Cat

Cheetah Cubs Born at Basel Zoo

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After spending months tucked away with their mother, two Cheetah cubs born at Basel Zoo can now be seen by zoo visitors. The cubs have been named Opuwo and Onysha.

Born on July 18 to first-time mother Novi and father Gazembe, the cubs’ birth is the result of careful planning and strategy by the zoo staff. 

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Geparden_mit_jungtieren_ZOB7306Photo Credit:  Basel Zoo

Cheetahs are solitary animals and will only tolerate having a partner nearby during mating season. To encourage breeding, male and female Cheetahs take turns living several enclosures behind the scenes. This allows each Cat to become familiar with a potential mate’s scent, which may encourage breeding.

If a female Cheetah shows interest in a male Cheetah, the zoo keeper must place them together immediately and hope that sparks fly. So far, this strategy has been successful for Basel Zoo with a total of 29 Cheetah cubs born there to date. The first Cheetahs arrived at Basel Zoo in 1936, but the first successful breeding occurred in 1993. Breeding Cheetahs remains a challenge for zoos. Of the more than 100 zoos holding Cheetahs in the EEP (European Endangered Species Programme), only around ten zoos had cubs this year.

It is typical for wild Cheetah mothers to move their newborns to new hiding places, so the family’s move to the zoo’s outdoor habitat on October 6 aligns with this instinct. 

Cheetahs are classed as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. According to an estimate by the IUCN, there were only 7,500 Cheetahs in all of Africa in 2008. This number is now thought to have dropped to 5,000.

See more photos of the Cheetah cubs below.

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Snow Leopard Cub Takes It Outside

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When Woodland Park Zoo keepers opened the door allowing Aibek, a 2-month-old Snow Leopard, to leave the maternity den for the first time, the cub zipped outside so fast that he beat his mom into the outdoor habitat.

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2017_09_19 Aibek snow leopard 900-1wmPhoto Credit: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo

Aibek immediately began pouncing, climbing, and stealthily sneaking around the enclosure amid a light drizzling rain. He climbed to the top of the habitat’s rocky hill and promptly found a spot that was nearly out of sight to the crowd that had gathered to greet him – typical of Snow Leopards, which are elusive in the wild, too.

You first met Aibek, who was born July 6, on ZooBorns when he was just a few weeks old. Like all wild Snow Leopards, he spent the first two months of his life snuggled in a cozy den with his mother, feeding exclusively on her milk. While mom Helen and her cub were bonding in the den, keepers were able to conduct occasional wellness checks and observed that Helen was providing excellent care for her cub. Now a healthy 10 pounds, Aibek has started eating meat but still nurses from his mom.

Aibek is the first single cub to be born at the zoo. Snow Leopards typically have litters of two or three cubs, so keepers expected Aibek to be rather timid since he had no siblings to wrestle and play with. But so far, Aibek has demonstrated confidence as he explores the outdoors, and Helen is an experienced mother who knows how to keep her cub safe.

Snow Leopards are listed as a Vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. These cats live in the high mountain ranges of Russia and several Central Asian nations, including in Afghanistan, China, India, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal and Pakistan. According to the Snow Leopard Trust, the wild population of Snow Leopards is estimated to be between 3,920 and 6,390 individuals.

More photos and info below!

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Clouded Leopard Cubs Climb to New Heights

21231255_1427079080661866_5978684021896106567_nToronto Zoo’s four-month-old Clouded Leopard cubs are transitioning to a new play space and zoo guests can now see the sisters during limited times on most days.

Their new den has climbing logs positioned just right for the growing cubs to develop their skills.  Right now, the logs are low (at “toddler” level) but they can be repositioned for more challenging exercise as the cubs grow. Clouded Leopards are extremely agile and can even climb on the underside of tree branches, as one of the cubs demonstrates in the photos.

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21106750_1427079150661859_7101477329161299372_nPhoto Credit: Toronto Zoo

Born May 13, the cubs were first introduced to ZooBorns readers here. They’ve been under human care ever since they were a few days old because their mother did not care for them properly. By the time the two female cubs were two months old, they were thriving, as reported on ZooBorns.

Keepers report that one of the cubs is more adventurous than her sister and is often the first to dive in to new experiences. They often play wrestle together and seem to enjoy ripping apart banana leaves.

Each cub weighs about eight pounds, and they now eat solid foods – nearly a pound per day each!

Clouded Leopards live in the Himalayan foothills of Southeast Asia, where their numbers are decreasing. About 10,000 Clouded Leopards remain in the wild, but the population is fragmented into groups no larger than 1,000 animals. The forested areas are not large enough to sustain the populations in the long term. Clouded Leopards are poached for the commercial wildlife trade, and body parts are sold on the black market for traditional Asian medicines, which are proven to have no actual health benefits. Clouded Leopards are listed as Vulnerable to Extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.

