Belfast Zoo

Movember Madness at Belfast Zoo

(1)  Movember is in full swing at Belfast Zoo with the arrival of an emperor tamarin!

The Emperor Tamarins, at Belfast Zoo, are up and ready for “Movember”!  The newest moustached member of the zoo, ‘Lucky’, was born on September 28th to mother, ‘Bella’ and father, ‘Alfie’.

(2)  The moustached little monkey, who has been named Lucky, was born on 28 September 2014 to mother, Bella and father, Alfie.

(3)  These primates live in family groups and, while the mother nurses her offspring, it is the father who carries and cares for them.

(4)  Alfie certainly has his hands full with the new arrival but luckily the pair’s other offspring, Dot, Ethel, Ping and Pong help out with the childcare!Photo Credits: Belfast Zoo

“Movember” is an international campaign, held every November. Men across the globe are encouraged to grow moustaches as a means to promote and raise awareness for men’s health issues, such as prostate cancer.

Zoo manager, Mark Challis, said, “Emperor Tamarins are named after the German Emperor, Wilhelm II, because of their long white moustaches. It is fantastic that at less than two months old, little Lucky has a ‘Movember’ moustache to rival anyone’s!  Lucky is the third Emperor Tamarin to be born at the zoo in 2014, and we are delighted to welcome him to the Belfast Zoo family!”

Emperor Tamarins are found in the tropical rainforests along the Amazon River in Peru, Brazil and Bolivia.  These primates live in family groups, and, while the mother nurses her offspring, it is the father who carries and cares for them. Little Lucky’s father, ‘Alfie’, certainly has his hands full with the new arrival, but luckily the parent’s other offspring, ‘Dot’, ‘Ethel’, ‘Ping’ and ‘Pong’, help out with the childcare!

More pics below the fold!

Continue reading "Movember Madness at Belfast Zoo" »


New Joey is a First for Belfast Zoo

Belfast_treeKangaroo_2

It’s a UK first for Belfast Zoological Gardens, as a Goodfellow’s Tree Kangaroo has been born!

Belfast_treeKangaroo_5

Belfast_treeKangaroo_3

Belfast_treeKangaroo_4Photo Credits: Belfast Zoological Gardens

Belfast Zoo is home to the only Goodfellow’s Tree Kangaroos in the United Kingdom and Ireland. In fact, there are only 22 tree kangaroos in the whole of Europe and only six of this subspecies.

The newborns father ‘Hasu-Hasu’ and mother, ‘Jaya’, arrived at Belfast Zoo in 2013. Keepers first noticed movement in Jaya’s pouch on in early May 2014, but it was not until recent weeks that the joey’s head was spotted peaking out!

Zoo Curator, Andrew Hope, said “Like all marsupials, female tree kangaroos carry and nurse their young in their pouch. Keepers first noticed movement in the pouch back in May, but it is only recently that the joey has started to make an appearance. The joey will remain in Jaya’s pouch for several more months before starting to explore and, for this reason, it is not yet possible for keepers to determine the sex or the name of the latest arrival.”

As their name suggests, Goodfellow’s Tree Kangaroos are tree-dwelling mammals, found in the mountainous rainforests of Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. They can climb 15 to 20 feet up tree trunks and can leap more than 30 feet through the air from branch to branch!

Belfast Zoo manager, Mark Challis, said “Belfast Zoo is home to a number of extremely rare and endangered species and, while the team is always ecstatic when any of the animals successfully breed, we are particularly over the moon with the arrival of the tree kangaroo joey! Only 13 zoos internationally are home to Goodfellow’s Tree Kangaroos, so the arrival of our joey is spectacular! The population of Goodfellow’s Tree Kangaroo has dramatically declined in the last 30 years due to the habitat destructions and hunting. Zoos have an important and active role to play in their conservation, and I am proud that Belfast is leading the way for Goodfellow’s Tree Kangaroo in the UK and Ireland.”

More photos below the fold!

Continue reading "New Joey is a First for Belfast Zoo" »


First Red Panda Cub in 18 Years for Belfast Zoo

(3)  Red panda are referred to as _fire foxes_ and, for this reason, keepers named her _Phoenix_.  The phoenix is a mythological creature associated with fire.

It’s been 18 years since the Belfast Zoo last welcomed a Red Panda cub, so when a baby was born on July 3, it was cause for celebration! 

(1)  Belfast Zoo is celebrating the first red panda cub to be born at the Cave Hill site in 18 years!
(2)  The new arrival was born to proud parents, Plocia and Chris.  She will be cared for by Plocia for the first year of her life.
(5)  When not foraging for food on the ground, the red panda spends most of its time in the trees!
Photo Credit:  Belfast Zoo

The female cub was born to mother Plocia and father Chris. Her parents came to Belfast from zoos in Poland and the Netherlands as part of a global collaborative breeding program. 

