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.
Photo Credit: Julie Larsen Maher/WCS 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.
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.
Photo Credits: Julie Larsen Maher / WCS
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.
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.
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.
The North American Porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum) is a large rodent whose most recognizable physical characteristic are its spiky quills. They can have as many as 30,000 quills covering their bodies. The quills are modified hairs that are sharp, barbed hollow spines. They are used primarily for defense but also serve to insulate the body during winter. Despite popular belief, porcupines cannot shoot their quills, but when threatened, the porcupine contracts the muscles near the skin which causes the quills to stand up and out. The quills have a tiny barb on the tip that, when hooked in flesh, pull the quill from the porcupine’s skin and painfully imbed in the predators skin.
Porcupines are herbivores and eat leaves, twigs, and green plants. In winter, they may also eat tree bark.
Female porcupines are solitary, except during the fall breeding season. They have a long gestation period that lasts for 202 days and typically give birth to just one offspring. Baby porcupines (porcupette) weigh about 450 grams at birth. At birth, the quills are very soft but begin to harden a few hours after birth. The quills continue to harden and grow as the baby matures.
Two infant Western Lowland Gorillas are making their public debut at the Wildlife Conservation Society's Bronx Zoo. This is the second pair of Gorillas born at the Bronx Zoo in just over a year.
Photo Credit: Julie Larsen Maher
The Bronx Zoo has a successful history breeding Gorillas as part of the Species Survival Plan, a cooperative breeding program designed to enhance the genetic viability of animal populations in zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. These are the 16th and 17th Gorillas born at Congo Gorilla Forest; there have been 52 Gorillas born at the Bronx Zoo since 1972.
Layla (16 years old) gave birth on January 17, and Kumi (also 16 years old) had her baby on January 19. Ernie (32 years old) is the father of both babies. The gender of the infants is not yet known. The babies join 17 other Gorlllas at the zoo.
Gorillas are the world’s largest primates. Weighing only about 4 to 5 pounds at birth, adult males weigh between 350-450 pounds and when standing upright can be up to six feet tall. Adult females weigh between 150-250 pounds and are up to four feet tall.
Western lowland Gorillas are designated as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Their natural range spans tropical and subtropical forests in equatorial Africa. WCS works throughout Central Africa to protect Gorillas from habitat loss and illegal hunting.
Both cubs are male and were born May 6th to first-time parents. They are on exhibit, with their mother, in the 'Himalayan Highlands', which received the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Exhibit Award for outstanding design in 1987.
Snow Leopards are classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List. They are among the world’s most endangered big cats, with only an estimated 3,500 to 7,500 remaining in the wild. Their range is limited to remote mountains of Central Asia and parts of China, Mongolia, Russia, India and Bhutan.
WCS’s Bronx Zoo is a world leader in Snow Leopard husbandry and participates in the Species Survival Plan, a cooperative breeding program designed to enhance the genetic viability of animal populations in zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The Bronx Zoo has had more Snow Leopard births (over 70) than any other zoo in North America and was the first zoo in the United States to exhibit the big cats in 1903.
WCS has worked for decades on Snow Leopard conservation programs in the field with current projects in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and western China. Past projects have also included work with Snow Leopards in Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia.
In Pakistan, WCS has been implementing a community-based conservation program since 1997 to help protect the Snow Leopard and other wildlife. The program includes education, training, and institution building for community resource management. WCS has helped create over 60 natural resource committees and trained over 100 community rangers to monitor Snow Leopards and other wildlife, in an effort to stop deforestation and poaching that threaten these species.
orphaned Siberian Tiger cubs, alone in the snowy Russian Far East, were rescued
from certain death last fall by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), which
operates the Bronx Zoo. The capture and
rehabilitation of the cubs – who are part of a rapidly vanishing species –
illustrate the challenges of saving Tigers, one animal at a time. Fewer than 500 Siberian Tigers, which are the
largest of all Tiger subspecies, survive in the wild, including 330-390
adults. Worldwide, only about 3,200 Tigers
exist in the wild, and they face poaching, a reduction in prey species, and
assisted Russian wildlife officials by deploying two of their staff members,
brothers Kolya and Sasha Rybin, who are expert Tiger trackers. The cubs were
seen stalking a dog near a small village, so the team knew where to start. Fresh tracks led the team to the forest,
where they found the cubs staring curiously at them from the middle of a road. Moments later, the cubs vanished into the
forest, but the team was able to capture the smallest cub, which weighed only
35 pounds. The cubs were determined to
be about four months old.
believe that the cubs’ mother was likely killed by poachers. A 20-year WCS project determined that poaching
accounts for nearly 75% of adult Tiger deaths.
