Spring has not even officially sprung yet, but zoos and aquariums nationwide are celebrating the births of baby animals.
The Oakland Zoo in California recently announced the birth of three meerkat pups, now part of the current mob (group of meerkats).
"It has been wonderful watching the mob raise the pups," zoological manager Victor Alm said. "It has truly been a collective effort and all the adults are taking their turns caring for and teaching the new pups their different roles and jobs needed to be a productive meerkat."
Clouded leopard cubs are a rite of spring at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute's facility in Front Royal, Va.
The cubs are now part of an international program to conserve the species, which is threatened by deforestation and hunting.
Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo Safari Park
"Wesa" the California condor chick is the first such chick of the season at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The chick is being "puppet reared."
"The puppet is like a fancy glove," explained Rob Webb, senior condor keeper, "It covers our hands so the chick does not get any beneficial experiences from people. We do not want it imprinting on people or getting used to us when it goes out into the wild. We want it to be a nice, wild animal, not relying on people for food."
A baby orangutan delivered by C-section is doing well at Zoo Atlanta. Mother Blaze, now recovered, spends most days running over to her son, squeaking softly to him, and then hugging him onto her chest.
Keepers are providing the baby boy with environmental enrichment so that he is stimulated both mentally and physically. He is fascinated by his own reflection in a provided mirror.
A juvenile harbor seal had a rough start to life. Found off the coast of Delaware, he was suffering from abrasions and a severe respiratory infection.
Thanks to round-the-clock care provided by dedicated staff at the National Aquarium's Marine Animal Rescue Program, he is now on the mend. He has been enjoying a hearty diet of smelt and herring fish.
Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium
Five lion cubs were recently born at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium. During their last exam, the three females were found to weigh 19 to 22 pounds each, while the two males both came in at 23 pounds.
Mother "Mfisha" keeps the cubs in line and gently cleans each with her tongue.
San Diego Zoo Safari Park
A baby boy southern white rhino named "Kayode" is already said to be taking charge of his habitat at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in California.
"Kayode is a little tank, a very cute little tank, and he is showing lots of personality," said Jane Kennedy, lead keeper at the park.
"He loves running and interacting with his mom, sticking out his tongue, and showing the buffalo in his enclosure he's a rhino and he's in charge."
The giant Pacific octopus at the National Aquarium is just a baby, but as an adult it could weigh up to 90 pounds.
Aquarium staff members are providing enrichment to encourage cognitive development. One such brainteaser involves providing the octopus with a container in which food has been hidden. The octopus learns how to open the container and, with its 1,800 suction cups, finds the tasty fishy morsels.
The Audubon Zoo in New Orleans is proudly showing off its baby babirusa. Babirusas are forest-dwelling wild pigs native to Malaysia.
This youngster seems to follow mom wherever she goes in their sun-filled exhibit.
Five-week-old baby gorilla "Gladys Stones" is melting hearts at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.
She was actually born at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Texas, hence her first name. "Stones" is to recognize the Stones Family who cared for her during her first few weeks of life before she traveled to Cincinnati.
Gladys appears to be very happy at her new home, affectionately grabbing primate keepers by the shirt with her fingers.
Reports of animal deaths, abuses and illegalities continue to pile up at Indonesia’s Surabaya Zoo, which has been dubbed the “zoo of death” and could be the world’s worst zoo.
According to zoo spokesman Agus Supangkat, at least 105 animals have died at Surabaya Zoo — Indonesia’s largest zoo — since July 2013. But the number of deaths isn’t the only concern. It’s how the animals are dying.
Last month, an 18-month-old lion named Michael was found hanged in his cage after he apparently got tangled in a cable that was used to open and close the cage’s door.
Just a few days ago, a Komodo dragon died for as-of-yet unknown reasons. Supangkat said an autopsy has been conducted.
Last week, a clearly malnourished white female tiger named Chandrika died.
“She had problems with her tongue and lost some of her teeth because of her old age,” Liang Kaspe, the zoo’s operations director, told the Jakarta Globe on Friday. “Food often fell out of her mouth because of her damaged tongue.”
But the Globe was informed by a source who wished to remain anonymous that the tiger had an infection that had not been properly treated. The infection spread to the tiger’s mouth.
“Chandrika was not taken care of by a medical team as required,” the source told the Globe. “She needed emergency care.”
Supangkat claims that Chandrika died due to pneumonia.
“We’re also looking for other possible causes to strengthen the diagnosis,” he told the Globe. “We have sent her body organs to a lab at Airlangga University [in Surabaya] to get the right diagnosis.”
The situation is so dire at Surabaya Zoo that the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) has written two letters to Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in the past couple of months. This is a very unusual step, as WAZA has itself been criticized for not appropriately acting on animal abuses, such as the dolphin culling ongoing in Japan.
WAZA is concerned that the situation is “becoming more than a single zoo issue” because the reputation of all zoos comes into question when abuses are reported.
Surabaya’s mayor, Tri Rismaharini, is now managing the zoo.
Zookeeper Tony Sumampau thinks improvements are now possible, but also shared worrisome doubts.
“As long as they change most of the staff and the management, and they have a professional to help them run the zoo, I think it can happen,” he told BBC News.
“But this is a very difficult political decision. If the mayor wants to spend money, she can rebuild the zoo. But she is not going to be a mayor forever, and that is why most government zoos in Indonesia are not in good condition.”
To keep up-to-date on efforts to improve the zoo, follow Surabaya Zoo Animal Welfare Action on Facebook.
Credt: Sakurai Midori