Naptime for Shedd Aquarium’s Orphaned Otters

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Two orphaned Sea Otter pups, taken in only a few weeks ago, are bonding with caretakers as they continue to grow and build important otter skills at Shedd Aquarium’s Regenstein Sea Otter Nursery.

ZooBorns introduced the orphans in a recent feature: “Rescued Sea Otter Pups Get a Second Chance At Shedd Aquarium” 

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4_BRH_0706Photo credit: Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

Much of an otter’s behavior is not instinctual but is learned by watching mom. So, since mom isn’t around, the care team at Shedd is filling that role, providing food, helping the otters learn to groom their fur and more.

These are busy days for otters, which are naturally highly active to help them withstand the cold temperatures in their native waters. But the pups need their sleep as well, so the aquarium decided to share a few recent photos from naptime.

The aquarium is inviting fans to stay tuned for more milestone updates on the otters--including details on a media open house, potential naming opportunities, and info on when the public will be able to see them on exhibit at Shedd.

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Birth Adds Crucial New Member to Gorilla Population

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Lulu, a 19-year-old Western Lowland Gorilla at Zoo Atlanta, gave birth to an infant on July 24. The newborn is Lulu’s second surviving offspring and the eleventh for 30-year-old silverback, Taz.

“Every animal birth is important, and there is an added cause for celebration when the birth is a critically endangered species like the Western Lowland Gorilla,” said Hayley Murphy, DVM, Deputy Director. “We look forward to sharing the joy of watching another infant grow up in Taz’s family group in ‘The Ford African Rain Forest’, where our visitors can observe the maternal care, sibling interactions and family dynamics that make watching a troop of gorillas such a special experience.”

Every birth is crucial for Western Lowland Gorillas. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), over a 25-year period, the combined threats of poaching, illegal hunting for the bushmeat trade, habitat loss and emerging diseases such as Ebola have reduced their numbers by 60 percent in the wild, with declines of as much as 90 percent in some parts of their range in western Africa. Populations living within North American zoos are overseen by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Gorilla Species Survival Plan® (SSP), which seeks to maintain a self-sustaining, genetically diverse gorilla population for future generations, and in which Zoo Atlanta is an active partner.

Western lowland gorilla Lulu with infant_Zoo AtlantaPhoto Credits: Zoo Atlanta

Lulu is the youngest of the five offspring of the late Willie B. Her newborn is the 24th gorilla born at Zoo Atlanta since the opening of The Ford African Rain Forest in 1988. In the more than 50 years since the arrival of the infant’s famous grandfather in 1961, the Zoo Atlanta gorilla program has evolved into a nationally recognized center of excellence in the care and study of gorillas.

Zoo Atlanta has been a significant conservation partner of The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International for over 20 years, providing headquarters space, information technology and financial support for the organization. Over the years, the Zoo has also provided the Fossey Fund with board leadership and program support, as well as shared scientific team members.

Research by Zoo Atlanta team members has influenced industry-wide improvements in the care of gorillas in zoos, as well as enhanced the world’s understanding of gorillas, with more than 100 published papers on maternal care, reproduction, social behavior and cognition. Zoo Atlanta is the headquarters of the Great Ape Heart Project, the world’s first effort to understand, diagnose, and treat cardiac disease across all four great ape taxa: gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees and bonobos. The Zoo is a Platinum Supporter of the AZA Ape Taxon Advisory Group (TAG), a collective effort to preserve wild ape populations and to increase and sustain financial support from zoos for their conservation.

Zoo Atlanta houses one of the largest populations of gorillas in North America and is home to 19 individuals. The Zoo is also home to two of the world’s oldest gorillas: female Choomba, 56, and Ozzie, the world’s oldest living male gorilla at 58 – and as such has become a leader in the emerging field of geriatric gorilla care. Gorillas are considered geriatric after the age of 40.

Plan a visit or learn more about the gorillas of Zoo Atlanta at www.zooatlanta.org .


