Watch Endangered California Condor Chick in the Hills Above Fillmore Live on "Condor Cam"

People across the world can get up-close-and-personal with an endangered California condor chick in real-time through live streaming video of a cliff-side nest in a canyon on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge in Ventura County.

California condor chick #980 hatched on April 10. Its parents are nine-year-old female condor #563 and 19-year-old male condor #262. This is the pair’s first nesting attempt together and their first year on the livestreaming Condor Cam as a pair. This is female condor #563’s second attempt at raising a chick, and the chick’s father, condor #262, fledged one other chick in the past with a previous mate.

Followers of the California Condor Cam watched a chick hatch live in the wild for the first time in history from another cliff-side nest on Hopper Mountain NWR in 2015. Since then, livestreaming video of California condor chicks have gained worldwide attention – attracting hundreds of thousands of viewers from all over the world.

Female California condor 563 stands over her newly hatched chick on April 10 in a nest cavity now fitted with a live-streaming video camera in the Pole Canyon area of the Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge. Bluish colored egg fragments are visible. Credit: Pacific Southwest Region USFWS.

Female California condor 563 stands over her newly hatched chick on April 10 in a nest cavity now fitted with a live-streaming video camera in the Pole Canyon area of the Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge. Bluish colored egg fragments are visible. Credit: Pacific Southwest Region USFWS.

“Today’s technology allows researchers like us to observe nests in remote locations without having to trek into the backcountry and wait for days, sometimes weeks, at observation blinds for a glimpse of the condors,” says Dr. Estelle Sandhaus, the Santa Barbara Zoo’s director of conservation and science. “With this live stream, the public can share in the thrill of seeing these rare and highly endangered birds care for their chick, and follow its development before it takes its first flight. What was once only seen by a few scientists is now available to anyone with an internet connection.”

In California, wild condors nest, roost or fly in the mountains of Monterey, San Benito, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles, Kern, Tulare and Fresno counties, and the western Sierra Nevada Mountains.

The 2018 nesting season was a record-breaking one, with 12 nests in the mountains of Ventura, Santa Barbara and Kern counties. Six of those nests were successful, the most ever in the Southern California flock.

“The success of last year’s nesting season was really monumental for the condor recovery program and a testament to the hard work of all the partners involved in this effort,” said Nicole Weprin, wildlife biologist with the Service’s California Condor Recovery Program. “We’re hopeful for another successful nesting season this year, and thrilled that the public can share in our excitement by watching the Condor Cam.”

The number of California condors dropped dramatically in the mid-20th century, leading the Service to designate the species as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. By 1982 there were only 22 of the iconic birds left in the wild. Today, due to intensive, ongoing captive breeding and recovery efforts led by the Service in conjunction with multiple public and private partners, the California condor population has grown to just under 490 birds worldwide, with more than half of the population flying free.

Today the number one killer of California condors is lead poisoning, caused by condors feeding on carcasses containing lead bullet fragments. Peer-reviewed research shows that lead poisoning is a serious health problem for both wildlife and humans, and the Service is working with partner organizations and the hunting community as it transitions to the use of non-lead ammunition alternatives. Hunters are continuing their proud tradition of wildlife conservation by using these non-lead alternatives.

Another threat specific to condor chicks is “micro trash.” Micro trash are small coin-sized trash items such as, nuts, bolts, washers, copper wire, plastic, bottle caps, glass, and spent ammunition cartridges. Condor parents collect these items and feed them to their chick, which can cause serious problems with the chick’s development. While it is not completely understood why this occurs, many biologists believe that the condor parents mistake these items for pieces of bone and shell which provides a source of calcium if fed to the chick.

Conservation efforts toward the recovery of the California condor are achieved only through partnerships amongst federal and state agencies, together with private landowners and organizations. The Pole Canyon Condor Cam is made possible through access provided by private landowners, and through the financial and technical support of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Santa Barbara Zoo, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology, Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, and Friends of California Condors Wild and Free.

