Penguin Genetics & Breeding in Conservation Care

African penguins are in danger of extinction. Wild colonies along the coast of South Africa and Namibia are being depleted due to overfishing, climate change, and pollution. Seneca Park Zoo currently houses 34 African penguins, and we are doing all we can to ensure proper care, which includes maintaining a successful breeding program.

We participate in the Species Survival Plan (SSP), which involves Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited institutions throughout North America that also have African penguins.  Every three years, Institutional Representatives (IR’s) from accredited zoos gather to discuss African penguin populations. These meetings are led by expert advisors, and we all work together to maximize genetic diversity, manage demographic distribution, and long-term sustainability of the population.

The genealogy of each African penguin born in the SSP is known and they are ranked bases on how genetically valuable they are. At these meetings, we use the rankings to decide who would make the best pairings. Sometimes the two penguins are at the same institution, but other times we may need to send birds to other places.

This year the meeting was hosted by Cincinnati Zoo and IR’s from zoos all over came to discuss the 1128 penguins, in 51 AZA accredited institutions. There are currently 600 males, 525 females, and 3 unknown sex.

Before the meeting itself, we are all sent a Wants and Needs Survey, where we talk about if we would like to grow our colony, if we need to move out birds, how many birds we would like to bring in, or if there are any birds that shouldn’t be included in breeding over the next 3 years. Exclusions could be due to things like, medical conditions or age.

Once we arrive at the meeting, it is kind of run like a football draft, and we are all trying to make the best possible matches for our colony based on genetics. We utilize tools such as a MateRx, and this tells us if a paring is genetically valuable or not. The goal for the African penguin SSP is to grow the population to 1503 penguins, which means, we as a group need to hatch 68-74 chicks this year.

When looking at the MateRx 1, 2, & 3 are highly recommended and they would like to see 4 chicks produced from that pair. If a pair is a 4, they can produce up to 2 chicks. If a bird is a 5 or 6, we do not breed. This year we have 2 different pairs that are able to produce 2 chicks each. Here is a sample MateRx, so that you can get an idea of what we reference during the planning period. This has been my second meeting that I have attended, and look forward to assisting the Penguin SSP in the future.

This was a very brief overview, but I hope this answers some of the questions I often get about why we sent a penguin to another zoo, or why we decided to hatch chicks from one pair and not another. Also, did you know there are nearly 500 other SSP’s? That means this process is happening for other species as well. African penguin IR’s will tell you that their SSP is the best though! 

– Kellee Wolowitz, Assistant Curator – Carnivores 

Ways you can help African penguins:

  • Adopt a penguin at SANCCOB – Adopt an African penguin or penguin egg that will be rehabilitated and released or adopt a ‘Home Pen’ bird that lives permanently at SANCCOB. Funds help to provide incubation, food, and veterinary treatment.
  • Donate to SANCCOB – Whether you donate your time or money, you can make a difference in the survival of endangered African penguins and other seabirds in distress. For more information, visit
  • Visit the Zoo to learn more about African penguins and the threats they face in nature through keeper chats, special experiences, and more.
  • Purchase sustainably sourced seafood – Purchase seafood caught or farmed in ways that support a healthy ocean. Ask your local grocer if they sell sustainable seafood and visit to learn more about eco-friendly options.

Seneca Park Zoo’s Original Seven Penguins

In April of 1997, the Rocky Coast Exhibit at the Seneca Park Zoo opened.  This brand new, state of the art exhibit displayed habitats for polar bears, California sea lions, reindeer, Arctic fox, and African penguins.  This was a very exciting time as it was the first time our Zoo had housed penguins.
A few months prior to the opening of the Rocky Coast we received our first 7 penguins from the Baltimore Zoo.  They were all between 1 and 2 years old when they arrived.  Their names were Blanca, Sydney, Rollo, Herbie, Newman, Chumly and Rocco.
Blanca is the only penguin that is still living here at the Seneca Park Zoo.  He is 26 years old and enjoys spending his days with his mate Twiggy.  Blanca and Twiggy are the parents to our most recent chick, Tonka.  Throughout the years Blanca has had 8 offspring.  These penguins now reside at the Erie Zoo, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Denver Zoo, Caldwell Zoo and Seneca Park Zoo.  Blanca is adored by all of his keepers.  He is sweet and sassy and you never know which one you’re going to get!  Blanca always keeps us on our toes!
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Sydney lived his life at SPZ. He had 4 offspring with his longtime mate, Calista.  These penguins reside at Fort Worth Zoo, Lowry Park Zoo and New York Aquarium.  Sydney was euthanized in August of 2022.  He was a favorite of the keepers for his laid back disposition and is deeply missed.

