Page 1

a digital publication for the members of

the Pit tsburgh zoo & PPG Aquarium

A Star in Stripes

Meet the Zoo’s Amur tiger cub

S u m m e r

2 0 1 3

Raising Baby An update on the baby gorilla

, te

o sw

urtle go fs and I hing m. live at th .Ia quariu A e P G P m y f m a m p e i l e y a lo safe a pk t lik nd n he l e you e e s v e a r th , bu t I le row am endangered. garb age i nto a an. lake, riv er or the oce

t ike l I P





Hi –


is SUNBURST e ! I am a m l e t t a t e u sea t , c na e im and

For nearly 130 years, PPG has been bringing great things to the Pittsburgh region, such as funding to help sustain our world-class zoo and aquarium. In fact, this year we’re celebrating more than 10 years of making a splash together and we’re looking forward to many more! To learn more wild stuff about our company, visit


Black rhinoceros

Operated by the Zoological Society of Pittsburgh Board of Directors Richard Kalson, Chair Edward Goncz, Vice Chair William Fallon, Treasurer Jill Sandilla, Secretary Dr. Barbara Baker, President & CEO Leonard F. Bach Deborah Bergren Courtney Borntraeger Glenn E. Bost, II Dorothy Boyer Louise Brown Howard Bruschi Tacy M. Byham, Ph.D. Carol B. Caroselli Gary Claus G. Henry Cook Jack Demos Patrick Dowd, Ph.D. Colette Dugan Joan Ellenbogen Beverlynn Elliott Jack Friedman Karen Roche Galey, M.D. David Grubman Andrew Hasley Frank Horrigan Lorna H. Irvin Julius Jones Justin Kaufman Rebecca Keevican Thomas Kublack Michael LaRocco Susan Pressly Lephart, Ph.D. Patrick Loughney Kenneth McCrory Kristine McGinley Peggy McKnight Leslie Merrill John Miclot Henry Mordoh Melissa Murphy David Newell John Payne, DVM, MS Rita Randall Mayor Luke Ravenstahl J. Eric Renner Donald Rhoten F. Brooks Robinson, Jr. Cynthia Dear Russell Sara Scaife Jennifer Seng James C. Stalder Geoffrey Stillson Douglas Stirling Susette Stone Becky Torbin Gregory Weingart Sally Wiggin Stuart Wise Robert T. Woodings, III Š2013 Paul A. Selvaggio

Š2013 Paul A. Selvaggio

from the president


have heard the word “staycation” used quite a bit this year as everyone considers how to have fun without spending a lot of money. The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium brings a trip around the world to you with a lot less jet

lag and baggage fees. In one day, you can travel through the Asian Forest, stop by the African Savanna, be surrounded by the Earth’s great watery habitats at the PPG Aquarium, and take a trip to the North Pole. Of course, Kids Kingdom supplies just the right amount of fun for kids of all ages. To make the trip even better, this year we are thrilled to introduce a tiger cub and a baby gorilla to our visitors in addition to our baby rhino. Our adult female tiger, Toma, gave birth to a single tiger cub on Easter Sunday and has been a great mother, nurturing and caring for her cub. At his last check-up, he weighed over ten pounds and will continue to grow to an adult weight of up to 400 pounds. As he grows and becomes more confident, he is more adventurous and curious, coming out of the den to see what is happening in the world around him. Over in the gorilla yard, you can meet the newest addition to the Zoo’s gorilla troop. The tiny bundle of joy who was born in mid-April is currently being handraised by keepers and Animal Health staff. His mother, Moka, developed severe mastitis and was unable to provide adequate nourishment to him. The infant gorilla is now thriving and will eventually be reintroduced to the troop. You may also notice some construction occurring around the Zoo. We welcomed a new red panda to the family over the winter months and she is staying in what was originally the Komodo dragon yard in the Asian Forest. In the coming weeks, both the red panda and the Komodo dragons will be on exhibit. The previous Komodo dragon yard was expanded and separated into two specialized areas for both animals, bringing the hot Indonesian climate ideal for Komodo dragons and the cooler, mountainous Asian regions of the red panda next door to each other. The Komodo dragons will still have their heated rock and the red panda, a cold weather animal, has an air conditioned room in which she can cool off during warm summer days. Our red panda has already made herself comfortable and the young Komodo dragons will soon be checking out their new home. With so much excitement from all over the world going on in your backyard, we hope to see you at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium this summer.

