Chester Zoo

Five Baby Meerkats Arrive Mob-handed at Chester Zoo


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.





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.

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.

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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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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


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.




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


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.”


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.


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.

Photo Credit Chester Zoo

Tiger Twins’ Birth Caught on Camera at Chester Zoo


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.



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

Chester Zoo keeper Karen Neech checks on penguin chicks Davros and Dalek

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.

Chester Zoo keeper Karen Neech checks on penguin chicks Davros and Dalek (2)

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

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


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.



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.

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.