Growing up Guenon

This post written by Sara Riger

DeBrazza less wire more brightness
If you have been through Wortham World of Primates at the Houston Zoo then you have been fortunate enough to see the De Brazza’s Monkey family that calls one of the African exhibits home. You may have to stand at the exhibit and be patient but you will surely see the bamboo begin to move and one or more of four family members come into view. The biggest of all is Albert. He is the father and very territorial so he may stand his ground, stare you down, and even bob his head at you. That is his job. He is protecting his territory and his family. You may see Amelia, the female, who looks just like Albert but is smaller in size. She is the mother of the two smaller monkeys in the exhibit. Her firstborn is named Ruby. Ruby will be two years old on December 31st, 2015. She is a miniature version of her mother, having her full colors. She prefers to hang around with dad like she is a big deal. The newest member of this foursome is Flint and he was born on November 1st, 2014 and was a welcome addition to the family. I would love to tell you about this very special young monkey and his unique family in hopes that you grow to admire and appreciate him as much as the keepers that are lucky enough to care for him do.

After Flint’s birth, keepers noticed he looked larger than Ruby did when she first arrived. Newborns are golden in color and it has been such a delight to see him start growing his characteristic, but still small, white beard, reddish brown eyebrow ridge, and eventual very distinct colorations that makes De Brazzas’s so striking. He has started to show the red on his little bottom and some black on the end of his tail which will be all black as he matures. Infant De Brazza’s cling very tightly to mom after their birth so it did take some time to determine if this was a boy or a girl. The staff then voted and it was decided to name the newest primate that was all arms and legs, Flint. By the fourth day, Amelia allowed her daughter to touch the new arrival and by the next day Ruby was grooming her baby brother. Flint was nursing exclusively in the beginning, but by day twelve he was first observed climbing off of mom and tasting some red cabbage. As the days continued he became more adept at climbing the mesh and maneuvering on the ropes. It helps to have an older sister to set an example. Amelia may have also been more at ease the second time around. There may be other mothers out there that can relate to that. He continued to test food items while still relying on milk from mom and also drinking water.

Oh Wow SM

De Brazza’s are foraging monkeys which means they look for food throughout the day. Here at the zoo, keepers provide all the primates with several feedings. Around lunch time we provide them one vegetable item from their daily allotment of diet. Flint is comfortable coming over to the keepers to take his share. De Brazza’s are a type of guenon so they have cheek pouches to store food and Mr. Flint looks quite amusing with his puffed out cheeks.

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This young monkey keeps developing physically and mentally. On March 22nd, 2015, Flint got on the scale in the night house all by himself and staff were able to get a weight on him. In previous months he would stay on mom during this process so they would be weighed together. He is a whopping 2.4 pounds. He now shifts in and out of the night house by himself, oftentimes taking off in front of his mother and sister, a very brave little man. He has formed his own personality, is spending time with all members of his family including Albert, who is very tolerant of his children. It is so much fun to see Flint and Ruby hanging upside down, wrestling, eating side by side, and jumping from tree to tree as they play together. I sincerely hope the next time you visit the Houston Zoo you make it a point to come to the De Brazza’s exhibit. You will be rewarded with some major cuteness and will find it difficult to wipe the smile off your face as you continue your walk through the wonderful green place in the middle of this huge city that we, and the monkeys, call home.

Presenting Rose, Our Brand New Speke’s Gazelle Calf!

This post was written by Mary Fields


 

The Houston Zoo is proud to announce the birth of Rose, our brand new Speke’s gazelle! Rose was born on April 15th to her mother Prim. This is Prim’s first calf and the Houston Zoo’s first successful Speke’s gazelle calf! Rose was given her name for two reasons:

  1. To name her after her mother, Prim, so we could complete “Primrose”.
  2. Some of the keepers wanted a royal name for her since her mother is “Prim and proper”. We chose Rose for Briar Rose, which is another name for Sleeping Beauty/Aurora.

The most notable part of a Speke’s gazelle would be their nose! They have some extra skin on their nose that they inflate to create a honking sound. This “honk” is used to alert others about nearby predators. Even Rose will inflate her nose if she feels startled; you just have to listen a little closer since she has such a tiny nose.

