Tiny Turtle Arrives for ‘World Turtle Day’

Spiny hill turtle 2 (c) ZSL

A tiny turtle made a timely debut on May 15 at ZSL London Zoo. Not only was the Spiny Hill Turtle hatchling the first ever of its kind to hatch at the Zoo, it arrived just in time for World Turtle Day on May 23*.

After keeping a close eye on the egg during its 136 day incubation period, keepers managed to capture the ‘cracking’ moment the endangered Spiny Hill Turtle came out of its shell, on a time lapse camera.

ZSL keeper, Francesca Servini, said, “The reptile team have spent four years carefully researching this fascinating turtle species so we’re very excited to have our first ever hatch at ZSL London Zoo – just in time for World Turtle Day.”

“The hatchling used its special egg-tooth to break the shell’s surface early in the morning, and it took 36 hours to completely push its way out. The egg-tooth, which is a tiny sharp white bump on the turtle’s head, will soon fall off now its job is done.”

The turtle weighed a tiny 33g at birth and measured just 61mm, although it will eventually grow to approximately 27cm in size.

Spiny hill turtle (c) ZSLPhoto Credits: ZSL London Zoo

The Spiny Hill Turtle (Heosemys spinosa) is native to lowland and hill rainforests, usually in the vicinity of small streams, from Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.

The unusual spiny shell spikes that give the turtles their name are used to deter predators and provide camouflage among their forest floor homes.

The Spiny Hill Turtle has been classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List. According to the IUCN: “…known trade volumes of the species have declined by about 50% in Indonesia recently despite high demand in the food trade. It is restricted to small and isolated populations over much of its range, although there is a lack of data for some areas.”

ZSL London Zoo is honored to be a part of the work being done to save this endangered species. According to a Zoo spokesperson, “It has been estimated that more than ten million turtles are being traded for food, traditional medicine and the pet trade each year in Asia, where this turtle originates. The husbandry research being carried out here at ZSL London Zoo is becoming increasingly important in guaranteeing the existence of these animals for the future.”

*American Tortoise Rescue (ATR), a nonprofit organization established in 1990 for the protection of all species of tortoise and turtle, is celebrating its 17th annual World Turtle Day® on May 23rd. The day was created by ATR to celebrate and protect turtles and tortoises and their disappearing habitats around the world. Now celebrated around the globe, turtle and tortoise lovers are taking “shellfies” and holding “shellebrations” in the US, Canada, Pakistan, Borneo, India, Australia, the UK and many other countries.

ATR launched World Turtle Day to increase respect and knowledge for the world’s oldest creatures. These gentle animals have been around for 200 million years, yet they are rapidly disappearing as a result of smuggling, the exotic food industry, habitat destruction, global warming and the cruel pet trade. It is a very sad time for turtles and tortoises of the world.

For more information about American Tortoise Rescue and World Turtle Day, see their website: www.worldturtleday.org


Earth Day Birth-Day for Tamandua Pup

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Reid Park Zoo celebrated a special arrival on April 22. A female Tamandua arrived on “Earth Day”, and in honor of the baby’s special birthday, she has been named Terra (Latin for “the planet earth”).

Reid Park Zoo is working in partnership with the Southern Tamandua SSP to place several of its Tamanduas, and to continue the Zoo’s breeding based upon the SSP recommendations. Reid Park Zoo’s Education Supervisor, Jennifer Stoddard, is also an education adviser for this vital program.

Though not on exhibit, the Zoo’s Tamanduas make regular appearances during education programs and formal presentations. They can also been seen going for informal walks, with the animal care staff, on zoo grounds.

Terra teddy 300 dpiPhoto Credits: Reid Park Zoo (Image 1: pup at one-month-old/ Image 2: two-weeks-old) 

The Southern Tamandua (Tamandua tetradactyla), also known as the “Collared Anteater” or “Lesser Anteater”, is a species of anteater from South America. It is native to Venezuela, Trinidad, northern Argentina, southern Brazil, and Uruguay at elevations to 1,600 m (5,200 ft.).

It is a solitary animal, found in many habitats from mature to secondary forests and arid savannas. It feeds on ants, termites, and bees. Its very strong fore claws can be used to break insect nests or to defend itself.

Mating generally takes place in the fall. Gestation ranges from 130 to 190 days, and usually one young is born. At birth, the young does not resemble its parents, its coat varies from white to black. The pup will ride on the mother's back for some time.

The species is currently classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List. Their main threat is being killed by hunters. Some hunters pursue the species with claims that the Tamanduas kill domestic dogs. They are also killed for the thick tendons in their tails, from which rope is made, and Tamanduas are sometimes used by Amazonian Indians as “organic” bug control in an effort to rid their homes of ants and termites.


