Zoo Blog

March 12, 2013

Zoos Cooperate to Breed Australian Magpies

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Four eggs from a pair of Australian magpies at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo traveled to the Toledo Zoo as part of a cooperative effort to raise chicks of this species, which is rare in zoos.  Three of the eggs hatched.

“These chicks are the first to be hatched at a North American zoo in many years,” says animal curator Mark Weldon.  Our pair is one of only three Australian magpie pairs living in North American zoos.

In the past, the zoo’s Australian magpie pair laid eggs, but did not successfully raise chicks.  By working with the Toledo Zoo and placing the eggs in their climate-controlled incubator, we were able to increase the odds of a successful hatch.

Upon hatching, Australian magpie chicks are blind and featherless.  After about two weeks, they open their eyes and begin to develop downy feathers.  They grow quickly:  at one month old, the chicks are nearly the same size as their parents!

Because the three Australian magpie eggs were hatched in an incubator, the chicks are being hand-fed by zoo keepers.  Once the chicks have fledged (left the nest), they will be placed at other zoos.  You can see the zoo’s magpies in the Australian Adventure when the zoo opens on April 20.

Click on the photos below to enlarge.

Posted in: Baby Animals, Birds

March 7, 2013

Photographer captures unique zoo animals on film

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What’s it like to work with a world-famous photographer on a life-long quest to document endangered species?  Several zoo staff members found out last fall when National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore visited the zoo  to photograph some of our most unusual species for his Photo Ark project.  Sartore’s main goal was to photograph our honey badgers, which are rare in zoos.  While here, he also snapped our blue-crowned hanging parrots, hunting cissas, black storks, Ruppell’s griffon vultures, banded mongoose, wildebeest, and other species.

Sartore photographs each species on a black or white background, which provides a stark contrast for the complex beauty of each animal.  In the photo, Sartore photographs one of our black storks in a white “tent” built especially for this task. 

Nearly half of the world’s fauna are threatened with extinction on some level.  Sartore hopes his Photo Ark will one day hold images of all species present in North American zoos, documenting them before they disappear.  About 2,400 species have been photographed so far.  We’re honored to be part of this educational and inspiring project.  See all Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo animals in the Photo Ark.

Click on the photos below to enlarge.

Posted in: Zoo News

February 27, 2013

Indah and Bugara are Here!

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After receiving a huge-send-off from the Cameron Park Zoo, Sumatran tigers Indah and Bugara arrived safely in Fort Wayne last week after an all-night ride from their birthplace in Waco, Texas.

The Cameron Park Zoo Staff sent a hand-made banner with the tigers, signed by the tigers’ many fans during a going-away party held for the cats the week before their departure.  Because they were rejected by their mother as cubs and hand-raised by zoo staff, Indah and Bugara were very dear to the staff.  “We will miss them greatly,” said Cameron Park Zoo Marketing and Public Relations Manager Duane McGregor. 

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The Fort Wayne staff is already impressed with the cats’ personalities.  “They are really nice cats,” said Animal Curator Mark Weldon.  “I think they’re going to do really well in our exhibit.”

Indah and Bugara replace Teddy and Kemala, the zoo’s former tigers, who recently went to the San Diego Zoo and the Toronto Zoo, respectively, for breeding purposes.  The moves of all four tigers were recommended by the Species Survival Plan, which coordinates breeding of endangered species in zoos.

Because they are brother and sister, Indah and Bugara will not breed, but they are a perfect fit for Tiger Forest because they get along so well and can be exhibited together.   Plan to meet Indah and Bugara on your first visit of the season, which begins  April 20.

See photos of Indah and Bugara.

Posted in: Tigers

February 18, 2013

Tigers Depart and Arrive at Zoo to Help Save Critically Endangered Species

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One Sumatran tiger has departed and two more will arrive this month at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo as part of a cooperative effort to increase the population of this critically endangered species.

Male Sumatran tiger Teddy, who was the only tiger at the zoo, departed last week for the San Diego Zoo.  Teddy was one of three cubs born at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo on April 22, 2004.  Teddy’s companion, a female named Kemala, moved to the Toronto Zoo in December.

A pair of one-year-old Sumatran tigers from the Cameron Park Zoo in Waco, Texas is expected to arrive in Fort Wayne later this month.  Indah, the female, was born on August 15, 2011.  Her brother Bugara was born 14 hours later on August 16.  They were rejected by their mother and hand-raised by the Cameron Park Zoo staff.

