Belfast's Baby Gorilla Is a Girl!

(6)  Zoos are increasingly important in the conservation of species under threat.  Belfast Zoo takes part in a breeding programme for this species.
A critically endangered Western Lowland Gorilla born at the Belfast Zoo on August 28 is a girl! 

Because baby Gorillas cling to their mother’s belly for the first few months of life, keepers were unable to determine the baby’s gender until now.  The baby has been named Olivia.

(2)  The latest arrival was born to mother, Namoki, and father, Gugas, on 28 August 2016.
(5)  All ape species are endangered or critically endangered.  Gorillas are facing the real and severe risk of extinction in the
(3)  For the first months, the newborn clings to the mother's stomach.  Keepers recently discovered the infant is a female and she has been named Olivia.
(1)  Belfast Zoo is celebrating the birth of a critically endangered Western lowland gorilla!Photo Credit:  Belfast Zoo

Olivia’s arrival is significant because her father, Gugas, was born in the wild and his genetic background is important to the zoo population.  But Gugas had an unfortunate start to life as his parents were killed, probably for bushmeat.  As a young, orphaned Gorilla, he was acquired by a Portuguese circus and became very ill.  He was abandoned at the gates of Lisbon Zoo and was then moved to Stuttgart Zoo to live in a nursery group for orphaned Gorillas. He arrived at Belfast Zoo in 1998 and in 2012, with no sign of any pregnancies, the zoo tested Gugas’ fertility and the results were not promising.  In fact, it was felt that Gugas would never father any young. 

“Gugas has defied the odds.  In fact he has had an extremely busy few years, as this is the third infant that he has fathered since 2013,” says Julie Mansell of the Belfast Zoo. 

The Belfast Zoo’s Gorilla breeding program is part of a global effort to create a safety net population should this species become extinct in the wild – a very real possibility, given that Gorillas are under threat from habitat loss, the bushmeat trade, the pet trade, trophy hunting, and other human activity. 

Western Lowland Gorillas come from the dense forests of western central Africa.  Gorillas are the largest of all primate species.  They are listed as Critically Endangered, with the wild population shrinking by 80% within the past three generations.

Chicago’s Other Cubs Gear-Up for ‘Fall Fest’

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The Chicago Cubs baseball team is currently on track for their first World Series appearance in 71 years, and fans of the team will definitely have a big win at Lincoln Park Zoo this weekend (October 21-23, 2016) for the zoo’s Fall Fest. The event also offers a chance to catch a glimpse of Chicago’s other famous cubs…the zoo’s Red Panda cubs, Sheffield and Waveland (named after Wrigley Field’s cross-streets).

Born June 24, the pair of Red Panda cubs, Waveland (female) and Sheffield (male) have spent the last few months behind the scenes in their nest box. The cubs have grown more independent and have ventured out on exhibit intermittently as they continue to acclimate to ‘the friendly confines’ of their ivy-covered habitat.

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4_20161004_CB_Red Panda_waveland_25Photo Credits: Lincoln Park Zoo /Christopher Bijalba

Thanks to a breeding recommendation from the Red Panda Species Survival Plan (SSP), which cooperatively manages the endangered population, these cubs are the second set in two years for Lincoln Park Zoo’s breeding pair: Leafa (dam) and Phoenix (sire). Last year, the zoo celebrated its first-ever Red Panda cub litter including, Clark (male) and Addison (female), now thriving at San Diego Zoo and Northeastern Wisconsin Zoo, respectively.

“In the last year, Red Pandas have gone from a threatened to endangered species due to human impacts including habitat loss,” said Curator of Mammals Mark Kamhout. “These playful, curious, arboreal cubs here at the zoo serve as ambassadors to encourage learning and inspire visitors to help protect this species in the wild.”

For more information on Lincoln Park Zoo’s Fall Fest or the Red Panda cubs, check out their Facebook page:  

...and the Zoo's website:

More pics below the fold! 

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Traditional Birthday for Canada’s First Panda Cubs


In March 2013, Giant Panda couple, Er Shun and Da Mao, arrived at the Toronto Zoo as part of a Global Giant Panda Conservation Breeding Program. On the morning of October 13, 2015, the Toronto Zoo announced that Er Shun had given birth to the first Giant Panda cubs born in Canada.

