The Bronx Zoo is working with other zoos and partners toward a major milestone in the conservation of the Rote Island (pronounced RO-tee) snake-necked turtle (Chelodina mccordi). Thirty-six zoo-bred turtles left the Bronx Zoo today bound for Mandai Wildlife Group’s Singapore Zoo as part of a collaboration that will eventually introduce the animals to their native range in Indonesia where the species is functionally extinct.
Bronx, NY – April 29, 2022 – A Matschie’s tree kangaroo (Dendrolagus matschiei) born at the Bronx Zoo has started to emerge from its mother’s pouch, making its anticipated public debut. The joey is the first of its species born at the Bronx Zoo since 2008.
The successful breeding is the result of years of work by the zoo’s Herpetology Department staff. Keepers have to carefully monitor the adult Komodos when they are paired for mating as courtship behaviors can sometimes become aggressive.
After a successful introduction, the pair of Komodos bred in March 2021, and the female laid a clutch of eggs in April. The eggs were placed in an incubator where they were carefully monitored for approximately seven months before they hatched in November.
A Coquerel’s sifaka (Propithecus coquereli) born at the Bronx Zoo has made its public debut.
The birth is the result of the hard work and husbandry expertise of the Bronx Zoo’s keepers and will be featured on this week’s episode of Animal Planet’s THE ZOO. The story follows the adult sifakas as they are introduced for the first time in hopes that they will eventually mate.
The baby is a male and was born over the summer. The Bronx Zoo breeds sifakas as part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP) program, a cooperative breeding program administered by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to maintain genetic diversity and demographic stability in zoo populations.
A Snow Leopard cub born this summer at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) Bronx Zoo has made its public debut.
The female cub, who has not yet been named, plays and wrestles with her mother, K2, in the photos and video below. Baby animals develop important skills through play, and K2 is proving to be a patient teacher even when her cub is in “attack mode.”
Photo Credit: Julie Larsen Mayer/WCS
The cub is the second-generation offspring of Leo – a Snow Leopard who was rescued as a young orphaned cub after being found in the high mountains of northern Pakistan in 2005. Leo was brought to the Bronx Zoo in 2006 as part of a historic collaboration between WCS and the U.S. and Pakistani governments.
The cub’s father, Naltar, was sired by Leo in 2013.
“This Snow Leopard cub is special not only because it is an ambassador for its species, but because of its lineage," said Dr. Patrick Thomas, WCS Vice President and General Curator, and Bronx Zoo Associate Director who was part of the delegation who brought Leo from Pakistan. “Leo and his descendants, including this cub, will help bolster the health and genetics of the Snow Leopard population in AZA-accredited zoos.”
More than 70 cubs have been born at the Bronx Zoo – more the than any other zoo in North America – and the Bronx was the first zoo in the United States to exhibit the species in 1903. The Bronx Zoo breeds Snow Leopards as part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP), a cooperative breeding program designed to enhance the genetic viability of animal populations in zoos and aquariums accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).
Snow Leopards are native to remote mountains of Central Asia and parts of China, Mongolia, Russia, India and Bhutan. WCS has worked for decades on Snow Leopard conservation programs in the field with current projects in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and western China. Past projects have also included work with Snow Leopards in Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia.
In Pakistan, WCS has been implementing a community-based conservation program since 1997 to help protect the Snow Leopard and other wildlife. The program includes education, training, and institution building for community resource management. WCS has helped create over 60 natural resource committees and trained over 100 community rangers to monitor Snow Leopards and other wildlife and stop deforestation and poaching that threatens these species and local livelihoods.
As a result of ongoing conservation efforts, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recently reclassified Snow Leopards from Endangered to Threatened. The species’ survival is still at risk and continues to face threats that stem from human activities such as habitat loss and illegal killings.
A baby Gelada has made its public debut at the Bronx Zoo. The Bronx Zoo is the only zoo in the U.S. that breeds the Gelada and is one of only two that exhibit the species.
The newest baby was born on August 30, and at only four weeks old, the infant is still clinging to mom and drawing a lot of attention from the rest of the family unit. Altogether, the group is made up of one adult male, three adult females, two juveniles, and the new baby.
