Hellabrunn Zoo Is Hatching a Plan for Flamingos

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A Flamingo chick pecking its way out of an egg was an almost daily occurrence for several weeks at Hellabrunn Zoo.

Warmed and well protected, the chicks at Hellabrunn Zoo began hatching on May 9th. Currently, seven chicks have been seen under their parents, and about a dozen chicks are still waiting to hatch from their eggs.

Zoo director, Rasem Baban, is delighted with the new births, "A total of seven chicks have been hatched. The Flamingos incubate about 20 eggs, in nest mounds made from mud. Once the sun comes out and the temperatures rise, the colorful offspring become independent and strike out on their own."

The Flamingo group at Hellabrunn Zoo Munich currently contains over 130 birds of the species’ American Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber) and Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus).

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4_13248548_1178689685498638_2938850905119961602_oPhoto Credits: Tierpark Hellabrunn/Marc Müller (Images 2-4); Tierpark Hellabrunn / Marisa Segadelli-MGsee (Images 1,5-10)

Flamingos are among the oldest groups of birds. It is said they have existed on earth in their present form for about 30 million years.

Flamingos often stand on one leg, the other leg tucked beneath the body. The reason for this behavior is not fully understood. Research indicates that standing on one leg may allow the birds to conserve more body heat, given that they spend a significant amount of time wading in cold water. However, the behavior also takes place in warm water. As well as standing in the water, flamingos may stamp their webbed feet in the mud to stir up food from the bottom.

Young Flamingos hatch with greyish reddish plumage, but adults range from light pink to bright red due to aqueous bacteria and beta-Carotene obtained from their food supply. A well-fed, healthy flamingo is more vibrantly colored and thus a more desirable mate; a white or pale flamingo, however, is usually unhealthy or malnourished. Captive flamingos are a notable exception; many turn a pale pink, as they are not fed carotene at levels comparable to the wild.

The American Flamingo breeds in the Galápagos, coastal Colombia, Venezuela, and nearby islands, Trinidad and Tobago, along the northern coast of the Yucatán Peninsula, Cuba, Hispaniola, The Bahamas, and the Turks and Caicos Islands. The American Flamingo was once also found in southern Florida, but since the arrival of Europeans, it has been all but eradicated there. Sightings today are usually considered to be escapees. From a distance, untrained eyes can also confuse it with the Roseate Spoonbill.

The Greater Flamingo is the largest and most widespread species of the Flamingo family. It is native to Africa, Indian subcontinent, the Middle East and southern Europe.

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Meet Zoo Basel's Four Reindeer Calves

Rentier_jungtiere_ZO21291Four Reindeer were born at Zoo Basel in quick succession between April 20 and May 5.  All four calves were healthy, following their mothers and nursing within just a few hours of their births. 

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Rentier_jungtiere_ZO21033Photo Credit:  Zoo Basel

Zoo staff are always pleased to see babies nurse soon after birth, because this is the only time when the mothers produce colostrum milk.  Colostrum is rich in antibodies that protect against disease in newborns with underdeveloped immune systems. Reindeer milk is rich in fat, which allows the young animals to grow very quickly in a short period of time – something vital for their survival in the bitterly cold Arctic tundra.

Before giving birth, pregnant female Reindeer separate themselves from the herd and look for a quiet location, usually a stall in the barn. When a calf is born, the zoo’s veterinarians examine the newborn, insert an ID chip, deliver a selenium and Vitamin E shot to prevent white muscle disease, and antibodies to boost their immune system. Their navel is also disinfected with an iodine solution. 

Reindeer have unusual feeding habits, and the nutritional quality of their food is more important than the quantity.  In the Arctic tundra where they live, Reindeer feed mainly on lichens, which are a good source of energy.  They do not graze on grasses, which are high in fiber and low in nutrients.  At the zoo, the Reindeer receive hay, vegetables, and pelleted food supplemented with vitamins and minerals.