The moves of all four tigers were recommended by the Species Survival Plan (SSP) of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA).  The SSP coordinates the breeding of zoo tigers to ensure the genetic diversity of the captive population.  Both Teddy and Kemala will be matched with potential mates at their new facilities.

“Though we are always sad to see animals leave, knowing that they could breed and increase the population of this species makes it worthwhile,” says zoo animal curator Mark Weldon.  About 65 Sumatran tigers currently live in accredited United States zoos, and four were born in 2012.

Because they are so closely related, Indah and Bugara will not be bred with each other.   As hand-reared cats, they are not good candidates for breeding with tigers who were parent-reared.  In addition, their genetic background makes them a low priority for breeding.  “There are a limited number of zoos with breeding space for Sumatran tigers,” says Weldon, “and those spaces are reserved for cats who can contribute the most genetic diversity to the population.”

Upon arrival, Indah and Bugara will undergo a routine 30-day quarantine period before being introduced to their exhibit.  The two will live together in the wooded half-acre Tiger Forest exhibit within the award-winning Indonesian Rain Forest.

Found only on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, Sumatran tigers are critically endangered, with fewer than 400 Sumatran tigers though to remain in the wild.  Sumatran tigers are the smallest of the six living tiger subspecies.  Experts believe only that only 3,200 total tigers remain in the wild.  Three tiger subspecies have become extinct in the last 80 years.

Click on the photos below to enlarge.


Posted in: Tigers

November 14, 2012

Swamp Monkey Family is Growing!

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Swamp monkeys Brie and Bangi are parents again!  A new addition to the family was born on Thursday, November 1. 

The baby, whose gender is not yet known, is the 5th baby for the prolific pair.  The infant has plenty of older siblings to keep it company:  older brother Anderson, age 3, and sisters Izzy, 2, and Luella, 1 are extremely curious about the new arrival.  An older sister, named Calvin, is now living at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo.

As with any addition to a family, the dynamics of the swamp monkey group have shifted.  “At first, Luella seemed upset that she couldn’t get all of her mom’s attention,” said zoo keeper Erin Fairchild, “but she seems to have adjusted to the new baby.”

For now, the baby clings to Brie’s belly to nurse and nap.  In a few weeks, the youngster should begin to interact with its brothers and sisters.  By the time the zoo opens on April 20, the baby will be hopping, jumping, and swinging in the enclosure with its siblings!

Learn more about swamp monkeys here.

Click on the photos below to enlarge.




Posted in: Baby Animals, Monkeys

October 4, 2012

Baby Colobus Monkey Born at the Zoo

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The Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo is celebrating the birth of a baby black and white colobus monkey, the first to be born in 12 years at the zoo.  The female baby was born on September 25.

The infant, named Kaasidy, and her mother, Jibini, went outdoors into their exhibit for the first time late this morning in the African Journey.  The baby’s father is named Finnigan.

Colobus babies are covered in white fur.  At 3-4 months of age, they develop the deep black coat, shaggy white mantle, and tufted white tail typical of adult colobus monkeys. 

Jibini is a first-time mother, so zoo keepers have been watching carefully to make certain she is caring for her baby. 

For now, Kaasidy can be seen clinging to her mother’s belly, though in a few weeks she’ll begin to climb about.  However, to protect the baby, the monkeys will only be allowed access to their outdoor exhibit when the outdoor temperature is above 60 degrees.

Colobus monkeys are native to Africa’s equatorial forests, where they spend nearly all of their time in trees feeding on fruits, leaves, and other vegetation.  Some populations are threatened due to habitat loss and hunting for their dramatic black-and-white coat.  To maintain a genetically healthy zoo population of colobus monkeys, they are cooperatively managed by the Species Survival Plan (SSP) program of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums. 

The Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo closes for the season on Sunday, October 14.  Portions of the zoo will be open during the Wild Zoo Halloween, beginning October 19, but the African Journey will not be open during the Wild Zoo Halloween.

 Read more about colobus monkeys here.


Posted in: Baby Animals, Monkeys

August 31, 2012

Miniature Donkey Foal born in the Farm

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A miniature donkey foal was born on August 31 in the Indiana Family Farm.

Just hours after her birth, the female foal appears strong and healthy, and is already standing, walking, and nursing.  She has even attempted tiny bursts of running in her stall.

The foal can be seen by zoo guests in the big red barn at the Indiana family Farm.  The foal is housed with her mother, Naomi, and grandmother, Esther.

