Ten Little Nutrias Nibble at Zoo Basel

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Ten baby Nutrias are frolicking through the foliage in the Nutria enclosure at the Basel Zoo. With so many busy babies, visitors will always find something to watch at this popular exhibit.

Basel Zoo has kept Nutrias since 1943, and more than 400 youngsters have been born at the zoo since then. Baby Nutrias are born fully furred and with their eyes open. They begin eating plant material within hours of birth, but they also nurse for seven to eight weeks. These diurnal rodents are semiaquatic, so they divide their time between land and water. Adults weigh 10-20 pounds.

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Biberratte_jungtiere_ZO56213Photo Credit: Zoo Basel

Nutrias, also known as Coypu, are native to South America, where they live near rivers and lakes. They feed on plants and live in large groups, which also have smaller subgroups within them. The subgroups are made up of breeding pairs and their offspring.

At the beginning of the 19th century, Nutrias were hunted for their beautiful red-brown fur, and were later bred in farms in Europe, North America, and Africa. As animals occasionally escaped from the farms, populations of these highly adaptable animals became established all over the world. 

The feeding and burrowing behaviors of Nutrias can be destructive to wetlands where they have been introduced, so in some areas they are seen as a nuisance. Each animal may eat up to 25% of its body weight in vegetation every day. They are often mistaken for Beavers (which are much larger than Nutrias) and Muskrats (which are smaller than Nutrias).

Nutrias are currently listed as a species of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

 


Oakland Zoo Cares for Mountain Lion Orphans

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In cooperation with the California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Feline Conservation Center, Oakland Zoo has taken in two orphaned Mountain Lion cubs. The cubs were found separately in Orange County, two weeks apart from each other. Due to their ages and geographic proximity to each other when rescued, Oakland Zoo veterinarians will conduct DNA testing to determine if they are, in fact, siblings.

An adult female Mountain Lion was struck and killed by a motorist in the area of the cubs’ rescues, leading to the conjecture that the cubs may have belonged to her and were separated as a result of her tragic death.

In response to a situation such as this, Oakland Zoo helped found BACAT (Bay Area Cougar Action Team) in 2013, in partnership with the Bay Area Puma Project and the Mountain Lion Foundation, to help save Mountain Lions caught in the human-wildlife conflict with the CDFW.

"The Mountain Lions of the Santa Anas are the most at-risk in the nation, equal to the Florida Panther in terms of the uncertainty around their survival. Orphaned kittens represent the death of a mother lions, and this isolated Orange County population cannot afford the loss. It will take protection of habitat and wildlife corridors, depredation prevention efforts, and enhancements of Southern California freeways to allow the Mountain Lions of the Santa Anas and Orange County to survive. The two orphaned kittens at the Oakland Zoo are evidence of that need," said Lynn Cullens, Executive Director of the Mountain Lion Foundation.

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2_Mountain Lion Cub 20171211 -5Photo Credits: Oakland Zoo

Both cubs are male and estimated to be 3-4 months old and weigh close to 30 lbs. They were found approximately 15 miles apart in Orange County’s Silverado Canyon and Rancho Santa Margarita.

The first was discovered in a resident’s backyard, and the second, approximately two weeks later, on the roadside. Residents reported the cub sightings and CDFW was contacted. The cubs were initially cared for by the Feline Conservation Center in Lake Forest before being brought to Oakland Zoo where they are currently being quarantined, given medical attention and cared for by the Zoo’s Veterinary Hospital.

The second male cub arrived at Oakland Zoo on Monday and is doing very well. Zookeepers describe him as ‘feisty’ compared to his counterpart, who is more shy and cautious. Mountain Lions are new to Oakland Zoo, and these two cubs and the events that led them to need a ‘forever home’ will serve as educational ambassadors at Oakland Zoo’s upcoming 56-acre California Trail expansion, opening in June 2018.

“It is an honor to provide a forever home for these young Mountain Lions, and honor their lives further by working to help conserve their wild counterparts. We have a lot of work to do to better protect and conserve pumas, from proper education to establishing wildlife crossings and proper enclosures for pets and livestock. Oakland Zoo will continue to work in our BACAT Alliance with CA Department of Fish and Wildlife, Bay Area Puma Project, Mountain Lion Foundation to inspire our community to both understand and take action for our precious local lion,” said Amy Gotliffe, Director of Conservation at Oakland Zoo.

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Red Panda Cubs Are Ready for Adventure

On August 12, 2017, Lee Richardson Zoo happily announced the birth of Red Panda cubs. The Zoo is now excited to announce that the cub’s seven-year-old mom, Ember, is allowing her little ones to venture outside of their den, where visitors can catch a glimpse of their antics.

