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August 2013

Lynx Kittens Explore New Territory at Montreal's Espace Pour La Vie Biodôme

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On June 4, the Espace Pour La Vie (Space for Life) Biodôme in Montréal welcomed three Lynx kittens into the world. The kittens are developing normally with their mother’s attentive care. She diligently nurtures her little ones, nursing them, cleaning them and keeping them warm. Their first medical exam found that they are one male and two females, all growing healthy and fast. Ten weeks after the birth, the kittens and their mother transitioned to a new home: a Laurentian maple forest exhibit viewable by the public. Their arrival in the habitat signals a new phase in their development, during which they will hone their reflexes with their mother’s help. Visitors can see the Lynx kittens playing together, interacting with their mother and exploring their environment freely. The father will be kept separately in the nighttime quarters, as the female could perceive him as a threat to her offspring.

Both adult Lynx are seven years old, and this is the third time the pair have reproduced at the Biodôme—a clear sign that they are healthy and happy in their habitat. In the summer of 2012, the female gave to litter of three, but only one kitten survived to adulthood. Caretakers at the Biodôme decided to supplement that kitten’s diet with bottle-feeding while allowing it to continue nursing from its mother. In January of 2013, the healthy adult offspring moved to another institution to be paired with another lynx for breeding. This year’s litter is growing even more quickly under the care of the more-experienced mother; this time, caretakers did not need to intervene with extra feedings. As the captive Lynx population’s growth rate is very low, the birth of new kittens increases its genetic diversity. This year's litter may eventually be moved to other institutions to form new breeding pairs. 

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Photo credits: Space for Life / Claude Lafond

See and read more after the fold!

Continue reading "Lynx Kittens Explore New Territory at Montreal's Espace Pour La Vie Biodôme" »

Baby Nautilus - A ZooBorns and Birch Aquarium First!

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A few thousand posts later, it's getting harder and harder to showcase new species on ZooBorns. Well today we have a special treat: the first baby Nautilus for Birch Aquarium at Scripps and the first Nautilus to be featured on ZooBorns! This little guy or gal was a long time in the making. The egg was laid in early November of 2012 and the hatching process has taken weeks... all leading up to last Wednesday, when it finally emerged!

So far, the hatchling appears to be doing well. However, raising a baby Nautilus is both an honor and challenge because only a handful of aquariums have had the opportunity. The photos of the emerged Nautilus below were taken and shared with ZooBorns the day of the birth. The photos of the Nautilus emerging from its shell were taken over a series of weeks. It's a slow process!

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Nautiluses are ancient cephalopods (relatives of octopuses, squid and cuttelfish) that long pre-dated the dinosaurs and have remained relatively unchanged for 500 million years!

Back in the November, the eggs were laid in the display tank and then removed and placed into an incubator tank where the temperature was maintained at 76 Farenheit. The eggs were glued onto a vertically positioned piece of plastic in order to keep them upright. Water changes using only "extra clean" natural sea water were performed weekly to keep the incubator tank clean. The multi-week hatching process is detailed in the photos below:

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Fishing Cat Plays with Mom at Parken Zoo

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Parken Zoo in Sweden welcomed a new Fishing Cat on May 24. The little one, whose sex is not yet determined, is doing well and will nurse from its mother until it reaches about six months of age. The proud mother and father, Alaya and Narjol, are already an experienced pair. They have two adult offspring, Arya and Arun, born in September 2009. 

Fishing Cats mainly live in southern and southeast Asia, often in wetland areas such as marshes, lakes, rivers and coastal mangrove forests. Generally active at night, they are excellent swimmers. They can scoop fish out of the water with their paws, and even dive to catch them. Caretakers at Parken Zoo often feed the Fishing Cat family in the water so that they can engage in their natural behaviors when eating. However, these cats are also adept hunters and scavengers on land, taking a variety of animals ranging from frogs and snakes to larger prey like dogs and goats. 

