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Illegal Pet Trade: Help Stop Wildlife Trafficking

National Zoo
You can help stop the illegal pet trade. Your choice makes a difference. Together, we can all help stop wildlife trafficking.

Growing Cheetah Cubs Expand Their Horizon

National Zoo
The first cheetah cubs born at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Va., are now out in their yard exploring, playing and have started to eat meat. The cubs were born to two separate females; the first, a male, to 5-year-old Amani was born Dec. 6; the second, a female, to 9-year-old Zazi Dec. 16. Cheetahs that give birth to only one cub, called a singleton, cannot produce enough milk to keep the cub alive, so scientists at SCBI tried an innovative technique called cross-fostering. The cub born to Amani, a first-time mother, was hand-raised for 13 days before being placed with Zazi, creating a litter of two that helped stimulate milk production from Zazi. Only four institutions in North America have ever successfully cross-fostered cheetah cubs and this is a first for SCBI. For more information, visit the National Zoo's website: http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Animals/AfricanSavanna/SCBIcheetahcubsupdates.cfm

Earth Optimism: Oryx

National Zoo
Extinct in the wild for more than 35 years, scimitar-horned oryx are back in their native habitat thanks to international collaboration and the power of science. #EarthOptimism #WeSaveSpecies On Earth Day weekend, the Smithsonian is convening the Smithsonian Earth Optimism Summit, an event about the science that's working to solve complex conservation challenges around the globe. https://earthoptimism.si.edu/

#GorillaStory: Happy 2nd Birthday, Moke!

National Zoo
As the primate team celebrates Moke's second birthday, keeper Alex Reddy reflects on the western lowland gorilla's growing independence, bold personality and training triumphs. #GorillaStory Update: https://nationalzoo.si.edu/animals/news/gorillastory-happy-2nd-birthday-moke.

Gray Seal Pup and Her Mom Kara

National Zoo
After a tough start, our new seal pup appears to be thriving and rapidly gaining weight! She now weighs 60 pounds; that's almost double her birth weight. Gray seals generally nurse from their mothers for about 15 to 20 days. Our team of keepers and veterinarians continue to supplement nursing with six bottle feedings each day, but they hope in the next few weeks to start feeding her more fish and reduce the amount of formula The pup is starting to lose her white coat, known as the lanugo coat. It is a fluffy white coat that gray seals are born with that insulates them until they pack on enough fat to keep them warm in the cold climate they live in. They molt their coats after roughly two weeks, around the time they start to wean. Then their permanent coloring starts showing. #WeSaveSpecies

Giant pandas in the snow Feb. 20, 2019

National Zoo
Snow in Washington, D.C. today, Feb. 20, brought out the playful side of the giant pandas at the Smithsonian's National Zoo. Twenty-year-old Mei Xiang (may-SHONG) and three-year-old Bei Bei (BAY-BAY) spent their mornings eating bamboo and rolling in the snow. Giant pandas are adapted to cold weather and their thick woolly fur keeps them warm and dry, even in snow. The Zoo is inviting visitors to celebrate pandas Saturday, Feb. 23. The Zoo and the Embassy of the People's Republic of China are hosting a giant panda housewarming party, sponsored by Airbnb. The party to celebrate the new visitor exhibit inside the panda house will run from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., and will include free dumplings until 11 a.m., free hot chcolate until 2 p.m., and special scientist and keeper talks. For the first time ever, visitors will receive a free special limited edition print of an original painting by Tian Tian (tee-YEN tee-YEN), Mei Xiang and Bei Bei. The prints will be available in the Panda Plaza gift shop, one-per-family, while supplies last.

American Bison Return to Smithsonian's National Zoo

National Zoo
In honor of its 125th anniversary, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo is once again home to American bison, the animal that began the Zoo’s living collection in 1889 and sparked the conservation movement. Learn more at /www.americanbison.si.edu.

