Author Archives: wentworth

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Remembering Pawl

The Metro Richmond Zoo mourns the loss of Pawl, one of our male lions. He was nearly 21 years old.

Pawl came to the Metro Richmond Zoo in 2000 and was a favorite among zoo staff and visitors. He truly was the king of the Zoo as his majestic roar could be heard from all corners of the park. He quickly became one of the famous faces of the Zoo.

Pawl lived a wonderful, long life. In the wild, lions live 10-14 years. Often male lions don’t live past 10 years because they lose support from the pride when they are out of their prime years. At the Zoo, he was able to live 20 years under the care of his beloved staff.

A few years ago, Pawl began suffering from arthritis. He was sedated for a full work up and has been medicated since. Over the last couple weeks, he was having a very difficult time getting up and down and going on exhibit. We increased his meds doses, but it did not help much. Pawl stopped eating and doing some of his favorite normal behaviors.

On the morning of September 27th, Pawl was unable to get up, and it was time for us to make a very difficult decision. Our staff elected to humanely euthanize him. Pawl will always remain in the hearts of our zoo staff and guests.

Pawl is survived by Basa and Xonga, our two white lions.

10/11/1996 – 9/27/2017

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New Animal Exhibits for 2017

The Metro Richmond Zoo is always seeking new and exciting ways to expand and renovate our park! We are thrilled to unveil our big plans for 2017.

New Animal Exhibits

Pygmy Hippo 

a pygmy hippo with her baby

pygmy hippo exhibit under construction

The pygmy hippopotamus is native to the forests and swamps of West Africa, mainly Liberia. It is an endangered species with only an estimated 3,000 individuals remaining in the wild. Pygmy hippos share the same general form as the hippopotamus. However, the pygmy hippo is half as tall as the hippo and weighs less than 1/4 as much as the hippo. Adult pygmy hippos stand 2.5-3 feet tall and are 4.9-5.7 feet in length. They weigh from 350-600 pounds. Just like the hippo, pygmy hippos are semi-aquatic and rely on the water to keep their skin moist and cool. Their feet are less webbed, however, than those of the hippo, and their legs are longer than their large relative’s. Little is known about pygmy hippos in the wild. They are more rare than hippos.

At the Zoo, construction is well underway for their exhibit. Their habitat is located between Kumbali & Kago and the servals. The exhibit will contain grassy fields, a mud pit, and a large pool for the pygmy hippos to swim in.


Giant Anteater

a wooden boardwalk will extend above the South American exhibit and down to the lake

indoor anteater shelter

The giant anteater is native to Central and South America. They are around 3.5-4 feet in length and weigh anywhere from 60-140 pounds (males weigh heavier than females). Giant anteaters don’t have any teeth. Instead, they have a specialized tongue that allows them to eat 30,000 ants and termites each day! Their slender tongue is about 24 inches long. The giant anteater has the longest tongue in relation to its body size of any mammal. They have poor eyesight, but their sense of smell is 40 times stronger than that of a human’s.

The giant anteater exhibit at the Zoo will be located between the train station and the South American exhibit (as seen in the photo above). A wooden boardwalk will extend across the exhibit and down to the lake. Visitors can walk on the elevated path and view the anteaters on the right and the tapirs, llamas, and rheas on the left. Two anteaters will arrive at the Zoo in late Spring.


15 New Exhibits in the Reptile Building

Phase 1 of our new Reptile House opened spring 2016. The phase 2 expansion will open later this year with 15 additional exhibits. The new hallway of the Reptile House will contain large multi-species displays with various reptiles.


African Clawless Otter

Our otters are getting a new home! We are building a larger habitat with underwater viewing. Guests will be able to watch the otters swim in the pool through the glass windows. This new exhibit is located down the hill from the playground.


Two Primate Islands

Construction has begun on two primate islands that can be viewed from the Safari Train Ride. These islands will be of similar design to the chimpanzee and orangutan exhibits currently in the Zoo. The water provides a natural barrier for the animals because apes can’t swim due to their heavy body mass.

