Denver Zoo

Endangered Zebra Foal on Exhibit at Denver Zoo

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Denver Zoo announced the birth of a Grevy's Zebra on October 8! The male foal was born, on exhibit, to mother Farasi, and keepers have named him Bosley. Zoo visitors can see the mother and newborn in their outdoor exhibit, weather permitting.

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3_Dever Zoo Bosley and momPhoto Credits: Denver Zoo

Farasi is not a first-time mother, but this recent birth marked the first time she has given birth at Denver Zoo. The father is 15-year-old Punda, who is the only male in the herd. Punda and Farasi were paired under recommendations of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP), which ensures genetic diversity and healthy populations among zoo animals.

The Grevy’s Zebra (Equus grevyi), also known as the Imperial Zebra, is the largest extant wild equid and the largest and most endangered of the three species of zebra, which includes the Plains Zebra and the Mountain Zebra. Native to Kenya and Ethiopia, the Grevy’s Zebra is named after Jules Grévy, who was president of France in the 1880s. French naturalist Emile Oustalet first described the species in 1882.

Compared to the other zebra species, the Grevy’s Zebra is taller, has larger ears, and narrower stripes. It prefers to live in semi-arid grasslands and feeds on grasses, legumes and browse. It can survive up to five days without water. The Grevy’s Zebra differs from the other species in that it does not live in a harem and does not maintain lasting social bonds.

They can mate and give birth, year-round. Gestation lasts about 390 days. Females with young foals may gather into smaller groups, and mares may leave their foals in ‘kindergartens’ while searching for water, usually protected by a single adult male. In order to adapt to the semi-arid environment they are native to, Grevy’s Zebra foals have longer nursing intervals and wait until they are three months old before they start drinking water. The foals become less dependent on their mothers after 6 months, but they continue their association for up to three years.

The Grevy’s Zebra is classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List. It is estimated there are less than 2,500 Grevy’s Zebras still living the wilds of Africa. The main threats the species faces are: loss of habitat, competition for resources with livestock, and being hunted for their skins.

Denver Zoo Announces Birth of Lion Cubs


Two African Lion cubs were born, at Denver Zoo, on September 10 to lioness Neliah. The brother and sister are currently with their mother, behind the scenes, in the Zoo's Benson Predator Ridge exhibit. Zookeepers are monitoring the family via a closed circuit camera and giving them space during this critical bonding period. They will remain off exhibit during this time.

"This is the first time we've had lion cubs at Denver Zoo since 2006, and we are thrilled," says Denver Zoo Vice President of Animal Care Hollie Colahan. 


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4_Father 'Sango'_oPhoto Credits: Denver Zoo (Image 3: Mom 'Neliah'; Image 4: Dad 'Sango')

The cubs were born in the early morning to parents Neliah and Sango, and, so far, mother and cubs are doing great. Zookeepers say they are precocious, moving around frequently, vocalizing and naturally competing when trying to nurse at the same time. Neliah, a first-time mother, has done a wonderful job. Keepers say she is very calm and attentive, regularly grooming the two and allowing them to nurse.

Neliah arrived from Florida's Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens in November of last year. The 3-year-old joined the Zoo's young lion pride, with male Sango and female Sabi, both also 3-years-old. Neliah was born at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens on June 30, 2012 and arrived at Denver Zoo through a recommendation of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums' (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP), which ensures healthy populations and genetic diversity among zoo animals. Sango, the Zoo's only adult male lion, was born on July 28, 2012 at Ellen Trout Zoo in Lufkin, Texas, and arrived at Denver Zoo in 2013. The cubs are his first offspring, as well.

African Lion cubs are born after a relatively short gestation period of between 100 and 110 days, and they come into the world with spotted coats and their eyes closed. Lionesses normally give birth to between two and four cubs. For the first two months, the cubs drink only their mother's milk and are fully weaned by the time they are seven months old.

The lion (Panthera leo) is one of the five big cats in the genus Panthera and a member of the family Felidae. The commonly used term African Lion collectively denotes the several subspecies found in Africa. With some males exceeding 550 lbs. (250 kg) in weight, it is the second-largest living cat after the tiger. The lion is currently listed as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List, having seen a major population decline in its African range of 30-50% per two decades during the second half of the 20th century.

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Sea Lion Pup Dives In at Denver Zoo

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There's a new set of flippers splashing around Colorado's Denver Zoo. A California sea lion pup, born on the evening of June 11, is the first of its species born at the zoo since 2010. Weighing in at just 20 pounds, the unnamed male pup is starting to learn how to swim with the help of his mother,  Luci.

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Photo credits: Denver Zoo


 Although pups can see and vocalize at birth, they usually don't learn to swim for a week or two. Keepers say that he's turning out to be very vocal, making lots of sheep-like noises, and he's starting to show a curious and independent personality in his swimming sessions with mom. 

Luci makes a wonderfully attentive mother. At night, she wakes her pup to make sure he is nursing regularly, and keeps a close eye on him when the two are at the seal pool. She's been eating 20 pounds of fish per day to ensure that the pup is receiving milk that is high in nutrients. The pup will spend his first year nursing while transitioning to fish.

