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January 2013

Kangaroo Joeys Think Outside the Pouch at Brookfield Zoo

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Two Western Grey Kangaroos born at Brookfield Zoo have been spending time outside their mothers’ pouches exploring their outdoor habitat. The young Kangaroos, called joeys, were born on February 20 and March 13 of last year to moms Daisy, 7½, and Sheila, 11.

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Photo Credit: Jim Schulz/Chicago Zoological Society
 

The 10- and 11-month-old joeys only recently began hopping around and exploring their surroundings. They spent the first several months of life tucked into their mothers’ pouches, where they nursed and grew.  They will continue to nurse until they are 18 months old.  Of course by then, they’ll no longer be able to fit in the pouch.

At birth, a joey is extremely underdeveloped and is about the size of a jellybean. During this early stage of development, a mother produces low-fat milk for her young, and as a joey gets older and ventures out of the pouch, the milk becomes high in fat. A truly amazing attribute of this species is that if a mother Kangaroo is nursing a newly born joey and a juvenile already out of the pouch, she has the ability to produce both low-fat milk and high-fat milk at the same time.

Western Grey Kangaroos are one of 60 species of Kangaroos and Wallabies, all of which are native to Australia. 


Wake Up Little Lion Cub!

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Being a Lion cub is hard work, as these images of the latest additions to Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo show.  Five Lion cubs, two males and three females, were born on December 29, 2012 to first-time mother Mfisha and father Mr. Big.

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Photo Credit:  Henry Doorly Zoo

Four of the cubs are on display with their mother and aunt, but one of the female cubs is currently in the zoo's hospital receiving round the clock care. She was smaller than the other cubs and didn’t compete well for food, so at 24 hours old Animal Care Staff gave her fluids to keep her hydrated. At 48 hours old the decision was made to remove the cub to the hospital for hand-rearing. When the cub’s health is stable and she is gaining weight, she will be introduced to her mother and siblings while keepers will provide her with extra feedings throughout the day when the mother is briefly shifted to a nearby enclosure.

This breeding is part of an SSP (Species Survival Plan) recommendation. The subspecies, krugeri, is the focus of AZA’s (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) Felid Taxon Advisory Group to concentrate zoo efforts nationwide to breed Lions of known lineage. There have been eleven African Lion births in the last twelve months at AZA accredited zoos in North America. The count does not inlcude these cubs. 

African Lions are listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources). Over the last 20 years the lion population has estimated to have declined from 30% to 50%. African Lions live in sub-Sahara Africa with the majority in eastern and southern Africa.  The last Lion birth at the zoo was in 1994.


Tiny Sloth Bear Cub Gets Vocal at Smithsonian's National Zoo

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The Smithsonian National Zoo has two bearing bears! The month of December was fruitful for the National Zoo's bears. You may have read about the first birth of an Andean Bear cub here on ZooBorns. Now 18-year-old Sloth Bear Hana has given birth to a single cub. What's more, it all went down on Dec. 19, which happens to be her own birthday!

Animal care staff are keeping a close watch on the cub through a closed-circuit TV camera, and so far, both bears are doing great. Mom is very attentive, and the cub has successfully nursed.

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At first, the cub was quite fussy when Hana would change position. Now, it is more settled, sleeping regularly and soundly. When Hana leaves the den for a drink, the cub tries to crawl around in the hay. However, it doesn’t have much coordination yet. It will be another week or two before it becomes more coordinated and able to start moving around more on its own.

At 17 days old, as seen in the video below, the cub is loud for such a tiny baby. Watch as it opens its little mouth and looks like it's trying to find somewhere to nurse. But the Zoo reports this is just playing behavior. Regardless, Mom is quite patient and attentive with her vocal little one.  

He (or she) is growing! Keepers estimate the cub’s weight to be about 1-2 pounds. It’s likely that the cub will open its eyes any day now. 

It will be a few months before it goes on exhibit. On warm winter days, Zoo visitors can watch the cub’s father, Francois, sunning himself on Asia Trail.

Photo Credit: Smithsonian’s National Zoo


UPDATE! San Diego Zoo's Panda Cub's Toys Prepare Him for Foray into Habitat

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Yesterday was a big day for the San Diego Zoo's Giant Panda cub, Xiao Liwu: this was his first time greeting onlookers. The cub stepped into the outside habitat by himself in morning on January 9 and climbed through the bamboo as employees and media representatives got their first glimpses of the five-month-old.

Panda staff say the cub is a confident climber but may have some tumbles while he's getting used to the new habitat, which is very normal. There are trees, a moat and rocks to climb over, which are all new elements for the cub. In late December he was given toys during his vet exam that helped him prepare for outside exploration, including a doughnut-shaped plastic ring (perfect for panda sitting), a stick of bamboo and a plastic ball. 

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Photo Credit: Ken Bohn/San Diego Zoo

Only 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 Giant Panda experts from the People's Republic of China, continues to work on science-based panda conservation programs at the Zoo and in China.  

Here's a video of little Xiao Liwu as he navigates the great outdoors with mom.

  


Chester Zoo's New Baby Anteater Hitches a Ride

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A rare baby Giant Anteater was born at Chester Zoo on December 23. The tiny baby, whose gender is not yet known, is only the second of the species to ever be born at the zoo. The baby will cling to its mother’s back for approximately six months until it is ready to walk, explore and find food on its own. Parents Pedro and Bliss, both aged three, arrived in 2010 as part of an international breeding program.

Team Manager David White said, “Bliss is a very good mum and is so far doing an excellent job of looking after her new arrival. She’s obviously very proud of her newborn and has, every now and again, been parading around and showing off to our visitors. Seeing the youngster clinging tightly to her tail is quite the sight!”