See more photos below.

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Confiscated Tiger Cub Finds Refuge at San Diego Safari Park

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A tiny male Bengal Tiger cub that was being smuggled into the United States is receiving care at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The young Tiger was confiscated by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officers, who discovered the cub while inspecting a vehicle entering the U.S. from Mexico on August 23.

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36739400281_dff0fdaec8_oPhoto Credit: San Diego Safari Park

 

Once the cub was safely at the Safari Park, veterinary staff performed a thorough health exam and determined that he was in good health. “His heart and lungs sound good, his blood work looked great and, since he took a bottle from us, it’s a good sign he’ll continue to thrive,” said Dr. Jim Oosterhuis, principal veterinarian.

“I estimate the cub to be between 5 and 6 weeks old, and he weighs in at a little over 6 pounds,” Dr. Oosterhuis said. “He has teeth coming in, so he’ll be teething in the next week or two—so, animal care staff will have a little chore getting him through that.”

The cub is being cared for in the Safari Park’s nursery, and once his location became known, hundreds of eager fans gathered outside the nursery window hoping to see the tiny Tiger. He is now viewable most of the day, except when he is taking a ‘catnap,’ according to his keepers. The cub receives a bottle six times a day with a special formula made for exotic carnivores and is thriving under the watchful eyes of his care team. He is steadily gaining weight and now weighs more than seven pounds. His teeth are coming in and he’s chewing on everything in sight—stuffed toys, blankets, even his paws.

Guests watching the cub through the nursery window might see keepers using a wet cotton ball to give the cub a bath. This procedure mimics how wild mother Tigers bathe their cubs after feedings.

See more photos of the Tiger cub below.

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Meet Kitai the Endangered Snow Leopard Cub

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A blue-eyed bundle of fluff arrived at Tierpark Berlin on June 13: Kitai the Snow Leopard cub!

Kitai was born to parents Maya and Bataar, both six years old. This is their third litter together.

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20526225_10155408276985149_2119039406350702236_nPhoto Credit: Berlin Zoo

The now two-month-old cub recently had a health check, at which he received vaccinations and an ID chip. The vaccinations are the same as all housecats receive for protection against distemper and other feline diseases.

Kitai’s name was chosen from among more than 1,000 suggestions made by zoo fans. The word “Kitai” or “Catai” is a variation of  “Cathay,” which is what China was called during the times of Marco Polo. Snow Leopards are found in the mountains of Central Asia. The largest population resides in China.

At eight weeks old, Kitai weighed about eight pounds. As an adult, he may weigh 100-150 pounds. For now, Kitai spends nearly all his time with Maya in their den, but last week the staff opened the door into the main exhibit to give mother and son the chance to explore outdoors. It is completely up to Kitai and Maya to decide if and when they go outside.

Snow Leopards are among the most endangered of all big Cats. Recent data from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) states that there are between 4,000-6,500 mature Snow Leopards spread across 12 Asian nations. A Global Snow Leopard Forum has been established to address the threats facing Snow Leopards, which include depletion of prey, illegal trade, and conflict with people.

Zoo Berlin is active in protecting Snow Leopards, and a total of 13 cubs have been born there in the last 20 years.

See more photos of Kitai below.

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Meet Nala the Serval Kitten

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On July 1, Colchester Zoo welcomed a baby Serval named Nala. The kitten currently lives behind the scenes, where she is under the expert care of zoo keepers.

Like most kittens, Nala is playful, as you can see in the video below. During play, she exhibits the amazing skill that Servals are known for: leaping into the air to pounce on top of their prey.

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IMG_9662Photo Credit: Colchester Zoo

Servals live in much of Africa south of the Sahara Desert. Weighing 20-40 pounds as adults, these medium-sized Cats have the longest legs relative to body size of any feline. Their super-sized ears help them locate prey. Because Servals favor habitats with tall brush, long legs give them an advantage when tracking small mammals, birds, frogs, and reptiles through the grass. Once prey is within reach, Servals can leap more than six feet upward and ten feet forward to forcefully pounce on prey with their forepaws. A quick bite to the prey animal’s head or neck delivers the fatal blow.

Much of Africa’s Serval population lives on protected land and hunting of Servals is prohibited in many, but not all, countries. Though Servals are currently listed as a Species of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, continued degradation of habitats, especially wetlands and grasslands, could pose a threat in the future.

See more photos of Nala below.

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Update: Cheetah Quints Growing Up at Prague Zoo

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Five Cheetah cubs born May 15 at Prague Zoo are growing up fast!  We introduced you to these fluffy quintuplets on ZooBorns back in June and the cubs are now thriving under the care of their six-year-old mother, Savannah.

The cubs are still behind the scenes at the zoo, but should move into their exhibit yard later this summer.

