Houston Zoo

Bouncing Baby Boy Elephant, Teddy, Born At The Houston Zoo

Just two months after baby elephant Winnie was born, there’s a new pachyderm in the herd! Sunday at 8:04 p.m., 37-year-old Asian elephant Tess gave birth to a 391-pound male, and the calf began to nurse within hours. The calf has been named Teddy by the team who have dedicated their lives to the care, well-being, and conservation of these incredible animals.

“Our animal team is thrilled that the birth has gone smoothly,” said Lisa Marie Avendano, vice president of animal operations at the Houston Zoo. “We look forward to continuing to watch Teddy and Tess bond, and introducing him to Houston.”

Tess gave birth in the McNair Asian Elephant Habitat cow barn under the supervision of her keepers and veterinary staff. She and the calf will undergo post-natal exams and spend several days bonding behind the scenes before they are ready for their public debut. During the bonding period, the elephant team is watching for the pair to share several key moments like communicating with mom and hitting weight goals.

Tess is also mother to Tucker (16), Tupelo (10) and Tilly (2), and grandmother to Winnie, born March 10. This calf raises the number of elephants in the Houston Zoo herd to 13—six males and seven females.

Over the next several years, the Zoo animal care team will watch the young elephant for signs of elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV). EEHV is the most devastating viral disease in elephants worldwide. It occurs in elephants in the wild as well as those in human care such as in sanctuaries and zoos.

The Houston Zoo is an integral part of finding treatments and developing management strategies for the virus. The Zoo’s veterinarians and elephant care team established a research collaboration in 2009 with herpes virologist Dr. Paul Ling at Baylor College of Medicine’s Department of Virology and Microbiology, which recorded significant advancements in the study of EEHV, and toward a vaccine.

The Houston Zoo’s EEHV testing methods, treatment protocols, and experience serve as a global elephant care resource and have contributed to saving elephant calves around the world.

Just by visiting the Houston Zoo, guests help save baby elephants and their families in the wild.  A portion of each Zoo admission and membership goes to protecting wild elephants in Asia. The Zoo provides support, equipment, and training for local researchers to place satellite collars on wild elephants and track them in Asia.  The Zoo’s Malaysian conservation team is now watching over and protecting three groups of wild elephants with babies in Borneo. The data collected from these groups will inform future national protection plans for elephants.


It’s A Girl! Asian Elephant Gives Birth At The Houston Zoo

Less than a year after Houston welcomed Asian elephant calf, Nelson, a new kid is on the block! On March 10 shortly after 11:00 a.m., 10-year-old Asian elephant Tupelo gave birth to a 284-pound female calf, and she began to nurse within a few hours. The calf has not yet been named; her name will be announced on the Houston Zoo’s social media channels. 

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“Our animal team is thrilled that the birth has gone smoothly,” said Lisa Marie Avendano, vice president of animal operations at the Houston Zoo. “We look forward to continuing to watch Tupelo and her baby bond and introducing her to Houston.”  

Tupelo gave birth in the McNair Asian Elephant Habitat cow barn under the supervision of her keepers and veterinary staff. Mother and baby will undergo continued post-natal exams and spend several days bonding before they are ready to join the rest of the herd. During the bonding period, the elephant team is watching for the pair to share several key moments like nursing and hitting weight goals.  

This is the first calf for Tupelo, whose pregnancy was the result of artificial insemination since she is related to all the male elephants at the Zoo. The calf raises the number of elephants in the Houston Zoo herd to 12 – five males and seven females.

Just five days after her birth, Winnie, the newest member of Houston’s Asian elephant herd, took her first steps with mom, Tupelo, and the rest of the herd.

Just by visiting the Houston Zoo, guests help save baby elephants and their families in the wild.  A portion of each Zoo admission and membership goes to protecting wild elephants in Asia. The Zoo provides support, equipment and training for local researchers to place satellite collars on wild elephants and track them in Asia.  The Zoo’s Malaysian conservation team is now watching over and protecting three groups of wild elephants with babies in Borneo. The data collected from these groups will inform future national protection plans for elephants.


Jaguar Cubs Explore With Mom at Houston Zoo

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The Houston Zoo’s four-month-old Jaguar cubs recently made their public debut.

