Monday, 16 July 2012 21:58

Zookeepers On Baby Duty At Oakland Zoo Featured

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Oakland, CA - In recent months, Zookeepers have been on baby watch, welcoming hundreds of animals to the Oakland Zoo collection. Baby animals include big and small creatures: a squirrel monkey, 100+ milky frog tadpoles, 100+ mini millipedes, eighteen spiny lizards, nine spotted turtles, and three baby wallaroos (joeys). Each of the babies receives care specialized to its needs. Sometimes mothers know best, while other instances require a zookeeper’s intervention.

Information About New Baby Animals

It was a scary start for a baby squirrel monkey, born on June 14. Mother, Peepers, was showing signs of distress after giving birth and started bleeding from a life threatening infection. Veterinary staff monitored her and performed an emergency hysterectomy to save her life. During the surgery, zookeepers carefully tended to the baby.

Baby squirrel monkeys have a psychological need to cling to fur and be constantly moving, so we placed the baby on a stuffed animal and rocked it constantly throughout the time the baby was separated from its mother,” said Margaret Rousser, Zoological Manager.

The surgery was a success; Peepers was reunited with her baby and began nursing immediately.

Nature also created miraculous moments behind-the-scenes of the Reptile and Amphibian Room. During the month of June, more than 100 milky frog babies hatched. This type of frog can lay up to 200 eggs at a time. The eggs are separated from the adult frogs as soon as possible. Keepers monitor the tadpoles as they grow legs and develop into tiny froglets (process takes approximately four weeks). The babies are kept off exhibit until they are large enough to fend for themselves, and not become dinner for adult frogs.

Multiples of millipedes hatched behind-the-scenes of the bug house. Right now, zoo keepers are keeping track of more than 100 tiny millipedes that require more work than one might realize. The eggs are laid in moist rotting soil or in rotting food. They are the size of a piece of bird seed and are white. After a few weeks, they hatch into very small white millipedes, gradually turn brown, and take nearly three years to develop into adults. Once adults, they can grow to about ten inches in length.

On the tiny spectrum of animals, eighteen spiny lizards were born this spring. Spiny lizards are live bearing and precocious, so they do not need a lot of specialized care. Zookeepers remove them from the exhibit to prevent the gila monsters from eating the tiny lizards for lunch and because they need require a different diet than the adults. It is critical the animals receive UVA/UVB lighting during their development; therefore, special lighting is used over their enclosures.

“Breeding reptiles is very hard and detailed work, but it is very rewarding to increase the numbers of these species in captivity,” said Adam Fink, ZooKeeper.

Baby turtles aren’t as easy to care for as lizards. Currently, zookeepers are raising nine spotted turtle babies. Turtle eggs are placed into an incubator, with close attention placed on watching temperature and humidity. The sex of a turtle is determined by the temperature at which the egg is incubated; therefore, zookeepers are careful with the male to female ratio when incubating eggs. Once hatched, the tiny turtles need very specific food during their development. Like the lizards, turtles require UVA/UVB lighting for bone and shell development.

Three joeys that started out very small, the size of kidney beans, are now being seen inside and outside of their mothers’ pouches. With birthdates estimated in November, February, and April, visitors are able to see the three babies while riding the Outback Express Adventure train through the Wild Australia section of the Zoo. Joeys are born blind and helpless, beginning in their mother’s Cloaca, then to the pouch, where they crawl in and latch onto a nipple. It takes nearly six months before the joeys start peeking outside the pouch. At this age of development they also resemble their parents and begin making appearances outside of the pouch.

“The nice thing about having such a large exhibit is that it allows the animals to behave as they naturally would,” said Lorraine Peters, ZooKeeper. The joeys in pouches don’t peek out too often; however, our train drivers will point them out whenever possible. Right now, we’ve got one starting to peek out and I’ll bet she’s out completely within a couple weeks.

Baby Maggie, a reticulated giraffe, born in January at eighty pounds and seventy-two inches is still very popular at the Zoo among visitors. She enjoys playing with her older brother on exhibit and is very active throughout the day. Behind-the-scenes, ZooKeepers, Amy and Sara, are working with Maggie to get her used to ZooKeepers. They are training her to wear a halter, so she is not afraid should she need a veterinary procedure. Keepers use a whistle, a target, and treats to train Maggie.

Three baby river otters (two males and one female) born in February are now nearly the size of their parents. The babies are extremely active and rambunctious and enjoy playing with their parents and their siblings. Older sister Tallulah has taken a special interest in helping her mother care for the juveniles which will be great practice for her when she is ready to start her own family.

“Raising baby otters is fun and challenging,” said Andrea Dougall, ZooKeeper. “It has taught me a lot and been a great learning experience.”


The Bay Area's award-winning Oakland Zoo is home to more than 660 native and exotic animals. The Zoo offers many educational programs and kid's activities perfect for science field trips, family day trips and exciting birthday parties. Nestled in the Oakland Hills, in 500-acre Knowland Park, the Zoo is located at 9777 Golf Links Road, off Highway 580. The East Bay Zoological Society (Oakland Zoo) is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization supported in part by members, contributions, the City of Oakland and the East Bay Regional Parks. For more information please visit our website at

The East Bay Zoological Society has managed and operated both the Zoo and surrounding Knowland Park for the City of Oakland since 1982. Under its management, the Oakland Zoo presents an award-winning experience for visitors, fosters knowledge and understanding of animals and the environment through educational programs, and has earned national awards and international acclaim for its animal management and endangered species programs. Over the years, exhibit by exhibit, the Oakland Zoo has been reinvigorated and revitalized, making it a place where animals thrive and visitors enjoy. For more information, please visit our website at ###

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Jon Patch

Graduated from Penn State University in 1983 and landed my first broadcasting job at the flagship station to SUN Radio Network in St. Petersburg, FL as a producer of talk radio. In 3 months advanced to a network producer, then on air as a national eventually local weather reporter for the Tampa Bay area. Held a position in management as a trainer to new hosts and producers and later Affiliate Relations Manager, eventually in 1990 started hosting, Talkin' Pets. Left SUN radio several years later and worked with USA Radio Networks for 1 year. I worked with Business TalkRadio & Lifestyle TalkRadio Networks for19 years under the title of V.P. Affiliate Relations and Programming, later worked with Genesis Communications until starting a new network ATRN.  Currently working with GAB Radio Network and with Josh Leng at Talk Media Network.  I am still hosting the largest and longest running pet radio and internet show in the country, Talkin' Pets, for the past 29 years... My one true passion in life is to help to educate the world through interviews with celebrities like Betty White, Tippi Hedren, Bob Barker, Linda Blair and others, authors, foundations and organizations like the ASPCA, LCA, HSUS, AHA, WSPA on the ways to make this world a better place for all animals and mankind whom all share this very fragile and mysterious planet called earth. This is the only home we have so we all need to learn how to share and maintain it so that life for us all continues and evolves forever... | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.