Wildlife Blog

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.

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Baby Hippo at Taronga Western Plains Zoo

Baby hippo

A baby hippo was born on September 11 at the Taronga Western Plains Zoo. Photo by Anthony Dorian / Taronga Western Plains Zoo.

A baby hippo made its grand entrance at the Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo, Australia.  Born to mother Cuddles and father Mana on September 11, the calf weighs 40 kg. The sex of the newborn has yet to be determined by zoo staff.

“It’s very much early days still, so we are keeping a close eye on both mum and calf, but so far Cuddles is proving to be a good, attentive mother,” said Hippo Keeper, Carolene Magner.

She added, “Over the coming months we will start to see the calf grow and develop more and hopefully start to come out of the water with its mother at feed time.”

Baby hippo and mama

Photo by Anthony Dorian / Taronga Western Plains Zoo.

Baby hippo and mama

Photo by Anthony Dorian / Taronga Western Plains Zoo.

To learn more about the hippo calf, see the Taronga Western Plains Zoo website.

For more information about hippos, see our hippo facts article.

Red Panda Cub Arrives at Nashville Zoo

Red panda cub

Photo by Nashville Zoo.

On July 3rd, Nashville Zoo welcomed a new fuzzy face- a female red panda cub! Both the cub and her mother are doing well in their off exhibit den.

“This is the first birth of a red panda at Nashville Zoo, so it is certainly cause for celebration,” said Karen Rice, carnivore supervisor. “Though the cub can’t be seen on exhibit right now, we hope she will make her debut this fall and bring attention to the fight to save this species.”

Red pandas are considered vulnerable of extinction. In the wild, they inhabit the mountains of central China, Nepal, and northern Myanmar.  Threats to their survival include habitat loss and high infant mortality rates.

The Nashville Zoo’s red panda pair are part of AZA’s Species Survival Program, which is a breeding program that aims to produce a self-sustaining, genetically diverse captive population.

For more information about the red panda cub, visit the Nashville Zoo’s blog.

Featured Animal: Cheetah

Meet our featured animal: the cheetah!

cheetah_relaxing

Here are five fun facts about cheetahs:

  • Accelerating from 0 to 96 km/h (60 mph) in three seconds, the cheetah is the world’s fastest land mammal.
  • Cheetahs have several special adaptations that allow them to reach top speeds, such as wide nostrils, a powerful heart, strong arteries, and an aerodynamic body frame.
  • With long legs, loose hip and shoulder joints, and a flexible spine, cheetahs can cover 7 m (20-25 ft.) in one stride.
  • Although sometimes confused with leopards, cheetahs are distinguished by their “tear-stained” black marks that run from the corners of their eyes down the side of their nose to their mouth.
  • Young cubs grow a thick yellow-gray coat on their backs called a mantle. The mantle protects the cub from the sun and rain and helps camouflage it in the shadows.

Learn more at our cheetah facts page.

World Elephant Day

World Elephant DayToday, August 12, is World Elephant Day!

World Elephant Day focuses on raising awareness to help elephants. African and Asian elephants face many threats including poaching, habitat loss, human-elephant conflict, mistreatment in captivity, and more.

According to the World Elephant Day site:

World Elephant Day asks you to experience elephants in non-exploitive and sustainable environments where elephants can thrive under care and protection. On World Elephant Day, August 12, express your concern, share your knowledge and support solutions for the better care of captive and wild elephants alike.

African elephantWhat can you do to help elephants?

  • Learn about elephants and the important role they play in the ecosystem. (See our article, African elephant, to read more.)
  • Participate in eco-tourism whose operators treat elephants with respect. Boosting Africa’s economy through eco-tourism helps placate local residents who view elephants as pests.
  • 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.)
  • Encourage the ethical treatment of elephants in captivity. Boycott circuses, whose unethical treatment includes chaining elephants up by their feet and trunks, as well as beating them frequently. Urge zoos to create environments similar to African elephants’ native habitat.

See the World Elephant Day’s page, How to Help Elephants, for more ideas.

Koala Joey Makes Appearance at Taronga Western Plains Zoo

Koala joey

Say hello to Rosea, the baby koala who recently emerged from her mother’s pouch at the Taronga Western Plains Zoo. Photo by Natacha Richards, Taronga Western Plains Zoo.

At the Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo, Australia, visitors got the first glimpse of a new fuzzy face! A female koala joey, named Rosea after a species of flowering eucalypt, emerged from her mother’s pouch.

“Rosea is approximately eight-months-old and is a little shy at present, preferring to stay close to mum’s chest but in the coming months will start to move on to her mother’s back,” said keeper Natacha Richards.

The zoo has two more koala joeys and many wallaby joeys that have yet to emerge from their mothers’ pouches.  So visitors to the zoo will have a lot to look forward to!

Koala joey

Photo by Jackie Stuart, Taronga Western Plains Zoo.

Koala joey by Rachel Hanlon_3

Photo by Rachel Hanlon, Taronga Western Plains Zoo.

Learn more about the koala joey at the Taronga Western Plains Zoo website.

For more information about koalas, see our koala facts article.