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August 2013

Northern Fur Seal Pup Bonds with Mom at New England Aquarium

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The New England Aquarium certainly has something to cheer about. A Northern Fur Seal pup was born late on Tuesday, August 6. The pup's mom, Ursula, was observed going into labor by an engineer. When trainers arrived, Ursula had given birth to the pup. By the morning, the two were observed calling back and forth to each other, a sign that they had bonded well overnight.

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The pup is Ursula's second. Ursula demonstrated great maternal instinct with her first pup, born in July of 2012. Ursula has been tolerant of trainers being near her pup, but they don't want to break that trust by handling the pup too early. Subsequently, the sex and weight of the pup has not been determined.

New England Aquarium is home to the largest collection of the the rare Northern Fur Seals in North America. These animals are characterized by a thick coat of fur that help to keep them warm in the cold waters of their native habitat, the Northern Pacific. Despite being protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the world population has continued to decline. They are currently listed as Vulnerable.


Sumatran Tiger Cubs are a Long-Awaited Victory at Smithonian's National Zoo

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The Smithsonian's National Zoo's family of Sumatran Tigers has grown by two! On Monday, August 5, the Zoo's female tiger, Damai, gave birth to a pair of cubs. Damai has been a great mother to the cubs, who are her first litter. She has been observed grooming and nursing them. Keepers are remotely monitoring Damai and her cubs, allowing the new family time and space to bond.

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Damai arrived at the Zoo in over two years ago and Kavi, the father, arrived one year ago. The two were paired as a recommendation from the AZA's Sumatran Tiger Species Survival Plan. Over the course of six months, they were slowly introduced to each other. In June, Damai began gaining weight and exhibiting behaviors that indicated she could be pregnant. On June 21, staff performed an ultrasound and confirmed the pregnancy. “It’s taken more than two years of perseverance getting to know Damai and Kavi and letting them get to know each other so that we could reach this celebratory moment,” said Craig Saffoe. “All I can do is smile because the team has realized our goal of producing critically endangered tiger cubs. Damai came to us as a young tiger herself, so it’s really special to see her become a great mom.”

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The cub comes as a victory for the species. Sumatran Tigers are Critically Endangered, with an estimated 400-500 individuals in the wild. In addition to these cubs, there are just 65 Sumatran Tigers living in North American accredited zoos.

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Photo Credit Smithsonian National Zoological Park


At Ramat Gan Safari, Mother and Grandmother Asian Elephants Raise Calf Together

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When the elephant keepers at Ramat Gan Safari Park in Israel arrived on the morning of August 2, they found a newborn Asian Elephant calf. After 22 months of anticipation, it finally happened- the 7 year-old cow, La Belle, had given birth to a beautiful female. The calf has been given the Sanskrit name Latangi, meaning 'thin girl', because she was born weighing 70-80 kg, far less than the 100 kg that is usual for an Asian Elephant calf. 

For now it seems that the young calf is doing well, despite her low weight at birth. She nurses from both her mother and her grandmother. 25 year-old La Petite, La Belle's mother, is very active in the life of the newborn, and is also pregnant herself. This is La Belle's first time to give birth, and it may be that her mother is trying to show her the ropes. The pleased father is a 53 year-old male, Motek. This birth is an important occasion as Asian Elephants are an endangered species. Every calf born contributes to the conservation efforts of these animals. 

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Photo credits: Ramat Gan Safari / Tibor Jager. Last picture: Yael Hermon. Clip 1: Tibor Jager. Clip 2: Yael Hermon.

See videos of the newborn calf with her family:

 

 

See more photos after the fold!

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Seattle's Tallest Baby Born at Woodland Park Zoo

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Few species can boast a 6-foot tall week-old infant, but the Rothschild's Giraffe is certainly one of them! Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo welcomed the addition of a towering Rothschild's Giraffe calf on the evening of August 6. Born to first time mom Olivia, the calf was already 5 and a half feet tall at birth. The calf, who is male, can expect to grow to between 16-18 feet by the time he reaches adulthood.

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The calf and its mother are off view in a barn to allow a quet environment for maternal bonding and nursing. Giraffe's have a 14- to 15- month gestation period, which allows for calves to grown so large in size. Mom's give birth standing up, and calves are typically able to stand within a few hours of birth.. “The first 24 to 72 hours are critical for giraffe calves,” said zoo curator Martin Ramirez. “So far, mother and calf are bonding and nursing sessions appear to be normal. We will continue to keep a close eye on the new family over the next several weeks.”

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Olivia and the calf's father, Chioke, were paired under a breeding recommendation made by the Giraffe Species Survival Plan, which ensures genetic diversity and demographic stability in North American zoos. The natural population of giraffes has declined by more thant 40% over the past 15 years. Among the 9 subspecies of Giraffes, West African and Rothschild's are endangered. Fewer than 670 individuals of Rothschild's Giraffes remain in the wild.

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Ringtail Cubs Debut at The Living Desert

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Two ringtails born June 12 at The Living Desert in California recently made their debut.  Because ringtails are nocturnal creatures, the staff shows off the babies during twice daily hand feedings, giving guests a better chance to see the babies.

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Photo Credit:  Bert Buxbaum

The two cubs, one male and one female, we born to parents Abe and Penelope.  They have not yet been named.

