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Zoo Brings Animal Kingdom to Patients at Children’s Hospital of Orange County

Global_logo_color webAnimals and young patients were brought together today at Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC Children’s Hospital) to announce the arrival of the San Diego Zoo Kids television channel. Funded by a generous gift by businessman and philanthropist T. Denny Sanford, San Diego Zoo Kids is a closed-circuit television broadcast channel that features entertaining and educational programming about unique and endangered animal species. It is available on TV monitors in every patient room and in waiting areas.

“It only takes an encounter with one of our pet therapy dogs to believe in the positive impact of animals.  We are very excited about this collaboration with San Diego Zoo Global, connecting our patients with so many different animals and providing a wonderfully entertaining distraction for them that we believe will promote healing,” said Dr. Maria Minon, chief medical officer and vice president, medical affairs, CHOC Children’s.

The channel features video from the San Diego Zoo’s famous Panda Cam as well as other live, online cameras, fun and educational pieces about a variety of animals and up-close video encounters of popular animals, hosted by the San Diego Zoo’s national spokesperson, Rick Schwartz.

“We have always believed in the importance of putting people in touch with animals as a way to conserve species,” said Doug Myers, president and CEO of San Diego Zoo Global. “What we have heard from medical care professionals is that animal interaction and animal stories can also help promote well-being. San Diego Zoo Global has a wealth of animal stories and, through the generosity of Denny Sanford, we are able to bring these stories to the families at hospitals around the country.”

The service will also debut at the Orange County Ronald McDonald House. San Diego Zoo Kids debuted at the Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego on December 18, 2013.

 

About CHOC

Named one of the best children’s hospitals by U.S. News & World Report (2015-2016) and a 2013 Leapfrog Top Hospital for the highest quality of care, Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC Children’s) is exclusively committed to the health and well-being of children through clinical expertise, advocacy, outreach, education and research that brings advanced treatment to pediatric patients. Affiliated with the University of California, Irvine, CHOC’s regional health care network includes two state-of-the-art hospitals in Orange and Mission Viejo, many primary and specialty care clinics, a pediatric residency program, and four clinical centers of excellence – the CHOC Children’s Heart, Neuroscience, Orthopaedic and Hyundai Cancer Institutes.

 

About San Diego Zoo Global
The San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy is dedicated to bringing endangered species back from the brink of extinction. The Conservancy makes possible the wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) of the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research and international field programs in more than 35 countries. The important conservation and science work of these entities is supported in part by The Foundation of the Zoological Society of San Diego.

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

 

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No Ligers Here

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San Diego Zoo Global is dedicated to helping to preserve—physically and genetically—endangered species like these Malayan tigers.

“What are you drawing?”

“A liger.”

“What’s a liger?”

“It’s pretty much my favorite animal. It’s like a lion and a tiger mixed…bred for its skills in magic.”

Napoleon Dynamite

I began working for the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research in the Reproductive Physiology department in 2003. After about a year, I noticed the most commonly asked question from kids touring the lab was: “Do you make ligers here?” I think we can thank the hit movie Napoleon Dynamite for that, but as the years have gone by, the question still arises often in many different forms. I think we all are fascinated to hear about animal hybrids—the mixing of two animals of different breeds, species, or genera—but what do hybrids mean to conservation and why do we not use our advanced reproductive technologies to create them in the lab?

There are many types of hybrids that exist such as intrasubpecific hybrids between two animals of different subspecies (like Bengal and Siberian tigers), interspecific hybrids between two animals from different species (for example, lions and tigers, resulting in a “liger” or “tigon”), and intergenic hybrids between animals of different genera (as happens when sheep and goats breed, resulting in a “geep” or “shoat”). While hybridization is often thought of as a man-made phenomenon, natural hybridization does occur. Most of us are familiar with mules, which are the product of a female horse mated with a male donkey. Mules are prized for their great strength and endurance, but all male mules and most female mules are incapable of producing offspring. This is common in hybrids because their genetic material is not perfectly matched. There is also a hybrid animal called the beefalo (prized for its meat) that is the offspring of a North American bison and a cow.