Flamingo Hatching Caught on Camera at Marwell Zoo

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There’s a new fluffy addition to the Greater Flamingo family at Marwell Zoo in Hampshire, UK. A little chick hatched recently and was caught on camera on its very first day in the world.

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4_Credit Marwell Zoo - Greater Flamingo chick 12Photo Credits: Marwell Zoo

It’s been over four years since the zoo had a Greater Flamingo chick successfully reared. Before the new arrival, the animal team worked hard to encourage the adult birds to nest by adjusting a few husbandry techniques. Keepers constructed some artificial nests earlier in the year to encourage the birds to build their own, and a new soil and sand ratio mix was added to make it easier for the flamingos to build the nests. With the recent heat, the bird team has also been using a sprinkler system twice a day to help the nests retain their shape and not crumble.

Ross Brown, Animal Collection Manager at Marwell Zoo, said, “We’ve had 12 eggs this year, however fertility levels are notoriously unpredictable in Greater Flamingos, so as the saying goes, we’re not counting our flamingos until they’ve hatched! However, we are hopeful we should see some more chicks in the coming weeks, so watch this space.”

When Greater Flamingo chicks first hatch, they have pale grey down, which is soon replaced by a second, darker coat of down. Flamingos feed their chicks with ‘flamingo milk’, which is produced in their crop. This milk is similar to mammal milk and is produced by both male and female flamingos.

For more information, or to adopt a Greater Flamingo, visit www.marwell.org.uk .

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Six Fluffy Owlets Discovered At Marwell

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Each year, Marwell Wildlife, which owns and operates Marwell Zoo, keeps watch on Barn Owl nests on the lands surrounding the zoo. So far this summer, they’ve discovered six healthy chicks on the property.

The six fluffy Owlets come from two breeding pairs and include three females and three males between five and seven weeks old.

Credit Marwell Wildlife - barn owl chick tagging 2019
Credit Marwell Wildlife - barn owl chick tagging 2019
Credit Marwell Wildlife - barn owl chick tagging 2019Photo Credit: Marwell Wildlife

Once found, the chicks were carefully removed from the nest for a thorough exam. The staff recorded the weight, wing feather development, body condition, and wing length, as well as noting any unique markings, which help to determine each chick’s age and gender.

The Owlets were then banded by placing a metal ring on the ankles, which will identify each Owl if it is captured in the future. The chicks were then safely returned to their nest boxes.  

Marwell has successfully supported 16 Owlets since 2014, when it started working with the South Downs National Park Authority and the Hawk Conservancy Trust to monitor Barn Owl populations within the local landscape as part of the Barn Owl Box scheme (Project BOB). The project records the breeding success and aims to understand the survival and wider movements of Barn Owls.

As part of Marwell’s ongoing commitment to restore habitats, the charity manages more than 100 acres of grassland to create an ideal hunting habitat for this important farmland bird. No pesticides or fertilizers are used on the land. Voles, Shrews, and Mice thrive in this habitat, providing ample food for the Owl families. A single Barn Owl typically eats three to four prey items each night.

Barn Owls live on every continent except Antarctica. The Barn Owl’s heart-shaped face, or ‘facial disk’, collects and directs sound toward the inner ears, which are situated inside the facial disk just behind the eyes. As a result, Barn Owls’ hearing is the most sensitive of any animal ever tested. Owlets develop rapidly. By three weeks of age, they can swallow a whole Shrew or small Mouse. At eight to nine weeks, they begin taking practice flights. At 13 to 14 weeks old, Owlets have reached adult size and leave the nest to find their own home range.

See more photos below.

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Chester Zoo Announces New Malayan Tapir Calf

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A rare Malayan Tapir was born at Chester Zoo on July 18. The calf, which has been revealed as a boy, arrived to proud mum, Margery (age 7) and dad, Betong (age 6).

Weighing just 5kg at birth, the ‘precious’ youngster follows a 13-month-long (391-day) pregnancy.