"The condor cams are unlike any other offering on the internet. Each year we've streamed from a different site and pair, and the differences among all these nests and individuals have given viewers a unique opportunity to understand more of the richness and variability of the condor's life history,” said Charles Eldermire, Cornell Lab Bird Cams project leader. “That's not just good for viewers—it's good for the condors, too.”

To watch the Condor Cam, visit: www.allaboutbirds.org/condors

For answers to frequently asked questions about the nest cam, the parents and the chick, visit: www.fws.gov/cno/es/CalCondor/CondorCam.html

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information about our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov/cno or connect with us via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a membership institution dedicated to interpreting and conserving the earth’s biological diversity through research, education, and citizen science focused on birds. Visit the Cornell Lab’s website at birds.cornell.edu

The Santa Barbara Zoo is located on 30 acres of botanic gardens and is home to more than 500 individual animals in open, naturalistic habitats. It is accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), representing the highest level of animal care, and participates in AZA cooperative programs for endangered species including Asian elephant, California condor, Channel Island fox, and Western lowland gorilla, among others. Visit www.sbzoo.org.

The Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology (WFVZ) is both a natural history collection specializing in eggs and nests of birds from all over the world, and a research and education institution dedicated to studying and teaching about the conservation of the world’s bird species. The WFVZ has contributed information to thousands of research projects since its inception in 1956. Visit us at www.wfvz.org, and on Facebook and Instagram.

Reindeer Arrive at the Santa Barbara Zoo for the Holiday Season on November 20, 2018

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Cookie and Peppermint, those slightly-less-famous reindeer, arrive at the Santa Barbara Zoo to celebrate the holidays on Tuesday, November 20, 2018 at 10am.. Winter-themed and holiday-related activities happening throughout the holiday season.

The Zoo is located at 500 Ninos Drive, Santa Barbara. Admission to the Zoo is currently $18 for adults, $10 ages 2 to 12 and $13 for seniors 65+.

www.sbzoo.org/event/reindeer-zoo-arrive

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Prognosis is Good for Lucky, the Shoe-Wearing Penguin at Santa Barbara Zoo

Lucky shown wearing one of his high-tech shoes designed by Teva, which allowed him to walk, swim, and be a part of the Santa Barbara Zoo’s penguin colony. (Photo Credit: Tony Luna)

Lucky shown wearing one of his high-tech shoes designed by Teva, which allowed him to walk, swim, and be a part of the Santa Barbara Zoo’s penguin colony. (Photo Credit: Tony Luna)

Lucky, a Humboldt penguin at the Santa Barbara Zoo who made national headlines for wearing a specially designed shoe, has undergone surgery to remove the foot on his affected right leg. His prognosis is good, according to Director of Animal Care and Health Dr. Julie Barnes, who assisted on the surgery conducted this morning (Friday, October 19) by Dr. Stephen Klause, a veterinary orthopedic specialist from the Los Angeles Zoo. Dr. Klause has consulted with Dr. Barnes on Lucky’s condition for several years and has a lot of surgical experience with birds.

“Although this is a fairly straightforward surgery and used for cats and dogs with a similar condition, there are some other considerations for performing this in a bird,” said Dr. Barnes. “We feel he has a good prognosis and this procedure will give him the best quality of life. Our goals are to lessen Lucky’s pain, retain his mobility, and have him rejoin the Zoo’s Humboldt penguin colony.”

Why Lucky Needed Surgery

Lucky’s need for this surgery stems from the deterioration of a malformed ankle joint, which caused his right foot to point up at an angle, rather than lay flat. This caused Lucky to walk on the point of his ankle, rather than on his foot. The abnormality was discovered as soon as Lucky left the nest in 2010 and walked with a shuffling gait. He was unable to walk properly and began to develop life-threatening infections from pressure and chafing.

In 2011, local shoe company Teva designed a high-tech shoe for the penguin, and since then has further refined and provided custom shoes for Lucky, free of charge. The footwear has been effective for the past eight years, allowing him to be an active member of the Zoo’s penguin colony. In 2017, he sired a chick with his mate Nica.

