Up Close and Fuzzy With a Baby Sloth

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A baby Linnaeus’s Two-toed Sloth arrived at the National Aviary last week, and guests can get “up close and fuzzy” with the new arrival when he begins his role as an animal ambassador.

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Born October 31, the baby Sloth is about 10 inches long and weighs about two pounds.  He’s already weaned from his mother, and the staff is feeding him every two hours.  He gets a daily check from the veterinary staff and daily weigh-ins to make sure he’s adjusting well to his new home. 

The little Sloth does not yet have a name, but aviary staff will give the public an opportunity to suggest names in a few weeks.

Dr. Fish, the aviary’s Director of Veterinary Medicine, says, “All baby Sloths stop nursing at around one month old. He is very strong, eating well, and meeting all his landmarks for a three-month-old Sloth. This age is the ideal time [to introduce him to our staff] because he is old enough and can start to bond with his caregivers. It is similar to puppies being adopted at 8 weeks old.” 

Keepers will begin teaching the Sloth to interact with people by using positive reinforcement and enrichment.  He will be able to choose his behaviors and be rewarded for positive actions.  In a few months, the baby Sloth will participate in daily encounters with aviary guests. 

Linnaeus’s Two-toed Sloths are native to South America, where they spend most of their lives in the rain forest canopy.  They are well-known for being slow-moving, a trait which is linked to their diet.  The leaves and buds that Sloths consume provide very little energy or nutrients and can take a month or more to digest.  Huge hooked claws are just right for hanging from tree branches.  Sloths descend to the ground only about once a week for toileting.  Otherwise, they eat, sleep and even have their babies while hanging from tree branches.

See more photos of the baby Sloth below.

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New Aardvark for the New Year at Burgers’ Zoo

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Burgers’ Zoo, in the Netherlands, recently welcomed an adorable wrinkled new resident. A baby Aardvark was born the beginning of February!

The cub is healthy and has been tended carefully by mom and monitored by zookeepers.

Burgers’ Zoo, under the authority of the EAZA, manages the European breeding program for the Aardvark. They are the only zoo in the Netherlands to house this special species.

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The Aardvark (Orycteropus afer) is a medium-sized, burrowing, nocturnal mammal that is native to Africa. It is the only living species of the order Tubulidentata.

According to the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature): “Aardvarks were originally thought to be congeneric with the South American Anteaters (Myrmecophaga), until they were put in their own genus: Orycteropus. After 1872, Aardvarks were also put in their own order: the Tubulidentata. But this order was long considered to be closely related to the Xenarthrans and the Pangolins in the now obsolete clade "Edentata" (Lehmann 2007). It is only since the beginning of the 20th century, that Aardvarks have been considered to be basal "ungulates". It was also at this time that the seven then recognized species were merged into the single species Orycteropus afer (Shoshani et al. 1988). Since then, Tubulidentata is the only order of Mammals to be represented by a single living species. To date, 18 subspecies have been described (Meester 1971). However, their validity is doubtful and studies in this regard are ongoing. Finally, at the turn of the millennium, molecular phylogenetic analyses integrated the Aardvarks into the new super-cohort Afrotheria, next to Elephants, Hyraxes, Sea-cows, Sengis, Tenrecs, and Golden Moles.”

The Aardvark is stout with a prominently arched back and is sparsely covered in coarse hair. The limbs are moderate length, with the rear legs being longer than the forelegs. Their weight is typically between 130 and 180 lbs. (60 and 80 kg). Their length is usually between 3.44 and 4.27 feet (105 and 130 cm). They are typically 24 inches tall (60 cm). The Aardvark is pale yellowish gray in color and often stained reddish brown by soil it sorts through. The coat is thin, and the skin is tough.

The Aardvark is nocturnal and feeds almost exclusively on ants and termites. They will emerge from their burrow in late afternoon and forage for food over a range of about 6 to 18 miles from home. While foraging, they keep the nose to ground and ears pointed forward. When concentrations of ants or termites are detected, the Aardvark digs into the mound with powerful front legs and will take up the insects with their long, sticky tongue. It is possible for the animal to take in as many as 50,000 ants and termites in one night.

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Jacksonville Zoo Set to Debut Sumatran Tiger Cub

1_Cub peeking out of her den Credit - John Reed

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens’ (JZG) first Tiger cub in 35 years will make her public debut on Saturday, February 13 at 10:00 a.m.

The 18-pound Sumatran Tiger cub will be on exhibit for the first time in JZG’s ‘Land of the Tiger’. The award-winning exhibit features a fortified trail system for her to explore that spans the length of two football fields—plenty of choices for the adventurous cub.  