Fitz and his sister, Emma, were born to first-time parents Maya and Tesoro on July 20. The cubs have been behind-the-scenes with mom the past few months.

During most mornings, the family can be seen exploring their outdoor habitat. According the zoo, the cubs and their mom also have access to their “night houses” or caves if they choose to have privacy.

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4_23456221_10156096682252526_6083372874291509906_oPhoto Credits: Houston Zoo

The Jaguar (Panthera onca) is a big cat and is the only extant Panthera species native to the Americas. The Jaguar is the third-largest feline species after the Tiger and the Lion, and the largest in the Americas.

The Jaguar's present range extends from Southwestern United States and Mexico across much of Central America and south to Paraguay and northern Argentina. The species has largely been extirpated from the United States since the early 20th century.

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Houston Zoo's Elephant Brings 'Joy' to the World

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After a two-year pregnancy, the wait is over for the Houston Zoo’s Asian Elephant, Shanti. On July 12, the 26-year-old gave birth to a 305-pound female.

The calf has been named Joy by the zoo team that has dedicated their lives to the care, wellbeing, and conservation of these incredible animals.

Baby elephants are quite wobbly when they’re first born, so the harness seen on the images and video of Joy assists the elephant team to help her stand-steady while she’s nursing.

Shanti gave birth in the Houston Zoo’s McNair Asian Elephant Habitat cow barn under the supervision of keepers and veterinary staff. She and her calf underwent post-natal exams and are now spending several days bonding behind the scenes. During this important bonding period, the elephant team is watching for the pair to share key moments like communication and hitting weight goals.

“Our animal team is thrilled that the birth has gone smoothly,” said Lisa Marie Avendano, Vice President of Animal Operations at the Houston Zoo. “We look forward to continuing to watch Joy and Shanti bond, and introducing her to Houston.”

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4_Baby Elephant Joy Outside-0006-7012Photo Credits: Stephanie Adams/ Houston Zoo

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A Hundred Jumping Sticks Hatch In Houston

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More than 100 Peruvian Jumping Stick Insects have hatched at the Houston Zoo since October 20!

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Peruvian Jumping Stick Baby-0004-8823Photo Credit:  Stephanie Adams/Houston Zoo

These unique insects hatched from eggs laid by the adult female in the exhibit substrate.  The eggs take six months to a year to hatch. The Houston Zoo’s staff reports finding five to 10 hatchlings in the exhibit every day.  They recently found 21 hatchlings in a single day!

Though they appear to be related to Walking Sticks, Peruvian Jumping Sticks are actually a species of Grasshopper.  Native to Peru and Ecuador in the Amazon Basin, males and females of this species are dramatically different in appearance – an adaptation known as sexual dimorphism.  Males are small and green, while females are two or three times larger than males.  Females are brown and look almost exactly like a stick, complete with markings that look like bud scars.  Like most grasshoppers, both males and females have large hind legs and are expert jumpers.

In the wild, these insects live in trees and feed on leaves.  Their markings provide excellent camouflage that helps protect them from predators.


Houston Zoo Cares for Valuable New Gem ‘Opal’

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Opal is one of four baby Nyala born at the Houston Zoo over the past two months, and keepers have formed a special attachment to the new calf. 

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The Zoo’s keeper team noticed, soon after she was born on August 25, that she wasn’t nursing very well from mom, Ruby. They quickly intervened and taught the calf to bottle-feed, but kept her living with her mother so the pair could continue to bond behind-the-scenes. Soon, however, the keepers saw Opal nursing from Ruby! Recently, the team ended all bottles for Opal, and she is continuing to successfully nurse from mom. Opal now eats solid food, as well, which includes grain, hay, and produce.

Opal and her mom will continue to stay in their barn for a few more weeks, but guests and Zoo members can see the other three new Nyala frolicking around the yard, every day, at the Houston Zoo’s West Hoofed Run. Additional baby Nyala include: Wallace (mom Willow), born July 29; Fancy (mom Lola), August 12; and Fern (mom Ivy), September 8.

