Burgers Zoo

Leopard Cubs Play With Mom

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Using a tiny high-resolution camera, zoo keeper Theo Kruse filmed two little Sri Lankan Leopard cubs playing and nursing from their mother in the family’s private maternity den at Burgers’ Zoo in The Netherlands.

The footage shows the two-month-old cubs, a male and a female, climbing on their mother and jostling for a prime nursing spot on mom’s belly.  The family has access to a spacious outdoor habitat but still spends a great deal of time in the cozy maternity den.

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Lo res LI9A1947Photo Credit: Royal Burgers' Zoo

The cubs’ first veterinary exam, which was covered last month on ZooBorns, showed that the cubs are healthy and strong.

Sri Lankan Leopards are one of nine Leopard subspecies and live only on the island of Sri Lanka. With fewer than 1,000 of these Cats remaining in the wild, Sri Lankan Leopards are classified as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

Burgers’ Zoo has had great success breeding these rare Leopards and participates in the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP) of EAZA zoos (European Association of Zoos and Aquaria). Both parents are genetically valuable to the breeding program because they represent a new bloodline. This helps to keep the European zoo population as genetically diversified as possible.

See more photos of the cubs below.

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Rare Sri Lankan Leopards Get Their First Checkup

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Two endangered Sri Lankan Leopards born on May 26 at Burgers’ Zoo had their first veterinary checkup last week.

The cubs, a male and a female, were vaccinated, sexed, and microchipped for identification. Both were pronounced healthy and strong by the zoo’s veterinarian.

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Photo Credit: Burgers' Zoo

You can peek into the den where the cubs live with their mother on the zoo’s live stream. The cubs will remain with their mother for two years. After that time, they will be paired with unrelated mates at other accredited zoos that breed this species. Such moves help ensure genetic diversity and sustainability in the zoo-dwelling population.

Sri Lankan Leopards are one of nine Leopard subspecies. They are found only on the island of Sri Lanka, which lies off the southern tip of India. Fewer than 1,000 Sri Lankan Leopards remain in the wild, and they are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. Poaching and loss of suitable habitat are the main threats to the subspecies.  The endangered status of the Sri Lankan Leopard makes the birth of these two cubs significant for the cats’ conservation.


Rhino Birth Viewed Live at Burgers' Zoo

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As thousands of viewers watched via live webcam on August 10, Izala the Southern White Rhinoceros gave birth to a healthy female calf at Burgers’ Zoo.

Zoo staff members were anxious about the birth because Izala’s first calf was stillborn in January 2016. It is not uncommon for a White Rhino’s first pregnancy to be unsuccessful. Fortunately, this calf appears healthy and strong, and she was walking and nursing within just hours of birth.

The lively calf, named Wiesje, runs and plays in her large exhibit, with Izala usually trotting close behind.

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Seven Rhinos have been born at Burgers’ Zoo in the past 17 years, and around 12 are born each year in European zoos. Last year, 22 Rhino births occurred in European zoos, due in part to increased cooperation among zoos. This cooperation resulted in more Rhinos being transferred among zoos into more favorable breeding situations.

While other Rhino species live mostly solitary lives, White Rhinos live in small social groups which typically include adult females and their young.  Males’ territories overlap those of females. Researchers have learned that the hormonal cycles of lower-ranking females in these groups are suppressed, resulting in only higher-ranking females being bred.

In zoos, this research has a practical application: moving a young female to a new environment increase the odds that her hormonal cycle will be restored, which improves the odds that she will breed. Thus Izala, who lived at the Kolmarden Zoo with her mother, was brought to Burgers’ Zoo so she could successfully breed and rear her own baby.

Southern White Rhinos are the largest of all five Rhino species, and are also the most numerous in the wild, with about 20,000 individuals found mainly in South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Kenya. 

Southern White Rhinos are listed as Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The main threat remains poaching for the illegal Rhino horn trade. As prices for Rhino horn increase, hunting increases as well. Rhino horn, which is used for ornamental purposes and in Traditional Asian Medicine, is made of solid keratin, the same material in human fingernails.  It has no proven medical benefits, yet has driven some Rhino species to the brink of extinction: only about 60 Javan Rhinos and 200 Sumatran Rhinos remain in Asia.

See more photos of Wiesje and Izala below.

