Cincinnati Zoo

Gorilla Baby Finds New Home at Cincinnati Zoo

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Primate Keepers and staff, at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, have traded in their uniforms for faux-fur vests. The team is working ‘round the clock to care for a female baby Gorilla.  

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Kamina.jpg 1693Photo Credits: Photo 1 (Pat Story); Photos 2,3,4 (Michelle Curley/Cincinnati Zoo)

“Kamina” (Kuh-me-nuh), born August 16th at the Oklahoma City Zoo, was abandoned by her mother, “Ndjole”, immediately after her birth. Keepers at Cincinnati Zoo were previously successful in raising another Gorilla baby, “Gladys”, via surrogate human moms, and were eager to assist Kamina and provide the care she needed. 

Ron Evans, head of primates, and Head Nursery Keeper, Dawn Strasser went to Oklahoma City to spend time with Kamina and her caregivers before bringing the baby back to Cincinnati. Kamina came to Cincinnati on a private jet, held by Evans and Strasser.

Non-stop holding is a vital part of the human surrogacy program. The bond between a mother Gorilla and her baby is intensely close, so infant Gorillas need to be held and loved. It needs to be part of their growth process even if their mother cannot provide it. The human surrogates wear a felt vest covering when holding Kamina to their chest. It resembles the chest of a Gorilla mother.

There is no known reason why mother Gorillas reject their babies. Ndjole had successfully connected with her first child. One theory is that it may have been a difficult birth that put Ndjole off to motherhood this time around.

Today, Kamina's outlook is positive. She will be raised by a team of 10-15 people at the Cincinnati Zoo who are responsible for her 24 hours a day, seven days a week. These people will also wear knee pads and mimic gorilla behavior. This will take place for the next three months, at least. During this time, Kamina will be shown to the other gorillas at the zoo. They will be able to observe each other, but for the time being, they will not be able to touch. 


Buffalo Zoo's Endangered Indian Rhino Calf Is a World First

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The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s Center for Conservation & Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW) and the Buffalo Zoo are excited to announce the birth of a female Indian Rhino calf produced by artificial insemination (AI), and born on June 5. This is the first offspring for a male Rhino who never contributed to the genetics of the Indian Rhino population during his lifetime – a major victory for endangered species around the world and a lifetime of work in the making.

Rhino calf Monica,  Lead  Rhino Keeper Joe Hauser, CREW Reproductive Physiologist Dr. Monica Stoops
Rhino calf Monica and Cryo-Bio Bank
Rhino calf Monica
Photo Credit:  Kelly Brown of the Buffalo Zoo

The father, “Jimmy,” died at the Cincinnati Zoo in 2004 and was dead for a decade before becoming a father for the very first time.  During those ten years, Jimmy’s sperm was stored at -320°F in CREW’s CryoBioBank™ (the white tank shown in these photos) in Cincinnati, before it was taken to Buffalo, thawed and used in the AI. 

“We are excited to share the news of Tashi's calf with the world as it demonstrates how collaboration and teamwork among the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) organizations are making fundamental contributions to Rhino conservation,” said Dr. Monica Stoops, Reproductive Physiologist at the Cincinnati Zoo’s CREW. “It is deeply heartening to know that the Cincinnati Zoo's beloved male Indian Rhino Jimmy will live on through this calf and we are proud that CREW's CryoBioBank™ continues to contribute to this endangered species’ survival.”

Tashi, the Buffalo Zoo’s 17-year-old female has previously conceived and successfully given birth through natural breeding in both 2004 and 2008.  Unfortunately, her mate passed away and the Buffalo Zoo’s new male Indian Rhino has not yet reached sexual maturity. Because long intervals between pregnancies in female Rhinos can result in long-term infertility, keepers at the Buffalo Zoo knew it was critical to get Tashi pregnant again and reached out to Dr. Stoops for her expertise.   

In February of 2013, Dr. Stoops worked closely with Buffalo Zoo's Rhino keeper Joe Hauser and veterinarian Dr. Kurt Volle to perform a standing sedation AI procedure on Tashi. Scientifically speaking, by producing offspring from non or under-represented individuals, CREW is helping to ensure a genetically healthy captive population of Indian Rhinos exists in the future.  This is a science that could be necessary for thousands of species across the globe as habitat loss, poaching, and population fragmentation (among other reasons) threaten many with extinction.

Read more about the Rhino calf's amazing story below.

