Posts Tagged 'baby animals'



Animal Update – August 31

Between our Baltimore and Washington, DC, venues, more than 17,500 animals representing 900 species call the National Aquarium home. There are constant changes, additions, and more going on behind the scenes that our guests may not notice during their visit. We want to share these fun updates with our community so we’re bringing them to you in our weekly Animal Update posts!

Check our blog every Friday to find out what’s going on… here’s what’s new this week!

We’re experiencing quite the baby boom! 

As we first announced earlier this week, a new spiny-tailed monitor was born in the backup area of our Animal Plant Australia: Wild Extremes exhibit. But this is just one of many new family additions…

Spiny-tailed monitor hatchling

We also have turquoise tanager chicks flying around our Upland Tropical Rain Forest exhibit. Our tanager flock continues to grow! We first announced the arrival of two chicks last month and we are so excited to have more of these adorable babies. You can see the majority of our family of tanagers flying around our Rain Forest now!

Turquoise tanager chick

And don’t forget our new baby screaming piha chick! Also born in our Upland Tropical Rain Forest, this baby is the first to be born in captivity in North America.

Blacktip Reef animals are on the move! 

Blacktip Reef renovations are coming soon and we’ve already started preparations with animal moves. Some of the animals you’re used to seeing in our Wings in the Water exhibit have been moved to their new homes within the Aquarium: Two large roughtail rays are now in Open Ocean exhibit and a cownose ray, two southern rays and a hogfish have all been moved to our Atlantic Coral Reef exhibit. Additionally, over the last two weeks, our staff has worked closely with Georgia Aquarium staff to transport roughtail rays, cownose rays and barracudas to their new home at the Georgia Aquarium.

National Aquarium divers helps to collect animals from Wings in the Water
Photo courtesy of John Soule

Staff and volunteers safely moving a cownose ray from the Wings in the Water exhibit
Photo courtesy of John Soule

We still have a few more animals to move. Next Monday, we’ll be moving our zebra sharks Zeke and Zoe as well as our green sea turtle Calypso to our off-site Animal Care Center, where they will stay until they join their new friends in Blacktip Reef next summer!

Watch this video to learn more about the new animals that will be coming to Blacktip Reef!

Be sure to check back every Friday to find out what’s happening!

We Have ANOTHER Spiny-Tailed Monitor Baby!

On Monday, a spiny-tail monitor baby hatched in our Animal Planet Australia: Wild Extremes exhibit backup area! We are so excited to have another baby spiny-tailed monitor join the one that hatched on July 6!

These babies will stay in our backup area in the care of our staff. Although our guests won’t be able to see the young, you can see their parents in the front.

Animal Update – August 17

Between our Baltimore and Washington, DC, venues, more than 17,500 animals representing 900 species call the National Aquarium home. There are constant changes, additions, and more going on behind the scenes that our guests may not notice during their visit. We want to share these fun updates with our community so we’re bringing them to you in our weekly Animal Update posts!

Check our blog every Friday to find out what’s going on… here’s what’s new this week!

New baby screaming piha!

We have a new baby screaming piha in our Upland Tropical Rain Forest exhibit!

Screaming piha chick

Our screaming piha chick is the first to be born in captivity in North America. After a month of patient waiting by our rain forest aviculturists and exhibit curators, the baby chick hatched at the end of July. Our staff is very excited to be able to share the news of this successful birth!

Very little is known about the biology of the screaming piha when it comes to reproduction, and we hope to learn and share with others in the community as much as we can about these Amazonian birds.

Laying eggs can be difficult for pihas due to their poor nest-building skills. They create tiny nests. Ornithologist (the branch of zoology that studies birds) Alexander Skutch once described a piha nest as being “the most meager arboreal nest that I had seen.” Our female’s nest was about 2 inches by 2 inches and was constructed of curling vines from around our habitat. To help support the structure of the nest, our staff added two additional branches. Soon the female began to sit on her nest and after a couple of days we had our first spotting of a light brown, perfectly camouflaged egg!

In the wild, camouflage is an essential part of the piha’s survival. As a single parent, the female piha often has to leave to gather food while the chick relies completely on camouflage to stay safe in the nest. Through this hatching, we’ve learned that piha chicks lay motionless with their wings at their side while the mother is gone. The chick doesn’t peep or beg (behaviors we traditionally associate with baby birds), so as to not give away its location to any predators.

Screaming piha chick camouflaging itself

In the last month, our baby piha chick has grown tremendously. Thanks to a great mom, the chick has had plenty to eat and is completely feathered. Our new family is currently under the observation of our staff and is not on display yet in our Rain Forest exhibit, but we can’t wait for you to meet our new addition!

New Baby American Alligators at Our Washington, DC, Venue!

Our Washington, DC, venue has added four baby American alligators! They’ve traveled from Savoie Alligator Farm in New Orleans to stay with us for a year. These alligators are one of only two species that don’t spend their whole lives at the Aquarium because of their size. American alligators can grow to a length of up to 15 feet; we can only accommodate them until they reach about 5 feet in length. Once they’ve exceeded that size, we transport them back to their home and return with four new babies!

One of our herpetologists (zoologist specializing in reptiles), Calvin Weaver, with a baby gator during its exit exam!

After going through standard precautionary measures to ensure their safety and the safety of our other species on exhibit, these gators are finally ready for their public debut. A brief quarantine period is essential to make sure that every animal in our care is stress-free and healthy. Animals that come to us from the wild are known to carry disease and parasites that could spread to other animals and even our staff, so it is very important to keep a close eye on all animals when they first arrive. Once our veterinarians and herpetologists determine that they have successfully finished their quarantine period, the alligators are given an exit exam and moved into their new habitat.

During the exit exam, our staff takes weight and length measurements, checks the flexibility of their limbs, and makes sure all those gator teeth are growing in properly. As of now, our baby gators each weigh about 3.5 pounds and are between 30–35 inches long.

Don’t let their size fool you! These baby alligators are strong; it takes more than one staff member to keep them calm and still to complete their exit exam.

The American alligator, a species once considered endangered, is now thriving in the southeastern United States thanks to state and federal protections and habitat preservation efforts. Fully grown, they can weigh 1,000 pounds and pulse through freshwater rivers, lakes, and swamps at speeds up to 20 mph.

We are excited to welcome them and hope you can come meet them in person soon!

Animal Update – August 10

Between our Baltimore and Washington, DC, venues, more than 17,500 animals representing 900 species call the National Aquarium home. There are constant changes, additions, and more going on behind the scenes that our guests may not notice during their visit. We want to share these fun updates with our community so we’re bringing them to you in our weekly Animal Update posts!

Check our blog every Friday to find out what’s going on… here’s what’s new this week!

Baby Chain Catsharks

We’ve added four baby chain catsharks to our National Marine Sanctuaries and National Parks Gallery!

Stop by and see the chain catsharks’ fluorescing eyes!

Chain catsharks have small, slender bodies, with black mottling on a lighter brown background, and fluorescing eyes. They generally stay near the bottom, and especially like rough and rocky surfaces.

Be sure to check back every Friday to find out what’s happening!


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