POLL: New York Voters Support Statewide Ivory Ban

Ivory for sale in New York City.  Copyright  Julie Larsen-Maher, WCS.

Ivory for sale in New York City. Copyright Julie Larsen-Maher, WCS.

Survey shows that more than 80 percent of New Yorkers favor a ban on ivory sales

Support remains strong, even if a ban affects antiques dealers and private property owners

96 elephants are killed every day in Africa for their ivory

WCS’s 96 Elephants campaign URL: www.96elephants.org

A statewide independent survey shows that more than 80 percent of New York voters are in favor of a permanent state ban on the sale of ivory that is decimating Africa’s elephants, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), organizer of the 96 Elephants campaign.

According to the survey, even when respondents were presented with opposing arguments that a ban would affect auction houses and antiques dealers along with the rights of private property owners, support remains strong.

Support for a ban is strong across all demographic groups, including region of the state, gender, and age, and is strong among members of all parties and political ideologies. Over three quarters of New York voters in the survey believe the African elephant faces the threat of becoming extinct in the next 10-20 years.

In February, New York State Assemblyman Robert K. Sweeney introduced legislation to ban the sale of ivory: Assembly Bill A8824.

John Calvelli, WCS executive vice president of Public Affairs and director of the 96 Elephants campaign said: “This survey clearly shows that New York Voters recognize that 96 elephants a day are being slaughtered, and that to get the world to take notice and save this iconic animal, New York needs to enact a ban.  It will lead the way for the rest of the world to follow.”

Said Beth Allgood, U.S. Campaigns Director, International Fund for Animal Welfare: “Even beyond New York, Americans believe in the value of an ivory ban – a recent nationwide survey commissioned by IFAW showed widespread support across political parties and state lines. People understand how much elephants need our help, and New York is ready to take a much-needed step.”

Confiscated ivory from New York City.  Copyright Manhattan District Attorney's Office.

Confiscated ivory from New York City. Copyright Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.

Said Elly Pepper, Wildlife Advocate, Natural Resources Defense Council: “New Yorkers don’t want the largest species on land go the way of the dinosaur so we can keep trading jewelry, figurines, and trinkets. Fortunately, as the largest market in the U.S.—which is second only to China in its demand for ivory—we can make a difference before it’s too late. By stepping up now, we can ensure that zoos won’t be the only place for future generations to find these majestic creatures.”

Brian Shapiro, New York State Director of The Humane Society of the United States said, “The survey result is a resounding testament to the overwhelming support for an ivory trade ban in New York. As the largest market for ivory in the U.S., New York has a unique opportunity and an obligation to be at the forefront of the global effort by being the first state in the U.S. to ban the ivory trade.”

New Yorkers can ask state law makers right now to pass legislation to ban all ivory sales by going here.

Global Strategy Group conducted a telephone survey of 600 registered voters in New York State from March 5-10, 2014. The margin of error for this survey at the 95 percent confidence level is +/- 4.0 percent for the overall sample

96 Elephants was named for the number of elephants gunned down each day for their ivory. 96 Elephants partners include more than 100 Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited institutions, along with the Bodhi Tree Foundation, DD&B Worldwide, Enough Project, ESRI, Horizon Media, Hotel Plaza Athanee, Ocean Park Conservation Foundation, Organization of Young Citizens of Guinea, The Resolve: LRA Crisis Initiative, Invisible Children, and Tsavo Trust.

The campaign has already achieved success with the recent announcement by the Obama administration of a federal ban on most ivory sales. The campaign’s next steps are to pass state moratoria and close loopholes that would allow ivory to continue to be traded, as well as work with other nations on moratoria.

African elephant in Kenya's Masai Mara. Copyright Tim Lewthwaite.

African elephant in Kenya’s Masai Mara. Copyright Tim Lewthwaite.

 

Posted in African Elephants, Conservation, Education, Elephants, Ivory, People, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Wildlife, Wildlife Conservation Society, Zoo | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Panamanian Golden Frogs Bred for First Time at Vancouver Aquarium

A Panamanian golden frog at the Vancouver Aquarium in Vancouver, B.C., Canada.  Copyright Darren Smy.

