Calf Strengthens Gene Pool of Endangered Giraffe

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BIOPARC Valencia recently announced the birth of a lovely female Rothschild’s Giraffe.

The healthy calf has been spending time bonding with mom, Bulería. Father Julius and the rest of the herd have also been introduced to the almost-one-month-old Giraffe.

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4_Cobijo interior de BIOPARC Valencia - Cría de jirafa Baringo recién nacida - noviembre 2016 (2)Photo Credits: BIOPARC Valencia

The Rothschild’s Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis rothschildi), also known as the Baringo Giraffe, is one of the most threatened of the nine sub-species of giraffe. It is named after the Tring Museum’s founder, Walter Rothschild.

All individuals living in the wild are in protected areas in Kenya and Uganda.

The Rothschild’s Giraffe is at risk of hybridization and is currently classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List, due to habitat destruction and poaching. Its geographic distribution includes central Kenya, northern Uganda and southern Sudan. According to latest figures, there are fewer than 1,500 individuals in the wild.

BIOPARC Valencia participates in the EEP (captive breeding program for endangered species), and this new breeding is involved in this important initiative to preserve biodiversity.

The Rothschild’s Giraffe is distinguishable from other subspecies because of its coloring. Where as the Reticulated Giraffe has very defined dark patches, with bright channels between, the Rothschild’s has paler, orange-brown patches that are less defined. Also, the Rothschild’s has no markings on the lower leg.

This subspecies mate any time of year and have a gestation period of 14 to 16 months, typically giving birth to a single calf. They prefer to live in small herds, with adult males and females only mixing for mating. Males are larger than females and tend to be darker in color.

According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: “Current estimates of population size [of the Rothschild’s Giraffe] are well below 2,500 mature individuals, numbers are declining overall and no subpopulation is estimated to contain more than 250 mature individuals. The population is potentially close to meeting the population threshold for Critically Endangered under criterion C, depending on the number of individuals, if any, that survive in south Sudan.”


Lemur Quad Is Black-and-White…And 'Ruffed' All Over

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A pair of Black-and-white Ruffed Lemurs, at the National Zoo and Aquarium Canberra, Australia, became first time parents recently. Polo and Masina welcomed four adorable offspring in late October.

The Zoo shares the new parents’ excitement, as the babies will be important additions to the international breeding program for their species. The baby Lemurs are also the first of their species to be born at the National Zoo & Aquarium.

Keepers report that the fuzzy quadruplets are happy and healthy and are getting along well with Mum and Dad.

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4_B&W Ruffed Lemurs ZOO ACT 2016 Nov 1 (51a)Photo Credits: Image 1: Katie Ness/ National Zoo & Aquarium; Images 2,3,4,5: Rodney & Deborah Ralph

The Black-and-white Ruffed Lemur (Varecia variegata) is the more endangered of the two species of Ruffed Lemurs (both are endemic to the island of Madagascar).

The species has a complex social structure and is known for its loud, raucous calls. It is considered somewhat unusual because it exhibits several reproductive traits typically found in small, nocturnal Lemurs, such as: short a gestation period, large litters and rapid maturation. In captivity, they can live up to 36 years.

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Rare Stingray Pups On-Exhibit at Zoo Basel

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Zoo Basel welcomed nine rare Black-tailed Antenna Stingrays on November 5th. The small, yet sensational pups are doing well and can be seen in the zoo’s aquarium exhibit.

The Black-tailed Antenna Stingray (Plesiotrygon nana), also known as the Dwarf Antenna Ray, is a freshwater Stingray that is native to the rivers and sections of the rear Amazon Basin in Eastern Peru. The small Stingray was scientifically described for the first time in 2011. They are one of two recognized species in the family Potamotrygonidae (the other being the Long-tailed River Stingray).

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4_schwarzschwanz_antennenrochen_jungtier_ZO25466Photo Credits: Zoo Basel

The species does not lay eggs. Stingrays are ovoviviparous: bearing live young in litters of five to 13. The female holds the embryos in the womb without a placenta. Instead, the embryos absorb nutrients from a yolk sac, and after the sac is depleted, the mother provides uterine "milk". Shortly before the actual birth, the young press themselves out of the eggshell and are immediately independent.

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Endangered Sifaka Born at the Maryland Zoo

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The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore is pleased to announce the October 25th birth of a Coquerel’s Sifaka.