Dr. Barbara Baker President & CEO


Volume 16 Number 2

Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium One Wild Place Pittsburgh, PA 15206

COVER STORY Dr. Barbara Baker, President & CEO

Published by the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium Editor: Laura Gething Creative Director: Paul A. Selvaggio

08 A Star in Stripes

Meet the Zoo’s Amur tiger cub

Design & Production: Jennifer Hicks Contributing Photographer: Paul A. Selvaggio ZOO EXPLORER Review Committee Raymond E Bamrick, Lead Keeper Lori Elder, Membership Services Manager Michelle Farmerie, Keeper Tricia Hartnett, Keeper



Henry Kacprzyk, Curator, Reptiles & Kids Kingdom Rich Terrell, Amazon Forest Aquarist

Raising Baby

An update on the baby gorilla

Sarah Poweska, Asst. Director of Development Mark Reardon, Asst. Curator of Conservation Education Kathy Suthard, Lead Keeper Jaime Szoszorek, Director of Marketing & PR Karen Vacco, Asst. Curator of Mammals Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium Docent Council President: Deneen Beatty


Little Leaping Lemurs


A Herd for Doug


Sea Otter Update

Vice President: Karen Tritten Secretary: Marlene Goldstein Treasurer: Louis Bruno Memberships and Subscriptions: Subscription to ZooExplorer is included in every Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium Membership. Memberships begin at $60.

An accredited institution of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association.

The Pittsburgh Zoo is supported in part through funding from the Allegheny Regional Asset District and PPG Industries.

A copy of the official registration and financial information may be obtained from the Pennsylvania Department of State


From the President


News & Views


Kid’s Page

Fun & Games Hey Henry!


Calendar of Events

by calling toll-free within Pennsylvania 1-800-732-0999. Registration does not imply endorsement. ZooExplorer is the online magazine of the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, published biannually for Members free of charge.

ZooExplorer Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium One Wild Place, Pittsburgh, PA 15206 © 2013 Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium

06 | Zoo Explorer Summer 2013



Icon Guide

Embedded caption or additional information



Bonus media feature, such as a photo slideshow or video


Interactive opportunity






Zoo Explorer Summer 2013 | 07

Š2013 Paul A. Selvaggio

A Star in Stripes Story by Kathy Suthard Lead Keeper Photography by Paul A. Selvaggio

Zoo Explorer Summer 2013 | 09

Now we are talking to him when he peeks out of the nest box. He is not sure what to make of us and sometimes retreats back inside.

Petya & Mara

10 | Zoo Explorer Summer 2013

Billy Ray

Max, Simsa, & Nikita


e were so fortunate when Toma, an endangered Amur tiger, was brought to our zoo back in 1999. She has always been a personable tiger with a lot of attitude. She is easy to work around and loves to learn. Toma has also produced a number of cubs since arriving at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium. In 2006, cubs Petya and Mara were born. Both have since gone to other zoos and Mara became a mother herself. In 2008, Toma had a single male cub and for reasons known only to Toma, she walked away and would not raise this cub. Subsequently he was hand raised by animal care staff and has grown into a beautiful adult tiger with mates of his own. He lives at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado. Toma was then paired with Taiga and they produced three cubs in September of 2010. Adults now, Max has been sent to the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago and his sisters, Simsa and Nikita, will be sent on to begin their lives at other zoos in the near future. Amur tigers are critically endangered with only about 400 left in the wild. It is important to have a healthy population of these cats in captivity. We were asked by the Species Survival Plan (SSP) to try and breed Toma once again with Taiga because of Toma’s valuable bloodlines and her successful experience with multiple litters. When introducing cats for mating, there is always the potential for aggression. The fact that Toma and Taiga had been successfully introduced in the past with no problems gave us confidence to move forward with the pairing. The introductions continued for several days in mid-December. It was a very positive sign to see the two big cats running back and forth, playfully swatting at each other and then lying quietly next to each other. There was always a keeper present to be an observer in the event that the playfulness got too rough and to monitor whether or not mating had taken place. As Toma’s reproductive cycle ended, so did her time with Taiga. We now calculated a possible due date for cubs to be born. In her last three pregnancies, Toma had delivered on day 105 so we had no reason to expect this time it would be any different. We were looking forward to springtime and March 28.

