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On Monday, April 11th, a critically endangered addax antelope was born at Zoo Miami.  With a maximum of only a few hundred left in the wild, the addax is one of the most critically endangered animals in the world.  Though it once ranged throughout much of the Sahara desert in North Africa, it has now been reduced to a small reserve in Niger.  Their main threats are poaching and habitat destruction due to petroleum exploration. 

They are nomadic and live in small herds ranging from 5-20 individuals led by a dominant male and are strict herbivores specially adapted for life in the desert.  They have wide padded hooves for walking in the sand and produce dry feces and concentrated urine enabling them to get all of the water they need from the vegetation that they eat.  In addition, their white to tan coloration aids in blending in with their desert environment while helping to keep them cool by reflecting heat.

This is the 72nd addax born at Zoo Miami.  The male calf weighed just over 14 pounds at birth after a pregnancy of approximately 8 ½ months.  The neonatal examination showed the newborn to be in good health and it has since been introduced back to the herd on exhibit where its mother is taking excellent care of it.

The careful breeding of addax populations under human care serves as an insurance policy against a very dire situation in the wild where many experts believe that they are soon headed for extinction.  Thanks to the closely managed herds in zoos like Zoo Miami, this critically endangered species has a much better chance for survival for future generations.

at Friday, April 15, 2022


Today, two endangered giant river otters underwent wellness exams as part of a carefully managed preventative medicine program at Zoo Miami.

“Kara,” is a 17 years old female and weighs approximately 50 pounds.  She was joined by “Matata,” a 7 year old female that weighs approximately 58 pounds.  Together, they were brought to the Zoo Miami Hospital where they underwent a series of procedures that included ultrasound exams, blood and urine collection, X-rays and vaccinations, as well as general eye, ear and dental exams.  In addition, they both also received birth control implants as part of a carefully managed birth control program.

These procedures play a critical role in maintaining the overall health of the animals at Zoo Miami.  Because wild animals will instinctively disguise any symptoms of being ill or injured in order to avoid exposing themselves to predation or attack, it is important that these exams take place so that any potential health issues can be diagnosed and hopefully treated before they become serious.

Today’s procedures were managed by Zoo Miami Associate Veterinarians, Dr. Rodney Schnellbacher and Dr. Gaby Flacke, along with the Zoo Miami Animal Health Team.  Both otters appear to be in generally good health and have since been successfully returned to their habitat where they can calmly recover from the day’s events.

Giant otters are the longest of the world’s 13 otter species with males reaching a length of 6 feet.  They are extremely endangered and are naturally found in isolated and remote areas within some fresh water lakes, creeks, rivers, and reservoirs of Tropical South America.  Zoo Miami has one of the country’s most successful captive breeding programs with several litters having been born here.

at Tuesday, April 12, 2022


After nearly four decades of carrying well over a million riders, Zoo Miami’s “Zoofari” monorail system has been permanently decommissioned. 

Opened back on 1982, the system originally consisted of three trains that provided elevated transportation around the zoo on 2.2 miles of steel track.  In 1987, two additional trains were added that had been used at the World’s Fair in New Orleans.  Severely damaged during Hurricane Andrew in 1992, it took several months to make the repairs necessary for it to be back online.

The system was especially popular in the summer months when it provided relief from the heat in its air-conditioned cars, as well as a welcomed lift over nearly 4 miles of walkways.

Unfortunately, the original manufacturer went out of business and replacement parts became unavailable.  In 1987, one of the trains became utilized for parts to keep the others running.  However, over time, it became cost-prohibitive to maintain the trains in safe running condition and the difficult decision was made to permanently decommission the system.

Removing the monorail and track will be a costly endeavor.  However, it will be considerably less expensive than trying to keep the outdated system running with no source of replacements parts.

It is hoped that deconstruction can begin at the end of the year but there will need to be a series of reviews and approvals before work can actually start.

Though the monorail is no longer operational, Zoo Miami has other sources of transportation available within the park including regular tram tours as well as safari cycle rentals.  Additional trams will be added in the near future.  In addition, special VIP golf cart tours are available by reservation online and through the group sales department.

at Friday, April 1, 2022


After yesterday’s dramatic ascent to bald eagle’s “Ron” and “Rita’s” nest to release their eaglet, R2, from being tangled in monofilament line, things appeared to have worked out well.  R2 flew from the nest, breaking the line that had prevented her from doing so previously.  In addition, the team, which included Lloyd Brown from Wildlife Rescue of Dade County, firefighters from MDFR Platform 34 and Ron Magill from Zoo Miami, was able to remove all of the excess monofilament line that remained in the nest.  Our hope was that since R2 was able to fly away so well that she would continue the normal fledging process and eventually go out to start an independent life of her own.  We assumed she would likely stay around the nest for at least a few days while Ron and Rita watched over and occasionally bring her food as they have been doing with R1 who fledged (left the nest) on his own earlier.

Then, last night, Lloyd received a call that R2 was seen in the backyard of house located a short distance from the nest and it appeared that there was still a significant amount of monofilament line attached to her foot.  Lloyd drove to the home and was successful in catching R2 with a net and confirmed that there indeed was still significant line attached to her.  He was able to successfully remove all of it and fortunately, there was no serious injury as a result.  However, it was decided that because R2 had been through quite a bit and perhaps was disoriented, it would be best to monitor her overnight to ensure that she had recovered and then return this morning to the nest tree with the intention of placing her back in the nest.