The Toronto Zoo recently hosted a First Birthday Celebration for their Giant Panda cubs. The lively pair of cubs, named Jia Panpan (Canadian Hope) and Jia Yueyue (Canadian Joy), were treated to a festive birthday party, including some of the other Toronto Zoo babies (in the form of artwork displays) who brought the cubs gifts which contained traditional Chinese fortunes of "Prosperity", "Happiness", "Wealth" and "Lots of Bamboo". Jia Yueyue was quick to select a gift of "Wealth", whereas Jia Panpan let his tummy lead, and he selected a gift of "Lots of Bamboo".2_14589715_1119730518063392_7125892738233464681_o


4_14711613_1119730571396720_8510048094860094170_oPhoto Credits: Toronto Zoo

Media, Zoo staff, VIPs including Mr. Zheng Guangda, Vice President & Secretary General and Ms. Zeying Yu, Vice General Secretary, Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens (CAZG) were on hand to help celebrate this milestone for Canada's only Giant Panda cubs.

"The Toronto Zoo is thrilled to be hosting this one-year birthday celebration for our Giant Panda cubs," said John Tracogna, Chief Executive Officer, Toronto Zoo. "We are grateful to all of the partners who continue to support the ongoing success of our Giant Panda program, including the Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens, Chengdu Research Base of Giant Pandas, Chongqing Zoo, State Forestry Administration of China and the Canadian Embassy in Beijing."  

Toronto Zoo Keepers have had the unique opportunity to experience the growth and development of these rare cubs over the past year, and there have been a number of challenges, balanced with a number of joyous moments, that have been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many of the dedicated and professional staff having the pleasure to work with the Giant Pandas. Karyn Tunwell, Senior Panda Keeper, has been with the cubs from their first day, and said, "Watching them grow and surpass the many milestones throughout their first year has been unlike anything else I have experienced in my career."

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‘Marvelous’ Duiker Calf at Cincinnati Zoo


The Yellow-backed Duiker calf at Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is simply a “wondrous-marvel”, and that is just what her name, Shani, means in Swahili.

Shani was born August 22 and has been spending quality time bonding with her parents. The small family unit is a preference for the duiker.

Although her species name suggests otherwise, Shani’s characteristic yellow stripe won’t appear on her back until she is about six-months-old. For now, her coloring is suitable for hiding in the shelter of forest floors and brush.



4_14712472_10154443459635479_9148495961607096627_oPhoto Credits: DJJAM Photo/ Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

The Yellow-backed Duiker (Cephalophus silvicultor) is a forest dwelling antelope in the order Artiodactyla, from the family Bovidae. They are the most widely distributed of all the duikers, and they are found mainly in Central and Western Africa, ranging from Senegal to Western Uganda with a possible few in Gambia. Their range also extends southward into Ruanda, Burunidi, Zaire, and most of Zambia.

Yellow-backed Duikers have a convex body shape, standing taller at the rump than the shoulders. They have very short horns, which are cylindrical and are ribbed at the base. Yellow-backed Duikers get their name from the characteristic patch of yellow hairs on their rump, which stand when the animal becomes alarmed or feels threatened. They weigh-in at about 60–80 kg, making it the largest of its genus. It has a large mouth, throat and jaw musculature.

Yellow-backed Duikers are mainly forest dwelling and live in semi-deciduous forests, rainforests, riparian forests, and montane forests. However, they can also be found in open bush, isolated forest islands, and clearings on the savanna. Their convex body shape is well suited for forest living. Also known as “little divers,” duikers dive into thick undergrowth to hide from predators; hence, the name duiker which means "diver" in Afrikaans.

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Okapi Calf Arrives in Time for ‘World Okapi Day’


Today, October 18th, is the inaugural “World Okapi Day”, and there is no better way to celebrate than by announcing the arrival of a new Okapi calf!

In the early morning of October 1st, Zoo Basel welcomed their first Okapi birth in eleven years! The little bull calf, named Nuru, is the son of Mchawi. Keepers say he is a strong guy and has been exploring the indoor stables with great curiosity.



