Belfast Zoo

It's a Tiny Baby Titi Monkey for Belfast Zoo!

Titi Look

Belfast Zoo is celebrating the arrival of a tiny Titi! The zoo has been home to Red Titi Monkeys since 2010 when mother, Inca, and father, Aztec, arrived from London Zoo and Blackpool Zoo respectively. They welcomed daughter, Maya, in July 2011; with this new baby, the Zoo is now home to a total of four Red Titi Monkeys.

Delighted Zoo manager, Mark Challis, said, “2013 is already proving to be an exciting year for Belfast Zoo, with the birth of our Linne’s Two-toed Sloth and now, the arrival of our Red Titi Monkey. The whole team is excited about what the new year has to bring!”

Red Titi Monkeys are found in South American rain forests and are an unusual primate, as they are monogamous and mate for life. Aztec and Inca can often be seen sitting or sleeping with their tails intertwined. It will, however, be Aztec who has his hands full with the little one. Male Titi Monkeys play a very active role in the parenting, often carrying and caring for the young.

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Photo Credit: Belfast Zoo


Baby Sloth Hangs Out with Mom at Belfast Zoo

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Belfast Zoological Garden’s baby boom isn’t slowing down, although the latest newborn there is considered the world’s slowest mammal! On December 12, keepers were delighted to discover a baby Linne’s Two-toed Sloth.  

Sloths are found in the treetops of Central and South American rain forests. They spend nearly all of their time aloft, hanging from branches with a powerful grip, due in large part to their long claws. They are a nocturnal species, and so sleep for 15 to 20 hours every day. Their diet of leaves provides little energy; in order to conserve their resources, they move very slowly. In fact, even when they are awake, they often remain motionless.

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Photo Credit: Belfast Zoo

Due to the Sloth’s nocturnal behavior, the baby has been named Luna, which means ‘moon’ in Spanish. Zoo Curator, Andrew Hope, said, “Newborn Two-toed Sloths use the stomach of their mother as a cradle and are well camouflaged in her fur so it can be quite difficult to spot them. Our keepers discovered that Natja had given birth at 12:00 p.m. on the 12th of December in 2012 -- and if that isn’t special enough, this is the first Sloth to be born at Belfast Zoo and in Ireland!  It is fair to say that we are ‘over the moon’ with Luna’s arrival.”

See another picture of the sleepy Sloth after the fold:

Continue reading "Baby Sloth Hangs Out with Mom at Belfast Zoo" »


One Happy Baby Capy For Belfast Zoo

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Belfast Zoo keepers are hearing the ‘pitter patter’ of tiny webbed feet as parents, Charlie and Lola, have welcomed baby Sheila, the Capybara! Capybaras are found in South America and are, in fact, semi-aquatic, with webbed feet (hence their scientific name is ‘hydrochoerus’ which means ‘water hog’). Capybaras can actually stay underwater for up to five minutes which allows them to hide from predators!

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Photo credit: Belfast Zoo


Two Little Pigs Born at Belfast Zoo Help Preserve Their Species

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On Saturday, October 13, Belfast Zoological Gardens celebrated the arrival of twin Visayan Warty Piglets. Parents Malcolm and Mabel arrived in Belfast in 2010 as part of a European breeding program; Belfast Zoo is one of only four zoos in the UK to look after this species.

Zoo Manager Mark Challis said “We first bred Visayan Warty Pigs in 2011 and we are delighted that this success has continued with the recent birth of our twins. Visayan Warty Pigs are the most critically endangered of all wild pigs. They were once native to six islands in the Philippines but are now extinct on four of these. In fact, approximately 95% of this pigs’ natural habitat has been cleared away by local farmers who cut down the forest for farm use. It is therefore imperative that zoos play an active role in the conservation of this amazing species.”

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Photo Credit: Belfast Zoo


Sea Lion Pups make waves at Belfast Zoo

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Northern Ireland's Belfast Zoological Gardens is celebrating the birth of two California Sea Lion pups.  Solo, the male pup, was born to Stella on June 4 and Twirl, the female pup, was born to Arielle on June 11.

Proud dad of both pups is 20-year-old Wesley, who arrived in Belfast in 2007 and has since fathered 11 pups!

Mark Challis, zoo manager, said “We are all delighted with the arrival of our Sea Lion pups and they are always a favorite with visitors!  They are highly intelligent and they are definitely one of the noisiest species we care for here at the zoo.”

All California Sea Lions in European zoos are managed as part of a cooperative European breeding program and many of the pups born at Belfast have moved to zoological collections around the world. 

The main threat facing California Sea Lions is from fishermen, who regard them as competition for fish stocks.  They are also hunted for their skin and blubber and water pollution is increasingly becoming a threat to their habitat.

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Photo Credits:  Belfast Zoo




Twice as Nice! Capybara Twins Born at Belfast Zoo

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Belfast Zoo is celebrating the arrival of two of the world’s largest rodents, in the form of twin capybara babies. They've been named Gus and Jacques. Parents Charlie (with the twins in the bottom picture), and Lola, posing just below with Gus, welcomed their offspring who came into the world on April 3.