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Bactrian Camel Takes His First Steps at Cincinnati Zoo

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A Bactrian Camel born on February 25 is already winning fans at the Cincinnati Zoo.  Keepers announced the male baby’s name, Jack, one week and one day later – on Hump Day, of course.

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Photo Credit:  Cincinnati Zoo

 
Zoo keepers filmed Jack’s first steps, which were taken just an hour after he was born.  Because the weather was so cold during his first week, Jack wore a coat to help him stay warm!  Luckily, the cold spell did not last and the zoo captured photos of Jack and his mother, Sarrai. 

Bactrian camels are native to the steppes of Central Asia.  They have two humps, in comparison to the one-humped Dromedary Camel native to the Middle East and northern Africa.  They were domesticated thousands of years ago and transported humans vast distances in ancient times.  Able to survive up to 10 months without drinking water, Bactrian camels are listed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  Fewer than 1,000 Bactrian Camels survive in the wild; interbreeding with domestic populations is diminishing the genetic integrity of the species.

See more photos of Jack below.

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UPPDATE! Santos the Ocelot Makes Friends with Blakely the Dog

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Do you remember Santos, Cincinnati Zoo's little Ocelot kitten? Since we last saw him in November, he has grown up from a tiny ball of fuzz into a healthy and playful young hunter. Here he is having a great time with his canine playmate, Blakely. 

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5 ocelotPhoto credit: Cassandre Crawford / Cincinnati Zoo

See more playtime photos after the fold.

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Elvis the Beagle Sniffs Out Pregnant Polar Bears

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What do a two-year-old Beagle named Elvis and pregnant Polar Bears have in common?  Scientists at the Cincinnati Zoo’s Center for Conservation & Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW) have brought them together to detect pregnancy in Polar Bears living in zoos.

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Traditional pregnancy detection methods like hormone monitoring and ultrasounds don’t work well in Polar Bears.  With climate change threatening wild Polar Bear populations, CREW’s staff is getting creative to help save this important species, and they’ve found a possible helper in Elvis the Beagle. 

Working with professional dog trainer Matt Skogen, CREW is trying to determine if the sensitive noses of canines like Elvis can distinguish a pregnant Polar Bear from a non-pregnant Bear simply by smelling fecal samples.

“This is the first time sniffer dogs have been used in biomedical research as it relates to any wildlife species, making this project truly one-of-a-kind,” said CREW’s Dr. Erin Curry. Currently, Elvis is demonstrating 97% accuracy in positive identification of samples from pregnant females – which is not only incredible but nearly as accurate as over-the-counter human pregnancy tests.

Since January, Matt has used more than 200 training samples collected from Polar Bears of known pregnancy status to help Elvis refine his detection technique. 

Last month, Elvis’s skills were put to the test.  He tested samples from 17 female Polar Bears whose pregnancy status is unknown.  The zoos are eager to know if these females are pregnant so they can monitor these Polar Bears and make preparations.  Pregnant Bears could be isolated with minimal disruption while being closely monitored by camera 24/7 in anticipation of a birth, whereas non-pregnant females would remain swimming and socializing all winter with their exhibitmates.

Read more about Elvis and Polar Bears below the fold.

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Don't Wake Little Santos, The Ocelot Kitten!

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The nursery in Cincinnati Zoo's Children's Zoo has a brand new addition! Santos, the baby Ocelot, was born November 2 at the Abilene Zoo in Texas. He'll become a part of the Cincinnati Zoo's Cheetah Encounter Show in the summer of 2014.

Ocelots are native to much of South America and Mexico. They are expert hunters, and are fiercely territorial. They are listed as a species of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

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Gladys Goes Outside! Baby Gorilla and Her Human Surrogate Made Public Debut

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The Cincinnati Zoo's 3-month-old Western Lowland Gorilla named Gladys made her public debut in the outdoor yard on April 30. Over the next month, Gladys will be doing this with her human surrogates as part of Phase III of her “gorillification.” The surrogates will allow her to explore all areas of the outdoor yard, climb trees and duck into caves. Besides being enriching, this process will ensure Gladys is familiar with the yard and comfortable when she goes out again with her gorilla surrogate in the future.

Gladys was born at the Gladys Porter Zoo on January 29. The mother, 14 -year-old Kiazi, didn't respond well to the infant and ultimately rejected her. This behavior, which occasionally happens in first-time mothers, resulted in keepers from the Gladys Porter Zoo stepping in to hand-rear the infant until they had a plan in place. Unfortunately, all of the viable surrogates there already had young gorillas, so they began to look elsewhere.  After countless phone calls with the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) Ape Taxon Advisory Group (TAG) Maternal Management Committee and the Western Lowland Gorilla Species Survival Plan (SSP) Committee, the Cincinnati Zoo was determined to be the best home for the baby. Gladys is currently being hand raised by a group of approximately 10 human surrogates, until she can transition to a gorilla surrogate in the coming months.

