Bronx Zoo

Gelada Baby Debuts at Bronx Zoo

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A baby Gelada has made its public debut at the Bronx Zoo. The Bronx Zoo is the only zoo in the U.S. that breeds the Gelada and is one of only two that exhibit the species.

The newest baby was born on August 30, and at only four weeks old, the infant is still clinging to mom and drawing a lot of attention from the rest of the family unit. Altogether, the group is made up of one adult male, three adult females, two juveniles, and the new baby.

“This is an exciting time with a lot of interesting dynamics and activity, with an infant and two juvenile Geladas in our troop in the Zoo’s Baboon Reserve,” said Jim Breheny, WCS Executive Vice President, Bronx Zoo Director, and General Director of WCS’s Zoos and Aquarium. “Being able to watch the social interactions within the group allows visitors to better understand how Gelada live in their family units and behave during the various developmental stages. It is an inspiring sight that transports you to the East African highlands.”

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The Gelada (Theropithecus gelada) is a primate that is endemic to Ethiopia. They are sometimes called “Gelada Baboons” or “Bleeding Heart Baboons” for the characteristic red patch of skin on their chests, but they are more closely related to Mangabeys.

The female’s red patch becomes more pronounced during the mating season to attract males. The males have a beautiful flowing cape of long hair on their backs that resembles a shawl.

Geladas are “graminivores” (herbivorous animal that feeds on grass). They are unique among primates in that they feed primarily on grasses. Adult males have prominent canines that they use to display to other competing males, and they communicate to each other through a wide range of vocalizations, facial gestures, and body postures.

In 2008, the IUCN classified the Gelada as “Least Concern”, although their population had reduced from an estimated 440,000 in the 1970s to around 200,000 in 2008. Major threats to the Gelada are: reduction of their range as a result of agricultural expansion and shooting as crop pests.

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Bison Calves Are ‘Home on the Range’ at Bronx Zoo

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Six American Bison calves have been born at WCS’s (Wildlife Conservation Society) Bronx Zoo, and four of them are now on exhibit on the Zoo’s ‘Bison Range’.

The calves were born to a herd of seven females and one male that arrived at the Bronx Zoo from Ft. Peck, Montana in November 2016.

The herd was a historic gift from the Assiniboine and Sioux tribes. The Fort Peck Bison are from the Yellowstone National Park bloodline and are among the few pure Bison remaining. The vast majority of present-day Bison, or Buffalo, have trace amounts of domestic cattle genes, a reflection of past interbreeding efforts when western ranchers tried to create a hardier breed of cattle. (More information about the historic gift and transfer can be found at the WCS Newsroom: http://bit.ly/2qTVHvF ).

The female Bison were pregnant when they arrived at the Zoo, and the calves were born in late April. “These calves will bolster our efforts to expand our breeding program of pure Bison,” said Dr. Pat Thomas, WCS Vice President/General Curator and Associate Director of the Bronx Zoo. “They will eventually be bred with other pure Bison to create new breeding herds in other AZA-accredited zoos, and to provide animals for restoration programs in the American West.”

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The Bronx Zoo has a long history of facilitating Bison conservation projects in the western U.S., and the birth of these calves provides a welcome boost to the Zoo’s ongoing efforts to establish a herd of pure Bison.

For more than five years, the Bronx Zoo has worked on developing a herd of pure bloodline through embryo transfer. The Bison from Ft. Peck will supplement those efforts. The bull, currently on exhibit with the females and calves, was the first American Bison born as a result of embryo transfer in 2012. (More information about the Bronx Zoo’s efforts to breed bison through embryo transfer can be found on the WCS Newsroom: http://bit.ly/2q6kji7 ).

The American Bison (Bison bison), also commonly known as the “American Buffalo” or simply “Buffalo”, is a species that once roamed the grasslands of North America in massive herds. They became nearly extinct by a combination of commercial hunting and slaughter in the 19th century and introduction of bovine diseases from domestic cattle.

However, the Bison is now an American conservation success story. In the early 1900’s, the species was on the verge of extinction: numbering fewer than 1,100 individuals, after roaming North America in the tens of millions only a century earlier. In 1907 and 1913, the Bronx Zoo sent herds of Bronx-bred Bison out west to re-establish the species in its native habitat.

