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Pygmy Hippo Born at San Diego Zoo

UPDATE: We regret to announce the death of Francesca’s pygmy hippo calf. Staff observed the mother caring for her calf, but a veterinary exam indicated that the newborn wasn’t receiving proper nourishment. This is an extremely difficult loss, please take a moment to share your sympathy.

An important addition to the population of the world’s smallest species of hippo was made at the San Diego Zoo on Wednesday morning (Nov. 11). The youngster, weighing just 12 pounds, 2 ounces (5.5 kilograms), was born to its mother, Francesca, in the early hours of the morning. Mom and calf are doing well—and they are taking some quiet time in a barn out of the public eye, until keepers think the youngster is ready to try the larger pool available for swimming in the main exhibit area.

A baby pygmy hippo nestles in straw, a day after birth at the San Diego Zoo.

This is the first surviving hippo birth at the San Diego Zoo in more than a decade. Pygmy hippos are an endangered species from the forests of West Africa. There were estimated to be about 2,000 left in the world a decade ago, when the last population survey was done. Since then, political unrest, habitat destruction and wildlife trafficking in their native habitats are likely to have reduced the wild population to critically low numbers.

Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the mission of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes on-site wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The work of these entities is made accessible to children through the San Diego Zoo Kids network, reaching out through the Internet and in children’s hospitals nationwide. The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.

Photo taken Nov. 12, 2015 by Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo.

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

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Aisha is becoming more independent, agile, and bold!

Two years have flown by and our little girl had another birthday (October 25)! Recently, we have a seen a lot of milestones in Aisha’s behavior. She is becoming more independent and Indah is more comfortable letting her explore on her own. In just the last two months, we have seen Aisha follow her mom to the front glass, increase her amount of play with her “aunties,” and even come down to the ground on her own.

Indah has started to leave Aisha and is letting her decide if she wants to follow. Most of the time, Aisha decides to join her. But the first few times Aisha walked on the ground, she was very hesitant; she particularly did not like the sand at the front of the exhibit and called for her mom to get her, so she did not have to touch it. She now crawls across it with little hesitation.

We have even seen her come to the ground without anyone being near. At first she came to the ground because Indah or another orangutan was there.  But recently she came and pulled grass to eat and play with when no one else was around. All of this behavior is mimicking what she has seen from her mom.
In just the past week, we have seen an increase in the length of play between Aisha and Janey and Karen (the latter in particular). Karen clambers up into the climbing structure near Aisha and waits for the youngster to initiate play. (Aisha will leave if Karen is too pushy and tries to touch her first.)  They play and wrestle on the ropes and in the hammocks. Sometimes it looks quite rough, but it is all play behavior. When Janey wants to play with Aisha, she goes to a spot on the ground that she knows the little one can reach from a rope or tree and waits for her to come to her. Once Aisha is more comfortable on the ground, I suspect we will see a lot more play between her and Janey.

The bond between Aisha and Indah continues to be incredibly strong. Aisha still goes to mom whenever she is anxious, and we have not ever separated Aisha from Indah. We are starting to work with them to be comfortable separating from one another. We want to be able to get frequent weights on Aisha—this is important for the species database on what is the normal range for a parent-raised infant. We also want to start her operant training so we can monitor her health as she grows and becomes an adult.

Tanya Howard is senior keeper at the San Diego Zoo. Read her previous blog, Siamangs Play Nice with Baby Orangutan Aisha.

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Curious Wallaby Joey Leaves Mother’s Pouch to Explore the Outside World

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After more than half a year, this wallaby joey has emerged from its mother’s pouch to explore the outside world.

A seven-month-old Parma wallaby joey at the San Diego Zoo is now out of its mother’s pouch and is checking out its habitat for the first time. Animal care staff watched the youngster hop around the enclosure this morning, often moving away from mother and traveling around on its own. The baby — born in March — spent more than half a year in the pouch before leaving it just a few days ago.

