PHOTOS: Two New Giant Pandas Coming to the National Zoo

Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute in Washington, D.C. will welcome two giant pandas from China at the end of the year! The pandas, Bao Li [BOW-lee] and Qing Bao [ching-BOW], are both two years old.

Bao Li: Giant panda coming to National Zoo

Two-year-old male giant panda Bao Li in his habitat at Shenshuping Base in Wolong, China, May 16. Photo credit: Roshan Patel, Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute.

Qing Bao: Giant panda arriving at National Zoo

Two-year-old female giant panda Qing Bao in her habitat at Dujiangyan Base in Sichuan, China May 17. Photo credit: Roshan Patel, Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute.

The pandas will be transported from China on a special flight provided by FedEx. Once they arrive, they will be quarantined (housed behind-the-scenes) for at least 30 days to prevent the spread of disease and to allow the pandas to get used to their new environment.

For more information about Bao Li and Qing Bao, visit the National Zoo website. For more information about giant pandas, see our article, Giant Panda.

Bao Li: Giant panda coming to National Zoo from China.

Bao Li in his habitat at Shenshuping Base in Wolong, China, May 16. Photo credit: Roshan Patel, Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute.

Qing Bao: Giant panda coming to National Zoo

Qing Bao at Dujiangyan Base in Sichuan, China May 17. Photo credit: Roshan Patel, Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute.

Scientific Breakthrough for Critically Endangered Starfish Recovery

Sunflower starfish

The sunflower sea star is now critically endangered due to a mysterious illness called sea star wasting syndrome. But researchers have made a breakthrough for their recovery. Photo credit: Marco Mazza/Courtesy of San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance.

A mysterious disease called sea star wasting syndrome decimated 95% of the sunflower sea star population in 2013. Since then scientists have been working to learn more about the disease and figure out ways to save the sunflower sea star from extinction.

For the first time, researchers with the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance’s reproductive sciences team, in collaboration with Sunflower Star Laboratory and Dr. Jason Hodin, senior scientist at Friday Harbor Laboratories were able to hatch dozens of baby sunflower sea stars using cryopreservation technology.

Cryopreservation is the process by which live tissues and cells are frozen in order to keep them for an extended amount of time. In this case, the researchers successfully froze sunflower sea star sperm, thawed it and fertilized eggs that developed into larvae.

According to Nicole Ravida, laboratory manager for San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance,  “Cryopreservation is one method reproductive scientists can contribute to the preservation of gene diversity in sunflower sea star populations.”

The researchers believe maintaining gene diversity is the best way for sea stars to adapt to future stressors.

To learn more about this scientific sea star breakthrough, visit the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance website.

To learn more about starfish, read our Starfish article.

PHOTOS: Endangered Baby Zebra Born at Lincoln Park Zoo

Baby Grevy's zebra at Lincoln Park Zoo

An endangered Grevy’s zebra was born at the Lincoln Park Zoo. Photo credit: Christopher Bijalba / Lincoln Park Zoo

A female baby zebra was born on August 21 at Lincoln Park Zoo. The foal, a Grevy’s zebra, was able to run just one hour after birth. She will be dependent on her mother, Adia, for the first seven months.

Grevy’s zebras are considered endangered by the IUCN. There are fewer than 2000 Grevy’s zebras in the wild, due to hunting and habitat loss.

Baby Grevy's zebra

Pictured with her mom, Adia, the newborn was able to run just one hour after birth. Photo credit: Christopher Bijalba / Lincoln Park Zoo

To learn more about the Grevy’s zebra newborn, see the Lincoln Park Zoo website.

Endangered Crown Lemur Born at Lincoln Park Zoo

Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago proudly welcomed a baby crowned lemur on April 15. The sex and measurements of the lemur infant are still to be determined because mother Tucker is keeping her newborn close.

“With any birth, our animal care staff carefully monitors the new arrival to ensure they are passing critical milestones,” said Curator of Primates Maureen Leahy. “Tucker is an attentive and experienced mother and the infant is holding tight to her and regularly nursing, which is exactly what we’d hope to see.”

Baby crowned lemur

Lincoln Park Zoo welcomed a crowned lemur infant on April 15. Photo by Lincoln Park Zoo.

Crowned lemur baby and mother at Lincoln Park Zoo

Crowned lemur mama Tucker is keeping her baby tucked in safely. Photo by Lincoln Park Zoo.

In the wild, crowned lemurs inhabit the forests of Madagascar. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN), crowned lemurs are considered endangered due to forest loss caused by slash-and-burn practices, habitat fragmentation, charcoal production, mining and other human-wildlife conflict.

 

It’s a Girl! Taronga Western Plains Zoo Welcomes Baby Black Rhino

It’s a girl! This baby black rhino was born on April 11. Photo by Taronga Western Plains Zoo.

Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo, Australia, welcomed a southern black rhinoceros calf on April 11. The female calf, the first baby for mother Kufara, weighed around 25-30kg (55-66 lbs.) at birth.

