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April 2013

UPDATE! Clouded Leopard Cubs at Smithsonian's Front Royal are Growing Up

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The Clouded Leopard cubs born at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute-Front Royal recently turned 2 months old, which means they’re big enough to have access to a larger enclosure with big climbing structures. Keepers report that the cubs spend most of their time playing and like to climb as high as they can! They’ve also mastered eating solid foods and are steadily gaining weight. The male weighs just over 4.5 pounds, and the female weighs about 3.5 pounds.

Read more about the cubs and see pictures of them as newborns in earlier posts on ZooBorns HERE and HERE.

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Photo Credit: Janice Sveda, Smithsonian's National Zoo

Continue after the fold to more of these playful baby pictures!

Continue reading "UPDATE! Clouded Leopard Cubs at Smithsonian's Front Royal are Growing Up" »


Tapir Gets Tonguey at Howletts Wild Animal Park

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This past February, Howletts Wild Animal Park in the United Kingdom received the latest member of its family, a healthy male baby Brazilian Tapir. The little boy, who has been named Inca, spent the first few months of his life indoors and off exhibit due to the cold weather. He spent his time inside with the warmth of shelter, and the comfort of his mother.

To help make sure that his indoor enclosure stayed warm enough, a local plastic and insulation company, PAR Group, donated a special plastic door curtain to help with insulation. "Our latest baby Tapir has been born during the really cold weather, but thanks to the generosity of the PAR Group they are snug and warm inside their shelter with the plastic door strips on the entrance," said Animal Director Neil Spooner.

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Photo Credits: Dave Rolfe / Howletts Wild Animal Park

Now that the weather has begun to warm up, Inca has begun to explore his exhibit for visitors to see. "The little fella is doing really well and mum is keeping a close eye on him. Now that the weather is showing some signs of becoming milder, visitors should be able to spot them more easily, as they explore their paddock," explained Joel Bunce, the head of animal park's hoofstock section.

See and learn more after the fold!

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Trio of Big-Eyed Baby Maras Born at Artis Zoo

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Last weekend three baby Maras were born at Amsterdam's Artis Royal Zoo. Maras mate for life and usually have one to three babies every year. Newborns are so well developed they can begin to graze within a day. 

Maras (Dolichotis patagonum) are the fourth largest rodent in the world, after capybaras, beavers, and porcupines, reaching about  18 inches (45 cm ) tall. In the wild, Maras live in dry, grassy areas in South America. With their long, thin legs and tall ears they seem much like a hare, but the Maras are actually a subfamily of the guinea pig. They can make jumps of 2 meters. 

Though the family is already out in their habitat for visitors to enjoy, the babies are very shy and stay close to mom, who often has them safely snuggled together in their underground nest. They come out to nurse and play and end up getting nuzzled by the other adults.

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Photo Credit: Artis Royal Zoo


Tiny Pancake Tortoises Hatch at Gladys Porter Zoo

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Three Pancake Tortoises have hatched at Gladys Porter Zoo in Texas. The first tortoise began to pip on March 31st, followed by two more hatchlings on April 1st and 10th. 

Found on rocky hills and savannas of east Africa, Pancake Tortoises have unusually flat and thin shells. These flexible and agile tortoises are excellent climbers, and escape from predation by fleeing or squeezing into tight crevices instead of hiding in their shells. Due to habitat loss and poaching, they are listed as a vulnerable species by the IUCN.  

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Photo credits: Gladys Porter Zoo

In the wild, Pancake Tortoises live in isolated groups, and many individuals may be found sharing the same rocky crevice. Males compete for females during the breeding seaon in January and February, and nesting occurs in July and August. Females generally lay one egg at a time, but may lay several eggs over the course of a few months. In captivity, females will breed year-round, with an incubation period of four to six months.  The tiny young are independent as soon as they hatch.


New Baby Orangutan Makes It Three Generations at Gladys Porter Zoo

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On the night of February 14, a female Sumatran Orangutan was born at Gladys Porter Zoo. Maya, the baby Orangutan, was born to Dodie, who is 35 years old. Although Dodie only has one arm, she has proven to be an excellent mother. She delivered naturally and immediately started to provide maternal care for baby Maya. And the two are quite playful with each other.

Sumatran Orangutans are classified as Critically Endangered by the IUCN.There are only about 6,600 individuals estimated to live in the wild. Experts and statistics based on their population decline suggest that Orangutans could become the first Great Ape species to become extinct. The greatest threat that this species faces is habitat loss. The forests that are home to the Orangutans are being turned into palm oil plantations at an alarming rate. More than half of their habitat has been destroyed within the last 25 years.

Three generations of Sumatran Orangutans can be seen on exhibit at Gladys Porter Zoo. Suzie, Maya's 50 year old grandmother, Dodie, her mother; and baby Maya are currently on display.

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Photo Credit: Gladys Porter Zoo

See more of this wonderful pair after the fold:

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Little Brocket Deer Arrives at Gladys Porter Zoo

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A male Red Brocket Deer was born at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas on March 25.  Barely over two weeks old, the little fawn is already actively exploring the exhibit alongside his mother.

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Photo Credit:  Gladys Porter Zoo

All Brocket Deer are small, but at about 30 inches tall at the shoulders, Red Brocket Deer are the largest of the ten Brocket species found in Central and South America.  Because these diminutive Deer are shy and secretive, not much is known about their habits, and there is some confusion about the taxonomy of the 10 species.  At this time, there is not enough data about the Red Brocket Deer to evaluate its conservation status.

Browsing on leaves and fruit, Red Brocket Deer inhabit dense forests and live solitary lives.  Males competing for mates will fight, using their short horns to inflict injury on their opponent. 

