Chester Zoo

Chester Zoo Releases Video of Rare Wildcat Kitten

Wildcat kitten screengrab from video

Chester Zoo has released amazing video footage they captured of a rare Scottish Wildcat kitten, bred at the Zoo, emerging from its den for the first time since birth.

The endangered wildcat was born on May 13, and keepers do not yet know its sex.

The arrival of the kitten (the first to ever be born at the Cheshire, UK zoo) has given a big boost to a conservation programme, which is working to bring Britain’s rarest mammal back from the edge of extinction.

Experts believe there could now be fewer than 100 individuals left in the wild, making the Scottish Wildcat, or ‘Highland Tiger’ as it is affectionately known, one of the most endangered populations of cats in the world.

Wildcats once thrived in Britain but were almost hunted to extinction for their fur and to stop them preying on valuable game birds. They are now protected under UK law but remain under huge threat from crossbreeding with feral and domestic cats, habitat loss, and accidental persecution.

Scottish Wildcat mum, Einich:

Female wildcat Einich (3)Photo/Video Credit: Chester Zoo

 

A coordinated action plan to save the highly threatened animals, named Scottish Wildcat Action, has been devised to protect the species and involves over 20 conservation partners including Scottish Natural Heritage, the Scottish Government, The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) and the Forestry Commission Scotland, as well as Chester Zoo’s Act for Wildlife conservation campaign. Conservation breeding in zoos, for their eventual release, has been identified as an important component in the long-term recovery plan for the animals.

Tim Rowlands, Chester Zoo’s Curator of Mammals, said, “The arrival of the new kitten is a major boost to the increasingly important captive population in Britain. It was born in May but has spent the first few months safely tucked up in its den with mum, Einich, and has only recently gained enough confidence to venture out and explore. It won’t be too long until this little kitten grows into a powerful predator.

“Conservation breeding in zoos is a key element in the wider plan to conserve the species in the UK and, drawing on the unique skills, knowledge and knowhow of the carnivore experts working here, we’re breeding Scottish Wildcats to increase the safety net population and hope to release their offspring into the highlands of Scotland in the future.

“In tandem with our breeding programme, we’re also supporting monitoring work in the Scottish highlands and have funded camera traps that are being used to identify areas where wildcat populations are thriving or suffering.

“This project is of national importance and shows what an important role zoos can play in helping to save local species. We’re very much part of efforts to maximise the chances of maintaining a wild population of the stunning Scottish Wildcat for the long term.”

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Twenty-three Fluffy Flamingos Emerge at Chester Zoo

1_Chester Zoo is tickled pink by new flamingo chicks  (3)

Twenty-three adorable Flamingo chicks have hatched at Chester Zoo. The eleven Chilean and twelve Caribbean Flamingos started to hatch on June 9, with the last of new arrivals emerging from its egg on July 5.

Each chick hatched to a different female, as Flamingos are monogamous birds and only lay a single egg each year.

Mark Vercoe, Assistant Team Manager of the bird team at Chester Zoo said, “It’s been a really successful breeding season for the Flamingos and we’re delighted with all of the new chicks. They look like fluffy cotton wool balls with little wobbly jelly legs at the moment and it’ll be several months until their pink feathers start to show.

“For a few days after hatching the youngsters tend to stay really close to their parents but they soon grow in confidence and some have already started to wade in the water around their island independently.”

2_Chester Zoo is tickled pink by new flamingo chicks  (4)

3_Chester Zoo is tickled pink by new flamingo chicks  (7)

4_Chester Zoo is tickled pink by new flamingo chicks  (8)Photo Credits: Chester Zoo

 

The Chilean Flamingo (Phoenicopterus chilensis) is a large species at 110–130 cm (43–51 in). It is closely related to the American Flamingo (Caribbean) and Greater Flamingo, with which it was sometimes considered conspecific. The species is listed as “Near Threatened” by the IUCN.

It is native to South America, from Ecuador and Peru, to Chile and Argentina, and east to Brazil. Like all Flamingos, it lays a single chalky white egg on a mud mound.

The Caribbean Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber) is a large species that was formerly considered conspecific with the Greater Flamingo, but that treatment is now widely viewed as incorrect due to a lack of evidence. It is also known as the American Flamingo. In Cuba, it is also known as the Greater Flamingo. It is the only Flamingo that naturally inhabits North America.

The Caribbean species is classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List.

