Bronx Zoo

Orphaned Tigers Cubs Rescued in Russian Wilderness

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Three 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 habitat loss.

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Photo Credits:  Dale Miquelle © WCS

WCS 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.

Researchers 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.

The 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 species.


Bronx Zoo Hatches Extremely Rare Yellow-headed Box Turtles

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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. 

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“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.”

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Photo Credit: Julie Larsen Maher

Read more about WCS's fine conservation efforts below the fold:

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After 12-Year Effort by Zoos, Kihansi Spray Toads Returned to the Wild

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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 restored. 

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 “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 ecosystem.”

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Tiger Triplets debut at Bronx Zoo

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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.

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Photo Credit:  Julie Larsen Maher

 

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Little Lemurs Debut at the Bronx Zoo

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The Wildlife Conservation Society's Bronx Zoo recently welcomed two baby lemurs, a Conquerel's Sifaka and a Collared Lemur. 

Both babies will spend their next few weeks clinging firmly to mom's back. Coquerel’s Sifakas spend most of their time in trees and leap effortlessly, launching themselves vertically with their strong legs. Like most species of lemurs, the females are dominant, claiming the choicest food and the best sleeping and sunning spots.

Collared lemurs use their long tails to balance when leaping through the forest canopy. Collared Lemurs live in groups of males and females but are not matriarchal like the Sifaka and many other lemurs.

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Photo Credits: Julie Larsen Maher © WCS

Video Credits: Luke Groskin © WCS


New Pictures, New Video! Bronx Zoo Giraffe Calf Update

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The Giraffe calf born in March at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo has made her debut on the African Plains, and she's one busy girl. See her nuzzle with mom, romp around her exhibit, and interact with a surprise visitor—an interloping butterfly. You can see earlier pictures of this tall baby from our ZooBorns article on March 23.

The calf has not yet been named. The Bronx Zoo names all of its giraffes in memory of Mr. and Mrs. James Carter, benefactors for the Carter Giraffe Building.

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Photo credits: Julie Larsen Maher © WCS


Wildlife Conservation Society's Bronx Zoo Just Got Six Feet Taller!

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A female Baringo Giraffe calf was born this month at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo. The calf was approximately 6 feet tall and over 100 pounds at birth. As an adult, she could eventually grow to 16 feet and weigh 2,600 pounds.

Giraffes are native to grasslands, savannas, and open woodlands in central, east, and southern Africa. The Baringo, or Rothschild’s, Giraffe is found in western Kenya and eastern Uganda. While Giraffe populations are robust in many places, overall the population is decreasing. The Wildlife Conservation Society works across the globe and within the giraffe’s African range to save wildlife and wild places. WCS is working to protect giraffes in key African landscapes like Zakouma, Chad, Murchison Falls, Uganda, and in the Sahel of South Sudan.

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Photo credits: Julie Larsen Maher © WCS

The calf has not been named as of now. The Bronx Zoo names all of its giraffes in memory of Mr. and Mrs. James Carter, benefactors for the Carter Giraffe Building.


Okapi Breeding Program Succeeding at Bronx Zoo

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A baby okapi was born this summer, at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo following more than a year of careful animal husbandry science by the zoo’s mammal curators. The calf, named M’bura, just made her public debut in the habitat. She'll be on exhibit intermittently as she adjusts to her sourroundings.

Upon birth, the mother and the calf are allowed time to bond. Unlike what would be normal practice for other ungulate species, a neonatal exam is not performed and the calf is not weighed because the species is very susceptible to stress.

Curators give the mother and calf plenty of room to encourage natural behaviors. In the wild, okapi females will leave their calves for long periods of time to feed and return only for short periods to nurse them. The female and calf spend relatively little time together.  For the first two months of its life the calf will spend about 80 percent of its time in its “nest” area. Okapi calves start sampling solid foods by three weeks of age and are usually weaned by the time they are six months old. At the Bronx Zoo, this new calf will slowly transition to a diet of leaves, alfalfa hay, specially formulated pelleted grain, and produce.

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Photo Credit: Julie Larsen Maher

 

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Growing Up Giraffe at New York's Bronx Zoo

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Earlier this month, a Baringo giraffe calf made its public debut at the Bronx Zoo’s African Plains. Born on September 14, 2011, James Marjani is the first giraffe calf born at the Bronx Zoo since February 2009. He was approximately six feet tall at birth and estimated to weigh more than 100 pounds. As an adult, he could eventually grow to more than 17 feet and weigh close to 4,000 pounds. The baby was born to mother, Margaret Sukari, and father, James Michael. The Bronx Zoo names all of its giraffes in memory of Mr. and Mrs. James Carter, benefactors for whom the Carter Giraffe Building is named. His birth brings the total number of giraffes in the herd to eight.

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Photo credits: Julie Larsen-Maher (c) WCS's Bronx Zoo

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Bolivian Gray Titi Monkeys: It's a Family Affair

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A Gray Titi Monkey was born at the Bronx Zoo in April and has just now gone made it's debut on exhibit with mom. In fact, you can hear them sing together early in the morning.

Gestation for the Bolivian gray titi monkey is about 132 days, a little over 4 months. A single baby is usually born; very rarely, twins are born.  Gray titi monkeys live in family groups, which usually consists of a breeding couple and several offspring. The father will help wtih the baby, carrying it on it's back in the first few days after birth. Older brothers or sisters may also help in this same way.

The Wildlife Conservation Society, which owns the zoo, works in Bolivia where gray titi monkeys live in the wild. This species is endangered largely due to habitat destruction.

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Photo by Julie Larsen Maher/WCS