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December 2011
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January 2012

Meet Libby, Point Defiance Zoo's Sea Otter

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Little Libby was found orphaned off the coast in California late April. She is the youngest and smallest sea otter that Monterey Bay Aquarium has successfully rehabilitated. She arrived at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium on November 2 and is currently 30 pounds. Libby has formed a close bond with Point Defiance's next youngest sea otter, Kaladi, and the two of them love to splash and play!

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Photo credits: Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium

Delicate Jellyfish Breeding Succeeds at Zoo Basel

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Since the summer of 2011, Switzerland's Zoo Basel has been working behind the scenes with their new breeding vivarium equipment called "Plankton Kreisel". It ensures that baby jellyfish float like the ocean - in a continuous flow.They are so delicate that they could not withstand the corners found in normal tanks. Thanks to a new method of breeding and rearing, they are thriving.

Jellyfish in the vivarium have different feeding rhythms and the Zoo will fluctuate the temperatures within it to stimulate reproduction. This system was discovered by accident when, in December 1987, a cooling system in the vivarium went out for two days. Surprisingly, the jellyfish began to multiply! Now It takes a lot of work and knowledge to employ this new method for breeding them, but it has become a successful effort.  

Jellyfish are composed of two different life forms: affixed (polyps about 2 mm or .078 inches small) and free-swimming medusa, the actual "jellyfish". The polyps produce buds within the fluctuating environmental conditions, which detach with time and in the wild become jellies freely floating in the sea. Those jellyfish will in turn become sexually mature after a few months and then produce eggs and sperm.

Thanks to these new methods, jellies can again be seen on ehxibit at the Zoo in all their other-worldly beauty.

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Photo credit: Zoo Basel

 


Look at Those Baby Tapir Spots!

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On January 8, this South American Tapir was born at Parque Zoológico Botánico Bararida in Venezuela, South America. This is the fourth offspring of parents Ezekiel and Shama. The baby is male and as of yet unnamed. This is the Zoo's first birth of the new year.

Tapirs look like pigs with long snouts but they are more closely related to rhinos and horses! This extended nose and upper lip are used to grab branches and strip the leaves or to pluck fruit. They eat morning and evening, and roam in well worn paths to water sources while foraging and depositing seeds along the way.Tapirs are excellent swimmers and even dive to nibble on plants. There are four species of tapir and all are endangered or threatened, largely due to hunting and habitat loss.

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Photo Credits: Parque Zoológico Botánico Bararida


Brody the Baby Bongo, Born at the Houston Zoo

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There's a new baby Bongo at the Houston Zoo in Texas, and his name is Brody. Born on December 6, Brody weighed just over 40 pounds (18.3 kg). He’s a big healthy boy with a good appetite as evidenced by his current weight 5 weeks later - 92+ pounds (42 kg). He can be seen every day (weather permitting) on exhibit with his 3 year old mom Penelope. His favorite spot for resting and naps is in the front right hand corner of the exhibit.

To the casual observer, all bongo calves look alike. But the zoo's keepers found a perfect way to tell them apart – they count the white stripes on their side. Bongo can have 10 to 14 white stripes on each side and each side can present a different configuration. For instance, Penelope has 11 stripes on each side. 

A bongo is a type of antelope native to the lowlands and mountain forests of Kenya and western Africa and are among the largest of the African forest antelope. In the wild, bongos are shy and elusive but very social. In fact, they are the only forest antelope to form herds.

The Western or lowland bongo is classified as near threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the IUCN. The Eastern or mountain bongo is classified as endangered. 

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Photo Credit: Stephanie Adams/Houston Zoo


Wallaby Joeys Galore for Linton Zoo!

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Linton Zoo's Parma Wallaby females are pouch full of Wallaby joeys! The troupe was introduced to a new male last year and they have been breeding with much success! By the end of the 1800s the Parma wallaby was declared extinct. It was not until 1965 that a small surviving population was found on Kawau Island (near Auckland). Another wild population was later found in Gosford, New South Wales in 1967. It is from these few animals that the entire current population of Parma Wallabies descends.

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Below is a shot of one of the joeys in Mom's pouch when it is still hairless and too small to peek out!

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Bath Time for Baby Sloths!