Curl Up With Pallina the Armadillo

18403793_10155113573430479_1479412469551318350_oWhen a Southern Three-banded Armadillo was born at the Cincinnati Zoo this spring, keepers selected a fitting name for the golf-ball-sized female: Pallina, which happens to be the name of the small white ball in a bocce set. 

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34211244662_824faca4a5_oPhoto Credits: DJJam Photo (1), Cassandre Crawford (2,3)

Within a month of her birth on February 28, Pallina more than quadrupled her weight – the equivalent of a seven-pound newborn human weighing 32 pounds at one month of age!

Pallina is the first offspring for parents Lil and Titan and the first Armadillo born at the zoo since 2011. 

Armadillos are known for their ability to curl into a ball, using their hard outer shell to protect their face and soft underside.  The outer “armor” is made of keratin, the same material that makes up your fingernails. Southern Three-banded Armadillos are native to South America, where they inhabit parts of Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia, and Brazil and feed on a variety of insects. 

Southern Three-banded Armadillos are listed as Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Primary threats include habitat destruction as native grasslands are converted to farms. Hunting and capture for the pet trade also contribute to the Armadillos' decline.

 


Tube-nosed Bats Get a Helping Hand

2E4C9039 TWWith huge eyes, spotted wings, and tubular nostrils, Eastern Tube-nosed Bats are a unique and fascinating Australian Fruit Bat species.  Two of these little Bats are currently being cared for at the Australian Bat Clinic.

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Screenshot 2017-05-06 16.21.20Photo Credit: Rachael Wasiak/Wakaleo


Video Credit:  Adam Cox/Wakaleo

The two Bats were injured in the wild and brought to the Clinic. One of the Bats was attacked by a Kookaburra, and the other was caught in barbed wire. Once the Bats recover from their injuries, they will be released back into the wild.

It’s rare for humans to encounter these Bats, because they are shy and extremely well-camouflaged.  As fruit-eaters, Tube-nosed Bats disperse the seeds of many native and exotic fruiting trees, including fig trees.

Eastern Tube-nosed Bats live in forests along Australia’s northeastern coast.

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New Orangutan Baby Is Bright as Sunshine

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A Bornean Orangutan was born on December 5 at Zoo Krefeld, in Germany.

Proud mother, Lea, welcomed the lovely female infant. Because of the baby’s beautiful orange-red coloring, keepers decided to name her Suria, from the Malay (Sanskrit) word for “sun”.

Suria is the third infant born to Lea, and her older brother, Changi, has embraced the presence of his new sibling.

Although Suria is beginning to explore her exhibit, she still prefers to cling to the safety of her mother, as can be seen in these amazing images captured by photographer, Arjan Haverkamp.

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4_34126394090_f419fe381a_kPhoto Credits: Arjan Haverkamp

The Bornean Orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) is a species of Orangutan native to the island of Borneo. Together with the Sumatran Orangutan, it belongs to the only genus of great apes native to Asia. Like other great apes, Orangutans are highly intelligent, displaying advanced tool use and distinct cultural patterns in the wild.

The Bornean Orangutan is classified as “Critically Endangered” on the IUCN Red List, with deforestation, palm oil plantations and hunting posing a serious threat to its continued existence.

The total number of Bornean Orangutans is estimated to be less than 14% of what it was in the recent past. This sharp decline has occurred mostly over the past few decades due to human activities and development.

Species distribution is now highly patchy throughout Borneo; it is apparently absent or uncommon in the southeast of the island, as well as in the forests between the Rejang River in central Sarawak and the Padas River in western Sabah (including the Sultanate of Brunei). A population of around 6,900 is found in Sabangau National Park, but this environment is at risk.

According to Harvard University anthropologist, Cheryl Knott, in 10 to 20 years, Orangutans are expected to be extinct in the wild if no serious effort is made to overcome the threats they are facing.


Great Argus Pheasant Chicks Hatch at Chester Zoo

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A rare Pheasant, usually found in the rainforests of South East Asia, has been successfully bred at Chester Zoo for the first time. Two Great Argus Pheasant chicks hatched on May 3, after a 24-day incubation.

With Great Argus Pheasant numbers in steep decline across much of its native range, keepers at the Zoo have hailed the arrival of the young pair.

The birds, which are found on the Malaysian peninsula, south Myanmar, South West Thailand, Borneo and Sumatra, are iconic in their homeland but are threatened by hunting and habitat loss.