A Panamanian golden frog at the Vancouver Aquarium in Vancouver, B.C., Canada. Copyright Darren Smy.

For the first time in its history, the Vancouver Aquarium in Vancouver, B.C., Canada, has successfully bred Panamanian golden frogs (Atelopus zeteki), thought to be extinct in the wild, as part of a worldwide effort to preserve the species. Classified as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, the Panamanian golden frog has experienced a catastrophic population decline in the wild.

The steep depopulation of Panamanian golden frogs, which are native to the mountainous, higher-altitude regions of western-central Panama, is thought to be largely due to the spread of chytridiomycosis, an infectious disease of amphibians caused by an aquatic fungal pathogen, as well as habitat deforestation and collection for the pet trade.

“Through this breeding program, the Vancouver Aquarium is joining a global initiative to conserve the Panamanian golden frogs and to save them from extinction,” says Dr. Dennis Thoney, Vancouver Aquarium’s director of animal operations. “Since this species is in critical danger of disappearing from its natural habitat, a number of institutions throughout the world, including ours, are working to maintain the genetic diversity of this species with the goal of one day re-populating their native ecosystem.”

The current goal of the Aquarium’s Panamanian golden frog breeding program is to master the successful breeding of these frogs. Ultimately, the objective is to release frogs bred in zoos and aquariums to repopulate their natural habitat in Panama, once chytridiomycosis and other threats are no longer present.

In an effort to save the Panamanian golden frogs from extinction, the government of Panama provided frogs to zoos and aquariums to create assurance populations in the event they disappear from the wild.

“Amphibians are key indicators of environmental health in our ecosystems, and they have an important role in local ecology, says Dr. Thoney. “Every single species is part of an intricate ecological web, and taking a species away from that web creates an imbalance that may have negative effects on other species.”

Known as a poisonous, brightly-coloured golden toad with a distinct “wave” used in mating, the Panamanian golden frog is one of many species that the Aquarium is working to preserve through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan® (SSP) program designed to manage populations of critically endangered or threatened species.

The Vancouver Aquarium is also part of a worldwide effort, along with other zoos and aquariums, to conserve this and other amphibian species under the Amphibian Ark (AArk) project, a joint effort of key conservation organizations to ensure the global survival of amphibians, with a special focus on species that are currently endangered or threatened in the wild.

Posted in Aquarium, AZA, Conservation, Panamanian golden frogs, Vancouver Aquarium | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mapping the Gaps Between Expert and Public Understandings of Climate Change

Copyright New England Aquarium.

Copyright New England Aquarium.

Many Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA)-accredited institutions are helping visitors understand the science of climate change, its impacts on wildlife, and ways to mitigate those impacts.  Finding the right context, appropriate interpretive techniques, and exhibit components to convey these complex messages is a challenge.  The New England Aquarium is leading a multi-year project designed to train aquarium and zoo educators to interpret climate change effectively.  The National Network for Ocean & Climate Change Interpretation (NNOCCI) has benefited from communications research and training from the FrameWorks Institute, an independent nonprofit research organization which specializes in “identifying, translating and modeling relevant scholarly research for framing the public discourse about social problems.”  In 2013, FrameWorks Institute published an article titled Just the Earth doing its own thing: Mapping the gaps between expert and public understandings of oceans and climate change.  The following blog excerpts key points from this article.

Mapping the gaps between expert and public understandings of climate change

Julie Sweetland, Director of Learning, FrameWorks Institute

Research sponsored by the National Network for Ocean and Climate Change Interpretation revealed a set of gaps between expert and public understandings of climate change.

Natural and human causes of climate change: Both vs. either. Experts advance an integrated account of the causes of climate change, explaining that natural causes and human causes both play a role, while the public views these causes as mutually exclusive, assuming that either human beings are causing climate change or it is caused by natural processes.