This is the first joey born to four-year-old Tinka, who was hand-raised by Zoo staff. Keepers say Tinka has been a great mom, always making sure her pouch was clean; and she now stays close to her baby, in case it gets hungry. It’s unknown yet whether the joey is a boy or a girl, but animal care staff says they will confirm the gender when they weigh the joey, around its first birthday.

Parma wallabies are marsupials that are native to Australia and New Guinea, found in wet forests with dense undergrowth, near grassy areas. A close relative to kangaroos, these creatures are often mistaken for a smaller version of their popular cousins. There are brush, scrub, swamp, forest and rock wallabies, which gives some clue as to the vastly different habitats these creatures call home. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has named the Parma wallaby a “near threatened” species, with less than 10,000 mature individuals existing worldwide. The species faces a number of environmental threats, including wild dogs, foxes and feral cats, which are its top predators, as well as human development that has contributed to habitat loss.

Visitors can see the newly emerged joey, mother Tinka and their other wallaby friends in the San Diego Zoo’s Australian Outback exhibit.

Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes onsite wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The work of these entities is inspiring children through the San Diego Zoo Kids network, reaching out through the Internet and in children’s hospitals nationwide. The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.

Photo taken on October 19, 2015 by Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo

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

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Cute and Curious: Three-Day-Old Southern White Rhino Explores Habitat at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

A three-day-old female southern white rhino calf bravely went horn-to-nub with her “auntie,” an adult female rhino named Utamu (pronounced O-ta-moo), earlier today at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

A three-day-old female southern white rhino calf bravely went horn-to-nub with her “auntie,” an adult female rhino named Utamu (pronounced O-ta-moo), earlier today at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

A female southern white rhino calf, born three days ago at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, bravely went nose-to-nose with an adult female rhino, scared off a curious Nile lechwe and explored her 60-acre East Africa habitat earlier today—all under the watchful eye of her protective mother.

The calf, named Kianga (pronounced Key-AN-ga), which means sunshine in Swahili, was born Oct. 13 to mom, Kacy, and father, Maoto (pronounced May-O-toe). This is the pair’s second calf. The first, a two-and-a-half year-old male named Kayode (pronounced Kay-O-dee), shares the habitat with his parents and baby sister—but mom isn’t letting brother, father, or any of the other rhinos in the crash too near her new offspring.

“Kacy is a very attentive and protective mother,” stated Tina Hunter, senior keeper, San Diego Zoo Safari Park. “She is fairly tolerant of the other rhinos being curious about the baby, but she is definitely keeping them at a distance. She is going to have her work cut out for her, as Kianga is rambunctious, has lots of energy and is a very curious little calf.”

Estimated to weigh around 120 pounds, the little ungulate with big feet will nurse from her mother for up to 12 months; she is expected to gain about 100 pounds a month for the first year. When full grown, at around three years of age, she could weigh between 4,000 to 5,000 pounds.

There are an estimated 18,000 southern white rhinos remaining in the wild. The southern white rhino is classified as “near threatened,” due to poaching threats and illegal use of rhino horn. Currently, a rhino dies every eight hours in South Africa due to poaching. Rhinos are poached for their horn, which is made of keratin—the same material that forms human fingernails. Rhino horn has been erroneously thought to have medicinal value and is used in traditional remedies in some Asian cultures. In addition, objects made of rhino horn have more recently become a “status symbol,” purchased to display someone’s success and wealth, because the rhino is now so rare.

Kianga is the 94th southern white rhino calf born at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

The rhino calf and mom can best be seen roaming their habitat from the Park’s Africa Tram Safari or a Caravan Safari.

Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes on-site wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The work of these entities is inspiring children through the San Diego Zoo Kids network, reaching out through the Internet and in children’s hospitals nationwide. The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.

