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October 2012

Baby Pygmy Hippo a Big Splash at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

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She may be tiny, but this rare Pygmy Hippo is making a big splash at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. Born eight weeks ago, the little calf named Georgina is enjoying exploring her new surroundings, paddling around her heated indoor pool alongside mom. The youngster is the second born to parents Flora and Tapon. She arrived just 18 months after the birth of their son Sapo, who was the first male Pygmy Hippo to be born in Europe.

The new baby is an important addition to the European Endangered Species Program and for the conservation of this species worldwide. Pygmy Hippos are considered Threatened. In the wild their numbers have dwindled to less than 3,000. The species is part of ZSL’s Edge of Existence program – a global conservation effort dedicated to threatened animal species which have a unique evolutionary history. 

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Photo Credit: ZSL Whipsnade

Africa section team leader, Mark Holden, said, “Like the name hippopotamus – which means water horse – suggests, Georgina enjoys taking a dip, paddling around, and blowing bubbles under the water. Flora’s a star mum and is really helping the new calf to thrive.”


Endangered Keeled Box Turtle Hatches at the Tennessee Aquarium


A tiny new face has Tennessee Aquarium herpetologists smiling. This is the Aquarium’s first successful hatching of a Keeled Box Turtle, Cuora mouhotii, a species that is considered endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN).  Unlike other endangered Turtles reared at the Aquarium this year, this recent addition was rather slow to venture into the world. “The spiny Turtles just come right out,” said senior herpetologist Bill Hughes. “But this Turtle seemed content to open one end of the egg and look out at the world from inside the shell. It stayed there for two days before emerging.”


Photo credit: Tennessee Aquarium

Keeled Box Turtles get their common names from the three raised ridges, or “keels” running the length of their shells. The edge of the shell has a number of sharp spikes near the tail. Their rugged appearance doesn’t match a tender start. This species tends to lay rather fragile eggs that are often crushed by the parents. Luckily this one was discovered by keepers before being damaged. “This baby Turtle hatched after an incubation period lasting 126 days,” said Hughes.

This species is native to China, India, Laos, Myanmar and Viet Nam. Like many other Southeast Asian Turtles, keeled box Turtles have been over-collected in the wild for food and the pet trade. Several conservation organizations are working to protect the remaining wild populations from illegal trade, while zoos and aquariums are working toward increasing assurance populations in human care. This assures that the species does not go extinct if these animals disappear in the wild. Currently the U.S. population of Keeled Box Turtles at accredited zoos and aquariums is fewer than 20 animals.

The Tennessee Aquarium has one of the largest turtle collections on public display with more than 500 individuals representing 75 species. The Aquarium now has six Keeled Box Turtles. There are three adults, one male and two females, this new baby and a pair of young Keeled Box Turtles on exhibit in the Turtle Gallery on level 2 of the River Journey building.

San Diego Zoo Baby Panda Update!

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The San Diego Zoo's little Panda man is growing up! His eyes and ears are fully open now, so he's ready to take on the world. You can follow his growth in previous stories on You can also peek in on him every day through the Zoo's live panda cam here:

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Photo Credit: San Diego Zoo

See his 7th check up on the video below. The Giant Panda cub is quite used to being handled and clearly likes his chin scritches. The vets are pleased with his health and growth. He's eating well and now weighs 6.6 pounds (3kg).

Dumai The Baby Tiger Is About To Make A New Friend


Dumai, Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium's Sumatran Tiger cub, is getting a new buddy. Meet Berani, a 5-week-old Malayan male cub scheduled to arrive at Point Defiance this week from Tulsa Zoo and Living Museum. Each was the only cub in a litter and pulled from mom within days of birth because the tiny Tigers were not thriving. Once Berani arrives and is checked out, you will be able to see him in the cub den playing and pouncing with Dumai.

Sumatran Tigers, listed as critically endangered, are the smallest subspecies of Tiger and their fur is a darker orange than that of Malayans. Sumatran Tigers also are the only remaining Tiger subspecies that lives on an island. As few as 300 live in the wild on the Indonesian island.




Photo Credit: Tulsa Zoo and Living Aquarium

Malayan Tigers, a bit bigger, lighter in color and lankier in body conformation, are native to the tropical forests of peninsular Malaysia. The Tiger Conservation Campaign estimates that fewer than 500 remain in the wild.

Each of the tigers will reach 275-300 pounds when fully grown. They’ll eventually be placed into zoo-based breeding populations of their respective subspecies to maintain genetic diversity and increase their numbers.

Bringing the Malayan cub to Tacoma is a wonderful example of the cooperative Species Survival Plan work in action. To learn more about the tigers, the Tiger Conservation Campaign and what you can do to help them, visit

First Female Southern White Rhino Calf Born at Monarto Zoo Significant for Species

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Born on October 2 at Zooz South Australia's Monarto Zoo, this female Southern White Rhinoceros baby is significant to the regional population of the species. Parents Uhura and Satara have bred successfully before, producing two male calves -- Watoto, in 2005 and, Jubari, in 2007.

“With only 20,150 Southern White Rhinoceros left in the wild, this new calf is extremely important to the region, especially considering one day she will go on to produce her own offspring,” said Zoos SA CEO, Elaine Bensted. "It’s a great achievement and very exciting not only for our Zoo SA staff but also our volunteers, members and visitors.”

This timely announcement was made by Ms. Bensted on World Animal Day to highlight the important conservation work happening on the ground at Monarto Zoo. The major threat facing Southern White Rhinoceros is poaching for their horns, which are of high value on the black market. Approximately 400 rhinos have lost their lives this year alone to this barbaric trade.

