Archive for Baby Animals
Hello, Little Jellies
Thirty one-month-0ld moon jellyfish arrived at the Great Barrier Reef Aquarium this week! Hatched at the New England Aquarium, these two-inch-diameter moon jellies joined 13 adult jellies in the Great Barrier Reef Aquarium.
Because moon jellies have an average life span of six months in the wild and one year in captivity, the introduction of new moon jellies is a yearly event at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo. The babies will mature quickly and should have a bell size of six to eight inches when the zoo opens on April 26.
Zoo keepers transitioned the babies into their new aquarium slowly. A large bag containing the new moon jellies was placed inside the aquarium but was not opened right away, allowing water temperatures to equalize. Little by little, zoo keepers allowed small amounts of water from the bag and the aquarium to mix together. Click on the video for behind-the-scenes footage of the acclimation process:
Moon jellies are not endangered and are a favorite food of several endangered sea turtle species. However, balloons and plastic grocery bags closely resemble jellyfish when floating in the ocean. If sea turtles ingest the balloons and bags, they can die. You can help sea turtles by recycling plastic grocery bags and avoiding mass balloon releases.
Zoo babies are sponsored by Lutheran Children’s Hospital.Posted in: Aquarium, Baby Animals
The Baby Boom Continues
The zoo’s baby boom continues as zoo keepers welcome a new addition to the Indonesian Rain Forest…a teeny, tiny, two-inch crocodile skink. It’s the first time this reptile species has ever been hatched at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo! This imperious addition to the animal kingdom weighed-in at two grams, approximately the weight of a pencil eraser.
Although its name implies a lizard of force and stature, this particular crocodile skink began its life cycle in a fragile state.
Late last year, zoo keepers discovered by accident that the adult crocodile skinks had produced an egg. Dave Messmann, a zoo keeper in the Indonesian Rain Forest, accidentally disturbed the egg while cleaning the skinks’ aquarium. “We were concerned about the disturbance. It’s a best-practice to avoid moving a reptile egg once it’s discovered, ” Messmann stated. He also explained the reason why zoo keepers would have preferred avoidance, “An air pocket inside the egg can shift if the egg is moved, potentially causing the embryo to suffocate.”
Hoping for the best, zoo keepers decided to incubate the egg and observe. They constructed an incubator by filling a deli tub with wet moss and poking holes in the tub’s lid. The egg was carefully placed atop the moss and the tub was placed on a shelf. The egg was then allowed to incubate at room temperature, undisturbed. After sixty days, a live hatchling was observed!
At eleven days old, the crocodile skink baby weighed-in at 2 grams. Now thirty days old, the baby is doing fine and continues to develop normally. It will likely reach an adult length of eight inches and top-out at one pound.
Zoo babies are sponsored by Lutheran Children’s Hospital.
Click on the pictures to enlarge:
The Colobus Babies Have Names!
This just in – Zoo keepers have named the two colobus monkey babies at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo!
~Jibini’s baby is male and named Obi (pronouced “oh-bee”). His name means “heart.”
~Wamblenica’s baby is female and named Mchumba (pronouced “meh-choom-ba”). Her name means “sweetheart.”
Obi and Mchumba were born in late January. Click here to read the zoo’s earlier blog post announcing the colobus babies’ births.
Why did keepers wait so long to name the babies? ”We wanted to wait until we found out both of their sexes so we could give them corresponding names,” says African Journey Area Manager Amber Eagleson. Determining Mchumba’s sex took longer because the infant monkey clung very tightly to her mother, and keepers waited some time before approaching mom and baby. This clinging behavior is typical in colobus infants.
Zoo Keeper Jessica Walker reports that the babies are developing normally and have undergone behavioral as well as physical changes. “Since their arrival, the babies have developed rapidly! Initially they clung tight to their respective mothers, and either nursed or slept for the majority of the day. They vocalized only slightly. Now, although they still display the clinging and nursing behaviors of infancy, both babies have been moving more and have found their voices.”
Walker also notes changes in Obi and Mchumba’s physical appearance. “The first couple of days after birth the little ones were completely white. Their coloration is slowly changing to resemble the black-and-white pattern of an adult colobus monkey. The change will be more noticeable in the coming weeks.”
