Chester Zoo

World's Tiniest Monkey Species Born at Chester Zoo

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A baby Eastern Pygmy Marmoset – the world’s smallest species of Monkey – was born January 3 at Chester Zoo.  

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Photo Credit:  Chester Zoo

You can imagine how tiny these infants are – even fully grown, Pygmy Marmosets weigh only one-third of a pound and are about five inches long. The baby is so small that at two months old, it is only now large enough to be spotted by zoo guests.

The itty-bitty infant, who has yet to be named or sexed, is carried by its father Gumi.  The baby’s mother, Audrey, nurses her baby but performs no other parental care, which is typical for this species. 

Eastern Pygmy Marmosets may be the smallest of all Monkeys, but they’re not the quietest.  They emit loud squeaks and whistles, which can be heard throughout the rain forests where they live in Brazil, Ecuador and Peru.  Marmosets are tree-dwellers and feed on insects, fruits, and tree sap.

These petite primates are threatened by habitat destruction and their capture for the pet trade. 

See more photos of the baby Marmoset below.

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Compatriot of the Dinosaurs Bred at Chester Zoo

1_A unique tuatara has hatched at Chester Zoo. It’s the world’s first ever breeding of the species outside of their native New Zealand.  (1)

A unique Tuatara has hatched at Chester Zoo. It is a species believed to have pre-dated the dinosaurs, having been on the planet more than 225 million years.

This is also the first ever breeding of Tuatara outside of their native New Zealand!

The egg from which the youngster hatched was laid on April 11, 2015, and it hatched on December 5. The rare newcomer arrived weighing 4.21 grams.

Reptile experts at the zoo have described the hatching as an “amazing event” after dedicating several decades to the project.

Keeper Isolde McGeorge has taken care of the species at Chester Zoo since 1977. “Breeding Tuatara is an incredible achievement,” said Isolde. “They are notoriously difficult to breed and it’s probably fair to say that I know that better than most, as it has taken me 38 years to get here. It has taken lots of hard work, lots of stressful moments and lots of tweaking of the conditions in which we keep the animals along the way but it has all been very much worth it.”

“This animal has been on the planet for over a quarter of a billion years and to be the first zoo to ever breed them, outside of their homeland in New Zealand, is undoubtedly an amazing event. It’s one of the most momentous events for the reptile team at the zoo since we discovered Komodo dragons are capable of virgin births, in 2006,” Isolde continued.

2_A unique tuatara has hatched at Chester Zoo. It’s the world’s first ever breeding of the species outside of their native New Zealand.  (6)

3_A unique tuatara has hatched at Chester Zoo. It’s the world’s first ever breeding of the species outside of their native New Zealand.  (4)

4_Keeper Isolde McGeorge attends to the newly hatched tuatara (1)Photo Credits: Chester Zoo

The new arrival is the offspring of mother Mustard and father Pixie. A Māori Chief accompanied the duo, along with four other females, when they ceremoniously arrived in Chester from Wellington Zoo in 1994.

Isolde added, “When you’ve worked with Tuatara for as long as I have you come to realize that they don’t do anything in a hurry. Their metabolism is incredibly slow - they take only five breaths and just six to eight heartbeats per minute, and they only reproduce every four years, with their eggs taking a year to hatch.”

“We’ve waited a very, very long time --- 12 years with this particular pairing. The night before it hatched, I spotted two beads of sweat on the egg. I had a feeling something incredible was about to happen, so I raced in early the next day and there she was. Immediately I broke down in tears; I was completely overwhelmed by what we had achieved. Now that we have all of the key factors in place, the challenge is to repeat our success and to do it again and again.”

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Endangered Rhino Birth Caught on Camera at Chester Zoo

1_!One-week-old Eastern black rhino calf, Gabe, steps out into the sunshine on his public debut (1)

Chester Zoo’s Eastern Black Rhino calf recently stomped out into the sunshine on his public debut. The male calf, whose birth was captured on CCTV cameras, was born January 16 and has been named Gabe.

The newcomer enjoyed his sunny debut alongside mum, Ema Elsa.

2_One-week-old Eastern black rhino calf, Gabe, steps out into the sunshine on his public debut (27)

3_One-week-old Eastern black rhino calf, Gabe, steps out into the sunshine on his public debut (29)

4_One-week-old Eastern black rhino calf, Gabe, steps out into the sunshine on his public debut (22)Photo Credits: Chester Zoo

Barbara Dryer, rhino keeper at the zoo, said, “It’ll take Gabe some time to get used to his surroundings, but he’s already super-feisty and doing all the right things, sleeping lots, eating well and looks very sturdy on his feet - he’s doing really well so far.

