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October 2012

It's a Girl! Shedd Aquarium's Bouncing Baby Beluga Makes Public Debut


Shedd Aquarium, a world-class leader in global marine mammal conservation and research, announced that the youngest member of the aquarium’s Beluga Whale (Delphinapterus leucas) family is a girl. For the first time, the public will have the opportunity to see the baby, beginning Friday, Oct. 26, at 11 a.m.

Delivered by mother Mauyak (MAH-yak) on Aug. 27, the five-foot-long calf now weighs more than 205 pounds and is steadily gaining 12 to 15 pounds a week. Improving her milk-intake efficiency, the calf latches onto mom an average of 20 minutes per day. As the calf has mastered nursing, 1,200-pound Mauyak’s appetite has grown as well – nearly tripling her normal diet – eating up to 88 pounds of fish a day.





Three New Wallaby Joeys Play Peek-a-boo at Edinburgh Zoo

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New babies have Edinburgh Zoo jumping for joy, as the three bouncing bundles have been welcomed into the Swamp Wallaby enclosure. Whitson Woods, home to the Zoo’s group of Swamp Wallabies, is hopping with Wallaby joeys as a trio of new moms – Darri, Allora and Arinya – welcomed their newborns in July. At just under four months old, the Wallaby youngsters will remain securely snuggled in their moms pouch for a while to come, although a small head or foot can often be spotted peeking out!

These marsupials have a very short gestation period of around 33 days, after which mom gives birth to a tiny, hairless, pink joey. The joey then moves into the pouch where it will develop fully over the next eight months. After that time, the joey will only return to the pouch if it senses danger.

Members of the Kangaroo clan, Swamp Wallabies are natives to Eastern Australia. Wallabies may be slightly smaller than their relatives, but they have the same characteristic long tail which is similar in length to their body. Ideal for balancing, along with large feet and strong hind legs, their tails enable them to hop great distances -- up to ten feet.

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Photo Credits: Katie Paton

Lorna Hughes, hoof stock keeper at Edinburgh Zoo, said, “We’ve had great success when it comes to our Swamp Wallabies, and theses newest joeys are really exciting for us. We won’t be able to sex them and name them until they emerge fully.

Hughes added, "It will be great in a few months’ time when these joeys take their first few hops out and about!”

Chester Zoo Celebrates Birth of a Pure Rothschild Giraffe, it's Parents a Perfect Match!


There's a new arrival at Chester Zoo! Despite being just a few days old, at five-and-a-half feet tall, the baby is already towering over its keepers. This pure Rothschild Giraffe is the firstborn for new mum Dagmar, following a 14-and-a-half-month pregnancy.

Tim Rowlands, Curator of Mammals, said, “Dagma is a first time mum but you’d never guess it – she has been doing brilliantly so far. She seems to be taking motherhood all in her, rather long, stride. The baby is strong and tall and she was on her feet really quickly and suckling from mum not long after.”

The new arrival is especially good news as there are now less than 670 Rothschild Giraffes left in the wild, following the loss of their traditional habitat in their native Kenya and Uganda and their poaching for their meat. This species is the most endangered of the nine sub-species of Giraffe.



Photo Credit: Chester Zoo/Steve Rawlins

Dagmar arrived at the zoo on Valentine’s Day last year, after finding love via an online animal dating service. She was brought to the UK from a wildlife park in Denmark to be partnered with the zoo’s then bull Giraffe, Thorn, after a long search on a computerized matchmaking service turned up a perfect genetic pairing.

Lizzie Bowen, senior giraffe keeper, said: “We put Thorn’s genetic details into an online database and it turned out a perfect match for him. This species of Giraffe is very rare and is on the ICUN red-list of Endangered species, meaning careful breeding programs in zoos are vital for their long-term survival. However, finding and getting together a good breeding pair can be very difficult indeed.”

Just like the digital dating services that pair up people, the database contains information on gender, age, height and weight, as well as a page out of most human dating sites – details of an animal’s personality.