Miniature donkeys originated on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia, and were brought ho the United States in 1929.  Since then, they have become popular as companion animals.  The zoo has exhibited miniature donkeys since 2001.

Click on the photos below to enlarge.

Posted in: Baby Animals

July 25, 2012

A Fluffy Frogmouth Chick!

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On July 8, our tawny frogmouth pair hatched their second chick in two years!  Mom Henson and dad Max are devoted parents, but without the help of zoo keepers, the little chick may not have arrived at all.

Using a remote video camera, keepers kept watch on the secretive, nocturnal birds to make sure they consistently sat on their egg to provide warmth and turned the egg occasionally.  Unfortunately, midway through the nesting period, keepers saw that Henson and Max had stopped sitting on their egg – which could cause the developing chick to die if it became too cold.  “We pulled the egg from the nest and put it in the incubator to keep it warm,” explains Australian Adventure zoo keeper Bethany Hickey.  To encourage Max and Henson to stay on the nest, the real egg was replaced with a dummy egg.  The birds eventually returned to the nest and “incubated” the dummy egg.

Once keepers were sure that Max and Henson were staying on the nest, the real egg was returned to them.  They finished out the 30-day incubation, and the chick hatched on its own on July 8.

Tawny frogmouths, which are native to Australia, feed on frogs, mice, and insects in the wild.  At the zoo, we give them mice and mealworms.  “Max and Henson are feeding the baby pretty well,” says Hickey, “But we supplement twice a day with chopped mice dipped in Pedialyte.”

As a result of the TLC received from its parents and zoo keepers, the tawny frogmouth chick is strong, healthy, and growing fast.  “One day last week, the chick’s weight went from 36 grams to 43 grams overnight,” Hickey says.

The tawny frogmouth chick still spends most of its time in the nest, which is near the entrance door of the Australia After Dark building.  Because only seven chicks hatched nationwide last year and Henson and Max represent a new genetic line among captive tawny frogmouths, this little chick is important this unique species’ future in zoos.

Learn more about tawny frogmouths.

Click on the photos below to enlarge.

Posted in: Baby Animals, Birds

July 11, 2012

Penguin Chick Hatches at the Zoo

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A bundle of fluffy gray feathers arrived at the zoo on June 26, 2012:  A tiny black-footed penguin hatched to mother Right Pink and father Left Pink. (The penguins are identified by colored bands on each wing.) 

Though the Pinks have raised several chicks, this penguin needed a little help entering the world.  A few days before hatching, the chick used its pointy temporary “egg tooth” (located on the top of its beak) to “pip” through both the internal egg membrane and the eggshell.  Normally, the chick would begin coming out of its shell at this point, but in this case, nothing happened.  “The veterinary staff ultimately helped the chick come out of the egg,” says zoo keeper Nikki Finch.  “Mom and dad took the chick back right away and starting caring for it.”

The Pinks are apparently doing a great job caring for their chick – its weight increased nearly sixfold, from 52 grams to 298 grams, in just 12 days! 

You won’t be able to see the chick, whose gender is not yet known, for several months.  “Right now, the chick is with the Pinks in the penguins’ night house,” says Finch.  The chick will stay with its parents, dining on regurgitated fish, until it is 21 days old or weighs 500 grams.  “After that, we’ll take over feeding the chick and train it to eat fish form our hand,” says Finch.  Once the chick loses its fuzzy gray down and sports a nice set of waterproof feathers, it will return to the exhibit and meet the rest of the flock.

Read more about the endangered African black-footed penguin.

Click on the photos below to enlarge.


Posted in: Baby Animals, Birds

March 28, 2012

Seven Kangaroo Joeys Emerge in 2012

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The Australian Adventure’s kangaroo yard is jumping with seven kangaroo joeys!

Most of the joeys were born last year in May or June, but they’ve only recently been out of their mothers’ pouches, exploring the world around them.  All of the joeys were sired by the zoo’s only adult male kangaroo, Mako, who arrived here last March.

Kangaroos are marsupials, so they are born in a highly underdeveloped state.  Right after birth, the joey crawls to the pouch, where it remains for months nursing and growing.

Even though a joey might be too big to fit into mom’s pouch, that doesn’t stop the joey from trying.  Don’t be surprised to see odd combinations of legs, feet, tails, and noses poking out of pouches on your first visit this spring!

Click on the photos below to enlarge.

Posted in: Baby Animals
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