Kittens a Boost for Scotland's Vanishing Wildcats

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Two litters of rare Scottish Wildcats born at Highland Wildlife Park could play a huge role in the conservation of this species, which is considered by some to be Europe’s rarest mammal.

The kittens’ birth is part of a conservation program and could result in the species’ eventual reintroduction to some protected areas of Scotland.

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16_07_12 20 DSC_2054_CreditAlexRidellPhoto Credits:  RZSS/Alex Riddell (1, 2, 4), RZSS/Jan Morse (3)

For several months, the kittens have been tucked safely in their dens with their mothers, but they have begun venturing outdoors recently.  The playfulness that zoo guests observe between the mothers and their babies is actually an important part of developing the kittens’ survival skills.

Also known as the Highland Tiger, this rare native species is facing the threat of extinction due to hybridization with domestic and feral Cats, habitat loss, and accidental persecution.   The species is Critically Endangered in Scotland and is the only wild Cat native to Scotland.

The zoo is partnering with other Scottish conservation organizations to develop an action plan for preserving the species.  The captive breeding program managed by the zoo provides an increasingly important safety net as the wild population of this Wildcat continues to decline.

Although some similarities with Domestic Cats exist, the two species are not to be confused. The Scottish Wildcat is an isolated sub-population of the European Wildcat, which is found in continental Europe. Wildcats prefer to live alone but will come together for breeding, normally giving birth to two or three kittens, which the mother will protect fiercely.

With their big, bushy, black-ringed tail and tenacious behavior, Scottish Wildcats play a large role in Scottish lore, and were often used in clan crests.


Zoo "Bear-ly" Able to Contain Excitement Over Cub

(1)  Belfast Zoo is celebrating the first Andean bear birth, at Cave Hill, in more than 20 years!
A little cub named Lola is the first Andean Bear birth at the Belfast Zoo in more than 20 years.

Keepers didn’t have high hopes when the Lola’s parents, Spook and Alice, were first introduced, as the two scarcely seemed to tolerate one another.

Then, in late 2015, Alice began to show signs of pregnancy.  Keepers gave Alice a private den for the latter stages of her pregnancy, and Lola was born on February 6.

(2)  Andean bears give birth in dens and remain there with the cubs for the first few months.
(4)  Lola has recently started to come out of the den to explore her enclosure.  Visitors can catch a glimpse of the bears betwe
(3)  On 6 February 2016 keepers discovered a cub.  The cub is a female and has been named Lola.Photo Credit:  Belfast Zoo

Andean Bear cubs remain in the den with their mother exclusively for several months.  On May 31, the zoo’s veterinary staff performed their first health check on the cub, confirmed her gender, and pronounced her healthy.

Now that Lola is in the Bear habitat, zoo guests are enjoying her antics as she navigates the rocks and tries out new foods. 

Andean Bears are also known as Spectacled Bears due to the light fur around their eyes, which can look like spectacles against the Bear’s darker fur.  No two bears have the same pattern.

These Bears live in cloud forests on the slopes of the Andes Mountains, stretching Venezuela to Peru.  There are eight species of Bear species worldwide, but the Andean bear is the only one native to South America. Andean Bears are listed as Vulnerable to Extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to habitat destruction and fragmentation caused by agriculture.  They are also hunted for meat and for their supposed medicinal properties.


“Spruce the Moose Is Adorable!”

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Northwest Trek recently held a naming contest for their newest Moose calf. Members of the public cast 4,337 votes in a naming survey conducted over a couple of weeks. There were three ‘tree-name’ choices up for the vote: Spruce, Douglas and Ash. And the winner is…Spruce!

Spruce, born June 12, is the second Moose born at the wildlife park near Eatonville, Washington, in the last 16 years. (See our previous article: "New Moose Calf for Northwest Trek Wildlife Park")

Spruce’s big sister, Willow, arrived last July 17 – a surprise gift on Northwest Trek’s 40th birthday.

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4_untitled (197 of 208)-X2Photo Credits: Ingrid Barrentine/Northwest Trek Wildlife Park

 

Many of Northwest Trek’s members, visitors and friends liked and commented on the naming survey on social media, giving their opinions on the choices submitted by keepers – and suggesting a few of their own. One comment, though, perfectly summed up what seemed to be the prevailing sentiment: “Awww Spruce the Moose would be adorable!” And, in fact, he is adorable.

Spruce spends his days hanging out with mother Connie, staying close but venturing out a little into the forest to munch on browse (twigs, leaves, tree branches). He also continues to nurse, and is growing quickly.

