Artis Zoo

Black Jaguar Cubs Learn to Stalk at ARTIS


The two Jaguar cubs born at ARTIS Zoo on June 28 recently explored their outdoor exhibit. Zoo visitors can now see the male and female on a regular basis, putting to practice their natural stalking abilities and big-cat skills.

The cubs are unique in their appearance. Both cubs have what is known as “color morphism” and are black in color (their father is also black). Color morphism is known to occur in the Jaguar species. Jaguars with melanism appear almost entirely black, although their spots are still visible on closer examination.

Melanistic Jaguars (or “black” jaguars) occur primarily in South America, and are virtually unknown in wild populations residing regions of North America. They are informally known as “Black Panthers”, but they do not form a separate species.

Extremely rare albino individuals, sometimes called “White Panthers”, also occur among Jaguars.



4_jaguarwelpen_buiten_nieuwsbericht_7_1920x1080.jpg__1920x1430_q85_crop_subsampling-2_upscale (1)Photo Credits: ARTIS/Joke Kok

The Jaguar (Panthera onca) is a big cat and is the only extant Panthera species native to the Americas. The Jaguar is the third-largest feline species after the Tiger and the Lion, and the largest in the Americas.

The Jaguar's present range extends from Southwestern United States and Mexico across much of Central America and south to Paraguay and northern Argentina. The species has largely been extirpated from the United States since the early 20th century.

This spotted cat most closely resembles the Leopard physically, although it is usually larger and of sturdier build and its behavioral and habitat characteristics are closer to those of the Tiger.

Dense rainforest is its preferred habitat, but it will range across a variety of forested and open terrains. Its preferred habitats are usually swamps and wooded regions, but Jaguars also live in scrublands and deserts. It is notable, along with the Tiger, as a feline that enjoys swimming.

The Jaguar is largely solitary, opportunistic, and a stalk-and-ambush predator at the top of the food chain. It is a keystone species, playing an important role in stabilizing ecosystems and regulating the populations of the animals it hunts. The Jaguar has an exceptionally powerful bite, even relative to the other big cats. This allows it to pierce the shells of armored reptiles and to employ an unusual killing method: it bites directly through the skull of prey between the ears to deliver a fatal bite to the brain.

The Jaguar is classified as “Near Threatened” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and its numbers are declining. Threats include loss and fragmentation of habitat. While international trade in Jaguars or their parts is prohibited, the cat is still frequently killed by humans, particularly in conflicts with ranchers and farmers in South America.

ARTIS is part of the European Breeding Program for Jaguars. As a result, the black male and spotted female met at the end of last year, and several coverings were observed. Once pregnant, the two Jaguars were separated again. A female has a gestation period of about three to four months. The female raised the cubs on her own, and after one-and-a-half to two years, the young cubs become independent of their mother’s care.


Elephant Calf Makes Quick Entrance


After a gestation period of 631 days (21 months), it only took a grand total of two minutes for the delivery of Artis Zoo’s new Asian Elephant calf! New mom, Thong Tai, welcomed the quick arrival of her new baby on October 16.

Keepers at Artis Zoo, in Amsterdam, had been carefully monitoring Thong Tai and knew the birth was imminent. In the wild, elephants customarily have a female relative from their herd provide support during the birth. Thong Tai’s oldest daughter, Yindee, was present during the arrival of her latest daughter.

Photographer AJ Haverkamp captured this charming series of photos of the new calf, which has been named Sanuk. Haverkamp has more incredible work that can be seen via his flickr page: 



4_22779068618_e0e92da4bd_kPhoto Credits: AJ Haverkamp / Video Credits: Artis Zoo


The Asian or Asiatic Elephant (Elephas maximus) is the only living species of the genus Elephas and is distributed in Southeast Asia from India in the west to Borneo in the east. Three subspecies are recognized: E. m. maximus from Sri Lanka, the E. m. indicus from mainland Asia, and E. m. sumatranus from the island of Sumatra. They are the largest living land animals in Asia.

Since 1986, E. maximus has been listed as “Endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The population has declined by at least 50% over the last three generations, estimated to be 60–75 years. The species is primarily threatened by degradation, fragmentation and loss of habitat, and poaching.



New Giraffe Calf Joins Tower at Artis


Natura Artis Magistra, in the Netherlands, welcomed its newest Reticulated Giraffe on November 30th.