Visitors can watch mother and pup exploring the zoo's Northern Shores exhibit, weather permitting. 

The pup is the second offspring for Luci and father, Nick, who welcomed female Ady in 2010. (Luci was born in Orlando, Florida at Sea World in 2001 and came to Denver Zoo two years later. Nick came to Denver Zoo from the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach, California in 2008.) 

California Sea Lions are found along the west coast of North America from Baja California to British Columbia. They are highly social animals, gathering in large groups called colonies. Their streamlined bodies allow them to swim at speeds of 25 to 30 miles per hour (40 to 48 km/hr), and their remarkable vision allows them to see well during the day and at night. They are listed as a species of Least Concern on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List.

Sea Lions are born after a 12-month reproductive cycle. This begins with a 3-month delayed implantation, when the embryo lies dormant before implanting into the uterus. This process is followed by a 9-month gestation period. The little pup has a lot of growing to do: adult males weigh 500 to 800 pounds (227 to 363 kg) as adults, while adult females are between 200 and 250 pounds (91 to 113 kg). 

Prickly New Litter at Denver Zoo


Denver Zoo has an adorable new prickle of baby Hedgehogs!    



20150202_baby_hedgehogs077_CBPhoto Credits: Denver Zoo

The babies were born in the zoo’s education department. They are currently with their mother, off exhibit, but once old enough, they will be used for outreach and other programs sponsored by Denver Zoo.

Depending on the species of Hedgehog, the gestation period is anywhere from 35-58 days. The average litter is 3-4 young for larger species and 5-6 newborns for the smaller species. Hedgehogs have a relatively long lifespan for their size. Larger species live 4-7 years in the wild, and smaller species live 2-4 years (4-7 in captivity).

Hedgehogs are born blind with a protective membrane covering their quills, which dries and shrinks over the next several hours, after birth. The infants are born with quills beneath the skin, like pimples, and pass the skin after they have been cleaned. Eventually, the young will shed their baby spines (called “quilling”), and they will be replaced with adult spines.

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Asian Small-Clawed Otter Pup Ready for Visitors


Denver Zoo welcomed the birth of an adorable, Asian Small-Clawed Otter on August 26. The male, named ‘Jilin’ (JEE-Lin) has been under the care of mother, ‘Asha’, and father, ‘Bugsy’.


Small-clawed-otter_Jilin_03Photo Credits: Denver Zoo

Zookeepers are giving the young pup the choice to stay behind the scenes or venture into public view. Viewing of the pup may be limited for the next few weeks, but keepers expect him to be out very soon. Asha came to Denver Zoo from Smithsonian’s National Zoo in 2012. Bugsy, who arrived here in 2013, is from Zoo Atlanta. Both were born in 2005. Bugsy, who comes from a large family, is known for his caring personality. Both Asha and Bugsy have proved to be great first-time and very hands-on parents.

The name Jilin, which is also a Chinese province formerly known as Kirin, pays homage to one of Denver Zoo’s other Asian Small-Clawed Otters, ‘Barry Kirin’.

Keepers say the pup has a playful spirit. He enjoys playing with clam shells and plastic balls, hiding from mom and dad and learning to swim. Keepers say he is becoming more playful and brave as he grows older.

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Fossa Pup Is a First for Denver Zoo


Denver Zoo recently celebrated the birth of its very first Fossa (FOO-sah) pup!  



Fossa and momPhoto Credits: Denver Zoo

Born on July 28th, the male Fossa pup, ‘Rico’, stayed behind the scenes for his first couple months, under the watchful, attentive eye of his mother, ‘Violet’.

Rico was born to Violet, and father, ‘Dorian’. Violet was born at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo in June 2010 and arrived at Denver Zoo in April 2012. Dorian was the very first Fossa to live at Denver Zoo, arriving in February 2010 from Utah’s Hogle Zoo. He was born at the San Diego Zoo in May 2006. The two were paired in early June when Violet was mature enough to breed. Fortunately, the couple has proved to be an excellent match.

Fossas almost resemble small mountain lions, but their closest relative is actually the mongoose. They have short, brown coats. Adults stand about 8 inches tall at the shoulder and can stretch about two-and-half feet from head to backside. Their tails can be just as long and provide good balance when navigating though trees while hunting for prey. Their teeth, jaws and partially retractable claws resemble those of a cat, but their agility has been described as almost primate-like. They can hang upside down and quickly climb to the top of a tree.

Even though they may only weigh about 20 pounds, Fossas are the largest mammalian carnivore on Madagascar. Roughly half their diet consists of lemurs, but they also eat lizards, birds and smaller livestock. Fossas are cathemeral, meaning they are active and looking for prey at any part of the day or night, depending on mood and food availability.

The Fossa is currently listed as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List. However, with less than 2,500 estimated individuals in the wild, experts are uncertain about the future of the species, due to a lack of sightings. It is estimated, in the past 21 years, there has been a population reduction exceeding 30% and beyond. Their major threats come from habitat loss and hunting.


