Rare Glimpse of Red Pandas at Highland Wildlife Park

Red Panda Kit 3 weeks old 3 - credit Alyson Houston

A pair of Red Panda cubs was born recently at RZSS Highland Wildlife Park. The duo was welcomed in July by mum, Kitty, and dad, Kevyn.

Keepers say it will be a rare opportunity for visitors to catch glimpses of the two fuzzy cubs. The first four months of their lives will be spent, for the most part, safely tucked in their den with mum.

Red Panda Kits 3 weeks old 4 - credit  Alyson Houston

Red Panda Kit 3 weeks old 2- credit Corinne Pardey

Red Panda Kit 3 weeks old 1 - credit Corinne PardeyPhoto Credits: RZSS/ Alyson Houston (Images 1,2) / Corinne Pardey (3,4) / Una Richardson (5)

The Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens) is native to the eastern Himalayas and southwestern China. It is arboreal, feeds mainly on bamboo, but also eats eggs, birds, and insects.

The species has been classified as “Endangered” by the IUCN. Its wild population is estimated at less than 10,000 mature individuals and continues to decline due to habitat loss and fragmentation, poaching, and inbreeding depression.

Red Panda Kits 6 Day old kits - credit Una Richardson


Zoo Visitors Stunned With Black Rhino Birth

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Visitors to Chester Zoo were left stunned when an Eastern Black Rhino, named Malindi, gave birth in front of them.

While most Rhino births typically happen at night or in the early hours of the morning, the 12-year-old critically endangered mum shocked onlookers when she went into labour at around 12:30 in the afternoon on July 31.

A healthy male calf was delivered safely, less than half an hour later, in what zoo conservationists have described as a “very rare and special event” to witness.

This is mum, Malindi’s, second calf, and 19-year-old dad, Magadi, has sired five previous calves.

The little one was up on its feet within 15 minutes and was seen running around soon after, before returning to suckle from mum.

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4_Baby black rhino birth catches visitors by surprise at Chester Zoo (13)Photo Credits: Chester Zoo

Tim Rowlands, Curator of Mammals at the zoo, said, “Visitors to the zoo were treated to something incredibly special when Eastern Black Rhino, Malindi, went in to labour in front of them. With just 650 Eastern Black Rhino left in the wild, seeing the birth of a new calf and it’s very first steps is a very rare and special event indeed.”

“The newborn was delivered onto soft wood mulch and within next to no time it was up on its feet and running around – it couldn’t have gone any smoother.”

Rowlands continued, “Although it’s still very early days, the little one is showing great signs by feeding regularly and mum and calf appear to have bonded very quickly.”

“We just hope this new calf helps us to raise some much needed attention to this truly magnificent species, and inspires urgent action to protect their future on this planet. We cannot and must not allow this subspecies to become extinct – a fate which has, tragically, already become of some of its cousins.”

Conservationists now fear that less than 650 Eastern Black Rhino remain across Africa, with the animals listed as “Critically Endangered” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The staggeringly low wild number is a result of the illegal wildlife trade, driven by the increasing demand for Rhino horn, which supplies the traditional Asian medicine market, where it is currently changing hands for more than gold and drugs.

Mike Jordan, Collections Director at Chester Zoo, added, “This new arrival is a real boost to a critically endangered species. It increases the number of Eastern Black Rhino at Chester to 11 and is another vitally important success story in a Europe-wide breeding programme for these highly threatened animals. A thriving, healthy population of this high profile species in good zoos is vitally important to the future of this species and a key component of our mission to prevent their extinction.”

In tandem with its acclaimed breeding programme, Chester Zoo is also fighting for the survival of Eastern Black Rhino in the field and has long supported conservation efforts to protect Black Rhinos and continues to fund, and provide expertise, to numerous sanctuaries, partners and wildlife reserves in Africa.

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Trio of Komodo Dragons Debut at Denver Zoo

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A trio of 9-month-old Komodo Dragons made their public debut at Denver Zoo recently. The two males, Ryu and Bai, and one female, Saphira, currently weigh about 2 lbs. and measure 18 inches in length, but they will reach up to 9 ft. and 100 lbs. when fully grown.