Those last two examples are domestic animal hybrids that possess traits valued by humans, yet there are many issues that occur when non-domestic animals hybridize. Wild animals have evolved over millions of years through natural selection, a process that increases the probability of survival and reproduction. Hybridization, however, can result in the loss of a morphological or behavioral trait that may be necessary for survival.

An example of this is when a mule deer that uses a “stotting” escape strategy breeds with a white-tailed deer, which employs a galloping escape strategy. The hybrid offspring inherits a slow and inefficient gait, making it vulnerable to predation. And in cases where domestic cats that have gone feral breed with wild cats, the offspring are not as genetically strong and this can affect their resistance to disease.
As climate changes occur and humans modify animal habitats, wild hybridization may become common. One such example is the “grolar bear”—the offspring of a grizzly and polar bear—that was seen in Canada. This hybrid could occur more frequently as polar bears, driven from their typical range due to melting sea ice, spend more time in grizzly territory.

If hybridization sometimes seems to create a more “fit” animal or occurs in the wild occasionally, why don’t we use our laboratory skills to create them? We have the ability to inseminate the egg of one animal with sperm from another closely related species and grow an embryo that could be placed into a host female of either species. But we don’t, simply because San Diego Zoo Global’s mission is to save species worldwide by combining our expertise in animal care and conservation science with our dedication to inspiring passion for nature. We are in the business of saving species not creating new ones.

There are exceptions to this rule, such as when a population becomes so small that it can no longer sustain itself. In this case, scientists may agree that hybridization with a closely related subspecies is the only chance for survival. This has been attempted with the Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit and its close cousin, the Idaho pygmy rabbit. The Florida panther population was brought back from the brink of extinction by releasing female Texas cougars into the habitat for hybridization—the result was a three-fold increase in the number of Florida panthers, and the hybrid offspring were genetically healthy, stronger, and longer-lived.

So, I am afraid you will not see any ligers or grolar bears being created in our lab but that is because we are working hard to help tigers, lions, polar bears, and grizzly bears maintain or grow their populations. We think they are pretty amazing just the way they have evolved.

Nicole Ravida is a research laboratory technician at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. Read her previous blog, No Scientist is an Island.

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Annenberg Foundation Grants San Diego Zoo Global $200,000

Global_logo_color webThe Annenberg Foundation is helping San Diego Zoo Global work toward its goal of ending extinction and supporting the distribution of the San Diego Zoo Kids Network to children’s hospitals and Ronald McDonald Houses across the country. A recent grant of $200,000 from the Los Angeles-based organization will be divided between two projects: one that assists researchers in finding breeding alternatives for the northern white rhinoceros and one that delivers children’s educational programming, filled with animal interactions and animal stories, to promote well-being of young patients.

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park near Escondido, Calif., is home to one of only five remaining northern white rhinos in the world. Because of the scientific expertise of researchers at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research and the animal care facilities at the Safari Park, the Annenberg Foundation has granted $102,000 to the organization, to be used toward the genetic rescue of the Northern white rhino—including developing techniques to reliably reproduce this species.

The remaining $98,000 of the grant is given to assist in delivery of San Diego Zoo Kids to 14 children’s medical facilities. San Diego Zoo Kids is a closed-circuit television broadcast channel that gives children the opportunity to see animals 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The channel combines videos of animals at the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park, along with conservation fieldwork, footage from live animal cams, and interviews with keepers and scientists. These videos provide entertaining and enjoyable stories for children and their parents.

The channel also provides content from partner zoos around the country. To date, San Diego Zoo Kids features stories from the Los Angeles Zoo, the Denver Zoo, Utah’s Hogle Zoo, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, and the Great Plains Zoo and Delbridge Museum of Natural History in Sioux Falls, S.D.

The creation and development of San Diego Zoo Kids was made possible by a founding gift from businessman and philanthropist T. Denny Sanford.

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, 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 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.

