Cincinnati Zoo

Dog Fills In As Nanny To Endangered Tiger Triplets

33013402791_f7bbfc861c_oAfter they were ignored by their mother following their birth on February 3, three Malayan Tiger cubs have been cared for by Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s nursery staff.  Now, the cubs’  care team includes the zoo’s four-legged, resident nursery companion and former nanny to several zoo babies: Blakely the Australian Shepherd Dog.  The six-year-old super-dog has been called into action to provide snuggling, comfort, and a body for the cubs to climb on.

“He’s more than just a large, warm pillow for the cubs.  Blakely is the adult in the room.  He teaches them proper Tiger etiquette by checking them when they’re getting too rough or aggressive,” said Dawn Strasser, head of Cincinnati Zoo’s nursery staff. “This is something that their human surrogates can’t do.”

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32846043985_44cf5d523a_oPhoto Credits:  Mark Dumont, DJJam, Lisa Hubbard

The cubs, named Chira (because she was treated by a chiropractor), Batari (which means goddess) and Izzy (which means promised by God,) would have received similar cues from their mom. Because being with her is not an option, Blakely is the next best thing.  His baby-rearing resume includes experience with Cheetahs, an Ocelot, a Takin, a Warthog, Wallabies, Skunks, and Bat-eared Foxes.  Last year, to recognize Blakely’s nurturing nature, the City of Cincinnati proclaimed October 19 to be Blakely Day!

“My team can feed and care for the Tiger cubs, but we can’t teach them the difference between a play bite and one that means ‘watch out’. So, that’s Blakely’s job,” said Strasser. “Just a little time with him at this early age will help them learn behaviors that will come in handy when they meet Tigers at other zoos in the future.” The cubs will move to the Zoo’s Cat Canyon this summer after they have received their last round of immunizations.

Malayan Tigers are Critically Endangered, with fewer than 250 breeding-age adults living in the wild.  Less than 100 of these Cats live in zoos, making these three cubs – and Blakely’s job as caregiver – incredibly important to the effort to save Malayan Tigers.

See more photos of Blakely and the Tiger cubs below.

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Tiger Cubs Are Grrrrowing Up Fast

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Three Malayan tiger cubs born February 3 at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden are gaining weight, opening their eyes and getting feisty! 

You first met the cubs on ZooBorns when the zoo announced that the trio would be cared for by zoo keepers because their mother did not care for them. Thanks to the staff’s dedication and hard work, the cubs are thriving.

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32724030031_3838d749a2_zPhoto Credits:  Kathy Newton, Cassandre Crawford, DJJAM Photo, Mark Desmond

“They’re fed by nursery staff six times a day and have already graduated from two to three ounces per feeding,” said Mike Dulaney, curator of mammals at the Cincinnati Zoo and vice coordinator of the Malayan Tiger SSP. “Before they open their eyes, they usually just eat and sleep.  Now that they can see where they’re going, they will start to become more active.”

One of the cubs, referred to as #1 until the cubs’ genders are known and names are given, is receiving special care from a local chiropractor to help it keep up with the others.  Soon after the cubs arrived in the Nursery, caregivers noticed that #1 was having trouble holding its head up.

“It was obvious to me that something wasn’t right.  The cub’s neck appeared to be stuck at an odd angle,” said Dawn Strasser, a 35-year veteran in the Zoo’s Nursery. “Massaging the neck muscles helped with the stiffness, but the cub was increasingly lethargic and not suckling well.”

Strasser reached out to Dr. Mark Sperbeck, a chiropractor who works on humans and animals of all sizes (from 3-pound Tiger cub to 1,000-pound Horse) and asked him to make a house call.  Three adjustments later, it’s difficult to see a difference between #1 and its litter mates. The neck and spine are back in place and the cub is eating well.  It’s actually a little larger than the other two.

According to Dr. Sperbeck, the cub’s top cervical bone (C1) was out of alignment. Since 95% of the body’s nerve impulses travel through this vertebra, he explained, it’s key to proper body function. “After the first adjustment, the cub slept for almost 24 hours and woke with improved mobility, strength and suckling ability,” said Strasser.

This is the first time that the zoo has called in a chiropractor, but it has a long history of collaborating with experts from outside the zoo, including dentists, imaging technicians, medical specialists.  

Malayan Tigers are Endangered with fewer than 500 left in the world. Major reasons for the population decline include habitat destruction, fragmentation and poaching.

More photos of the Tiger cubs below the fold!