The new male calf is the third giraffe born at the Zoo this year. The new mother was also born at Artis in 2010, and this is her second offspring. The herd, or "tower" (as a group of giraffes is called), at Artis now consists of nine: five females and four males.



4_12339380_905624949512606_6088625754170277191_oPhoto Credits: Safi Kok

The Reticulated Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata), also known as the Somali Giraffe, is a subspecies of giraffe native to savannas of Somalia, southern Ethiopia, and northern Kenya. Reticulated Giraffes can interbreed with other giraffe subspecies in captivity or if they come into contact with populations of other subspecies in the wild.

The Reticulated Giraffe is among the most well-known of the nine giraffe subspecies. Together with the Rothschild Giraffe, it is the type most commonly seen in zoos. They are known to often walk around with birds on their backs. These birds are called tickbirds. The tickbirds eat bugs that live on the giraffe’s coat, and alert the animals to danger by chirping loudly.

A female has a gestation period of about 15 months and usually has only one young at a time, but a mature female can have around eight offspring in her lifetime. Females return to the same spot each year to give birth. The mother gives birth standing up and the calf falls seven feet to the ground. Calves can weigh up to 200 lbs. at birth and stand as tall as six feet. They are able to stand less than an hour after birth. The young are weaned at around one year of age.

In the wild, giraffes have few predators, but they are sometimes preyed upon by lions and less so by crocodiles and spotted hyenas. However, humans are a very real threat, and giraffes are often killed by poachers for their hair and skin. Currently, there are thought to be less than 80,000 giraffes roaming Africa, and some subspecies are thought to be almost completely gone, with fewer than 100 individuals. Reticulated Giraffes are currently classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List.

Continue reading "New Giraffe Calf Joins Tower at Artis" »

Tiny Java Mouse Deer Debuts at Artis Zoo

1_Java mousedeer Foto Edwin Butter

Natura Artis Magistra, in the Netherlands, is home to a newly born Java Mouse Deer. The Java Mouse Deer (Tragulus javanicus) is a species of even-toed ungulate from the family Tragulidae. At maturity it reaches the size of a rabbit, making it one of the smallest ungulates on earth.

2_Java mousedeer 3 Foto Edwin Butter

3_Java mousedeer 2 Foto Edwin ButterPhoto Credits: Edwin Butter / Artis Royal Zoo

Mouse Deer are native to forests of South and Southeast Asia, with a single species in the rainforests of Central and West Africa. The species residing at Artis is native to the Indonesian island of Java. Although other Mouse Deer in Southeast Asia are very similar to the Javan species, researchers determined there are enough differentials to consider the Java Mouse Deer a completely separate species.

Although called a deer, they do not grow antlers. Both sexes have elongated canine teeth, but they are especially prominent in males, where they project out on either side of the lower jaw. These teeth become effective weapons for the males in fights over females. The Asian species typically weigh between 1.5 and 17.6 lbs (0.7 and 8.0 kg).

Java Mouse Deer are primarily herbivores. Their diet consists primarily of that which is found on the ground in the dense vegetation they prefer to inhabit.

Mouse Deer are timid and solitary, but they often live in pairs. The young fawns are weaned at about three months of age and reach sexual maturity between five and ten months.

The Java Mouse Deer is currently classified as “Data Deficient” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The data deficiency is due to the inconclusiveness regarding the distinct separation of the Tragulus species, in addition to the lack of information on Tragulus javanicus. Although listed as “Data Deficient”, it is highly probable that a decline in the number of Java Mouse Deer, in the wild, is occurring and the IUCN status could easily change to “Vulnerable” in the near future.

Shy Fennec Fox Kits Emerge at Artis Zoo

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Caretakers at Artis Zoo in Amsterdam are keeping an eye out for kits in their Fennec Fox exhibit. The mother has quietly given birth to at least two male kits since July 2nd, but it still isn't clear exactly how many have been born. Every now and then, caretakers have caught a glimpse of some kits and heard little squeaks coming from behind stumps and other hiding places.

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Photo credits: Ronald van Weeren / Artis Zoo

Fennec Foxes live in the deserts and semi-arid lands of northern Africa. Also called the Desert Fox, their most notable feature are their ears, which are enormous in proportion to their body size. An adult Fennec Fox measures about 16 inches (40 cm) in body length and has ears six inches (15 cm) long. These huge ears are used for cooling the body of excess heat and for locating prey, such as lizards, insects, and eggs, buried deep under the desert sand. Fennec Foxes are a species of Least Concern on the International Union for Conservation's Red List of Threatened Species. 