Giant Anteaters are classed as Vulnerable to extinction by conservationists, so the birth is good news for the unusual looking species. Native to Central and South America, the animals do not have teeth but have tongues which can measure up to almost 24 inches (over half a meter) long!

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Photo Credit: Chester Zoo

Find Giant Anteater facts just after the fold:

Continue reading "Chester Zoo's New Baby Anteater Hitches a Ride" »


Hey Man! It's a Baby Caiman!

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Early Monday morning, Zoo Zagreb in Croatia hatched a baby Caiman for the first time in its history. The golfball sized egg, along with the eggs of two yet to be hatched siblings, was incubating for nearly four months. This allowed keepers to stabilize and regulate temperatures throughout the eggs' development. Zoo officials have meanwhile prepared a new habitat for the trio. If all goes to plan, the hatchling will move into its new habitat in two week's time. It would be too dangerous for these fragile baby reptiles to move into the same enclosure as mom at this stage. Their separate home will include a swimming pool and a waterfall, and will offer visitors to the zoo an authentic experience of the Caimans' tropical Central and South American home.

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Photo credit: Zoo Zagreb

 


A Whole Lotta (African Penguin) Hatchin' Goin' On at Toronto Zoo

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The Toronto Zoo had a lot of baby penguins hatch in 2012. This is the Zoo's first full calendar year for the breeding program which produced two sets of hatchings; three in the spring and five in December. That's a total of eight Endangered African Penguin chicks that joined their existing penguin colony. They will be on exhibit at their indoor enclosure within the African Savanna, starting mid-February. And, a fifth pair are still sitting on two eggs, due to hatch in mid-January! 

Two eggs are usually laid. The incubation period is about 40 days, with the male and female participating equally in the incubation duties. The length of the incubation shift is dependent on the availability of food at the time, but it is typically about two and a half days.

Although they form vast breeding colonies, these birds are monogamous. In the wild, pairs bond together and return to the same breeding sites year after year. They start breeding from between 2-6 years of age, but normally at 4 years old. They have a very interesting courtship display; the male performs a shuffling dance around the female, periodically touching her bill-end. There is an almost human-like embrace when the two birds stand breast to breast, enfolding each other with their flippers and with bills interlocked. This ritual reinforces the bond between them. About 80 to 90% of pairs remain together in consecutive breeding seasons, and some are known to have remained together for over 10 years.
 
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Photo Credit: Toronto Zoo
Read more about penguins mating ritual and rearing behavoir after the fold:

Continue reading "A Whole Lotta (African Penguin) Hatchin' Goin' On at Toronto Zoo" »


Endangered Harpy Eagle Mom Shares a Sneak Peek of Her Hatchling

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It is with great pride that Zoo Miami officially announces the hatching of an endangered Harpy Eagle! Here are several images that Ron Magill was extremely fortunate to capture friday morning (after patiently waiting over 3 ½ hours for the mother to allow him a view!) of the chick being fed by its mother. In addition, we’ve included two images that Ron was able to take of the chick when it was only 9 days old so you can see how much it has grown in 3 weeks.

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Photo credits: Ron Magill / Zoo Miami

Continue reading "Endangered Harpy Eagle Mom Shares a Sneak Peek of Her Hatchling" »


Seeing Double: Andean Bear Cubs Born at Smithsonian National Zoo

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The Smithsonian National Zoo is celebrating the birth of two Andean Bear cubs born overnight on December 13 to 6-year-old Mom, Billie Jean. The first cub was born around 12:01 a.m. and the second at 2:02 a.m. These two cubs were sired by Nikki, who passed away in August.

This species has a high mortality rate, with first-year mortality at 41 percent for males and 44 percent for females. The Andean Bear population in human care has experienced a lull in the past six years and these cubs are the only surviving Andean cubs in a North American Zoo since Billie Jean’s first cubs, Bernardo and Chaska, were born in 2010.

Animal Care Sciences staff will monitor the cubs on the Andean Bear Cam, but will leave Billie Jean to nurture and bond with her cubs without interference. It will be at least two months before keepers and veterinarians can determine the cubs’ sex.

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Photo Credit: Smithsonian’s National Zoo

The public can also view Billie Jean and the cubs on the live camera on the Zoo’s website or mobile app. For now the Zoo will be collecting screenshots in a Flickr album and is asking the public to contribute images and video to a separate Flickr album. The Zoo will also post updates on Facebook and Twitter.


Wrinkly Pink Aardvark Calf Debuts at Henry Doorly Zoo

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What weighs 16 pounds, has a long snout, and is wrinkly all over?  The new Aardvark calf at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo!

The female calf, which was born on October 8, made her public debut on December 27.  Because her mother has a history of not caring for her offspring, the calf is being hand-reared by zoo staff.   She is displayed next to her parents so she can become familiar with their scent and vocalizations.

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Photo Credit:  Henry Doorly Zoo

Though the effort required to hand-rear an aardvark is significant, it is definitely worthwhile:  only about 30 Aardvarks currently live in twelve accredited North American zoos.

Aardvarks live throughout sub-Saharan Africa, exploiting any habitat where ants and termites are available.  Using their powerful front legs and claws, Aardvarks tear open insect mounds and take up thousands of ants or termites with their long sticky tongues.   Though their skin appears fragile, it is in fact thick enough to withstand a flurry of ant stings or termite bites with no harm to the Aardvark.

Zoo guests are invited to enter a contest to name the calf when they visit her exhibit at the zoo.