Buffalo Zoo Welcomes Indian Rhino Calf
Buffalo, N.Y. (June 12, 2014) – The Buffalo Zoo is celebrating the birth of a female Indian rhino calf produced by artificial insemination (AI.)
The baby rhino, weighing in at 144 pounds, was born to mother Tashi on June 5 at the Buffalo Zoo. She is the first offspring for a male rhino who never contributed to the genetics of the Indian rhino population during his lifetime – a major victory for endangered species around the world and a lifetime of work in the making.
The Buffalo Zoo’s head rhino keeper, Joe Hauser, and veterinarian, Dr. Kurt Volle, worked closely with the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s Center for Conservation & Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW) to plan and execute the successful AI procedure. The CREW team also assisted with monitoring and caring for Tashi during her 16 month gestation.
Tashi, the Buffalo Zoo’s 17-year-old female, has previously conceived and successfully given birth through natural breeding in both 2004 and 2008. Unfortunately, her mate passed away and the Buffalo Zoo’s new male Indian rhino has not yet reached sexual maturity. Because long intervals between pregnancies in female rhinos can result in long-term infertility, keepers at the Buffalo Zoo knew it was critical to get Tashi pregnant again and reached out to CREW for its expertise.
“We are excited to share the news of Tashi's calf with the world, as it demonstrates how collaboration and teamwork among AZA Zoos (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) are making fundamental contributions to rhino conservation,” said Dr. Monica Stoops, Reproductive Physiologist at the Cincinnati Zoo’s CREW. “It is deeply heartening to know that the Cincinnati Zoo's beloved male Indian rhino Jimmy will live on through this calf and we are proud that CREW's CryoBioBankTM continues to contribute to this endangered species survival.”
The calf’s father, Jimmy, died at the Cincinnati Zoo in 2004 and was dead for nearly a decade before the AI procedure took place. Over the course of those nine years, Jimmy’s sperm was stored at -320°F in CREW’s CryoBioBankTM in Cincinnati, before it was taken to Buffalo, thawed and used in the AI.
“Without Dr. Stoops’ dedication to the species, and to the development of AI science, there is no doubt this calf would not be here today,” said Hauser. “She has spent countless hours spear-heading research and technology for Indian rhino conservation and the Buffalo Zoo is excited to acknowledge that dedication and announce that the name of the calf is Monica.”
The successful birth demonstrates that AI science is a repeatable and valuable tool to help manage the captive Indian rhino population. With only 59 Indian rhinos in captivity in North America and approximately 2,500 remaining in the wild, being able to successfully introduce genetics that are non- or under-represented in the population is critical to maintaining the genetic diversity necessary to keep a population healthy and self-sustaining.
Dr. Donna Fernandes, president of the Buffalo Zoo, is very excited about the rhino birth. “We are always thrilled to welcome a new baby to the Zoo, but this birth is particularly exciting because the science involved is critical to saving endangered animals. This type of professional collaboration among AZA Zoos is vital to the important work we do as conservation organizations,” she said. The science behind the successful birth could be a boon to thousands of species across the globe that face extinction from habitat loss, poaching, and population fragmentation. Mother and calf are both healthy and doing well. They will remain off exhibit for the public until rhino keepers are confident that little Monica can safely navigate the terrain of the Zoo’s rhino exhibit.
Buffalo Zoo Debuts Ocelot Kitten
Buffalo, N.Y. (April 9, 2014) – The Buffalo Zoo’s latest addition, an ocelot kitten, is now on exhibit in M&T Bank Rainforest Falls.
The kitten was born to first time parents Pedro and Ayla on December 10, 2013. Keepers in the exhibit named the spunky little girl “Arieta.” They report that she is a fast learner and very active in the exhibit.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) estimates that there are a total of one million ocelots living in the wild, but births in captivity are very rare. Zoo officials are happy about the successful birth and the opportunity to share the kitten with the community.
Arieta and her mother Ayla are on exhibit daily from 10 a.m. until 12 p.m. in M&T Bank Rainforest Falls. The Zoo will also share photos and videos of the kitten on their Facebook page.
River Otter Pups Born at the Buffalo Zoo
Buffalo, N.Y. (March 26 2014) – The Buffalo Zoo welcomes two litters of North American river otter pups.