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4_Rare pheasant chicks hatch in Chester Zoo first  (22)Photo Credits: Chester Zoo 

Andrew Owen, Curator of Birds, said, “The Great Argus Pheasant [Argusianus argus] is under real pressure in parts of South East Asia. Like so many bird species in that part of the world, they are the victim of rapid deforestation and illegal trapping.”

“Great Argus males, in particular, are amongst the most unusual and distinctive of all birds, with their astonishingly long wing and tail feathers adorned with thousands of eye-spots. It is their beauty, which is, in part, what makes them so prized by hunters. To have two chicks hatch here for the very first time in the zoo’s long history is a great achievement; they’re certainly important young birds.”

As part of its mating ritual, the male constructs a ring on the ground out of sticks and twigs, then calls to entice a female to enter into the circle. He then performs a mating dance, culminating in him spreading his wings wide to show off a complex pattern of eyespots in his plumage.

It is these ‘eye-spots’ that give the Argus Pheasant its name: Argus Panoptes (or Argos) being a many-eyed giant in Greek mythology.

The Great Argus Pheasant has been evaluated and is currently classified as “Near Threatened” on the IUCN Red List.

More great pics below the fold!

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Bison Calves Are ‘Home on the Range’ at Bronx Zoo

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Six American Bison calves have been born at WCS’s (Wildlife Conservation Society) Bronx Zoo, and four of them are now on exhibit on the Zoo’s ‘Bison Range’.

The calves were born to a herd of seven females and one male that arrived at the Bronx Zoo from Ft. Peck, Montana in November 2016.

The herd was a historic gift from the Assiniboine and Sioux tribes. The Fort Peck Bison are from the Yellowstone National Park bloodline and are among the few pure Bison remaining. The vast majority of present-day Bison, or Buffalo, have trace amounts of domestic cattle genes, a reflection of past interbreeding efforts when western ranchers tried to create a hardier breed of cattle. (More information about the historic gift and transfer can be found at the WCS Newsroom: http://bit.ly/2qTVHvF ).

The female Bison were pregnant when they arrived at the Zoo, and the calves were born in late April. “These calves will bolster our efforts to expand our breeding program of pure Bison,” said Dr. Pat Thomas, WCS Vice President/General Curator and Associate Director of the Bronx Zoo. “They will eventually be bred with other pure Bison to create new breeding herds in other AZA-accredited zoos, and to provide animals for restoration programs in the American West.”

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4_Julie Larsen Maher_1918_American Bison and Calves_BZ_05 01 17Photo Credits: WCS/ Julie Larsen Maher

The Bronx Zoo has a long history of facilitating Bison conservation projects in the western U.S., and the birth of these calves provides a welcome boost to the Zoo’s ongoing efforts to establish a herd of pure Bison.

For more than five years, the Bronx Zoo has worked on developing a herd of pure bloodline through embryo transfer. The Bison from Ft. Peck will supplement those efforts. The bull, currently on exhibit with the females and calves, was the first American Bison born as a result of embryo transfer in 2012. (More information about the Bronx Zoo’s efforts to breed bison through embryo transfer can be found on the WCS Newsroom: http://bit.ly/2q6kji7 ).

The American Bison (Bison bison), also commonly known as the “American Buffalo” or simply “Buffalo”, is a species that once roamed the grasslands of North America in massive herds. They became nearly extinct by a combination of commercial hunting and slaughter in the 19th century and introduction of bovine diseases from domestic cattle.

However, the Bison is now an American conservation success story. In the early 1900’s, the species was on the verge of extinction: numbering fewer than 1,100 individuals, after roaming North America in the tens of millions only a century earlier. In 1907 and 1913, the Bronx Zoo sent herds of Bronx-bred Bison out west to re-establish the species in its native habitat.

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Otter Trio Debuts in Time for Mother’s Day

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A lively trio of North American River Otter pups recently made their debut at Oakland Zoo. A male and two females were born February 9, and they were introduced to the public prior to Mother’s Day weekend. According to keepers, their mom, Rose, has been doing a great job taking care of her new litter.

Zookeepers have also given names to the active pups. The boy has been named Si’ahl (“see-all”), and his sisters have been named Imnaha (“em-na-ha”) and Talulah (“ta-lou-la”).

The arrival of the pups brings the total number of North American River Otters, at Oakland Zoo, to six: their mom, dad Wyatt, and grandma, Ginger (Ginger is mother to Rose).

The pups are still nursing, but have begun eating solid foods consisting of fish and some meat.

Dad, Wyatt, is Oakland Zoo’s only adult male and was relocated to Oakland three years ago from the Abilene Zoo, in Texas, where the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) gave him a breeding recommendation.

