Wednesday, September 14, 2011
The animal-care staff at the Kovler Lion House recently conducted an exhibit swap with two animals. Our male Amur leopard, Mitya, was moved from an outdoor exhibit into an indoor space and our male jaguar, Kianto, was transferred to the newly vacant, outdoor area.
Sounds simple, right? Hardly. There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes with each animal move. In this case we started months ago, training each big cat to voluntarily enter a mobile enclosure that enables staff to transfer animals, as the indoor and outdoor exhibits in this situation do not connect.
Then we had to clean and disinfect the exhibits before prepping each with scent enrichment to stimulate the new occupants and prompt them to explore their new spaces.
Mitya remembered the indoor exhibit from a previous stay there, so he confidently roamed around like someone returning to familiar digs. The jaguar was a bit more cautious exploring his yard, though he soon began hopping up onto the highest perches, affording him the best view of his new space.
Both big cats are on exhibit today. If you’re free to visit Lincoln Park Zoo, be sure to stop by the Kovler Lion House and greet the big cats.
General Curator Dave Bernier
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
I am happy to announce some exciting new-species news. We here in Regenstein Small Mammal-Reptile House recently received a pair of Moholi bushbabies. These charming little primates with their oversized eyes are currently behind the scenes getting to know one another.
Once their introduction is complete, the duo will reside inside the baobab tree between the bat and sand-cat exhibits. You won’t be able to miss them as they bounce throughout their exhibit.
While you might not be able to differentiate the two, they are male and female—a breeding pair—and we hope they reproduce, which would not only educate zoo visitors on mammal parenting but also bolster the small zoo bushbaby population. (There are currently only 14 individuals in North American zoos.)
We’re planning to have the bushbabies on exhibit in early September. Please stop by and say hello.
Curator of Regenstein Small Mammal-Reptile House
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Over the last 10 years, the annual hatching of trumpeter swan cygnets has been a mainstay at Lincoln Park Zoo. These chicks have all left the zoo each fall to be released to the wild as part of the Iowa state recovery program for this once-imperiled species.
The program has been so successful that Lincoln Park Zoo cygnets were not needed for reintroduction this year and the zoo’s breeding pair were given “dummy eggs” so that they would not produce chicks.
But that doesn't mean that zoo swans aren't still making their mark in Iowa. Released swans are banded with numbered neck collars and are tracked by biologists and local birdwatchers. 74K is one such banded female. She hatched at Lincoln Park Zoo in 2005 and was released to the wild near Granger, Iowa a year later.
This year she hatched six cygnets of her own at Tieg's Marsh. 74K is one of 38 trumpeter swans hatched at the zoo between 2000 and 2009 that have been released to the wild. We occasionally receive updates on their progress and this report about 74K is some of the best news yet.
Hope B. McCormick Curator of Birds
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Ah, to be 25 again! Some time ago I was 25 years old, establishing myself as a senior keeper working with primates, full of ambition, ideas and focusing my energy on making a difference in the zoo profession and in the lives of the animals under my care. Not a lot has changed since then, although I did reach my professional goal of becoming a curator (and my hair is turning a bit grayer).
But if you were to ask our black-and-white colobus monkey B.C. (which stands for beautiful colobus) what it is like to be 25 years old, she might have a different story tell. B.C. reaches the quarter-century milestone on July 23. For a colobus monkey she’s already had a full life and is enjoying her senior years at the Helen Brach Primate House, where she lives with two other colobus monkeys and four rambunctious Allen’s swamp monkeys.
Caring for an animal well into their senior years truly validates my job performance and gives me a great sense of pride for the quality of care our animals receive at Lincoln Park Zoo. B.C.’s mobility has slowed a bit these last few years. Keepers construct special climbing pathways to provide her easy access to her entire living space. Because of occasional dental sensitivity, keepers will steam her produce to make it softer for her to chew.
Our veterinary staff is also extremely dedicated to B.C.’s quality of life and carefully monitors her age-related medical issues, such as osteoarthritis.
As a result of these efforts, B.C. is an active and dynamic colobus monkey. She still playfully wrestles with the younger female in her group and eagerly forages for her favorite foods—sweet potatoes and leafy greens.
Come see for yourself on Saturday at 10 a.m., when we’ll celebrate B.C.’s 25th birthday at the Helen Brach Primate House.
Maureen Leahy, Curator of Primates
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
We recently confirmed that our North American river otter is not pregnant. I’m disappointed.
For reasons not well understood, some river otters do not breed readily in zoos. Our female was born at an AZA-accredited zoo and our male was an orphaned otter found in Florida. Although he is almost twice the size of the female, she is most definitely “the boss,” which might be part of the problem with them conceiving. Another problem may be that since they were introduced so young (1 year old), they may have developed more of a sibling relationship than that of a mating pair.
Since 2007, scientists at Lincoln Park Zoo’s Davee Center for Endocrinology have been monitoring our female’s reproductive-hormone levels. In January of 2009, 2010 and again this year her progesterone levels spiked, indicating one of two things: pregnancy or pseudopregnancy, when females exhibit all signs of carrying young without actually doing so.
Unfortunately it was a pseudopregnancy once again this year. But since this pair gets along so well, we maintain hope that at some point in the future we can welcome river otter pups to Chicago, where we’re used to saying “Wait till next year!”
Curator of Regenstein Small Mammal-Reptile House and Pritzker Family Children’s Zoo Diane Mulkerin
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