But Lucky’s intertarsal (ankle) joint was undergoing a continual, slow deterioration as expected with this type of deformity. The joint was collapsing and becoming inflamed, causing swelling and pressure. Excess bone (or calcification) had formed in the joint, causing painful bone-on-bone contact.

Lucky’s treatments when his ankle and foot were swollen included pain medications, bandaging, and poultices such as iodine and sugar. But the bouts of swelling had recently become more frequent despite treatment. He was spending more time in the Animal Hospital due to flare-ups, and was exhibiting signs of discomfort. (See below)

“Lucky’s condition had reached a critical stage as it was difficult to manage his pain effectively,” adds Dr. Barnes.

Lucky will recover in the Animal Hospital for several weeks, accompanied by his mate Nica, with the focus on healing from surgery. Once he is healed, efforts will begin with Teva to develop a new shoe.

Chilean Flamingo With No Toes is Part of the Flock

The Zoo also is home to a Chilean flamingo that was hatched with a deformed foot, which necessitated the amputation of its toes in January 2018. That bird, Nugget, wears a special sock and returned to the flamingo flock within six weeks of her surgery.

“We have experience with this, having worked with Nugget, who is doing quite well,” said Dr. Barnes. “We look forward to when Lucky is recovered, out of pain, and back with his colony-mates.”

How Did Lucky Show He Was in Pain?

The Zoo’s Animal Care Staff were able to determine Lucky’s level of discomfort by his behavior. They report that at first he would limp. As the discomfort increased, he “bicycled” or moved his leg in a circular motion. If he was very uncomfortable, he would not walk and he might bray (vocalize). When handled, he would react to having his foot touched. During painful flare-ups, he was moved to the Animal Hospital for treatments, accompanied by his mate Nica.  

The Santa Barbara Zoo is located on 30 acres of botanic gardens and is home to nearly 500 individual animals in open, naturalistic habitats. It is accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), representing the highest level of animal care, and participates in AZA endangered species programs for Asian elephant, California condor, Channel Island fox, and Western lowland gorilla, among others. A private 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, the Santa Barbara Zoo depends on community support, not tax dollars, for operations and improvements. Visit www.sbzoo.org.

Santa Barbara Zoo's Asian Elephant Sujatha Died Yesterday, October 16th

Sujatha pictured here on the right (Photo Credit: SB Zoo)

Sujatha pictured here on the right (Photo Credit: SB Zoo)

It is with immense sadness that the Santa Barbara Zoo announces the death of 47 year old Asian elephant Sujatha (pronounced sue-JAW-tha) on Tuesday night, October 16th. She was humanely euthanized in the upper yard of her exhibit, surrounded by her keepers, veterinary personnel and support staff.  Immediately following, the Zoo’s other Asian elephant, Little Mac, was given access to Sujatha to grieve her companion of 46 years. Elephants grieving for fellow herd members has been observed both in the wild and under human care.

“Sujatha and Little Mac have been ambassadors for Asian elephants in Santa Barbara for 46 years,” said Zoo CEO Rich Block. “Children who first met them in the 1970s have brought their own children, and some even their grandchildren, to meet these wonderful creatures. They have been loved and cared for by numerous keepers and staff over the years. We are grateful to Sujatha and Little Mac for how they have enriched all our lives.”

The public can make a gift in Sujatha’s memory either to the International Elephant Foundation or the Zoo’s “Greens and Trimmings” fund. Information is at www.sbzoo/sujatha.

Elephants Considered Geriatric at Age 40; Sujatha was 47

The 47-year-old female elephant had been experiencing many challenges related to old age, particularly arthritis and its associated pain. She was able to live comfortably for three years with the aid of treatments with treatment with stem cells, laser, hydrotherapy, physical therapy, and pain medication. But recently, Sujatha’s health began to decline. Keepers closely monitored her and performed regular quality of life assessments. In the last two weeks, she was observed sleeping less, using her trunk to support her weight while walking, and showing less interest in regular activities. She began to refuse food and her medications over the weekend, with subsequent weight loss. 