Rollo is currently 28 years old and resides at the San Diego Zoo.  In 2002 he left SPZ for the Toledo Zoo, where he lived until 2012 when he went to the Pueblo Zoo.  He has been at the San Diego Zoo since 2017.  Rollo did not have any offspring.

Herbie currently resides at Jenkinson’s Aquarium in New Jersey. H is 27 years old and lived at SPZ until 2019.  He went to Jenkinson’s Aquarium on a breeding recommendation from the Species Survival Plan.  He and his new mate are very genetically valuable but have yet to have any offspring.

Newman lived at the Seneca Park Zoo until 2016 when he passed away at the age of 22.  He had no offspring.  Chumley and Rocco are also deceased.  Chumly went to the Toledo Zoo in 2002 and was euthanized there in 2009.  Rocco passed away at the Montgomery Zoo in 2009 where he lived for 4 years after leaving SPZ in 2005.  Neither Rocco nor Chumly had any offspring.

Since the opening of the penguin exhibit in 1997, the Seneca Park Zoo has had one of the most successful breeding programs for African Penguins in the nation.  114 penguin chicks have hatched here!  And to think it all started with these 7 penguins!!!

– Zoologist Sue Rea 


Ways you can help African penguins:

  • Adopt a penguin at SANCCOB – Adopt an African penguin or penguin egg that will be rehabilitated and released or adopt a ‘Home Pen’ bird that lives permanently at SANCCOB. Funds help to provide incubation, food, and veterinary treatment.
  • Donate to SANCCOB – Whether you donate your time or money, you can make a difference in the survival of endangered African penguins and other seabirds in distress. For more information, visit
  • Visit the Zoo to learn more about African penguins and the threats they face in nature through keeper chats, special experiences, and more.
  • Purchase sustainably sourced seafood – Purchase seafood caught or farmed in ways that support a healthy ocean. Ask your local grocer if they sell sustainable seafood and visit to learn more about eco-friendly options.

African Elephant Lilac Turned 44 – Happy Birthday!

May 3, 2022

African elephant Lilac celebrated her 44th birthday on Sunday! As many of you know, Lilac came to Seneca Park Zoo in 1979 as an orphan from Kruger National Park in South Africa along with Genny C. Lilac can be identified by her small stature and the hole in her left ear. If you also look very closely you can see that the hair on the top of her head is red!Because of her spunky personality she is typically the elephant playing chase with the other girls or trying to mess with them whereas Moki and Genny C. would much rather be napping in the sun or munching on hay.

Now considered geriatric, she has spent her years here winning over the hearts of many, including her keepers. The bond we each have with Lilac takes years to build as she is not easily swayed by even the best of treats, like bagels. As elephant keepers, we work daily on behaviors with each of the elephants to ensure that they can and will voluntarily participate in their own health care. This helps us keep them in the best shape possible both mentally and physically all while being proactive about any old age ailments that may arise.

Lilac turning 44 is a big deal in the elephant community. Nationwide, Lilac is the 4th oldest female African Elephant in conservation care. Genny C. is number 3! Because of this, we continue to strive to provide the best care possible to let all of these ladies live out their Golden Years in style!

On your next visit the zoo, don’t forget to stop by and wish Lilac a very Happy Birthday!

– Zoo Keeper Jenna Bovee

*Banner photo by Hanna Kaiser 

Amur Tiger Katya Blood Draw

March 9, 2022

Tracking the health of our zoo animals is at the forefront of what we do at the Seneca Park Zoo. One of the tools we have to monitor our geriatric animals is routine bloodwork to track trends. These blood values can indicate changes in organ function that the veterinarian can respond to with various treatments. With older animals, the risk of anesthesia to collect samples increases so Zoo Keeper Randi Krieger and Veterinary Technician Robin English began working with our 16-year-old (17 in May!)  Amur Tiger, Katya, to try and get a blood sample without anesthesia. After many months of positive reinforcement, they were able to successful collect a blood sample from her tail. This behavior can now be used to track Katya’s health more frequently as she ages.

– Veterinary Technician Robin English 

* Banner photo by Wayne Smith

Happy Birthday to African Elephant Genny C!

