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June 2013

Great Gannets! Three Healthy Chicks Hatch at Zoo am Meer Bremerhaven

Zoo am Meer Bremerhaven Germany Northern Gannet 2013-3

Three healthy Northern Gannet chicks hatched at Zoo am Meer Bremerhaven on the Northern coast of Germany, on May 21 and on June 5 and 18. In the early 1980s, Zoo am Meer was the first zoo to successfully breed Northern Gannets in captivity. Up until today, Bremerhaven has remained one of very few European zoos to have successful hatchings of Northern Gannet chicks almost every year.

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Zoo am Meer Bremerhaven Germany Northern Gannet 2013-2

Zoo am Meer Bremerhaven Germany Northern Gannet 2013-4
Photo credits: Joachim Schoene / Zoo Am Meer Bremerhaven

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, the bird is listed as a species of Least Concern. Found along both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, Northern Gannets are a common bird with an uncommon ability: with an adult wingspan measuring nearly six feet (175 cm), these marine birds catch shoaling fish by nose-diving from heights of up to 130 feet (40 m). In the wild they are colonial, making nests of grasses and seaweed on coastal ledges and hilltops. Colonies breed in northern France, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Iceland, Norway, and the eastern tip of Quebec. Pairs produce a single egg in the month of May, which is brooded with the feet for about 45 days. After five years, young Northern Gannets develop the elegant white and black plumage of mature adults.

Denver Zoo Welcomes Endangered Grevy’s Zebra Foal

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There’s a new set of stripes in Denver Zoo’s Zebra yard today. An endangered female Grevy’s (Greh-veez) Zebra was born in the evening on June 13. Within the first day, the unnamed foal was already comfortably exploring her new home with her mother, Topaz, who kept near her new baby. Guests can see mom and daughter with the entire herd in the yard now.

This is the third foal for Topaz and she is still proving to be an excellent mother, carefully shepherding the young foal around their yard. Topaz and the foal’s father, Punda, were paired under recommendation of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP), which ensures healthy populations and genetic diversity among zoo animals. Fortunately, the couple has proved to be an excellent match.

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Photo Credit: Denver Zoo

Take a look at baby and mom outside in the sun!

Grevy’s Zebras are considered endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), with a wild population estimated at fewer than 2,000 individuals. Their largest threats come from loss of habitat, competition with livestock, and poaching. They have disappeared from most of their former habitats and are now only found in dry deserts and open grasslands in northern Kenya and southeastern Ethiopia.

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Pittsburgh Zoo's Amur Tiger Cub Makes June a Little More Fierce

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Pittsburgh Zoo's Amur Tiger cub makes an appearance in the zoo's digital calendar, as the face of June. Born on March 31st of this year, the cub was previously featured on ZooBorns. Since then, he's come out of his den and now loves to play with his mother, Toma. Though tigers are usually born in litters of two or three cats, it's not unusual for a single cub to be born at one time. The cub is happy, healthy, and preparing to make his public debut in the next coming weeks.




Amur Tigers, also known as Siberian Tigers, are the largest of the six subspecies of Tigers. Males can reach a full body length well over six feet and a weight of more than 400 pounds. The species is native to the remote mountain areas of the Russian Far East. Still, the population is subject to poaching and is classified as endangered. There are fewer than 400 individuals with a breeding population of about 250 adults. The future of the species is threatened by low genetic diversity within this breeding population, making genetically diverse cubs crucial to the species' success.

Photo credits: Pittsburgh Zoo

Baby Beavers Born Just in Time for Father's Day!

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One special dad celebrated at the UK's Drusillas Park this past Sunday (Father’s Day) after becoming a father for the very first time.  North American Beaver Gnasher saw his two kits born on June 5. Since then the proud pop has barely left their side. The babies are already mini replicas of him, with tiny webbed feet, flat tails, and semi-developed incisors. For now they remain within the safety of the lodge, but in no time they will be taking their first swimming lessons with Gnasher paddling alongside.

Head Keeper Mark Kenward commented: “It’s always difficult to know how an animal will cope with becoming a parent for the first time but in Gnasher’s case there really was no need to worry. From the moment the kits were born, he has protected and cared for them and even cut the umbilical cord with his teeth. He has proven himself to be a fantastic dad and deserves to be thoroughly spoilt this Father's Day.”

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Photo Credit: Drusillas Park

Read more and see another picture after the fold:

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Can You Say Oncilla?


On January 14th, the Sao Paulo Zoo in Brazil welcomed a new resident, a male baby Oncilla named Poli. (It's pronounced AWN-sill-uh, by the way.) The cub’s mother, Luiza, is one of the last melanistic Oncilla remaining in captivity today. Melanism is a genetic mutation causing dark pigmentation, so rather than being spotted, Luiza’s coat is entirely black. Despite the mother’s mutation, Poli was born with the more common spotted fur pattern. 

Soon after the birth, Luiza rejected her baby, so Poli was bottle-fed by zoo staff. Now at four and a half months old, Poli is already fully weaned, healthy, and continues to grow strong. (These photos were taken on March 15th and May 21st). 




Photo Credits: Carlos Nader / Sao Paulo Zoo

See and learn more after the fold!