Tired Tapir Calf Takes a Break at Artis Zoo


When Ydra, a female South American Tapir at the Netherlands’ Artis Zoo, was restless and refused her food last week, zoo keepers knew it wouldn’t be long before she delivered her calf.  Sure enough, on April 10, a male calf was born and Ydra licked him clean as he lay beside her on the straw.

Named Alexandro, the calf is the first offspring for Ydra and her mate Carlo.  Though Alexandro was delivered breech (feet first), he was healthy and strong. At just one week old, he moved into the zoo’s mixed-species exhibit with Llamas, Maras, Capybaras, and Giant Anteaters.



Photo Credit:  Artis Zoo

South American Tapirs, also known as Brazilian Tapirs, are native to Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, and Paraguay, where they feed on leaves and fruits in the Amazon rain forest.  The brown-and-white speckled coat of Tapir calves provides camouflage in the dense forest.  These Tapirs are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).  Alexandro’s birth is a significant contribution to the European breeding program for this species.

See more photos of Alexandro below the fold.

Continue reading "Tired Tapir Calf Takes a Break at Artis Zoo" »

Trio of Big-Eyed Baby Maras Born at Artis Zoo

Mara w mom

Last weekend three baby Maras were born at Amsterdam's Artis Royal Zoo. Maras mate for life and usually have one to three babies every year. Newborns are so well developed they can begin to graze within a day. 

Maras (Dolichotis patagonum) are the fourth largest rodent in the world, after capybaras, beavers, and porcupines, reaching about  18 inches (45 cm ) tall. In the wild, Maras live in dry, grassy areas in South America. With their long, thin legs and tall ears they seem much like a hare, but the Maras are actually a subfamily of the guinea pig. They can make jumps of 2 meters. 

Though the family is already out in their habitat for visitors to enjoy, the babies are very shy and stay close to mom, who often has them safely snuggled together in their underground nest. They come out to nurse and play and end up getting nuzzled by the other adults.

Mara nurse

Mara nuzzle

Mara tripo

Mara solo

Photo Credit: Artis Royal Zoo

Springtime Brings Lambs to Artis Zoo

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Two lambs were born at Artis Zoo in Amsterdam during the first week of March. Within four hours, the lambs could stand upright and drink their first milk. After a few days, they will begin to eat grass and hay.

The petting zoo at Artis has Cameroon Sheep and Hampshire Down Sheep, as well as goats, rabbits, guinea pigs and Kunekune pigs. 

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Photo Credits: Artis Zoo

Watch the lambs venture out into the petting zoo with their mother:

Tumbili Loves Shangwe at Artis Zoo

Shangwe Kisses Tumbili 1

Once again Dutch photographer extraordinaire, A.J. Haverkamp, has shared some amazing photos of Chimpanzees at the Artis Royal Zoo. This time he has captured some tender moments between the Artis Zoo's new baby, Shangwe, and alpha male, Tumbili (Billy for short). 

While Chimpanzee groups are led by a dominant male, this individual is often not the biggest or strongest. Rather the alpha male is the best at forging relationships within the group and building alliances, so other group members will support him in times of conflict. Sometimes this maneuvering can be downright manipulative, with the alpha male turning group members against would-be challengers. Sound like any other species you know...?

Tumbili Kisses Shangwe 1

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Shangwe with Mom 2Photo credit: A.J. Haverkamp

Wonderful photos of Shangwe with Mom below the fold

Continue reading "Tumbili Loves Shangwe at Artis Zoo" »

Meet Betong, The Baby Malayan Tapir


On the morning of August 24th, a baby Malayan Tapir named Betong was born at The Netherlands' Artis Zoo. Within an hour of his arrival, Betong was successfully nursing and standing firm on his four feet. That following Tuesday, the spotted male Tapir baby was out on exhibit for the first time. The endangered Malayan Tapir is threatened mainly by human activity such as deforestation for agriculture. Artis Zoo participates in European breeding program aimed at developing a viable breeding population of Malayan Tapirs. In addition to breeding this rare and unusual species, Artis conducts extensive research into the development cycle of Tapirs in the womb.



Photo credits: Artis Zoo