Lowry Park Zoo

Shy Okapi Calf Arrives at Zoo Tampa

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ZooTampa at Lowry Park welcomed a female Okapi calf on August 21. The calf was born to parents Betty and Zach who arrived at the zoo in 2006 and are part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP) of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), a program designed to create sustainable, genetically diverse populations of rare animals. The baby Okapi’s birth draws much-needed attention to this little-known, endangered species.

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Screen Shot 2018-09-05 at 2Photo Credit: Zoo Tampa at Lowry Park



Betty’s prenatal care included regular ultrasounds, a high-calorie diet and, and for the first time in this species, a milk-testing method used in Horses and Rhinos to predict Betty’s calving date.

“By increasing Betty’s prenatal care, we saw physical changes that predicted calving,” Dr. Ray Ball, D.V.M., vice president of medical sciences and senior veterinarian at ZooTampa said. “This included a dramatic change in her mammary glands and her hindquarters getting softer in preparation for the birth. The milk sampling also allowed us to determine her milk was good quality and helped us evaluate Betty’s overall health.”

Although Okapi are shy by nature, Betty is quite comfortable with zookeepers and allowed them to collect milk samples used in the testing. Zookeepers often build strong bonds with the animals they care for which enables higher quality of care for each individual animal.

Okapi (pronounced oh-COP-ee) are the only living relatives of Giraffes and are found only in the remote Ituri Forest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Studying Okapi is a challenge due to their remote location and ongoing conflict in the region.

Their zebra-striped legs provide camouflage within the forest’s dense greenery.  “As a natural defense against predators, Okapi mothers hide their calves away in nests. The calf will spend its time in the nest leaving only to nurse,” said Chris Massaro, General Curator at ZooTampa at Lowry Park.

Conservationists estimate that 10,000 – 35,000 Okapi live within protected reserves in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Due to human encroachment and hunting, Okapi numbers are declining. The International Union for the Conservation of nature (IUCN) lists Okapi as Endangered.

ZooTampa participates in the Okapi Conservation Project, an international effort to protect the species from extinction, as part of its mission to protect and conserve endangered and threatened wildlife.






Endangered Penguin Chicks Hatch at Lowry Park Zoo

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A baby boom continues at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo with the hatching of three African Penguin chicks. The Zoo’s “clutch mate” chicks hatched on January 7 and January 9 (weighing in at 54 grams and 48 grams) to experienced parents Tinkerbell and Loki.

“Clutch mates,” means that Tinkerbell’s two chicks hatched from eggs that she laid a few days apart. The third African Penguin chick at the Zoo hatched on January 12 (weighing in at 53 grams) to first time parents Tyke and Tyra.

“Both pairs of parents are doing a great job taking care of their chicks,” said Chris Massaro, General Curator at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo. “The addition of these chicks is a great win for the species and an exciting time for our community to learn more about these beautiful birds.”

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4_TLPZ - African penguins (2)Photo Credits: TLPZ

The Zoo, currently home to a colony of twelve African Penguins, participates in the African Penguin Species Survival Plan (SSP). The program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) protects wildlife species at risk of extinction. Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo (TLPZ) also participates in the AZA SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction program which focuses on having animal experts identify threats, develop action plans, raise new resources and educate visitors on animal conservation. At the same time, SAFE will build capacity to increase direct conservation spending, as well as our members’ impact on saving species through work in the field, in our zoos and aquariums, and through public engagement. We have done it before. Some species exist only because of the efforts of aquariums and zoos and their contributing partners. The three chicks will be the first additions to the Zoo’s colony since June 2014.

According to keepers, it is very difficult to tell a penguin chick’s sex. A DNA blood test will be used to determine the sex of the chicks when they are old enough. The Zoo uses bands on the adult penguins’ flippers to differentiate: right flippers for males and left flippers for females. TLPZ plans to publicly reveal the sex of the chicks in the near future.

Native to the coastlines of South Africa and Namibia, the African Penguin (Spheniscus demersus) is one of five true warm weather species. The species is classified as “Endangered” by the IUCN due to food shortages from commercial fishing, oil spills, egg collection and fishing nets. The population declined more than 50 percent during the last 40 years.

