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February 2012

January 2012

Aye-Aye Aye!


Late last year, on November 29, The Duke Lemur Center welcomed, Elphaba, a baby Aye-aye. There have been 28 total Aye-aye births at the Lemur Center starting with the first in 1992. Elphaba weighed in at 586g just five days ago (pictured above at her exam). Little Elphaba is growing like a weed. Below are pictures of Elphaba back in late November at just three days old.

According to the Duke Lemur Center's page about Aye-aye Lemurs:

"Due to its bizarre appearance and unusual feeding habits, the Aye-aye is considered by many to be the strangest primate in the world. It is the world’s largest nocturnal primate. Unusual physical characteristics include incisors that are continually growing (unique among primates), extremely large ears, and a middle finger which is skeletal in appearance, and is used by the animal as a primary sensory organ."


Photo credits: David Haring / Duke Lemur Center

"Since a significant percentage of an aye-aye’s diet consists of insect larvae that dwell inside dead or living trees, the animals have evolved a specialized method for locating the larvae. As they walk along a branch, the animals continuously and rapidly tap it with their middle finger. Cupping their huge ears forward, the aye-aye listens intently to the echoing sounds coming from the tapped tree. When the sound indicates they are above an insect tunnel, the animals begin to tear off enormous chunks of the outer bark with their impressive teeth, until the insect tunnel is revealed. Then the aye-aye inserts its slender and highly flexible third finger into the hole, and when the prey is located, it is hooked with the tip of the finger and removed."

Little Black Calf with Four White Socks


On the Family Farm at Ireland's Dublin Zoo, Bella, a Friesian cow, gave birth to a healthy male calf. The baby was born early on the morning of January 25, and he was nursing within three hours. This is Bella’s second calf. Team leader Eddie O’Brien describes the newborn as being jet black, except for a white star on his forehead, and four white socks. The breed’s characteristic black patches can be replaced with an orangey-tan color found in a minority of the cows; they are called "reds".

A Friesian cow can refer to any of a number of black-and-white spotted dairy cattle - Dutch, Swedish, British and the commonly known American. Friesian breeds are commonly known as Holstein cattle, recognized for good milk production. They are found all over the world, from New Zealand to Canada.




Photo Credit: Dublin Zoo

Update! It's a Girl Otter Pup


Remember the Sea Otter pup from the Seattle Aquarium? You can read all about the birth and see pictures in our ZooBorns article from January 16. At that time, the baby was only two days old, having come into the world on January 14. The mother otter, Aniak, and her baby have stayed so close together that the sex of the baby was unknown.

But recently Aniak's pup got her first vet exam. She was weighed and examined while mom stayed near, happily eating some fish, allowing the vet to determine that the baby is a female. See it all in the video below.

Photo Credit: Seattle Aquarium

Name That Baby Penguin!

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Photo credit: Amelia Beamish

Onondoga County Executive Joanne M. Mahoney joined the staff at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo yesterday to announce the earlier-than-usual arrival of the zoo’s Humboldt Penguin Chicks.

"I am pleased to announce that five Penguin chicks have hatched at the zoo this year," said Mahoney. "It’s always exciting when baby chicks are born, and so many in one year is great. We are fortunate to have such a thriving Penguin program and the credit goes to our talented zoo staff."

Two chicks were introduced at a press conference including the first chick of the year, which hatched on January 9 to parents Wylie and Mara as well as the most recent hatchling, which arrived on January 17 to parents Frederico and Poquita. Three other chicks also hatched on January 13 to Mario and Montana, January 14 to Jake and Bianca and January 15 to Phil and Carmen. Over a seven year span, a total of 34 chicks have hatched. 

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“It appears our mild winter weather started the breeding season a bit earlier than usual. It’s very exciting to be talking about penguin chicks so early in the year; perhaps it means spring will be arriving soon,” said Ted Fox, Zoo Director. “It’s wonderful that our zoo continues to play an important role in conserving this species. Like the chicks before them, many of this year’s babies will eventually end up at other zoos around the country to continue populating the species.”

Learn about the zoo's naming contest after the jump...

Continue reading "Name That Baby Penguin!" »

What's a Feathertail Glider?


Meet one of Taronga Zoo's tiniest new arrivals. It’s hard to believe that this Feathertail Glider is too big for its mom’s pouch. It moved into the nest box about a week ago with its siblings. Australian Feather-tail Gliders are the world’s smallest gliding mammals. Thanks to their special gliding membrane, Feather-tails can glide for up to 20 meters. Their feathered tail (which is – Surprise! – where their name comes from) also acts as a rudder when they fly, thus helping the Gliders to steer. Although one of the lesser known Australian animals, the Feather-tail Glider used to feature on Australia's one-cent coin before it was taken out of circulation.


Photo credit: Robert Dockerill

Ten Little Piglets! Ten!


Ireland's Dublin Zoo and the Agri Aware are celebrating the first arrivals of 2012. Last week, Rosie, a Tamworth pig, welcomed ten piglets. This is her second litter, with five males and five females. During the first week, the piglets remained close to their mom, but over the past few days, they have started to explore their new surroundings. 

Eddie O’Brien, team leader at Family Farm, a joint partnership between Dublin Zoo and Agri Aware said, “The piglets are full of beans and can be seen running around chasing after each other in their pen. We are keeping a close eye on two little runts in the litter, just to make sure they are getting an equal share of the food. However, we are very happy so far, as each piglet is healthy and making good progress. We’re very excited to have these new arrivals.”



