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.
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.
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.
Photo 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.
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.”
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.
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.”
Photo 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.
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.”
Photo 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.”
Two rare reptile species native to two delicate island ecosystems—the Black Tree Monitor, native to the Aru Islands off the coast of Papua New Guinea; and the Mossy Leaf-tailed Gecko, native to Madagascar—have reproduced at the San Diego Zoo and offer hope for two little-known, yet important species.
Photo Credit: San Diego Zoo
Four Black Tree Monitor babies hatched from eggs laid in January and are the first ever hatched at the zoo. The young lizards weigh about two-fifths of an ounce each, and are doing well.
Black Tree Monitors live in the hot, humid forests and mangrove swamps of the Aru Islands off the coast of Papua New Guinea. They are dependent on the forest canopy to survive, but most of the regional forest on the Aru Islands has already been lost. Other threats to the species include the pet trade and non-native predators, such as foxes and cats. With the threats the Black Tree Monitor faces in the wild, establishing insurance populations in accredited zoos will help ensure the survival of the species.
Mossy Leaf-tailed Geckos face similar challenges in the wild, and have also experienced recent breeding success. The zoo received a confiscated group of mossy Leaf-tailed Geckos in 2010. The geckos have since produced eight hatchlings, with several generations now thriving at the zoo.
Leaf-tailed Geckos have evolved to resemble leaves, blending into their forest surroundings to avoid predators and better ambush their insect prey. However, more than 80 percent of Madagascar’s forests have been decimated by logging, agriculture, housing development and other human activity, threatening the future of the species. With these ongoing threats, keeping healthy satellite populations outside of Madagascar is increasingly important as a safeguard against extinction.
Found abandoned and separated from his mother, Frankie the orphaned Numbat is receiving expert care from keepers at Australia’s Perth Zoo.
Photo Credit: Perth Zoo
Estimated to be about six to seven months old, Frankie is too young to survive on his own. Keepers have been working around the clock, feeding this baby Numbat more than five times a day. He eagerly laps up milk from a tiny bowl. He eats well and is gaining strength every day.
Frankie is so small that he fits right into his keepers’ hands. They describe him as exceptionally relaxed and confident for a wild Numbat.
This little orphan was brought to the zoo by a Project Numbat, community group dedicated to saving this endangered species. The Perth Zoo has the world’s only Numbat breeding program.
Numbats are marsupials – after birth, their young nurse and develop inside the mothers’ pouch. Adults weigh about one to two pounds and feed exclusively on termites. They are currently found in only a few small colonies in Western Australia. Only about 1,000 Numbats are believed to survive in the wild.
The ‘purr-fect’ cubs were born on May 26. They spent the first couple of months safely tucked in their den and have now started to wander out to explore their large outdoor enclosure.
The cubs were born to mum, Dimma, and father, Switch. They are the fifth consecutive litter of cubs reared by the Lynx pair. The cubs from previous years have moved on to other zoological collections as part of a coordinated breeding programme.
Vickie Larkin, Carnivore Team Leader at RZSS Highland Wildlife Park, shared, “We are incredibly pleased to have had Lynx cubs again this year. The cubs are doing well and are extremely playful. Dimma and Switch arrived at the Park in 2012 and have had a litter of cubs every year since their arrival, which is testament to the team’s husbandry experience as well as their spacious enclosure.”
Photo Credits: RZSS/Alex Riddell
The adorable feline trio can be seen playing and tumbling about their enclosure at the Park. Whilst initially nervous when they first left their den, they have become more confidant and have been adventurously exploring and playing in their enclosure.
For the second time in less than two months, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden welcomed a new addition to their Masai Giraffe herd. Five-year-old mom, Jambo, delivered a calf on September 13, in her indoor stall after about two hours of labor.
“Jambo has been on 24-hour baby watch since August 22. Zoo Volunteer Observers (ZVO)’s reported restlessness and pacing starting a little before midnight, hooves out at 12:50, face at 1:20 [a.m.] and baby on the ground 25 minutes later. She stood and nursed within the first hour after birth,” said Christina Gorsuch, Curator of Mammals at the Cincinnati Zoo. “Mom stood rock solid for nursing all night, which is exactly the behavior you hope to see.”
Visitors may get to see the baby as soon as this weekend! Vets will soon do a physical exam and, if all is well and weather cooperates, the females and babies could head outside in a few days.
The new father, Kimba, will be outside in the new bull yard at first but will be reunited with the full group in a week or two.