There is no instant pregnancy test for tigers so we would have to be patient and watch for changes in Toma’s behavior, eating habits, and an increase in the size of her stomach. Because she is an older cat we could not be certain that she was pregnant. She had mated with Taiga earlier in the season and had not conceived so we were keeping our fingers crossed that this time she had. We increased her diet and she was eating all of it. When she did not cycle again the following month we were optimistic.

Toma has produced a number of cubs since arriving at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium.

As the cold winter dragged on we didn’t see a lot of growth in Toma’s mid-section that would indicate developing cubs. Toma’s thick fur grew even more because of our seasonal cold weather, a perfect camouflage that could hide her stomach. We spent time daily, staring at her belly as she lay contently in her room. We were watching for the tiniest sign of movement from what we had hoped were little ones inside of her. As we had done during her other pregnancies, we outfitted her room with a separate nest box that was dark, cozy and straw-filled. It also had an infrared camera that gave us the ability to monitor her from any remote computer. We could check on her easily during the day and from home at night. As her due date arrived and there were no signs of impending labor we were disappointed. The next day came and then the next. Nothing

Zoo Explorer Summer 2013 | 11

Since the birth of this tiger cub, Toma has proven to be an excellent and attentive mother.

Periodic checking of the camera during the early evening revealed nothing new. This was beginning to concern us as she was several days past her due date. Finally when the camera was viewed at 8:32 p.m. Toma was seen cleaning a newly born tiger cub! The cub was already squirming actively and Toma was giving it a good washing. We monitored the pair over the course of the evening and we were hoping to see the arrival of one or two more babies but a single cub was all she would have. When she gave birth to one cub before, she left it within a few hours. Now this was our concern as we nervously watched and hoped she would continue to take care of her newborn. The next day Toma was still happily feeding and grooming her baby, showing no signs of leaving it. We were cautiously optimistic. The mortality rate for single cubs is about 40 percent. Not very good odds, but with Toma’s maturity and level of experience we were confident in her.

was happening. Easter Sunday arrived with mild temperatures and some rain. Toma was offered her breakfast and after trying a few bites she walked away. She spent the morning inside of her nest box quietly grooming. She alternated this behavior with some restless pacing. Still no signs of impending labor were seen. Throughout the day she repeated these behaviors and in between she slept. When the zoo closed for the day and we all headed home, Toma was in her nest box resting. 12 | Zoo Explorer Summer 2013

Since the birth of this tiger cub, Toma has proven to be an excellent and attentive mother. She has never given us a moment of concern or worry. The cub does not have to compete with any siblings so the supply of milk is plentiful and the baby is growing. When the cub was about two weeks old, we performed a “baby wellness” exam and found out that it was a boy. His eyes were opened and he was in good condition, weighing in at about five pounds. Toma continues to dote on him. As springtime rolled around, Toma brought the cub out onto her patio area so she could watch him while she lounged. The cub became

Š2013 Paul A. Selvaggio

comfortable with us, even though at first he wasn’t completely sure what to think. As he grew, he became more coordinated and when he was ready, the decision was made to give him access to the large tiger yard where visitors could see him. He is now outside on exhibit for visitors to see every day between 9:30 a.m. through noon. As he grows, he will increasingly spend more time outside. He loves exploring his exhibit and spending time with Toma, sometimes learning new skills like swimming or stalking and other times roughhousing with her just for fun. We look forward to watching them interact all summer as she teaches him to be a tiger.

