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San Diego Animals

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SAN DIEGO — San Diego Zoo Safari Park officials announced Wednesday that it will let its fans choose a Chumash name for a California condor born there two months ago.

Here’s the choices:

  • Saxipaka, Chumash for “Once upon a time”
  • Su’nan, for “to continue to, to keep on”
  • Ush’anti, for “to receive”
  • Antiki, for “to recover” and
  • Likuu, or “big.”

Online voting at continues through July 20.

First Condor Chick of Season at San Diego Zoo Safari ParkHatched on April 29, the chick was placed with adult condors Sulu and Towich. Its growth has been watched by thousands of people through a live condor cam in the nest box.

“California condors are an important native species in the western United States and hold a special place not only in the ecosystem but in the culture of the people native to this area,” said Michael Mace, curator of birds at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. “By giving condors names from the Kumeyaay language, we hope to honor the role of condors in human culture throughout history.”

Animal care staff at the Safari Park hope say they hope the chick will be able to take its place among the wild populations that have been released in California, Arizona and Mexico.

SAN DIEGO — A Sumatran orangutan born last fall at the San Diego Zoo is now a little more than 8 months old and has begun the switch to solid foods, animal keepers said Monday.

Orangutan BabyThe playful youngster, named Aisha, was born Oct. 25. Zoo officials said that although she continues to nurse, her emerging teeth are leading her to experiment with solid foods like apples, mangos and bananas.

In addition to her nine teeth, Aisha is continuing to grow and develop.

She climbs and plays in the outdoor habitat, but never ventures more than 10 feet from her mother, Indah, according to zoo animal care staff.

Orangutans typically stay with their mothers until they’re about 8 years old, the longest childhood of the great apes. They live in tropical and swamp forests on the Southeast Asian islands of Borneo and Sumatra.

The Sumatran orangutan is considered critically endangered, with an estimate of less than 7,000 remaining in the wild. Their population has declined drastically in recent years as a result of over-harvesting of timber, human encroachment and habitat conversion to palm oil plantations.

SAN DIEGO — The gorilla born at the San Diego Zoo’s Safari Park is almost 4 months old and has been named Joanne, the zoo announced Thursday.

The gorilla was born March 12 when veterinarians performed a cesarean section on her mother, 18-year-old Imani. It was decided to forego a natural birth when Imani made no progress after showing signs of labor earlier in the day.

Joanne, named after Joanne Warren, the first chairwoman of the San Diego Zoo Global Foundation, struggled for several days after but is now healthy and has teeth, according to the zoo.

While the mother and her baby are usually inseparable, Imani has recently been letting Joanne sit and explore on her own.

Keepers report that Joanne has mastered rolling over onto her stomach and has gotten comfortable propping herself up on all fours and scooting forward.

While she’s not yet eating solid foods, the young gorilla has been chewing and mouthing at items in her reach, such as acacia browse and other greens like lettuce and kale, which helps with the teething process.

“While Imani is eating browse, we’ve seen Joanne grab a handful and mouth it,” Jami Pawlowski, a keeper at the Safari Park said. “She’s got about six teeth now so it’s not quite enough to chew browse, but she definitely mouths and will suck on it — anything big and attractive that her mom is holding Joanne will try to investigate.”

The young gorilla is now confident riding on her mother’s back and will grip onto her hair while Imani forages and moves around the exhibit.

Keepers report that around three months is when gorilla babies start to display that behavior, so Joanne is right on track with her development.

SAN DIEGO – A young bobcat was released back into the wild Wednesday after a one-month stint in a rehabilitation center in Ramona.

A homeowner contacted the Fund for Animals Wildlife Center in early June to report an ill bobcat with a broken foot wandering around the rural property east of San Diego.


Bobcat returns to wild after a month in rehab. (Credit: FFAWC)

FFAWC officials captured the emaciated male cat weighing less than 9 pounds, which is less than half the normal adult weight.

Once admitted to the center, veterinarians determined he had an old fracture in his leg and numerous parasites, but was otherwise healthy.

After a month of care, the bobcat passed his final exam Wednesday and was released into the wild around 11 a.m.

SAN DIEGO — SeaWorld San Diego’s two female polar bears are back Wednesday from a five-month stay in Pittsburgh, and now the question is whether they are pregnant.

Snowflake and Szenja were returned to their Wild Arctic exhibit after they spent time with Koda, a male polar bear at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium.

The trip was part of a cooperative breeding arrangement among zoos, marine parks and aquariums to manage their animal populations, keep them sustainable and maintain genetic diversity.

SeaWorld San Diego

SeaWorld San Diego

According to SeaWorld, polar bears are a threatened species in the wild because of a reduction in their sea ice habitat.

Animal care specialists and veterinarians will monitor the hormone levels of the 18-year-old bears looking for signs of pregnancy. It will not be known until later this year whether the breeding mission was a success, according to SeaWorld.

Park officials said polar bear pregnancies last between 195 to 265 days, including 135 to 205 days of delayed implantation. Polar bears give birth to one to three cubs at a time that measure 12 to 14 inches  and weigh about 1 pound.

Szenja mated with Koda during a breeding visit to the Pittsburgh Zoo last year, but it did not result in a pregnancy. If there is a pregnancy this time, it is anticipated that a cub or cubs would be born by the end of this year.