Carbon dioxide: The driver of climate change vs. something natural we need. While experts identify carbon dioxide emissions as the primary cause of anthropogenic climate change, members of the public lack awareness of carbon dioxide as a cause of climate change and widely assume that carbon dioxide—because it is a naturally occurring substance—cannot have harmful effects.

How climate change works: Heat absorption vs. ???? or ozone depletion. While experts explain that rising levels of carbon dioxide cause climate change by trapping heat within the atmosphere, members of the public have difficulty explaining climate change or incorrectly attribute the phenomenon to the ozone hole.

The impacts of climate change: a complex chain vs. a short list. The public is only aware of a small subset of the effects of climate change that experts cite, lacking awareness of downstream effects like effects on food and water supplies or changes in disease patterns.

What to do: Reducing carbon emissions vs. more recycling. The public lacks experts’ laser focus on reducing carbon emissions, suggesting instead a broad range of environmentally friendly “green” actions as possible responses to climate change, including recycling, reducing waste, or limiting pollution.

Who should respond? Policy solutions vs. individual actions. Experts view policy measures as necessary responses to climate change, while the public most readily identifies voluntary steps at the individual level.

As an organization, FrameWorks works on a wide variety of social issues – figuring out how to translate research on issues as diverse as early brain development, race equity and inclusion, and immigration reform, just to name a few. We find that fundamental differences between public and expert thinking are common across social issues – the existence of these gaps is by no means a finding that’s exclusive to the issue of climate change. The good news is, just as research pinpoints these gaps, it can also identify reliable ways to bridge them. By using strategic communication techniques such as using explanatory metaphors to build understanding, crafting explanatory chains to connect impacts to their underlying causes, and highlighting civic initiatives instead of consumer choices in messaging about what can be done, zoos and aquariums can play an important role in filling these gaps.

Excerpted from “Just the Earth doing its own thing”: Mapping the gaps between expert and public understandings of oceans and climate change. Study by Andrew Volmert, Michael Baran, Nathaniel Kendall-Taylor, Eric Lindland, Abigail Haydon, Shannon Arvizu and Alexis Bunten. © FrameWorks Institute 2013

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation, under Grant No DUE -  1239775.

Posted in AZA, Going Green, New England Aquarium | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Grand Opening of Land of the Tiger Exhibit at Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens new Land of the Tiger exhibit.  Copyright Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens.

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens new Land of the Tiger exhibit. Copyright Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens.

The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens in Jacksonville, Fla., announced the opening of its newest addition: the Land of the Tiger. A special ribbon cutting ceremony occurred on 8 March. The event opened with a few words from the Zoo’s keynote speaker Mayor Alvin Brown as well as Executive Director Tony Vecchio, Chair of the Board of the Directors Dr. David Loeb, and Senior Vice President and head of branches for Chase in Jacksonville Steve Vachon. As part of the Land of the Tiger celebration, the winners of the Zoo’s Zootennial Drawing Contest were chosen. Elementary schools from Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau and St. Johns counties were asked to submit drawings of what the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens would look like in 2114. The art contest ran from January 20 to February 21 and the top three winning art pieces will be displayed at the Indoor Tiger Viewing Building.  The Zoo also announced fifth-grader Joey E., from Mamie Agnes Jones (first place); second grader Morgan M., from Riverside Presbyterian Day School (second place) and second-grader Emory (Harold) D., from Seaside Community Charter School (third place), as the top three artists.

“The creative minds of children are priceless,” said Tony Vecchio, executive director of Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. “To involve them and form that connection to their community can lead to an inspiring future for them as future leaders, conservationists, and zookeepers.”

Asian small-clawed river otter in the Land of the Tiger.  Copyright Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens.

Asian small-clawed river otter in the Land of the Tiger. Copyright Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens.

The day also featured entertainment  with craft tables, dancers, and magicians welcoming visitors to the Zoo’s most innovative exhibit. Land of the Tiger provides an immersive and interactive experience for guests to witness the different Asian animals of Land of the Tiger including Asian small-clawed otters, Visayan warty and Babirusa pigs, two species of Hornbills, and the rare and endangered Sumatran and Malayan tigers.

