Chester Zoo

Chester Zoo Releases Rare Footage of Tuatara Hatching

1_Rare footage of ancient reptile hatching caught on film (2) (1)

Incredibly rare footage of a Tuatara hatching from its egg has been caught on camera at Chester Zoo. It is the first time the intricate process has ever been filmed in such stunning detail.

The egg, from which the youngster hatched in the footage, was laid on April 11, and it hatched on December 5, 2016.

The Tuatara is an ancient reptile that has lived on the planet for more than 225 million years…older than many species of dinosaur.

Last year, reptile experts at Chester Zoo became the first in the world to successfully breed the rare animal outside the species’ native New Zealand.

Now, six more have hatched at the Zoo and leading keepers to believe that they have found the ‘winning formula’ when it comes to breeding the mysterious creatures.

2_Rare footage of ancient reptile hatching caught on film (19)

3_Rare footage of ancient reptile hatching caught on film (10)

4_Rare footage of ancient reptile hatching caught on film (2)Photo Credits: Chester Zoo

Only a handful of zoos worldwide work with the species, and the new arrivals are a huge boost to the global population of the reptiles, which are notoriously hard to care for. The Tuatara takes more than 20 years to reach sexual maturity and only reproduces every four years.

Isolde McGeorge, reptile keeper, said, “It took nearly 40 years of research and dedication to achieve the very first breeding of a Tuatara outside their homeland in New Zealand last year. Now, after waiting all that time for the first to successfully hatch, six more have come along.”

“Hatching these remarkable animals is real testament to the skill and expertise of the herpetology team at the zoo. Hopefully this means we’ve found the winning formula in terms of breeding the species, which has been a mystery to science for so long. Tuatara lived before the dinosaurs and have survived almost unchanged to the present day. They really are a living fossil and an evolutionary wonder.”

“Breeding the species is an amazing event and almost as special is the fact we’ve now caught a Tuatara hatching on film for the first time. It’s very, very special footage - footage which has barely ever been recorded before, certainly not in this level of detail. We will be able to learn more and more about these amazing animals from this footage. It’s incredibly unique and a real privilege to be able to witness something so rare.”

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Tiny Orphaned Dik-dik Hand-reared at Chester Zoo

Keepers step in to hand-rear orphaned baby dik dik antelope at Chester Zoo (17)
A tiny Dik-dik is making a big impression at Chester Zoo. The little Antelope is being cared for by zoo staff after its mother passed away soon after giving birth.

Standing only about 8 inches tall at the shoulders, the tiny Kirk’s Dik-dik is being bottle fed by staff five times a day. He will continue to receive a helping hand until he is old enough to eat by himself. 

Keepers step in to hand-rear orphaned baby dik dik antelope at Chester Zoo (19)
Keepers step in to hand-rear orphaned baby dik dik antelope at Chester Zoo (3)Photo Credit:  Chester Zoo



Assistant team manager Kim Wood and keeper Barbara Dreyer have both been caring for the new arrival, who is currently so light he doesn’t register a weight on the zoo’s set of antelope scales.

Kim said, “The youngster is beginning to find his feet now and is really starting to hold his own. We’re hopeful that, in a few months’ time, we’ll be able to introduce him to some of the other members of our group of Dik-diks.  He may be tiny but he is certainly making a big impression on everyone at the zoo.”   

Kirk’s Dik-diks grow to a maximum size of just 16 inches tall at the shoulders, making them one of the smallest species of Antelope in the world.

The species takes its name from Sir John Kirk, a 19th century Scottish naturalist, as well as the alarm calls made by female Dik-diks.  

Kirk’s Dik-diks are native to northeastern Africa and conservationists say they mark their territory with fluid from glands between their toes and just under their eyes, not dissimilar to tears. Populations in the wild are stable.

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Trio of Prevost’s Squirrels Emerge at Chester Zoo

1_Prevost's squirrel triplets born in ‘Chester Zoo first’ (25)

A lively trio of Prevost’s Squirrels has emerged from their nest at Chester Zoo. It is the first time the colorful climbers, which are native to the forests of South East Asia, have been born at the U.K. zoo.

The three youngsters arrived to mum André and dad Pierre following a 48-day gestation. Dave White, team manager, reported last week, “The new triplets are 11 weeks old but have only recently started to leave their nest. Prevost’s squirrel parents are very protective of their new kittens and will carefully guard them for the first month of their lives before encouraging them to start venturing out.

