Chester Zoo

Rare Rothschild's Giraffe Born at Chester Zoo


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.



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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Deer 1
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


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.

Chin to chin


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


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.


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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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.

Meerkat solo

 Meerkat vertical

Meerkay sleepy
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

Read more after the fold:

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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

Find Giant Anteater facts just after the fold:

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


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.




Photo credit: Chester Zoo

Baby Giant Otter Swimming Lessons!


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.”


Giant Otters Learn to Swim
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.”

Two baby capybaras with mum

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.