Wildlife Blog

San Diego Zoo Gorilla Baby

On March 12, Imani, an 18-year-old gorilla at the San Diego Zoo, gave birth to a 4.6 pound baby via caesarian section. The infant was treated for pneumonia and other complications after birth at the animal hospital.

But 12 days later, baby and mama were reunited!  Imani immediate cradled her baby in her arms and has been doting on the newborn ever since.

n this photo taken on Monday, March 24, 2014, and provided by the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, a 12-day old baby gorilla is physically introduced to her mother, Imani, for the first time at the San Diego Zoo. (AP Photo/San Diego Zoo Safari Park, Matt Gelvin)

In this photo taken on Monday, March 24, 2014, and provided by the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, a 12-day old baby gorilla is physically introduced to her mother, Imani, for the first time at the San Diego Zoo. (AP Photo/San Diego Zoo Safari Park, Matt Gelvin)

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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.

Tiny Tyrannosaur Fossil Discovered in Alaska

A fossil of a small tyrannosaur that lived 70 million years ago was recently discovered in northern Alaska. The pygmy dinosaur, called Nanuqsaurus hoglundi (which means “polar bear lizard”), is believed to be a close relative of Tyrannosaurus Rex.

N. hoglundi was much smaller than the T. Rex. Its skull measures 25 inches as compared to the T. Rex‘s 60-inch skull.  Researchers have postulated that the pygmy tyrannosaur’s smaller stature was an adaptation to the cooler Arctic climate. Although the Arctic would have been much warmer in the Cretaceous Period than it is today, bouts of cold temperatures would have caused variations in the food supply.

Below is an illustration of the relative size of N. hoglundi (A) as compared to its larger cousin T. Rex (B and C). Although N. hoglundi was only about half the size of the T. Rex, it still was an impressive 23 feet from head to tail.

Tyrannosaurs

Nanuqsaurus hoglundi (A) as compared to T. Rex (B and C) and other species. The scale bar equals 1 meter. Courtesy PLoS.

Learn more at Discover Magazine and Smithsonian.

Featured Animal: Toco Toucan

Meet our featured animal: the toco toucan!

Toco toucan

Here are five fun facts about toco toucans:

  • Measuring 63.5 cm (25 in.) in length, the toco toucan is the largest of all toucans.
  • Toucans regulate body temperature by adjusting the flow of blood to their beak. More blood flow means more heat is released.
  • Toco toucans use their beaks to pluck and peel fruit, their main source of food.
  • Although they spend a lot of time in trees, they are not very good at flying. Toucans mainly travel among trees by hopping.
  • Toucans nest in the hollows of trees. They often move into cavities created and abandoned by woodpeckers.

Learn more at our toco toucan facts page!

VIDEO: How Wolves Change Rivers

As we discussed in our gray wolf facts article, gray wolves are keystone predators. They help maintain a healthy ecosystem by preying upon weak animals, thereby strengthening the herd as a whole.

In this video, George Monbiot reveals how the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park after a 70-year absence not only changed the ecosystem of the park, it also altered the physical landscape.

Featured Animal: Emperor Penguin

Meet our featured animal: the emperor penguin!

Emperor penguin

Here are five fun facts about emperor penguins:

  • The emperor penguin is the largest of 17 species of penguin at 1.15 m (45 in.) tall.
  • Emperor penguins are specially adapted to living in a cold environment. They have
    four layers of scale-like feathers and large amounts of fat.
  • They can dive deeper than any other bird – as deep as 565 m (1850 ft.) – and they can stay underwater for more than 20 minutes.
  • Every winter (which begins in March in Antarctica), emperor penguins traverse up 80 km (50 mi.) across the ice to reach stable breeding grounds.
  • A male emperor penguin must use his own body to create a safe, warm environment for his egg because there are no nesting supplies available on the ice mass.  He balances the egg on his feet and covers it with a warm layer of feathered skin called a brood pouch.

Learn more at our emperor penguin facts page!

Echidna Puggle Gets a Helping Hand

Echidna puggle

The team of vet nurses at Taronga Western Plains Zoo has been caring for this baby echidna for the past couple months. Photo by Taronga Conservation Society Australia.

The Taronga Western Plains Zoo in New South Wales, Australia has been hand rearing a baby echidna (called a puggle) over the last couple of months.

The little puggle was found at the side of the road. It is believed the mother was hit by a car.

“The puggle is now approximately four months old and responding very well under the watchful eye of the vet nurses,” said vet nurse, Jodie Milton.

“It’s feeding well and gaining weight steadily, so we’ll be able to wean it in about three to four months’ time and start introducing it to solid food.”

Normally, echidnas live in their mothers’ pouches for 2-3 months and then move into a secluded burrow for up to a year. So it is very rare to see an echidna puggle.

“It will be some time before the puggle will be able to fend for itself, but until then it’s in safe hands,” said Jodie.

For more information about the little puggle, see the Taronga Western Plains Zoo website.

Learn more about echidnas at our short-beaked echidna facts page.

Name a Gentoo Penguin Chick

Starting today, you can help name a Gentoo penguin chick at SeaWorld Orlando!  Cast your vote for your favorite name on the SeaWorld Orlando Facebook page.

Penguin chicks at SeaWorld.

From left to right: the king chick hatched on November 30, the Adelie on December 21, the Gentoo on December 16 and the rockhopper on December 20. Photo by Jason Collier.

Since November 30, SeaWorld Orlando has experienced a penguin chick boom.  Fifteen penguin chicks have hatched at their new exhibit, Antarctica, Empire of the Penguin, which features four different species of penguin: king, Adelie, Gentoo, and rockhopper.

From SeaWorld Orlando:

Although currently ranging in size from 6 inches to 21 inches, the king chick, the largest penguin at SeaWorld’s Antarctica will grow to be as tall as 2.5 ft. and its smallest, the rock hopper will grow to be approximately 12 inches tall.

Learn more at SeaWorld’s website.