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National Zoo Lioness Naba Welcomes Lion Cubs

National Zoo
The Smithsonian's National Zoo's Great Cats team celebrated the arrival of its first litter of African lion cubs in four years. On Jan. 24, the Zoo's 10-year-old lion Nababiep gave birth to three cubs—two surviving—in an eight hour period. These cubs are the third litter for Nababiep and the fourth for 8-year-old father, Luke. Animal care staff watched Nababiep give birth via a closed-circuit webcam and continue to monitor the family's behavior. The first cub was born at 3:58 a.m. and appeared active and healthy. Five hours later at 8:51 a.m., Nababiep delivered her second cub, but it was stillborn. The third cub was born at 11:24 a.m. and appeared active and healthy. It is not uncommon for animals, in this case a lion, to have some healthy and one or more stillborn cubs in the same litter. Nababiep and her two cubs have been under close observation throughout the weekend by the Zoo's animal care team. They appear to be nursing, moving and vocalizing well, so keepers have not needed to intervene. "The first few days of a lion cub's life are very fragile," said Rebecca Stites, an animal keeper at the Great Cats exhibit. "Naba continues to prove that she has great maternal instincts, so the best course of action is for us to allow her to care for and bond with her cubs. We have every indication that she will successfully raise these cubs just as she did her previous litter." (Note: Nababiep gave birth to one cub in May 2010 that lived for 48 hours.) The mortality rate for lion cubs (including those that are younger than a year) in captivity in 2009 was about 30 percent, compared to a 67 percent mortality rate for cubs in the wild. Animal care staff are cautiously optimistic that the cubs will thrive and are giving Nababiep the solitude she needs to care for her young. The Zoo received a recommendation to breed the lions from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Species Survival Plan for African lions. An SSP matches individual animals across the country for breeding in order to maintain a healthy, genetically diverse and self-sustaining population. About one month after Luke bred with Nababiep, he and her 9-year-old sister Shera also bred. Animal care staff are closely monitoring Shera and suspect she is pregnant based on her physical changes and weight gain, among other cues. Keepers gradually separated Nababiep from Luke and Shera to give Nababiep the privacy she needs to emulate the natural process. As Shera's expected delivery date draws near, animal care staff will separate her from Luke as well. In the wild, female lions will typically leave the pride for a secure area and give birth alone. A lioness may wait up to six weeks before introducing her cubs to the rest of the pride. The formation of prides makes lions unique among the great cats, many of which are solitary animals. Hunting, disease and habitat loss have contributed to a decline in the population of African lions, which are considered a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. "One of the best parts of this job is seeing all of our planning and preparation come to fruition," said Kristen Clark, an animal keeper at the Great Cats exhibit. "In 2010, we had a remarkable opportunity to watch seven cubs grow, master husbandry training, and go on to other zoos to contribute to their breeding programs. To watch this litter follow in their siblings' footsteps will be incredibly exciting and rewarding." Nababiep's cubs will not be on exhibit until late spring, which will give the Zoo's animal keepers and veterinary team time to examine them. However, National Zoo visitors can see 5-month-old Sumatran tiger cubs Bandar and Sukacita on exhibit every day that weather permits staff to give them outdoor access. To follow the Zoo's progress in caring for the cubs, check for news on the Zoo's Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Sea Lion Pup Born at Smithsonian’s National Zoo

National Zoo
A new set of flippers splashed down at Smithsonian’s National Zoo, where American Trail keepers are celebrating the arrival of a California sea lion pup. Animal care staff are closely monitoring the pup—born June 23 at 11 p.m. to 14-year-old mother Calli—in an off-exhibit area. Keepers have observed the pup nursing, moving and vocalizing well, and they are cautiously optimistic that it will thrive. Because they are allowing the pair to bond without interference, it may be some time before keepers are able to determine the pup’s sex. STORY: https://nationalzoo.si.edu/news/sea-lion-pup-born-smithsonians-national-zoo.

Red Panda Playtime

National Zoo
Aug. 1, 2018—Jackie, the youngest red panda at the Smithsonian's National Zoo plays with a ball.

National Zoo Giant Panda Shows Cub to Panda Cam Viewers

National Zoo
At approximately 10:09 p.m. Sept. 20, Panda Cam viewers got what may be the best view yet of the Smithsonian's National Zoo's five-day-old panda cub. Balanced atop mother Mei Xiang's arm, the cub squirms and vocalizes while being groomed. Zoo staff and volunteers are diligently monitoring both bears over the Panda Cam along with tens of thousands of panda enthusiasts. Viewers can help the Zoo capture video by taking a screen grab and sharing it on Flickr. To follow the panda cub's progress, read the updates from the Zoo's panda keepers and check for news on the Zoo's Twitter feed and Facebook page. We will continue to send media alerts about cub developments.

