Rare Zoo-Raised Turtles Released to Wild

The Lincoln Park Zoo in conjunction with the US Fish & Wildlife Service is working to repopulate prairie land with native wildlife.

Ornate box turtle

A zoo-raised ornate box turtle prepares for release into the wild. Photo by Sharon Dewar / Lincoln Park Zoo.

Their most recent release was 18 ornate box turtle hatchlings in the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge near Savanna, Illinois. The zoo is also recovering other prairie-dwelling wildlife including meadow jumping mice and smooth green snakes.

“Suitable habitat is being created, but many species have trouble accessing it due to fragmentation from roads and other physical barriers which makes re-colonization of restored sites improbable,” explained Allison Sacerdote-Velat, Ph.D. reintroduction biologist at Lincoln Park Zoo.

“These collaborative conservation partnerships are terrific because each agency brings a unique expertise. The zoo specializes in small population biology and animal care. We can successfully breed, hatch and care for these species until they are large and mature enough for release to the wild – a technique called ‘head-starting’ which gives them a greater chance of survival upon release.”

Ornate box turtle

An ornate box turtle taking its first steps in the prairie. Photo by Sharon Dewar / Lincoln Park Zoo.

Learn more about the release at the Lincoln Park Zoo website.

Homeless Hurricane Sandy Pets Get a Free Ride to California

Sixty Hurricane Sandy Pets Fly First Class To New Holiday Home

SeaWorld Rescue team member Anita Yeattes poses with a rescue dog on a cross-country flight from New Jersey to California.

After Hurricane Sandy devastated the northeast United States, many pets became homeless. Area shelters have been overflowing with new residents. So a few organizations stepped up to lend a helping hand. Sixty orphaned dogs and cats — from Save A Pet in Long Island and Delco SPCA in Delaware County — were  flown across the country via a donated charter from Southwest Airlines, chaperoned by SeaWorld‘s animal rescue experts, just in time for a safe and secure new home for the holidays at the Helen Woodward Animal Center in Rancho Santa Fe.

The extraordinary rescue is being made possible by Southwest Airlines, whose flight crews are donating their time and whose fuel provider BP is donating fuel; along with the donated manpower of SeaWorld, who is providing  veterinarians and animal technicians to chaperone the furry and four-legged passengers during the cross-country flight. SeaWorld’s animal experts in San Diego also will donate transportation for the pets to their new home after they land. Once at the Helen Woodward Animal Center, the animals will be evaluated by a veterinarian and receive medical treatments, vaccinations and spaying or neutering before being placed in loving homes with adoptive families.

“We know the Northeast is still recovering from Sandy and there is a long road ahead, which is why we have devoted our aircraft and resources to bringing in volunteers to assist on the ground,” stated Linda Rutherford, Southwest Airlines Vice President of Communication and Strategic Outreach.  “Helping these animals find their forever homes and making room for the many animals displaced by the Hurricane is something we were happy to do, but wouldn’t have been possible without the generous spirit of our employees and partners.”

“We have a long history of rescuing animals and giving them a second chance at life and helping this effort is a natural extension of our resources,” said SeaWorld spokesperson Becca Bides. “Helen Woodward Animal Center and Southwest Airlines are big-hearted organizations and long-standing partners of SeaWorld and we are thrilled to team together for a cause. Everyone involved in the rescue is going to incredible lengths to aid these displaced pets and to get them into loving homes.”

 SeaWorld Rescue team members Jessica Decoursey and Dr. David Brinker pose with rescue dogs onboard the Southwest Airlines flight.

SeaWorld Rescue team members Jessica Decoursey and Dr. David Brinker pose with rescue dogs onboard the Southwest Airlines flight.

Sixty Hurricane Sandy Pets Fly First Class To New Holiday Home

SeaWorld Rescue team member Jay Tacey helps a rescue dog board the Southwest Airlines flight.

Sixty Hurricane Sandy Pets Fly First Class To New Holiday Home

SeaWorld Rescue team member Anita Yeattes and Southwest Airlines Captain Sean McMahon pose with a rescue dog.


Man-Made Cave Built to Save Bats from White-Nose Syndrome

Millions of bats have died from a disease called white-nose syndrome. When bats are hibernating in the winter, a white fungus covers their noses, wings, ears and tails. Bats with the disease display unusual behavior such as flying outside in the winter and clustering near the entrance of a cave. This leads bats to starve to death from excess activity or to freeze to death. The disease was first documented 2006 in eastern New York and has spread to other eastern U.S. states and Canadian provinces since then.

Currently, conservationists are attacking the problem from multiple angles, including treating the infection or developing a vaccine. But The Nature Conservancy is taking a different approach. They have built an artificial cave in Tennessee hoping to lure bats from a nearby natural cave that displays early signs of white-nose syndrome. If they are successful in attracting tenants, they will be able to control the disease in their cave by cleaning it every summer. In a natural cave, they cannot spray or hose it down without destroying the other natural organisms that thrive in that environment. Building a man-made cave specifically for bats allows for a safe, disease-free shelter for the bats every winter without disrupting the flora and fauna of the natural cave.

