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October 2013

Hyena Cub Will Earn His Spots at Berlin Zoo

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On July 27, a Spotted Hyena named Malindi gave birth to a healthy male cub at Berlin Zoo. The cub, named Toki, was born with a beautiful black coat, which will start to lighten over the next few weeks to resemble his parent's speckled fur. 

The cub's father, Kara, also lives at Berlin Zoo. But as in the wild, he won't play a role in rearing his offspring. In Hyena packs, females are dominant over males, and raise their pups on their own, so it's understandable that Kara keeps a bit of distance from the rest of the family.




Spotted Hyena are common on the savannas of sub-Saharan Africa. They were long seen as scavengers, but they are in fact persistent hunters, capturing up to 70% of their own food themselves, including large like gazelles, wildebeest and zebras. 

Sleepy Sloth Clings to Mom at Zoo Budapest

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On September 21, a Sloth was born at Zoo Budapest to first-time mom, Lili. The Sloth baby, a healthy male, has been given the respectable name Zippo. He lives in a community of six Sloths, including his maternal grandmother Banya and his father, who was traded in from another zoo in order to prevent inbreeding. Lucky visitors to the zoo may be able to catch a glimpse of the baby clinging to his mother in the New World tropical exhibit.

Sloths take their time with everything, and their reproductive cycle is no exception. They have an especially long gestation period lasting 44 to 50 weeks. After a year or so of pregnancy, the mother will spend six to nine months caring for her baby. They also take a long time to reach sexual maturity, only reproducing for the first time  between 3.5 and 5 years of age. Because it takes so much time and work to successfully raise offspring, it's a good thing that these creatures can live up to 40 years.

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3 slothPhoto credits: L. Kékesdi Gyula /  Zoo Budapest 

Edinburgh Zoo Welcomes an Endangered African Hunting Dog Puppy

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On October 23, carnivore keepers at Edinburgh Zoo announced the birth of an African Hunting Dog—a first for the zoo! The announcement coincides with the reopening of the hunting dog walkway, which keepers had closed to visitors in August as they suspected Jet, the pack’s non-dominant female, was pregnant. 

With less than 5,500 African Hunting Dogs left in the wild, the birth of this puppy is an immense achievement for Edinburgh Zoo. Habitat fragmentation is one of the biggest factors in the hunting dogs’ decline, as the packs need a large range in order to remain sustainable. Hunting Dogs are also heavily persecuted by farmers, even though the dogs rarely attack livestock. Education and conservation breeding programs, such as the one Edinburgh Zoo is part of, remain crucial to saving this species from extinction.

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4 hunting dogPhoto credits: Edinburgh Zoo

Darren McGarry, head of living collections at Edinburgh Zoo says, “We are all really excited about the arrival of this puppy. Hunting Dogs, like many other pack animals, are very difficult to breed successfully. Although we don’t know its sex yet, this pup is proving to be a real bundle of attitude. It’s very bold for such a young age and we’ve often spotted it tugging along joints of meat that are twice its size. All of the dogs have been seen feeding it and it looks like an established member of the pack."

He continues, “Most first-time mothers can be very nervous, so we decided to close the enclosure to visitors in order to give Jet and her pup the best chance of a successful birth. Hunting dogs have a very intricate social hierarchy and if they feel threatened this can cause the mother to reject her pups.”

In about a week, the puppy will be caught for its first health check and to be sexed. As Hunting Dog puppies are born black and white and only start to get their mottled markings at around two months old, the keepers will only name the feisty little pup once its colors have come through. 

Although Edinburgh Zoo’s pack has two males, Blade and Two Socks, only Blade, the dominant male, will breed with the pack’s females. Usually, the dominant female will be the one to have pups but it is not uncommon for lower-ranking females to also give birth. The zoo’s keepers are confident that this pup will be the first of many for their pack. 



Tampa's Rhino Calf Gets Down and Dirty

Africa white rhino baby oct 17 2013
In the middle of the night on October 9, Kidogo the Southern White Rhinoceros gave birth to a healthy male calf at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, the third birth of this species in the zoo’s history. Now just a few weeks old, the calf, which has been named “Khari” (K-har-E), an African name meaning “king like,” is already romping in the Rhino yard’s mud puddles.

Africa white rhino baby oct 15 2013
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Africa white rhino khari baby oct 22 2013
Photo Credit:  Dave Parkinson

While the zoo’s herd has grown by one, the wild population of Rhinos decreases by one every 15 hours due to poaching.

Demand for Rhino horn has skyrocketed in southeast Asia where horn, which is made out of keratin -- the same material found in human hair and nails -- is wrongly believed to have medicinal properties.  In 2012 in South Africa, 668 Rhinos were killed by poachers, and it is estimated that as many as 1,000 Rhinos could be lost this year. By 2016, Rhino deaths from poaching could overtake wild births. 

The zoo participates in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Southern White Rhino Species Survival Plan, designed to support conservation of this species.

The zoo is currently home to a herd of seven Southern White Rhinos: three adult females from the Phinda Reserve in Africa, one adult male, the second-born juvenile Rhino “Kande,” and the newborn. Because White Rhinos live in herds, Kidogo and Khari have begun introductions to the other Rhinos and the Grevy’s Zebras that share the outdoor exhibit. 

