Juvenile Komodo Dragons at Nashville Zoo

Komodo dragons

Two young Komodo dragons have arrived at Nashville Zoo! Photo courtesy of Nashville Zoo.

Two juvenile Komodo dragons are now on view at the Nashville Zoo! They measure about two feet long and weigh two pounds now, but they will eventually grow to be over nine feet long and weigh around 200 pounds!

In the wild, Komodo dragons live in the volcanic islands of Indonesia.  They are carnivorous apex predators, which means they are at the top of the food chain with few to no other predators.  In one meal, they can eat 80% of their body weight (over 100 pounds of meat!).

Fewer than 2,500 Komodo dragons remain in the wild, and the IUCN considers them vulnerable. Threats include habitat loss, loss of prey species, hunting, and persecution.

Komodo dragon

Photo by Marty Fitzpatrick | Nashville Zoo.

Featured Animal: Hippopotamus

Meet our featured animal: the hippopotamus!

Hippo family

Here are five fun facts about hippopotamuses:

  • The hippo is second heaviest land mammal in the world.
  • The body of the hippopotamus is well suited for aquatic life. Their eyes, ears and nostrils are located at the top of their head, so they are able to see, hear, and breathe while mostly submerged.
  • Due to their dense bodies, hippos do not swim. Instead, when in the water, they tap their feet along the ground to propel themselves.
  • When out of the water, hippos secrete a red-colored substance to cool their hairless skin. The secretion is referred to as ‘blood-sweat’ but is actually neither of those fluids.
  • As herbivores, they feed on short grass for six hours a night, consuming up to 68 kg (150 lb.) of food.

Learn more at our hippopotamus facts page!

Baby Klipspringer at Florida Zoo

Baby klipspringer at Brevard Zoo.

Baby klipspringer at Brevard Zoo. Photo courtesy of Brevard Zoo.

Brevard Zoo in Melbourne, FL welcomed a female klipspringer calf on June 15. She weighed two pounds at birth and is doing well.

The zoo staff are especially excited over this special birth because the little calf’s mother Vera has a history of medical issues. In May 2013, Vera came to Brevard Zoo with an injured leg.  After an extensive surgery, Vera developed an infection in her leg and veterinarians had to amputate it.

Klipspringers at Brevard Zoo.

The baby klipspringer with her parents, Vera and Marley. Photo courtesy of Brevard Zoo.

Despite her physical disability, Vera was able to hop around the yard and onto the rocks with just three legs. Now, with the birth of the little calf, Vera is showing she is a great mother as well.

In the wild, klipspringers inhabit the rocky terrain of eastern and southern Africa. They are very agile creatures, able to leap and balance on very steep, narrow ledges. In fact, the word klipspringer translates to “rock jumper”.

For more information, see the Brevard Zoo website.

Baby Rattlesnakes at Chicago Zoo

Eastern massasauga rattlesnake

Eastern massasauga rattlesnake at Lincoln Park Zoo. Photo courtesy of Lincoln Park Zoo.

Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago announced the birth of 13 eastern massasauga rattlesnakes, an endangered species in Illinois.  The snakes were born on June 20.

“We are overjoyed by the arrival of this litter,” said Diane Mulkerin, curator at Lincoln Park Zoo. “The zoo is extremely enthusiastic about the significant positive impact these rattlesnakes will have on this endangered population.”

Eastern massasauga rattlesnake

Photo courtesy of Lincoln Park Zoo.

The baby rattlesnakes are the size of a US quarter when coiled, but they can grow to be 30 inches long. In the wild, eastern massasauga rattlesnakes ranges from the Midwest to New York and Ontario and inhabits forests, fields, and marshes.

Learn more at the Lincoln Park Zoo website.

Baby Camel at Memphis Zoo

Baby dromedary camel

Photo courtesy of Memphis Zoo.

Despite being less than a week old, the baby dromedary camel at Memphis Zoo already weighs 68 pounds and measures 3 feet tall!  The male camel calf was born on Thursday, June 12 to parents Mona Lisa and Solomon.

Mama and baby are doing well in the Camel Excursion exhibit at the zoo. The newborn will spend the next 18 months nursing from his mother.

