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Category — Hooved Mammals

Painted Dogs: Connecting our Africa Exhibit to Carnivore Conservation in Tanzania

We are in the home stretch, putting the finishing touches on Phase IV of our ambitious Africa exhibit this week, which opens to the public on Saturday. Soon, the large savannah will be home to Thomson’s gazelles, impala and lesser kudu as well as ostrich, pink-backed pelicans and more. New exhibits include bat-eared foxes (future meerkat) and, of course, African painted dogs.

Thomson's gazelle (Photo: Paul Mannix)

Thomson’s gazelles (Photo: Paul Mannix)

Ostriches (Photo: Benh Lieu Song)

Ostriches (Photo: Benh Lieu Song)

African painted dog (Photo: Christian Sperka)

African painted dog (Photo: Christian Sperka)

It’s been quite a few years since the Zoo has exhibited African painted dogs and we’re all very excited about their return. Our female is named Imara. She came to us from Oglebay’s Good Zoo. Our male is Haka and he came to us from the Brookfield Zoo. Both of them were born in 2012. Their exhibit is a large, beautiful grassy yard featuring trees, a creek and a rocky den. Guests will be able to view them up close through a large glass window on one end of the exhibit. At the other end, the viewing opportunity is open air.

Watering the grass in the new painted dog yard.

Watering the grass in the new painted dog yard

You'll be able to find out what it's like to have large ears like a painted dog.

You’ll be able to find out what it’s like to have large ears like a painted dog.

Installing the signs at the bat-eared fox exhibit.

Installing the signs at the bat-eared fox exhibit.

African painted dogs are endangered in the wild with fewer than 6,000 remaining in central and southern Africa. The Zoo contributes to their conservation by supporting the Ruaha Carnivore Project (RCP) in Tanzania. RCP works with local communities to ensure the survival of carnivores and people in and around Ruaha National Park. The Ruaha region is home to Africa’s third largest population of painted dogs and 10% of Africa’s lions.

Lion in Ruaha region of Tanzania (Photo: Ruaha Carnivore Project)

Lion in Ruaha region of Tanzania (Photo: Ruaha Carnivore Project)

RCP documents the presence and location of wildlife species through community-reported sightings and photos taken by motion-triggered cameras. Through the Ruaha Explorer’s Club, the Zoo sponsors one of the cameras. In return, RCP posts images taken by the Cincinnati Zoo Cam on a dedicated Facebook page; like the page to follow along! Interested in sponsoring a camera yourself? Find out more on RCP’s website.

Painted dog caught on camera in Ruaha region (Photo: Ruaha Carnivore Project)

Painted dog caught on camera in Ruaha region (Photo: Ruaha Carnivore Project)

RCP also works to improve the lives of people and predators by reducing attacks on livestock and retaliatory attacks by people. Reinforcing fencing around corrals to keep livestock safe from predators at night, for example, goes a long way towards building positive relationships between people and predators.

Improved corral fence, or boma (Photo: Jon Erickson)

Improved corral fence, or boma (Photo: Jon Erickson)

RCP also helps communities realize tangible benefits from having carnivores around by providing employment for local people, school supplies, scholarships and a stocked medical clinic. Regular education and outreach activities such as movie nights and community meetings are held. They even take villagers and schoolchildren who have never been to the national park on educational visits with support from the Cincinnati Zoo’s Angel Fund.

Local Maasai women visiting Ruaha National Park (Photo: Ruaha Carnivore Project)

Local Maasai women visiting Ruaha National Park (Photo: Ruaha Carnivore Project)

We hope you will come see Imara and Haka, our new painted dogs, at the Zoo next time you visit and we invite you to join us in supporting the conservation of their counterparts in the wild.

June 25, 2014   No Comments

The Growing (Giraffe) Family at the Cincinnati Zoo

As an accredited member of the Association of Zoos & Aquarium (AZA), the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden works closely with the AZA’s Population Management Center.   The Center works with accredited zoos throughout North America, drafting recommended Species Survival Plans (SSP) for roughly 340 species.  The Maasai giraffe that you see at the Cincinnati Zoo are carefully monitored and considered in these plans, both to safely preserve the species’ genetic diversity as well as to make sure there are enough new births to keep the captive population’s size stable and healthy.

Today, fewer than 150 Maasai giraffe exist in the North American captive population, including the five females and one male that live here at the Cincinnati Zoo.  In order to support genetic diversity in the North American Maasai giraffe population, considering its size, AZA-accredited Zoos breed animals only when given a Species Survival Plan (SSP) recommendation.