“We are so excited to have this new baby join our Sifaka troop,” stated Erin Cantwell, mammal collection and conservation manager. “Mom and baby have spent the past weeks bonding in a quiet off-exhibit area, and we have been gradually introducing them to the exhibit in the Chimpanzee Forest with Gratian and older sister Leo.”

This is the fifth offspring for The Maryland Zoo’s Sifaka pair: Anastasia (Ana), age 12, and Gratian, age 14. Their previously born offspring, Otto and Nero, were born approximately nine months apart in 2011. They eventually moved to their new home at the Duke Lemur Center in 2013. The pair’s son, Max, born in 2013, was moved to the Los Angeles Zoo in 2014. Leo, born in 2014, remains at the Maryland Zoo with her parents and new sibling.

“It’s exciting to have another baby at the Zoo and contribute to the population of this species of endangered Lemur,” continued Cantwell. “Ana is a very good mother and the baby is growing rapidly.” The gender of the baby has yet to be determined.

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3_JFB9758Photo Credits: Maryland Zoo

Sifaka are born with sparse hair and resemble tiny gremlins. In time, white hair soon grows in and they begin to resemble their parents. Newborn Sifaka ride on their mother’s belly for the first month, then graduate to riding on her back.

“By December, the baby should begin to sample solid food and crawl on Ana’s back periodically,” Cantwell said. “Before the New Year, when the baby is six to eight weeks old, he or she will begin to venture a few feet away from Mom, which is always nerve-wracking for us, but exciting for guests to watch.”

Sifaka males do not closely assist with the child rearing, although dad, Gratian, has taken a little interest in his previous offspring.

Coquerel’s Sifaka (Propithecus coquereli) are lemurs, native only to the island of Madagascar off the southeastern coast of Africa. Sifaka spend most of their lives in the treetops in two protected areas in the sparse dry, deciduous forests on the northwestern side of the island.

As with many species of Lemur, Coquerel’s Sifaka are classified as “Endangered” by the IUCN. Habitat loss due to deforestation is the leading threat to Sifaka, as is the case with many species of Lemur. Sifaka have a unique brown and white coloration, and are distinguished from other Lemurs by the way that they move. They maintain a very upright posture and, using only their back legs, leap through the treetops. They can easily leap more than 20 feet in a single bound. On the ground, they spring sideways off their back feet to cover distance.

This latest birth, at the Maryland Zoo, is the result of a recommendation from the Sifaka Species Survival Plan (SSP) coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). SSPs provide breeding recommendations to maximize genetic diversity, with the goal of ensuring the long-term survival of the captive population and the health of individual animals. The Maryland Zoo is one of only ten accredited zoos that house the 63 Coquerel’s Sifaka in the U.S.

During the winter, Zoo visitors can see Ana, Gratian, Leo and the new baby in the Sifaka exhibit inside the zoo’s Chimpanzee Forest. “The Sifaka will remain in their indoor habitat until mid-Spring when they will move to their outdoor habitat on Lemur Lane,” concluded Cantwell.


Lion Cub 'Roars' His Way Into Zoo’s Heart

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Recently, Fresno Chaffee Zoo excitedly announced the birth of an African Lion cub. The male cub was born October 11 to mom, Kiki, and dad, Chisulo.

“We are very happy to have a healthy cub. Kiki is an experienced mom and is taking great care of the cub,” stated Nicole Presley, Curator.

The little cub will bond with his mother, off-exhibit, for 8 to 12 weeks in their den. Once the cub has matured, he will join the rest of the Zoo’s small pride on-exhibit.

“Weather permitting, the cub will be on-exhibit in 8-12 weeks. Since that will be wintertime, everyone may have to wait a bit longer to see the cub.” Presley said, “We know how excited our guests are to see the new cub so in the next week, we will have video of Kiki and her new cub in the lion viewing area by the land rover.”

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In order for the new cub and its mom to bond, only limited animal staff will be allowed in the Lion house for the care of the Lions. Keepers have placed a TV monitor in the Lion viewing area, so Zoo guests can get a sneak peak of mom and baby behind the scenes. The Zoo will also provide pictures and video, via social media, throughout the weeks the family is off-exhibit.