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Trio of Malayan Tiger Cubs Born at Cincinnati Zoo

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Three Malayan Tiger cubs were born February 3 at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden and are now being cared for in the Zoo’s nursery. First-time mom Cinta’s maternal instincts did not kick in, and vets, concerned that the cubs' body temperatures would dip too low without the warmth of mom's body, made the call to remove them from the den.

“It’s not uncommon for first-time Tiger moms not to know what to do. They can be aggressive and even harm or kill the cubs," said Mike Dulaney, Curator of Mammals and Vice Coordinator of the Malayan Tiger SSP. “Nursery staff is keeping them warm and feeding them every three hours.”

The cubs will be cared for in the nursery for now and will move to Cat Canyon when they’re weaned and no longer require constant care. Visitors should be able to see them playing and running around in their outdoor habitat in early spring.

“The three will grow up together. They will not be re-introduced to their mom as she would not recognize them as her own after a prolonged separation,” said Dulaney.

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4_IMG_5597Photo Credits: Images: 1,2,5,12 (DJJAM Photo)/ Images: 3,4 (Cincinnati Zoo)/ Images: 6-11,13 (Cassandre Crawford)/ Image: 14 (Lisa Hubbard) 

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Hippo Preemie Gets Intensive Care at Cincinnati Zoo

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A baby Nile Hippopotamus arrived six weeks ahead of schedule at the Cincinnati Zoo, and the staff is now providing critical care for the premature calf, which is the first to be born at the zoo in 75 years.

Seventeen-year-old Hippo Bibi gave birth on January 24 but the calf, a female, was not expected until March.  Because the premature calf was unable to stand and nurse from Bibi, the veterinary staff moved the baby to the zoo’s nursery where she can receive around-the-clock care. Hippos are pregnant for about 243 days.

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Hippo_pool-5Photo Credit:  Cincinnati Zoo



When the baby was two days old, staff placed her in a shallow pool.  The pool time will help her build strength and gain balance, and help to maintain an optimal body temperature of 96-98 degrees.  Most baby Hippos are born in the water, but they can't swim.

“We are giving her fluids and keeping her moist and warm,” said Christina Gorsuch, curator of mammals at the Cincinnati Zoo. “Her little system is underdeveloped, and getting her to a healthy weight will be a challenge. Vets and animal staff are doing everything they can to get her through this critical time.”

You can find daily updates from the Cincinnati Zoo about the baby, which has been named Fiona, here.

The baby weighs 29 pounds, which is about 25 pounds lighter than the lowest recorded birth weight for this species.  The normal range for newborn Hippos is 55-120 pounds. “She looks like a normal calf but is very, very small. Her heart and lungs sound good and she is pretty responsive to stimuli, but we aren’t sure how developed her muscles and brain are,” said Gorsuch.  Adult Hippos weigh one-and-a-half to two tons.

When Bibi showed signs of labor, zoo staff performed an ultrasound that showed a major shift in the baby and confirmed that it was on the way.  During the procedure, keepers were able to collect milk from her.

“We’re hoping to get the baby to drink Bibi’s milk and other supplements from a bottle. We’ll continue to milk Bibi so we can provide these important nutrients to the baby and also stimulate production so she’s ready to nurse when the baby is strong enough to be back with mom,” said Gorsuch.

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Cincinnati Zoo’s ‘Baby New Year’ Is Announced

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The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s first baby of 2017 is a Guereza Colobus. The little snow-white baby was born two weeks ago to first time mom, Adanna, and dad, Tiberius. Keepers report the infant is strong, alert and nursing. Once the sex is determined, a name will be given.

The species is a type of monkey once thought to be abnormal because it has no thumb, only a stub where the digit would usually be.

“Tiberius was born here and lived most of his 21 years in a bachelor group that included his father and brothers. Caring for this all-male group was best for the North American Colobus population, but also meant taking a multi-year break from breeding,” said Ron Evans, Cincinnati Zoo’s curator of primates. “With the Cincinnati line out of the breeding population for all those years, Tiberius became one of the most eligible bachelors in the population after he outlived his siblings,”

Four-year-old Adanna arrived at Cincinnati Zoo in 2015, along with another young female, on a breeding recommendation from the Species Survival Plan (SSP), a body that manages populations in Zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

“Their [the two females] playful nature rubbed off and we saw lots of lighthearted play behavior between the three of them,” said Evans. “Tiberius is in his senior years, so it’s significant that his genes are now represented in the North American Zoo population.”