The photos below were taken on February 27, 2014, around the time of the babies’ one-month birthday. Click to enlarge:
For Your Zoo-to-Do List…
Maggie, a very friendly green-naped pheasant pigeon in Indonesian Rain Forest, experienced a life-changing event in August when she was introduced to Zazu, a male pheasant pigeon. Maggie and Zazu quickly became a pair, and recently welcomed a new baby!
Winter has been a busy time for Maggie and Zazu. They built a nest on the forest floor and took turns incubating their single egg. Now that their chick has hatched, both parents hunt for seeds, fruit, and insects to feed their chick.
Feeding a new baby bird is a tireless job, but all their work is paying off. The new chick is already half the size of its parents and will soon be foraging for food on its own.
Keepers are eager to learn the chick’s gender, but they’ll have to wait until they can catch it. The chick is always on the move and darts behind vegetation when approached. ”The way we determine a pheasant pigeon’s sex is by doing a blood draw. We’re waiting until the baby gets a little older and more comfortable with the staff before we approach it,” says zoo keeper Tiffany Jones.
Green-naped pheasant pigeons are native to New Guinea and nearby islands, and they are considered endangered in parts of their range. Pheasant pigeons are non-flighted birds, but they can glide for short distances. The zoo participates in the Species Survival Plan for these birds to manage breeding and maintain a genetically healthy zoo population.
Because she often strolled alongside the rain forest boardwalk, Maggie is well-known to zoo guests. We’ll see if she returns to her old habits this summer when her chick becomes independent. Visit Maggie and see if you can spot the new chick when the zoo opens for the season on April 26.
Click on the images below to enlarge:
Posted in: Baby Animals, Birds, Indonesian Rain Forest, Zoo News
The Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo enjoyed a baby boom during the last week of January when two black-and-white colobus monkeys were born within two days of one another.
“The fact that they were born within two days of each other was a big surprise,” stated African Journey Area Manager Amber Eagleson. “We were aware that both of the adult females were pregnant, but based on their size we anticipated that one mother would deliver a bit later than the other. We never expected two infants at the same time!”
The babies, which have not yet been named, were born on January 26 and January 28, 2014. They were born without complication and have displayed healthy postnatal behavior. Dr. Kami Fox, the zoo’s veterinary intern, states that “Both babies and moms are doing very well. The newborns are clinging tightly to their respective mothers, just like they should. The keepers have witnessed them nursing frequently as well.”
The colobus monkeys will live indoors until the weather permits outdoor access. During the zoo season, guests can observe the troop on exhibit in the African Journey. The following six monkeys make up the zoo’s colobus troop:
Eagleson explains why the sex of the second colobus baby remains unknown, “We have yet to determine the gender of Wamblenica’s baby because mom is extremely overprotective. Her baby clings tightly to her at all times and we’ve allowed Wamblenica some distance to avoid unintended stress on mother and baby.”
Colobus monkeys live in the rain forests of central and eastern Africa. They grow into adept climbers despite their unique hand structure. Although it is common practice to reference the “opposable thumbs” of primates, colobus monkeys lack this feature and instead use their four full-sized fingers to form a hook that helps them grasp branches. In addition to climbing, colobus monkeys can leap from tree to tree by launching themselves from a high limb on one tree to a lower limb on another. Guests of the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo can observe this behavior when the zoo opens on April 26.
Click on the images below to enlarge:
Posted in: Baby Animals, Monkeys, Zoo News
New Year, New Babies!
Zoo keepers got a big surprise last month when a tentacled snake in the Indonesian Rain Forest gave birth to seven babies overnight!
Zoo keepers knew that the female snake was pregnant, but weren’t sure when the babies would arrive. An ultrasound done in December revealed a tangle of little snakes inside the mother.
Dr. Kami Fox, the zoo’s veterinary intern states that the length of gestation and anticipated due date for tentacled snakes is difficult to determine. “We try to assess how far along they are via ultrasound but rarely do we witness the actual birth. In this particular case, the snake gave birth during the night and in the morning we observed the new babies.”
Tentacled snakes are ovoviviparous, which means they produce eggs inside their body, but instead of laying eggs they give birth to live young. Here’s how it works: The unborn snakes are nourished via egg yolk (the mother has no placenta), and the eggs hatch prior to birth. The mother snake then delivers live young.