Tim Lewthwaite

Posted in Exhibits, Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, Tigers, Zoo | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Black Blotched Fantail Rays Born at Georgia Aquarium

An adult black-blotched fantail ray at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, Ga. Copyright Georgia Aquarium

An adult black blotched fantail ray at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, Ga. Copyright Georgia Aquarium

Georgia Aquarium  in Atlanta, Ga., announced the rare birth of black blotched fantail ray pups. The Aquarium welcomes and celebrates the birth of every animal, but these ray pups represent an important milestone. To the knowledge of Georgia Aquarium, these new additions are the first of their kind born in human care in the United States and only the third known human care birth worldwide.

“As a leading institution in stingray care, Georgia Aquarium staff and volunteers are proud to be a part of such a significant event,” said Dr. Tim Mullican, senior vice president of zoological operations at Georgia Aquarium. “This birth is a testament to the quality of exhibit and animal care practices at Georgia Aquarium as reproduction is an indication of healthy, thriving animals.”

One of the pups being weighed at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, Ga. Copyright Georgia Aquarium

One of the pups being weighed at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, Ga. Copyright Georgia Aquarium

The pups were discovered by the Georgia Aquarium Dive Operations team during a routine dive in the world’s largest aquarium exhibit, Ocean Voyager. The litter consists of five pups, including two males and three females. Thus far the stingray pups appear to be in excellent health. The zoological team, working with veterinary services currently have the pups housed in a behind-the-scenes area where the young animals can be under continuous observation during this critical, post-partum phase of their development. Four of the five pups are currently about 10-to-11 inches in diameter while the fifth pup is about seven inches.

This exotic species of stingray, endemic to the South Pacific, has been gracefully gliding along the bottom of Ocean Voyager for about eight years. According to the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, this species of ray is considered vulnerable, yet another reason why this birth is so significant. Georgia Aquarium currently houses three adult black blotched fantail rays, two females, each about five feet wide and 400 pounds, and one male, four feet wide and weighing 125 pounds.

These remarkable rays are known to reach 11 feet from snout to tail and 10 feet in disc width. Their diet consists mostly of bottom fishes, bivalves, crabs and shrimp. To find prey this ray often digs large holes into the sand by blowing water from its mouth. However, because the pups are still in the early stages of development, staff are hand feeding them natural diet items such as shrimp, squid and other similar foods, creating a diet based on meeting their nutritional needs. With their dramatic composition and poise in the water, these rays are undoubtedly a fan favorite and inspiration to all who watch them.

For more information about black blotched fantail rays and other animals at Georgia Aquarium, please visit the animal guide at animalguide.georgiaaquarium.org or sign up for the Georgia Aquarium e-newsletter at www.georgiaaquarium.org.

Tim Lewthwaite

Posted in Animal Health, Aquarium, Black blotched fantail rays, Conservation, Exhibits, Georgia Aquarium, Wildlife | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

AZA-Accredited Zoos and Aquariums Celebrate International Polar Bear Day

Celebrate International Polar Bear Day on Thursday, Feb. 27! Photo courtesy of the Chicago Zoological Society - Brookfield Zoo.

Celebrate International Polar Bear Day on Thursday, Feb. 27! Photo courtesy of the Chicago Zoological Society – Brookfield Zoo.

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) recognizes that increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), as well as other greenhouse gases, is causing changes to the earth’s climate. These changes are impacting wildlife in the oceans and on every continent.

Each year, millions of people learn more about wildlife through AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums. By communicating about the impacts of climate change on wildlife and habitats, AZA, its member institutions, and conservation partners can play an important role in inspiring people to take personal and civic action that will help decrease atmospheric CO2 concentrations to protect the future of the world’s wildlife.

Today (February 27, 2014), a number of AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums are celebrating International Polar Bear Day. Initiated by AZA conservation partner, Polar Bears International (PBI), this event takes place every year to help spread the message of what steps we can take to help save the species, which is being negatively impacted by the loss of sea ice caused by climate change.

