A female, Araña, was born August 1. Her name comes from the Spanish word for spider. She is the daughter of Basil and Quinto. Her mother was born at the zoo in 1992 and Araña is her first offspring. The 49th sloth born at the zoo to date, Araña is unique in that she has been completely hand-reared by zoo staff since she was four days old. The zoo is the first known in the U.S. to successfully hand-raise a Hoffmann’s sloth.
Hand-rearing sloths is seldom done and typically with little success. Babies are typically habituated through hands on contact with their keepers and supplemental feedings but remain with their mothers. Other U.S. zoos have hand-reared the Linne’s two-toed sloth, and the Sloth Sanctuary in Costa Rica has had success in hand-raising the Hoffmann’s sloth.
Sloths are not on the endangered species list; however their habitat is quickly being destroyed, leaving them homeless and vulnerable to a decrease in their population size. They are part of a Species Survival Plan to help ensure survival.
Sloths are adapted for life in the tree canopy in lowland and upland tropical forests, and are native to Central America and northern South America. They are nocturnal and the world's slowest mammal, typically sleeping 15 hours or more each day, traveling hand-over-hand through the tree tops 120 feet or less on a daily basis and venturing to the ground about once a week. Sloths have long and well-developed limbs with two long, curved claws on its front feet and three on its hind, which enable it to hang upside down from tree limbs. They have difficult mobility on the ground because they are physically incapable of truly walking, but are actually good swimmers using a type of overhand stroke.
A female, Kaila, was born to parents Fawn and Ty July 13. She is the pair’s first offspring. The newborn was named by her keepers for Tibet’s Kailas mountain range, part of the Gangdisê Mountains where white-lipped deer are found in the wild. The zoo is one of only two accredited members of the AZA which breed white-lipped deer, making her birth significant to the North American population.
White-lipped deer are native to Eastern Tibet, and generally found on high hills and mountains. One of the largest deer species, white-lipped deer are herbivores and feed principally on grasses. Only males have antlers, which can grow to more than 4 feet in length and weigh up to 15 pounds each. Like reindeer, white-lipped deer make clicking noises with their hooves to keep the herd together in heavy snowfall. Their hooves are large and solid, which enable them to climb well. White-lipped deer are threatened in nature due to hunting, sale of their antlers and meat and habitat loss.
White-lipped deer gain their name from white markings in their deep brown summer coats, visible beneath the mouth and down the throat. In the winter, the brown coat is replaced by longer gray-brown hairs which make markings less obvious.
On June 24, the zoo hosted the grand opening of the giant Pacific octopus exhibit at the entrance of U.S.S. Antiquities. Along with the octopus, Ophelia, several species of fish, sea stars and anemones live in the exhibit as well.
The zoo is the first in upstate New York to have a giant Pacific octopus. A “chameleon” of the ocean, the giant Pacific octopus possesses an impressive ability to camouflage against rocks and coral. Hundreds of suckers (up to 280 per arm) cover its arms and help it grab its diet of clams, crabs, fish and squid. The giant Pacific octopus has a huge brain, making it one of the most intelligent animals in the sea. It can learn by watching, and will even use objects as tools. In addition, it can demonstrate learned behavior and possess the capacity for problem-solving.
The tank for the exhibit was designed by Living Color, an authority on aquariums. The exhibit construction, installation and reveal will be featured on an upcoming episode of National Geographic’s “Fish Tank Kings.” (Air date TBA – the zoo will share information when available.)
The exhibit was funded by Friends of the Zoo through a private donation from Rick and Laura Iorio of Manlius, N.Y. The Iorios are avid zoo-goers who were inspired to bring an octopus to the local area by a visit to another zoo.
A female and male, Sasha and Turgan, were born to parents Edith and Sunny June 23. The zoo is home to capra falconeri heptneri, one of three species of markhor. Found in the wild in two or three scattered populations in greatly reduced distributions, the species is limited to Tajikistan. Because markhor are found in mountainous regions, cliffs and grassy foothills, they are very agile and sure-footed. The national animal of Pakistan, the markhor is the largest member of the goat family.