Speke's Gazelle

Speke’s gazelles are endangered in the wild, mostly due to habitat loss. They have lost much of their grazing land in Somalia to livestock and currently have no protected areas.

Rose is currently off exhibit, but should be living with our okapi soon. So make sure to stop by the Houston Zoo to see one of our tiniest additions!

There’s a New Member of the Gerenuk Herd

On April 30 the Hoofstock team at the Houston Zoo welcomed its newest member to our Gerenuk herd. Josie (a first time mom) delivered a healthy baby boy around mid-day. Forty-five minutes later, the calf was already on his feet and nursing. “Julius” is already showing his personality as a strong, spunky little calf who loves running.

Josie Gerenuk

Gerenuk are other worldly looking gazelles, known for their long skinny necks and legs. Actually, the term Gerenuk means “giraffe-necked” in the Somali language. Not only do they look different, they have a unique ability that sets them apart from any other antelope or gazelle species. Gerenuk gazelles are able to stand and balance themselves on their hind legs to reach the higher leaves that many other animals cannot reach. Gerenuk have been known to stand on their hind legs like this at only 2 weeks old. It shouldn’t be long until we will be seeing Julius do the same.

Josie with mom 2

Next time you come to the Houston Zoo, make sure you stop by to visit our Gerenuk family. And keep your eyes wide open. Julius often likes to nap in the grass when he isn’t playing.

 

The Life and Times of Opie the Goeldi’s Monkey

Written by Amy Berting & Nathan Fox

Opie-and-Peach-edited
Opie and Peach pose for a picture!

Once upon a time at the Houston Zoo, there was a boy Goeldi’s monkey named Andy, and he met this beautiful girl Goeldi’s monkey named Peach. They quickly became inseparable, and through hard times and good times they were the ideal couple. They had so many adventures at the zoo and met so many other primates, but decided it was finally time to settle down. Their love brought them the greatest joy of their lives, their son Opie.

Goeldi’s monkeys (Callimico goeldii) are small primates found in the forests of northern South America. They live in small family groups, mostly consisting of a breeding pair and their offspring. After a gestation period of approximately 5 months, the female will give birth to a single offspring. Our breeding pair, Peach and Andy, arrived here at the zoo in April of 2012. After 2 unsuccessful pregnancies, Peach finally gave birth to a healthy male named Opie on November 10, 2014! Due to Peach being a first time mother, keepers kept a close eye on the new family to make sure that Opie was nursing and clinging well to Peach’s back. An infant Goeldi’s will typically ride on its mother’s back for one month, and  after that, the father will take turns carrying the baby. Andy was first seen showing interest in Opie when he was about 6 days old. Keepers saw Andy grooming Peach and then grooming Opie’s face.

Opie-Edited

When Opie was one month old, keepers saw him get off Peach’s back for the first time and then a few days later, Opie was seen riding on Andy’s back for the first time. These days, Opie is very independent and only occasionally clings to his parents. He can typically be seen running around and exploring the exhibit on his own. During feeding times, he likes to run over to his parents and steal food out of their hands. However, they normally don’t mind sharing. As with most monkeys, Opie’s favorite foods include bananas, grapes, figs, and currants.  He has also started coming up to his zookeepers for treats, handed over carefully through the mesh. He is even mastering the vocalizations his parents have taught him and can be heard all over the Wortham World of Primates.

Opie is a wonderful addition to the primate family of the Houston Zoo and he continues to grow and discover his world.  Every day is new with  obstacles that he crashes through bravely. He brings joy to keepers and guests alike …. and they all continue to live happily ever after.

Gorillas Explore Their Habitat

Four of the seven western lowland gorillas making their home at the Houston Zoo had access to explore the main habitat yard for the first time today, April 8. The family group spent time closely examining the entire area, from climbing a specially-designed felled cement tree to collecting all the treats the keepers spread throughout. Favorite treats included carrots, tomatoes, and romaine lettuce.


