Chester Zoo

Brilliant Red Panda Duo at Chester Zoo

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Keepers at Chester Zoo, in the UK, were happily surprised by the arrival of two new Red Panda cubs!

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Red panda cubs_Chester Zoo_4Photo Credits: Steve Rawlins (Photo 4: Mother "Nima"; Photo 5: Father "Jung")

The cubs recently had their first health check-up, and are doing very well. The Red Panda twins, a boy and a girl, were born on June 27 to first-time mother, Nima, and dad, Jung.  Keepers were alerted to their arrival after hearing “little squeaks” from inside their nesting box. Keeper Maxine Bradley said, “Our two cubs are in very good shape. They’re big and strong with very thick fur. Our male weighed in at just under 1kg (2.2 lbs) and our female 842g (1.9 lbs). We’re really pleased with how well they’re doing, and as soon as we had given them a health check, we popped them back into their nest. It’ll be several weeks until they start to emerge and explore.”

Red Pandas, whose scientific name Ailurus fulgens means ‘brilliant cat’, are native to the steep forested slopes of the Himalayas. They are a one-of-a-kind in the animal kingdom as they have no close living relatives. According to the IUCN Red List, they are classified as “Vulnerable”. There are estimated to be less than 10,000 individuals in the wild, with a projected decline of 10% within the next 30 years.

Not only has Chester Zoo been successful at breeding Red Pandas, but the zoo also plays an important role in helping safeguard the future of this rare species in its Chinese homeland. The zoo supports the Sichuan Forest Biodiversity Project in the Sichuan Mountains of China, where Red Pandas are found in the wild. The future survival of the species is increasingly vulnerable as developers are taking over the bamboo forests which they depend on to live. Bamboo is the main food in their daily diet. They're also hunted for their prized red fur, which in parts of the world is used to make hats for newly-weds. Some indigenous people believe the fur symbolizes a happy marriage.

Chester Zoo is a registered conservation charity that supports projects around the world and in the UK. Through its wildlife conservation campaign, Act for Wildlife, the zoo is helping to save highly threatened species around the world from extinction. 

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Rare African Crane Chicks Learning to Dance

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Two West African Black-Crowned Crane chicks were hatched, at Chester Zoo in the UK!  The babies are the first of their kind to arrive at the zoo this year.

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African cranes_1Photo Credits: Steve Rawlins

The chicks made their appearance at Chester Zoo in July.  Their father was born in 2002, and he was the first parent-reared West African Black-Crowned Crane to hatch at the zoo.  The proud mother of the new chicks was born in 1998.  The species is known to be monogamous, and the parents will remain a couple for life.  Preferring a habitat of wet grasslands, couples will build their nests together and take turns tending to the eggs for the 30 day incubation period.  Their co-parenting continues once the young hatch, as well. 

Curator of birds, Andrew Owen, said, “This is a very significant breeding, the first in the UK this year. Currently the chicks are small, yellow and fluffy and it’s hard to believe that they’ll grow up to look as striking and unusual as mum and dad. But soon enough, they’ll develop golden feathers on top of their heads that almost resemble a Roman helmet. Already the young are very confident and capable of foraging with their parents. Cranes are also known for their elaborate dances, and our young chicks are already capable of some nifty moves!”

According to the IUCN Red List, the species is classified as “Vulnerable”, due to recent surveys that have shown a rapid decline that is predicted to continue in the future. With just 15,000 estimated to be in the wild, the birds’ range spans from Senegal to Chad, but its habitat is under threat due to drainage, overgrazing and pesticide pollution. The capture and trade of the species is also having a dramatic effect on wild numbers.

Mr. Owen adds, “As well as suffering from habitat loss and poisoning by farmers, Black-Crowned Cranes are also caught and used as ‘guard dogs’. They are also disappearing as they hit newly installed overhead power lines. This all means that sadly, these birds are now very rare in the wild.”

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Chester Zoo's Little Tapir Noses In

Tapir-33Zoo keepers at the United Kingdom’s Chester Zoo have announced the birth of a baby Brazilian Tapir.  Though he’s tiny now, the calf will double in weight in his first 14-21 days!

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Tapir-17Photo Credit:  Steve Rawlins

The calf was born on August 4 to female Jenny after a gestation period of around 13 months. The new youngster – the first male to be born at the zoo in eight years - has already been given the name Zathras.

Curator of Mammals Tim Rowlands said, “Our new calf, Zathras, was up and about really quickly and he and mum are doing fine. Jenny is an experienced mum and she’s doing a top job.

“His brown coat currently features lots of white stripes and spots which will eventually disappear as he gets to around six-to-nine months old. The markings act as camouflage in the wild – mimicking speckled sunlight on the forest floor.”

Wild Brazilian Tapirs, which are also called Lowland Tapirs, live in wet forests and grasslands in South America where they are threatened because of habitat destruction and hunting. They are classed as Vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Chester Zoo supports research on Tapir behavior patterns in hopes of safeguarding the future of the species.  Tapirs are increasingly hunted for their meat and hides, which are used to make sandals.

