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.

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.

Baby Bonobo at the Memphis Zoo

Baby bonobo and mother

Mpingo’s mother Lily holds him close at the Memphis Zoo’s bonobo exhibit. Photo by Laura Horn. Courtesy of Memphis Zoo.

The Memphis Zoo welcomed a male baby bonobo on April 28.  The newborn’s name is Mpingo (EM-pingo), which is a type of African tree.  The wood from mpingo trees are used to make musical instruments, and so mpingos are sometimes referred to as “trees that make music”.

According to Matt Thompson, Director of Animal Programs, “This is a very significant birth. He definitely lives up to his name. He certainly brings harmony and joy to the group.”

Mpingo and his mother Lily are doing well. They are both on exhibit with other members of the bonobo troop.  Other females in the group will help raise Mpingo, just like what occurs in the wild.

To learn more about Mpingo, visit the Memphis Zoo website. To learn more about bonobos, who are endangered, visit Animal Fact Guide’s bonobo facts page.

Baby Elephant at Twycross Zoo

Baby elephant at Twycross Zoo.

The baby elephant born on March 4 at Twycross Zoo is now on view! Photo by Twycross Zoo.

The Twycross Zoo welcomed a baby Asian elephant on March 4! The healthy female calf will nurse 11 liters (~3 gallons) of milk a day from her mother Noorjahan until she is 12 months old.

Dr. Charlotte Macdonald, Head of Life Sciences, said: “The calf was born at approximately 2.30am and was up on its feet after a matter of minutes. The infant has bonded very well with mum, who is doing an exceptional job of taking care of her.”

Sarah Chapman, Head of Veterinary Services, added: “The herd’s behaviour was monitored by the vet and animal teams via CCTV, and it was good to see that all members of the herd were very excited by the new arrival and very interested in the infant. All the females continue to take a huge interest in the calf and are very protective of her. This is perfectly natural, with Aunties playing a very important ‘babysitting’ role in the natural herd structure.”

The IUCN lists the Asian elephant as endangered. In the wild, they live in fragmented populations in various countries across southeast Asia. Their population has been dramatically reduced and the quality of habitat is declining.

Photo by Twycross Zoo.

Photo by Twycross Zoo.

Learn more at the Twycross Zoo website.

Endangered Baby Orangutan at Twycross Zoo

Bornean orangutan

A new addition to the Twycross Zoo: a baby Bornean orangutan! Photo by Twycross Zoo.

Twycross Zoo is pleased to announce the birth of an endangered Bornean orangutan. The baby ape, born on November 28, is happy, healthy and doing very well. The newborn is 36-year-old Kibriah’s fourth offspring.

Bornean orangutan mother and baby

Mother Kibriah with her new baby.

Great Ape Team Leader, Simon Childs, said: “We’re all very proud. Kibriah is a very loving mum and she’s doing such a great job. She is holding the baby very close so we won’t know if it’s a boy or a girl just yet. When we find out the sex, we can then start to think of a name for him or her. At this stage we don’t mind what sex it is, we’re just happy to have another healthy infant.”

According to Dr. Charlotte Macdonald, Head of Life Sciences: “The Bornean orangutan is classified as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Redlist (IUCN), with fewer than 50,000 individuals remaining in the wild. As they only give birth on average once every eight years their numbers are dwindling fast as a result of the extreme rate at which forest habitat in Indonesia is being destroyed by deforestation.  Experts now agree that orangutans are likely to be extinct in the wild within the next 20 years, so successful breeding is imperative if this ape is to continue to exist on this planet in the future.”

Learn more about Bornean orangutans at our orangutan facts page.

For more about the new addition at the Twycross Zoo, see their website.

Rare Rhino Caught on Camera Trap

Park authorities at Ujung Kulon National Park in Indonesia were able to capture video footage of Javan rhinoceroses going about their business using camera traps. These rhinos are considered critically endangered by the IUCN Red List. Only 40-60 Javan rhinos are alive today, with the majority of the population living in Ujung Kulon National Park. There are no Javan rhinos in captivity.