“It has been so much fun watching our Tiger cub grow and play, and I can’t wait to share her with our visitors,” said Elana Kopel, Senior Mammal Keeper at JZG. “It is my hope that when they see her, it inspires them to support the conservation of these incredible, endangered animals.”

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3_Cub getting used to her surroundings in preparation for her debut Credit - John ReedPhoto Credits: John Reed

This will be an exciting time for the cub, allowing her the first opportunity to explore her new surroundings with her feline curiosity. She has spent the first few months of her life in a den, off-exhibit, to encourage and strengthen the loving bond with her mother, Dorcas. Her impressive new home provides a fully immersive experience for both guests and animals, and JZG can’t wait to introduce the Jacksonville community to this adorable youngster.

The Zoo will also announce the cub’s name, given by a generous donor, when she makes her exhibit debut.

The cub was born in the early morning hours of November 19. She is the first Tiger born at JZG in 35 years and was the fifth Sumatran Tiger born in the U.S. in 2015. First-time mother Dorcas (also known as Lucy) is 4-years-old, and first-time dad, Berani, is 14-years-old.

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“Hello, My Name Is…”

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The public has spoken! Following a worldwide online poll, the three-month-old Polar Bear cub born at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium finally has a name…Nora!

The name was one of four options the Zoo put to a public vote between January 19 and February 3.

The name ‘Nora’, a combination of the cub’s parents’ names, Nanuq and Aurora, garnered the most votes followed by: ‘Kaya’, meaning “little but wise”; ‘Sakari’, meaning “sweet”; and ‘Desna’, meaning “boss”. The Columbus Zoo’s animal care staff had selected the four names, and participants were able to cast their vote online once every 24 hours.

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Polar Bear Cub 9246 - Grahm S. Jones, Columbus Zoo and AquariumPhoto Credits: Grahm S. Jones / Columbus Zoo

 

The cub has gathered a strong following on the Columbus Zoo’s social media pages, where fans have been able to watch videos of her growth. Voting participants spanned the globe, with 115 countries represented in the voting. The top five participating countries were the United States, France, Brazil, Canada and the United Kingdom for a grand total of 88,061 votes.

“We are thrilled and inspired that so many people around the world helped name this young Polar Bear,” said Tom Stalf, president and CEO of the Columbus Zoo. “We hope that those who have been watching Nora grow will continue to do so throughout her life, and remember that we all have a role to play in protecting wild Polar Bears for generations to come.”

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Giant Anteater Birth Is a First for Prague Zoo

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Prague Zoo is celebrating yet another breeding success. On January 20, a baby Giant Anteater was born. For Prague Zoo it is the first baby anteater born in its breeding history. The proud parents are mom, Ella, and dad, Hannibal, who arrived at the zoo in summer 2014.

A baby Giant Anteater is truly an exceptional sight; it looks like a miniature version of its parents, and spends the first few weeks on its mother's back. When visitors carefully focus on the mom Ella, they will see the small anteater holding firmly on to her.

1 1IMG_9806_exportPhoto Credits: Prague Zoo /Petr Hamerník (Image 1) and Miroslav Bobek (Image 2)

Ella and Hannibal came to Prague Zoo in 2014, after a twelve-year break in the breeding of Giant Anteaters. Ella comes from Warsaw, and Hannibal from Madrid. They both grew accustomed to their new environment quite quickly, but it took roughly three months for them to bond. A certain role in this may also have been played by the fact that, in nature, male anteaters are normally larger than females, but for the Prague pair it was the opposite case. Ella, who is now three years old, was roughly one quarter larger than Hannibal when she arrived, and weighed ten kilograms more, even though they are both the same age.

Ella takes exemplary care of her baby, and, when she feels danger, actively defends it. The baby anteater currently weighs 1,990 grams (4.4 lb), and is doing well. Starting February 5, visitors to Prague Zoo have been able to see him in the ‘Exhibition of Giant Anteaters’.

For now, the mother and baby spend most of their time in the nesting box, which will remain covered for some time. Visitors will have the greatest chance of seeing them when Ella walks to the exhibition next door, where she gets fed around noon.

Giant Anteaters arrived in Prague Zoo in the 1950s, but attempts to breed them always ended in failure. That is why this year's baby is a huge success, and the breeders themselves are, obviously, extremely happy with the birth.

The Giant Anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla), also known as the Ant Bear, is a large insectivorous mammal native to Central and South America. It is one of four living species of anteaters and is classified with sloths in the order Pilosa.

Giant Anteaters have a very peculiar appearance. Their tubular snout conceals a long, sticky tongue up to 60 cm long. They specialize in collecting social insects, especially termites and ants, of which they can consume up to 30 thousand a day (in the zoo they are fed a special mash). They rake apart hard termite mounds using their strong, long claws.

