Smithsonian National Zoological Park l Friends of the National Zoo



News Archive

August 2015

Giant Panda Cub Is Male and Sired By Tian Tian
Scientists at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute’s Center for Conservation and Evolutionary Genetics confirmed that the giant panda cub born Aug. 22 at the National Zoo is male. A paternity analysis showed that Tian Tian (t-YEN t-YEN) is the cub’s father.
Giant Panda Cub Update: August 27, 2015
Overnight, it was evident to panda keepers and veterinarians that our healthy panda cub was active and nursing appropriately throughout the night. Mother Mei Xiang is showing proper maternal care which includes short sleep cycles and adjusting the tiny cub in her arms for better positioning and grooming.
Media Advisory: Press Conference: Giant Panda Cub Death at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo
The smaller giant panda cub died this afternoon shortly after 2 p.m. More information will be provided at a press conference. The larger cub appears to be strong, robust, behaving normally and is with mother Mei Xiang.
One of the Giant Panda Cubs at the National Zoo Has Died
The smaller of the two giant panda cubs born at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo Aug. 22, died shortly after 2 p.m. today, Aug. 26. The panda team rotated both cubs in the past 24 hours allowing each to benefit from spending time with their mother, Mei Xiang.
Smithsonian’s National Zoo Giant Panda Cub Update – Aug. 25
Mei Xiang has not been a willing participant in the panda team’s efforts to switch the cubs since 2 p.m. yesterday afternoon. She has the larger cub in her possession. The panda team is caring for the smaller cub and will continue efforts to swap the cubs about every four hours.
Smithsonian’s National Zoo Giant Panda Cub Update
Our panda cubs are doing well but the panda team had a challenging night.
Giant Panda Cub Update
The Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute confirms the first giant panda cub born at 5:35 p.m. and a second giant panda cub was born at 10:07 p.m., Aug, 22. Shortly after the second birth, a panda team of three keepers retrieved one of the cubs per the Zoo’s Giant Panda Twin Hand-Rearing protocol. The cub was placed in an incubator and cared for by veterinarians and panda keepers.
Giant Panda Cub Born at the Smithsonian's National Zoo
Giant panda Mei Xiang (may-SHONG) gave birth to a cub at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo today, Aug. 22. The panda team witnessed the birth at 5:35 pm. Mei Xiang reacted to the cub by picking it up. The panda team began preparing for a birth when they saw Mei Xiang’s water break at 4:32 pm and she was already having contractions. The sex of the cub won’t be determined until a later date.
Veterinarians Viewed Surprising Giant Panda Ultrasound at Smithsonian’s National Zoo
For the first time at the National Zoo, veterinarians detected something new during an ultrasound procedure this morning on giant panda Mei Xiang. They believe it is a developing giant panda fetus. Based on the size of the fetus, which is about four centimeters, veterinarians estimate that Mei Xiang could give birth early next week, or possibly in early September. In past years, veterinarians have only detected changes to Mei Xiang’s uterus, which occurs for both a pregnancy and pseudopregnancy. Historically, and since Aug. 7 of this year, Mei Xiang declined participating in ultrasounds at this stage, so it was a surprise when she responded to the panda keepers’ calls this morning.
Critically Endangered Black-Footed Ferret Diversity Improved by Using Frozen Sperm for Assisted Reproduction
The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) has been a leader in black-footed ferret conservation since a small population of this solitary, nocturnal carnivore was discovered in 1981. SCBI received offspring from the species’ surviving 18 individuals and was the first institution to breed black-footed ferrets outside of Wyoming. Faced with a genetic bottleneck, SCBI scientists mitigated threats to the survival of the species by using semen that had been cryopreserved for 10 to 20 years to artificially inseminate live female ferrets.
Five Critically Endangered Cuban Crocodiles Hatched at Smithsonian's National Zoo
Five critically endangered Cuban crocodiles hatched at the National Zoo’s Reptile Discovery Center between July 29 and Aug. 7. The eggs were laid by Dorothy, a 57-year-old genetically valuable crocodile. The hatchlings are less than a foot long, but they could reach up to 10.5 feet long when fully grown.
Male Agouti Dies at the National Zoo
The Smithsonian’s National Zoo is mourning the loss of a young male agouti named Macadamia, who died Aug. 10 during veterinary treatment.
Giant Panda Mei Xiang’s Hormones Are Rising
Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) scientists have confirmed a secondary rise in giant panda Mei Xiang’s (may-SHONG) urinary progesterone levels. The slow rise started July 20 and indicates that she will either have a cub or experience the end of a pseudopregnancy within 30 to 50 days.
Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute Scientists Call for a Shift in When Biology Studies Are Conducted
In a sweeping paper in Biology Letters published today, Aug. 5, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) scientists are calling for a dramatic shift in when biologists study animals in their natural habitat.
Elderly Cheetah Euthanized at National Zoo
Zabini, an elderly male cheetah living at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, was humanely euthanized late evening Aug. 3. He was being treated for ongoing weakness in his hind limbs and was anesthetized for a complete exam Monday. Hind-limb weakness is a possible symptom of a neurologic disorder. During the exam, veterinarians also found signs of suspected liver disease.

