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Smithsonian's National Zoo's Amazonia exhibit

National Zoo
Highlights of the Smithsonian's National Zoo's Amazonia exhibit

Animal Demonstrations at Smithsonian's National Zoo

National Zoo
Come see our numerous animal demonstrations at Smithsonian's National Zoo! For a complete list of daily demonstrations, visit: http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Visit/DailyPrograms/

#GorillaStory: Happy First Birthday, Moke!

National Zoo
It is hard to believe that an entire year has passed since the day that Moke, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo's infant western lowland gorilla, was born. In a blink of an eye, he has grown from a fragile newborn to a rambunctious youngster. KEEPER UPDATE: https://s.si.edu/2G9TUbg.

Behind the Scenes: National Zoo Commissary

National Zoo
Mike Maslanka, head nutritionist at the Smithsonian's National Zoo, talks about what it takes to feed 2,000 animals from 400 different species 365 days a year. Each one receives a diet specially designed by National Zoo nutritionists that not only meets their nutrient needs but also encourages them to employ their natural feeding behaviors. The Zoo's commissary is one of the world's largest zoo commissaries and is about half an acre in size. In all, 13 people make up the Zoos nutrition team. Two members of the team are certified nutritionists. Of all 220 zoo members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, only 11 have nutritionists, and the National Zoo has two! But that's not the only thing that sets the Zoo apart. The National Zoo is also the only zoo that grows all of its own hay, which is grown at CRC.

Lion Cub Naming Contest: Your Guide to Our Lions

National Zoo
So you think you've got what it takes to name the Smithsonian National Zoo's lion cubs? Here are some tips from two of the Zoo's lion keepers that may help get you started brainstorming. In this video, keepers answer the following questions and more: What are the two cubs like? Where are their parents from? What traits make them stand out? Once you've created your video, go to http://www.washingtonpost.com/lionnames to submit your entry. You'll also find official rules at this site. Good luck! Official rules here:

Zoo Jobs: Meet an Endocrinologist

National Zoo
Ever wonder what it’s like to be an endocrinologist at the National Zoo? Middle school students should check out, “Other Duties as Assigned: The Secret World of Zoo Jobs.” Meet Sarah Putman, endocrinologist at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute.

#OrangutanStory: Redd Goes to School

National Zoo
Over the winter, Bornean orangutan Redd learned some new husbandry behaviors! Read the latest #OrangutanStory from primate keeper Erin Stromberg. STORY: https://s.si.edu/2Y2DIjx.

Monitoring and Analysis of the Acoustic Landscape (Soundscape) in the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve

National Zoo
Please click on the closed captioning button ("CC") for English translation. This video summarizes the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute's acoustic monitoring research in south central Peru, an experiment designed to understand the impacts of natural gas exploration on forest animals. Further details can be found here: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1470160X16306392.

Black footed ferret kits summer 2015

National Zoo
The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) has been a leader in black-footed ferret conservation since a small population of this solitary, nocturnal carnivore was discovered in 1981. SCBI received offspring from the species’ surviving 18 individuals and was the first institution to breed black-footed ferrets outside of Wyoming. Faced with a genetic bottleneck, SCBI scientists mitigated threats to the survival of the species by using semen that had been cryopreserved for 10 to 20 years to artificially inseminate live female ferrets. Learn more: http://nationalzoo.si.edu/publications/pressmaterials/pressreleases/press-release.cfm?id=2704

A Close-Up of Pablo, the Giant Anteater

National Zoo
Pablo, our youngest anteater, was born December 7, 2010. Read more on our website

Mei Xiang Playing in a Bubble Bath Tub

National Zoo
On March 15, Mei Xiang started exhibiting behavioral signs that breeding season is approaching! A urinary hormone analysis confirmed that her change in behavior was due to her rising estrogen levels, signaling that the panda breeding season will be here soon. Mei Xiang’s behavioral changes have not been especially subtle, she has broken from her energy-efficient routine of eating and sleeping and is instead much more active. She is very eager to play and splash in the pools in her yard and enclosure, and the bubble bath tubs she receives as extra enrichment. She also has been scent-marking around her habitat. Scent-marks are one of the ways giant pandas communicate if they are ready to breed. Adults do not spend time together outside of the breeding season. A scent-mark helps the solitary animals find each other during the 24-to-72-hour window the female is able to conceive a cub. Mei Xiang is not just advertising her rising hormonal levels through her restlessness and scent-marks, she is also vocalizing. She began bleating at keepers, which is something she only does during the breeding season. Tian Tian has been following all of these changes vigilantly. Over the weekend, he started bleating at Mei Xiang, one of his ways to communicate that he is interested in her. He also has been spending a lot of time at the howdy window that separates their yards. This week he has been bleating more frequently and has tried to keep Mei Xiang within his sight. Although Tian Tian is very interested in Mei Xiang, she has made it clear with her vocalizations that she is not ready to breed. Keepers are going to continue to monitor the pandas for behavioral changes. Meanwhile, endocrinologists at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute will continue monitoring her hormones to determine when Mei Xiang reaches peak estrus.