The intricately designed space holds both groups of western lowland gorillas who will spend their days alternating between an outdoor habitat filled with lush landscape that mimics an African forest and a multi-tiered night house that includes private bedrooms, an artistic 23-foot-tall climbing tree, and a behind-the-scenes outdoor yard.

These magnificent animal ambassadors offer the opportunity to increase awareness and inspire conservation action to protect their wild counterparts. The Houston Zoo’s conservation efforts for these species will also be communicated through interpretive messages and interactive experiences that reinforce compelling education programs.

Once open to the public on Memorial Day weekend, guests will be able to see the gorillas through many different areas of the habitat. From an arrival building with floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over the dry river bed, to an open boardwalk alongside the gorilla’s naturalistic forest, guests will also see the gorillas inside their state-of-the-art night house.

The gorillas calling Houston home are two distinct troops of western lowland gorillas: a troop of male gorillas from Riverbanks Zoo and Garden in Columbia, SC. Chaka (30), Mike (23) and Ajari (14). This bachelor troop has been busy getting to know the day room and the outside backyard. They will begin to have access to the main habitat in the coming weeks. The bachelor trio will alternate spaces at the Houston Zoo with the family group.

Zuri (31), Holli (25) and their daughter Sufi (13) arrived in Houston from the Bronx Zoo after a nine month stay at the Louisville Zoo. Binti (40) from Audubon Zoo was chosen to join the family troop as a part of the Species Survival Plan, a cooperation between Association of Zoos and Aquarium (AZA) accredited zoos and aquariums to properly manage specific, and typically threatened or endangered, species population.

The endangered western lowland gorilla faces many threats.  Their native habitat in central and west Africa is shrinking largely due to the expansion of mining and agriculture in the area. The already dwindling population faces the added threat from illegal hunting. As one of man’s closest relatives in the animal kingdom, their highly social nature and intelligence make them prime ambassadors to educate our community about the threats faced by all gorillas and the conservation work currently undertaken by the Houston Zoo. Staff works in tandem with the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project (MGVP) to improve the health of remaining gorilla populations through improved human health for veterinarians and conservation workers as well as rural communities. Active health programs and education are fostering a better understanding of an appreciation for the natural world for those living near these endangered apes. The zoo staff also works with the Art of Conservation project, and the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education(GRACE) Center.

Gorillas Explore Their Habitat

Four of the seven western lowland gorillas making their home at the Houston Zoo had access to explore the main habitat yard for the first time today, April 8. The family group spent time closely examining the entire area, from climbing a specially-designed felled cement tree to collecting all the treats the keepers spread throughout. Favorite treats included carrots, tomatoes, and romaine lettuce.


The intricately designed space holds both groups of western lowland gorillas who will spend their days alternating between an outdoor habitat filled with lush landscape that mimics an African forest and a multi-tiered night house that includes private bedrooms, an artistic 23-foot-tall climbing tree, and a behind-the-scenes outdoor yard.

These magnificent animal ambassadors offer the opportunity to increase awareness and inspire conservation action to protect their wild counterparts. The Houston Zoo’s conservation efforts for these species will also be communicated through interpretive messages and interactive experiences that reinforce compelling education programs.

Once open to the public on Memorial Day weekend, guests will be able to see the gorillas through many different areas of the habitat. From an arrival building with floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over the dry river bed, to an open boardwalk alongside the gorilla’s naturalistic forest, guests will also see the gorillas inside their state-of-the-art night house.

The gorillas calling Houston home are two distinct troops of western lowland gorillas: a troop of male gorillas from Riverbanks Zoo and Garden in Columbia, SC. Chaka (30), Mike (23) and Ajari (14). This bachelor troop has been busy getting to know the day room and the outside backyard. They will begin to have access to the main habitat in the coming weeks. The bachelor trio will alternate spaces at the Houston Zoo with the family group.

Zuri (31), Holli (25) and their daughter Sufi (13) arrived in Houston from the Bronx Zoo after a nine month stay at the Louisville Zoo. Binti (40) from Audubon Zoo was chosen to join the family troop as a part of the Species Survival Plan, a cooperation between Association of Zoos and Aquarium (AZA) accredited zoos and aquariums to properly manage specific, and typically threatened or endangered, species population.