Elephant Poaching Crisis Emerging in Myanmar

National Zoo
Scientists at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) have found that poaching is an emerging crisis for Asian elephants in Myanmar. Researchers first became aware of the crisis while conducting an unrelated telemetry study in which they fitted 19 Asian elephants with satellite GPS collars to better understand elephant movements and reduce human-elephant conflict. Seven of those 19 elephants were poached within a year of being fitted with the collars. The findings suggest that human-elephant conflict, which was thought to be the biggest threat to Myanmar’s wild elephants, may be secondary to poaching. And conservation efforts to help the 1,400 to 2,000 wild elephants in Myanmar should prioritize anti-poaching efforts. For more information, please visit: https://nationalzoo.si.edu/news/smithsonian-scientists-find-elephant-poaching-crisis-emerging-myanmar

Restoring the North American Prairie

National Zoo
The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) and American Prairie Reserve (APR) are collaborating to protect and restore one of North America’s greatest treasures—the prairie. Together, they will work to better understand how changes to the grasslands affect the wildlife that call it home—from the mighty bison to the tiniest insects—and ultimately reintroduce native carnivores onto APR lands in northeastern Montana. This collaboration is made possible by the generous support of John and Adrienne Mars. SCBI scientists will help APR study the link between land management and biodiversity, focusing on important species such as bison and prairie dogs. These landscape engineers shape the prairie ecosystem for other bird and mammal species such as burrowing owls and swift foxes. SCBI ecologists will measure the diversity of breeding birds and large mammals, map the mosaic of landscapes and test survey methods for birds and mammals. The Smithsonian’s research will be used to develop planning tools that highlight how different long-term management strategies will affect biodiversity.

Cheetah Cubs Born at Smithsonian's National Zoo!

National Zoo
Many years of research are celebrated in the birth of two cheetah cubs at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute—the first cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) born at the Smithsonian's National Zoological Park facility in Front Royal, Va. The cubs were born to two separate females; the first to 5-year-old Amani Dec. 6, the second to 9-year-old Zazi Dec. 16. Cheetahs that give birth to only one cub, called a singleton, cannot produce enough milk to keep the cub alive. Typically, females in the wild will let a single cub die, after which they will enter estrus and breed again to theoretically produce a larger litter. So scientists at SCBI resorted to an alternative technique. The cub born to Amani, a first-time mother, was hand-raised for 13 days before being placed with Zazi, creating a litter of two that will likely help stimulate milk production from Zazi. Researchers have observed both cubs nursing from Zazi.

Sumatran Tiger Cub Update: Supplemental Feeding

National Zoo
Great Cats keepers at the Smithsonian's National Zoo recently celebrated the birth of a Sumatran tiger cub July 11. Animal care staff hope that any mammal born at the Zoo receives the care required from mom. Sometimes, however, that is not the case, and keepers must step in to assist. While the now 6-week-old male cub is still learning how to be a tiger from his 8-year-old mother Damai, since Aug. 2, the Great Cats team have been providing support through supplemental feeding. UPDATE: http://s.si.edu/2xH1jch.

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:

Smithsonian & Partners Pioneer Method to Boost Endangered Coral Populations

National Zoo
Scientists from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) and partners in Florida and Curaçao have become the first to use cryopreserved (frozen) coral sperm to support gene migration of coral populations that would otherwise remain geographically and genetically isolated. Because live corals are difficult to move safely between locations for breeding, the technique provides an effective way for conservationists to mix coral genes from different populations with the aim of making offspring more resistant to bleaching and disease. “We have combined the best of coral cryopreservation science with the best of coral reproductive science, coral rearing and husbandry,” said Mary Hagedorn, SCBI research scientist and co-lead author on a paper about the results, which the research team presented at the Reef Futures Conference in Florida Dec. 12. “This process—which involved the engagement, time and goodwill of scores of people, agencies, volunteers and divers—holds tremendous possibility for coral conservation and restoration.” Read the press release: http://ow.ly/GI3W30mXztH Read the paper: https://www.biorxiv.org/content/early/2018/12/10/492447

Meet Ambika - Asian Elephant

National Zoo
On World Elephant Day 2017, the Smithsonian's National Zoo celebrated Ambika the elephant's 70th birthday. Hear her keepers of more than 30 years talk about what it's like to work with the matriarch of the Zoo's herd.

A Close-Up of Pablo, the Giant Anteater

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

Bei Bei in the Snow

National Zoo
Nov. 14, 2018— Three-year-old giant panda Bei Bei plays in the snow. The giant pandas are most active in cold weather and enjoy tumbling and rolling in snow.

