Belfast Zoo

UPDATE! Gorilla Baby Baako Bonds with the Family

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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. 

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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
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(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" »


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

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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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Twins and dad

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!" »