Posts Tagged 'rain forest'

It’s a … SLOTH! Meet the Rain Forest’s Newest Addition!

We’re are excited to announce the birth of Scout, our newest Linne’s two-toed sloth!

national aquarium baby sloth announcement

The newest arrival to our Upland Tropical Rain Forest is the second baby born to Ivy, one of the five sloths in the exhibit. Scout is the fourth sloth born at the National Aquarium!

To celebrate the birth of Scout, we have set up a baby registry at aqua.org/babysloth. Here, fans of Scout can make a donation to help purchase such items as vegetables and fruit, micro-chipping and the baby’s monthly checkup – items that are essential to the care and survival of Scout!

“Our team is thrilled to welcome another baby sloth to our Rain Forest habitat,” said Ken Howell, Curator of the Upland Tropical Rain Forest. “It is an honor to work with these incredible animals and inspire our guests to learn more about the ways they can protect them.”

Sloths have been an ongoing part of the animal collection here at the Aquarium. The two oldest sloths currently living in the rain forest, Syd and Ivy, were acquired in May 2007. Howie and Xeno were born at National Aquarium in 2008 and 2010, respectively. And most recently, Camden, was born at National Aquarium in 2012.

national aquarium baby sloth scout

Linne’s two-toed sloths are commonly found in South America’s rain forests, where they spend almost their entire lives in the trees. They are nocturnal by nature, fairly active at night while spending most of the day sleeping. Adult sloths are typically the size of a small dog, approximately 24-30 inches in length and about 12–20 pounds in weight.

To give Ivy and her baby proper time to bond, our staff is closely observing mom and baby from a distance. This means we haven’t gathered the newborn’s weight and height measurements or been able to determine gender. Staff has estimated, based on records from other baby sloths its age, that Scout weighs approximately 450 grams and is approximately 30 cm long.

Stay tuned for more updates on baby Scout in the coming weeks! 

Happy 25th Birthday, Margaret!

National Aquarium is celebrating a very special birthday today: Margaret, our blue hyacinth macaw, is turning 25!

With the help of our Animal Programs staff, Margaret started her day off with a special enrichment surprise:

national aquarium hyacinth macaw

Hyacinth macaws are one of the largest species of parrot – they are typically 40 inches in length and can have a wingspan of up to 5 feet! They’re on of the few species of parrot that can even mimic human speech. Margaret can say “Hello” (and she loves to say it a lot!) and is learning to say her name!

national aquarium hyacinth macaw

Did you know? Hyacinth macaws have beaks specially designed for cracking the hardest nuts in the world, the Brazil nut!

In addition to a powerful beak, Margaret has some pretty powerful and nimble feet that help her climb trees, hold food and even play with toys (or in today’s case, rip through a present box filled with newspaper and treats!).

national aquarium hyacinth macaw

Hyacinth macaws can be found in parts of Brazil, eastern Bolivia, and northeastern Paraguay. Unlike most parrots that prefer tropical rain forest habitats, this species of macaw usually makes its home in lightly forested areas such as palm swamps and flooded grasslands! At the Aquarium, you can see Margaret during our Animal Encounters throughout the day.

Can’t stop by in person to wish Margaret a happy birthday? Leave her a note in the comments section or on our Facebook page

Today is World Orangutan Day!

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Today is World Orangutan Day and the perfect time to reflect on our connection to the tropical rain forests of Indonesia and Malaysia.

orangutan

This connection is as close as the local grocery store, where there is a good chance many of the products offered for sale contain palm oil.

What is palm oil? 

Listed in over 200 different ways (including palm oil, palmitate, sodium lauryl, palm stearic and vegetable oil), palm oil is commonly used in food products, soaps, shampoos and cosmetics.

Produced from the fruit of the oil palm, the origin of use for this resource is routed back to the indigenous peoples of West Africa (some records even indicate that the ancient Egyptians used palm oil).

The oil palm was first introduced to Southeast Asia in 1848. Now, most is produced in Malaysia and Indonesia.

Impact on orangutans? 

Because of its versatility, the worldwide demand for palm oil has become insatiable. It is estimated that rain forests are being cleared at a rate of 300 football fields per hour to make way for oil palm plantations.

This swift destruction of rain forest habitat in Southeast Asia has had a devastating impact on orangutans. From 2004 to 2008, the Sumatran orangutan population fell by 14 percent to 6,600, largely due to loss of habitat for palm oil expansion. There is a real threat that orangutans face extinction within the next 10 years because of these actions.

While achievable (and encouraged), only a small percentage of palm oil is currently grown in a sustainable manner that does not involve the clearing of rain forests.

What you can do: 

  • The issues (both political and economic) concerning palm oil production are complex.
  • Read labels carefully and avoid products containing palm oil.
  • Ask manufacturers to use only sustainable palm oil in their products.