July 2015

Photo Release: Two Species of Guenons on Exhibit at the Smithsonian's National Zoo
The Smithsonian's National Zoo recently welcomed two species of guenons to its zoological family: four Allen's swamp monkeys and three Schmidt's red-tailed monkeys.
Elderly Cheetah Dies at Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute is mourning the loss of a 12-year-old male cheetah named Shombay, who died July 18. A final pathology report will provide more information.
National Zoo Agouti Briefly Escaped from the Small Mammal House
Yesterday shortly after 7 p.m., a male agouti escaped from his outdoor enclosure behind the Small Mammal House at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. Agoutis are large beautiful rodents about the size of a large house cat. Zoo staff kept the animal in view and successfully herded him back into a contained space within 30 minutes. He is unharmed.
FONZ Names Lynn Mento as New Executive Director
The Board of Directors of Friends of the National Zoo (FONZ) is pleased to announce that Lynn Mento has been named Executive Director.

June 2015

Clouded Leopards Born in Thailand Via Artificial Insemination
For only the second time, a litter of clouded leopard cubs has been born as the result of an artificial insemination. Pierre Comizzoli, reproductive physiologist at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI), performed the artificial insemination in Thailand last March alongside Paweena Thuwanut, a former JoGayle Howard Postdoctoral Fellow at SCBI, and Wanlaya Tipkantha, a doctoral candidate at Chulalongkorn University, who also studied at SCBI. The two cubs were born at the Khao Khew Open Zoo in Chonburi, Thailand June 9.
Loggerhead Shrike Chicks Hatch at Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
Ten loggerhead shrikes hatched last month at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) in Front Royal, Va. These genetically valuable chicks will be the first SCBI-hatched shrikes to be released into the wild.
Miniaturized GPS Tags Allow Tracking of Small Breeding Songbirds to Tropical Winter Territories for First Time
For the first time, researchers at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute’s Migratory Bird Center have tracked small migratory ovenbirds (Seiurus aurocapilla) to their tropical wintering grounds with unparalleled accuracy, which significantly improves the understanding of migratory connectivity. Understanding migratory connectivity is key to future conservation efforts.

May 2015

Photo Release: Critically Endangered Spider Tortoise Hatches at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo
Tomorrow is World Turtle day. The Smithsonian’s National Zoo is celebrating a conservation milestone; for the first time, a rare spider tortoise has hatched in the Reptile Discovery Center.
Photo Release: Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute Scientists Find Andean Bears Using Camera Traps In Peru
For the first time, a team from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute’s (SCBI) Center for Conservation Education and Sustainability collected photo evidence of an Andean bear (also known as the spectacled bear) in Peru’s Amarakaeri Comunal Reserve using camera traps—automated cameras with motion sensors.
Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute Scientists Find Forest Corridors Are Key to Maintaining Healthy Sloth Bear Populations
By using DNA extracted from sloth bear scat, a team of Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) researchers found that forest corridors between protected areas in the bears’ native habitats are vital to maintaining a genetically diverse population.
Media Advisory: Smithsonian’s National Zoo Celebrates International Migratory Bird Day with Family Events May 7 and 9
In honor of International Migratory Bird Day, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo is hosting two free events where Zoo visitors can learn about birds and ways to support bird conservation efforts. These events, collectively known as Bird Fest 2015, celebrate the springtime return of millions of birds that winter in Latin America and the Caribbean. The theme of this year’s event is “Restore Habitats, Restore Birds.”

