Chester Zoo

Meet Ping and Pong, Chester Zoo's Newborn Sengi Twins

Tiny sengi twins born at Chester Zoo (13)
Two baby African Sengis at Chester Zoo named Ping and Pong are about the size of – you guessed it – ping pong balls. The twins were born on May 5.

African Sengis, also known as Round-eared Elephant Shrews, grow to a maximum size of just four inches and weigh 1.5 ounces – about the same as seven US quarters.

Despite their small stature, Sengis have a genetic link to much larger animals, including Manatees, Aardvarks and Elephants.

Tiny sengi twins born at Chester Zoo (18)
Tiny sengi twins born at Chester Zoo (3)Photo Credit: Chester Zoo



Dave White, team manager of small mammals at Chester Zoo, said, “They may be tiny but our new Sengi duo are hugely fascinating creatures, whose closest living relative is eight thousand times their size. They were once thought to be linked to the Shrew but their genetic makeup is actually closer to that of an Elephant - the giveaway is their amazing trunk-like snout.”

The prehensile snout is used to sniff out insects to eat. The bugs are collected with a quick flick of the tongue.

“Sengis are extremely energetic little critters and have a top speed of 18 mph. If scaled up, they would actually be twice as quick as the world’s fastest land mammal – the Cheetah. They’re incredibly charismatic and one of the very few mammals that pair up for life,” White said.

African Sengis are native to Botswana, Namibia and South Africa where they are found in a range of habitats including deserts, forests and savannahs.

There are nineteen different species of Sengi, and little is known about most of them.  A new species was discovered by conservationists working in Namibia as recently as 2014.

More photos below!

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Great Argus Pheasant Chicks Hatch at Chester Zoo

1_Rare pheasant chicks hatch in Chester Zoo first  (25)

A rare Pheasant, usually found in the rainforests of South East Asia, has been successfully bred at Chester Zoo for the first time. Two Great Argus Pheasant chicks hatched on May 3, after a 24-day incubation.

With Great Argus Pheasant numbers in steep decline across much of its native range, keepers at the Zoo have hailed the arrival of the young pair.

The birds, which are found on the Malaysian peninsula, south Myanmar, South West Thailand, Borneo and Sumatra, are iconic in their homeland but are threatened by hunting and habitat loss.

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3_Rare pheasant chicks hatch in Chester Zoo first  (18)

4_Rare pheasant chicks hatch in Chester Zoo first  (22)Photo Credits: Chester Zoo 

Andrew Owen, Curator of Birds, said, “The Great Argus Pheasant [Argusianus argus] is under real pressure in parts of South East Asia. Like so many bird species in that part of the world, they are the victim of rapid deforestation and illegal trapping.”

“Great Argus males, in particular, are amongst the most unusual and distinctive of all birds, with their astonishingly long wing and tail feathers adorned with thousands of eye-spots. It is their beauty, which is, in part, what makes them so prized by hunters. To have two chicks hatch here for the very first time in the zoo’s long history is a great achievement; they’re certainly important young birds.”

As part of its mating ritual, the male constructs a ring on the ground out of sticks and twigs, then calls to entice a female to enter into the circle. He then performs a mating dance, culminating in him spreading his wings wide to show off a complex pattern of eyespots in his plumage.

It is these ‘eye-spots’ that give the Argus Pheasant its name: Argus Panoptes (or Argos) being a many-eyed giant in Greek mythology.

The Great Argus Pheasant has been evaluated and is currently classified as “Near Threatened” on the IUCN Red List.

More great pics below the fold!

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Chester Zoo’s Giraffe Birth Caught on Camera

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CCTV cameras at Chester Zoo recently captured the beautiful moment a rare Rothschild’s Giraffe calf was born. The five-foot-tall male arrived April 3 to eight-year-old mum Orla. His fall to earth and first wobbly steps were also caught on camera.

Zookeepers say that Orla delivered her youngster smoothly following a four-hour labor; bringing an end to her 15-month pregnancy.

Sarah Roffe, Giraffe team manager, said, “Orla went into labor at around noon and, for a little while, we could just see two spindly legs poking out. She’s an experienced mum and a few hours later she delivered the calf safely onto soft straw as the rest of the herd, including her other young Kidepo and Millie, looked on.”

“Although it might be quite a drop, and they may fall to the ground with a bit of a thud, it’s how Giraffe calves arrive into the world and it stimulates them into taking their first breaths. That whole process, from a calf being born to it taking its very first steps, is an incredibly special thing to see.”

“Those long legs take a little bit of getting used to but the new calf is doing ever so well, as is mum. She’s an excellent parent and is doing a fantastic job of nursing her new arrival.”

“The world may be waiting for April the Giraffe to have her calf over in America, but Orla has beaten her to it!”

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4_Giraffe calf born at Chester Zoo - first pictures (5)Photo Credits: Chester Zoo

The calf is the second Rothschild’s Giraffe to be born at the Zoo in the space of just four months, following the arrival of male, Murchison, on Boxing Day. Chester Zoo’s Giraffe keepers have chosen to call the new calf “Narus” in honor of a valley in Kidepo National Park in Uganda, where some of their Giraffe field conservation work is based.

