Zoo Keepers Make It Rain For Endangered Frog

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Paignton Zoo Environmental Park has bred a Critically Endangered frog for the very first time.

Keepers from the charity’s Lower Vertebrates and Invertebrates Department used artificial rainstorms to help set the mood for the Lemur Leaf Frog, a species found mainly in the rainforests of Costa Rica and Panama.

Paignton Zoo is one of only four collections in the UK working with this species. Keeper Andy Meek, from the Lower Vertebrates and Invertebrates Department, explained, “We have a total of 18 tadpoles, a number of which have now become full froglets. We also have 10 adults. The species is Critically Endangered. There is a studbook currently being set up to manage this species in Europe. This is a first for Paignton Zoo, so I’m really pleased.”

The keepers prepared a rain chamber using a water pump and a timer system to make it rain every few hours during the day. The rainfall and the humidity together helped to replicate the sort of conditions the frogs would encounter at the start of the wet season, which is when they breed.

This is a tiny but welcome success in the face of the huge extinction crisis facing amphibians.

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3_2016 09 PZ adult lemur leaf frog 1Photo Credits: Paignton Zoo

The Lemur Leaf Frog (Agalychnis lemur) is a slender, lime-green frog with bulging eyes and no webbing on hands and feet. It is a nocturnal tree frog associated with sloping areas in humid lowland and montane primary forest.

Their eggs are usually deposited on leafs; the larvae wash off or fall into water.

This endearing little frog also has a trick up its sleeve: it can change color. Light green during the day, and it turns a less obvious reddish-brown at night when it is active.

It was once considered to be reasonably common in Costa Rica, but most populations have now disappeared. The species is classified as “Critically Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The huge declines are probably due to the chytrid* fungus, which is decimating amphibians around the world.

(*Chytridiomycosis is an infectious disease in amphibians, caused by the chytrid Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, a nonhyphal zoosporic fungus. Chytridiomycosis has been linked, by experts, to dramatic population declines and extinctions of species in western North America, Central America, South America, eastern Australia, and Dominica and Montserrat in the Caribbean.)


Endangered Nocturnal Rodent Born at Chester Zoo

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A highly unusual animal has been bred at Chester Zoo, boosting the European population of this endangered species.

A Giant Jumping Rat was born in July to mum, Rokoto. The new youngster, whose sex is currently unknown, has only now started to venture out from its nest. This is the first time Chester Zoo has bred this unique species.

The Giant Jumping Rat (Hypogeomys antimena) is a large, nocturnal rodent, which conservation experts say is threatened with extinction in the near future because of habitat loss, introduced disease and predation by feral dogs.

Keepers at Chester Zoo hope that the charming new arrival will help change perceptions about the charismatic animal, which has traits similar to those of a kangaroo, and in turn boost public support for conservation efforts.

Chester Zoo breeds endangered jumping rat (2)Photo Credits: Chester Zoo

 Giant Jumping Rats are only found on the island of Madagascar, and as a result have evolved with unique attributes possessed by no other species of rat.

The species, which can grow to the size of a small dog, only jumps on very rare occasions but has the spectacular ability to leap almost one metre into the air.

They are now restricted to a tiny part of the country’s western coast and are listed as “Endangered” on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN’s) Red List of Threatened Species.

Also known as Malagasy Jumping Rats, they form lifelong monogamous pairs, unlike other rodents. They reproduce very slowly, normally only having two babies a year. As their name suggests, their back feet are adapted for jumping and are large in comparison to their front feet.

When foraging for food, the rats move on all fours, searching the forest floor for fallen fruit, nuts, seeds, and leaves. They have also been known to strip bark from trees and dig for roots and invertebrates.

As well as being part of a carefully managed breeding programme, working to establish a healthy safety-net population of the endangered rats in Europe, Chester Zoo is also actively working in Madagascar to help protect the forests where the animals live. Working with conservation partner Madagasikara Voakajy, much of the Zoo’s work is focused on engaging local communities and persuading them that the forests, and the wildlife that live there, are worth protecting.


Doubly Adorable Capuchin Monkeys at Münster Zoo

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The Golden-bellied Capuchin is highly threatened with extinction. Münster Zoo houses the largest breeding group in Germany and the second largest in Europe!