Help Us Name Our Giant Panda Cub at the Smithsonian's National Zoo

National Zoo
The giant panda cub born at the Smithsonian's National Zoo on August 23, 2013 has become America's panda sweetheart. And now we need panda supporters from across the globe to help name her! The new cub is part of the successful giant panda partnership between the United States and the People's Republic of China. Her birth is a direct result of our scientists' ongoing dedication to understand the lives, ecology and reproduction of these charismatic bears and ensure a healthy future for them and their mountain habitat. We have five names on the ballot, submitted by the People's Republic of China Ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai, U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke and his family, giant panda keepers at the National Zoo, giant panda keepers at the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda in Wolong, and Friends of the National Zoo. Vote for your favorite, and spread the word! Over 200,000 people voted to name Tai Shan, the giant panda cub born in 2005. You have until November 22 to be one of those who helps choose the name for the newest member of our panda family. Her name will be revealed at a public naming on Sunday, December 1. Vote: http://www.smithsonian.com/name-the-panda Music: "Windswept" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Panda Cam Footage of Mei Xiang and Cub

National Zoo
August 31, 2015 - Mei Xiang decided to eat some sugarcane and drink some dilute apple juice the keepers left for her yesterday evening around 6 p.m. Two hours later, she left the den to urinate and defecate—only the second time she’s done that since giving birth. She put the cub down when she left and he was very quiet the entire time she was gone. Over the next few weeks she will get more comfortable leaving him for increasingly longer periods of time to eat and drink. While Mei was away, our behavior watchers got a fantastic view of the cub!

Hand-Rearing Sloth Bear Cub

National Zoo
The decision for keepers at the Smithsonian's National Zoo to hand-raise a female sloth bear cub instead of leaving her with her mother Khali likely saved her life. She is now very active and growing as the result of the round-the-clock care she has received for the past two-and-a-half months. The cub was one of three cubs born to Khali Dec. 29, 2013, and she is the only cub that survived longer than seven days. Khali ingested the first cub about 20 minutes after she gave birth Dec. 29. It is not uncommon for carnivores, including sloth bears, to ingest stillborn cubs, or even live cubs if they or the mother are compromised in some way. Khali, an experienced mom, appeared attentive to her two remaining cubs, and keepers monitored her closely via closed-circuit cams before, during and after the births. However, she ingested a second cub seven days later and spent several hours away from her remaining cub in the early morning hours of Jan. 6, which is not normal for a sloth bear with a newborn cub. "Our team is always prepared to intervene and hand-rear a cub if it appears that a cub is not thriving," said Tony Barthel, curator of Asia Trail. "We already had developed a plan for hand-rearing before Khali gave birth, and our ability to act quickly was critical." At that point, keepers decided the only way the remaining cub would likely survive was to retrieve her from Khali's den. Keepers rushed the cub to the veterinary hospital around 7:30 a.m. Veterinarians examined her and determined that she was hypothermic and weak. Khali had not been cradling her, which would have regulated the cub's temperature and kept her warm. Veterinarians treated her with antibiotics, vitamins and fluid therapy. They also placed her in an incubator to help stabilize her body temperature. By 9 a.m. she was nursing from a bottle. For the next several days she was bottle-fed eight times each day. The cub was healthy enough to leave the veterinary hospital Jan. 9 and was returned to the sloth bear habitat, but keepers could not return her to her mother. Keepers searched for other sloth bear cubs, or different bear species cubs, currently being hand-raised at other Association of Zoos and Aquariums accredited institutions, but were unable to find any. Instead, a team of National Zoo keepers, veterinarians and nutritionists immediately stepped up as surrogates for the cub. "Carrying the cub around for hours at a time gave us a unique opportunity to bond with her," said Stacey Tabellario, animal keeper. "We quickly became in-tune with her vocalizations, movements and sleep patterns. With past cubs at this stage, we mostly only viewed them via closed-circuit television, so this has been a great chance to learn more about cub development." Keepers stay with the cub 24 hours a day and bottle feed her at regular intervals. After the cub first returned to the sloth bear habitat, keepers bottle-fed her seven times each day, but that was gradually reduced to six and now five times each day. When the cub's eyes opened Jan. 26, keepers started to increase their level of interaction with her to provide her with the social stimulation she needed. Sloth bear cubs stay with their mothers for about three years. As newborns they are cradled by their mothers, and as they grow they ride on their mothers' backs. To simulate those types of interactions, the keepers initially carried the cub in a baby sling with them during their daily routines. Now that she is a little bigger, keepers play with the cub in her den or in a specially designated play area to encourage natural behaviors like climbing. "It is always preferable for cubs to be raised by their mothers, but that was not possible this time," said keeper and sloth bear expert Mindy Babitz. "We had to become this cub's 'mothers.' We are caring for her needs around the clock—not just physical, but social, cognitive and emotional needs; it's very encouraging to watch her develop and grow." The sloth bear team would like her to interact with other sloth bears. In the coming weeks keepers will allow the cub to explore the indoor dens of the Zoo's adult sloth bears while they are outside. They plan to visually introduce her to the adults over the next few months. If the gradual introductions go well, the cub may eventually be reintroduced to Khali, or introduced to her father François for companionship. The cub will likely not be on exhibit until summer. Khali has successfully raised two cubs, born in 2004, before. She gave birth to another cub in 2002, but the cub only survived for about one month. François, the Zoo's adult male sloth bear, sired the cubs born Dec. 29, 2013. Khali is only the second sloth bear to give birth to a litter of three cubs in North America. To follow the Zoo's progress in caring for the cub, check for news on the Zoo's Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Cheetah Cub B-Roll for Media Use