The Giant Anteater is classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. According to the IUCN: “Myrmecophaga tridactyla is at risk from habitat loss in parts of its range, and this is a significant threat to Central American populations in particular. Where this species inhabits grassland habitats it is particularly susceptible to fires. In Brazil, burning of sugar cane plantations prior to their harvest leads to the death of significant numbers of giant anteaters due to severe burn injuries (F. Miranda pers. comm. 2013). Animals are sometimes killed on roads or by dogs. Giant anteaters are hunted for food throughout their distribution, and are additionally hunted as a pest, for pets or for illegal trade in some parts of their range.”

“It has been recorded from many protected areas. It is listed on several national Red Data lists, and is protected as a national heritage species in some provinces in Argentina. There is a need to improve fire management practices, especially in sugarcane plantations and within the regions of grassland habitat occupied by this species. Population and genetic data, as well as habitat use information, are needed, especially for areas that are being subjected to land use change. A reintroduction program is being carried out in Corrientes province, Argentina.”


New Moon at BIOPARC Valencia

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BIOPARC Valencia’s ‘baby New Year’, a female Rothschild Giraffe, has been given a name. Fans of the Spanish zoo voted via social media, and the winning name is…Lluna (moon in Valencian)!

ZooBorns introduced readers to the endangered giraffe calf last month: “New Year, New Baby at Bioparc Valencia

The young giraffe continues to spend all of her time with experienced mother Zora, and Auntie Che. Father, Julius, is the only adult male specimen living at BIOPARC Valencia and is the progenitor of the rest of the calves born in the park.

Lluna and her family can now be seen enjoying their outdoor enclosure. She is also slowly being introduced to other species that inhabit the Zoo’s savannah exhibit.

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4_CRÍA DE JIRAFA - 5 semanas de vida - BIOPARC Valencia (2)Photo Credits: BIOPARC Valencia

 

The Rothschild Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis rothschildi), also known as the Baringo Giraffe, is one of the most threatened of the nine sub-species of giraffe. It is named after the Tring Museum’s founder, Walter Rothschild.

All individuals living in the wild are in protected areas in Kenya and Uganda. The Rothschild Giraffe is at risk of hybridization and is currently classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List, due to habitat destruction and poaching. Its geographic distribution includes central Kenya, northern Uganda and southern Sudan. According to latest figures, there are fewer than 1,500 individuals in the wild. BIOPARC Valencia participates in the EEP (captive breeding program for endangered species), and this new breeding is involved in this important initiative to preserve biodiversity.

The Rothschild Giraffe is distinguishable from other subspecies because of its coloring. Where as the Reticulated Giraffe has very defined dark patches with bright channels between, the Rothschild has paler, orange-brown patches that are less defined. Also, the Rothschild has no markings on the lower leg.

This subspecies mate any time of year and have a gestation period of 14 to 16 months, typically giving birth to a single calf. They prefer to live in small herds, with adult males and females only mixing for mating. Males are larger than females and tend to be darker in color.

According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: “Current estimates of population size [of the Rothschild Giraffe] are well below 2,500 mature individuals, numbers are declining overall and no subpopulation is estimated to contain more than 250 mature individuals. The population is potentially close to meeting the population threshold for Critically Endangered under criterion C, depending on the number of individuals, if any, that survive in south Sudan.”


Rare Tiger Cubs Are Off and Running

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Two critically endangered Amur Tiger cubs born September 17 at the United Kingdom’s Woburn Safari Park are off and running as they explore their nine-acre habitat.

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Image001Photo Credit:  Woburn Safari Park

The playful five-month-old cubs, both females, are now old enough to live in the main Tiger reserve where they are being given the grand tour by their mother, four-year-old Minerva.

You first met the cubs here on ZooBorns when they were just one month old.  Since birth, the cubs have been living with their mother in a den, much like they would in the wild.  In the safety of the den, the cubs learned to play, pounce, sharpen their claws, feed on meat, and cause plenty of mischief. 

These are the first Tiger cubs to be born at Woburn Safari Park in 23 years, so their birth is an important landmark for keepers.  The latest estimates show that numbers of Amur Tigers (also referred to as Siberian Tigers) are as low as 520 in the wild.  Less than 100 years ago, only about 40 Amur Tigers remained in the wild.  Despite this perceived comeback, the International Union for Conservation of Nature lists these cats, which are the largest of all Tiger subspecies, as Critically Endangered due to the persistent threat of poaching and loss of habitat. The international Amur Tiger captive breeding program is of vital importance for the future of this magnificent species.

See more photos below.