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Photo Credit: David Mattner for Monarto Zoo

Rare Red Panda Twins Take First Peek Outside


The Zoological Society of London’s Whipsnade Zoo is getting a glimpse of their Red Panda twins for the first time since they were born in June. The girls, named Yin and Yang, have stayed close to first-time mom, Tashi, for the last few months, and are only now beginning to take tentative steps to explore their surroundings.



Photo Credits: Photos 1,3: Richard Claypole, Photo 2: A. Harris

Keepers have spotted the cute cubs peeping their heads out of their nest box, and say the duo are already starting to live up to their names.

Senior keeper Tessa Knox said, “Yin is more sedate while Yang seems to be quite feisty, mirroring the philosophies behind their names – opposite yet complementary forces.

“Both are doing really well and are beginning to get more adventurous and confident, though they will continue to stick close to mum for a little while longer yet.” 

The twins live with Tashi and dad, Peter, in a tree in the middle of the Zoo. The family eat a special high fiber, leaf eater diet - their favorite food is bamboo but they also enjoy bananas and grapes. 

The Red Panda is listed on the IUCN Red List as "Vulnerable" and is thought to be under threat because of habitat loss in their native Nepal, with an estimated population of less than 10,000.  The twins at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo are an important addition to the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP).

Newborn Colobus Monkey Snuggles Close to Mom

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The Fort Wayne Children's Zoo is celebrating the birth of a baby Black and White Colobus Monkey, the first to be born in 12 years at the zoo.  The female baby was born on September 25.

The infant, named Kaasidy, and her mother, Jibini, went outdoors into their exhibit for the first time late last week.  Colobus babies are covered in white fur.  At 2-3 months of age, they develop the deep black coat, shaggy white mantle, and tufted white tail typical of adult Colobus Monkeys. 

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Jibini is a first-time mother, so zoo keepers have been watching carefully to make certain she is caring for her baby.  For now, Kaasidy clings to her mother’s belly, though in a few weeks she’ll begin to climb about. 

Colobus Monkeys are native to Africa’s equatorial forests, where they spend nearly all of their time in trees feeding on fruits, leaves, and other vegetation.  Some populations are threatened due to habitat loss and hunting for their dramatic black-and-white coat.  To maintain a genetically healthy zoo population of Colobus Monkeys, they are cooperatively managed by the Species Survival Plan (SSP) program of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA). 

Photo Credit:  Fort Wayne Children's Zoo

First Rusty-Spotted Cats in 168 Years at the Berlin Zoo!

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The Berlin Zoo is celebrating the first birth of Rusty-Spotted Cats in its 168-year history.  Rusty-Spotted Cats are the world's smallest wild cats, weighing only 2.0 to 3.5 lb (0.9 to 1.6 kg) as adults. 

The two kittens were born on August 5, and have only recently begun to leave their den to explore their exhibit.  Playful, clumsy, and a little awkward, the two female youngsters are a delight to zoo guests.  At birth, kittens typically weigh just 2.0-2.7 ounces (60-77 g).

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Native only to Sri Lanka and India, these diminuitive cats are classified as Vulnerable due to habitat loss and the conversion of wild lands to farms.  Rusty-Spotted Cats prefer dense forests and grasslands, emerging at night to hunt for rodents, birds, and lizards. 

Little is known about these secretive cats, and few zoos display this species, making these two kitttens especially important for the captive population.

Photo Credits: Berlin Zoo

0.9 to 1.6 kg (2.0 to 3.5 lb)

Safe in her Mother's Arms: Baby Gorilla Born at Durell

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On September 27, as new mother Hlala Kahlili cradled her newborn infant, the U.K.'s Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust celebrated the arrival of their first Western Lowland Gorilla in nine years. Western Lowland Gorillas are one of the world's most critically endangered primates, so this birth is significant for the species' breeding program.

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The baby, whose gender is not yet known, is the first offspring of Badongo, a dominant silverback Gorilla who arrived at the park last year.  Hlali Kahlili is an experienced mother, and this is her fourth baby.

Mark Brayshaw, Head of Animal Collection at Durrell said, “We are delighted with the great news and so far the mother and baby are doing well, but as with all births we need to be extra cautious during the first few days. At the moment the group including the new parents are all very relaxed and our keepers are remaining as hands off as possible as the group appears quite settled.”

Western Lowland Gorillas are native to the forests of equatorial Africa.  They live in extended family groups, traversing the forest in search of fruit, leaves, and seeds. 

Photo Credits:  Will Bertram

You Otter See These Pups!


Edinburgh Zoo's Oriental Small-clawed Otters welcomed five new borns to the raft in July this year - and now the 10 week old pups have started venturing out and about in their enclosure. The quintuplets were born to mum Elena and dad Ray - their third litter since arriving at the Zoo, making them experts when it comes to rearing pups. The youngsters have only recently started to explore their new surroundings under the watchful eyes of their older sisters, Eliza and Aisha, and of course their protective parents. Keepers have sexed the 10 week olds as three females and two males, who have yet to be named.



Photo credit: Edinburgh Zoo

Lorna Hughes, hoof stock keeper at Edinburgh Zoo, said: "Asian Short-clawed Otters are the smallest Otter species in the world and the pups are around 10 weeks old now, so they still have a fair bit of growing to do. This species is under threat in the wild, so it really is brilliant news that Elena and Ray have had another litter together.  Their offspring will go on to play an important part in the conservation program."

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