The New Elephants Have Arrived!
Seventeen African elephants arrived from drought-stricken Swaziland as part of an ongoing rescue mission to provide safe haven and a more secure future at three accredited zoos in Dallas; Wichita, Kan.; and Omaha, Neb.
New construction and renovation at Dallas Zoo, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium and your Sedgwick County Zoo, informed by the latest scientific findings on elephant welfare, have created three state-of-the-art habitats to meet each elephant’s complex physical, mental and social needs in multigenerational herds. Five elephants will make their home in Dallas, and groups of six each in Wichita and Omaha. (March 11, 2016)
First photo of three of our new females. - 3/11/2016
Why These Elephants?
Swaziland, a small landlocked country in southern Africa roughly the size of New Jersey, has no other space for the elephants that were damaging the parks by changing forests into barren landscapes.
Destroying ancient trees and brush as they eat their way across the plains, the parks’ elephants consume sparse vegetation faster than it can naturally regenerate. This altered the land and threw resources out of balance, which negatively affected other mammal and bird species in the parks.
Since establishing its first wildlife sanctuary in 1964, Swaziland has been guided by longstanding wildlife management plans created by local conservationists and park officials who aim to restore the parks to a balanced, sustainable state. Although Swaziland’s parks are too small to support large elephant herds, plans identify the parks as ideal settings for a significant rhino conservation effort.
Making Room for Rhinos
While about 20 elephants will remain at the parks as symbols of Swaziland’s rich natural heritage, the current elephant population is too large, leaving elephants in need of a new home and a safe future, a role the three accredited zoos can provide.
Once the most abundant of all rhino species, black rhinos are critically endangered and considered at great risk of extinction due to poaching for their horns. Black rhinos, and southern white rhinos, can live side by side because they do not compete for food—one browses and the other grazes. Both species need protected habitats and both are expected to thrive in the Swazi parks because they do not outstrip the land. The parks’ protected boundaries can also provide critical safety and space to support large numbers.
Visit RoomforRhinos.org for more information.
Q: What do Zookeepers do in their “spare” time?
A: Bowl for Rhinos, of course. It’s no joke many of our keepers still have animals and conservation issues on their minds even when they are off-the-clock. Some of your very own Sedgwick County Zookeepers are members of the professional organization American Association of ZooKeepers (AAZK).
AAZK knows that the zoo keepers of the world are extremely conservation minded and want to help save Rhinos and their habitats. That’s when the idea came to them to start a national bowl-a-thon called Bowling for Rhinos. The beauty of the idea is that these fundraisers are organized by keepers in their spare time, donating their time and organizational skills to help raise money to send directly to the places in need. Since all the people involved are volunteers, 100% of all donations are sent directly to insitu rhino conservation areas!
In 2010 the Sedgwick County Zoo AAZK chapter raised nearly $2,000 for rhino conservation, which is enough to help move one wild rhino to a protected wild area. This is a great accomplishment! This year our AAZK chapter will Bowl for Rhinos on Saturday April 9 from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. at Northrock Lanes. We would like to invite the media to this event to help us spread the word about the great conservation work being done by our Zookeepers in their spare time.
The results are in! Nearly $4000 was raised to help rhinos in the wild. If you would like to make a donation to Bowl for Rhinos please click here. Thanks to everyone who helped AAZK set a new fundraising high!
We welcomed a new female lion cub into our pride in the fall of 2010. Named Shakura, which means “thankful” in some African languages, she is the sixth cub born to our proud 16-year-old parents, Majola and Nemesis. This was a planned breeding between two genetically significant animals through the Species Survival Plan (SSP), a cooperative breeding and conservation program administered by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). In the wild a pregnant lioness will seek a quiet and safe place to give birth and separate herself from the pride. Just as in the wild, we separated Nemesis from the pride and placed her in a secluded stall with a pallet and straw. We also set up a camera so we could observe her behavior and the birth. After the cub was born we set up a live video feed in Munabi’s hut so everyone could see Nemesis and Shakura. As Shakura grew, she was slowly introduced to the outside via an outside holding stall. Then as she became more agile she was given access to more stalls. Her appearance on the video began to be more elusive as she would travel from stall to stall and outside, beyond the camera’s view. We knew that she was ready for the next step—introduction to Majola.
Majola has always been a good dad, so we were not surprised when the introductions with mesh between them went smoothly. The next step was full introduction. This occurred the first week in January when Shakura was about three months old. If you have cubs that aren’t developed and agile enough to withstand a little tough love from dad there is the possibility of injury, but from our observations of Shakura at play we were confident there would be no trouble. We always do introductions inside so that we can control the situation. All went well. Now all we had left was introduction to the exhibit and that would depend on the weather. Luckily the first week of January was nice so we introduced Shakura, along with Nemesis and Majola, to the outside exhibit. Being a daddy’s girl she followed Majola out and began to explore. She discovered Pride Rock and after just a few failed attempts, was able to climb to the top and snuggle with Majola. On days when temperatures are 40° F or higher she can be out on exhibit; otherwise, Shakura’s two older brothers (Michael and Jamil, born in 2008) will be out. Okay, I guess you’re asking why the family isn’t all together? Well, that’s the next part of the story. Sedgwick County Zoo’s master plan, which is our guide to what the Zoo will look like in the future, has planned for more than one lion pride and that is just what is happening! In the wild young males leave the pride at about three or four years of age and form bachelor groups before forming their own pride. Michael and Jamil are at the age when they would naturally be leaving the pride, but since they can’t go out and find females we have to give them a little help. Last October we received a 1½-yearold female lion from the Lee Richardson Zoo in Garden City, KS. Kianga, which means “a burst of sunshine,” was introduced to Michael and Jamil in February to form a second pride for a while. However, sometime this fall one of the males (the one that has bonded the least with Kianga) will be shipped to another zoo to begin his own pride. Then if given the SSP recommendation, our new young pair will breed and form a proper pride. The two prides, Majola’s Pride and the Michael-Jamil-Kianga Pride, will be rotated on and off the public exhibit.