The Zoo recently held a naming contest for the new little guy. The event was completed November 27, and staff are expected to make a formal announcement of the winning name, via social media, very soon. The naming contest was not only a fun way for visitors to be involved, it was also a chance for the Zoo to raise money for an important cause. Votes were cast by the purchase of one-dollar tokens. All of the money collected from the promotion will be donated to the Ruaha Carnivore Project, which focuses on developing conservation strategies for large carnivores in Tanzania. (For more information about the Ruaha Carnivore Project, visit www.ruahacarnivoreproject.com ).

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Baby Rhino Snuggles With Mom at The Wilds

Rhino (Greater One-Horned) Calf 0012 - Grahm S. Jones, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
A Greater One-horned Rhino – a species that nearly went extinct in the 20th century – was born at the Wilds conservation center on November 11. This is the seventh Greater One-horned Rhino to be born at the Wilds

The calf and his mom, Sanya, are doing well and have been bonding in the barn on the Wilds property. The animal care team has been monitoring the pair closely, but has not needed to provide any immediate assistance to the experienced mother. Calves usually weigh more than 100 pounds at birth and gain a few pounds every day. An adult Greater One-horned Rhino can weigh 4,000 to 6,000 pounds.   

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Rhino (Greater One-Horned) Calf 9983 - Grahm S. Jones, Columbus Zoo and AquariumPhoto Credit:  Grahm S. Jones/Columbus Zoo & Aquarium



“Rhino conservation has come a long way in the past 100 years, but there is still work to be done,” said Daniel Beetem, director of animal management at the Wilds. “Rhinos continue to be poached for the misconception that their horns have medicinal value, when the horns are the chemical equivalent of human fingernails. Rhinos also face the imminent danger of declining habitat quality. We are proud to help keep this incredible species alive through our breeding program at the Wilds.”   

Sanya, born in Toronto in 1999, has now given birth to four calves since arriving at the Wilds in 2004. The father, Rustum, was born at a zoo in India and imported to the United States in 2007 to bring genetic diversity to the Species Survival Plan (SSP), a program coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). This newborn is Rustum’s fifth offspring. 

The Wilds, home to four Greater One-horned Rhinos, is one of only 26 facilities in North America to care for this species. The Wilds is also home to 13 southern white Rhinos. In total, more than 500 animals representing 29 species from around the world make up the animal population at the open-range, natural landscape at the Wilds.  

Once listed as an endangered species, the Greater One-horned Rhino have seen a steady population increase thanks to strict government protection. According to the World Wildlife Fund, there were only 600 individuals surviving in their native ranges of India and Nepal by 1975. Since then, researchers estimate the population has grown to exceed 3,000 Greater One-horned Rhinos living in these areas.  

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Newborn Babirusa Caught on Camera

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Hidden cameras show a rare newborn Babirusa piglet snuggling with and nursing from its mother at the Chester Zoo in the video below.  Babirusas are one of the rarest pig species in the world.

The tiny male piglet, named Bukaan, was born to Kendari, age four, following a five-month-long pregnancy.  They have spent several months bonding behind the scenes and have only recently been released into their habitat.

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Babirusa piglet and mum Kendari (5)Photo Credit:  Chester Zoo



Babirusas live on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi where their numbers have plummeted to an estimated 5,000 individuals. The species was once common, but hunting for their meat and destruction of their habitat led to their disappearance from some areas of Sulawesi. 

Tim Rowlands, curator of mammals at the zoo, said, “When Kendari’s new piglet grows up he will sport a face full of twisted tusks, a large wet snout, warts and will be almost completely hairless, just like his dad, Sausu. But looks aren’t everything! This species is incredibly special and he’s ever such as important new arrival.  Babirusas are under huge pressure in Sulawesi. They’re vulnerable to extinction and Kendari’s latest piglet is a significant addition to the world’s population.” 

Zoos serve an increasingly important role as species are put at risk in the wild.  Only a handful of zoos worldwide have successfully bred Babirusas, and the offspring will play a key role in the long term conservation of the species.  Chester Zoo also supports efforts in Indonesia to preserve these rare animals.

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First Echidna Puggles in 29 Years for Taronga Zoo

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Taronga Zoo is celebrating its first successful Short-beaked Echidna births in 29 years, with keepers monitoring the progress of three healthy Echidna babies born to three different mothers.

The puggles, as baby Echidnas are called, have just opened their eyes and begun to develop their characteristic spines in the safety and warmth of their nursery burrows in Taronga’s new Echidna breeding facility.