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Malayan Tiger Cubs Debut at Bronx Zoo

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Two rare Malayan Tiger cubs, born at WCS’s Bronx Zoo, are making their public debut.

The female cubs, Nadia and Azul, were born in January. This is the third litter of Malayan Tigers born at the Bronx Zoo.

In the days following the birth, their mother was not providing suitable maternal care, so Bronx Zoo keepers intervened and hand-raised the cubs until they were fully weaned.

“The majority of animals born at the Bronx Zoo are raised by their parents,” said Jim Breheny, WCS Executive Vice President and Director of the Bronx Zoo. “But in certain cases, the moms need help raising offspring. Our keepers did a wonderful job raising the Malayan Tiger cubs through the critical first few months of their lives. As the cubs mature, they are learning ‘how to be tigers’ and following their instincts and developing the skills and behavior of adult tigers. The transition process form cub to young adult is amazing to witness.”  

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Initially, the cubs required 24-hour care and were bottle-fed a milk formula every three hours. Food intake was carefully recorded, and the cubs were weighed daily to ensure they gained an appropriate amount of weight.

The cubs were fully weaned by 40 days of age, at which time they began to be slowly introduced to sights, sounds, and smells of adult tigers.

After being allowed to properly acclimate to the off-exhibit holding areas at the Tiger Mountain exhibit, the cubs began exploring the expansive outdoor exhibit space.

Initially, the cubs will be on exhibit at Tiger Mountain for a few hours each day. That time will gradually increase as they continue to become more comfortable in their habitat. Exhibit times may vary.

Jim Breheny continued, “These two cubs are ambassadors for their species. With an estimated 250 Malayan Tigers remaining in the wild and fewer than 70 in accredited North American zoos, these cubs give us an excellent opportunity to introduce our visitors to the treats Malayan Tigers face in the wild and what the Bronx Zoo and WCS is doing to help guarantee the survival of the species.”

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Sea Lion Double Trouble at WCS’s Bronx Zoo

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The Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) Bronx Zoo is excited to announce the addition of two California Sea Lion pups.

The pups were born in June to different mothers. The pup born to mother, Indy, has been identified as a male. Keepers have not yet been able to determine the sex of the other pup, born to Margaretta. Both have yet to receive their names.

Clyde is the sire of both pups. He is one of two adult bulls that came to WCS’s Queens Zoo in 2013 from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife as part of a local wildlife management project in Bonneville, Ore. These are his first offspring since arriving in New York.

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The California Sea Lion (Zalophus californianus) is a coastal eared seal native to western North America. It is one of five species of Sea Lion. Its natural habitat ranges from southeast Alaska to central Mexico, including the Gulf of California.

They are mainly found on sandy or rocky beaches, but they also frequent manmade environments, such as marinas and wharves. Sea Lions feed on a number of species of fish and squid, and are preyed on by Orcas and White Sharks.

California Sea Lions have a polygamous breeding pattern. From May to August, males establish territories and try to attract females with which to mate. Females are free to move in between territories, and are not coerced by males. Mothers nurse their pups in between foraging trips.

Sea Lions communicate with numerous vocalizations, notably with barks and mother-pup contact calls. Outside of their breeding season, Sea Lions spend much of their time at sea, but they come to shore to molt.

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First Little Blue Penguin Hatches at WCS’s Bronx Zoo

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The colony of Little Penguins (Eudyptula minor) that debuted in 2015, as a new species at WCS’s (Wildlife Conservation Society) Bronx Zoo, has successfully produced a chick that is now on exhibit with the rest of the colony.

The chick hatched May 10, and this is the first time this species has bred at the Bronx Zoo, in the zoo’s 120-plus year history.

Known for their small size and characteristic bluish hue, Little Penguins are also known as Blue Penguins, Little Blue Penguins, and Fairy Penguins. Adults are only about 13 inches tall and weigh around 2 to 3 pounds. They are the smallest of the 18 penguin species and native to coastal southern Australia and New Zealand.

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Little Penguins lay their eggs in burrows dug in sand, natural cavities, or under thick vegetation. They may even nest under man-made structures. Both parents care for and incubate the egg. Newly hatched chicks weigh just 25g. The chicks lose their downy plumage at about 50 days of age when it is replaced with waterproof feathers.