Since their birth in late summer, the little family has been tucked away spending the necessary time to bond. Ember has been taking great care of her cubs, and they are now ready to pursue more milestones.

Charlie, the four-year-old father of the cubs, arrived at Lee Richardson Zoo in 2014. According to staff, he and Ember hit it off “almost from the first glance”. Staff attests to their solid relationship by saying that Charlie is at his most relaxed when Ember is near.

However, at this point in their lives, the cubs are Ember’s primary focus. Dad currently doesn’t have full contact with Ember or the cubs. Keepers say that will come a bit later. In the meantime, Charlie has access inside on warm days but can be seen by visitors venturing outside for a stroll.

Red Pandas (Ailurus fulgens) are native to Asia and are most commonly found in Nepal, India, Bhutan, Myanmar and China. As their name suggests, the animals are red and have off-white markings, large puffy tails and pointed ears. Red Pandas, like Giant Pandas, have very specialized diet requirements and eat a large amount of bamboo daily.

Superb climbers, Red Pandas can descend trees head first like a squirrel thanks to a special rotating ankle joint.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies Red Pandas as “Endangered”. According to the IUCN, their biggest threats come from habitat loss and fragmentation, habitat degradation and physical threats. There has also been an increase in poaching and trafficking for the pet trade.

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.

To learn more about how to help Red Pandas, visit: https://redpandanetwork.org/


Manatee Calf Charms Visitors at Beauval Zoo

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Visitors to Zoo de Beauval have been enamored of a six-week-old West Indian Manatee, named Kali’na. The calf was born October 28 to her six-year-old mother, Lolita.

First-time mom, Lolita, originally gave birth to twin females. Typically, a Manatee calf will weigh around 20 kg at birth. Lolita’s calves weighed-in at 10 and 15 kg. Although veterinarians and keepers worked to save the smaller of the two females, she did not survive the first day.

Since that time, the remaining twin has been meticulously cared for by Lolita and keepers say they are both doing very well. Keepers named the new calf Kali’na in reference to a tribe native to Guyana.

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2_24831306_1827833867241551_7625735601941147475_oPhoto Credits: Zoo de Beauval

The West Indian Manatee (Trichechus manatus), or "Sea Cow", is the largest surviving member of the aquatic mammal order Sirenia (which also includes the Dugong and the extinct Steller's Sea Cow). As its name implies, the West Indian manatee lives in the West Indies, or Caribbean, generally in shallow coastal areas.

The gestation period for a Manatee is 12 to 14 months. Normally, one calf is born, although on rare occasions two have been recorded. The young are born with molars, allowing them to consume sea grass within the first three weeks of birth. The family unit consists of mother and calf, which remain together for up to two years. Males contribute no parental care to the calf.

The West Indian Manatee was placed on the Endangered Species List in the 1970s, when there were only several hundred left. The species has been of great conservation concern to federal, state, private, and nonprofit organizations to protect these species from natural and human-induced threats like collisions with boats. On March 30, 2017, the United States Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, announced the federal reclassification of the Manatee from “endangered” to “threatened”, as the number of Sea Cows had increased to over 6,000. On a global scale, the species is classified as “Vulnerable” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

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Help Lion Conservation by Voting for New Cub’s Name

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The Virginia Zoo’s new African Lion cub needs a name, and the Zoo is asking for your help! By submitting and voting on potential names, you’ll also be helping to save Lions in their native Africa.

The naming contest began Monday, December 11 at 9 am and will conclude on Friday, December 22 at Noon. Participants can submit a name to the contest by paying $1. Each subsequent vote for a name is $1. The name with the most votes wins and will be announced on Christmas morning.

The Virginia Zoo will donate 100-percent of the naming contest proceeds to the Pride Lion Conservation Alliance (pridelionalliance.org), which leads efforts in four key Lion ranges, researching and protecting 20-percent of Africa’s existing wild Lion population.

“Now is your chance to name the cub and help to secure a future for all Lions!” said Greg Bockheim, Executive Director of the Virginia Zoo.

To cast a vote, visit: www.virginiazoo.org/lion-cub-naming.

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The male cub was born on October 28 to experienced mom, Zola, and dad, Mramba. The cub weighed just three pounds-five ounces at birth and was an immediate joy to all his keepers.

The cub now weighs approximately 12 pounds. According to keepers, he climbs in and out of his nest box, chases mom’s tail, and has been exploring his enclosure.