“We have been concerned about Sujatha, and invited an elephant welfare expert from the Santa Diego Zoo to visit here to give an independent assessment,” said Dr. Julie Barnes, the Zoo’s director of animal care and health. “But Sujatha began to go downhill rapidly. Though it was a difficult decision, her behavior and condition told us that it was time to say goodbye. ”

According to data from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the median life expectancy in Asian elephants in U.S. zoos is 46.9 years. That means that half the animals live less than that age, and half live longer. At age 47, Sujatha was very close to the median. An Asian elephant is considered geriatric around age 40.

Sujatha’s body was removed by crane to a truck for transport to a necropsy performed at the California Animal Health & Food Safety Laboratory in San Bernardino which is run by U.C. Davis. “Performing a necropsy is important because it contributes to our knowledge and understanding of geriatric medical conditions in elephants,” said Dr. Barnes.

Future for Little Mac

Little Mac could live at the Santa Barbara Zoo or be moved, depending on the results of welfare assessments by staff and outside elephant experts. No decision about her future will be made until these assessments are complete.

At the very least, Little Mac will remain at the Zoo until she is trained to comfortably enter a transport crate for relocation to join a herd elsewhere. She was last transported when she and Sujatha were moved to and from the Fresno Zoo during their exhibit’s 2004 renovation.

The Two Elephants Arrived from India in July 1972

Sujatha and Little Mac arrived at the Santa Barbara Zoo in July 1972, at the age of 1½ years. They stood less than four feet high. Sujatha was born to a working mother in an Indian logging camp, and Little Mac was discovered nearby in the forest, apparently orphaned.  The Zoo received them from the city of Mysore, India, in exchange for six California sea lions. 

The elephants’ first home at the Zoo was in a former barnyard area, now the restaurant courtyard.  Their first barn was located where the public restrooms are now.  But as they grew, so did their need for space. The current exhibit was constructed in the late 1970s, and the height of the barn was raised twice as the elephants grew to maturity. 

Over the years, various exhibit improvements were made, such as a heated floor installed in 2000, for example, partially paid for with the proceeds from that year’s Zoo-B-Que and the Zoofari Ball.

In 2004, a major renovation increased the animals’ space, enlarged the pool, improved sight lines for guest viewing, and brought the surrounding pathways into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. During construction, Sujatha and Little Mac were boarded at the Fresno Zoo. 

A 30-foot tall permanent umbrella was installed in 2009 to encourage the elephants to reach up with their trunks to large bundles of “browse” (leaves or hay) or enrichment items high above their heads, a behavior commonly seen in the wild. A digital scale was also installed just outside their barnyard door, which allowed keepers to weigh them daily instead of yearly.

In 2009, the elephants were put on a special diet to promote weight loss, as they were aging and developing geriatric medical conditions, particularly their aging joints. Each elephant lost approximately 2500 pounds over the past six years.

The two elephants lived together at the Santa Barbara Zoo virtually their entire lives. Neither cow was bred or produced offspring.

About Asian Elephants

Asian elephants are found in densely forested regions, hilly and mountainous areas of Southeast Asia, Sri Lanka, and Sumatra, and are widely used as work animals in India and Southeast Asia. They are smaller than African elephants, and only male Asian elephants have large tusks.    

Asian elephants are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Their main threat is the disappearance of natural habitat due to human development and agriculture. Male Asian elephants have also been reduced in number due to ivory poaching.   

The Santa Barbara Zoo is located on 30 acres of botanic gardens and is home to nearly 500 individual animals in open, naturalistic habitats. It is accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), representing the highest level of animal care, and participates in AZA endangered species programs for Asian elephant, California condor, Channel Island fox, and Western lowland gorilla, among others. A private 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, the Santa Barbara Zoo depends on community support, not tax dollars, for operations and improvements. Visit www.sbzoo.org.

