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October 2013

A Baby Boom of Somali Wild Ass Foals at Woburn Safari Park

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For the first time ever at Woburn Safari Park in England, not just one, but three critically endangered Somali Wild Ass foals have been born. Their keepers are extremely pleased to see these healthy and lively foals join the animals in the Road Safari drive-through reserves.

Five year-old Ira is mother to the first foal, shown in the photos. She came to Woburn from a collection in Switzerland. She is extremely protective of the male foal, and is keeping the other two mares in the herd away from the youngster. Once she and her foal have bonded, she will let the other mares interact with him, but under her watchful gaze. 

The baby boom continued as a second male foal was born on September 28 and a third arrived on October 4. The babies will all be named by keepers in the next few days.

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Photo Credits: Daniel Davies / Woburn Safari Park 

The sire of all three foals is named Simon, who is 18 years old and came to Woburn Safari Park from Poland in early 2012.  Since the gestation period for the Somali Wild Ass is 13 months, the foals were conceived very soon after his arrival. He is a really relaxed and calm stallion who enjoys a little fuss from the keepers.

The Somali Wild Ass is Critically Endangered, with  estimates at only 280-300 left in the wild. Breeding plans are overseen by the European Endangered Species Programme to carefully plan for the conservation and future of these beautiful animals. There are only two other zoo collections in the UK holding a breeding herd of Somali Wild Ass, which makes the arrival of these youngsters particularly important. 


With the Birth of an Indian Rhino, Zoo Basel Tries a New Approach

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At Zoo Basel in Switzerland, an Indian Rhinoceros gave birth during the night on October 5. The calf, a boy, was given the name Kiran, a Hindi word for 'sunrise'. Kiran is nursing well and bonding well with his mother, 31-year-old Ellora. On his first day, Kiran weighed 150 pounds (68 kg) and stood just over two feet (66 cm) tall. 

Kiran's 3-year-old sister, Henna, was also present for the birth. This was the first time in a European zoo that a Rhinoceros birth has taken place in the presence of an older sibling, as it occurs in nature. Usually, older siblings are moved to a different location when a Rhino is giving birth in captivity, to help ensure the safety of the newborn. Henna was a bit uneasy with the unfamiliar new arrangement, but it didn't take too long for her to adapt. The three now spend most of their time together in the Rhino barn, although Kiran has started to take his first steps outside.

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Photo credits: Zoo Basel

Also out-of-the-ordinary, Ellora also had the freedom to chose where she wanted to give within her habitat. The experienced mom made a good decision, chosing the private shelter of the barn. Kiran is Ellora's eighth calf, and the 34th baby Rhinoceros born at Basel Zoo since 1956 birth of Rudra, the first Rhino ever to be born in a zoo. Since 1990, Basel Zoo has coordinated the European Endangered Species Program for Rhinos, an international effort to coordinate the breeding of healthy Rhinos in zoos. 

The Indian Rhino, also called the Greater One-horned Rhinoceros, lives in the riverine grasslands and forests of India and Nepal.  According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List, the Indian Rhino is a vulnerable species. Though strictly protected, Zoo Basel notes that poaching has increased in recent years. The zoo supports the Indian Rhino Vision 2020 project in Assam, India, a site dedicated to the conservation of the species. 

Meerkat Pups Join the Family at Bioparc Valencia

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Bioparc Valencia in Spain is now home to five little Meerkat pups. Meerkats, endemic to the desert of southern Africa, are members of the mongoose family. They live in social colonies in underground burrows and tunnels that help to protect them against the day's scorching heat. Some members of the colony act as scouts that cry out to warn each other if a predator, like a hawk, is spotted. Meerkats will also babysit for each other as they are raising pups, protecting and sometimes even nursing each other's young. 

Meerkats can reproduce year-round, and may have up to four litters per year in the wild. Pups leave the den to explore at about three weeks old, and start to learn how to forage for and eat small animals and plants by watching and mimicking adults. It takes careful observation and practice to master the art of catching (and eating) scorpions!

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3 meerkatPhoto credits: Bioparc Valencia

See a video of the Meerkat family:

Romping with Cheetah Cubs - a ZooBorns First!


Last Monday my ZooBorns' co-founder, Chris Eastland, and I (Andrew Bleiman) made a very special trip to Dallas Zoo to meet their twin Cheetah cubs, Kamau and Winspear. We also met their canine companion, a black Lab puppy named, Amani. 

It's extraordinarily rare that we get to interact, let alone romp, with real-live zoo-borns. However these special cubs are being raised as education animals so socialization with humans, even goofy ZooBorns guys, is part of their regular day. Their puppy friend, Amani, is a calming influence who will also help with these efforts. 

The cubs were born at Smithsonian's Front Royal Conservation Biology Institute on July 8th. 





