The Blizzard of 2013 left more than snow at Franklin Park Zoo and Stone Zoo. In the week following this historic storm, the Zoos welcomed several new faces with the births of a Grant’s zebra and bongo at Franklin Park Zoo, and a prehensile-tailed porcupine at Stone Zoo.
While the snow piled up outside, Cheyenne, a Grant’s zebra, gave birth to a male foal inside the zebra barn at Franklin Park Zoo. Because he was born on February 9 – the day of the blizzard, staff named the foal Nemo.
Nemo is the offspring of Cheyenne, age 14, and James, age 18. During his well-baby examination, he weighed in at 88 pounds and is reported to be in good health. It is possible that Nemo may make his exhibit debut later this week on Serengeti Crossing.
Four days after Nemo’s birth, a male bongo was born on February 13 at Franklin Park Zoo. The calf, which weighs 50 pounds and is not yet named, is the second offspring for Annakiya, age nine, and Junior, age seven. Bongos are the largest, and often considered the most beautiful, forest-dwelling antelope found in equatorial Africa.
Zoo New England participates in the Bongo Species Survival Plan (SSP), which is a cooperative, inter-zoo program coordinated nationally through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. SSPs are designed to maintain genetically diverse and demographically stable captive populations of species. This birth is the result of a recommended breeding between Junior and Annakiya. Franklin Park Zoo has played a key role in growing the North American captive population through successful breeding. The new calf is the fifth born at Franklin Park Zoo throughout the last 10 years.
“Annakiya is doing everything a good bongo mother should. She is very protective and calls to her calf often,” said John Linehan, ZNE President and CEO, who added, “We are incredibly excited by all of these recent births and we’re thrilled to be able to share the news. As with all new births, the staff is keeping a watchful eye on each of the mothers and babies, and everyone is doing well so far.”
Bongos are temperature sensitive, and visitors will be able to see the calf on days when the temperature reaches above 40 degrees.
A few days after the bongo’s birth, the staff at Stone Zoo was happy to report that a prehensile-tailed porcupine was born. The baby, born on February 16, can be seen on exhibit with its parents Comica, age 14, and Elvis, age six, inside the Windows to the Wild exhibit space.
ZNE also participates in the Prehensile-tailed Porcupine SSP, and this birth is the result of a recommended breeding. Prehensile-tailed porcupines are born with their eyes open and a functional, prehensile tail. Infants have a dense coat of reddish hair and sharp natal quills about 15 millimeters long. There is very little direct contact between mom and offspring except for short periods when the baby nurses.
Prehensile-tailed porcupines are primarily arboreal, nocturnal animals native to Central and South America with an excellent sense of smell and hearing.