Monday, January 26, 2015

Zoo Mourns Loss of Male Snow Leopard, Dwaine

The Buffalo Zoo is saddened by the loss of its male snow leopard, Dwaine.

A blood analysis during a routine annual checkup revealed that Dwaine was in the late stages of severe kidney disease. His condition declined rapidly, and the ten year old snow leopard was humanely euthanized on Friday.

“It’s always hard when we lose an animal,” said Donna Fernandes, President and CEO of the Buffalo Zoo. “Dwaine was loved by visitors and staff alike, and he will be missed. His death is especially hard-hitting, because we just received a new female, Grace, and we had high hopes for them as a breeding match.”

Dwaine was born at the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls, SD on June 22, 2004. He came to the Buffalo Zoo in 2006 and had sired two cubs in his lifetime. The Zoo has had success with the snow leopard Species Survival Plan (SSP), and expects to receive a new male snow leopard in the future, so that it can continue to contribute to the conservation of the species.

Snow leopards are listed as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. Their numbers have decreased drastically in the wild, mostly as a result of habit loss and poaching.

The Buffalo Zoo contributes annually to the Snow Leopard Trust, an organization working to protect the snow leopards’ natural habitat in Central Asia. For more information, visit snowleopard.org.

The mission of an AZA Species Survival Plan® (SSP) Program is to cooperatively manage specific, and typically threatened or endangered, species populations within AZA-accredited Zoos and Aquariums, Certified Related Facilities, and Sustainability Partners.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Meet Our New Snow Leopard, Grace

The Buffalo Zoo welcomes Grace, an adult female snow leopard to their collection.

Grace was born at the Zoo Boise on May 23, 2013. She arrived in Buffalo from the Binghamton Zoo in December and is now ready to explore her new exhibit space. She will be out in the Zoo’s vanishing animals exhibit daily.

She was brought to Buffalo on a breeding recommendation from the Species Survival Plan (SSP) for snow leopards in Zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). After she has some time to grow accustomed to her new home, Grace will be introduced to Dwaine, the Zoo’s male snow leopard.

Grace the Snow Leopard. Photo credit: Kelly Ann Brown/Buffalo Zoo

Snow leopards are listed as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. Their numbers have decreased drastically in the wild, mostly as a result of habit loss and poaching.

The Buffalo Zoo contributes to the Snow Leopard Trust, an organization working to protect the snow leopards’ natural habitat in Central Asia. Anyone who wants to help save snow leopards in the wild can visit snowleopard.org to learn more.

The mission of an AZA Species Survival Plan® (SSP) Program is to cooperatively manage specific, and typically threatened or endangered, species population within AZA-accredited Zoos and Aquariums, Certified Related Facilities, and Sustainability Partners. For more information, visit https://www.aza.org/species-survival-plan-program/.

For updates about Grace, or the Zoo’s other animal residents, visit www.BuffaloZoo.org, or the Zoo’s Facebook page

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Warm Up With the Cold Blooded - THIS SATURDAY!

The Buffalo Zoo will hold a “Warm Up with the Cold-Blooded” event on Saturday.




The special animal event will take place in the Zoo’s reptile house, with special programming and activities running from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Saturday, January 17. Activities will feature some of the Zoo’s reptiles, amphibians, and other residents of the reptile house, and are free with regular Zoo admission. A full schedule of activities follows.


  • 11 a.m. - 4 p.m – Raffle, crafts, face painting, and hot chocolate 
  • (while supplies last)
  • 11 a.m. – Snake handling demonstration and photo op
  • 11:30 a.m. – Animal enrichment
  • 12 p.m. – Get your picture taken with SAM the hellbender
  • 12:30 p.m. – Amphibian keeper talk and up-close encounter
  • 12:30 p.m. – Learn about the Buffalo Zoo’s FrogWatch USA Chapter
  • 1 p.m. – Venomous and non-venomous snake feedings
  • 1:30 p.m. – Guess the weight contest, featuring heloderms (animal art prize)
  • 2 p.m. – Heloderm feeding and demonstration
  • 2:30 p.m. – Reptile keeper talk, encounter, and photo op
  • 3 p.m. – Raffle winners announced (need not be present to win)
  • 3:30 p.m. – Hellbender keeper talk and demonstration


The Zoo’s last “Warm Up With the Cold Blooded” event was held in 2011. A growing interest in the reptiles and amphibians encouraged the Zoo’s herpetology team to reintroduce the event.




For more information about the “Warm Up With the Cold Blooded” event, call (716) 995-6133 or visit www.buffalozoo.org


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Come Meet Tiberius!

If your kids are home from school this week for the holidays, it's the perfect time to come by and meet our newest resident, Tiberius the lion!

Tiberius, a juvenile male African lion, was born at the Seneca Park Zoo in Rochester, NY on March 7, 2013 to first time parents Asha and Chester. Tiberius was hand-raised by keepers at the Seneca Park Zoo, along with his sister Savanah.

