The Little Rock Zoo

.The Little Rock Zoo needs to step up and care for the animals better! Please read the several artciles here with deaths, sickness and a bald chimp!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Kansas Zoo Babies

WICHITA - It's spring, and across the state, baby animals are opening their eyes and taking their first steps on Kansas soil. Some of them are in zoos. From giraffes and lion cubs to flamingos and possums, these babies tell stories about their species and promote awareness of all animals.

In one week at Garden City's Lee Richardson Zoo, three lion cubs less than a month old were given their first physical examinations. They also had their first photos taken.

A baby chimp born last fall at the Sunset Zoo in Manhattan is a crowd-pleaser. But little Nia is more than that, said Scott Shoemaker, the Sunset Zoo's director.

"She is genetically very valuable and another animal in a population that's declining," he said.

"Every animal counts, especially for chimps. She brings an added awareness to chimps and is an opportunity for us to tell the plight of chimps."

The Rolling Hills Wildlife Adventure near Salina, which boasts more than 100 species of wildlife, many of them endangered, has only two babies this spring.

They are orphaned possums - one of the most common species native to Kansas - rescued last week.

"Possums do not need help, but every once in a while, something comes your way and you take it in," said Kathy Tolbert, Rolling Hills director.

The two babies will be used in Rolling Hills' public education programs.

"These little guys lost their mother. Someone had to raise them," Tolbert said. "As they continue to grow and thrive, we can use them to talk about all animals, not just those that are endangered."

Tanganyika Wildlife Park near Goddard has baby kangaroos, giraffes, lemurs and 15 more species expecting, said Matt Fouts, assistant director.

The Sedgwick County Zoo has babies all over the children's petting zoo - goats and Scottish Highland calves, said Christan Baumer, the zoo's spokeswoman. It also has a baby giraffe and baby wallaroo.

The baby animals sometimes help zoo officials tell stories about the need to simply let some animals remain in the wild.

"This is the time we start getting calls about people finding baby bunnies in the yards and wanting to bring them to the zoo," Garden City's Sexton said. "We try to discourage that."

If a zoo doesn't have baby animals, that also tells a story.

"We spend a lot of energy not breeding animals," Manhattan's Shoemaker said.

"Before an animal can be born, we have to know we have a place for that offspring to go once it reaches adulthood. It is a huge task zoos face. We do not breed animals just to have baby animals on hand."

Kansas' seven accredited zoos participate in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' species survival plan, Baumer said.

They are required to keep detailed records on breeding and management plans, looking at each animal's genetics and its suitability for reproduction.

As the lion cubs in Garden City take their tentative first steps, they are also telling the story of lion survival.

The cubs, two males and one female, weigh between 10 and 11 pounds now. They may be allowed to explore the outdoors soon - with their mom."


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