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January 2013
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February 2013

Three's Company When It Comes to Otter Pups

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On January 13, deep within the dens of the U.K.'s Durrell Wildlife Park Asian Small-clawed Otter enclosure, female otter Bintang gave birth to not one, not two but three babies! Small-clawed Otters are the smallest species of otter in the world, and when the babies were checked and weighed just days ago, they weighed a tiny three-quarters pound (335g) each!

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Mogo Zoo's Visitors in Awe at Birth of Baby Rothschild Giraffe

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In New South Wales on the afternoon of January 24, Mogo Zoo's visitors got to witness a rare sight: a baby Giraffe being born.

Mom Shani, a Rothschild Giraffe, began the first stages of labor while on view in the habitat, surrounded by the rest of the herd, who clearly understood what was going on. Following a one and-a-half hour labor, as the visiting public looked on in awe and delight, a healthy female calf was born at 12:57 p.m.. She weighed in at 264.5 pounds (120 kg). Shani, now an experienced third-time mother, has bonded extremely well with her newborn, starting with a thorough cleaning of the newborn with her long tongue.

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The calf made her first wobbly attempts to stand at 1:45 p.m. and was attempting to nurse by 2:00 p.m. Seeing that those milestones had been reached, the proud mother gently nosed her calf over to the adjoining savannah fence, where the remaining members of the herd were eagerly awaiting an introduction.

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Photo Credit: Mogo Zoo

Of the nine subspecies of giraffes in Africa, the Rothschild’s Giraffe is classified as Endangered, with less than 670 individuals remaining in the wild. The populations are declining due to a number of factors, including habitat loss and fragmentation. Human population growth and illegal hunting also contribute to their dwindling numbers. Mogo Zoo already plays a major role in the Global Breeding Program for this Endangered sub-species. With the recent introduction of Tanzi, the zoo's newest breeding female from Melbourne Zoo, Mogo Zoo is confident that their participation and success in the Program will continue to grow.

See more photos after the fold:

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Baby Sloth Hangs Out with Mom at Belfast Zoo

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Belfast Zoological Garden’s baby boom isn’t slowing down, although the latest newborn there is considered the world’s slowest mammal! On December 12, keepers were delighted to discover a baby Linne’s Two-toed Sloth.  

Sloths are found in the treetops of Central and South American rain forests. They spend nearly all of their time aloft, hanging from branches with a powerful grip, due in large part to their long claws. They are a nocturnal species, and so sleep for 15 to 20 hours every day. Their diet of leaves provides little energy; in order to conserve their resources, they move very slowly. In fact, even when they are awake, they often remain motionless.

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Photo Credit: Belfast Zoo

Due to the Sloth’s nocturnal behavior, the baby has been named Luna, which means ‘moon’ in Spanish. Zoo Curator, Andrew Hope, said, “Newborn Two-toed Sloths use the stomach of their mother as a cradle and are well camouflaged in her fur so it can be quite difficult to spot them. Our keepers discovered that Natja had given birth at 12:00 p.m. on the 12th of December in 2012 -- and if that isn’t special enough, this is the first Sloth to be born at Belfast Zoo and in Ireland!  It is fair to say that we are ‘over the moon’ with Luna’s arrival.”

See another picture of the sleepy Sloth after the fold:

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Memphis Zoo Welcomes a Baby Reticulated Giraffe

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The pitter patter of little hooves can be heard at the Giraffe Exhibit at Memphis Zoo.

Around 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday, January 16, Marilyn, a 19-year-old Reticulated Giraffe, gave birth to Maliki, a baby girl weighing 115 pounds. This is the fourth calf for Marilyn, and the sixth sired by Kenya. 

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Maliki meets her her father, Kenya.

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Photo credits: Laura Doty / Memphis Zoo

"Marilyn is a great, experienced mother," says Matt Thompson, Director of Animal Programs. "We're always excited about the birth of a healthy baby, but I'm especially pleased because Maliki inherited her mother's beautiful coloring. She has her mother's dark face, which is something the other calves haven't had."

