New Arrivals at Local Zoos

Looking for something to do this weekend? Head to one or both of the Twin Cities zoos!

Three fisher kits born at the Minnesota Zoo are now on exhibit. The species resembles weasels and is found in Alaska, Canada and the northern lower 48 states. At one time, it was nearly extinct because of trapping and logging practices, but now they are doing well in mixed wooded and heavily forested areas.

The zoo in Apple Valley is one of just four nationally accredited zoos in the country to exhibit fisher kits and the only one to rear a brood in the past three years.

Born March 23, the two male and one female kits had been kept in an off-exhibit holding area with their mother as a health precaution. They are doing well and have started exploring their exhibit.

Fishers are known for their tree-climbing, hunting and agility. Solitary creatures, they are constantly on the move. They are dark brown in color, good swimmers and like to travel close to the water. Fishers primarily eat small mammals and are one of the few animals that eat porcupine.

A litter of kits, usually one to five in number, is usually born in March or April after a gestation period of 352 days.

But that’s not all! The Marjorie McNeely Conservatory and Como Zoo in Saint Paul also has a new arrival. A Chilean flamingo is the first flamingo in the zoo’s history to have a baby chick. Como has been exhibiting flamingos since the late 1960s. The tiny bird hatched from its egg last week in the Zoo's Bird Yard.

Due to their uncommon breeding practices, many zoos have failed to produce flamingo chicks. But with better research, zoos have been becoming more successful in recent years. In fact, during recent weeks the Lincoln Park and Denver Zoos both reported their first flamingo eggs in history as well.

Como keepers attribute the success on a few other factors. The birds were outside slightly earlier this season and there was a wetter than normal spring. This hatchling is one of three eggs laid in late June. The other two appear not to be viable.

Flamingo are most known for their remarkable pale pink to salmon and red coloring, but they don’t look this way when they hatch. Flamingo chicks are born white and turn grey after a few weeks. It is after a year or so, and with a proper diet, that they begin to develop their pink coloring. Alpha and Beta carotene pigments in a flamingo’s diet create the brilliant hues. These pigments are added to the diets of captive flamingos.

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