News Article | April 6, 2016
After a California condor pair's egg went mysteriously missing in the middle of the night, the duo is back on track, raising a foster chick that biologists surreptitiously slipped into the birds' mountain nest. The family affair began with condors #111, a 22-year-old female hatched at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and #509, a 7-year-old wild male. The two began courting in 2014, and nested together near the Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge in southern California, according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Before long, #111 laid an egg. A team of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) biologists snuck into the nest on March 2 to set up a bird cam and check the egg's viability with a candle test, in which a bright light is used to check the growing fetus inside. They reported that everything looked good, and estimated that the egg would hatch between April 4 and April 6. [10 Species You Can Kiss Goodbye] But then, the egg went missing. On the night between March 20 and March 21, it disappeared. In order to save battery power, the bird cam does not record during the night, so there's no proof of what happened to the egg. But, in all likelihood, a predator made off with it, leaving only a few eggshell fragments behind, according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, which runs the cam. This development was worrisome to scientists, as the California condor (Gymnogyps californianus) is critically endangered, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). In 2010, there were only 104 adult California condors of breeding age in the wild, and just 44 had produced surviving offspring, the IUCN said. After the egg vanished, USFWS biologists devised an action plan: On March 21, they rappelled into the nest and replaced the missing egg with a dummy egg. Condor #111 entered the nest cavity just as they left, and — to everyone's relief — began incubating the fake egg. Her partner, #509, incubated the dummy egg, too. In the meantime, the recovery team called the Los Angeles Zoo, which was raising eggs that condors had laid in captivity. The zoo gave one of its eggs to the USFWS scientists, who furtively rappelled into the nest again and swapped the dummy egg for the new foster egg on April 3. The swap worked. The adults — which look a bit like hunchbacked, black umbrellas — incubated the egg, and it hatched on April 4, making it the first time that a condor chick had hatched live on a bird cam, according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. It's unclear whether the 9-ounce (255 grams) chick is a male or female, but a blood test within its first year of life will clear that up. Once the chick turns 4 months old, biologists will tag it so that they can track it when it starts flying, at about 6 months of age. For now, both #111 and #509 are taking turns keeping the chick warm and feeding it. Bird enthusiasts can watch the chick grow up on the California condor bird cam, and follow it on Twitter: @CornellCondors. The biologists hope that the mystery thief responsible for the first egg's disappearance will leave the new chick alone. "Sometimes, condors select nest cavities that are accessible to terrestrial predators that are skilled climbers, such as bobcats, black bears and mountain lions," the Cornell Lab of Ornithology said. "We will continue to closely monitor the condor nestling via the live streaming camera and newly placed motion activated Bushnell game camera that is capable of taking nighttime images." Condor chicks remain dependent on their parents for more than a year, so birdwatchers will have plenty of time to watch the little chick grow up, the lab said. Copyright 2016 LiveScience, a Purch company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
News Article | April 7, 2016
A pair of California condors lost an egg but biologists secretly slipped a foster egg into the couple's mountain nest in a rappelling mission. Today, the condors are raising the newly hatched chick. The female condor, #111, is 22 years old while the male condor, #509, is 7 years old. Their courtship started way back in 2014 and the two soon nested near the Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge. The union was successful, with #111 soon laying an egg. A team of biologists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) set up a bird camera to monitor the fetus on March 2. An egg test allowed the biologists to predict that the baby condor will be born between April 4 and 6. But then, the worst nightmare happened: the egg disappeared in the middle of the night sometime between March 20 and 21. The bird cam was turned off at night to save power, so it didn't record what could have happened to the egg. Folks from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the team who runs the bird cam, said a predator most likely snatched the egg, leaving behind some eggshell fragments. It was a heartbreaking moment for the condor couple but more troublesome for the researchers. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) said these birds (Gymnogyps californianus) are critically endangered. In 2010, the agency tallied a total of 104 adult condors living in the wild, in which only 44 were only able to produce offspring that survived. After the original egg went missing, the biologists schemed to relieve the couple of their loss. They replaced the lost egg with a fake one that both condors incubated soon after. This gave the team a window to look for a foster egg, and they received one from the Los Angeles Zoo. On April 3, the team rappelled again to replace the fake egg with the foster egg, which finally hatched on April 4. It was the first California condor whose live hatching was observed on a bird cam. To date, the team doesn't know the sex of the 9-ounce chick. This information will be verified with a blood test set sometime during its first year. The Cornell team expressed that they will continue monitoring the condor family. To capture nighttime images, the team placed a new motion-activated Bushnell game camera. © 2016 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.