Photo by Marie Kraus, courtesy of Seneca Park Zoo

He was brought to Buffalo on a breeding recommendation from the Species Survival Plan (SSP) for African lions living in Zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

After he has some time to grow accustomed to his new home, Tiberius will be introduced to a pair of half-sister lionesses, Lelie and Lusaka, who were born at Smithsonian’s National Zoo in 2010.

The mission of an AZA Species Survival Plan® (SSP) Program is to cooperatively manage specific, and typically threatened or endangered, species population within AZA-accredited Zoos and Aquariums, Certified Related Facilities, and Sustainability Partners. 

Tiberius, a beloved animal within the Rochestercommunity, will be out for public viewing in the Buffalo Zoo’s lion exhibit from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. daily. 

Photo by Kelli O'Brien, courtesy of Seneca Park Zoo

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Goodbye Diana Bear

 The Buffalo Zoo is saddened by the loss of its spectacled bear, Diana, who was humanely euthanized on December 16 due to declining health. At 35 years old, Diana was the oldest spectacled bear in the world at the time of her death. Spectacled bears typically live around 20 – 25 years in captivity, and slightly less in the wild.

Diana’s personality and longevity made her a favorite Zoo resident for staff and guests. Her presence in the Zoo’s Vanishing North exhibit will be sorely missed.

Diana was born at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, IL in January of 1979, and has been at the Buffalo Zoo since May of 1980. Over her long life, Diana gave birth to three surviving cubs, who parented a total of eight offspring of their own, greatly contributing to the North American Spectacled bear population.

Diana. Photo credit: Kelly Ann Brown
Spectacled bears (also known as Andean bears) are listed as vulnerable on the World Conservation Union’s (IUCN’s) Red List of Threatened Animals. There are believed to be fewer than 2,000 remaining in the wild. They are managed as a Species Survival Plan (SSP) by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and cooperating zoos.

“When animals in zoos live well beyond their average captive lifespan, it speaks to the high quality of care they received,” said Dr. Donna Fernandes, President and CEO of the Buffalo Zoo. “The Buffalo Zoo is home to several long-lived and record breaking animals. For example, servals Bob and Zizzi are the two oldest males in the United States. In 2014 the Zoo said good bye to Delmonico, the addax antelope, and Shanta, a Sulawesi macaque, who were the oldest living individuals of their species at the time of their deaths.”

Photo by keeper Caitlyn Bruce




Monday, December 15, 2014

The baby giraffe has a name!

The Buffalo Zoo today announced the name of a baby giraffe who was born in October. His name is Sampson.

Sampson was born on Friday, October 24, 2014 to mother, 5-year-old A.J, and father, 3-year-old Moke. Both are first time parents.

The day was a special one for giraffe keeper, Vicki Hodge. October 24 is her grandparents’ wedding anniversary, and also the anniversary of the death of her grandfather, whose middle name was Sampson. She named the baby in memory of him.

The name announcement coincides with a series of billboards that were unveiled around the Buffalo area this morning, revealing Sampson’s name to the community.


The billboards are provided through the generosity of Community Papers of WNY, LLC. and LAMAR Outdoor Advertising. The newspaper group will roll out a year of family-friendly activities and promotions on and off Zoo grounds throughout 2015. These efforts serve not only to welcome the giraffe and promote the Zoo as an institution of family recreation, but also to highlight conservation efforts and educational offerings for the community at large.  

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Luna Updates!

Luna the polar bear is recovering from an injury she sustained during a fall this summer.

The popular polar bear cub fractured the ankle joint in her left rear leg. The Zoo’s veterinarian, Dr. Kurt Volle, with assistance from veterinary surgeons from Sheridan Animal Hospital, performed the surgeries to repair the fracture. Luna has spent the time since her fall recovering in the Zoo’s veterinary hospital, where vet staff could monitor her progress and restrict her movements.

Luna's hind leg was shaved in preparation for procedures to repair her fractured leg bone. A patch of her front leg was shaved to administer an IV. Photo Credit: Kelly Ann Brown/Buffalo Zoo
Last week, Luna was returned to the holding area adjacent to the temporary exhibit space that the polar bears share with the tigers. She was reintroduced to her playmate, Kali, and the two celebrated their second birthdays together with special cakes from their keepers.

Luna celebrated her 2nd birthday with a special ice treat "cake" from her keepers. Photo credit: Kelly Ann Brown/Buffalo Zoo
The polar bear cubs are no longer the small, fluffy cubs they once were. Luna’s current weight is around 440 lbs, and Kali is a whopping 770 lbs. The average adult male polar bear weighs between 800 and 1,200 lbs. Females are usually smaller, weighing between 400 and 800 lbs.

Luna will remain off exhibit until her balance and use of her hind leg are fully restored, to avoid the risk of another injury.