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Golden Jackal Pups Emerge at Burgers’ Zoo

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Burgers’ Zoo is now home to five Golden Jackal pups!

Until recently, they have been safely tucked away with mum in their underground den, which makes it difficult for keepers to pinpoint their exact birthdate. They are now spending more time above ground and keepers estimate them to be about three-months-old.

The little Jackals are becoming quite popular with visitors to Burgers’ Zoo, and staff describes one of the pups as being especially curious and “cheeky”.

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The Golden Jackal (Canis aureus) is a canid native to southeastern and central Europe, Asia Minor, the Middle East and South Asia.

A social species, its basic social unit consists of a breeding pair and any offspring it might have. The Golden Jackal is omnivorous and an opportunistic forager; its diet varies according to season and habitat.

Although similar to a small Grey Wolf, the Golden Jackal is distinguished by a more slender build, a narrower, more pointed muzzle, a shorter tail, and a lighter tread. Its winter fur is also more reddish in color.

Golden jackals are monogamous. The number of pups in a single litter varies geographically. Pups are born with shut eyelids and soft fur, which ranges in color from light grey to dark brown. At the age of one month, their fur is shed and replaced with a new reddish colored pelt with black speckles. Their eyes typically open after 8–11 days, with the ears standing erect after 10–13 days. The length of the nursing period varies with region. The pups begin to eat solid food at the age of 15–20 days. Once the lactation period concludes, the female drives off the pups.

Golden Jackals feature prominently in Middle-Eastern and Asian folklore and literature, where they are often described as tricksters (very much like the fox and coyote of European and North American tales).

The Golden Jackal is currently classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List, due to its widespread range in areas with optimum food and shelter. According to the IUCN: “The Golden Jackal is a widespread species. It is fairly common throughout its range with high densities observed in areas with abundant food and cover. A minimum population estimate of over 80,000 is estimated for the Indian sub-continent. Population estimates for Africa are not available. Due to their tolerance of dry habitats and their omnivorous diet, the golden jackal can live in a wide variety of habitats. They are opportunistic and will venture into human habitation at night to feed on garbage.”


Burgers’ Zoo Welcomes Banteng Bull Calf

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A Banteng calf was born at Burgers’ Zoo on April 12! The little bull is healthy and weighed-in at about 15 kilos (33 lbs.). Although he is currently sporting a brown coat, within his first year, it will eventually change to a black color.

The Banteng (Bos javanicus), also known as ‘tembadau’, is a species of wild cattle native to Southeast Asia.

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Banteng have been domesticated in several places in Southeast Asia, and there are around 1.5 million domestic Banteng (called Bali cattle). These animals are used as working animals and for their meat. Banteng have also been introduced to Northern Australia, where they have established stable feral populations.

The Banteng is similar in size to domesticated cattle, measuring 1.55 to 1.65 m (5 ft 1 in to 5 ft 5 in) tall at the shoulder and 2.45–3.5 m (8 ft 0 in–11 ft 6 in) in total length, including a tail 60 cm (2.0 ft) long. Body weight can range from 400 to 900 kg (880 to 1,980 lb).

The species exhibits sexual dimorphism, allowing the sexes to be readily distinguished by color and size. In mature males, the short-haired coat is blue-black or dark chestnut in color, while in females and young it is chestnut with a dark dorsal stripe. Both males and females have white stockings on their lower legs, a white rump, a white muzzle, and white spots above the eyes.

Their build is similar to that of domesticated cattle, but with a comparatively slender neck and small head, and a ridge on the back above the shoulders. The horns of females are short and tightly curved, pointing inward at the tips, while those of males arc upwards, growing 60 to 75 cm (24 to 30 in) long, and being connected by a horn-like bald patch on the forehead.

Banteng prefer to live in sparse forests where they feed on grasses, bamboo, fruit, leaves, and young branches. They are generally active both night and day. But in places where humans are common, they adopt a nocturnal schedule. Banteng tend to gather in herds of two to 30 members.

The wild Banteng is classified as “Endangered” by the IUCN. The populations on the Asian mainland have decreased by about 80% in the last decades. The total number of wild Banteng is estimated to about 5,000-8,000 animals. Reasons for the population decline are: reduction of habitat, hunting, hybridization with domesticated cattle, and infections with cattle diseases.