April 2015

Smithsonian’s National Zoo Opens Mobile Wildlife Trafficking Educational Kiosk
A free-standing kiosk at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo enables visitors to gain a better understanding of the impact of wildlife trafficking.
SCBI Researchers Use Frozen Testes Tissue To Generate Sperm
Researchers at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) have generated mature sperm from frozen testicular tissue for the first time. Their findings were published in PLOS ONE today. The technique, called xenografting, has been successful in several domestic species but has never been done with frozen tissue before.
Photo Release: National Zoo Scientists Artificially Inseminate Giant Panda Mei Xiang
After carefully monitoring the behavior of both its giant pandas and female Mei Xiang’s (may-SHONG) hormones for weeks, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute’s team of reproductive scientists, veterinarians and panda keepers performed two artificial inseminations within the last 24 hours. The first procedure started at 6 p.m. on April 26, and the second began at 7:30 this morning, April 27. Daily hormone reports showed Mei Xiang’s progesterone levels peaked Sunday morning, an indication that she was in estrus and able to become pregnant.
National Zoo Prepares for Giant Panda Breeding Season with the Arrival of Frozen Semen from China
Caitlin Burrell, research scientist at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, returned from China last night April 20, with frozen giant panda semen that had been stored at the Bifengxia Giant Panda Base’s cryopreservation bank. The sperm may be used for an artificial insemination on the Zoo’s female giant panda Mei Xiang (may-SHONG) when she goes into estrus this spring. This is the first time frozen semen has been transported from China to the National Zoo for breeding.
Photo Release: New Western Lowland Gorilla on Exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo
Calaya, a western lowland gorilla, is now on exhibit at the National Zoo. Keepers describe the 12-year-old female as confident and socially-savvy. She arrived at the National Zoo from the Woodland Park Zoo on a breeding recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ western lowland gorilla Species Survival Plan. After arriving at the Zoo Feb. 25, Calaya spent 30 days in quarantine per standard procedure. For the past few days, keepers have been slowly introducing her to 22-year-old silverback male Baraka and females 32-year-old Mandara and 6-year-old Kibibi. Zoo visitors can see Calaya at the Great Ape House.
New Rescue Lab for Endangered Amphibians Opens in Panama
Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) and Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) scientists working together as part of the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project (PARC) opened a new safe haven for endangered amphibians today, April 8. The state-of-the-art, $1.2 million amphibian center at STRI’s Gamboa field station is the largest amphibian conservation facility of its kind in the world.

March 2015

Smithsonian’s National Zoo Andean Bear Brothers Receive Names
The National Zoo's rambunctious and charismatic 19-week-old Andean bear cubs have names. English Language Press Kit Spanish Language Press Kit
New Head of Animal Care Named at the National Zoo
Brandie Smith has been named associate director of Animal Care Sciences at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C., effective immediately.
Media Advisory: Media Advisory: Andean Bear Naming Ceremony Is March 26 at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo
Two male Andean bear cubs will receive their names and make their media debut; the public debut is Saturday, March 28.
Golden Frogs with Unique Skin Microbes Survive Exposure to Frog-Killing Fungus
A new study published this week in the Proceedings of the Royal Society by scientists at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) found unique communities of skin bacteria on Panamanian golden frogs that survived chytridiomycosis (ki-TRID-io-MY-co-sis) infections. Chytridiomycosis is an amphibian fungal disease that has wiped out populations of many frog species around the world.
Smithsonian’s National Zoo Asks Public to Name Andean Bear Cub Brothers
The Smithsonian’s National Zoo, in collaboration with Univision’s ¡Despierta America!, is inviting the public to name two rambunctious and charismatic 18-week-old male Andean bear cubs. Starting today, March 16, fans can vote on the Zoo’s website for their favorite among names.
Photo Release: El Zoológico Nacional del Smithsonian le pide al público que elija los nombres para dos oseznos hermanos andinos
El Zoológico Nacional del Smithsonian, en colaboración con ¡Despierta América! de Univision, invita al público a elegir los nombres para dos revoltosos y carismáticos oseznos andinos machos de 18 semanas de edad.
Photo Release: Tamandua on Exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo
Meet Cayenne, a southern tamandua now on exhibit at the Smithsonian's National Zoo. Keepers describe the 1-year-old female as active and curious.
Newly Described Poison Dart Frog Hatched for the First Time in Human Care
Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) and Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) scientists working as part of the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project hatched the first Andinobates geminisae froglet born in human care. The tiny dart frog species only grows to 14 millimeters and was first collected and described last year from a small area in central Panama. Scientists collected two adults to evaluate the potential for maintaining the species in captivity as an insurance population.

February 2015

China's State Forestry Administration Released Giant Panda Census Data Earlier Today
"As the only species of bear on the IUCN red list, and an icon for species conservation, it's vital for scientists to keep monitoring the wild population of giant pandas. Every panda counts," said Steve Monfort, director of Smithsonian's Conservation Biology Institute.

January 2015

Golden Lion Tamarin Dies at the Smithsonian's National Zoo
We are very sad to announce the death of 6-year-old golden lion tamarin Izabel, who died at the Small Mammal House Jan. 29.
Photo Release: Bao Bao's First Time Playing in the Snow
As the year’s first blanket of snow coated the Washington, D.C. area today, giant panda Bao Bao spent much of the morning playing in it for the very first time. The sixteen month-old panda cub tumbled down the hill in her outdoor enclosure, climbed trees and pounced on her mother Mei Xiang.