Archive for Zoo News
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
Happy Birthday to our Two-Year Olds!
The zoo’s dingo puppies celebrate their second birthday on Thursday, January 30. Zoo keepers hosted an early birthday party complete with enrichment-based gifts. The gifts, which were made by zoo volunteers, included cardboard “animals” and paper mache balls. (For more on animal enrichment, visit our website.)
Their litter includes seven pups, five of which still reside here at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo. (Male dingo Brumby and female dingo Elzey now live at the Cleveland Zoo.)
The dingoes that celebrated here in Fort Wayne included:
- Mawson (male)
- Tingoora (female)
- Bunyip (male)
- Airlie (female)
- Yengo (male)
Bunyip, Mawson, and Tingoora became especially engaged with their cardboard surprises. Click on the video to watch their reaction!
Click on the images below to enlarge:
Picky Eaters? We’ve Got Them, Too!
Bill the lion may have a big appetite, but that doesn’t mean he’ll eat anything! According to African Journey Area Director Amber Eagleson, Bill’s reluctance to accept dietary change lead to his reputation as a ”picky eater”.
“All our big cats eat a commercial ground-meat diet we purchase by the ton. Whenever we switch meat companies, Bill is always the last to comply. We find it ironic since he eats the largest amount of meat in the entire zoo!” states Eagleson.
Fortunately for Bill, who consumes approximately eight pounds of meat each day, the zoo changes animal diets only a supplier cannot meet the necessary nutritional requirements. To ease the transition to a new diet, Eagleson explains that “For most carnivores, we will mix 75% of the meat they are accustomed to with 25% of the new meat for a week and then go to 50:50 and then 25:75. Almost always, it is no big deal for the animal. However, Bill has given us problems almost every time.”
What’s a zoo keeper to do? In the case of Bill “The Picky Eater” Lion, the transition starts at 95% new to 5% old and proceeds gradually from there.
In the Indonesian Rain Forest, the term “picky eating” takes on a different definition. Melati, Tengku, and Tara, the zoo’s Sumatran orangutans, approach their lunch very carefully. They reach inside of pumpkins and carefully pluck out seeds one at a time. The orangutans then shell and eat each pumpkin seed until the last one is gone. According to Tanisha Dunbar, Area Director for the Indonesian Rainforest, Melati approaches the task so precisely that she finishes every last seed “without breaking a single one.”
Dunbar also points out that, “Melati can peel grapes without breaking them.” How’s that for “picky eating”?
For 22 years, thousands of children took their very first pony ride on a friendly zoo pony named Cookie. We are saddened to report that Cookie passed away last month at age 38.
“We always put first-time riders on Cookie,” said Byron Hooley, whose family has operated the zoo’s pony rides for nearly 40 years. “She could sense if kids were a little scared and would take it nice and slow.”
A 38-year-old pony is considered very old, according to Hooley.
In her advanced age, Cookie only worked a few days a week last season. “Everyone always asked for Cookie,” Hooley said. “There were so many parents who rode Cookie when they were kids, and wanted their children to have the same experience.”
“All my grandkids took their first pony ride on Cookie,” Hooley said. “She was one of those ponies who took care of her rider. Cookie will be tough to replace.”
Share your memories of Cookie on the zoo’s Facebook page.
Where Do the Animals Go in the Winter?
At the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, we often hear the question, “Where do the animals go in the winter?” The answer is – They stay right here! The zoo is quieter since we closed for the season on October 13, but our animals and zoo keepers haven’t gone anywhere. Some animals spend the winter outdoors, some indoors, and many have the opportunity to do both. Here’s a list of where a few of our animals spend their fall and winter “vacation”:
Why do some of the animals stay in while others go out? According to African Journey Area Manager Amber Eagleson, it all depends on something called ”access temperature”. The access temperature is the threshold that’s safe for a particular species. “Zoo keepers monitor the outdoor temperature to determine whether an animal can go outside”, states Eagleson. Access temperature varies considerably, even for animals from the same geographic region. For example, giraffes have an access temperature of 45 degrees. African birds can endure much lower temperatures. Eagleson states that “Ostriches have an access temp of zero degrees and for storks it’s five to ten degrees.”