“The birth of any animal is always exciting,” said Greg Bockheim, Executive Director of the Virginia Zoo. “The birth of this Lion cub specifically is a significant contribution to its genetic population and also provides a fun educational opportunity to our community.”

Thirteen-year-old Zola gave birth in her indoor den in the Zoo’s Africa-Okavango Delta exhibit. According to keepers, she immediately displayed natural instincts of nursing and grooming the cub. Routine physical exams will be performed as the cub grows, and he will receive vaccinations to strengthen his immune system before going out on exhibit.

For more information, visit: www.virginiazoo.org .

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Perth Zoo Releases Numbats at Wildlife Sanctuary

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On December 6, ten of the nineteen Numbats, born this year at Perth Zoo, were fitted with radio collars and released into the wild of Australia’s second largest feral cat-free area.

The eleven-month-old Numbats, born under a collaborative breeding program between Perth Zoo and Parks and Wildlife Service, were released at Mt. Gibson Sanctuary managed by the Australian Wildlife Conservancy in WA’s mid-west.

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2_22339445_10155240101006715_5301662608072619652_oPhoto Credits: Alex Asbury "The Photo Poet" (Images: 1-3,5) / Perth Zoo (Image: 4) 

Prior to the release, Perth Zoo Keeper, Jessica Morrison, said, “The release of our Numbats to the wild is the culmination of a lot of hard work, but the ultimate goal of our breeding program, the only one in the world for this endangered species.”

“It is particularly exciting to release them at Mt Gibson Sanctuary as Perth Zoo’s Wildlife Conservation Action fundraising program helped fund the predator proof fence, and the removal of feral cats and foxes is key to the survival of the Numbat which have been decimated by introduced predators.”

“We released our first Zoo-born Numbats to the same area last year, and they’ve since had offspring! We hope this year’s wild recruits will follow in their footsteps and help build a robust insurance population against extinction.”

Perth Zoo and Parks and Wildlife Service established the Numbat breeding program in 1987, studying and perfecting the species’ reproductive biology over the next five years. The first successful breeding at Perth Zoo was in 1993. Since then more than 200 individuals have been released to the wild which has helped re-establish four populations within their former range.

In preparation for their life in the wild, the Numbats were fitted with radio collars by Dr. Tony Friend from Parks and Wildlife Service. “Radio tracking will enable researchers to learn more about the Numbats’ movements and enable field staff to determine if female Numbats have reproduced at the completion of the mating season,” he said.

Funding for the radio collars was generously provided by the community group, “Project Numbat”.

The Numbat (Myrmecobius fasciatus) is a marsupial native to Western Australia and recently re-introduced to South Australia. Its diet consists almost exclusively of termites.

The Numbat is Western Australia’s mammal emblem and is listed as “Endangered” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Approximately 1,000 Numbats remain in the wild.

Perth Zoo is committed to native species conservation, with dedicated breeding facilities located behind the scenes at the Zoo. This year, the 4,000th animal bred or reared at the Zoo was released into the wild. Species currently being bred for release at the Zoo to fight extinction include: Numbat, Dibbler, Western Swamp Tortoise and rare frogs found only in the Margaret River region.

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Two Baby Lemurs Are Twice the Fun

_AT_042720151016Taronga Western Plains Zoo is proud to announce the arrival of not one, but two Ring-tailed Lemur babies!

A male baby was born on September 1 to mother Rakitra. He was joined eight weeks later on October 28 by a female, born to mother Cleopatra. Both Rakitra and Cleopatra came to the Zoo from Italy in 2012 to boost the Ring-tailed Lemur breeding program.

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Photo Credit: Rick Stevens

“It’s very exciting to welcome two healthy Ring-tailed Lemur babies this year, and particularly special to have one of each sex,” Keeper Sasha Brook said. “Both babies are being well cared for by their experienced mothers, and can be spotted riding on their mothers’ backs at the Ring-tailed Lemur breeding facility,” Sasha said.

“At three months of age, Rakitra’s male baby is already spending more time away from his mother and interacting with the two sets of twins born last year. He spends lots of time wrestling with them, and it’s great to see the twins playing gently with the baby,” Sasha said.

“At nearly five weeks of age, Cleopatra’s female baby is still developing her coordination skills, but we have noticed her also start to bounce away from her mother for short periods of time. Cleopatra is particularly relaxed around her keepers, so she doesn’t mind her baby exploring. “We’ll start to see the female baby play with others soon, including her older brother, but for now it’s very positive that she’s bonding with her mother,” Sasha said.

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Tiny Cockatoo Chick Charms His Keepers

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A Palm Cockatoo chick named Herbert is being hand-reared at Paradise Park in the United Kingdom, and he is charming the zoo keepers who care for him.