Reindeer are the only species of domesticated deer and the only one where the females have antlers. On their seasonal migrations, huge herds of more than 100,000 Reindeer migrate up to 3,000 miles - the longest migration of any land mammal. Reindeer have another peculiar characteristic, which can be heard if you stand close by:  when they walk, they make a soft clicking noise. This sound comes from a tendon on their hind legs that slips over the bone as they walk.

See more photos of the calves below.

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Prairie Dog Pups Pop Up at NaturZoo Rheine

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A passel of Prairie Dog pups popped up this spring at Germany’s NaturZoo Rheine.  Seven playful and social babies make the colony busy and active all day long.

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The seven pups are from three different litters born to three different mothers.  All were born in the colony’s network of underground burrows and chambers.  In this extensive burrow system, there are special “rooms” for sleeping, toileting, and nursing babies.  The zoo's colony is home to 20 Prairie Dogs.

Young Prairie Dogs are born blind and hairless, and they remain safely underground until about six weeks of age.  The babies in the photos are seven to eight weeks old.

Prairie Dogs live colonies containing a few dozen to thousands of animals.  Their burrowing habits cause them to viewed as pests by ranchers in central and western North America, where they favor open grassland and rangeland.  Once numbering in the millions, their habitat has been fragmented and their numbers drastically reduced.  However, Prairie Dogs are not considered under threat of extinction at this time.

See more photos of the Prairie Dogs below.

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Endangered Mexican Gray Wolf Pups at Brookfield Zoo

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The Chicago Zoological Society (CZS) is excited to announce the birth of a litter of five Mexican Gray Wolves at Brookfield Zoo on April 25. This is the second litter born to mom, Zana (age 4), and dad, Flint (age 6).

Currently, three of the puppies are in a den, being nurtured by their pack, at the zoo’s Regenstein Wolf Woods habitat. Animal care staff anticipates they will begin to emerge from the den site and be visible to guests in a few weeks.

As part of the Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Program, the remaining two puppies, Blaze (M1471) and Brooke (F1472), were placed in the Arizona-based Elk Horn Pack of wild wolves, which will foster them with their own litter. In pup fostering, very young pups are moved from one litter to another litter of similar age so that the receiving pack raises the pups as their own. The technique, which has proven to be successful in this species, as well as in other wildlife, shows promise to improve the genetic diversity of the wild wolf population.

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Following a neonatal examination, the pups, accompanied by CZS animal care staff, were flown to Arizona on April 30. There, staff met up with a team of biologists from the Mexican Wolf Interagency Field Team, who successfully placed the pups in a den in which the alpha female had just given birth to her own litter.

Since 2003, the Society has been a partner in this significant recovery program, which is a multi-agency collaboration between the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Arizona Game and Fish Department, the White Mountain Apache Tribe, the USDA Forest Service, and the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service—Wildlife Services, as well as private organizations. As part of this program, adult and offspring wolves at Brookfield Zoo are potential candidates for release to the wild.

“We are extremely proud to be able to contribute to this important conservation effort for the Mexican Gray Wolf population,” said Bill Zeigler, senior vice president of animal programs for the Society, which manages Brookfield Zoo. “The collaboration with USFWS and the other participating organizations is a real team effort and demonstrates the dedication of all parties to make this a successful program while also raising awareness for this highly endangered and iconic North American species.”

The Chicago Zoological Society plays a pivotal role in the recovery program, demonstrating its commitment to helping the Mexican Gray Wolf population. The first successful fostering of Mexican Gray Wolf pups occurred in the wild and included offspring born to a wolf from Brookfield Zoo, who was the alpha female of the Coronado Pack living in the Gila National Forest in western New Mexico. Sadly, she was found deceased in January 2015, but her legacy lives on with her pups.

The fostering of Blaze and Brooke is only the second time in the history of the program that pups born in professional care were placed with an established wild pack.

“The USFWS is extremely grateful to the Chicago Zoological Society. We value our partnership with the Society and other member institutions of the Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan managed breeding program who have contributed so much to the recovery of the species," said Benjamin Tuggle, the Service’s southwest regional director. “Pup fostering is just one of the management tools we can use to improve the genetic health of the wild population.”