The animals of the Indonesian Rain Forest also have a diverse range of access temperatures. According to Area Manager Tanisha Dunbar, primates venture outdoors as long as temperatures are above 40 degrees. The 40-degree threshold also applies to tigers. Says Dunbar, “Some of the animals have continuous access to the outdoors, and some go out on exhibit if the weather allows it.” The birds of the rain forest, however, spend the off-season inside the rain forest dome.
So although the zoo is closed for the season, the animals are still here…with the exception of one group. The horses and ponies spend the winter off-site at a family farm.
The animals of the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo will all be here and ready for opening day on April 26. Will you join us?
Did You Help Us Change the World in 2013?
If you visited the Kids4Nature Kiosk this summer, then you sure did! With your help, we directed $80,000 to the zoo’s Conservation Programs. More than 180,000 zoo guests voted by releasing a metal washer into one of three coin funnels this season.
So who won?
- African Lions got 43% of the votes
- Javan Gibbons earned 34%
- Sandhill Cranes secured 23%
We will soon send more than $80,000 to these and other organizations to support their conservation work. By voting at the Kids4Nature Kiosk, making donations, and rounding up at the Wild Things Gift Shop, you’ve helped us to protect animals and their habitats. Thank you to everyone who got involved. Together we’re changing the world!
For a complete listing of the Zoo’s conservation commitments, click here.
Click on a photo of one of this year’s featured projects to enlarge:
2013 Attendance Second-Highest Ever
The Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo experienced its second-highest yearly attendance ever in 2013 with a total of 545,900 guests.
This figure includes 525,744 people who visited during the regular zoo season of April 21-October 13, and 20,156 who visited during the Wild Zoo Halloween.
The zoo’s attendance record is 614,666, set in 2009 when the African Journey exhibit opened. This figure includes regular season and Wild Zoo Halloween attendance.
The zoo opened to the public for the first time in 1965.
“We are thankful for the support of our members, out-of-town guests, and the entire community for another great year,” said Zoo Director Jim Anderson. “Our staff works hard to provide an excellent experience for our visitors. I’m proud of the work we do to connect our guests with animals every day.”
The zoo is operated by the non-profit Fort Wayne Zoological Society and receives no tax funding for operations. Ticket sales, membership sales, concessions, other earned revenue, donations, and sponsorships comprise the zoo’s operating budget.
The zoo is the largest tourist attraction in northeast Indiana. About one in five zoo visitors comes from outside of Indiana. Forty percent of zoo guests are from Allen County. For more than 90% of out-of-town zoo guests surveyed, the zoo was their main reason for travelling to Fort Wayne.
The zoo is currently closed for the season and will reopen on April 26, 2014.Posted in: Zoo News
Animals and pumpkins may seem like an unlikely pairing, but they are a big hit at the zoo. With so many pumpkins here for the Wild Zoo Halloween, zoo keepers are grabbing gourds to use as enrichment with the animals.
Enrichment is the practice of introducing novel foods and objects to provide mental and physical stimulation for the animals.
Pumpkins can be used as toys, food, or a container for treats. The dingoes’ pumpkins were covered in papier-mâché to make them extra-challenging to open. The red pandas got pumpkins stuffed with bamboo leaves and grapes, and the capuchin monkeys received jack-o-lanterns with treats inside. The orangutans simply cracked open the pumpkins and ate the seeds!
Enjoy these photos of zoo critters with their pumpkins – click on the photos to enlarge.
Posted in: Monkeys, Orangutans, Red Panda, Zoo News
Zoo Awarded Accreditation
The Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo has once again met the highest standards in the zoo profession by being awarded Accreditation by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA).
“The entire zoo team works hard to ensure that our programs, protocols, and facilities meet the highest standards,” said Zoo Director Jim Anderson, who serves on AZA’s Accreditation Commission and is part of a team that inspects other zoos.
The zoo was inspected over the summer by representatives of the AZA Accreditation Commission and submitted more than 2,700 pages of documentation to demonstrate that it meets the AZA’s rigorous standards, including animal care; keeper training; safety for visitors, staff and animals; educational programs; conservation efforts; veterinary programs; financial stability; risk management; visitor services; and other areas.
Only 223 zoos are accredited by the AZA in the United States.
Accredited zoos are required to undergo the Accreditation process every five years. The Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo was first accredited in 1976.Posted in: Zoo News