Zoo keepers named the cub Phoenix after a mythological creature associated with fire, a nod to Red Pandas’ nickname of ‘fire fox.’

Red Pandas are born blind and develop very slowly.  Phoenix has stayed in her nest box since birth but recently ventured out for the first time to explore her enclosure with Plocia.  Zoo keepers had just enough time to take a few photos before Phoenix and Plocia returned to the safety of the nest box.

When not foraging for food on the ground, Red Pandas spend most of their time in the trees.  Sharp claws make them agile climbers and long, striped tails aid in balance.  Red Pandas are native to the Himalayas in Bhutan, Southern China, Pakistan, India, Laos, Nepal and Burma but it is believed that there could be fewer than 2,500 in the wild.

Zoo Manager Mark Challis said, “Red Panda numbers are declining quite dramatically and they are already extinct in some areas of China, where they were once historically found.  We are all delighted to welcome Phoenix to the zoo family and we are proud to be playing an active role in the conservation of the Red Panda.”

See more photos of the cub below.

Continue reading "First Red Panda Cub in 18 Years for Belfast Zoo" »


Twinkle, Twinkle ‘Little Star’ at Belfast Zoo

(1)  Belfast Zoo has welcomed a ‘little star’ to the family.  On 23 August 2014, Chi the Francois’ langur, gave birth to a small but healthy infant.

Belfast Zoo has welcomed a ‘little star’ to their family.  On August 23, 2014, Chi, the Francois’ Langur, gave birth to a small but healthy infant. The diminutive male was recently given the name ‘Xiao Xing’ which means ‘little star’ in Chinese.

(2)  The small monkey was rejected by his mother at birth, at which point zoo curator, Andrew Hope, intervened to care for the young infant.

(3)  Andrew has been instrumental in hand-rearing the langur, taking him home to ensure 24 hour care and regular feeding every few hours.

(4)  Children from the British International School of Shanghai  were given the challenge of coming up with a Chinese name for the little monkey.Photo Credits: Belfast Zoo

The small monkey was rejected by his mother at birth. Zoo curator, Andrew Hope, intervened to care for the young infant langur. Mr. Hope explains, “There are occasions where first time mothers just do not have the skill set or the instinct to care for their young. This is fairly common in many species.  After monitoring the mother and baby, it quickly became clear that we needed to become involved.”

Since then, Andrew has been instrumental in hand-rearing the tiny Francois’ Langur, taking him home to ensure 24 hour care and regular feeding every few hours.

Andrew continues “There have been a lot of sleepless nights and countless bottles but it has been so rewarding to see his progress.  Francois’ Langurs are a species close to my heart.  I am the studbook keeper for these langurs, which means that I coordinate the genetic and reproductive management of the captive population living in the seven European zoos privileged to keep this endangered species.  In early 2014, I made the arduous climb of Mount Kilimanjaro to raise awareness for a number of conservation campaigns, including the Guanxi Francois’ Langur conservation action plan.  Francois’ Langurs are facing a high risk of extinction due to habitat destruction, increased agriculture, warfare, logging and they are also hunted as food, for medicine and for the pet trade.  In 2003, there were estimated to be less than 500 langurs in Vietnam and only approximately 1400 in China.  It has been a pleasure to play such an active role in the conservation of this species especially as our ‘little star’ is really starting to develop a personality and become much more adventurous!”

Francois’ Langurs are found in the tropical forests and limestone hills of China, Vietnam and Laos.  For this reason, contact was made with the British International School of Shanghai, Pudong Campus.  The children were given the challenge of coming up with a Chinese name for the little monkey. 

Nicola Howard, head of the middle school, said “The winning name that the pupils decided on was a suggestion by year six student, Marguerite Girard.  Marguerite’s name was ‘Xiao Xing’ which means ‘little star’.  The staff and students of the middle school are delighted to have had the opportunity to name Xiao Xing and are looking forward to regular updates.  We also hope to continue our support of the species by fundraising for conservation campaigns.”

See more photos, and read more about Xiao Xing below the fold!

Continue reading "Twinkle, Twinkle ‘Little Star’ at Belfast Zoo" »


Giraffe Calf Ballyhoo at Belfast Zoo

(4)  Keepers first discovered Neja’s pregnancy in 2013 and after a gestation period of approximately 15 months, she displayed signs of labour in the afternoon.

Visitors got a surprise at Belfast Zoo, on Monday, when they witnessed the birth of a Rothschild’s Giraffe calf!