The two separate litters were born in early March at the Buffalo Zoo to nine-year-old sisters Daisy and Ellie. The father of both litters is a seven-year-old North American river otter named Rascal, who arrived at the Buffalo Zoo in 2012 from the Trevor Zoo in Millbrook, NY. These are the first North American river otter births at the Buffalo Zoo, and all three of the
otters are first-time parents.
Both Daisy and Ellie are proving to be attentive mothers and have kept their litters in their dens. The pups are still too small to be on exhibit for the public, but Zoo officials expect them to be out in a few weeks. In the mean time, the Zoo will share updated photos and video footage of the pups on their Facebook page and displayed near the Otter Creek
The Otter Creek exhibit is sponsored by Buffalo Exterminating.
Buffalo Zoo Hires Buffalo Native as General Curator
Buffalo, N.Y. (Dec. 17 2013) – The Buffalo Zoo has hired Ms. Malia Somerville as their new general curator.
Ms. Somerville grew up in Buffalo and attended City Honors High School. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and Psychology from William Smith College, and a master’s degree in conservation biology from American University. Throughout her career, she has worked for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and has been at the National Zoo in Washington D.C.
The general curator is responsible for managing the Zoo’s animal collection.
The Buffalo Zoo wishes a very happy retirement to Gerry Aquilina, the Zoo’s former curator, who has been working at the Zoo since 1975.
Buffalo Zoo Participates in Toad Conservation Efforts
Buffalo, N.Y. (Dec. 10 2013) – The Buffalo Zoo sent hundreds of endangered Puerto Rican crested toad tadpoles to Puerto Rico in November as part of a major conservation effort.
The tadpoles were later released into sites in southern Puerto Rico where they will help repopulate the wild population there.
The Zoo’s actions were part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP,) which is designed to help a species maintain a healthy and stable captive population. The Buffalo Zoo, along with other Zoos and institutions, is dedicated to working to save the Puerto Rican crested toad.
The Buffalo’s reptile department’s long-standing breeding efforts have played a major role in helping to repopulate the species in the wild. Buffalo was one of 22 zoos to receive the North American Conservation Award in 2004 for the Puerto Rican crested toad Species Survival Program Conservation Partnership.
The Puerto Rican crested toad is found only in Puerto Rico. The toads are olive green and brown in color, with shades of yellow on their heads and rough, warty skin. They are named for the boney V-shaped ridge on their heads.
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After Push, Senator Charles Schumer Announces Kali the Polar Bear Will Stay at Buffalo Zoo Until 2015 – Secures Commitment from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to Keep Kali in Buffalo for Next Two Years, if Zoo Passes 2014 Inspection as Expected.
After Schumer’s Push, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Commits to Keeping Kali at the Buffalo Zoo Through 2015, Pending a Positive USDA Review of Enclosure in the Spring of 2014 – Kali Had Been Rumored to Be on the Move Before the End of Year, According to Buffalo Zoo
Earlier this Month, In a Personal Call to Director Ashe of the Fish and Wildlife Service – Which Owns Kali – Schumer Made the Case that Buffalo is the Best Home for Kali
Schumer: Decision to Keep Kali in Buffalo is Good for the Zoo, Good for Buffalo, and Best of All, Good for Kali
Today, at the Buffalo Zoo, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has committed to keep Kali the polar bear at the Buffalo Zoo until Spring 2015, pending a standard U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) review in Spring 2014. Schumer noted that the Buffalo Zoo has just passed the same APHIS inspection as recently as October of this year and they expect to pass the pending 2014 review, thus keeping Kali in Buffalo until Spring 2015 at minimum. Schumer personally weighed in with the Director of the FWS Dan Ashe in early November after rumors that the agency was under pressure to move Kali to another zoo, and made the argument that Kali was best served by staying put. According to the Buffalo Zoo, there were serious concerns that Kali’s departure was imminent before Schumer stepped in, particularly because Kali has been sought after by other zoo interested in adding a polar bear exhibit. However, Schumer highlighted to Ashe that local veterinarians have attested to Kali’s improving health in Buffalo, as well as her friendship with the Zoo’s other polar bear, Luna.