“We hope Gabe brings a lot of attention to the ever-growing need for the conservation of Eastern Black Rhino populations in Africa that are being slaughtered daily. The criminal gangs aren’t slowing down and in recent years there’s been a huge surge in illegal poaching, driven by the demand for rhino horn in Asia, as it’s ‘believed’ to have medicinal benefits – although scientific research has already proved it to be completely useless.

“For that reason, Gabe is particularly important to the European breeding programme for the species as he will add to the genetic diversity of Eastern Black Rhinos in zoos across Europe, helping to save the species from extinction in the future.”

Gabe is the third baby born at the zoo to 13-year-old mum, Ema Elsa, who was matched up with dad Kifaru, aged 31, by keepers at the zoo. The calf will now stay by her side for up to two years.

Chester Zoo has been successful in breeding a number of critically endangered Black Rhinos and plays a vital part in the European breeding programme, which is managed by the zoo’s Director General, Mark Pilgrim.

Groundbreaking science at the zoo has allowed researchers to monitor hormones levels in their female Black Rhinos to help discover the best time to introduce them to a potential partner, as well as diagnose pregnancies and estimate when they will give birth.

Chester Zoo is one of the main organizations fighting for the survival of the Eastern Black Rhino and has long supported conservation efforts in the wild to try and protect Black Rhinos and continues to fund, and provide expertise, to numerous sanctuaries across Africa.

The Eastern Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis michaeli) is classified as “Critically Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. In the wild, there are less than 650 remaining across Africa. At one time, the wild population was located in Ethiopia, Somalia, Tanzania, and Kenya, but as of 2010 they can only be found in Kenya (594 animals) and in northern Tanzania (80 animals). A population of currently 60 animals is kept outside its natural range in South Africa.

The growing price of rhino horn has led to a massive decline in rhino numbers---a decrease of up to 97% across Africa in the past 50 years. 2014 was branded ‘the worst poaching year on record’ by leading conservationists after over 1,200 rhinos were hunted in South Africa alone - a 9,000% increase from 2007

Chester Zoo is one of the main organizations fighting for the survival of Eastern Black Rhino and has long supported conservation efforts in the wild to try and protect Black Rhinos and continues to fund, and provide expertise, to numerous sanctuaries in Africa

The Chester Zoo Black Rhino Programme started in 1999, in partnership with Save the Rhino, providing substantial financial support to Kenya Wildlife Service to enable the translocation of 20 Black Rhinos to wildlife reserves in the Tsavo region of Kenya

Recently the zoo has also provided support for rhinos in Chyulu Hills National Park and Laikipia District in Kenya and Mkomazi in Tanzania

In June 2015, the world’s leading experts on rhinos and rhino conservation came together in Europe for the first time when Chester Zoo hosted over 100 zookeepers, researchers, scientists and conservationists from the USA, Australia, Africa and Europe to debate issues surrounding the five species of rhino: Black, Greater One-horned, White, Sumatran and Javan Rhino.

Amazing video of the birth and more pics, below the fold!

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New Brazilian Tapir Steps Out at Chester Zoo

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Keepers at Chester Zoo have announced the arrival of a rare Brazilian Tapir.

The female calf, which has not yet been named, was born early in the morning of December 5 to experienced parents Jenny and Cuzco.

Weighing just a few kilograms at birth, she is expected to more than double in size within just two to three weeks.

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4_Tapir-10Photo Credits: Chester Zoo

Young Tapirs are born with spots and stripes all over their bodies, heads, and legs. But they lose these patterns in the first year of their life.

Tim Rowlands, curator of mammals, said, “With her brown coat currently covered in white stripes and spots, our new Tapir calf resembles a little humbug on legs at the moment. Lowland Tapirs lose this patterning over time but, for a newborn, it’s a great form of camouflage, as predators will often mistake young calves for specks of sunlight on the forest floor.

“At just a few days old she is tiny, but Tapirs grow very quickly and we expect she will double in weight in just a matter of weeks. She already has bundles of energy and is quite demanding on mum in particular, but Jenny is very experienced and knows exactly what to do.

“We hope that our new arrival will be another great ambassador for the species and their cousins in the wild who, sadly, fall victim to a number of devastating threats that has resulted in a huge loss of wildlife across South America.”

The Brazilian, or Lowland Tapir, (Tapirus terrestris) is one of five species in the tapir family. The Lowland Tapir is the largest native terrestrial mammal in the Amazon. They can be found near water in the Amazon Rainforest and River Basin in South America, east of the Andes.

