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New at the Zoo

There are always new arrivals at the L.A. Zoo. Some births are a happy surprise, but most are carefully planned as part of our efforts to save endangered and vulnerable species. Here are just some of the latest!

One of the mountain yellow-legged frogs rescued from a burn area and transferred to safe habitat. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey

When field biologists from the U.S. Geological Survey discovered that mountain yellow-legged frogs (Rana muscosa) that had survived the Bobcat fire in the San Gabriel Mountains, it was great news—initially. The trouble with burn areas is that they are prone to heavy erosion once winter rains arrive. With no plant life to anchor the landscape, topsoil and other debris washes into waterways, suffocating fish and amphibians. So, at the end of October, field biologists from the U.S. Geological Survey transferred some of the survivors to another location in the San Gabriel Mountains and sent a second group of about 50 frogs to the L.A. Zoo. These individuals will eventually be introduced into the Zoo’s Little Rock Canyon breeding program to help diversify its gene pool.

The Speke’s gazelle’s distinctive communication adaptation is as plain as the nose on this adult’s face. Photo by Robin Savoian

A female Speke’s gazelle (Gazella spekei) was born on October 12. The smallest gazelle species, they are found in stony brush, grass steppes, and semideserts in Ethiopia and Somalia. The strange nose of a Speke’s gazelle has three-five folds of skin on it. When the animal is alarmed, it inflates these pleats to sound a warning to the herd. The inflated pouch acts as an amplifier that makes the alarm call as loud as a pistol shot.

Why so many babies?

Like modern-day Noah’s arks, zoos like ours breed animals as a hedge against extinction in the wild. In collaboration with other institutions accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the L.A. Zoo ensures that animal populations in human care are sustainable – healthy, biodiverse, and exhibiting the natural behaviors that would be essential for survival in the wild. Many species, including the black-footed ferret, Arabian oryx, Spix’s macaw, and the California condor, have been restored to the wild thanks to these efforts.