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February 2013
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March 2013

Trio of Capybara Babies Born at Brevard Zoo

Capy babies

Brevard Zoo's Capybara parents Clancy and Bailey welcomed these three blonde babies on St. Patrick’s Day. They are healthy and nursing well. Capybara are herbivores, meaning they eat the leaves of grasses and other plants. They are fussy though, and are known to only eat certain plants and ignore ones they don't like. Only a week after they are born, baby Capybara can eat grass, although they continue to drink mother's milk. 

Capybaras are the world's largest rodent. They live in groups throughout South America in the thick forest areas that grow along bodies of water. They have webbed feet, dense fur and eyes, ears and a nose located high on their head; All to aid them when they spend time in the water, a place they go to look for tender greens to nibble and keep cool in the heat. They have the ability to stay underwater for several minutes, which greatly aids them when the need arises to hide from predators like jaguars, pumas, ocelots and anacondas. Since they can grow up to 4.5 feet long (1.37 m), 25 inches tall (63.5), and weigh up to 150 pounds (68 kg), they are also hunted by human beings for their meat and hide.

Capy Nurse

Capy mom and baby
Photo Credit: David Saylor

This is the second litter for parents Clancy and Bailey. Clancy, the sire, was born at the Buffalo Zoo in New York in 2011.  Bailey, the dam, was born at the Alameda Park Zoo in New Mexico in 2010. They have been housed at Brevard Zoo for two years. The pups are on exhibit in the La Selva area of the Zoo and guests are already enjoying watching them play. 

Help Make More Baby Pandas!

Panda Cub on Branch

Giant Pandas don't much like to breed. This is bad news for the species and bad news for those of us who demand more panda cubs in our lives!

Fortunately, researcher Meghan Martin is taking on this prudish-panda-challenge. Her new project aims to determine whether providing pandas with a choice of mates, rather than just one, increases reproductive success.

Meghan is raising money on a new crowd-funding platform called Microryza, which allows individuals to directly follow and fund scientific research. How cool is that? She only has 18 days left and A LOT of fundraising to go. She won't meet her goal without our help. So ZooBorns fans, here's your chance to directly contribute to the science that results in the babies you love and the conservation causes you care about. Learn more about Meghan's work and do your part on the project page - Increasing the reproductive success in captive Giant Pandas

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To whet our baby panda appetite, she also shared these wonderful photos of cubs born at BiFengXia Panda Base, where her research will be conducted.

Panda Cub in Swing

Panda Cub Covering Eyes

Panda Cub Eating

Meghan Martin provided the following background on the cubs in these photos: 

The babies don't have names of yet.  They were born in the BiFengXia Panda Base (right outside of Ya'an, China) in July-August making them about 8 months old.  This is the base where all of the Wolong pandas were moved after the 2008 earthquake.  We've actually collected our first year of research data on these babies, their moms, and their dads.  

The babies don't have names yet - it's tradition in China to wait until they're older to name the cubs.  Right now they just call them "xiao" (small) and then their mother's name.  The pictured cubs are Hua Mei's cub, a San Diego born panda, Long Xin's, Shui Xiu, and Xi Mei cubs.   All of these pandas except for Hua Mei had two cubs.  Si Xue, Guo Guo, and Ye Ye all had cubs as well but they are not pictured.  

I've spent the most time watching Hua Mei's cub - she's a climber and is the one pictured in the tire swing!  Just yesterday she climbed to the top of a tree in one of the natural enclosures (picture attached).  In the wild the mother will often leave the cubs up in the trees while she finds food (kinda of the opposite from deer).  Long Xin's cub likes to curl up into a little ball on the platform and sleep all tucked in on himself.  
At this age, they mainly love playing with each other, climbing, and getting into trouble. They're so inquisitive and investigate even the smallest bug in their enclosures. They all have this cute little instinct to roll up into a ball if you scratch the top of their tails and then you can roll them along the ground. 

Panda Cub Eating 2

So make a direct impact on the future of a species and invest in new Giant Panda cubs with a small donation to Meghan's groundbreaking research here
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A Watery Romp with Asian Small-Clawed Otter Pups

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Zoo Heidelberg's young Asian Small-Clawed Otters are all play! Born last November, the two pups are healthy but not quite hardy enough to stay outside in the cold. After swimming, running and jumping, they snuggle up in their warm indoor enclosure. 

The newborns each weighed a miniscule 1.8 ounces (50 grams) at birth. Completely dependent on parental care, Asian Small-Clawed otter pups are born naked and are blind until they open their eyes at six weeks old. At seven weeks, they begin to play and explore. The young otters reach maturity at two years, but may stay with their parents to help raise the next litter. Breeding pairs form strong bonds and mate for life. 


