Today, August 12, is World Elephant Day!
World Elephant Day focuses on raising awareness to help elephants. African and Asian elephants face many threats including poaching, habitat loss, human-elephant conflict, mistreatment in captivity, and more.
According to the World Elephant Day site:
World Elephant Day asks you to experience elephants in non-exploitive and sustainable environments where elephants can thrive under care and protection. On World Elephant Day, August 12, express your concern, share your knowledge and support solutions for the better care of captive and wild elephants alike.
What can you do to help elephants?
- Learn about elephants and the important role they play in the ecosystem. (See our article, African elephant, to read more.)
- Participate in eco-tourism whose operators treat elephants with respect. Boosting Africa’s economy through eco-tourism helps placate local residents who view elephants as pests.
- Never buy, sell, or wear ivory.
- Write to your politicians to speak out against poaching. (Americans can write a letter to the Secretary of State on the Wildlife Conservation Society website.)
- Encourage the ethical treatment of elephants in captivity. Boycott circuses, whose unethical treatment includes chaining elephants up by their feet and trunks, as well as beating them frequently. Urge zoos to create environments similar to African elephants’ native habitat.
See the World Elephant Day’s page, How to Help Elephants, for more ideas.
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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, 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.
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.
Baby giraffe, Tamu Massif, arrived on May 16 at the Memphis Zoo. Photo by Caitlin Miller. Courtesy of Memphis Zoo.
Excitement continues at the Memphis Zoo with the birth of a baby reticulated giraffe on May 16. The male giraffe calf, named Tamu Massif (tam-MOO mah-SEEF), weighs 150 pounds. He is the fifth calf for mother Marilyn.
“Tamu is doing incredibly well,” says Matt Thompson, Director of Animal Programs. “He’s happy and healthy. Marilyn is a great, experienced mother, so she’s taking this all in stride.”
The giraffe’s name means “sweet giant”. It is also the name of a dormant, underwater volcano in the Pacific Ocean.
Tamu explores his surroundings as other members of the herd look on. Photo by Caitlin Miller. Courtesy of Memphis Zoo.
To learn more about the baby giraffe, visit the Memphis Zoo’s website. You can learn more about giraffes at Animal Fact Guide’s giraffe facts page.
Unlike humans, octopuses are not constantly aware of the location of their arms. So with eight limbs in motion, it’s a wonder how their arms don’t get tangled up together.
According to researcher Guy Levy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, “We thought about it and we said, ‘How is it possible that the arms don’t grab each other?’”
Levy and his colleague Nir Nesher conducted a series of experiments with octopus arms. They observed that the suckers on the octopus arm would grab objects within its reach, but it would not grab anything with octopus skin. Their studies suggested that octopus skin has a repellent chemical. The sucker on an octopus arm can “taste” this repellent, so it does not grab on to it.
According to Roger Hanlon, of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, “In fact, many of the sensory neurons known to occur in cephalopod suckers have unknown functions. The authors have widened our view of octopus sensory perception and provided some stimulating research questions to pursue.”
For more on this study, including a podcast, visit the NPR website.
To learn more fun facts about octopuses, see Animal Fact Guide’s common octopus facts page.
Busch Gardens experienced a baby boom this spring!
Three giraffe calves were born in March to mothers Bititi, Tequiza and Celina at Busch Gardens. Photo by Busch Gardens.
There were three reticulated giraffes born on March 12, 14, and 18 to mothers Bititi, Tequiza, and Celina. At birth, the two female calves were 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighed over 100 pounds. The male calf was more than 6 feet tall and weighed nearly 150 pounds! The females will eventually grow to be about 16 feet tall, and the male will be 18 feet tall. (Giraffes are the tallest mammals on earth!)
Within an hour of being born, all the calves were standing up. And within two hours, they were all nursing! For now, the babies will reside behind-the-scenes, but in the coming weeks they will be on view on Busch Gardens’ Serengeti Plain.
For more information, visit the Busch Gardens website.
To learn more about giraffes, visit our giraffe facts page.
Crowned lemur mama Tucker is keeping her baby close to her at Lincoln Park Zoo. Photo courtesy of Lincoln Park Zoo.
A baby crowned lemur was born on April 14 at Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago! Tucker, the mother, is keeping her newborn very close to her, so the gender and size of the baby have not been determined yet.
“Tucker is an experienced mother and the infant is healthy, nursing and growing,” said Curator of Primates Maureen Leahy. “We’re ecstatic to welcome our first crowned lemur infant who we hope will shed light on this threatened species.”
In the wild, lemurs inhabit the forests of Madagascar. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), crowned lemurs are considered threatened because of forest loss due to slash-and-burn practices, habitat fragmentation, charcoal production, mining and other environmental impacts from humans.
Learn more about the crowned lemur baby at the Lincoln Park Zoo website.