We're back on Animal Planet for another unscripted look at what is needed to operate a zoo! Tune in Saturdays at 9pm ET/PT and then check back here for more info about these incredible animals and the staff members that care for them. Of course, you can always buy tickets and plan a trip to see some of your favorites in person.
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Episode 10: Saturday, May 12, 2018
On the season finale of THE ZOO you met Ernie, one of our silverback gorillas. If you've ever been to the Bronx Zoo, chances are you've spotted him among his troop at Congo Gorilla Forest.
Ernie is a great troop leader and attentive father. He has sired five offspring at “Congo” that are all three- to four-years-old. Make sure to plan a visit to see them all this spring.
Six years ago, Ernie was diagnosed with mild heart disease, which is not uncommon in male gorillas. In this episode, you learned that the disease had progressed, but thanks to the efforts of our keepers and veterinarians his condition is under control and he continues to fulfill his important role in his troop.
Episode 9: Saturday, May 5, 2018
On this week's episode of THE ZOO you met our Inca terns. These beautiful, mustachioed birds breed along the coasts of Peru and Chile and can be found in the Russell B. Aitken Sea Bird Aviary, where they are exhibited with Magellanic penguins and Humboldt brown pelicans. The Bronx Zoo has developed innovative veterinary and husbandry protocols to protect Inca terns from mosquito-borne diseases, which may have applications for many other species.
The Sea Bird Aviary is one of our hidden gems. Standing in the midst of our large flock of birds is an incredible experience and a great way to appreciate these animals. Whether you prefer penguins, pelicans or the terns, you'll observe something new each time you visit.
Below are a few of our favorite photos from the exhibit. Stop by on your next trip to the zoo and tag us on social media in the photos you take with @BronxZoo and #InsideTheZoo.
This week on THE ZOO you met Khyber, a snow leopard cub born here at the zoo. While Kyber was still a young cub, our keepers noticed something was not quite right with her hind legs. They were splayed out to the side and she wasn't crawling properly. Our curators and veterinarians made the difficult decision to separate the cub from her mother each day for hours of physical therapy.
Thanks to those efforts she made a great recovery and now has full use of her legs! She's on exhibit with her mother, and you can visit the pair at the Himalayan Highlands exhibit.
We're thrilled with this outcome, not only because Kyber is an excellent ambassador for her species but because she is a granddaughter of Leo (an orphan from Pakistan that was rescued in 2006) making her lineage very important.
We recommend a trip to see Khyber in person. Until then enjoy some photos and a video of her journey.
Three of the species featured in this week’s episode (the African wild dog, white-cheeked gibbon and California sea lion) are Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) species. SSPs are programs that manage species for gene diversity and demographic (population) stability, which are requisites to have healthy populations in our zoos.
There are about 500 SSP programs administered by the AZA, and nearly all are for species that are classified as threatened or endangered. The Bronx Zoo actively participates in almost half of these programs!
The goal of SSPs is to have viable, sustainable populations in our zoos through careful, planned breeding. In order to accomplish this, sophisticated computer analyses determine which animals make the best pairs, and zoos participating in these programs send individual animals to other zoos on a regular basis to assure an adequate exchange of genes across our populations.
We've successfully bred a large number of SSP species throughout WCS's five zoos and aquariums. Below are a few photos, enjoy!
Fewer than 18,000 Andean bears exist in the wild, making the bird of this cub at the Queens Zoo extra special.
The Bronx Zoo has quite a history with the elusive Eastern hellbender, as you saw on this week's episode of THE ZOO. They’re in trouble in nature due to habitat loss and degradation, water pollution, and more. In 2010 the zoo joined the New York Hellbender Working Group under the umbrella of the Upper Susquehanna Conservation Alliance to help them make a comeback.
Our Herpetology Department assists the working group by headstarting hellbenders. Headstarting is a conservation strategy involving the rearing of hellbenders in zoos from hatching until they are large enough to be free from most aquatic predators. Once they pass that critical period they are returned to their native rivers and streams.
Last year our herpetology staff headstarted 103 hellbenders, and looks forward to receiving another group of eggs this breeding season. To learn more about hellbenders, visit their exhibit at the World of Reptiles.
What's in a name?
Hellbenders have many nicknames, can you spot the imposter in the quiz below?
Tundra, the Bronx Zoo’s 26 -year-old polar bear, was euthanized several months after the filming of his segment was completed due to medical conditions associated with old age.
A necropsy showed that he had chronic kidney disease that caused acute kidney failure, and progressive arthritis that worsened despite treatment.
“Tundra, who was born at the Bronx Zoo in 1991, was loved by our staff and visitors,” said Jim Breheny, Director of the Bronx Zoo and Executive Vice President of Zoos and Aquarium for the Wildlife Conservation Society. “Many of us grew up with Tundra. He lived a long life under the dedicated care of our keeper and veterinary staffs. Despite his age he remained extremely active and playful until just before his death. Tundra served as an important ambassador for his species, giving our guests an opportunity to see the power, majesty and grace of polar bears while learning about the problems these bears face in the wild due to a changing environment.”