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4_colobus-7Photo Credits: Cincinnati Zoo

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Cincinnati Zoo’s Painted Dog Pups are “Cheese-tastic”!

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Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden keepers recently selected some “cheesy” names for their African Painted Dog pups. The puppy cheese tray, born October 16 to mom Imara and dad Kwasi, includes Nacho and Muenster (the two males). The female pups have been named: Bleu, Brie, Gouda, Queso, Colby, Swiss, Cotija, Mozzarella and Feta.

“The only thing our primary Painted Dog keepers love as much as dogs is cheese! The cheese theme had an added bonus of offering a large variety of name options,” said Christina Gorsuch, Curator of Mammals at the Cincinnati Zoo and Vice Coordinator of the African Painted Dog Species Survival Plan (SSP).

“African Painted Dogs are born white and black with portions of the black turning to gold when they are 6-8 weeks old. The white marks remain the same from birth; these unique markings will help keepers identify each pup for future vaccinations, physical exams, and day-to-day care. They will eventually learn their names which allow keepers to train them individually and teach important husbandry behaviors,” Gorsuch continued.

All the Painted Dog pack members are participating in the rearing of the eleven pups (one of the litter of twelve did not survive).

“The pups are seven weeks old and completely weaned from their mom’s milk onto meat. The entire pack is fed together 3-4 times a day in order to keep up with the demand of the growing puppy appetites. Anything the pups don’t eat is consumed by the four adults, who will regurgitate meat for the pups, throughout the day and night. They have incredible puppy energy and are running circles around the adults; everything is new and very exciting for them,” said Gorsuch.

(ZooBorns introduced the new family in an article from early November: "Endangered Painted Dogs Arrive By the Dozen")

Mom, Imara:  14500777_10154409897535479_3957877092265095920_oPhoto Credits: Cincinnati Zoo/ Kathy Newton (Image 2)

African Painted Dogs (Lycaon pictus) are one of the most endangered carnivores on the continent, with fewer than 5,000 dogs concentrated in parts of southern and eastern Africa. There are approximately 139 animals (55 males, 49 females, and 35 unknown sex) distributed among 33 North American Zoos and 564 in Zoos worldwide. The Cincinnati Zoo is currently home to 15 Painted Dogs.

The pack at Cincinnati has access to the outdoor exhibit when temperatures are above 50 degrees, so the first public viewing of the pups is likely to be in early spring.

African Painted Dogs, known for their large, round ears and beautiful, multi-colored coats, could once be found all over Africa. Today they are one of the most endangered carnivores on the continent, with fewer than 5,000 dogs concentrated in parts of southern and eastern Africa.

The Cincinnati Zoo supports the conservation of African Painted Dogs and other wildlife in southern Tanzania through the Ruaha Carnivore Project (RCP). The RCP works with local communities to ensure the survival of carnivores and people in and around Ruaha National Park. The third largest African Painted Dog population lives in the Ruaha region and is also home to 10% of Africa’s Lions.

The RCP documents the presence and location of wildlife species through community-reported sightings and photos taken by motion-triggered cameras, or camera traps. The project aims to gather baseline data on carnivore numbers and ecology and work with the local communities to reduce human-carnivore conflict.


Endangered Painted Dogs Arrive By the Dozen

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The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s African Painted Dog pack grew from four to sixteen in mid-October when four-year-old mom Imara gave birth to a dozen pups!

It’s not the first time Imara has had her paws full. In January of 2015, she produced and raised a litter of ten pups, with the help of her first mate, Brahma.  This time, in addition to having new dad, Kwasi, as a helper, she’ll have assistance from her older offspring, Lucy (the only pup from the original litter that’s still in Cincinnati) and the new litter’s uncle, Masai (dad’s brother).

“Kwasi and Masai lived in a multigenerational pack that numbered 23 dogs at one point, so they’re well versed in dog etiquette. They witnessed the birth of at least one litter of pups and should be able to figure out their roles as father and helper,” said Christina Gorsuch, Curator of Mammals at the Cincinnati Zoo and Vice Coordinator of the African Painted Dog Species Survival Plan (SSP).

“The social structure of African Painted Dogs is built around the raising of pups -the entire pack works together to ensure that the female and her pups have everything they need to succeed and survive. Just like in the wild, the members of our pack will help Imara by guarding the den box, regurgitating meat, and babysitting the pups when Imara leaves the den box.”

Kwasi and Masai, are both five-years-old and originally from the Perth Zoo in Australia. The male siblings arrived in Cincinnati, this past summer, with a breeding recommendation from the SSP.