The endangered western lowland gorilla faces many threats.  Their native habitat in central and west Africa is shrinking largely due to the expansion of mining and agriculture in the area. The already dwindling population faces the added threat from illegal hunting. As one of man’s closest relatives in the animal kingdom, their highly social nature and intelligence make them prime ambassadors to educate our community about the threats faced by all gorillas and the conservation work currently undertaken by the Houston Zoo. Staff works in tandem with the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project (MGVP) to improve the health of remaining gorilla populations through improved human health for veterinarians and conservation workers as well as rural communities. Active health programs and education are fostering a better understanding of an appreciation for the natural world for those living near these endangered apes. The zoo staff also works with the Art of Conservation project, and the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education(GRACE) Center.

Houston Zoo Prepares to Welcome New Gorillas

gorilla-blog
Photo Credit: Julie Larsen Maher © Wildlife Conservation Society

Seven western lowland gorillas will soon arrive in Houston in preparation for the grand opening of the new gorilla habitat at the Houston Zoo, opening Memorial Day weekend.  The intricately designed space will hold two groups of western lowland gorillas who will spend their days alternating between an outdoor habitat filled with lush landscape that mimics an African forestand a multi-tiered night house that includes private bedrooms, an artistic 23-foot-tall climbing tree, and a behind-the-scenes outdoor yard.

These magnificent animal ambassadors offer the opportunity to increase awareness and inspire conservation action to protect their wild counterparts. The Houston Zoo’s conservation efforts for these species will also be communicated through interpretive messages and interactive experiences that reinforce compelling education programs.

Once open to the public, guests will be able to see the gorillas through many different areas of the habitat. From an arrival building with floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over the dry river bed, to an open boardwalk alongside the gorilla’s naturalistic forest, guests will also see the gorillas inside their state-of-the-art night house.

gorilla-blog-2
Photo Credit: Richard Rokes

The first to arrive in the Bayou City will be a troop of male gorillas from Riverbanks Zoo and Garden in Columbia, SC. Chaka (30), Mike (23) and Ajari (14) are scheduled to arrive this week. Chaka and Mike lived at the Riverbanks Zoo since July 2004 when the pair arrived from Philadelphia Zoo in Pennsylvania. Ajari joined them in January 2013 from Knoxville Zoo in Tennessee. Mike, one of the three gorillas making the move, has a cardiac condition that will require attention throughout his trip and upon arrival. The Houston Zoo and Riverbanks Zoo and Garden have worked closely to create a travel and health monitoring plan to ensure all three gorillas will arrive safely in Houston.  The group is also working closely with the Great Ape Heart Project based at Zoo Atlanta to develop a long-term medical plan which may include medication and possibly an implanted monitoring device.

The bachelor trio will alternate spaces at the Houston Zoo with a family troop of three gorillas who will arrive in March from Louisville, KY and a single female who will join the family troop from Audubon Zoo in New Orleans.

gorilla-blog-3
Photo Credit: Julie Larsen Maher © Wildlife Conservation Society

Zuri (31), Holli (25) and their daughter Sufi (13) are arriving in Houston from the Bronx Zoo after a nine month stay at the Louisville Zoo. Binti (40) from Audubon Zoo has been chosen to join the family troop as a part of the Species Survival Plan, a cooperation between Association of Zoos and Aquarium (AZA) accredited zoos and aquariums to properly manage specific, and typically threatened or endangered, species population.

The endangered western lowland gorilla faces many threats.  Their native habitat in central and west Africa is shrinking largely due to the expansion of mining and agriculture in the area. The already dwindling population faces the added threat from hunting. As one of man’s closest relatives in the animal kingdom, their highly social nature and intelligence make them prime ambassadors to educate our community about the threats faced by all gorillas and the conservation work currently undertaken by the Houston Zoo. Staff works in tandem with the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project (MGVP) to improve the health of remaining gorilla populations through improved human health for veterinarians and conservation workers as well as rural communities. Active health programs and education are fostering a better understanding of an appreciation for the natural world for those living near these endangered apes. The zoo staff also works with the Conservation Heritage-Turambe project and the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation (GRACE) Center.

