Minnesota Zoo

Minnesota Zoo's Tiger Cubs Are On Exhibit and There's Still Time to Help Name Them!


The Minnesota Zoo is holding a naming contest for its two female Amur Tiger cubs born this past summer. This contest is being conducted on Facebook and started October 3. Click here to submit your name suggestions through this Sunday, October 14.

Everyone who participates in the naming contest will be eligible for daily prize drawings, including a Family 4-Pack of tickets to the Minnesota Zoo and other great prizes.




Photo credit: (1-4) MN Zoo, (5) Ashley Ondricek / MN Zoo


Name suggestions will be accepted through Sunday, October 14, 2012. Zoo staff will then review all submissions and select the top three names for each cub to be posted on the Minnesota Zoo’s Facebook fan page to be voted on by the public, starting Thursday, October 18. The winning names will be announced on Monday, October 29.

Cubs Meet World: Amur Leopard Cubs Enter Exhibit for the First Time

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Two Amur Leopard cubs, born at the Minnesota Zoo on May 29, took their first tentative steps into their exhibit last week, charming zoo guests and the media.  The cubs, one male and one female, spent the last several months nursing, bonding with mom, and building up their strength.

Amur leopards are a part of a Species Survival Plan (SSP) through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). As part of a breeding recommendation from the SSP, the cubs’ mother, “Polina,” came to the Zoo in 2007 from the Audubon Nature Institute in Louisiana; the father, “Chobby,” came from Olomouc Zoo in the Czech Republic in 2009.

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Dr. Tara Harris, Director of Conservation at the Minnesota Zoo, said “These births are significant not only because Amur leopards are critically endangered, but also because reintroduction from zoo-bred lineages is under consideration in Russia. The Minnesota Zoo’s cubs are part of the global population that would be used for such a program.”

Amur leopards are silent, sleek, and strong hunters of deep forests. Their thick coats and long legs help them survive in the cold and snowy climate of eastern Asia. Strictly carnivores, the Amur leopard’s diet consists of mostly small deer. Once a kill has been made, they will carry their prey to a high point for safe storage. These stealthy, speedy hunters excel at climbing and jumping. Living alone, rather than in the company of other Amur leopards, they can keep and defend territories of up to 40 square miles.

Encroaching civilization and roads, poaching, and exploitation of forests have brought this animal to the brink of extinction. Fewer than 40 animals are estimated to remain in the wild, resulting in the classification of the Amur leopard as a critically-endangered species.

Photo Credit:  Minnesota Zoo

Bath Time for Tiny Tiger!

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Minnesota Zoo’s 3-week-old Amur Tiger cub is growing strong and thriving under round-the-clock care from a crew of dedicated zoo keepers.  Born on June 17, the cub was removed from first-time mother Angara because she was not caring for her baby.  The cub is being hand-raised by zoo keepers.

Zoo staffers report that the female cub is very active and feeds every four hours, day and night.  The cub weighs 5.5 pounds and her eyes are now open.  Mother Tigers normally wash their cubs by licking them with their rough, sandpapery tongue.  To bathe this cub, zoo keepers gave the cub a bath with the help of water, soap, and a thick towel.  The result:  a clean and fluffy cub!

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The largest of all cats and one of six remaining tiger subspecies, Amur Tigers are a top predator of far eastern Asia. Thick fur and padded paws protect them against the extreme cold and icy winds of winter, while stripes help render them nearly invisible to prey. Amur Tigers are carnivores, eating mostly large mammals such as deer and wild boar. They will travel over extensive forest territories in search of food. With stealth, speed, and sheer strength, Amur Tigers are well-suited to their role as a hunter. 

Amur Tigers’ home range, reputation as a threat to livestock and humans, and value to poachers has led to their population decline. Around 1940, wild Amur Tiger populations in Russia were estimated to be as low as 20 or 30 individuals. In 2005, scientists estimated that the population had recovered to 430-500 individuals, but it is thought that wild Amur Tigers have declined since then to about 350. Concerted conservation efforts help protect the remaining endangered tigers from the persistent threats of poaching and habitat loss. 