Tentacled snakes are ambush hunters. According to Zoo Keeper Dave Messmann, “They use their tails to anchor themselves and wait for their prey.” At this point, the unique tentacles for which the species is named allow the snake to sense vibration from the unsuspecting prey – usually a small fish. Once the predator becomes aware of its prey it strikes with its mouth. The strike is lightning-fast, lasting only a matter of milliseconds.
Baby tentacled snakes begin hunting just hours after birth. According to Dr. Fox, “The babies come out hungry so we provide size-appropriate fish for them.”
The only known predator to tentacled snakes is humans.
Meet Kaasidy, Our Little Daredevil
How many ways can a 9-month-old monkey worry her keepers? Kaasidy the baby colobus monkey is trying to find out.
“She’s quite the daredevil ,” said African Journey Area Manger Amber Eagleson of Kaasidy. Eagelson describes Kaasidy’s first day in the new colobus monkey exhibit, when the little monkey climbed to the top of the exhibit, let go, and dropped ten feet to a low branch. “My heart stopped for just a second,” says Eagleson. But Kaasidy had no worries – she climbed to the top and did it all over again.
One of Kaasidy’s favorite antics is to hang from the long bushy tails of her mother, Jibini, and Wamblenica, another female. “They don’t seem to mind at all,” said Eagleson. But dad’s tail is off-limits. “We never see her hanging from Finnigan’s tail – he’s not as tolerant as the females.”
Kaasidy was born on September 25, so she was on exhibit for only a few days before the zoo closed for the season. The colobus family moved back outdoors after their exhibit in the African Journey was completely rebuilt and enlarged this spring. Colobus monkeys are native to the forests of central and eastern Africa.
Eagleson encourages you to spend time at the colobus exhibit and watch Kaasidy at play. “She only rests for a few minutes,” Eagleson said. “Then she’s back at it again.”
Click the photos below to enlarge.
Our Growing Gibbon Family
The Javan gibbon baby born at the zoo on April 16 is growing more adventuresome by the day, thanks to excellent care by his mother Dieng – and perhaps some encouragement by his rambunctious big brother, two-year-old Jaka.
The male baby, who has not yet been named, spends most of his time clinging to Dieng’s belly, but keepers have noticed more activity lately. “We’ve seen him reach out to grab a branch once in a while,” said zoo keeper Kristin Sliger. “But he’s still too little to move around on his own.”
Jaka, on the other hand, is always on the move. During a recent photo shoot he rarely sat still, preferring to leap and swing among the branches and vines in the tree-filled exhibit in the Indonesian Rain Forest.
Javan gibbons are rare – so rare that one other United States zoo exhibits this rare species. When Jaka was born in 2011, he was the first Javan gibbon born in any United States zoo. Dieng, her mate Lionel, and their two youngsters are the largest group of Javan gibbons in a U.S. zoo.
“We are honored to be one of only two zoos in to exhibit this endangered species,” said Zoo Animal Curator Mark Weldon. “With this species, we can make a significant impact on conservation.”
UPDATE July 1, 2013: The baby has a name! It’s Kado, which is an Indonesian word meaning “gift.”
Click on the photos below to enlarge.
Posted in: Baby Animals, Conservation, Gibbons, Zoo News
Red Panda Update
Updated June 7, 2013:
A red panda born at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo on Monday, June 3, has died.
“Our staff is truly saddened by this news,” said Animal Curator Mark Weldon.
The male cub was born to female red panda Xiao (pronounced JOW), age 3, and her 4-year-old mate, Junjie.
“Our daily visual checks did not reveal any problems with the cub,” Weldon said. The cub was seen curled up in the nest box, which is normal behavior. The cub was scheduled for a full physical exam today.
This was the second litter of cubs to be born at the zoo since 1997. Two cubs were born to Xiao in 2012, but neither cub survived. About half of red panda cubs born in zoos die within the first month of life. In 2012, 30 red panda cubs were born in North American zoos. Fifteen of those cubs survived.
A necropsy conducted by the zoo’s veterinary staff revealed that the cub had not ingested any milk. This could mean that the cub did not nurse, or that Xiao did not produce any milk.
“Raising animals in zoos is not an exact science,” said Weldon. “Our preference is always for animals to raise their own young, rather than hand-rearing them. Mother-raised babies always become better parents when they have their own young. It’s a fine line to know when to intervene.”
