Wily Prairie Dogs Escape from New Exhibit

Prairie dogs at Maryland Zoo

Yesterday, the Maryland Zoo opened its new $500,000 prairie dog habitat.  Unfortunately, within ten minutes, several prairie dogs tested the limits of their new home and found multiple escape routes.  Climbing and jumping over the walls, the prairie dogs had zoo workers in a frenzy chasing after them with nets.

In the end, all the prairie dogs were returned and the enclosure was secured.

For more info, see: Baltimore Sun

To learn more about prairie dogs and their interesting behavior, see Animal Fact Guide’s article about Black-tailed Prairie Dogs.

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World’s Oldest Patas Monkey at Racine Zoo

Julie, world's oldest patas monkeyJulie is a 27-year-old patas monkey who has lived her whole life in captivity at the Racine Zoo in Wisconsin. She is the world’s oldest patas monkey.

Patas monkeys are incredibly quick primates, reaching speeds up to 34 mph (55 km/h).  They reproduce starting at the early age of three years, which is imperative in the wild, where many patas monkeys don’t live past four years old.

So Julie’s 27th birthday on May 20 of this year was a spectacular feat.  Zoo keepers celebrated by giving Julie a banana and grape cake and a bag of wash cloths  (her favorite toys).

For more info: The Journal Times Online

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Jacksonville Zoo Welcomes Jaguar Cub

Harry, a jaguar who was born January 1st, made his official public debut on Monday at the Jacksonville Zoo.

He been staying in a holding area with his mother, Zassi. To mark his first appearance officials made speeches and then the mother and cub tore open pinatas containing meat.

Harry is the first jaguar born at the zoo in 28 years.  He was named by an 11-year-old girl whose parents had won the naming rights at a fundraiser; Harry is the name of her younger brother.

For more visit Jacksonville.com

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Baby Meerkats at Sydney Zoo

(Photos: Rick Stevens/Associated Press)

Sydney’s Taronga Zoo is now home to baby meerkats Zanzibar and Nairobi, who are the first meerkats born at the zoo in nine years. Although they are only a month old, the pups are already eating solid food.  In the video you can see them happily gobbling up some grubs.

For more info about Zanzibar and Nairobi, see LA Times.

To learn more about meerkats in the wild, see Animal Fact Guide’s article: Meerkat.

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500-pound Polar Bear Undergoes Root Canal

At the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, Anoki, a 12-year-old polar bear had a dental infection that had the potential to spread to her organs. So veterinary dental surgeon Dr. Ira R. Luskin donated his time to perform a root canal on the 500-pound patient.

For more info: Baltimore Sun

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Baby Bonobo Obtains Passport, Travels to Germany to Meet New Mother

Bili the bonobo at airport

Bili, a baby bonobo, was born at the Twycross Zoo in England. But when his mother rejected him, zookeepers hand-reared the young ape until he was ready to join a new foster mother and another group of bonobos at the Frankfurt Zoo in Germany.

Although Bili had official animal export documents, he was also given a pretend passport and his own seat on his Lufthansa flight to Germany.

Bili the bonobo's passport

For more information, see the Daily Mail’s article: “Baby monkey given own seat on plane with human passengers as he flies to Germany to meet his new mother”

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Study Shows Elephants Lead Shorter Lives in Zoos

African Elephant

Researchers from the journal Science have concluded that elephants in European zoos have shorter lifespans than elephants living in protected areas in Africa. Specifically, they have calculated the median lifespan for a zoo-born African elephant to be 16.9 years as compared with 56.0 years in a protected park.  Similarly, Asian elephants born in a zoo live 18.9 years as compared with 41.7 years.  Researchers have also found that although survival rates have improved in recent years, mortality rates for elephants in zoos is still significantly higher.

Causes of the shorter lifespans can be attributed to disease, infanticide, obesity, and stress.  In the wild or in protected parks, elephants are able to roam vast distances with their herd.  At zoos, space is more limited, thereby accounting for some issues like obesity and stress.

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) has sharply criticized the study, noting that data was collected from only European zoos as opposed to North American zoos. Further, the AZA contends that the study is flawed because it does not take into account the many elephants who are killed by people in the wild.

For more information:
Boston Globe: Zoo elephants at far greater risk of premature death
New York Times: Critical Report on Health of Zoo Elephants Is Debated
Houston Chronicle: Elephants have shorter lives in zoos, researchers find

For more information about African elephants and what you can do to help them, read Animal Fact Guide’s article: African Elephant.

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Zoo Poo

Toronto Zoo logoThe Toronto Zoo is planning to convert the feces from the animals at the zoo into energy.  The feces can be used to create methane, which can then be used to produce electricity.

In order to convert the feces into usable energy, the zoo must build a facility which would cost $13 million. By using the electricity produced by the facility and selling the excess electricity, zoo officials believe they can make their money back in five years.

For more info: http://www.cbc.ca/technology/story/2008/11/15/zoo-poo.html

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Baby Bison Introduced at Australian Zoo

The Taronga Western Plains Zoo, located in Dubbo, New South Wales, Australia (400 km northwest of Sydney), recently announced the birth of a bison calf.  Born to parents Shashone and Cherokee Bob, the yet-to-be-named calf is healthy and growing strong.

Newborn bison calves have a reddish, light brown coat and lack the distinctive hump of the adult bison. They begin turning brown and developing the hump after a few months.

For more information about bison, see Animal Fact Guide’s article: American Bison.

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Sydney Zoo Welcomes Baby Pygmy Hippo

Monifa, a baby pygmy hippopotamus, was born 3 weeks ago at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo. Pygmy hippos are extremely rare in the wild, with only around 3000 living in Africa.

The birth, which was the first in 23 years for the zoo, was a difficult one. Monifa was born backwards, which may have been problematic in the wild, and she was also very weak.  However, zookeepers stepped in, and Monifa is now healthy.

For more information:

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