The New Western Lowland Gorilla Brothers are Now on View at the Santa Barbara Zoo

Brothers Nzinga (pronounced in-ZING-gah) and Bangori (ban-GORE-ee) have completed their 30 day required quarantine period and are now on view intermittently, between 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., at the Santa Barbara Zoo. 

Born and raised at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas, these new Western lowland gorilla brothers share parents and are adapting to their new home and keepers. The brothers have reached the age where it was time to leave the family as a bachelor group until they are ready to lead families of their own in the next five to ten years. Nzinga is 18 and Bangori is 12.

The Santa Barbara Zoo is among several zoos that have bachelor troops in a "Foster Feeder" program. Consider helping the Zoo with a Foster Feeder sponsorship; a $50 donation helps with the cost of feeding the gorillas. New gorilla Foster Feeders receive a plush gorilla (while supplies last) along with a certificate, fact sheet and recognition. Visit www.sbzoo.org/donate and choose Sponsor an Animal.

Western lowland gorillas are a critically endangered species. Main threats stem from human-disease transmission, poaching and habitat loss. There are currently 353 Western lowland gorillas who reside in 51 Association of Zoo & Aquarium institutions throughout North America.

The Western lowland gorilla species is also known by the quite interesting scientific name, Gorilla gorilla gorilla. Did hear an echo?

Visit the Santa Barbara Zoo website at www.sbzoo.org.

Update on Parker, the Newest Masai Giraffe at the Santa Barbara Zoo

Here's the latest on "Parker," born this past Saturday to doting mother Betty Lou at the Santa Barbara Zoo. Parker is a boy and he measured in at 6'8" and 171 lbs. Not quite NBA material at that weight but watch him grow! Parker is the 6th calf born at the zoo since arrival of his sire, Michael, on the scene. Giraffes are the tallest land mammal, and the Masai is the largest subspecies, growing up to 17 feet tall and weighing 2,700 pounds. Parker will on view to the public at a data TBA.

More on the zoo at THIS LINK.

Santa Barbara Zoo Announces Birth of Another Masai Giraffe Named Parker

The Santa Barbara Zoo’s Masai giraffe Betty Lou gave birth to a calf today, August 6th at 9:38am in the Zoo’s Giraffe Barn after 45 minutes of labor. The calf has been named “Parker” by donors, the Hutton Parker Foundation.  The sex of the calf will be determined at a veterinary exam tomorrow morning, August 7th.

NOTE: The calf is not currently available for viewing. Viewing date will be announced via SB Zoo social media.

This is Betty Lou’s third pregnancy. Giraffe calves are born after a gestation of roughly 14.5 months and are typically 125 to 150 pounds and six feet tall at birth. Parker should grow approximately three feet during the calf’s first year of life. 

The calf stood 50 minutes after being born and was nursing 30 minutes after standing up.  The Santa Barbara Zoo animal care team remarked that Betty Lou is a very attentive mother.

The Zoo’s giraffe herd is part of the population of 120 Masai giraffes that live at 28 North American zoos accredited by the AZA. Michael, the calf’s sire, is considered the most genetically valuable male Masai giraffe in captivity because he has few relatives in zoos other than his offspring born here in Santa Barbara, which now numbers six. He arrived at the Santa Barbara Zoo in January 2012.

The SB Zoo’s herd now consists of Michael, females Audrey and Betty Lou, Audrey’s calves Chad (born March 26, 2016) and Buttercup (born November 13, 2014), and now Betty Lou’s calf Parker.

There are an estimated 37,000 Masai giraffes in Kenya and Tanzania, but a more thorough census is required. They are at risk due to poaching and habitat loss and environmental degradation. Giraffes are the tallest land mammal, and the Masai is the largest subspecies, growing up to 17 feet tall and weighing 2,700 pounds.