Markhor are part of a Species Survival Plan to ensure their survival. Since 1994, they have been listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, with an estimated 2,500 in the wild. Herds have been reduced by extensive trophy hunting, habitat destruction and competition from domestic livestock. Conservation efforts are resulting in a comeback by the wild population. The zoo is one of roughly one dozen nationwide with markhor on exhibit.
A male, Fang, was born May 16. He is the first fawn to parents, Katara and Walter, and the first muntjac born at the zoo in 15 years. Often referred to as the “barking deer” for the sharp, bark-like sounds they produce, muntjacs “bark” to warn others of imminent danger and are also known to emit the sound during mating season.
Chinese muntjacs are native to the forests of southeastern China and Taiwan. They feed on low-growing vegetation, fruit and nuts and are predominantly solitary by nature. Distinctive members of the deer family, muntjacs stand no more than 20 inches tall and can weigh up to 30 pounds. Muntjacs are the oldest known deer; fossilized remains from 15 to 35 million years ago have been recorded, making the species of great interest to evolutionary studies.
A female was born May 4 to parents Tundra and Klondike. In honor of her birth on Derby Day (running of the Kentucky Derby), the calf was named Derby by her keepers. She is the largest reindeer calf to be born at the zoo to date and the first born at the zoo since 2002.
Although called by different names in North America, wild caribou and domestic reindeer are considered to be the same species throughout the world. They are native to the Arctic and Subarctic regions, living in the tundra and taiga, and boreal forests of North America and northern Eurasia. Reindeer migrate over great distances throughout the year, moving between calving and wintering grounds. Their migratory patterns shift according to season and help minimize overgrazing and ensure ample food supply for the herd. Reindeer make a clicking noise when walking, produced from a tendon rubbing across a bone in the foot. It is believed the sound helps keep the herd together in blizzard conditions.
Unlike others of the deer family, both male and female reindeer grow antlers. The antlers have a distinctive “velvet” appearance, comprised of skin, blood vessels and soft brown fur. Each year, antlers are shed: bulls lose their antlers after the rut and females lose theirs after giving birth in the spring.
A female, Grace, the fifth patas monkey born at the zoo, arrived April 29. Grace is the first baby to mother, Becca. The zoo is one of just 15 American zoos to house patas monkeys as part of a Species Survival Plan and collaborative effort between the AZA and zoos around the world to help ensure their survival.
Patas monkeys are members of the Guenon family, a diverse group of African monkeys found from the rainforest of Western Africa through the savannahs of Kenya. With their slender bodies and long limbs, patas monkeys are better physically suited for a life on the ground rather than up in the trees. They are one of the fastest primates, capable of reaching speeds upwards of 30 mph. Patas are recognized by a black brow ridge and nose, as well as by a distinctive white area surrounding their mouths that resembles a mustache!
A male kit named Moose was born March 23. Females, Serafina and Nymeria, were born in June. Fennec foxes are part of the zoo's Species Survival Plan.
Fennec foxes are found throughout the deserts of North Africa and the Sinai and Arabian peninsulas. Their nocturnal habits help them survive in the searing heat of the desert environment, and some physical adaptations help, as well. One of the smallest canines, fennec foxes have distinctive bat-like ears that act like natural air conditioners, radiating heat away from their bodies. Their ears also allow the fennec to hear the movements of its predators and prey over long distances.
A female chick, Magdelena, hatched February 17. The first penguin of 2013 and the 36th to hatch at the zoo to date, she is the 8th hatchling to parents Frederico and Poquita.
Zoo staff selected potential Spanish names for the chick, in accordance with their tradition of reflecting the penguins' Latin American origins. Three options were chosen: Elisa, Francisca and Magdelena. Young zoo visitors in attendance used voting paddles, which displayed an image of a penguin, to vote for their preferences. The children selected Magdelena, or Maggie as it translates into English.
Humboldt penguins are named after the Humboldt Current, a cold nutrient-rich ocean current that flows along the west coast of South America. They are endangered with only 12,000 to 30,000 remaining in the wild.