Chester Zoo

One Masked Baby Meerkat Peeks Out from Behind Mom at Chester Zoo

Meerkat baby at Chester Zoo

Chester Zoo is celebrating the arrival of its newest resident – a Meerkat kit. The tiny newcomer has made its first public appearance after being hidden away in burrows by its parents since being born three weeks ago (approximately January 9). That is the normal time frame for babies to emerge from the den and begin to inspect their surroundings. 

Keeper Chris Grindle said, “The pup is doing really well and has now started exploring its exhibit with the adults. Soon it’ll learn to forage and dig in the sand for grubs. It’s too small to sex at the moment but we should know if it’s male or female in the next couple of weeks.” Once the baby's gender is known, it will be named. 

As a rule, mothers keep their young underground in the first few weeks of life, so it can be hard to tell an exact birthdate, or even know how many kits might be in a litter. In the wild, this also protects them against predators. In addition to Mom's care, kits are tended to by select members of their mob as babysitters, while others stand guard, scanning the horizon and skies for any dangers, ready to alert the group if need be. In fact, the dark patches around their eyes act to cut down on the glare and help them see far into the distance. Meerkats are native to Angola, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa.

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Photo Credit: Chester Zoo


Chester Zoo's Baby Boom Continues with Birth of Second Elephant Calf

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Chester Zoo's Asian Elephant herd got a little larger with the arrival of a second calf in the space of less than 12 weeks... and it's a girl!  After a 22-month gestation, the baby was welcomed into the group at 11:00 p.m. on January 21, by 15-year-old Mom Sithami and eight other elephants. This is Sithami's third baby, so she is an experienced mom. Both she and her calf are doing well -- in fact, the baby was up on her feet within the first three minutes of life.

Tim Rowlands, Curator of Mammals, said, “The natural bonding between Mum and calf -- and the calf with the rest of the herd -- is fascinating and a truly wonderful thing to see. And we just hope that when people come and set eyes on them, they’re inspired to try and do something to help stop the persecution that these magnificent animals face in the wild."

“In India for example," Rowland continued, "elephants are all too often injured or even killed in conflicts with humans because they wander into villages and wreck crops and damage property and the villagers retaliate against them with force. However we run a great conservation program over there, which works hard to put an end to this, helping both man and beast live harmoniously. In fact, not a single elephant has been killed in the villages where we work for over a year! When people come and see our new baby, sometimes unbeknown to them, they’re helping fund this work in the wild. It’s vitally important.”

In December Chester Zoo invited the BBC's Earth Unplugged to meet the herd and cover this birth. You can see Part 1 of the series here, but watch Part 2 of this special report below, where host Chris Howard meets head Elephant Keeper Andy McKenzie to view the CCTV footage of the birth. 

Photo Credit:Chester Zoo

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Chester Zoo's New Baby Anteater Hitches a Ride

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A rare baby Giant Anteater was born at Chester Zoo on December 23. The tiny baby, whose gender is not yet known, is only the second of the species to ever be born at the zoo. The baby will cling to its mother’s back for approximately six months until it is ready to walk, explore and find food on its own. Parents Pedro and Bliss, both aged three, arrived in 2010 as part of an international breeding program.

Team Manager David White said, “Bliss is a very good mum and is so far doing an excellent job of looking after her new arrival. She’s obviously very proud of her newborn and has, every now and again, been parading around and showing off to our visitors. Seeing the youngster clinging tightly to her tail is quite the sight!”

Giant Anteaters are classed as Vulnerable to extinction by conservationists, so the birth is good news for the unusual looking species. Native to Central and South America, the animals do not have teeth but have tongues which can measure up to almost 24 inches (over half a meter) long!

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Photo Credit: Chester Zoo

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Not-so-little Bundle of Joy Bounces into Chester Zoo!

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The U.K.'s Chester Zoo welcomed a brand new baby Asian Elephant this past Sunday morning. The not-so-tiny male calf was born in the wee hours (exactly 1:39am). First time Elephant mom Sundara and her new baby are doing very well and have already been out for a stroll in their main exhibit area. Other members of Chester's herd include the calf's Grandmother "Sithami", and Great-Grandmother "Thi Hi Way". Asian elephants are classified as endangered in the wild due to poaching and habitat destruction.

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Photo credit: Chester Zoo


Baby Giant Otter Swimming Lessons!

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Two baby Giant Otters - the first to ever be born at Chester Zoo - have been given their first swimming lessons. The pups were taken for a dip in the pool by mum Icana and dad Xingu as the duo made their first public appearance, after being born in mid-September. Having been looked after in their dens by the parents for the last seven weeks, each of the youngsters is now being individually taught how to swim now that mum and dad are confident that they are ready.

Chester Zoo's Curator of Mammals, Tim Rowlands, said: “It might surprise some to learn that a species so well adapted to living around water actually needs to be taught how to swim at first, but that’s exactly what happens and it’s a really family effort. Dad Xingu has been taking them by the scruffs of their necks and throwing them in at the deep end. And after each has had a little splash mum Icana then dives in and drags them back out. They are such a charming and charismatic species and it really is fascinating to see these swimming lessons taking place.”

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Photo and video credit: Chester Zoo

 

While they might be small now, the pups will grow up to be truly giant at a length of 6ft and a weight of around 75 lbs (34kgs).Their arrival has been cause for great celebration at the zoo as it is the first time the species has successfully bred there. This landmark event has occurred only six months after the otters were given access to new state-of-the-art breeding facilities and dens at the zoo – including the UKs first underwater viewing zone for the species.

Tim added: “They’re an endangered species that have rarely bred in zoos before and so we’re very, very pleased indeed. Achieving our first ever successful breeding is a real landmark for us and now, with the excellent new facilities and real skilled keeping staff we’ve got at our disposal, we hope we can play a pivotal role in the future conservation of the species.”

In the wild Giant Otters are found in remote areas within some freshwater lakes, rivers, creeks, and reservoirs of tropical South America, where it is estimated that as few as just 1,000 may remain. Their numbers have been drastically reduced due to fur hunting and habitat destruction.


Trio of Big Baby Rodents Have Their First Ever Health Check-ups At Chester Zoo

Three baby Capybaras at Chester Zoo

Three baby capybaras, the world’s largest rodents, have had their first ever health check-ups at Chester Zoo. The trio – named Sakai, Byron and Kosh - were born on Oct 5 to mum Lily and dad Mordon. Keepers and vets gave them a physical examination, inserted microchips, took their weights and determined their sexes during the routine checks. 

Keeper Helen Massey said, “All three of our new arrivals, two boys and one girl, are in great shape. It has been a number of years since we last had capybara babies and so we’re really, really pleased with them. They’re only weighing in at around 5.7lbs (2.6kgs) now but they’ll soon grow into chunky rodents like their mum and dad.”

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Chester Zoo keeper Helen Massey carries one of three new born baby capybaras to a health check

Chester Zoo vet nurses Tanya Grubb_left_and Alison Kelsall_right_carry out a health check on a new born baby capybara
Photo credit: Chester Zoo

Capybaras can grow up to almost 5ft (1.5m) in length and weigh up to 130lbs (60 kilograms). They are native to South America and can be found living in small herds in wetlands across most of the continent.

Their scientific name means ‘water pig’, and their bodies have been specially adapted for swimming - with webbed feet and their eyes, ears and nostrils located on top of their heads. They are able to stay submerged in water for around five minutes.

In the wild they are preyed upon by jaguars, anacondas and caiman and humans also hunt them for their meat and skin, which can be turned into leather.

The Capybaras are three of a number of new arrivals at the zoo, which has had something of a baby boom in October. A black rhino, a Rothschild giraffe, a Sumatran orangutan, an okapi and two Giant Otter pups have all been born in the month.


Chester Zoo Celebrates Birth of a Pure Rothschild Giraffe, it's Parents a Perfect Match!

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There's a new arrival at Chester Zoo! Despite being just a few days old, at five-and-a-half feet tall, the baby is already towering over its keepers. This pure Rothschild Giraffe is the firstborn for new mum Dagmar, following a 14-and-a-half-month pregnancy.

Tim Rowlands, Curator of Mammals, said, “Dagma is a first time mum but you’d never guess it – she has been doing brilliantly so far. She seems to be taking motherhood all in her, rather long, stride. The baby is strong and tall and she was on her feet really quickly and suckling from mum not long after.”

The new arrival is especially good news as there are now less than 670 Rothschild Giraffes left in the wild, following the loss of their traditional habitat in their native Kenya and Uganda and their poaching for their meat. This species is the most endangered of the nine sub-species of Giraffe.

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Photo Credit: Chester Zoo/Steve Rawlins

Dagmar arrived at the zoo on Valentine’s Day last year, after finding love via an online animal dating service. She was brought to the UK from a wildlife park in Denmark to be partnered with the zoo’s then bull Giraffe, Thorn, after a long search on a computerized matchmaking service turned up a perfect genetic pairing.

Lizzie Bowen, senior giraffe keeper, said: “We put Thorn’s genetic details into an online database and it turned out a perfect match for him. This species of Giraffe is very rare and is on the ICUN red-list of Endangered species, meaning careful breeding programs in zoos are vital for their long-term survival. However, finding and getting together a good breeding pair can be very difficult indeed.”

Just like the digital dating services that pair up people, the database contains information on gender, age, height and weight, as well as a page out of most human dating sites – details of an animal’s personality.

“Dagmar was described as being rather playful and pretty and she has certainly lived up to that. She seemed to turn Thorn’s head pretty much straight away and this week we’ve seen the result with the birth of a beautiful, pure baby Rothschild giraffe,” added Lizzie. 

Both baby and Mom are already on exhibit to be enjoyed by the visiting public.

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With Only 600 Remaining In the Wild, A Baby Black Rhino Bolsters Captive Population

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Chester Zoo has welcomed a very important baby - a Black Rhino calf. She may not have a name yet but she does have an important role to play as the two-week-old is another step towards sustaining a Black Rhino population which, in the wild, has been ravaged by poachers.

Keeper Helen Massey said, "She's a very attentive mum. She is doing everything right and both her and her calf seem very, very happy.” The birth brings the number of critically-endangered Black Rhinos housed by the zoo to eight. Mrs Massey added, "Black rhino face a very real threat of extinction and so every birth is vital to ensure their survival.

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Photo credit: Chester Zoo

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Chester Zoo Porcupettes Have Their First Check-up

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Two baby Porcupines have had their first ever health check-ups at Chester Zoo. The African Crested Porcupines, named Stempu and Noko, were born on September 1 and 4 respectively, to mom Roxie and dad Nungu. 

Keepers gave the duo a physical examination, inserted microchips and took their weights during the routine checks. 
Keeper Chris Grindle, seen here, said, “We're very pleased to say that both of our spiky new arrivals are in great shape. Noko tipped the scales at 865g (1.9 pounds) while Stempu was a little heavier at 1075g (2.4 pounds). Both look to be very healthy indeed and so we are extremely pleased with them – as are our visitors judging by their reactions when they see them.” 



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Photo Credit: Chester Zoo

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Ode to the Olympians! Newborn Otters Get Fitting Names

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Chetser Zoo recently welcomed two tiny newborn baby Asian Small-clawed Otters to its fold. The water-logged pups have been appropriately named 'Daley', after U.K. Olympian diver Tom Daley, and 'Rebecca', in honor of Olympic swimmer Rebecca Adlington!

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Photo credit: Chester Zoo

Asian Small-clawed Otters are the world's smallest Otter species. Their specially designed front paws help them capture and devour their favorite aquatic treats, like Crabs and Molluscs. They are listed as vulnerable to extinction, because of threats like pollution, habitat destruction, and hunting.