“The youngsters have already developed striking, colorful coats and are gaining more and more confidence by the day. They’re the first Prevost’s Squirrels to ever be born here and it’s great to see them doing well, climbing and leaping between branches under the watchful eyes of mum and dad.”

2_Prevost's squirrel triplets born in ‘Chester Zoo first’ (32)

3_Prevost's squirrel triplets born in ‘Chester Zoo first’ (30)Photo Credits: Chester Zoo 

Prevost’s Squirrels (Callosciurus prevostii), which are also known as the Asian Tri-colored Squirrel, have thick fur, which is black from the nose to tail and red on the belly and legs, separated by a white stripe.

They occur across the mainland and islands of South East Asia, with the squirrels from each area having subtly different markings. More research may even show that these represent many different isolated species.

The squirrels are vital to the survival of the forests in which they live, redistributing seeds from the fruit that they eat, giving rise to new generations of plants.

4_Prevost's squirrel triplets born in ‘Chester Zoo first’ (11)


Elephant Birth Caught on Camera at Chester Zoo

It's a boy! Second rare Asian elephant born in a month sparks joy at Chester Zoo (19)
A rare Asian Elephant has been born at Chester Zoo, and the whole delivery - as well as the first moments between the baby and the herd - were caught on closed-circuit TV.

The male calf arrived to 20-year-old Sithami Hi Way on January 17 after a 22-month gestation and a 20-minute labor.  Keepers – who stayed up late to monitor the birth live on CCTV - say mom and her calf, who is yet to be named, are doing well.  The healthy new arrival was born onto soft sand and was on his feet and nursing within minutes.

In the video, you can see Sithami stimulating her newborn calf and encouraging him to get up by kicking up sand around him.  The rest of the herd then gathers around and helps the baby up.

It's a boy! Second rare Asian elephant born in a month sparks joy at Chester Zoo (13)
It's a boy! Second rare Asian elephant born in a month sparks joy at Chester Zoo (3)Photo Credit:  Chester Zoo

The calf has been welcomed by the rest of the Elephant herd, including his future playmates:  one-month-old baby Indali Hi Way and one-year-old half-sister Nandita Hi Way.

Asian Elephants are listed as Endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Chester Zoo conservationists are working in India to protect the species from human-wildlife conflict. The new calf is an invaluable addition to the breeding program for this species.

Asian Elephants are threatened by habitat loss due to logging, agricultural and urban development; poaching for ivory, disease, and conflict with humans. As their natural habitat is lost, more animals are wandering into farmed areas causing crop damage. Increasing numbers of people have also died as a result of Elephant encounters, leading to retaliatory hunting by some communities.

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Rare and Tiny Deer Born at Chester Zoo

Endangered Philippine spotted deer born at Chester Zoo (14)
An extremely rare Philippine Spotted Deer was born on December 26 at Chester Zoo. The tiny male fawn, which keepers say appears healthy and strong, was shown off for the first time by its proud parents this week.  

Endangered Philippine spotted deer born at Chester Zoo (19)
Endangered Philippine spotted deer born at Chester Zoo (12)Photo Credit:  Chester Zoo

 

Philippine Spotted Deer are one of the world’s most threatened Deer species.  Zookeepers have hailed the arrival as “a big boost for the species” with fewer than 2,500 of the animals – listed as endangered on Internal Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List of threatened species - now estimated to remain in the wild.

Experts say a combination of factors including illegal hunting and large-scale habitat loss have contributed to the demise of the species.

As they breed a back-up population in Europe at the request of the Philippine government, Chester Zoo staff support efforts to protect and restore Deer habitat in the Philippines and build breeding centers for the species.

Like many island nations, the Philippines are home to many unique species.  But a rapidly expanding human population, along with the loss of 90% of the islands’ original forest cover, has brought many species under threat.

In the wild, the Deer can be found in the rainforests of the Philippines’ Visayan islands of Panay and Negros. It once roamed across other Visayan islands such as Cebu, Guimaras, Leyte, Masbate and Samar – but is now regionally extinct on those islands.

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Giraffe Calf is The "Best Christmas Gift"

2) Keepers at Chester Zoo are celebrating “the best Christmas gift they could have wished for” following the birth of a rare Rothschild’s giraffe calf (7)
A rare Rothschild’s Giraffe calf born on Boxing Day (December 26) at Chester Zoo has been described by keepers as “the best Christmas gift.” 

The six-foot-tall youngster, which is yet to be sexed or named, arrived to first time mother Tula at around 7:00 am and was up on its feet just minutes later.

