-Courtesy of Aversa PR & Events
Gibbon photo by Tom Hartman
Spring has officially sprung at the Zoo, with the explosion of animal births including a critically endangered Mongoose Lemur, two endangered Francois Langur’s, an endangered White-handed gibbon, a Hoffman two-toed sloth and a Humboldt penguin chick, considered Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). All of the infants are doing well and are on exhibit at the Zoo – just in time for the holiday weekend.
“We are excited to announce such significant animal births,” says Vikram H. Dewan, Philadelphia Zoo President & CEO. “Working closely with the Species Survival Program (SSP), whose mission is to manage populations of threatened, and endangered species across AZA zoos, and maintain long-term genetic and demographic viability, the Zoo’s animal teams’ efforts resulted in incredible new additions to our Zoo family. These births are critical to each species’ overall population.”
Must-see additions include, a François Langur, born in April to first-time mom, Ling and dad, Chester. Named Lei “lay”, which means “flower bud” in Mandarin, the infant, shares an exhibit in the Rare Animal Conservation Center (RACC) with dad, mom, aunt Mei Mei and half-sister Quý Báu, just born in December. The second of this species ever born at the Zoo, both Quý Báu and Lei are important to the François Langur population and are listed as endangered in the wild by the IUCN. Guests can see the Langur family exploring their home exhibit or venturing out into Treetop Trail.
Also, in April, a newly hatched Humboldt Penguin chick joined the colony at Penguin Point. Named Juice, the chick is being raised by foster parents, since its biological father takes daily medication. The foster parents also incubated the egg, and continue to raise the chick, alternating turns caring for it. The sex has not been confirmed but veterinarians recently performed the chick’s first physical, administered initial vaccinations including West Nile, and took a blood samples to confirm gender, with results expected in a few weeks. When hatched, penguin chicks are covered with greyish-brown, down feathers that eventually molt into the black and white plumage the species is known for. At around 2-months-old the chick will begin to enjoy more freedom, with its parents allowing it to venture out of the nest and explore the exhibit. With the addition of the new chick there are currently 19 Humboldt penguins at the Zoo.
Born in the early hours of May 21st, an adorable White-handed Gibbon, is now on exhibit at PECO Primate Reserve. Born to mom Phoenice and dad Mercury, the infant has been seen holding on tightly to mom, who is protective of her new baby. Eventually she will give the little one more independence, and the keepers can get a better view, enabling them to determine the infant’s sex. Phoenice is doing great job caring for the couples fifth offspring, and the family including mom, dad, brother Polaris, and the new addition can be seen enjoying the weather outdoors or swinging in their indoor exhibit area.
May came to a close, but the baby boom continued with the arrival of a Mongoose Lemur. Born to mom Natasha and dad Ernesto, this small primate, native to Madagascar, ushered in the Memorial Day weekend. The parents along with siblings Bert, Oscar, and Zoe and the newborn, are share an exhibit at PECO Primate Reserve. With no relation to the small carnivore that gives them their name, Mongoose Lemurs share their small body size and gray fur color. In the wild they are threatened due to habitat destruction, with numbers dwindling by 80% over the past 25 years. They are listed as critically endangered by the IUCN.
Last but not least, on May 27th a Hoffman two-toed Sloth baby arrived, while on exhibit, at the Small Mammal House. The building, not open to the public, was quiet and mom Latte had a private and successful birth. As a first-time mom, Latte is doing well, and is currently caring for the baby herself, as dad Jabba recently moved to a different exhibit. Keepers continue to monitor Latte, using a night vision trail camera to capture their interactions in the evening. Noted for their slow movement, these arboreal animals spend most of their lives hanging upside down in the trees of the tropical rainforests of South America and Central America. They are considered to be most closely related to anteaters.
In addition to visiting the new babies, guests can check out BIG TIME, a new immersive multi-sensory experience featuring 24-life-size, animatronic dinosaurs that transports guests back to when these giants roamed the Earth. Through evocative landscapes, realistic settings, immersive sounds and life-like giants, BIG TIME takes guests through the Age of Dinosaurs through to present day, showing what life was like when these goliaths walked the planet.
Guests can reserve tickets at www.PhiladelphiaZoo.org. General Admission $24 for ages 12+ and $19 for ages 2-11, children under 2 are free. Entrance for BIG TIME is $6 (adults and children ages 2+). Members enjoy free admission to the Zoo with advance reservation and save on BIG TIME tickets.