Small Mammal House Exhibit at the Smithsonian's National Zoo

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

Baby Elephant Shrew - February 2009

National Zoo
The Smithsonians National Zoo now has a new baby giant elephant-shrew—also known as a sengi. Keepers at the Small Mammal House did not know it had been born until they saw three elephant-shrews in the exhibit instead of two. The birth was planned as part of a captive breeding program, but baby elephant-shrews typically remain buried deep in their nest for the first several weeks of life. The baby, now about three-weeks-old, is busily exploring the exhibit with its parents. Elephant-shrews are neither elephant nor shrew, but belong to their own group of ancient mammals. They are distantly related to aardvarks, sea cows, like manatees and dugongs, hyraxes and elephants. Native to eastern Kenya and Tanzania, the black and rufous giant elephant-shrews is listed as vulnerable to extinction.

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.

B-Roll: Mei Xiang Enjoys Bei Bei's Frozen cake While He Sleeps in His Den

National Zoo
Bei Bei and Mei Xiang, Bao Bao (turning 3 Aug. 23) and Tian Tian (turning 19 Aug. 27) also received tiered birthday cakes made by our nutrition department. The tiers were made of frozen diluted juice and were dyed various colors using beet juice, carrot juice, apple juice and food dye. The cakes were decorated with flower appliques carved from apples, pears, cooked sweet potatoes, leaf-eater biscuits and arrow bamboo-some of the pandas' favorite foods. In lieu of icing, a large number "1" carved from frozen diluted apple juice sat atop Bei Bei's cake; keepers also topped the cake with some honey for a special treat. Although Bei Bei chose to sleep inside, it was clear that Mei Xiang enjoyed the refreshing treat!

#GorillaStory: Husbandry Training with Kibibi

National Zoo
Smithsonian's National Zoo primate keeper Alex Reddy trains Kibibi to participate in her own husbandry and health care.

Tracking Asian Elephants with Satellite Collars

National Zoo
Aug. 12, 2016—Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute ecologist Melissa Songer studies Asian elephants and tracks them with satellite collars. The collars help scientists mitigate poaching and human-elephant conflict. For every $4,000 raised through Conservation Nation, she and her colleagues can buy a satellite collar to track a wild Asian elephant.

#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.

Koa the Kiwi

National Zoo
Early in the morning on March 7, 2008 one of the worlds most endangered species—a male North Island brown kiwi chick called Koa—hatched at the Smithsonians National Zoo Bird House. Keepers had been incubating the egg for five weeks, following a month long incubation by the chicks father, carefully monitoring it for signs of pipping: the process in which the chick starts to break through the shell. The chick remained in an isolet for four days before moving to a specially designed brooding box. The box is not on exhibit, but is accessible by web cam on the Zoos Web site at http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Animals/Birds/. Since kiwis are nocturnal, the best time to view the chick exploring and foraging in its box will be in the evening. This is only the third time in the Zoos history that a kiwi has successfully hatched. The first hatching occurred in 1975 and was the first outside of New Zealand. The National Zoo did not have another successful hatching until 2005; that male bird, Manaia, may currently be seen Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at the 11 a.m. Meet a Kiwi program at the National Zoos Bird House. Kiwis in captivity are extremely rare—only four zoos outside of New Zealand have successfully bred kiwis, and only three U.S. zoos, including the National Zoo, exhibit them. There are five species of kiwi and all are unique to New Zealand. The North Island brown species of kiwi is the national bird of New Zealand. They are widely thought to be the most ancient bird and have existed in New Zealand for more than 30 million years. Kiwis typically mate for life, and both parents share the responsibility of caring for the egg. After kiwi chicks hatch, however, they receive no parental care. Unlike other bird species, kiwis hatch fully feathered and equipped with all of the necessary skills they need to survive. The North Island brown kiwi species is classified as endangered by the International Union of Conservation of Nature. The wild population is declining at a rate of approximately 5.8 percent a year. Nearly 60 percent of all wild North Island brown kiwi chicks are killed by stoats, a species of weasel and an introduced predator. The remaining wild population of the North Island brown kiwi is roughly 24,000, down from 60,000 in the 1980s.
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