 


Rock Hyrax Quad Born at Chester Zoo

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Chester Zoo, in Upton-by-Chester, Chester, UK, recently welcomed four baby Rock Hyraxes!  Born July 20, at the zoo's African Painted Dog Exhibit, the quad of babies were just a few ounces at birth, and they looked like miniature versions of their parents, with eyes and ears open.

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RockHyrax_5Photo Credits: Steve Rawlins

Despite their diminutive size, the Rock Hyrax has a remarkable genetic link to the elephant!  Curator of Mammals at Chester Zoo, Tim Rowlands, said:  “Rock Hyraxes and elephants share several common features. They have similar toes, teeth and skull structures and Rock Hyraxes also have two large continually growing incisors, which correspond to an elephant’s tusks.  And whereas small mammals normally have a short pregnancy period, for the Rock Hyrax it lasts for around seven and a half months (245 days), another sign of their relation to their much larger ancestors.”

Rock Hyraxes are native to Africa, but they can also be found along the coast of the Arabian Peninsula, as well as Israel, where they are protected by law.  As their name suggests, they live in rocky terrain, seeking shelter and protection in rugged outcrops or cliffs.  In the wild, they typically live in colonies of about 80 individuals, subdivided into smaller families.

The Rock Hyrax is a forager.  Feeding in groups, with one or more posted as a sentry, they prefer a diet of grasses, broad-leaf plants, and an occasional insect or grub.  They obtain most of their water from food sources.

Rock Hyrax feet are built for climbing.  The bottom of each foot is bare and has a moist, rubbery pad that provides a suction-cup effect to aid in clinging to rocks.

Although, currently not endangered, the sociable Rock Hyrax serves as an important ambassador for species preservation.  


Wide-eyed Newborn Gentle Lemur Makes Debut at Chester Zoo

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An endangered species of lemur has become the first of its kind to be born at Chester Zoo. The new youngster – an Alaotran Gentle Lemur - arrived to mum Molly and dad Fady.

Keepers have kept a close eye on the new family during the baby’s important first few weeks, although staff are still uncertain about the one-month-old’s sex.

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Curator of mammals, Tim Rowlands, said: “Both mum and dad are doing a great job of bringing up their new charge. Mum is super protective and dad is also pulling his weight – he occasionally helps to do some of the carrying. “This is a critically endangered species. They face a very real threat of extinction in the wild and this is the first time the species has ever bred at Chester Zoo.”

In the wild the Alaotran Gentle Lemur is only found around Lake Alaotra in Madagascar. The species is being threatened by habitat destruction as the reed beds where it lives are being burned and the lake drained for rice irrigation. They are also caught for food and others are captured and sold as pets who rarely survive, meaning they are classed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). It is believed that just 2,500 remain in the wild.


Five Baby Meerkats Arrive Mob-handed at Chester Zoo

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At the UK's Chester Zoo, five baby meerkats have taken their first steps into the outside world. 

The tiny newcomers made their first public appearances after being hidden away in burrows by their parents since being born on April 20.

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Team manager Dave White said:



“All of the pups are full of rough and tumble. They’re a real handful for mum, dad and the other adults in the mob who, between them, are doing their best to keep them in check.



“At the moment our new quintet are much too small to sex but we should know if they’re male or female in the next couple of weeks.”



The meerkats come hot on the heels of other new arrivals at the zoo. A rare baby warty pig and two warthog piglets have also made their debuts in recent weeks.  


Rare Warty Piglet Born at Chester Zoo

WartyPig-14One of the world’s rarest wild Pigs has been born at the United Kingdom’s Chester Zoo.  Only about 200 Visayan Warty Pigs remain in their native habitat in the Philippines.

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WartyPig-11Photo Credit:  Chester Zoo

The baby, whose gender is not yet known, sports yellow and brown stripes which act as camouflage.  The stripes will disappear at around 9-12 months.

Zoo keeper Lucy Edwards said, “Visayan Warty Pigs are critically endangered and face an extremely high risk of becoming extinct in the wild."

“They’ve suffered a drastic population crash in recent times with widespread commercial logging, illegal logging and agricultural expansion devastating vast amounts of their natural habitat. They’re also being over-hunted and their meat can often command at least double the price of domestic pork in local markets and some restaurants.”

These wild Pigs get their name from the three pairs of fleshy warts on the boar's face. The warts protect them from rival Pigs' tusks during a fight.

Visayan Warty Pigs are small, forest-dwelling Pigs that feed on roots, fruits, and some cultivated crops.  Little is known about their wild habits.  They are found only in the small patches of remaining forest on the Visayan Islands in the central Philippines.

Chester Zoo’s latest arrival is vitally important to the breeding program which seeks to maintain a genetically viable population of Visayan Warty Pigs in zoos around Europe.  The zoo also provides financial assistance for an education and breeding program in the Philippines.