Nov. 9, 2021

Happy Fall everyone! November is a very special month here at Seneca Park Zoo because it is Genny C’s birthday month! On November 1, Genny turned 44 and is our oldest resident here at Seneca Park Zoo. Being a geriatric elephant means there is more day-to-day care for her and she even receives regular acupuncture sessions to help her joints. Orphaned in Africa, she joined us in 1979 and has won the hearts of everyone who has met her ever since – especially her keepers! She is our tallest elephant and also has the shortest tusks. Another way to tell Genny C apart from the others is that she purrs – listen closely when you are at the elephant habitat and you may just hear her doing it! She truly enjoys spending quality time with her keepers – always ready to participate in a training session, especially if there are bagels, cabbage, or watermelon involved.Here are some of her keepers favorite things about her 🙂

“She is really sweet and a joy to work with” – Zookeeper Mike

“I love how she is patient with new keepers” – Zookeeper Hanna

“She is trusting and resilient” – Assistant Curator Lindsay

“I love that when she lays down to sleep she uses a tire pillow and that she purrs” – Zookeeper Kat

“She puts hay on her head and it looks like a hay hat!” – Zookeeper Jenna

Next time you come visit Seneca Park Zoo, come down to elephants and give our oldest lady a big wave and “Happy Birthday!” We hope to see you soon!

– Zookeeper Hanna Kaiser

Become a ZooParent!

*Banner photo by Wayne Smith

Keeper Connection: In the Field – Saving endangered African penguins in South Africa

This article first ran in our ZooNooz April 2020 edition but since that issue was only released digitally due to the pandemic/shutdown we wanted to highlight this awesome experience and conservation message again—and what better time than during Penguin Weekend! 

Every year, Seneca Park Zoo Society raises thousands of dollars for conservation efforts locally and globally. And while our conservation partners need financial assistance, they also need help we can only provide by sending staff members to their sites. In 2019, funds were made available to send Zoo Keeper Kevin Blakely to SANCCOB in South Africa where he spent two weeks in December helping to rehabilitate African penguins.

A zoo keeper at Seneca Park Zoo since 2013, Kevin is the primary African penguin keeper and has long been interested in marine animals.

“My passion for marine animals began when I was at college and living in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. I went on snorkeling trips to the Florida Keys and visited the Ft. Lauderdale aquarium regularly. I had my first saltwater aquarium in my college apartment, and I’ve had at least one in my home ever since!”

A long-time partner of the Zoo, SANCCOB is committed to reversing the decline of seabird populations through the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of ill, injured, abandoned, and oil seabirds – especially the endangered African penguin.

“Donations and money are great and always needed, but organizations like SANCCOB really do appreciate people on the ground. SANCCOB welcomes volunteers of all experience levels and backgrounds because there’s always something that needs to be done, from laundry and cleaning to food prep.”

Following an extensive application process and a nearly 18-hour flight, Kevin made it to SANCCOB’s main facility in Table View, South Africa. Each morning began with an all-staff meeting to review pen assignments, supervisor roles, and any symptoms to look for in the penguins.

On Kevin’s first day, he was assigned to food prep, which is the heart of SANCCOB’s operations. He spent the entire day learning the food prep area, which includes medications and vitamins, and how to clean syringes and prepare formula for the penguins.

“Most volunteers are only around for a couple of weeks, so they need you up to speed and working from day two. The first couple of days can be hectic and overwhelming as you learn their procedures.”

Preparing Penguin Food
On Kevin’s first day, he was assigned to food prep, which is the heart of SANCCOB’s operations. He spent the entire day learning the food prep area, which includes medications and vitamins, and how to clean syringes and prepare formula for the penguins.
Speezy had come to SANCCOB three months earlier emaciated and suffering from a bad foot injury.
Speezy had come to SANCCOB three months earlier emaciated and suffering from a bad foot injury.
Food prep is at the heart of SANCCOB’s operations. Volunteers are required to learn everything from the locations of all medications and vitamins, to how to clean syringes and prepare formula.

Within a couple of days, Kevin was inside a pen feeding penguins. He picked up procedures quickly thanks to his experience with the Zoo’s African penguin colony, and it wasn’t long before Kevin was named a pen supervisor.

“I love to learn new things and be challenged. One of my proudest moments was coming in one morning to see my name listed as a pen supervisor. To start out and have no idea what’s going on, I was proud of how quickly I became comfortable with my assignments.”

“One-hour swimmers”

Seabirds administered to SANCCOB are divided into pens based on swimming abilities. Kevin was responsible for Pen 5, which at one point held 42 penguins. With 12 pens in total, two to three people are needed in each pen and birds are consolidated based on amount of help available. Pen 5 was home to many “one-hour swimmers”, which refers to the length of time a bird can swim during a session. When penguins are close to release, they need to be able to swim at least one-hour straight three times a day.

