Lowry Park Zoo

Rescued Florida Panther Kitten Recovers at Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo

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A rescued Florida Panther kitten is receiving 24-hour care at Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo. The kitten was rescued on the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge after January’s record cold snap. Biologists from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and the Conservancy of Southwest Florida discovered the kitten while conducting research. The kitten had a dangerously low body temperature, was non-responsive, and was much too young to be separated from his mother. 

The 1-pound (.45-kg) kitten was in poor condition and almost certainly would have died without intervention, so the biologists decided to transport the kitten to the Animal Specialty Hospital of Florida in Naples, where veterinarians and staff performed life-saving measures. 

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8 panther (Carli Segelson)Photo credits: Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo (1-3, 7) / Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission: CaRli Segelsol (4); Dave Onorato (5, 9 ); Jorge Pino (6); Mark Lotz (8,10)

See video of the rescued kitten:

 

His condition improved quickly, though he still requires 24-hour care. Because this kitten was so young at the time of rescue, he did not learn necessary survival skills from his mother and therefore would not survive if released into the wild.

See and read more after the fold.

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Tampa's Rhino Calf Gets Down and Dirty

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In the middle of the night on October 9, Kidogo the Southern White Rhinoceros gave birth to a healthy male calf at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, the third birth of this species in the zoo’s history. Now just a few weeks old, the calf, which has been named “Khari” (K-har-E), an African name meaning “king like,” is already romping in the Rhino yard’s mud puddles.

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Photo Credit:  Dave Parkinson

While the zoo’s herd has grown by one, the wild population of Rhinos decreases by one every 15 hours due to poaching.

Demand for Rhino horn has skyrocketed in southeast Asia where horn, which is made out of keratin -- the same material found in human hair and nails -- is wrongly believed to have medicinal properties.  In 2012 in South Africa, 668 Rhinos were killed by poachers, and it is estimated that as many as 1,000 Rhinos could be lost this year. By 2016, Rhino deaths from poaching could overtake wild births. 

The zoo participates in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Southern White Rhino Species Survival Plan, designed to support conservation of this species.

The zoo is currently home to a herd of seven Southern White Rhinos: three adult females from the Phinda Reserve in Africa, one adult male, the second-born juvenile Rhino “Kande,” and the newborn. Because White Rhinos live in herds, Kidogo and Khari have begun introductions to the other Rhinos and the Grevy’s Zebras that share the outdoor exhibit. 

The White Rhinoceros has two horns at the end of its muzzle, the most prominent in the front. Unlike Indian Rhinos, White Rhinos use their horns for defense. Females use their horn 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 100-140 pounds.

See more photos of Khari below the fold.

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Rescued Manatee Orphan on the Mend at Lowry Park Zoo

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Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo is well-known for its ongoing work rescuing, rehabilitating, and releasing sick or injured West Indian Manatees found in Florida waters.

Their most recent addition is an orphaned Manatee named Jobin.  He was just a few days old and weighed just 55 pounds when he arrived at the zoo’s Manatee Hospital.  Now six weeks old, Jobin has gained almost 20 pounds! 

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Photo Credit:  Lowry Park Zoo

West Indian Manatees, also known as sea-cows, weigh up to 1,300 pounds as adults.  Manatees are mammals – hence, they nurse their young and give birth to live babies.  They feed on underwater vegetation and inhabit coastal waters, estuaries, and freshwater springs.  Manatees prefer warm shallow waters and often gather in large groups.

Manatees are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  They face threats from propeller strikes and toxic algae blooms.

The Lowry Park Zoo works in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Florida Marine Research Institute, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to rescue, rehabilitate, and release injured or sick Manatees.  The zoo’s Manatee Hospital is one of three critical care facilities in Florida to care for West Indian Manatees and the only non-profit facility. 