Minnesota Welcomes A Tiny Striped Bundle of Joy

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The Minnesota Zoo is hand raising a brand new bundle of joy. On June 17, two endangered Amur Tiger cubs were born to first-time mother Angara and father Molniy after a 105 day gestation period. After observing the mother with her cubs overnight, Zoo officials decided to pull the babies for hand-rearing. Angara wasn't displaying the quality of maternal care required to successfully raise the cubs. During the critical first days under round the clock human care, the smaller of the two cubs passed away. About two thirds of Amur Tiger cubs survive the first 30 days of life.



Photo credits: Minnesota Zoo

The Amur Tiger’s home range, reputation as a threat to livestock and humans, and value to poachers has led to its population decline. Around 1940, the wild Amur Tiger population in Russia was estimated to be as low as 20 or 30. In 2005, scientists estimated that the population had recovered to 430-500 individuals, but it is thought that wild Amur Tigers have declined since then to about 350. Concerted conservation efforts help protect these remaining endangered Tigers from the persistent threats of poaching and habitat loss.

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Dhole "Toddlers" on Display at Minnesota Zoo

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On April 12, the Minnesota Zoo welcomed its first-ever litter of endangered Dhole pups and on April 14th, the Zoo welcomed a second litter! These births mark the 10th and 11th litters ever born in the United States. Dholes are exhibited at only two other North American institutions besides the Minnesota Zoo. This also marks the first time ZooBorns has shared these fascinating canines. 

The pups are currently in their “toddler” stage, just starting to venture outside of the den. At this time, the exact number of pups is unclear as keepers are giving mothers and pups time to bond and have not ventured into the den, but current estimates are around four pups. The two adult females are sharing maternal duties so the exact parentage of the pups is still unknown.

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Also known as Asian wild dogs, Dholes are a primitive canine species that reside in highly structured social packs. Highly adaptable, they live in diverse habitats in Thailand, Russia, China, and India in areas with plenty of prey, water and suitable den sites. Exclusive carnivores, the Dhole’s diet consists of mostly small to medium-sized deer and wild boar. They den in abandoned burrows and have litters of up to 12 pups. All members of the pack care for the litter.

With less than 2,500 in the wild, Dholes are an endangered species. Due to human population growth in Asia, major threats to the species include habitat loss, lack of prey, and disease from domestic and feral dogs. The Minnesota Zoo supports Dhole conservation in Thailand.

Baby Tamandua Time - A First for the Minnesota Zoo!

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The Minnesota Zoo is thrilled to announce the  rare birth of a Southern Tamandua (pronounced tah-man-do-ah) infant. It is the first Tamandua ever born at the Zoo.  

Born April 8, the Tamandua – a female – has been spending time bonding with her mom in their exhibit on the Tropics Trail. She weighs just under one pound; zoo keepers are still deciding on a name. There are just 30 Tamanduas in AZA-accredited institutions in North America. 

Baby Tamandua with Mom at Minnesota Zoo

2012.04.12 Tropics PM 40Photo credits: 1st and 3rd photos, Galen Sjostrom. 2nd photo Delaina Clementson.

Also known as Lesser Anteaters, Southern Tamanduas have long, curved snouts and long arms that end in sharp claws. Well-designed to take advantage of the abundance of insects living in the rainforest, their thick, coarse fur helps keep ants from biting their skin.  They eat ants, termites, grubs, bees, and honey. Tamanduas can be found in a variety of tropical habitats, from rain forests to arid savannas, and are commonly found near rivers and streams. Clumsy on the ground, these animals spend most of their time in trees, using their long tails to grab branches while climbing. Sometimes called “the stinkers of the forest,” Tamanduas give off a strong smell to mark their territory and scare away other animals.

