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November 2013

Giant Anteater Baby Boom Continues at Nashville Zoo

Anteater Pup - Heather Robertson

Gabana the baby Giant Anteater is part of an exciting baby boom at the Nashville Zoo:  He is the fifth Giant Anteater to be born at the zoo in the last 13 months.

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Photo Credit: Margarita WocCoburn

Nashville Zoo has been involved in Giant Anteater conservation for 15 years and has the largest collection of Anteaters in the country.  Gabana, who was born on November 16, is the first birth for mother Dolce, who was born at Nashville Zoo in 2011. Both mother and baby are doing well and living together in the off-exhibit Giant Anteater barn.

Giant Anteaters are solitary animals from the tropical forests of Central and South America. The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists Giant Anteaters as Vulnerable, although they are Extirpated (locally Extinct) in parts of Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Uruguay.  


After a 28-year Wait, LA Zoo Celebrates First Okapi Calf


More than 28 years of planning and preparation have paid off for the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens!  The zoo’s first-ever Okapi calf, born on August 26, made his public debut in November.

Photo Credit:  Los Angeles Zoo

The zoo received its very first Okapi in 2005 after trying to obtain one for more than 20 years. Jamal, then 10 years old, came to the zoo from Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Florida. The zoo’s goal of obtaining a breeding pair was achieved in 2010 when a female, Baraka, arrived from Denver Zoo.

With black-and-white stripes, Okapis may look like zebras, but they are actually the closest living relatives of giraffes. Often called the “forest giraffe,” this shy, secretive Central African species has a lustrous, velvety coat, a 14-18-inch-long prehensile tongue.  Adults stand over six feet tall and weigh 400-700 pounds.

“This long-awaited birth is particularly special because it's the first Okapi we've ever had born here at the zoo,” said John Lewis, Los Angeles Zoo Director. “Being able to have a species like this breed in our zoo is a real testament to the hard work of the staff and their dedication to Okapi conservation.”

The Los Angeles Zoo works with The Okapi Conservation Project (OCP), a conservation group initiated in 1987 with the objective of eliciting support for the conservation of the wild Okapi from individuals, foundations, and zoological institutions managing Okapi around the world. The Okapi is an important flagship species for a rain forest habitat that is rapidly vanishing. Over the last decade, the wild Okapi population has dropped from 40,000 to 10,000, and there are currently only 85 Okapi in Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited zoos.

Snacktime for Sloths at Capron Park Zoo

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A Hoffman's Two-toed Sloth was born in early September at Capron Park Zoo in Massachusetts. The baby is doing very well and enjoys hanging on to mom, munching on leaves, and taking naps. The little Hoffman's Sloth has been named Rayne for Dustin Hoffman's character in the movie Rainman, and is mom's second successful birth. The first, born last year, is named Hassel, for David Hasselhoff. 

Sloths are famously slow South American mammals that spend most of their time hanging upside-down from trees. After a long gestation period of about a year, Two-toed Sloths may even give birth while hanging upside-down!

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Continue reading "Snacktime for Sloths at Capron Park Zoo" »

Tiny Tapir Born at ZooParc de Beauval

Photo Credit:  ZooParc de Beauval

France’s ZooParc de Beauval welcomed a male Brazilian Tapir calf on November 12.  The calf, which has not yet been named, was born to experienced mother Florales.

Like all Brazilian Tapir calves, this little one has a dappled coat, which helps provide camouflage in the rain forest.  Once he reaches eight to nine months of age, he will develop the solid-colored coat of an adult tapir. 

Tapirs have an elongated, flexible proboscis which can move in all directions.  It is used to grab leaves and shoots that may otherwise be out of reach. 

Brazilian Tapirs, also known as Lowland or South American Tapirs, are born with white spots and stripes which act as camouflage in the wild, mimicking the dappled sunlight on the forest floor. These markings will disappear by the time the calves are about six months old. These animals are most active during the night and are found in the tropics of South and Central America. Tapirs have a short trunk, which they use to grab branches and leaves or to help pluck tasty fruit. They feed in the morning and evening. They are excellent swimmers and can dive to feed on aquatic plants.