Iconic Species Fights for Survival 

According to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, there are nine recognized subspecies of giraffes with some subspecies numbering only a few thousand such as Rothschild’s giraffe (Giraffe camelopardalis rothschildi), a few hundred to under 100.  Overall giraffe populations have plummeted 40% in just 15 years in the plains and forests of Africa.

Stick Your Neck Out for Giraffes!

The public can support the SBZ herd and welcome this long-necked arrival by becoming a Foster Feeder sponsor of the giraffe calf.  A donation of $50 helps with the cost of feeding the growing giraffe family. New giraffe Foster Feeders receive a baby photo of the calf along with a certificate, giraffe fact sheet, and recognition on the Zoo’s Foster Feeder board. For information, visit www.sbzoo.org.

About the Santa Barbara Zoo

Known as one of the world’s most beautiful zoos, the Santa Barbara Zoo is located on 30 acres of botanic gardens and is home to nearly 500 individual animals in open, naturalistic habitats. It is accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), representing the highest level of animal care, and participates in AZA endangered species programs for Asian elephant, California condor, Channel Island fox, and Western lowland gorilla, among others.

A private nonprofit corporation, the Santa Barbara Zoo depends on community support, not tax dollars, for operations and improvements. 

The Zoo is open daily from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; general admission is $17 for adults, $13 for seniors aged 65+, $10 for children 2-12, and children under 2 are free. Parking is $7. Visit www.sbzoo.org.

Two New Western Lowland Gorillas Have Arrived at the Santa Barbara Zoo

Two new Western lowland gorillas arrived today (7/27/16) at the Santa Barbara Zoo from the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas.

Nzinga (age 18) and Bangori (age 12) are brothers, and will be on view to the public after a thirty day quarantine. The public debut date will be announced on the Zoo’s social media.

The Zoo’s previous gorillas, named Goma and Kivu, had resided at the Zoo since 1997 in the Forest’s Edge exhibit and departed this spring. Goma and Kivu are now playing a vital role in adding to the genetic diversity of North American gorillas having joined family groups at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado (Goma) and the Little Rock Zoo in Arkansas (Kivu).

About Western Lowland Gorillas
Found in the lowland tropical forests of central Africa and the Congo Basin, the Western lowland gorilla population is critically endangered. Main threats stem from human-disease transmission, poaching and habitat loss due to mining and timber industries. According to the World Wildlife Fund, even if all threats to Western lowland gorillas were removed, scientists calculate the population would require at least 75 years to recover due to naturally low birth rates.

Currently, there are 353 Western lowland gorillas that reside in 51 Association of Zoo & Aquarium (AZA) institutions throughout North America.

The Santa Barbara Zoo’s role in this effort is to house all male groups called bachelor troops. Bachelor troops play a critical role in the development of young, male gorillas. When it’s time for teenage males to leave their birth families, they join a bachelor troop until they are old enough to establish a family troop of their own.

The species is also known by one of the more memorable the scientific names in the animal
kingdom, Gorilla gorilla gorilla.

“Support the Troop”
The public can help the Zoo celebrate the arrival of Nzinga and Bangori by becoming a Foster Feeder sponsor for Western lowland gorillas. A donation of $50 helps with the cost of feeding the gorillas. New gorilla Foster Feeders receive a plush gorilla (while supplies last) along with a certificate, fact sheet, and recognition on the Zoo’s Foster Feeder board. For information, visit www.sbzoo.org/donate and choose Sponsor an Animal.

Known as one of the world’s most beautiful zoos, the Santa Barbara Zoo is located on 30 acres ofbotanic gardens and is home to nearly 500 individual animals in open, naturalistic habitats. It is accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), representing the highest level of animal care, and participates in AZA endangered species programs for Asian elephant, California condor, Channel Island fox, and Western lowland gorilla, among others.

A private nonprofit corporation, the Santa Barbara Zoo depends on community support, not tax dollars, for operations and improvements. The Zoo is open daily from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; general admission is $17 for adults, $13 for seniors aged 65+, $10 for children 2-12, and children under 2 are free. Parking is $7. Visit www.sbzoo.org.