Otter 2

Photo Credits: Zoo Heidelberg

Asian Small-Clawed Otters are the smallest of otters. They have a wide range, from southern India through the Philippines and southern China. Mostly a freshwater species, they spend more time on land than other otters do. Their feet have two unusual traits: their short claws do not extend past the pads of their feet, and they do not have webbing between their toes. These adaptations help them to forage underwater for snails, crabs and other invertebrates along the bottom. Small-Clawed Otters are often welcome in rice paddies because eat crop pests like crabs. 

See and learn more below the fold...

Continue reading "A Watery Romp with Asian Small-Clawed Otter Pups " »

UPDATE! Auckland Zoo's Baby Red Panda Gets a Name

Panda CU

You may have first read about this baby Red Panda from Auckland Zoo HERE on ZooBorns. As a result of a vet check, it was determined that they had a little boy! Born on Christmas Eve, he is the first offspring of three-year-old mom Bo and 12-year-old dad Sagar. He has been healthy and growing at a normal rate. 

The Zoo just wrapped up a naming contest for the cub through Facebook, and the results are in: By an overwhelming majority, the public voted for the name Pabu, which means puff-ball of fluffy.  The other choices had been Nepalese words, since the Red Panda is found in the wild in Nepal. They were: Sundar (meaning beautiful/, Bhushan (adornment), HImal (snow mountain), and Mohan (charming). 


Panda side

Panda full
Photo Credit: Auckland Zoo

The IUCN Red List classifies this animal as Vulnerable. It is threatened by illegal hunting and deforestation. Remaining populations are fast becoming fragmented and isolated from each other. It is uncertain how many remain in the wild today, but estimates suggest it may be as low 2500 individuals. There are close to 500 individuals in zoos worldwide.

Presenting Lilo, Mushu, Grimsby, Basil and Fidget!


The Feb. 26th birth of 5 Meerkat kits, Lilo, Mushu, Grimsby, Basil and Fidget, brings the total Meerkat population at Tacoma, WA's Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium to 26. Each new kit is around as heavy as 2/3 of a cup of water! This is the zoo's second batch of kits this month. Zookeepers in the zoo’s Kids’ Zone area say at least one group of adults and kits will be on exhibit for at least half of the day during regular zoo hours.

New Baby Killer Whale Makes It Ten at SeaWorld San Diego

Whale baby solo

SeaWorld San Diego's Killer Whale mom Kasatka, estimated to be 37 years old, gave birth on Valentines Day to a healthy calf at Shamu Stadium under the watchful eyes of SeaWorld’s zoological team members. The birth marked the sixth successful killer whale to be born at SeaWorld San Diego. Kasatka and her new baby were swimming together in the show pool that very day. And DNA testing recently revealed that it's a boy! That makes SeaWorld’s Killer Whales to ten -- five males and five females.

Killer whale gestation is between 17 and 18 months long, and Kasatka’s took the full 18 months. Calves typically weigh between 300 and 350 pounds and measure between 6 and 7 feet at birth. The park’s zoological team members report that mother and baby continue to do well, with the calf nursing regularly from the start. Trainers and veterinarians continue a 24-hour watch on the whales to assure their health and well being. 

In the mean time, he’s not only spending time with his brother and sister (Kalia and Nakai), but he's also swimming with Corky, Shouka and Orkid. And he’s already learned to swim upside down, proving himself to be a bit of a show-boat!!! The plan is to introduce him to the others - Ulises, Keet and Ike -- in the near future. 

Whale w fam

Whale baby swims w mom

Whale baby and mom

Photo Credit: All photos: SeaWorld San Diego, Photo 1, 2: Mike Aguilera

See more pictures of the baby Killer Whale swimming with Mom and the rest of the whale family after the fold.

Continue reading "New Baby Killer Whale Makes It Ten at SeaWorld San Diego" »

Just Say ‘Mo’: Oregon Zoo’s Baby River Otter Gets A Name


After several weeks of consideration, keepers at the Oregon Zoo have settled on a name for the new baby River Otter. The pup will be called Molalla, or Mo for short, named after the Oregon river.

“A lot of North American zoo animals get their names from nations or cultures associated with their native habitats,” said Julie Christie, senior keeper for the zoo’s North America area. “For the River Otters, we like to choose names based on local waterways.”


Photo credits: Michael Durham / Oregon Zoo 

Mo’s mother, Tilly — named after the Tillamook River — gave birth to the pup Jan. 28. The first River Otter to be born at the Oregon Zoo, Mo weighed just over 4 ounces at birth but has been enjoying mom’s naturally high-fat milk and growing fast. He now weighs more than 2 and 1/2 pounds.

Tilly and her baby have occupied a private, off-exhibit maternity den since the birth, but keepers say zoo visitors have shown a lot of interest in the new arrival even though they can’t see him yet.

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“A lot of people wrote in to offer congratulations and make suggestions for his name,” Christie said. “Several people liked the name Willy, short for Willamette. And one visitor suggested naming him Pudding, after a tributary of the Molalla. We thought that was pretty cute.”

