Antwerp Zoo

Elephant Calf Named in Traditional Indian Ceremony

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Planckendael’s famous Asian Elephant, Kai-Mook, gave birth to her first calf on Saturday, January 13.

The playful, little female was recently given a name during a very special ceremony at Planckendael. The calf was given the name Tun Kai: ‘Tun’ means Saturday and refers to the day of her birth, and ‘Kai’ in honor of her mother.

This beautiful name was presented during a traditional Indian naming ceremony, during which the Indian priest Chandrakant of the BAPS Temple in Antwerp whispered the name in the calf’s ear. The special ceremony was in accordance with the tradition of Kerala, India, when a baby has his or her name whispered to them 28 days after their birth.

Planckendael asked fans to submit ideas for the name that would be given to the new elephant, and the Zoo received more than 1,700 suggestions. Finally, keepers agreed upon the name that was chosen.

(ZooBorns featured news of the birth in a January 15 article: "Belgium’s First-Born Elephant Welcomes First Calf")

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6_pl8feb18jonasverhulst-naamgevingsceremonie-tun-kai-80-17Photo Credits: KMDA / Planckendael/ Jonas Verhulst (Images 1,2)

First-time mother, Kai-Mook, was born at ZOO Antwerp on May 17, 2009. She was the first elephant born in Belgium, and according to the Zoo, the whole country was “upside down” and in a festive mood at news of her birth almost a decade ago.

Planckendael plays an active role in the international breeding program for the endangered Asian Elephant. Since the birth of Kai-Mook in 2009, RZSA supports the corridor project of Asian Nature Conservation Foundation (ANCF) in India. In Thirunelli Valley, in South India, human and elephants compete for the same lands: the people want to live and grow crops, the elephants like undisturbed passage, without coming into contact with conspecifics. In South India, the ANCF corridors (walking lanes) are there solely for the elephants. Elephants try to keep away from villages and this provides people with an alternative piece of land elsewhere to edit. Thus, the harmony between man and animal is restored there.

The Asian or Asiatic Elephant (Elephas maximus) is the only living species of the genus Elephas and is distributed in Southeast Asia from India and Nepal in the west to Borneo in the east. Asian Elephants are the largest living land animals in Asia.

Since 1986, the Asian Elephant has been classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List. The population has declined by at least 50 percent over the last three generations, estimated to be 60–75 years. The species is primarily threatened by loss of habitat, habitat degradation, fragmentation and poaching. In 2003, the wild population was estimated at between 41,410 and 52,345 individuals.

 


Belgium’s First-Born Elephant Welcomes First Calf

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Planckendael’s famous Asian Elephant, Kai-Mook, recently gave birth to her first calf! Zoo staff shared that the much-anticipated baby made his entrance into the world sometime between the late hours of January 12 and early January 13.

According to keepers, the baby has a head of hair and has already exceeded the size of his niece, Suki, who was born on Christmas Day. During the delivery, the Zoo’s other female elephants provided support for Kai-Mook, just as they do in the wild.

Kai-Mook was pregnant for a total of 630 days. The baby was soon on his feet after the delivery and has been very active. The calf is very inquisitive, and Kai Mook is proving to be a caring mother to her baby. Zookeepers have not yet confirmed, but they suspect the calf is a boy. If this is the case, he will one day be an important and valuable candidate for the breeding program of the endangered Asian Elephant.

Zoo Coordinator, Ben, related after the birth: "[The calf] is a solid 100 kilos. I am very happy that everything went perfectly… a healthy elephant here…It can now grow together with our Christmas elephant, Suki.”

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3_PL_KaiMookMama_13jan18_JonasVerhulst-5Photo Credits: KMDA / Planckendael 

New mother, Kai-Mook, was born at ZOO Antwerp on May 17, 2009. She was the first elephant born in Belgium, and according to the Zoo, the whole country was “upside down” and in a festive mood at news of her birth almost a decade ago.

Asian Elephants at Planckendael are given Asian-inspired names. Kai-Mook means “pearl” and called the Christmas elephant was given the name Suki, which means “beloved”. The Zoo encourages their fans and supporters to offer name suggestions for the newest calf. The requirements are that it have an Asian influence and start with the letter “T” (each year, all babies born at the Zoo are named using the same beginning letter). Please share your suggestions via the Zoo’s Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram using the hashtag #KaiMookMama. For more info, visit their website: www.planckendael.be

Planckendael plays an active role in the international breeding program for the endangered Asian Elephant. Since the birth of Kai-Mook in 2009, RZSA supports the corridor project of Asian Nature Conservation Foundation (ANCF) in India. In Thirunelli Valley, in South India, human and elephants compete for the same lands: the people want to live and grow crops, the elephants like undisturbed passage, without coming into contact with conspecifics. In South India, the ANCF corridors (walking lanes) are there solely for the elephants. Elephants try to keep away from villages and this provides people with an alternative piece of land elsewhere to edit. Thus, the harmony between man and animal is restored there.