Baby tapirs have distinctive coats when first born, made up of a series of spots and stripes to help camouflage them on the forest floors in their native South East Asia. This pattern will slowly change over the first six months to the unique black and white pattern of their parents.

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3_Chester Zoo gives a first glimpse of its super-cute new baby tapir  (64)

4_Chester Zoo gives a first glimpse of its super-cute new baby tapir  (65)Photo Credits: Chester Zoo

Around half of the world’s Malayan Tapirs have been lost in the last 40 years, with fewer than 2,500 estimated to remain in across Malaysia, Sumatra, Thailand and Myanmar. Hunting, illegal logging, and mass deforestation as land is cleared for unsustainable palm oil production are reasons for the decline in numbers. The species is currently listed as “Endangered” on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN’s) Red List of Threatened Species.

Sarah Roffe, Team Manager, said, “It’s wonderful to hear the pitter-patter of tiny, spotty Malayan Tapir feet again for only the second time ever in the zoo’s long history.”

“Mum Margery is ever so good with the baby. She’s very attentive but also gives him chance to explore and find his feet.”

“The precious calf is another big boost for the international breeding programme, which is working to ensure the already endangered species do not become extinct. In the wild, the Malayan Tapir population has crashed in recent times, largely due to the widespread conversion of their forest habitat to palm oil plantations. If people want to help this wonderful species, then we’d urge them to demand that the palm oil contained in the products they use is from sustainable sources.”

The Malayan Tapir is related to both the horse and the rhinoceros. It is an‘odd-toed’ ungulate (or hoofed mammal), with four toes on each front foot and three on each back foot.

To celebrate the youngster's arrival, keepers at the zoo asked the public to help them to give him a name. The results of the online poll were recently revealed, and the calf's new name is...Rony!

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Chester Zoo Guests Witness Birth of Rare Chimpanzee

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The birth of a critically endangered West African Chimpanzee caught visitors by surprise at Chester Zoo.

The new baby was safely delivered, in front of a handful of astonished zoo guests, at around 5pm on July 13. The birth followed a seven-and-a-half-month pregnancy for doting mum, Alice (age 27).

Posting on social media, one onlooker described the birth as “honestly one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen” while another said it was “pretty epic.”

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4_Rare chimpanzee born in front of astonished visitors at Chester Zoo arrives to mum Alice (1)Photo Credits: Chester Zoo

Zoo conservationists say the new baby, a female that is yet to named, is in good health and is spending all of her time bonding with mum and other members of the 21-strong group of Chimpanzees.

Primate experts have hailed the youngster as a ‘vital boost’ to the conservation breeding programme for the species. It follows several years of scientific research, which has carefully assessed the genetics of all Chimpanzees in European zoos, confirming the make-up of the group at Chester as hugely important to the future of the species.

It is estimated that as few as 18,000 West African Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) remain in the wild and it is the first subspecies of Chimpanzee to be added to the list of critically endangered apes.

Mike Jordan, Collections Director at the zoo, said, “This new baby is a significant addition to this multi-generational Chimpanzee group at the zoo - and a vital boost to the conservation breeding programme for the critically endangered species.”

“Alice and her daughter have bonded well and she’s doing a wonderful job of caring for her so far. A new baby always creates lots of excitement and Alice has plenty of support from some of the other experienced mums in the group, who are all keen to lend a helping hand.”

"The youngster provides particular cause for celebration given the plight of chimpanzees in Africa. More Chimpanzees are hunted for the illegal bush meat trade than are born each year, causing populations to plummet in the wild. Couple that with the fact that humans are destroying their habitats and it’s easy to see why these fantastic animals – one of our closest cousins – are being pushed towards extinction. This new arrival is a step towards changing the fortunes for the species,” Jordan concluded.

Conservationists at the zoo have been working in Africa to protect some of the world’s rarest Chimpanzee species for more than 20 years. The expert teams have helped protect one of the last major strongholds of the Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee in Gashaka Gumti National park in Nigeria.