Watch a Zoo Scoop video about Majola and his boys >
In the wild, eastern white pelicans are found from Eastern Europe into Asia and also Africa. They are among the heaviest flying birds in the world, with males often weighing 25 lbs. They live and breed in large colonies near water, normally a lake or marsh. A rare behavior among birds, eastern white pelicans will fish cooperatively by forming a line and driving the fish into the shore. The nest is a pile of sticks on the ground. Typically two eggs are laid, but usually only one chick survives due to food competition between the chicks. Both parents feed the chicks by regurgitating fish that the chick then picks up and swallows.
Sedgwick County Zoo most recently began exhibiting this species in 2000. The flock has grown to 11 birds by adding adult birds loaned from other zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums. These moves were made in the spirit of cooperation to allow us a larger group, which has been known to stimulate reproduction. This was the case immediately after the current group was formed in 2009 when birds paired up and started laying eggs. Unfortunately they also started breaking their neighbor’s eggs. As a result in 2010 we decided to remove the eggs to an incubator to monitor their development.
After incubating for 30 days, the first chick hatched on the 2nd of January, 2011. Five days later, a second chick hatched. Since the chicks are normally dependant on their parents for food, warmth, and safety for many months, the babies instead had to depend on zookeepers for all aspects of their care. The keepers offered the chicks a variety of fish throughout the day and also gave vitamin and mineral supplements since the fish lose some of their nutrients when frozen and thawed. During the first few days, the chicks could only eat small fish called smelt. As the chicks grew, so did their appetites. At just nine days old, the chicks were already eating small (3–4 inch) trout. They quickly outgrew their brooders and had to be moved to tubs with heat lamps. To give you a better idea of their size and growth: The chicks weigh approximately 110 grams upon hatching, the same as a single stick of butter. At two weeks of age, the same chick weighs on average over 1,000 grams—or the same as 10 sticks of butter!
We are very excited to be able to introduce these new chicks to you. Eastern white pelicans are currently only housed at six institutions in the United States. We are only the second facility in North America to raise this species in captivity. The chicks will be introduced into the flock once they are big enough. Be sure to check them out later this summer when they are on exhibit next to the playground at Nganda Village in The Downing Gorilla Forest. They share this exhibit with our pink-backed pelicans, which are smaller and gray with a pink tinge between their wings.
Friday, August 6-Sunday August 8, 2010
8:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
If you are looking for a cool activity during the hot summer, please join us August 6-8 at The Downing Gorilla Forest and Koch Orangutan and Chimpanzee Habitat. There will be activities for all ages where you can learn about the difficulties that apes face, such as how palm oil plantations are affecting the wild population of orangutans, why apes in entertainment and as pets is unsuitable, and the bushmeat crisis. We will familiarize you with the Sedgwick County Zoo chimpanzee, orangutan and gorilla groups. You will also get the opportunity to learn about ape enrichment, the Jane Goodall Institute, why our Zoo has gorilla bachelor groups, and the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International.
There will be Sedgwick County Zoo ape merchandise available for purchase, with all money going to a conservation initiative called the Goulaougo Triangle Project. Items will include paintings by the apes, buttons of each ape, and magnets with ape images.
During our Ape Awareness celebration, we will be celebrating two exciting events that will start at 8:30 a.m. One is our “It’s a Boy” baby shower on Friday, August 6 for our newest ape, a chimp named Mabusu and mother Audra. Then on Saturday, August 7 we honor Audra again and Marbles for their 40th birthdays. Stop by KOCH to sign their birthday card by the statue of Marbles.
We will also have extra opportunities for you to chat with the ape keepers and ask questions.
Additional Keeper Chats will be at the indoor exhibits.
Gorilla 11:30 a.m., 1:15 p.m., and 2:30 p.m.
Orangutan 1:00 p.m. and 2:15 p.m.
Chimpanzee 1:45 p.m. and 2:45 p.m.
Come learn about apes and how to help save them! And while you’re here, get to know the incredible apes that live at your Sedgwick County Zoo. There's always something new at the Zoo!
Bowling for Rhinos Sets Records
Everyone was getting in on the action. Even the Rhinos themselves - during the American Association for ZooKeepers Bowling for Rhinos activities. First the Zookeepers bowled for Rhinos and raised more than $1800 for the International Rhino Foundation. Then Eugene, our Black Rhino, took his turn. He was a bit startled when the first few pins fell over revealing some tasty bananas. But, he quickly regained his confidence and returned to pick up the spare.
Zoo guests were able to follow Eugene's lead with wii bowling in the pavilion on July 30 and 31. Donations of $1 per frame were collected and prizes such as an elephant or rhino painting demo, behind the scenes VIP tours, and passes to the Zoo were given away. Children age 5 and under bowled with mini-pins for just a 25-cent donation.
Of course, in the end Rhinos were the winners! More than $2,000 was raised to help the International Rhino Foundation. A special thanks to the Alley for hosting our keeper event and for donating the prizes. We're looking forward to Bowling for Rhinos 2011 - and we hope you are too.