Nasha, Tessa and Lulu

Nasha, Tessa and Lulu

That being said, for all three of the Cincinnati Zoo’s recent giraffe births, the Zoo has received recommendations from the SSP.   Through evaluating their genetic diversity our male, “Kimba”, and seven-year-old female, “Tessa”, the SSP was able to determine that these two paired together create offspring that are genetically diverse, and provide genetics for future offspring that are not already well represented in the captive population.

In the wild, once a female giraffe reaches maturity, her natural behavior is to breed right away after a calf is born. When we can, zoos like to allow animals to imitate those natural wild behaviors.  At the appropriate age, a wild female giraffe is typically breeding, pregnant, or nursing a calf at all times.  Young giraffe are vulnerable to predators, which means the wild populations are not always stable, coupled with the long gestation period of about sixteen months, means there is always a need to breed. While there are not predators in captivity, zoos are responsible for carefully managing captive populations to keep both individual animals healthy and happy, as well as the group at large.

The Cincinnati Zoo’s giraffe keepers, animal care staff, and vets have worked closely with the AZA SSP Program Managers over the last five years and look forward to continuing Maasai giraffe breeding success in the future.  With the arrival of two new females, “Cece” and “Jambo,” last Spring, the Cincinnati Zoo is hopeful that the breeding program in Cincinnati will continue to grow and prosper.

 

May 8, 2014   8 Comments

How Do You Differentiate Black, Indian and Sumatran Rhinos?

Guest blogger:  Crissi Lanier, Interpretive Media Intern

There are five species of rhinos in the world – Javan, Indian, Sumatran, Black & White. Three of these species, Indian, Black and Sumatran, reside here at the Cincinnati Zoo. Do you know how to identify them and where to find them? If not, read on and test your rhino knowledge on #WorldRhinoDay this Sunday, September 22.

Harapan at the Cincinnati Zoo.

Sumatran rhino Harapan at the Cincinnati Zoo.

Sumatran Rhino: Our sibling Sumatran rhinos, Harapan & Suci, have been in the news lately because they are the only two of their kind in North America and, as such, are key to the survival of this critically-endangered species.  They are in neighboring enclosures in Wildlife Canyon, where you can see them doing their favorite thing — getting muddy!

The Sumatran rhino’s most distinguishing feature is the reddish-brown hair that covers most of its body. It’s the smallest of all rhino species, standing about 4-feet high at the shoulder and weighs about 1,500–1,800 lbs. Like both African species, it has two horns.

To read more about the Sumatran Rhinos from past blogs click here.

Black rhino, Klyde.

Black rhino, Klyde.

Black Rhino: Our female black rhino, Seyia, is new to the Zoo and getting used to her surroundings in the Veldt.  She will make her public debut soon.  Her predecessor, Klyde, was transferred to the Sedgwick County Zoo for breeding a few months ago. Learn more about the crate training that made Klyde’s move smooth.

Although this rhino is referred to as black, its colors vary from brown to gray.  The black rhino is also referred to as the hook-lipped rhinoceros because of its prehensile upper lip.  It has two horns but can sometimes develop a third.

relaxing in water

Nikki in the water

Indian Rhino: We have two female Indian rhinos, Nikki and Manjula.  They are in separate enclosures in our Veldt, with Nikki often found lounging in her pool and Manjula making appearances when she feels like it!

The Indian rhino, also called the greater one-horned rhinoceros and Indian one-horned rhinoceros, has only one horn!  Nikki’s is a bit worn down because she likes to rub it on trees and rocks. This heavily built species can weigh up to 8,000 lbs and has thick, silver-brown skin, and very little body hair. Its upper legs and shoulders are covered in wart-like bumps.

Manjula, our largest rhino.

Manjula, our largest rhino.


*Sumatran rhinos are considered Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.  They are native to Sumatra (Indonesia), Borneo and Malay Peninsula.

*Black rhinos are considered Critically Endangered by the IUCN.  They are found in various parts of central and southern Africa.

*Indian rhinos are considered Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.  They are found in Nepal and India.

All of these rhinos need our help to survive for future generations.  You can  A.D.O.P.T. them to help aid in their daily care and enrichment, visit the Zoo on #WorldRhinoDay, talk to volunteers at the CREW stands about current research and more.

September 17, 2013   1 Comment