About the Annenberg Foundation

The Annenberg Foundation is a family foundation that provides funding and support to nonprofit organizations in the United States and globally. The Foundation and its Board of Directors are also directly involved in the community, with innovative projects that further its mission of advancing a better tomorrow through visionary leadership today. The Foundation encourages the development of effective ways to share ideas and knowledge.

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

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Saving Kauai’s Honeycreepers

Akikiki eggs

To start a captive breeding flock to help save the critically endangered akikiki, we collected two eggs each from a number of  nests.

Since it began in 1993, the San Diego Zoo Global’s Hawaii Endangered Bird Conservation Program (HEBCP) has worked with over a dozen native bird species found only on the Hawaiian Islands. The conservation status of these birds ranges from non-endangered surrogate species to critically endangered species that are on the brink of extinction.

The past decade has seen a precipitous decline in two species of Hawaii honeycreepers, the akikiki and akeke‘e. These two small species of forest birds are found only in a remote area on the island of Kauai and the wild population has been monitored for years. Due to the declines of both species in the wild, bird experts determined these two species should be raised in captivity as a safeguard against extinction. Based on that decision and with funding from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as a grant from the Mohamed Bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, our HEBCP team began planning the techniques and protocols to safely and successfully add these two new species to our facilities on both the Big Island and Maui.

Whenever possible, the best scenario for bringing a species into captivity is to collect eggs from nests out in the wild. There are many reasons why this is the preferred method. By collecting eggs, you eliminate the chance of bringing in a disease that an adult bird might have into the captive flock. It can also be very difficult to teach an adult bird from the wild to eat from a food pan and acclimate it to a captive diet. Another reason we didn’t want to start our captive flock by collecting adult birds out of the wild is that there are so few akikiki and akeke‘e left in Kauai’s forests and we didn’t want to negatively affect the wild population. When you collect a wild female’s eggs she almost always builds a new nest and lays a second clutch. Thus, you can build a captive flock without reducing the number of wild chicks produced.

One of the first decisions made by our team was to setup an egg house on Kauai instead of trying to transport eggs from there to our facilities on Maui or the Big Island. Akikiki and akeke‘e eggs are incredibly tiny, weighing between 1.2 and 2.5 grams. As a comparison, two plain M&Ms weigh 1.8 grams! These eggs are so delicate that they could become damaged during transport if they were flown to another island. With generous help from Jesse Fukushima from Kauai Realty, Inc. as well as Bryan and Tanya Tanaka, we rented a house on Kauai and shipped over all the equipment and tools we would need to care for the eggs and chicks we hoped to obtain. This included everything from incubators and brooders for the eggs and chicks to the food items that we would eventually be feeding.

Our next task was to decide what incubation, hatching, and rearing methods to use for these two new-to-us species. We had to think of everything from what temperature we would use to incubate the eggs to what food items we would feed the chicks. Fortunately for us, the akikiki and akeke‘e are insectivores (meaning most of their diet comes from insects) which are very similar to two other honeycreeper species that we have already worked with, the Hawaii creeper and the Hawaii akepa. Thus, with some small adjustments, we adopted successful protocols we had used with the Hawaii creeper and Hawaii akepa to use with our new species.

ladder

Out on a limb: Akikiki nest on terminal branches, so accessing the nests requires scaling great heights!

We had the house, we had the supplies, we had the protocols…the only thing left to do was to collect the eggs! Unfortunately, this was much easier said than done. Akikiki and akeke‘e nest in the remote Alakai Swamp on Kauai. There are no roads into this habitat, it can only be reached by a long, arduous seven-hour hike through the rainforest. Yet, getting to the birds’ territory is the easy part. Akikiki and akeke‘e build their nests at the ends of branches, sometimes 40 feet up in the air! The big question was: how would we reach the nests to harvest eggs? The State of Hawaii’s Kauai Forest Bird Recovery Project (KFBRP) team identified a technique where a 40-foot ladder is raised to almost vertical and, instead of leaning against something, is then tied off onto anchors behind the ladder. This setup would allow our HEBCP staff to gain access to the nests that were previously too remote to collect from.