Brazilian Tapirs are listed as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species, due to deforestation and hunting.

Meet Burgers' Zoo's Cheetah Cub Trio

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As a Thanksgiving treat, here's a sneak peek at the newest little Cheetahs at Burgers' Zoo in the Netherlands!

For the next few months they will stay behind the scenes so that mom can raise her cubs undisturbed. Once they're old enough they will have a veterinary checkup to get vaccinated and to determine their sexes. 

Cheetahs are listed as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened species. Current estimates place the wild Cheetah population at around 7,500 individuals. We're thankful for zoos that aid wildlife conservation through cooperative captive breeding programs, research, and by reaching out to engage and educate the public.

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4 cheetahPhoto credit: Burgers' Zoo

Margay Kitten Blends in with Mom at Bioparque M'Bopicuá

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Congratulations to Bioparque M'Bopicuá! On November 10 they welcomed the first-ever Margay kitten to be born at the breeding station. (Incidentally, this is the first Margay we've ever featured on ZooBorns!) Bioparque M'Bopicuá aids wildlife conservation in Uruguay with its protected wildlife reserve and captive breeding programs to supplement wild populations of native animals. 

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4 margayPhoto credit: Bioparque M'Bopicuá 

See a video of mother and kitten:


Margays are spotted cats native to Central and South America, from southern Mexico to northern South America east of the Andes. Larger than house cats, they are active at night and spent most of their time in trees. Margays usually give birth to just one kitten, but very rarely have litters of two. After a gestation period of about 80 days, which is a pretty long time for a small cat, Margays give birth to a kitten that is fairly large but still helpless. Kittens open their eyes at about two weeks old, and begin to eat solid food at seven to eight weeks old. 

Margays are a Near Threatened species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. According to the IUCN, the species is at risk due to habitat loss and fragmentation, in addition to hunting for the cat's beautiful spotted fur. 

Finding Nemos at Monterey Bay Aquarium

Clown fish eggs at Monetery Bay Aquarium 1

Monterey Bay Aquarium just pointed us to these amazing photos hundreds of baby Clownfish hatching behind the scenes! Details from the Aquarium's Tumblr page below:

“We patiently waited for the eggs to develop as the dad Clownfish took great care of them,” said Raymond Direen, who cared for the brood with fellow aquarist Jenn Anstey. “The dad constantly used his pectoral fins to fan the eggs and keep them clean. After about two weeks, they separated from the father, and morphed into little baby Clownfish."

Here's a guide to finding all your favorite characters from "Finding Nemo" at Monterey Bay Aquarium, including these soon-to-be-displayed babies! 

Baby Clownfish at Monterey Bay Aquarium 2.jpgPhoto credits: Monterey Bay Aquarium

Vancouver Aquarium Releases Rehabilitated Harbor Seals

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After receiving months of care at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, seven rehabilitated Harbor Seal pups poked their noses out of their transport kennels and wiggled down to the waters of Howe Sound on the morning of November 20. Five of the rescued seal pups were outfitted with satellite-linked transmitters, which will provide valuable data to the aquarium’s veterinary team regarding the seal pups’ travel patterns and progress following their release. 

In the water, the transmitters don't weigh anything, and the seals don't seem to be bothered by them at all! They aren't invasive; no part of the animal has been punctured or any pain caused. They will fall off by the time the animals molt next spring, if not before. When the animals move, the antennas point backwards, and so they don't affect the seals' ability to swim.The transmitters are the result of decades of collaboration between veterinarians, biologists, engineers, and programmers.  

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5 sealPhoto credits: Vancouver Aquarium

See photos of the release after the fold!

Continue reading "Vancouver Aquarium Releases Rehabilitated Harbor Seals" »

River Otter Delivers Her Second Pup at Oregon Zoo

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Tilly, a North American River Otter at the Oregon Zoo, gave birth to a pup on November 8 —her second this year. The new arrival weighed just shy of 5 ounces (28.3 g) at birth and has nearly tripled that thanks to mom’s naturally high-fat milk.

“We’re pretty sure this pup’s a male,” said Julie Christie, the zoo’s senior North America keeper. “But Tilly is very protective, so we can’t be positive until our vets conduct a more thorough exam.”