See more photos below the fold.

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UPDATE! Tiger Cub Explores the Great Outdoors

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Fans at the San Francisco Zoo were finally able to see the zoo’s eight-week-old Sumatran Tiger cub for the first time when she explored her outdoor exhibit on Friday, April 12.

You met this unnamed female cub on the pages of ZooBorns after her first vet check-up, but since her birth on February 10, the little cub has been denned up with her mother Leanne.  Last week, the San Francisco Zoo staff determined that the 14-pound cub was strong enough to venture into her outdoor enclosure.  On Wednesday morning, the staff supervised a trial run for Leanne and her cub. A very attentive mother, Leanne immediately carried her cub to a safe, protected area in the exhibit, but the two were soon frolicking and playing. The cub eventually allowed Leanne to lead her up the exhibit’s stairs several times for practice, proving that Leanne is a seasoned mother who knows what’s best for her cub. 

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Photo Credit:  Marianne Hale for the San Francisco Zoo

 

“Providing the cub the opportunity to explore the outside world is a significant step in her development,” says Curator of Carnivores and Primates Corinne MacDonald. “The cub will build up her strength and confidence watching her mother, Leanne, and she’ll learn from her while navigating her new environment. We are thrilled to finally be able to show our Tiger cub off outside to all of her fans!” 

The Sumatran Tiger is critically endangered, with fewer than 400 individuals remaining in the wilds of Sumatra.  As the smallest of the remaining Tiger subspecies, the Sumatran Tiger is well suited for life in the deep jungle. The greatest threat to survival is destruction of habitat, followed by poaching.

See more photos of Leanne and her cub below the fold.

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White Rhino Baby Named for Pioneering Conservationist

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The biggest addition at Florida’s Lion Country Safari is just a week old:  a 155-pound female Southern White Rhinoceros calf is now on display in the Rhino maternity area of the drive-through safari. 

Born on April 6, 2013 to mom Bloom after 16 months of gestation, the baby has been named Anna, after Rhino conservationist Anna Merz, who passed away on April 4. Merz was a founder of The Lewa Conservancy, which was established to conserve Rhinos in Kenya and has since grown to protect many species of African birds and mammals.

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Photo Credit:  Lion Country Safari

Lion Country Safari is home to 14 Rhinos and has produced 33 Rhino offspring since 1979 as a participant in the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan. 

Of the five extant species of Rhinos (White, Black, Indian, Sumatran and Javan) the White Rhino is the most abundant, with approximately 20,150 alive today.  However, all five Rhino species are in peril.  The most significant threat to Rhinos is the trade in Rhino horn, which is used for traditional Asian medicine and as dagger handles in some Middle Eastern countries.  Despite international protections and treaties, demand for Rhino horn continues to escalate.

See more photos of Anna below the fold.

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Rare Pygmy Hippo Baby Debuts at Gladys Porter Zoo

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With chubby cheeks and an upturned nose, a baby Pygmy Hippopotamus may look more like a video game character than a real animal.  But this male baby, born on February 22 at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas, is an important addition to the population of this critically endangered species.

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Photo Credit:  P. Scanlan (1), Gladys Porter Zoo (2,3,4,5)

The male calf, who will be named in a soon-to-be-announced contest, made his public debut alongside his nine-year-old mother last week.  Zoo staffers report that the baby rarely strays far from his mother as he explores his surroundings. 

Pygmy Hippos are native to West Africa, where they live secretive lives in the deepest jungles.  Found only in small pockets of Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Ivory Coast, and Nigeria, Pygmy Hippos are about half as tall and a quarter of the weight of their cousins the Common Hippos.  Pygmy Hippos spend the day submerged in rivers, emerging at night to eat ferns, fruits, and leaves.  To mark their territories, they wave their tails while defecating to spread feces as far as possible. 

There are fewer than 3,000 Pygmy Hippos remaining in the wild, and little is known about their habits.  Though not intensely hunted, Pygmy Hippos are losing habitat to agriculture and unsustainable forest logging.  Programs like the Species Survival Plan of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums seek to maintain genetically diverse captive populations of Pygmy Hippos and many other endangered species.   

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A Sneak Peek at Pueblo Zoo's Maned Wolf Puppies

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Three Maned Wolf puppies were born at Pueblo Zoo in Colorado. The new arrivals were born on February 23rd to first-time parents Cayenne (the female) and Meek (the male). The puppies were delivered in the same den where their grandfather, Cayenne’s father, was born.

Born in the wild or in captivity, survival rate is low for Maned Wolf puppies, and the first few weeks are critical. However, the Pueblo Zoo Staff are cautiously optimistic about the survival of these puppies.

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Photo credits: Pueblo Zoo

Native to central South America, Maned Wolves are ranked by the IUCN as near threatened, due to habitat loss and degradation. Maned Wolves are the only known living member of their genus, making them very unique canines. The are named for the dark mane of hair along the neck and shoulders that can be raised in agression or fear. Standing nearly a meter tall, adult Maned Wolves look similar to Red Foxes, but are easily identified by their exceptionally long and thin legs. Instead of ranging in packs, Maned Wolves are solitary, or may live in monogamous pairs. They eat fruits as well as small animals. 

The species is managed across the country though the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan. The Species Survival Plan ensures that there is genetic diversity among animals in AZA accredited institutions to ensure the best possible pairings for breeding. In the US, there are ninety-two wolves known to the SSP, and overall, there are only fourteen breeding pairs of maned wolves in AZA institutions. The Pueblo Zoo puppies are the only surviving Maned Wolf pups born so far this season. 

See more photos after the fold.

Continue reading "A Sneak Peek at Pueblo Zoo's Maned Wolf Puppies" »