The Asian or Asiatic Elephant (Elephas maximus) is the only living species of the genus Elephas and is distributed in Southeast Asia from India and Nepal in the west to Borneo in the east. Asian Elephants are the largest living land animals in Asia.

Since 1986, the Asian Elephant has been classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List. The population has declined by at least 50 percent over the last three generations, estimated to be 60–75 years. The species is primarily threatened by loss of habitat, habitat degradation, fragmentation and poaching. In 2003, the wild population was estimated at between 41,410 and 52,345 individuals.


Two New Elephant Shrews at Zoo Antwerpen

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Until recently, two of Zoo Antwerpen’s newest arrivals were safely tucked away in an underground burrow with mom and dad.

Tiny, twin Black and Rufous Elephant Shrews were born around November 14 and can now be seen exploring outside their den. Although they are curious of their surroundings, they never stray far from mom, Guusje, or dad, Olli.

Keeper Natalie said, "It's a first for Zoo Antwerp because…with Blijdorp [Rotterdam Zoo], we are the only European zoo where Elephant Shrew have been born."

The twins are currently under the care of their parents. Keepers will allow the family to bond and will have little interaction with the young. When they are old enough to be weaned and away from their mom and dad, staff will examine them to determine their sex and give them names, as well.

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Fotolink Steppeslurfhondje (4)Photo Credits: ZOO Antwerpen / Jonas Verhulst

The Black and Rufous Elephant Shrew (Rhynchocyon petersi) is a small insectivorous mammals native to Africa, belonging to the family Macroscelididae, in the order Macroscelidea.

They are widely distributed across the southern part of Africa, and although common nowhere, can be found in almost any type of habitat, from the Namib Desert to boulder-strewn outcrops in South Africa to thick forest. One species, the North African Elephant Shrew, remains in the semiarid, mountainous country in the far northwest of the continent.

The creature is one of the fastest small mammals. Despite their weight of just under half a kilogram, they have been recorded to reach speeds of 28.8 km/h.

Elephant Shrews mainly eat insects, spiders, centipedes, millipedes, and earthworms. They use their nose to find prey and their tongue to flick small food into its mouth, much like an anteater. Some Elephant Shrews also feed on small amounts of plant matter, especially new leaves, seeds, and small fruits.

Female Elephant Shrews undergo a menstrual cycle similar to that of human females, and the species is one of the few non-primate mammals to do so.

After mating, a pair will return to their solitary habits. After a gestation period varying from 45 to 60 days, the female will bear litters of one to three young, several times a year. The young are born relatively well developed, but remain in the nest for several days before venturing outside.

After five days, the young's milk diet is supplemented with mashed insects, which are collected and transported in the cheek pouches of the female. The young then slowly start to explore their environment and hunt for insects. After about 15 days, the young will begin the migratory phase of their lives, which lessens their dependency on their mother. The young will then establish their own home ranges and will become sexually active within 41–46 days.

The Black and Rufous Elephant Shrew is currently listed as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List. It was still listed as “Vulnerable” in 2008. However, its numbers are reportedly still under threat from severe forest fragmentation and degradation from human expansion.


Zoo Antwerp Has a Brilliant Start to the New Year

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The New Year began at Antwerp Zoo with the birth of a Bluespotted Stingray. The Zoo participates in the breeding program for this endangered species, and they cannot be more proud of their new arrival.

"We noticed in November, a thickening in the female, which indicates a pregnancy. It is always exciting to wait and see. On January 5, we discovered the pup behind a coral wall of the reef aquarium. It's a boy and seemed to us one or two days old. With a first pregnancy, there is usually only one baby, but a ray can even give birth to up to seven little rays. That is a promise for the future,” Keeper Danny shared. 2_fotolink_rog1

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4_fotolink_rog4Photo Credits: ZOO Antwerpen / Jonas Verhulst

The Bluespotted Stingray (Neotrygon kuhlii), also known as Bluespotted Maskray or Kuhl's Stingray, is a species of the Dasyatidae family. The body is rhomboidal and colored green with blue spots. Maximum disk width is estimated 46.5 centimeters (18.3 in).