Episode 5: Saturday, April 7, 2018
On the latest episode of the show, you saw our little penguins receive CT scans. The tests revealed the presence of a disease known as mycobacteriosis. This week, we checked in with the Ornithology Department keepers and Wildlife Health Center staff for an update on the birds:
"The little penguins have been doing very well since their diagnosis and treatment for mycobacteriosis a year ago," says our veterinary team. "We are planning to do another round of CT scans soon, and we hope these will show that the penguins are free of disease. Overall, they continue to act like normal, healthy little penguins."
For their work on this project, our team was recently given the Association of Zoos and Aquarium (AZA) Avian Scientific Advisory Group's Plume Award, which recognizes leaders in the field that are committed to furthering avian conservation.
Be sure to check out the little penguins in the Aquatic Bird House next time you visit!
This week on THE ZOO, you watched as our ornithology keepers attempted to breed pink pigeons. It's important work as this species once faced extinction due to habitat loss. Luckily they were brought back from the brink thanks to concerted conservation efforts.
Learn more about the history of the pink pigeon from Maddeline Thompson, WCS Archivist, on our WildView photo blog.
Since the show aired the male pigeon, Stud, has successfully bred with another female. But there's a twist! The chick is being raised by a pair of ring-necked doves. The pink pigeon is gaining size rapidly and has quickly out-grown the surrogate parents. We've photographed the process, check out a few pics below.
Tuberculosis (TB) was diagnosed in Patty, an Asian elephant at the Bronx Zoo, in 2017 through routine health monitoring. TB is a common disease around the world that most frequently affects people in urban areas like New York City and other major cities, and is an infrequent but known disease in elephants.
Patty’s story was told on the Animal Planet docu-series, THE ZOO, in an episode entitled “An Elephant’s Trust” which premiered March 31, 2018. This episode highlights the expert care given to Patty and the trust and bond between her and her keepers as she receives treatment.
The good news is that Patty, who is about 47 years old, is showing no symptoms of the disease and is accepting treatment well. Months after her diagnosis she is her normal, robust self. TB is curable and we are hopeful Patty’s treatment will be successful. All of the subsequent weekly tests we have done with Patty have showed no presence of the TB bacterium.
Our two other elephants, Happy and Maxine, are tested every three months and have not tested positive for TB.
After Patty’s TB was detected, all staff who had close contact with the zoo’s elephants were tested and no one tested positive, including those who have spent the most time with our elephants.
TB is transmitted by close contact over a long time with an infected person or animal so there is no risk to the visiting public as the elephants can only be viewed from a distance while riding on the monorail. There is no opportunity for direct contact between zoo guests and the elephants. Also, the TB organism cannot survive for long in the open environment and sunlight.
At this time, it is not known how Patty acquired TB. Elephants exposed at a young age can wall off the TB bacterium in their body for decades before becoming ill or testing positive. It’s possible that Patty, who was born in India, contracted the disease there before coming to the Bronx Zoo.
Episode 3: Saturday, March 24, 2018
On this week’s THE ZOO, you met four rambunctious rescue bears that now call the Bronx Zoo home.
In 2009, these bears (a grizzly bear and three Alaskan brown bears) were rescued as cubs from Montana and Alaska, respectively. While they came to the Bronx from different places, all four bears share a common story: their mothers were problem bears and were killed as a result of wandering too close to humans.
The Alaskan brown bears are siblings named Koots, Denali, and Sitka. Without their mother to protect them and teach them survival skills, these cubs could not have survived in the wild. So, they were taken to a rescue center in Alaska before being relocated to the Bronx Zoo.
Earlier that e same year, the grizzly bear, named Glacier, came to the zoo from Montana after he was also orphaned. He, too, was too young to survive on his own.
Since their arrival in the Bronx, all four bears have helped us teach our visitors an important lesson:
If people are going to live and recreate so close to wild animals, we must learn to better coexist with them.
We pulled a few of our favorite photos of the group from the archive. Take a look.
Kootz, Denali, and Sitka, three brown bears from Alaska.
This week you met June Bug and Sneedy, our female and male juvenile African-crested porcupines. We thoroughly enjoyed watching their storyline play out so we checked in with Kathleen LaMattina, Collections Manager of Special Animal Exhibits at the Bronx Zoo, to get a little more information. Take a look at our Q&A below!
Bronx Zoo How old are June Bug and Sneedy now? Kathleen LaMattina Almost 9 months old.
Bronx Zoo How do they get along with each other? Kathleen At this age in the wild brother and sister would no longer be living together. These guys are sexually mature now so they were separated to keep them from breeding.
Bronx Zoo What are the plans for the duo in the future? Kathleen They are going to be awesome animal ambassadors for their species! Animal ambassadors give visitors the chance for up close interactions with animals, which creates an appreciation and concern for animals in the wild. It’s an important role in our work to conserve species around the world.
Bronx Zoo What is the most common feedback you get from visitors who meet them? Kathleen People never think porcupines could be so charismatic. They are very sensitive and intelligent creatures.
