Posts Tagged With: baby

Dallas Zoo’s baby elephant and mom meet their adoring fans

img_5224-ajabu-mlilo-elephant-w-logo-csLoyal and loving fans of our baby elephant, Ajabu, and his mom, Mlilo, one of the elephants rescued from drought-stricken Swaziland this spring, can now see the mother-son pair in the Giants of the Savanna.

Earlier this week, the 5-month-old calf and his mom were gently introduced to the lower portion of the Giants of the Savanna habitat. But starting today, Ajabu will make regular appearances outdoors, weather permitting. The elephant care team will keep a watchful eye on temperature and rain to ensure that our growing calf remains safe and healthy.

“It’s an incredible feeling to see how involved the public has been in Ajabu’s five months of life without meeting him until today,” said Gregg Hudson, Dallas Zoo president and CEO. “Ajabu is a remarkable ambassador for his declining species, and now he’s able to connect our community even more to the importance of protecting African elephants.”

After his birth, we allowed several months for the calf and mother to bond privately while staff worked to “baby-proof” every area the baby _mg_2576-cb-w-logowould inhabit, including two barns, behind-the-scenes yards, and the lower portion of the Giants of the Savanna habitat.

Portions of the habitat, which includes 12-foot-deep ponds and gaps that needed to be closed off, were safeguarded for the well-being of the little fellow. A shallow portion of the pond remains for the water-loving calf to enjoy. And as he grows, he will be given access to deeper parts of the pond.

At birth, Ajabu weighed 175 pounds and stood about 3 feet tall, with a tiny trunk just over a foot long. He’s now up to 332 pounds and stands almost 4 feet tall. His teeth are starting to grow in, and he’s experimenting with solid foods, like produce and hay. He still nurses often and remains close to Mlilo, who remains the ultimate, protective mom.

A constant ball of energy, Ajabu enjoys “sparring” with tree branches, pushing his favorite ball around, and exploring with his trunk, which he recently discovered makes noises when he’s excited.

In addition to Ajabu and Mlilo, who’s believed to be about 14 years old, the Swaziland elephants at the Dallas Zoo include bull Tendaji and females Zola, Amahle and Nolwazi. All range in age from 6 to their mid-20s. They join our four “Golden Girls” – Jenny, Gypsy, Congo and Kamba – in the award-winning Giants of the Savanna habitat. Ajabu and Mlilo eventually will join other herd members in the habitats after careful, methodical introductions.

Earlier this year, the Dallas Zoo collaborated with conservation officials in Swaziland, Africa, and two other accredited U.S. facilities to provide a safe haven for 17 African elephants. The elephants had destroyed trees and other vegetation in the managed parks where they lived, making the land uninhabitable for more critically endangered rhinos. Swaziland managers planned to kill the elephants in order to focus on rhino conservation. The elephants were flown to the U.S. aboard a chartered 747 jet in a carefully planned operation, arriving March 11, 2016.

All three U.S. partner zoos – Dallas Zoo; Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Neb.; and Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kan. – have expansive new habitats that set the standard for an advanced way of managing elephants in human care, allowing for socialization, herd behavior and extensive walking. Public support for the rescue has been overwhelming, given the critical situation in the animals’ native land. African elephants face many threats, ranging from human encroachment on their habitat to extreme poaching, which claims the life of nearly 100 elephants every day.

Categories: Africa, Conservation, Elephant | Tags: , , , | 7 Comments

Bongo baby: Critically endangered species grows by 1

Amara was born Nov. 5, making her our 24th eastern bongo calf.

Amara was born Nov. 6, making her our 24th eastern bongo calf.

There aren’t many babies in the animal kingdom who pop out looking this striking. Born sporting a fiery chestnut coat with thin white lines and adorably massive ears, eastern bongos’ natural beauty is one of the main reasons behind their decline in the wild.

Today in U.S. AZA-accredited zoos, the eastern bongo population is thriving, thankfully. Dallas Zoo just welcomed our first eastern bongo baby in six years, and our 24th calf since our breeding program launched in 1975. Born Nov. 6, our 50-pound female calf has been named Amara, meaning “grace” in the Nigerian language, Igbo. She eventually will grow to be Africa’s largest forest antelope (males can weigh up to 900 pounds!). 