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Wednesday mornings are baby sloth bath day at the Aviaros del Caribe-Sloth Sanctuary in Costa Rica. First they get shampooed, then get rubbed in an organic concoction to keep them parasite free, then they drip dry for a little before they are toweled off.  Afterwards, they get a colorful treat for being so good, and drift off into nap land. You can read more about these babies on the Sanctuary's sloth blog.

This video, from a recent documentary, includes an ad but was just too cute not to show. 

Photo Credit: Aviaros del Caribe-Sloth Sanctuary


Holiday Baby: Busch Gardens Welcomes a Little Giraffe

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Florida's Busch Gardens Tampa Bay welcomed a new baby reticulated giraffe on December 27. At 5 foot, 7 inches tall (1.524 meters) and weighing approximately 127 pounds (57.6 kilos), the newborn female is the calf of father, Jafari and mother,Tesa, who has previously given birth to four other calves at Busch Gardens. She brings the park’s reticulated giraffe population to 18. The term “reticulated” refers to the giraffe’s net-like pattern of spots.

Mother and baby are currently in an area out of guest view so they can be closely monitored by zoo staff to ensure the baby is nursing and growing properly. The duo will join the other animals on the Serengeti Plain in about three months.

A giraffe’s gestation period is approximately 15 months, and the baby will nurse for about one year. This birth is part of a successful long-term breeding program at BuschGardens.

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Photo Credits: Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

More pictures after the jump!

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Her Name is Rio and She Fits Inside Your Hands

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Rio, the first baby Agouti to be hand-raised at Australia's Taronga Zoo in 22 years, is chock full of personality. Born on December 8th, Rio is being hand-raised by keeper Simon Brown, as her mother passed away suddenly after her birth. Keeper Brown is ensuring a healthy transition to life at the zoo's Education center, by slowly but steadily helping her get accommodated to her new surroundings. You can learn all about Agouti's big adventure here on Taronga's blog post about her.

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Zoo Liberec's First Baby of the Year is a Tall One!

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Zoo Liberec, in Liberec, Czech Republic, welcomed a female Rothschild Giraffe calf on Saturday January 7. This first birth of the year for the Czech Zoo has zoo officials very excited, and visitors will soon be able to visit the calf in person. Rothschild Giraffes are one of the most endangered Giraffe subspecies, with only a few hundred left in the wild. It has recently been proposed that this breed of giraffe is actually a separate species of giraffe entirely.

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Liberec Giraffe Rothschild
Photo credits: Zoo Liberec

The distinguishing characteristics of Rothschild Giraffes from other Giraffe subspecies include the markings on it's pelt. While reticulated Giraffes have clearly defined dark patches separated by whitish channels, the Rothschild Giraffe, like the Masai giraffe, exhibits less sharply defined dark patches and creamier hued dividing channels. It also gives the appearance of wearing stockings, since its spots don't continue below its knee joint. The Rothschild Giraffe subspecies has a total of five horns: two on top of its head, a third horn in the center of its forehead, and two more behind its ears.


There's Snow at Philadelphia Zoo - Snow Leopard Cubs That Is!

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The Philadelphia Zoo welcomed two Snow Leopard cubs to its growing animal family on June 9 when Maya, the Zoo’s 3-year-old female snow leopard, gave birth to two cubs in the afternoon. This is Maya’s first litter as well as for their father Amga, who is 5-years-old. 

Maya was in constant physical contact with them once they were born, caring for and feeding them. The first 72 hours of the cub’s life are the most critical and monitored closely by the Zoo’s animal and veterinary staff. There is video of them at a very early age after the jump.

Mother and cubs are thriving, and normally the cubs would have made their public debut at around 3 months of age, but it was delayed due minor surgery to correct eyelid abnormalities in October. In this condition, called an upper eyelid coloboma, a portion of the upper eyelid fails to develop properly, leaving a gap at the edge of the eyelid which can lead to eye irritation. The cause of this condition is not well understood, but it occurs in a variety of animals and in humans, and appears to be more common in snow leopards than in other species. The cubs have otherwise developed well, playing, eating, running and jumping normally - see the video of them playing with their mom after the jump.

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Photo Credit: Philadelphia Zoo

More photos, videos and conservation information after the jump.

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