The White Rhinoceros has two horns at the end of its muzzle, the most prominent in the front. Unlike Indian Rhinos, White Rhinos use their horns for defense. Females use their horn to protect their young while males use them to battle each other. Adult White Rhinos can reach weights of about 5,000 pounds, with most calves weighing between 100-140 pounds.

See more photos of Khari below the fold.

Continue reading "Tampa's Rhino Calf Gets Down and Dirty" »

Waffles the Wallaby Comforts Kids

Animals can bring smiles and laughter to everyone, but they make special connections with children.  That was the idea when Zoos Victoria's Healesville Sanctuary sent Waffles the Wallaby to the Monash Children's Hospital.  Waffles shared a special moment with William, then went on to spread cheer to the entire ward.

Studies show that visits from animals like Waffles the Wallaby can make a positive difference for children in traumatic situations.  They provide a comforting presence, resulting in both psychological and physical benefits. 

Zoos Victoria includes the Melbourne Zoo, the Werribee Open Range Zoo, and Healesville Sanctuary, which features native Australian wildlife.  All three facilities are located in and around Melbourne, Australia. 

Photo Credit:  Alex Coppell/Herald Sun



Twycross Zoo Welcomes Three Bush Dog Pups

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On October 21, Twycross Zoo in the UK welcomed three South American Bush Dogs, the first litter of Bush Dog pups to be born at the zoo in almost a decade!

First time parents Japura and Aztec are doing a superb job caring for their new offspring. The pups have so far remained in their nest, but are now beginning to venture into their outdoor viewing area a few times a day as they explore their new surroundings.

Zookeeper Chris Simpson comments, “When we arrived on the morning of the August 21st, we knew Japura had given birth overnight, but it took a week or so to confirm there were three pups in the litter. They are yet to be sexed so we haven’t got names for the new arrivals at the moment.”

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4 bush dog Photo credits: Twycross Zoo / Gillian Day (2, 4) 

Bush Dog pups are born with their eyes closed, and for the first few weeks stay in their nest where both parents will protect, clean and help transport them.

Senior Zoo Keeper Kirsten Wicks adds, “Before the babies were born, Aztec was quite possessive with food and always made sure he ate before Japura. However, now we’ve noticed that when we feed Aztec he’ll take the food and present it to Japura, and then wait for her to eat before he does. For a first time dad he’s doing a great job caring for Japura, as well as the pups.” 

Team Leader Julian Chapman says, “The fact that these animals have produced their first litter within a year of moving into their new enclosure is a testament to the thought and effort that the staff at Twycross Zoo are putting into the redevelopment of the animal enclosures. Hopes are high for several other species such as the Amur leopards and prairie marmots which have also had their enclosure redeveloped this year.” 

Bush Dogs are classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as Near Threatened. Their threats are poorly understood, but include loss of habitat to development for farming, loss of prey species, and an increase in diseases affecting canines.

UPDATE! Zoo Atlanta Announces Names of Panda Twins

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Zoo Atlanta's Panda twins are no longer 'Cub A' and 'Cub B'! On October 23, zoo officials announced the new names of their twin Panda cubs: Mei Lun ('may loon') and Mei Huan ('may hwaan'). The names originate from a Chinese idiom that means "something indescribably beautiful and magnificent." Following Chinese tradition, the names were announced on the same day the cubs turned 100 days old.

Do you remember how tiny they used to be? Revisit our first story about the newborns here.

Want to take a peek? Zoo Atlanta has a live Panda Cam.

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4 panda

5 pandaPhoto credits: Zoo Atlanta

See how the cubs have grown over their first 100 days of life:


See more photos after the fold!

Continue reading "UPDATE! Zoo Atlanta Announces Names of Panda Twins" »

UPDATE! Help Name Oregon Zoo's Lion Cubs

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Oregon Zoo's lions cubs are growing up strong. The three females are now one month old, healthy and playful. The littlest cub, who had some health issues and received some supplemental bottle-feeding, is still the smallest of the trio, but she is doing much better.

See our original story about the cubs here.
Want to vote for your favorite potential names? The lions' keepers have picked out their favorites, and want to know yours. 

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Photo credits: Michael Durham / Oregon Zoo

See more photos after the fold.

Continue reading "UPDATE! Help Name Oregon Zoo's Lion Cubs " »

Baby Alpaca Takes Wobbly First Steps at Children's Zoo

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A baby alpaca—also called a cria— was born on the morning of October 16 at The Children’s Zoo at Celebration Square in Michigan. The little boy, named Cypress, was standing on his own wobbly legs just two hours after birth. He started walking and nursing with a little bit of encouragement from a keeper. 

Lily, his mother, is doing very well after the birth and is naturally very caring and nurturing. (She is the white alpaca in the pictures.) Cypress' one-year-old sister, Rose, was immediately jealous and kept nosing her way into all of his photos. But it didn't take too before she seemed to be more accepting of sharing the limelight and played nice on camera, even planting big kiss on her baby brother's face. 

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6 alpacaPhoto credits: Children's Zoo

See a video of Cyprus' first steps:


See more photos of the alpaca family after the fold.

Continue reading "Baby Alpaca Takes Wobbly First Steps at Children's Zoo" »