According to keepers, they just can’t haul a scale out into the woods, track down a moose and weigh him, so they have to estimate his weight. It’s approximately 50 pounds. (While nursing, a calf can gain up to three pounds a day.)

Spruce’s parents were named for Northwest Trek icons: Connie for the wildlife park’s co-founder, Connie Hellyer and his father, Ellis, was named for longtime wildlife park deputy director and conservationist, Dave Ellis. But in keeping with the wildlife park’s animal naming procedures that began a couple of years ago, Willow and the new calf will have identities that reflect the forests in which their species live.

Moose are the only residents of the wildlife park’s Free-Roaming Area that are given names.

Visitors aboard narrated tram tours of forests and meadows in the 435-acre Free-Roaming Area should keep sharp eyes out the windows, seeking a sighting of Northwest Trek’s five moose: adults Connie, Ellis, and Nancy and calves Willow and Spruce.

Continue reading "“Spruce the Moose Is Adorable!” " »


Sweet Red Panda Sisters at Denver Zoo

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Denver Zoo welcomed the birth of two Red Pandas on June 6. The female cubs, named Lali and Masu, are currently in a nesting box and are being cared for by their mother, Faith.

On rare occasion, Zoo guests may see the mother bring the cubs outside the nesting box. However, the cubs will remain mostly behind the scenes until September, when they’re more developed and ready to fully join their father, Hamlet, in the Red Panda exhibit.

Zookeepers are keeping a close eye on Lali and Masu; Zoo veterinarians perform regular exams to check weight, temperature and overall wellness.

In their first weeks of life, the cubs were not gaining weight or regulating their body temperatures. Both were diagnosed with pneumonia and started on daily tube feedings, antibiotics and fluids. They slowly began gaining weight and recovering, and are now off of treatment and doing well under the care of their mother. Recently they began opening their eyes but, as newborns do, they sleep most of the day and night.

This is a first litter for both parents. Faith, the mother, was born in June 2014, and dad, Hamlet, was born July 2013. Faith made her way to Denver from Trevor Park Zoo, and Hamlet arrived from Toronto Zoo, last year, under breeding recommendation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan.

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Red_panda_cubs_03Photo Credits: Denver Zoo

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 are currently classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

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.

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.

Red Pandas, like Giant Pandas, have very specialized diet requirements and eat a large amount of bamboo daily.

Red Pandas are part of the Global Species Management Plan (GSMP) in zoos around the world. GSMP is allied with field conservation efforts for animals around the world.


KCZoo Announces Names of Two Young Apes

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The Kansas City Zoo is proud to announce the names chosen for their adorable baby Orangutan and baby Chimpanzee, born earlier this year.

On May 23, a male Bornean Orangutan was born at the Zoo. First-time mom Josie has strong motherly instincts and has been taking great care of the little guy since his birth! Keepers say Josie’s mom, Jill, who is also at the KCZoo, taught her everything she knows about being a mom. Orangutan youngsters have long intense relationships with their mothers, so Josie will spend the next several years showing him vital Orangutan skills like how to build nests, where to find food, how to interact with others and how to use tools to forage.

A generous private donor has been given the opportunity and named this youngster “Dusty.” You can see his handsome little face along with Josie, Grandma Jill and Kali at the Zoo’s “Orangutan Canopy”.

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4_13392036_10153402920856377_378451210979909069_oPhoto Credits: Kansas City Zoo

A female Chimpanzee, at the Zoo, was born to mom Teeoni on April 1. But just days after her birth, her mother was no longer caring for her. In the best interest of the infant, Zookeepers began the challenging work of hand-raising her, providing her with round the clock care. Keepers are proud to say this three-month-old is now thriving! Always in close contact to the rest of the Chimpanzee troop, keepers are working with other potential surrogate moms for the baby when she is big enough to rejoin the group.

A longtime supporter of the Zoo has chosen a meaningful name for this little girl that symbolizes the hard work and dedication the keeper staff has put forth to raise her in the absence of her mother. She has been named “Ruw” (RUE) which is short for Ruwenzori, the nickname of the Zookeeper team that cares for Kansas City Zoo’s Chimpanzee troop.

The Bornean Orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) is a species native to the island of Borneo. Together with the Sumatran Orangutan, it belongs to the only genus of great apes native to Asia. Like the 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.