Zoo Explorer Summer 2013 | 13

News & Views International Affair Elephant and rhino animal care and conservation experts from the around the world are converging this August at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium for the annual International Elephant and Rhino Symposium, co-hosted by the International Elephant & Rhino Conservation & Research Symposium. Several hundred attendees over a four-day period will join their peers for the opportunity to share information and ideas while learning firsthand about scientific field research and the massive efforts to stem the illegal wildlife trade, field conservation, conflict mitigation, captive and wildlife management, health, and nutrition. It is a great opportunity for participants to hear how scientists and researchers are making great strides in the wild to save the populations of rhinos and elephants that are experiencing drastic population declines from poaching, human conflict, and disease. Speakers such as Dr. Thomas Hildebrandt of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo & Wildlife Research,

Berlin, Germany and a Pittsburgh Zoo partner, will lecture on the successful use of artificial insemination that resulted in the births of six African elephants and one Asian elephant over the past three years; Dr. Jeffrey Zuba, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, will conduct a workshop on immobilization of mega-vertebrates; and renowned producer John Hemingway, whose love of nature and conservation lead to his National Geographic movie: “Battle Cry of Elephants” will be on hand as well. However, it isn’t all work for the participants. They will have the opportunity to mix and mingle during a day at the Zoo ending with a fantastic dinner surrounded by thousands of fish in the PPG Aquarium. A day trip to the Zoo’s International Conservation Center, which is now home to five elephants including three females rescued from death in Botswana, will also offer an enjoyable educational diversion. And finally, as the four-day conference winds down, attendees also have the opportunity to visit The Wilds in Ohio.

Red Panda/Komodo Dragon Exhibit When you stop by to see the red panda on your next visit, you will notice some new modifications to the former Komodo dragon exhibit in the Asian Forest. The exhibit has been expanded and split in two to accommodate both the red panda and our two Komodo dragons. A lot of thought goes into each exhibit design. Our goal at the Zoo is to mimic each animal’s natural habitat as closely as possible but also using materials, plants, grass, and trees that can withstand Western Pennsylvania’s varying weather patterns. We also want the animals to be comfortable so we try to fit their personality. Are they climbers or do they prefer to lounge on rocks in the sun? Do they like to swim or prefer shade? All of that is taken into consideration during the planning stages. One of the most important additions to the Komodo dragon and red panda exhibit is netting. Both animals are good climbers so we wanted to prevent them from climbing out of the exhibit. The red panda loves to climb, relax, and sleep in a tree and uses low lying shrubs for shade and to hide, so our Horticulture team added green shrubs throughout her exhibit and a tree. On the other hand, the Komodo dragons like it hot so they have plenty of ground shrubs and grass, large rocks for sunbathing, a pool, and a waterfall. The red panda’s building has a new transfer door, making it easier for her to enter and exit the yard into the building. Her building is also now air-conditioned so she can relax in comfort when the summer temperatures reach above the mid-70’s, which gets a bit too warm for this cold-weather native. Construction should be finished soon on the Komodo dragon exhibit and the young females will soon be making the short trip from their winter home to the outside exhibit.

14 | Zoo Explorer Summer 2013

Š2013 Paul A. Selvaggio


tiger games games tiger

Unscramblethe thewords wordstotothe theleft, left,then thenfind find them word search. Unscramble them in in thethe word search.


___ ______ ______ ______ ______ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___


___ ______ ______ ______ ______ ___

___ ___ ___ ___ ___




NAEDDEGNRE ___ ______ ______ ______ ______ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ NAEDDEGNRE ___



______ ______ ______ ______ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___



______ ______ ______ ______ ___ ___ ___ ___



stripes, tiger cub, endangered, carnivore, stripes, tiger cub, endangered, carnivore, litterlitter

Help the baby gorilla find his way back to mom! Help the baby gorilla find his way back to mom!

start start

16 | Zoo Explorer Summer 2013

finish finish

gorilla maze gorilla

Hey Henry, What’s the difference between springbok and dama gazelles?

-Jocelynne Tindell

Got a question? E-mail it to: Hey, Henry!

Dear Jocelynne, Although they are similar and the differences can vary between species and individuals, the springbok at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium are smaller than the dama gazelles. If you take a closer look, springbok have slightly forward facing horns while the dama gazelle has S-shaped horns, and the dama gazelle is actually the largest gazelle species. The natural range of springbok reaches further south in Africa than that of the dama gazelle. Henry

The next milestone for our baby gorilla is to be reintroduced to his mom and other family members. The little guy has been spending his time at the Animal Care Center and in the indoor exhibit at the Tropical Forest.