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5_TLPZ - African penguins (1)


Endangered Orangutan Baby Brings In New Year

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Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo started the new year with the birth of a rare Bornean Orangutan. The endangered, female primate was born in the early morning of January 6 to experienced mother Dee Dee, weighing in at an estimated three pounds.

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4_26240581_10156972070591124_3949510601320895668_oPhoto Credits: Lowry Park Zoo

There are fewer than 100 Bornean Orangutans in 24 AZA-accredited institutions in North America, making this birth very significant for the species and the Tampa community.

Dee Dee is quite the experienced mother, already giving birth four times successfully, and this is father Goyang’s third baby at the Zoo. In October, a human pregnancy test confirmed that Dee Dee was pregnant. The Zoo’s animal care team and veterinary staff worked closely with Dee Dee to voluntarily participate during ultrasounds.

“Dee Dee continues to do well with her female baby. As an experienced mother, she didn’t show any signs of any possible issues. We determined that Dee Dee’s baby had turned during one of her regular ultrasound exams,” said Dr. Ray Ball, VP of Medical Sciences at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo. “Careful monitoring and pre-natal care are important, but so is privacy. With veterinary medicine, the baby determines the day of birth, but the mom determines the time. With no signs of a high risk pregnancy, we let her take care of the labor naturally - she determined when it would be time to deliver her baby.”

The Zoo is currently home to a group of seven endangered Orangutans and participates in the Bornean Orangutan Species Survival Plan (SSP). The program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) protects wildlife species at risk of extinction. The baby will be the tenth Bornean Orangutan born at the Zoo.

“This is a significant birth for the entire critically endangered Bornean Orangutan population,” said Chris Massaro, General Curator at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo. “It’s important to have the community along for this journey. We hope Dee Dee’s story inspires the public to become advocates for this incredible species and learn about the perils they face in the wild.”

Native to Malaysia and Indonesia, the Bornean Orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) can be found on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. The species is classified as “Critically Endangered” by the IUCN due to critical habitat loss, increased use of palm oil, poaching and pet trade. The population declined more than 50 percent during the last 60 years.

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Zoo’s First Malayan Tiger Cub Makes Her Debut

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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.

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3_15493827_10155496387701124_4233560740007881500_oPhoto 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.


Leaps and Bounds for Leap Year Leopard Cubs

1_TLPZ Clouded leopard cubs (8) by Lia Nydes

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.

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3_TLPZ Clouded leopard cubs (2) by Dave Parkinson

4_TLPZ Clouded leopard cubs (3) by Dave ParkinsonPhoto 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.

Continue reading "Leaps and Bounds for Leap Year Leopard Cubs" »


Two Cute: Clouded Leopard Cubs Born in Tampa

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Two rare Clouded Leopard cubs born February 29 are stable after their mother stopped caring for them at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo.

Clouded leopard female cub 1 mar 6 2016

Clouded leopard female cub feeding 1 mar 6 2016Photo 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. 

See more photos of the cubs below.

Continue reading "Two Cute: Clouded Leopard Cubs Born in Tampa" »


Baby Makes Three Generations of Orangutans in Tampa

Bornean orang hadiah and topi 3 feb 20 2016Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo is celebrating three generations of Bornean Orangutans after the birth of two infants in just two months.

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Bornean orang hadiah and topi 4 feb 20 2016
Bornean orang josie and gojo feb 22 2016Photo 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.

See more photos of the babies below.

Continue reading "Baby Makes Three Generations of Orangutans in Tampa" »


Seeing Stripes at Lowry Park Zoo: Zebra Foals Debut

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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.

2_Africa Hartmann's mountain zebras Roxie (mom) and foal 2 jan 19 2016

3_Africa Hartmann's mountain zebras Roxie and foal jan 19 2016

4_Africa Hartmann's mountain zebra foal with giraffes jan 21 2016Photo 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.

Continue reading "Seeing Stripes at Lowry Park Zoo: Zebra Foals Debut" »


Challenging Delivery for Bornean Orangutan Mom

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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.”

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4_primates orang josie gojo 1 dec 26 2015 by Dave ParkinsonPhoto 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.

Continue reading "Challenging Delivery for Bornean Orangutan Mom " »


A Star Is Born - With Stripes!

Africa okapi calf 1 oct 3 2015A 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.Africa okapi betty and calf oct 3 2015

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Africa okapi calf 5 oct 2 2015Photo 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.