World Elephant Day

Asian elephant

It’s World Elephant Day!

Today is World Elephant Day, a day focusing on the conservation of elephants across the globe. The two main species of elephant are African elephants and Asian elephants. Both species are in danger of becoming extinct in the wild due to poaching and habitat loss.

Although many countries have banned the killing of elephants, the illegal ivory trade has skyrocketed in recent years. Decreasing the demand for ivory is essential. 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.) For information on organizations that combat the illegal ivory trade, see National Geographic’s page, Blood Ivory: How to Help.

In addition, you can help provide captive elephants with the best possibly life. Boycott circuses, whose unethical treatment includes chaining elephants up by their feet and trunks, as well as beating them frequently. Encourage zoos to create environments similar to African elephants’ native habitat. They should be able to encompass elephant families and their travel patterns, and they should be located in a warm climate so that the elephants can spend all year outside.

A recent study of zoo elephants found that the best way to promote elephant well-being in captivity is to ensure they can spend time in groups, and not be socially isolated. Human interaction was also beneficial. The study, titled Epidemiological Investigations of North American Zoo Elephant Welfare, is available online and is accessible to the public. (See journals.plos.org.)

Baby Grevy’s Zebra Born at Lincoln Park Zoo

Grevy's zebras

Adia and her new foal, born June 18. Photo by Lincoln Park Zoo.

The Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago celebrated Father’s Day weekend with the arrival of a female Grevy’s zebra foal. It was the first zebra birth at the zoo since 2012! The baby zebra is the third foal for mother Adia and the first for father Webster.

In the wild, Grevy’s zebras are considered endangered due to hunting and habitat loss. They are native to eastern Africa, ranging from Ethiopia to Kenya.

Lincoln Park Zoo participates in the Grevy’s Zebra Species Survival Plan, a shared conservation effort by zoos throughout the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

“Research tells us that fostering an emotional connection between humans and animals is key to creating a real commitment to wildlife conservation,” said Lincoln Park Zoo Vice President of Education and Community Engagement Dana Murphy. “Species like zebras, with which we are relatively familiar—and become so at an early age—help us forge that connection and inspire our guests to care about their future.”

For more about Lincoln Park’s baby zebra, visit their website.

Grevy's zebras

Photo by Lincoln Park Zoo.

Grevy's zebras

Photo by Lincoln Park Zoo.

Baby Ring-Tailed Lemurs at Busch Gardens

Awww! Busch Gardens Tampa recently welcomed three baby ring-tailed lemurs. First-time mother Canada gave birth to Squirt on March 19, and twins Schweps and Seagramms were born to Ginger on March 27.

Lemur mother and babies

Photo by Busch Gardens Tampa.

Lemur mother and baby

Photo by Busch Gardens Tampa.

See the adorable baby ring-tailed lemurs in the video below:

Ring-tailed lemurs are considered endangered by the IUCN Red List. The main threat to their population is habitat destruction. Much of their habitat is being converted to farmland or burned for the production of charcoal.

To learn more about ring-tailed lemurs, see our ring-tailed lemur facts article.

Help Save Cholita the Circus Bear

Cholita

Cholita, an abused spectacled bear and former circus animal, waits for her trip to the United States, where she can live out the rest of her life in a sanctuary. Photo provided by Animal Defenders International (ADI).

Cholita has had a hard life. She is an Andean/spectacled bear (Tremarctos ornatus), a species considered vulnerable of extinction in the wild. She was kept illegally at a circus in Peru.  There, she was severely abused.

Due to the gruesome abuse she suffered at the circus, Cholita now has no claws, teeth or hair. She is barely recognizable as a spectacled bear.  But there is hope for Cholita, to live out the rest of her days in a United States sanctuary.

Animal Defenders International (ADI) has worked with the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and Peruvian authorities to get Cholita on a special ‘Spirit of Freedom’ flight to Colorado scheduled for April 20.  The huge rescue mission, which also includes the rescue of 70 other circus animals, is expected to cost ADI over $1.2 million.

Please donate to help save Cholita and the other animals saved during Operation Spirit of Freedom: www.ad-international.org/CholitaAppealUS or call 323-935-2234.

To learn more, visit ADI’s website.

Baby Cheetahs at Busch Gardens

Cheetah cubs at Busch Gardens.

Aww! Busch Gardens Tampa welcomed a pair of cheetah cubs!

A pair of cheetah cubs have joined the ranks at Busch Gardens in Tampa, FL. The cubs, named Tendai and Thabo, weighed 12 pounds when they were born on November 22, 2014. Once old enough, they will start their own coalition of cheetahs at the Cheetah Run habitat.

Cheetah cubs at Busch Gardens

Zzz… These cheetah cubs are all tuckered out.

Watch a video below:

Learn more about cheetahs at our cheetah facts article.

Baby Francois Langur at Lincoln Park Zoo

Francois langur mother and baby

Just in time for Halloween, a Francois langur named Pumpkin gave birth to a bright orange baby. This is the fifth baby for mother Pumpkin and father Cartman.

“The newest Francois’ langur is healthy, nursing regularly and is showing signs of growth,” said Curator of Primates, Maureen Leahy. “Older sister Orla has already shown her support by alloparenting, a process in which the other female monkeys take turns carrying and providing care to the young.”

Although adult Francois langurs are distinguished by their black and white coloring, baby Francois langurs have an orange coat. Scientists believe this encourages alloparenting because the infants are easily identified. The orange fur fades to black after 3-6 months.

In the wild, Francois langurs inhabit southern Guangxi province of China, northern Vietnam and west-central Laos.

Learn more about the Francois langur baby at the Lincoln Park Zoo website.

Featured Animal: Giant Panda

Meet our featured animal, the giant panda!

giant panda

Here are five fun facts about giant pandas:

  • Giant pandas are endangered, with only about 1600 left living in the wild.
  • Giant pandas can weigh between 100-115 kg (220-250 lb.).
  • One of the interesting evolutionary traits of the panda is their protruding wrist bone that acts like a thumb. This helps the pandas hold bamboo while they munch on it with their strong molar teeth.
  • Bamboo makes up nearly the entire diet of the panda. Due to the low nutritional value of bamboo, pandas need to eat 10-20 kg (20-40 lb.) a day.
  • Female pandas are only able to become pregnant for 2-3 days each spring!

Learn more at our giant panda facts page.