Cat

One, Two Three, Four Little Lion Cubs

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A litter of four male African Lion cubs born at Taronga Western Plains Zoo on November 19 is out of the den and playing outside. 

The yet-to-be-named cubs are doing very well under the watchful eye of their mother Maya and are developing on schedule.  This is the second litter of cubs for Maya and her mate Lazarus.  Their last litter was born in February 2015. 

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Photo Credit:  Rick Stevens



Though the family has been secluded in their den for the last two months, keepers monitored them via a video camera link.  By staying hands-off, keepers gave Maya and her babies time to bond.  Because Maya is an experienced mother, keepers had confidence in her ability to care for four cubs. 

The cubs recently had their first health check and received their first vaccinations.  All four had a clean bill of health.  At birth, each cub weighed about three pounds; they now weigh about 18 pounds each. 

The cubs have just started sampling solid foods and exploring outside their den behind the scenes. 

African Lions are classified as Vulnerable in the wild with populations decreasing due to human-animal conflict, depleted prey base, and habitat loss.

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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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Cheeta-zesling5Photo Credit:  Burgers' Zoo

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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Snow Leopard Cubs vs. Christmas Tree

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A trio of endangered eight-month-old Snow Leopard cubs at the Tulsa Zoo got early Christmas presents from their keepers – including a life-sized cardboard Christmas tree.  In a matter of minutes, the curious cubs felled the tree, then went on to explore giant candy canes, garlands, and more. 

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IMG_2760Photo Credit:  Ruth Holland/Tulsa Zoo

All of these items are enrichment for the cats.  Enrichment provides novel smells, textures, tastes, or play items to stimulate animals physically and mentally.  

Born May 3, the cubs’ birth was recommended by the Snow Leopard Species Survival Plan of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which manages rare species to maintain high genetic diversity. Sherab, their mother, takes excellent care of her cubs.

Named Kavi, Amir, and Zahra, the cubs have experienced some health challenges since birth.  All three were born with congenital abnormalities in their eyelids, which resulted in incomplete eyelid formation.  These abnormalities left their eyes more vulnerable to trauma or other damage. Eyelid abnormalities affect domestic and exotic felines, including Snow Leopards. To correct these abnormalities, the zoo enlisted the help of a veterinary ophthalmologist who performed corrective surgeries to give the cubs more functional eyelids. The surgeries were a success, so each cub now has properly functioning eyelids. To ensure their safety and wellbeing, Kavi, Amir and Zahra remained behind-the-scenes with mom, Sherab, for their first few months as they received constant care and monitoring.

Native to Central Asia’s mountainous areas from Afghanistan to Kazakstan and Russia to northern India and China, Snow Leopards are listed as endangered due to poaching and habitat loss.


Rare Leopard Cub is Ready for Playtime

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A 4-month-old Amur Leopard cub at the Brookfield Zoo doesn’t know that he’s one of only 300 of these big cats alive today.  He just wants to play!

The 20-pound male cub, named Temur (pronounced Tee-moor), has been bonding behind the scenes with his mother, Lisa, since his birth on July 22.  He made his public debut at the zoo in November.

Amur Leopards are Critically Endangered, with fewer than 70 animals left in the Russian Far East.  Approximately 200 Amur Leopards live in zoos around the world. 

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Amur Leopard Cub-3Photo Credit:  Brookfield Zoo
With such a small group of animals, managers are careful to maintain genetic diversity in the population. By pairing unrelated animals for breeding and moving individuals among zoos, they have maintained 89 percent genetic diversity in the group.  For example, Lisa, the mother, was born at the Saint Louis Zoo and the sire, Kasha, came from Le Parc Des Felins in France. 

The biggest threats to these solitary animals are poaching; retribution hunting; habitat loss from fires, logging, and human settlement; and a decline in their prey. Temur’s birth marks a crucial addition to the population and will help raise awareness about the importance of conservation and the threats this species faces in the wild.

With keen hearing, vision, and smell, Amur Leopards hunt at night in Russia’s dense forests. Amur leopards are the northernmost subspecies of leopard in the world and are often mistaken for snow leopards.

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Baby Jaguar Attacks Pumpkins

Babette_AGBabette the baby Jaguar met her first pumpkin this week – and the event was caught on camera by Tulsa Zoo staff.

Babette has been practicing her big-cat skills (as seen in this recent ZooBorns post) and she put those formidable talents to use attacking two large pumpkins delivered by zoo keepers.   The mighty little Jaguar bit, pounced, swatted and successfully subdued the large orange vegetables.

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Video Credit:  Beth Wegner
Why did zoo keepers give pumpkins to the Jaguars, which eat only meat?  The pumpkins served as enrichment for the cats.  Zoos provide novel items like new foods, scents, boxes, and “toys” as enrichment to stimulate animals physically and mentally. 

As a cub, Babette is naturally curious and energetic.  She has become a fan favorite since her birth was announced in September when she was about six weeks old.  Born June 29 to female Ixchel, Babette was named after her father Bebeto, who died of age-related complications in April. 