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Photo credits: Parken Zoo

See and learn more after the fold!

Continue reading "Fishing Cat Plays with Mom at Parken Zoo" »

"Miracle" Ocelot Kitten Born at Cameron Park Zoo


An Ocelot kitten born at the Cameron Park Zoo is being called a “miracle baby” because it was born to a mother who was beyond the known breeding age for Ocelots. 

The kitten, a male named Aztec, is the first infant born to Cameron Park Zoo Ocelots Maya and Gustavo. Maya is 14 years old, an age which is considered somewhat past the prime age for successfully producing offspring. Ocelots reach sexual maturity at two to two-and-a-half years of age and their life expectancy is seven to ten years in the wild and up to 20 years in captivity. 



Photo Credit:  Cameron Park Zoo

In November 2012, a team of veterinary specialists from the Cincinnati Zoo’s Center for Conservation and Research for Endangered Wildlife (CREW) performed a reproductive assessment on Maya. Even though she was past her breeding prime, Maya was still cycling and the assessment showed that there could be a slight chance of a successful pregnancy.  The team, along with Cameron Park Zoo veterinarian Terry Hurst, collected semen from Gustavo and performed an artificial insemination procedure on Maya. Unfortunately the procedure was not successful, and the assumption was that because of her age and the condition of her ovaries, Maya would not be able to become pregnant. 

On May 31, 2013 Maya was not feeling well and was left in her night house.  Later that morning, zoo staff members were surprised and excited to find a baby Ocelot had just been born!  Maya was given a nest box and hay for bedding her infant and then left alone with her baby to allow time to bond.  Apparently, Gustavo and Maya decided to have their baby “the old fashioned way” and Maya has proven to be an attentive mother.  Aztec has not made his public debut in the exhibit, but zoo officlas hope to announce that very soon. 

Ocelots are native to much of South America and Mexico.  They are expert hunters, and are fiercely territorial.  They are listed as a species of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Tiny Pudu Fawn Born at Chester Zoo


A fawn from the smallest species of deer in the world has been born at the United Kingdom's Chester Zoo.  The baby Southern Pudu, who was born on June 19, is part of an international conservation breeding program to protect this endangered species.

The tiny deer, named Thor by his keepers, weighed less than two pounds (900g) when he was born to his mom Serena and dad Odin.   A fully-grown Pudu is only 15 inches (38 cm) tall at the shoulders.




Photo Credit:  Chester Zoo

Keeper Sarah Roffe said, “Despite being small in stature, Pudu are very, very good sprinters. And what they lack in size, they make up for in strategy – running in zigzags to try and escape from less nimble predators.”

The Pudu is native to the rainforests of Chile and Argentina. Their numbers have declined due in part to their rainforest habitat being destroyed and cleared for cattle ranching and other human developments.

Little Leopard Emerges from the Den at Budapest Zoo

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A endangered Persian Leopard Cub born on June 10 made his debut last week at the Budapest Zoo.   The male cub, named Dante, was given his first medical exam and presented to the public for the first time.

Dante is the seventh member of this rare species to be born at the Budapest Zoo in just ten years.

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Photo Credit:  Bagosi Zoltan

Persian Leopards, also known as Caucasian Leopards, are the largest of the Leopard subspecies.  They inhabit mountain forests and meadows in the Caucasus region of Central Asia.  Iran holds the largest population of up to 850 cats, and about 200 are thought to live in Afghanistan.  Fewer than 100 Persian Leopards live in Turkmenistan, and a handful dwell in other countries in the region.

Iran’s huge Central Alborz Protected Area is the largest stronghold for these rare cats.  Human disturbance in the form of poaching, habitat loss, and agriculture are the Persian Leopard’s major threats.  They are classified as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Four Bush Dogs Pups Born at Kolmården


Four Bush Dog pups were born on July 14 at Sweden’s Kolmården Zoo.  The two male and two female pups have spent most of the past month in the den with their mother Salma, but are gradually starting to venture out.  In another month, they should go into the viewing enclosure where they can be seen by zoo visitors.