Lowland Tapirs are excellent swimmers but also move quickly over land. They feed on a diet of fruits, berries, and leaves. Their closest relatives are horses and rhinoceroses.

They reach sexual maturity in their third year. Females have a gestation period of 13 months (390 to 395 days) and typically have one offspring every two years. Newborns weigh about 15 pounds and will double their weight in the first 14 to 21 days. The young are fully weaned in about four to six months from birth.

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Chester Zoo Keepers Lend a Hand to Exotic Starlings

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Bird keepers at Chester Zoo, in the UK, recently provided around-the-clock care to six exotic Starling chicks.

The tiny Grosbeak Starlings, which are native to Indonesia, have been successfully hand-reared after being fed a combination of pinky mouse and papaya every few hours for five weeks.

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4_Zookeepers give helping hand to exotic starling chicks (10)Photo Credits: Chester Zoo

 Now fully fledged, all six birds have made their first public appearances in the Zoo’s new Monsoon Forest exhibit (the biggest zoological building in the UK and part of an Islands zone at the zoo, which is aiming to put a spotlight on the conservation of animals and plants from South East Asia).

Bird keeper Leanne Lowton said, “The birds started out each weighing just a few grams, and helping such tiny little chicks to eat requires a high degree of patience and lots of gentle encouragement.

“We use delicate little tweezers to deliver food to them and then it’s really important to keep track of their development along the way. To do this, we pop them on to a mini set of scales and check their weight every day – making sure they’re getting everything they need.

“For a good few months it’s a time consuming process; and life does tend to revolve around the chicks’ feeding schedule, but it’s ever-so-rewarding to see them go on and fledge.”

Curator of birds, Andrew Owen, added, “It’s vitally important that our bird staff have opportunities to hone their hand-rearing skills at the zoo as it’s these very same techniques that we can use to help seriously threatened species in the wild.

“Right now, for example, we have two keepers from the zoo based in Mauritius working with some of the world’s most critically endangered birds. It’s all of the knowhow and intricate techniques that they’ve learnt at the zoo that’s enabling them to play a key role in helping to conserve the likes of the Mauritius olive white-eye, Mauritius fody and Mauritius cuckoo shrike. ”

Chester Zoo works towards the conservation of numerous bird species around the world including projects in Bali, Java and Sumatra.

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Teeny Little Sengis Debut At Chester Zoo

Cheeky sengis make debut at Chester Zoo (11)

Two tiny, three-month-old Sengis – also known as Round-eared Elephant Shrews – were seen by visitors to the Chester Zoo for the first time this week.

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Cheeky sengis make debut at Chester Zoo (2)
Photo Credit:  Chester Zoo
 
Weighing just one to two ounces (the same as 10 or 20 pennies), Sengis use their long snouts to sniff out insects to eat.  Food is snapped up with quick flicks of the tongue.

With long hind legs, Sengis move by hopping, similar to Rabbits.  They scurry through grass and brush, and dash to safety at the smallest signs of danger.

Sengis are related to Manatees, Aardvarks, Hyraxes, and Elephants.  Despite their former common name of Elephant Shrew, they are not true Shrews at all.  There are 19 species of Sengis, all native to Africa.  Little is known about Sengis’ habits, because they are so elusive in the wild. 

Cheeky sengis make debut at Chester Zoo (13)
Cheeky sengis make debut at Chester Zoo (14)
Cheeky sengis make debut at Chester Zoo (10)
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Tiny Capybara Explores with Mum at Chester Zoo

1_A baby capybara is accompanied by its mother as they explore their enclosure at Chester Zoo (3)

A Capybara was born October 19th at Chester Zoo in the UK. Although just over two-weeks-old, the tiny youngster can already walk and swim. The newborn rodent has also begun eagerly exploring the exhibit with mum.

2_A baby capybara is accompanied by its mother as they explore their enclosure at Chester Zoo (1)

3_A baby capybara is accompanied by its mother as they explore their enclosure at Chester Zoo (2)

4_Capybara-9Photo Credits: Chester Zoo

Capybaras are semi-aquatic mammals and originate from South America. They can grow up to almost 1.5m in length and weigh up to 60kg.

Dr. Nick Davis, Assistant Curator of Mammals at the zoo, said, “Our new arrival is tiny and can barely be seen above the grass when it follows mum on adventures across the paddock. It only weighs a few hundred grams at the moment but, in time, it’ll grow into a really chunky rodent.”

“While the Capybara is not currently classified as an endangered species, it is hunted and poached for its meat and skin, which can be turned into leather. So it’s important that our new arrival helps us raise the profile of this often overlooked species,” Dr. Davis shared.

