Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo welcomed its first critically endangered Malayan Tiger cub on September 11, and the beautiful girl, named Berisi, recently made her public debut!
The cub was born to Bzui (pronounced Ba-ZOO-ee), and has been cared for, by mom, in a den off exhibit.
“The cub is growing normally and nursing well,” said Dr. Larry Killmar, the Zoo’s Chief Zoological Officer. “Our Zoo is proud to be working to preserve a species like the Malayan tiger, which is facing a growing number of threats in the wild.”
New mother, Bzui, arrived at the Zoo last spring to join her mate, Mata, on a recommendation from the Association of Zoo’s and Aquarium’s Malayan Tiger Species Survival Plan.
Photo Credits: Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo
The Malayan Tiger (Panthera tigris jacksoni) subspecies was not recognized officially until 2004. They are the smallest in size of all tiger species, with an average weight of 260 pounds for adult males and 220 pounds for females.
Poaching and rapid habitat decline are the primary causes for their continued population decline. Heightened human and animal conflict, due to expanding development, has also been a factor in their endangerment. For these reasons, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified the Malayan Tiger as “Critically Endangered”.
Aside from maintaining a breeding program, the Lowry Park Zoo also offers regular tiger trainer talks and demonstrations, at their Asian Gardens habitat. By helping guests understand and make a connection with animals at their facility, the Zoo hopes they can encourage others to care and protect this at-risk species.
The almost-three-month-old Clouded Leopard sisters, Aiya and Shigu, born February 29 at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, are developing by leaps and bounds---literally!
At the end of April, the cubs were introduced to the Zoo’s main Clouded Leopard habitat to help keep them safe while they practice their new motor skills.
The transition to an enclosed exhibit will allow the cub’s greater independence to climb, pounce and leap in a supervised environment. For the near term, public viewing will continue once daily in the new location. A rotation through different natural environments provides essential sensory enrichment for continued development. Allowing guests to observe the cubs at play provides an educational opportunity to communicate the needs and perils of this rare and vulnerable species. The cubs’ long-term home has not yet been determined.
Photo Credits: Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo & Image 1: Lia Nydes; Images 2,3,4: Dave Parkinson; Images 5,6,7,8: Caitlin Chase; Images 9,10: Zootastic
Aiya and Shigu are the first set of multiples for the Zoo’s pair of 5-year-old adult Leopards. When their birth mother became anxious and stopped caring for them, the Zoo’s animal care team intervened to provide necessary assistance. Within the managed population, Clouded Leopard cubs are routinely hand-reared for the best chance of survival. This practice also improves socialization for early introductions to potential mates and reduces aggression between pairs. For their safety, the cubs will alternate exhibit time with the Zoo’s adult Leopards (they will not be reintroduced).
Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo participates in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Clouded Leopard Species Survival Plan (SSP) designed to support the conservation of select wildlife at risk of extinction. The Zoo’s parents, Yim (male) and Malee (female), were matched by the SSP and have lived together at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo since six months of age (2011).
The Clouded Leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) is a wild cat native to the Himalayan foothills through mainland Southeast Asia into China, and has been classified as “Vulnerable”, in 2008, by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Its total population size is suspected to be fewer than 10,000 mature individuals, with a decreasing population trend, and no single population numbering more than 1,000 adults.
Adult Clouded Leopards weigh between 11.5 and 23 kg (25 and 51 lbs.). Females vary in head-to-body length from 68.6 to 94 cm (27.0 to 37.0 in), with a tail 61 to 82 cm (24 to 32 in) long. Males are larger at 81 to 108 cm (32 to 43 in) with a tail 74 to 91 cm (29 to 36 in) long. Their shoulder height varies from 50 to 55 cm (20 to 22 in).
They are often referred to as a “modern-day saber tooth” because they have the largest canines in proportion to their body size, matching the tiger in canine length.
Both males and females average 26 months at first reproduction. Mating usually occurs during December and March. After a gestation period of 93 ± 6 days, females give birth to a litter of one to five, most often three cubs. The male is not involved in raising the kittens.
Initially, the young are blind and helpless, much like the young of many other cats, and weigh from 140 to 280 g (4.9 to 9.9 oz). Unlike adults, the kittens' spots are "solid" — completely dark rather than dark rings. The young can see within about 10 days of birth, are active within five weeks, and are fully weaned at around three months of age. They attain the adult coat pattern at around six months, and probably become independent after around 10 months. Females are able to bear one litter each year. The mother is believed to hide her kittens in dense vegetation while she goes to hunt, though little concrete evidence supports this theory, since their lifestyle is so secretive.
Two rare Clouded Leopard cubs born February 29 are stable after their mother stopped caring for them at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo.
Photo Credit: Dave Parkinson/Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo
Malee, the cubs’ mother, initially nursed them but after about 24 hours she stopped caring for her cubs. Keepers decided to hand-rear the cubs to ensure their survival.
