very protective, so we can’t be positive until our vets conduct a more thorough exam.”

Tilly and her pup are currently in a private maternity den, and it will 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.

“Young River Otters are very dependent on their moms, and Tilly has been very nurturing,” said Christie. “She did a great job with her first pup, Mo, earlier this year. She raised him up from this tiny, helpless creature into the sleek, agile, full-grown otter he is today. We’re confident Tilly will be a great mom to her new pup as well.”

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3 otterPhoto credits: Oregon Zoo

Surprisingly, swimming does not come naturally to River Otters; pups must be taught to swim by their moms. Earlier this year, this video of Tilly teaching Mo to swim drew more than half a million views on the zoo’s YouTube channel.

 

Take a peek behind the scenes as the newborn pup is weighed:

 

Keepers have yet to decide on a name for the new pup, though it is likely he will be named after a local river or waterway. (Mo is short for Molalla, after the Molalla River.)

North American River Otters typically give birth from late winter to spring, but Tilly seems to be on her own schedule, keepers say. The breeding season for River Otters is December through April, and actual gestation only lasts a couple of months. Unlike their European cousins however, North American River Otters usually delay implantation so that the time between conception and birth can stretch to as much as a year. That hasn’t been the case with Tilly. 

Christie said it is also unusual — though not unheard of — for an otter to give birth to a single pup, as Tilly has now done twice. Litters usually consist of two or three pups, though the range is anywhere from one to six. Family groups typically consist of an adult female otter and her pups, with males moving away once they reach adulthood.

Since both Tilly and the pup’s father, B.C., were born in the wild, they and their offspring are considered genetically important for the breeding otter population in North American zoos. Both parents are rescued animals who had a rough start to life.

Tilly, named after the Tillamook River, was found orphaned near Johnson Creek in 2009. She was about four months old, had been wounded by an animal attack and was seriously malnourished. Once her health had stabilized, Tilly came to the Oregon Zoo in a transfer facilitated by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, which oversees the species’ protection. 

The pup’s father, B.C. (short for Buttercup), was found orphaned near Star City, Ark., also in 2009. He was initially taken in by the Little Rock Zoo, but transferred to Oregon the following year as a companion for Tilly. The two otters hit it off quickly and have been playful visitor favorites ever since.

Now that the threat from fur trappers has declined, North American River Otters are once again 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 Pacific Northwest.

Metro, the regional government that manages the Oregon Zoo, has preserved and restored more than 90 miles of river and stream banks in the region through its voter-supported natural area programs. By protecting water quality and habitat, these programs are helping to provide the healthy ecosystems needed for otters, fish and other wildlife to thrive. River Otters are frequently observed in Metro region waterways.