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Two Sedgwick County Zoo Komodo Dragons Hatch Without the Contribution of a Male
 

Sedgwick County Zoo has become the first zoo in the Americas to document that Komodo dragons are capable of parthenogenesis (reproduction without the contribution of a male). One Komodo dragon entered the world on January 31 and a second hatched on February 1, 2008 thanks to this type of asexual reproduction.

 

Parthenogenesis is a reproductive process that occurs naturally in some species including invertebrates, lower plants, and less commonly in vertebrates such as reptiles and fish.  A parthenogenetic egg needs no fertilization from a male because it inherits and duplicates the mother’s chromosome.  Based on a Komodo dragon’s genetics of sex determination, hatchlings reproduced in this way will always be male.

 

The hatchlings are healthy and feisty, the first measuring almost 17 inches long from nose to tail and weighing 104 grams and the second hatchling measuring 16 inches long and weighing 100 grams. Both males are doing well.  Because of the nature of Komodo dragons, only one will be on exhibit at a time starting today, February 6, in the Amphibian and Reptile Building. 

 

Sedgwick County Zoo has two adult Komodo dragons; both are female and cared for separately. One female laid approximately 17 eggs on May 19-20, 2007 and Zoo staff followed the Species Survival Plan (SSP) recommendation to incubate and hatch two eggs. The SSP wanted to further document that Komodo dragons are capable of parthenogenesis.  Only two earlier cases were documented in 2006 at London Zoo and Chester Zoo in England.


 

The Cessna Foundation Awards Grant to the Sedgwick County Zoo for New Penguin Exhibit

April 20, 2005 - The Sedgwick County Zoo announced today that it has received a significant pledge from the Cessna Foundation to add an exciting new exhibit featuring ever-popular penguins! Mark C. Reed, executive director of the Sedgwick County Zoo, made the announcement.

Plans for the new Cessna Penguin Exhibit are currently being finalized. Grand opening of the exhibit is tentatively scheduled for late spring, 2007.

“We couldn’t be more excited to add penguins to our growing list of animals here at the Zoo,” says Reed. “Aquatic animals are very popular and have been often requested by visitors as something they would like to see added to our Zoo. Thanks to the generosity of the Cessna Foundation, this dream will soon become a reality for our community.”
In addition to this gift, Cessna has partnered with the Zoo for many years including gifts to the Oliver Animal Hospital and the most recent Keep Your Zoo Heads and Tails Above the Rest Capital Campaign to complete The Downing Gorilla Forest and to renovate and expand the Cargill Learning Center.

“Cessna strives to be an active and dependable corporate citizen that builds effective relationships in the communities we serve,” said Jack J. Pelton Cessna’s Chairman, President and CEO. “Cessna employees regularly name the zoo as one of their favorite places to visit with family and friends. We’re pleased to be able to enhance the zoo with this new exhibit, which will be enjoyed by Cessna employees and others in the Wichita community.”

About the Penguins

The Cessna Penguin Exhibit will begin with 10 pairs of penguins known as the Humboldt penguin. The exhibit is ultimately capable of holding up to 40 animals. When many think of penguins they think of the Antarctica, but Humboldt penguins are definitely different.

Humboldt penguins are only found along the pacific coast of Chile and Peru in South America. The total world population of Humboldt penguins currently stands at approximately 12,000 breeding pairs, with about 8,000 pairs in Chile and the remaining 4,000 pairs in Peru. The wild population has undergone a decline with the major causes stemming from human interference. These include guano collection (used in fertilizer production) in breeding areas, egg collection, hunting for food as well as competition for available fish.

Humboldt penguins have a black and white underside, with a black band along the chest. Their body is plumper in the middle because of a fat layer that protects them from the cold. These penguins weigh between 9-11 pounds with a body length of 26 inches. Like all birds, penguins have feathers, but their feathers are modified to help them “fly” through the water. These outer feathers also act like a diver’s wetsuit and keep the cold oceanic water away from the soft, fluffy down feathers that keep their body warm. Strong, stiff flippers help them swim up to 7.5 Kph (5 mph).

Humboldt penguins are getting help from U.S. zoos through a Species Survival PlanŽ (a cooperative breeding and conservation program administered by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association.) This program works to manage the number of healthy captive Humboldts in addition to assisting with conservation efforts in the wild. Due to the generosity of the Cessna Foundation our community can learn more about these magnificent birds, and together we can do more to help this species overall.

About the Exhibit

The Cessna Penguin Exhibit will be located between the popular Children’s Farms area and the Amphibian & Reptile Building in the Zoo’s central plaza. While design concepts are still in the planning and imagining stages, a primary goal will be to keep the exhibit as interactive as possible for the guest in viewing these marvelous animals. Since the Humboldt penguin spends a great deal of time in the water, underwater viewing options will be developed - increasing our guests’ ability to observe the birds’ natural behaviors.

An exciting addition to the Zoo’s guest services would be the scheduling of daily “Feeding Demonstrations” by members of the Zoo’s Bird Management Staff. These feeding demonstrations are very popular at other Zoo’s and allow the guests the opportunity for more interactivity with the animal and more educational information to be shared with them as well.

The Cessna Foundation Inc., a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, is committed to enhancing the communities where Cessna Aircraft Company employees work and reside. The Cessna Foundation was founded in 1952, and is a self-governed entity. Since its founding, The Cessna Foundation has donated over $25 million to not-for-profit agencies in the areas of education, health and human services, and culture.

The Sedgwick County Zoo is a not-for-profit organization. It has been recognized with national and international awards for its support of field conservation programs and successful breeding of rare and endangered species. It's the No. 1 outdoor family tourist attraction in Kansas and is home to more than 2,500 animals of nearly 500 different species.

Sedgwick County Zoo is accredited by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA). Look for the AZA logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you and a better future for all living things. With its more than 200 accredited members, AZA is a leader in global wildlife conservation and your link to helping animals in their native habitats. For more information, visit www.aza.org.

>> Humbolt Penguin Facts - Adobe Acrobat Reader Required.


Winners of the Penguin Coloring Contest

The Grand Prize Winner will be announced at the Grand Opening of Cessna Penguin Cove on Friday, May 25 at 10:00 a.m. at Sedgwick County Zoo.


Kindergarten and Under: Kaleb

Grades 1-3:
Mia

Grades 4-6: Rachel

 

 

 

 

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