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Rare Lowland Anoa Calf Born at Chester Zoo

1_A rare anoa calf has been born at Chester Zoo (5)

A rare Lowland Anoa calf, the world’s smallest species of wild cattle, was born June 1st at Chester Zoo.

Mum Oana welcomed the new youngster, which has yet to be sexed or named, after a 10-month pregnancy.

The Anoa, which is usually found in forests and swamps on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, is listed as “Endangered” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) with just 2,500 estimated to be left in the wild. Their falling numbers are largely attributed to habitat loss and overhunting for their meat.

Sometimes referred to as the ‘Demon of the Forest’, Anoas can often be persecuted by indigenous farmers who wrongly believe that they leave the forests at night and use their horns to attack other cattle.

2_A rare anoa calf has been born at Chester Zoo (1)

3_A rare anoa calf has been born at Chester Zoo (2)

4_A rare anoa calf has been born at Chester Zoo (3)Photo Credits: Chester Zoo

Tim Rowlands, Chester Zoo’s curator of mammals, said, “The Lowland Anoa is a species that’s coming under real pressure in its fight for survival. Not only are they suffering from loss of their forest habitat, which is being chopped down to make way for agricultural land, they are also hunted for their meat. Anoas are also sometimes mistakenly killed by farmers who hold them responsible for puncturing their cattle at night. All of this is sadly contributing to an uncertain future for the species.”

“That said, all is far from lost, and we are actively supporting conservation efforts to protect the Anoa and its habitat in Sulawesi. And our new calf can only help us to raise more awareness about this fantastic species,” Tim continued.

“Looking at our latest arrival, it’s impossible to see how anyone could harm Anoas or label them ‘demonic.’ They’re a beautiful, shy and secretive animal that are misunderstood and often overlooked.”

The new calf is the first of its kind to be born in the Zoo’s new Islands habitat (the biggest ever UK zoo development) since it opened last summer. The new Islands exhibit showcases threatened species from South East Asia and puts a spotlight on the conservation work Chester Zoo carries out in the region.

Johanna Rode-Margono, the Zoo’s South East Asia conservation field programme officer, who is working on the conservation of Asian wild cattle, added, “Together with the wider global zoo community, international conservationists and the Indonesian government, we’re supporting the conservation of the Anoa in South East Asia to counteract the increasing threats to its survival.

“The pressure on the species can be reduced through the improvement of law enforcement to prevent poaching, for example by providing training to patrol teams, by educating local people about their shy character and to reduce the demand for wild Anoa meat. Right now we are developing conservation projects in Sulawesi that will aim to achieve these exact goals.”

Anoa, also known as midget buffalo and sapiutan, are a subgenus of Bubalus comprising two species native to Indonesia: the Mountain Anoa (Bubalus quarlesi) and the Lowland Anoa (Bubalus depressicornis). Both live in undisturbed rainforest, and are essentially miniature water buffalo. They are similar in appearance to a deer, weighing 150–300 kg (330–660 lb).

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Baby Macaque Gets Lots of Attention

!xxA five-day-old Sulawesi crested macaque clings to first-time mum Camilla at Chester Zoo (4)
A baby Sulawesi Crested Macaque at the Chester Zoo is getting a lot of attention – from the other 15 members of the zoo’s Macaque troop, and from conservationists concerned with protecting this critically endangered species.

Born on May 29, the little Monkey clings to its mother Camilla as other Macaques gather around with intense interest in the baby.  So far, Camilla is proving to be a good mother, even though this baby is her first.

!A five-day-old Sulawesi crested macaque clings to first-time mum Camilla at Chester Zoo (2) 2
A five-day-old Sulawesi crested macaque clings to first-time mum Camilla at Chester Zoo (5)Photo Credit:  Chester Zoo
 
Found only on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, roughly 5,000 Sulawesi Crested Macaques remain in the island’s rain forests.  Despite its threatened status, this species is still hunted regularly as a pest because it destroys crops in search of food.  They are also hunted as bushmeat.  Large-scale destruction of forests has dramatically reduced available habitat for these fruit- and leaf-eating Macaques.

Sulawesi Crested Macaques also live on some smaller, less-populated islands near Sulawesi, where they enjoy less pressure from humans.  Six other macaque species live on Sulawesi, but this species is the most critically endangered.

This new baby is an important addition to European zoos' breeding program to preserve genetic diversity in endangered species. 

See more photos of the baby Macaque below.