(1)  Visitors got a surprise at Belfast zoo on Monday when they witnessed the birth of a Rothschild’s giraffe calf!  IMAGE BY ZOO VISITOR, JOHNNY MEGARRY.

(2)  The latest addition was born to mother, Neja and father, Finn, on Monday 01 September.  IMAGE BY ZOO VISITOR, JOHNNY MEGARRY.

(3)  Giraffe give birth standing up and the calf falls more than five feet to the ground!  The calf stands within 30 minutes!  IMAGE BY ZOO VISITOR, JOHNNY MEGARRY.Photo Credits: Belfast Zoo (Images: 1,5,6,7,8); Johnny Megarry (Images: 2,3,4)

The latest addition was born to mother, Neja, and father, Finn, on Monday, September 1st.  Keepers first discovered Neja’s pregnancy in 2013, and after a gestation period of approximately 15 months, she displayed signs of labor in the afternoon. 

Giraffes give birth standing up, and the calf will fall more than five feet to the ground!  The calf learns to stand within 30 minutes and can run just 10 hours after birth!

Belfast Zoo curator, Alyn Cairns, is delighted with the new arrival, “Keepers were onsite throughout the labor to ensure that everything went smoothly.  Since the birth, we have been giving the pair time to bond.  For that reason, we have not yet had the opportunity to find out what sex the latest arrival is.  As we are extremely proud of being the only zoo in Northern Ireland, it is a tradition that we name our giraffe calves after towns and villages in Northern Ireland and Ireland which begin with ‘Bally’.  If the calf is male it will be called ‘Ballyrory’ and if female it will be called ‘Ballymena’.”

The Rothschild’s Giraffe is one of the most endangered of the nine subspecies of giraffe, and they are part of a breeding program with the EAZA (European Association of Zoos and Aquariums).  Belfast Zoo first became home to giraffes in 1988, and since then, 33 calves have been born at the Cave Hill site.

See more photos below the fold.

Continue reading "Giraffe Calf Ballyhoo at Belfast Zoo" »


‘IT’S A GIRL’ for Gugas and Kamili!

(5)  This is the second arrival at the gorilla house in eight months as Baako, the first baby gorilla to be born at the zoo in 16 years, was born on 3 August 2013.

Belfast Zoo recently announced the news that Kamili, the Western Lowland Gorilla, welcomed a little bundle of joy on Sunday 30 March 2014. During the early weeks newborn gorillas cling to the mother’s stomach and Kamili was so protective that it was impossible for keepers to find out what sex the infant was.

After weeks of patiently waiting, the zoo can now announce that the infant is a girl and, after much consideration, she has been named ‘Kibibi’ which means ‘little lady’ in Swahili.

(3)  Kamili and Kibibi are western lowland gorillas.  Gorilla populations have declined by more than 50% in recent decades and zoos are becoming more vital in the conservation of this iconic species.

(2)  During the early weeks newborn gorillas cling to the mother’s stomach and Kamili was so protective that it was impossible for keepers to find out what gender the infant was.

 

Zoo curator, Julie Mansell, is delighted to announce the news, “Kibibi is the second arrival within the last year for dad, Gugas, and she is the first girl! In 2012, with no sign of pregnancies, we tested Gugas’ fertility and the results were not promising. In fact, we feared that Gugas would never father any young. We are delighted that he has proven us all wrong with the arrival of Kibibi and Baako in the last year.”


Julie continues, “All apes are endangered or critically endangered and some professionals have even predicted that all species of ape will be extinct within 30 years. Gorilla populations have declined by more than 50% in recent decades and our role, as a zoo, in their conservation is becoming more and more vital.”


Meet the New Kids

1 goat

Here's the first sign of spring in Northern Ireland's Belfast Zoo farmyard: two African Pygmy Goats have been born!

The kids were born to mothers Snowdrop and Hannah. The smaller female kid has been named Aziza, which means ‘precious’ in Swahili and the larger male kid is called Adunbi, which means ‘pleasant’ in Nigerian.

2 goat

3 goatPhoto credit: Belfast Zoo

Zoo Curator Alyn Cairns says, “Aziza and Adunbi are a wonderful addition to the herd of African pygmy goats and to the zoo farmyard. The kids already have distinct personalities.  Aziza is always happy and very friendly to keepers and the other goats.  Adunbi, however, has a much bolder personality. He is extremely mischievous, a bit of a trouble maker and he likes to climb on top of things, including the other goats!”

African Pygmy Goats originate from West Africa and when fully grown they only measure up to 2 feet (60 cm) in length!