In addition to Zana, Flint, and the puppies, the wolf pack at Brookfield Zoo also includes the pair’s four yearlings, born in 2015. The pups born last year will assist their parents in rearing the new additions by regurgitating food for them and engaging them in play, among other behaviors. In addition, the yearlings will learn important parental skills from Zana and Flint for when they have their own litters.

“As the pups grow, zoo guests will have an amazing opportunity to witness the complex social structure of the wolf pack as they interact with each other,” said Joan Daniels, associate curator of mammals.

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Second Armadillo Birth for Edinburgh Zoo

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Keepers at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo are delighted to announce the birth of a Southern Three-banded Armadillo. The tiny, female, armour-plated arrival was born in the middle of April and has been named Inti by her keepers. (Pronounced ‘In-tee’, the name comes from the ancient Inca sun god, of the same name.)

Inti is only the second birth of any Armadillo species at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo. In 2014 another female called Rica was also born to parents Rio and Rodar.

At two-days-old, Inti was about the size of a golf ball and weighed only 100g, but by two-weeks-old she was just a little smaller than a tennis ball. She is currently a little over three-weeks-old and is reaching the size of a baseball!

Once Inti gets a little older, she will take part in the Zoo’s daily educational show called Animal Antics, where she will help raise awareness of vital work taking place by the conservation charity Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, who own and manage Edinburgh Zoo, to help the Giant Armadillo in the Brazilian Pantanal.*

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Sarah Wright, Animal Presentations Team Leader at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo, said, “Our new arrival is doing well, and we are all celebrating her birth, as she is only the second Armadillo to be born at the Zoo. Inti was about the size of a golf ball when she was born, but is growing quickly and is a little bundle of energy. She will grow up to play a very important role in raising awareness about the plight of Armadillos in the wild and the threats they face, as well as the vital conservation work undertaken by RZSS to help conserve the Giant Armadillo from extinction.”

Southern Three-banded Armadillos (Tolypeutes matacus) are listed as “Near threatened” on the IUCN Red List and are increasingly threatened as a result of being hunted for food, the pet trade and loss of habitat. Three-banded Armadillos are the only type of Armadillo that can roll into a ball when threatened. They get their name from the three characteristic bands on their back, which allows them the flexibility to roll into a ball. The Three-banded Armadillo is native to parts of northern Argentina, southwestern Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia.

The family of Three-banded Armadillos, at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo, is not on show, but can often be seen in the daily Animals Antics shows at 12:15pm and 3pm, at the top of the hill in the Zoo.

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New Little ‘Dear’ for the Indianapolis Zoo

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The Indianapolis Zoo excitedly announced the first Orangutan birth for the Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center. The female Sumatran Orangutan was born March 23 to mom Sirih.

Sirih gave birth in a behind-the-scenes area. The other resident Orangutans at the Center watched the entire birth very intently and were quiet and curious during and after the delivery.

“This baby Orangutan gives us special reason to be joyful,” said Dr. Rob Shumaker, Executive Vice President and Zoo director. “We are thrilled for the many visitors who will care more deeply for Orangutans and their conservation by watching the baby grow, learn and thrive. Sumatran Orangutans are critically endangered in the wild with only thousands left.”

The Zoo recently held a naming contest, via Facebook, and the winning name for the new girl is “Mila” (MEE-lah)! Mila means “dear one” in Indonesian.

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The baby is the second for 23-year-old mother Sirih, who arrived at the Indianpolis Zoo last year from the Frankfurt Zoo in Germany. Both mom and infant are doing great. Sirih is a caring and attentive mother, doing everything an Orangutan should do. She keeps her daughter close and guests are able to see Mila hold on tightly to mom as she climbs around the Orangutan Center. Father, 14-year-old Basan, has also been introduced to the baby, as have most of the Orangutans in the center.

Sirih and first-time father, Basan, were recommended as a breeding pair through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan, a program ensuring a sustainable, genetically diverse and demographically varied AZA population.

The Sumatran Orangutan (Pongo abelii) is one of the two species of orangutans. They are found only on the island of Sumatra, in Indonesia, and are more rare than the Bornean Orangutan. Males grow to about 200 lbs. (90 kg), and females can weigh about 99 lbs. (45 kg). Compared to the Bornean species, they are thinner and have longer faces, and their hair is longer with a paler red color.