Keepers at Chester Zoo are celebrating “the best Christmas gift they could have wished for” following the birth of a rare Rothschild’s giraffe calf (3)
1) Keepers at Chester Zoo are celebrating “the best Christmas gift they could have wished for” following the birth of a rare Rothschild’s giraffe calf (16)Photo Credit:  Chester Zoo

Rothschild’s Giraffes are one of the most endangered subspecies of Giraffe and one of the world’s most at-risk species. Recent estimates suggest that less than 1,600 individuals remain in the wild, primarily as a result of poaching and habitat loss.

Sarah Roffe, team manager of Giraffes at the zoo, said, “Rothschild’s Giraffes are highly endangered and so the arrival of a new calf is a major cause for celebration. It really is the best Christmas gift we could have ever have wished for."

The calf will remain with Tula but separated from the rest of the herd until the two bond with each other and the calf nurses regularly.

Chester Zoo staff point out the Rothschild’s Giraffes are experiencing a “silent extinction.”  In the last 45 years, the population of Rothschild’s Giraffes in Uganda’s Kidepo Valley National Park – where they were once found in large numbers – has reduced by over 90%. A huge part of this decline was due to poaching in the 1990s and since then the population has failed to bounce back as habitat loss continues to threaten their survival.

Rothschild’s Giraffes are classified as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  With less than 1,600 remaining in the wild,Rothschild’s Giraffes are more endangered than African Elephants or Giant Pandas.

Roughly one-third of the surviving population of Rothschild’s Giraffes live in zoos, where carefully coordinated breeding programs are creating a safety-net population for the species.

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Meet Chester Zoo’s ‘Christmas Bauble On Tiny Legs’

1_Rare Philippine mouse deer born in UK first at Chester Zoo (20)

A Philippine Mouse Deer has been born in the UK for the first time. The tiny female Mouse Deer (one of the smallest hoofed animals in the world) was born to mum Rita and dad Ramos, at Chester Zoo, on November 16.

This is the latest addition to a special European-wide endangered species breeding programme, designed in response to the deforestation of its Asian habitat. The animals are also poached for their meat, which is considered a delicacy in parts of the Philippines.

Curator of mammals Tim Rowlands said, “Our newborn deer is incredibly small – similar in size to a Christmas bauble on tiny little legs, weighing just 430 grams!

“But, while this new arrival may be small in stature, it’s big in terms of importance. It’s the very first time the animal has been bred in the UK and to break new ground like this with a mammal species is really quite rare.

“The Philippine Mouse Deer is an endangered species. It’s highly threatened by massive deforestation in South East Asia and so, it’s great news that our newcomer will add valuable new bloodlines to the conservation breeding programme in zoos. It’s vitally important that we work to ensure these wonderful animals do not disappear for good.”

2_Rare Philippine mouse deer born in UK first at Chester Zoo (19)

3_Rare Philippine mouse deer born in UK first at Chester Zoo (22)

4_Rare Philippine mouse deer born in UK first at Chester Zoo (15)Photo Credits: Chester Zoo

Chester Zoo is only one of only seven institutions in the whole of Europe to care for the charming species.

Conservationists from the zoo are also working to protect habitat in areas of South East Asia where the Mouse Deer live.

The Philippine Mouse Deer (Tragulus nigricans) is listed as “Endangered” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The species is in continuing decline. It is subject to poaching for food and affected by habitat loss, as its forest home is converted to oil palm plantations.

Contrary to its common name, the Philippine Mouse Deer does not belong to the deer family Cervidae, but is a member of the chevrotain family.

Adult mouse deer stand at just 18cm tall and rarely weigh more than 1kg.

More pics below the fold!

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Newborn Babirusa Caught on Camera

Babirusa piglet and mum Kendari (11)

Hidden cameras show a rare newborn Babirusa piglet snuggling with and nursing from its mother at the Chester Zoo in the video below.  Babirusas are one of the rarest pig species in the world.

The tiny male piglet, named Bukaan, was born to Kendari, age four, following a five-month-long pregnancy.  They have spent several months bonding behind the scenes and have only recently been released into their habitat.

Babirusa piglet and mum Kendari (7)
Babirusa piglet and mum Kendari (5)Photo Credit:  Chester Zoo



Babirusas live on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi where their numbers have plummeted to an estimated 5,000 individuals. The species was once common, but hunting for their meat and destruction of their habitat led to their disappearance from some areas of Sulawesi. 