The most important stronghold for the species is Java, with the biggest populations in Ujung Kulon National Park and Baluran National Park.


Peccary Duo Born at Burgers’ Zoo

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Burgers’ Zoo announced the birth of two Collared Peccaries on January 1st. The Zoo does not yet know the sex of the two, but the New Year babies weighed between 0.4 and 0.9 kilograms at birth.

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4_geboren 1 jan 2017  Foto Christiaan Luttenberg (4)Photo Credits: Christiaan Luttenberg / Burgers' Zoo

The Collared Peccary (Pecari tajacu) is a species of mammal in the family Tayassuidae found in North, Central, and South America. They are commonly referred to as javelina, saíno or báquiro, although these terms are also used to describe other species in the family. The species is also known as the musk hog. In Trinidad, it is colloquially known as quenk.

Although somewhat related to the pigs and frequently referred to as one, this species and the other peccaries are no longer classified in the pig family, Suidae.

The Collared Peccary stands around 510–610 millimeters (20–24 in) tall at the shoulder and is about 1.0–1.5 m (3 ft 3 in–4 ft 11 in) long. It weighs between 16 and 27 kg (35 and 60 lb).

The species has small tusks that point toward the ground when the animal is upright. It also has slender legs with a robust or stocky body. The tail is often hidden in the coarse fur of the peccary.

Collared Peccaries normally feed on cactus, mesquite beans, fruits, roots, tubers, palm nuts, grasses, invertebrates, and small vertebrates. In areas inhabited by humans, they will also consume cultivated crops and ornamental plants, such as tulip bulbs.

They are diurnal creatures that live in groups of up to 50 individuals, averaging between six and 9 members. They frequently sleep at night in burrows, often under the roots of trees, but sometimes they can be found in caves or under logs. However, the species is not completely diurnal. In central Arizona they are often active at night but less so during daytime.

Although they usually ignore humans, they will react if they feel threatened. They defend themselves with their long tusks, which can sharpen themselves whenever their mouths open or close.

A Collared Peccary will release a strong musk or give a sharp bark if it is alarmed. They also make clacking and barking sounds to warn their enemy, before finally charging to bite.

Collared Peccaries can live for up to 10-15 years in the wild. Females attain sexual maturity between 8-14 months while males are mature at 11 to 12 months.

After mating, the female undergoes a gestation period for up to 150 days. The pregnant females generally move away from the rest of the herd before giving birth, as the herd can be a threat to the newborns. On average, they give birth to a litter of one to five babies that are capable of following their mother soon after birth.

The day after giving birth, the female reunites with the herd. The babies stay close to mother and follow her until they are mature at the age of 11-12 months. During this period, only the older females of the herd are tolerated and allowed to groom the baby. Weaning occurs when the baby is approximately 2-3 months old.

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Six Cubs Keep This Cheetah Mom Busy

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A Cheetah mom at Burgers’ Zoo in the Netherlands has her paws full with a litter of six frisky cubs.

Born September 14, the cubs have spent the last few months behind the scenes in their den, just as they would in the wild.  They recently explored outdoors for the first time.

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This is the second litter of six cubs for the mother.  The coordinator of the European breeding program for Cheetahs notes that only about 5% of Cheetah litters contain six cubs – most have three to four cubs at a time.

The cubs are still nursing but have started to eat meat.  They sport the typical gray “mantle” seen in young cubs, which may offer camouflage.  The mantle is shed as the cubs grow older.

Cheetahs are the world’s fastest land mammal, able to reach speeds of 70 mph for short intervals.  But due to poaching for wildlife trafficking, loss of habitat, and human interference, Cheetah numbers have fallen drastically in the past decades, with fewer than 8,000 remaining in Africa.  These cats are classified as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and as a Species of Priority in efforts to curb wildlife trafficking in northeastern Africa.

Zoo breeding programs like that at Burgers' Zoo are key to protecting Cheetahs for future generations.

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Rhino Birth Live-Streamed at Burgers' Zoo

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A Southern White Rhinoceros calf’s birth was highly anticipated by fans at Burgers’ Zoo.  The Rhino den was live-streamed for almost a month as keepers awaited the baby’s arrival.

