The Rosamond Gifford Zoo is pleased to announce the addition of three new grey wolves, Romulus, Remus and Sylvia. The sibling group, consisting of two brothers and a sister, was born on April 22, 2012.
"We're happy to once again have grey wolves on exhibit," said Ted Fox, director of the Rosamond Gifford Zoo. "There are many people who have an appreciation for wolves and this young trio is a wonderful addition to the zoo."
Grey wolves have a long history of association with humans and have been hunted in most agricultural communities due to its attacks on livestock. Persecution by humans and destruction of habitat are prime reasons for the near eradication of the species from the lower 48 states. Today, the wolf is making a successful comeback in some of its former habitat due to strong conservation efforts.
In what has been a summer of exceptional animal births, the Rosamond Gifford Zoo is pleased to announce its latest zoo babies: two male snow leopard cubs, born on June 14, 2012 to parents, Zena and Senge.
"It has been 14 years since the last snow leopard cubs were born at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo," said Ted Fox, zoo director. "We are especially thrilled, as only four other zoos have successfully bred snow leopards this year."
The cubs are on exhibit daily from 10:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. They may be difficult to see at times, especially when napping, so zoo goers should check back if the cubs are not seen on the first attempt.
Friends of the Zoo funded special mesh to "baby proof" the exhibit for the young cubs. Snow leopards reach maturity between two and three years of age, and the youngsters will likely be relocated to other zoos in the spring.
Snow leopards are part of a Species Survival Plan (SSP)-a collaborative effort between the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and zoos around the world to help ensure their survival. Snow leopards are perfectly adapted to the cold, barren landscape of their high-altitude home, but human threats have created an uncertain future for the cats. It is estimated that there are between 4,000 and 6,500 snow leopards left in the wild. There are currently 137 snow leopards in 63 zoos in the United States. As first time parents, Zena and Senge are genetically valuable within the captive population and will likely have the opportunity to breed again in the future.
Snow leopards are found in the mountains of Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Mongolia, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and possibly also Myanmar (Burma). They prefer steep, rugged terrain with cliffs, ridges, gullies and slopes interspersed with rocky outcrops. The cat's habitat is among the least productive of the world's rangelands due to low temperatures, high aridity and harsh climatic conditions. Very little is known about the social behavior of snow leopards in the wild.
-Snow leopards are unable to roar.
-Snow Leopards can leap farther than any other cat, reaching distances of well over 40 feet in a single bound.
-The snow leopard's long, thick tail assists with balance and is used much like a scarf in cold weather.
The Rosamond Gifford Zoo is pleased to announce the birth of a markhor. Parents, Edith and Sunny, welcomed the 5.8 pound female at 11:30 a.m. on July 20, 2012. It is the first markhor kid born at the zoo in nine years.
"The Rosamond Gifford Zoo has long been committed to international markhor conservation efforts," said Ted Fox, zoo director. "We've been working on expanding our herd over the past year, and the addition of some younger animals is allowing us to make valuable contributions to the North American population."
The markhor is the largest member of the goat family, standing up to 45 inches tall at the shoulder and weighing up to 250 pounds. There are several differences between the males and females of the species, with males having longer hair on the chin, throat, chest and shanks, and longer horns, which are up to five feet in length.
There are three subspecies of markhor. The Rosamond Gifford Zoo is home to Capra falconeri heptneri, which can be found in the wild in two or three scattered populations in a greatly reduced distribution. It is limited to Tajikistan, the Kugitangtau range in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. It is thought that this subspecies may possibly exist in the Darwaz peninsula of northern Afghanistan near the border with Tajikistan.
Markhor are part of a Species Survival Plan (SSP)-a collaborative effort between the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and zoos around the world to help ensure their survival. Since 1994, markhor have been listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), with an estimated 2,500 individuals living in the wild. The herds have been reduced by extensive trophy hunting, habitat destruction and competition from domestic livestock. Recently, the Wildlife Conservation Society announced that conservation efforts are resulting in a comeback by the wild population. Markhor in captivity are rare in the United States; the Rosamond Gifford Zoo is one of just 9 zoos to exhibit the species.
- The markhor is the national animal of Pakistan
- Its name comes from the ancient Persian words "mar" and "khor," which translate into "the snake eater." Although the markhor has been known occasionally to purposely stomp on a snake and kill it, the markhor is a confirmed herbivore, and it doesn't actually consume the snake afterwards. He's just protecting his harem (group of females) from danger!
- Charles Darwin postulated that modern domestic goats arose from crossbreeding markhor with wild goats.