Photo taken on Oct. 16 , 2016, by Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

CONTACT: SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL PUBLIC RELATIONS, 619-685-3291
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Rare Baby Aye-aye Gets Her Weight Checked at the San Diego Zoo

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A rare baby aye-aye made for an adorable handful when it was weighed at the San Diego Zoo.

Keepers at the San Diego Zoo checked the weight of a one-month-old female aye-aye today (Oct. 15), under the watchful eye of her mother. After distracting mom for a short time with a treat of honey, keepers were able to locate the baby in the nest box, reach in and scoop her up, so they could check her weight. This is an important procedure that is done frequently when the baby is young, to ensure that she is healthy and growing properly. The baby weighed 3.6 ounces at birth and weighed in at 9.03 ounces today. The weight gain is a sign that the mother aye-aye is doing a great job of caring for her adorable baby. The young aye-aye’s name is Fady (pronounced FAW DEE), which means taboo in Malagasy.

“Aye-ayes are extremely rare in zoological settings; only a handful of zoos in the U.S. house these animals,” said Mindy Settles, primate keeper at the San Diego Zoo. “Fady’s birth on September 8 marks the first aye-aye baby born at the San Diego Zoo. Counting this infant, there are only 27 aye-ayes in North America.” Fady was born to a first-time mother, Styx, and father, Nirina. Nirina (which means hope in Malagasy) is an important founder in the aye-aye Species Survival Plan program, developed through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to help ensure the survival of species that may be endangered or threatened in the wild, providing genetic diversity to the species.

Aye-ayes live only on the island of Madagascar. They are the largest of the nocturnal primates and are the most specialized. Aye-ayes spend their lives in rain forest trees. They are dark brown or black in color, and are distinguished by a bushy tail that is larger than their body. Aye-ayes use a unique foraging method called “percussive foraging.” The aye-aye uses its most distinguishing feature—a thin, elongated and versatile middle finger on its hand—to tap on tree trunks and branches, while listening with its large rounded ears for hollows in dead or decaying wood. They search the hollows for their prey—grubs—and use their large teeth to rip open the bark until they find one. Then, the aye-aye uses its long finger to reach in and extract the grub.

Today aye-ayes are protected by law in Madagascar, however many people native to the island consider the aye-aye an omen of bad luck and will often kill one on sight. This, along with habitat destruction, has put the aye-aye on the endangered list.

Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes on-site wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The work of these entities is inspiring children through the San Diego Zoo Kids network, reaching out through the Internet and in children’s hospitals nationwide. The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.

Photo taken on October 15, 2015 by Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo

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

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14 Adorable Baby Animal Facts

Because we can all use a daily dose of cute…

1. A newborn koala joey is only about the size of a large jelly bean, and it can’t even see or hear.

A newborn koala joey is only about the size of a large jelly bean, and it can't even see or hear. | 14 Cute Baby Animal Facts

2. Some monkey species give birth to babies that are a completely different color. For example, langur babies are orange while their parents are black.

Some monkey species give birth to babies that are a completely different color. For example, langur babies are orange while their parents are black. | 14 Cute Baby Animal Facts

3. Female lions living in a pride often give birth around the same time, which makes for lots of playmates.

Female lions living in a pride often give birth around the same time, which makes for lots of playmates. | 14 Cute Baby Animal Facts

4. Orangutan youngsters stay with their mothers until they’re seven or eight years old and fully weaned, the longest childhood of the great apes.

Orangutan youngsters stay with their mothers until they’re seven or eight years old and fully weaned, the longest childhood of the great apes. | 14 Cute Baby Animal Facts

5. At hatching, a flamingo chick has gray down feathers and is the size of a tennis ball.

At hatching, a flamingo chick has gray down feathers and is the size of a tennis ball. | 14 Cute Baby Animal Facts

6. Meerkats form “babysitter clubs” and share the duty of raising pups—and teaching them how to hide, hunt, clean, and defend all that is theirs.