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3_Baby Komodo Pic 6Photo Credits: Denver Zoo

Komodo Dragons are the largest lizard in the world and can live for more than 50 years. They are native to only five islands in southeastern Indonesia: including the islands of Komodo, Flores, Rinca and Padar.

Ryu, Bai and Saphira arrived at the Denver Zoo from the Fort Worth Zoo back in April as part of the Species Survival Program, a coordinated effort between institutions accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to ensure the survival and genetic diversity of select species, and to enhance conservation of those species in the wild. They join the Zoo’s two other adult Komodo Dragons, 15-year old Raja and 8-year-old Kristika, in the Komodo wing in Tropical Discovery.


Oklahoma City Zoo Using New Technique for Flamingos

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Caretakers at the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden are developing a new technique with a Flamingo hatchling, enabling it to benefit from group socialization and parent rearing. This new partial hand-rearing method will allow the young bird to become a better mate and parent in the future. The chick, hatched July 13, has not yet been named, and the sex has not yet been determined.

During breeding season, staff closely monitors the birds’ nests and place resulting eggs in incubators. Dummy eggs are placed back in the nests to allow the birds to demonstrate their instinctual brooding behavior. Due to a multitude of natural predators (like owls and snakes) targeting Flamingo eggs and hatchlings, chicks have traditionally been completely hand-reared by caretakers for up to a year before being introduced to the flock. Partial hand rearing allows the chick to spend days with the flock under the watchful eyes of both caretakers and volunteers and nights safely inside, removed from the threat of potential predators.

“We would much rather have all of our birds be parent-reared,” said Holly Ray, assistant curator, birds. “Hand-rearing only occurs when it’s absolutely necessary for the safety and well-being of the animal. But if we can try something that will both help the animal thrive socially and physically while preserving its safety, it’s absolutely worth doing.”

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4_OKC Zoo Flamingo Chick 4 (1 of 1)Photo Credits: Oklahoma City Zoo

Uncertain if any of the Flamingos would be interested in parenting the hatchling, caretakers watched anxiously as the chick was introduced to the flock. Caretakers placed the chick on a Flamingo mound (nest) and after about 45 minutes were able to confirm that a Flamingo pair were demonstrating parental behaviors toward the chick. This Flamingo pair was not the actual parents of the bird, so staff began referring to the duo as the chick’s foster parents. Both stay close to the chick and feed him what’s known as crop milk, a reddish, pre-digested and regurgitated meal. The female Flamingo is 22 years old. The male flamingo is 56 years old and the last remaining member of the Zoo’s original flock that arrived in 1963. The AZA reports the median life expectancy for flamingos is 25.8 years.

Zoo staff conducted an inspection of the grounds and accomplished a number of “chick-proofing” measures such as filling holes, patching walls and draining one of the pools to a level low enough for the chick to wade through safely. Caretakers are confident, however, that the hatchling will soon be swimming safely alongside the other flamingos. Although caretakers report the hatchling is adorably clumsy, the chick has proven to be extremely rambunctious and active, always exploring and investigating new sights and sounds.

Three other Flamingo chicks hatched this month and are being raised in the traditional method. During the hand-rearing process, the chicks gradually transition to different enclosures with various surfaces (sandy, grassy, muddy, etc.) the Flamingos will encounter in their natural environment. The birds are kept together, not alone. The chicks are also walked twice a day to provide adequate exercise needed for weight management, leg conditioning and overall healthy development. They will be introduced to the habitat more gradually and will be part of the flock earlier than previous years’ chicks.

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Georgia Aquarium Welcomes First 'Puffling'

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The Georgia Aquarium was thrilled to share news of their first-ever Tufted Puffin hatchling.

The fluffy, female “puffling” arrived in late July, and fans have been able to watch her grow via the Aquarium’s nesting cam. Webcams are still up and live during certain hours. Check with the Georgia Aquarium web page for more info: www.georgiaaquarium.org/

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3_DSC_0015Photo Credits: Georgia Aquarium

The Tufted Puffin (Fratercula cirrhata), also known as Crested Puffin, is a medium-sized pelagic seabird in the auk family (Alcidae) found in the North Pacific Ocean. It is easily recognizable by its thick red bill and yellow tufts.

