Bison Herd Expands at Wildlife Safari Park

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The Bison herd at Wildlife Safari Park in Ashland, Nebraska grew this summer. A calf was born on May 27 and visitors can now see the auburn-colored calf roaming the ‘Bison Plains’ with mom and the herd.

Bison calves turn dark brown a few months after birth---the same time their characteristic hump and horns start to grow.

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3_Bison calf with mother at Wildlife Safari Park (3)Photo Credits: Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo/Wildlife Safari Park

Since its opening in 1998, Wildlife Safari Park has played a key role in conserving Bison and educating the public about the critical challenges impacting the native species—the national mammal of the United States. Wildlife Safari Park currently has 33 Bison, including the new calf.

Wildlife Safari Park offers four miles of drive-through North American wildlife viewing from the comfort of your own vehicle. Wildlife Safari Park visitors can see a variety of animals in their natural habitats, including more than 60 American Elk spread across the 50-acre Elk Meadow and a 10-acre wetlands area with American White Pelicans. Visitors can explore the newest exhibit, Prairie Dog Town, and see other animals, such as: White-tailed Deer, Trumpeter Swans, Sandhill Cranes and Whooping Cranes (who came to Wildlife Safari Park this past April).

Visitors can take advantage of the nice weather and explore two miles of hiking trails, which pass Wolf Canyon, home to six grey wolves and three American black bears. At the Hands-on-Corral, kids of all ages can interact with their favorite farm animals, such as pygmy goats and chickens.

Visit www.OmahaZoo.com for more information.


Woodland Park Zoo Celebrates Crane Hatchlings

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For the first time in Woodland Park Zoo’s 119-year history, a pair of White-naped Cranes successfully hatched. The chicks emerged July 9 and 10 and are the first offspring for 8-year-old mom, Laura, and 9-year-old dad, Cal. The sex of the unnamed chicks has not yet been determined.

The Seattle, WA zoo has had White-naped Cranes for around 30 years, but none successfully produced offspring until now. The new parents have been at the zoo for five years.

“This is such a significant hatching and a symbol of hope for the vulnerable species,” said Mark Myers, bird curator at Woodland Park Zoo. “The successful breeding and hatching are attributed to the bond between the parents, the quality of their habitat, and the expert day-to-day care and dedication provided by our animal keepers. We’re very proud of our team and our new parents.”

According to Myers, cranes are monogamous and can be very picky when choosing a mate: “Even the slightest incompatibility between two birds can prevent successful breeding; they will only breed once a strong pair bond is formed between them. Even then, it can take several years to solidify that bond,” explained Myers.

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Photo Credits: Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo

Parents Cal and Laura were paired on a recommendation from the White-naped Crane Species Survival Plan, a cooperative conservation-breeding program to help ensure a healthy, self-sustaining population of White-naped Cranes in zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums. There are currently fewer than 75 White-naped Cranes in the program. This successful hatching has augmented the numbers of this long-lived species.

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Zoo Marks Third Giraffe Calf in Three Years

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The Milwaukee County Zoo proudly announced details of a Reticulated Giraffe birth on July 13. The new youngster marks the third giraffe calf born at the Zoo in the last three years.

The male was born to mom, Ziggy, and dad, Bahatika (also known as Baha). This is Ziggy and Baha’s third calf together; Tafari was born in 2015, and Kazi was born in 2017. This newest calf has been named Desmond.

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Zoo veterinarians completed Desmond’s first exam, and they recorded an initial weight of about 152 pounds and a height of approximately 5 feet 7 inches tall.

It was reported that the calf got his balance quickly after birth, seemed very strong, and was able to stand up within 55 minutes of birth. Ziggy was also said to be an attentive mother.

Ziggy is 9-years-old, and arrived at the Milwaukee County Zoo in 2013 from Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Bahatika is 14-years-old, and arrived at MCZ in 2006 from the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado.

The Zoo currently houses seven giraffes: adults Bahatika, Marlee, Ziggy, Rahna; youngsters Kazi and Maya; and the newborn.

Giraffes are the tallest land animals, and are typically between 14-19 feet tall and weigh between 1,750-2,800 pounds. Giraffes use their long necks to reach leaves and buds in trees that other herbivores can’t reach.

Of the nine subspecies of giraffes, two are considered endangered: the Reticulated and the Masai.