“We felt pretty confident that Imara would remain our alpha female but the male dogs were a bit of an unknown. Within minutes of the group’s introduction, Imara and Kwasi clearly identified each other as alphas and Masai and Lucy displayed all the appropriate submissive behaviors. It was really amazing to see Imara teaching Lucy all the proper dog social skills for meeting new males. In Painted Dog packs, usually only the alpha pair breed and produce pups. We are very happy to see our pack functioning in similar ways to their wild counterparts,” said Gorsuch.

The pack has access to the outdoor exhibit, but visitors are not likely to see pups for a couple of months. Keepers expect Imara to keep them safely tucked away in their behind-the-scenes den.

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Photo/ Video Credits: Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

The African Painted Dog (Lycaon pictus), also known as the African Wild Dog or African Hunting Dog, is a canid native to Sub-Saharan Africa. They are known for their large, round ears and beautiful, multi-colored coats. The species could once be found all over Africa. Today they are one of the most endangered carnivores on the continent, with fewer than 5,000 dogs concentrated in parts of southern and eastern Africa. They are currently classified as “Endangered” by the IUCN.

Today, there are approximately 122 African Painted Dogs in 37 North American Zoos and 534 in Zoos worldwide. Gestation period for the species is approximately 68-73 days. Litters typically include 6 to 12 pups but can number up to 20. Pup survival rate is about 52%, making it a difficult population to sustain.

The Cincinnati Zoo supports the conservation of African Painted Dogs and other wildlife in southern Tanzania through the Ruaha Carnivore Project (RCP). The RCP works with local communities to help ensure the survival of carnivores and people in and around Ruaha National Park.

The third largest African Painted Dog population lives in the Ruaha region and is also home to 10% of Africa’s Lions. The RCP documents the presence and location of wildlife species through community-reported sightings and photos taken by motion-triggered cameras, or camera traps. The project aims to gather baseline data on carnivore numbers and ecology and work with the local communities to reduce human-carnivore conflict.


‘Marvelous’ Duiker Calf at Cincinnati Zoo

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The Yellow-backed Duiker calf at Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is simply a “wondrous-marvel”, and that is just what her name, Shani, means in Swahili.

Shani was born August 22 and has been spending quality time bonding with her parents. The small family unit is a preference for the duiker.

Although her species name suggests otherwise, Shani’s characteristic yellow stripe won’t appear on her back until she is about six-months-old. For now, her coloring is suitable for hiding in the shelter of forest floors and brush.

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4_14712472_10154443459635479_9148495961607096627_oPhoto Credits: DJJAM Photo/ Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

The Yellow-backed Duiker (Cephalophus silvicultor) is a forest dwelling antelope in the order Artiodactyla, from the family Bovidae. They are the most widely distributed of all the duikers, and they are found mainly in Central and Western Africa, ranging from Senegal to Western Uganda with a possible few in Gambia. Their range also extends southward into Ruanda, Burunidi, Zaire, and most of Zambia.

Yellow-backed Duikers have a convex body shape, standing taller at the rump than the shoulders. They have very short horns, which are cylindrical and are ribbed at the base. Yellow-backed Duikers get their name from the characteristic patch of yellow hairs on their rump, which stand when the animal becomes alarmed or feels threatened. They weigh-in at about 60–80 kg, making it the largest of its genus. It has a large mouth, throat and jaw musculature.

Yellow-backed Duikers are mainly forest dwelling and live in semi-deciduous forests, rainforests, riparian forests, and montane forests. However, they can also be found in open bush, isolated forest islands, and clearings on the savanna. Their convex body shape is well suited for forest living. Also known as “little divers,” duikers dive into thick undergrowth to hide from predators; hence, the name duiker which means "diver" in Afrikaans.

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Giraffe Herd Is ‘Two for Two’ at Cincinnati Zoo

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For the second time in less than two months, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden welcomed a new addition to their Masai Giraffe herd. Five-year-old mom, Jambo, delivered a calf on September 13, in her indoor stall after about two hours of labor.

“Jambo has been on 24-hour baby watch since August 22. Zoo Volunteer Observers (ZVO)’s reported restlessness and pacing starting a little before midnight, hooves out at 12:50, face at 1:20 [a.m.] and baby on the ground 25 minutes later. She stood and nursed within the first hour after birth,” said Christina Gorsuch, Curator of Mammals at the Cincinnati Zoo. “Mom stood rock solid for nursing all night, which is exactly the behavior you hope to see.”