Amara will grow up to be the largest forest antelope on earth.

Amara is now the 5th member of our eastern bongo herd.

Right now, first time mom Hidaya is spending some much-needed quiet time with her calf. She will remain Amara’s sole caretaker for the next nine months. And like most antelope, first time dad Djembe won’t take part in raising his offspring. They get off easy, huh? (We jest!)

“Antelope are generally very skittish, but bongo are one of the most easygoing,” said Keith Zdrojewski, mammal curator. “They’re very laid-back, with personalities almost as big as they are.”

More than 300 eastern bongo are prospering in AZA zoos across the nation – that’s triple the number believed left in the wild. Unlike their better-known western bongo cousins, who inhabit a much larger range, eastern bongos are found only in a few pockets of mountain forests in Kenya and are critically endangered. One of their biggest threats is hunters, who have nearly wiped out their population for their vibrant hides and meat.

This is the first birth for mom Hidaya.

First-time mom Hidaya and her newborn are doing great.

“With so few wild eastern bongos remaining, zoos may soon be the only place people can see one of the world’s most beautiful mammals,” said Zdrojewski.

Amara eventually will make her debut in the river exhibit off the monorail safari.

Extra bongo bit:

In about three months, Amara’s horns will begin to show, and could grow up to 40 inches long. Bongos’ unique horns are actually tilted back, and are used for clearing brush out of the way when they’re bolting through the dense forests.  

Categories: Africa | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Dallas Zoo’s FIRST EVER baby penguin melts hearts

Penguin chick is held by a keeper during a well-baby checkup.

The penguin chick is held by a keeper during a well-baby checkup.

The cat’s out of the bag. Or more like, the penguin is out of the egg! We’ve kept this chick’s arrival quiet for 20 days — and now we’re ready to scream it from the mountaintops. This little one is the FIRST EVER penguin chick to hatch at the Dallas Zoo, making it the tenth member of the flock. Hatched April 15, the African black-footed penguin also is the first chick for proud parents Tazo and Tulip.

“This is a huge deal for our bird team and we couldn’t be more excited,” said Bird Curator Sprina Liu. “We were overjoyed when we walked in that morning and found the chick with its parents.”

The baby penguin begins to hatch April 15, 2015.

The baby penguin pokes its beak out as it begins to hatch April 15, 2015.

The baby is being cared for off-habitat by mom and dad at the Don Glendenning Penguin Cove. For about a month, Tazo and Tulip shared around-the-clock incubating duties until it hatched. Weighing a little more than a C battery at hatch, the chick has grown to about 2.5 pounds.

This hatch was an African Penguin Species Survival Plan (SSP) breeding recommendation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to help ensure the survival of this endangered species. Found in South Africa, these birds have suffered a 90 percent decline in population since the early 1900s. Today, fewer than 50,000 African penguins remain in the wild.

“We’ve dedicated years of work to help save African penguins in the wild, and now we’re helping expand their populations in human care,” Liu said. “We’re very proud to be able to add this little one to the North American population.”

Penguin chick eyes DM

The little one sleeps in the hands of a keeper during its well-baby checkup.

But don’t expect to see the baby just yet — with no feathers, it won’t start swimming lessons for a few months. Until then, the chick will remain off habitat, staying close to mom and dad. For now, the parents are doing exactly what they’re supposed to — taking turns keeping the chick warm by spreading their feathers out, allowing it to snuggle up next to them (a term called brooding).

Warning: It’s likely you’ll see our bird keepers walking around with permanent smiles on their faces.


Categories: Africa, Conservation, Penguins, Veterinary Care, Zookeepers | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

Voters choose name for baby giraffe: “Kopano”

Baby giraffe explores habitat for first time with mother Chrystal and oldest male giraffe, Auggie./Dallas Zoo

Baby giraffe explores habitat for first time with mother Chrystal and oldest male giraffe, Auggie./Dallas Zoo

After five days of online voting that drew more than 10,000 votes, the public has spoken: the Dallas Zoo’s new baby giraffe will be named “Kopano,” meaning “united” in Botswana.

