Zoo News

Komodo dragon Hatchlings at Cameron Park Zoo

photo 1Cameron Park Zoo is excited to announce the successful hatching of two Komodo dragons. While all animal births are exciting, these Komodo dragons are especially interesting, because they were possibly hatched via a process called parthenogenesis. A parthenogenetic egg needs no fertilization from a male because it inherits and duplicates the mother’s chromosome. Based on the Komodo dragon’s genetics of sex determination, hatchlings reproduced in this way will always be male. The mother Komodo dragon, Neoma, has never been housed with Cameron Park Zoo’s male Komodo dragon, Thurber, although they are housed in neighboring enclosures. It is highly unlikely that the two climbed the wire mesh between them for breeding purposes, but to rule out that possibility the zoo is attempting to send DNA samples out for testing.

Cameron Park Zoo’s female Komodo dragon, Neoma, was hatched at the San Antonio Zoo. The male, Thurber, was hatched via parthenogenesis at Sedgewick Country Zoo, Wichita Kansas in 2008 and was the first documented parthenogenesis in Komodo dragons in the United States. The London Zoo and the Chester Zoo in the UK were the first and second zoos to document parthenogenesis in Komodo dragons. It is quite possible that Waco will document the fourth incident of parthenogenesis in captive Komodo dragons.

Hatched August 29th and September 1st, the baby Komodo dragons are currently called “number one” and “number two” based on the order in which they hatched, but Zoo officials will post names for public voting on their Facebook page. Visitors can view the babies in the Herpetarium, where they will alternate being on public display. These little lizards may look cute and harmless now, but they will one day grow to be one of the largest and most dangerous lizards on the planet. Komodo dragons have a forked tongue like their mythical namesake and they are notoriously fierce carnivores. Their mouth contains 60 teeth and bacteria that will eventually cause septicemia in the prey that it bites. There is also speculation by some scientists that Komodo dragons also possess venom.
Komodo dragons are the largest carnivorous lizards in the world and they exist only on four small Indonesian islands, part of the Pacific Ocean’s “Rim of Fire.” They are considered to be severely endangered in their natural habitat. The remaining population of Komodo dragons is speculated to be as few as 5,000 animals that are vulnerable to disease, volcanic activity, and competition with feral dogs and man.

Visit www.facebook.com/cameronparkzoo to vote on their names

Sip&SeeMeet Batari!

Mei, Cameron Park Zoo’s female orangutan, and her new baby, Batari, joined dad KJ in the outdoor exhibit this afternoon.  Mei, Batari, and KJ will be alternating exhibit days with Mukah.  Mei and Batari’s outings will of course depend on the weather and whether Mei wants to go out or not.  On the days they are not out Mei will have access to the bedroom with the window.

Batari was born on May 17 and is the first baby for Mei, who celebrated her 16th birthday on May 1, and Kerajaan, or KJ, who is 25.

This is a very important birth for the zoo, because orangutans are critically endangered species. Habitat loss due to deforestation primarily for palm oil production has devastated the population of orangutans in Borneo and Sumatra.




Cameron Park Zoo Has A New Cobra
Cameron Park Zoo Herpetarium staff celebrated World Snake Day on Wednesday, July 16th by accepting a new King Cobra from the San Antonio Zoo. The new snake is an 8 year old female that measures 11 feet in length and weighs 10.12 lbs. Zoo visitors can see her in the Herpetarium and they can also take part in giving her a name. Visitors voted on the following names for her:

Lady Jaye – from the GI Joe and Cobra comic series
Hannah – because the scientific name of the King cobra is Ophiophagus hannah
(Ophiophagus means “snake eating and hannah has its origin in Greek mythology referring to wood nymphs, so the Latin name Ophiophagus hannah is loosely defined as snake eating forest dweller.)
Shelby – in honor of the famous car created by Carroll Shelby

The name Shelby won the voting contest!

The king cobra is the longest venomous snake in the world, growing to lengths up to 18 feet. This species, which preys chiefly on other snakes, is found predominantly in forests from India and Southeast Asia. The King cobra is a very interesting snake, being the only snake in the world to build a nest for its eggs and then fiercely guarding the nest until the eggs hatch.

Cameron Park Zoo welcomes a baby Ring-tailed Lemur

IMG_1838Zoo officials are happy to welcome a baby boy Ring-tailed lemur who was born to mother, 4 yr. old Capri Sun and 3 yr. old father, Sprite on March 18th. This is the first baby for the pair and Capri is an excellent mother. The lemur troop also includes Capri’s twin sister, Crystal Light. The two females were born at Duke Primate Center in North Carolina and the male is from Tautphuas Park Zoo in Idaho.