Bones and body parts from a single adult Tiger can fetch up to $5,000
for the poacher alone, and once processed for use in traditional Asian medicine, far more. Female Tigers with cubs seem to be the most
vulnerable, because they will defend their cubs rather than flee.
These three cubs probably remained in the spot where their mother was killed,
leaving only when they became too hungry to wait any longer.
team was unable to capture the two remaining cubs for several days. One was followed for 13 kilometers, yet
managed to avoid capture until it ventured onto a military base.
The third cub eluded the team for two more days. Weak and struggling to walk in the deep snow,
the dehydrated animal was captured, warmed, and given fluids and food before making
the four-hour trip to the rehabilitation center to meet his siblings.
Over the next seven to eight months, the Tiger cubs will have very limited
interactions with people to avoid associating humans with food. This spring, small prey will be introduced so
that the cubs can learn to hunt. They will eventually be released in a remote
part of Siberia – three living, breathing symbols of hope for this imperiled
Five Chinese Yellow-headed Box Turtles have hatched at the
WCS Bronx Zoo.They are a part of WCS’s strategy to save some of the
most critically endangered turtle species in the world.
Chinese Yellow-headed Box Turtles are considered to be one
of the 25 most endangered turtles in the world, with fewer than 150 individuals
remaining in the wild. They once thrived in streams in the highlands of the Anhui Province of eastern China. But the population collapsed due to human consumption, use in traditional medicine, pollution, habitat loss, and the pet trade.
Chinese Yellow-headed Box Turtles require the artificial manipulation of specific environmental and climatic conditions in order to be stimulated to breed. But the experts at WCS’s Bronx Zoo were able to successfully recreate these conditions in propagation areas in the zoo’s Reptile House.
“The biology of the species requires the adults to hibernate prior to breeding,” said Don Boyer, Curator of Herpetology at WCS’s Bronx Zoo. “We carefully monitor the environment and gradually reduce the temperature in order to induce a natural state of hibernation. Following hibernation, turtle pairs are introduced and carefully monitored to watch for evidence of courtship and breeding activities.”
Photo Credit: Julie Larsen Maher
Read more about WCS's fine conservation efforts below the fold:
The Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo, the Toledo
Zoo, Tanzanian government, World Bank and other partners reintroduced
2,000 Kihansi spray toads into the Kihansi Gorge in Tanzania in October. This
is the first example of an amphibian species that had been declared extinct in
the wild being reintroduced into its native habitat.
The repatriation effort marks a major milestone for a
species declared extinct in the wild in 2009. It is the result of a 12-year
partnership to breed the toads in captivity while its habitat was
“The WCS Bronx Zoo has been working with our partners
for more than a decade to save the Kihansi spray toad with the ultimate goal
of reintroducing it back into the wild,” said Jim Breheny, Executive Vice
President and General Director of WCS Zoos & Aquarium and Director of the
Bronx Zoo. “The curators in the Bronx Zoo and in the Toledo Zoo – whose
expertise allowed them to develop a successful husbandry and propagation
program for these unique little toads – have helped to ensure the
reintroduction of an important living component back into the Tanzanian
The Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo roared with
new activity last week as three Amur Tiger cubs born in April made their public
debut. The cubs, one male and two
females, are vitally important to the future of wild Tigers: in the last 100 years, the global wild Tiger
population has plummeted 97 percent.
Only about 3,200 Tigers remain in the wild, with only 1,000 breeding
females. Amur Tigers, also known as
Siberian Tigers, are among the rarest big cats on Earth.