A Happy Mother's Day for an Indian Rhino

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Mother’s Day Came early for an endangered Indian Rhinoceros at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo. On May 9th—one day before her own birthday, and three days before Mother’s Day—an Indian Rhinoceros named Jamie gave birth to a male calf. The new calf has been given the Indian name Jiyu, meaning “compassionate friend”, by the Zoo’s Asian animal care team. Mother and calf are spending time together off exhibit for the newborn’s safety and for privacy in bonding. After some heavy rains, the two-week old calf loves playing outside in mud puddles.

“This calf represents our third successful offspring in support of the Indian Rhino management program in North America,” says Dr. Larry Killmar, the Zoo’s vice president of animal science. Jamie’s first offspring, a female named Jaya born in 2009, now resides at Tanganyika Wildlife Park in Wichita and the second offspring, a male named Jahi born in 2011, now resides at Central Florida Zoo in Sanford. All three calves were sired by a male rhino named Arjun.

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Indian rhino Jiyu (1)

Indian rhino Jiyu (2)
Photo credits: Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo / David Parkinson 

Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo participates in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Indian Rhinoceros Species Survival Plan (SSP), designed to support the conservation of select wildlife species at risk of extinction. Counting the new male calf, there are just fifty four Indian rhinos in AZA-accredited institutions, with an estimated wild population of no more than 2,850.

Learn and see more after the fold!

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Wild Spoonbills Nest at Lowry Park Zoo

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There's a nest with four Roseate Spoonbill chicks at Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo, but these guys aren't 'on the inventory', so to speak: a pair of wild Spoonbills chose to nest right outside of the zoo's Spoonbill exhibit!

Born earlier this month, all four chicks have survived and are growing fast. At just six weeks old, the chicks will fledge and leave the nest. But for now, they're still losing their fuzzy down and starting to show their first flight feathers. Developing flight feathers are at first surrounded by a protective sheath made of keratin, which the bird eventually removes by preening, allowing the feather to continue its development. In the photos below, these new pinfeathers look a bit like plastic straws. 

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Photo credits: Lowry Park Zoo

See and learn more after the fold.

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UPDATE: Lowry Park Zoo's Baby Elephant Finds Her Legs

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A little African Elephant was born at Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo on Christmas Eve to mom Mball. You might have read about it HERE on Zooborns. The calf's birth is only the second in Lowry Park Zoo's history, and the first born in Tampa, from a herd of 11 elephants rescued from Africa nearly a decade ago.

Just like it would be in the wild, the herd is maternally based, so as of January 8, the calf has been out in the habitat being looked after by not only Mom, but her two aunts as well. Now, at almost a month old, the little calf is full of energy and curiosity. Each day she makes progress in the task of finding her legs and discovering how her trunk works! When she runs, she even kicks up a little dust. 

Chris Massaro, Animal Department Operations Manager said, "When she runs out there, she'll trip over her own feet. But she's getting her feet under her, she's doing very well." 

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Photos 1 and 2: Matthew Paulson/Photomatt28. Photos 3 and 4: Lowry Park Zoo,


Rare Baby Okapi Birth Celebrated at Lowry Park Zoo

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Officially, he’s one in a hundred, but to Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, he’s one in a million. A rare Okapi calf – a forest giraffe found only in Central Africa – was born on January 6, representing the first birth of the new year at the zoo and the first Okapi birth of the year in the North American population. 

The now 3-week-old has grown to weigh 96 pounds (43.5 kgs) from his 64 pounds (29 kg) recorded at birth. Like most babies, he spends his days nursing, sleeping and following his mother around the barn. For the time being, he will “nest” in a suitable hiding spot identified by the mother, likely inside the barn. Hiding behavior is common and in the wild, providing protection from predators.

The pairing of parents Zack and Betty was recommended by the Okapi Species Survival Plan (SSP), managed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to help ensure the survival of select wildlife species.  Okapis are listed as Threatened, with continued loss of habitat and political unrest in their native region. The managed population grows slowly due to a lengthy gestation (approximately 14.5 months) and relatively high mortality rate.   