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Photo Credit: Cincinnati Zoo

Western Lowland Gorillas are Critically Endangered, with less than 175,000 individuals in the wild. Due primarily to habitat destruction caused by logging, mineral mining and agricultural expansion, wild gorilla numbers continue to shrink.  The bushmeat trade – the killing of wild animals to be used as human food – is also a major threat to the Western Lowland Gorilla population throughout the Central African rainforests.  Over 1,000 gorillas are illegally poached for the bushmeat trade each year.

See more picturess of Gladys and her surrogates on their first outing below the fold:

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Update! Cincinnati Zoo Gorilla Gets Fuzzy Surrogates

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Recently we reported HERE on a little baby Gorilla who made a journey across the country from Texas to the Cincinnati Zoo to be hand reared after her birth mother wasn't able to provide her with proper care. We are happy to report that the little girl, who has since been named Gladys in honor of the zoo at which she was born, is doing well and has taken quite fondly to her surrogates. With a little help from some special attire that is. 

Keepers at the Cincinnati Zoo had faux fur company, Fabulous Furs, manufacture an artificial gorilla vest for surrogates to wear when taking care of little Gladys. The local company graciously provided the vests free of charge. “Helping animals is at the heart of everything we do at Fabulous-Furs and we’re long-time supporters of the Cincinnati Zoo’s animal conservation efforts,” said Donna Salyers, President of Fabulous Furs. “Fabulous Furs is known for the world’s finest faux furs and believing one of our fabrics might help make baby Gladys’ life easier made helping an easy decision. Now, as we share Gladys’ story with our kids and grandkids, their enthusiasm makes it even more meaningful. We’re absolutely thrilled to contribute.”

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Photo credits: David Jenike / Cincinnati Zoo

 

See and learn more after the fold!

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Baby Gorilla Leaves Texas for New Home in Cincinnati

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A four-week-old female Gorilla born at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas, made a cross-country trip on a private plane to her new home at the Cincinnati Zoo last week.

Cincinnati Zoo Primate Team Leader Ron Evans and Nursery Head Keeper Dawn Strasser accompanied the baby on the private flight.  “The baby was great,” said Strasser.  “She never left my arms.”

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Photo Credits:  Gladys Porter Zoo & Cinncinati Zoo

 

The baby, who is still unnamed, was born on January 29 to 14-year old female Kiazi and 28-year-old silverback male Moja.  Because Kiazi was not providing appropriate maternal care, the baby was being hand-reared by keepers at the Gladys Porter Zoo. All parties agreed that relocation was the best course of action for the baby and because the Cincinnati Zoo has two female Gorillas available to serve as potential surrogate mothers, it was decided that the baby should go there. Her introduction process to a new Gorilla troop will be gradual to ensure a favorable integration.

The baby will spend time behind the scenes for the next few days as she is evaluated by zoo veterinarians. She will then move to her more permanent home at the Cincinnati Zoo.


Live Tweet of Giraffe Birth From Cincinnati Zoo; Now Help Name Her!

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It's a girl! Ohio's Cincinnati Zoo welcomed a new baby Masai Giraffe early Friday morning, October 12. Mom Tessa gave birth at about 8:30 a.m. after a two hour labor. Only 52 minutes after birth, the calf was standing, interacting with her mom and Dad Kimba, and nursing successfully.

The zoo live-Tweeted the entire series of events with a variety of pictures which helped the public share in the excitement, starting from when Tessa went into labor. Keepers updated as the baby was coming out and up until baby was cleaned by mom and stood up. 

And just yesterday the zoo announced that name suggestions for the baby giraffe will be accepted on their Facebook and Twitter pages through end of day on Wednesday, October 17. Then, on October 18, the zoo will post the top three names, chosen by zoo staff, on its Facebook page, where you can vote for your favorite! The winning name will be announced on Friday, October 19! 

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Photo Credit: Cincinnati Zoo

The newborn was given time to bond with mom and the herd over the weekend, and on Monday, October 15, went on exhibit. Zoo visitors can view the family through windows on the Giraffe Ridge deck. 

See more pictures of the new baby after the fold:

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