Voters also could name a school to receive a special visit by our Animal Adventures team. However, in appreciation of the overwhelming response, we’ve decided to choose four schools to receive visits. Those schools, chosen randomly from among the names suggested, will be announced later this week.

The calf was gently introduced to the outdoor feeding yard habitat over the weekend. But starting Monday, he will make regular afternoon appearances outdoors, weather permitting. The giraffe keepers will keep a close eye on temperature, wind and rain to ensure that he remains safe and healthy.

One-week-old Kopano./Dallas Zoo

One-week-old Kopano./Dallas Zoo

“It’s a great feeling to see how involved the public has been in the two weeks since this giraffe calf arrived,” said Gregg Hudson, Dallas Zoo’s chief executive officer and president. “The community’s connection to Kopano is critical to our mission of teaching about the importance of these endangered animals in the wild.”

The Dallas Zoo 12-member giraffe herd is now one of the largest in the nation, with six males and six females. Their ages range from the newborn to the oldest, Auggie, who is 12. They recently received national coverage in a web series by Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. Camera crews followed the herd around the habitat for several days, showing viewers why these gentle giants are so remarkable.

WATCH this adorable video of Kopano testing out his new legs in the feeding yard for the first time. We may have to nickname him “Clumsy!”



Categories: Africa, Conservation, Exhibits and Experiences, Giraffe, Mammals | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Little Obi mandrill’s won the heart of his first-time mom

blg_ObiSaffronDon’t expect to see our new mandrill mom letting her baby out of sight. To keep 4-month-old Obi out of trouble, 14-year-old Saffron watches over his every move – and that’s not easy, given his high energy level. Keepers say Saffron has embraced motherhood. “Primates protect their babies with their lives. Their baby is their status, and their status can rise if they have a baby. They’re better moms than humans,” said Sarah Villarreal, mammal supervisor. “This is Saffron’s first baby, and she’s doing phenomenally.”

Obi is the first mandrill born at the Dallas Zoo in 24 years. His birth March 28 was exciting, but nerve-wracking, too. “Saffron’s never been around a baby, and she’s never seen a baby be born,” Villarreal said. “Just like a human, if you haven’t seen it, you might not necessarily know what to do. But she’s terrific. She’s doing everything she’s supposed to be doing.”

Because mandrills are “precocial” animals, meaning they develop quickly, Obi is growing fast. He’s eating solid food and bouncing around the habitat. Mandrill babies typically become independent from mom around six months old, but you never really know how independent they’ll be. “Every mom is different,’’ Villarreal said. “Some moms are overbearing. We see that with primates — some end up as mama’s babies for life.”

Loving attention from guests, Obi and Saffron often hang out at the main window into their Wilds of Africa habitat. Obi, a jumping ball blg_Obiof energy, is incredibly responsive, putting his hand up to guests’ hands when they touch the glass or playing peek-a-boo. He’s vocalizing now, and he smiles a lot. Plus, he’s beginning to develop the beautiful coloring of a male mandrill, with his facial ridges turning dark blue and his rear turning red. (See video.)

The name “Obi” is a Western Africa Igbo word meaning “heart,” and this mother-son relationship definitely melts the heart. In the future as Saffron has more babies, she’ll most likely loosen the reins, but for now she stays close to Obi. Your best chance to see them is early in the morning as they eat their breakfast, usually in front of the window.

Obi’s birth is part of the Dallas Zoo’s participation in the Species Survival Plan for Mandrills, a conservation and breeding program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums that manages efforts to ensure survival of the endangered species. With fewer than 100 mandrills in North America, the Dallas Zoo works with other zoological parks through the SSP to ensure that the gene pool remains healthy and genetically sound.

Mandrills are the world’s largest monkeys, close relatives of baboons and drills. They’re native to tropical rain forests of central and west Africa, including Congo, Cameroon and Gabon. The species is vulnerable due to hunting and habitat loss.

Be sure to share this special video with your friends!

Categories: Africa, Mammals, Mandrill | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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