Denver Zoo

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. 

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Denver Zoo's Second Malayan Tapir Birth Goes Smoothly

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Denver Zoo is celebrating the birth of an endangered Malayan Tapir calf! The male calf, named Baku (Bah-koo), was born to mother, Rinny, and father, Benny, late in the evening on April 29. He the second offspring of this pair, and only the second birth of his species at the zoo.

Fortunately, his delivery was much easier than the first. The first calf, Dumadi, was born in September 2012. While his birth was normal, the events immediately following were difficult. After Rinny unsuccessfully attempted to free Dumadi from his amniotic sac, two staff members raced in to free the newborn from the sac, providing mouth-to-snout rescue breaths and manually stimulating the newborn for regular breathing in order to expel liquid from his lungs. After a few minutes of rescue efforts, Dumadi successfully began to breathe on his own.

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Fortunately, Baku's delivery went smoothly, and the newborn calf is healthy. He will remain behind the scenes in Toyota Elephant Passage while being cared for by his mother until they are comfortable enough to venture outdoors. Until then, visitors can see live, closed-circuit video of Baku on monitors inside Toyota Elephant Passage.

'Baku' is the Japanese word for tapir. Baku are also supernatural spirits in Chinese and Japanese folklore that take children’s nightmares away and protect against evil. They are often depicted as having some tapir-like physical characteristics.

Malayan Tapirs are the only tapir native to Asia. Once found throughout Southeast Asia, they now inhabit only the rainforests of the Indochinese peninsula and Sumatra. With a wild population of less than 2,000 individuals they are classified as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to habitat loss and hunting.

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Denver's Clouded Leopard Cubs Ready to Meet the Public

Clouded_leopard_cubs_on_exhbit03Two Clouded Leopard cubs born on March 14 are now ready to meet the public at the Denver Zoo.  The male and female cubs, named Pi and Rhu, were not properly cared for by their mother so they are being raised by staff around the clock.

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Clouded_leopard_cubs_on_exhbit02Photo Credit:  Denver Zoo


The cubs began their lives in an incubator, but have graduated to a “whelping box.” The large enclosure provides a safe place for the cubs to learn to walk, crawl, wrestle, and play until they have grown enough to have full access to the Clouded Leopard exhibit.

Because they were born on March 14, Pi was named after Pi Day, the date observed to celebrate the mathematical constant, Pi. The date is also Albert Einstein’s birthday. Rhu was named after Einstein’s favorite dessert, rhubarb pie.

The cubs are the first births for their mother Lisu and father Taji. The two were paired under recommendation of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) which ensures healthy populations and genetic diversity among zoo animals. Fortunately, the couple has proved to be an excellent match.

As Lisu was unable to take care of her cubs very early on, the cubs never developed a strong bond with their mother, nor she with them. Because it is important for these cubs to be exposed to adult Clouded Leopards, zoo keepers will move them to the Clouded Leopard building once it is deemed safe to do so. Their parents probably won’t recognize them as their offspring, but the cubs can develop some valuable behavioral information by seeing adult Clouded Leopards interact and vocalize.

Despite their name, Clouded Leopards are not actually a species of Leopard. Because they are so unique, they are placed in their own genus, Neofelis, which is a combination of Greek and Latin words meaning “new cat.” They are considered a “bridge” between typical big cats, like Lions and Tigers, and the small cats, like Pumas, Lynx and Ocelots. Their body lengths can range from about two to almost four feet long and they can weigh between 24 and 50 pounds. Their tawny coats with distinctive “cloud-shaped” dark blotches provide excellent camouflage in their forest habitat, enabling them to stalk prey and also hide from potential predators.

Clouded Leopards are well adapted for living in the trees. Their short, flexible legs, large feet and sharp, retractable claws make them adept in the trees. They can descend head first down tree trunks, move along branches while hanging upside down and even hang from branches using only their hind feet, enabling them to drop down and ambush prey on the ground. Their long tails provides balance as they leap from branch to branch. Their arboreal lifestyle also provides protection from larger predators like tigers and leopards.