The feline duo put on quite a display. Stalking and pouncing on us / one another / furniture and just about anything else worth clawing at occupied most of the morning. The cubs made a variety of noises, from bird-like chirps, to gutteral growls, to purrs that would remind you of your house cat, just a lot louder. 

With wild Cheetah populations hovering somewhere around 10,000, the species is considered vulnerable to extinction. Cheetahs thrive in vast expanses of land. Human encroachment and habitat destruction are central threats to this iconic species.

Institutions like Dallas Zoo serve an invaluable role in building empathy and awareness for wildlife conservation. We here at ZooBorns are proud to help spread the word about these efforts and consider ourselves incredibly priviliged to meet Dallas' newest Cheetah ambassadors. 

Special thanks to the Dallas Zoo staff that made our visit possible. Pictured left to right: Chris Eastland (ZooBorns), Candice Davis, Chris Johnson, Robin Ryan, and Andrew Bleiman (ZooBorns). Not pictured: Laurie Holloway

Photo credits: ZooBorns / Juan Pulido

Fennec Foxes are a ZooBorns Hit

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Time for a ZooBorns classic: Fennec Foxes! These little newborns were recently photographed at Everland Zoo in Seoul, Korea, by zoo photographer In Cheryl Kim. Last year, we crunched the numbers and found that a Fennec Fox photo by In Cheryl Kim was the number one cutest picture featured on our website, single-handedly bringing 500,000 new visitors to the ZooBorns website. (See those top 25 photos here.) The Fennec Fox has since become our mascot. To browse through our previous Fennec Fox posts— they are truly adorable—click here.

Fennec Foxes are endemic to the Sahara Desert, where their big ears let them detect insects dancing across the sand at night and fur lined paws protect them from scorching hot sand during the day. They are the smallest species of canid in the world. And there's good news: the International Union for Conservation of Nature lists the Fenne Fox as a species of Least Concern, meaning that they are common throughout their range and don't seem to be declining. 

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Fennec foxPhoto credits: In Cheryl Kim / Everland Zoo

Giraffe Calf Meets the Family at Oklahoma City Zoo

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The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden is celebrating a special fall delivery—a female giraffe born on September 26! The newborn is the sister of Sergeant Peppers, a male giraffe born in January 2012 to zoo favorites Ellie and Bogy.  Another sister, Keyara, was born at the Zoo in January 2010. The new arrival, who already stands six feet tall, will be named by her caregivers. The calf is pictured above with her brother, during her first day outside on October 1, as mom Ellie looks on. 

“Both mom and calf are doing well,” said Jaimee Flinchbaugh, the zoo's hoofstock supervisor. “Ellie is a doting mom and her calf is full of energy, personality and spunk.”

Average gestation for a Giraffe calf is approximately 15 months. Giraffes give birth while standing and unlike humans, the calf is born hooves-first. The calf then proceeds to stand, usually within one hour after birth. In the wild, it is important for a newborn Giraffe to be able to stand quickly to elude predators. 

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6 giraffePhoto credits: Jaimee Flinchbaugh / Oklahoma City Zoo

Depending on weather conditions, zoo guests may be able to see the calf mid- morning through early afternoon hours. The zoo’s twice-a-day public Giraffe feeding opportunities will continue, weather permitting. However, mom Ellie will not be participating until her caregivers believe she is comfortable with the feeding platform area and crowds.

Pup is the First Giant Otter Ever Born in Asia

The first Giant Otter to be born in all of Asia arrived at River Safari, part of Wildlife Reserve Singapore, on August 10.   River Safari is the only zoo in Asia to hold Giant Otters, which are among the most endangered Otters in the world.

Photo Credit:   Wildlife Reserves Singapore

The unnamed male pup now weighs about 3.5 pounds (1.6kg) and is about two feet long (60cm). While the pup is petite for now, he will eventually weigh 75 pounds (34kg) and grow to six feet (1.8m) in length.  River Safari is the first zoological institution in Asia to feature Giant Otters, which are the largest of the world’s 13 Otter species.

Found primarily in South America’s Amazon River basin, Giant Otters are ferocious predators that hunt piranhas, anacondas and even caimans, earning them the title “river wolves.” Often hunted for their fur and threatened by habitat loss, these river giants are becoming rare in the wild.

Dr. Cheng Wen-Haur, Chief Life Sciences Officer at Wildlife Reserves Singapore said, “With increasing threats such as habitat destruction and poaching, captive breeding programs play a pivotal role in conserving threatened species for our future generations.”

Meet the Two-Day-Old Elephant Calf at ABQ Biopark

After a 22-month wait, the Albuquerque BioPark in New Mexico welcomed a healthy female Elephant calf on October 2.

Photo Credit:  ABQ Biopark

"Rozie and her calf are doing well and are getting to know each other behind-the-scenes," said Rhonda Saiers, Elephant Manager. "She is learning to nurse and getting more steady on her feet. She'll get to meet her sister, Daizy, and grandmother, Alice, within a few days."