Mary Noell of the Cincinnati Zoo serves as North American Regional Studbook Keeper for red pandas and maintains data on all red pandas in United States and Canadian zoos. “This is not an unusual situation,” she said of the cub’s death. “Xiao is still a very young panda.” In general, young mothers are less successful in rearing young.
“There is a genetic line within this subspecies where [the females] do not produce enough milk,” Noell said. “Unfortunately we don’t know this is a possibility until a cub dies.”
Noell said that Xiao’s future as a breeding red panda will be evaluated. Recommendations for breeding and transferring animals among zoos are made annually. Both Noell and Weldon noted that either Xiao or Junjie could be moved to another zoo to find a new mate in the future.
Zoos continually share information on best practices and advances in husbandry for red pandas and all animals. A new air-conditioned nest box was installed in the red panda exhibit this spring. It includes a side window that allowed keepers to peek into the box once a day and view the cub. “We tried to disturb mom and the cub as little as possible,” Weldon said. The zoo pathway leading to the exhibit was closed off when Xiao began nesting on Monday.
Below is the original post, announcing the cub’s arrival.
Zoo keepers were counting the days until Xiao’s due date, but they were prepared when the red panda delivered a single cub on June 3, a few days earlier than expected.
This is the second litter of cubs to be born at the zoo since 1997. Two cubs were born to Xiao and her mate Junjie in 2012, but neither cub survived.
“The next few weeks are critical to the cub’s survival,” said Central Zoo Area Manager Shelley Scherer. “Xiao is behaving just as we would expect, so we are cautiously optimistic.”
An endangered species, red pandas are difficult to breed and rear in captivity. About half of all cubs die within 30 days of birth. Only a few dozen red panda cubs are born in United States zoos each year.
Keepers conducted a brief health check on the cub this morning. The cub, whose gender is not known, weighed 117 grams and was vocalizing. Xiao frequently carries her cub among nest boxes in the exhibit, which is normal behavior.
Keepers will keep a close eye on the cub, but prefer not to intervene in its care unless the cub is in danger. “It’s always best to allow a mother to rear her babies,” said Zoo Animal Curator Mark Weldon.
To give Xiao and her cub complete privacy, the exhibit pathway is closed to guests.
Red panda cubs are born blind and deaf. The mother spends nearly all her time nursing and grooming her cubs during the first week. The cubs remain in the nest until they are about three months old.
“If the cub survives, zoo guests are unlikely to see it outside of the nest box until sometime in August or September,” said Scherer.
The breeding of red pandas is overseen by the Species Survival Plan (SSP), a program of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA). The goal of the SSP is to maximize genetic diversity in captive populations of endangered animals.
Red pandas are native to the forested foothills of the Himalaya Mountains in China and Nepal, where they feed primarily on bamboo. Though they share a name with the famed black-and-white giant pandas, the two are not closely related. The name “panda” comes from the Nepalese word ponya, which means “bamboo-eater.”
Click on the photos below to enlarge.
Posted in: Baby Animals, Red Panda, Zoo News
Rare Javan Gibbon Born at Zoo
A very rare baby – one of only two born in the United States in the last 12 months – has arrived at the zoo. A male Javan gibbon was born on April 16 in the Indonesian Rain Forest.
“We are thrilled with the birth,” says Animal Curator Mark Weldon. “Dieng is being a good mother and the baby appears healthy.”
On a visit to the gibbons’ indoor quarters, Dieng, the mother, held her new baby tightly to her chest as she swung gracefully from branch to branch. The baby had no choice but to hang on tight to Dieng’s furry belly or risk falling to the ground. But luckily, nature has equipped baby gibbons with a strong grip!
Lionel, the baby’s father, and big brother Jaka, who was born here in March 2011, were more focused on the treats being offered by zoo keeper Kristen Sliger than on the new baby. “Jaka is curious about his new sibling, but Dieng is also very protective,” she said. The new arrival does not yet have a name.
For now, the gibbons’ access to the outdoors will be limited to time periods when the temperature is above 60 degrees. The apes will only be allowed to venture into the overhead chute that connects their indoor quarters to the outdoor exhibit. “We just want to play it safe and make sure the baby is ready to move into the big exhibit before we give them complete access,” Sliger said.
Javan gibbons are rare in zoos and in the wild. Fewer than 4,000 of these gibbons remain on the island of Java, where they are under intense pressure from the island’s burgeoning human population. Read more about Javan gibbons here.
Click on the photos below to enlarge.