Raising Baby

Story by Tracy Gray, Media and Public Relations Manager Photography by Paul A. Selvaggio

To help the gorilla troop see, bond with, and respond to the baby, keepers take the baby to visit with the troop every day.


elcoming a new baby is always a thrilling event, and that is exactly how keepers felt the morning of April 12 at the Western lowland gorilla habitat when they spotted the little bundle of joy cuddled up against his mother, Moka. As they watched Moka interact with and care for the baby, keepers felt confident that she was being a great mother and the rest of the gorilla troop was supportive. Everything was going perfectly until the baby was about four weeks old. Keepers began to notice that he wasn’t nursing as much as he needed to and that Moka was putting the baby down for longer periods of time. They grew more concerned when they spotted the baby’s attempts to nurse. During these attempts, the hungry baby would try to nurse and Moka would push him away. Those actions led to the difficult decision to separate mom and baby to see what was causing this behavior. The veterinary staff and gorilla keepers anesthetized Moka and took the baby to the Animal Care Center for an exam. At the same time, Dr. Debbie Myers, Assistant Veterinarian, examined Moka and found that she was suffering from a severe case of mastitis. Mastitis is an infection that blocks the milk glands, limiting milk production and causing exceptional pain. Although humans with mastitis are often encouraged to nurse through the pain to clear up the condition, this is a concept that simply cannot be conveyed to a gorilla. The discomfort causes these animals to stop nursing their young, so mastitis can only be treated through antibiotics. After receiving treatment, Moka’s infection cleared up, but her milk production also stopped. Meanwhile, the baby was found to be mildly dehydrated and was given nutrients and a bottle. Mom could not nurse the baby so everyone knew the difficult task ahead: hand-raising the baby gorilla. It would be a 24-hour a day, seven day per week job with the ultimate goal of reuniting the baby with his mother and family.

to visit with the troop every day. At the very first visit, most of the troop was excited to see the little one and vocalized comforting and positive sounds to him. However, when Moka saw her baby, she exhibited a reaction like no other. “I have heard gorillas scream before but Moka’s screams were actually frightening,” says Roseann Giambro, gorilla keeper. “I knew that I had to stay calm and let her realize that her baby was fine and she would settle down. It took a little while, but Moka soon relaxed and came over to sit near her baby.” Gorillas are very intelligent animals and Moka realized that her baby was calm and happy. The staff of the Columbus Zoo has hand-raised many baby gorillas and reintroduced them successfully into their troop. These experts arrived to offer some advice to the keeper staff of the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, who have not had experience with hand-rearing baby gorillas because of the Pittsburgh Zoo’s exceptional record of successful care provided by the gorilla troop without human intervention. Tips and techniques, such as holding the baby close enough so Moka and the other family members could touch him, smell him, and offer comforting sounds, proved to be very useful. “I was nervous at first to do this, but as soon as Moka saw her baby, she rushed over and with a mom’s gentleness, began stroking his head and making comforting sounds to him,” says Giambro. “It was a positive sign.” The other members all communicate with the baby and smell and touch him.

Pittsburgh Zoo keepers initially thought it would be months before they could begin the baby’s reintroduction to the gorilla troop, making sure the baby had all his teeth and was able to eat solid food. “We learned from the Columbus Zoo as soon as he consistently walks or moves over to us and recognizes us as a food source with a bottle or food, we will be able to reintroduce him to the troop.” says Giambro. As he is getting stronger, keepers are teaching the baby to reach for the bottle or move over to it. During his feeding times now, they are beginning to hold him in a sitting position and put the bottle on the other side of the mesh fence in his room. The baby has to come to the bottle. Once he master’s this process, he will be ready to go back to his family. “Our ultimate goal all along has been to reunite him with his mom and other family members,” says Giambro. “And though we have had this wonderful period of time to hold and care for this little baby, we know that he will soon be back where he should be—with his gorilla family.”