In the wild, the Reticulated Giraffe population has dropped by 80 percent in the last decade and the Masai Giraffe population has dropped by nearly 50 percent in the last three decades. However, all giraffe populations are declining, with hunting and habitat loss as the major threats. Due to their current status, every giraffe birth is very important for the population.


Milwaukee County Zoo Welcomes Second Red Panda

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The Milwaukee County Zoo announced the birth of a female Red Panda cub.

The new cub, named Kiki, was born June 7 to mother, Dr. Erin Curry, and father, Dash. This is the pair’s second cub; she is part of the Red Panda Species Survival Plan (SSP), which helps to maintain genetic diversity within Red Panda populations in AZA-accredited zoos. Dr. Erin is a very attentive mother, and Kiki is developing as expected.

Kiki weighed 160 grams two days after birth and, and at a little more than one month old, weighed approximately 906 grams. Her most recent reported weight was 1,192 grams at 46 days old.

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Zookeepers comment that Kiki spends most of her time eating and sleeping, and that she’s “adorable.” She is currently developing off exhibit, but should be visible to guests at the Red Panda habitat sometime in September.

Blind for the first 21-to-31 days after birth, cubs are safely hidden in nests for the first 2 to 3 months. The Zoo’s new cub has relied on mom for milk, and will stay with her mother for about one year. Then, she’ll learn important life skills, such as hunting and climbing.

Dr. Erin and Dash had their first cub, Dr. Lily Parkinson, in June 2018. Dr. Lily was the first Red Panda cub born at the Zoo. She was transferred to the Nashville Zoo last spring as recommended by the Red Panda SSP.

Red Pandas are easily identifiable by their reddish-brown color, white face markings and speckling of black around their ears and legs. They begin to get adult coloration at around 50 days old, which acts as a camouflage in their natural surroundings.

In the wild, they live in the mountains of Nepal, northern Myanmar and central China. Red Pandas are considered endangered due to deforestation, poaching, and trapping. Reliable population numbers are difficult to find due to their secretive nature, but it is estimated that only around 10,000 individuals exist in the wild. Because of this low number, every birth is very important.


New Bactrian Camel at Milwaukee County Zoo

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The Milwaukee County Zoo announced the birth of a male Bactrian Camel on June 7. The calf, named Jethro, was born to parents Addie-Jean (better known as A.J.) and Stan.

Mother, A.J., is 7-years-old, and father, Stan, is 6-years-old. This is A.J. and Stan’s second offspring. Their other son, George, was born in 2017.

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Jethro weighed 85 pounds at birth, which is underweight for a newborn calf. Zookeepers also noticed that the he had trouble nursing due to his lower jaw being longer than his upper. Because of his low weight and inability to adequately feed on his own, zookeepers began providing supplemental bottle feedings for the calf.

However, at 5 weeks old, he was gaining weight and began to have the energy levels for a camel his age. Vets are continuing to carefully monitor the camel’s weight and overall health.

Bactrian Camels (Camelus bactrianus) can grow up to 7 feet tall and weigh up to 1,800 pounds. They have long, wooly coats that range in color from dark brown to beige. Bactrians also have manes and beards of long hair on their necks and throats. They can be distinguished from other species of camels by their two humps—Dromedary camels only have one.

Bactrian Camels are native to central Asia. They migrate with flocks through harsh conditions; including, sparse vegetation, limited water sources, and extreme temperatures. They have several adaptations that allow them to survive in these conditions. For one, their humps allow them to travel long distances without food or water. It is a common misconception that the humps store water; however, they actually store fat, which can be used as energy when nutrients aren’t available. Another adaptation is their two rows of long eyelashes that block their eyes from sand and dust.

They are herbivores and have extremely tough mouths that allow them to eat almost any type of vegetation, even those with thorns. In times of environmental stress, they will eat fish, carcasses, and rope, among others.

Wild Bactrian Camels are considered “Critically Endangered” by the IUCN. Their population is expected to decrease by 80 percent in the next three generations because of hunting and predation.


River Safari Celebrates Fourth Giant Anteater Pup

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River Safari welcomed its fourth Giant Anteater on July 17, bringing the park’s current collection of the threatened species to four. As Iapura is an experienced mother having given birth to her previous pup, Leona, on March 3, 2018, she required no assistance from her keepers when birthing this newborn. Giant Anteaters can have a single offspring, once a year, after a gestation period of about 6 months.

