Baby boom at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

The Smithsonian National Zoo and Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute is celebrating a baby boom. They have welcomed several new species during the past couple of weeks. Many of the new arrivals were endangered species.

baby boom

The zoo’s small mammal house is now home to a baby short-eared elephant shrew. Named for their noses which resemble an elephants trunk this little guy was born on the 8th of May. These shrews weigh just one third of an ounce to 1.5 ounces when they are born. The baby stayed hidden for the first couple of days but now is becoming more active.

baby boom

Hunter the fishing cat is another new addition at the National Zoo. He entered the world on the 15th of April at the zoo’s Asia trail exhibit. Hunter’s birth is welcome news for a species endangered by habitat loss and hunting. Only one other facility accredited by the association of zoo and aquariums has bred fishing cats since 2009. Twin fishing cats were born at the zoo in the May of 2009.

baby boom

This little leaf tailed gecko hatched on June the 2nd. These geckoes hail from Madagascar.

baby boom

The bird department at the conservation biology institute (SCBI) has welcomed three logger head shrikes. These birds are also known as butcher birds due to their interesting hunting methods. They will hunt small mammals by impaling them on a barbed wire fence or thorn. They are currently endangered in 20 US states and have disappeared in 1. SCBI scientists are attempting to help by studying the birds.

baby boom

Twenty four black footed ferrets have recently been born at the SCBI. During the next few weeks it is expected another 10 mothers will give birth. Once though to be extinct one last colony was discovered in Wyoming during 1980. 18 ferrets were taken from the colony and formed the basis of a captive breeding program. During this program 640 black footed ferrets have been born at the SCBI. A large number of these now call the American West home.

baby boom

The SCBI is also celebrating their 164th Scimitar Horned oryx calf. The species went extinct in their wild home of Egypt, Senegal and Chad. Currently a reintroduction project is underway in Tunisia.

baby boom

To round out the baby boom the 27th of May saw the birth of a pair of red panda cubs. This species is vulnerable to habitat loss with only 10,000 adult pandas remaining in their native home.

The babies join a collection of 1,800 animals from 300 species which are housed across the zoo’s 2 properties.

Photo Credits-

Elephant Shrew- Clyde Nishimura, Smithsonian National Zoo flickr page
Fishing Cat- Smithsonian National Zoo flickr page
Gecko- Susan Murray, Smithsonian National Zoo flickr page
Logger head shrike- Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute flickr page
Black footed ferret- Lauren Augustine, Smithsonian National Zoo flickr page
Oryx- Lisa Ware, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute flickr page
Red Panda- Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute flickr page

These images are published under the creative commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic licence. They are intended for the public enjoyment and to advertise the work of the Smithsonian National Zoo. They may be redistributed under the same licence.


By Cale Russell is a testament to Cale’s commitment to the education of people around the world on the topic of animals and conservation, through the sharing of topical and newsworthy information.

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