Baby Maliki and Marilyn have already been out on exhibit. They will be spending short amounts of time on exhibit between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., however, due to cold temperatures, the Zoo's animal staff will continue to rotate them on and off exhibit.

Reticulated Giraffes give birth standing, and are one of the few animals born with horns on their heads. This is to protect them from a 6-foot fall to the ground at birth. 

See more family photos after the fold!

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Baby Aardvark at Bioparc Valencia First Ever Born in Spain

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With ears like a bunny, a body a bit like a pig and a tail like a kangaroo, the Aardvark is quite an unusual animal. This pink baby Aardvark was born on January 14 at Bioparc Valencia, perhaps with a face that only a mother could love. This is a very special event, since it is the first Aardvark ever born in Spain. It weighed 3.4 pounds (1.580 kg) at birth and now, at two weeks old, has already reached 5.8 pounds (2.650 kg). The sex is still unknown.

Since this is an important baby, keepers have kept a careful watch via video installed in the nesting area. They are letting Mom do her job, and she's doing it well. But when she leaves to eat, zoo staff has their opportunity to check the baby, performing a total check on its progress: weight, nutrition, cleaning, and even moisturizing it's skin if needed. This monitoring is performed every three hours, while keeping an eye on temperature and humidity in the habitat. They also watch to see that the baby is nursing roughly every 2 hours. The baby is healthy and growing stronger every day.

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Photo Credit: Bioparc Valencia

The baby's parents are Dad, Charly, 4 years old, and Mom, Danny, who is 8 years old. Typically the gestation period is about 243 days and there is usually only one offspring, which feeds during the day while the mother sleeps. Since Aardvarks are nocturnal, in the wild a youngster stays alone at night in the deep caves dug by the mother, where it stays warm and safe from predators while she leaves to forage for food. Young remain with their mothers for about 6 months before moving out to dig their own burrows with their powerful feet and claws. This mammal is an omnivore and so will use those same claws to dig for food - mostly termites - which they then extract with their long tongues.

Here is the most recent video of the baby with mom: 

 Read more Aardvark facts, and watch an early video of the baby nursing, after the fold:

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Takin Baby Arrives in the Early Morning at the San Diego Zoo

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Visitors at the San Diego Zoo were in for a surprise this past Saturday when they were unexpectedly greeted by the zoo's newest inhabitant, a newborn Takin. The baby boy, born sometime between 7:30 and 8:00 AM on February 2nd, was quick to its feet as mother Summer immediately started work on cleaning her new son off. While this was not Summer's first child, it was the first for his father Lian. Summer's grown daughter Mei Long was also there to help her mother care for her new half brother. These photos, taken less than an hour and a half after the birth, document some the intimate first hours of this newborn's life.

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Photo Credits: Rita Petita

Takins, closely related to the Sheep, are native to China and the eastern Himalayas. They have many specialized adaptations to cope with this cold environment such as a secondary coat of fur and a special nasal cavity that helps warm up the cold air they breath in. As herbivores, Takin eat essentially any vegetation that they come across including tough leaves, bark and bamboo. Although they are considered national treasures in their native China, Takin are still facing a declining population, primarily due to habitat loss. This has led to their classification as an endangered species by the IUCN. 

See more photos after the fold.

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Spritely Grevy's Zebra Foal Second Born at Phoenix Zoo

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Born on January 19 to parents Masika and Punda, this newest addition to the Phoenix Zoo’s herd of Grevy’s Zebras weighed in at an even 100 pounds (45.35 kg). This is the nineteenth Grevy’s Zebra born at the zoo since 1987. He enjoys exploring his exhibit and is playing with the zoo's other male foal, Utambo, born just a couple of months earlier in November to mother Afiya. Both foals share the same father.

These babies are important, as they add to the sparse population of this Endangered species. There are less than 2,500 left in the wild due to loss of habitat, competition with livestock and poaching. As the largest zebra species, Grevy’s can be distinguished from other zebras by their longer legs, more narrow stripes, a plain white underbelly and large rounded ears. They are only found in northern Kenya and southeastern Ethiopia.