On March 26, 2015, after spending the previous day practicing the ladder techniques and transporting the ladder to the nest site, we set the ladder up and, with assistance from the KFBRP team, collected two eggs from an akikiki nest. The eggs were placed in a thermos and lowered from the nest by rope before being transferred into a battery-powered incubator. The ladder was then moved to a second akikiki nest and two more eggs were harvested and placed into the portable incubator, then carried back to camp on foot. A helicopter that was on standby was notified of our successful harvest and began flying to the landing zone near the camp. We carefully brought the eggs to the waiting helicopter and flew out of the swamp. The strenous hike into the location translates into a 20-minute helicopter ride to a landing zone just a few miles from the egg house. At the house, the eggs were weighed and candled. Candling the eggs is a process in which a bright light is shone through each egg to see which ones are fertile and how far along they are in development. With bated breath we candled our first egg. Inside, we saw active blood vessels and an embryo moving around—it was fertile! We candled the other three eggs and discovered the same thing. All four akikiki eggs were fertile and looked to be a few days away from hatching. We carefully put the eggs back into the incubator and let out a sigh of relief. We had successfully collected four fertile eggs from a brand new species of endangered Hawaiian honeycreeper, and if all goes well we should have four chicks in a few days time!

Check back regularly for more blogs to complete the story!

Jeremy Hodges is a senior hospital keeper at the San Diego Zoo and seasonally participates as a research coordinator with the Hawaii Endangered Bird Conservation Program.

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San Diego Zoo Global Commends California Assembly for Passing Ivory and Rhino Horn Ban

Nola, a 41-year-old, a critically endangered female northern white rhino, creates a one-of-a-kind art piece at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

Nola, a 41-year-old, a critically endangered female northern white rhino, creates a one-of-a-kind art piece at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

On June 2, the California State Assembly voted to pass AB 96, legislation introduced by Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, which would close loopholes that prevent the effective enforcement of existing California law prohibiting the sale of elephant ivory and rhinoceros horn. The legislation will be reviewed by the Senate Natural Resources committee on June 23. San Diego Zoo Global has been a proponent of this legislation and recently held a “Rally 4 Rhinos” (#Rally4Rhinos) to help show public interest in saving rhinos.

“San Diego Zoo Global commends Assembly Speaker Atkins and the Assembly on their efforts to enforce the ban on elephant ivory and rhino horn products in California,” stated Douglas Myers, president, San Diego Zoo Global. “Elephants and rhinos are being slaughtered at alarming rates and could become extinct in our lifetime. In keeping with our effort to save species, we have been working to raise awareness for their plight and efforts to combat poaching.”

In appreciation of the Assembly’s action, San Diego Zoo Global is presenting Atkins with a unique piece of artwork created by one of the San Diego Zoo Safari Park’s residents, a critically endangered, 41-year-old northern white rhino named Nola.

To create the art, Nola’s keepers placed non-toxic paint on a canvas, held the canvas in front of Nola, and at the rhino’s discretion, she used her horn to move the paint. Nola is rare in that her primary horn grows downward, rather than growing upward like most rhinos, providing her with the perfect “paintbrush”. Nola participated in the art session as part of an enrichment activity provided by her keepers. Enrichment provides animals with physical and mental stimulation, changing up their daily routine.

The Rally 4 Rhinos was held at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park on Endangered Species Day, May 15. The event was attended by representatives from Assembly Speaker Atkins’ office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Save the Elephants, Northern Rangelands Trust, the Cincinnati Zoo, as well as Safari Park guests, school children, celebrities and other government officials. San Diego Zoo Global officials shared information on its efforts and collaboration with other entities to spread the word about rhinos, illegal wildlife trafficking, and how everyone can be part of saving a species from extinction.

As part of San Diego Zoo Global’s Rally 4 Rhinos campaign, the public was asked to celebrate Endangered Species Day by spreading the word about rhino poaching, writing a rhino conservation message on their hand, taking a photo, and posting the photo to social media using the hashtag #Rally4Rhinos. The campaign spread like wildfire, reaching around the world, with postings from San Diego, the Eiffel Tower in France, Vietnam, the Parliament building in the U.K., rhino preserves in South Africa, and beyond.