On August 6th and 11th, the Zoo welcomed two new infants to their troop. This is an encouraging breeding success because Golden-bellied Capuchin are considered, by some, to be the most intelligent monkeys in South America, and they are currently classified as “Critically Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

A mere 194 Golden-bellied Capuchin live in 21 facilities throughout Europe. The Münster Zoo is home to 16 of the monkeys, making it the largest breeding group of Germany. The Zoo’s Capuchin troop is the second largest in Europe, behind La Vallée de Singes in France, which is home to 17 of the monkeys.

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3_NL I_2016_09_Gelbbrustkapuziner nahPhoto Credits: Münster Zoo

The Golden-bellied Capuchin (Sapajus xanthosternos), also known as the Yellow-breasted or Buffy-headed Capuchin, is a species of New World monkey.

Although there are differences between individuals, as well as between the sexes and across age groups, S. xanthosternos is described as having a distinctive yellow to golden red chest, belly and upper arms. Its face is a light brown, and its cap, for which the capuchins were first named, is a dark brown/black or light brown.

Capuchins are diurnal and arboreal. With the exception of a midday nap, they spend their entire day searching for food. At night, they sleep in the trees, wedged between branches.

They feed on a vast range of food types and are more varied than other monkeys in the family Cebidae. They are omnivores, and consume a variety of plant parts such as leaves, flower and fruit, seeds, pith, woody tissue, sugarcane, bulb, and exudates, as well as arthropods, mollusks, a variety of vertebrates, and even primates.

Capuchin monkeys often live in large groups of 10 to 35 individuals within the forest, although they can easily adapt to places colonized by humans. Usually, a single male will dominate the group and have primary rights to mate with the females of their group. The stabilization of group dynamics is served through mutual grooming, and communication occurs between the monkeys through various calls.

Capuchins can jump up to nine feet (3 m), and they use this mode of transport to get from one tree to another. They remain hidden among forest vegetation for most of the day, sleeping on tree branches and descending to the ground to find drinking water.

Females generally bear young every two years, following a 160- to 180-day gestation. The young cling to their mother's chest until they are larger, when they move to her back. Adult male Capuchins rarely take part in caring for the young. Juveniles become fully mature within four years for females and eight years for males. In captivity, individuals have reached an age of 45 years, although natural life expectancy is only 15 to 25 years.

Populations of Golden-bellied Capuchin are restricted to the Atlantic forest of Southeastern Bahia, Brazil, due possibly to high degrees of interference from humans. Historically they probably would have inhabited the entire area east of, and north to, the Rio São Francisco.

The largest continuous area of forest in its known range, the Una Biological Reserve in Bahia, is estimated to contain a population of 185 individuals.

The main reason for the threat to this subspecies is the large-scale destruction of their habitat in eastern Brazil. The local coastal forests were cleared to a great extent and exist only in the form of small remnants. Another danger is the hunting. Within the last 50 years the total population of Golden-bellied Capuchin has gone back more than 80 percent. There are some groups in protected areas, but many of these deposits are too small. Therefore, a breeding program by the Brazilian government, in collaboration with the World of Zoos (WAZA), has been launched.


Angolan Colobus Baby Is a First for Jacksonville Zoo

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Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens welcomed the birth of an Angolan Colobus monkey on May 27. The infant was the first for mother, Moshi, and sixth for father, Andy.

Although the species was introduced to the Florida facility in 2008, this is the first time an Angolan Colobus has been born at the Zoo.

The female infant is continuing to do great. Keepers have noticed her jumping and climbing, while Mom supervises nearby. Her hair also continues to change, from the all white coloring from birth, to black and white as she grows!

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4_14409639_10154577826298336_7544370695060126542_oPhoto Credits: Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

Angolan Colobus monkeys (Colobus angolensis), native to the dense rainforest of the Congo, have a black coat and face with a mantle of long white hair and a white tip on their tails. Colobus newborns, however, are born solid white and the coat gradually turns to adult colors during the first six months of life.

An interesting aspect of Angolan Colobus family dynamics is that females of the group co-mother infants. Moshi is getting help from her older sister, Mkia, who is an experienced mother and often seen holding and grooming the babe.

Moshi and the infant are both doing well and are often observed nursing and napping together. The family is easily visible from the African boardwalk where they are housed across form the lions. They share their habitat with four Ring-tailed Lemurs and one Black-and-white Ruffed Lemur.