4_12322917_1155029794534759_5469137915296834898_oPhoto Credits: Zoo Basel

Nuru is the first male calf for mom, Mchawi. Born in 2011 at Antwerp, Mchawi has lived at Basel Zoo since 2014. The genetic basis of the EEP (European Endangered Species Programme) was very narrow for the Okapi. Zoo Basel decided a few years ago, in consultation with the EEP, to expand this base by importing new animals from the United States. At the end of this reshuffling, three animals found new homes at Zoo Basel: new mom, Mchawi, an eight-year-old bull Imba (who came from Dallas Zoo, US, in 2013), and five-year-old Ebony.

The hard work and efforts, of the EEP and cooperating Zoos, have paid off. Nuru seems to be a curious, courageous, and healthy calf. Keepers report that he sometimes skips naptime for jumping capers through the stables. It's too cold for the little guy to spend time in the outdoor exhibit, but when the temperatures warm, and Nuru is older, he will enjoy the outdoors as well. His current exhibit house is open for visitors, but they are asked to be patient. Nuru frequently withdraws for long periods of time to bond with his mom.

The breeding of the Okapi at Zoo Basel has a long history, with many interruptions. For the Zoo’s 75th anniversary in 1949, they received a bull from the Epulu-Breeding Station (in what was then known as the Belgian Congo). In the years 1955 and 1956 more animals came, and the first calf for the Zoo was born in 1960. After several decades of unsuccessful breeding attempts, a calf was born in 2005. The birth of Nuru has been an exciting boost to the Zoo’s efforts at helping to preserve this endangered species.

The Okapi (Okapia johnstoni) is a giraffid artiodactyl mammal native to the northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Central Africa. Although the Okapi bears striped markings reminiscent of Zebras, it is most closely related to the Giraffe. The Okapi and the Giraffe are the only living members of the family Giraffidae.

The Okapi stands about 1.5 m (4.9 ft) tall at the shoulder and has an average body length of about 2.5 m (8.2 ft). Its weight ranges from 200 to 350 kg (440 to 770 lb). It has a long neck, and large, flexible ears. Its coat is a chocolate to reddish brown, much in contrast with the white horizontal stripes and rings on the legs and white ankles. Male Okapis have short, hair-covered horns called ossicones, less than 15 cm (5.9 in) in length. Females possess hair whorls, and ossicones are absent.

Okapis are primarily diurnal but may be active for a few hours in darkness. They are essentially solitary, coming together only to breed. Okapis are herbivores, feeding on tree leaves and buds, grasses, ferns, fruits, and fungi.

The gestational period for females is around 440 to 450 days, and usually a single calf is born. The juveniles are kept in hiding, and nursing takes place infrequently. Juveniles start taking solid food from about three months, and weaning takes place at six months.

Okapis inhabit canopy forests at altitudes of 500–1,500 m (1,600–4,900 ft). They are endemic to the tropical forests of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where they occur across the central, northern and eastern regions.

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BIOPARC Keepers Announce New Gorilla Is a Girl

1_OCTUBRE 2016 - BIOPARC Valencia - La gorila Nalani y su bebé de 7 semanas de vida (3)

BIOPARC Valencia is excited to announce that their newest Western Lowland Gorilla is a female! The birth of the baby on August 18 was witnessed, and filmed, by amazed Zoo patrons. (See our original article here: Zoo Guests Witness Gorilla Birth)

The new girl has become an important part of the Spanish zoo’s Gorilla troop. Mom, Nalani, and father, Mambie, are doing a fitting job caring for their new offspring.

From the beginning, keepers have worked to maximize the welfare of the mother and her baby. Unless necessary, the technical team of BIOPARC does not interfere in the natural development of breeding and, in this sense, mother and offspring have not been separated at any time. For this reason, only observation, patience and some luck, have finally allowed keepers to see and take a photo of the genital area of the new baby, and thus confirm that is a female.

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3_BIOPARC VALENCIA - Grupo reproductor de gorilas - MAMBIE, NALANI su bebé y el pequeño EBO (2)Photo Credits: BIOPARC Valencia

The Western Lowland Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) is one of two subspecies of the Western Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla) that lives in montane, primary and secondary forests and lowland swamps in central Africa in Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. It is the Gorilla most common to zoos.

The main diet of the Gorilla species is roots, shoots, fruit, wild celery, tree bark and pulp, which are provided for in the thick forests of central and West Africa. An adult will eat around 18 kg (40 lb) of food per day. Gorillas will climb trees up to 15 meters in height in search of food.