News Article | November 12, 2015
In this weekly column, science writer Carrie Poppy puts together the most striking and telling science images from the past week's news for your viewing pleasure. Scroll down to find phenomenal images and fascinating facts about the science behind them. Last week, astronauts Scott Kelly and Kjell Lindgren spent seven hours and 48 minutes working on the International Space Station ... from the outside. Whenever an astronaut leaves his or vehicle while in space, it is termed a "Spacewalk." This particular one, which served to restore the station's cooling system, was the 190th spacewalk. This week, scientists rewrote the book on how DNA replicates, when they used cutting-edge electron beams to get this, the first accurate image of a replisome. Californians cried alien activity when they spotted a UFO (technically, anything flying and not-yet-identified is a UFO). However, their dreams were dashed when the U.S. Navy announced that it was its own test missile. Professional photographer Abe Blair was luckily on the scene, and his spectacular photo was shared by NASA. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured this beautiful image of the Cydonia Region of Mars. The Cydonia Region is where the famed "Face on Mars" lives, and this image provides a crystal-clear view of the craters and old channels that probably once contained rivers. Eloise, who has the orangutan equivalent of cerebral palsy, turned 47 on Tuesday, and the Los Angeles Zoo celebrated her special day with this gorgeous portrait on their popular Instagram feed. The zoo reports that "she ambles around with great care and deliberation and with a fair amount of effort, but she's still quite an able ape." This week, winter is settling into the Lower Geyser Basin of Yellowstone, an 11-mile stretch filled with geysers, hot springs and mud pools. Science enthusiast Rebecca Essenpreis and her daughter, Sagan, celebrated Nov. 9, the birthday of Sagan's namesake, Carl Sagan. The late cosmologist was a champion of bringing science to the people. Every year, Sagan fans big and small celebrate his birthday around the world. Some, like Rebecca and Sagan, dress up in his characteristic tan jacket and red turtleneck. Geologists with the United States Geological Survey are studying this bed of mammoth fossils to better understand how climate change affected desert wetlands in the past, the USGS reported on Monday. The scientists say that threatened species in these areas today may face the same challenges that prehistoric animals did: "Their fate may lie in the hands of a rapidly changing climate." International Space Station astronaut Scott Kelly posted this photo to his Instagram feed on Veterans Day, saying, "Salute from 250 [miles] above to all past and present veterans and families. You are my heroes."
News Article | February 15, 2017
Oakland Zoo has partnered with Denver-based Service Systems Associates (SSA), a national leader in culinary and retail management in cultural attractions. The company was selected to operate the culinary and retail operations at the soon to be 100-acre zoo; currently undergoing construction with the addition of an expansion, called the California Trail. SSA will introduce fresh local food offerings as well as new and exciting shopping concepts when the contract starts in February. “We are excited about our partnership with the Oakland Zoo,” said Sean McNicholas, President and CEO of SSA. “We understand the importance of teamwork, conservation, commitment and professionalism.” He added, “Through this partnership, we will deliver the highest level of service for zoo guests while zoo staff focuses on their core competencies of operating the zoo.” Dr. Joel Parrott, President and CEO, Oakland Zoo, elaborated on the partnership. “We’re excited to have SSA manage our retail and culinary operations at Oakland Zoo. Our visitors deserve the highest standard of quality, and I have absolute confidence in SSA's ability to deliver that standard. Their commitment to customer service, exceptional cuisine and their expert operations model were key in our decision to partner with them.” The partnership with the Oakland Zoo will be a welcome fit as SSA currently manages the culinary and retail operations at several California attractions, including the Los Angeles Zoo, San Francisco Zoo, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Fresno’s Chaffee Zoo, the Autry Center and Sacramento Zoo. The mission of Oakland Zoo is to inspire respect for and stewardship of the natural world, while providing a quality visitor experience. McNicholas explained that the company’s experience in California will help the staff handcraft a unique and memorable guest experience. “We will be able to do what we do best, and create a one of a kind guest experience,” he added. As part of agreement, SSA will be responsible for designing and remodeling the culinary and retail spaces. This challenge is a familiar one to SSA, who in its over forty-year history has been responsible for numerous retail and culinary build-outs within zoos, aquariums and museums. Oakland Zoo has been serving the community since 1922 in locations all across Oakland, finally settling in Knowland Park in 1939. Some of the exhibits include the African Savannah, Tropical Rainforest, the Wayne and Gladys Valley Children’s Zoo and the upcoming California Trail. More than $1 million has been raised by Oakland Zoo for conservation programs worldwide and more than 750,000 guests visit each year to see more than 660 native and exotic animal residents. ABOUT SERVICE SYSTEMS ASSOCIATES Headquartered in Denver, Service Systems Associates manages retail and culinary amenities at more than 50 museums, botanic gardens, zoos and aquariums in the United States. The company is a national leader in guest service operations for cultural attractions, serving over 26 million guests annually. http://www.kmssa.com ABOUT OAKLAND ZOO The Bay Area's award-winning Oakland Zoo is home to more than 660 native and exotic animals. The Zoo offers many educational programs and kid's activities perfect for science field trips, family day trips and exciting birthday parties. Oakland Zoo is dedicated to the humane treatment of animals and wildlife conservation onsite and worldwide; with 25¢ from each ticket donated to support conservation partners and programs around the world. The California Trail, a transformational project that more than doubles our size, opens in 2018, and will further our commitment to animal care, education, and conservation with a focus on this state's remarkable native wildlife. Nestled in the Oakland Hills, in 500-acre Knowland Park, the Zoo is located at 9777 Golf Links Road, off Highway 580. The East Bay Zoological Society (Oakland Zoo) is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization supported in part by members, contributions, the City of Oakland and the East Bay Regional Parks.