Once again, we called on the services of the team of firefighters at MDFR Platform 34 to meet us at the nest sight as they had the only platform truck in the county capable of reaching the nest 85 feet up in an Australian pine tree.  The challenge was going to be placing R2 back in the nest in a manner where she would not just fly away in a panic and perhaps become disoriented.  Lloyd carefully held her as he removed her from the sky kennel, placed a towel over her head, and was joined by Ron Magill and firefighter Adam Stone in the bucket of the platform truck to slowly ascend to the nest.

As they reached the nest, firefighter Stone skillfully positioned the bucket next to it and Lloyd gently placed R2 into the center of the bowl. He then slowly let go and R2 spread her wings, looking around relatively calmly as the team quickly descended.  Fortunately, R2 remained in the nest and shortly after the team was back on the ground and packed up, Rita flew in to be alongside her eaglet!  This was an incredibly positive outcome to a situation that could have had much more serious consequences.

By late afternoon, R2 was standing calmly in the nest bowl and her sibling, R1, was seen perched on a tree nearby.  Both parents, Ron and Rita have also been seen nearby and the hope is that R2 can now continue the fledging process without further incident.

Both R1 and R2 have overcome many challenges to get to this point in their lives.  The fact is that bald eagles are successful fledging their chicks only about 50% of the time so these two eaglets have already beaten the odds.  Having said that, there are still many challenges ahead as they learn to be independent and find their own territories and mates.

These eaglets owe their lives to the collaboration between Wildlife Rescue of Dade County, Miami Dade Fire Rescue Platform 34, Audubon Eagle Watch volunteers Jeanne and Bill Kaufman, and the Ron Magill Conservation Endowment at the Zoo Miami Foundation.  It has been a wonderful story that is still being told and the teams are all grateful for the love and support given by people not just in South Florida, but around the world, for this amazing eagle family.

We hope that this most recent event can also focus attention on the need to properly dispose of any fishing line as it poses a potentially deadly threat to wildlife.

We all wish R1 and R2 a long and productive life in South Florida and look forward to Ron and Rita returning to their nest next year to raise another generation of these majestic raptors!

at Sunday, March 27, 2022


“Ron” and “Rita,” have become internet stars as their lives during the last several months have been livestreamed around the world.  From when they first started building their nest last October to laying their first egg just before Thanksgiving, to the first hatching on New Year’s Day, millions have come to love this amazing eagle family as they raised their two chicks (R1 and R2) to the point where R1 successfully flew from the nest several days ago and R2 was ready to follow at any moment.

Then, last night, while looking closely at the livestream, we could see that there was a large quantity of monofilament line in the nest, probably attached to a fish that the parents had brought in for food.  Some of the line had wrapped around one of the feet of R2 preventing it from leaving the nest and potentially causing serious injury or death.

It was decided that emergency action was warranted and Lloyd Brown, founder and director of Wildlife Rescue of Dade County, who also happens to be a firefighter/paramedic, contacted Miami-Dade Fire Rescue (MDFR) officials to inquire if a special platform truck could be utilized to get up to the nest to free the eaglet and remove the potentially deadly monofilament line.  Thanks to the incredible cooperation and efforts of the team from MDFR Platform 34, a special platform truck was brought to the site this morning.  The MDFR team was able to get us up 85 feet to the nest where we were able to have the eaglet break the line by flying strongly away from us and then take its first solo flight towards independence!  Lloyd was then able to remove all of the excess monofilament line to prevent any other entanglements should the eaglets or adults return.

This was an amazing effort and collaboration between Wildlife Rescue of Dade County and Miami-Dade Fire Rescue that resulted in the prevention of a potential tragedy.  Monofilament line presents many dangers to native wildlife and this is just one example.  It cannot be overemphasized how important it is that it is properly disposed of and contained when not in use.

After many trials and tribulations, Ron and Rita have successfully raised two chicks to fledge from the nest.  It is believed that this is the first time that this pair has been able to do this.  In doing so, they have inspired countless people from around the world to better understand these magnificent raptors and in turn, have a better appreciation for them. 

It is likely that this amazing story would not have come to fruition had it not been for the collaboration of Lloyd Brown and Wildlife Rescue of Dade County, along with Ron Magill and the funding from the Ron Magill Conservation Endowment at the Zoo Miami Foundation, which together constructed a special platform for Ron and Rita to build their nest on, as well as installing the high resolution cameras that have been able to provide this very intimate window into the world of these majestic birds.  Whereas in the past, previous nests built by Ron and Rita have failed and they have not been as successful raising offspring, the stability of the man-made platform and the ability to see potential problems before they become tragic has enabled the story Ron and Rita to be a wonderful and inspiring one!

Bald eagles mate for life and they will normally return to the same nest site year after year, constantly adding to it.  It is believed that both Ron and Rita are relatively young so they have a potentially long life ahead of them and should be returning to this nest again in the fall of 2023!  When we know that they have left for the season, the Ron Magill Conservation Endowment will be again working closely with Wildlife Rescue of Dade County to not only reinforce the nest platform for next year, but also add microphones so that in addition to being able to view the behaviors, anyone with internet service will also be able to hear the many wonderful sounds created by a bald eagle family as they grow and develop!

We all hope and pray that R1 and R2 will continue their amazing journey and that soon after they develop those characteristic white heads and tails between the ages of 4 and 5 years old, they will find mates and start their own families here in South Florida!

at Saturday, March 26, 2022

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