Monday, July 17, 2017

Columbus Zoo celebrates history-making births

Submitted article

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is excited to announce the recent births of a Pallas’ cat kitten and an Asian small-clawed otter pup. Both births were considered ground-breaking in their own right, as the Pallas’ cat birth marked the second live offspring ever produced with artificial insemination in Pallas’ cats and the Asian small-clawed otter pup was the first of its species to be born at the Zoo in 14 years!

Pallas’ cat kitten
Columbus Zoo Pallas’ cats Manda and Paval gave birth to a female kitten on May 23. The breeding pair was observed mating in the winter, but they were ultimately unable to conceive naturally. After determining that the female, Manda, was not pregnant, the Zoo’s animal care staff and veterinarians worked with the Carl H. Lindner Jr. Family Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW) at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden to conduct an artificial insemination procedure in mid-March, near the end of the pair’s winter breeding season. The subsequent birth of the Pallas’ cat kitten is the first offspring produced by Manda and Paval.

“CREW scientists have been working in collaboration with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Pallas’ cat Species Survival Plan® (SSP) and the Columbus Zoo for several years to apply reproductive sciences, such as semen freezing and artificial insemination (AI), to improve Pallas’ cat propagation and conservation,” said Dr. Bill Swanson, Director of Animal Research for CREW. “We are pleased with the results and look forward to continuing to build an understanding of our role in the preservation of this threatened species.”

Animal care and animal health staff have recently determined that the kitten is a female. While the kitten and her mother are venturing into the habitat, father, Pavel, will not be back on view with Manda again until the kitten is ready to be on her own (around 9 months).

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, Pallas’ cats are near threatened in their native range within the temperate grassland steppe and rocky covering of the mountains of Central Asia due to predation from species including domestic dogs, poaching, and secondary poisoning from pesticides and rodent control.

The Columbus Zoo is also proud to welcome the arrival of another vulnerable species – an Asian small-clawed otter pup named Triton, born on May 17.
Baby otter pup

Native to coastal regions from southern India to Southeast Asia, Asian small-clawed otters are often threatened by habitat destruction, pollution, and hunting, which places them at risk in their native range, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN).

Triton’s mother, Asta, was born in 2008 and came to the Columbus Zoo in June 2014 from the Bronx Zoo. Triton’s father, Oscar was born in 2012 and came to Columbus Zoo from Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo in 2014 as well. Both Asta and Oscar have been part of the Asian small-clawed otter Species Survival Plan® (SSP) to enhance conservation of their species in their native range and to maintain a sustainable population of Asian small-clawed otters in human care.

Animal care specialists note that Triton has a “playful and independent personality” and both parents have been very involved in the care and rearing of the young pup. Triton will not be on view to the public for a few months yet, as he is just beginning his parent-led swimming lessons.

Both of these recent births assist in maximizing genetic diversity, managing demographic distribution and help to further enhance the sustainability of species that are at risk or threatened in their native range. These new arrivals also further demonstrate the Zoo’s unyielding commitment to conservation initiatives, both locally and globally. OTHER LINKS OF NOTE

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