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Category — General Zoo

Can Progesterone Predict Pregnancy in Red Pandas?

Scientists at CREW are studying the reproduction of red pandas and have diagnosed pregnancies via trans-abdominal ultrasound. However, performing diagnostic ultrasound imaging requires animal training, a costly ultrasound machine (and a trained ultrasonographer to use it), and is not easily performed on less agreeable individuals. The development of a pregnancy test based on fecal analysis would allow non-invasive pregnancy detection in any female and also could be applied to wild individuals.

Conducting an ultrasound

Conducting an ultrasound

In addition to performing regular ultrasounds on the Zoo’s female red pandas, Bailey and Idgie (who has since transferred to another zoo), CREW scientists are measuring fecal hormone metabolites, such as progesterone (P4), to assess their usefulness as indicators of pregnancy.

Bailey had cubs in 2012 and 2013, and both pregnancies were diagnosed via ultrasound. As expected, fecal hormone metabolite analysis showed that her P4 concentrations increased after breeding and remained elevated until she gave birth. The other female, Idgie, was observed breeding, but no pregnancies were detected. Fecal P4 analysis revealed that her P4 was actually higher than Bailey’s in both years, even though she was not pregnant.

These data support the theory of pseudo-pregnancy in red pandas, which has been suggested for years, but not yet proven. Although P4 is generally considered to be the “pregnancy hormone” and can be used to infer pregnancy status in many species, these results indicate that P4 levels alone cannot be used to diagnose pregnancy in red pandas.

Photo: Mark Dumont

Photo: Mark Dumont

December 17, 2014   No Comments

Zoo Academy is Life-changing

Guest blogger: Zoo Academy senior, Dominick Stowers

Hello, my name is Dominick and I am one of the most nonchalant seniors of this year. The reason I came to the Zoo Academy is it sounded like a really amazing experience that will take you far towards being the most renowned zoo keeper or director of a zoo. I came to better my education and I also have always had a real passion for animals of all sorts.

Although I have a passion for animals, I was not always allowed to explore that passion. There was always someone in my family that had a phobia of some kind of animal. My dad had a phobia of snakes and birds of all kinds. My mom and my two sisters and my little brother all have a phobia of insects and of any animal that they knew nothing about. For me, I am open to learning and handling any animal from insects to mammals to reptiles and birds. I just enjoy being around animals and the Zoo Academy gives me that chance to explore my passion.

Here I am handling a ball python

Here I am handling a ball python

The Zoo Academy is not just a high school or a place for work and no fun; that would be short selling the Zoo Academy. This program will allow a person to get their high school diploma and give them the chance to obtain experience in the field of animal care, nutrition and health. The students of this program are able to care for exotic animals that normally they could only see in television or in a movie and here at the Zoo Academy the students provide their services to help the zookeepers take great care of the animals from bathing to feeding. There is no other Zoo in the country that has a full time high school located on their premises, which makes the Cincinnati Zoo so fantastic and it is just an awesome opportunity to learn about rare and endangered animals.

Having the opportunity to work with these animals and these people is life changing. Once you have this experience, you will never look at life the same. The way that I use to view life and how I view life now is totally different. I did not know that life could be so peaceful inside a zoo with all those smells and noises. The zoo is so much more than just 70 acres of noisy and smelly animals; it is a place of peace and harmony which will change a person’s life if given the chance.

December 12, 2014   2 Comments

Cincinnati Zoo Gives Back

On Saturday, November 22, thirty Zoo employees with their families joined another twenty volunteers from our Avondale neighborhood to pack up 225 boxes filled with all the ingredients to create a fresh, full, Thanksgiving meal. The boxes were passed out to children and their families from Rockdale Academy, South Avondale Elementary, and the SO-ACT Senior Citizen Group, giving them a hand up to kick off this holiday season and us the opportunity to show our support for our community.

Thanksgiving Food Drive

This 4th Annual Thanksgiving Food Drive was organized by Avondale’s Avenue District Block Club, of which the Zoo is a member. Almost every department in the Zoo, along with some of our great partners such as HGC Construction and Keep Cincinnati Beautiful, donated enough funds to support the cost of 150 meals. An overwhelming response from other local institutions and individuals helped us reach the final count of 225 meals. Those donors include:

  • Habitat for Humanity of Greater Cincinnati
  • The Community Builders
  • Ronald McDonald House Charities
  • Avondale Community Council (ACC)
  • Avondale Comprehensive Development Corporation
  • The Community Builders (TCB), LISC (Local Initiates Support Corporation)
  • Uptown Consortium
  • Lincoln Ware Walking Club
  • Avondale Running Club
  • PES Marketing

Boxes donated by Two Men and a Truck and RR Donnelly West Chester were stuffed with a 15lb turkey and all the fixings for a hearty Thanksgiving feast. Many thanks to the Avondale Youth Council for doing all of the shopping for us, as well as putting together all 225 boxes.


Sheila Holmes Howard, President and Secretary of AADBC shares, “I am so thankful for the generous outpouring of support from folks who truly care and who continually give back to our community. This is HUGE! It is totally awesome! AADBC and ACC thank everyone who unselfishly gives their time, talents and money”.


The Cincinnati Zoo is committed not only to the conservation of wildlife, but to serving our community as a part of our mission. By providing our community with the resources and tools they need to live a healthy and sustainable life, we not only strengthen our relationship with them, but empower them to save money, save resources and instill pride within their homes and our neighborhoods. Our staff was thankful to be part of such a generous and meaningful event to kick off this holiday season.


December 8, 2014   No Comments