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August 2012

July 2012

Little Lynx Lady-trio Born at Whipsnade Zoo


One proud set of parents at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo have three reasons to celebrate this summer: the birth of European Lynx kitten triplets. The all-female trio, born in June to parents Maja and Timo, have spent their first weeks of life tucked up in their den but have just now begun to explore outside. This is the second litter of Whipsnade’s rare European Lynx, one of Europe’s largest predators. They were born blind and helpless, weighing between 8.5 -15oz and will reach adult-size at around two-years-old. 

Now that they are big enough to venture out on their own, the playful kittens can be spotted perched on logs and playing hide and seek with each other in the long grass while mom keeps a close watch. Senior keeper Carole Day said: “Mum’s doing a sterling job of looking after all three kittens. They are starting to become more adventurous and independent and are having lots of fun exploring their paddock.”

Known to be a crepuscular species, European Lynx are most active at dawn and dusk and the kittens are no exception. Keepers at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo see the cheeky three playing most often at the beginning and end of the day. Whipsnade’s kittens are already showing off their distinctive pointed ears and large padded paws but won’t develop their spotted markings for another few months yet.

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Photo Credit: Michael Abel


First California Sea Lion Pup for Attica Zoological Park


This little California Sea Lion was born at Attica Zoological Park, in Athens, Greece on June 25. This is the zoo’s first baby of this species, born to mom Mara and father Charlie.

Around 8:00 p.m. on June 25, the expectant Mara started behaving in a strange way, moving around in circles and making funny noises. Immediately her keepers understood she was ready to give birth. A few hours later, at 11:25 p.m., she became a mother for the second time to a beautiful pup. For safety reasons, the father was moved to another pool, giving space to the mother and baby.

California Sea Lions, while now far more protected than before, are still seen as a threat to fish stocks by those who make their living from the fish Sea Lion feeds upon. They continue to be hunted for their skin and blubber. And now water pollution is becoming a greater factor in their survival, as it threatens their habitat.


Photo Credit: Attica Zoological Park

My, what big ears you have! Slender-horned Gazelle born at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

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An endangered Slender-horned Gazelle with improbably long ears and big dark eyes will greet visitors at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo beginning August 1 in the African Savanna.

Born in late June, the female calf has been off exhibit for about four weeks to give her time to bond with her mother, Francis. The calf is the first offspring at the Zoo for Francis, who came to Cleveland in 2009 from the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and for her father, Ziggy, who came to the Zoo in 2010 from the Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kansas. The calf brings the number of Slender-horned Gazelles at the Zoo up to five. The other members of the herd are adult females Bullet and Ella.

Standing about 30 inches tall and weighing about 60 pounds, these graceful Gazelles have large ears, which serve as a cooling mechanism in the scorching desert heat, and slightly oversized hooves for walking in sand. Both males and females have horns.

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Slender-horned Gazelles were once one of the most common Gazelles in the Sahara Desert. While they still have a wide range, including Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Mali, Niger, Sudan and Tunisia, their populations are small and fragmented. They are classified as “endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo participates in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan for Slender-horned Gazelles.

Photo credits:  Joe Yachanin


Paignton Zoo Lion Cub Update: Vaccination Day


The four rare Asiatic Lion cubs (Panthera leo persica) at Paignton Zoo Environmental Park have been to the vet - or rather, the vet has been to them – for their 9-week vaccinations. 

For the zoo staff, it’s thrilling to be up close to the cubs, who were born May 15, but they must carefully follow safety protocols.  Speed and efficiency are essential so the cubs can be reunited with the protective mother Lion who is prowling nearby.  

The keepers wear big leather gauntlets because the cubs are feisty, snarling throughout, while the growls of their mother echo in the den. The four are vaccinated, micro-chipped, given a quick health check and weighed. They are soon back with their mother.


Veterinarian Catherine Bergzoll says, “We use a cat vaccine - the process is essentially the same as for pet cats. We give them a thorough exam to check things like their hearts and in male cats we check that their testicles have descended.”

At 9 weeks the four Lion cubs weighed between 16 and 19 pounds (7.6 to 8.8 kilos) – far more than your average adult domestic cat which tips the scales at around 8 to 11 pounds (4 to 5 kilos). The Lions are also stronger, wilder and come fully-equipped with claws and teeth.

“We try to handle them as little as possible,” says Bergzoll of the cubs. “Making sure they are growing and increasing in weight is important.”  Closed circuit cameras allow the staff to check on the cats often without disturbing the new family. 


Photo Credits:  Paignton Zoo

Continue reading "Paignton Zoo Lion Cub Update: Vaccination Day" »

Sea Lion Pups make waves at Belfast Zoo

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Northern Ireland's Belfast Zoological Gardens is celebrating the birth of two California Sea Lion pups.  Solo, the male pup, was born to Stella on June 4 and Twirl, the female pup, was born to Arielle on June 11.

Proud dad of both pups is 20-year-old Wesley, who arrived in Belfast in 2007 and has since fathered 11 pups!

Mark Challis, zoo manager, said “We are all delighted with the arrival of our Sea Lion pups and they are always a favorite with visitors!  They are highly intelligent and they are definitely one of the noisiest species we care for here at the zoo.”