“Jambo must have been paying attention when Cece gave birth in July,” said Cincinnati Zoo Director Thane Maynard. “First-time moms don’t always know what to do with their babies, but Jambo has been watching Cece and Cora and seems at ease around her calf.”
The Cincinnati Zoo’s history with Giraffe births dates back to 1889 when it became the first zoo in the Western Hemisphere to produce a baby Giraffe. This is the 15th Giraffe born in Cincinnati.
Photo Credits: Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
After nearly 15 months of gestation, a baby Giraffe drops to the ground headfirst! The fall and the landing do no hurt the calf, but they do cause it to take a big breath. To prepare for the birth, keepers added 6-8 inches of sawdust in Jambo’s indoor stall and placed hay on top of large rubber mats to cushion the calf’s fall and to provide excellent footing for the calf once it began to stand. The outside yard was also baby-proofed with canvas.
Jambo came to the Cincinnati Zoo in 2013 from the Louisville Zoo on a breeding recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan (SSP). Her mate, Kimba, came to Cincinnati in 2008, from the Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence, Rhode Island. He has sired five calves: three with Tessa, one with Cece, and one with Jambo.
The Masai Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi), also known as the Kilimanjaro Giraffe, is the largest subspecies and tallest land mammal. It is native to Kenya and Tanzania.
The Masai Giraffe is often darker than other subspecies. Its blotches are large, dark brown, leaf-shaped with jagged edges, and separated by irregular, creamy brown lines.
Unlike many species, there is no true breeding season for the Masai Giraffe and females can become pregnant beginning at just four years of age. In the wild up to 75% of the calves die in their first few months of life, mainly due to predation.
According to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, the Masai may be the most populous of the Giraffe subspecies. There is an estimated fewer than 37,000 remaining in the wild, (though recent reports of significant poaching would suggest it likely to be significantly less) and approximately 100 individuals kept in zoos.
Habitat loss, poaching, disease and civil unrest pose the most significant threats to wild Giraffe.
The cub’s keeper, Becky Waite, remarked, “This little cutie was quite a handful. The vet check went very well and I am happy to report that he’s a boy and is very healthy! He now has a microchip for lifelong identification.”
The cub, which has been named Koda (meaning 'little bear'), was born on July 10th to mum, Jai-Li, and dad, Lang Za. This is mum’s seventh cub; she has had three sets of twins in previous years, but this year she’s had just one.
Koda is now two months old, and in another month, he should achieve his full adult coloring. He will also start eating solid foods at that point, weaning at around six to eight months of age.
Director Alison Hales commented, “Paradise Park participates in the Red Panda European captive breeding programme, and this cub is a valuable addition. Swapping with other collections keeps the captive population healthy in case there might be a need for reintroductions in future years.
“One of our cubs from last year, Rusty, recently moved Krefeld Zoo in Germany to join a mate, and at the same time, we welcomed Suri who came from Port Lympne Reserve, the wildlife sanctuary in Kent.
“After a successful trial at the beginning of 2016, we plan to re-introduce Red Panda Experiences for 2017. These events raise money for the Red Panda Network, which is committed to the conservation of wild Red Pandas and their habitat, through the education and empowerment of local communities. So keep an eye on our website www.paradisepark.org.uk and Facebook/Twitter pages for more news.”
In the wild, the Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens) inhabits the Himalayan mountains of China, India and Nepal, where they are threatened by habitat destruction and hunting.
They live among bamboo forests and spend much of their time in trees. The Red Panda communicates with squeaks, chattering noises and chipmunk-like sounds.
Although it shares the same name, the Red Panda is not related to the Giant Panda. In fact, the Red Panda is not related to any other animals, making it unique.
Red Pandas are solitary animals, and they only really ever come together to breed. As with the Giant Panda, female Red Pandas are only fertile for just one day a year and can delay implantation until conditions are favorable. They give birth to between one and four young at a time, and the cubs are born with pale fluffy fur, which darkens to the distinctive red coloration of the adults over the first three months.
Cubs stay with their mother until the next litter is born the following summer. Males rarely help raise their young.
About two-thirds of their food intake is made up of bamboo. Bamboo is not the most nutritious of foods, so they have to eat a lot of it to survive. As bamboo is relatively low in calories, Red Pandas tend to spend much of their time either eating or sleeping.
The species has been classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List since 2008. The global population is estimated at about 10,000 individuals, with a decreasing population trend.
One way to help is by joining the www.redpandanetwork.org to spread the word, adopting a Red Panda or sponsoring a Forest Guardian. These guardians conduct awareness-building workshops in local villages and schools, do research for the Red Panda Network and establish community-based protected areas.