On the day in question, each of the three big cats had been given a large hunk of meat to chew on. Ena ate hers for a while, then began to stalk her offspring – either for fun or to get their food, too, I’m not really sure.
There have been countless new and beautiful babies born in and around the Zoo since then – and in other Zoos and locations, too. But, to my mind, the most beautiful of all were born last of all when Ena, another first-time mom, gave birth on May 18, 2017 during a month-long strike at the Toronto Zoo.
Aurora and Nikita first arrived at the Toronto Zoo in the early spring of 2001. They were found as orphans, wandering around together in Polar Bear Provincial Park near James Bay, in Northern Ontario. It is estimated that they were born the previous December and they had recently emerged from their den with their mother to forage, only to have her shot by a hunter.
The first time I ever saw Kenora I don’t recall any special feelings towards it. Well, as I discovered on my next trip to Kenora 33 years later, the problem was that we approached it from the wrong direction: from the east.
I was drawn, as you will no doubt be shocked to learn, to the Penguin Beach exhibit, at which we arrived about an hour after entering the Zoo. A large colony of over 90 Humboldt penguins resides there, and at that time they had exactly one very sociable rockhopper penguin named Ricky living amongst them.
Chimpanzees and bonobos are the closest living relatives to human beings. The common feeling has usually been that chimps are most like us, in social behaviour (bad) more than anything else. But recent studies seem to be challenging that long-held perception.
Puppe (which means “little doll” in German) and her ilk have lots of issues in the wild, including poaching and climate change, but by far the single biggest threat to the global orangutan population is the destruction of rainforests for palm oil plantations. I will spare you here the several paragraphs I could write about the horrors associated with this industry; in lieu of that, however, I urge you to please do your own research and educate yourselves on this issue.
There are three distinct species of zebras: the plains zebra (which contains the subspecies “Burchell’s zebra”, also known as the Damara zebra), the mountain zebra, and the Grévy’s zebra. All three belong to the genus Equus (which also includes horses and donkeys), but the Grévy’s is the sole member of its own subspecies, Dolichohippus, as they more closely resemble donkeys than horses.
I knew at the time (because I was told at the time) that this was a very special thing to witness; a rarity that is considered very fortunate to see among the First Nations people. But I honestly had no concept of how rare it truly was.
Cheetahs have a gestation period of 90-95 days; the earliest Laini could have cleared quarantine was January 22nd; and on April 30th, she presented her delighted Keepers with five tiny, adorable floofballs, just 98 days after she was introduced to her potential baby daddies.