Every day from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., keepers take the baby outside into the yard, weather permitting. This is an important step also, so when he goes outside with his troop he is comfortable in the yard. Right now though, he isn’t sure that he likes the grass. The next milestone for the little guy is to recognize his keepers as providers of his food.

As surrogate caregivers, caring for the baby wasn’t the difficult part. The toughest challenges were in caring for the baby while treating him as a gorilla and avoiding passing along human behaviors and characteristics. “As much fun as it would be to swaddle the baby and cradle him, it would be doing a major disservice to him,” says Karen Vacco, Assistant Curator of Mammals. “So we continuously ask ourselves: how would a mother gorilla do this, how would she carry the baby?” Since mother gorillas never put their babies down, keepers carry him everywhere. “We mimic everything mom does,” says Vacco. “Moms communicate through different sounds to their babies. There is a comforting sound, a discipline sound, a call to come sound, so we mimic those also.” To help the gorilla troop see, bond with, and respond to the baby, keepers take the baby

Zoo Explorer Summer 2013 | 21

It’s time for adventure and discovery. From the trunks of the elephants to the deep and cozy waters of the sea lions, the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium is the perfect destination for excitement. It’s time to enjoy and explore our local zoo.

FCB Member FDIC.

Building a healthy future UPMC Health Plan proudly supports the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium.

UNBOUND Creative • PR • Digital • Social • Brand Planning • Account Service • 412.402.0200

Little Leaping Lemurs Story by Tracy Gray, Media and Public Relations Manager Photography by Paul A. Selvaggio


ur baby brother and sister ring-tailed lemurs are quite the happy duo. Born on Valentine’s Day to mom Caera, the pair is growing fast, weighing almost two pounds each. As they get older, they are spending much more time on their own, moving away from mom to interact with other members of the troop. At first, Caera was very protective of her babies, keeping other family members away. She has since relaxed and allows them to get closer. She sits nearby and watches as her little ones go off and play. Lemurs are very social animals and like many primate families, everyone in the troop helps to raise the babies. At just two months of age, they started eating solid foods but will also continue to nurse for another few months.They mostly eat leafy greens, fruits, vegetables, and vitamin-fortified biscuits. Lemurs in the wild spend more than 40 percent of their time on the ground foraging for food. Lemurs are considered to be fully grown

at six pounds and they will generally live for up to 22 years in a zoo setting. Even at such a young age, our babies are incredible jumpers. They almost appear to hop from a trampoline as they bounce around the exhibit. Lemurs move around on all fours using their tails for balance. Ring-tailed lemurs are very vocal primates and use a variety of unique calls to alert each other of impending danger. When traveling together, they keep their tails high in the air so all members of the troop know where everyone is. In zoos, lemurs have strong populations with more than 1,000 lemurs living in over 140 zoos around the world. However, many lemurs are threatened in their natural habitat, or the island of Madagascar. Their natural range is shrinking from human expansion, disease, and the illegal pet trade. Conservation efforts are underway to protect these beautiful animals in the wild.

A Herd for Doug Story by Karen Vacco, Assistant Curator of Mammals Photography by Paul A. Selvaggio


n the African Savanna at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, you will come across a graceful herd of springbok grazing on the green pasture. Springbok are small antelopes found on the open plains of Africa. Springbok are known to leap up to 13 feet in the air, an activity known as pronking. When pronking, their bodies are curved and their legs are stiff, close together, and pointing downwards. Upon landing they immediately leap upwards again and during this activity the crest of their back is raised. It is unknown why they pronk but it is possible they do it to indicate to predators that they have been spotted. Among the herd at the Zoo lives one individual named Doug, who looks very different from the others. He has a slender white neck and very long legs. As hard as he tries to fit in by mingling with the herd and even attempting to pronk, he just doesn’t fit in. That’s because Doug is not a big springbok, but a dama gazelle. The dama gazelle, also known as the addra gazelle, is the largest of all gazelle species and is also one of the rarest. The World Conservation Union’s Red List of Threatened Species lists dama gazelles as critically endangered. There may be only a few hundred left in the wild. The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium has been trying for several years to find suitable mates for Doug to start a breeding program for this critically endangered species. With roughly 130 damas in North American zoos, it has been a challenge to find the perfect match for Doug. The Species Survival Plan, an agency that determines which animals would be suitable matches with one another, worked with the Pittsburgh Zoo over