Photo Credits: Dublin Zoo


Marwell Wildlife Park Battles Extinction of Tiny Snails


In a battle to save extinct Partula snails, Marwell Wildlife Park is now breeding an additional four species, taking its numbers on show in Encounter Village to more than 800.The park's breeding program now includes eight species of the snail, which are either extinct in the wild or critically endangered. Partula snails have gone into precipitous decline in recent years as they have suffered massively from habitat loss and the introduction of a carnivorous snail. However, The International Partula Conservation Programme has plans to re-introduce the snails into the wild, so there could be hope for the future.

In the wild, the snails were found only on islands in the Pacific Ocean, ranging over 8,000 km from Palau to the Society Islands in French Polynesia. This year, conservationists will be releasing snails into reserves on the islands. They will then be closely monitored until they are released into the wild to fend for themselves. Great care has to be taken when looking after the snails. It’s vital that the snails are kept in the correct heat and humidity and strict sterilization routines are put in place.



In the 1970s African land snails were introduced to the Pacific islands as a source of food for the local people but they were released when the meat proved unpopular. These snails bred quickly in the wild and started eating crops. In 1974, in an effort to control the land snails, the predatory Florida Rosy Wolfsnail was introduced to the island. Instead of eating the land snails, they fed on the tree snails leading to the extinction of many Partula species. Partulas grow up to 2.5cm in length and give birth to one baby every three months. An adult Partula lives for approximately 10 years. There are 79 species of the genus Partula on the IUCN Red List, 50 of which are classified as Extinct.

It's Tapir Time!

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Hoof stock keepers at Port Lympne Wild Animal Park in the UK are delighted to announce the birth of an extremely rare Malayan tapir. The young male, named Manado, was born on January 12 to mother Malacca and father Hunter. This new arrival is the tenth successful tapir birth there, the first occurring in 1989. Now Port Lympne’s tapir house is home to two young male tapirs, as little Kejutan, born 4 months ago to mother Lidaeng, is growing fast. 

Head Hoof Stock Keeper Bob Savill is overjoyed, saying, “This is Malacca’s first calf and mother and baby are both doing well. This birth is fantastic news not only for the future of tapirs but for our hoof stock keepers too – it is very special that we have two babies in the same house, at the same time.”

Malayan tapirs are born after a gestation period of approximately 13 months and are black in color with white spots and stripes. As they reach maturity the distinctive black and white coloring comes through, this coloring is supposed to give excellent coverage in moonlit forests. Tapirs are most active at night.

Malayan tapirs are endangered in the wild due to the destruction of their rainforest to make way for palm oil plantations and from increased hunting. You can help protect endangered species like Malayan tapirs by visiting The Aspinall Foundation’s Howletts and Port Lympne Wild Animal Parks or adopting a tapir. For more information please go to

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Photo Credit: Port Lympne Wild Animal Park/The Aspinall Foundation

Mugwai and Gremlin Welcome Their First-born!

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Paradise Wildlife Park in Broxbourne, U.K. is proud to announce the arrival of a baby Lar Gibbon born to mother Mugwai and father Gremlin on Thursday 5th January 2012. Mother and Baby are doing very well. Section Leader of Primates, Steve Goodwin says, “This is the first baby for Mugwai, but she is proving to be a really good mum. We haven't been able to get close enough to sex the baby yet, and we're excited to find out if it is a boy or a girl.”

Also known as a White-headed Gibbon, this endangered species is threatened in the wild by habitat destruction, the illegal pet trade, and poaching.

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Photo credit: Paradise Wildlife Park

Aurora, Houston Zoo's Orphaned Baby Orangutan, Gets a Mom


After months of tender loving care and sleepless nights, a team of 50 trained Houston Zoo care givers who have been hand-raising baby orangutan Aurora, achieved its ultimate goal – Aurora’s ‘adoption’ by the Zoo’s experienced surrogate orangutan mom Cheyenne.

Aurora was born on March 2 of 2011. After the first 12 hours, birth mom Kelly abandoned the infant and refused repeated attempts by zoo staff to return the baby to her. Concerned for Aurora’s welfare, the primate care team made the decision to hand rear the baby.

For 9 months, always in view of the Zoo’s other orangutans, a total 50 different volunteers assisted the Houston Zoo’s primate care team in that process. Aurora clung to her care givers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can see a remarkable video about that process in our ZooBorns article published last April. When Aurora was thriving and ready to move on, the care team closely monitored Kelly and Cheyenne to gauge their interest in the baby.

“As Aurora became more independent of her care givers, we taught her to go through what’s called a ‘creep door’, a very small opening in doors between rooms in the off-exhibit night house,” said Killam.

On December 28, the creep door between Cheyenne and Aurora was opened for the first time. “Aurora chose not to go completely through it, instead touching and playing with Cheyenne, who reached her arm through,” said Killam. The next day, Cheyenne chose not to play with Aurora through the creep door, but instead sat just outside it. She waited patiently until Aurora came through the on her own and then Cheyenne picked Aurora up and carried her across the room.  

Cheyenne carried Aurora around for the next 7 hours, even allowing Aurora to ride on her head. The two shared produce and cereal and fruit juice together; the primate care team was able to give Aurora her bottles right next to Cheyenne. Several times Cheyenne would do somersaults around Aurora as the little orangutan watched in amazement. “It was a wonderful day,” said Killam. 

The two can now be seen in the outdoor habitat together and all is well.



Photo Credits: Stephanie Adams/Houston Zoo