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August 2012
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October 2012

September 2012

More Testudines For Your Tuesday?


If you're looking for Turtles and Tortoises today, you've come to the right place. Phoenix Zoo welcomed the birth of a tiny (compared to his dad Ralph that is!) Galapagos Tortoise in late July. Proud parents Ralph and Mary have been at the zoo since before it even opened (50 years!). This is their 13th hatchling over their tenure at the zoo, and the first one for the pair since 2001. The newest addition can be found in its own exhibit in the Small Wonders area of the Children’s Trail.


Photo credit: Paula Swanson (1 and 2) Zoo Staff (3)

Ralph weighs more than 500 pounds. His new baby is about the size of a small cell phone. Chris and Andrew (pictured above with Ralph) of ZooBorns were lucky enough to meet Ralph, Mary, and the new baby in person at The Phoenix Zoo during the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' annual conference.

Critically Endangered Turtles Hatch at the Houston Zoo

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This week the Houston Zoo announced that five baby Madagascar Big-Headed Turtles hatched in their Madagascar Lemur exhibit. The hatchlings are small – approximately 6.8 g each, just a little larger than an US Quarter, and averaging only 28.7mm wide and 32.3 mm long.

This is the first hatching at a zoo in the United States – and Houston is one of the only zoos in the world that is currently breeding them. Ranked at number 16 on the worlds’ most endangered turtle and tortoise list, these turtles are facing extinction due to drastic deforestation and illegal hunting. This species can only be found in seven protected areas in western Madagascar. 

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Photo Credit: Stephanie Adams/Houston Zoo

Read more about these endangered Turtles after the jump:

Continue reading "Critically Endangered Turtles Hatch at the Houston Zoo" »

Meet Betong, The Baby Malayan Tapir


On the morning of August 24th, a baby Malayan Tapir named Betong was born at The Netherlands' Artis Zoo. Within an hour of his arrival, Betong was successfully nursing and standing firm on his four feet. That following Tuesday, the spotted male Tapir baby was out on exhibit for the first time. The endangered Malayan Tapir is threatened mainly by human activity such as deforestation for agriculture. Artis Zoo participates in European breeding program aimed at developing a viable breeding population of Malayan Tapirs. In addition to breeding this rare and unusual species, Artis conducts extensive research into the development cycle of Tapirs in the womb.



Photo credits: Artis Zoo

Chester Zoo Porcupettes Have Their First Check-up

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Two baby Porcupines have had their first ever health check-ups at Chester Zoo. The African Crested Porcupines, named Stempu and Noko, were born on September 1 and 4 respectively, to mom Roxie and dad Nungu. 

Keepers gave the duo a physical examination, inserted microchips and took their weights during the routine checks. 
Keeper Chris Grindle, seen here, said, “We're very pleased to say that both of our spiky new arrivals are in great shape. Noko tipped the scales at 865g (1.9 pounds) while Stempu was a little heavier at 1075g (2.4 pounds). Both look to be very healthy indeed and so we are extremely pleased with them – as are our visitors judging by their reactions when they see them.” 

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Photo Credit: Chester Zoo

Read more after the jump:

Continue reading "Chester Zoo Porcupettes Have Their First Check-up" »

Meerkats Abound at Cleveland Zoo

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Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
is alive with the pitter patter of really teeny tiny feet! The zoo’s resident Meerkat mom recently gave birth to several kits.  The zoo staff is unsure how many kits are in the litter, but suspects they were born around August 26.  Mother Meerkat has been keeping her babies hidden in a tunnel den, mostly out of view of staff members and the public.

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“We decided it would be better for the health and welfare of the kits to not disturb them by entering the exhibit and allow them time to bond with their mother,” Curator of Animals Andi Kornak said. “Consequently, we are not sure exactly how many of them there may be total, but we do have visual confirmation on three individuals.”

Meerkat kits in the wild are kept hidden in the mob’s tunnel system to protect them from predators. They are tended to by several members of the mob, not just their mother, who act as baby-sitters or wet nurses. A Meerkat typically gives birth to between one and five kits. The kits normally begin exploring outside the den at about 3-4 weeks old.

Meerkats are native to southern Africa, including Angola, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. In the wild they forage for insects are other small creatures including scorpions and spiders.

Photo credit:  Joe Yachanin/Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

Just Minutes Old, Baby Giraffe Stands for the First Time!

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On September 18, while keepers and zoo guests watched in amazement, 19-year-old Cheka the Giraffe delivered a healthy female calf at Missouri's Dickerson Park Zoo.  Covered in dirt after her delivery and with the umbilicus visible on her belly, the six-and-a-half-foot tall baby Giraffe struggled to her feet and took her first wobbly steps within an hour of birth (see video).




The baby Giraffe was named Pammy J. or P.J. by zoo keepers and is the first calf sired by Peperuka, the zoo's bull Giraffe, who arrived in 2011.  Pammy J. is Cheka's ninth calf.  Three other female Giraffes at Dickerson Park Zoo are pregnant, and all are expected to deliver in the next three to four months. 

Giraffes give birth standing up.  The calf emerges front feet and nose first, then falls six or more feet to the ground.  The mother immediately begins licking the baby, cleaning it and stimulating the newborn to stand.  In Giraffes' native African home, it is important that calves stand and walk within an hour to avoid falling prey to a hungry lion. 