Photo Credit:  Kolmården Zoo

Native to Central and South America, Bush Dogs live in packs and hunt cooperatively.  They feed on large rodents like pacas, agouti, and capybaras.  They prefer to live in open forests, but may also live in pastures. 

The Bush Dogs’ closest relatives are thought to be Maned Wolves.  Bush Dogs are not threatened, but they are becoming rarer throughout their range.

See more photos of the pups below the fold.

Continue reading "Four Bush Dogs Pups Born at Kolmården" »

Poitou Donkey Foal Delights Visitors at Zoo Heidelberg

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Visitors to Zoo Heidelberg have a treat in store: a playful young Poitou Donkey. The boisterous little foal is male and was born at the end of June born to mother Resi, who is devoted to her baby.  He is spirited, healthy and growing fast, thanks to a large appetite for his mother's milk. 

The strange-looking contraption pictured below is the donkeys' grooming station. They love to rub up against the wire bristles; it gives them a great massage, scratches any annoying bug bites, and cleans off clumps of old fur from the long coats. If the grooming station is occupied, then their second favorite pastime is digging around in the dirt. 

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Photo credits: Peter Bastian / Heidelberg Zoo

Poitou Donkeys are a originally from the Poitou-Charentes region of western France. They were bred to be a strong, hardy working animals, and were even used to pull fire-trucks before mechanization. In the 18th century, it was common to breed these donkeys with mares (female horses) to create patient and durable working mules.  As use of machines for farming and transportation became commonplace, the number of Poitou Donkeys decreased significantly. We can still see these animals today because of targeted conservation measures with growers and regional conservation organizations. 

World's Smallest Monkey Joins the Family at the Houston Zoo

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The Houston Zoo welcomed a Pygmy Marmoset, born July 27. The baby, whose sex is still unknown, was born to veteran parents Oko and Per. The baby is born to an already large family with 3 older brothers and 1 older sister. While it will spend most of its time riding on the back of its dad or brother, everyone in the family will take a turn in helping to care for the little one.

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Pygmy Marmosets are generally born in pairs, but "singlets" such as this are not uncommon. Singlets tend to be larger that babies born in pairs, and this baby is no exception. It already weights .08 pounds (36 grams), which is huge in comparison to most baby pygmy marmosets. Interestingly enough, the baby is weighed by weighing both dad and the baby, then subtracting dad's weight.

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Pygmy Marmosets are the world's smallest true monkeys. They live in rainforests of the Amazon Basin of South America. They are currently threatened by habitat loss as well as pet trade.

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Photo Credits: Photos 1,2,3,6  Abby Valera/Houston Zoo; Photos 4,5 Dale Martin/Houston Zoo

UPDATE! Giant Panda Mother and Cub Reunite at Taipei Zoo

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Taipei Zoo's Giant Panda cub is growing up healthy and strong. At one month old, she now weighs in at 2.5 pounds (1,140 grams), more than six times her weight at birth. The cub was hand-raised due to concerns that the mother, Yuan Yuan, would not be able to provide the best care for her baby. (See our original story about the birth here.)  The cub has been named Yuan Tsai, and although she will not appear before the public for another three months, many families flocked to Taipei Zoo's recent baby shower in celebration of the first panda born in Taiwan. 

About a month after Yuan Tsai's July 6th-birth, Zookeepers began to carefully conduct a series of introductions between mother and baby. For the safety of the little one, the sessions took place in a controlled environment, in case the mother did not respond well to her reintroduced cub. The gradual introductions worked well and now Yuan Tsai and her mother are fully reunited. 

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Photo credits: Taipei Zoo

Watch as zookeepers carefully introduce mother and cub:

See the cub returned to her mother:


See more photos of Yuan Tsai's development after the fold!

Continue reading "UPDATE! Giant Panda Mother and Cub Reunite at Taipei Zoo" »