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New Animal Nursery Now Open!

The Metro Richmond Zoo is excited to announce the opening of our new animal nursery!! Located next to the reptile house and meerkats, the animal nursery is where we will exhibit animal babies that our staff is hand raising due to parental neglect or health issues.

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The first resident of the animal nursery is Sully, an endangered Diana monkey. He was born on May 31st to parents, Sloan and Zanaga. This was the first time, Sloan, his mother, had given birth.


She was a loving parent from the start, but after only a few days, Sully developed a bacterial infection. To survive, he had to be treated in our animal hospital with IV antibiotics for an extended period of time.


When Sully finally recuperated, he could not be reintroduced with his mom since the lack of nursing had diminished her milk supply. Sully would not have overcome this challenge in the wild, but here we can give him all of the love and care he needs in our nursery.


When he is older, he will be introduced to other Diana monkeys.

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Diana monkeys are native to Western Africa. They are endangered due to habitat destruction and poaching. The Metro Richmond Zoo is proud to have one of the most successful breeding programs in the world for this struggling species. We hope you enjoy watching Sully grow up with us!


Watch this video of Sully in our new animal nursery:

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Kumbali & Kago 1st Birthday

Kumbali and Kago celebrated their first birthday on May 12, 2016. Zoo staff gave them two birthday presents.


Each box contained an ice block with meat frozen inside. The boys enjoyed ripping off the wrapping paper and eating their frozen treats.


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13 New Cheetah Cubs!

The Metro Richmond Zoo is excited to announce the arrival of 13 new cheetah cubs!

On March 21, 2016, Milani, a second time mom, gave birth to 3 cubs (2 males and 1 female) sired by Hatari.


Milani’s Cubs

On April 1, 2016 Vaila, a first time mom, gave birth to 7 cubs (this number only happens 1% of the time in cheetah births) sired by Hatari.  Unfortunately, Vaila’s inexperience as a mom showed when she did not clean the birth sac surrounding one cub and it did not survive. Also, one was born with a deformity and only lived a few hours. The remaining 5 are doing well.


Vaila’s Cubs

On April 2, 2016 Wiay, a first time mom, gave birth to 6 cubs (only happens 8% of the time) sired by Kitu. Because of her inexperience, she accidentally laid on one of the cubs shortly after birth and it did not survive. Initially Wiay’s cubs did not gain weight and thrive as well as they should. We weighed them every day, sometimes twice a day, and gave them medical attention as needed. The 5 are now all doing well with mom.


Wiay’s Cubs

Cheetah’s are endangered and the wild cheetah population is in a drastic decline with only 7,500 now left in the wild in small pocketed areas in Africa.  Breeding cheetahs in captivity is very challenging, with only a small portion of the population reproducing. The Metro Richmond Zoo has had tremendous success in breeding cheetahs. In the last 2 1/2 years we have had 36 cubs born from seven litters making a significant addition to the captive cheetah population. In addition to the number of cubs born, most of the adult cheetahs here are unrelated to the other Cheetahs in North America so the genetic value of these cubs for future breeding is extremely high. We are excited to make such an contribution towards Cheetah conservation here at the zoo.

Yes, we are going to do it again. The cheetah cam has been enjoyed by millions of people from all over the world and is currently up and running again! This time we will have 2 cams available to watch both Milani and Vaila’s cubs. They can be watched live at this link:

Cheetah Cam

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Cheetah Cub Genders

Who’s who is each litter?  Zoo staff shaves a small part of fur on each cub for quick identification.


Right Front: Male
Right Rear: Male
Left Front: Female


Left Front: Female
Left Rear: Female
Right Front: Male
Right Rear: Male
B/w Shoulder Blades: Female


Right Front: Male
Right Rear: Male
Left Front: Female
Left Rear: Female
B/w Shoulder Blades: Male


Read the story:

See the video:


Don’t forget to tune into the 24/7 live Cheetah Cam!

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Kumbali and Kago’s First Snow


Kumbali and Kago, now 8 months old, got to play in the snow for the first time during Winter Storm Jonas. While the Zoo was closed, one of our zookeepers let the best friends run and explore in a large enclosed field covered with 7 inches of snow. Their reaction to the white fluff is priceless.

Watch the video:



Kumbali and Kago were raised together to provide companionship for one another. Read their full story here:

Kumbali and Kago, Cheetah Cub and Puppy Friendship

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Snowstorm at the Zoo

Winter Storm Jonas dumped around twelve + inches of snow at the Zoo grounds on January 22 and 23, 2016. Zoo staff worked hard to prepare for the snow storm.  As always, all of our animals have access to heated barns or shelters as necessary. However, due to the extremely cold temperatures and snow, we added additional bedding and kept many of the animals inside their barns and shelters for the storm.


Here are photos of some of the animals playing in the snow.


Nitro and Elsa, our two snow leopards, are enjoying the cold weather. Snow leopards are native to the mountain ranges of Central and South Asia.


Monty, a juvenile male Bactrian camel, runs through the snow.


The Mishmi Takin is native to the eastern Himalayas. The Takin’s long nose has large sinus cavities that warm up cold air as the Takin takes a breath!










Kumbali & Kago played in the snow for the first time during the storm.

Watch the video here:

We want to give a HUGE shout out to our amazing and dedicated staff. Our keepers are working twice as hard in the snow to clean enclosures, distribute food, and provide our animals with warmth and necessary care.

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Melanie, Eva, and Iris (left to right) are staying warm inside the giraffe barn along with the rest of the herd.


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Signing off, Metro Richmond Zoo

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National Zoo Keeper Week!

Zookeeper WEEK.Logo 2006 VJuly 19th to the 25th is National Zoo Keeper Week.

The Metro Richmond Zoo appreciates our zoo keepers for their hard work in animal care, conservation, and education. We are extremely grateful for our dedicated staff. Our Zoo Keepers monitor over 2,000 animals at the Zoo. We give professional care to all of our animals, no matter how big or small.


The American Association of Zoo Keepers said, “Zoo keepers are the frontline soldiers for conservation, participating in the battle for species survival and preservation of the natural homelands of the animals they care for through public awareness, education, and exhibition.”

AAZK National President Bob Cisneros said, “As animal care professionals, we develop a deep sense of personal satisfaction knowing that our work makes a significant contribution towards the welfare of the individual animals for which we are responsible and towards the protection of their counterparts in the wild.”


*Not all of our Zoo Keepers are pictured.*

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Baby Orangutan on Exhibit

The Metro Richmond Zoo welcomes RJ, a male orangutan born earlier this year to parents Tasha and Rory. RJ, named after his father, weighed approximately 4 pounds at birth, a healthy normal weight. During the cooler months, Tasha and RJ spent their time in their indoor enclosure. Since the weather has been warmer, RJ has become more mobile, enjoys his time outside with his mother and father, and can be seen each day on exhibit.


Notice how RJ grasps onto Tasha. Mother apes and monkeys typically do not hold onto their young; the babies are responsible for hanging on. The Zoo now has six orangutans.

Check out this video from the Zoo’s Youtube channel of Tasha and RJ:


The name “orangutan” comes from an Indonesian phrase meaning “person of the forest.” Orang means person and hutan means forest. Orangutan is pronounced oranguTAN, not TANG. They are classified as apes, not monkeys. These beautiful creatures are among some of the most intelligent animals in the animal kingdom. Unfortunately, they have been victim to poaching and deforestation, resulting in an endangered status. Deforestation for the establishment of palm oil plantations is the primary cause for habitat loss for orangutans. Female orangutans usually only have a baby every 7-8 years and will closely nurture their young for the first four years of their life.


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Otter Cove Now Open!

Kumbali and Kago

Zoo News

New Gray Wolf Exhibit

Baby Pygmy Hippo

New Sloth Exhibit

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