Toronto Zoo

Clouded Leopard Cubs Climb to New Heights

21231255_1427079080661866_5978684021896106567_nToronto Zoo’s four-month-old Clouded Leopard cubs are transitioning to a new play space and zoo guests can now see the sisters during limited times on most days.

Their new den has climbing logs positioned just right for the growing cubs to develop their skills.  Right now, the logs are low (at “toddler” level) but they can be repositioned for more challenging exercise as the cubs grow. Clouded Leopards are extremely agile and can even climb on the underside of tree branches, as one of the cubs demonstrates in the photos.

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21106750_1427079150661859_7101477329161299372_nPhoto Credit: Toronto Zoo

Born May 13, the cubs were first introduced to ZooBorns readers here. They’ve been under human care ever since they were a few days old because their mother did not care for them properly. By the time the two female cubs were two months old, they were thriving, as reported on ZooBorns.

Keepers report that one of the cubs is more adventurous than her sister and is often the first to dive in to new experiences. They often play wrestle together and seem to enjoy ripping apart banana leaves.

Each cub weighs about eight pounds, and they now eat solid foods – nearly a pound per day each!

Clouded Leopards live in the Himalayan foothills of Southeast Asia, where their numbers are decreasing. About 10,000 Clouded Leopards remain in the wild, but the population is fragmented into groups no larger than 1,000 animals. The forested areas are not large enough to sustain the populations in the long term. Clouded Leopards are poached for the commercial wildlife trade, and body parts are sold on the black market for traditional Asian medicines, which are proven to have no actual health benefits. Clouded Leopards are listed as Vulnerable to Extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.

See more photos below.

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UPDATE: Toronto Zoo’s Clouded Leopard Cubs Growing

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The Clouded Leopard cubs at Toronto Zoo are growing! ZooBorns introduced readers to the pair when they were almost one-month-old: “Clouded Leopard Cubs a First for Toronto Zoo”.

The two-month old cubs were born May 13 to mom, Pavarti, and dad, Mingma. Toronto Zoo staff recently reported that the siblings are progressing and growing stronger. The cubs are now very close in size and currently weigh about 1.78 kgs (3.9 lbs) and 1.81 kgs (4 lbs), respectively.

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4_20247650_1391123080924133_231200329107239544_oPhoto Credits: Toronto Zoo 

Pavarti is a first time mom. Immediately after the cubs’ birth, she showed signs of having all the necessary maternal instincts. However, as the first day progressed, staff observed that she started spending less time with her cubs and was not seen nursing or mothering them. Toronto Zoo’s Wildlife Care staff continued to monitor the new family by camera, and a veterinarian checked the cubs the day after they were born. The veterinarian provided the cubs with supplemental fluids to help them through the critical first 24 hours. Wildlife Care staff and the vet continued to monitor the cubs, hoping for a change in the new mom’s behavior toward her cubs. Finally, a decision was made to move the cubs to the intensive care unit (ICU) in the new state-of-art Wildlife Health Centre to provide them with the neonatal care they required and give them the best chance at survival.

Both cubs are currently fed a diet that includes formula (consisting of Esbilac and chicken baby food) and feline meat offered to them separately. As they continue to grow in size, they are beginning to transition from being fed from a bottle to eating out of a dish. Right now the cubs are fed four times a day by Wildlife Health and Wildlife Care staff and have been living in the new Wildlife Health Centre’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

This is an exciting time for Wildlife Health Care staff and Wildlife Care staff as they begin to see the Clouded Leopard cub’s different personalities. One cub is slightly darker in color, and is more energetic and ‘sassy’, always taking the bottle very quickly when offered. The second cub is slightly lighter in color, and although also energetic, is not as bold as its sibling.

Both cubs are said to vocalize in a bird-like ‘chirping’ sound and love to leap, run, explore and climb anything and everything they can find. Wrestling with each other is another favorite thing for these siblings to do. Both Clouded Leopard cubs have very long tails, and their teeth are getting to be quite big in size, which is bringing out their teething behaviors.