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Keeper Leanne feeding HerbertPhoto Credit: Paradise Park

Keepers are raising the chick because his parents, Tess and Ziggy, have produced eggs before but the eggs broke before they could hatch. When keepers noticed Tess and Ziggy squabbling over their newly-laid egg, they were concerned that the egg would be crushed. “We stepped in and took the egg to an incubator,” says keeper Leanne Gilbert.

Parrots, including Palm Cockatoos, are completely featherless upon hatching, and Herbert was no exception. Despite his tiny size and helpless state, Herbert managed to be quite demanding of his keepers, who of course meet Herbert’s every need.

Now three months old and covered in sleek black feathers, Herbert is almost ready to eat solid food. For now, he eats a mixture of blended carrot, apple, broccoli, macadamia nuts, smooth peanut butter, Macaw formula, called “Witches Brew,” from a syringe. He is already interested in nibbling carrot sticks with his sharp and powerful beak.

Herbert is the first Palm Cockatoo chick to successfully hatch at Paradise Park in more than 20 years.

Parrot chicks start small but grow rapidly, reaching near-adult size within just a few months.  One way to tell adults from juveniles is by the length of the tail feathers – those of adults are longer.

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Three Bundles of Joy Arrive at the Pueblo Zoo

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The Pueblo Zoo recently announced the arrival of three “precocious, bundles of joy”. African Lioness, Mashavu, gave birth to the two females and one male on October 25. The trio was sired by Taz Jahari (father of Pueblo Zoo’s ‘Mumford’).

The cubs have been under the watch and care of their mother. At their first checkup, in November, the male and two females weighed 9.5 lbs., 9.3 lbs., and 7.9 pounds, respectively.

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2_DSC01484Photo Credits: Ashley Bowen

The Zoo is excited to be able to share video and photos of the cubs as they grow and will be posting regular updates to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Once they are vaccinated and ready to brave the outdoors, the cubs will be given access (weather permitting) to the outdoor Lion enclosure in late December.

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Unique Crocodile Species Hatches at Zoo Miami

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A False Gavial has hatched at Zoo Miami! This is the Zoo’s first successful hatching, in over 25 years, of this very unique species of crocodile from Indonesia and Malaysia.

After an incubation period of 89 days, at a temperature of 89 degrees, the baby hatched on September 1st and was one of two hatchlings that emerged from a clutch of 25 eggs. Unfortunately, the second hatchling did not survive.

The parents are 45-year-old male, Lockjaw, and 31- year-old female, Nessi. At 14 feet long, Lockjaw is the largest crocodile at the zoo, while Nessi is a bit smaller at 9 feet long.

The False Gavial's numbers are low in the wild (less than 2,500). As late as the year 2000, they were classified by the IUCN as “Endangered”. The species was reassessed in 2011, and they are now at the status of “Vulnerable”. However, they are still threatened by habitat destruction, overfishing of food sources and, to a limited extent, the skin trade.

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2_24172844_1588876784467952_7125887576147272089_oPhoto Credits: Zoo Miami 

The False Gavial (Tomistoma schlegelii), also known as False Gharial, Malayan Gharial, Sunda Gharial and Tomistoma, is a freshwater crocodile that is native to Peninsular Malaysia, Borneo, Sumatra and Java.

The specific name “schlegelii” honors the German herpetologist, Hermann Schlegel.

The False Gavial has one of the slimmest snouts of any living crocodilian, comparable to the slender-snouted crocodile and the freshwater crocodile. The False Gavial measures slightly smaller than the Gavial.

Until recently, very little was known about the diet or behavior of the species in the wild. In the past, it was thought to have a diet of only fish and very small vertebrates. But more recent evidence and observation indicates that it has a generalist diet despite its narrow snout. In addition to fish and smaller aquatic animals, mature adults prey on larger vertebrates, including proboscis monkeys, long-tailed macaques, deer, water birds, and reptiles.

False Gavials are mound-nesters. In the wild, females lay small clutches of 13 to 35 eggs per nest, and appear to produce the largest eggs of extant crocodilians.

It is not known when they breed in the wild or when the nesting season is. Once the eggs are laid, and construction of the mound is completed, the female abandons her nest. Unlike most other crocodiles, the young receive no parental care and are at risk of being eaten by predators. The young hatch after 90 days and are left to fend for themselves.

The False Gavial is threatened with extinction throughout most of its range due to the drainage of its freshwater swamplands and clearance of surrounding rainforests. The species is also hunted frequently for its skin and meat, and the eggs are often harvested for human consumption.