Capybaras originate from South America. The scientific name for capybara (Hydrochoerus) means ‘water hog’ and although they are technically from the rodent family, this name relates to the fact that capybaras are semi-aquatic animals and love the water. In fact, capybaras have webbed feet and can stay underwater for up to five minutes at a time, to hide from predators.

Zoo Manager, Mark Challis, said, “Our capybaras live in a mixed South American exhibit in the zoo.  Already in 2012, we have welcomed Kara and Pancho, the giant anteaters, to this enclosure and now we are celebrating the arrival of our capybara twins! It’s definitely an exciting time and I am sure that zoo visitors will enjoy visiting Gus and Jacques.”

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Photo Credit: Belfast Zoo 


Belfast Zoo Celebrates First Chimpanzee Birth in 15 Years!

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Belfast Zoo is celebrating the arrival of the first Chimpanzee to be born at the zoo since 1997. On March 17, little Lucy came into the world to mother Lizzie, and father, Andy.  

Zoo curator, Julie Mansell, is delighted with the latest arrival, “We had been looking forward to celebrating Lizzie’s 40th birthday this summer and it was a wonderful surprise to discover her pregnancy. She has been a wonderful mother in the past and this time is no exception. Lewis, Kim, Phoebe, Sophie and Andy are also excited about the new arrival and are paying Lizzie and Lucy extra attention. Our visitors are always fascinated by the chimpanzees, I think, in part, because we recognize so much of ourselves in them. Humans and chimpanzees share 98% of the same DNA!”

Chimpanzees originate from Western Central Africa and The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) believes that chimpanzees are facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild. Populations have declined by more than 66% in the last 30 years due to deforestation, hunting and many other factors. It is therefore imperative that zoos play an active role in the conservation of this species. 

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Photo Credit: Belfast Zoo

Read more about Belfast Zoo's conservation work with chimpanzees after the jump:

Continue reading "Belfast Zoo Celebrates First Chimpanzee Birth in 15 Years!" »


Meet Blossom the Blesbok Calf, Born at Belfast Zoo

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The flowers at Belfast Zoological Gardens are not the only things ‘blossoming’ this spring, as keepers are celebrating the birth of Blossom, the Blesbok calf. Its father, Basel, arrived in Belfast in 2009 from Africa Alive in Suffolk and was soon joined by mother, Daphne. The pair’s relationship has since ‘blossomed’ and they welcomed their first calf on March 5. 

Blesbok are a species of antelope that are indigenous to the open grasslands of South Africa. This species was first discovered by settlers in the 17th century and their numbers were said to be so huge that they filled the horizon. However, blesbok were hunted for their skin and for meat and by the 19th century they were on the verge of extinction. Protective measures have since been put in place and the population has sufficiently increased to the point that the species has been removed from the endangered list.

Zoo Manager, Mark Challis, said, “The zoo team are all delighted to be playing an active role in the conservation of this beautiful species which has been brought back from the brink of extinction by conservation efforts.  We only became home to blesbok in 2009 and this is the first time that a blesbok has been bred in Ireland.  Let’s hope there will be many more in the future! ”

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Photo Credcit: Belfast Zoo


Meet Marjorie, the Little Malayan Tapir

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Belfast Zoo’s recent baby boom has continued with the birth of Marjorie, the Malayan Tapir. Marjorie was born on March 4 to parents Gladys and Elmer.

Zoo Curator Andrew Hope said, “Malayan tapirs are a beautiful but slightly unusual looking species. They are related to horses and rhinoceroses. The adults have a distinctive coat pattern and are black on the front and white on the back. However, when the calves are born they have beige spotted and striped markings, which make them look incredibly like ‘watermelons on legs’. Marjorie will begin to lose her markings after a few months. When she is six months old, she will look like a miniature adult!”

Malayan tapirs are the only tapir from Asia and are found in Indonesia, Burma (Myanmar), Malaysia and Thailand. This incredible species faces a high risk of extinction, with studies estimating that the population could decline by up to 50% over the next 30 years. The main reasons for their decline are the destruction of their forest habitats and they are also hunted for meat and sport.

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Photo Credit: Belfast Zoo

Story continues after the jump!

Continue reading "Meet Marjorie, the Little Malayan Tapir" »


A Camel Kid Named Georgie

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On February 6, Belfast Zoo keepers celebrated the zoo's first birth of 2012, to parents Douglas and Colonia, with the arrival of Georgie the Vicuña.

Vicuñas are the smallest member of the camel family and originate from the mountainous regions of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Peru. This species was once hunted to the brink of extinction for their wool and meat. However, in the 1960’s, the creation of national parks and trade restrictions helped to protect the species.  Zoos also played their part in their conservation and vicuña are now part of a European breeding program.

Zoo Manager, Mark Challis, is delighted with the arrival, “The vicuña family live right at the top of the Belfast Zoo site and visitors can now visit Georgie and her parents in their hilltop enclosure. Their Cave Hill home is perfect, as vicuña are specially adapted to live in rocky and mountainous terrains. We are looking forward to celebrating the arrival of many more!”

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Photo Credits: Belfast Zoo