The Toronto Zoo is a participant in the Clouded Leopard conservation breeding program through the Species Survival Plan (SSP) program. The Clouded Leopard has been listed as “Vulnerable”, on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List, since 2008.

*Please note: the Clouded Leopard cubs are not visible to the public at this time.

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Clouded Leopard Cubs a First for Toronto Zoo

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For the first time in the Toronto Zoo’s history, two Clouded Leopard cubs were born on the afternoon of Saturday, May 13 to mom Pavarti and dad Mingma.

Pavarti is a first-time mother and she initially showed maternal instincts. However, Pavarti started spending less time with her cubs and was not observed nursing or mothering them. Wildlife Care staff monitored the new family by camera throughout the night and the cubs were checked by a veterinarian on Sunday. Fluids were given to the cubs to help them through the critical first 24 hours.

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Photo Credit: Toronto Zoo

Wildlife Care staff and the vet continued to monitor the tiny cubs and on Monday morning, they decided to move the cubs to the intensive care unit (ICU) in the zoo’s new state-of-art Wildlife Health Centre. After receiving neonatal care, the cubs’ health stabilized.

Fortunately, when they discovered Pavarti was pregnant the zoo developed a Clouded Leopard hand-rearing protocol just in case Pavarti failed to care for her cubs. The protocol is based on best practices shared by other zoos with experience hand-rearing these cats.

The two cubs are thriving under their keepers’ care.  They have gone from weighing around six ounces each at birth to nearly 14 ounces each at about three weeks of age. The two cubs have fully opened their eyes, have discovered their 'meow,’ and are even starting to walk. 

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Toronto Zoo Hatching a Plan to Save African Penguins

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Toronto Zoo is proud to announce the successful hatching of four African Penguin chicks!

The yet-to-be-named chicks will be viewable in their Indoor Viewing Area beginning Friday, April 14 from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm daily.

It was determined after hatching that three of the four chicks were female, which is good news for the North American zoo population, which is predominantly male. Male and female penguins look similar, so a DNA test was required to determine their sex.

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3_IMG_7785 (3)Photo Credits: Toronto Zoo

A new breeding pair, Thandiwe and Matata, laid the first two chicks. The couple was recommended to breed by the Species Survival Plan (SSP), and although they bonded very quickly, they didn’t do well at incubating their eggs.

Their first egg was laid on January 5, 2017 and the Keeper team swiftly intervened and swapped the egg to be raised by surrogate parents Ziggy and DJ, who have been great penguin parents in the past. Thandiwe laid the second egg a few days later on January 8, 2017, and Keepers were initially delighted to see her sitting on the egg very tightly, however she had to sit on the egg for seven days in a row. In the wild, penguin parents trade off egg-sitting duties as they both need to hunt and drink, however, Matata was a first-time parent and did not participate in sitting on the egg. As a result, the second egg was also given to another set of surrogates and proven parents, Shaker and Flap.

The last two chicks hatched from eggs that were laid by another brand new SSP pair, Eldon and Chupa, who are viewed as genetically important. This pair got along very well, however, given their genetic importance, it was decided to also use surrogates for their first egg. In fact, since DJ and Ziggy were viewed as the most reliable parents, this egg replaced the first egg from the other pair, which in turn went to another proven pair: Squeak and Pedro. A few days later on January 25, 2017, Eldon laid a second egg, which was left with the new pair to raise on their own and they did a great job. Needless-to-say, managing penguin chicks is tricky business! The chicks hatched on February 12, February 15, February 27 and March 4, respectively.

Incubation by the parents occurs for just over a month, then the hatched chicks stay with their parents in the nest for another 3 weeks. By this point the chicks are large and mobile enough for the Penguin Keepers to hand-raise them.

Currently, Toronto Zoo Keepers are teaching the chicks to be hand-fed fish and to get on a scale for daily weigh-ins. Recently, the Keepers gave them their first swimming lesson. The Zoo’s hope is for them to be ready to “fledge” and join their colony at around 80 days.