“Dagmar was described as being rather playful and pretty and she has certainly lived up to that. She seemed to turn Thorn’s head pretty much straight away and this week we’ve seen the result with the birth of a beautiful, pure baby Rothschild giraffe,” added Lizzie. 

Both baby and Mom are already on exhibit to be enjoyed by the visiting public.



Meet Beau, The Orphan Echidna Puggle


A 30-day-old Short-Beaked Echidna (puggle) was brought to Taronga Zoo after it was found helpless on a hiking trail near Sydney, Australia. It's quite possible the tiny puggle  fell out of its mother's pouch as typically, Echidna babies are left in cozy burrows at around 45 days of age. Echidna moms typically return to these dens once every few days to feed their young. At the moment, this tiny orphaned puggle is sucking milk from her human caretaker's hand. Female Echindas do not have teats, but rather feed their young from milk patches on their bodies. Echidnas are not weened until six or seven months of age, so this little one will be receiving lots of T.L.C. in the months to come.



Photo credit: Ben Gibson / Taronga Zoo



San Diego Zoo's Panda Cub is Learning to Walk!


The San Diego Zoo released a video this week showing its Giant Panda cub learning how to walk! The 11-week-old Panda raised one front paw, followed clumsily by the other, lurched forward, and came to a stop. He was taking baby steps during a Thursday morning veterinary examination -- his ninth so far -- while zookeepers looked on. PK Robbins, DVM, San Diego Zoo senior veterinarian, describes the attempt to walk as "like a toddler holding onto the furniture."

Viewers of Panda Cam, the Zoo's 24-hour live online camera feed, may catch glimpses of the cub learning to walk. The unnamed Panda now weighs 7.2 pounds and is 21.6 inches long.

Just 1,600 giant pandas are believed to exist in the wild, and the species is primarily threatened by habitat loss. San Diego Zoo Global, in conjunction with Chinese panda experts, is working to support science-based conservation of the species. 
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Photo Credit: Ken Bohn/San Diego Zoo

The unnamed male cub is the sixth giant panda born at the zoo. His mother, Bai Yun, gave birth to a single cub in 1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, and now to this cub on July 29. Five of them were conceived through natural mating. Only the first, in 1999, was the result of artificial insemination.  

Happy Progress for Rescued Baby Walrus at WCS’s New York Aquarium


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Mitik, or Mit for short, is one of two an orphaned Walrus calves rescued off the coast of Barrow, Alaska. It appears he was separated from his herd in the Arctic Ocean in July. They were taken in by the Alaska SeaLife Center and found new homes. Mitik was welcomed by the Wildlife Conservation Society’s New York Aquarium (the other, Pakak, was taken in by the Indianapolis Zoo) and diagnosed with a bladder infection and a high white blood cell count. He was also badly dehydrated. Initially, his caregivers did not think he would survive. He received around-the-clock care from a team of 15 animal care staff and veterinarians and responded well to medications. He's bottle-fed every four hours and is gaining as much as a half a pound each day! His last weigh-in put him at 242 pounds (109 kgs). 

“He’s hitting every milestone we’re hoping to see,"said Jon Forrest Dohlin, WCS Vice President and Director of the New York Aquarium. "Our veterinarians report to us daily on Mitik's condition, and we anticipate each health report with hope and concern."

Mitik Martha Hiatt

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Mitik side
Photo Credit: Julie Larsen

Playful and curious, Mit gets a lot of human contact, which is necessary for his well being. “He likes us to be physical, grab his flippers and roll him over,” Ms. Hiatt said. “And he still really loves to snuggle in close.”

But his caregivers are beginning to strike a balance between that physical care and weaning him from it for his -- and their -- greater good. He's starting to be so big he could pose a risk when he crawls up for a cuddle. And naturally, he must begin to identify with his own species. Ms. Hiatt said, “He needs to know he’s a walrus.”  

Sometime next spring, Mit will join the two other walruses on exhibit at the aquarium, both females: 30-year-old Nuka and 17-year-old Kulu. Until then, Mitik is engaged in a lot of play every day with his human caregivers, some of which is with his favorite toy: a white plastic bucket with holes, as seen in the video below.  “He loves to run around with that on his head and vocalize,” Ms. Hiatt said. But much of that play time doubles as training to serve medical check-ups in the future. 