“We are pleased to have our sixth healthy litter of Otter pups since 2011. This is Rose’s second litter, and we are happy that she is once again being a great mother to her pups. You can see Rose and her three pups daily at the Oakland Zoo, in the Children’s Zoo,” said Adam Fink, Zoological Manager, Oakland Zoo.

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4_Two and a half months old_3Photo Credits: Oakland Zoo

Zookeepers have been tracking the baby Otters’ growth and health with bi-weekly checkups, referred to as "pupdates" to Zoo staff. Rose has only very recently been venturing into the exhibit with her pups. Swimming is not instinctual; therefore, pups do not go on exhibit until they are strong enough swimmers and a certain size.

Zoo guests are now able to watch the new pups in their exhibit daily. The River Otter exhibit is located in the Wayne and Gladys Valley Children's Zoo.

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Tiny Chicken Turtles Hatch at Tennessee Aquarium

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Three Chicken Turtles hatched in mid-April at the Tennessee Aquarium. The tiny trio hatched from eggs that were laid in January by adults in the Aquarium’s ‘Delta Swamp’ exhibit.

At their initial exam, each of these hatchlings measured less than two inches long. As adults, they will grow to about 10 inches in length.

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3_baby chicken turtle with rulerPhoto Credits: Tennessee Aquarium

The Chicken Turtle (Deirochelys reticularia) is an uncommon freshwater turtle native to the southeastern United States.

The name "chicken" commonly refers to the taste of their meat, which, at one time, was popular in southern U.S. markets. The species is characterized by a long neck and unique coloring, which could also contribute to the reason for their name.

The Tennessee Aquarium’s herpetologists often point out that Chicken Turtles look as if they are wearing striped pants when viewed from behind.

Chicken Turtles are semiaquatic turtles, found both in water and on land. They prefer quiet, still bodies of water such as shallow ponds and lakes, ditches, marshes, cypress swamps, and bays. They prefer water with dense vegetation and soft substrate.

The turtles are omnivorous, eating crayfish, fish, fruits, insects, invertebrates, frogs, tadpoles, and plants. During the first year of their lives, they are almost completely carnivorous.

Eggs hatch in about 152 days. The turtles lay eggs during the winter months, with the eggs hatching in the spring. The eggs undergo diapauses: meaning, the eggs don’t develop immediately after laying as with other species of turtles.

The Chicken Turtle is currently classified as “Least Concern” by the IUCN. Populations are currently considered stable throughout their range, although they do face potential threats.

Habitat destruction reduces suitable habitat for foraging, migration, and hibernation. Chicken Turtles are sometimes killed while crossing roadways, as they migrate between habitats.


Umi the Newborn Tapir Gets Her First Exam

Baby_tapir-Umi_01Denver Zoo is happy to announce the birth of Umi, an endangered Malayan Tapir. The female calf, whose name means “life” in Malayan, was born to mother Rinny and father Benny early in the morning on May 6. She is only the third Malayan Tapir ever  born at the Denver Zoo. 

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Rinny has already proven to be a very patient mother, calmly making sure Umi is nursing successfully. Rinny was born at Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo and Benny, who was born at the City of Belfast Zoo in Ireland were paired under recommendation of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) which ensures healthy populations and genetic diversity among zoo animals.

Though they are most closely related to Horses and Rhinos, Tapirs are similar in build to Pigs, but significantly larger. Malayan Tapirs have a large, barrel shaped body ideal for crashing through dense forest vegetation. Their noses and upper lips are extended to form a long, prehensile snout, similar to a stubby version of an Elephant’s trunk. Malayan Tapirs are the largest of the four Tapir species. As adults, they can stand more than three feet tall and are six to eight feet long. Adult Tapirs weigh between 700 and 900 pounds. They are excellent swimmers and spend much of their time in water. They can even use their flexible noses as snorkels!

As adults, Malayan Tapirs have a distinctive color pattern that some people say resembles an Oreo cookie, black in the front and back, separated by a white or gray midsection. This provides excellent camouflage that breaks up the Tapir’s outline in the shadows of the forest. By contrast, young Tapirs have color patterns that more resemble brown watermelons, with spots and stripes, which help them blend into the dappled sunlight and leaf shadows of the forest to protect them from predators.

Malayan Tapirs are the only Tapir native to Asia. Once found throughout Southeast Asia, they now inhabit only the rain forests of the Indochinese peninsula and Sumatra. With a wild population of less than 2,000 individuals, they are classified as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), due to habitat loss and hunting.