UPDATE! Gorilla Baby Baako Bonds with the Family

2 gorilla

Back in September, we shared the news that Belfast Zoo in Ireland welcomed a baby Western Lowland Gorilla on August 3. The baby, a male, is the first gorilla to be born at the zoo in 16 years, and staff were extra surprised because mom, Kwanzaa, was believed to be infertile. (See our first post here.)

Now that baby Baako is six months old, the zoo team are delighted with his progress and the whole gorilla group including the father, Gugas, are going gaga over the youngster. 

1 gorilla

3 gorilla

Photo credit: Belfast Zoo

See a video of the baby and his group:

 

Zoo Curator Julie Mansell said, “We knew that Kwanza was pregnant last year but we were also aware that she was a first-time mum, which comes with its own set of risks.  However, Kwanza has become a super mother and Baako is absolutely thriving.  For the first few months Kwanza cradled the newborn on her stomach but Baako is gaining confidence and is beginning to climb on her back and is also beginning to bond with the rest of the gorilla group, including father Gugas, Kamili and Delilah.”

Kamili the Western Lowland Gorilla is also expecting her own little miracle in spring 2014.  She has been getting plenty of practice in with baby Baako and is showing natural mothering instincts.

The Western Lowland Gorilla is a Critically Endangered species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened species. Main threats are habitat loss, poaching, and the Ebola virus. You can support the care of Belfast Zoo’s gorillas by taking part in the zoo's adoption program. Learn more about making a donation here.


Santa's Elves Aren't the Only 'Little' Arrivals at Belfast Zoo

(1)  Santa_s elves aren_t the only _little_ arrivals at Belfast Zoo, as two of the world_s smallest monkeys have been born!

Santa’s elves aren’t the only ‘little’ arrivals at Northern Ireland’s Belfast Zoo – twin Pygmy Marmosets, the world’s smallest monkey species, were born on November 14.

The twins are carried by their parents most of the time, but they’re becoming more adventurous by the day. 

(2)  The tiny twin pygmy marmosets were born on 14 November 2013.  They are carried by their parents but are becoming more adventurous and exploring their surroundings.
(3)  Pygmy marmosets are the smallest member of the primate family and adults only weigh between four and five ounces when fully grown!
(5)  You can see the pygmy marmosets in the gorilla house at Belfast Zoo.
(4)  You can support the care of Belfast Zoo_s pygmy marmosets by taking part in the animal adoption scheme.
Photo Credit:  Belfast Zoo

Pygmy Marmosets are one of the world’s smallest primates, with adults weighing four to five ounces (110-140g) when fully grown.  Native to South America’s upper Amazon basin, Pygmy Marmosets dwell in rain forests and feed primarily on tree gum.  Using specialized teeth, Marmosets gnaw on trees until sap is released, then lick up the sap.  They also feed on insects which are attracted to the sap, as well as fruits and nectar.


A Little Miracle Arrives at Belfast Zoo's Gorilla House

(3)  The latest arrival is a male and was born to mother, Kwanza, and father, Gugas, on 3 August 2013.
The first Western Lowland Gorilla born at the Belfast Zoo in 16 years is being called a “little miracle” because his father was thought to be infertile.

The male baby was born to mother Kwanza and father Gugas on August 3.  Through an online voting contest, fans named the baby “Baako,” which means “first-born child.”   He is thriving in the zoo’s Gorilla habitat.

(2)  You can help the zoo name their latest arrival by voting for your favourite name at www.belfastzoo.co.uk
IMG_4912
(1)  On 3 August 2013, Belfast Zoo welcomed the first gorilla to be born at the zoo in 16 years!
Photo Credit:  Belfast Zoo

Because Gugas was born in the wild, he is genetically important to the European Gorilla breeding program.   Zoo Curator Julie Mansell explains, “Because Gugas is so important, last year we decided to test his fertility. The results were less than promising and it was suspected that Gugas would never father any infants. You can therefore imagine the entire team’s delight when we discovered that Kwanza was pregnant with her little miracle!”

Gugas had an unfortunate start to life when his parents were killed, most likely victims of poaching for bushmeat.  After being acquired and later abandoned by a circus, Gugas finally arrived at Belfast Zoo in 1998 where he joined a social group.

Western Lowland Gorillas are listed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.   They inhabit forests and swamps in western central Africa.  Though they are the most numerous subspecies of Gorilla, Western Lowland Gorillas are threatened by poaching and habitat loss, as well as a significant threat from the Ebola virus, which is an extremely virulent pathogen affecting humans and nonhuman primates such as Gorillas.

See more photos of Baako below the fold.

Continue reading "A Little Miracle Arrives at Belfast Zoo's Gorilla House" »