Cameron Park Zoo’s primate staff members named the baby Snickers in appreciation for Waco’s Mars Inc. announcing its new sustainable palm oil policy and being a member of the Round Table for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is a global initiative with the principle objective “to promote the growth and use of sustainable palm oil through co-operation within the supply chain and open dialogue between its stakeholders.” By using only sustainable palm oil RSPO members are helping to preserve habitats for wildlife worldwide (For more information: http://www.rspo.org/en/why_rspo_certification http://www.cameronparkzoo.com/learnplay/conservation/orangutan-conservation/palm-oil-facts/)

Ring-tailed lemurs generally produce a single offspring, but twins are not uncommon. For the first couple of weeks the baby lemur will cling to the mother’s belly. As it grows it will usually ride on the mother’s back. At 3-4 weeks of age the baby will take its first steps away from mom and baby lemurs are generally fully weaned by 5-6 months. Lemurs are found on the Island of Madagascar. The main threat to the Ring-tailed lemur and other lemur species is habitat destruction.

The ring-tailed lemur troop is on exhibit from 9:30 to noon each day weather permitting.

Lemur Video


Waco, Texas – Cameron Park Zoo’s new male lion, Kai, will make his official debut this Saturday April 5 during Wild Cat Conservation Day. Kai’s full name is Kaikane and is pronounced Kai (sounds like Sky with a K) Ka (like kaw) ne (like nay) = Kaikane
Kai is Hawaiian for sea and Kane is masculine and used for man but also strong or powerful so Kaikane means powerful or strong sea.

Born in December of 2012, Kai comes to Cameron Park Zoo from the Honolulu Zoo. He arrived in Waco last month and recently finished his 30 day quarantine and he is ready to meet his new friends.

Wear your Hawaiian shirt and come say “Aloha” to Kai this Saturday and register between 10 and 2 to win a chance for a behind the scenes tour of the lion exhibit. The first 100 people will receive a lei to help welcome Kai to his new home.

There will be keeper talks and training sessions with some of the other large cats that make Cameron Park Zoo their home in celebration of Wild Cat Conservation Day



The 2013 Annual Report is here! View it here: Annual Report 2013

_MG_1976And Baby Makes Three

Waco, Texas – Love is in the air this Valentine’s Day at Cameron Park Zoo. The Zoo is proud to announce that Mei and KJ, the Zoo’s resident Bornean orangutan’s, are expecting their first child May 22, 2014.

Mei, is 15, and will celebrate her 16th birthday on May 1, and KJ is 25. Mei came to Cameron Park Zoo from Chicago’s Brookville Zoo and KJ was born at the Phoenix Zoo. Both arrived in May of 2009 along with Mukah, who is 26 and is a Sumatran/Bornean hybrid.

This is Mei’s first pregnancy and zookeepers have been working with Mei on a variety of maternal care behaviors including breast pump training and presenting the baby to her keepers in order for them to provide supplemental care for the infant. Zoo veterinarian, Dr. James Kusmierczyk, provides regular prenatal medical exams for Mei and Dr. Dianne Sawyer assists with the examinations including weekly ultrasounds.

Bornean orangutans are endangered species that are disappearing at an alarming rate. As many as 5,000 orangutans a year are killed or displaced by habitat destruction for palm oil plantations and timber, human encroachment, and capture for the entertainment and pet trades.

Cameron Park Zoo wants everyone to join the excitement and will be sharing the progression of Mei’s pregnancy on their Facebook page, Twitter
@camparkzoo, and on the Zoo’s website www.cameronparkzoo.com.

1688468_10153783939395431_921187962_nTraveling in Style

Waco, Texas – Cameron Park Zoo’s Education Department will be traveling in style with their new Zoo Mobile thanks to Connie and Russ Kassner.

The Zoo Mobile is used for offsite education programs, community events and transporting animals. Local artist Von Otto did the amazing air brush paintings of the zoo’s animals on the van.




Cameron Park Zoo Director to Chair International Species Information System

Waco, Texas – Jim Fleshman, Director of Cameron Park Zoo, was recently appointed to chair the International Species Information System (ISIS). ISIS, the global leader in animal management and conservation collaboration solutions for over 830 zoos and aquariums, announced the election of executive officers for the 2014 Board of Trustees. The executive officers that will lead the ISIS organization include:

• Chair: Mr. Jim Fleshman, Cameron Park Zoo, United States
• Vice Chair: Mr. Jonathan Wilcken, Auckland Zoo, New Zealand
• Treasurer: Mr. Phil Frost, Baton Rouge Zoo, United States
• Secretary: Ms. Paula Brock, Zoological Society of San Diego, United States

“This is already turning out to be an exciting year for ISIS with the upcoming April launch of the ZIMS with Medical product module,” stated Jim Fleshman, Chair of ISIS. “Jonathan, Mark, Frank, and Paul each bring impressive community leadership experience – in our growth markets of Australasia, Europe, Latin America, and in supporting needs of our important veterinarian members – to contribute to and accelerate our ongoing success.”

About International Species Information System (ISIS)
International Species Information System (ISIS), a non-profit founded in 1974, provides membership services to over 830 institutions in 84 countries. ISIS software solutions have long been recognized as the world-standard in facilitating collaboration in animal information management and conservation within the zoological and aquaria communities. The largest industry database, containing detailed information on more than 2,800,000 animals and 10,000 species, supports important global initiatives in conservation, population sustainability and bio-diversity.