They are found in Southeast Asia in southern China, parts of Nepal, India, Burma, Sumatra and Borneo and live primarily in tropical and subtropical evergreen forests up to 6500 feet above sea level.

There are no reliable estimates for Clouded Leopard populations in the wild, but their numbers are thought to be in decline and the International Union for Conservation of Nature classifies them as “vulnerable.” Clouded Leopards are endangered primarily due to habitat loss due to deforestation for agriculture. They are also hunted for their beautiful pelts and their bones, claws and teeth are used in traditional Asian medicine.


Rare Sea Eagle Chick a First for Denver Zoo

Stellers_sea_eagle_chick01The Denver Zoo welcomed the first Steller’s Sea Eagle chick to be successfully reared at the zoo. Because only a few United States zoos exhibit or breed these raptors, the chick’s hatching is a rare event in the U.S. 

The first two photos shown here feature the chick; the third and fourth photos show an adult Steller’s Sea Eagle.

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Stellers_sea_eagle_chick04Photo Credit:  Denver Zoo



The unnamed chick, whose gender is still not known, hatched on March 4. The chick is currently nesting with and being brooded by its mother.

This is the first chick for both mother, Ursula, and father, Vlad. The two were paired under recommendation of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP), which ensures healthy populations and genetic diversity among zoo animals. Fortunately, the couple has proved to be an excellent match.

Steller’s Sea Eagles are the largest known eagles with average weights between 15 and 18 pounds. They have large, bright yellow beaks; their plumage is mostly dark brown or black, save for the white feathers on their upper wings, tails and thighs. Little is known about the species as their primary habitats in East Asia and coastal areas of northern Russia are remote. The birds were named after German naturalist Georg Wilhelm Steller, who discovered the species during an Alaskan voyage in 1741.

With a wild population estimated between 4,600 and 5,000 individuals, Steller’s Sea Eagles are classified as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Their numbers continue to decrease due to habitat alteration and destruction, pollution, logging and over-fishing, which decreases their food source.


Denver Zoo Welcomes Rare Clouded Leopard Cubs

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Denver Zoo is celebrating the birth of two Clouded Leopard cubs, born March 14. They are the first births of their species at the zoo. The unnamed cubs, a male and a female, are doing well now after zookeepers began steps to hand-raise them. Their mother, Lisu (LEE-soo), gave birth to the cubs in a private birthing stall inside Toyota Elephant Passage, but did not then tend to them. Zookeepers believe this is because first-time mother Lisu was hand-raised herself and lacks the experience to rear her own cubs. After a few hours, zookeepers moved the cubs to another building and began a protocol to provide food and medicine every three hours for the time being. The cubs will remain behind the scenes until they grow older.

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Leopard 2Photo credit: Denver Zoo

The cubs are not only the first births for Lisu, but her mate, Taji (TAH-jee), as well. Lisu was born at Nashville Zoo in March 2011 and came to Denver Zoo that following November. Taji was born at Tacoma, Washington’s Point Defiance Zoo in June 2011 and also arrived that November. The two were paired under recommendation of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) which ensures healthy populations and genetic diversity among zoo animals. Fortunately, the couple has proved to be an excellent match.

Despite their name, Clouded Leopards are not actually a species of leopard. Because they are so unique they are placed in their own genus, Neofelis, which is a combination of Greek and Latin words meaning "new cat." They are considered a 'bridge' between typical big cats, like lions and tigers, and the small cats, like pumas, lynx and ocelots. Their body lengths can range from about two to almost four feet long and they can weigh between 24 and 50 pounds. Their tawny coats with distinctive cloud-shaped dark blotches provide excellent camouflage in their forest habitat, enabling them to stalk prey and also hide from potential predators.

Read more after the fold.

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Denver Zoo Staff Help Save Tamandua Baby

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A newborn Southern Tamandua baby is alive and doing well at Denver Zoo thanks to the dedication of zookeepers and veterinarians who are caring for the infant around the clock. On March 7, Rio gave birth to her first offspring, believed to be female, whom keepers have named Cayenne. 

Zookeepers realized within 24 hours of Cayenne’s birth that she was not getting enough milk, as Rio, an inexperienced first-time mom, became inattentive to the baby and was not allowing her to nurse. Zookeepers and veterinarians began bottle feedings around the clock and monitoring Cayenne’s weight and temperature while she was housed in an incubator. Staff used established protocols obtained from experts at other zoos that have also had to hand rear baby Tamanduas. 

They continued to give Rio time to bond with and nurse her baby, and Rio is slowly learning her role as a mother. Little by little, Rio is becoming more accustomed to Cayenne behind-the-scenes at the zoo’s Gates Animal Housing Center.

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3 tamanduaPhoto credit: Denver Zoo

“We knew from our conversations with experts at other zoos that it can take a new Tamandua mother a while to develop maternal instincts, and first births of this species typically have low success rates,” says Denver Zoo Education Animal Programs Manager Kristin Smith. “We were determined, though, to make sure this baby would survive while Rio figured out how to be a good mom.”

Tamanduas are born following a 180 day gestation period. As her expected birth date approached, zookeepers provided Rio with a nest box that let her feel safe, yet still allowed zookeepers to monitor her status. Veterinarians regularly performed ultrasound examinations to measure the head and body size of the new baby as well to check both the mother and baby’s body condition. Zookeepers also slowly increased Rio’s diet based on her needs.

This is the first birth, not only for Rio, but also her mate, Quito. Rio was born in November 2004 at Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kansas and came to Denver Zoo in April 2005. Quito was born in August 2012 at Reid Park Zoo in Tucson, Arizona and arrived atDenver Zoo in April 2013. The two were paired under recommendation of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) which ensures healthy populations and genetic diversity among zoo animals. Fortunately, the couple has proven to be an excellent match. Cayenne was named after the capital of French Guiana, in keeping with the tradition of her parents being named after notable South American cities.

Read more after the fold.

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Okapi Bonds with Mom at Denver Zoo

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Denver Zoo has announced the birth of a rare Okapi! The male calf, named Jabari (Jah-bar-ee), was born to mother, Kalispell (Kal-lis-pell), and father, Sekele (seh-Kee-lee), on February 3. He is only the sixth birth of his species at the zoo. Jabari will remain behind the scenes for a little while longer, but visitors will soon be able to see the youngster as he grows and becomes more self-sufficient.

Jabari, Swahili for 'brave', is the first birth for both of his parents. Sekele and Kalispell were paired under recommendation of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan, which ensures healthy populations and genetic diversity among zoo animals. Kalispell was born at Denver Zoo in 2009 and was actually the Zoo’s last okapi birth prior to Jabari. Sekele was born in 2009 at the San Diego Zoo and arrived at Denver Zoo in 2010. 

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3 okapiPhoto credit: Denver Zoo

This rare species was only first described by science about 100 years ago. Very little is known about the behavior of the Okapi in the wild due to its shy, elusive nature. Much of what is known has been learned in zoos in the past 45 years. 

Okapis look like a cross between zebras and giraffes. In fact, the species is the closest living relative to the giraffe. In addition to long necks, okapis have reddish bodies, black-and-white striped legs and 12-inch, purple, prehensile tongues. Adult okapis weigh between 500 and 700 pounds (about 227 to 318 kg) and stand approximately five feet (1.5 m) tall at the shoulder. Females are generally larger than males. The Okapi’s gestation period is between 14 and 15 months.

Native only to the Ituri Forest of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), survival of the Okapi is seriously threatened by unsettled political conditions and rebel military actions in that part of the DRC. Wild population estimates for the species are extremely difficult to determine because the forest is so dense, but scientists believe there are between 10,000 and 50,000 individuals. Their numbers are believed to be declining, and Okapis are classified as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Additional threats come from habitat loss and hunting.


Tawny Frogmouth Chick is a First for Denver Zoo

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Keepers at Denver Zoo in Colorado know from experience that Tawny Frogmouths are difficult to breed. Over the years they have struggled with problems such as infertility and finding compatible pairs. Two birds hatched at Denver Zoo in 1996, but they passed away less than two days after hatching. Now all the work has finally paid off: the zoo has successfully hatched and raised a Tawny Frogmouth chick for the first time!