National Zoo
April 5, 2017—The start of spring brought a cheetah cub boom to the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) in Front Royal, Va., where two large litters were born over the course of a single week. Three-year-old Happy gave birth to five healthy cubs March 23. Seven-year-old Miti gave birth to seven cubs March 28—two were visibly smaller and less active at the time of birth and died, which is common in litters this large. Both mothers are reportedly doing well and proving to be attentive to the 10 surviving healthy cubs, which have all been successfully nursing. Each litter includes two male and three female cubs. “The average litter size is three, so this time we’ve got an incredible pile of cubs,” said Adrienne Crosier, SCBI cheetah biologist and manager of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Cheetah Species Survival Plan (SSP), which matches cheetahs across the population for breeding. “In just one week, we increased the number of cheetahs at SCBI by 50 percent. Each and every cub plays a significant role in improving the health of the population of cheetahs in human care and represents hope for the species overall.” Both Miti and Happy bred in December and were matched with male cats that fit their temperaments and would help ensure genetic diversity within the population. Miti was matched with 6-year-old Nick, who is a first-time father and was the very first cub born at SCBI in 2010. This is Miti’s third litter, though she lost one litter in 2015 due to health complications. Happy bred with 10-year-old Alberto. While this is Happy’s first litter, it is Alberto’s fifth. The two litters born in March are also significant because they mark the second generation of cheetahs born at SCBI, extending the branches of the breeding facility’s cheetah family tree and making grandparents of two older cheetahs that were recently retired together, Amani and Barafu. These will likely be the last litters for both Alberto and Miti, who are now genetically well represented in the population. Forty-six cubs have been born at SCBI since the facility started breeding cheetahs in 2010. Researchers believe that cheetahs, which are listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species, experienced a population bottleneck about 10,000 years ago, leading to low levels of genetic variation and related health and reproductive problems. This has made management of the population under human care especially challenging. In 2013, a group of organizations, including SCBI, together created the Breeding Centers Coalition to address those challenges after a meeting of the Conservation Centers for Species Survival consortium. As a result, the SSP has produced an average of 46 cubs per year in the past four years, compared to just 29 per year on average in the years before. “One of our big goals across the population right now is to breed more new individual animals, mixing and matching more pairs to diversify the genetics as much as possible,” Crosier said. “The birth of these two litters at SCBI is really symbolic of the recent success story playing out across the country as the result of coordinated efforts and terrific communication between cheetah breeding centers.” In the coming days and weeks, scientists and keepers will continue to monitor the health and behavior of both Miti and Happy and their cubs via a closed-circuit camera in the nest boxes. The cubs will have their first veterinary exam when they are approximately six-weeks old. SCBI plays a leading role in the Smithsonian’s global efforts to save wildlife species from extinction and train future generations of conservationists. SCBI spearheads research programs at its headquarters in Front Royal, Va., the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C., and at field research stations and training sites worldwide. SCBI scientists tackle some of today’s most complex conservation challenges by applying and sharing what they learn about animal behavior and reproduction, ecology, genetics, migration and conservation sustainability. April 5th, 2017

Small Mammal House Exhibit at the Smithsonian's National Zoo

National Zoo
The Smithsonian's National Zoo's Small Mammal House exhibit.

#GorillaStory: Calaya and Moke in the Great Ape House Outdoor Yard

National Zoo
Our 1-week-old western lowland gorilla Moke is doing great! Primate keeper Melba Brown dishes on the troop's reaction to their newest member in the latest #GorillaStory update: https://s.si.edu/2vEldZh.