Red Panda Teeter-Totter Playtime

National Zoo
Keepers built red pandas Jackie and Asa a special teeter-totter. The red pandas had fun standing on it, inside of it and running through it.

Persian Onager Foals at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

National Zoo
Persian onager foals might look awkward and leggy, but they are extremely fast! They start walking about half an hour after birth and are running shortly after that. Foals live with their mothers in herds and their main defense in the wild is their ability to run from predators. #PersianOnager #NotaDonkey #NotaHorse #WeSaveSpecies

Black-footed Ferret ZivaDee Gives Birth to One Kit at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

National Zoo
April 29—2019, Black footed-ferret kits are born with white hair, but by the time they are 3 weeks old they start to develop a "facemask," black feet and a black-tipped tail.

Seven Cheetah Cubs Born at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

National Zoo
July 23, 2018—The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) welcomed a litter of seven chirping cheetah cubs July 9. The cubs were born to first-time mother, Erin. She has been attentive and immediately started caring for the cubs after they were born. The cubs appear to be healthy and doing well. Keepers will perform a health check on the cubs when Erin is comfortable leaving them for an extended period of time. In the meantime, the keepers will continue to monitor the mother and cubs closely through den cameras and visual checks to ensure they are growing and developing normally.

Kandula and Bozie Introduction

National Zoo
March 23, 2015—Our elephant team works hard to ensure that all of our elephants have active social lives—including our young bull Kandula. Last week Bozie and Kandula spent some time outside together in the same yard for the first time, under the close watch of our elephant team. Kandula has always been able to interact with our six female elephants from adjoining yards and areas inside the Elephant Community Center, but a few months ago the elephant team decided that it was time for him to start spending time in the same space as them. When Kandula was younger he had a lot of energy and could be very rambunctious. He could even play a little too roughly with our females at times. Now that he is 13, he seems to have settled down a little bit, and our elephant team decided it was safe to allow him to interact with Bozie without any barriers. They chose Bozie because she and Kandula communicate with each other frequently. Bozie seemed nervous at first when keepers allowed Kandula access to her yard, but she quickly settled down and they spent some time calmly interacting. Everything went very well and keepers plan to continue the introductions. They hope to slowly include Shanthi, Ambika, and Swarna in the introductions as well. In other news, Bozie continues to do well and has recovered from the infection she contracted last fall. As you can see from the video, she was very bright and even a little “talkative” during the introduction.

From the Panda Cam Vault: Bao Bao Testing Her Climbing Skills

National Zoo
In honor of Bao Bao's first birthday and giant panda conservation the Smithsonian's National Zoo is sharing clips from the panda cams collected over the past year. Join in the celebration and tweet your birthday wishes for Bao Bao, and include what she represents for giant panda conservation using #BaoBaoBday!

Maned Wolves Return to the Smithsonian's National Zoo

National Zoo
The Smithsonian’s National Zoo recently welcomed two new residents to its Cheetah Conservation Station: maned wolves. The 2-year-old brothers named Mateo and Quito hail from the Denver Zoo where they were born in May 2014. They will serve as ambassadors for their species, illustrating the social nature and behavior of maned wolves to animal care staff and visitors. The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute has a robust canid conservation program that focuses on the behavior and reproductive biology of the species. Maned wolves inhabit the grasslands and scrub forests of central South America. With approximately 20,000 left in the wild, the species is considered near threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The species' primary threats include habitat loss and degradation and human conflict.

Red pandas are back at the Smithsonian's National Zoo!

National Zoo
After a two-year hiatus, red pandas have returned to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. Visitors can see them at the Small Mammal House, where they will live until upgrades to the red panda exhibit on Asia Trail are completed. The upgrades are expected to be finished by early summer. Last November, construction began on an indoor retreat—part of the larger red panda exhibit on Asia Trail—which will provide them with a quiet environment complete with heating, air conditioning and new perches. The structure includes a window where visitors can view the animals while they are inside the habitat. The retreat was made possible in large part by Friends of the National Zoo members. The red pandas named Tusa, a 1-year-old male, and Asa, a 1-year-old female, came to the National Zoo based on a recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan. Tusa and Asa will serve as ambassadors for their species, illustrating the social nature and behavior of red pandas to staff and visitors. The Zoo will continue to share the latest updates and photos of the red panda pair on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Our Bennett's Wallaby Joey Has a Name!