Females do not produce many offspring, due to the fact that they do not reach sexual maturity until the age of 8 or 9. Female gorillas give birth to one infant after a pregnancy of nearly nine months. Unlike their powerful parents, newborns are tiny (weighing about four pounds) and able only to cling to their mothers' fur. The infant will ride on mother’s back from the age of four months through the first two or three years of life. Infants can be dependent on the mother for up to five years.

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Zoo Gives Baby Snappers a Head Start

20160922_123518Even powerful creatures like Alligator Snapping Turtles need a little help sometimes – that’s why the Nashville Zoo is headstarting 30 young snappers for eventual release into Tennessee’s waterways. 

The hatchlings came to Nashville from the Tishomingo National Fish Hatchery in Oklahoma and are now being cared for behind-the-scenes at the zoo.  The hatchlings will remain at the zoo for three years, after which they will be released into the wild as part of a statewide program to boost populations of Alligator Snapping Turtles.

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20160929_112135Photo Credit:  Katie Gregory

Headstarting programs like this can help bring species back from the brink.  Female Alligator Snapping Turtles don’t produce large quantities of eggs, and many eggs laid in the wild are lost to predation.  By collecting eggs from wild females, raising hatchlings in a protected environment, and releasing juveniles once they have attained a larger size, biologists can boost the number of surviving young. 

With their expertise at caring for animals in aquariums and controlled environments, zoos are recognized as vital partners in the fight to save native species.   

After the Turtles’ release, zoo staff will monitor the young to determine the success of the headstarting program. 

Weighing 50-100 pounds as adults, Alligator Snapping Turtles are almost prehistoric in appearance.  They spend nearly all of their life in water, feeding on fish and other aquatic animals.  To lure prey within striking distance, these Turtles sit with mouths open to reveal a small, pink, worm-like appendage in the back of the mouth.  Once the prey swims close enough, the Turtle clamps down on it with powerful jaws.

Once inhabiting most of the rivers in the Mississippi watershed, Alligator Snapping Turtles (not to be confused with Common Snapping Turtles, which are abundant in waterways across the region) were decimated in the 1960s and 70s by commercial harvesting for their meat.  Today, habitat loss, egg predation, and the high rate of hatchling predation threaten the species.


Gibbon "Preemie" is Growing Strong

2016 10 PZ pileated gibbon baby by Miriam Haas 2Keepers at the Paignton Zoo are cautiously optimistic that a rare Pileated Gibbon baby will survive despite being born several weeks prematurely.

Born September 19 to parents Shukdi and Hantu, the baby would be the first of its species to be reared during the zoo’s 15-year breeding program.

Mom & Baby 2016 10 PZ pileated gibbon baby by Miriam Haas 1
2016 10 PZ pileated gibbon baby 1Photo Credit:  Miriam Haas


Like all Gibbons, a Pileated Gibbon baby clings to its mother’s belly for the first several months of life.  Because the baby is so closely held by mom, keepers are often unable to determine the baby's gender until it begins exploring on its own.     

Male and female Pileated Gibbons display sexual dimorphism – males and females look differently from one another.  Females have light-colored bodies and dark faces, while males have all black fur with white markings. 

Found in Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos, Pileated Gibbons live in the treetops and feed during the day on fruit, leaves, and small animals.  They are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, due to hunting and severe habitat loss and fragmentation. 

See more photos of the baby Gibbon below.

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New Malayan Tapir Calf at Antwerp Zoo


A Malayan Tapir was born at Antwerp Zoo on October 7th!

This is the second baby for mom, Nakal. After thirteen months of pregnancy, the birth went very quickly and smoothly. The young calf is doing well and has been running around a lot. This is the seventh young Tapir for Antwerp, and with a little luck, patrons can catch a glimpse of the newest member.

At birth, the brand new baby weighed about 9 kg (35 times less than his parents). Mother and baby have been spending lots of bonding time in the safety of their nesting house with a large window. Wherever mom goes, her little one is not far behind. The young calf’s father is the late Kamal. According to Antwerp Zoo, Kamal died unexpectedly two months ago.