During breeding season, seabirds such as these return to land and form large colonies made up of many different species on steep coastal cliffs.

The seabirds form monogamous pairs that produce one to two eggs each breeding season. Nesting varies by species. Tufted Puffins prefer steep, grassy slopes suitable for burrowing.

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Red Panda Cubs Get Their Third Checkup

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Woodland Park Zoo’s veterinary team recently performed a third neonatal exam on the zoo’s twin Red Panda cubs. The 5-week-old female cubs, born on June 19, have opened their eyes and weigh just under two pounds each. At birth, they weighed about five ounces each. The parents of the cubs are two-year-old mom Hazel and 13-year-old dad Yukiko.

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Unnamed (1)Photo Credit: John Loughlin/Woodland Park Zoo

We first introduced the twins on ZooBorns shortly after their second neonatal exam last month.

As a first-time mom, Hazel continues to provide attentive care in an indoor, climate-controlled den where she can nurse and bond with her cubs in a quiet environment; the den is off view to zoo guests. Yukiko does not yet have contact with his new family, but introductions will be planned in the near future.

The zoo anticipates putting Hazel and her cubs in their exhibit habitat by mid-October and the community will be invited to participate in a public naming later this summer.

Red Pandas share a name with Giant Pandas, but recent studies suggest they are closely related to Skunks, Weasels and Raccoons. An endangered species, fewer than 10,000 Red Pandas remain in their native habitat of bamboo forests in China, the Himalayas, and Myanmar. They share part of their range with Giant Pandas. Their numbers are declining due to deforestation, increased agriculture and cattle grazing, and continuing pressure from growing human populations.

Woodland Park Zoo supports the Red Panda Network, whose multi-prong approach aims to conserve this flagship species in Nepal.


Phoenix Zoo Introduces Rafiki the Giraffe

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A baby Masai Giraffe at the Phoenix Zoo now has a name! The female calf was named Rafiki after nearly 16,000 people participated in an online naming poll.

Rafiki was born on June 26 to mom Imara and dad Miguu. Under Imara’s attentive care, the calf is healthy and strong. The name Rafiki is a Swahili word meaning ‘friend.’

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36763514_10156413769819707_3290074622388600832_nPhoto Credit: Phoenix Zoo

The staff is gradually introducing Rafiki to other members of the zoo’s Giraffe herd. For now, Rafiki and Imara spend most of their time behind the scenes in the Giraffe barn, but they’ll soon be moving onto the savanna habitat.

Seven-year-old Imara arrived at the Phoenix Zoo in 2012 as recommended by the Masai Giraffe Species Survival Plan to breed with nine-year-old male Miguu. He came to Phoenix in 2010 from the Los Angeles Zoo.

Masai Giraffes are one of four species and five subspecies of Giraffes, all found in Africa. Only about 100,000 individuals are estimated to remain in the wild across the continent. Habitat loss, which occurs as wild places are degraded or converted for human use, is the main factor influencing Giraffes’ decline. The species as a whole is listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.

See more photos of Rafiki below!

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Amur Tiger Cubs Hit the Ground Running

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Four endangered Amur Tiger cubs at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo have finally taken their first steps outside.

The cubs, born June 23, were finally snapped stepping out as a family after mum, Naya, spent several days carrying them around in her mouth, one-by-one, to help them discover their surroundings. (ZooBorns shared photos of their first outing in a July feature: “Amur Tiger Mum Takes Cubs for First Outing”)

Team leader, Donovan Glyn, said, “Seeing all four of these endangered tiger cubs out and about, playing in the grass together, is the perfect way for us to begin the summer here at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. They are just as energetic and playful as one-month-old kittens would be, and we can’t wait to watch them learn and grow under their mum and dad’s watchful eyes over the next few months.”

“Naya has been such a patient, dedicated mum, picking up each cub in her mouth, and giving them little one-on-one tours of the enclosure, to help them get to know their surroundings and build their confidence.”

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4_Mum Naya and her cubs (4)Photo Credits: ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

The cubs were born only 121 days after seven-year-old tigress, Naya, arrived at the UK’s largest Zoo and was introduced to male mate, Botzman, as part of the European Endangered Species breeding Programme (EEP) which works with zoos across the continent.