With the exception of the new chick, all of the birds in the Bronx Zoo colony were hatched at the Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia and brought to the Bronx Zoo as part of a breeding program. Approximately 15 penguins a year hatch at Taronga, making it the most successful Little Penguin breeding program in the world. The Bronx Zoo penguins will help ensure continued genetic diversity in the Little Penguin populations in the U.S.

The species occurs in temperate marine waters and feeds on fish, cephalopods and crustaceans. They nest, colonially, in burrows on sand dunes or rocky beach areas. Like other penguin species, they use a wide range of vocalizations to communicate with each other. In the wild, their populations are threatened by climate change and human activities.

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Turkmenian Flare-horned Markhor at WCS’s Bronx Zoo

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A herd of Turkmenian Flare-horned Markhor (Capra falconeri hepterni) roams the rocky terrain in their expansive habitat along the Wild Asia Monorail at WCS’s (Wildlife Conservation Society) Bronx Zoo.

The herd consists of eleven males (easily identified by their huge spiraled horns and distinct coats), ten females (which are smaller than the males and have much shorter horns), and their offspring, which includes eight kids born this year.

The Markhor is a unique species of goat found in the mountains of Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. They inhabit upper elevations, with vegetation as their food source. They are skilled climbers and will scale steep rocky terrain to escape predators such as snow leopards and wolves.

The Bronx Zoo’s Markhor live with a herd of Himalayan Tahr, another species of Asiatic mountain goat found in areas of China, Tibet, Nepal, and northern India.

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Wild Markhor are threatened by human activity in the ranges where they live. Their impressive twisted horns and thick fur make them a target for trophy hunters and poachers. They are also susceptible to habitat loss from expansion of land used for domestic livestock, and from disease spread from the growing livestock population.

With support from US Ambassador Fund, Columbus Zoo Conservation Fund, and other supporters, WCS has been working to save wild Markhor in the mountains of northern Pakistan since 1997. Now working with 65 communities, WCS has seen a 70 percent increase in Markhor populations in the last decade, with estimates placed at 1,700 wild Markhor in this landscape—a significant proportion of the global population of this endangered mountain goat.

The WCS Pakistan Program’s recovery of Markhor in Pakistan has helped lead to the recent, nearly unprecedented two-stage down-listing of Markhor by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) from an “Endangered” classification, passing the status of “Vulnerable”, to now being known as “Near Threatened”.

More great pics, below the fold!

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Porcupette Pokes About at Bronx Zoo

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A North American Porcupine was born April 24 at WCS’s (Wildlife Conservation Society) Bronx Zoo and is now on exhibit with his family in the newly renovated Children’s Zoo.

The male porcupette was born to mother, Alice, and father, Patrick, and this is the pair’s fourth offspring.

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The North American Porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum), also known as the Canadian Porcupine or Common Porcupine, is a large rodent in the New World Porcupine family. The beaver is the only rodent in North America that is larger than the North American Porcupine.

The Porcupine’s most recognizable physical characteristic is its spiky quills. They can have as many as 30,000 quills covering their bodies and use them as a defense against predators. Despite popular belief, Porcupines cannot shoot their quills. The quills of the North American Porcupine have a tiny barb on the tip that, when hooked in flesh, pull the quill from the Porcupine’s skin and painfully imbed it in a predator’s face, paws or body.

Gestation lasts for 202 days. Porcupines give birth to a single young. At birth, they weigh about 450 g, which increases to nearly 1 kg after the first two weeks. They do not gain full adult weight until about two years old.

At birth, the quills are very soft. They begin to harden a few hours after birth and continue to harden and grow as the baby matures.

Female Porcupines provide all the maternal care. For the first two weeks, the young rely on their mother for sustenance. After this, they learn to climb trees and start to forage. They continue to nurse for up to four months, which coincides with the fall mating season. They stay close to their mothers.

The North American Porcupine is listed as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List. It is common throughout its range, except in some U.S. states in the southeast part of its range. However, they are threatened by hunting and habitat loss. As of 1994, it was listed as an endangered species in Mexico.


Take a Peek at Bronx Zoo's Otter Pup

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An Asian Small-clawed Otter pup made its public debut at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo in late April.

Born this spring, the pup is already dipping its toes in the family’s watery exhibit.

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Like all Otters, the species is well adapted for a semi-aquatic life. Their elongated bodies and webbed feet make it easy for them to propel through the water. They have dexterous paws that aid in finding and consuming food, and their fur is extremely dense and waterproof for temperature regulation.