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Meerkat Pups Go Exploring At Taronga Zoo

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Two Meerkat pups born January 7 at Australia’s Taronga Zoo are already practicing the skills they’ll need as adults. 

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Meerkat Pups_Photo by Paul Fahy (15)Photo Credit:  Paul Fahy

 
The pups, which are the first to be born at Taronga Zoo in nearly seven years, have just started venturing out of their nest box.  At less than one month old, they’re already eating solid food like mealworms and insect larvae.  The pups are also practicing to be sentries by standing on their hind legs.  Meerkats take turns standing as sentries to protect their social group from predators and other threats.

Keepers think that the pups are a male and a female, but the genders will be confirmed later this month when they have their first vaccinations and veterinary exam.   Keepers perform quick health checks and weigh-ins regularly to ensure that the pups are healthy and comfortable in the presence of keepers.

As with all Meerkat young, the yet-to-be named pups are developing very quickly. Despite only weighing less than an ounce at birth, they now weigh more than a quarter of a pound.  

Meerkats are native to southern Africa, where they inhabit arid locales such as the Kalahari and Namib Deserts.  Living in clans of about 20 individuals, Meerkats construct large networks of underground burrows.  Aside from acting as sentries, they exhibit other social behaviors such as babysitting and protecting young of other group members.  Meerkats are not under significant threat and are classified as Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

See more photos of the Meerkat pups below.

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Tierpark Berlin Shares a Secret…Don’t Squeal!

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Djamila, the Vietnamese Pot-bellied Pig, hit lucky number 7 with the birth of her litter. The piglets arrived January 27 at Tierpark Berlin.

The farrow has been happily confined to their stable, where it is warm and cozy. Except for the occasional squeak or wriggle, the piglets are content to stay close to mom, for now.

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4_csm_Haengebauchschweine_Tierpark_Berlin_2016__10__5946037c73Photo Credits: Tierpark Berlin

Djamila is a ‘native’ Berliner and was born at the Zoo in 2011. The Tierpark Berlin introduced this dwarf breed to Europe in 1958.

The Pot-bellied Pig (Sus scrofa domesticus) is a domesticated pig originating in Vietnam. Considerably smaller than standard American or European farm pigs, adults can weigh about 43 to 136 kg (100 to 300 lb).

Pot-bellied Pigs are considered fully-grown by six years of age, when the epiphyseal plates in the long bones of the legs finally close.

Because Pot-bellied Pigs are the same species as ordinary farmyard pigs and wild boars, they are capable of interbreeding. However, a 2004 study revealed extreme genetic diversity in indigenous Vietnamese Pot-bellied Pigs. They were also genetically different from each other according to location of origin in Vietnam.

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Diminutive Duiker Born at Los Angeles Zoo

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A Red-flanked Duiker was born the end of January, at the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens. The diminutive bovid was recently photographed enjoying the California sun.

The Red-flanked Duiker (Cephalophus rufilatus) is a species of small antelope found in western and central Africa. They grow to almost 15 in (35 cm) in height and weigh up to 31 lb (14 kg). Their coats are russet, with greyish-black legs and backs, and white underbellies.

Red-flanked Duiker feed on leaves, fallen fruits, seeds and flowers, and sometimes twigs and shoots. The adults are territorial, living in savannah and lightly wooded habitats.

The females usually produce a single offspring each year. Breeding and births tend to occur year round as young animals have been seen during the wet and dry season. Gestation is about five-and-a-half months. Duikers are considered precocial but are concealed in vegetation by their mother for several weeks after birth. They are sexually mature when they are about one year old, but probably do not breed until later. Lifespan in captivity is up to 10 years.

Adult males and females are, in general, similar in appearance, but males have short backward-pointing horns up to 9 cm (3.5 in) long. Females are often hornless, or may have shorter horns. Both males and females have large preorbital glands on their snout in front of their eyes, which form bulges in their cheeks. These are common to all members of the genus Cephalophus but they are larger in the Red-flanked Duiker than in other species.

The Red-flanked Duiker is an adaptable species. The removal of trees by logging and the conversion of its natural habitat into more open savannah and farmland have allowed it to increase its range. It is fairly common in the areas in which it is found, though numbers are decreasing, in general, due to severe hunting pressure.

The Red-flanked Duiker was one of the four most frequent species of bushmeat on sale in the Republic of Guinea, along with Maxwell's Duiker (Cephalophus maxwelli), the Greater Cane Rat (Thryonomys swinderianus), and the Bushbuck (Tragelaphus scriptus).

However, the Red-flanked Duiker occurs in a number of reserves and protected areas where it is less liable to be killed for meat, and it is currently classified as “Least Concern” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species.