Donovan Glyn continued, “There are only 500 Amur Tigers left in the wild, so we are delighted to have four incredible little Amur cubs here at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. It’s great news for the breeding programme, and we know our visitors will be thrilled to see them for themselves and learn more about the importance of protecting endangered species like these.”

The Amur Tiger (Panthera tigris altaica) is classified as “Endangered” by the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species. Thanks to the conservation efforts of organisations like ZSL (Zoological Society of London), which works with Amur Tigers in the Russian Far East, there are now an estimated 500 Amur Tigers left in the wild, ten times the number that were estimated to exist in the 1940s.

More pics below the fold!

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“For the Win!”- Tulsa Zoo Announces Giraffe Calf

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The Tulsa Zoo is proud of its latest addition, a Giraffe calf born on July 22. Mom, Lexi, and dad, Hekaya, welcomed the healthy male calf.

“The calf was active immediately, and within two hours stood and began nursing, all of which are excellent signs in such a short time period," says Zoological Curator-Mammals, Jordan Piha.

“The labor, birth and hours that followed were monitored by animal care and health staff”, Piha shared. “Keepers remained on-grounds overnight to monitor the new mother and calf, a standard practice with mammal births at the zoo.”

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3_IMG_3650Photo Credits: Associate Veterinarian Dr. Jen Kilburn, DVM / Tulsa Zoo

The Tulsa Zoo first announced the pregnancy on World Giraffe Day, June 21. At that time, the Zoo also announced completion of a million-dollar Giraffe barn renovation. The Osage Casino Hotel Giraffe Barn provides more than double the indoor space, improved facilities for staff to manage a multigenerational herd, and year-round viewing for guests.

The Tulsa Zoo temporarily closed access to the barn’s new public viewing area to give Lexi and her calf privacy for bonding. Hekaya and herd mate, Pili, a nine-year-old female, will be able to examine the new calf from the main yard. This temporary separation allows time for the calf to grow and learn to maneuver a smaller space before moving to the larger habitat with the adults, Piha says.

The young calf was recently given the name Ohe (pronounced o-He), which means, "to win". The Zoo also recently reported that their little “winner”, Ohe, is happily exploring his new world, letting the herd groom him through the fence line.

More great pics, below the fold!

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'Soon-to-be-Named' Snow Leopards Raise Funds

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Cleveland Metroparks Zoo recently announced a naming opportunity for their new Snow Leopard cub triplets that were born on April 22.

Until tomorrow, August 7, fans can cast their vote to help name the three-month-old cubs and contribute to species conservation efforts.

The naming opportunity coincides with the cubs move to the new state-of-the-art Asian Highlands destination that opened at the Zoo in June. Following several months of growth and development, the cubs and their mom, Sombra, are now ready to enjoy the larger and more complex spaces offered by Asian Highlands, including the cub yard with specially designed climbing platforms for younger cats.

To participate in the naming opportunity, guests of the Zoo and fans can cast their vote(s), in person, at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo in the Asian Highlands destination or online with a donation to Cleveland Metroparks Zoo through the Future for Wildlife Fund at www.futureforwildlife.org/cubnamin.

The cub trio is made up of two males and one female. Voters can choose from the following names:

Bodhi – meaning enlightenment

Goji – meaning goji berry, a fruit native to Asia

Nisha – meaning night

Omid – meaning hope

Zara – meaning flower

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4_38036870_10160738858630002_4342707777345421312_oPhoto Credits: Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

Funds raised will directly support Cleveland Metroparks Zoo’s conservation efforts to protect Snow Leopards in Central Asia in partnership with the Snow Leopard Trust. The cub names will be selected based on three names that receive the highest combined donation total online and on Zoo grounds. Online votes can be made at: www.futureforwildlife.org/cubnaming . Voting ends at midnight August 7, 2018.

Scientists estimate that there are fewer than 7,000 Snow Leopards remaining in the remote mountains of central Asia. Poaching, prey loss and habitat loss are the primary threats to this solitary and elusive cat.

The cub triplets were born weighing just over one pound each and now each top more than 13 pounds. The cubs will remain with their mom, Sombra, until they become independent, which typically occurs around 1.5 years of age.

More great pics, below the fold!

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