Kevin aimed to get the penguins into the water first thing in the morning so they could swim for one of their three hours. During that time, he would clean their pen, mats, walls, and equipment. After the first swim, it was time to prepare for feeding.

Each penguin gets three large fish (120-130 fish are prepped daily!) and formula – a blend of seafood, vitamins, and minerals. Some of the penguins also need electrolytes, additional medications, and to use the nebulizer to aid in their respiratory issues.

The SANCCOB facility has two pools about two-feet deep, with six pens surrounding each pool. After each swim, the penguins’ feathers are examined to ensure they’ve retained their waterproofing and their weight is checked for respiratory issues. The goal is to get them in the ocean as soon as possible.

“One of the most rewarding parts of volunteering at SANCCOB was realizing how much I was needed. Our work was important. It wasn’t just a vacation. Sometimes I was working 10-hour days, but I didn’t want to leave.”

Kevin was responsible for Pen 5, which was home to many “one-hour swimmers”, which refers to the length of time a bird can swim during a session.

Adopting a penguin
While supervising Pen 5, Kevin connected with an adult penguin that had come to the center three months earlier emaciated and suffering from a bad foot injury. Once the penguin was stabilized, it was determined that removing the injured foot was his best chance for survival. After months of rehabilitation, the penguin was finally cleared for release and Kevin had the opportunity to be a part of it.

To honor this bird’s fighting spirit and to thank SANCCOB for their tireless efforts to save seabirds, Kevin adopted the bird on behalf of Seneca Park Zoo and named him SPeeZy. On December 23, 2019, Speezy was released at the site of the Stony Point penguin colony, along with 16 other African penguins.

Seabirds that have been deemed non-releasable permanently live at SANCCOB in their “Home Pen”, while the ICU Pen is for “10-minute swimmers”. Because many pens are at capacity, SANCCOB’s work to rehabilitate disabled penguins for release, like Speezy, is so critical.

“Traveling to South Africa and working at SANCCOB was a dream come true. When you work with an endangered animal daily, it becomes very personal. During all my keeper chats at the Zoo, I not only try to educate our guests about the threats faced by African penguins, but also how people can help from right here in Rochester. For me to be able to go there and be part of the SANCCOB team, even for a short time, was an incredible honor and something I hope to do again very soon.”


The Dilemma: The Clutch and Molt Overlap

About 90% of the birds at SANCCOB are “blues,” or between juveniles and chicks. At this age, they’ve molted out of their feathers but can’t feed themselves and are still with their parents.

Normally, African penguins breed in the autumn and winter – between March and September. By October and November, the last chicks would have fledged and adults begin spending several weeks at sea fattening up for molt, which happens in November and December. In recent years, breeding has been delayed and the birds run into a dilemma late in the year.

When the penguins lay eggs in March or April, there are often heat waves and extreme storms in South Africa, which causes the birds to abandon their eggs or lose their clutches altogether (penguins usually lay two eggs per clutch).

The main reason for this delayed breeding is the decline of sardine and anchovy populations, the African penguin’s main prey, due to overfishing and climate change. Because of this, penguins are struggling to find enough food to be fit enough for breeding season.
Food availability, as well as environmental changes, has shifted breeding to later in the year when conditions improve. Many penguins now successfully lay eggs and start raising chicks in late winter (August/September or later). Therefore, these chicks are still in the need of parental feeding when the parents are due to molt.

African penguins fully shed their feathers once a year to secure waterproofing. Molting requires them to stay on land for several weeks, so they can’t hunt for themselves or their chicks during that time. Unfortunately, many penguins go into molt and are left standing next to their chicks at the nest site but unable to feed the them.

That’s where SANCCOB’s Penguin Rangers come in. Abandoned and weak chicks are identified and removed from the colony and taken to SANCCOB for hand-rearing and later, release back into nature. SANCCOB is working closely with the South African government and the managing authorities to try and address these problems and secure safe breeding spaces for the birds.

It is estimated there are only around 13,200 breeding pairs left in all South Africa.

– Zoo Keeper Kevin Blakely


Ways you can help African penguins:

  • Adopt a penguin at SANCCOB – Adopt an African penguin or penguin egg that will be rehabilitated and released or adopt a ‘Home Pen’ bird that lives permanently at SANCCOB. Funds help to provide incubation, food, and veterinary treatment.
  • Donate to SANCCOB – Whether you donate your time or money, you can make a difference in the survival of endangered African penguins and other seabirds in distress. For more information, visit
  • Visit the Zoo to learn more about African penguins and the threats they face in nature through keeper chats, special experiences, and more.
  • Purchase sustainably sourced seafood – Purchase seafood caught or farmed in ways that support a healthy ocean. Ask your local grocer if they sell sustainable seafood and visit to learn more about eco-friendly options.