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Photo Credit: Lowry Park Zoo

Okapis have reddish-brown, velvet-like coats with horizontal zebra-like striping on their hindquarters and legs. The unique color pattern allows them to disappear into dense vegetation in the forests where they live. The body shape is similar to that of the giraffe, but okapis have much shorter necks. These unusual animals also have large upright ears with a keen sense of hearing, and long, dark prehensile tongues that they use to pluck vegetation from trees and shrubs.

Continue reading much more about Okapis and conservation efforts for the species after the fold:

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Are Those Hippos Smiling? Lowry Park Zoo's Newest Baby Gets Her Name

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You may have read about the naming contest for the new baby Pygmy Hippopotamus at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo HERE, on ZooBorns. Just a little over one and a half months old, this little girl received a name for Christmas. This rare calf will be called “Zola,” an African name meaning “to love,” as chosen by the Zoo’s online community with more than 3,100 unique votes cast. The vote was close with a one point margin separating the top two names. Zola received 43.5 percent, followed by “Zuri” with 42 percent and “Zawadi” with 14.3 percent.

Zola was born November 15 to second time mother “Zsa Zsa,” only the second hippo birth in the Zoo’s history (the first occurring in 2008). Classified as Endangered, the Pygmy Hippos at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo are one of more than 90 species in the Zoo’s Species Survival Plans, cooperative breeding and conservation programs managed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to carefully maintain a healthy, self-sustaining captive population.   

Below you'll see Zola covered in hay one morning, the equivalent of bed head. She takes a dip to get cleaned off until Mom clearly has something to say about it...

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Photo Credit: Lowry Park Zoo


Elephantastic News! African Elephant Born at Tampa Zoo

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In the closing hours of Wild Wonderland on the eve of Christmas Eve, a wondrous event occurred at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo. A female African Elephant named Mbali, one of 11 elephants rescued from culling in Swaziland, Africa, and brought to the U.S. nearly a decade ago, became a mother. Mbali gave birth to her first calf, a female, on Sunday, Dec. 23 at approximately 9 p.m.

The African Elephant birth is the second in the zoo’s history, and the first born in Tampa from the rescued herd. The newborn, sired by Sdudla, a Swaziland bull, is significant to the population because the calf introduces new DNA into the gene pool of elephants managed in North America, which averages three or four births each year.

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Photo credit: Dave Parkinson / Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo

“The birth of this calf demonstrates the maturity of our African elephant care and conservation program,” said Dr. Larry Killmar, VP and director of animal science and conservation. “Our elephant facilities and experienced staff allow the Zoo to contribute to sustainability strategies for this species, furthering elephant conservation worldwide.”

Continue reading "Elephantastic News! African Elephant Born at Tampa Zoo" »


Help Name Hippo Baby Born at Lowry Park Zoo

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Two weeks ago this baby Pygmy Hippopotamus was born at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo. The female calf, born November 15 to second-time mother Zsa Zsa, is only the second in the Zoo’s history (the first occurring in 2008). Animal care team members have continually monitored the newborn, who is nursing routinely and has “filled out” just like she should be. And now you can vote to name her, by following the link here, just below her pictures. 

Births are few in the managed population among institutions accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), with this calf bringing the total number of animals to just 55. Pygmy hippos are extremely rare in the wild, numbering only a few thousand, so this birth is very important to her species.

The pygmy hippos at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo are one of more than 90 species in the zoo’s SSPs, cooperative breeding and conservation programs managed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to carefully maintain a healthy, self-sustaining captive population.  

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Photo Credit: Lowry Park Zoo

The Zoo has launched a naming contest on its holiday web site, Wild Wonderland. Click that link to vote. Several African names starting with the letter Z in honor of mother hippo Zsa Zsa have been selected. The name that receives the highest number of votes through Monday, December 3, will be declared the winner:

  • ·         Zawadi -- “gift”
  • ·         Zola -- “to love”
  • ·         Zuri -- “beautiful”

Of all the entries for the winning name, TWO voters will be selected at random to win a family 4-pack of Zoo tickets, in honor of this second calf born at the Zoo.

Read more about Pygmy hippos after the fold:

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