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, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The important conservation and science work of these entities 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 by Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo Global

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

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How to Build a Pollinator Garden

Pollinators are one of Mother Nature’s greatest gardeners, yet many populations continue to decline at an alarming rate. While National Pollinator Week continues to raise awareness, conservation of our precious pollinators is a year-round project. One way you can be a hero for wildlife is by creating a pollinator-friendly habitat in your own yard or community, and invite hummingbirds, bees and butterflies to do what they do best.

Hummingbird | How to Build a Pollinator Garden

For starters, you’ll need a nectar source for your hummingbird guests. They get most of their nectar from tubular blossoms, the perfect shape to accommodate their long, slim beak and tongue. Hummers like bright plants that are open during daylight hours, when the birds are awake and hungry. Sage is an excellent option for these tiny pollinators, not to mention the added bonus of providing your herb pantry with some homegrown goodies.

Bee | How to Build a Pollinator Garden

It’s no secret that honeybee and native bee populations are in trouble. Entertain bees in your outdoor space by planting a diversity of vibrant flowers. It’s extremely important to select plants that do not contain neonicotinoids, a class of insecticides that may contribute to Colony Collapse Disorder. Nowadays, some stores label plants that have been treated with neonicotinoids, but many do not, so it’s best to consult with your local nursery before purchasing.

Bee | How to Build a Pollinator Garden

Including suitable nesting habitat in your landscape can help bolster the struggling populations of native bees. Many are solitary (so you don’t need to worry about a hive) and a good number of species are considered stingless, in case that is a concern. You can purchase ready-made nesting houses for mason and orchard bees online, or make your own.

Butterfly | How to Build a Pollinator Garden

For butterflies, a simple search on Google will help you discover which species are common in your area. Once you know which butterflies live in your region, it’s important to learn about their habitat needs. Certain species require specific host plants to serve as larval food for caterpillars. Choose a variety of colorful, native plants with upward-facing blossoms as they provide a landing pad for butterflies to stop and sip on sweet nectar.

Butterfly | How to Build a Pollinator Garden

Adding a water source for all of your pollinator guests is another great idea. If you’re going to use a bird bath to accomplish this, just be sure to add stones that peek above the surface so your tiny guests (bees) don’t drown.

Do you have any tips for creating a pollinator-friendly garden? Leave them in the comments.

 

Jenn Beening is the social media planner for San Diego Zoo Global. Read her previous post, 10 Cats You Don’t Want to Cuddle With.

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100-Year-Old Turtle Given Last Chance to Breed; Only 4 Left of Giant Turtle Species

Global_logo_color webA female Yangtze giant softshell turtle (Rafetus swinhoei) – potentially the last female of her species – has been artificially inseminated at the Suzhou Zoo in China. The procedure, an international effort, brought together top scientists from the Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA), San Diego Zoo Global, Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) Bronx Zoo, Changsha Zoo, Suzhou Zoo and the China Zoo Association, and provides a ray of hope in a continuing effort to save the world’s most endangered turtle.

WCS China Reptile Program Director and coordinator of the Rafetus swinhoei breeding program, Dr. Lu Shunqing, mediated the program agreement among the partners and has coordinated the program during the past eight years.

“We had to find out if the last known male in China no longer produces viable sperm due to old age or an inability to inseminate the female,” said Dr. Gerald Kuchling, organizer of the artificial insemination effort and Rafetus breeding program leader for the TSA.

There are four Yangtze giant softshell turtles remaining in existence – two in Vietnam (both thought to be males) and two in China at the Suzhou Zoo (a male and female). The male and female—both believed to be greater than 100 years of age—were brought together in 2008 as part of a captive breeding program designed to recover the species. Although the two turtles have displayed courting behavior, eggs laid by the female were infertile.

To determine the cause of the infertility, Suzhou Zoo, Changsha Zoo, and the China Zoo Association requested TSA assemble a team of scientists to conduct a reproductive evaluation of the male, collect semen, determine if he had viable sperm, and, if viable sperm could be demonstrated, artificially inseminate the female.