Happy [Belated] Birthday to African Elephant Moki!

Sept 22, 2021

Summer flew by (too fast in our opinion) but in light of Elephant Week we had to take a moment and celebrate a special birthday that happened over it. In July, a favorite lady of mine turned 39 years old – Moki the African Elephant! Our largest lady, weighing in around 9000 pounds, loves to spend her day eating. She is a food connoisseur and every time we check on the herd, she always comes over to see if we have anything tasty. Besides being our largest elephant, a great way to tell her apart is that she has the longest tusks! Tusks are modified incisor teeth that continuously grow throughout an elephant’s life. In the wild, elephants are poached for their ivory tusks, which along with human-elephant conflict, is the major threat to elephant conservation. Moki is also our only elephant who knows a behavior to make a noise from her trunk and waves – it is very cute to see!Moki was orphaned in Zimbabwe and brought over to the US. She lived at a few zoos before joining us in 2015 and has been a loved addition ever since. Here are her team’s favorite things about her 🙂

“She’s very observant and always keeps us on our toes.” – Lindsay, Assistant Curator of Hoofstock

“She tries to communicate with you by showing you what she wants.” – Jenna, Zoologist

“She’s got the tiniest voice when she speaks. I also love her beach ball body!” – Tina, Zoologist

“Moki is always willing to participate with me when asking for behaviors.” – Mike, Zookeeper

“I love that her tongue sticks out when she’s sucking on treats!” – Kat, Zookeeper

Next time you are visiting the zoo, please give Moki a wave and let us know your favorite things about her!

– Zoo Keeper Hanna Kaiser

*Banner photo by Hanna Kaiser

Keeper Connection: Primates, the Pet Trade, and Social Media

August 28, 2021

Have you ever been scrolling on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, or TikTok and watched a video of a monkey, ape, or lemur? Maybe they’re wearing a dress, holding their arms up being “tickled”, or being held by someone posing for a photo. These videos can be tempting to share with your friends and family. So much content on social media is centered on animals interacting with the world and people, sharing it seems like a harmless way to bring positivity to someone’s feed. Unfortunately, the truth behind many of these videos is that it fuels the live primate pet trade, threatens wild populations, promotes poor primate welfare, and distorts viewers perspectives on zoos and the differences between private ownership of primates and housing primate species in zoos to support and assist in wild conservation efforts.So, what is the live primate pet trade? The primate pet trade is the transaction of live primates (monkeys, ape, and prosimians) into the care of humans outside of accredited zoos or sanctuaries (Norconk et al., 2019). Some of these primates will have come from facilities that intentionally breed them for the purpose of selling them as a pet, while others will have been taken directly from the wild by traffickers and then sold (Norconk et al., 2019). These primates will all be taken from their mothers and sold at young ages before they have reached full growth and maturity (Noconk et al., 2019).

It was estimated in 2011 that around tens to potentially hundreds of thousands of wild individual live primates are traded a year; in 2017 the number was estimated to be around 450,000 live primates (Nijman et al., 2011; Estrada et al., 2017). In 2011, the United States was the single largest importer of live primates and had been since 2009 (Nijman et al., 2011; Norconk et al., 2019). It goes without saying that these numbers present a major concern for primate populations and their conservation.

Primates are imperative to the health of the ecosystems they inhabit. With continually decreasing population numbers, and approximately 60% of primate species threatened with extinction, primates will no longer be able to support the functions necessary for an ecosystem to thrive (Estrada et al., 2017). Primates are responsible for a significant amount of seed dispersal and pollination throughout forests (Estrada et al., 2017). Since many primates are frugivorous (eat fruits), they are able to disperse fruit seeds throughout long distances when travelling, assisting in forest regeneration (Chapman et al., 2013). In addition to forest regeneration, primates disperse seeds that grow plants connected to economic growth, cultural importance, and food security in communities within primate habitats (Estrada et al., 2017).While the impacts removing primates from the wild has on ecosystems and local peoples will have a multitude of consequences, it is important to discuss how the live primate pet trade impacts the individual’s health and welfare once in the hands of its “owner”. The majority of primate species are social animals and require the presence of conspecifics to engage in natural behaviors such as grooming, playing, breeding, and various other species-specific behaviors. When taken out of these social environments and placed within human care (non-zoo or sanctuary) in an inappropriate environment such as a house, the individuals may begin to develop stereotypic or abnormal behaviors. Stereotypic behaviors are defined as “repetitive behaviors caused by central nervous system dysfunction, frustration, or repeated attempts to cope” (Mason et al., 2007). These behaviors can be functionless movements (pacing, bouncing, excessive somersaulting), over grooming oneself, or forms of self-harm that may include picking or biting at their skin forming a wound (Coleman & Maier, 2010; Lutz, 2014).