Chimpanzees (sometimes called chimps) are one of two exclusively African species of great ape that are currently extant. Native to sub-Saharan Africa, both are currently found in the Congo jungle. Classified in the genus Pan, they were once considered to be one species. However, since 1928, they have been recognized as two distinct species: the Common Chimpanzee (P. troglodytes) live north of the Congo River and the Bonobo (P. paniscus) who live south. In addition, P. troglodytes is divided into four subspecies, while P. paniscus has none. The most obvious differences are that Chimpanzees are somewhat larger, more aggressive and male dominated, while the Bonobos are more gracile, peaceful, and female dominated.

Their hair is typically black or brown. Males and females differ in size and appearance. Both Chimps and Bonobos are some of the most social great apes, with social bonds occurring among individuals in large communities. Fruit is the most important component of a Chimpanzee's diet. They can live over 30 years in both the wild and captivity.

The Kansas City Zoo allows patrons to participate in the care of their animals. Zoo fans can adopt them through the “Adopt A Wild Child Program”. Find out more on the Zoo’s website: http://www.kansascityzoo.org/aawc .

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Twenty-three Fluffy Flamingos Emerge at Chester Zoo

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Twenty-three adorable Flamingo chicks have hatched at Chester Zoo. The eleven Chilean and twelve Caribbean Flamingos started to hatch on June 9, with the last of new arrivals emerging from its egg on July 5.

Each chick hatched to a different female, as Flamingos are monogamous birds and only lay a single egg each year.

Mark Vercoe, Assistant Team Manager of the bird team at Chester Zoo said, “It’s been a really successful breeding season for the Flamingos and we’re delighted with all of the new chicks. They look like fluffy cotton wool balls with little wobbly jelly legs at the moment and it’ll be several months until their pink feathers start to show.

“For a few days after hatching the youngsters tend to stay really close to their parents but they soon grow in confidence and some have already started to wade in the water around their island independently.”

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4_Chester Zoo is tickled pink by new flamingo chicks  (8)Photo Credits: Chester Zoo

 

The Chilean Flamingo (Phoenicopterus chilensis) is a large species at 110–130 cm (43–51 in). It is closely related to the American Flamingo (Caribbean) and Greater Flamingo, with which it was sometimes considered conspecific. The species is listed as “Near Threatened” by the IUCN.

It is native to South America, from Ecuador and Peru, to Chile and Argentina, and east to Brazil. Like all Flamingos, it lays a single chalky white egg on a mud mound.

The Caribbean Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber) is a large species that was formerly considered conspecific with the Greater Flamingo, but that treatment is now widely viewed as incorrect due to a lack of evidence. It is also known as the American Flamingo. In Cuba, it is also known as the Greater Flamingo. It is the only Flamingo that naturally inhabits North America.

The Caribbean species is classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List.

Continue reading "Twenty-three Fluffy Flamingos Emerge at Chester Zoo" »


Surprise Fennec Fox Kits at Zoo Wroclaw

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Earlier in the month, Zoo Wroclaw happily announced a new litter of Fennec Fox kits. The Zoo was expecting only one, so when mom came out from her burrow with three kits following behind, you can guess keepers were excited!

The Zoo reports that the trio is doing well, and their antics have provided much entertainment. Wroclaw would like to use the announcement of this birth as an opportunity to remind people that, although they are popular in the exotic pet trade, Fennec Foxes should not be kept as pets. According to the Zoo, statistics show that "80% of Fennecs kept as pets die after only few months".

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4_DSC_0022Photo Credits: Zoo Wroclaw

The Fennec Fox or Fennec (Vulpes zerda) is a small nocturnal fox found in the Sahara of North Africa. Its most distinctive feature is its unusually large ears, which also serve to dissipate heat.

The Fennec is the smallest species of canid. Its coat, ears, and kidney functions have adapted to desert environments. Their large ears and sensitive hearing allow them to hear prey moving underground. Their diet consists mainly eats insects, small mammals, and birds.

The Fennec has a life span of up to 14 years in captivity. In the wild, their main predators are the African varieties of eagle owl. Families of Fennecs dig out dens in sand for habitation and protection, which can be as large as 120 m2 (1,292 sq. ft.) and join the neighboring dens.

Continue reading "Surprise Fennec Fox Kits at Zoo Wroclaw" »


First Photos of Hours-old Baby Rhino

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Keepers snapped these photos of a baby Southern White Rhinoceros just hours after it was born at New Zealand’s Hamilton Zoo in June.

The male calf is described as “determined” by his keepers, and an eager feeder from his mother, Kito.  This is Kito’s third calf as part of the Hamilton Zoo’s Rhino breeding program.  He weighed about 140 pounds at birth.

