Public Relations

Public Relations

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Rare Visayan Warty Pigs Born at San Diego Zoo

Visayan Warty PigsTwo energetic, four-week-old Visayan warty pigs showed off their running, jumping and climbing skills earlier today at the San Diego Zoo. The piglets, born on June 26, are still nursing from their mother but are beginning to eat solid foods of fruits and vegetables and particularly seem to enjoy lettuce. Keepers describe the piglets, whose genders are yet to be determined, as extremely curious and playful.

“These piglets are full of energy, running almost immediately after they are born,” said Bob Cisneros, animal care supervisor. “They are continually learning new behaviors and spend most of their day engaging in play behaviors, though like any newborn, they sometimes take the time to nap in their beds of hay.”

Despite its common name, Visayan warty pigs have only small facial warts. They have prominent snouts ending in a disk-like nose and tusks that are upturned lower canines. As adults, males generally have larger tusks and warts than females and are much larger in size. Both sexes sport a tuft of dark reddish-brown or black hairs on the crown of the head. During mating season, the spiky head tuft on the male grows into a long mane.

Visayan warty pigs, endemic to the Visayan Islands in the central Philippines, are a critically endangered species due to loss of habitat, illegal hunting and hybridization. In 1992, the San Diego Zoo partnered with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in the Philippines to create the Visayan Warty Pig Conservation Programme. Eighty piglets have been born at the San Diego Zoo since a founder group arrived in 2002.

Visitors to the Zoo can see the piglets with their sounder, or pig family, consisting of their parents and two other adult females, in their habitat in the Zoo’s Panda Canyon.

To honor those who devote their lives to animal care and conservation, the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, along with zoos nationwide, are celebrating National Zoo Keeper Week July 20 through 26. There are more than 6,000 zoo keepers across the U.S. who care for animals in fields that involve medical care, training, research, enrichment and education. San Diego Zoo Global salutes the animal care professionals who contribute to wildlife care and help increase public awareness about the need to preserve habitats and the creatures that inhabit them.

Photo taken on July 24, 2014, by Tammy Spratt, San Diego Zoo

CONTACT: SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL PUBLIC RELATIONS, 619-685-3291

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Study Indicates Large Raptors in Africa used for Bushmeat

crowned eagleBushmeat, the use of native animal species for food or commercial food sale, has been heavily documented to be a significant factor in the decline of many species of primates and other mammals. However, a new study indicates that more than half of the species being consumed are birds, particularly large birds like raptors and hornbills.

“By surveying not only the meat made available for sale but the meat that is being eaten inside the forest by hunters and brought to villages for consumption, we noted a significant percentage attributed to bird species,” said Bethan Morgan, head of the Central African Program for the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. “The significant use of large birds like eagles, vultures and hornbills as bushmeat poses a new side to this conservation challenge.”

The study indicates that more than half of meat surveyed was of avian origin, with the larger species like birds of prey forming a significant portion of the whole. Documenting the effects of bushmeat use and trade on endangered species in Africa is part of the work being done in the proposed Ebo Forest National Park under the auspices of San Diego Zoo Global. The bushmeat trade is not only a conservation challenge, as species are eradicated through consumption, but has also been highlighted as a significant human health concern linked to several zoonotic disease outbreaks globally.

The new study, funded jointly by San Diego Zoo Global and The Peregrine Fund, is presented in the July issue of the academic journal “Oryx.”

The study can be downloaded at http://journals.cambridge.org/orx/largebirds

CONTACT: SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL PUBLIC RELATIONS, 619-685-3291

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Four Reasons to Roar: African Lion Cubs Born at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

4 lion cubsFour month-old African lion cubs peer out of the maternity den at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The young cubs, one male and three females, were born on June 22, 2014, to mother Oshana, who has been caring for the little felines in her den, out of public view. Animal care staff report Oshana is a very good mother and the cubs appear healthy. They are nursing, moving and vocalizing well.

The cubs will continue to bond with their mother behind the scenes over the next few weeks. When they are older and stronger, they will be able to explore a larger area of their habitat and gradually be introduced to their father, Izu, and the Safari Park’s other adult female before going on public view at the Safari Park’s Lion Camp.

Photo taken on July 21, 2014, by Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

CONTACT: SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL PUBLIC RELATIONS, 619-685-3291

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Keepers Care for Baby Okapi at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Okapis Ayana and JacksonA two-week-old okapi calf is walking and getting comfortable exploring his barn at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The male calf, named Jackson, was born on July 6. He is staying close to his mother, Ayana, and has even begun to mimic some of her behaviors. While the young calf’s primary source of nutrition is from nursing, Jackson is curious about plant browse and has been mimicking Ayana and mouthing at browse as she forages.

Animal care staff monitors the young calf’s weight daily on a large scale that Jackson walks onto with guidance from a keeper. This part of his training will help ensure he has a strong, trusting bond with animal care staff. Weighing 57 pounds at birth, Jackson is now 80 pounds, a sign that he is getting enough nutrition from his mother.

While Jackson spends most of his day nursing and exploring the okapi barn with his mother, he has bursts of excitement that animal care staff says is common for a young calf.