Rare Pigeon Chicks Get Special Care at Chester Zoo

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This tiny chick might currently look more like a Brillo Pad than an exotic bird – but it’s soon going to scrub up well! Twenty-one-day-old Kola is one of two rare White-naped Pheasant Pigeons to have hatched at Chester Zoo in England, where they are receiving around-the-clock care in their early days.

After being rejected by their parents, the chicks are being hand-reared by keepers who have devised a special diet suited to their needs. And amusingly, given their startling resemblance to Brillo Pads, keepers are actually using scouring pads to help look after their new charges.

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4 pigeonPhoto credit: Steve Rawlins / Chester Zoo

Keeper Gareth Evans (pictured above) says, “Hand-feeding them is a tricky business but we use a scouring pad to make things a little easier. It gives them something to grip onto to make sure they don’t slip and slide around, helping their feet and legs to develop properly. Normally they’d be on a nest on the ground made up of lots of little sticks and twigs so a scouring pad acts to create the grip they’d get from the nest.

“Adult Pheasant Pigeons produce a unique crop milk which they regurgitate to feed to their young. So when we have to hand-rear we have to try and replicate that using a set of special ingredients, featuring egg, water and vitamin pellets. I give Kola his first feed of the day at 6am and his last is at 10pm. So I really am playing the full-time parent.”

In the wild, White-naped Pheasant Pigeons only inhabit the Aru Islands, close to Papua in Indonesia.

See and learn more after the fold.

Continue reading "Rare Pigeon Chicks Get Special Care at Chester Zoo" »


Chester Zoo Welcomes a Grevy's Zebra

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A rare zebra has been born at Chester Zoo in England. The yet-unnamed youngster, a Grevy’s Zebra, is the first of her speies to be born at the zoo for 34 years.

The foal was born to first-time parents Nadine and Mac on February 22. Her stripes are brown now, but they will turn black as she matures.

Grevy's Zebras, also known as Imperial Zebras, are the largest and most endangered of the three species of zebra. There are thought to be less than 2,500 left in the wild. 

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4 zebraPhoto credits: Steve Rawlins / Chester Zoo

Curator of Mammals Tim Rowlands says, “Since our female zebras arrived a few years ago, we have worked very hard to breed this highly endangered species, and the arrival of this foal is not only a really good achievement for us but good news for the species as a whole.

“She is a lively one but mum Nadine is doing a great job so far, particularly given that it’s her first – she’s certainly earning her parental stripes.”

The Grevy’s Zebra is listed as Endangered in the wild. Today they are found in small, isolated populations in Ethiopia and northern Kenya. They have become regionally extinct in Somalia and Sudan. Their numbers are said to have declined by more than half over the past 20 years, due to a range of factors including the reduction of available water sources, commercial hunting for their skins and disease.

In January 2006, Northern Kenya experienced an outbreak of anthrax triggered by one of the worst droughts that has occurred in decades. The disease threatened to spread throughout the reserves where the most important remaining Grevy’s Zebra populations occur. The Kenya Wildlife Service called for funds to vaccinate up to 1,000 wild Grevy’s Zebras to safeguard them against the disease. The international zoo community, including Chester Zoo, came to the rescue.

Within two weeks, funding was in place and the fast and unprecedented action on the ground averted a potentially disastrous outcome for the species. It is suspected that close to 5% of Grevy’s Zebra succumbed to the disease, but vaccinations prevented a greater loss that could have pushed the species to the brink. 


Tiny Dik-dik Plays Big Sister at Chester Zoo

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A tiny Kirk’s Dik-dik antelope, which was hand-reared by keepers after being rejected by her mom, has stepped in to help her much-smaller sibling. Eight-month-old Aluna is now playing the big sister to new arrival Neo at Chester Zoo in England, and the two have struck up a charming bond. 

Keeper Claire McPhee says, "Dik-dik mothers do not always take to their young, and unfortunately Neo and his mum didn’t quite hit it off. But happily, his not-so-big sister Aluna ­- who herself didn’t manage to bond with her mum - is drawing on her own experiences and is being a real calming influence on him. They spend lots and lots of time in each other’s company and she’s really helping with his development in his crucial early days.

“Little Neo is only 20 centimeters (8 inches) tall and a little bit shy, nervous and jumpy around other Dik-diks. But Aluna is dishing out lots of special care and attention and it’s helping him integrate into the wider family group. She’s helping him to settle in nicely and it’s lovely to see.”

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The Kirk's Dik-dik is native to Kenya, Tanzania and Namibia and is named after the sound it makes when fleeing danger. They can live for up to 10 years and reach a maximum size of about 16 inches (40 cm) tall, making them one of the smallest antelope species in the world. 

The tiny new arrival, born October 10, now weighs little more than a bag of sugar at 2.8 pounds (1.3 kg). Keepers chose the name Neo as it means ‘gift’ in Swahili. Aluna, born in February, was previously featured on ZooBorns. Aluna means 'come here' in Swahili. 

The last photo is a throwback: a younger Aluna visits with Curator of Mammals Tim Rowlands, who bottle-fed her five times a day.