The arrival of the four chicks signifies a great achievement for these new penguin parents and the Zoo’s African Savanna Wildlife Care staff. This breeding season the Zoo was able to reach 100% of their SSP pairing and breeding goals.

The Toronto Zoo penguins help draw attention to this imperiled species. Of the 18 penguin species around the world, the African Penguin (Spheniscus demersus) is one of the most endangered. They are officially classified as “Endangered” by the IUCN. The current population size in the wild for the African Penguin is less than half of what it was 40 years ago, which equals only about 3 generations for penguins. Factors still affecting their decline include lack of food (due to climate change and over-fishing), disease, predation, and pollution (mainly oil spills). Today, there are fewer than 20,000 breeding pairs left in South Africa.


Traditional Birthday for Canada’s First Panda Cubs

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In March 2013, Giant Panda couple, Er Shun and Da Mao, arrived at the Toronto Zoo as part of a Global Giant Panda Conservation Breeding Program. On the morning of October 13, 2015, the Toronto Zoo announced that Er Shun had given birth to the first Giant Panda cubs born in Canada.

The Toronto Zoo recently hosted a First Birthday Celebration for their Giant Panda cubs. The lively pair of cubs, named Jia Panpan (Canadian Hope) and Jia Yueyue (Canadian Joy), were treated to a festive birthday party, including some of the other Toronto Zoo babies (in the form of artwork displays) who brought the cubs gifts which contained traditional Chinese fortunes of "Prosperity", "Happiness", "Wealth" and "Lots of Bamboo". Jia Yueyue was quick to select a gift of "Wealth", whereas Jia Panpan let his tummy lead, and he selected a gift of "Lots of Bamboo".2_14589715_1119730518063392_7125892738233464681_o

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4_14711613_1119730571396720_8510048094860094170_oPhoto Credits: Toronto Zoo

Media, Zoo staff, VIPs including Mr. Zheng Guangda, Vice President & Secretary General and Ms. Zeying Yu, Vice General Secretary, Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens (CAZG) were on hand to help celebrate this milestone for Canada's only Giant Panda cubs.

"The Toronto Zoo is thrilled to be hosting this one-year birthday celebration for our Giant Panda cubs," said John Tracogna, Chief Executive Officer, Toronto Zoo. "We are grateful to all of the partners who continue to support the ongoing success of our Giant Panda program, including the Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens, Chengdu Research Base of Giant Pandas, Chongqing Zoo, State Forestry Administration of China and the Canadian Embassy in Beijing."  

Toronto Zoo Keepers have had the unique opportunity to experience the growth and development of these rare cubs over the past year, and there have been a number of challenges, balanced with a number of joyous moments, that have been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many of the dedicated and professional staff having the pleasure to work with the Giant Pandas. Karyn Tunwell, Senior Panda Keeper, has been with the cubs from their first day, and said, "Watching them grow and surpass the many milestones throughout their first year has been unlike anything else I have experienced in my career."

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Endangered Zebra Filly Born at Toronto Zoo

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The Toronto Zoo is pleased to announce that Tori, a six-year-old female Grevy's Zebra, gave birth to a filly on July 26. This birth is important for Grevy's Zebra conservation, as the species is currently listed as “Endangered” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. According to estimates, there are about 2,000 left in the wild.

This is the second filly Tori has given birth to at the Toronto Zoo (the first being Leia, in January of 2014, with sire Jake). The new little filly began to walk ten minutes after she was born, which is an important milestone in her development. Both mom and filly are doing well, and she is already starting to develop her own strong and confident personality, according to her Zoo Keepers.

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Grevy's Zebras (Equus grevyi) were first put on the IUCN list in 1986, after their population began to decline due to over hunting in the late 1970s. Today, Grevy's Zebras are primarily found in Kenya and Ethiopia. Over the past 30 years, their global population has declined by approximately 70%. The major threats facing Grevy's Zebras are: loss of grazing habitat, reduced access to available water sources, competition for resources, hunting and disease.