The cubs, a male and a female, receive around-the-clock care in the zoo’s veterinary hospital and nurse from a bottle five times a day. They are the first set of multiples for Malee and her mate Yim, whose first offspring Mowgli was born in 2015. Over the next several weeks, the cubs will open their eyes, develop teeth, and begin to move on their own.
Though parent-rearing is often best for zoo-dwelling animals, Clouded Leopards are routinely hand-reared for increased chances of survival. Hand-rearing also improves socialization for early introductions to potential mates and reduces fatal attacks by aggressive adults.
“Increasingly zoos are the last hope for many species due to the loss of habitat and political instability in range countries. The birth of these cubs is an example of the collective efforts to manage this species within North American zoos to ensure their survival,” said Dr. Larry Killmar, Chief Zoological Officer, Senior Vice President, and Zoo Director.
Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo is celebrating three generations of Bornean Orangutans after the birth of two infants in just two months.
Photo Credit: Dave Parkinson/Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo
Thirty-year-old Josie gave birth to GoJo, a male, in December. Then Josie’s daughter Hadiah delivered her very first baby, a female named Topi, on February 17 to make three generations of these endangered apes at the zoo.
In the photos seen here, two-month-old GoJo displays his upright hairdo while Topi snuggles close to her mom.
“We are very fortunate that Hadiah was able to observe her mother’s labor and delivery just two months before her own experience,” said Angela Belcher, animal care manager for primates. “As a first time mother, it took her some time to learn how to properly handle the infant, but much progress has been made in the last few days and she has the benefit of a great role model.”
Topi spends her days being cradled or carried by Hadiah, and is totally dependent on her mother for care. For several months Topi will nurse exclusively, then will be gradually introduced to solid foods. Orangutans have the longest childhood of any animal other than humans: Offspring stay with their mothers for six to eight years.
Bornean Orangutans are one of two Orangutan subspecies (the other is the Sumatran Orangutan), and all Orangutans are endangered. About 50,000 Bornean Orangutans remain in the wilds of Malaysia and Borneo; only about 6,000 Sumatran Orangutans remain on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Both subspecies are threatened by human activities, especially the conversion of forest habitats to palm oil plantations. In 2015, raging fires intentionally set to burn Bornean land before plantation development had devastating effects on the forests – more than 2 million hectares (nearly 5 million acres) were burned. In addition, poaching and the pet-trade remain major threats to Orangutans across most of Borneo.
Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo participates in the Bornean Orangutan Species Survival Plan (SSP), a program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) designed to maximize genetic diversity in zoo-dwelling populations of rare animals. Nine Bornean Orangutan have been born at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, and there are fewer than 100 Bornean Orangutans in 24 AZA-accredited institutions in North America.
On January 15, a Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra gave birth to her first foal -- and the first of her species at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo. The yet-to-be-named newborn is the second successful zebra foal born at the Zoo in as many months, following the birth of a female Grevy’s Zebra foal this past November 23, 2015.
“We are delighted with this successful birth, a first for Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo. With this foal, the Zoo has now contributed to the managed population of both zebra species in our conservation programs,” said Dr. Larry Killmar, Chief Zoological Officer, Senior Vice President, and Zoo Director.
Photo Credits: Dave Parkinson/Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo
Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo participates in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Equid Taxon Advisory Group (TAG), which includes the three main species of zebra: Grevy’s, Mountain and Plains. The program is designed to support conservation of select wildlife species at risk of extinction.
The Zoo is currently home to three Hartmann’s Mountain Zebras: mare--Roxie, sire--Rex, and the newborn female. In keeping with a natural herd structure, mother and baby joined the male on exhibit within a few days and were reunited shortly thereafter with the bachelor herd of giraffes that share their African habitat.
With Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo veterinary and primate animal care teams standing by; a precious Christmas gift came early. Josie, a 30-year-old Bornean Orangutan, gave birth to a male offspring on December 21. Although this was the fourth baby for an experienced mother, the offspring was born in the breech position creating a challenging labor and delivery.
“Josie did an amazing job with the delivery under difficult circumstances, and she cleared the baby’s airway herself immediately after birth,” said Dr. Ray Ball, director of medical sciences. “Along with our team, Josie’s 10-year-old daughter, Hadiah, observed the entire labor and delivery, which will be a very important experience for her when she becomes a mother.”
Photo Credits: Images 1,3: Zootastic/Lowry Park Zoo ; Images 2, 4-6: Dave Parkinson/Lowry Park Zoo
With the newborn, the Zoo is currently home to a group of six Orangutans: adult male Goyang who sired the infant, Josie and baby, Josie’s older daughter Hadiah, adult female Dee Dee, and her juvenile daughter RanDee. The new baby has been named “GoJo,” a blend of his parents’ names.
Born with a thin layer of red hair and cream-colored skin around his face and abdominal region, the infant (estimated at 2-3 pounds at birth) spends his days resting, nursing and snuggling with mom. New babies will ride on their mother’s chest and back for the first few years and will nurse for three to five years, on average. Orangutan offspring are dependent on their mothers for about seven years. As one of the world's largest primates, the Orangutan is second only to the Gorilla in size.
Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo participates in the Bornean Orangutan Species Survival Plan (SSP), a program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) designed to support the conservation of select wildlife species at risk of extinction. The male baby is eighth Bornean Orangutan born at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo. There are fewer than 100 Bornean Orangutans in 24 AZA-accredited institutions in North America.
A rare Okapi calf was born on September 24 atTampa’s Lowry Park Zoo! The yet-to-be-named newborn, a male, weighed 42 pounds at birth and is the second successful Okapi birth in the zoo’s history.
Photo Credit: Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo Born to experienced mother Betty, the calf was able to stand within hours of birth. The calf is expected to spend about two months “nesting” in the Okapi barn, which is similar to the hiding behavior that wild Okapi calves employ as protection from predators.
This calf is only the third Okapi born in the United States in 2015. These large hoofed mammals are managed by the Okapi Species Survival Plan of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums to maximize genetic diversity of this Endangered species. The managed population grows slowly due to a 14-16 month gestation period, and results in about four North American births per year.
Okapi are sometimes called “Forest Giraffes” and are native to the dense rain forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Shy and reclusive, Okapi are the only living relatives of Giraffes and were discovered by scientists in the 20th century. Due to habitat loss and political unrest in the DRC, the wild population has declined by 50 percent in the last 20 years.
Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo participates in the Okapi Conservation Project to secure a protected area in the DRC's Ituri Forest. The project's goals are to train and equip wildlife guards to protect the area from poachers, provide community assistance to people living around the reserve, educate people about sustainable use, and provide care for a breeding group of Okapi in the reserve.
Home to the only breeding colony of African Penguins in the state of Florida, Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo has welcomed chick number 9 to its rookery of 15 endangered Penguins.
In addition to helping to raise the number of penguins in the managed population in North America, Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo also helps to support the wild penguin population by partnering with organizations in South Africa dedicated to protecting coastal penguin habitats.
Can you find 5 differences between the two photos above? Visit us on Facebook and list them all in the comments!
A baby Southern White Rhinoceros born May 21 at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo has increased the zoo’s herd by one, but the wild population of these magnificent beasts grows smaller every day.
Photo Credit: Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo
The female calf is already important to the breeding population because she carries the genes of her mother Alaka, who came to the zoo from Africa. Introducing new bloodlines is important for maintaining genetic diversity in the zoo-dwelling population. The newborn marks the fourth successful Southern White Rhino birth and the seventh Rhino born in the zoo’s history.
The zoo is currently home to a herd of five Southern White Rhinos: three adult females from the Phinda Reserve in Africa, one adult male, and the newborn. In keeping with a natural herd structure, Alake and her calf have begun introductions to the other Rhinos and Grevy’s Zebras that share their habitat.
The White Rhinoceros has two horns at the end of its muzzle, with the largest in the front. Unlike some Rhinos, White Rhinos use their horns for defense. Females use their horns to protect their young while males use them to battle each other. Adult White Rhinos can reach weights of about 5,000 pounds, with most calves weighing between 80-140 pounds.
While the birth is welcome news for the managed population, record numbers of Rhinos were killed by poachers in South Africa last year. Despite increased protection efforts, the number of Rhinos killed by poachers jumped 21 percent to 1,215. The current poaching crisis is driven by the demand for Rhino horn in Southeast Asia where horn, which is made up of keratin -- the same material found in human hair and nails -- is believed to have medicinal properties.
Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo has welcomed a litter of seven baby Skunks! Born May 2 to first time mom, ‘Mia’ (now affectionately known as ‘Momma Mia’), the Skunk kits have just opened their eyes and will soon emerge from the den. Mia and kits, five boys and two girls, have been relocated to a temporary enclosure, along the Florida boardwalk, until the kits are mobile.
Photo Credits: Dave Parkinson/Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo
Born hairless, weighing only 40-50 grams each (about the weight of a slice of bread), the now furry siblings were recently weighed, and are currently at 180-208 grams each. Members of the Zoo’s animal care team feed Mia breakfast, while her kits are checked and weighed one at a time, then placed quickly back into the den.
Skunks are omnivorous, eating both plant and animal material and changing their diets as the seasons change. They eat insects and larvae, earthworms, grubs, small rodents, lizards, salamanders, frogs, snakes, birds, moles and eggs. They also commonly eat berries, roots, leaves, grasses, fungi and nuts. In settled areas, Skunks also peruse garbage left by humans. Pet owners may experience a Skunk finding its way into a garage or storage area where pet food is kept.
Skunks are crepuscular and solitary when not breeding, though in colder parts of their range, they may gather in communal dens for warmth. During the day, they shelter in burrows, which they can dig with their powerful front claws. Males and females occupy overlapping home ranges through the greater part of the year. Skunks are not true hibernators in the winter, but do den-up for extended periods of time.
Skunks mate in early spring and polygamous. The female will excavate and prepare a den to house her litter. Skunks are placental, with a gestation period of about 66 days, and they generally give birth to four to seven kits. The kits are weaned after about two months, but they will stay with their mother for about one year, until they reach mating age.