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Puggles (7)_Photo by Paul FahyPhoto Credit:  Paul Fahy
Echidnas are notoriously difficult to breed in human care, but keepers are pleased with the progress of the tiny trio and first-time mothers, Ganyi, Spike, and Pitpa.

Echidnas are one of only two Australian mammals that lay eggs (the other is the Platypus). The puggle hatches after 10 days and is carried around by its mother in a pouch-like skin fold for up to two months. Once the puggle starts to develop spines it is deposited in a specially-constructed nursery burrow and the mother returns to feed it every 3-6 days.

“All three mothers are doing an amazing job and tending to their puggles as needed. We have one mum, Spike, who is so attentive that she returns to feed her baby every second day,” said zoo keeper Suzie Lemon.

The three puggles all hatched in August. The youngest was born to mother Pitpa, who was the last Echidna born at Taronga in 1987.

“A great deal of mystery still surrounds this spiny species. Echidnas are quite elusive in the wild, so it’s hard to study their natural breeding behaviors,” said Suzie.

Suzie said the sudden success of Taronga’s Echidna breeding program could be attributed to the newly completed breeding facility, which was designed after extensive research and consultation with other zoos and wildlife parks. The facility includes insulated nest boxes to ensure the puggles remain warm and safe as they develop.

“A day in the puggle world consists of lots of sleeping. They can be buried up to 30cm deep in their burrow, so they’ll just sleep and use all their energy to grow and develop,” said Suzie.

Keepers have begun to weigh the puggles every three days to monitor their body condition and general development. The heaviest of the trio weighs over 500 grams, while the youngest weighs about 250 grams.

“This is a big step forward for Taronga. By monitoring the puggles so closely we’ve now got a good broad understanding of their growth cycle and development,” said Suzie.

Keepers have yet to choose names or determine the sexes of the three puggles, which won’t start to explore outside their burrows until early next year.

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Baby Jaguar Attacks Pumpkins

Babette_AGBabette the baby Jaguar met her first pumpkin this week – and the event was caught on camera by Tulsa Zoo staff.

Babette has been practicing her big-cat skills (as seen in this recent ZooBorns post) and she put those formidable talents to use attacking two large pumpkins delivered by zoo keepers.   The mighty little Jaguar bit, pounced, swatted and successfully subdued the large orange vegetables.

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Babette_ag3Photo Credit:  Aaron Goodwin
Video Credit:  Beth Wegner
Why did zoo keepers give pumpkins to the Jaguars, which eat only meat?  The pumpkins served as enrichment for the cats.  Zoos provide novel items like new foods, scents, boxes, and “toys” as enrichment to stimulate animals physically and mentally. 

As a cub, Babette is naturally curious and energetic.  She has become a fan favorite since her birth was announced in September when she was about six weeks old.  Born June 29 to female Ixchel, Babette was named after her father Bebeto, who died of age-related complications in April. 

Babette will play an important role in the future of her species by someday breeding with an unrelated male as part of the Species Survival Plan managed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.  Jaguars are listed as Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to the loss of rain forest habitat in Mexico, Central America, and South America. 


BIOPARC’s New Gorilla Given Special Name

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The Western Lowland Gorilla, born August 18 at BIOPARC Valencia, was recently given a name. The zoo excitedly revealed that the little female’s name would be one that honored and gave recognition to a special place…Virunga.

Formerly known as Albert National Park, Virunga National Park is located in the eastern boundary of the Democratic Republic of Congo, bordering Uganda and Rwanda, from the mountains of the same name to the Ruwenzori Mountains. This beautiful wilderness first became a National Park in 1925 and is the most biologically diverse protected area in Africa. With an area of 7,800 square kilometers (equivalent to the province of Barcelona, Spain), treasured habitats as diverse as rainforests, savannah, lava plains, swamps, glaciers and active volcanoes make up the park.

This park is home to the Mountain Gorillas, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and in 1979 UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site. The park is also included on the list of World Heritage sites that are in danger.

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3_NOVIEMBRE 2016 La gorila Nalani y su bebé llamada VIRUNGA - cumple 3 meses en BIOPARC Valencia

4_La bebé gorila VIRUNGA junto a su padre MAMBIE en BIOPARC Valencia - noviembre 2016Photo Credits: BIOPARC Valencia

Virunga National Park is also popularly known for the movie "Gorillas in the Mist", which focused on the scientific and conservation work with Gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei), in the Virunga Mountains, done by American zoologist Dian Fossey.

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