Because Rhinos have such thick skin, even ultrasounds cannot accurately aid in predicting the birthdate. The male calf, named Thomas, was finally born to female Kwanzaa at about 4:00 AM on May 30.

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Thomas began walking and nursing within just a few hours of his birth, which is normal for Rhinos.  The staff at Burgers’ Zoo pronounced Thomas healthy and strong based on his appetite and activity level.

Southern White Rhinos are the largest of all Rhino species, with adult males weighing two-and-a-half tons.  In the wild, they inhabit open savannahs, mainly in South Africa. Though they are the most abundant of all Rhinos, they are considered Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  Like all Rhino species and subspecies, Southern White Rhinos are illegally killed for their horns. The horns are ground to a fine powder for use in Traditional Asian Medicine, despite the lack of evidence that the horns provide any health benefits. 

See more photos of Thomas below.

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Ringed Seal is a Rare Zoo Birth

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A rare zoo birth happened in February – a Ringed Seal was born at Burgers’ Zoo, the only zoo in the world to breed this species.  This is the second Ringed Seal birth at the zoo, which is in the Netherlands.

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Early in the morning on February 17, zoo keepers arrived at work and discovered the pup in the Seal exhibit.  Mom tucked the baby in a sandy hollow in a corner of the exhibit and visits the pup to nurse it several times a day.  Seal milk is rich and nutritious, and pups typically double their body weight in the first week. 

Ringed Seals are the most common Seals in the Arctic and are often preyed upon by Polar Bears.  They are the smallest member of the earless Seal family, weighing up to 300 pounds as adults.  These Seals are rarely found far from ice, and often hunt for fish along the edges of sea ice. 

Ringed Seals are currently listed as a species of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, but scientists are worried that the Seals could be affected by climate change. As sea ice melts, the Seals could lose their breeding and feeding grounds.

See more photos of the Seal pup below.

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New Aardvark for the New Year at Burgers’ Zoo

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Burgers’ Zoo, in the Netherlands, recently welcomed an adorable wrinkled new resident. A baby Aardvark was born the beginning of February!

The cub is healthy and has been tended carefully by mom and monitored by zookeepers.

Burgers’ Zoo, under the authority of the EAZA, manages the European breeding program for the Aardvark. They are the only zoo in the Netherlands to house this special species.

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The Aardvark (Orycteropus afer) is a medium-sized, burrowing, nocturnal mammal that is native to Africa. It is the only living species of the order Tubulidentata.

According to the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature): “Aardvarks were originally thought to be congeneric with the South American Anteaters (Myrmecophaga), until they were put in their own genus: Orycteropus. After 1872, Aardvarks were also put in their own order: the Tubulidentata. But this order was long considered to be closely related to the Xenarthrans and the Pangolins in the now obsolete clade "Edentata" (Lehmann 2007). It is only since the beginning of the 20th century, that Aardvarks have been considered to be basal "ungulates". It was also at this time that the seven then recognized species were merged into the single species Orycteropus afer (Shoshani et al. 1988). Since then, Tubulidentata is the only order of Mammals to be represented by a single living species. To date, 18 subspecies have been described (Meester 1971). However, their validity is doubtful and studies in this regard are ongoing. Finally, at the turn of the millennium, molecular phylogenetic analyses integrated the Aardvarks into the new super-cohort Afrotheria, next to Elephants, Hyraxes, Sea-cows, Sengis, Tenrecs, and Golden Moles.”

The Aardvark is stout with a prominently arched back and is sparsely covered in coarse hair. The limbs are moderate length, with the rear legs being longer than the forelegs. Their weight is typically between 130 and 180 lbs. (60 and 80 kg). Their length is usually between 3.44 and 4.27 feet (105 and 130 cm). They are typically 24 inches tall (60 cm). The Aardvark is pale yellowish gray in color and often stained reddish brown by soil it sorts through. The coat is thin, and the skin is tough.

The Aardvark is nocturnal and feeds almost exclusively on ants and termites. They will emerge from their burrow in late afternoon and forage for food over a range of about 6 to 18 miles from home. While foraging, they keep the nose to ground and ears pointed forward. When concentrations of ants or termites are detected, the Aardvark digs into the mound with powerful front legs and will take up the insects with their long, sticky tongue. It is possible for the animal to take in as many as 50,000 ants and termites in one night.

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