the past several years and were recently able to find perfect pairings for Doug. The two lovely ladies, one from the Dallas Zoo and one from the Omaha Zoo, are now finding a new home in Pittsburgh. In the coming months, the keepers will be introducing Doug to potential mates so at last he can have a herd of his own kind. This can take some time since they need to become comfortable with Doug and adjust to the exhibit barn and other animals living in the ungulate habitat. If all goes well, we hope to have baby dama gazelles by this time next year. Dama gazelles give birth to one baby after a gestation period of six and a half months. The range of the dama gazelle includes some of the poorest countries in Africa, and consequently little action is being taken to save this species. They are managed in captivity and exist in a few reserves in their range, but these reserves are not well guarded and poaching continues to be the most prominent threat to this species. The primary predator of the dama gazelle and the reason for its decline is poaching done by humans. Other predators to the dama gazelle include the cheetah, African painted dog, lion, leopard, hyena, and African rock python. The survival of this species depends on more reserves being created in the Sahelian and Saharan zones where the highest concentrations of gazelles reside. As the wild population deteriorates, the need for a healthy captive population is necessary and more conservation measures are needed to preserve their habitats in the wild. The dama gazelle is the largest gazelle. Their heads, hindquarters, and underbellies are white and the neck and back are a shade of red, with

As hard as he tries to fit in by mingling with the herd and even attempting to pronk, he just doesn’t fit in.

a large color variation within the species. Their horns can be up to 14 inches long, with the female having shorter horns than the male. Dama gazelles are diurnal, meaning that they are active during the day and although they can survive long periods of drought, they need more water than other desert creatures. Dama gazelles may stand on their hind legs to eat from acacia trees and other plants as high as six feet from the ground. Dama gazelles eat shrubs, succulents, herbs, trees, and woody plants.

The PPG Aquarium’s thousands of residents represent watery habitats from every corner of the Earth from Antarctica to the equator.

Calendar of Events For event updates and information, visit our website at, check out our Facebook page at, or call the Special Events Hotline at 412-665-3640, and press 4.

August 2-4

September 8

Friday-Sunday, 10am – 4pm


PPG Festival of Water

National Grandparents Day

Make a big splash and learn to scuba dive in a 25,000 gallon pool. Bring a swimsuit, a towel, and your sense of adventure and we’ll provide the rest. Participants must be at least 10 years old and 54 inches tall to participate. Sponsored by PPG Industries, Splash Water Sports, and DEMA Be a Diver Tour.

Grandparents receive free admission when accompanied by a grandchild. Grandparents also receive a ride-all-day bracelet for the UPMC tram and one complimentary coffee or tea. Sponsored by UPMC for Life.

October 19, 20, 26 & 27 Saturdays & Sundays


Tons of Halloween fun for ghosts, goblins, and ghouls of all ages. Collect candy throughout the park, participate in costume contests, stop by our not-so-spooky haunt spots, and participate in the Halloween parade. Members receive one free visit. Sponsored by Erie Insurance.

August 15 Thursday, 6:30 – 9pm

Members’ Night

Members enjoy an exclusive evening with $1 food specials, free train rides, and additional discounts at the Zoo’s gift shops.

September 13 Friday


Pilsners and dark stouts and hops… oh my! Sample a huge variety of the regions finest beers at this brew-tastic party. Must be 21 or older. Tickets available at

August 17-30 Saturday – Friday

Kids’ Zoofari

Summer is still going strong, so enjoy it at the Zoo! All kids 13 and under receive free train and carousel rides. Be sure to stop by on August 24 to celebrate our new Red Panda. Sponsored by Chip, brought to you by UPMC for Kids.