The little ones sex is still unknown; but once it is revealed, keepers are planning to compile a list of their top three choices for a name and allow fans to vote via the Zoo’s Facebook page: 2_14656302_1118178994924892_5302609410460120688_n


4_fotolink_TAPIR-3Photo Credits: ZOO Antwerpen

The Malayan Tapir (Tapirus indicus), also known as the Asian Tapir, is the largest of four Tapir species and is the only Old World Tapir. They are native to the rainforests of Burma, Malaysia, Sumatra and Thailand. Their noses and upper lips are extended to form a prehensile proboscis, which they use to grab leaves. Tapirs normally measure 1.8 to 2.5m (6 to 8 feet) in length, with a shoulder height of 0.9 to 1.1m. (3 to 3.5 feet).

The animals are related to both the Horse and the Rhinoceros. They are an ‘odd-toed’ animal, having four toes on each front foot and three toes on each back foot.

Malayan Tapirs also have poor eyesight, which makes them rely heavily on their excellent senses of smell and hearing.

They are also known for their unusual courtship ritual, which involves an assortment of wheezing and whistling sounds. They will sniff each other, walking around in circles before mating. Females have a long gestation period of 13 months before giving birth to a single calf.

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Tiny Trio of Endangered Tigers Born in Milwaukee

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The Milwaukee County Zoo is pleased to announce the birth of three Amur Tigers. The cubs were born September 14 to mother, Amba, and father, Strannik, both 13-years-old.

This is the second litter for Amba, who is considered an older mother, and the fourth litter for Strannik.

As of October 2, the weights for the cubs were 5.6 pounds, 5.9 pounds and 6.9 pounds. The cubs are weighed every two to three days to monitor weight. Zookeepers report all three cubs are healthy and growing quickly. The last litter of Tiger cubs born at the Zoo was in 2009 (female Tula from that litter remains at the Zoo).

The cubs have a nest of wood-wool in an off-exhibit den, and are nursing from mom approximately 6–8 times per day. Their immune systems are developing and they’re learning to get their legs under them, in order to begin walking. They are expected to start walking at about 3 weeks old. Their eyes are now open but not yet focusing.

The trio of cubs is regularly monitored “in-person” as well as via video monitor. A trusting relationship between the keepers and mom, Amba, has been formed over the years, through positive reinforcement training. On a regular basis, zookeepers offer training for all of the residents of the Zoo’s Big Cat building (for medical, emotional or physical needs of the animals). This training also allowed keepers and veterinary staff to perform ultrasounds on Amba to confirm her pregnancy in the weeks prior to her giving birth.

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3_Tiger cubs nursingPhoto Credits: Milwaukee County Zoo

Because Amba and the cubs won’t be on public exhibit for several weeks, the Milwaukee County Zoo invites fans to view its Facebook page for updates, photos and videos:

A public announcement and media invite will follow when the cubs are ready to make their public debut!

The Amur Tiger (Panthera tigris altaica), also known as the Siberian Tiger, is a subspecies inhabiting mainly the Sikhote Alin mountain region, with a small population in southwest Primorye Province in the Russian Far East.

The Amur Tiger once ranged throughout all of Korea, northeastern China, Russian Far East, and Eastern Mongolia. In 2005, there were reported to be 331–393 adults and sub adult Amur Tigers in this region, with a breeding adult population of about 250 individuals.

The Amur Tiger and Bengal Tiger subspecies rank among the biggest living cats. An average adult male Siberian Tiger outweighs an average adult male Lion by around 45.5 kg (100 lb.).

The Amur Tiger is reddish-rusty, or rusty-yellow in color, with narrow black transverse stripes. It is typically 5–10 cm (2–4 in) taller than the Bengal Tiger, which is about 107–110 cm (42–43 in) tall.

Amur Tigers mate at any time of the year. Gestation lasts from 3 to 3½ months. Litter size is normally two or four cubs but there can be as many as six. The cubs are born blind, in a sheltered den, and are left alone when the female leaves to hunt for food. The female cubs remain with their mothers longer, and later, they establish territories close to their original ranges. Male cubs, on the other hand, travel unaccompanied and range farther, earlier in their lives, making them more vulnerable to poachers and other tigers.

At 35 months of age, Tigers are sub-adults. Males reach sexual maturity at the age of 48 to 60 months.

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