Primates and Peanuts: Testing Tool IQ

National Zoo
Two peanuts sit on a tray. One is beneath the curve of a tool; the other is beside a different tool, out of reach. Smithsonian’s National Zoo’s Allen’s swamp monkey Nub Armstrong is eyeing both. Will he pick the tool that brings the peanut toward him? To examine whether guenons understand how tools work, primate keeper Erin Stromberg and University of Michigan graduate student Missy Painter have teamed up to put these monkeys’ smarts to the test. STORY: https://s.si.edu/2IVKrZj.

Cuban Crocodiles B-Roll

National Zoo
Five critically endangered Cuban crocodiles hatched at the National Zoo’s Reptile Discovery Center between July 29 and Aug. 7. The eggs were laid by Dorothy, a 57-year-old genetically valuable crocodile. The hatchlings are less than a foot long, but they could reach up to 10.5 feet long when fully grown. Dorothy laid a clutch of 24 eggs in a hole nest May 12. Crocodiles build either mound or hole nests. Hole nests are not always easily visible after females dig them; however, keepers had been monitoring Dorothy carefully and noticed physical changes indicating she had recently laid eggs. After a week of searching the exhibit for her nest, they found it and excavated the eggs. Ten of the eggs were fertile and moved to an incubator. Half of those fertile eggs continued to develop during the entire gestation period. A crocodile embryo will develop into a male or female depending on the incubating temperature of the eggs. Only eggs incubated between 89.6 and 90.5 degrees Fahrenheit will hatch out males; any temperature higher or lower will result in females. The surface temperature of Dorothy’s nest was 84.7 degrees Fahrenheit when keepers reached it, and it was seven inches deep. Keepers incubated the eggs in the temperature range to hatch out males, but it is too early to definitively determine the sex of each crocodile. The Species Survival Plan (SSP) for Cuban crocodiles requested that the Zoo hatch all males to ensure that the Cuban crocodile population in human care continues to be sustainable. In the wild, a Cuban crocodile’s nest will range in temperature. Depending on an egg’s temperature in the nest, some eggs could incubate at much warmer temperatures than others, resulting in males and females hatching out of the same clutch. The baby crocodiles are behind the scenes at the Reptile Discovery Center being cared for by keepers. Guests can see adult Cuban crocodiles Dorothy, Blanche, Rose and Jefe on exhibit as usual. Cuban crocodiles are listed as critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature. They are threatened with habitat loss, hybridization and illegal hunting. They are only found in two swamps in Cuba.

National Zoo Panda Cub Update: Day 6

National Zoo
Video credit: Smithsonian's National Zoo Aug. 29, 2013--In the early morning hours (3:37 a.m.), Mei Xiang gently placed her cub on the floor of her den. The tiny cub has a round belly, which indicates that it is nursing well. The cub also has a great set of lungs! There is a lot of squawking until Mei carefully picks her cub up and cradles it. Mei is very aware of the keepers when they enter her den space to offer her food. Today, Mei drank 56 oz. of apple juice diluted with water, which is a good sign that she is doing well. Keepers and veterinarians continue to monitor Mei Xiang and her cub visually and auditorily. They will will allow Mei Xiang's behaviors direct how they access the cub. All visual indications tell animal care staff that both bears are thriving. We invite fans to keep watching Mei and her cub on the Panda Cam, sponsored by Ford Motor Company Fund. Due to the volume of viewers, the viewing period has been set to 15 minutes. To watch for a longer amount of time, simply refresh the panda cam or you can watch for an unlimited amount of time on the Zoo's App: http://nationalzoo.si.edu/smithsoniannationalzooapp/. Keep watching! # # #

Seal Splashdown at the Smithsonian's National Zoo

National Zoo
Check out the five new seals featured on American Trail in the new seal habitat at the Smithsonian's National Zoo.

Asian Small-Clawed Otters Celebrate Enrichment at the Smithsonian's National Zoo

National Zoo
Move over, Mozart! Asian small-clawed otter paws fly across the keyboard as part of their #ZooEnrichment. The otters are given the choice to play the keyboard or just sit back and enjoy the show—engaging their sight, touch, and hearing senses. Give a gift to your favorite animal! Your donation enables keepers to purchase toys, training tools and other items for the Zoo's animals. DONATE: https://nationalzoo.si.edu/animals/animal-enrichment.

Field in Focus: Linno Cave

National Zoo
Bats are important pollinators, but they can also carry infectious diseases. Wildlife veterinarians with Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute's Global Health Program are trying to help humans and bats live together more safely. Linno Cave in Myanmar is home to more than 500,000 bats. Their guano is harvested and used as fertilizer. That is important for agriculture, but it also presents risks. Wildlife veterinarians have been collecting samples from bats in the cave to test for viruses. They’ve discovered new coronaviruses from their testing, but it's not clear if they present any risks to human health.
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