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Banner Day for Capybara Pups at Chester Zoo

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Chester Zoo is home to a grand total of eight new Capybara pups! Zookeepers spotted Capybara mum, Lochley, giving birth to her first two youngsters at around 7:30am on May 17. The third and fourth members of her new quartet arrived just before 11am, in front of amazed visitors. Later that same day, mum, Lilly, gave birth to four more pups!

2_Visitors to Chester Zoo were treated to the sight of four baby capybaras being born to mum Lochley. The capybara is the world’s largest rodent species.  (3)

3_Visitors to Chester Zoo were treated to the sight of four baby capybaras being born to mum Lochley. The capybara is the world’s largest rodent species.  (29)

4_Visitors to Chester Zoo were treated to the sight of four baby capybaras being born to mum Lochley. The capybara is the world’s largest rodent species.  (41)Photo Credits: Chester Zoo

Sometimes referred to as the ‘giant guinea pig’, the Capybara comes from South America and can grow up to 1.5m (4.9ft.) in length.

After the birth of the first four pups, James Andrewes, Assistant Team Manager at the Zoo, remarked, “Lochley gave birth out in the sunshine – her first two pups arriving before the zoo had opened with her second two born a little later, in front of a handful of rather astonished visitors. Within no time, all of the babies were up on their feet, running around, sniffing buttercups and clambering over mum.”

Andrewes continued, “We can already see that they’re going to be a bit of a handful for Lochley, but she’s looking fairly unfazed and I can see her keeping them in line without too much trouble. They’ll nurse around seven times a day and it’s at feeding time that they tend to settle down... for a short while at least!”

The Capybara is a large rodent of the genus Hydrochoerus of which the only other extant member is the lesser Capybara (Hydrochoerus isthmius). Although a close relative of Guinea Pigs and Rock Cavies, it is more distantly related to the Agouti, Chinchillas, and the Coypu. Native to South America, the Capybara inhabits savannas and dense forests and prefers to live near bodies of water. They are social and can be found in groups of up to 100 individuals.

Their bodies have been specially adapted for swimming - with webbed feet and their eyes, ears and nostrils located on top of their heads. They are able to stay submerged in water for around five minutes to help avoid detection by predators such as Jaguars, Anacondas and Caiman in their native South America.

Capybaras are herbivores, grazing mainly on grasses and aquatic plants, as well as fruit and tree bark. Their jaw hinge is not perpendicular and they chew food by grinding back-and-forth rather than side-to-side.

They are incredibly vocal animals, communicating through barks, whistles, huffs and purrs.

They have a gestation period of about 130 to 150 days and usually produce a litter of four. Newborn Capybaras will join the rest of the group as soon as they are mobile. Within a week, the offspring can eat grass, but they will continue to suckle, from any female in the group, until about 16 weeks.

While the Capybara is not currently classified as an endangered species, it is threatened by habitat degradation and illegal poaching for its meat and skin, which can be turned into leather. The zoo hopes their new arrivals will help to raise the profile of the often-overlooked species.

5_Visitors to Chester Zoo were treated to the sight of four baby capybaras being born to mum Lochley. The capybara is the world’s largest rodent species.  (37)


Critically Endangered Macaque Born at Chester Zoo

1_A week-old Sulawesi macaque is nursed by mum Lisa (10)

A rare baby Sulawesi Crested Macaque, a species that’s critically endangered in the wild, is the latest arrival at Chester Zoo.

Keepers recently released the first pictures of the newborn monkey, which is being looked after by its mum Lisa after being born on April 17.

Sulawesi Crested Macaques are one of the world’s most endangered primates, and it’s estimated that fewer than 5,000 are left on their native island of Sulawesi in Indonesia.

The species is listed as “Critically Endangered” on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, largely because their habitat is disappearing due to illegal logging. They are also targets for poachers and are over-hunted for food as, in their homeland, macaques are considered a local delicacy and are served up on special occasions such as weddings. As a result, their wild numbers are believed to have plummeted by around 80% in the last 30 years.

2_A week-old Sulawesi macaque is nursed by mum Lisa (22)

3_A week-old Sulawesi macaque is nursed by mum Lisa (17)

4_A week-old Sulawesi macaque is nursed by mum Lisa (15)Photo Credits: Chester Zoo

Dr. Nick Davis, the zoo’s assistant curator of mammals, said, “Our new arrival means we now have a group of 15 Sulawesi Crested Macaques. They’re a key part of a European endangered species breeding programme that is working to protect this charismatic species, which, sadly, is highly threatened in the wild.”