The Sumatran species also tends to be more frugivorous and especially insectivorous. Their preferred fruits include figs and jackfruits.

Female Orangutans reach sexual maturity at around 5 years of age and have a 22 to 30-day menstrual cycle. Females generally give birth to their first offspring at around 14 years of age, and they have a gestation period of about 9 months. There are usually eight years between pregnancies. Females do most of the caring and socializing of the young.

Sumatran Orangutans are classified as “Critically Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It’s estimated that less than 6,500 Sumatran Orangutans now remain in the wild, as a result of destruction of habitat for logging, wholesale conversion of forest to palm oil plantations, and fragmentation caused by roads and hunting.


Snow Day for Jaguar Cub at San Diego Zoo

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April 28th was a rainy morning in San Diego, but at the San Diego Zoo, the forecast called for snow! One-year-old Jaguar cub Valerio and his mom, Nindiri, woke up to an unexpected surprise: piles of fresh, glistening snow blanketing their habitat.

According to staff, the duo appeared cautious when they entered their exhibit, stepping gingerly on the snow, unsure how to react to the novel substance. However, after a few minutes, the pair started exploring, climbing, searching for buried meatballs and showcasing their natural behaviors while enjoying their chilly enrichment surprise. Animal care staff said the cats’ personalities really shined through, and it was fascinating seeing them venture to parts of their habitat they normally wouldn’t explore that early in the day.

The 8-tons of fresh powder was provided through a generous donation, to the Zoo’s animal care wish list, as an enrichment item for the Jaguars. The San Diego Zoo provides enrichment for the animals in its care, in an effort to encourage their natural behaviors and an attempt to provide them opportunity to thrive. The snow day marked the first time this mom and cub have ever encountered snow.

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The Jaguar (Panthera onca) is a feline in the genus Panthera and is the only extant species native to the Americas. It is the third largest feline after the tiger and the lion. Their native range extends from the Southwestern United States and Mexico, across much of Central America, and south to Paraguay and northern Argentina. Apart from a possible population in southern Arizona and the lower south of New Mexico, the species has been largely extirpated from the U.S. since the early 20th Century.

The Jaguar resembles the leopard, but it is usually larger, with behavioral characteristics closer to those of the tiger. They prefer dense, forested habitation. The Jaguar is largely solitary and is a stalk-and-ambush predator.

Gestation for Jaguars lasts 93-105 days, and females will give birth to up to four cubs (typical litters consist of two). The mothers do not tolerate the presence of males after giving birth (due to fear of infanticide). The young are born blind, and their eyes open at about 2 weeks. The cubs are weaned at three months, but they remain in the den for six months to learn hunting and life skills from the mother.

Unfortunately, demand for the Jaguar’s beautiful rosette-pattern fur is one of the reasons this species is listed as “Near Threatened” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). In addition, Jaguars are losing precious habitat, and human-Jaguar conflicts are causing their numbers to decrease rapidly. There are only an estimated 10,000 Jaguars left in the wild.

San Diego Zoo Global partners with the Wildlands Network and Latin American conservationists to study, monitor and protect Jaguars. Through those efforts, combined with educational outreach to local communities, the San Diego Zoo hopes to decrease human-Jaguar conflicts.

Zoo guests can visit Valerio, his mother Nindiri and their next-door lion mates, M’bari and Etosha, in their habitats at the Zoo’s Harry and Grace Steele Elephant Odyssey.


Take a Peek at Bronx Zoo's Otter Pup

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An Asian Small-clawed Otter pup made its public debut at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo in late April.

Born this spring, the pup is already dipping its toes in the family’s watery exhibit.

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Julie Larsen Maher_5826_Asian Small-clawed Otter_JUN_BZ_04 06 16_hrPhoto Credit:  Julie Larsen Maher/WCS
Like all Otters, the species is well adapted for a semi-aquatic life. Their elongated bodies and webbed feet make it easy for them to propel through the water. They have dexterous paws that aid in finding and consuming food, and their fur is extremely dense and waterproof for temperature regulation.