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Baby Boom at the UK's Paignton Zoo

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Paignton Zoo Environmental Park has welcomed a crop of early summer babies. Among them is this Capybara, who was born on May 15, getting a nuzzle from mom. The Capybara hails from South America and is the largest rodent in the world. To aid them when in water, where they go for tender greens to eat and to beat the heat, they have webbed feet and thick fur -- and their eyes, ears, and nose are positioned high on their head, which they hold above the surface.

Just five days later, on May 20, this Brazilian Tapir was born. The Tapir uses its short, trunk-like nose to sniff its way through the forest, to pull leaves and shoots towards its mouth, and as a snorkel - they love water and are excellent swimmers.

And a Bornean Orangutan baby came into the world on April 11. In the wild, Orangutans are threatened by hunting, the pet trade, and the destruction of their rainforest habitat. Their forest home is rapidly being replaced by palm oil plantations due to a massive demand for this product in many of the foods we eat. You can help by looking at labels and switching to products that don't use palm oil. 

2013 05 PZ young tapir by Ray Wiltshire

2013 05 PZ yawning orang baby by Ray Wiltshire
Photo Credit: Ray Wiltshire

Wobbly Gerenuk Gets a Push From Mom at the Phoenix Zoo

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This spring, the Phoenix Zoo welcomed two new members to its Gerenuk herd. The first calf, a female, was born in April while the second, a male, was born in late May. The calves and their moms are doing well. During the first weeks of their lives, baby Gerenuk spent most of their time hiding amongst the bush while their mothers feed close by. 

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Gerenuk are a type of antelope found native to Africa. Their name, which means "giraffe-necked" in the Somali language, refers to their long necks and ability to stand straight up on their hind legs, which allow them to reach tall tree branches while grazing. 

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Phoenix Zoo - Gerenuk Calf - April 2013 - 05
Photo Credit: Pheonix Zoo

First Arctic Fox Cubs Born at Hellabrunn in Zoo's 102-year History

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Ronja, a two-year-old Arctic Fox at Munich's Hellabrunn zoo, gave birth to cubs on April 26 in the privacy of her den, but only now – roughly seven weeks later - are keepers and zoo visitors getting their first glimpse of the babies! Initially five cubs had been counted… but then, keepers spotted a sixth! The individual cubs can be identified by the color of their fur - one has white paws, another a white bib, and one is completely grey. It's still too early yet to know what sex each is. These are the first Arctic Fox cubs to be born in the entire 102 year history of the zoo.

The cubs spend most of their time cuddling up to their mother in their den. Although the little ones still sleep a lot, they are getting more active all the time. About five times a day Mom and Dad (named Yaqui, also two years old), show them the world beyond the den for about 15 minutes at a time. And where they once only nursed, at this age they are almost weaned, as their pointed teeth have grown in and they have begun to eat meat. 

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Photo Credit: Tierpark Hellabrunn

Read more about these cubs after the fold:

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Tiger Twins’ Birth Caught on Camera at Chester Zoo


In remarkable closed-circuit television footage, Chester Zoo’s female Sumatran Tiger Kirana gives birth to the first of two cubs on June 2.  The cub appears about 30 seconds into the video.



Photo Credit:  Chester Zoo


Kirana’s mate, six-year-old Fabi, does not participate in the birth at all, and in fact walks away during the event.

The gender of the two healthy cubs is not yet known.  They will spend several weeks behind the scenes with seven-year-old Kirana. 

This is the second litter for Kirana, who also gave birth to sisters Nila and Tila in 2011. Both of those cubs have moved to other European zoos as part of a cooperative breeding program aimed at increasing genetic diversity among these endangered cats. 

Only about 400 Sumatran Tigers remain in the wild on the Indonesian island of Sumatra.  Zoo breeding programs could prove vital to the survival of this species, which is at great risk from habitat loss and poaching.

See more photos below the fold.

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Rare Gorilla Twins Surprise Staff at Burgers' Zoo


When zoo keepers entered the Gorilla House at the Netherlands’ Burgers' Zoo on June 13, they were taken by surprise:  N’Gayla, the 20-year-old female Gorilla, had delivered twin babies overnight!



Photo Credit:  Burgers Zoo

Keepers knew that N’Gayla was pregnant, but they were not expecting her to deliver until later in the summer, and they were certainly not expecting twins.  Gorillas normally have just one baby at a time.  Twins in Gorillas are much rarer than in humans. 

Surprised keeper Wilco Limpers explained what he saw that morning.  “At first I did not expect to see twins.  I was watching N’Gayla lick her baby clean, and suddenly she grabbed something from within the straw bedding – another baby Gorilla! I really did not know what I saw.  Gorilla twins are seen only once or twice every ten years in European zoos.”

Baby Gorillas are small and helpless, requiring round-the-clock care from their mothers.  Though N’Gayla has her hands full, she is an experienced mother who has already raised three youngsters successfully.  The twins’ father, 23-year-old Bauwi, will play only a minor role in their care.

See more photos of the twins below the fold.

Continue reading "Rare Gorilla Twins Surprise Staff at Burgers' Zoo" »