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Named for the Afrikaans word “weit,” which means wide, referring to the animal’s wide mouth, the Southern White Rhino was thought to be extinct in the late 19th century, but in 1895 a small population of less than 100 individuals was discovered in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa.

Today, after 121 years of successful protection and management, White Rhinos are classified as Near Threatened in the wild by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. 

Although still hunted and poached for their horns, which are believed to have medicinal qualities in some cultures, about 20,000 White Rhinos exist in protected areas and private game reserves.  Zoos play their part by showcasing animals as ambassadors for wild populations and conservation projects, as well as providing genetically sound reserve populations.

See more photos of the Rhino calf below.

Continue reading "First Photos of Hours-old Baby Rhino" »


These Bison Babies Could Have a Wild Future

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Two baby European Bison born at Scotland’s Highland Wildlife Park may one day roam eastern Europe’s natural areas as part of a program to reestablish the species, which became extinct in the wild in 1927.

The calves, one male and one female, were born at the drive-through reserve on May 13 to two different mothers.  The births are part of an international program, led by Highland Wildlife Park, to manage the zoo-dwelling Bison population and help increase the wild herds.

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16_06_28_EuropeanBison_01_kpPhoto Credit: Highland Wildlife Park

European Bison are similar to American Bison and once roamed most of eastern, central, and western Europe.  By 1927, there were no European Bison remaining in the wild, but 54 animals were living in zoos.

Since then, the European Bison has become a conservation success story.  Through managed breeding, genetic diversity has been maximized and animals have been transported from zoos to wilderness areas in eastern Europe. Bison born at Highland Wildlife Park have been translocated in the past, and a large group is set to move to Romania later this year.

When these two calves are old enough, they may join their herdmates in the wilds of eastern Europe.


New Zebra for Zoo Basel’s Africa Enclosure

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Since mid-June, the Africa Enclosure at Basel Zoo has had a new main attraction: a young Grant’s Zebra. Shortly after the birth, the mother and foal headed out into the enclosure with the rest of the herd and have since been delighting the zoo’s visitors.

Basel Zoo’s Africa Enclosure is currently attracting large numbers of visitors. The reason for this is clear: they all want to see the colt Nyati, who was born on June 19th.

This is the fifth foal that the mother Chambura (age 11) has given birth to. The father is Tibor (age 6). Nyati was born in the stall in the early hours of the morning, and a Zookeeper was fortunate enough to observe the birth.

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4_13668837_1081756421862097_8908854090968115986_oPhoto Credits: Zoo Basel

Zebras have a gestation period of one year, and births are relatively swift. While the mother lies on the floor, the rest of the herd stands guard nearby. One extraordinary characteristic is that baby Zebras are extremely active, almost straight after they are born. They stand up after little more than ten minutes, can already start to walk after another twenty minutes and, another ten minutes later, start to gallop. According to Adrian Baumeyer, curator of the Africa Enclosure, this is “vital to the animals’ survival” in the wild.

In the first few days after the birth, the mother generally keeps other members of the herd at a distance, until she has established a strong bond with the foal. On the second day after Nyati’s birth, mother and foal headed out into the enclosure with the rest of the herd. During the first week, this activity was supervised to prevent Nyati falling into the moat while learning to walk.

Foals are suckled for six to eight months. Colts have to leave the herd after one to one-and-a-half years. They are driven away by their father and, in the wild, join a group of bachelors comprising five to ten stallions, in which they remain for three to five years. After this time, the bachelors start to challenge the stallions, which lead a herd with several mares, to an even greater extent. If a stallion shows weakness, it is driven away. A new stallion then takes over the mare herd.

Basel Zoo’s Africa Enclosure is a community enclosure with Zebras, Ostriches and Hippopotamuses. It opened in July 1992. The first animals to move in were a young Hippopotamus pair and a small herd of Zebras. The Ostriches joined these one-year later. During the day, a partition exists between the Zebras and the Ostriches on one side of the enclosure and the Hippopotamuses on the other side, preventing any direct contact between the animals. At night, either the Hippopotamuses or the Zebras can then use the enclosure.

Grant's Zebra (Equus quagga boehmi) is the smallest of six subspecies of the plains Zebra. This subspecies represents the Zebra form of the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem.

Zebras are widespread in Eastern Africa. They live in the savannah and open forests. They are highly dependent on water and need to drink almost daily to survive. They primarily feed on grass, leaves and bark. A zebra’s stripe pattern is its most striking feature and as unique as a human fingerprint. The animals use this pattern to recognize each other.