Keeping primates as pets in general, as well as in an inappropriate environment with no social groups, will have detrimental effects on the primate’s mental and physical welfare. Many primates who were previously kept as pets face lifelong struggles with harmful stereotypic behaviors and may have trouble fitting in with other primates since they were never able to learn how to be a primate when living alone as a pet. Unlike what most videos or pictures of pet primates will show, primates are incredibly dangerous animals and pose a serious risk to humans once they reach full growth and maturity. Below is a picture of Seneca Park Zoo’s dominant male Olive Baboon, Mansino, showing off his canines.Social media is becoming an increasing threat to primate populations worldwide, with certain species being more popular and appealing to viewers. As of 2020, YouTube had two billion users throughout the world, making it the most popular and impactful social media platform to exist (Moloney et al., 2021). With this many users, and the ability to share YouTube content on other social media platforms, these videos promote the popularity of having a primate as a pet and thus increases the demand for the trade of live primates and decreasing their numbers in the wild.

While there have been numerous action plans implemented to combat this issue that involve local peoples within primate habitat countries, there are a variety of ways that our visitors here at Seneca Park Zoo can help decrease the number of primates imported into the United States for pets and entertainment.

Tips for sharing videos or pictures of primates on social media:

  • Was the video or picture posted by an accredited zoo? If yes, it is ok to share it! The primate is in an appropriate environment and social group and is being taken care of by professionals.
  • Is the primate sitting on someone’s shoulder wearing clothes or doing tasks throughout the house? If yes, do not share it! This is most likely a primate being kept as a pet. The primate is in an inappropriate environment behaving in a way it wouldn’t normally behave in a social group in the wild or at a zoo.
  • Is the primate in the wild? If yes, it is ok to share it! Sharing videos or pictures of primates in the wild is encouraged, as it shows people what primate social groups look like as well as the type of habitats the species lives in.

There may be some videos or images that could cause confusion when deciding if it should be shared or not. These videos or images may show a veterinarian or wildlife researcher in close contact with a primate. If these videos or images are connected to a zoo or a research/conservation group, then it is ok to share them. Veterinarians will have to be in close contact with a primate for exams or if an injury occurs. Wildlife researchers may have to be in close contact in order to collect samples (blood, fecal, urine, etc.) or even fit the primate with a GPS collar to assist in their research. Below are some examples:You may also come across videos or pictures of young primates (mainly orangutans and chimps) being held by care takers or wheeled around in wheelbarrows. The majority of these videos or pictures are taken at primate rehabilitation centers. As long as these videos or pictures are coming from a center, it is ok to share it! These centers rehabilitate primates that have lost their mothers due mainly from forest destruction and the pet trade. Sharing this content can help raise awareness about the dangers primates face in the wild and the work that is put into rehabilitating the primates and eventually re-releasing them into the wild. Below are examples:One last action our guests can take is to educate your friends and family about the primate pet trade! Sharing this information is perhaps one of the most important ways to help primates. Help us at Seneca Park Zoo spread awareness about the threat the primate pet trade poses to primate conservation and primate welfare.

Thank you for your support and Happy Primate Weekend!

– Clare Belden, Baboon KeeperDonate References:

Estrada, A., Garber, P.A., Rylands, A.B., Roos, C., Fernandez-Duque, E., Di Fiore, A., Nekaris, K.A.I., Nijman, V., Heymann, E.W., Lamber, J.E., Rovero, F., Barelli, C., Setchell, J.M., Gillespie, T.R., Mittermeier, R.A., Arregoitia, L.V., de Guinea, M., Gouveia, S., Dobrovolski, R., Shanee, S., Shanee, N., Boyle, S.A., Fuentes, A., MacKinnon, K.C., Amato, K.R., Meyer, A.L.S., Wich, S., Sussman, R.W., Pan, R., Kone, I., Li, B. (2017). Impending extinction crisis of the world’s primates: Why primates matter. Science Advances, 3: e1600946

