King Penguin Chick at SeaWorld Orlando

Two-week old king penguin chick at SeaWorld Orlando.

Two-week old king penguin chick at SeaWorld Orlando. Photo by SeaWorld Orlando.

On November 30, SeaWorld Orlando welcomed the first chick to hatch at their new attraction, Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin. The two-week old king penguin chick weighs 882 grams (30 oz.). It is being cared for by its parents with routine checkups from SeaWorld Orlando staff. The little chick will grow to more than 11 kilograms (24 lbs.) and over 2.5 feet tall.

Like emperor penguins, king penguins do not build nests. Instead the mother and father take turns incubating the egg under their belly on top of their feet.

Learn more at the SeaWorld Orlando website.

Baby Red Kangaroo at Lincoln Park Zoo

Red Kangaroo mom and joey

Photo by Lincoln Park Zoo.

After many months, a red kangaroo joey has taken his first peek outside his mother’s pouch at the Lincoln Park Zoo. The little baby was born in early May, but has spent the time securely tucked away in the pouch growing bigger and stronger.

Joeys are blind and hairless at birth, and weigh less than an ounce.  They use their forearms to crawl up the mother’s abdomen into the pouch. Once there, the joey latches on to his mother’s teat to nurse.

This little joey was the first offspring for mother Anna and father Jacob. According to Curator Diane Mulkerin, “This little roo has been very secretive so far. Animal care staffers suspected the pregnancy in mid-spring and have been watching very closely ever since. At the end of July, they started seeing movement around mom’s abdomen, and at long last, the little one has finally begun to peek out of the pouch.”

Red Kangaroo mom and joey

Photo by Lincoln Park Zoo.

Red kangaroos are native to Australia. In the wild, they live in large groups called mobs.

Learn more at the Lincoln Park Zoo website.

Giant Anteater Born at Nashville Zoo

Baby giant anteater at Nashville Zoo. Photo by Heather Robertson / Nashville Zoo.

Baby giant anteater at Nashville Zoo. Photo by Heather Robertson / Nashville Zoo.

Nashville Zoo welcomed a male giant anteater on November 16.  The new addition, named Gabana, is doing well with mother Dulce living in the off-exhibit giant anteater barn.

Nashville Zoo has been active in anteater conservation for 15 years. This is the fifth anteater birth for the zoo in the last 13 months.

In the wild, giant anteaters inhabit the tropical forests of Central and South America. They are considered vulnerable of extinction by the IUCN.

Learn more at the Nashville Zoo’s website.

Masai Giraffe Calf at Toronto Zoo

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Toronto Zoo welcomed a baby Masai giraffe last month. The female calf was named Mstari (pronounced mi-starry), which means “stripes” in Swahili, after her late father who was called Stripes. The baby giraffe and her mother Twiga are doing very well.

“The Toronto Zoo is part of the Masai Giraffe Species Survival Plan (SSP) and the birth of this calf is very important to the North American captive population”, says Maria Franke, Toronto Zoo Curator of Mammals. This is the 17th Masai giraffe born at the Toronto Zoo.

Photo by Ken Ardill, Toronto Zoo.

Snow Leopard Cub Makes Public Debut at Memphis Zoo

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Three-month old snow leopard cub Taza made his public debut at the Memphis Zoo last week! He and doting mother Ateri are on view in a special display area adjacent to the snow leopard exhibit.

“We can’t wait to show off the little guy to our visitors,” said Gail Karr, Assistant Curator of Mammals. “He has been such a joy to watch over these last three months, and we know the public is going to love him like we do.”

Taza will eventually move to another zoo where he’ll be paired up with a female snow leopard as part of the Species Survival Plan.

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Photos courtesy of Memphis Zoo.

Bush Dog Pups at the Twycross Zoo

Bush dog babies

The Twycross Zoo welcomed three bush dog babies on August 21. Photo credit: Twycross Zoo.

The Twycross Zoo is pleased to announce the birth of three South American bush dogs! First time parents Japura (mother) and Aztek (father) have done an excellent job caring for the litter.

Zookeeper Chris Simpson commented: “When we arrived on the morning of the 21st August we knew Japura had given birth overnight, but it took a week or so to confirm there were three pups in the litter. They are yet to be sexed so we haven’t got names for the new arrivals at the moment.”