The Nyala (Tragelaphus angasil), also called inyala, are mid-sized members of the antelope family. Native to southern Africa, the spiral-horned males can weigh up to 275 pounds, and females weigh up to 150 pounds. When born, Nyala generally weigh around 10 pounds.

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Little Giants Come Out Of Their Shells

Baby Malaysian Giant Pond Turtle-0005-6886Four rare Turtles have come out of their shells at the Houston Zoo!  These Malaysian Giant Pond Turtles are not often seen in zoos due to their large size and low rate of reproduction in captivity.

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Baby Malaysian Giant Pond Turtle-0004-6878Photo Credit:  Stephanie Adams/Houston Zoo

Getting out of a shell can be tough work but baby turtles have a special adaptation on their snout: an egg tooth. Also called a caruncle, the egg tooth is a temporary structure that is used to cut through the egg membrane and break through the shell.  Once there is a hole in the egg, the turtle can break out.

The zoo’s journey to this remarkable hatching began when they acquired a group of juvenile Malaysian Giant Pond Turtles in 2002.  The Turtles have reached maturity, and these hatchlings are the result.

At the Houston Zoo, this species inhabits the moat surrounding the Orangutan exhibit, but the Turtles are very secretive and not often seen.  They feed on fish, plants, and fruits.

Malaysian Giant Pond Turtles are found in rivers and lakes on the Malay Peninsula, Borneo, and Sumatra.  Adults can reach almost three feet in length and can weigh over 100 pounds. Listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Malaysian Giant Pond Turtles are heavily exploited for their meat, and populations are in decline throughout their native range.

See more photos of the Turtles below.

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Baby Capybara Munches on Mom's Salad

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The first Capybara in over 10 years has been born at Houston Zoo in Texas! The little male, named Mr. Pibb, was born to mom, Sunkist, and dad, Pop (not pictured). He is a very curious youngster and wasn't at all camera-shy. On December 10, he went outside for the first time with his mom. 

The baby was eating solid foods after only a few days, and even started 'borrowing' his mom's food to eat. He wanted to try everything in his mom's food bowl, and after eating it, he decided to get inside!

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Capy 1Photo credit: Houston Zoo

See more after the fold!

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First Okapi Birth at Houston Zoo

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The Houston Zoo is proud to announce the birth of a baby Okapi. The yet-to-be-named male calf was born on November 6 and has been thriving under the care of his mother, Tulia. 

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The pair will continue to bond behind the scenes for the next several weeks.  This is the first successful birth of a baby Okapi at the zoo.

Okapis are also known as the “forest giraffe” and are native to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Central Africa. Since 2013, the species has been classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List, due to habitat destruction and poaching.

Zebra and giraffe live in herds, but Okapi usually live alone in the forest. Sometimes a mother will live with its one calf until the calf is grown. Like giraffes, Okapi have long tongues they use for plucking leaves, buds, and branches from trees to eat. Okapi are solitary creatures that hide in the dense forest where they live. They were not discovered until 1901. Okapi need thick rainforests to live, but their homes are being cut down. People are working to protect the rainforests to make sure Okapi have the food, water, and shelter they need to survive. 

More amazing pics below the fold!

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Clouded Leopard Cubs Show Mad Skills

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The Clouded Leopard cubs, born at Houston Zoo on June 6, are growing and developing their big cat skills. So far, the pair has mastered the art of being adorable!

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Clouded leopard_6Photo Credits: Houson Zoo/Stephanie Adams

The cubs are a result of the first pregnancy for two-year-old Suksn, who gave birth in a private den off-exhibit.  A few hours after their birth, in June, the cubs were moved to the veterinary clinic to begin receiving 24-hour care by the zoological team at Houston Zoo.

The birth is not only the first birth for Suksn, but also the first Clouded Leopard birth for the Houston Zoo.  This is also the first offspring for the cubs’ father, Tarak, also two years old.  Suksn and Tarak have been residents of the Houston Zoo since 2012.

Clouded Leopards are classified as ‘vulnerable’ on the IUCN Red List, due to deforestation and hunting.  Since this animal is so rare, it is important to do everything possible to ensure the health and well-being of every Clouded Leopard born in captivity. The common practice among zoos is to hand-raise all newborn Clouded Leopards. 

See more photos below.

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