Also called ring-tailed cats, ringtails are closely related to raccoons.  They are native to the southern central plains and desert Southwest in the United States and are found throughout Mexico.  Like raccoons, ringtails are omnivorous, feeding on mice, frogs, toads, snakes, berries, and insects.   

Because of their nocturnal habits and shyness toward humans, ringtails are not commonly seen in the wild.  Ringtails are expert climbers, with ankles that can rotate 180 degrees to allow headfirst descents from trees.


Splish Splash, Belle Takes a Bath

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Belle, a female Asian Elephant calf born on July 7, recently got in some serious playtime with a hose and inflatable kiddie pool at the Fort Worth Zoo.

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Photo Credit:  Fort Worth Zoo

 

Belle’s arrival was chronicled on ZooBorns last month.  She received her name through an online voting contest organized by the zoo.  Belle is named for bluebells, which are common Texas wildflowers that symbolize humility and gratitude. She is only the second Elephant calf ever born at the Fort Worth Zoo.

Asian Elephants are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  Poaching of the males for their ivory tusks, habitat loss, and human settlement continue to threaten the species.  Belle is an important addition to the zoo population because zoo birthrates are very low.

See more photos of pachyderm pool time below the fold.

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Little Elephant Meets Big Athlete

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An oldie but goodie... last year this two-week-old orphaned African Elephant named Kinango bonded with retired professional basketball player Yao Ming on the athlete’s visit to Daphne Sheldrick’s Elephant Orphanage in Kenya.

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Photo Credit:  Kristian Schmidt for WildAid

Kinango was one of more than 150 orphaned Elephants fostered at the orphanage since its founding in 1977.  The calves often come to the facility after their parents are killed for the ivory trade.  Elephants are also under intense pressure from nearby human settlements, human conflict, deforestation, and drought. 

Once the calves are ready to live independently, a process that can take years, they are reintegrated with the herds at nearby Tsavo National Park.  Many of the once-orphaned calves have gone on to produce their own healthy offspring. 

Yao Ming's 2012 trip journey through Africa helped raise awareness of the poaching crisis facing Elephants and Rhinos.  Daphne Sheldrick’s Elephant Orphanage is part of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.

See more photos of Kinango below the fold.

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First Wild Horse Born from Artificial Insemination at Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

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In a huge breakthrough for the survival of an endangered species, the first Przewalski’s Horse to be born via artificial insemination was delivered at the National Zoo's Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) on July 27.  

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Photo Credit:  Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

SCBI reproductive physiologist Budhan Pukazhenthi and the Przewalski’s Horse husbandry team spent seven years working closely with experts at The Wilds and Auburn University in Alabama to perfect the technique of assisted breeding. Both the filly and the first-time mother Anne are in good health and bonding.

“It seems reasonable to assume that reproduction for the Przewalski’s Horse would be similar to domestic Horses, but it simply isn’t the case,” said Pukazhenthi. “This is a major accomplishment, and we hope our success will stimulate more interest in studying and conserving endangered equids around the world.” 

Anne was born at SCBI and is the daughter of a mare imported from Europe and the most genetically valuable stallion in the U.S. The filly’s father Agi also lives at SCBI. The Przewalski’s Horse is considered the last wild Horse on the planet, although it is often mistaken for a breed of domestic Horse, the Norwegian Fjord. Little is known about wild equids despite the extensive knowledge of domestic Horses.

Read more and see additional photos below the fold.

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Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Welcomes 198th Giraffe Calf

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Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado welcomed the latest addition to their Reticulated Giraffe herd, a female calf born Thursday morning, August 1. The calf is four-year-old Msitu’s (pronounced mi-see-TOO) first offspring and is the second calf to be sired by the Zoo’s five-year-old bull giraffe, Khalid (pronounced cull-EED). Mother and newborn are doing well. Following Cheyenne Mountain Zoo tradition, the calf will be named after she is 30 days old.

“Watching a giraffe birth is amazing and startling all at the same time,” says Amy Schilz, lead animal keeper for giraffes and lions. “Giraffes give birth standing up, so their baby enters the world with a six foot fall to the ground. They need that fall to stimulate them to start breathing, but it still makes you hold your breath when they drop.”

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Photo credits: Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

See and read more after the fold!

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Peekin' Out of Mom's Pouch: Meet Zoo Miami's New Kangaroo Joey

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An Endangered Matchie’s Tree Kangaroo has begun to peek out of its mother’s pouch at Zoo Miami. Though it is just now exposing itself, this joey is believed to have actually been born approximately 5 months ago.  As with most marsupials, Tree Kangaroos are born in an almost embryonic state after a pregnancy of about 44 days. The newborn is only the size of a jelly bean and slowly crawls into the mother’s pouch where it locks onto a nipple and then the majority of development takes place.

Now more fully formed, the little one is still hairless and while it peeks out of the pouch, it will stay confined there for the next several months, continuing to develop before venturing away from its mother.  It will not be totally weaned until it is around a year old. 

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Photo Credit: Zoo Miami

Matchie’s tree kangaroos live at high elevations in the Huon Peninsula of Papua New Guinea where they spend most of their time up in trees feeding on a variety of leaves, ferns, moss, and bark.  They are believed to be solitary animals and the only strong social bond formed is between a mother and her offspring.  Both Mom and joey will remain off exhibit for several weeks to allow for proper bonding and to help facilitate a smooth introduction for this wonderful new addition!

Read more and see more pictures after the fold:

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