During the process, the male was determined to have damaged sex organs, perhaps due to a fight with another male decades ago. For this reason, the scientists believe the male incapable of inseminating the female, and therefore, fertilizing the eggs.

“Normal semen parameters for Rafetus are unknown as this was the first attempt to collect and examine sperm from this species,” said Dr. Barbara Durrant, Director of Reproductive Physiology at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. “The semen evaluation revealed that approximately half of the sperm were motile.”

This attempt marks the first time artificial insemination has been tried with any softshell turtle species and, based on results of insemination attempts with other turtles, the odds are not good for success. With natural breeding unsuccessful however, the scientists felt it was time to explore this option. Both turtles recovered from the procedure in good condition.

“This was a great exploration to advance the conservation of Rafetus swinhoei, however, we can not yet determine if the exploration was successful or not,” said Director Chen Daqing of Suzhou Zoo. The female will lay the eggs in a few weeks and in a couple of weeks after that, the scientists will know if the eggs are fertile.

Listed at the top of the World Conservation Union’s Red List, the Yangtze giant softshell turtle is the most critically endangered turtle in the world. Its status in the wild has long been recognized as grim, but extinction risk now is believed higher than ever. Much of its demise has been attributed to over-harvesting and habitat degradation.

The Turtle Survival Alliance is transforming passion for turtles into effective conservation action through a global network of living collections and recovery programs.  The Turtle Survival Alliance envisions a future with zero turtle extinctions.  To achieve our mission, the Turtle Survival Alliance is restoring populations in the wild, where possible, building capacity to resolve, secure and conserve species within their range country, and securing species in captivity through breeding programs, both in and outside the range country.

The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature. WCS envisions a world where wildlife thrives in healthy lands and seas, valued by societies that embrace and benefit from the diversity and integrity of life on Earth. To achieve our mission, WCS, based at the Bronx Zoo, harnesses the power of its Global Conservation Program in more than 60 nations and in all the world’s oceans and its five wildlife parks in New York City, visited by 4 million people annually. WCS combines its expertise in the field, zoos, and aquarium to achieve its conservation mission.

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.

CONTACT: SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL PUBLIC RELATIONS, 619-685-3291
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#Rally4Rhinos Trending Around the World; San Diego Global Sparks Campaign to Stop Poaching

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Local students got involved in San Diego Zoo Global’s Rally 4 Rhinos event.

Students from San Pasqual Union Elementary School in Escondido were among those who lent a hand to help San Diego Zoo Global raise awareness of the plight of rhinos in the wild and the urgent need to protect these iconic endangered species for future generations.

 As part of San Diego Zoo Global’s Rally 4 Rhinos campaign, the public was asked to celebrate Endangered Species Day, May 15, by spreading the word about rhino poaching, writing a rhino conservation message on their hand, taking a photo, and posting the photo to social media using the hashtag #Rally4Rhinos. The campaign spread like wildfire, reaching around the world, with postings from San Diego, the Eiffel Tower in France, Vietnam, rhino preserves in South Africa, beaches in Brazil and beyond.
There are five species of rhinos – black, white, greater one-horned, Sumatran and Javan. With all species together, there are less than 30,000 rhinos worldwide. Rhinos are facing the worst poaching crisis in history, with an average of three rhinos a day being killed in South Africa. At the current poaching rate, rhinos could become extinct in 15 years. Rhinos are poached for their horns, which are made of keratin, the same thing as human fingernails and hair.
Photo taken on May 15 by Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo Safari Park.
CONTACT: SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL PUBLIC RELATIONS, 619-685-3291
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24 Rhino Facts You Should Know

It’s time to stop the merciless killing of rhinos. Join us on Endangered Species Day, May 15, 2015, as we #Rally4Rhinos the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

#Rally4Rhinos

It’s estimated that a rhino is poached every 8 hours. At this rate, rhinos could become extinct in 15 years.

25 Rhino Facts You Should Know

In total, there are less than 30,000 rhinos remaining on Earth.

