Spring has brought a bounty of babies to ZooTampa at Lowry Park, and the adorableness is overflowing.
The zoo noted that the baby boom is part of its conservation efforts. They welcomed two lorikeet chicks, two kinds of antelope and a litter of critically endangered red wolves.
The red wolf pups made their public debut on April 9, with their mom, named Nymeria, and their dad, Sumac. The pups, who don’t have names yet, are among the world’s most endangered canids. Once ranging throughout the southeastern United States, fewer than 20 wild red wolves now remain in North Carolina in a single wild population.
ZooTampa takes part in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ red wolf species survival plan and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Red Wolf Recovery Program to bolster their wild population.
The red wolf was once well-established as a top predator throughout the Southeast. Its original range is believed to be the entire eastern forested region of North America from southeastern Canada to the gulf coast. However, by 1920 the red wolf had been destroyed in most of the Southern states, and by 1970 fewer than 100 red wolves remained in the entire United States.
Recovery efforts shifted to capturing red wolves and breeding them in captivity, with a goal of future reintroduction, according to the zoo. By 1980, the species was declared functionally extinct in the wild. Captive breeding under the red wolf species survival plan has since preserved genetically pure red wolves. In 1987, eight captive-born red wolves were released into the wilds of Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge on North Carolina’s Albemarle Peninsula.
Other zoo babies include a new nyala, a beautiful spiral-horned antelope native to southern Africa. A male, which they named Finn, was born on March 13.
“Females and young males are memorable for their striking white stripes,” a zoo news release said. “Males start to lose their stripes from the age of 10 to 12. A nyala will flash this white underside of their tails as a warning sign to other herd members when danger is near.”
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Another antelope, the moderately sized bay duiker, was born March 14. The female, named Juniper, is bonding with her mom in the zoo’s Okapi habitat.
”Duikers are a shy, reserved antelope that will take cover from predators by diving behind nearby plants. In fact, the word ‘duiker’ comes from the African word meaning ‘dive,’” according to the zoo.
There are 22 known species of duiker, all of which live in sub-Saharan Africa.
ZooTampa’s Wild Africa is home to two different species of duikers, quite different from one another, the zoo said. The bay duiker, which stands approximately 18 inches at the shoulders and weighs around 45 pounds, is a lot smaller than the yellow-back duiker. It stands approximately 50 inches at the shoulders and weighs almost 150 pounds.
Among the other March births were two rainbow lorikeet chicks that hatched on March 25 and on March 27. These colorful birds live in the low woodlands of southeastern Australia, especially in areas with flowering trees.
Lorikeets, unlike other parrot species, will initially grow brightly colored feathers. As a result, they are among the most colorful, charismatic birds in the world, the zoo said. Both male and female rainbow lorikeets have green plumage with bright red and yellow feathers on the breast, neck and sides of the belly. The head is violet-blue.