The newest addition is the third Elephant born in New Mexico. Rozie was the first Elephant born at the ABQ BioPark Zoo back in 1992. She gave birth to Daizy, her first calf, in 2009. The multi-generation herd includes Rozie, her mother Alice, daughter Daizy and brand new calf. An unrelated female, Irene, is also part of the herd and has been a good auntie. Samson and Albert, two young males, have formed a bachelor herd, and can be seen in yards adjacent to the females. 

"We're proud to be part of Elephant conservation through our breeding program," said Rick Janser, BioPark Director. "Our diverse herd represents how Elephants socialize in the wild, living in groups and raising calves together. These Elephants show how conservation programs can help ensure a future for endangered species."

Asian Elephants are endangered with only 40,000 left in the wild. The ABQ BioPark participates in the Elephant Species Survival Plan (SSP), which is managed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The SSP boosts Elephant reproduction efforts and promotes genetic diversity to build a self-sustaining elephant population in North America.

The new calf will make her public debut in coming weeks.  Rozie's new calf is an important addition to the Elephant population and to Albuquerque's herd. She will learn how to be an Elephant with the guidance of older Elephants. And Daizy, now 4 years old, will learn what it's like to raise a calf, which will help prepare her to be a mother in a few years.

See more photos of the Elephant calf below the fold!

Continue reading "Meet the Two-Day-Old Elephant Calf at ABQ Biopark" »

Jaguar Cub Bonds with Mom at Fort Worth Zoo

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Yesterday, Fort Worth Zoo in Texas announced the birth of the zoo’s newest resident: a female Jaguar cub. The healthy cub, named Sasha, was born July 16 and weighed 2 pounds (.9 kg). Sasha immediately began nursing and bonding with 4-year-old mother Xochi (zo-she). Xochi is a very protective mother; after giving birth, she cared for her cub in a private, off-exhibit area, mimicking natural Jaguar behavior in the wild. The 2-month-old cub now weighs 13.75 pounds (6.23 kg) and can be seen exploring her habitat in the Brush County area of the zoo's Texas Wild! exhibit. 

Typically, Jaguars give birth to a litter of one to four cubs after a gestation period of 95 to 110 days. Cubs nurse for about six months and are usually introduced to meat at around three months old. Cubs are born with heavily spotted, dense, wooly fur, which transforms into adult coloration by seven months old. A Jaguar’s specially marked coats acts as camouflage, making it almost invisible in its desert or forest surroundings. Jaguars can grow to be six feet long (excluding tail) and weigh between 100 to 250 pounds (45 to 113 kg). 

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Photo credits: Fort Worth Zoo

See a video of the cub playing with mom:

The Fort Worth Zoo participates in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Jaguar Species Survival Plan (SSP), a breeding program that maintains a healthy, self-sustaining population of vulnerable animals to help prevent their extinction. Sasha is the eighth Jaguar born in an AZA zoo this year, and is the sixth Jaguar cub born since the Texas Wild! exhibit opened in 2001.

In the wild, a Jaguar cub is dependent on its mother for protection from predators, for food and guidance until it is about 2 years old. Sasha will stay at the Fort Worth Zoo for the next 12 to 18 months and then be moved to another AZA zoo to help maintain genetic diversity within the species.

“The Fort Worth Zoo has had a very successful history breeding Jaguars,” said Ron Surratt, Fort Worth Zoo director of animal collections. “Our participation in the Jaguar SSP has helped ensure guests will be able to enjoy Jaguars for years to come as we continue to contribute to the survival of the species.”


The Jaguar is the largest cat in the Western Hemisphere (third largest in the world behind Lions and Tigers) and represents the only 'big cat' found in the New World. A Near Threatened species, the Jaguar is historically native to the southern United States. Due to habitat alteration, the Jaguar can now be found from the U.S./Mexico border south into Central America.



Zoo Praha's Jaguarundi Cub Follows Mom Outside the Den

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There's a Juguarundi cub at Zoo Praha (Prague Zoo)! The little male, born on September 1, is perfectly cared for by his mother, Amálka. Over the past few days, the month-old cub has left the delivery kennel and started to explore his indoor habitat. He has also started to eat a little meat in addition to nursing.  

Also called Eyra Cats, Jaguarundis are small wild cats living throughout Central and South America. They are diurnal, meaning that they are most active during the day. Although good climbers, they hunt primarily on the ground. These cats breed throughout the year, giving birth to a litter of one to four cubs in a safe den. Cubs are born with spots on their bellies, which disappear as the cats mature. Jaguarundis are ready to live independantly at about one year old, and tend to be solitary rather than living in social groups. 

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Photo credits: Zoo Praha / Tomáš Adamec (1)

The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists the Jaguarundi as a species of Least Concern, but notes that their population is decreasing; more research may find that these cats meet the criteria of Near Threatened. The greatest concern for this creature is habitat loss due to development and agriculture.