National Zoo
The Bennett's wallaby joey born in early 2019 has a name! Her name is Lenah, which means "kangaroo" in palawa kani, an Aboriginal Tasmanian language. Bennett's wallabies are native to Australia and Tasmania. Visitors can see her behind the Small Mammal House.

Featured Creature: Meet the Lemurs!

National Zoo
Lemurs like to do more than move it, move it. At the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, these primates party! Every April, animal keepers throw a big birthday bash for the Zoo’s ring-tailed lemurs, black-and-white ruffed lemurs and red-fronted lemur to raise awareness about these critically endangered species.

From the Panda Cam Vault: Bao Bao at 2 Months

National Zoo
Thanks to the panda cams, sponsored by the Ford Motor Company Fund, we have a digital scrapbook of Bao Bao's first year! In honor of Bao Bao's first birthday and giant panda conservation the Smithsonian's National Zoo is sharing clips from the panda cams collected over the past year. Join in the celebration and tweet your birthday wishes for Bao Bao, and include what she represents for giant panda conservation using #BaoBaoBday!

Orangutan Infant "Redd" Debuts at the Smithsonian's National Zoo

National Zoo
Sept. 20, 2016. The Smithsonian’s National Zoo celebrated the arrival of the first Bornean orangutan infant in 25 years, born Sept. 12 to 19-year old mother Batang and 19-year-old father Kyle. Zoo staff have selected the name “Redd” for the male infant; orangutans are known as the “red ape.” NOTE: Batang and Redd have access to off-exhibit enclosures and may choose to spend time away from the public viewing areas. They may not be on view consistently.

Endangered Kiwi Chick Hatched at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

National Zoo
May 31, 2016—For the first time, an egg laid by a female brown kiwi at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) in Front Royal, Va., hatched May 10. The chick is the first for parents Ngati Hine Rua (female) and Ngati Hine Tahi (male). SCBI has previously hatched eggs originally laid at other zoos. Keepers will not know the sex of the chick for several weeks. Ngati Hine Rua and Ngati Hine Tahi were given to SCBI as a gift from the government of New Zealand in 2010 after receiving a Maori blessing. Kiwi are sacred to the Maori people. The gift was the first time any kiwi had left New Zealand in 20 years. The Smithsonian’s National Zoo was the first outside of New Zealand to successfully breed kiwi in 1975. Feathers from kiwi at the Zoo and SCBI are repatriated to New Zealand and returned to the Maori people. After Ngati Hine Rua laid the egg, Iwi, another male living at SCBI, incubated it for 30 days before keepers moved the egg to a meticulously climate-controlled incubator where it finished developing. Kiwi do not care for their chicks, which are capable of caring for themselves at birth. After hatching, the chick was moved to an incubator especially for newborn chicks. The chick appears to be healthy and doing well. Kiwi, flightless birds similar in size to chickens, lay the largest egg-to-body-weight ratio of any bird. A kiwi egg is about 20 percent of the female’s size. Kiwi live in mated pairs and generally mate for life. The pair will defend a territory, which includes their nest. After females lay their eggs, they leave the egg with the male to incubate by himself. A chick will stay in its parents’ territory for up to one year, but is able to hunt and fend for itself from birth. The nocturnal kiwi is endangered due to predators introduced to New Zealand by humans. Kiwi evolved without terrestrial mammal predators. Their biggest threats are dogs, cats and stoats introduced by humans. The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute 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.

Six-Week-Old North American River Otter pups at Smithsonian's National Zoo

National Zoo
he Smithsonian’s National Zoo is otterly delighted to introduce Coquille, Potomac and Nash—American Trail’s adorable North American river otter pups! Born to 3-year-old parents Ashkii and Emmett, their arrival Jan. 21 marked the first births of their species in the Zoo’s 130-year history. Get the latest news in this PUPdate with assistant curator Rebecca Sturniolo. https://nationalzoo.si.edu/animals/news/new-zoo-north-american-river-otter-pups