Tim Rowlands, curator of mammals at the zoo, said, “When Kendari’s new piglet grows up he will sport a face full of twisted tusks, a large wet snout, warts and will be almost completely hairless, just like his dad, Sausu. But looks aren’t everything! This species is incredibly special and he’s ever such as important new arrival.  Babirusas are under huge pressure in Sulawesi. They’re vulnerable to extinction and Kendari’s latest piglet is a significant addition to the world’s population.” 

Zoos serve an increasingly important role as species are put at risk in the wild.  Only a handful of zoos worldwide have successfully bred Babirusas, and the offspring will play a key role in the long term conservation of the species.  Chester Zoo also supports efforts in Indonesia to preserve these rare animals.

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“It’s the Great Pumpkin…!”

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Pumpkins and Jack-o-Lanterns are indicative of the fall season…and Halloween.

Zoo Keepers work hard to keep their animals healthy and happy. Enrichment toys and activities are an important tool that Keepers utilize to help in that pursuit. Enrichment items encourage natural behavior and stimulate the senses…and what could be more stimulating, this time of year, than celebrating by tearing into a bright orange pumpkin!

Happy Halloween from ZooBorns!

2_Red pandas Jung and Nima get into the Halloween spirit at Chester Zoo on Pumpkin Day

3_snow leopard_Woodland Park Zoo

4_Amur tiger with pumpkin_Woburn Safari Park

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Image 1: (Lynx) Tierpark Hellabrunn / Marc Muller

Image 2: “Red Pandas, Jung and Nima, get into the Halloween spirit”/ Chester Zoo

Image 3: (Snow leopard) Woodland Park Zoo

Image 4: (Amur Tiger) Woburn Safari Park

Image 5: Piglets-in-a-pumpkin/ Tierpark Berlin

Image 6: “Andean Bear, Bernie, tucks into honey-coated treats”/ Chester Zoo

Image 7: “Black Jaguar, Goshi, enjoys and early treat”/ Chester Zoo

Images 8, 9: Elephant Pumpkin Stomp/ Denver Zoo

Image 10: (Chimpanzee)/ Detroit Zoo/ Jennie Miller

Image 11: (Bison)/ Detroit Zoo/ Jennie Miller

Image 12: (Giraffe “Mpenzi”)/ Detroit Zoo/ Jennie Miller

Image 13: (Hippo)/ Woodland Park Zoo/ Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren

Image 14: (Tiger)/ Woodland Park Zoo/ Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren

Image 15: (Maned Wolf)/ Woodland Park Zoo/ Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren

More adorable Halloween pics, below the fold!

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Tiny Squeals Reveal Bush Dog Pups in Underground Den

FB TW Two litters of bush dog pups have been born and started to venture outside for the first time at Chester Zoo (52)Two litters of Bush Dog pups at the Chester Zoo have begun to venture outside their dens for the first time.  The first litter, consisting of five pups, was discovered in August after keepers heard tiny squeals coming from the den. A second set arrived in September, but the number of pups is not yet known.  Some pups in the second litter may still be tucked in underground burrows.

The pack of pups means non-stop action in the Bush Dog exhibit.  The pups play-fight and explore most of the day.  When intervention is needed, the moms carry the pups in their mouths, careful not to injure the youngsters with their sharp teeth.

Two litters of bush dog pups have been born and started to venture outside for the first time at Chester Zoo (29)
Two litters of bush dog pups have been born and started to venture outside for the first time at Chester Zoo (57)
Photo Credit:  Chester Zoo



Bush Dogs are not well studied, so Chester Zoo keepers hope that these two litters will add to the knowledge base for the species.  For example, it is rare for two litters to be produced within one pack only weeks apart.  Normally, the alpha male and only one female produce offspring.

Once all the pups emerge, the zoo staff will weigh, sex, and microchip the pups, and conduct a hands-on health check.  This will allow the staff to monitor each individual pup’s progress.

Bush Dogs are native to Central and South America, where they inhabit wet forests and grasslands.  They hunt in packs to chase down small mammals, lizards, and birds, but can also hunt and kill animals twice their size.  With a web of skin between their toes, Bush Dogs are excellent swimmers. 

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature lists Bush Dogs as Near Threatened after their wild numbers dropped by more than 25% in just 12 years. They have suffered from habitat loss from farming, a loss of prey species, and from contracting diseases spread by other canines or domestic dogs.

See more photos of the pups below.

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