Popular as Pets, Endangered in the Wild - Baby Chinchillas in Minnesota


The Minnesota Zoo’s Zoomobile program has three new baby chinchillas! Born August 6, the trio were born precocial  -- with their eyes open and fully furred. They weighed about 47 grams (1.6 ounces) at birth. They are nursing and doing well with mom. Typically they are weaned between 6-8 weeks of age.

They are long-lived, with records of some scurrying about to the ripe old age of 20 years. Adult females are heavier than males, weighing up to 28 ounces (800 gms), while males are about 17.5 ounces (500 gms). These rodents are from South America and  were once abundant in the High Andes. While there are quite a few chinchillas in captivity, they are considered to be endangered in the wild due to exploitation because their thick, incredibly soft fur brings a very high price. Pelt hunting diminished populations greatly, but increased the demand as these shy animals became increasingly rare. Commercial trade of wild Chinchillas is now banned.



Photo Credit: Minnesota Zoo

The Minnesota Zoomobile and its team of trained naturalists travel to schools and community events throughout the state of Minnesota and beyond, providing an educational and entertaining environmental experience to a variety of audiences. Zoomobile Naturalists use live animals, biological artifacts, theater techniques, story telling, and audience participation to create a dynamic, personal, and fun program for all ages.


Baby Camel in the Minnesota Snow


Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day (and the upcoming Farm Babies event beginning April 1), a male Bactrian Camel calf is now on exhibit on the Northern Trail at the Minnesota Zoo. Born March 7 weighing a whopping 125 pounds, the calf – who hasn’t been named yet – has been kept offexhibit with his mother to ensure that he was healthy and gaining weight. Camels usually gain approximately two pounds per day, and will reach adult size (1600–1800 pounds and eight feet tall) in 3-4 years. The gestation period for Bactrian camels is just over one year. This is the fifth calf for mom “Sanya” and the eighteenth for dad “Turk.” The calf will nurse for a full year, will be independent at age four, and fully mature at age five.




Photo credits: Minnesota Zoo

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Wobbling Wood Partridge Babies!


The Minnesota Zoo welcomed its first babies of 2011 when two Crested Wood Partridge chicks or “roul roul” hatched on January 5. The Zoo is one of the most successful zoos in the United States for breeding/raising crested Wood Partridges. To ensure their health and safety, the tiny chicks are being cared for behind-the-scenes by the Zoo’s aviary staff. The chicks, which weighed approximately 12 grams at hatching, are continually gaining weight. Zoo keepers do not yet know the sex of the chicks. Since 1978 when the Minnesota Zoo opened, it has welcomed 234 chicks.

Photo credits: Minnesota Zoo

Minnesota Zoo's Dolphin Calf Is Ready for Visitors!

Born July 17 to mom “Allie” and dad “Semo,” Minnesota Zoo's newest calf has spent the past few months bonding with mom, meeting grandma “April,” growing rapidly, and exhibiting her own independence (as mom allows). Weighing approximately 30 pounds and measuring 2-3 feet long at birth, she is now approximately four feet long weighing 60 pounds. Marine mammal staff have closely monitored her since birth and so far, the calf is doing very well. Because she is exploring her new environment, she may not be visible at all times.



Photo credits: Bob Cole

"Now that the calf is three months old and being well cared for by her mom Allie and grandma April, its time to take the next step and give all three females access to the main exhibit pool," said Marine Mammal Supervisor Diane Fusco. "It will be under Allie's watchful eye that the calf explores her new surroundings. We look forward to seeing her more and more, and we know our guests will enjoy watching her antics as she explores her new home." Male dolphins play no role in the rearing of their calves, and because the father could become aggressive toward the mother and/or calf or possibly interfere with the mother/calf bonding process, Semo will be introduced to the calf once the calf is strong and well-bonded with Allie. Semo, 45, is believed to be one of the oldest reproducing male dolphins in human care.