"The birth of Tori's filly is a great opportunity to spread the word on the plight of Grevy's Zebras in the wild," says Maria Franke, Curator of Mammals, Toronto Zoo. "As one of the Zoo's key mandates is to educate visitors on current conservation issues and help preserve biodiversity, this filly helps highlight the importance of zebra conservation and what is being done to preserve this magnificent species in Africa. The Toronto Zoo supports Grevy's Zebra conservation efforts in Ethiopia and Kenya, through the Toronto Zoo Endangered Species Reserve Fund."

The Toronto Zoo’s Endangered Species Reserve Fund supports Canadian species and other critical projects around the world, further emphasizing our ongoing commitment to fight extinction. Every animal at the Zoo is an ambassador for its counterpart in the wild, and each animal strives to create a connection with the public to bring attention to the problems facing species in the wild. The Toronto Zoo believes it has a shared responsibility to care for wildlife on this planet, and the Zoo works hard to be a leader in efforts to save animals and habitats that need help.

The Toronto Zoo is also part of the Grevy's Zebra Species Survival Plan (SSP), which is a series of long-term breeding and conservation plans that act as an insurance policy fighting against extinction to save endangered species. These plans focus on maintaining genetically healthy captive populations and conservation efforts in the wild. Now, more than ever, the work the Toronto Zoo does to save and protect species and their habitats is critical to the ongoing survival of many of the worlds’ most endangered species, including the Grevy's Zebra.

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Black-footed Ferret Baby Boom

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Toronto Zoo has been participating in the conservation-breeding program for the Black-footed Ferret since 1992. Since then, the Zoo has bred hundreds of baby ferrets (kits) for reintroduction to the wild in USA, Mexico, and Canada where they were listed as extirpated in 1978.

“The black-footed ferret was once thought to be extinct in the wild. Saving species at risk, like the Black-footed Ferret, is only possible through partner collaboration and the success of international ferret recovery demonstrates how working together can have a big impact on saving critically endangered species,” says Maria Franke, Curator of Mammals, Toronto Zoo.

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4_13581986_1041548115881633_4843557045223139156_oPhoto Credits: Toronto Zoo

 

This year, Toronto Zoo has 16 adult ferrets. One female, named Twilight Sparkle, after a My Little Pony character, gave birth to four kits (three males and one female) on April 16, 2016.

Kits are born blind, hairless, and are less than 10 centimeters long. Twilight Sparkle was instantly a very good first-time mom, nursing and protecting her babies. The kits weaned at approximately 30 days of age and started eating meat brought over by Mom. A week or so after weaning, their eyes started to open and they began to explore their surroundings.

Now, at almost three-months-old, their personalities are strong and they are very active and chatty. The kits recently had their first veterinary exam and are all healthy, with beautiful adult colors. They are full-grown and the boys weigh more than Mom. Adult females weigh 700-800 grams and adult males 900-1,000 grams.

On June 13, 2016, another female, named Indigo, gave birth to six kits (unfortunately, two were stillborn). Mom and her four kits have been doing very well. Now, at almost one-month-old, they have grown quite a bit, have white baby fuzz, and are even squirmier.

Four other females bred this year; three did not become pregnant. The remaining female, named Fiddlesticks, gave birth on June 22 to one kit.

Females can have between one and seven kits, with an average litter of three to four, so this is a small litter but not uncommon. Fiddlesticks is an experienced mom and not bothered by a single noise in the barn. She has been caring for this kit just as well as she did for her four kits last year.

In the fall, kits will go to the National Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center, in Colorado, to prepare for release into the wild. They will live in outdoor pens and learn valuable skills, such as hunting prairie dogs.

Toronto Zoo is proud to be part of this successful program, which has helped restore the wild population to approximately 300 animals. However, the ferret continues to need help as they face habitat loss and disease.