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Photo Credit: Phoenix Zoo

See more pictures and read how his mother will choose his name after the fold:

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New Bloodline of Fennec Foxes Born at Taronga Zoo

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Australia's Taronga Zoo welcomed three Fennec Fox infants, the first to be born to a new breeding pair from Europe. The kits, which are just starting to emerge from their nest box, were born on December 19, 2012, a year after the zoo introduced their parents, Zinder and Kibali, a new breeding couple from Europe.

Carnivore Keeper Tamara Bell said, “Any new arrival is special, but what makes these Fennec kits even more important is that they’re the first offspring born to Zinder, the male who came from Germany, and Kebilli, the female from Poland. This means that these kits are not related to any of the Fennec Foxes here in Australia.” 

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Photo Credit: Rick Stevens

Aside from expanding the genetics in the Australasian region, the young Fennec Foxes have also provided a boost to the captive population of the species, which dropped to only six throughout Australia prior to 2010.

Fennec Foxes are the smallest of the canines, growing up to only 16 inches (40 cm) and weighing up to 3.3 pounds (1.5 kg's). Their distinct feature is their large ears that dissipate body heat and keep them cool. Commonly found in the deserts of Sahara and North Africa, Fennec Foxes are burrowing animals that dig tunnels as deep as 15 feet (4.5 m), where their kits are reared.  

Read more about the kits, and see more pictures, after the fold:

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African Black-Footed Penguin Growing Up Quickly at the Adventure Aquarium

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Adventure Aquarium's penguin colony grew by one last month when they welcomed an African Black-Footed Penguin chick on January 11th. The little critter, whose gender is still unknown, was about the size of a golf ball and weighted just sixty grams when it first hatched. That did not last long however, as the little one is growing faster than keepers can keep track. By January 25th, just two weeks after pecking its way out of its egg, the chick had already exploded to a weight of over one and a quarter pounds and now stands over six inches tall.

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The baby is the first for parents Kali and Tyson who were paired for breeding by the Association of Zoo and Aquarium's (AZA) African Penguin Species Survival Plan (SSP). They have a tall order caring for their rapidly growing first-born who is dependent on them for warmth until it can regulate its own temperature at around one month old. Until then, Kali and Tyson will take turns incubating the baby and brining back food for their growing child.

The African Black-Footed Penguin, the only penguin species found in Africa, was once quite abundant with an estimated four million in existence at the beginning of the 20th century. That number dropped dramatically to 200,000 by the year 2000 and has continued to fall to an estimated 55,000 living today. This rapid decline has led to a classification of endangered on the IUCN's Red List. It is estimated that if this trend continues the species will be extinct in the next fifteen years. With such a imperiled future, every birth can be considered a victory.

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Lion Cubs Explore the Great Outdoors

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You’ve met the Woodland Park Zoo’s quartet of Lion cubs several times on ZooBorns since they were born on November 19.  Since then, the two male and two female cubs have been safely tucked in their den with mom Adia.  But this week they ventured into their outdoor yard for the first time, practicing for their public debut.

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Photo Credits:   Ryan Hawk/Wodland Park Zoo

Adia was the first to step outside, with two of the cubs emerging alongside her.  Then Adia ducked back inside as if calling the other two cubs.  Soon all four were outdoors, taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of this new world.  The cubs stuck together and stayed close to mom, though they were curious about the zoo staff members who had gathered to watch through the viewing window. 

Keepers had filled the yard with mossy logs, muddy pits, and sticks for the cubs to play with, but their favorite toy was mom.  They constantly pounced on her, grabbed her neck, or slipped under her feet.  New distractions, like planes flying overhead and cawing birds got the cubs’ attention as well.

After two hours of outdoor play, the cubs were tuckered out and the family headed inside to rest.  But you can be sure the cubs will be ready for action when they meet the public for the first time very soon.

See more photos of the cubs below the fold.

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