Clouded Leopard Cubs Born

National Zoo
A clouded leopard at the National Zoos campus in Front Royal, Virginia, gave birth to a genetically valuable litter of two cubs on Valentines Day—February 14. Staff had been on a pregnancy watch of three-and-a-half-year-old Jao Chu for four days. She gave birth to the first cub at 6:04 p.m. and the second cub at 6:20 p.m. At birth, the cubs weighed a little more than a half pound. The birth represents the third time Jao Chu and the cubs father, three-and-a-half-year-old Hannibal, have produced offspring. On March 24, 2009, Jao Chu gave birth to two males—Sa Ming (brave warrior) and Ta Moon (mischievous child). Nearly four months later, she gave birth to a female cub Baylie July 9, 2009. Jao Chu and Hannibal were born in Thailand in a collaborative breeding and research program with the Zoological Park Organization of Thailand. The breeding of clouded leopards has been a challenge, primarily due to male aggression, decreased mating activity between paired animals and high cub mortality. In 2002, the National Zoo, in collaboration with the Nashville Zoo, Point Defiance Zoo, the Clouded Leopard Species Survival Plan and the Zoological Park Organization of Thailand created the Thailand Clouded Leopard Consortium—the largest population of confiscated clouded leopards in Southeast Asia. The Clouded Leopard SSP oversees clouded leopard populations in zoos worldwide and makes breeding recommendations for potential pairs based on the genetics of each cat. Since the cubs born in the Thailand breeding program are only one or two generations removed from the wild, their genes are especially valuable. Due to deforestation and hunting, clouded leopards are listed as vulnerable to extinction. National Zoo scientist JoGayle Howard and colleagues have been working with clouded leopards at the Front Royal campus since 1978, with the goal of creating a genetically diverse population. In the past 30 years, more than 76 clouded leopards have been born here. Little is known about clouded leopards. They are native to Southeast Asia and parts of China in a habitat that ranges from dense tropical evergreen forests to drier forests. As adults, clouded leopards weigh between 30 and 50 pounds and measure about five feet in length. Their short legs, large paws and long tail (which accounts for half their length) help them balance on small branches, and their flexible ankles allow them to run down trees head first. The clouded leopards at the Front Royal campus need a new home. They currently live in a facility that was built in 1911. In 2009, the National Zoo kicked off a campaign to raise $2 million to build a facility that will include indoor homes with adjacent arboreal habitats. The habitats for each breeding pair will include a climate-controlled and quiet indoor area attached to two 20-foot-tall towers furnished with climbing structures that will simulate their natural forest environment. April 2010.

#ZooEnrichment: Sloth Bear Cub Plays Harmonica

National Zoo
Just like Shanthi, sloth bear cub Remi also plays harmonica! She's only a beginner, but this #ZooEnrichment encourages her to use the natural behavior sloth bears in the wild use to suck insects out of their nests! She has more of a staccato technique, don't you think? Learn More: http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Support/MakeDonation/GivingTree.cfm

Boom Chicka Boom

National Zoo
There's a baby boom at the National Zoo's Bird House

Using Poop to Study Rhino Reproduction

National Zoo
💩 tells scientists a lot about an animal. 🦏 Our scientists are working in Kenya to learn about black rhinos’ hormones and how they affect their reproduction. They study the rhinos’ hormones by collecting their poop. GET THE FULL SCOOP: https://s.si.edu/31hpSwn

Jumping at the National Zoo Games

National Zoo
It's time to celebrate the world's finest animaletes in the National Zoo Games at the Smithsonian's National Zoo! Our last event is jumping, featuring the Cuban Crocodile, the Goeldi's Monkey, the Bicolored Poison Arrow Frog, and the Golden Poison Arrow Frog. Be sure to vote for your favorite animalete on the Smithsonian's National Zoo's facebook page. Follow along here, on Facebook and on Twitter for the next few weeks as the Zoo posts photos, videos and fun facts broadcasting the best of sport in the animal kingdom, from weightlifting ants to water polo playing lions. Each activity that the animals participate in is an important component of the Zoo's Animal Enrichment program, which provides physically and mentally stimulating activities and environments for the Zoo's residents. And as our animals go for gold, we'll be keeping a close eye on their human counterparts in a campaign to name our three-month-old cheetah cubs after the fastest American athletes in the 100-meter races.

Litter of 8 Naked Mole-rat Pups

National Zoo
The queen of the naked mole-rat colony gave birth to her second litter of pups from Saturday March 9 to Sunday March 10, 2019. She gave birth to nine pups, but one pup did not survive. The remaining 8 pups are doing well and are being cared for by the colony, just as keepers would expect. The queen of naked mole-rat colony can have a litter of pups approximately every 90 days. Those litters can range in size from about 10 to 30 pups.
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