“This is an exciting time with a lot of interesting dynamics and activity, with an infant and two juvenile Geladas in our troop in the Zoo’s Baboon Reserve,” said Jim Breheny, WCS Executive Vice President, Bronx Zoo Director, and General Director of WCS’s Zoos and Aquarium. “Being able to watch the social interactions within the group allows visitors to better understand how Gelada live in their family units and behave during the various developmental stages. It is an inspiring sight that transports you to the East African highlands.”
Photo Credits: Julie Larsen Maher / WCS
The Gelada (Theropithecus gelada) is a primate that is endemic to Ethiopia. They are sometimes called “Gelada Baboons” or “Bleeding Heart Baboons” for the characteristic red patch of skin on their chests, but they are more closely related to Mangabeys.
The female’s red patch becomes more pronounced during the mating season to attract males. The males have a beautiful flowing cape of long hair on their backs that resembles a shawl.
Geladas are “graminivores” (herbivorous animal that feeds on grass). They are unique among primates in that they feed primarily on grasses. Adult males have prominent canines that they use to display to other competing males, and they communicate to each other through a wide range of vocalizations, facial gestures, and body postures.
In 2008, the IUCN classified the Gelada as “Least Concern”, although their population had reduced from an estimated 440,000 in the 1970s to around 200,000 in 2008. Major threats to the Gelada are: reduction of their range as a result of agricultural expansion and shooting as crop pests.
The calves were born to a herd of seven females and one male that arrived at the Bronx Zoo from Ft. Peck, Montana in November 2016.
The herd was a historic gift from the Assiniboine and Sioux tribes. The Fort Peck Bison are from the Yellowstone National Park bloodline and are among the few pure Bison remaining. The vast majority of present-day Bison, or Buffalo, have trace amounts of domestic cattle genes, a reflection of past interbreeding efforts when western ranchers tried to create a hardier breed of cattle. (More information about the historic gift and transfer can be found at the WCS Newsroom: http://bit.ly/2qTVHvF ).
The female Bison were pregnant when they arrived at the Zoo, and the calves were born in late April. “These calves will bolster our efforts to expand our breeding program of pure Bison,” said Dr. Pat Thomas, WCS Vice President/General Curator and Associate Director of the Bronx Zoo. “They will eventually be bred with other pure Bison to create new breeding herds in other AZA-accredited zoos, and to provide animals for restoration programs in the American West.”
Photo Credits: WCS/ Julie Larsen Maher
The Bronx Zoo has a long history of facilitating Bison conservation projects in the western U.S., and the birth of these calves provides a welcome boost to the Zoo’s ongoing efforts to establish a herd of pure Bison.
For more than five years, the Bronx Zoo has worked on developing a herd of pure bloodline through embryo transfer. The Bison from Ft. Peck will supplement those efforts. The bull, currently on exhibit with the females and calves, was the first American Bison born as a result of embryo transfer in 2012. (More information about the Bronx Zoo’s efforts to breed bison through embryo transfer can be found on the WCS Newsroom: http://bit.ly/2q6kji7 ).
The American Bison (Bison bison), also commonly known as the “American Buffalo” or simply “Buffalo”, is a species that once roamed the grasslands of North America in massive herds. They became nearly extinct by a combination of commercial hunting and slaughter in the 19th century and introduction of bovine diseases from domestic cattle.
However, the Bison is now an American conservation success story. In the early 1900’s, the species was on the verge of extinction: numbering fewer than 1,100 individuals, after roaming North America in the tens of millions only a century earlier. In 1907 and 1913, the Bronx Zoo sent herds of Bronx-bred Bison out west to re-establish the species in its native habitat.
Two rare Malayan Tiger cubs, born at WCS’s Bronx Zoo, are making their public debut.
The female cubs, Nadia and Azul, were born in January. This is the third litter of Malayan Tigers born at the Bronx Zoo.
In the days following the birth, their mother was not providing suitable maternal care, so Bronx Zoo keepers intervened and hand-raised the cubs until they were fully weaned.
