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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Four Javan Green Magpies have hatched at Chester Zoo. This is the first time the world’s rarest Magpie has been bred in a UK zoo, which provides a major boost to conservation efforts to save this species from extinction.
Conservationists and bird staff at the Zoo are making every effort to try and save the species, which has been trapped to the very brink in its native Indonesian forests. Chester Zoo has been working with assistance from Taman Safari Indonesia and conservation partners, Cikananga Wildlife Centre.
In late 2015, six pairs of the birds were flown from Java, Indonesia to Chester to establish a conservation breeding and insurance population for the species in Europe, before the birds vanish in the wild altogether.
Photo Credits: Chester Zoo
The Javan Green Magpie (Cissa thalassina) is native to western Java in Indonesia and inhabits dense montane forests. Their bright green plumage is attained through the food the birds eat: insects, frogs and lizards.
The species is listed as “Critically Endangered” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), but bird experts are warning that the situation may have worsened in recent months, amid fears that the rare Magpies may now be close to extinction in the wild, with no recent sightings reported.
However, the breeding of the four new chicks at Chester Zoo has given a huge lift to conservation efforts to save the birds. Andrew Owen, the Zoo’s Curator of Birds, explains the importance of the breeding successes, “I have had the privilege of working with many rare and beautiful birds, but none are more precious than the Javan Green Magpie: one of the world’s most endangered species.
“We’ve been working with our conservation partners in Java - the Cikananga Wildlife Centre - for more than six years. In that time we’ve seen Javan Green Magpies disappear almost completely from the wild as they are captured for the illegal bird trade. Huge areas of forests that were once filled with beautiful songbirds are falling silent.
“Knowing that our first pair had nested was a momentous occasion for us - seeing the first chick was even more special. All four chicks have now fledged and are currently sporting blue feathers, which will eventually turn apple green as they mature.
“So far we have successfully bred from two adult pairs and these four chicks are a vital addition to the worldwide population. Every individual we breed here could help save the species as the clock is ticking and time is running out.”
Mike Jordan, Collections Director at Chester Zoo, added, “The rapid decline of the Javan Green Magpie in the wild is due to on-going trapping pressures, agricultural intrusion and a continued loss of suitable forest habitat in west Java in Indonesia.
“We started the first ever European conservation breeding programme for the species when six pairs of Javan Green Magpies arrived in Chester in December last year. Our specialist team, in conjunction with two other top European zoos, is aiming to ensure their continued survival.
“Our long-term aim is to return birds bred here in the UK and Europe to the forests of Indonesia.”
The arrival of the four chicks brings the total number of Javan Green Magpies at Chester Zoo to eleven. The Cikananga Conservation Breeding Centre currently has 19 birds, all under the expert care of Chester Zoo staff and local Indonesian experts.
A highly unusual animal has been bred at Chester Zoo, boosting the European population of this endangered species.
A Giant Jumping Rat was born in July to mum, Rokoto. The new youngster, whose sex is currently unknown, has only now started to venture out from its nest. This is the first time Chester Zoo has bred this unique species.
The Giant Jumping Rat (Hypogeomys antimena) is a large, nocturnal rodent, which conservation experts say is threatened with extinction in the near future because of habitat loss, introduced disease and predation by feral dogs.
Keepers at Chester Zoo hope that the charming new arrival will help change perceptions about the charismatic animal, which has traits similar to those of a kangaroo, and in turn boost public support for conservation efforts.
Photo Credits: Chester Zoo
Giant Jumping Rats are only found on the island of Madagascar, and as a result have evolved with unique attributes possessed by no other species of rat.
The species, which can grow to the size of a small dog, only jumps on very rare occasions but has the spectacular ability to leap almost one metre into the air.
Also known as Malagasy Jumping Rats, they form lifelong monogamous pairs, unlike other rodents. They reproduce very slowly, normally only having two babies a year. As their name suggests, their back feet are adapted for jumping and are large in comparison to their front feet.
When foraging for food, the rats move on all fours, searching the forest floor for fallen fruit, nuts, seeds, and leaves. They have also been known to strip bark from trees and dig for roots and invertebrates.