The sex of the newborn is not currently known by keepers.

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New Name for a New Orangutan at Chester Zoo

1_Siska the baby orangutan clings to mum Subis at Chester Zoo (2)

A six-week-old female Sumatran Orangutan, named Siska (born September 3 to mum, Subis), was given her new moniker after staff at Chester Zoo confirmed her gender.

Siska shares her name with a specialist Orangutan vet, from Indonesia, who first spotted the new baby clinging to her mum on the morning she was born. Vet, Siska Sulistyo, who normally works in sanctuaries in South East Asia, has spent three months in Chester, UK, working alongside the zoo’s resident veterinary team, as part of an initiative to exchange knowledge and skills.

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4_Baby orangutan Siska with mum Subis at Chester Zoo (2)Photo Credits: Chester Zoo

Chris Yarwood, Lead Keeper at Chester Zoo, said, “Siska has been named after an Indonesian vet who is spending some time working with our animal health teams here at the zoo. She was the very first person to spot our new arrival the morning she was born, so we thought it was a fitting name particularly given the vital conservation work that her team carry out in South East Asia with a range of endangered species. 

“Sumatran Orangutans are being pushed dangerously close to extinction every day and, as it stands, they are one of the world’s most endangered species.

“Siska is a very special addition to both the zoo and the European-wide breeding programme, which aims to have a healthy safety-net population of the species in case the worst should happen--extinction in the wild.”

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Four New ‘Rock’ Stars at Chester Zoo

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Four baby Rock Hyraxes have been born at Chester Zoo, in the UK. The tiny quartet arrived on July 25, after a seven-month gestation, weighing just a few ounces.

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4_RockHyrax-13Photo Credits: Chester Zoo

As soon as Rock Hyrax babies are born, they look like miniature adults, with their eyes and ears open, sporting the same coat. And despite being small in stature, the species actually has an incredible genetic link to the elephant.

Nick Davis, assistant curator of mammals at the zoo, said, “It’s quite an oddity, but Rock Hyraxes and elephants share a number of common features. For example, a small mammal would typically go through a short gestation period, but the Rock Hyrax is different, with pregnancies lasting over seven months (245 days) – highlighting a connection to their much larger relatives.”

“There are also other physical similarities between the two species, such as the shape of their feet and their continually growing incisors, which are reminiscent of an elephant’s tusks,” Davis continued.

The Rock Hyrax (Procavia capensis) is one of the four living species of the order Hyracoidea, and the only living species in the genus Procavia. Like all hyraxes, it is a medium-sized terrestrial mammal, superficially resembling a guinea pig with short ears and tail. The closest living relatives to hyraxes are the modern-day elephants and sirenians (sea cow).

The species lives primarily in Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, where it is known natively as a ‘dassie’ or ‘rock rabbit’. As their name indicates, Rock Hyraxes occupy habitats dominated by rocks and large boulders, including mountain cliffs, where they use their moist and rubber-like soles to gain a good grip to clamber around steep slopes.

They typically live in groups of 10 to 80 animals, and forage as a group. They feed on a wide variety of plants and have been known to eat insects and grubs. They have been reported to use sentries: one or more animals take up position on a vantage point and issue alarm calls on the approach of predators. They are said to have excellent eyesight. They are able to survive their dry habitat by getting most of their water from food supplies.

They are currently classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

More amazing pics, below the fold!

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Seeing Double: Two Rare Onagers Born In One Day

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Keepers at the United Kingdom's Chester Zoo are celebrating the arrival of two exceptionally rare Onagers.  The foals were born within hours of each other to two different mothers on July 4 after year-long pregnancies.

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Photo Credit:  Chester Zoo
 
The Onager is an Asiatic wild ass and was once found in abundance across the deserts of Mongolia, China, and Iran. Now, they are found in just two protected areas and over the past 16 years their numbers have declined by more than 50%.

“Onagers are the rarest equid species in the world and one of the rarest animals that we have here at the zoo, so we were absolutely delighted to have two foals arrive - one male and one female - during same night!” said Tim Rowlands, curator of mammals at Chester Zoo.

“We hope the foals themselves will one day go on to contribute to the international breeding program for the species, which is working to ensure there’s a sustainable population in zoos,”  Rowlands said.

The species is listed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature after decades of illegal poaching, overgrazing, and disease passed on from farm animals. Research suggests that only 600 Onagers remain in the wild and very few zoos in the world work with the animals due to the challenges of breeding and keeping the species.

Chester Zoo is part of an international conservation effort and is helping to save Onagers from extinction through this successful breeding program.