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.
Meet our featured animal: the cheetah!
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.
Today, 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.
What 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.
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!
Learn more about the koala joey at the Taronga Western Plains Zoo website.
For more information about koalas, see our koala facts article.
My Petting Zoo in Scottsdale, AZ has welcomed one of the few documented offspring of a female sheep and a male goat. Butterfly, as she’s been named, has the features of a goat and the curly wool of a lamb.
Meet our featured animal: the giraffe!
Here are five fun facts about giraffes:
- At an average height of around 5 m (16-18 ft.), the giraffe is the tallest land animal in the world.
- Many people first believed the giraffe was a cross between a leopard and a camel, which is reflected in its scientific name, Giraffa camelopardalis.
- Giraffes have long tongues which help them pull leaves from trees.
- Both male and female giraffes have skin-covered knobs, called ossicones, on the top of their heads. Male ossicones are bald at the top, while female ossicones have tufts of fur.
- When giraffes walk, they move both legs on one side of their body and then both legs on the other side; this is unique to giraffes. However, they run in a similar style to other mammals, swinging their rear legs and front legs in unison.
Learn more at our giraffe facts page!
Two juvenile Komodo dragons are now on view at the Nashville Zoo! They measure about two feet long and weigh two pounds now, but they will eventually grow to be over nine feet long and weigh around 200 pounds!
In the wild, Komodo dragons live in the volcanic islands of Indonesia. They are carnivorous apex predators, which means they are at the top of the food chain with few to no other predators. In one meal, they can eat 80% of their body weight (over 100 pounds of meat!).
Fewer than 2,500 Komodo dragons remain in the wild, and the IUCN considers them vulnerable. Threats include habitat loss, loss of prey species, hunting, and persecution.