All California Sea Lions in European zoos are managed as part of a cooperative European breeding program and many of the pups born at Belfast have moved to zoological collections around the world. 

The main threat facing California Sea Lions is from fishermen, who regard them as competition for fish stocks.  They are also hunted for their skin and blubber and water pollution is increasingly becoming a threat to their habitat.

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Photo Credits:  Belfast Zoo

Orphan Walrus Comforted at Alaska SeaLife Center

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This past Saturday, local fisherman spotted an orphan Pacific Walrus calf on floating ice near Barrow, Alaska. After a period of observation from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a rescue was approved and Alaska SeaLife Center staff and a local veterinarian prepared the 200lb. baby for airlift to Anchorage and transport by modified truck to ASLC in Seward. 

The calf is suckling readily from a bottle, feeding every three hours around the clock, and consuming nearly 1,400 calories at each feed. He is actively seeking attention from care-givers, and vocalizing when left alone. “Walrus are incredibly tactile, social animals,” said Stranding Coordinator Tim Lebling.  “Walrus calves typically spend about two years with their mothers, so we have to step in to provide that substitute care and companionship.”  Walrus calves almost immediately habituate to human care and therefore are not candidates for release following rehabilitation.


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The video below is one of the most touching ZooBorns has had the privilige to share

The calf appears to be in good condition; however, Center veterinarians have identified and are addressing some health concerns while performing additional diagnostic testing to better understand his condition. If you would like to contribute to this calf's care, you can do so here

More photos and information below the fold

Continue reading "Orphan Walrus Comforted at Alaska SeaLife Center" »

First Successful Breeding of Little Known Snapping Turtle Species


On July 16, a worldwide unique breeding success was achieved at Austria's Schönbrunn Zoo aquarium: four young South American Snapping Turtles (Chelydra acutirostris) have recently hatched. Very little is known about this species of turtle, which can be found from Costa Rica to Columbia -- there is hardly any information available about its habits and reproduction nor about the size of population.

"We know of no other zoo where this species is being kept“ says Zoo director Dagmar Schratter. Schönbrunn Zoo was given the parent turtles by a private turtle specialist who had to relocate the animals due to his moving abroad. During the past year keepers have been able to observe several matings, and an x-ray examination in March 2012 showed that both females had developed eggs.

A special enclosure was then built for the water turtles where the females soon buried their eggs in the sandy area especially added for this purpose. In an incubator the eggs were then brooded at temperatures between 28°C and 30°C. After 107 days full of suspense, the first baby turtle hatched. Schratter added, "We are thrilled at being the first to have bred this species while gathering data about their reproduction biology and the development of the eggs.“

For the time being they are not being shown to the public.



Photo Credit: 1,3,4:Daniel Zupanc /2: Schönbrunn Zoo/Anton Weissenbacher 

Ode to the Olympians! Newborn Otters Get Fitting Names


Chetser Zoo recently welcomed two tiny newborn baby Asian Small-clawed Otters to its fold. The water-logged pups have been appropriately named 'Daley', after U.K. Olympian diver Tom Daley, and 'Rebecca', in honor of Olympic swimmer Rebecca Adlington!

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Photo credit: Chester Zoo

Asian Small-clawed Otters are the world's smallest Otter species. Their specially designed front paws help them capture and devour their favorite aquatic treats, like Crabs and Molluscs. They are listed as vulnerable to extinction, because of threats like pollution, habitat destruction, and hunting.

These Tiny Rock Hyrax Babies the Closest Living Relative to the Elephant


On July 21, four tiny Rock Hyraxes - a species with a remarkable genetic link to the elephant - were born at Chester Zoo. This is the first set of Hyrax babies for the zoo.

Small and stocky and resembling miniature adults almost immediately, Rock Hyrax babies weigh just a few ounces! But despite their Guinea pig-like appearance, the species is in fact the closest living relative of the elephant - sharing several common features. Not only do they have acute hearing and hooves rather than claws on their toes, they have two large continually growing incisors, which correspond to an elephant’s tusks. And whereas small mammals normally have a short pregnancy period, the gestation for the Rock Hyrax lasts for around 7.5 months (245 days) - another sign of their relation to their much larger ancestors. 

Rock Hyraxes are native to Africa but can also be found along the coast of the Arabian Peninsula. As their name suggests, they live in rocky terrain, seeking shelter and protection in rugged outcrops or cliffs.

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Photo Credit: Gemma Boden

Hi There, Baby Hyena!


On June 20th, Colchester Zoo's breeding Hyena pair produced the zoo's first ever zooborn Spotted Hyena! In 2011 Colchester Zoo became the first Zoo in the UK to house the species and so they are overjoyed that they've been able to breed successfully. The new arrival can be elusive, so you may have to wait to catch a glimpse. It spends much of its time in a den with mom now, but has occasionally been seen out on exhibit by keepers.



Did you know that Hyenas are more closely related to cats than they are to dogs?


Photo credits: Amy Boliver taken at Colchester Zoo

The Spotted Hyena is listed as least concern on the IUCN Red List due to the species continued widespread distribution within Africa, south of the Sahara. Populations of the species residing outside of protected areas are suffering mild threat of decline due to persecution and loss of habitat. 

It is hoped that Abu and Kalabi continue their breeding success to help maintain the population of this species within the captive environment.