News Article | November 15, 2015
"Terminator" icon Arnold Schwarzenegger stars in Wildlife Conservation Society's (WCS) new video as part of a campaign to save African elephants from illegal poaching. The video shows Schwarzenegger blowing up an elephant tusk with explosives in order to get rid of the demand for ivory tusks. WCS, a conservationist group based at the Bronx Zoo in New York, said the elephant tusk blown up in the video was donated by the Los Angeles Zoo. The group added that this year, over 42 tons of illegally poached ivory, also called 'the white gold of jihad,' were openly destroyed across eight countries worldwide. "We are extremely grateful Arnold Schwarzenegger has joined the 96 Elephants campaign, and we are hopeful that his global following of fans will become allies to stop the killing, stop the trafficking and stop the demand of ivory," said WCS's 96 Elephants director John Calvelli. WCS's campaign called "96 Elephants" is building a countrywide support community to tighten limitations of ivory's commercial sale in the U.S., which is the second biggest ivory market after China. Early in 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed limits and an almost complete ban of commercial ivory trade. Backed by WCS, the proposed rules were opposed by the National Rifle Association (NRA) who said it will spur potential limits on guns with ivory handles, which are considered family heirlooms. NRA spokeswoman Jennifer Baker explained that the proposed limit will make a legally owned possession illegal by law. This will then make criminals out of decent citizens who possess a gun with ivory handles. Though elephant ivory tusks appear sophisticated, illegal poaching these treasured teeth are brutal. The poachers use high-tech gear including helicopters, night-vision goggles and GPS equipment to locate African elephants before hacking the tusks off with an axe while the animal is still alive. Ivory is used to make elaborate art and trinkets for buyers mostly concentrated in East Asia. The demand for ivory results in killing at least 96 elephants in Africa every day. In 2012, approximately 35,000 elephants were killed due to the high demand. In June, a ton of seized ivory sculptures were publicly smashed in Times Square in New York. The ivory shards will be used to create an elephant memorial.
News Article | February 23, 2017
(AP) — A rare baby bongo has made its debut at the Los Angeles Zoo. The unnamed male Eastern bongo, a type of antelope, was born at the zoo on Jan. 20. It spent time bonding with its mother behind the scenes before being introduced to the public Thursday. At birth, the chestnut red calf with white stripes stood just under 2 feet tall. It weighed 55 pounds and had ears 6 inches long. Its parents are 5-year-old first-time mother, Rizzo, and 7-year-old father, Asa. It was the first bongo birth in more than 20 years at the Los Angeles Zoo. The zoo says logging and poaching in the wild has caused the species' numbers to dwindle to fewer than 100. The animal is found in Kenya.