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Critically Endangered Marmots Born at Toronto Zoo

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The Vancouver Island Marmot (VIM) is one of the most critically endangered animals in the world, and it is Canada's most endangered mammal.

The Toronto Zoo has been participating in the captive breeding program for the Vancouver Island Marmot since 1997, when it was first approached by the Marmot Recovery Foundation to begin a captive breeding and release program. This Marmot species is one of only five mammals endemic to Canada, and it was North America’s most endangered mammal in 2003, when there were only 30 individuals left in the wild.

Because of significant captive breeding efforts (including the Toronto Zoo's) the wild population has steadily grown. The Toronto Zoo has also been involved in many research projects to help increase the understanding of this unique mammal and has spearheaded studies on mating behavior, pup development and hormone analysis for monitoring reproductive cycles of breeding females. This information is vital to ensure that the VIM experiences a triumphant return to the wild.

"With the expertise, passion and commitment from zoological organizations like the Toronto Zoo, the Vancouver Island Marmot conservation breeding and reintroduction program has been crucial in preventing this species from becoming extinct," says Maria Franke, Curator of Mammals, Toronto Zoo. "This is a huge step in the right direction in saving this truly Canadian species.”

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3_TZ_River&ObansPups_3 weeks old - Photo Credit K.Wright, Toronto ZooPhoto Credits: K. Wright / Toronto Zoo

 

This year, Toronto Zoo has six pairs of adult Marmots. On May 4, 2016, keepers heard sounds coming from one of the nest boxes. To minimize disturbance, keepers wait three to four weeks before opening nest boxes.

At four weeks, four pups were confirmed. On first examination, they were 20-30 cm long and starting to open their eyes. Now, they are almost eight-weeks-old and exploring their surroundings. Sitka, the mother, has been taking very good care of her pups. Because of her cautious and protective nature, it even took her a few extra days to allow the pups to explore the outdoor area. Hunter, the father, sleeps outside the nest box like a good “guard-dad”.

Another pair of Marmots, River and Oban, gave birth to five pups on May 19, 2016. They still snuggle in the nest box but are very vocal, emitting sounds like those of dog puppies. They should be emerging soon.

This year, Toronto Zoo has had a total of nine VIM pups born. Toronto Zoo is also housing one full-grown pup, Rizzo, who was born last year and is appropriately named after the character from Grease-- or the rat from The Muppets--depending on who you speak to! She is quite spunky and will do very well in the wild.

To date, joint efforts from four facilities have released 445 captive-born Marmots back to Vancouver Island, and the population is now estimated between 215-277 individuals. Conservation efforts in Vancouver continue to protect Marmot habitat to help ensure the recovery of this highly-endangered Canadian species.

The Vancouver Island Marmot (Marmota vancouverensis) naturally occurs only in the high mountains of Vancouver Island, in British Columbia. This particular Marmot species is large compared to some others, and most other rodents. The species is currently classified as “Critically Endangered” on the IUCN Red List.

*Please note: the Vancouver Island Marmot pups are not viewable to the public.

One-year-old Rizzo:

4_TZ_Marmot_1yearoldRizzo - Photo Credit K.Wright, Toronto Zoo


Endangered Blanding’s Turtles Released in Canada

1_Blanding's Turtles (June 2016) _ credit Heike Reuse (2)

On June 21, the Toronto Zoo, Parks Canada and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) reintroduced 36 baby Blanding's Turtles to a wetland that will be part of Rouge National Urban Park in the Greater Toronto Area (Canada’s first national urban park).

This is the third year Blanding’s Turtles have been released in the park. In June 2015, the same group of partners collaborated on the release of 21 baby Blanding’s Turtles in the Rouge and in June 2014, 10 baby turtles were released.

The long-lived species, with a life span of up to 80 years, has inhabited the Rouge Valley for thousands of years, though prior to 2014 its future was uncertain, with as few as six Blanding’s Turtles remaining.