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WRS_RS_Img 3_giant_anteater_pupPhoto Credits: Wildlife Reserves Singapore

Weighing only 1.6kg at birth, the yet-to-be-named new pup possesses surprising strength for its small stature, climbing and clinging onto her mother’s back with ease. The newborn spends much of her time on her mother’s back. In this position, it can be difficult to spot the pup, as its coat of hair is almost identical to an adult’s, allowing her to blend in with her mother. This trick comes in handy for anteaters in the wild as it protects the pup from predators and makes the mother appear larger, making for less tempting prey.

Currently on her mother’s milk, the pup will gradually be weaned and introduced to solid food—a mixture of insectivore pellets and ant eggs—when she is about five months old.

Members of the public can vote for their preferred name of the pup by commenting on the video on Wildlife Reserves Singapore’s Facebook page from August 21 through 28. The pup’s keepers have shortlisted two names for public voting: “Amazon”, after the giant anteater’s natural habitat in the Amazon rainforest or “Estrella”, meaning ‘star’ in Spanish, the language most often spoken in her native range of South America.

Iapura and her pup will be introduced to the Giant Anteater exhibit along River Safari’s Amazon River Quest boat ride when the latter turns four months old. In the meantime, guests can either spot father, Zapata, or daughter, Leona, by their distinct narrow head, bushy tail and long snout.

The Giant Anteater is the largest species of anteater out of four and is listed as “Vulnerable” on IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species, due to habitat loss, road-kill, and hunting.

The animals cared for by WRS are part of the international conservation-breeding program (EEP) managed by the European Association of Zoo and Aquaria (EAZA).


Baby Fur Seal Winning Fans in Poland

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An African Fur Seal born on June 17 at Poland’s Zoo Wrocław is already charming zoo guests and her care team with her winning personality.

The pup was named Zuri by her fans on social media. The name comes from Shona, a language used by the Bantu peoples in the Seals’ native African home.

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DSC_4029-Edit kotik małyPhoto Credit: Zoo Wrocław

A minor health issue resulted in Zuri requiring extra care from her keepers. Fortunately, Zuri turned out to be perfectly healthy, but her care team now has a special bond with the little Seal.

Zuri still nurses from her mother Nabi. She is the fourth African Sea Lion pup to be born at Zoo Wrocław. Her three siblings provide her with plenty of playmates. Zuri is still learning to swim, so she has yet to join the group in the main pool, preferring instead to practice swimming in a mini-pool behind the scenes.

The zoo’s Seals participate in daily training sessions, which zoo guests can watch. The training sessions allow the Seals to participate in their own medical care and permit the care team to monitor the animals closely.

African Fur Seals inhabit the coastlines of southwestern and southern Africa. For most of the year, the Seals live in the ocean, where they dive up to 600 feet to capture fish. Fur Seals come ashore only during the breeding season.

African Fur Seals are not threatened at this time, but other marine species are under pressure from reduced fish populations, caused when humans overharvest fish. Fur Seals are still legally hunted in Namibia for their fur and other body parts.


Rare Caterpillars Will Bring Butterflies Back From Near Extinction

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More than 150 rare caterpillars hatched at Chester Zoo are now destined for release into the wild in parts of England, where they have been extinct for a century.

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Tiny  rare large heath caterpillars destined for the wild hatch at Chester Zoo (1)
Tiny  rare large heath caterpillars destined for the wild hatch at Chester Zoo (1)Photo Credit: Chester Zoo

Conservationists at the zoo have been using fine art paintbrushes to move the miniscule species into their specially designed habitats at the zoo.

The paintbrushes allow the zoo’s invertebrate keepers to be precise and delicate when handling the precious insects.

After plenty of eating and growth, the tiny youngsters will hibernate over the winter and pupate next year, emerging in the summer as Large Heath Butterflies.

Large Heath Butterflies were once common across the British Isles but over the last 200 years, they have been pushed further and further north. Large colonies previously at home in the boggy mosses of Manchester and Liverpool have long since been lost to local extinction.

As the UK has built its agriculture over the last two centuries, the wet mosslands that the Large Heath needs to survive have been drained and converted into farmland. As the land dried, the food plants for the Butterfly were lost, resulting in a cascade of wildlife disappearance.

The Butterfly can be identified by its orange wings, each bearing six black and white ‘eyespots’ on the underside. Conservationists hope to ensure that they will one day be a common sight across the UK once again.