Tilly and her pup are currently in a private maternity den, and it will be another month or two before visitors can see them in their Cascade Stream and Pond habitat. Young River Otters usually open their eyes after three to six weeks, and begin walking at about five weeks.

“Young River Otters are very dependent on their moms, and Tilly has been very nurturing,” said Christie. “She did a great job with her first pup, Mo, earlier this year. She raised him up from this tiny, helpless creature into the sleek, agile, full-grown otter he is today. We’re confident Tilly will be a great mom to her new pup as well.”

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Surprisingly, swimming does not come naturally to River Otters; pups must be taught to swim by their moms. Earlier this year, this video of Tilly teaching Mo to swim drew more than half a million views on the zoo’s YouTube channel.


Take a peek behind the scenes as the newborn pup is weighed:


Keepers have yet to decide on a name for the new pup, though it is likely he will be named after a local river or waterway. (Mo is short for Molalla, after the Molalla River.)

North American River Otters typically give birth from late winter to spring, but Tilly seems to be on her own schedule, keepers say. The breeding season for River Otters is December through April, and actual gestation only lasts a couple of months. Unlike their European cousins however, North American River Otters usually delay implantation so that the time between conception and birth can stretch to as much as a year. That hasn’t been the case with Tilly. 

Christie said it is also unusual — though not unheard of — for an otter to give birth to a single pup, as Tilly has now done twice. Litters usually consist of two or three pups, though the range is anywhere from one to six. Family groups typically consist of an adult female otter and her pups, with males moving away once they reach adulthood.

Since both Tilly and the pup’s father, B.C., were born in the wild, they and their offspring are considered genetically important for the breeding otter population in North American zoos. Both parents are rescued animals who had a rough start to life.

Tilly, named after the Tillamook River, was found orphaned near Johnson Creek in 2009. She was about four months old, had been wounded by an animal attack and was seriously malnourished. Once her health had stabilized, Tilly came to the Oregon Zoo in a transfer facilitated by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, which oversees the species’ protection. 

The pup’s father, B.C. (short for Buttercup), was found orphaned near Star City, Ark., also in 2009. He was initially taken in by the Little Rock Zoo, but transferred to Oregon the following year as a companion for Tilly. The two otters hit it off quickly and have been playful visitor favorites ever since.

Now that the threat from fur trappers has declined, North American River Otters are once again relatively abundant in healthy river systems of the Pacific Northwest and the lakes and tributaries that feed them. Good populations exist in suitable habitat in northeast and southeast Oregon, but they are scarce in heavily settled areas, especially if waterways are compromised. Because of habitat destruction and water pollution, River Otters are considered rare outside the Pacific Northwest.

Metro, the regional government that manages the Oregon Zoo, has preserved and restored more than 90 miles of river and stream banks in the region through its voter-supported natural area programs. By protecting water quality and habitat, these programs are helping to provide the healthy ecosystems needed for otters, fish and other wildlife to thrive. River Otters are frequently observed in Metro region waterways.

Whipsnade Zoo Trumpets a New Arrival

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The Zoological Society of London welcomed Max the Asian Elephant calf on October 12 at the Whipsnade Zoo in the United Kingdom.

Measuring three feet (1m) tall and weighing 283 pounds (129 kg), Max was born to second-time mother Karishma and was on his feet within minutes of his birth. 

Max and mum Karishma
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Scott and Max
Photo Credits:  Stefan Groeneveld (1,3,5,6,7); Whipsnade Zoo (2,4,8,9,10)

Keeper Stefan Groeneveld said: “Max is already showing an independent streak. He’ll happily leave his mum’s side to go and play in the paddock with the rest of the herd.  Elephants are very social animals and having youngsters joining the herd is what Elephant life is all about.”

Max shares Whipsnade’s seven acre paddock with nine other Elephants – including brother George, aged three, and half siblings Donna, four, and Scott, two – and is an important addition to the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP) for Asian Elephants.

See more photos and learn more about Elephants below the fold.

Continue reading "Whipsnade Zoo Trumpets a New Arrival" »