“The majority of animals born at the Bronx Zoo are raised by their parents,” said Jim Breheny, WCS Executive Vice President and Director of the Bronx Zoo. “But in certain cases, the moms need help raising offspring. Our keepers did a wonderful job raising the Malayan Tiger cubs through the critical first few months of their lives. As the cubs mature, they are learning ‘how to be tigers’ and following their instincts and developing the skills and behavior of adult tigers. The transition process form cub to young adult is amazing to witness.”
Photo Credits: Julie Larsen Maher / WCS Bronx Zoo
Initially, the cubs required 24-hour care and were bottle-fed a milk formula every three hours. Food intake was carefully recorded, and the cubs were weighed daily to ensure they gained an appropriate amount of weight.
The cubs were fully weaned by 40 days of age, at which time they began to be slowly introduced to sights, sounds, and smells of adult tigers.
After being allowed to properly acclimate to the off-exhibit holding areas at the Tiger Mountain exhibit, the cubs began exploring the expansive outdoor exhibit space.
Initially, the cubs will be on exhibit at Tiger Mountain for a few hours each day. That time will gradually increase as they continue to become more comfortable in their habitat. Exhibit times may vary.
Jim Breheny continued, “These two cubs are ambassadors for their species. With an estimated 250 Malayan Tigers remaining in the wild and fewer than 70 in accredited North American zoos, these cubs give us an excellent opportunity to introduce our visitors to the treats Malayan Tigers face in the wild and what the Bronx Zoo and WCS is doing to help guarantee the survival of the species.”
The pups were born in June to different mothers. The pup born to mother, Indy, has been identified as a male. Keepers have not yet been able to determine the sex of the other pup, born to Margaretta. Both have yet to receive their names.
Clyde is the sire of both pups. He is one of two adult bulls that came to WCS’s Queens Zoo in 2013 from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife as part of a local wildlife management project in Bonneville, Ore. These are his first offspring since arriving in New York.
Photo Credits: Julie Larsen Maher/WCS
The California Sea Lion (Zalophus californianus) is a coastal eared seal native to western North America. It is one of five species of Sea Lion. Its natural habitat ranges from southeast Alaska to central Mexico, including the Gulf of California.
They are mainly found on sandy or rocky beaches, but they also frequent manmade environments, such as marinas and wharves. Sea Lions feed on a number of species of fish and squid, and are preyed on by Orcas and White Sharks.
California Sea Lions have a polygamous breeding pattern. From May to August, males establish territories and try to attract females with which to mate. Females are free to move in between territories, and are not coerced by males. Mothers nurse their pups in between foraging trips.
Sea Lions communicate with numerous vocalizations, notably with barks and mother-pup contact calls. Outside of their breeding season, Sea Lions spend much of their time at sea, but they come to shore to molt.
The colony of Little Penguins (Eudyptula minor) that debuted in 2015, as a new species at WCS’s (Wildlife Conservation Society) Bronx Zoo, has successfully produced a chick that is now on exhibit with the rest of the colony.
The chick hatched May 10, and this is the first time this species has bred at the Bronx Zoo, in the zoo’s 120-plus year history.
Known for their small size and characteristic bluish hue, Little Penguins are also known as Blue Penguins, Little Blue Penguins, and Fairy Penguins. Adults are only about 13 inches tall and weigh around 2 to 3 pounds. They are the smallest of the 18 penguin species and native to coastal southern Australia and New Zealand.
Photo Credits: Julie Larsen Maher / WCS
Little Penguins lay their eggs in burrows dug in sand, natural cavities, or under thick vegetation. They may even nest under man-made structures. Both parents care for and incubate the egg. Newly hatched chicks weigh just 25g. The chicks lose their downy plumage at about 50 days of age when it is replaced with waterproof feathers.
With the exception of the new chick, all of the birds in the Bronx Zoo colony were hatched at the Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia and brought to the Bronx Zoo as part of a breeding program. Approximately 15 penguins a year hatch at Taronga, making it the most successful Little Penguin breeding program in the world. The Bronx Zoo penguins will help ensure continued genetic diversity in the Little Penguin populations in the U.S.
The species occurs in temperate marine waters and feeds on fish, cephalopods and crustaceans. They nest, colonially, in burrows on sand dunes or rocky beach areas. Like other penguin species, they use a wide range of vocalizations to communicate with each other. In the wild, their populations are threatened by climate change and human activities.