The okapi is an elusive animal and scientists did not know of the species until the early 20th century. They live in the dense, tropical mountain forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Though they look similar to a zebra, they are the closest living relative to the giraffe. A noticeable okapi characteristic is their large ears, which allow them to hear low-frequency sounds below the audible range for humans.

To honor those who devote their lives to animal care and conservation, the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, along with zoos nationwide, are celebrating National Zoo Keeper Week July 20 through 26. There are more than 6,000 zoo keepers across the U.S. who care for animals in fields that involve medical care, training, research, enrichment and education. San Diego Zoo Global salutes the animal care professionals who contribute to wildlife care and help increase public awareness about the need to preserve habitats and the creatures that inhabit them.

Photo taken on July 22, 2014, by Tammy Spratt, San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

CONTACT: SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL PUBLIC RELATIONS, 619-685-3291

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Critically Endangered Rhino Calf Born at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Black Rhino calfA 6-day-old black rhino stayed close to his mother this morning at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park while running around and exploring the exhibit. The male calf, born on Saturday July 12, 2014, marks a significant birth, since black rhinos are a critically endangered species with approximately 5,000 left in the wild.

“Poaching is the main reason why the numbers of black rhinos are on the decline,” said Julie Anderson, a keeper at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. “Any birth here at the Park is an important birth, and we have been very fortunate to have a newborn baby here at the Safari Park.”

Mother Lembe is very protective of her young calf and runs around her exhibit with her tail pointed up, a cue that lets her calf know she is on alert and watching over him. The young calf trots closely behind, sometimes fumbling over his footing, as he is still getting comfortable keeping up with his mother.

This is the 15th black rhino born at the Safari Park and fifth calf to Lembe and father Jambia. Both mother and calf are visible to guests taking the Safari Park’s Africa Tram tour.

To honor those who devote their lives to animal care and conservation, the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park, along with zoos nationwide, are celebrating National Zoo Keeper Week July 20 through 26. There are more than 6,000 zoo keepers across the U.S. who care for animals in fields that involve medical care, training, research, enrichment and education. San Diego Zoo Global salutes the animal care professionals who contribute to wildlife care and help increase public awareness about the need to preserve habitats and the creatures that inhabit them.

Photo taken on July 18, 2014, by Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

CONTACT: SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL PUBLIC RELATIONS, 619-685-3291

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Exercise is for the Birds: Crowned Crane Chicks Take a Walk at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Crowned crane chicksTwo East African crowned crane chicks at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park took a walk with Tiana Skrivseth, senior keeper, earlier today as part of their daily exercise routine. The young female chicks, hatched 26 and 28 days ago, need daily exercise to strengthen their feet and long legs and to gain balance before they can join the adult birds in the Safari Park’s African Plains habitat.

East African crowned cranes get their name from the tall, stiff, golden feathers that cover their head when full grown. The young birds currently are light brown but as they mature, they will turn slate gray with dark gray to black primary and secondary feathers with chestnut markings. Their cheek patches will be white and red and they will stand approximately four feet tall.

East African crowned cranes are listed as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The numbers and range of these birds have been reduced significantly over the past 20 years due to the loss, transformation and degradation of its habitat. These two crane chicks represent the 62nd and 63rd hatchings of this species at the Safari Park.

Photo taken on July 11, 2014, by Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

CONTACT: SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL PUBLIC RELATIONS, 619-685-3291

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3-D Technology Used to Help California Condors and Other Endangered Species

Condor 218A team including researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research has developed a novel methodology that, for the first time, combines 3-D and advanced range estimator technologies to provide highly detailed data on the range and movements of terrestrial, aquatic, and avian wildlife species. One aspect of the study focused on learning more about the range and movements of the California condor using miniaturized GPS biotelemetry units attached to every condor released into the wild.

“We have been calculating home ranges for the tracked condors in three dimensions for the first time using this GPS location data, and our novel density estimator was used to incorporate the vertical component of animal movements into projections of space-use,” said James Sheppard, Ph.D., a postdoctoral associate at the Institute for Conservation Research.

While its population now stands at approximately 400 birds, up from only 22 in the mid-1980s, conservation efforts to reintroduce the California condor to its former habitat in the mountains of California and Mexico have been hampered by a lack of understanding about condor movement patterns and habitat use.

“This data will be used as a predictive management tool to inform conservation efforts to restore condor populations, particularly with regard to emerging threats such as climate change and wind energy impacts,” added Sheppard.

The team created highly detailed data sets and visualizations relying on expertise from researchers at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at the University of California, San Diego, after they tracked three highly iconic but threatened species: California condors, giant pandas, and dugongs, a large, marine animal somewhat similar to the manatee.

“We were able to speed up their software by several orders of magnitude,” said Robert Sinkovits, SDSC’s director of the Scientific Applications Group, which helps researchers make optimal use of SDSC’s larger supercomputers. “In this case, calculations that had formerly taken four days to complete were finished in less than half an hour.”