Spotted Hyena Cubs Establishing New Clan


In early August, ZooBorns brought you a story about three Spotted Hyena cubs that were flown to Denver Zoo. The trio, made up of females Nia (NEE-yah) and Tavi (TAH-vee), and male Kelele (keh-LAY-lay), just cleared their mandatory quarantine period, and can now be seen by visitors inside the Pahali Mwana yard within the Denver Zoo’s Predator Ridge exhibit.



Hyena_cubs_01Photo Credits: Denver Zoo

The cubs are becoming more confident as they explore their maternity yard in short stints. Zookeepers only keep them out for a couple hours each day, as they are young and tire quickly, and they still need a few more vaccinations before they are allowed out unsupervised. Hyenas have a matriarchal social structure, and zookeepers have observed that Nia has established herself as the leader of this new, young clan.

Kelele was born on June 26 and arrived from the Buffalo Zoo on July 31. Nia and Tavi were born on June 11 and arrived from Kapi’yva Exotics, a private facility in Houston, Texas that specializes in the propagation of rare and endangered species, on August 1. They all came to Denver Zoo through recommendations of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP), which ensures healthy populations and genetic diversity among zoo animals. Kelele’s mother and both of the female cubs’ parents are all from Africa, making their genetics extremely valuable to the North American population, as they are unrelated to most other Hyenas in U.S. zoos.

Kelele, named after the Swahili word for “noisy,” was born to a mother that historically has not cared for her cubs. Zookeepers had been hand-rearing him and wanted to provide him with a clan with which to socialize. Arrangements were then made to have him join the two female cubs, which had already been scheduled to arrive at Denver Zoo. This is very similar to how Hyena cubs grow up in the wild. A mother will place her cub with others of various ages in a communal den. The cubs will then only come out to nurse until they are older.

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Spotted Hyena Cubs Fly to Denver


Denver Zoo is now the new home of three Spotted Hyena cubs!   Kelele (keh-LAY-lay), a male born on June 26, arrived from the Buffalo Zoo on July 31.  On August 1, two unnamed females, born June 11, arrived from Kapi’yva Exotics, a private facility in Houston, Texas, that specializes in the propagation of rare and endangered species. The cubs must first pass a mandatory, month-long quarantine before visitors can see them.



Spotted_hyena_pup_04Photo Credits: Denver Zoo

The three cubs arrived at Denver Zoo through recommendations of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP), which ensures healthy populations and genetic diversity among zoo animals. The female cubs’ parents and Kelele’s mother are all from Africa, making their genetics extremely valuable to the North American population as they are unrelated to most other hyenas in U.S. zoos.

“These animals are critical to the survival of Spotted Hyenas in AZA-accredited zoos, and we have been working to bring more hyenas to Denver Zoo for at least two years,” says Denver Zoo’s Curator of Large Mammals, Hollie Colahan. “This is a great example of cooperation between an AZA zoo, a private facility, and Denver Zoo to support the SSP's goals for a sustainable population.”

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Denver Zoo's Clouded Leopard Cubs Socialize


Denver Zoo’s three Clouded Leopard cubs, Pi, Rhu and Saya, are getting to know each other during supervised introductions. Saya, a female born on April 10, arrived May 17th from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI). Zookeepers let the three of them play together behind the scenes two or three times a day to socialize to make sure they engage with each other. Saya still won’t meet the public for a few weeks as she needs to grow a little bigger to spend time alone with her new friends in Denver Zoo's Toyota Elephant Passage. You can learn more about her journey at




Saya, below, upon arriving at Denver Zoo in May...



Three Maned Wolves Join the Family at Denver Zoo

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Denver Zoo in Colorado is celebrating the birth of three Maned Wolf pups, born on May 1. The unnamed triplets, two males and one female, were born to mother, Adrianna, and father, Inigo, and are the first of their species to be born at the Zoo since 2009. All three pups were just given a clean bill of health by zoo veterinarians. Though the pups are not yet old enough to explore the outside world on their own yet, Zoo visitors might catch glimpses of them as their protective mother totes them from den to den inside the Wolf Pack Woods exhibit.

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3 wolfPhoto credit: Denver Zoo

These are the first pups for both Inigo and Adrianna, who both arrived at Denver Zoo in September 2013. Inigo came from Texas’ Abilene Zoo, where he was born in December 2011. Adrianna arrived from Springfield, Missouri’s Dickerson Park Zoo, but was born at the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, near Glen Rose, Texas in February 2012. The pair came to Denver Zoo as part of a Species Survival Plan recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which ensures healthy populations and genetic diversity among zoo animals. Fortunately, the couple has proved to be an excellent match.

Maned Wolves resemble Red Foxes with long legs. Despite their reddish coloring and general appearance they are not related to foxes and despite their name, they are not members of the wolf family. The Maned Wolf is the largest wild dog of South America. Standing about three feet tall at the shoulder, their long legs enable them to see above the tall grass – an adaptation that helps them hunt for food and avoid predators. Unlike wolves, they do not form packs: they are solitary hunters, and guard terriotories with a monogamous mate. 

See and read more after the fold.

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