The Bluespotted Stingray preys on many fish and small mollusks. They are generally found from Indonesia to Japan, and most of Australia. The Bluespotted Stingray is also targeted by many parasites such as tapeworms, flatworms, and flukes.

The species is ovoviviparous. Embryos are retained in eggs within the mother's body until they are ready to hatch. The embryos receive nourishment from the mothers' uterine fluid. Mothers give birth to up to seven pups per litter; these pups range from 6 inches (150 mm) to 13 inches (330 mm) long at birth.

The little male pup at Antwerp Zoo is large, about 17 cm, the size of a saucepan.

Since 2015, Antwerp Zoo has had a large reef aquarium in which a mix of fish swims in splendor. Now, both blue and gray stingrays roam for the first time between the corals. Caretakers at the Zoo can be seen diving into the aquarium to feed all the fish and clean the windows. The Stingrays get their individual meal of eel, and keepers use this time to also monitor their health.

Stingrays have a venomous spine with barbs on their tails. They are not aggressive and will not attack without provocation. They save their defense mechanism for unexpected or unfortunate movements.

Like the precious coral reefs and many other ocean dwellers, Stingrays are threatened. Their habitat is under pressure. Also overfishing reduces their number.

In Queensland, Australia there are many areas for high protection of the Bluespotted Stingray, three being the Shoalwater, Corio Bay's Area Ramsar Site, and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

The ray is commonly caught in the Java Sea by fishermen trawling and by Danish seine boats in large quantities. The Bluespotted Stingray is the second most significant species out of the sharks, rays, and skate family to be fished, contributing to about 700 kilograms (1,500 lb) per boat in 2006-2007.

Only recently, there have been international breeding programs initiated to help protect the species. Antwerp Zoo is now a proud and successful participant in the European breeding program for the Bluespotted Stingrays.


New Malayan Tapir Calf at Antwerp Zoo

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A Malayan Tapir was born at Antwerp Zoo on October 7th!

This is the second baby for mom, Nakal. After thirteen months of pregnancy, the birth went very quickly and smoothly. The young calf is doing well and has been running around a lot. This is the seventh young Tapir for Antwerp, and with a little luck, patrons can catch a glimpse of the newest member.

At birth, the brand new baby weighed about 9 kg (35 times less than his parents). Mother and baby have been spending lots of bonding time in the safety of their nesting house with a large window. Wherever mom goes, her little one is not far behind. The young calf’s father is the late Kamal. According to Antwerp Zoo, Kamal died unexpectedly two months ago.

The little ones sex is still unknown; but once it is revealed, keepers are planning to compile a list of their top three choices for a name and allow fans to vote via the Zoo’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/zooantwerpen 2_14656302_1118178994924892_5302609410460120688_n

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4_fotolink_TAPIR-3Photo Credits: ZOO Antwerpen

The Malayan Tapir (Tapirus indicus), also known as the Asian Tapir, is the largest of four Tapir species and is the only Old World Tapir. They are native to the rainforests of Burma, Malaysia, Sumatra and Thailand. Their noses and upper lips are extended to form a prehensile proboscis, which they use to grab leaves. Tapirs normally measure 1.8 to 2.5m (6 to 8 feet) in length, with a shoulder height of 0.9 to 1.1m. (3 to 3.5 feet).

The animals are related to both the Horse and the Rhinoceros. They are an ‘odd-toed’ animal, having four toes on each front foot and three toes on each back foot.

Malayan Tapirs also have poor eyesight, which makes them rely heavily on their excellent senses of smell and hearing.

They are also known for their unusual courtship ritual, which involves an assortment of wheezing and whistling sounds. They will sniff each other, walking around in circles before mating. Females have a long gestation period of 13 months before giving birth to a single calf.

Continue reading "New Malayan Tapir Calf at Antwerp Zoo " »


New Okapi Royalty at Antwerp Zoo

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Zoo Antwerpen’s royal resident, Yenthe the Okapi, recently gave birth to a new princess. The new calf, Qira, was born November 15. She weighed in at 24 kg (53 lbs) and was 85 cm (2.7 ft) tall.

Antwerp Zoo has a special connection to this beautiful animal. The Zoo is coordinator of the European breeding programme for the Okapi, and the prolific stripes of this endangered species are used in the Zoo’s logo.

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4_fotolink-okapi-qira (2)Photo Credits: ZOO Antwerpen / Jonas Verhulst

 The new calf and her mom are bonding and doing well. Yenthe’s gestation period was exceptionally long; she counted 443 days, instead of the typical 410 to 440 days. Following the tradition of giving all 2015 babies names starting with “Q”, the small Okapi was named Qira (meaning Sun). Qira is steadily gaining weight and can be identified by the unique stripe pattern on her buttocks and legs.