“Sulawesi Macaques are extremely intelligent and social animals, so a new arrival always creates excitement in the group. This is also the first baby to be fathered by dominant male Momassa, making it all the more special.”

Davis continued, “Macaques have very obvious individual personalities which can be seen in facial expressions, and so we’re looking forward to seeing what sort of character our tiny youngster will develop into. At the moment though, our new arrival will spend time playing and getting to know the rest of the group. We’re ever so pleased to say that both are doing very well so far.”

The new youngster, who is yet to be sexed or named, is the first of its kind to be born at Chester Zoo since its group of Sulawesi Macaques moved into their new state-of-the-art home. Islands (the UK’s biggest ever zoo development) showcases a vast array of threatened species from the region of South East Asia.

Johanna Rode-Margono, the zoo’s South East Asia conservation field programme officer, added, “It’s important to us that our new Islands zone, and the amazing species living in it, helps us to throw a spotlight on the conservation work that we’re doing out in the field to try and protect some of South East Asia’s most endangered animals.”

“We are working with the local people living in Sulawesi and providing support to help save the forests and the diverse animal species living there.”

Much more below the fold!

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Rare Banteng Born at Chester Zoo

1_A rare banteng calf, named Jasmine, has been born at Chester Zoo (1)

A rare Banteng born at Chester Zoo has provided a welcome boost to the conservation of the South East Asian species.

The Banteng is a wild forest-dwelling member of the cattle family. It is listed as “Endangered” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Its numbers have declined dramatically in the last 50 years due to habitat loss and hunting throughout its native range. Recent estimates suggest there could be fewer than 5,000 left in the wild.

But, in a bid to counteract the worsening threat to their survival, Chester Zoo has joined forces with the wider global zoo community, international conservationists and the Indonesian government to support Banteng conservation in South East Asia.

The coordinated approach to conservation brings together the skills of top zoos (breeding, animal husbandry, veterinary treatment and education) with those of local experts, conservationists and sanctuaries on the ground.

2_A rare banteng calf, named Jasmine, has been born at Chester Zoo (17)

3_A rare banteng calf, named Jasmine, has been born at Chester Zoo (7)Photo Credits: Chester Zoo

Chester Zoo’s new female Banteng calf, which keepers have named Jasmine, arrived to mum Pankhuri and dad Gaston. She is the first youngster to be born since the conservation collaboration was formed at the end of March 2016.

Johanna Rode-Margono, the Zoo’s South East Asia conservation field programme officer who is working on the conservation of Asian wild cattle, said, “Zoos from Europe, America and Indonesia, field conservationists and Indonesian government representatives have, for the first time, joined forces in a global collaboration - working together to share expertise and resources for the conservation of Banteng. The new-born calf is a very important step towards a sustainable insurance population of the species.”

Jasmine is one of the first mammals to be born in Chester Zoo’s new Islands Zone exhibit, which showcases threatened species from region of South East Asia. Her arrival means the zoo now has a herd of ten Banteng (four males and six females).

Tim Rowlands, curator of mammals at Chester Zoo, added, “By making sure there is a viable global population of Banteng in zoos, whose genetic diversity represents the genetic diversity in the wild, the global zoo community can play a key role in the conservation of the species. There’s no doubt that zoos are now an important piece of the puzzle in the long-term protection of Banteng.”

“We’re thrilled with our new calf and are pleased to say she is strong and doing extremely well. Hopefully she will draw some much needed attention to these very special animals and help us to highlight the plight of her cousins in the wild. The Banteng is one of the few remaining species of totally wild cattle in the world, and, in the wild, they are hardly ever seen.”

“Sadly the threat of extinction to these magnificent animals is imminent. Banteng are now rarely sighted in Malaysian and Indonesian Borneo where their remaining forest home is fragmented and populations isolated. They’re facing a real battle for their survival as forests across South East Asia are being turned into palm oil plantations and hunting for their horns and meat, although illegal, is rife.”

The Banteng (Bos javanicus) is similar in size to domestic 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 60 cm (2.0 ft.) tail. Body weight can range from 400 to 900 kg (880 to 1,980 lb.).

In mature males, the shorthaired 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. The build is similar to that of domestic 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 live in sparse forest where they feed on grasses, bamboo, fruit, leaves and young branches. The Banteng is 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 thirty members.


Eggcellent News: Four Penguins Hatch at Chester Zoo

Penguin chick Wotsit is weighed by keepers at Chester Zoo (8)
Four fuzzy Penguin chicks named Wotsit, Quaver, Frazzle, and Cheeto have become the first of their kind to hatch at the Chester Zoo this year.