Asian Small-clawed Otters have a vast but shrinking Southeast Asian range that spans from India to the Philippines, Taiwan, and parts of southern China. The species is classified as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and is threatened by habitat loss and exploitation.

 


Snow Leopard Triplets Hit the Spot

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For the first time in Akron Zoo’s history, a set of Snow Leopard triplets was born at the zoo.  The three cubs, one female and two males, were born March 5, 2016 and remain in a private cubbing area with their mother Shanti until late May or early June.
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This is the third litter for mom Shanti, but her first set of triplets.  At birth, the cubs weighed about one pound each, but they are developing right on schedule.  At two weeks, they opened their eyes, and by four weeks, they had become mobile and started exploring the den.  At about seven weeks, the trio began playing and climbing, and by eight weeks old they started tasting meat.

Snow Leopard breeding in accredited zoos is managed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP). These cubs mark the first Snow Leopards born in the United States at an AZA accredited zoo this year.  Managed breeding helps maintain genetic diversity within the zoo-dwelling population.

As in the wild, the cubs’ father, Roscoe, does not participate in the rearing process and will not have direct contact with the cubs.

Listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Snow Leopards are threatened by loss of habitat in their native Himalayan Mountains, and by illegal hunting for their pelts and body parts.  Snow Leopards are sometimes killed by local herders when these cats prey on livestock. There are 153 Snow Leopards in the SSP in the United States, and there are believed to be as few as 4,000 left in the wild.

See more photos of the cubs below.

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Giant of a Baby for Nashville Zoo

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A male Giant Anteater, named Demetrio, was born on April 6 at the Nashville Zoo. The pup weighed in at 3.8 lbs. and is currently being raised by his mother in the Zoo’s off-exhibit facility.

This is the second pup for this mother, and the 17th successful Giant Anteater birth at Nashville Zoo, since they acquired this species in 2000.

There are a total of 111 Giant Anteaters housed in Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) zoos across the country. Giant anteaters are listed as “Vulnerable” on the ICUN Red List, with the population declining 30% over the past 10 years due to habitat loss and deaths by fire and vehicular traffic.

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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. The species is mostly terrestrial. The giant anteater is the largest of its family, 182–217 cm (5.97–7.12 ft.) in length, with weights of 33–41 kg (73–90 lb.) for males and 27–39 kg (60–86 lb.) for females. It is recognizable by its elongated snout, bushy tail, long fore claws, and distinctively colored pelage.

The Giant Anteater can be found in multiple habitats, including grassland and rainforest. It forages in open areas and rests in more forested habitats. It feeds primarily on ants and termites, using its fore claws to dig them up and its long, sticky tongue to collect them.

Though Giant Anteaters live in overlapping home ranges, they are mostly solitary except during mother-offspring relationships, aggressive interactions between males, and when mating. Mother anteaters carry their offspring on their backs until weaning them.

Giant anteaters can mate throughout the year. A couple may stay together for up to three days and mate several times during that period. Gestation lasts around 190 days and ends with the birth of a single pup, which typically weighs around 1.4 kg (3.1 lb.). Females give birth standing upright.

Pups are born with eyes closed and begin to open them after six days. The mother carries the pup on her back, and while doing so, the pup's black and white band aligns with its mother's stripe, providing an amazing camouflage for the baby.

The young communicate with their mothers with sharp whistles and use their tongues during nursing. After three months, the pup begins to eat solid food and is fully weaned by ten months. The mother grooms her offspring during rest periods lasting up to an hour. Grooming peaks during the first three months and declines as the young reaches nine months of age, ending by ten months, when young anteaters usually become independent.

Not only does the Nashville Zoo have success breeding these animals, but the facility is currently involved in numerous projects that include monitoring reproductive status in female Giant Anteaters by fecal hormone analysis, performing ultra-sonographic exams to monitor fetal development, and undertaking intensive diet studies. Nashville Zoo is currently writing the AZA’s husbandry manual for this species.