A Baby Mandrill Is Only Part of Our Primate Baby Boom

November has been a big month for the primate team at the Houston Zoo. Three brand new babies were born during the course of one month, including a rare mandrill.  At 2 a.m. on November 29 the hugely pregnant mandrill Louise delivered a baby. Mandrills are known for their striking facial features including blue-colored ridges on the sides of their muzzles and a brilliant red stripe down the middle. The gender of the new baby is still unknown, but the prominent muzzle ridges can already be seen. Louise has fully embraced motherhood, and has carried and nursed her new baby like a pro. Guests can watch Louise cuddling and caring for her new baby at Wortham World of Primates.

On November 1 a De Brazza’s monkey was born to Amelia who had just given birth to her first baby, Ruby, in January.  The little one is stunningly gold colored and is already beginning to get off mom and explore the yard. The expanding family lives at the Wortham World of Primates and can be seen daily in their lushly planted exhibit.

Baby-Debrazza

A pair of Goeldi’s monkeys that had not been successful in the past gave birth to a new baby on November 10. Peach, a young female, bred immediately with Andy, a more mature male, but sadly, their first baby was stillborn. The second time they conceived, the pregnancy ended in a Cesarean section, and again, that infant did not survive. The veterinarian team gave Peach a “time out” with a contraceptive implant, to give her plenty of time to heal and recover from both those ordeals. After a year, that implant was removed and she was healthy enough to try again. Lo and behold, with very little fanfare, a comparatively large baby was discovered on Peach’s back on November 10. Goeldi’s monkeys are different from the closely-related tamarins, because they usually have just one baby at a time, and the mom carries it for a month before dad joins in to help. The jet black infant is hard to distinguish on the parent’s back but a tiny face can be discerned in amongst the fur.
goeldi

Learn More About Our Newest Baby Bongo

This post was written by Kendall Thawley & Mary Fields.

The Houston Zoo is proud to introduce the newest member of our bongo herd! Sheldon was born on November 2, 2014 in the late afternoon. He is Penny’s third calf, her second son. This wonderful addition brings our bongo herd up to 3.

Sheldon-bongo

We are especially happy about this birth due to the fact that Eastern Bongo (like Penny and Sheldon) are Critically Endangered. It is estimated that less than 140 individuals remain in the wild in small, isolated populations. The forests that they live in are disappearing because of illegal logging activity, and they are facing increasing hunting pressure as the human population in the area grows. The Houston Zoo works with other conservation institutions all over the world to ensure that this species continues to thrive, both in captivity and in the wild.

So the next chance you get, come visit the Houston Zoo to see Sheldon and learn more about the Eastern bongo.

sheldon bongo 2

More New Babies at the Houston Zoo!

Adorable baby okapi not enough cuteness for you? Never fear, more Zoo babies are here! These little ones were born recently at the Houston Zoo. We hope you have a chance to come out and visit them soon!

This year, we had not one, but two baby De Brazza’s monkeys! A baby was born in January after seven years of hoping that Amelia and Albert would have one. Then this month we were excited to welcome another new baby into the family! One of the most important jobs of a zoo is breeding animals that are declining in the wild, and this animal is declining in the wild because of habitat loss and other serious issues. This sweet newborn still doesn’t have a name. Our keepers are waiting to know if the baby is a “she” or a “he” before deciding on a name.

Baby De Brazza's Monkey

This baby bongo’s name is Sheldon. Bongos are among the largest of the African forest antelope, and they are the only forest antelope to form herds. They are critically endangered, and there may be as few as 200 left in the wild.

Sheldon, the Baby Bongo
Sheldon, the baby bongo

Also recently born is this baby male nyala named Rowan. Nyala are almost invisible in the habitats where they live in southeast Africa because their coats provide excellent camouflage.

Baby Nyala Rowan
Baby nyala, Rowan
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