Baby Rhino Makes His Public Debut

Eastern black rhinos

King, with his mother Kapuki by his side, makes his public debut. Photo by Todd Rosenberg/Lincoln Park Zoo

Newly-named Eastern black rhinoceros calf, King, made his public debut today at the Lincoln Park Zoo. The baby rhino, who already weighs in at 200 pounds, thrilled zoo-goers as he trotted out into the Harris Family Foundation Black Rhinoceros Exhibit, exploring the sights and scents. He and his mother Kapuki had been bonding behind the scenes since his birth on August 26.

In the wild, Eastern black rhinos are critically endangered due to poaching. It is estimated that there are only 5000 left in the wild in Africa.

King and Kapuki, rhinos at the Lincoln Park Zoo.

After a few timid steps, King gained confidence in the outdoor exhibit, taking in all the new sights and scents. Photo by Todd Rosenberg/Lincoln Park Zoo.

“Breeding programs at zoos are of crucial importance to the survival of these remarkable animals, particularly as the numbers in the wild continue to dwindle,” said Lincoln Park Zoo Curator of Mammals Mark Kamhout. “King will serve as an excellent ambassador for his species.”

For more information, see the Lincoln Park Zoo website.

Endangered Black Rhino Calf Born at Lincoln Park Zoo

Black rhino calf

The healthy male black rhino calf at the Lincoln Park Zoo. Photos by Todd Rosenberg / Lincoln Park Zoo.

The Lincoln Park Zoo happily welcomed the birth of a critically-endangered black rhinoceros calf on August 26. The male calf weighed in at 60 pounds.

“Mother and baby are both doing wonderfully,” said Curator of Mammals Mark Kamhout. “The calf divides his time between nursing, following mom around, and napping, and that is exactly what a baby rhino should be doing.”

With only 5,000 black rhinos alive in the wild, the species is considered at high risk of extinction. They are threatened primarily by poachers, who kill the rhinos for their horns. In some cultures, black rhino horns are considered very valuable for medicinal purposes.

The Lincoln Park Zoo worked hard to conserve this species through the Rhinoceros Species Survival Plan, an initiative of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

Black rhino mother and calf

Mother Kapuki and her calf will be bonding behind the scenes for the next couple of weeks.

“This birth is cause for great celebration here at Lincoln Park Zoo and has been much anticipated” said Kamhout. “The gestational period for rhinos is 15-16 months, and they have incredibly small windows for conception. Together with the zoo’s endocrinologists, we worked to pinpoint the exact window for Kapuki and Maku to get together for breeding. The whole zoo family is delighted at this successful outcome.”

For more information, see the Lincoln Park Zoo website.

Baby White-Cheeked Gibbon at Lincoln Park Zoo

White cheeked gibbons

White-cheeked gibbon mother, Burma, nurses her infant at the Lincoln Park Zoo. Photo credit: Todd Rosenberg / Lincoln Park Zoo.

On August 16, the Lincoln Park Zoo welcomed a rare white-cheeked gibbon baby. Zoo keepers have not determined the gender of the newborn yet or given the little tyke a name.

“Burma is holding the baby close and showing every sign of being a great mom,” said Curator of Primates Maureen Leahy. “The youngster is bright, alert, and clinging well.”

Unlike other primates who raise offspring communally in groups, white-cheeked gibbon mothers are the primary caretakers of their babies. When the baby gets older, he or she will darken from tan to black in the first two years. If the gibbon is a male, he will remain black. If the gibbon is female, her fur will eventually turn back to tan.

In the wild, white-cheeked gibbons inhabit southeast Asia. They are endangered due to habitat loss and poaching.


A video of mother Burma with her newborn at the Lincoln Park Zoo. Video credit: Todd Rosenberg / Lincoln Park Zoo.

For more information, see the Lincoln Park Zoo website.