An Okapi calf recently made his public debut at Chester Zoo, in the UK.
The youngster, named Usala, was born April 30th to parents, Stuma and Dicky. Okapi calves are notoriously elusive, and Usala’s first public outing required some steady persuasion from mum Stuma.
Keeper, Fiona Howe said, “Okapis are rather secretive animals. Up until now, Usala has been out of the spotlight, cozied up in his nest. But thanks to the support of mum Stuma, he’s now starting to explore.”
“A trademark of the Okapi is the stripy markings on their legs; designed to help offspring follow them through deep forest. And that’s exactly where you’ll tend to see Usala - sticking closely to his mum’s legs as she moves around foraging for food. Stuma is an excellent mum, and she’s doing a great job of helping her new charge gain confidence on his legs. She can often be seen offering him an affectionate nuzzle as reassurance that he’s doing well,” Fiona continued.
Usala’s arrival is an important boost to the breeding programme for the endangered animals, increasing the number of Okapis in UK zoos to 14. This is only the second Okapi ever born at Chester Zoo. Tafari, a female, was born in 2012.
The Okapi, also known as the “forest giraffe”, is a rare hoofed mammal, native to the dense Ituri Forest in the Democratic Republic of Congo. They are closely related to the Giraffe, and along with their long-necked cousin, they are the only living members of the family Giraffidae. American and European scientists did not discover the species until the early 1900s. Because of the Okapi’s elusiveness, little has been known about their behavior in the wild, including how they raise their calves.
Okapis are herbivores, feeding on tree leaves and buds, grasses, ferns, fruits, and fungi. Females become sexually mature when about one-and-a-half years old, while males reach maturity after two years.
After successful mating, there is a gestational period of around 440 to 450 days, which results, usually, in the birth of a single calf. Only male Okapi have horns, and females are commonly a bit taller than males.
Okapis are currently classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Population numbers of Okapi, in the wild, have been declining and are predicted to continue on this downward trend due to habitat loss, human settlement, mining, war and political instability in these animals’ region, and the bushmeat trade.
Chester Zoo is working with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN’s) Giraffe and Okapi specialist advisory group to develop a conservation strategy for Okapis. Chester Zoo also supports the DRC Wildlife Authority and their efforts to protect the species in the Ituri Forest in the DRC.
More amazing pics and video, below the fold!
The first Humboldt Penguin chicks of 2015 have emerged from their eggs at Chester Zoo.
Weighing only two ounces, baby chick Panay – named after an exotic island in the Philippines – was the first of eight to hatch at the zoo. The next seven hatchlings were named after other islands: Papua, Bali, Sumatra, Sulawesi, Sumba, Java, and Tuma.
Photo Credit: Chester Zoo
Since the chicks hatched, zookeepers have been carefully observing their nutrition, weight, and development in the nest. The chicks are weighed daily, and their parents receive extra fish so they can feed their new babies. It’s working – some of the chicks weigh seven times their hatch weight after only a few weeks.
Each pair of the South American species, which come from the coastal areas of Peru and Chile, lays two eggs and incubates them for 40 days. Both parents help rear the young until they are fully fledged, before making their tentative first splash in the pool with the rest of the colony. Humboldt Penguins are named after the chilly Humboldt current that parallels South America's west coast and carries abundant marine life.
Of the world’s 17 Penguin species, Humboldt Penguins are among the most at risk, being classified as Vulnerable to extinction by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Their decline is due in part to extensive mining of guano beds. The guano beds, consisting of hundreds of years of accumulated bird droppings, make excellent fertilizer. But the Penguins need the guano beds as nesting grounds, so when the guano is removed, the Penguins have nowhere to nest. Overfishing of the Penguins’ prey species, climate change, and rising acidity levels in the ocean also contribute to their decline.
See more photos of the chicks below.
The cubs, born to 8-year-old mum, ‘Kirana’, and 7-year-old dad, ‘Fabi’, were found to be two males and one female. The, now 12-week-old, triplets were carefully examined, weighed and vaccinated by the zoo’s specialist vets and carnivore keepers.
Supporters of the Zoo were given the opportunity to vote on the names for the trio, and the top-voted monikers were recently announced. The two boys were named ‘Jaya’ (meaning victorious) and ‘Topan’ (hurricane). The girl was given the name ‘Kasarna’ (beautiful melody).
Gabby Drake, vet at Chester Zoo, said, “Sumatran Tigers are one of the rarest big cat species in the world, and our new triplets are very special cubs indeed. It’s really important for us to make sure they’re healthy and in good physical condition and we’re happy to report that all three of the cubs have been given a clean bill of health – they’re in tip-top shape.”
Gabby continued, “The cubs were given similar vaccines to those a pet cat receives when it’s taken to the vets. Of course we were much more cautious about handling the cubs than we would be with domestic kittens though. We checked them over as quickly as we could before returning them to their mum, Kirana. She’s a very good mother and fiercely protective of her young charges, so we certainly didn't want to hang around for long.”
Sumatran Tigers are found only on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. They are the smallest of all tigers and have the narrowest stripes.
Critically endangered in the wild, there are believed to be just 300-400 Sumatran Tigers left, as they are often targeted by poachers who use their body parts as traditional medicine. Much of their jungle habitat has also been destroyed.
More amazing pics, below the fold!
The amazing moment of a Rhino giving birth has been caught on camera at Chester Zoo. The 50-second footage shows the mother deliver her newborn and the tender first moments as she checks over her calf.
Born on January 31st, the female calf, which keepers have named ‘Fara’, is the offspring of 17-year-old ‘Kitani’ and 15-year-old dad, ‘Sammy’.
Sammy’s genes are extremely valuable as he has never before sired a calf since moving from Japan in 2002 to join the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme for the critically endangered animals.
Curator of mammals at Chester Zoo, Tim Rowlands, said, “Kitani’s delivery was textbook. We got a ‘maternity suite’ ready for her with deep sandy floors and beds of hay but ultimately she chose her own spot.
“The footage has enabled us to witness this really special moment and both mum and youngster are doing really, really well.
“Every birth is cause for great celebration but given that Eastern Black Rhino face a real threat of extinction our new arrival is even more significant. The calf is super important to the breeding programme in Europe and her arrival is another step towards sustaining a black rhino population which, in the wild, is being ravaged by poachers on an almost daily basis.”
In the wild there are thought to be less than 650 Eastern Black Rhinos remaining, pushing the species perilously close to extinction.
Numbers in Africa are plummeting as a result of a dramatic surge in illegal poaching, fuelled by a global increase in demand for Rhino horn to supply the traditional Asian medicine market.
The problem is being driven by the astonishing street value of Rhino horn, which is currently worth more per gram than gold and cocaine.
A trio of tiny Sumatran Tiger cubs has made their first public appearance at Chester Zoo.
The four-week-old Tiger triplets were born on January 2nd but have just started to emerge from their den, as their proud mother starts to show them off.
The cubs are the off-spring of eight-year-old ‘Kirana’ and seven-year-old dad ‘Fabi’.
There are believed to be just 300-400 Sumatran Tigers left in the wild, as they are often targeted by poachers who use their body parts as traditional medicine and much of their jungle habitat has been destroyed.
Curator of mammals, Tim Rowlands, said, “Sumatran Tigers are one of the rarest big cat species in the world. That’s what makes our new Tiger trio so incredibly special; they’re a rare boost to an animal that’s critically endangered.
“It’s still early days but Kirana is an experienced mum, and she’s keeping her cubs very well protected. She’s doing everything we would hope at this stage.”
Sumatran Tigers are found only on the Indonesian islands of Sumatra. They are the smallest of all Tigers and also have the narrowest stripes.
Mr. Rowlands added, “The arrival of this latest trio of cubs is vital to the ongoing survival of the species and the back-up population found in zoos. They are now part of a safety-net against the population in the wild becoming extinct which, to me, is incredibly humbling.”
It will be several weeks until keepers can discover the sexes of the Tiger triplets and a decision can be made on their names.
More amazing pics, below the fold!
Rare frogs found in the forests of South East Asia have bred for the first time at Chester Zoo. The 43 Cinnamon Frogs are the only amphibians of their kind to hatch in any zoo in the world in nearly two years.
Team manager of lower vertebrates and invertebrates for Chester Zoo, Ben Baker, said, “It’s really exciting that we have bred these unusual and very sensitive frogs, especially as we’re the first zoo in Europe to ever do so.
“Cinnamon Frogs are a secretive species and live in a very, very specialized environment. Their ideal habitat is incredibly limited and so, as with many frog species around the world, they are extremely fragile. Currently they are listed as near threatened by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), but with population sizes decreasing due to widespread habitat loss; the species is likely to become threatened in the near future.
“Relatively little is actually known about the Cinnamon Frog, and so we now hope to learn a lot from our new arrivals. The delicate work the team has put in to getting these beautiful but complex animals to breed and all of the intensive care we’re now giving them will help us to build up our knowledge base. This kind of information can be invaluable for the long-term protection of the species.”
A rare, endangered species of Asian duck, known as Baer’s Pochard, has been successfully bred at Chester Zoo in the UK.
Thirty Baer’s Pochard ducklings have hatched at the zoo, and unfortunately, according to estimates, there are not much more than that living in the wild.
The species is currently classified as “Critically Endangered” on the IUCN Red List, and the population is steadily decreasing in the wild. Native to eastern Asia, it breeds in southeast Russia and northeast China, migrating in winter to southern China, Vietnam, Japan, and India. It is now absent or occurs in extremely reduced numbers over the majority of its former breeding and wintering grounds and is common nowhere. It is thought that hunting and wetland destruction are the key reasons for its decline. Experts fear just a few individuals are now left, and the species could soon vanish altogether.
Curator of Birds, Andrew Owen said, “We’re perilously close to losing this species in the wild, and that’s why our recent hatchlings are very, very important, indeed. They’re, without doubt, some of the rarest ducks in the world. Thirty Baer’s Pochards have been bred here this breeding season and whilst it’s good news in the sense that it’s a record for us, rather frighteningly, there may only be similar numbers left in the wild.”
Chester Zoo is one of just a handful of institutions in the world, and the only zoo in the UK, that is working with the highly threatened species and hopes to play a vital role in their long-term survival.
Mr. Owen added, “Our very talented bird team has given all our ducklings a helping hand, rearing them under close watch to make sure they make it through to adulthood. With a species that’s so rare, it’s imperative that we get as many through to that stage as possible. Hopefully these little ducklings will start to rear their own young next year and, beyond that, a European-wide breeding program in zoos and bird parks could be what saves the species from extinction.”
Keepers at Chester Zoo, in the UK, were happily surprised by the arrival of two new Red Panda cubs!
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.
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.
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.”