Read more about Mitik after the fold:

Continue reading "Happy Progress for Rescued Baby Walrus at WCS’s New York Aquarium" »

Teensy Mouse Deer baby born at Zurich Zoo

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A Mouse Deer has given birth to an itty-bitty baby at the Zurich Zoo.  Less than 22 inches (55 centimeters) long as adults, Mouse Deer are one of the smallest hoofed animal species.  They are not really deer at all, but belong to their own unique family of hoofed mammals.

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At first, the baby Mouse Deer hid beneath plants in its enclosure, but then began to follow its mother around the exhibit.  The baby’s sex is not yet known.

Mouse Deer have no horns or antlers, but males have long, dagger-like canine teeth that are used as weapons in conflicts with other males.  Adults weigh only about 5 pounds (2.5 kg) and have legs about the size of a pencil.  Amazingly, the tongue is 5 inches (2 cm) long – long enough for the Mouse Deer to wipe its eyes! 

Mouse Deer feed primarily on leaves, shoots, and fruit, and live alone or in pairs.  Their tiny size allows them to easily pass through the dense underbrush of the forest.  Mouse Deer are eaten by people and sometimes kept as pets in their native Southeast Asian range.

Photo Credit:  Zurich Zoo

Dudley Zoo introduces Jasper the Red Panda


Although he was born in June, Dudley Zoo keepers got their first close-up look at their baby Red Panda during its first check up last week. 

The baby, a male, tried to hide behind a tree when keepers came to retrieve him, but he was ultimately caught, sexed, and microchipped.  After they knew the baby’s gender, keepers named him Jasper.



Jasper is the third Red Panda to be born to female Yasmin and her mate, Yang.

Red Pandas typically remain in the nest box for the first few months of life.  Dudley Zoo keepers allowed mother and baby complete privacy during this important bonding time.

Now that Jasper has emerged from the nest, he’s showing his playful side:  He peeks out of his nest box and quickly ducks back inside when someone spots him. 

Red pandas are endangered in their native Tibetan range.  In zoos, they are cooperatively managed to maintain a strong genetic diversity within the population.

Photo Credit:  Dudley Zoo

All eyes are on newborn Gorilla at Lincoln Park Zoo

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On October 11, a healthy baby Western Lowland Gorilla was born at the Lincoln Park Zoo – an important addition to this critically endangered species.

The baby has yet to be sexed or named and appears to be doing well. Mother Bana, 17, is showing appropriate maternal instincts, while dad Kwan, a 23-year-old silverback, is watchful over the mom and baby pair.

Photos credited to Tony GnauLincoln Park Zoo1

Photos credited to Tony GnauLincoln Park Zoo

“We are cautiously optimistic about the new arrival. So far, Bana and the baby are showing all the signs of a happy, healthy mom-and-baby pair,” said Curator of Primates Maureen Leahy.

The new baby joins a troop of six individuals, all of whom are curious about the new arrival but maintaining a respectful distance as Bana and her offspring bond. According to animal care staff, the new mom is already establishing routines.

“Bana has been nesting in a quiet corner of the enclosure where she can nurture her infant,” said Leahy. “The baby is nursing regularly and demonstrating positive behaviors like reaching and gripping tightly.”

Zookeepers and vets will closely monitor Bana and her baby to ensure they continue to do well, as the first few weeks are critical in the survival of newborn Gorillas.

This Gorilla birth is the 51st in Lincoln Park Zoo’s proud history working with the species. It came about thanks to a recommendation from the Gorilla Species Survival Plan®, a shared management effort by zoos throughout the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

It provides a welcome boost for a species that’s critically endangered due to habitat loss and hunting. In addition to work at the zoo, Lincoln Park Zoo also conserves Gorillas in the wild through the Goualougo Triangle Ape Project.

Photo Credits:  Todd Rosenberg/Lincoln Park Zoo (top), Tony Gnau/Lincoln Park Zoo