Bronx Zoo If you could let people know one thing about porcupines they may not know already, what would it be? Kathleen They don't shoot their quills! When threatened, porcupine quills are raised. Some porcupines will run backwards towards the perceived threat. The quills, which are actually modified hairs, detach easily when contact is made.
Episode 1: Saturday, March 10, 2018
This week on the show, you met the Indian gharials that moved into JungleWorld last year. These slender-snouted crocodilians are Critically Endangered. In the video below, Don Boyer, Curator of Herpetology, explains the role the Bronx Zoo and WCS play in gharial conservation.
Episode 8: Saturday, April 8, 2017
On the season finale of THE ZOO, you got another look at how the Bronx Zoo impacts conservation around the world—whether working to stop deadly bird strikes with glass in cities like New York or bringing Kihansi spray toads back in Tanzania. Bronx Zoo Director Jim Breheny took a few minutes to tell us more about the important work conducted on these projects.
Inside the Zoo with Jim Breheny: Kihansi Spray Toads
Inside the Zoo with Jim Breheny: Bird Strike Mitigation
Episode 7: Saturday, April 1, 2017
As you may have learned on this week's episode of THE ZOO, roughly a decade ago, an orphaned snow leopard cub came to the Bronx Zoo from Pakistan. Leo's mother was killed and he was too young to survive on his own in the wild. In the Bronx, he quickly became a conservation ambassador, representing an endangered species, as well as a crowd favorite.
His acquisition was also significant for the Association of Zoos & Aquarium's Species Survival Plan, as we recently heard from Bronx Director Jim Breheny.
Inside the Zoo with Jim Breheny: Snow Leopards
From the archives, these are just a few of the more than 70 snow leopard cubs we've bred at the zoo over the years, as participants in this effort. Our connection to the species dates back even further, too. In 1903, the Bronx Zoo became the first zoo in the U.S. to exhibit these big cats.
Much like the city itself, New York's waters are incredibly diverse. While we know there are sharks here, we're still learning about their behavior. Getting to know underwater wildlife can be tricky so WCS scientists rely in part on electronic tags to follow their movements, like you saw this week on THE ZOO. Sharks may have a fearsome reputation, but they need our help now more than ever. Gathering information will help inform conservation work and ensure a future for these magnificent animals.
Our New York Aquarium and field conservation teams have joined forces to study the New York Bight, from Montauk, NY, to Cape May, NJ. One reason we can have such an impact in saving species around the world is that we harness the power of our four zoos and our aquarium—the Bronx Zoo, Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo, Queens Zoo, and New York Aquarium—and our global field conservation program, which works to save wildlife in nearly 60 nations and all the world's oceans. That includes right here in New York.
Check out this footage of sharks off the coast of New York shot by our New York Aquarium scientists.
Episode 5: Saturday, March 18, 2017
What's even cuter than a little blue penguin? A little blue penguin chick. You got to see ours on this week's episode of THE ZOO. JP's doing great and on exhibit in the Aquatic Bird House. You can plan a trip to see her. If you need any convincing, check out the video below of her cute and all grown up.
Share the little penguin love and download a cover photo for your Facebook profile!
Since the show was filmed, Dinky's been off exhibit undergoing rehabilitation to get back in shape. Check out some photos from the process, and the dedicated staff (some of who you may recognize) that are helping her.
This week on THE ZOO you met our herd of bison, a group of which we're particularly proud. The bison is not only an American
conservation success story, but one the Bronx Zoo played a large part in. In 1913, the zoo (referred to then as the New York Zoological Society) shipped 14 bison to Wind Cave National Park in order to increase their population numbers in the United States. Photos from the archive, below.
This past November, the Bronx Zoo received the gift of eight purebred animals from the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux tribes, the first transfer from a tribe to a zoo. These eight bison will help us continue to breed animals for restoration in the west. It's a long history we're proud to be a part of.
Cats and Dogs
We were excited to share our cheetah ambassador program with you on THE ZOO. Although our cats and dogs aren't ready for the public yet, we couldn't resist a moment to reflect on the progress they've made. Plus, they're pretty darn cute.
Many of you have reached out about the animals featured on the show. For those who missed it, Bronx Zoo Director Jim Breheny gave a few updates on Twitter.
Episode 1: Saturday, February 18, 2017
Meet the cubs
Malayan tiger cubs, that is. Only about 250 of these tigers are left in the wild, so the cubs here at the Bronx Zoo, females named Nadia and Azul, are especially important to the species' survival. You heard their story on this week's show and we're giving them an encore. If you've already fallen for them, check out their appearance the TODAY show below.
The images and footage here are from the tigers' early days at the zoo. Following the cubs' birth, their mother was not providing suitable maternal care so Bronx Zoo keepers intervened and hand-raised the cubs until they were fully weaned. Come spring, be sure to visit in person and see how they've grown!
Were you inspired by the gorilla story on this week's episode (and the Bronx Zoo's incredible team of professionals that give the gorillas year-round care)? Gorilla-fy your Facebook page with the download below.