The chick, named Kermit, whose sex is still not known, hatched on January 27. Lucky visitors may be able catch a glimpse of the new chick in its home of 'Bird World', where it is being brooded by its parents. Zookeepers monitor the chick's weight closely each morning and supplementally feed it as needed.

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4 tawny frogmouthPhoto credit: Denver Zoo

Kermit is the first chick for both father, Nangkita (Nang-kee-tah), and mother, Adelaide. Nangkita hatched at Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo in June 2009 and came to Denver Zoo in January 2010. Adelaide hatched at Chicago's Brookfield Zoo in July 2012 and arrived at Denver Zoo a year later. The two were paired under recommendation of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Species Survival Plan, which ensures healthy populations and genetic diversity among zoo animals by recommending pairings that will prevent inbreeding. Fortunately, this pair has proved to be an excellent match.

As their name indicates, Tawny Frogmouths are known for their wide frog-like mouths, which they use to catch insects and other small animals. They are sometimes mistaken for owls as they have very similar body types, but are actually more closely related to birds like whippoorwills and nightjars. Tawny Frogmouths are also masters of disguise. Their beige and brown feathers remarkably resemble the tree branches in which they roost. When they feel threatened they sit perfectly still and rely on their camouflage to hide from predators.

Tawny Frogmouths inhabit forests and open woodlands in Australia and Tasmania. Scientists are not sure how many Tawny Frogmouths exist in the wild. Their greatest threats come from being hit by cars while feeding and exposure to pesticides. 


Denver Zoo Welcomes World's Most Endangered Cat

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Denver Zoo is celebrating the birth of a Critically Endangered Amur (ah-Moor) Leopard cub named Sochi, born December 3.

The young male, named for the Russian city hosting this year's winter Olympics, is the tenth birth of his species at Denver Zoo since Amur Leopards arrived at the zoo about 25 years ago. After spending some time bonding mom, Dazma (Dazz-mah), Sochi can now be seen by zoo guests inside the zoo's feline building.

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2 leopardPhoto credit: Denver Zoo

Sochi is the second cub for Dazma and her mate, Hari-Kari (Harry Care-ee). Hari-Kari was born at El Paso Zoo in 2003, while Dazma was born at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in 2001. The two came to Denver Zoo and were paired under recommendation of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) which ensures healthy populations and genetic diversity among zoo animals. Fortunately, the couple has proved to be an excellent match.

Amur Leopards take their name from the Amur region in eastern Russia. Once found from South Korea to north of the China-Russia border, they are now nearly extinct in the wild due to poaching for fur, loss of habitat and trophy hunting. In fact, Amur Leopards are considered the most endangered cats on the planet. Though there are differing reports about just how many of them remain in the wild, the largest estimation is less than 50 individuals, compared to 96 in North American zoos. In 1989, when Denver Zoo's first Amur Leopard arrived, there were still less than 50 in the wild and only 10 in North American zoos.

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UPDATE: Misha Makes Her Debut at the Denver Zoo

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Misha the Snow Leopard, born on May 13, made her public debut this week at the Denver Zoo.

For the last two months, Misha and her mother Natasha have been bonding behind the scenes.  The curious cub is learning to climb, jump, and pounce under the watchful eye of her mother. As the only cub in her litter, Misha has been getting all the milk she wants and has gained nearly four pounds since her birth, now tipping the scales at about five pounds. As a full grown adult, she could weigh around 75 pounds. 

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Natasha and her mate Himal were paired under recommendation of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan, which ensures healthy populations and genetic diversity among zoo animals. Although this is Himal’s first cub, Natasha is an experienced mother, having given birth to cubs in 2005, 2007, and 2008. 

Snow Leopards are native to mountainous areas above the tree line in central Asia and in the Himalayan regions of Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan.  Snow Leopards are classified as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and their numbers are decreasing. Major threats to their survival include poaching for their fur, bones and other body parts, loss of habitat, and decreasing availability of prey animals. Currently, their wild population is estimated at between 2,000 and 7,000 individuals.