Asian Small-clawed Otters have a vast but shrinking Southeast Asian range that spans from India to the Philippines, Taiwan, and parts of southern China. The species is classified as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and is threatened by habitat loss and exploitation.

 


Two Lemur Species Debut Offspring at Bronx Zoo

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The Madagascar! exhibit at WCS’s (Wildlife Conservation Society) Bronx Zoo is now home to three new Lemur babies.

Two Ring-tailed Lemurs (Lemur catta) and one Brown Collared Lemur (Eulemur collaris) were born in late March and have made their public debut. Both species live in a naturalistic habitat depicting the Malagasy Spiny Forest along with critically endangered Radiated Tortoises and several bird species including Vasa Parrots, Red Fodies, Grey-headed Lovebirds, and Ground Doves.

Guests hoping to catch a glimpse of the new additions will have to observe closely as young Lemurs cling to their mothers and nestle in their fur.

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The Bronx Zoo has had tremendous success breeding Lemurs as part of Species Survival Plans, cooperative breeding programs designed to enhance the genetic viability of animal populations in zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

WCS works to save Lemurs and their disappearing habitat in the African island nation of Madagascar – the only place in the world where Lemurs are found in the wild.

Brown Collared Lemurs are native to the tropical forests of southeastern Madagascar. Ring-tailed Lemurs are native to the forests and bush in the south and southwestern portions of the island. Their habitats are being destroyed by human activity including charcoal production and slash-and-burn agriculture.

Ring-tailed Lemurs are very social and live in large matriarchal groups that often contain several breeding females. They are capable climbers, but spend much of their time on the ground. Newborns will ride on their mothers’ chest and back for the first few weeks and will begin move around on their own within two-to-four weeks, but still stay close to their mother.

Collared Lemurs use their long tails to balance when leaping through the forest canopy. They live in groups of males and females but are not matriarchal like many other Lemur species. The young ride on their mother’s back hiding in her fur for the first few months of their lives.

All Lemur species are in trouble due to devastating loss of suitable habitat. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies both Ring-tailed Lemurs and Brown Collared Lemurs as “Endangered” in the wild.

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Otter Pup Ready for Fun at the Bronx Zoo

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Monty, the Asian Small-clawed Otter pup, has been eagerly exploring his exhibit at the Bronx Zoo. In an effort to keep his curiosity from getting the better of him, mom and dad are never far behind.

It has been several years since a new otter pup has inhabited the Bronx Zoo’s Jungle World. Eleven-year-old mom, Jasmine, and nine-year-old dad, Gyan, are first time parents. So far, they have been doing an outstanding job with little Monty. Keepers have been giving them plenty of privacy and time to bond, only interrupting for quick weigh-ins to check the pup’s growth.

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3_Julie Larsen Maher _3630_Asian Small-clawed Otters and Pup_JUN_BZ_09 04 ...Photo Credits: Julie Larsen Maher / WCSAside from his new desire to explore, Monty has started to eat solids and is getting better at swimming.  His parents take their jobs seriously. Jasmine continues to keep his nest in order, and dad has started bringing him bits of fish.

The Asian Small-clawed Otter (Amblonyx cinerea), also known as the Oriental Small-clawed Otter, is the smallest otter species in the world. Weighing less than 5.4 kg (11.9 lbs.), the species lives in mangrove swamps and freshwater wetlands of Bangladesh, Burma, India, southern China, Laos, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.

The otter’s paws are its distinctive feature. The claws don’t extend beyond the fleshy end pads of its partially webbed fingers and toes, giving it a high degree of manual dexterity for feeding on mollusks, crabs and other aquatic animals.

Asian Small-clawed Otters form monogamous pairs for life. The mates can have two litters of one to six young per year, and their gestation period is about 60 days. Newborn pups are immobile, and their eyes are closed.  The pups remain in their birthing dens, nursing and sleeping, for the first few weeks. They open their eyes after 40 days and are fully weaned at 14 weeks. Within 40 days, the young start to eat solid food and can swim at three months. Young otters will stay with their mother until the next litter is born. Males assist females in nest building and food procurement.

The Asian Small-clawed Otter is classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List. Threats to their existence in the wild are: habitat loss, pollution, and hunting.