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Rescued Sea Otter Pups Get a Second Chance At Shedd Aquarium

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The Shedd Aquarium welcomed two orphaned Southern Sea Otter pups that were rescued by the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

The pups, temporarily referred to as Pups 870 and 872, will remain behind the scenes for a few months as they reach important developmental milestones and build bonds with the care staff and the other Otters at Shedd before they are officially introduced to the Otter habitat.

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BRH_9583Photo credit: ©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez 
Video credit: ©Shedd Aquarium/Sam Cejtin

The Otter pups arrived at Shedd on Monday, July 8 and have been thriving behind the scenes, receiving around the clock care from Shedd’s animal care and veterinary teams. Both Otter pups are male and only one week apart in age and born in mid-May. Pup 872 is younger and weighs 13.4 pounds. Pup 870 weighs in at 17 pounds. 

The Otters were both taken in by Monterey Bay Aquarium and deemed non-releasable by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This designation means that because the pups weren’t mother-raised and taught how to survive in the wild, they would not be successful if released into their natural habitat. Shedd offered to provide a home for the pups because Monterey Bay’s successful Sea Otter surrogacy program is currently at capacity with other pups in need.

Pup 870 was discovered stranded on May 18 near Stillwater Cove in Carmel Bay.  While the pup was clinically healthy, attempts to locate the mother were unsuccessful, and staff did not want to risk leaving the pup vulnerable and alone.

The second pup, Pup 872, was brought in two days later, on May 20. Pup 872 was found distressed and vocalizing in high winds and heavy surf at Asilomar State Beach. The pup was shivering, hypothermic and its coat was filled with sand – suggesting it was tossed in the surf. The decision was made to immediately take in the pup for stabilization and no further attempts were made to locate a mother.

Read the rest of the pups' story and see more photos below!

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A Sneak Peek at Four Otter Pups in Australia

Otter pup1 - photo credit Jennifer Conaghan

Taronga Western Plains Zoo welcomed four Oriental Small-clawed Otter pups on May 1.

The pups have been tucked away in their den since birth, but have recently started to emerge for short periods, giving zoo guests a sneak peek of their cuteness. Keepers have been monitoring the pups in the den via CCTV cameras.

Otter pup and Keeper Tarryn Williams photo credit Jennifer Conaghan
Otter pup and Keeper Tarryn Williams photo credit Jennifer ConaghanPhoto Credit: Jennifer Conaghan

The four pups are all doing well, as is first-time mother Jafar and father Harry. The pups received a clean bill of health from zoo vets at their first check-up and vaccinations. Keepers confirmed that there are three females and one male in the litter.

Father Harry arrived at Taronga Western Plains Zoo from Singapore earlier this year. Jafar and Harry bonded very quickly, and it became evident to keepers that Jafar was pregnant just a few weeks after she met Harry.

“We monitored the Otter dens closely via CCTV cameras in the lead-up to the birth as well as for the first four weeks after they were born,” said Senior Keeper Ian Anderson. “Both Jafar and Harry are proving to be great parents. It is normal for Otter parents to both help raise the young pups.”

Keepers have named the three females named Akira, Luna, and Rani, while the male has been named Anng.

The Otter pups’ growth and development is on track, and they have met all their expected milestones.

Native to wetlands in South and Southeast Asia, Oriental Small-clawed Otters are the smallest of all living Otter species. They are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to habitat loss, pollution, and human encroachment.  


ZooTampa’s First Koala Joey Emerges

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A Koala joey recently started to peek out of its mother’s pouch for the first time at ZooTampa at Lowry Park. The joey is the first Koala baby born at the Zoo in its history.

Once an embryo the size of a jellybean, the joey made the journey to mom Ceduna’s pouch, where it is finishing its final stages of pouch life development, with dad Heathcliff nearby.

