Taronga Western Plains Zoo, located just outside of Sydney, Australia, welcomed a fresh face to their crew. A koala joey emerged from its mother’s pouch to take a look around. See photos here:
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.)
A baby wallaroo took its first hops at Oakland Zoo recently. Keepers estimate the joey was born in October-November (although it’s impossible to determine its exact birth date). The joey now comes out to graze and explore its surrounding, but hops back into its mother’s pouch for safety.
Taronga Western Plains Zoo, outside Sydney, Australia, welcomed a female baby plains zebra to their herd at the end of July. The energetic little foal is named Zina, which is Swahili for “free spirit”.
“Both mother and foal are doing really well which is to be expected from an experienced mother like Kijani,” said keeper Carolene Magner. “Zina is staying close by her mother’s side at present but does enjoy a gallop around the paddock in the morning.”
In the wild, plains zebras (or common zebras) inhabit the grasslands of eastern and southern Africa.
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.
On May 9, a male baby Bactrian camel was born at Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. It is the first camel calf born at the zoo since 1998!
Weighing 81 pounds at birth and standing at 4 feet tall, the calf joins his mother Nassan, his father Scooter, and two adult female camels at the zoo’s Antelope Zebra Area.
“We’re ecstatic to welcome a Bactrian camel calf to the zoo,” said Curator Diane Mulkerin. “He is still a bit wobbly on his feet but remains quite strong and is ready to begin meeting the rest of the herd.”
When the calf matures to an adult size, he could weigh as much as 1,500 pounds and stand as tall as 7 feet.
Bactrian camels have two humps (as opposed to dromedary camels, which have only one hump on their back). The humps are filled with fat, which provides energy to the camel when food is scarce. The camels also have thick brown fur to keep them warm in the winter. During the summer months, they shed fur to make their coat thinner.
To learn more about the Bactrian camel calf, visit the Lincoln Park Zoo website.
President Obama signed a law on Monday declaring the bison as America’s national mammal. For those bald eagle fans, don’t worry! The bald eagle remains the national animal (and national bird) of the United States.
- they are warm blooded vertebrates
- they possess hair or fur, and
- they nourish their young with milk produced by mammary glands
The bison is an excellent choice for the honor of national mammal. Bison once numbered in the millions in the United States. Their range stretched from Canada to Mexico.
Many Native American tribes relied heavily on bison as a source of food and clothing, and they considered it of great spiritual significance. When white settlers spread into the Great Plains, they decimated the bison population, and the bison nearly went extinct.
Due to conservationist efforts starting in the early 20th century, the bison was saved from extinction. But they are still classified as Near Threatened by the IUCN. You can help in their preservation by adopting a bison via the Defenders of Wildlife or donating toward the purchase of prairie land for reserves at the American Prairie Foundation.
To learn more about bison, see our American bison facts article.
On Mother’s Day, two North American river otters at the Oakland Zoo had lots to celebrate. The two new moms have had their paws full with three pups each for the past few months.
Rose, the younger of the two moms, gave birth to a litter of two males and one female on January 25. A few weeks later, on February 20, Ginger gave birth to a litter of two females and one male.
Zoo staff has been monitoring the pups and administering regular checkups to ensure they are in good health. The pups have remained off exhibit while they nurse, grow, and learn to swim. (Swimming is not instinctual for otter pups.)
To learn more, visit the Oakland Zoo website.
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay recently welcomed two baby sloths!
A Hoffman’s two-toed sloth was born on March 24 to mother Grizzly and father Teddy. The little one only weighed 186 grams (6.6 ounces) at birth and wasn’t nursing regularly. So the animal care team at Busch Gardens decided to hand-nurse the baby via syringe every two hours. Currently, the baby is healthy and under 24-hour watch.
A Linne’s two-toed sloth was born on April 2 to mother Daisy and father Mario. Weighing 550 grams (19.4 ounces) at birth, the baby is currently healthy and being cared for by its mother. The animal care team is monitoring closely.
Watch a video below of the two baby sloths:
One interesting fact about two-toed sloths is that they actually have three toes. (All sloths have three toes per foot.) But two-toed sloths have only two claws per foot. For more interesting sloth facts, see our article about the brown-throated three-toed sloth.
Inky, an octopus at the National Aquarium of New Zealand, made a spectacular nighttime escape. The contortionist octopus squeezed through a tiny gap at the top of his enclosure, then scuttled 8 feet across the floor to a drain pipe. After sliding 164 feet down the pipe, he dropped down to freedom (or specifically, Hawke’s Bay which opens out into the Pacific Ocean).
According to the aquarium’s manager, Rob Yarrall, “He managed to make his way to one of the drain holes that go back to the ocean, and off he went. Didn’t even leave us a message.”
Blotchy the octopus (Inky’s aquarium mate) decided against adventure and remained at the aquarium.
For more about Inky, see the New York Times.
For more great escapes, see our archive of animal escapes.
Learn more amazing facts about octopuses at our Common Octopus article.