A paper detailing the project, called “Movement-based Estimation and Visualization of Space Use in 3-D for Wildlife Ecology and Conservation,” was published July 1 in the PLoS-ONE online science journal. A video of the project can be viewed on SeedMe at https://www.seedme.org/condor_vis.

In addition to Tracy and Sheppard, researchers for the study included Jun Zhu (University of Wisconsin, Madison); Fuwen Wei (Chinese Academy of Science, Beijing); Ronald Swaisgood (San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research); and Robert Fisher (USGS, San Diego). The California condor tracking part of the study was funded or supported by San Diego Zoo Global, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Sempra Energy and Mexico-based organizations including Instituto Nacional de Ecologia, Comision Nacional Para El Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad, Secretaria de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales, Wildcoast/Costasalvaje. The giant panda research was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China, Wildlife Experimental Platform of Chinese Academy of Sciences, and San Diego Zoo Global. Funding and support for the dugong research was provided by CRC Reef, Australian Research Council LIEF Scheme, and James Cook University.

CONTACT:
Christina Simmons, San Diego Zoo Global, 619-685-3291
Jan Zverina, SDSC Communications, 858-534-5111
Warren R. Froelich, SDSC Communications, 858-822-3622
Ben Landis, U.S. Geological Survey Communications, 916-278-9495

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Condor Cam Chick Needs Name

Name the Condor ChickHatched on April 29, a small condor chick emerged into the world observed closely by animal care staff at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Adding to the more than 180 condors hatched at the Safari Park since the breeding program began in 1982, the little chick was placed with adult condors Sulu and Towich so they could raise it to adulthood. Its growth has been watched by thousands of people through a live Condor Cam placed in the nest box. Now animal care staff are asking these interested watchers to help choose a name for the young female bird.

Viewers can go online at http://bit.ly/condorname to vote for one of five suggested names. In keeping with the tradition of the condor program, the names have been selected from the Kumeyaay language. The name receiving the most votes will be used for the chick for the rest of its life. Voting closes at end of day on July 20.

“California condors are an important native species in the western United States and hold a special place not only in the ecosystem but in the culture of the people native to this area,” said Michael Mace, curator of birds at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. “By giving condors names from the Kumeyaay language, we hope to honor the role of condors in human culture throughout history.”

At more than 2 months of age, the condor chick is covered with fluffy, gray feathers and is still closely cared for by its foster parents. The young bird will continue to grow and mature over the next couple of months until its flight feathers grow in and it is ready to leave the nest. Animal care staff at the Safari Park hope that the chick will be able to take its place among the wild populations that have been released in California, Arizona and Mexico.

CONTACT: SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL PUBLIC RELATIONS, 619-685-3291

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Orangutan Baby Playing, Trying Out New Teeth

Orangutan AishaAn orangutan youngster at the San Diego Zoo is now a little more than 8 months old and has begun to switch to solid foods. The playful youngster, named Aisha, was born at the Zoo October 25, 2013. Although continuing to nurse, Aisha’s emerging teeth are leading her to experiment with solid foods like apples, mangos and bananas.

In addition to her nine new teeth, Aisha is continuing to grow and develop. The little orangutan climbs and plays in the outdoor habitat, never venturing more than 10 feet from her mother. Animal care staff at the Zoo indicates that Aisha is taking advantage of the opportunities provided her to learn and grow as a young orangutan would in the wild.

Photo taken on July 7, 2014, by Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo.

CONTACT: San Diego Zoo Global Public Relations, 619-685-3291

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San Diego Zoo Safari Park’s Baby Gorilla Is Movin’ and Groovin’

Gorillas Imani and JoanneThe Safari Park’s youngest gorilla, named Joanne in honor of Joanne Warren, the first chairwoman of the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global, is beginning to explore on her own and gain some independence. While the mother, Imani, and her young baby are usually inseparable, Imani has recently been letting Joanne sit and explore on her own. Keepers report that Joanne, now three months old, has mastered rolling over onto her stomach and has gotten comfortable propping herself up on all fours and scooting forward. Imani is still keeping a watchful eye over her youngster and will observe as her baby starts to venture off on her own.

The young gorilla is now confident riding on her mother’s back and grips onto her hair while Imani forages and moves around the exhibit. Keepers report that around three months is when gorilla babies start to display that behavior, so Joanne is right on track with her development.

Other milestones for the young gorilla include getting her first teeth. While she’s not yet eating solid foods, the young gorilla has been chewing and mouthing at items in her reach, such as acacia browse and other greens like lettuce and kale, which helps with the teething process.

“While Imani is eating browse, we’ve seen Joanne grab a handful and mouth it,” Jami Pawlowski, keeper at the Safari Park, said. “She’s got about six teeth now, so it’s not quite enough to chew browse, but she definitely mouths and will suck on it; anything big and attractive that her mom is holding, Joanne will try to investigate.”

Joanne was born at the Safari Park on March 12, 2014, after a rare emergency C-section was needed. This is the first baby for Imani and the 17th gorilla to be born at the Safari Park. The Safari Park is home to eight gorillas, including the youngest gorilla, Joanne.

Photo taken on July 3, 2014, by Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

CONTACT: SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL PUBLIC RELATIONS, 619-685-3291