Visitors may get to see the baby as soon as this weekend! Vets will soon do a physical exam and, if all is well and weather cooperates, the females and babies could head outside in a few days.

The new father, Kimba, will be outside in the new bull yard at first but will be reunited with the full group in a week or two.

“Jambo must have been paying attention when Cece gave birth in July,” said Cincinnati Zoo Director Thane Maynard. “First-time moms don’t always know what to do with their babies, but Jambo has been watching Cece and Cora and seems at ease around her calf.”

The Cincinnati Zoo’s history with Giraffe births dates back to 1889 when it became the first zoo in the Western Hemisphere to produce a baby Giraffe. This is the 15th Giraffe born in Cincinnati.

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4_sittingPhoto Credits: Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

After nearly 15 months of gestation, a baby Giraffe drops to the ground headfirst! The fall and the landing do no hurt the calf, but they do cause it to take a big breath. To prepare for the birth, keepers added 6-8 inches of sawdust in Jambo’s indoor stall and placed hay on top of large rubber mats to cushion the calf’s fall and to provide excellent footing for the calf once it began to stand. The outside yard was also baby-proofed with canvas.

Jambo came to the Cincinnati Zoo in 2013 from the Louisville Zoo on a breeding recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan (SSP). Her mate, Kimba, came to Cincinnati in 2008, from the Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence, Rhode Island. He has sired five calves: three with Tessa, one with Cece, and one with Jambo.

The Masai Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi), also known as the Kilimanjaro Giraffe, is the largest subspecies and tallest land mammal. It is native to Kenya and Tanzania.

The Masai Giraffe is often darker than other subspecies. Its blotches are large, dark brown, leaf-shaped with jagged edges, and separated by irregular, creamy brown lines.

Unlike many species, there is no true breeding season for the Masai Giraffe and females can become pregnant beginning at just four years of age. In the wild up to 75% of the calves die in their first few months of life, mainly due to predation.

According to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, the Masai may be the most populous of the Giraffe subspecies. There is an estimated fewer than 37,000 remaining in the wild, (though recent reports of significant poaching would suggest it likely to be significantly less) and approximately 100 individuals kept in zoos.

Habitat loss, poaching, disease and civil unrest pose the most significant threats to wild Giraffe.


Rare Condor Chick Hatches at Cincinnati Zoo

Condor_chick (1)Photo: Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is excited to announce that a rare Andean Condor chick has been spotted with parents, Gryph and Laurel. This is the first chick, of this species, to hatch in Cincinnati in 30 years and only the fourteenth to hatch in any North American institution in the past decade.

They are a naturally slow breeding species (averaging one chick every other year). “This is mostly because the chick stays dependent on both parents longer than other bird species,” said Kim Klosterman, Senior Aviculture Keeper at the Cincinnati Zoo. “Andean Condor chicks will not attempt to leave the nest until they are close to six months of age.”

The Zoo’s Condor pair has been laying one egg per year since 2008 but did not produce a chick until now! The success may have something to do with the installation of a nesting chamber in 2014. The 300-pound box, built by Zoo volunteers, was designed to provide a more secure, cave-in-a-cliff-like environment for the birds.

“The chick, a female, is about six weeks old and appears to be growing at a normal rate,” said Klosterman, who was able to pull the chick for a quick exam a few weeks ago. “It’s difficult to get a good look inside the nest box, but we know that the food we put in there has been disappearing quickly. In fact, we recently increased the Condors’ usual diet (which includes rodents, rabbits, goats and fish).”

 

The Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) will determine the chick’s future. She will remain at the Cincinnati Zoo, in the Condor exhibit, with her 34-yr-old parents until the SSP decides to send her to another facility for breeding or to Cincinnati Zoo’s off-site facility to be conditioned for release into the wild.

The Cincinnati Zoo has participated in conservation efforts and the AZA’s breeding program for this endangered species since 1989 and operates a staging site for North American-hatched Andean Condors destined for release.   In the summer of 2013, a breeding pair was moved from the Zoo’s staging facility to Colombia, where they were released and, soon after, produced chicks. “When they reproduce, that tells me that we are doing something right. That’s the gauge of success,” said Klosterman.

Andean Condors, a type of vulture, typically stand around four feet tall and can weigh as much as 33 pounds. Thanks to its massive wingspan of 10.5 feet, this species can rightly claim the title of the largest flying land bird in the Western Hemisphere. They are currently listed as “Endangered” by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and as “Threatened” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.