Meerkats form "babysitter clubs" and share the duty of raising pups and teaching them how to hide, hunt, clean, and defend all that is theirs. | 14 Cute Baby Animal Facts

7. A giraffe calf can stand up and walk within an hour of its birth.

A giraffe calf can stand up and walk within an hour of its birth. | 14 Cute Baby Animal Facts

8. Bonobos use touch to give reassurance and comfort to each other. They form close relationships with other members of the troop, even after they are grown.

Bonobos use touch to give reassurance and comfort to each other. They form close relationships with other members of the troop, even after they are grown. | 14 Cute Baby Animal Facts

9. Okapi calves triple their size by the end of their second month, but do not reach full adult size until three years of age.

Okapi calves triple their size by the end of their second month but do not reach full adult size until three years of age. | 14 Cute Baby Animal Facts

10. Male jaguar cubs grow more quickly than females—and by about two years old, males are about 50 percent heavier.

Male jaguar cubs grow more quickly than females and by about two years old are about 50% heavier. | 14 Cute Baby Animal Facts

11. Elephant calves spend their days practicing making all four legs go in the same direction at the same time, perfecting their ear flaring, and mastering trunk control.

Elephant calves spend their days practicing making all four legs go in the same direction at the same time, perfecting their ear flaring, and mastering trunk control. | 14 Cute Baby Animal Facts

12. Young Panamanian golden frogs are much more secretive than the fully toxic adult, hiding until they can protect themselves with their skin secretions.

Young Panamanian golden frogs are much more secretive than the fully toxic adult, hiding until they can protect themselves with their skin secretions. | 14 Cute Baby Animal Facts

13. Rhino calves start growing their iconic horns when they are four to five months old.

Rhino calves start growing their iconic horns when they reach 4-5 months. | 14 Cute Baby Animal Facts

14. Giant pandas are only about the size of a stick of butter at birth, and they’re hairless and helpless.

Giant pandas are only about the size of a stick of butter at birth, and they're hairless and helpless. | 14 Cute Baby Animal Facts

Which baby animal are you? Take the QUIZ and automatically be entered to win a family excursion to the San Diego Zoo or Safari Park.

 

Jenn Beening is the social media planner for San Diego Zoo Global. Read her previous post, How to Grow a Water-Smart Landscape.

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San Diego Zoo Safari Park Is Hand-raising African Steenbok Calves in Effort to Increase, Diversify Population

Lissa McCaffree, lead mammal keeper at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, bottle-feeds one of two steenbok calves at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park’s nursery.

Lissa McCaffree, lead mammal keeper at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, bottle-feeds one of two steenbok calves at the  Park’s nursery.

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is bottle-feeding two African steenbok in its nursery, in an effort to increase the population of this antelope species. The Safari Park is home to six of just 16 steenbok in North America. The steenbok calves were born at the Safari Park during summer and have the same father. The calves are fed a bottle of formula several times a day, but these feedings will decrease as they age. They are also offered hay and trimmings from plants that will be part of their diets as they mature.

The Species Survival Plan program for steenbok suggests that animal care staff hand-raise these fragile calves to increase their survival rate, as well as help make them calmer animals. Very little is known about this genus of antelope, which herd in pairs, rather than the large groups that are typical of other antelope species. Steenbok also have a running gait that is more similar to a rabbit’s “hop” than the run of other antelope species; and they have very large ears, in comparison to their body size. The Safari Park hopes to increase the size of the steenbok herd and to learn more about this genus of antelope.

Steenbok are historically found throughout Africa, occupying drier savannas, grasslands and scrublands. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the steenbok population as stable in the wild, but recognizes that they are no longer found in some of their native habitat, including Uganda. Their habitat ranges are becoming widely separated geographically due to habitat changes. The IUCN also notes that population surveys of this species are not reliable.

Guests visiting the San Diego Zoo Safari Park can see the two calves in the nursery, near the village area of the Park. The other steenbok are in an exhibit across from the African Tram Safari station.

Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes on-site wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The work of these entities is inspiring children through the San Diego Zoo Kids network, reaching out through the Internet and in children’s hospitals nationwide. The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.

Photo taken on Oct. 8, 2015, by Tammy Spratt, San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

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

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13 Animals Celebrating Pumpkin Season

Who needs a pumpkin spice latte when you can have the whole pumpkin…

This tiger is ready to pounce on seasonal prey.

Animals Celebrating Pumpkin Season

An otter isn’t sure why people are so obsessed with these things.

Animals Celebrating Pumpkin Season

Pro-tip: Always inspect your jack-o-lantern.

Animals Celebrating Pumpkin Season

This pumpkin was no match for our meerkat mob.

Animals Celebrating Pumpkin Season

A Galapagos tortoise has no time for napkins.

Animals Celebrating Pumpkin Season

Om nom nom nom.

Animals Celebrating Pumpkin Season Animals Celebrating Pumpkin Season

Lion paws on the prize.

Animals Celebrating Pumpkin SeasonAnimals Celebrating Pumpkin Season

Sniffing out the scents of the season.

Animals Celebrating Pumpkin Season

If you can’t carve it, roll it off a cliff.

Animals Celebrating Pumpkin Season

No pumpkin is safe from this extraordinary nose.

Animals Celebrating Pumpkin Season

I’ll look inside, you stand guard!

Animals Celebrating Pumpkin Season

On behalf of everyone at the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park, we hope you have a fantastic fall season!

 

Jenn Beening is the social media planner for San Diego Zoo Global. Read her previous post, How to Grow a Water-Smart Landscape.

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11 Animals Who Realized They Left The Stove On

Let’s be real. We’ve all done it and we all know the feeling. It’s a bit like…

On no…

No…

Seriously?

Wait, did I? Let me back track…

I did. Gah!

I can’t believe it.

 

How COULD I?!

Again!?

When am I going to learn?

I’m starting to panic.

Wait, it’s going to be ok. No need to freak out. But I’m still a little mad at myself.

Matt Steele is senior social media planner for San Diego Zoo Global. Read his previous post, “Ugly” Animals Need Love Too.

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West African Crowned Crane Pair Fosters Endangered East African Crowned Crane Chicks at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Two endangered East African crowned crane chicks, recently hatched at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, are now being fostered by a pair of West African crowned cranes.

A crowned crane mother feeds her young foster chick during early morning breakfast at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

A crowned crane mother feeds her young foster chick during early morning breakfast at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

The eggs were laid by inexperienced first-time parents on one of the islands in the Safari Park’s African Outpost. To safeguard and ensure that the eggs had the best possible chance of surviving, keepers moved the eggs to an incubator at the chick rearing facility.

A few days before the eggs were due to hatch, keepers placed them in the nest of a mated pair of West African crowned cranes with parenting experience, to complete the hatching process. Both eggs successfully hatched—one on Sept.17 and the other on Sept. 19. Today, the chicks are healthy and thriving under the watchful eyes of their foster parents.

“These East African crowned crane chicks are here in this exhibit because we feel it’s the best place at the Safari Park for them to grow and flourish, since they are an endangered species,” said Marci Rimlinger, lead keeper in the Bird department at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

East African crowned cranes get their name from the tall, stiff golden feathers that cover their head. Their long legs and neck, and excellent peripheral vision help these birds spot predators above the tall savanna grasses where they hunt for worms, insects, lizards and small mammals. They live near rivers and wetlands in Africa, where their habitats are being threatened due to habitat drainage, overgrazing and pesticide pollution.

Guests at the Safari Park can see the chicks at the crowned crane exhibit, located just past the main entrance to the park on the right side of the wooden walkway.

Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes on-site wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The work of these entities is inspiring children through the San Diego Zoo Kids network, reaching out through the Internet and in children’s hospitals nationwide. The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.

Photo taken on Sept. 30, 2015, by Tammy Spratt, San Diego Zoo Safari Park

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