Bush dog carrying pup

Mother Japura carries one of the pups. Photo credit: Gillian Day / Twycross Zoo.

This is the first litter of bush dogs the Twycross Zoo has had in almost a decade. According to team leader Julian Chapman, “The fact that these animals have produced their first litter within a year of moving into their new enclosure is a testament to the thought and effort that the staff at Twycross Zoo are putting into the redevelopment of the animal enclosures.”

In the wild, bush dogs inhabit Central and South America. Well-adapted to a semi-aquatic lifestyle, they have webbed feet to help them swim. They are also unique in that they produce a strong scent that resembles vinegar.

Bush dogs are considered near threatened by the IUCN due to loss habitat for farming, loss of prey species, and an increase in diseases affecting canines.

For more info, see the Twycross Zoo website.

Polite Marmoset Monkey Conversations

Are you as polite as this marmoset monkey? Photo credit: BirdPhotos.com.

Are you as polite as this marmoset monkey? Photo credit: BirdPhotos.com.

Princeton University researchers discovered that marmosets (a kind of new world monkey) take turns speaking with one another, similar to people! During their vocal exchanges, which can last up to 30 minutes, the monkeys wait their turn to speak. They don’t interrupt each other.

According to one of the study’s authors, Asif Ghazanfar:

“We were surprised by how reliably the marmoset monkeys exchanged their vocalizations in a cooperative manner, particularly since in most cases they were doing so with individuals that they were not pair-bonded with.

“This makes what we found much more similar to human conversations and very different from the coordinated calling of animals such as birds, frogs, or crickets, which is linked to mating or territorial defense.”

This research on marmoset vocalizations could provide clues about the early development of conversation in humans.

For more information, see:

Baby Masai Giraffe at Toronto Zoo

Masai giraffe mother and calf

Masai giraffe mother and calf at the Toronto Zoo. Photo credit: Toronto Zoo.

Twiga, a 23-year-old Masai giraffe at the Toronto Zoo gave birth yesterday to a baby female calf!

“The Toronto Zoo is part of the Masai Giraffe Species Survival Plan (SSP) and the birth of this calf is very important to the North American captive population,” says Maria Franke, Toronto Zoo Curator of Mammals.

To learn more about giraffes, see our giraffe facts page.

Rare Crane Chicks at the Memphis Zoo

West African black crowned cranes

Three West African black crowned crane chicks with their parents at the Memphis Zoo. Photos by Sara Taylor / Memphis Zoo.

The Memphis Zoo welcomed three West African black crowned crane chicks last month. This is the first hatching of this type of crane at the zoo, and the first for these parents! According to Carol Hesch, Assistant Curator, “Since early on, they’ve been great parents. I can’t praise them enough for the excellent job they’ve been doing.”

Three crane chicks

In the wild, about 15,000 West African black crowned cranes range from Senegal to Chad in Africa. They are vulnerable of extinction due to habitat loss and capture for domestication.

Learn more about the chicks at the Memphis Zoo website.

Amazing Close-Up Photos of Bees

Closeup of a bee face

A close-up portrait of a type of bee called Osmia georgica. Photograph by Sue Boo / U.S. Geological Survey Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab.

The U.S. Geological Survey Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab has been studying the decline of bees over the past ten years. According to Sam Droege, who heads the lab, there are 4,000 bee species in North America, but most people can’t identify the different species.

“We [needed] really high-definition pictures that people can drill into and say, ‘You know the pattern of the crosshatching between the pits on the skin of the upper part of the bee is really different than this one.'”

Side view of the Osmia georgica. Photograph by Sue Boo/ U.S. Geological Survey Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab.

Side view of the Osmia georgica. Photograph by Sue Boo / U.S. Geological Survey Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab.

So Droege developed a system of taking high-definition photographs of the bees in order to document their specific features. Using a high-quality 60 mm macro lens and a device called a StackShot Rail, he takes a series of photos in increments where various parts of the bee are in focus. He later uses program called Zerene Stacker to combine the photos into a single, high-def photo all in focus.

You can learn how to take your own high-resolution photos of insects by watching the video below:

For more information, see NPR’s “Beauty is in the Eye of the Bee-Holder”.

See more high-def bee photos on the U.S. Geological Survey Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab’s Flickr page.