Denver Zoo

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

1 wolf

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.

2 wolf

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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Denver Zoo's Second Malayan Tapir Birth Goes Smoothly

1 tapir

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.

2 tapir

5 tapirPhoto credit: Denver Zoo

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.

See and read more after the fold.

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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.

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.

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.