As well as being part of a carefully managed breeding programme, working to establish a healthy safety-net population of the endangered rats in Europe, Chester Zoo is also actively working in Madagascar to help protect the forests where the animals live. Working with conservation partner Madagasikara Voakajy, much of the Zoo’s work is focused on engaging local communities and persuading them that the forests, and the wildlife that live there, are worth protecting.
Five baby Otters have been thrown in at the deep end, while being taught how to swim, by their parents at Chester Zoo.
Mum, Annie, and dad, Wallace, took their new pups for their first proper dip in the water. The new pups recently emerged from their den, with their parents, for the first time since the quintet was born July 8th.
The new litter of Asian Short-clawed Otters, which currently weigh between 450g and 612g, is made up of two boys and three girls; all yet to be named by their keepers. This is the first litter for two-year-old Annie and four-year-old Wallace.
Fiona Howe, assistant otter team manager at the zoo, said, “While Otters might seem like born naturals in the water, even they need to be taught the basics in the early stages of their lives.
“Asian Short-clawed Otters are a highly social species and learning to swim is a real family effort. Mum Annie and dad Wallace have both been working together and, now that they are confident that each of the pups are ready to start swimming, they’ve been taking them by the scruffs of their necks and dropping them in at the deep end. All five of them are getting to grips with the water really, really quickly.
“Annie and Wallace are first time parents but they’re doing a fab job, sharing with the daily care of the pups, including grooming, babysitting and feeding.”
Photo Credits: Chester Zoo
Asian Short-clawed Otters, which are found in various parts of Asia from India to the Philippines and China, are listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as “Vulnerable” to extinction. Experts believe the species is likely to soon become endangered, unless the circumstances increasing the threat to its survival improve.
Sarah Roffe, otter team manager, added, “Many of the wetlands where Asian Short-clawed Otters live are being taken over by humans for agricultural and urban development, while some otters are hunted for their skins and organs which are used in traditional Chinese medicines.
“It has led to a decline in their numbers - a rapid decline in some regions - and they are now listed as one of the world's most vulnerable species. That's why it's so important to support conservation projects to safeguard the future of this important species.”
As well as a successful record with breeding exotic Otter species, Chester Zoo has also helped fund research and conservation projects in Cheshire to monitor and safeguard native otter populations, which are distant relations of the Asian Short-clawed species.
The new pups are welcome addition to the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme, a carefully managed scheme overseeing the breeding of zoo animals in different countries.
The species is also sometimes to referred to as the Oriental Small-clawed Otter, or Small-clawed Otter. As their name suggests, they have short but very flexible, sensitive claws, useful for digging, climbing and also for grabbing and holding on to prey. They are the smallest of all otters, and in the wild, they live in small groups across Asia from India and Nepal to the Philippines, Indonesia, China, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.
They mainly eat crabs, other water creatures and fish.
A baby Grevy’s Zebra caught Chester Zoo visitors by surprise after it was born before their eyes, on August 21.
The latest arrival to the Zoo’s herd of endangered Grevy’s Zebras arrived to mum, Nadine, and dad, Mac. The foal is the second to be born at the Zoo in the space of just six days!
After a 14-month-long gestation, zookeepers noticed that Nadine was showing signs of labor early on the afternoon of August 21. They carefully monitored the momentous event from a distance, and Nadine gave birth after 40 minutes, in front of astounded onlookers.
Video footage, taken by a visitor, shows Nadine rolling around on her side before getting to her feet and starting to deliver the youngster.
Kim Wood, assistant team manager at the zoo, said, “Nadine gave birth in the middle of the afternoon in front of a group of some pretty amazed visitors.
“At first Nadine was seen lying on her side trying to make herself more comfortable as she began to feel what was about to happen. She then got to her feet and picked her spot in the paddock, and a healthy youngster appeared less than an hour later. It was a really smooth delivery.
“The foal is looking great and, with it being the second to be born here in the space of just a week, we’re sure the two new arrivals will be as thick as thieves.”
Photo Credits: Chester Zoo
Nadine’s new offspring increases the number of Grevy’s Zebra, at Chester Zoo, to a herd of six. Keepers have yet to choose a name for the new arrival, as they have not yet been able to determine the sex.