News Article | February 22, 2017
Bao Bao the panda has left the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington D.C., and heading back to China. Read: 3 Tiger Cubs Being Raised by Zoo Staff After They Were Rejected by Mother The panda, who was born in 2013 inside the zoo, has delighted Americans with her playful antics. Thousands showed up to bid her farewell in the last few days, and Bao Bao was even gifted a special goodbye cake made out of ice to nosh on. "We’ve watched Bao Bao grow up during the past three years, and she has charmed people all over the world with her independent and playful personality," Dennis Kelly, the director of the Zoo, said in a statement posted to the National Zoo website. "We’re so proud of our team who have prepared Bao Bao for the next chapter of her life as she enters the breeding program in China. This is another milestone in our 45-year history of working to study, care for and help save the giant panda and its native habitat.” The flight, dubbed the “FedEx Panda Express,” left Dulles International Airport in Virginia for China on Tuesday morning. For the 16-hour flight, Bao Bao was given 55 pounds of bamboo, two pounds of apples, two bags of leafeater biscuits, cooked sweet potatoes and water. Read: A Tail of Love: Sumatran Tiger Gets a Girlfriend at Los Angeles Zoo The zoo’s Instagram page has been loaded with images of Bao Bao through the years. They also posted a goodbye video and thank you to those who came to see her during her final days in Washington. Watch: 'Kung Fu Panda' Goes Head-to-Head With Snowman in Epic Battle
News Article | February 23, 2017
The unnamed male Eastern bongo, a type of antelope, was born at the zoo on Jan. 20. It spent time bonding with its mother behind the scenes before being introduced to the public Thursday. At birth, the chestnut red calf with white stripes stood just under 2 feet tall. It weighed 55 pounds and had ears 6 inches long. Its parents are 5-year-old first-time mother, Rizzo, and 7-year-old father, Asa. It was the first bongo birth in more than 20 years at the Los Angeles Zoo. The zoo says logging and poaching in the wild has caused the species' numbers to dwindle to fewer than 100. The animal is found in Kenya. A male, Eastern bongo calf is gently pushed off a matt of fresh grass in his enclosure on the day of his debut at the Los Angeles Zoo on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2107. The unnamed male a type of antelope found in Kenya, was born at the zoo on Jan. 20. It spent time bonding with its mother behind the scenes before being introduced to the public on Thursday. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel) A male, Eastern bongo calf mingles in his enclosure on the day of his debut at the Los Angeles Zoo on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2107. The unnamed male a type of antelope found in Kenya, was born at the zoo on Jan. 20. It spent time bonding with its mother behind the scenes before being introduced to the public on Thursday. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel) Explore further: A squirt at 6 feet: Baby giraffe to debut at Los Angeles Zoo
News Article | November 22, 2016
News Article | March 10, 2016
Los Angeles Zoo officials say the koala went missing on March 3 and its bloody, partially eaten remains were found a short time later found outside the zoo. The night before the koala was found, a 7-year-old male puma known as P-22 was seen on black and white surveillance video near the zoo inside Griffith Park, the sprawling urban wilderness that he calls home. The big cat may have managed to leap a 9-foot-high fence to reach the koala enclosure and snatch Killarney, a 14-year-old female that was the oldest koala in the exhibit. She had a habit of leaving the trees and wandering around on the ground at night, zookeepers said. However, the evidence is circumstantial, zoo director John Lewis and other officials acknowledged Thursday. The attack itself wasn't recorded, and there are other predators, such as bobcats and coyotes, that were capable of killing the koala. The remaining 10 koalas have been removed from the outside enclosure. Zoo workers are taking extra precautions, such as locking up smaller animals in barns at night. "Unfortunately, these types of incidents happen when we have a zoo in such close proximity to one of the largest urban parks in the country," Barbara Romero, Los Angeles deputy mayor for city services, said in a statement. P-22 wears a tracking collar and was famously photographed near the Hollywood sign for National Geographic. The 130-pound cat crossed two freeways to enter the 4,355-acre park several years ago. It's a lonely life with little chance of finding a mate. Cougars typically need ranges of 75 to 200 square miles for hunting and breeding, while P-22's habitat is around 8 square miles. The attack is just one more reason that P-22 should move, City Councilman Mitch O'Farrell said. "Regardless of what predator killed the koala, this tragedy just emphasizes the need to contemplate relocating P-22 to a safer, more remote wild area where he has adequate space to roam without the possibility of human interaction," O'Farrell said. Last year, P-22 wandered out of the park and lolled under a crawlspace of a home in the nearby Los Feliz neighborhood, attracting a media frenzy until he finally wandered home. "P-22 is maturing, will continue to wander and runs the risk of a fatal freeway crossing as he searches for a mate. ... We should consider resettling him in the environment he needs," Mitchell said. But fellow Councilman David Ryu said it would be a mistake to evict P-22. "Mountain lions are a part of the natural habitat of Griffith Park and the adjacent hillsides" Ryu said. "There's a lot of native wildlife in this area. This is their home," Lewis said. "So we'll learn to adapt to P-22 just like he's learned to adapt to us." Explore further: Two red panda cubs born at Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo