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“Serai,” an 11 year old female endangered clouded leopard, underwent a series of exams in an effort to diagnose what may be causing ongoing issues with vomiting.  Those exams included an ultrasound and an endoscopy where several biopsies were taken from the oral cavity, stomach and small intestine.  During these exams, the Animal Health Team was able to get a closer look at inflammatory tissue that is likely connected to the vomiting issues.

The endoscopy and ultrasound exams were directed by Dr. Luis Macho, a veterinary internal medicine specialist from Advanced Veterinary Care Service.  The Zoo Miami Animal Health Team was led by Zoo Miami Associate Veterinarian, Dr. Gaby Flacke.  Though we are waiting for the results from the biopsies and other tests that were performed, initial indications are that Serai’s vomiting issues may be the result of a food allergy which is fairly common in cats.  The Animal Health and Animal Science teams will work together to see if they can pinpoint which item(s) Serai may be allergic to and adjust her diet accordingly.

In addition to the endoscopy and ultrasound exams, Serai also had a series of x-rays done, blood collected, a COVID test and a general wellness exam that included eyes, ears and teeth.  Other than the inflammatory tissue seen in her mouth and throat, she is in generally good condition. 

Clouded Leopards are a very secretive cat found in forests within Southern China, Taiwan, and Malaysia.  Adults usually weigh between 30 and 50 pounds and they have a very long tail with relatively short legs and large paws to facilitate their frequent arboreal lifestyle.  Their diet includes a variety of birds and mammals including monkeys, deer, and porcupines.  Clouded leopards have the longest canine teeth relative to their size of any wild cat.  They are highly endangered over most of their range due to hunting for their attractive pelts which have ceremonial value in a variety of cultures.

Photo by: Ron Magill

at Tuesday, August 2, 2022


After several years of careful planning and coordination, Zoo Miami is proud to announce the official Grand Opening of its new Sea Turtle Hospital on Wednesday, July 6th, at 10:00AM!

Working closely with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), and with funding provided by the zoo’s primary non-profit support organization, the Zoo Miami Foundation, Zoo Miami has been able to construct a 1600 sq. ft. facility that consists of five saltwater enclosures which will serve as “recovery beds” for up to 16 sea turtles that are brought to the facility for treatment.  This facility will be only the second Sea Turtle Hospital in Miami-Dade County, and the only one able to treat fibropapillomatosis (FP), a potentially fatal disease found in sea turtles which causes cauliflower-like tumors to grow on the skin, including the eyes and mouth, as well as internal organs.  The facility is located in a behind-the-scenes area across from the Zoo Miami Animal Hospital and will eventually be accessible to the public through specially arranged tours. 

In preparation for the management of its Sea Turtle Hospital, the Zoo Miami Animal Health Team has collaborated closely with several established sea turtle facilities including the Brevard Zoo, Loggerhead Marinelife Center, Gumbo Limbo Nature Center and the Turtle Hospital in the Florida Keys.  Teams have traveled to several of the centers to work with some of the world’s most renowned sea turtle experts and receive invaluable hands-on experience with not only a wide variety of treatments, but also with releases back to the wild.

Prior to its Grand Opening and after receiving its permits from the FWC back in April, the Sea Turtle Hospital has already received patients for emergency treatments.  The most notable is a huge 388 pound female loggerhead turtle named “Baymax,” that arrived from a Port St. Lucie site several weeks ago and had suffered a critical injury from an apparent shark attack.  She arrived laden with eggs which she was induced to lay and were then placed in a man-made nest for incubation by a team from the Miami-Dade County Sea Turtle Conservation Program (STCP) which has also been a collaborator in this endeavor.  The massive reptile required surgery to amputate what remained of her badly mangled front left flipper and has since been recovering well.  The team is cautiously optimistic that she will be able to be released within the next few weeks.

All five species of sea turtles that are found in Florida waters are classified as threatened or endangered.  Their greatest threats are pollution such as plastics and balloons that the turtles ingest which leads to digestive blockages and starvation, improperly discarded fishing nets and lines that they get tangled up in, boat strikes, cold stress, threats to their nesting beaches and the aforementioned fibropapillomatosis virus (FP).  Zoo Miami’s new Sea Turtle Hospital will play an invaluable role in providing world-class veterinary care to sea turtles affected by these threats with the primary goal being that it leads to their rehabilitation and release back to the wild.

An official ribbon-cutting ceremony, attended by elected officials and key team members will take place on Wednesday, July 6th, at 10:00AM.  Interested media is asked to arrive at the zoo no later than 9:45am so that they can be properly positioned prior to the ceremony.

at Tuesday, July 5, 2022


As the summer heat continues to climb, Zoo Miami was privileged to collaborate with Miami-Dade Fire Rescue (MDFR) Engine 37 to help provide a special treat for “Ongard,” affectionately called, “Ardy,” an 11 year old male Asian elephant.  The MDFR team was able to bring in their vehicle adjacent to the elephant habitat and connect to a fire hydrant on zoo grounds so that they could use the truck’s fire house to bath Ardy in a wonderful cooling shower as hundreds of guests looked on.

Though this is the first time that Ardy has been exposed to such an experience and he was initially apprehensive, he slowly gained his confidence and was soon enjoying the refreshing shower.  Not only did he seem to enjoy the cool massaging water on his thick skin, he will also benefit from the mud wallows created by the large quantities of water propelled by the fire truck onto his habitat which he will almost surely utilize to coat himself with in a further effort to protect himself from the sun and biting insects.

This experience is just one of many activities coordinated by zoo staff as part of a carefully managed enrichment program.  These programs are developed to mentally and physically stimulate the animals living at the zoo which is important in maintaining their overall health. 

Photo by: Ron Magill
at Wednesday, June 22, 2022


It is with great sadness that Zoo Miami reports that a green sea turtle that had suffered a catastrophic injury from a boat strike, was euthanized today following a computed tomography (CT) scan that confirmed that the injury severed the animal’s spinal cord, making it impossible for it to ever survive on its own.

The 80 pound female turtle was rescued by Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) officers on May 28th after being found floating in a waterway in Coral Gables.  She was then transferred to Zoo Miami’s Sea Turtle Hospital for treatment and evaluation by the Animal Health Team.

Upon arrival, the turtle had several severe lacerations deep into the top of her shell and appeared to be partially paralyzed. The team worked to treat the wounds and stabilize the animal so that further tests could be done to be able to give a more accurate prognosis for recovery.

Yesterday, Dr. Doug Mader, a sea turtle veterinary specialist and Zoo Miami veterinary consultant, met with Zoo Miami Associate Zoo Veterinarian, Dr. Marisa Bezjian, and the Animal Health Team, to closely examine the turtle and performed further tests that included and ultrasound and a CT scan.  The CT scan was performed by Dr. Xavier Meaux of Mobile Pet Imaging who brought his special mobile CT scanner.

Unfortunately, the scans confirmed the team’s worst fears.  They revealed that the spinal cord was indeed severed, eliminating any chance this turtle may have had to survive on its own.  Sadly, the decision was made to humanely euthanize it to prevent any further suffering.

The team had put in many hours treating this individual in hopes that she could recover, so this diagnosis was devastating.  However, they are trying to take some comfort in knowing that they made every effort to help this animal and have ended her suffering in a humane manner.

We hope that this sad story helps to raise awareness among boaters to be on the lookout for these threatened and endangered species so that in the future, incidents like these can be avoided. 

On a more positive note, “Baymax,” the nearly 400 pound loggerhead turtle who had surgery to treat a severe shark attack continues to heal well at Zoo Miami’s Sea Turtle Hospital and the prognosis for her release back to the wild in the future is good!

Photo by: Ron Magill

at Thursday, June 16, 2022


Zoo Miami is happy to announce the births of three Nyala antelopes, all born within a 5 day window!  Two males, born on May 24th and May 26th, and one female, born on May 28th.  All the calves are doing well and can now be seen on the Nyala habitat with the rest of the herd.

Nyala are medium sized antelopes that are commonly found in the woodlands and thickets of Southern Africa, usually near water.  Males can reach 250 pounds and have a distinctly different appearance than females with long spiraling horns, a dark gray coat, and a tall mane of hair that runs along the top of their back and under their chin and neck.  Females rarely exceed 150 pounds, do not have any horns or manes, and have a chestnut red coloration.  Both sexes have a series of vertical white stripes along their flanks.

With a lifespan of approximately 16-19 years, their main predators are lions, leopards, hyenas and painted dogs.  When predators are spotted, they will stomp their feet and emit a type of bark as an alarm call.  They are generally a social antelope found in herds numbering as many as 30 individuals, comprised of mostly females and calves with a dominant male.  

The gestation period is approximately 7 months followed by the birth of what is usually a single calf, though twins have been documented.  Their herbivorous diet consists of a variety of leaves, twigs, bark, fruits, flowers and fine grass

at Friday, June 3, 2022

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