Babette will play an important role in the future of her species by someday breeding with an unrelated male as part of the Species Survival Plan managed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.  Jaguars are listed as Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to the loss of rain forest habitat in Mexico, Central America, and South America. 


Lion Triplets Are Three Times the Fun

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It’s three times the fun when Asiatic Lion cub triplets Kali, Sita, and Sonika come out to play at Cotswold Wildlife Park

Born May 25, the three female cubs have spent the last two months in the birthing den with their mother, Kanha.  Lionesses rear their babies in seclusion and often reject them if they are disturbed, so the staff monitored the cubs via closed circuit TV.

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Photo Credit:  Natasha Jeffries
 
This is the first litter of Lion triplets born at Cotswold since the park opened in 1970. 

According to the staff, Kanha and Rana are proving to be excellent first-time parents and all three boisterous youngsters are healthy and developing into confident cubs.

Dad Rana met the cubs in the Lions’ outdoor enclosure last week, but for the last two months, he lived next door and took a great interest in the youngsters. 

Asiatic Lions are one of the world’s rarest big cat species. Wild population numbers have declined drastically over the last century, almost to the point of extinction. Once found throughout much of southwestern Asia, they are now only found in India’s Gir Forest with the 2015 census putting the entire wild population at 523 animals. 

Though they live in a protected area, conservationists worry that a disease epidemic could wipe out the entire Asiatic Lion population.  Breeding programs in zoos are extremely important to the future of this subspecies.  Asiatic Lions are classified as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

See more photos of the cubs below.

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Kittens a Boost for Scotland's Vanishing Wildcats

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Two litters of rare Scottish Wildcats born at Highland Wildlife Park could play a huge role in the conservation of this species, which is considered by some to be Europe’s rarest mammal.

The kittens’ birth is part of a conservation program and could result in the species’ eventual reintroduction to some protected areas of Scotland.

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16_07_12 20 DSC_2054_CreditAlexRidellPhoto Credits:  RZSS/Alex Riddell (1, 2, 4), RZSS/Jan Morse (3)

For several months, the kittens have been tucked safely in their dens with their mothers, but they have begun venturing outdoors recently.  The playfulness that zoo guests observe between the mothers and their babies is actually an important part of developing the kittens’ survival skills.

Also known as the Highland Tiger, this rare native species is facing the threat of extinction due to hybridization with domestic and feral Cats, habitat loss, and accidental persecution.   The species is Critically Endangered in Scotland and is the only wild Cat native to Scotland.

The zoo is partnering with other Scottish conservation organizations to develop an action plan for preserving the species.  The captive breeding program managed by the zoo provides an increasingly important safety net as the wild population of this Wildcat continues to decline.

Although some similarities with Domestic Cats exist, the two species are not to be confused. The Scottish Wildcat is an isolated sub-population of the European Wildcat, which is found in continental Europe. Wildcats prefer to live alone but will come together for breeding, normally giving birth to two or three kittens, which the mother will protect fiercely.

With their big, bushy, black-ringed tail and tenacious behavior, Scottish Wildcats play a large role in Scottish lore, and were often used in clan crests.


Critically Endangered Tiger Cub Is a First for Zoo Miami

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Zoo Miami is excited to announce the birth of a critically endangered Sumatran Tiger!

The single male cub was born on Saturday, November 14th and has been in seclusion with his mother since that time. Because this is the first birth for the 4 year old female named “Leeloo,” extra precautions are being taken to isolate and protect mother and cub in hopes that a strong bond can be established. During the next several weeks, it will remain isolated with its mother in a secluded den with little or no contact from staff. This is the first Sumatran tiger born at Zoo Miami and only the fourth born in the United States in 2015. There are only 70 Sumatran Tigers living in U.S. zoos.

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Photo credit: Ivy Brower


Israel's Sand Cat Kittens Back by Popular Demand

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Since so many of you loved our story about Zoological Center Tel Aviv-Ramat Gan's Sand Cat kittens yesterday, we couldn't resist sharing new pictures we received this morning.  The more recent images show the kittens a bit older and with their eyes fully open! Enjoy!

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Photos by Tibor Jager

See more below the fold!

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A Cheetah Cub and His Puppy Companion Build a Lifelong Bond

10496992_920383311311679_8853372725256295054_oPhoto taken on June 18, 2014, by Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

Seen here at just seven weeks old, San Diego Zoo Safari Park's Cheetah cub is getting to know his new dog companion as the two continue to bond and spend time at the Safari Park's Animal Care Center. The Rhodesian ridgeback puppy was paired with the cub after the Cheetah was rejected by his mother and had to be hand raised as an animal ambassador. The Cheetah and puppy will be raised together and the dog will serve as a lifelong companion to the Cheetah. 

Safari Park Cheetahs selected for training as ambassadors are paired early in life with a domestic dog. As the two companions grow up together, the dog's body language will communicate to the cheetah that there's nothing to fear in new or public surroundings, which relaxes and calms the Cheetah. The Safari Park currently has four cheetah ambassadors all of which are trained to participate in the Park's Cheetah Run experience.