In May 2008, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service listed the polar bear as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act, making it the first animal species to receive protection due to threats from climate change. In Canada, polar bears are listed as a “Species of Special Concern,” and in Russia, polar bears are listed as a “Species of Concern.”

Biologists estimate there are only 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears left in their natural range. The bears rely on sea ice in order to hunt their main diet of ringed seals. When the sea ice melts earlier in the year and re-freezes later, this means that there is less time for the polar bears to feed on the seals’ rich blubber, which helps sustain them through the summer months as well as enables them to nourish their young until the next feeding season. Summer ice losses in the Arctic now equal an area the size of Alaska, Texas, and the state of Washington combined. Without the sea ice, polar bears cannot survive.

Scientists also predict that the world will lose 2/3 of its polar bear population in the next 40 years if we stay on our current path and do not make any changes in reducing greenhouse gases to help slow the loss of Arctic ice.

To help bring awareness to this very important conservation issue, a number of AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums are hosting events in recognition of International Polar Bear Day. To find out if your local facility is participating, please be sure to call the zoo or aquarium in advance for more information about event details. For a list of AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums in your area, please visit http://www.aza.org/findzooaquarium/

As part of International Polar Bear Day, AZA staff members are also participating in PBI’s Thermostat Challenge today by turning down the office thermostat by two degrees and turning off office lights.

AZA staff members are participating in PBI's Thermostat Challenge in support of International Polar Bear Day.

AZA staff members are participating in PBI’s Thermostat Challenge in support of International Polar Bear Day.

Throughout the rest of the year, AZA also works to promote zoo and aquarium sustainable practices, support climate change education programs, and engage change. For more information on how you can help, please visit http://www.aza.org/climate-and-wildlife/.

Finally, don’t miss out on distance learning adventures offered through ClimateChangeLIVE! As part of this initiative, the U.S. Forest Service and 26 federal and NGO partners have come together to bring climate learning to people of all ages through a series of webcasts, webinars, and online climate education resources.

The Smithsonian’s National Zoo Senior Scientist on special assignment to AZA, Dr. Don Moore, will be a panelist during the March 15 ClimateChangeLIVE interactive discussion.

The Smithsonian’s National Zoo Senior Scientist on special assignment to AZA, Dr. Don Moore, will be a panelist during the March 15 ClimateChangeLIVE interactive discussion.

On March 12, 2014 from 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. (ET), you can join a live interactive conversation with experts about climate change. The Smithsonian’s National Zoo Senior Scientist on special assignment to AZA, Dr. Don Moore, will be among the panelists who will answer tweets, Facebook messages, and emails. More than 3,000 classrooms will be participating, so be sure you don’t miss this lively discussion!

Posted in Aquarium, AZA, Conservation, Polar bear, Zoo | Leave a comment

Oldest Andean Bear Living in North America Celebrates 35th Birthday at the Buffalo Zoo

Zoos and aquariums accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) are dedicated to providing exceptional care to animals throughout the duration of their lives. With advances in veterinary medicine, nutrition, and husbandry techniques to address unique needs, many animals are living longer in zoos and aquariums around the nation than ever before.

As keepers provide care to these animals, the bond between them often becomes quite strong. Diana, an Andean bear at the Buffalo Zoo, is especially loved by her keepers.

The only bear species native to South America, Andean bears are listed as vulnerable on the World Conservation Union’s Red List of Threatened Species.  Andean bears are cooperatively managed through AZA’s Andean Bear Species Survival Plan® (SSP) program, which is designed to help ensure a healthy, genetically diverse, and demographically stable population.

Currently, there are 58 Andean bears living at 28 AZA-accredited facilities in North America—and Diana is the oldest. In honor of Diana’s upcoming birthday, Buffalo Zoo keeper, Cheryl Chintella, has written a guest blog about her.

Diana, an Andean bear who will celebrate her 35th birthday at the Buffalo Zoo on Jan. 20, 2014, is the oldest Andean bear living in North America. (Photo by Melissa King, Buffalo Zoo.)

Diana, an Andean bear who will celebrate her 35th birthday at the Buffalo Zoo on Jan. 20, 2014, is the oldest Andean bear living in North America. (Photo by Melissa King, Buffalo Zoo.)

