Chester Zoo

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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5 dikdikPhoto credits: Chester Zoo

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.      


Tiny Pudu Fawn Born at Chester Zoo

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A fawn from the smallest species of deer in the world has been born at the United Kingdom's Chester Zoo.  The baby Southern Pudu, who was born on June 19, is part of an international conservation breeding program to protect this endangered species.

The tiny deer, named Thor by his keepers, weighed less than two pounds (900g) when he was born to his mom Serena and dad Odin.   A fully-grown Pudu is only 15 inches (38 cm) tall at the shoulders.

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Photo Credit:  Chester Zoo

Keeper Sarah Roffe said, “Despite being small in stature, Pudu are very, very good sprinters. And what they lack in size, they make up for in strategy – running in zigzags to try and escape from less nimble predators.”

The Pudu is native to the rainforests of Chile and Argentina. Their numbers have declined due in part to their rainforest habitat being destroyed and cleared for cattle ranching and other human developments.


Playful Cheetah Cub Duo Delights Visitors at the Chester Zoo

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Two energetic Northern Cheetah cubs turned 2 months recently at Chester Zoo in England. The pair, born June 4, are a male and a female. The zoo says that the two cubs are starting to develop their own personalities, as they climb tree stumps and bounce after one another. Team Manager of Carnivores, Dave Hall, said: “They’re very, very playful and a real handful for mum. But she’s exceptionally good with them and doing a great job of bringing them up.”

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Their mother and father, KT and Matrah, are both 6-year old Northern Cheetahs born in 2007. The pair is KT's second litter, her first being born in June 2011. Northern Cheetahs are Endangered in their native Northwest African habitat, largely due to competition with larger predators, farmers, and habitat destruction. The wild population has decreased sharply by 90% within the last 100 years, and many fear that there are as few as 250 individuals remaining. The birth of the two cubs therefore is not only a success for the Chester Zoo, but also for the International Endangered Species Breeding Program.

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The Chester Zoo is a champion for Cheetahs, combining research and support for local organizations in Africa. The Zoo supports the N/a’an ku sê Carnivore Research Project based in Namibia, where the dwindling Cheetah population is monitored and tagged. Chester Zoo also helped to develop a technique to identify Cheetahs in the wild from their paw prints, which allows for a non-intrusive way of identifying and building a data bank of these wild cats.

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Photo Credit Chester Zoo


Tiger Twins’ Birth Caught on Camera at Chester Zoo

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In remarkable closed-circuit television footage, Chester Zoo’s female Sumatran Tiger Kirana gives birth to the first of two cubs on June 2.  The cub appears about 30 seconds into the video.

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Photo Credit:  Chester Zoo

 

Kirana’s mate, six-year-old Fabi, does not participate in the birth at all, and in fact walks away during the event.

The gender of the two healthy cubs is not yet known.  They will spend several weeks behind the scenes with seven-year-old Kirana. 

This is the second litter for Kirana, who also gave birth to sisters Nila and Tila in 2011. Both of those cubs have moved to other European zoos as part of a cooperative breeding program aimed at increasing genetic diversity among these endangered cats. 

Only about 400 Sumatran Tigers remain in the wild on the Indonesian island of Sumatra.  Zoo breeding programs could prove vital to the survival of this species, which is at great risk from habitat loss and poaching.

See more photos below the fold.

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Chester Zoo's Penguin Chicks Named After TV Icons

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A clutch of four Humboldt Penguin chicks hatched at the United Kingdom’s Chester Zoo have been named after characters from the British science fiction TV show Doctor Who, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. 

The first of the chicks, which hatched on April 17, was named Doctor.  The next three chicks are named Tardis, Davros and Dalek.

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Doctor a newly hatched penguin chick at Chester Zoo is weighed to check on its development

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Photo Credit: Chester Zoo

Zoo keepers are providing intense daily care to the four chicks, including daily weigh-ins to make sure the chicks are getting enough food from their parents.  Keeper Karen Neech said, “With extra mouths to feed a lot more food is required, so it’s a busy time for both us and the adult Penguins.  We provide the parents with fish and they then turn it into a high-protein soup, which they then regurgitate to feed to the chicks.” 

Humboldt Penguins are native to the coastal areas of Peru and Chile and are named for the chilly Humboldt ocean current in which they swim. They are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. 

Read and see more below the fold.

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Feisty Otter Pups Get Check-Up at Chester Zoo

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Back on January 31st, Chester Zoo in the UK welcomed two new Asian Small-Clawed Otter pups to their family. For the past two months the otters have been exploring their exhibit with their mother Daisy and father Robbie.  Recently, the young otters finally got their first check up.

Veterinarians were able to sex both pups, a boy named Wallace and a girl named Dili. They also were able to weigh the little otters and ensure they are in good health. "Little otter Wallace weighed in at 730 grams and Dili was a little lighter than 680 grams. Both proved to be fairly feisty characters but they are extremely healthy indeed so we are very happy with them. As they continue to grow and become even more confident, we're looking forward to seeing them take to the water," said veterinarian Steve Unwin. "Zoos provide the last insurance policy against extinction and these new arrivals will hopefully now continue to develop and become a vital part of the international breeding program to safeguard the species," he continued.

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Asian Small-Clawed Otters are native to Southeast Asian, India, Taiwan, Southern China and the Philippines. Their name comes from their very dexterous and agile front paws which act much like hands. These aide them in capturing and processing their diet of crabs, snails, insects and small fish.

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Photo Credits: Steve Rawlins / Chester Zoo

Asian Small-Clawed Otters are the smallest of all otter species. They are classified as vulnerable by the IUCN due diminishing populations numbers that are a result of habitat loss and overfishing of their prey among others. Because of this, Chester Zoo's otters are part of a European breeding program that aims to provide a safety-net to wild populations.


Rare Rothschild's Giraffe Born at Chester Zoo

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Keepers and conservationists at the United Kingdom's Chester Zoo are celebrating the birth of a rare Rothschild's Giraffe calf - the world’s most endangered subspecies of Giraffe.  The female calf was born on March 25 to first-time mother Orla after a 14 ½ month pregnancy.  Rothschild’s Giraffes are distinguished by broader dividing white lines and have no spots below the knees.

Despite being just a few days old, the six-foot-tall youngster, named Millie, is already towering over zoo keepers.

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Photo Credits:  Chester Zoo

“For a first time mum Orla is doing a superb job so far.  Millie was up on her feet within just a few minutes of being born and she began suckling from mum not long after,” said Chester Zoo’s curator of mammals Tim Rowlands.  “Rothschild's Giraffes are very, very rare indeed and so careful, managed breeding programs in zoos and wildlife parks are vital for their long-term future. We’re therefore obviously delighted with our newcomer.”

According to conservationists there are now less than 670 Rothschild's Giraffes left in the wild, with the population declining by more than 80% in the last ten years.  Once wide-ranging across Kenya, Uganda and Sudan, the Rothschild’s Giraffe has been almost totally eliminated from much of its former range and now only survives in a few small, isolated populations in Kenya and Uganda.  These elegant mammals are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature

Chester Zoo supports important projects in the wild, including the first ever scientific review of the Rothschild's Giraffe with the aim of developing a long-term conservation strategy for the species in Africa.

See more photos of Millie below the fold.

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Meet Chester Zoo's Brow Antlered Deer Fawn!

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Chester Zoo recently welcomed a Brow Antlered Deer fawn named Zeyar, which means "success" in Burmese. Unfortunately the mother rejected her calf, but Zeyar is flourishing under the care of her surrrogate deer-mother Hellen Massey (shown in photos with the fawn at sixteen days old). Born a tiny 3.7 kilograms, Zeyar gets bottle-fed four times a day and is growing in leaps and bounds. Chester Zoo is the only zoo in the UK breeding this endangered species, making Zeyar a great success story for deer conservation.

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Photo credits: Chester Zoo

Zeyar belongs to a subspecies of Brow Antlered Deer native to Burma, where they live in grassy plains, swamps and deciduous forests. Brow Antlered Deer are also known as Eld's Deer or Thamin. The most serious threat to the species is poaching for bushmeat, traditional medicines and trophy antlers.


Baby Orangutan Shares a Close Bond with Mom

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Baby Sumatran Orangutan Tripa shares a close relationship with his mom – in fact, Emma has rarely let her baby out of sight since his birth on October 19 at the United Kingdom’s Chester Zoo.

Like all Orangutan infants, Tripa completely depends on his mother for food, transportation, and lots of tender loving care.  Orangutans have the longest childhood of all animals other than humans, with young Orangutans spending up to eight years with their mothers.

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Photo Credits:  Phil Noble/Reuters, Peter Byrne/PA, Chester Zoo

Emma and Puluh, Tripa’s father, are part of the European Endangered Species Programme, which coordinates breeding between zoos to maintain genetic diversity in endangered species.

Conservationists estimate that there are fewer than 7,000 Sumatran Orangutans remaining on the Indonesian island of Sumatra – the only place in the entire world where this Orangutan subspecies exists.  Tremendous pressure from illegal logging, illegal palm oil plantations, and poaching have driven wild Orangutan populations to the brink of extinction, making zoo breeding programs essential to their survival.



Tiny Dik-dik Antelope Makes a Big Impact at Chester Zoo

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She stands just a few centimetres tall but this tiny new arrival at Chester Zoo is making a big impression. Aluna, the tiny Kirk’s Dik-dik Antelope, is not much taller than a TV remote. 

For now, she is being bottle-fed milk five times a day by the zoo’s dedicated curator of mammals after she failed to bond with her mother. She will be given a helping hand until she is old enough to tuck into a diet of buds, shoots and fruit on her own.

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Photo credits: Chester Zoo

He said: “Our little one is growing stronger and stronger by the day and, all being well, it shouldn’t be too long until she‘ll be able to really hold her own. For the time being though her feed times are staggered through the day and she has her first bottle in my living room at home at around 7am. I then pop her into the car and bring her to work where she has another three feeds in my office. Finally, her last one is at 10pm back at my house.

“She’s already pretty quick on her feet and gives us quite the run around in the office. That’s why we’ve called here Aluna which means ‘come here’ in Swahili. It’s rather apt!”

Many more photos below the fold...

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