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3_Blanding's Turtles (June 2016) _ credit Heike Reuse (1)

4_Blanding's Turtles (June 2016) _ credit Heike Reuse (5)Photo Credits: Heike Reuse 

“Blanding’s Turtles are a flagship species representing a group of animals facing a variety of threats," said Dr. Andrew Lentini, Curator of Reptiles and Amphibians, Toronto Zoo. "Seven of eight turtle species in Ontario are at risk and need our help. All Canadians can learn how to help turtles by visiting Toronto Zoo’s Adopt-A-Pond website and by reporting sighting to Toronto Zoo’s Ontario Turtle Tally.”

In February 2016, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, and Minister responsible for Parks Canada Catherine McKenna announced that Parks Canada would be making a $150,000 contribution to the Toronto Zoo to support the Blanding’s head start program in the Rouge.

“Blanding's Turtles are an important indicator of a healthy park,” said Pam Veinotte, Parks Canada's Superintendent responsible for Rouge National Urban Park. "Parks Canada is dedicated to re-establishing a healthy, local population of this threatened turtle species in Rouge National Urban Park now and for future generations, and we are thankful for the opportunity to collaborate with the Toronto Zoo and other wonderful partners to conserve and restore threatened species in Canada's first national urban park.”

The turtle eggs were collected from a stable source population in southern Ontario in 2014 and have been raised in a controlled environment at the Toronto Zoo over the last two years. The University of Toronto Scarborough has joined this head-starting project and is assisting with long-term monitoring of the released turtles. Parks Canada, the TRCA and the Toronto Zoo believe that this type of head starting and reintroduction of the turtles, along with long-term monitoring and ongoing habitat restoration, are keys to the animal’s survival in the future Rouge National Urban Park.

The local public can help protect the turtles by avoiding their nesting areas and by contacting authorities if they observe harmful behavior toward turtles or suspicious behavior in their habitat. The location of the wetland housing the reintroduced turtles will not be disclosed at this time to help minimize disturbances and give the animals the best chance of surviving.

The Toronto Zoo and TRCA began collecting information on and monitoring Blanding’s Turtles in the Rouge Valley in 2005. Environment Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry provided funding, permits and in-kind support for Blanding’s Turtle monitoring in the Rouge Valley in previous years. With the area slated to become Canada’s first national urban park, Parks Canada has come on board and will continue to work on a long-term turtle monitoring program.

Earth Rangers, an environmental conservation organization focused on engaging youth in the protection of nature, also provided support for the project by building a facility to house the turtle eggs and babies at the Toronto Zoo.

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April Showers Bring…a Rhino Calf ?

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The Indian Rhino calf at the Toronto Zoo is almost seven-weeks-old! He was born February 17 to eleven-year-old mom Ashakiran (also known as Asha) and 12-year-old dad, Vishnu.

(ZooBorns introduced the new guy to readers, soon after his birth: “Toronto Zoo Announces Birth of Vulnerable Rhino”.)

According to the Zoo, the "little" guy is now over 200 pounds. They also report that he has become quite brave, often venturing further from mom Asha and interacting more with Keepers. Although still nursing, staff say he is starting to mouth some food, including: bamboo, apple, browse and the carrots that Keepers provide Asha.

He also loves his afternoon showers, and is often observed playfully rolling around in the water and encouraging mom to come play with him.

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4_12794986_984150854954693_2745402692191822767_oPhoto and Video Credits: Toronto Zoo

 

 

The baby Rhino also has the rudiments of the distinctive horn. Although, it will be some time before it will be noticeable. A Rhino’s horn is made of keratin, like human fingernails. The full horn will not be in place until approximately six-years of age.

The calf has not been named, but the Toronto Zoo will make that announcement soon, via their social media pages. Asha and her son are now on exhibit at the Zoo.

The recent birth is very important for Indian Rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) conservation, as the species is currently listed as “Vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, and there are only approximately 2,000 left in the wild.

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