Photo Credit:  Dickerson Park Zoo




Cubs Meet World: Amur Leopard Cubs Enter Exhibit for the First Time

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Two Amur Leopard cubs, born at the Minnesota Zoo on May 29, took their first tentative steps into their exhibit last week, charming zoo guests and the media.  The cubs, one male and one female, spent the last several months nursing, bonding with mom, and building up their strength.

Amur leopards are a part of a Species Survival Plan (SSP) through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). As part of a breeding recommendation from the SSP, the cubs’ mother, “Polina,” came to the Zoo in 2007 from the Audubon Nature Institute in Louisiana; the father, “Chobby,” came from Olomouc Zoo in the Czech Republic in 2009.

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Dr. Tara Harris, Director of Conservation at the Minnesota Zoo, said “These births are significant not only because Amur leopards are critically endangered, but also because reintroduction from zoo-bred lineages is under consideration in Russia. The Minnesota Zoo’s cubs are part of the global population that would be used for such a program.”

Amur leopards are silent, sleek, and strong hunters of deep forests. Their thick coats and long legs help them survive in the cold and snowy climate of eastern Asia. Strictly carnivores, the Amur leopard’s diet consists of mostly small deer. Once a kill has been made, they will carry their prey to a high point for safe storage. These stealthy, speedy hunters excel at climbing and jumping. Living alone, rather than in the company of other Amur leopards, they can keep and defend territories of up to 40 square miles.

Encroaching civilization and roads, poaching, and exploitation of forests have brought this animal to the brink of extinction. Fewer than 40 animals are estimated to remain in the wild, resulting in the classification of the Amur leopard as a critically-endangered species.

Photo Credit:  Minnesota Zoo

After tragedy, Okapi calf represents hope

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Following a devastating blow to Okapi conservation efforts this summer, a ray of hope arrived for this threatened species:  a healthy Okapi calf was born on September 15 at the Antwerp Zoo.

Conservationists were stunned when poachers raided the Okapi Wildlife Resrve in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in June, wiping out the entire breeding herd of 14 Okapi and killing 19 people.   But far from the scene of the attack, the staff of the Antwerp Zoo was closely monitoring Sofie the Okapi during her pregnancy.

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During Sofie’s pregnancy, which was her sixth, the zoo’s veterinary staff took advantage of her easygoing demeanor to learn all they could about her developing calf through frequent ultrasounds, hoping that the knowledge gained will improve captive Okapi breeding success.

Zoo breeding programs are more important than ever in light of the June attack.  Okapi are found only in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Clearing of rain forest for agriculture and tropical hardwoods, mining, poaching and the political and socio-economic unrest in the region contribute to the Okapi’s uncertain future.

The Antwerp Zoo oversees the breeding program for Okapi in European zoos in an effort to maintain genetic diversity in the captive population.  Okapi are related to giraffes, as evidenced by their long tongues and long necks.  The bold stripes are unique to each Okapi, much like a person’s fingerprints.  These stripes provide ideal camouflage in their native jungle habitat.

Photo Credits:  Antwerp Zoo

UPDATE! Help San Diego Zoo Name This Panda Cub


The Panda cub at the San Diego Zoo that you first read about on ZooBorns on September 10 started to see the great big world around him. During an exam last Wednesday morning, animal care staff could see the cub's eyes beginning to open. That was right on track for this 45-day old male cub. It will take about another 20 days for the eyes to be fully open, but as you can see in the video below, taken on September 20, he's making progress!  Veterinarians believe he can see but is likely limited to viewing light and shadows.

Animal care staff are pleased with his growth. This exam revealed he now weighs 4.9 pounds (2.26 kilograms) -- nearly a pound more than he weighed during the last check up. His abdominal and chest girth show that he is nursing well from his mother, Bai Yun. But he's a wee bit sleepy during this vet exam... there are lots of baby panda yawns in the video!

Photo credit: Photo 1 Tammy Spratt, San Diego Zoo Global, Photo 2: Ken Bohn / San Diego Zoo

As of September 17, the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy began taking name suggestions for the cub on its website. The zoo follows the Chinese cultural tradition of naming the Giant Panda after it is 100 days old. Names must be submitted in Chinese pinyin, which is the official system to transcribe Chinese characters into Latin script, and significance of the name must be included to be considered. They are taking submissions until Monday, September 24.

Get the First Look at Dublin Zoo's Baby Meerkat Duo!


Dublin Zoo has announced the arrival of two Meerkat pups to their family of four adults. Although the pups were born in July, visitors are only now getting their first glimpse of them, as mom and dad kept the pups hidden in burrows during the early stages of their lives. Throughout this period, their parents and two aunts kept watch over those secret passages, calling out and warning each other if there were any signs of danger or predators nearby. This is typical of Meerkats who demonstrate altruistic behavior within their colonies, where one or more Meerkats stand guard to warn others of approaching dangers.

Eddie O’Brien, team leader, said, “We are delighted with the arrival of the pups. It has been some time since Meerkats were born at the Zoo, so these are a welcome additions. We think the youngsters are female." Both pups are doing very well. They are still feeding from their mother but recently have also started eating solids.

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Meerkats are small mammals belonging to the mongoose family. They are found in various parts of southern Africa including the Kalahari Desert in Botswana, the Namib Desert in Namibia, southwestern Angola and South Africa. Primarily insectivores, they can also eat eat lizards, snakes, scorpions, spiders, eggs, small mammals, millipedes, centipedes and, more rarely, small birds. 

Visitors can see the Meerkat pups in the Meerkat Restaurant at Dublin Zoo.

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Photo Credit: Dublin Zoo