In the wild, they feed predominantly on leaf material, supplemented by fruits and seeds. In the Zoo they are fed a scientifically formulated chow supplemented with fresh greens, fruits, forage mix and vegetables. Keepers also provide fresh cut vegetation as part of their daily diet.

The gestation period of the Angolan Colobus ranges from 147 to 178 days, and a single offspring is generally born, though twins are possible. Infants are born strikingly white, and then turn grey and black. By six months of age, they change to the adult coloration of black and white. They are born throughout the year, but a birth peak is seen in September and October.

Of the twelve currently recognized Colobus species, one is near threatened, three vulnerable, three endangered, and two critically endangered. Angolan Colobus are not currently considered endangered and may be fairly abundant in parts of their range. However, they are vulnerable to habitat destruction and have suffered extensively by hunting for bush meat and skins, especially in highly populated areas. Populations are declining fairly rapidly in some areas, such as the Kakamega forest in Kenya.

The Angolan Colobus is officially classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

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Now Hear This: Red Panda Cubs Make Their Debut

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A Red Panda cub appears to give its twin an earful as they make their media debut last week at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo.   The cubs were born on June 27, but they’ve still got a lot of growing to do before they enter their exhibit habitat to meet zoo guests.

The cubs, one male and one female, are named Ravi, which means “king,” and Amiya, translated as “delight.” Second-time mother Tabei has been caring for the cubs in an off-exhibit nest box since their birth. Their father, Ketu, is a second-time dad.

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RGZ Red Panda Cub 2016 -4Photo Credit:  Maria Simmons



Zoo keepers have been conducting regular weight and wellness checks to monitor the cubs’ growth and health. Daily observations will continue until they are weaned around five to six months of age.  Right now, the cubs have opened their eyes and can move about, but aren’t quite ready to climb out of the nest box. 

In the wild, Red Panda cubs begin leaving the nest for short periods when they are about three months old. 

As an accredited zoo, The Rosamond Gifford Zoo is part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan (SSP) for Red Pandas.

“The successful birth of these cubs is important to the North American population and comes after careful planning and preparation by our animal staff on the recommendation of the SSP. We are thrilled to share this good news and remain optimistic that the cubs will continue to thrive under their mother’s care,” says Zoo Director Ted Fox.

Red Pandas are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, with less than 10,000 individuals remaining in the eastern Himalayas and southwestern China. The loss of nesting trees and bamboo due to deforestation has caused a decline in their numbers.

 


Visitors Watch Blesbok Give Birth

2BIOPARC Valencia - blesbok recién nacido - sept 2016 (2)Visitors to Spain’s BIOPARC Valencia on September 20 got a big surprise when a Blesbok gave birth to a calf in its zoo habitat.

Zoo guests watched the entire natural birthing process as the female Blesbok paced during her labor, then lay down to deliver the calf. 

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BIOPARC Valencia - Nacimiento de un blesbok a la vista de los visitantes - 2016 (3)Photo Credit:  BIOPARC Valencia



The little calf was alert from the moment it was delivered and positioned itself perfectly so mom could clean it off.  After a few unsuccessful attempts, the calf finally stood on wobbly legs.  The whole process was over in just a few minutes.

Because the delivery went smoothly, zoo staff members saw no need to intervene or assist with the birth.

In nature, these antelope live on South Africa’s grassy plains.  A prolonged labor and delivery could leave the mother open to predation by lions or hyenas.  The same is true for a newborn Blesbok calf – it must be able to walk and follow its mother within a few minutes of birth or be targeted by a predator.

Blesbok nearly became extinct about 150 years ago due to overhunting.  New hunting regulations allowed Blesbok numbers to increase, and the species is no longer threatened with extinction. 


First Prehensile-tailed Porcupine Birth for Zoo

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The El Paso Zoo welcomed a new baby into their South American Pavilion exhibit. A Prehensile-tailed Porcupine was born on September 16 to mom, Flower, and dad, Vito.

This is first offspring for the parents and the first baby Prehensile-tailed Porcupine born at the Zoo.

El Paso Zoo keepers are waiting to name the baby porcupine (or porcupette) as soon as the sex is determined in a few weeks.

