There’s been a baby explosion at Zoo Boise. Eight different species given birth in the last eight months, leading to one of the most prolific procreation years ever at the zoo.
It all started in March when this Serval kitten made her debut. She was born March 27, 2013. Servals have tan fur with black spots. They have long legs and very big, expressive ears. They eat rodents, small reptiles, and birds. They're native to Africa. Two other Serval kittens, Scout and Mzuri, were born in September 2012.
This baby North American porcupine was born April 8 to parents Zeus and Athena. This little boy is called a “porcupette.” The baby weighed 468 grams when it was born. Porcupettes are born with soft quills, to give mom a break during the birthing process. Those quills harden just 30 minutes after birth. Athena is a first time mom and took good care of her little porcupette.
This Black-crested mangabey monkey was born June 12 to parents Murphy and Betty. He’s the first mangabey monkey born at the zoo. Betty came from the San Antonio Zoo where she previously had one baby. She carries the baby upside down when she moves around. When the baby strays too far away, Betty latches on to his tail and pulls him back to her. Their name comes from the black hairs that form a crest on top of their heads.
Two snow leopard cubs, one male and one female, were born on May 23 to parents Kabita and Tashi. These are the first snow leopards to be born at the zoo. Kabita and Tashi were paired as part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP). The conservation program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums helps breed endangered or threatened species. Kabita is a first-time mom and she’s been doing a great job. She likes to play with her babies, tumbling and pouncing on each other. The babies are on display now at Zoo Boise, but once they get a bit older, they’ll be transferred to other zoos who need snow leopards.
This red panda cub was born June 15 to first-time parents Dolly and Winston. It’s the third red panda born at Zoo Boise. The parents were matched as part of the Species Survival Program, which works to breed endangered or threatened animals at zoos around the country.
A Blue-poison dart frog emerged from the water in its tank earlier this year. The frog-watchers at the zoo say there have been blue-poison dart tadpoles before, but this is only the second baby to emerge on land and sprout legs. He’s about half the size of his parents. He was a little camera shy when we came by, so this is what he'll look like in a few months.
Six striped skunk babies were born on April 30, four girls and two boys. They have been de-scented, to keep the skunk smell down (although the pungent fragrance was lingering in their room). These babies were quickly snapped up by other zoos seeking skunks. This was the only baby skunk still at Zoo Boise, and he did not want to hold still for his picture!
Two Ruwenzori long-haired fruit bats were born in April. They are almost full-grown and are already about the same size as their parents. The bats spend their days at the zoo under a special blue light. It’s designed to mimic nighttime, so the bats think it is night and are more active so zoo-goers can watch them. During the night, the bats have a different light, so they think it’s daytime, and they go to sleep. Here's what they'll look like when they grow up.
Zoo Boise Executive Director Steve Burns says the animals played their part. But the zoo staff also gets some credit. Last winter, they drew up a list of 33 species to breed, then they went to work. Burns said they had to learn “how to introduce animals that hadn’t been together in a while." He adds they also had to work with animals who'd been together for years. "Sometimes instead of looking at each other like Romeo and Juliet, they start looking at each other like brother and sister,” said Burns.
Burns said breeding is crucial to keeping zoo populations healthy, and to help keep wild populations diverse. That will become more important, he says, as some animal populations in the wild decline.
The baby explosion isn’t over at Zoo Boise. There’s a baby-watch for the binturongs, also known as bearcats. And the anteaters may produce offspring before the year is out.
Copyright 2013 Boise State Public Radio