Ben Baker, Team Manager of the Chester Zoo Butterfly team, said, “Few people realize that the Butterflies we might see in our gardens, forests and mosslands across the UK are heavily under threat, with many species disappearing from their last strongholds throughout England. It is an amazing privilege to play a part in embarking these rare caterpillars on their journey, returning the species to their historic home.”

Chester Zoo supports conservationists and conservation projects across the United Kingdom to prevent the extinction of unique and endangered species, safeguarding diverse and healthy ecosystems.




Grey Crowned-crane Chick Makes Debut

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A Grey Crowned-crane, which hatched at the National Aviary on July 27, made its public debut last week. The fluffy chick strutted around the historic National Aviary Rose Garden for visitors, stretching its long legs during one of its multiple daily walks. The daily walks provide the chick with opportunities to stretch its growing legs and prepare it for its role as an educational ambassador for its species.

“The hatching of our new Grey Crowned-crane chick is an exciting opportunity for visitors to experience what we at the National Aviary see every day: birds growing and thriving. Visitors can watch this chick grow up right before their eyes,” said Cathy Schlott, Curator of Behavioral Management and Education at the National Aviary. “The fact that Grey Crowned-cranes are endangered makes this little one even more special!”

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Grey Crowned-cranes (Balearica regulorum) are one of the most recognizable crane species, noted for their elaborate golden-yellow plumage resembling a crown on their heads. Cranes are precocial birds, and begin walking and exploring their world within hours of hatching.

The crane chick is being hand-raised by experts at the National Aviary, where it will live behind the scenes and become an educational ambassador for its species. Visitors to the National Aviary will be able to meet the crane and learn about the species. Grey Crowned-cranes are listed as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, with fewer than 25,000 individuals remaining in the wild. Native to the wetlands and grasslands of Eastern and Southern Africa, the species faces declining numbers due to habitat loss and overuse of pesticides.

The National Aviary’s new chick weighed 87 grams when it hatched, and was about the size of a large pear, and is growing rapidly. Recently, it weighed 183 grams, about a half a pound. In just three months, the downy tan chick will reach its full adult size of over three feet tall, with a wingspan of 6.5 feet. In about 18 months, the chick will have full adult plumage, and will be a striking gray with red, black, and white features. A feather DNA test will determine the sex of the chick.


Nashville Zoo Hatches First Chilean Flamingo

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Nashville Zoo is pleased to announce the successful hatching of a Chilean Flamingo. The Flamingo egg came from Memphis Zoo on July 16 and had been kept in an incubator to develop until it hatched in the early morning hours of Monday, July 29. 

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This is the first time Nashville Zoo has housed a Chilean Flamingo. It will be hand-reared by keeper and veterinary staff, so it can be a part of the Ambassador Animal program. The goal of the Ambassador Animal program is to encourage guests to learn more about animals and have up-close experiences through animal encounters, animal shows and outreach programs.

“We’re excited to welcome this Chilean Flamingo to Nashville Zoo and as an ambassador for its species,” said Jac Menish, Nashville Zoo Behavioral Husbandry Curator. “Our goal is to eventually build a flock of ambassador Flamingos, which will help us educate the public about how threatened this species is in the wild and ways humans can help them survive.”

The sex of the chick will be determined within the next couple of weeks. Gender determination is based on the biological materials that remain in the egg post-hatch. Those materials are sent to a lab for genomic analysis and they provide the information on the gender. This process eliminates the need to draw blood samples to determine gender when the chick is older.

The Chilean Flamingo is considered Near Threatened by the International Union For Conservation of Nature. Populations are in decline due to energy production and mining, biological resource use, human intrusions and disturbance and natural system modifications.

Through the Zoo's Wild Works Global Conservation program an avian keeper traveled to Bolivia to help research and band three species of Flamingos, including St. James, Andean and Chilean. The keeper was able to work with the Flamingos directly and gain knowledge about what is impacting them in the wild.

Unlike the bright pink hue of the Caribbean Flamingo found in the parts of the United States, the Chilean Flamingo has a pale pink plumage with black and gray secondary feathers. These Flamingos are found in warm, tropical environments at high altitudes in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay and Peru. Because the waters and soils in their native habitats are alkaline, most of the surrounding areas are arid and barren of vegetation.