“Animal care staff were excited getting ready for the first Prehensile-tailed Porcupine birth at the Zoo since they confirmed the pregnancy,” said Collections Supervisor, Tammy Sundquist. “It’s always a joy getting to watch a baby grow and the animal care staff is monitoring Flower and baby closely.”

Flower and her baby are bonding behind the scenes and will be on exhibit next month.

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4_holding onPhoto Credits: El Paso Zoo

The Prehensile-tailed Porcupines (Coendou prehensilis) are native to Central and South America. They are closely related to the other Neotropical tree porcupines (genera Echinoprocta and Sphiggurus).

Among their most notable features is the prehensile tail. The front and hind feet are also modified for grasping. These limbs all contribute to making this species an adept climber, an adaptation to living most of their lives in trees.

Prehensile-tailed Porcupines fee on leaves, shoots, fruits, bark, roots, and buds. Because of their dietary preferences, they can be pests of plantation crops.

They make a distinctive "baby-like" sound to communicate in the wild.

Very little is known about how these porcupines court each other, and they also have no regular breeding season.

A female usually gives birth to a single offspring. The baby is hairy, reddish-orange, and weighs about 14 ounces at birth. They are born with eyes open and can climb almost immediately. The spines will harden within about one week of birth, and in time, the baby porcupine will change color.

Females nurse their young until about 3 months of age. The young will reach adult size in less than a year and will reach sexual maturity in less than two years.

Adults are slow moving and will roll into a ball when threatened on the ground. The record longevity is 27 years old.

This birth is part of a breeding recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan® (SSP) to aid in the species’ conservation. Prehensile Tailed Porcupines are not listed as threatened or endangered, but they are pressured by habitat loss and killed in parts of their range by hunters.

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Chester Zoo’s Otter Pups Learn to Swim

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Five baby Otters have been thrown in at the deep end, while being taught how to swim, by their parents at Chester Zoo.

Mum, Annie, and dad, Wallace, took their new pups for their first proper dip in the water. The new pups recently emerged from their den, with their parents, for the first time since the quintet was born July 8th.

The new litter of Asian Short-clawed Otters, which currently weigh between 450g and 612g, is made up of two boys and three girls; all yet to be named by their keepers. This is the first litter for two-year-old Annie and four-year-old Wallace.

Fiona Howe, assistant otter team manager at the zoo, said, “While Otters might seem like born naturals in the water, even they need to be taught the basics in the early stages of their lives.

“Asian Short-clawed Otters are a highly social species and learning to swim is a real family effort. Mum Annie and dad Wallace have both been working together and, now that they are confident that each of the pups are ready to start swimming, they’ve been taking them by the scruffs of their necks and dropping them in at the deep end. All five of them are getting to grips with the water really, really quickly.

“Annie and Wallace are first time parents but they’re doing a fab job, sharing with the daily care of the pups, including grooming, babysitting and feeding.”

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4_Chester Zoo’s cute new otter pups given their first swimming lessons by mum Annie and dad Wallace (26)Photo Credits: Chester Zoo

Asian Short-clawed Otters, which are found in various parts of Asia from India to the Philippines and China, are listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as “Vulnerable” to extinction. Experts believe the species is likely to soon become endangered, unless the circumstances increasing the threat to its survival improve.

Sarah Roffe, otter team manager, added, “Many of the wetlands where Asian Short-clawed Otters live are being taken over by humans for agricultural and urban development, while some otters are hunted for their skins and organs which are used in traditional Chinese medicines.

“It has led to a decline in their numbers - a rapid decline in some regions - and they are now listed as one of the world's most vulnerable species. That's why it's so important to support conservation projects to safeguard the future of this important species.”

As well as a successful record with breeding exotic Otter species, Chester Zoo has also helped fund research and conservation projects in Cheshire to monitor and safeguard native otter populations, which are distant relations of the Asian Short-clawed species.

The new pups are welcome addition to the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme, a carefully managed scheme overseeing the breeding of zoo animals in different countries.

The species is also sometimes to referred to as the Oriental Small-clawed Otter, or Small-clawed Otter. As their name suggests, they have short but very flexible, sensitive claws, useful for digging, climbing and also for grabbing and holding on to prey. They are the smallest of all otters, and in the wild, they live in small groups across Asia from India and Nepal to the Philippines, Indonesia, China, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.

They mainly eat crabs, other water creatures and fish.