Chapman, C.A., Bonnell, T.R., Gogarten, J.F., Lambert, J.E., Omeja, P.A., Twinomugisha, D., Wasserman, M.D., Rothman, J.M. (2013). Are primates ecosystem engineers? International Journal of Primatology, 34:1-14

Coleman, K., Maier, A. (2010). The use of positive reinforcement training to reduce stereotypic behavior in rhesus macaques. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 124(3-4): 142-148

Lutz, C.K. (2014). Stereotypic behavior in nonhuman primates as a model for the human condition. Institute for Laboratory Animal Research Journal, 55(2)

Mason, G., Clubb, R., Latham, N., Vickery, S. (2007). Why and how should we use environmental enrichment to tackle stereotypic behaviour? Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 102:163-188

Moloney, G.K., Tuke, J., Dal Grande, E., Nielsen, T., Chaber, AL. (2021). Is YouTube promoting the exotic pet trade? Analysis of the global perception of popular YouTube videos featuring threatened exotic animals. PLoS ONE, 16(4): e0235451

Nijman, V., Nekaris, K.A.I., Donati, G., Bruford, M., Fa, J. (2011). Primate Conservation: measuring and mitigating trade in primates. Endangered Species Research, 13: 159-161

Norconk, M.A., Atsalis, S., Tully, G., Santillan, A.M., Waters, S., Knott, C.D., Ross, S.R., Shanee, S. (2019). Reducing the primate pet trade: Actions for primatologists. International Journal of Primatology, 82: e23079

Supporting Lion Conservation with Lion Landscapes

July 31, 2021

Lions have disappeared from over 90% of their historic range. It is estimated that there are only around 20,000 wild lions left in Africa, nearly 50% fewer than 20 years ago and 90% fewer than a century ago. Of those 20,000, almost half live in non-protected rangelands shared with humans. Lions can survive outside fenced areas within pastoral regions if communities gain benefits from wildlife. If we don’t help protect the landscapes where lions live, it won’t be long before they become extinct in nature.

Lion and other large carnivores share the same key threats, including:

• Habitat destruction and fragmentation
• Loss of wild prey
• Persecution in retaliation for killing livestock
• Illegal hunting and poachingLion Landscapes works with local communities and conservation partners in Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia to ensure that ecosystems support people, lions, and their prey for future generations. Their vision is a world where people and viable lion populations can coexist and thrive.
A lion landscape is a landscape that encompasses viable populations of large carnivores, tolerant people and livestock, abundant wild prey and a healthy habitat. Lion Landscapes’ conservation and research efforts focus on how local communities, their livestock and lions can co-exist. This organization does this in 3 main ways:

• Building Partnerships – using available resources for conservation and collaborating between key stakeholders to more efficiently achieve shared conservation goals.
• Science and Data – providing science based support to large carnivore conservation and allocating resources based on data.
• Innovation – creating innovative solutions with financial and ecological sustainability in mind.Lion Rangers is a key component of Lion Landscapes activities in Africa. The Rangers are composed of local people who understand the communities and the culture. They monitor lion populations, provide advice on protecting livestock from carnivores, and mitigate human-lion conflicts through this monitoring and mentoring.

Seneca Park Zoo chooses to support the conservation efforts of Lion Landscapes as part of the African Lion SAFE Program. The money raised during Lion Weekend will be donated to Lion Landscapes to promote human-wildlife coexistence and support real-life conservation efforts. If you choose to make a donation you will be directly helping to save vulnerable African lions while protecting community livelihoods in Africa.

– Zoologist Sue Rea

* Banner photo by Kenneth Tryon

Polar Bear Blood Draw: How We Train with Anoki

July 19, 2021

Moving to Seneca Park Zoo in 2018, Anoki had a new environment and staff to adjust to.  Gaining an animal’s trust is the first step to training, so I spent as much time with Anoki as I could. Whether I was just sitting with her, feeding her food or giving her fun enrichment, that time allowed both of us to adjust to each other.  The treats that work best for her training are sweet potatoes and apple juice.  Anoki was trained for voluntary blood collection at her previous facility. We had a blood draw sleeve fabricated so that we would be able to continue her training, although our set up was a little different from what Anoki was used to before. This was another adjustment she had to make.