Koalas are mammals and sometimes referred to as bears, even though they are not. Rather, Koalas are marsupials that differ from other mammals because their newborns develop inside mothers’ pouches instead of a womb. Initially, a joey is blind and earless and relies on natural instincts and strong senses of touch and smell to find its way from the birth canal to its mother’s pouch.

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4_koala-6Photo Credits: ZooTampa

Ceduna, who arrived at the Zoo in 2015, and Heathcliff, who arrived in 2014, are part of the Zoo’s effort to conserve the koala through the Species Survival Plan (SSP) of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). After the pair’s successful mating, veterinary and animal care teams are celebrating the recent birth and new addition to the zoo’s Australia habitat, Wallaroo Station.

Throughout the pregnancy and joey’s development, Ceduna’s care has included thermography scans that inform her care team of changes in her muscular, skeletal and nervous systems and ensure optimal health.

“We do routine check-ups with Ceduna to build strong bonds with her and ensure the highest quality of care,” said Lauren Smith, D.V.M., veterinarian at ZooTampa. “The animal care team continues to monitor Ceduna and her baby closely as the joey’s exciting development continues.”

One of Australia’s most iconic animals, Koalas live primarily in forests and woodlands dominated by eucalyptus plants. Though poisonous to other species, specialized bacteria in a Koala’s digestive tract enables it to break down the plant’s toxins and rely heavily on eucalyptus for its food. Mature Koalas spend up to five hours feeding on the plant leaves every day. For this solitary species, the rest of the day is spent sleeping. Up to 95 percent of a Koala’s life is spent by itself.

In large part because of Australia’s national pride in the species, Koalas have survived the threat of extinction from habitat loss and hunting. ZooTampa is committed to continuing to aid the conservation of the species.

“We are proud to support conservation initiatives both at home and beyond,” said Dr. Larry Killmar, Senior Vice President and Chief Zoological Officer at ZooTampa. “Our partnership with the Australian government allows us to support the goals and objectives of the Koala Species Survival Plan.”

Guests can catch a glimpse of Ceduna practicing her yoga poses while her joey clings to her back or belly, until it reaches one year old and can begin climbing trees on its own. To get an even closer look at this unique species, guests can add a Koala Photo Encounter, presented by the Yob Family Foundation, to their visit to meet the joey’s dad, Heathcliff, and receive a photo. Guests are encouraged to stay tuned to the Zoo’s social media pages for more Joey updates.

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Sea Lion Pups at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium

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Visitors to Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium can now see two new Sea Lion pups at the zoo’s Owen Sea Lion Pavilion.

The first pup was born June 12 to nine-year-old Gemini. Another was born on June 18 to Coco, who was born at Omaha’s Zoo and Aquarium in June 2009. The sexes of the pups are currently unknown.

The California Sea Lion pups and their mothers are currently on exhibit with the father of both pups, 15-year-old Chino. Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium currently has eight Sea Lions: two males, four females and the two new pups.

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Visitors noticed that a significant amount of water has been drained from the Sea Lion’s pool. According to the zoo, this was done in preparation for the birth of the pups and will remain at a lower depth until both pups have learned to swim in deeper water. The zoo follows this routine each year in anticipation of pupping season. Mothers begin teaching their pups how to swim as early as a few days old by pulling them into the water for a short period of time for several days, each time getting farther and deeper into the water.

In 2020, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium will open Owen Sea Lion Shores, a new sea lion habitat that will include elements such as natural boundaries, underwater viewing and state-of-the-art holding facilities complete with a diet prep area and holding pools. The area will include a natural beach, which will allow females to give birth on land and gradually introduce their pups to the water as they would in their natural habitats.

An integral part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP) for Sea Lions includes the management of genetic diversity within the zoo network’s population. The SSP evaluates the population status and makes breeding recommendations. There are typically 15-20 breeding recommendations annually for Sea Lions, however, that changes based on the population status.

California Sea Lions (Zalophus californianus) are commonly found along the coastlines of the Pacific Northwest region. Males can weigh between 700 to 1,000 pounds while females can weigh between 200 to 250 pounds.