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Endangered Piglets Born at Brevard Zoo

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On September 10, a 14-year-old Visayan Warty Pig, at Brevard Zoo, gave birth to two piglets.

The new mom, named Fancy, was born at San Diego Zoo but has spent most of her life at Brevard Zoo in Melbourne, Florida. She currently shares her exhibit with two adult pigs: male, Pandan, and female, Makinna. Pandan is the father of the new piglets.

Because their exhibit is closed until next year for renovations, guests will not be able to view the piglets for several months. However, the Zoo promises to keep fans updated with plenty of pictures and videos on social media. The sex of the piglets is not known, and therefore, the duo has not been named.

“Zoo guests often mistake them for domestic pigs or wild boars,” said Michelle Smurl, Director of Animal Programs. “But they’re actually members of a distinct species on the brink of extinction.”

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3_160916015Photo Credits: Brevard Zoo

The Visayan Warty Pig (Sus cebifrons) is a species endemic to two of the Visayan Islands in the central Philippines.

They are threatened by habitat loss, hunting and conflicts with farmers. Hybridization with domestic pigs has caused further problems. Once found across six islands, populations are now believed to exist on only two. Visayan Warty Pigs are classified as “Critically Endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.

Due to the small numbers of remaining species in the wild, little is known of their behaviors or characteristics outside of captivity.

The Visayan Warty Pig receives its name from the three pairs of fleshy "warts" present on their visage. Experts speculate that the reason for the warts is to assist as a defense against the tusks of rival pigs during fighting. The boars also grow stiff hair.

Visayan Warty Pigs tend to live in groups of four to six. Their diet mainly consists of: roots, tubers, and fruits that can be found in the forest. They may also eat cultivated crops. Since local farmers have cleared approximately 95% of their natural habitat, the propensity of the pigs to eat cultivated crops has risen dramatically. Also, land that is cleared for farming is often unproductive for a few years. Therefore, the food sources of the Visayan Warty Pig are extremely limited, a factor that has contributed significantly to the pig’s dwindling numbers.

Visayan Warty Piglets are often seen during the dry season, between the months of January and March, in their native habitat of the western Visayan Islands. The average number of piglets, per litter, is three to four.


Malayan Tiger Cubs Debut at Bronx Zoo

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Two rare Malayan Tiger cubs, born at WCS’s Bronx Zoo, are making their public debut.

The female cubs, Nadia and Azul, were born in January. This is the third litter of Malayan Tigers born at the Bronx Zoo.

In the days following the birth, their mother was not providing suitable maternal care, so Bronx Zoo keepers intervened and hand-raised the cubs until they were fully weaned.

“The majority of animals born at the Bronx Zoo are raised by their parents,” said Jim Breheny, WCS Executive Vice President and Director of the Bronx Zoo. “But in certain cases, the moms need help raising offspring. Our keepers did a wonderful job raising the Malayan Tiger cubs through the critical first few months of their lives. As the cubs mature, they are learning ‘how to be tigers’ and following their instincts and developing the skills and behavior of adult tigers. The transition process form cub to young adult is amazing to witness.”  

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4_Julie Larsen Maher_4587_Malayan Tiger Cubs_TM_BZ_08 29 16Photo Credits: Julie Larsen Maher / WCS Bronx Zoo

 

Initially, the cubs required 24-hour care and were bottle-fed a milk formula every three hours. Food intake was carefully recorded, and the cubs were weighed daily to ensure they gained an appropriate amount of weight.

The cubs were fully weaned by 40 days of age, at which time they began to be slowly introduced to sights, sounds, and smells of adult tigers.

After being allowed to properly acclimate to the off-exhibit holding areas at the Tiger Mountain exhibit, the cubs began exploring the expansive outdoor exhibit space.

Initially, the cubs will be on exhibit at Tiger Mountain for a few hours each day. That time will gradually increase as they continue to become more comfortable in their habitat. Exhibit times may vary.

Jim Breheny continued, “These two cubs are ambassadors for their species. With an estimated 250 Malayan Tigers remaining in the wild and fewer than 70 in accredited North American zoos, these cubs give us an excellent opportunity to introduce our visitors to the treats Malayan Tigers face in the wild and what the Bronx Zoo and WCS is doing to help guarantee the survival of the species.”

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