Help us spread the word about World Orangutan Day and the palm oil crisis using #WorldOrangutanDay!

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Four Blue-Crowned Motmot Chicks Have Hatched in the Rain Forest

animal expert update

Our pair of blue-crowned motmots has produced four chicks! This is the second successful brood for the pair (who produced their first set of chicks in 2011).

blue crowned motmot chick
Blue-crowned motmots are neo-tropical birds known for their unusual nesting behaviors. Parent birds excavate long tunnels into the earth where they lay their eggs and raise their offspring.

Our resident pair of motmots are often seen working on a burrow within the rainforest exhibit. Earlier this summer, we were excited to learn that the pair was raising chicks in their most recent burrow! It is impossible for exhibit staff to see what is going on underground, so our team is left to interpret the behavior of both adults to infer what’s happening. When only one motmot is present during our morning bird inventory, we can assume that the adults are taking turns incubating their eggs. When we observe the adult birds carrying food into the tunnel, it’s likely that a chick has hatched!

blue crowned motmot chicks

This feeding pattern continues for about four weeks, with the amount of food being brought back escalating as the chicks grow. After the four week period, the baby motmots emerge from the tunnel fully feathered, able to fly and nearly the size of an adult!

Stay tuned for more updates on our chicks!

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It’s National Zookeeper Appreciation Week!

We’re joining zoos and aquariums from across the county in the celebration of National Zookeeper Appreciation Week

Our team of National Aquarium animal experts, including aquarists, herpetologists, aviculturists, curators, veterinarians and marine mammal trainers, have dedicated themselves to providing our  living collection of more than 17,500 animals the highest possible quality of care.

In addition to providing care and enrichment for the animals, our staff members are consistently involved in research projects as well as conservation and outreach work. We are incredibly proud of the collective impact they’ve made on the lives of our guests and our local community!

This week, we’ll be introducing you to just a few of our amazing animal care staff members! They’ll be sharing favorite aquarium memories, how they got started in their respective fields and more!

July 22, 2013: Meet Kerry King-Rahm, a Herpetologist in our Upland Tropical Rain Forest exhibit!

kerry king

How long have you been at the Aquarium?

I’ve been here for 5 years.

What interested you to pursue your current career path?

I have always been fascinated by animals and I’m lucky enough to have parents who supported my interests.  They didn’t mind me bringing home various animals that I would find in the woods, and they gave me the responsibility of caring for our numerous pets that we had. I decided to make a career out of it and ended up going to a special college (Santa Fe College, FL) that has its own AZA-accredited zoo on campus where the students get to learn how to care for the animals as part of their courses.  Over the last 12 years as a keeper, I have cared for everything from rhinos to poison darts frogs, and it’s been a great experience.

Can you briefly describe for us what your typical day looks like?

I start work at 7:30 a.m. and for the first 2 hours, I service all the exhibits before the public arrives.   After that I will service the back-up areas where we house numerous frogs, feeder insect colonies, and even a roof area where some of our turtles get some summer sun.  This involves feeding, cleaning, water changes, observations, medical exams and treatments.  At the end of the day I do a final check on all the animals and finish up at 4:00pm.

What is your favorite Aquarium memory?

It was caring for our orphaned sloth, Xeno.  The best part for me was when he was finally released into the rainforest.  I made all the preparations I could to make sure that he would be okay, but there was still a small amount of uncertainty as you can’t be sure how animals are going to react in a new environment.  Luckily, everything went as planned and he did well and is still doing well several years later!

What is the next big project you are working on?

We are a part of Project Golden Frog, and in the next few months, I will be attempting to breed one of our males with a new female we are getting in this summer.

What is your favorite animal?

I have a lot of favorites but if I had to pick just one, it would be tortoises.  Turtles and tortoises are such fascinating creatures and are so unique to the animal kingdom.  Plus, they have a lot of personality!  The tortoises we have here at the aquarium will often come over to me in the mornings to get a neck scratch or to ask for breakfast!

July 23, 2013: Click here to meet Nick Little, an Aquarist at National Aquarium, Washington, DC!

July 24, 2013: Click here to meet Elizabeth Schneble, an Aquarist at National Aquarium, Baltimore! 

July 25, 2013: Click here to meet Kerry Martens, a Marine Mammal Trainer at National Aquarium, Baltimore! 

July 26, 2013: Click here to meet Stephanie Harpt, an Animal Programs Trainer at National Aquarium, Baltimore! 

July 27, 2013: Click here to meet Crista Melchiorre, an Aviculturist at National Aquarium, Baltimore! 

Stay tuned to the blog this week to meet more of our amazing staff!


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