Ø We are sad to report the death of the female Amur leopard Polina. During a recent introduction for breeding, the male Edgar attacked her and she died from her injuries. They had been together several times previously, but there was no indication that the male was capable of this behavior. During any of these introductions, the cats are always given all exhibit and holding spaces to allow them plenty of room to keep their distance from each other if they choose. They are watched closely by keepers in case there is a problem. On this tragic day, the keeper was in the area and separated the cats immediately. Our veterinarian, Dr. Polumbo, was on the zoo grounds and responded within minutes. Unfortunately there was nothing that could be done to save her. An event such as this happens so quickly, that there is no time to intervene. Animal behavior is often very unpredictable. Why Edgar showed this predator behavior on one of his own species is a mystery. We will remain committed to the Amur leopard breeding program even though Edgar will not be able to be physically introduced to another female again. He will soon be evaluated as to his potential for being a donor for AI. Whether he remains in Erie will be decided at that time. We will be receiving additional leopards in the near future, but details have not been finalized. Polina has been donated to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.
Ø On a lighter note, Patches, the female polar bear is living it up at the North Carolina Zoo! She was transferred there in November due to construction currently underway in the former lion and polar bear exhibit. Keeping her in the remaining bear exhibit would have been too stressful for her, considering all of the noise and disruption involved. The North Carolina Zoo had just finished a major renovation of their polar bear exhibit and recently lost their only polar bear. It was a benefit for everyone involved to move her there since she has a much larger natural area, huge pool, and much quieter environment. At 26 years of age, it would not be in her best interest to risk a move back to Erie after our construction is finished, especially to place her back in a smaller, less functional exhibit. The future of polar bears in zoos in the US is currently in a serious state. Not many cubs have been born over the last few years, and imports are unavailable. The possibility of polar bears returning to Erie in the near future is unlikely unless there are major changes in the population and import status, and a new exhibit is built that meets the requirements of the Polar Bear SSP.
Ø With construction currently going on to renovate two of the moated exhibits for Amur leopards and Canadian lynx, we are excited to announce that we will soon be receiving a very valuable breeding pair of lynx from Montreal, Canada. They have produced two litters in Canada, and are recommended to breed by the SSP. We hope to receive them in late spring. This species has not been exhibited here in Erie since 1980, so we are looking forward to not only bringing them back into the collection, but also becoming involved in the SSP breeding program.
Ø Since the Amur leopards will be exhibited in the newly renovated exhibit later this year, we will be acquiring a new species never exhibited here in Erie. Caracal cats will move into the current leopard exhibit in the main zoo building. We will receive a female this spring, and then import a male sometime in the next year or so. The SSP has requested that we obtain a pair for breeding, since this cat is only represented in a few US zoos and their numbers need to be increased to ensure a genetically healthy population. We are looking forward to receiving these unique felines!
Ø Several months ago we received a new young male warthog and will soon be introducing him to our two females. We have a breeding recommendation from the SSP, so we are hoping that our younger female is still young enough to produce offspring.
Ø It became necessary to spay another of our female African wild dogs a few weeks ago when she developed a pyometra of the uterus. This is a common condition in wild dogs. Last year it was necessary to spay her sister due to the same condition. The surgery went well and she has recovered fully.
Ø We are sad to report the death of the male white-cheeked gibbon Sweeney. He had been treated for severe gastrointestinal issues for quite some time. The SSP has recommended that we not receive another adult male until Chua, his male offspring currently being raised by our female Cailay, is old enough to be weaned and sent to another zoo. This will be several years, so we will exhibit the mother and son until Chua is recommended to be paired by the SSP.
Ø The red panda Nutmeg, born here last June, has been weaned and moved to an exhibit at the front of the main zoo building until she moves on to her new home at the National Zoo later this spring. We have observed breeding behavior with our adult pair and hope that we will have more cubs born this summer. The male often gets aggressive towards last year’s cubs during the breeding season, so Nutmeg was separated to ensure her safety. This move will also prepare her better for her relocation to her new home this spring.