River Otters are very dependent on their mothers when they’re born. It’s usually three to five weeks before young otters open their eyes, and about five weeks before they first walk. Surprisingly, swimming does not come naturally to otters — pups must be taught to swim by their mom.

Christie said Tilly is continuing to do all the right things as a new mom, and the animal-care staff has been as hands-off as possible; they have only quickly examined Mo when Tilly is taking a short break from mom duty.

“We give her access to the exhibit during the day,” Christie said. “But Tilly’s been very attentive and doesn’t spend too long away from Mo. We’re pretty sure the pup’s a male, but we can’t be positive until our vets conduct a more thorough exam. Either way, we think Molalla will be a good name. There are plenty of females named Mo too.”

Keepers are working to “baby proof” the Cascade Stream and Pond section of the zoo’s Great Northwest exhibit and make sure it’s safe for the young otter. If all goes well, zoo visitors will be able to see Tilly and Mo there in a few weeks. Until then, otter fans are encouraged to follow the zoo on Facebook and Twitter for updates.

Since both Tilly and the pup’s father, B.C., were born in the wild, they are considered genetically important for the breeding otter population in North American zoos. Both parents are rescue animals who had a rough start to life.

Tilly was found orphaned near Johnson Creek in 2009. She was about 4 months old, had been wounded by an animal attack and was seriously malnourished. Once her health had stabilized, Tilly came to the Oregon Zoo in a transfer facilitated by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, which oversees the species’ protection.

The pup’s father, B.C., was found orphaned near Star City, Ark., also in 2009. He was initially taken in by the Little Rock Zoo, but transferred here the following year as a companion for Tilly. The two otters hit it off quickly and have been playful visitor favorites ever since. (B.C. arrived at the Oregon Zoo with the name Buttercup; when he was little, keepers thought he was female.)

Now that the threat from fur trappers has declined, North American River Otters are once again relatively abundant in healthy river systems of the Pacific Northwest and the lakes and tributaries that feed them. Good populations exist in suitable habitat in northeast and southeast Oregon, but they are scarce in heavily settled areas, especially if waterways are compromised. Because of habitat destruction and water pollution, River Otters are considered rare outside the Pacific Northwest.

Metro, the regional government that manages the Oregon Zoo, has preserved and restored more than 90 miles of river and stream banks in the region through its voter-supported natural area programs. By protecting water quality and habitat, these programs are helping to provide the healthy ecosystems needed for otters, fish and other wildlife to thrive. River Otters are frequently observed in Metro region waterways.

Committed to conservation, the zoo is currently working to save endangered California Condors, Oregon Silverspot and Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterflies, Western Pond Turtles and Oregon Spotted Frogs. Other projects include studies on Asian Elephants, Polar Bears, Orangutans and Giant Pandas. Celebrating 125 years of community support, the zoo relies in part on donations through the Oregon Zoo Foundation to undertake these and many other animal welfare, education and sustainability programs.

Pacific Harbor Seal Pup Rescued at SeaWorld San Diego

Seal 1

In early March, SeaWorld San Diego rescued a young Pacific Harbor Seal, estimated to be only days old, from a local beach. The animal, which appeared to be separated from its mother, is now being bottle-fed and cared for behind the scenes by SeaWorld's rescue team. SeaWorld experts expect the seal to make a full recovery and be returned to the wild. 

So far this year, SeaWorld San Diego has rescued more than 100 marine mammals.

Seal 2


Photo credits: SeaWorld San Diego

Pacific Harbor Seals are born in February through April, and are weaned at four weeks old. A pup can swim at birth, but will ride on its mother's back when tired. Weighing just twenty to twenty-four pounds at birth, Pacific Harbor Seals grow to an adult size of up to 300 pounds.  

Baby Orangutan Shares a Close Bond with Mom


Baby Sumatran Orangutan Tripa shares a close relationship with his mom – in fact, Emma has rarely let her baby out of sight since his birth on October 19 at the United Kingdom’s Chester Zoo.

Like all Orangutan infants, Tripa completely depends on his mother for food, transportation, and lots of tender loving care.  Orangutans have the longest childhood of all animals other than humans, with young Orangutans spending up to eight years with their mothers.

Chin to chin


Photo Credits:  Phil Noble/Reuters, Peter Byrne/PA, Chester Zoo

Emma and Puluh, Tripa’s father, are part of the European Endangered Species Programme, which coordinates breeding between zoos to maintain genetic diversity in endangered species.

Conservationists estimate that there are fewer than 7,000 Sumatran Orangutans remaining on the Indonesian island of Sumatra – the only place in the entire world where this Orangutan subspecies exists.  Tremendous pressure from illegal logging, illegal palm oil plantations, and poaching have driven wild Orangutan populations to the brink of extinction, making zoo breeding programs essential to their survival.