 Happy Birthday, Diana!

Monday, January 20, 2014 is a special day of celebration at the Buffalo Zoo. Diana, the zoo’s Andean bear, will ring in her 35th birthday with a day full of festivities planned by her keepers.

Known for her nest building skills and her busybody curiosity, Diana is one of the most popular animals among zoo staff. Visitors often mistake her for a baby due to her small stature, but what many don’t know is that Diana is the oldest Andean bear in North America and one of the oldest in the world. At age 35, she has already exceeded the median life expectancy for Andean bears, which is approximately 26 years.

Diana was born at the Lincoln Park Zoo on January 20, 1979. She arrived at her long-time home at the Buffalo Zoo on May 7, 1980. Many visitors who came to the zoo as children and are still living in the Buffalo area have, in a sense, grown up with her.

Diana with her cubs, Bronson, Bernard, and Bernadette. (Photo by Denise Lanz, Buffalo Zoo.)

Diana with her cubs, Bronson, Bernard, and Bernadette. (Photo by Denise Lanz, Buffalo Zoo.)

On January 23, 1991, only days after her own birthday, she gave birth to a trio of cubs named Bronson, Bernard, and Bernadette. Though Bronson and Bernard have never reproduced, Bernadette later became a mother to a single cub named Billie Jean. Now residing at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park in Washington, DC, Billie Jean has since made Diana a great-grandmother four times over with the birth of two litters of cubs.

Known for keeping her caregivers on their toes due to her exceptional climbing abilities and desire to explore, it is her day-to-day behavior and personality that truly make her a favorite at the Buffalo Zoo. She completely embodies the stereotype of the “nosy old lady.” Whenever one of her keepers is near, Diana moves throughout her off-exhibit area until she finds the one spot that affords her the best view of whatever her keeper is doing. She will turn her head to the side and practically pops her eyes out of her head while she keeps watch over a person on the other side of the room. This is especially true if it is time for her to eat or if she notices someone opening up the cupboard where she knows her favorite treats—cereal, animal crackers, raisins, and peanut butter—are stored.

Diana in one of her nests. (Photo by Caitlyn Bruce, Buffalo Zoo.)

Diana enjoying one of her nests. (Photo by Caitlyn Bruce, Buffalo Zoo.)

Whenever she isn’t being a busybody, Diana occupies her time by making larger-than-life nests that make her off-exhibit area look as though a tornado has just come through it. Though she is particularly fond of using hay and blankets to build her nests, she will use just about anything her keepers give her to make a comfortable resting spot. She has a patented technique for making any pile of bedding into a suitable nest for herself. Her preferred method usually involves sitting in the middle of the pile, flinging the nesting material forward with her front paws, then backward behind her, and then forward once again. Diana repeats the process over and over again until the nest is deemed suitable, though keepers often think it looks the same as it did when she started!

While we realize that the majority of you reading this post have not had the privilege of getting to meet Diana personally, we hope that it has given you the opportunity to feel like you have gotten to know this very special bear. Please join the Buffalo Zoo in wishing Diana a very happy 35th birthday!

Cheryl Chintella, Animal Keeper, Buffalo Zoo

Posted in Andean Bear, Buffalo Zoo, Conservation, Lincoln Park Zoo, Smithsonian National Zoo, Species Survival Plan, Zoo | 2 Comments

Two Southern White Rhinos Born at the Wilds in Ohio

One of two white rhino claves born recently at the Wilds in Cumberland, Ohio.  Copyright the Wilds.

One of two white rhino claves born recently at the Wilds in Cumberland, Ohio. Copyright the Wilds.

Two healthy white rhino calves were recently welcomed at the Wilds in Cumberland, Ohio. The first calf was born on November 21, 2013 and the second entered the world on January 3, 2014.

The calf born in November is a female and a fourth generation offspring born in human care. The calf’s mother is Sally who was also born at the Wilds in 2006.  Her father is Fireball, born in 2002 at the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose, Texas.  This is the second calf for Sally.