Conservationists at the Zoo hope that both arrivals will help to throw a spotlight on the plight of the endangered species and the different threats faced in the wild. Rothschild’s Giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis camelopardalis) are one of the world’s rarest mammals and recent estimates suggest that less than 1,600 remain.

Tim Rowlands, curator of mammals, added, “Poaching in the wild over the last few decades has led to a 90% decline in wild Rothschild’s Giraffe numbers. Despite ongoing conservation efforts, the species is really struggling to bounce back as the constant threat of habitat loss continues to push the last remaining population ever closer to extinction.”

“Right now the Zoo is working hard out in Africa on a conservation action plan to ensure that populations don’t fall to an even more critical level. We’ve got to stand tall for these amazing animals.”

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Chester Zoo Welcomes Critically Endangered Baby

1_First Bornean orangutan born in almost a decade at Chester Zoo (9)

Keepers at Chester Zoo are celebrating the birth of a critically endangered Bornean Orangutan.

The new arrival was born on the morning of April 2, in front of a handful of amazed onlookers. The first of its kind born at the Zoo in almost a decade, the newborn arrived following an eight-and-a-half-month pregnancy for mum Sarikei. The baby is a first offspring for dad, Willie.

Zoo conservationists say that the baby is a huge boost to a breeding programme, which is working toward saving the iconic species.

The most recent estimates indicate there could be as few as 55,000 Bornean Orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus) left on the island of Borneo in Indonesia, the only place they can be found in the wild. The species is heavily threatened by actions that have pushed the species to the very brink of existence: illegal hunting, habitat destruction and the conversion of their forest to palm oil plantations.

Chris Yarwood, primate keeper at the zoo, said, “Seeing mum Sarieki holding her tiny baby close is an amazing sight. It has been eight years since we last celebrated the birth of a Bornean Orangutan at the zoo, but it’s well worth the wait.”

“This is Sarikei’s third baby and although it’s very early days, she is so far doing a wonderful job of caring for her little one. She’s a great mum. It’s also the first youngster that our male Willie has sired. He has a great personality and we’re very hopeful that he will make a great father as he is still young himself and enjoys playing with the other Orangutans.”

2_First Bornean orangutan born in almost a decade at Chester Zoo (8)

3_First Bornean orangutan born in almost a decade at Chester Zoo (12)

4_First Bornean orangutan born in almost a decade at Chester Zoo (11)Photo Credits: Chester Zoo

Last year the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) changed the status of the Bornean Orangutan from “Endangered” to “Critically Endangered”. Now more than ever, the species faces a very high risk of extinction in the wild.

Tim Rowlands, the zoo’s curator of mammals, added, “Bornean Orangutan numbers are plummeting at a frightening rate. A major threat to the survival of these magnificent creatures is the unsustainable oil palm industry, which is having a devastating effect on the forests where they live. They are also the victims of habitat loss and illegal hunting.”

“Those who are responsible for their decline have pushed them to the very edge of existence. And if the rate of loss continues, they could very well be extinct in the next few decades. It’s therefore absolutely vital that we have a sustainable population of Bornean Orangutans in zoos, and every addition to the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme is so, so important.”

“It’s also imperative that we continue to tackle the excessive deforestation in Borneo and show people everywhere that they too can make a difference to the long-term survival of Orangutans. Simple everyday choices, such as making sure your product purchases from the supermarket contain only sustainably sourced palm oil, can have a massive impact.”

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Rare Macaque Born at Chester Zoo

Baby Sulawesi macaque Amidala born to mum Lisa at Chester Zoo (5)
Zoo keepers at Chester Zoo have just released the first photos of a rare baby Sulawesi Crested Macaque born in January.

The tiny female baby, which keepers have named Amidala, is a welcome boost to the European endangered species breeding program that is working to protect Sulawesi's Macaques.  The species is listed as Critically Endangered, with fewer than 5,000 individuals remaining in the wild.

Baby Sulawesi macaque Amidala born to mum Lisa at Chester Zoo (2)
Baby Sulawesi macaque Amidala born to mum Lisa at Chester Zoo (9)Photo Credit:  Chester Zoo

Sulawesi Crested Macaques are the rarest of the seven Macaque species living in rain forests on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. 

The illegal wildlife trade and large scale habitat loss due to illegal logging has pushed the Sulawesi Crested Macaque to the edge of extinction. They are also targets for poachers and are over-hunted for food. The species’ wild number is believed to have plummeted by around 80% in the last 30 years.

With Amidala’s arrival, there are now 18 Sulawesi Crested Macaques living at Chester Zoo. Amidala was born to parents Lisa and Mamassa.

Conservationists from Chester Zoo works with communities in Sulawesi to help protect forests and the diverse animal species living in them.

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Chester Zoo Releases Rare Footage of Tuatara Hatching

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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.

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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

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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.”

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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.

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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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