Zookeeper, Patrick Immens, said, “Qira seems a very easy baby. She drinks well and follows mama, Yenthe, very easily. She even steps onto the scale with ease…”

Three Okapi are now living at the Zoo: Yenthe, Qira, and the proud father, Bondo. The “royal family” is considered to be invaluable to the breeding program of this endangered species. Yenthe and Bondo are said to be an exceptionally good match due to their genetic makeup, and their contribution to the European breeding programme is invaluable.

Continue reading "New Okapi Royalty at Antwerp Zoo" »


Tapir Birth Caught on Camera!

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Romance is a powerful motivator, even for Malayan Tapirs.  Luckily, this love story at Zoo Antwerp resulted in a healthy baby Tapir being born on March 6.  Fotolink_tapirbabyQ (6)

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Photo Credit:  Jonas Verhulst

 

One night 13 months ago, keepers arrived in the morning to find male Tapir Nakal’s stall empty.   He had used his flexible snout to open a door and pay a nocturnal visit to female Tapir Kamal. 

The tiny calf weighed only nine pounds at birth, about 35 times less than its parents.  Kamal and the calf are together 24 hours a day, and the calf appears to be nursing well.  For now, Nakal lives in a separate stall to avoid possible agression with the calf.  The calf is the sixth born at Zoo Antwerp.

You can see the entire birth on the surveillance camera video above.  The calf emerges at about two minutes, and is standing at the four minute mark.

Young Tapirs have white blotches on their bodies, which provide camouflage in the dappled shade of the southeast Asian rain forests where they live.  By the time they are six months old, the calves lose their spots and gain the solid black and white fur of adults.

Malayan Tapirs are the largest of the world’s five Tapir species.  They are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, primarily due to loss of habitat. 

See more photos of the Tapir calf below.

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Loving Hands for Springhare Baby

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On August 3, Antwerp Zoo, in Belgium, welcomed a delicate new Springhare in their animal nursery!  The tiny creature’s mother, Mel, showed a healthy curiosity in her new baby, but failed to nurse.  Keepers are now working round the clock, hand-feeding the new baby.

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Springhare_antwerp_1Photo Credits: Antwerp Zoo

The new Springhare at Antwerp Zoo is being kept in a darkened room, inside a special incubator.  Keepers feed the fragile baby every two hours with a small syringe of puppy milk, and its diet is supplemented with fennel tea, which is good for intestines. The baby is also weighed regularly to ensure the food intake is successful.

If the love and attention it receives during hand-feeding goes well, the baby Springhare will next be moved to a nesting box. There, it will be warmed with stones and a heat lamp. The baby would also be introduced to solids, and he would hopefully be weaned in a matter of about 70 days. 

Native to South Africa, the nocturnal, tunnel-digging Springhare is not a hare, but is a member of the order ‘Rodentia’. Although, 20 years ago they were classified on the IUCN Red List as “Vulnerable”, their outlook has improved to a level of “Least Concern”.

See more photos below the fold.

Continue reading "Loving Hands for Springhare Baby" »


Antwerp Zoo Welcomes 50th Okapi Calf

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The endangered Okapi is the symbol of Belgium’s Antwerp Zoo, and rightly so – the 50th Okapi calf to be born at the zoo arrived on December 27.  Named Oni, this female calf is part of the zoo’s important Okapi breeding program, which began when the first Okapi arrived there in 1919.

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Oni2Photo Credit:  © ZOO Antwerpen / Jonas Verhulst

Oni is the second calf to be born to female Hakima and is doing well, according to zoo staff.  Like all Okapis, Oni has a unique pattern of stripes on her hindquarters.  She joins a group of seven Okapi at the zoo, including her sister Mchawi, who was born in 2011.

Antwerp Zoo manages the worldwide studbook for Okapi and coordinates the European breeding program for the species.  In this role, the zoo maintains data on every zoo-born Okapi in the world, reviews the data, and determines which pairings will result in the highest genetic diversity in any offspring.   Efforts like this are crucial to the survival of the endangered Okapi, whose wild population has plummeted by 75% in the last decade. 

There are currently 170 Okapi in zoos worldwide, but scientists estimate that 270 Okapi are needed to sustain a genetically healthy captive population. To reach this target, 13 Okapi births are needed each year for the next several decades 

Closely related to Giraffes, only 10,000 Okapi survive in the dense rain forests of Africa’s Congo basin.  Deforestation, hunting, and political instability threaten their future.  The Antwerp Zoo supports an Okapi reserve that serves as a refuge for these animals.