25 Rhino Facts You Should Know

A group of rhinos is sometimes called a “crash.”

25 Rhino Facts You Should Know

Rhinos may look indestructible, but their skin is actually quite sensitive, especially to sunburn and biting insects.

25 Rhino Facts You Should Know

All rhinos are herbivores.

25 Rhino Facts You Should Know

Rhino gestation lasts 15 to 16 months. The only animal with a longer pregnancy is the elephant.

25 Rhino Facts You Should Know

Newborn calves are able to stand on their feet and start to nurse two to three hours after birth. ­

25 Rhino Facts You Should Know

Because rhinos are very nearsighted, they often charge when startled; in the wild, rhinos have been observed charging at boulders or trees.

25 Rhino Facts You Should Know

The biggest threat to rhinos is humans; civil war in their native lands and poaching for their horns has decimated wild populations.

25 Rhino Facts You Should Know

Rhino horn is made of keratin, the same material as our fingernails.

25 Rhino Facts You Should Know

The demand for rhino horn has gone from subsistence hunting by locals to highly organized international crime rings.

25 Rhino Facts You Should Know

In 2014, the toll from poaching was the worst yet: a horrifying 1,215 rhinos were killed in South Africa.

25 Rhino Facts You Should Know

Close to 100 known rhino species have existed. Today, only five continue the line: two native to Africa (black and white) and three native to Asia (Greater one-horned, Javan and Sumatran).

The rhino’s ancestors walked the Earth 55 million years ago.

25 Rhino Facts You Should Know

Black, white and Sumatran rhinos have two horns; Javan and greater one-horned rhinos have one.

25 Rhino Facts You Should Know 25 Rhino Facts You Should Know

Despite their name, black rhinos and white rhinos are the same color – brownish gray.

25 Rhino Facts You Should Know

Black rhinos can reach speeds of up to 40 miles per hour (64 kilometers per hour).

25 Rhino Facts You Should Know

Standing at up to 6 feet (1.8 meters) at the shoulder, white rhinos are the largest rhino species and the second largest land mammal.

25 Rhino Facts You Should Know

White rhino males can be persistent, with courtship lasting 5 to 20 days.

25 Rhino Facts You Should Know

There are only five northern white rhinos remaining on the planet. One of them, an elderly female named Nola, lives at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

25 Rhino Facts You Should Know

The three Asian rhinos use enlarged incisors or tusks, rather than their horns, when fighting or defending territory.

25 Rhino Facts You Should Know

All three Asian rhino species are excellent swimmers.

25 Rhino Facts You Should Know

Sumatran rhinos are the smallest of the five rhino species and the only type covered with a coat of shaggy hair.

25 Rhino Facts You Should Know

Through collaborative, science-based, multidisciplinary conservation efforts at the Safari Park, we have successfully added the births of 93 southern white rhinos, 66 greater one-horned rhinos, and 13 black rhinos to the worldwide population.

sdzsp-southernw sdzsp-greater 25 Rhino Facts You Should Know

Lend a hand to save rhinos. Write “STOP KILLING RHINOS” on your hand and post your photo to Instagram or Twitter with the #Rally4Rhinos hashtag. Participants are automatically entered to win two beautiful rhino paintings by Jeremy Donovan Rohr. Learn more HERE.

 

Jenn Beening is the social media planner for San Diego Zoo Global. See her previous post, Best of Vine: Safari Park.

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Red River Hog Babies Play at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Red river hogs are the smallest of the African swine.

Red river hogs are the smallest of the African swine.

Five, three-week-old red river hog babies crowded after their mother earlier today at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The piglets are still nursing from their mother but are beginning to eat solid foods and were seen nibbling on bits of leafy browse offered to them today.

Young red river hogs differ from adults in their striped markings. This coloration helps them blend into their habitat in sub-Saharan Africa. Red river hogs get their name from their behavior of wallowing in ponds and streams and the color of their coat when they mature. Also called bush pigs, the species is found in African rain forests. In recent years, their population appears to be affected by hunting.

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 April 21, 2015 by Tammy Spratt, San Diego Zoo Global

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