In April 2019, I started the first steps of her blood draw training.  I began with simply feeding her near the sleeve, letting her see it and investigate it.  She would lay down in front of it, which is exactly what I was working towards. I heavily reinforced this behavior so she knew that is what I wanted her to do.  Eventually, I started opening the door for the sleeve and asking her to lay down in front of it.  This is when I ran into the first issue with her training.  When the door for the sleeve was open, Anoki could not see me while I was sitting and asking her for behaviors.  I would sit to the side of the sleeve and ask her to lay down, but she would then position in front of me instead of the sleeve.  I started standing in front of the sleeve, asking Anoki to sit, and then asking her to lay down while I moved to the ground as well.  She would get confused every now and then, looking around the door to try and see me, but she eventually caught on. I would feed her through holes that were in the door so she knew her treats were coming still, even though she couldn’t see me.Anoki was trained previously to touch her paw to a stick when presented, so this was the next step of her training.  I started giving her the stick during other training sessions, to make sure she would always go to where the stick was.  I started offering the stick in the sleeve, reinforcing her each time she touched the stick. I would move the stick farther into the sleeve, having Anoki bring her paw farther into the sleeve each time.  I would also increase the amount of time she held her paw in the sleeve, making sure she held still so that eventually we would be able to safely touch her paw. This was also important because the sleeve was big for Anoki’s paw; it’s measured to fit a male polar bear paw, which is much bigger than a females.

This training continued on and off until March 2020.  When Covid hit our area, we needed to ensure the safety of our staff and animals, so we stopped all training.  I was able to start up on her training again in July 2020.  Luckily, Anoki picked right back up where we had left off; she was offering her paw in the sleeve when asked and holding still.  I asked our vet tech, Robin, to start coming to sessions.  She started with sitting next to me while I worked with Anoki, giving Anoki time to adjust to a second person being present. I always had Robin feed her to help build their relationship and trust as well.  Anoki would get confused occasionally when laying down again, moving over to be in front of me instead of the sleeve now that there were two of us.

When Anoki seemed comfortable, Robin began touching her paw.  Anoki would pull her paw away at first, but soon got used to the feeling of being touched. She couldn’t see Robin working with her paw because of the door for the sleeve.  Anoki was still moving her paw around quite a bit, flexing her toes or just moving her paw side to side in the sleeve as if she was trying to grab onto something.  We thought about different things we could do to fix this problem.  We played with the idea of adding an insert that would bring Anoki’s paw up to the top of the sleeve so Robin wouldn’t be reaching in as far.  We decided that as long as Anoki was holding still, it was safe for Robin to be reaching down into the sleeve.  We did add a bar inside of the sleeve for Anoki to grab on to. Once the bar was in and readjusted to fit her paw comfortably, Anoki hooked her claws over it and she held still.Robin’s Perspective:

Getting Anoki used to me touching her paw was only the first step in the process. While Anoki was allowing me to touch her, we still didn’t have a comfortable spot for everyone. Anoki was very focused on Randi and would only glance at me occasionally, however, we needed to get better angles on her foot. After several different trials, we found that having Randi on one side of the sleeve with me on the other and slightly centered was best. With this set up, Anoki could clearly see Randi, I had the best angle for her foot, and Anoki was comfortable. The next step was to get her used to feeling more than my hand. We started with a blunt needle. She began pulling away when we would apply pressure and again through different trials, realized that she was slightly startled by the needle. By touching her with my hand first and then using the needle, we eliminated the surprise. Now on to an actual needle.

We started with a 22g butterfly needle on a syringe. Anoki reacted to this every time by pulling away. The needle was too large. We dropped down to a 25g to get her used to the new sensation knowing we could work our way back up. The butterfly wasn’t easy to maneuver in the tight space that I had so we switched to a regular needle and syringe. We continued to acclimate Anoki to the needle sticks and finally were able to settle on a 23g regular needle with syringe. Training sessions continued with everyone in the right spot and equipped with the right tools. Randi and I would let Anoki tell us what she wanted to do that day and we always made sure we ended our sessions on a positive note whether we were able to attempt the blood draw or not. Each session allowed us to fine tune our technique and through the use of palpation, radiographs, and patience we were able to successfully draw blood from her foot.

With the sample we collected, our veterinarian is able to review results from a full test panel. This includes a Complete Blood Count (CBC) and full chemistry analysis. The results can provide information on her general well being including organ function without the need of anesthesia.  The results from the recent sample that was collected shows that Anoki is in good health!  Being an older polar bear it is important to monitor any changes that may occur and testing can now be done at routine intervals. We can also contribute research projects presented through the Polar Bear SSP.

– Randi Krieger, Zoo Keeper & Robin English, Veterinary TechnicianDonate

* Banner photo by Kenny Krieger