The second calf, born in January, is also a female and a fourth generation offspring. Her mother, Eve, was born at the Wilds in 2006 and Fireball is the father of this calf as well.  This is Eve’s second calf and Fireball’s eighth.

Both mothers and calves are doing fine and will be slowly introduced to the rest of the herd after the weather warms up in the spring.

The birth of these calves are the 19th and 20th rhinos (and 14th and 15th white rhinos) born at the Wilds since 2004. The last four rhinos born at the Wilds have been born in the last four months (Sep. 2013 – Jan. 2014). The Wilds is also the only place, outside of Africa, with fourth generation offspring and has one of the largest herds of white rhinos in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

White rhino calf and mother at the Wilds in Cumberland, Ohio.  Copyright the Wilds.

White rhino calf and mother at the Wilds in Cumberland, Ohio. Copyright the Wilds.

There are five species of rhinoceros; black and white rhinos are found in Africa and the greater one-horned, Javan and Sumatran rhinos are found in Asia. Despite some conservation success stories all rhino species are in peril from poaching and loss of habitat.

About the southern white rhinoceros:

Southern white rhinos were almost extinct in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Effective conservation efforts in the 1950s led to the exportation of individual wild white rhinos to zoos in North America and Europe. The current wild population is estimated to be about 20,000 animals however rhino poaching in Africa has reached a record high in 2012.

Calves are born after a gestation of 16 months. White rhinos can grow to be 4,000 pounds and six feet tall at their shoulder. Their natural habitats are plains or woodlands interspersed with grassy openings. Through reintroduction efforts, their current range in the wild is in southern and eastern African countries.

Tim Lewthwaite

Posted in AZA, Black Rhinos, Conservation, Rhino, The Wilds, White Rhinos, Wildlife, Zoo | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Animals Inc. On Location: Dispatch #6 – Some Favorite Kenya Photos

Tim Lewthwaite was in Kenya where he had been traveling in search of the country’s diverse and beautiful wildlife. Here some favorite photos from Tim’s trip!

The baby elephants at the Daphne Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi were a heart breaking site.  28 of the 30 youngsters we saw were there because their mothers had been poached for ivory. Copyright Tim Lewthwaite.

The baby elephants at the Daphne Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi were a heart breaking site. 28 of the 30 youngsters we saw were there because their mothers had been poached for ivory. Copyright Tim Lewthwaite.

I just thought the child next to the statues in a curio shop would make an interesting image. Copyright Tim Lewthwaite.

I just thought the child next to the statues in a curio shop would make an interesting image. Copyright Tim Lewthwaite.

A black rhino and calf in Sweetwaters Game Reserve  at the base of Mount Kenya. Copyright Tim Lewthwaite.

A black rhino and calf in Sweetwaters Game Reserve at the base of Mount Kenya. Copyright Tim Lewthwaite.

Rothchild's giraffe in Lake Nakuru National Park in Kenya.  Copyright Tim Lewthwaite.

Rothchild’s giraffe in Lake Nakuru National Park in Kenya. Copyright Tim Lewthwaite.

Chrildren at Irura Primary School in Kenya eating their lunch.  Copyright Tim Lewthwaite.

Children at Irura Primary School in Kenya eating their lunch. Copyright Tim Lewthwaite.

The Irura School choir performs outside one of the school buildings. Copyright Tim Lewthwaite

The Irura School choir performs outside one of the school buildings. Copyright Tim Lewthwaite

Female elephant in Sweetwaters Game Reserve. Copyright Tim Lewthwaite.

Female elephant in Sweetwaters Game Reserve. Copyright Tim Lewthwaite.

A large Nile crocodile basking on the Mara River in the Masai Mara. Copyright Tim Lewthwaite.

A large Nile crocodile basking on the Mara River in the Masai Mara. Copyright Tim Lewthwaite.

A common sight on the roads of Kenya.  Copyright Tim Lewthwaite.

A common sight on the roads of Kenya. Copyright Tim Lewthwaite.

The hustle and bustle of town life in Kenya. Copyright Tim Lewthwaite.