The Rosamond Gifford Zoo is pleased to announce the birth of a two fennec fox kits. Parents, Rhiona and Copper, welcomed the babies-a boy, Todd, and a girl, Vixey, in the middle of the night on April 21, 2012.
"It has been 21 years since we've had fennec foxes born at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo," said Ted Fox, zoo director. "This is a particularly exciting birth, as this is a species that struggles with reproduction. We are thrilled to have a success story."
The kits will be on exhibit at the zoo for several months. Fennec foxes reach maturity between six and nine months of age, and the youngsters will likely be relocated to other zoos in the early fall.
Fennec foxes are found throughout the deserts of North Africa and the Sinai and Arabian peninsulas. Their nocturnal habits help them survive in the searing heat of the desert environment, and some physical adaptations help, as well.
One of the smallest fox species, fennec foxes have distinctive bat-like ears that act like natural air conditioners, radiating heat away from their bodies. Their ears also allow the fennec to hear the movements of its predators and prey over long distances.
They have long, thick hair that insulates them during cold nights and protects them from hot sun during the day. Even the bottom of the fox's feet are hairy, which helps them perform like snowshoes and protects them from extremely hot sand.
"Little is known about the species, so the observations we've documented through the pregnancy, birth and rearing of the kits are helpful in building the national knowledge base we have about fennec foxes," said Fox.
Fennec foxes are part of a Species Survival Plan (SSP) - a collaborative effort between the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and zoos around the world to help ensure their survival.
FUN FACT: A male fox is called a reynard, the female is called a vixen, and the baby is called a kit. A group of foxes is called a skulk or a leash.
The Rosamond Gifford Zoo is pleased to announce that 27 yellow-spotted Amazon River turtles hatched at the zoo between April 5 and April 12, 2012. Named for the yellow spots on the side of its head, it is one of the largest river turtles in South America.
"The hatching of these once endangered species is exciting for us, as many of them will enhance the exhibits at other accredited zoos around the country," said Ted Fox, zoo director. "Captive breeding programs are often critical in the survival of a species, and this is a success story we are proud to tell."
The yellow-spotted Amazon River turtle is a vulnerable species, threatened by over hunting, the pet trade and climate change. Aggressive conservation and breeding programs in their native countries is helping to sustain the population, which was once on the endangered species list. Importation of this species is now strictly regulated by federal law but a captive self-sustaining population exists in the United States-some groups in zoos, others in the hands of private collectors. The Rosamond Gifford Zoo is one of just 70 institutions world-wide to house yellow-spotted Amazon River turtles.
The baby turtles will be on exhibit at the zoo for a limited time and will eventually be transferred to zoos and aquariums around the country including the National Aquarium, Tennessee Aquarium and the Charles Paddock Zoo in Atascadero, Calif.
Six penguin chicks hatched at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in 2012. The first chick hatched January 9, months earlier than normal.
"It appears our mild winter weather started the breeding season a bit earlier than usual. It's very exciting to be talking about penguin chicks so early in the year; perhaps it means spring will be arriving soon," said Ted Fox, zoo director. "It's wonderful that our zoo continues to play an important role in conserving this species. Like the chicks before them, many of this year's babies will eventually end up at other zoos around the country to continue populating the species."
Humboldt penguins, named after the Humboldt Current a cold nutrient-rich ocean current that flows along the west coast of South America, are endangered with only 12,000 to 30,000 remaining in the wild.
|A third patas monkey -- a boy named Ty -- was born to parents, Sara and M.J. at approximately 1:05 p.m. on January 17, 2012. In celebration, Friends of the Zoo funded the installation of a web cam for zoo fans to observe the monkeys online.
The three elephants temporarily residing at Canada's African Lion Safari have returned to Syracuse.
"Targa, Mali and little Chuck have safely returned to their home here at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo," said Zoo Director Ted Fox. "We are so thankful to our Canadian colleagues for taking such good care of them over the past five years."
The herd was separated in 2006 when zoo officials relocated Targa and her daughter, Mali, to Canada's African Lion Safari due to space constraints. The pair returned earlier in the month, accompanied by Mali's three-year-old son, little Chuck, who was born in Canada.
"The Rosamond Gifford Zoo is internationally known for its elephant program," said County Executive Joanne M. Mahoney. "We've been waiting to share this moment with the community for a long time."
Targa, Mali and little Chuck spent a brief period of time in quarantine upon their return to the zoo. State and federal veterinary teams conducted several medical tests-all of which came back negative-shortly after they arrived in Syracuse.
"Once we were given the 'all clear' from the veterinary staff and because the returning elephants settled in so nicely, we were able to bring the herd together rather quickly," said Fox. "We're so happy to have them home."