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20294273_1423188637765062_9021034933225721409_n (1)Photo Credit: Prague Zoo

Cheetah cubs remain with their mother for one to one-and-a-half years, and they are weaned at three to six months. The cubs spend a lot of time napping and playing. Play helps the cubs develop agility, as well as hone their chase and attack behaviors.  

Every cub born under human care is important to the future of Cheetahs as a species. They are listed as Vulnerable to Extinction on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. Fewer than 7,000 Cheetahs remain in eastern and southern Africa. Threats include conflict with humans, shrinking wild areas as farms and cities expand, and illegal trafficking in body parts. 

As a population, Cheetahs have very low genetic diversity, a possible cause of their low reproductive rates. Current conservation measures include cooperative programs across all countries in which wild Cheetahs are found.

 


Five Cheetah Cubs Fluff It Up at Monarto Zoo

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Five fluffy Cheetah cubs made their public debut this week at Australia’s Monarto Zoo.

Born in March to mother Kesho, the cubs immediately began exploring their new environment after bonding with Kesho in a private den for about three months.

One of the cubs is a male, and the other four are females. They each weigh about 15 pounds and are described as “very adventurous.”

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The prospect of adding four potential breeding females to the Cheetah population is thrilling for the Monarto Zoo staff. Cheetahs are listed as Vulnerable to Extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.

Only about 6,700 Cheetahs remain in the wild, primarily in eastern and southwestern Africa, half of what it was 35 years ago.  As their habitats are fragmented into smaller pieces by the expansion of farms, grazing lands, and cities, the Cats have less space to roam and less prey to eat. Cheetahs are also killed by ranchers who fear that the cats are killing their livestock.

Breeding programs, like those at Monarto Zoo and other zoos around the world, offer hope for the future. Animals are carefully matched based on their “pedigree” or genetic background, with the goal of maintaining a high level of genetic diversity in Cheetahs under human care.

 


Cheetah Quintuplets Born at Prague Zoo

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The Czech Republic’s Prague Zoo welcomed a litter of five Cheetah cubs on May 15.

Mother Savannah, age 6, is caring for her quintuplets behind the scenes. The litter includes three male and two female cubs. The family is expected to move into their viewing habitat later this summer.

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19059119_10154393842407581_6141597325846852336_nPhoto Credit: Prague Zoo

Well known as the world’s fastest land animals, Cheetahs are skilled hunters. Their bodies are built for efficient sprinting. Reaching speeds of up to 70 mph, Cheetahs can run down even the fastest of prey. However, they maintain these high speeds for only a minute or two, then give up the chase. Cheetahs are successful in about half of their hunts.

Depending on where they live, Cheetahs target small Gazelles or the young of larger Antelope species when hunting. Prey is taken down with a swat of the dewclaw or a bite to the neck.

Cheetahs are in steep decline in the wild. Found only in Africa and a small part of Iran, fewer than 7,000 wild Cheetahs remain.  As farms and cities expand, Cheetahs’ home ranges are reduced. Due to a genetic bottleneck in the population during the Ice Age, all Cheetahs exhibit genetic similarity. This can lead to reproductive problems and low birth rates, especially when Cheetahs are under human care. Some zoos have found success breeding these Cats by keeping them in large groups, rather than individual pairs.

Currently, Cheetahs are classified as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, but conservationists have called for reclassifying Cheetahs as Endangered. Most of the African countries where Cheetahs live have created action plans for protecting these majestic Cats.

 


Clouded Leopard Cubs a First for Toronto Zoo

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For the first time in the Toronto Zoo’s history, two Clouded Leopard cubs were born on the afternoon of Saturday, May 13 to mom Pavarti and dad Mingma.

Pavarti is a first-time mother and she initially showed maternal instincts. However, Pavarti started spending less time with her cubs and was not observed nursing or mothering them. Wildlife Care staff monitored the new family by camera throughout the night and the cubs were checked by a veterinarian on Sunday. Fluids were given to the cubs to help them through the critical first 24 hours.

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Photo Credit: Toronto Zoo

Wildlife Care staff and the vet continued to monitor the tiny cubs and on Monday morning, they decided to move the cubs to the intensive care unit (ICU) in the zoo’s new state-of-art Wildlife Health Centre. After receiving neonatal care, the cubs’ health stabilized.

Fortunately, when they discovered Pavarti was pregnant the zoo developed a Clouded Leopard hand-rearing protocol just in case Pavarti failed to care for her cubs. The protocol is based on best practices shared by other zoos with experience hand-rearing these cats.

The two cubs are thriving under their keepers’ care.  They have gone from weighing around six ounces each at birth to nearly 14 ounces each at about three weeks of age. The two cubs have fully opened their eyes, have discovered their 'meow,’ and are even starting to walk. 

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