The tiny Humboldt Penguin chicks, which hatched between March 27 and April 5 to four different sets of parents, were named after their keepers’ favorite snacks.

Quaver the Humboldt penguin chick is weighed by keepers at Chester Zoo (3)
Penguin chick Wotsit is weighed by keepers at Chester Zoo (4)Photo Credit:  Chester Zoo
 
Staff at the zoo use a different naming theme each year to help them to keep track of the new chicks, with popular potato snacks getting the nod this year. Previous topics have included British Olympic athletes and chocolate bars.  

Both Penguin parents help rear their young, including regurgitating fish for the chicks to eat. To keep the adults and babies well-nourished, the adults get extra servings of fish each day.  Keepers weigh the little chicks daily to make sure they are gaining weight.

So far, the chicks are thriving – keepers expect them to triple in size and weight in the first month. 

Humboldt Penguins live on the coasts of Peru and Chile, and are listed as Vulnerable to Extinction on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species.  Of the world’s 17 Penguin species, they are now among the most at risk.  Humboldt Penguins are threatened by climate change, rising acidity levels in the ocean and over-fishing – all of which force them to search further from their nests for fish.

See more photos of the chicks below.

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Pups Emerge With Meerkat Mob at Chester Zoo

1_Meerkat pups at Chester Zoo (16)

Three Meerkat pups recently made their first public appearances at Chester Zoo. Born on January 28, the terrific trio had been kept out of sight by their mum, and the rest of the Meerkat mob, until they were ready to emerge from their underground burrow.

For the time being, it is unclear whether the pups are male or female. However, the three are scheduled to undergo their first health check-up soon, and then all will be revealed!

2_Meerkat pups at Chester Zoo (26)

3_Meerkat pups at Chester Zoo (17)

4_Meerkat pups at Chester Zoo (33)Photo Credits: Chester Zoo

 

The Meerkat, or Suricate (Suricata suricatta), is a small carnivoran belonging to the mongoose family. They are native to all parts of the Namib Desert in Namibia and southwestern Angola, and in South Africa.

Gestation for Meerkats is about eleven weeks. In the wild, Meerkats give birth in underground burrows to help keep the newborns safe from predators. To shield the pups from dust in their subterranean homes, they are born with their eyes and ears closed. Meerkat babies are also nearly hairless at birth, though a light coat of silver and brown fur begins to fill in after just a few days.

The babies nurse for about nine weeks, and they grow very quickly. Though they weigh only about an ounce at birth, by six months old, the pups are about the same size as the adults.

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Chester Zoo’s Rhino Calf Enjoys Muddy Puddles

1_Mud, glorious mud! Two-month-old Eastern black rhino calf, Gabe, charges through a mud wallow at Chester Zoo (2) (1)

Chester Zoo’s Eastern Black Rhino calf, Gabe, was recently photographed enjoying his first ever mud bath.

The youngster was seen slipping and sliding in the mud as he charged around with 13-year-old mum, Ema Elsa.

Kim Wood, assistant team manager of Rhinos at Chester Zoo, said, “Rhinos love nothing more than to roll around and play in fresh mud and it was great to see Gabe charge right in and enjoy getting messy. With the start of spring bringing in some warmer weather, wallowing in mud is great way for our Rhinos to cool off and it also helps to keep the Rhinos’ skin nice and healthy. We really do give them the five star spa treatment!”

Kim continued, “We’re really pleased with how Gabe is developing. He’s gaining in confidence with every passing day and helping us to raise more awareness of the terrible plight that his species is facing up to in the wild where, sadly, the Eastern Black Rhino is being illegally hunted to very edge of extinction.”

2_Mud, glorious mud! Two-month-old Eastern black rhino calf, with mum Ema Elsa (3)

3_Mud, glorious mud! Two-month-old Eastern black rhino calf, Gabe, charges through a mud wallow at Chester Zoo (19)

4_Mud, glorious mud! Two-month-old Eastern black rhino calf, Gabe, charges through a mud wallow at Chester Zoo (12)Photo Credits: Chester Zoo

 

Black Rhino populations have dropped by more than 95% over the last 50 years due to a global surge in illegal poaching for their horns, which continues to devastate the species.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed the Eastern Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis michaeli) as “Critically Endangered”.  Their wild numbers are currently estimated at just 740 across Africa.

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