Read more at NPR >

Rescued Manatee Gives Birth

SeaWorld rescuing manatee

SeaWorld’s Animal Rescue team traveled to Sykes Creek in Merritt Island, Fla., on June 8 to rescue the 10-foot manatee that had severe injuries to the front right flipper caused by a crab pot line.

Back in June, the animal rescue team at SeaWorld Orlando came to the aid of a 10-foot manatee who was injured and caught in a fishing line in Sykes Creek in Merritt Island, Florida. The 1,380-pound manatee was transported to SeaWorld so that veterinarians could treat her injuries.  Her right flipper was severely injured and had to be amputated.

On July 18, the manatee gave birth to a healthy calf.  The baby has been nursing and bonding with its mother in SeaWorld Orlando’s back area pool. The animal team will continue to monitor the pair.

Rescued manatee and calf

Approximately six weeks after her rescue, rescued manatee gives birth to a calf at SeaWorld Orlando on the morning of July 18, 2012.

Rescued manatee and calf

The mother and baby will be monitored by SeaWorld’s animal team while they bond in the back area pool.

SeaWorld’s Animal Rescue Team Saves Stranded Baby Dolphin

Rescued baby dolphin at SeaWorld

Preliminary tests have showed no major health issues in the newborn dolphin rescued on May 20, but to ensure the young animal gets the essential nutrients he needs, SeaWorld’s animal team has been manually tube-feeding the dolphin every two hours.

A newborn bottlenose dolphin was discovered stranded in shallow waters off of Three Sisters Island in Florida on Sunday.  SeaWorld’s animal rescue team, in conjunction with Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute, transported the baby to SeaWorld’s facility in Orlando for medical testing and care.

Due to its size (just under 35 pounds), its upright dorsal fin, and its still-attached umbilical cord, SeaWorld‘s animal care experts believe the male dolphin to be no more than five days old.  Usually baby dolphins nurse from their mothers until they are 12-18 months old.  Animal care experts have been tube-feeding the youngster every two hours.

To learn more about bottlenose dolphins, see our Bottlenose Dolphin Facts Page.

SeaWorld Rescues Two Endangered Baby Turtles

SeaWorld Orlando‘s animal rescue team is currently caring for two hawksbill turtle hatchlings.  Both are about two months old. One of the babies was found in a weakened, lethargic state on Melbourne Beach in Florida by a tourist.  The other hatchling was found on Cocoa Beach covered in algae and fauna.

Baby hawksbill turtle found lethargic on Melbourne Beach.

Baby hawksbill turtle found lethargic on Melbourne Beach.

Baby hawksbill turtle found on Cocoa Beach covered in algae and fauna.

Baby hawksbill turtle found on Cocoa Beach covered in algae and fauna.

SeaWorld turtle experts (or aquarists), are monitoring and caring for the turtles around the clock. The hatchlings are living in a brooder (a heated shelter) which is kept at a constant 84 degrees F. Although recovery will be tough, the turtles are showing positive signs.

Hawksbill turtles are considered critically endangered by the IUCN Redlist due to loss of habitat and human exploitation.

Five Rescued Eaglets Released into the Wild

Bald eagle released into wild

The Wildlife Center of Virginia releases one of five juvenile eaglets into the wild. Photo by the Wildlife Center of Virginia.

On Wednesday, the Wildlife Center of Virginia had cause for celebration when they released five juvenile bald eagles into the wild.

Three of the eagles were famous because a webcam had been tracking their daily activities in their nest at a botanical garden.  However, when their mother was killed after being struck by an airplane in April, webcam viewers became concerned for the chicks and alerted the wildlife rescuers. So the Wildlife Center of Virginia took the chicks into their care.

The other two eaglets were rescued independently; one was found in a landfill with its wing caught in some netting, and the other was found in a field in an emaciated condition.

For more information about the eagles’ release, see:

Wildlife Center of Virginia
The News Virginian
NBC29

To learn more about bald eagles, see Animal Fact Guide’s article: Bald Eagle.

Rare All-White Kiwi Hatched

May 1st saw the hatching of a rare all-white kiwi at the Pukaha Mount Bruce national wildlife center in New Zealand. The bird is not an albino, but does have white feathers. He was given the Manukura by members of the local Maori tribe.

Manukura is thought to be the first all-white kiwi born in captivity.

Kiwi are native to New Zealand and have had their population numbers drop, mainly due to the European stoat, an introduced species. All five species of kiwi are endangered.

For more visit Scientific American.

Disabled Penguin Receives Custom Boot

Lucky is a Humboldt penguin born at the Santa Barbara Zoo in April 2010.  As he grew up, zoo keepers noticed that he walked with a limp.  Further testing showed that his leg was not developing properly.  If not helped, he would eventually suffer from infections from the sores on his feet.  Teva, a sponsor of the zoo, was called in to help.  The footwear company custom created a boot that would assist Lucky when walking and swimming.

Watch the story below: