Chester Zoo

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.      


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