“Both mother and calf are doing well. Kufara is very cautious and protective of her calf which is a natural behavior for a first-time mother. We are really happy with the maternal behaviors Kufara is displaying. She is very attentive and ensuring her calf suckles frequently which is all very positive,” said keeper Linda Matthews.

For now, the baby calf and mother will bond behind the scenes at the zoo. They will go on public display in late June.

Baby black rhino

Photo by Taronga Western Plains Zoo.

Female black rhino calf and mother

Photo by Taronga Western Plains Zoo.

Southern black rhinoceros calf and mama at Taronga Western Plains Zoo

Photo by Taronga Western Plains Zoo.

In the wild, the are only about 4,200 black rhinos roaming the deserts and grasslands of Africa. They are classified as critically endangered. Poaching remains a significant threat due to rising demand for their horn, which is used in Asian medicine.

Giraffes Now Vulnerable of Extinction

Giraffe

Film still from “Last of the Longnecks.” Courtesy of Iniosante Studios.

The IUCN has recently reclassified giraffes from a species of least concern to one vulnerable of extinction. Giraffe populations in Africa have declined 40% since 1985. All nine subspecies of giraffe are officially in trouble.

Iniosante Studios has spent the last three years documenting the situation in their film, “Last of the Longnecks,” which has helped bring global awareness to the plight of giraffes and instigated a reclassification by the IUCN. To obtain accurate figures for the IUCN, more than a dozen researchers combed the savannas in trucks, wandered trails on foot, flown in aircraft, and studied remote cameras.

“We’ve been working alongside the researchers in our film for the past three years to sound the alarm,” said Ashley Scott Davison, the film’s director. “Until recently, few people were even aware of the situation facing giraffes. This reclassification by the IUCN is pivotal to get the public to take action for our planet’s tallest animal.”

Watch a trailer of “Last of the Longnecks” below:

To learn more, see the website for “Last of the Longnecks.”

To learn more about giraffes, read our giraffe facts article.

Baby Grevy’s Zebra Born at Lincoln Park Zoo

Grevy's zebras

Adia and her new foal, born June 18. Photo by Lincoln Park Zoo.

The Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago celebrated Father’s Day weekend with the arrival of a female Grevy’s zebra foal. It was the first zebra birth at the zoo since 2012! The baby zebra is the third foal for mother Adia and the first for father Webster.

In the wild, Grevy’s zebras are considered endangered due to hunting and habitat loss. They are native to eastern Africa, ranging from Ethiopia to Kenya.

Lincoln Park Zoo participates in the Grevy’s Zebra Species Survival Plan, a shared conservation effort by zoos throughout the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

“Research tells us that fostering an emotional connection between humans and animals is key to creating a real commitment to wildlife conservation,” said Lincoln Park Zoo Vice President of Education and Community Engagement Dana Murphy. “Species like zebras, with which we are relatively familiar—and become so at an early age—help us forge that connection and inspire our guests to care about their future.”

For more about Lincoln Park’s baby zebra, visit their website.

Grevy's zebras

Photo by Lincoln Park Zoo.

Grevy's zebras

Photo by Lincoln Park Zoo.

Baby Ring-Tailed Lemurs at Busch Gardens

Awww! Busch Gardens Tampa recently welcomed three baby ring-tailed lemurs. First-time mother Canada gave birth to Squirt on March 19, and twins Schweps and Seagramms were born to Ginger on March 27.

Lemur mother and babies

Photo by Busch Gardens Tampa.

Lemur mother and baby

Photo by Busch Gardens Tampa.

See the adorable baby ring-tailed lemurs in the video below:

Ring-tailed lemurs are considered endangered by the IUCN Red List. The main threat to their population is habitat destruction. Much of their habitat is being converted to farmland or burned for the production of charcoal.

To learn more about ring-tailed lemurs, see our ring-tailed lemur facts article.

Help Save Cholita the Circus Bear

Cholita

Cholita, an abused spectacled bear and former circus animal, waits for her trip to the United States, where she can live out the rest of her life in a sanctuary. Photo provided by Animal Defenders International (ADI).

Cholita has had a hard life. She is an Andean/spectacled bear (Tremarctos ornatus), a species considered vulnerable of extinction in the wild. She was kept illegally at a circus in Peru.  There, she was severely abused.

Due to the gruesome abuse she suffered at the circus, Cholita now has no claws, teeth or hair. She is barely recognizable as a spectacled bear.  But there is hope for Cholita, to live out the rest of her days in a United States sanctuary.

Animal Defenders International (ADI) has worked with the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and Peruvian authorities to get Cholita on a special ‘Spirit of Freedom’ flight to Colorado scheduled for April 20.  The huge rescue mission, which also includes the rescue of 70 other circus animals, is expected to cost ADI over $1.2 million.

Please donate to help save Cholita and the other animals saved during Operation Spirit of Freedom: www.ad-international.org/CholitaAppealUS or call 323-935-2234.

To learn more, visit ADI’s website.