September 15 Sunday

Macy’s Elephant Day

Join us for a trunk-swinging, ear-flapping birthday celebration of our elephant herd. This birthday bash includes cake*, games, face-painting, and more. Entertainment and prizes provided by Radio Disney. Brought to you by Macy’s Foundation. *While supplies last

Zoo Explorer Summer 2013 | 29

A place where

imaginations grow strong

CHIP, brought to you by UPMC for Kids, is pleased to support the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium

Wow Your Guests Event rentals are available year-round in Water’s Edge or the PPG Aquarium. The possibilities for your event are as diverse as our world of wildlife. For more information, call 412-365-2536 or email

Parties · Meetings · Receptions

Š2013 Paul A. Selvaggio

Giraffes constantly stand to keep themselves safe from predators. They bend down quickly to drink and then return to standing, and even sleep standing up.

Did you know hedgehogs travel in schools?

Well, thanks to #1 Cochran’s donation of a Zoomobile, they do.

The #1 Cochran Zoobaru takes porcupines, lizards, snakes, owls and other zoo animals to area schools so kids can get an up-close look at these amazing creatures. We're proud to keep this wild, wooly show on the road.



PITTSBURGH ZOO PEPSI, the Pepsi Globe and LIVE FOR NOW are registered trademarks of PepsiCo, Inc. ZGE164204



3 ZGE164204 GL DD

Pittsburgh Zoo Program Ad Program Ad Futura

7.5"W x 4.875"H


7.25"W x 4.625"H


7.75"W x 5.125"H


COLORS*: 4-C Process

Š2013 Paul A. Selvaggio

Sea Otter

UPDATE Story by Jaclyn Mazza, Marine Mammal Keeper Photography by Paul A. Selvaggio


t’s hard to believe that it has been more than one year since our sea otter pup made his journey across the country from the Alaska SeaLife center in Seward, Alaska to his new home at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium. Fourteen months, hundreds of gallons of sea otter formula, and thousands of staff and volunteer hours later, our pup is now a thriving young adult sea otter, spending his days delighting visitors in our main sea otter habitat at Water’s Edge. His name, Meshik, is the name of the Port Heiden, Alaska beach where he was rescued. It means “wind” or “windy” in the Yupik language. Since coming to Pittsburgh, Meshik has gained almost fifty pounds, transitioned from a formula diet to completely solid food, mastered the skills of grooming and thermoregulation, and graduated from the sea otter nursery to our sixty-five thousand gallon main habitat. If you visit Water’s Edge, you may catch a glimpse of Meshik effortlessly diving 17 feet underwater to retrieve enrichment items, or cruising along the water’s surface devouring a whole jonah crab, shell and all. Over the past several months, as the pup grew accustomed to his new environment, the Water’s Edge keepers began the careful process of introducing him to our seven-year-old male otter, Alki. Male otters are powerful and energetic animals who engage in boisterous play sessions. The keepers want to make sure that Meshik feels comfortable in the deeper water and larger holding areas, and that he is completely familiar with the habitat topography before he is asked to share space and interact with an older and much heavier male. In the meantime, Alki and Meshik take part in daily “howdy” sessions. During these sessions, the keepers feed, train, and provide environmental enrichment for both otters while they have visual access to each other. The otters are becoming accustomed to participating in training sessions, and engaging in other positive and natural sea otter behaviors, while in the presence of the other otter and multiple keepers. This will help the staff continue to train and utilize husbandry, or cooperative, behaviors to provide the best possible care for the sea otters while they are living together in the same habitat. Both Alki and Meshik have learned helpful behaviors like presenting their flippers and paws for examination, voluntarily stepping onto a scale, and retrieving items from their habitat. These “howdy” sessions are helping them learn that they can still complete these behaviors, even with the added distraction of another otter nearby! It’s been an eventful year at Sea Otter Cove, and this coming summer season should be no different. Stop by Water’s Edge to see our youngest sea otter in action.

Zoo Explorer Summer 2013 | 35

Look for our next edition of ZooExplorer this fall where you can learn more about Xia, the Zoo’s first ever red panda. Find out how this little firefox is enjoying

Š2013 Paul A. Selvaggio

her new home in Pittsburgh.

one wild place | pittsburgh, pa 15206 |

ZooExplorer Summer 2013  

In this issue of ZooExplorer, meet the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium's tiger cub and see what it takes to hand-raise a baby gorilla. Plus,...