The hustle and bustle of town life in Kenya. Copyright Tim Lewthwaite.

A white pelican. Copy right Tim Lewthwaite.

A white pelican. Copy right Tim Lewthwaite.

African crowned crane. Copyright Tim Lewthwaite.

African crowned crane. Copyright Tim Lewthwaite.

The Masai welcome us to their village at the edge of the Masai Mara.  Copyright Tim Lewthwaite.

The Masai welcome us to their village at the edge of the Masai Mara. Copyright Tim Lewthwaite.

Like many people the world over, the Masai work to hold onto their traditions. Copyright Tim Lewthwaite.

Like many people the world over, the Masai work to hold onto their traditions. Copyright Tim Lewthwaite.

African elephant in early morning light in the Masai Mara.  Copyright Tim Lewthwaite.

African elephant in early morning light in the Masai Mara. Copyright Tim Lewthwaite.

Two zebra foals in the Masai Mara.  Copyright Tim Lewthwaite.

Two zebra foals in the Masai Mara. Copyright Tim Lewthwaite.

Lioness and cub in the Masai Mara.  Copyright Tim Lewthwaite.

Lioness and cub in the Masai Mara. Copyright Tim Lewthwaite.

DSC_0247Be sure to visit the Animals Inc. website to view photos of Tim’s experiences in Kenya and to learn more about actions you can take to help protect the species that live there.

Posted in AZA, Black Rhinos, Conservation, Giraffes, Photography, Reptile, Wildlife | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Animals Inc. On Location: Dispatch #5 – Kenya’s Endangered Giraffes

Tim Lewthwaite reports from Kenya where he has been traveling in search of the country’s diverse and beautiful wildlife.

Rothchild's giraffe in Lake Nakuru National Park in Kenya.  Copyright Tim Lewthwaite.

Rothschild’s giraffe in Lake Nakuru National Park in Kenya. Copyright Tim Lewthwaite.

Giraffes are one of the real African savanna icons, and I was hoping to see all three Kenyan subspecies while in the country. With only an estimated 80,000 giraffes remaining in Africa, it is a little known fact that they are an animal that is becoming increasingly rare.  This becomes more apparent when you realize that there are nine subspecies of giraffe, and some, like the Rothschild’s giraffe, have only a few hundred animals remaining. We came across a small group of the Rothschild’s giraffes  about half a mile away from the shores of Lake Nakuru as they browsed on some acacia trees.  Seeing these large and graceful animals peacefully working their way through the landscape, it is hard to imagine a similar scene without them.

A young reticulated giraffe in Kenya.  Copyright Tim Lewthwaite

A young reticulated giraffe on the shores of Lake Naivasha. Copyright Tim Lewthwaite.

The second species we encountered was the more common reticulated giraffe.  When fully grown, giraffes have few predators.  The main threat comes from people who poach them for their skin and hair.   The reticulated giraffe, along with the Rothschild’s, are the two species you are likely to see in a zoo.

With the reticulated and Rothschild’s giraffe having been “spotted,” we went in search of the third Kenyan subspecies of giraffe–the Masai giraffe.  While we didn’t get very close to any Masai giraffes, we did have several sightings.  You can distinguish the Masai giraffe by the jagged edges they have around their spots.

Giraffes are one of those animals that, I think, people take for granted.  It’s worrying to realize that with only an estimated 80,000 left in the wild, there are actually far fewer giraffes than there are elephants on the continent.  And while the focus is rightfully on the rapidly-rising levels of poaching for elephants and rhinos, there are a number of other species (and sub-species) like giraffes that warrant our attention as well.

To learn more about the plight of giraffes in Africa, you can visit the Giraffe Conservation Foundation.

DSC_0247Be sure to visit the Animals Inc. website to view photos of Tim’s experiences in Kenya and to learn more about actions you can take to help protect the species that live there.

 

Masai giraffe in Kenya's Masai Mara.  Copyright Tim Lewthwaite.

Masai giraffes in Kenya’s Masai Mara. Copyright Tim Lewthwaite.

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