According to Matt Thompson, Director of Animal Programs, “Similar to giraffes, the most important things we look for are the calf’s ability to stand as well as nurse. He is already walking and has nursed several times.”

Dromedary camel baby and mother

Photo courtesy of Memphis Zoo.

Dromedary camels are one of two species of camels, with the other species being Bactrian. Dromedary (aka Arabian camels) have only one hump, while Bactrian camels have two.

Learn more at the Memphis Zoo website.

VIDEO: Bonobos and Kindness

Much like humans, bonobos show kindness to strangers.  Through experiments and observation, researchers have seen bonobos demonstrate empathy and go out of their way to help others.

Watch a video below about bonobos, kindness, and their unfortunate predicament in the wild:

Source: National Geographic.

Learn more about bonobos in our bonobo facts article.

Honk! Honk! Trumpeter Swan Cygnets Arrive at Lincoln Park Zoo

Trumpeter swans

Four trumpeter swans were born this week at the Lincoln Park Zoo. Photo by Todd Rosenberg / Lincoln Park Zoo.

Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago welcomed four baby trumpeter swans (called cygnets) on June 2 and 3 to two sets of parents. The cygnets are already exploring the zoo’s McCormick Swan Pond with their parents.

The young swans will learn all the necessary survival skill at the zoo, including swimming and feeding independently on seeds, grains, wetland plants, insects, and small fish. Then, in the fall, the swans will be released into the wild in Iowa as part of a collaborative reintroduction program with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

“It’s amazing to see how resilient this species truly is,” said Hope B. McCormick Curator of Birds, Sunny Nelson. “Twenty years ago these birds were nearly extinct and are beginning to make quite the comeback, due in part to reintroduction collaborations such as with the Iowa DNR.”

Trumpeter swan cygnets

Photo by Todd Rosenberg / Lincoln Park Zoo.

Trumpeter swans are the largest waterfowl in North America. They are easily identified by their black bills, white plumage, and 8-feet wingspans. Usually, trumpeter swans mate for life.

For more info, see the Lincoln Park Zoo website.

Oakland Zoo Welcomes Baby Baboon

Meet Mimi, a baby hamadryas baboon born at the Oakland Zoo on May 21st! The little baboon is settling in well, nursing with her mother, Maya.

Baby baboon and mother

Baby baboon, Mimi, with her mother Maya. Photo by Oakland Zoo.

Mimi has two older siblings, Kodee and Mocha, who are very curious about her.

“This new baby is great because not only do we have parent raised baboons, but the other two youngsters are able to witness and participate in infant care, which will only make them better mothers in the future,” said Margaret Rousser, Zoological Manager at Oakland Zoo.

Hamadryas baboons live in groups called troops.  They eat vegetables, insects, and red meat. In the wild, they inhabit Ethiopia, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen.

Learn more at the Oakland Zoo website.

Featured Animal: Meerkat

Meet our featured animal: the meerkat!

Meerkats

Here are five fun facts about meerkats:

  • Meerkats live in groups of 20-50 extended family members in large underground tunnels. These family groups are called gangs or mobs.
  • One of the most important roles a meerkat plays is that of the sentry, or watch guard. The sentry will stand on its hind legs, propped up by its tail, and act as a lookout while the rest of the mob is outside the burrow.
  • Meerkats are specially adapted to living in the harsh desert environment. Dark patches around their eyes help them be effective lookouts by reducing the glare of the sun, much like a baseball player who paints dark lines beneath his eyes.
  • Meerkats also possess special adaptations to help them burrow. Their eyes have a clear protective membrane that shields them from dirt while digging. Their ears also close tightly to keep dirt out.
  • A meerkat’s diet consists of mainly insects, supplemented by small rodents, fruit, birds, eggs, lizards, and even poisonous scorpions.

Learn more at our meerkat facts page!

Tubby Baby Porcupine at Woodland Park Zoo

Baby porcupine at Woodland Park Zoo.

Woodland Park Zoo’s baby porcupine, Marty. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo is home to Marty, an 8 week old baby porcupine (or porcupette). The roly-poly porcupine was born on April 4 to parents Molly and Oliver.

She was captured on camera enjoying a treat of leaves, twigs, and bark in her exhibit in the Northern Trail. Watch the video below:

Learn more about Marty at the Woodland Park Zoo website.

Photo and video by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.