“The confirmation that Kali will stay in Buffalo for the near future is a huge win all around, for the Zoo, for Buffalo, and most importantly, for Kali. Now, Kali can continue his development alongside his friend Luna, in an environment to which he’s already adapted,” said Schumer. “For frequent zoo visitors, and for the staff at the Buffalo Zoo who have watched Kali grow up from a polar bear cub, to see him go before he had a chance to reach adulthood would have been unbearable. Now, as long as all goes as the Zoo expects with its 2014 APHIS review, Kali will stay in Buffalo until at least 2015, where he is safe, healthy, and has the potential to breed.”
"The Buffalo Zoo is grateful for Senator Schumer's active role in guaranteeing that Kali will not be subjected to any unnecessary relocations,” said the Buffalo Zoo CEO Donna Fernandes. “Kali and Luna have such a wonderful relationship that we are happy that they will remain together for this critical time in his development."
Kali was a wild polar bear who was rescued by the FWS after a hunter killed his mother, at which point they decided that the Buffalo Zoo was the best place to keep Kali. Because the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service owns Kali, unlike Luna who is owned by the Zoo itself, it can move Kali to other zoos in search of a polar bear if it so chooses. Schumer explained to Director Ashe, however, that the same logic that applied when Kali was rescued should apply now – if the Buffalo Zoo is deemed the best place for Kali’s health and development, it should remain his home during this critical time in his development. Schumer also pointed to the recent news that the Buffalo Zoo is on track to complete its new “Arctic Edge” polar bear exhibit, which he said added another reason for Kali to stay for a longer term.
The FWS has heeded Schumer’s call, and in a letter delivered to his office in response to his conversation with Dan Ashe, committed to keep Kali in Buffalo until Spring 2015 pending a positive APHIS review in 2014. Schumer, standing in front of the current polar bear exhibit with the Buffalo Zoo CEO Donna Fernandes and representatives of the Buffalo Zoo, cited the Zoo’s recent positive APHIS review and the zoo’s confidence in the quality of their enclosure as a sign that they would pass a re-inspection in Spring 2014. The Buffalo Zoo has constructed a temporary home for Kali and Luna as they begin construction on a new, permanent polar bear exhibit.
Schumer said that keeping Kali in Buffalo was best for the animal’s health and social development. According to the Zoo’s veterinarians, Kali has adjusted well to his home in Buffalo after the traumatic circumstances of his rescue, and to move Kali in the near term would potentially hinder the 10-month old cub’s recovery. Schumer made the case to Director Ashe that Kali should stay in Buffalo at least until reaching “adulthood,” which polar bears typically achieve at 2 years of age. The commitment from U.S. Fish and Wildlife means Kali will stay in Buffalo until this critical threshold, at which point his chances of a healthy adult life will greatly increase.
With the Buffalo Zoo set to complete a brand new polar bear exhibit in September of 2015, Schumer hopes the decision to keep Kali in Buffalo in the interim greatly increases the chances of Kali staying in Buffalo long-term.m greatly increases the chances of Kali staying in Buffalo long-term.
Buffalo Zoo Celebrates World Rhino Day with Announcement of Rhino Pregnancy
Buffalo, N.Y. (Sept. 18, 2013) – The Buffalo Zoo’s Indian rhinoceros, Tashi, is pregnant.
The Zoo participated in an experimental Artificial Insemination (AI) procedure, and is one of the first zoos in the world to have a successful Indian rhino AI pregnancy. A team of keepers and veterinarians from the Buffalo Zoo worked with Dr. Monica Stoops from the Center of Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW) based at the Cincinnati Zoo to help with the AI process.
The procedure took place in February of 2013. If Tashi remains healthy and the pregnancy successfully goes to term, keepers expect that she will give birth in June of 2014. The pregnancy is an important step towards global rhino conservation, and is already proving invaluable to the research efforts of CREW and the rhinoceros species survival plan (SSP.)
Anyone interested in learning more about Tashi’s pregnancy, or about global rhino conservation should attend the Buffalo Zoo’s World Rhino Day event. On Sunday, September 22, the Zoo will host a special lecture by Joe Hauser, the Zoo’s lead rhino keeper.
The event, which runs from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. in the Children’s Resource Center (CRC,) will also feature raffles and refreshments. Tickets are only $5, and all proceeds will benefit the International Rhino Foundation. Reservations are recommended, but not required. For more information, call (716) 995-6133.
World Rhino Day is a global day of recognition and celebration of the five species of rhinoceros. It was first celebrated by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) South Africa in 2010 and has since become a worldwide day of awareness and appreciation for these beautiful