The 6,500-square-foot Wild Arctic exhibit was renovated when the bears were away. Among the additions were caves where treats will be hidden for them to find, according to SeaWorld.

SAN DIEGO – A new ASPCA transport program helped rescue about 20 puppies from Los Angeles by moving them to San Diego shelters.

ASPCA 1 (2)The San Diego Humane Society was named the first partner in the new ASPCA Animal Relocation Program intended to alleviate shelter overcrowding.

“This is the first time we’ve transferred in from L.A.” said Kelly Schry with the San Diego Humane Society.  “They are a bigger city.  They have a lot more animals to take care of so we’re trying to help them out a little by bringing them down here.”

Schry said San Diego is also facing overcrowding issues, but animals were moved around locally to make room for the dogs from L.A.

“We’ve taken in animals that we don’t typically see those breeds very often in shelters,” said Schry.  “Breeds like beagles and labs and golden shepherds; we’ve transferred a lot of animals like that and puppies as well.”

Some of the puppies need to be spayed and neutered but most are available for adoption immediately.

The San Diego Humane Society said more dogs will be transferred to San Diego the next few weeks as the program continues.

SAN DIEGO – A 6-week-old cheetah cub at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park was introduced to his lifelong companion – a 7-week-old puppy.

The young cheetah, Ruuxa, was chosen to be raised as an animal ambassador at the Safari Park after he was rejected by his mother and had to be hand raised by keepers.

The cheetah cub and puppy, a Rhodesian ridgeback puppy named Raina, are being introduced by animal care staff at the Safari Park. The puppy will be raised with the cheetah and serve as his lifelong companion.


The cheetah cub and puppy are being introduced by animal care staff at the Safari Park. (San Diego Zoo)

RAMONA, Calif. — A female coyote pup burned in the Poinsettia Fire in Carlsbad now has company. Her brother is now being treated for similar burns.

Last week, the 6-pound, 3-month-old pup was taken from a canyon near Poinsettia Lane to the Fund for Animals Wildlife Center in Ramona for treatment of a burned nose, ears and all four paws.  Two days later, a male pup half her size was found on the other side of the canyon.

“It’s believed they’re from the same litter, because it’s unlikely two different coyote packs would have been sharing that same canyon,” said Ali Crumpacker, director of the Fund for Animals Wildlife Center.


Both young coyotes were found with serious burns after the Poinsettia Fire.

He was emaciated when he was found.  His condition is significantly worse than hers.

“Either he stepped on something hotter or he stood for longer on something hotter, his burns were more severe,” said registered veterinary technician Gina Taylor, who is treating both pups.

Both pups are receiving ointment salves and antibiotics.  Their paws bandaged to keep out infection.  Her bandages are pink; his blue.

“She’s looking very good,” said Taylor. “She’s gaining a little bit of weight.”

Caregivers are more guarded about his prognosis since his burns are more severe.  He lost all but two toenails in the fire but they’re still optimistic.

“He should be able to progress on the same path as his sister,” said Crumpacker.

The two are being kept sedated and secluded in the intensive care unit of the medical facility.  They are being kept side by side in crates.

“(It’s) rare to find one burn victim in a wildfire like this in the first place, but to find two that are probably from the same family unit is a miracle for them,” said Crumpacker.

Animal caregivers are hopeful the two will continue to heal together and will months from now be released by as part of a small pack.

“We’re really looking forward to the day that we can get them back together and see that they recognize and remember each other and hopefully grow up together and go back to the wild,” said Crumpacker.

The Fund for Animals Wildlife Center is a refuge in Ramona where orphaned or injured wildlife are treated with the hope of releasing them back into the wild.



Smallest wildfire victim gets treated in Ramona

Man says Obama presidency is worse than losing home to fires

Body found in canyon charred by wildfires

IMPERIAL BEACH, Calif. – A whale carcass that washed ashore in Point Loma last week is believed to have resurfaced Sunday in Imperial Beach, near the Tijuana Estuary.

People stopped by the beach Sunday evening to see the giant animal and said they had never seen a whale up close.

“This is hands on learning. Science at its finest. I think it’s pretty cool,” said Josh Van Norman, a San Diego resident.

photo(1)“It’s unreal. It’s almost like it’s a movie, or it’s fake. It’s just weird to see [the whale] still moving because of the waves,” said Denises Madrid of San Diego.

Last Monday, a dead fin whale ended up on Point Loma’s shoreline. The San Diego Fire Rescue Department said lifeguards dragged the carcass back into the ocean using a motorboat last Wednesday.

From there, Fallbrook based “Marine Conservation Science Institute” was to take over and release the whale.

“It was a great opportunity to find sharks in this area,” said Nicole Nasby Lucas, Research Biologist. “We wanted to use this opportunity to tow the whale out and see if it would attract any of those larger sharks that were nearby.”

Nasby Lucas said most of the time San Diego sees a large population of juvenile great white sharks, so scientists wanted to use the 40-foot carcass to attract larger females.

“We were with it for 2 days, and it actually didn’t attract any sharks during that time, but after two days the tow-line actually broke,” said Nasby Lucas.

Eventually, the whale drifted back to shore landing near the Tijuana Estuary.

The estuary is working with NOAA, the cities of Imperial Beach and San Diego to determine the next step.

They are considering 4 options.  The options are, leaving it to decompose, burying it in the sand, towing it back out to sea or disposing of the carcass at the landfill.