Cotswold Wildlife Park

First Porcupine Twins for Cotswold Wildlife Park

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Cotswold Wildlife Park is celebrating the birth of the first Porcupine twins in the Park’s forty-seven-year history!

The as-yet-unnamed and unsexed twins were born recently to first-time mother, Stempu, and father, Prickle. The newborns are currently on show in the enclosure they share with a trio of inquisitive Dwarf Mongooses.

According to Cotswold staff, the twins are perfect miniature versions of the adults, even born with a full set of quills, which begs the question visitors have been keen to ask keepers: “How does the female give birth without injury?” After a gestation period of approximately one hundred and twelve days (the longest gestation period of any rodent), the female gives birth to offspring covered in soft, moist and flexible quills, enclosed in a thin placental sac. Immediately after birth, the quills quickly harden in the air and become prickly. The babies, also known as Porcupettes, are also born relatively well developed, with eyes open and teeth present.

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4_Porcupettes 20 (5)Photo Credits: Cotswold Wildlife Park

African Crested Porcupines (Hystrix cristata) are the largest of the twenty-five Porcupine species. They are also the third largest rodent in the world, behind the Beaver and Capybara.

Their Latin name means, “quill pig”. Porcupines possess a spiny defense that is unique among rodents: approximately thirty thousand sharp quills adorn their back. Contrary to popular belief, they cannot fire their quills at enemies, but the slightest touch can lodge dozens of barbed quills into a predator’s body. Quills are modified hairs made of keratin (the same material as human hair, fingernails and the horn of a Rhino). Each quill can boast up to eight hundred barbs. If threatened, Porcupines reverse charge into a predator, stabbing the enemy with its sharp quills. The resulting wound can disable or even kill predators including Lions, Leopards and Hyenas.

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Cotswold Wildlife Park First in UK to Breed Rare Lizard

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Cotswold Wildlife Park has become the first zoological collection in the UK to breed the rare Chinese Crocodile Lizard.

The sex of the newborn is currently unknown, and the baby Lizard is currently off-show in the specialist Reptile rearing room. However, visitors to Cotswold can see the adults in their enclosure in the Reptile House. In the future, the newest Lizard will go on to be part of a breeding programme for this rare species.

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3_Chinese Crocodile Lizard baby side view (photo Debbie Ryan)

4_Chinese Crocodile Lizard baby 1 (photo Debbie Ryan)Photo Credits: Cotswold Wildlife Park (Images: 1,2,5,6) / Debbie Ryan (3,4,8) / Callum O'Flaherty (7) 

The Chinese Crocodile Lizard (Shinisaurus crocodilurus) is semiaquatic and found only in the cool forests of the Hunan, Guangxi and Guizhou Provinces of southern China, and the Quảng Ninh Province in northern Vietnam. Very little is known about this rare species. It was first collected in 1928, and it remains the most recently named Lizard genus.

The species is viviparous, meaning it gives birth to live young. It has a gestation period of approximately nine months and litters consist of between 1-12 young.

In the wild, it frequently spends hours, motionless, perched on rocks or branches above slow-moving streams and ponds.

Due to habit destruction, illegal poaching, capture for the pet trade, and local consumption, population numbers of this Lizard are under serious threat. Unfortunately, this species is still widely used in traditional Chinese medicine. The Lizard’s ability to remain immobile for hours, occasionally days, led to the belief that it could cure insomnia. In China they are also known as “the sleeping serpent”.

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First Sifaka Born in Great Britain Debuts at Cotswold

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Cotswold Wildlife Park is celebrating the arrival of the first-ever Crowned Sifaka to be born in Great Britain. The baby male, named Yousstwo, is the first baby for new parents Bafana and Tahina. Cotswold Wildlife Park is the only mainland zoological collection in Great Britain to keep this endangered Lemur species.

5 Photo credit Jackie Thomas (Image 3)
22Photo Credits:  Cotswold Wildlife Park, Jackie Thomas (photos 1 & 5)

Bafana arrived at the Park in 2009 from Besancon Zoo in France. Tahina joined him in 2013, from the same zoo, and the pair formed an instant bond. They are the only breeding pair in the country. Tahina is also the first hand-reared Sifaka in history to parent-rear her own offspring and is proving to be an exceptional mother.

The birth was caught on a closed-circuit camera which had been installed so keepers could keep an eye on Tahina without disturbing her.

Females are only sexually receptive for just one or two days a year, so the window of opportunity for males to father offspring is small. After a gestation period of approximately 165 days, females give birth to a baby completely covered in white fur and weighing less than four ounces. Infants are able to grip their mother’s fur from birth and they cling onto her belly for the first few weeks of life. After eight weeks, they start to develop the distinctive darker markings the Crowned Sifaka is famous for. They become independent at around six months old.

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Lion Triplets Are Three Times the Fun

Cotswold Wildlife Park's Lion cubs DSC_0156 (2) photo credit Natasha Jefferies
It’s three times the fun when Asiatic Lion cub triplets Kali, Sita, and Sonika come out to play at Cotswold Wildlife Park

Born May 25, the three female cubs have spent the last two months in the birthing den with their mother, Kanha.  Lionesses rear their babies in seclusion and often reject them if they are disturbed, so the staff monitored the cubs via closed circuit TV.

Cotswold Wildlife Park's Lion cub DSC_0156 (15) photo credit Natasha Jefferies
Cotswold Wildlife Park's Lion cubs DSC_0156 (11) photo credit Natasha Jefferies
Photo Credit:  Natasha Jeffries
 
This is the first litter of Lion triplets born at Cotswold since the park opened in 1970. 

According to the staff, Kanha and Rana are proving to be excellent first-time parents and all three boisterous youngsters are healthy and developing into confident cubs.

Dad Rana met the cubs in the Lions’ outdoor enclosure last week, but for the last two months, he lived next door and took a great interest in the youngsters. 

Asiatic Lions are one of the world’s rarest big cat species. Wild population numbers have declined drastically over the last century, almost to the point of extinction. Once found throughout much of southwestern Asia, they are now only found in India’s Gir Forest with the 2015 census putting the entire wild population at 523 animals. 

Though they live in a protected area, conservationists worry that a disease epidemic could wipe out the entire Asiatic Lion population.  Breeding programs in zoos are extremely important to the future of this subspecies.  Asiatic Lions are classified as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

See more photos of the cubs below.

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Twin ‘Punk-Rock’ Primates at Cotswold Wildlife Park

1_Critically Endangered Cotton-top Tamarin baby

Cotswold Wildlife Park recently celebrated the birth of twin Cotton-top Tamarins. The striking infants are the second set of twins for parents Johnny and Louise. Twins Lilley and Lana were born last year, and the newborns share their enclosure with these older siblings.

New father Johnny is an important individual for the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP) as he has an impressively pure bloodline. These new births are considered significant additions to the EEP, helping to ensure the genetic diversity of the species.

Each member of the family plays a specific role when it comes to rearing the young. The dominant male spends the most time carrying his infants; the mother carries them for the first week of life, and then holds them only to suckle.

Primate keeper, Natalie Horner, commented: “Male Tamarins take an active role in rearing their young by carrying and caring for the infants the majority of the time. The babies only return to their mother to feed…[The dads] even teach the older youngsters how to care for their younger siblings, which is an important part of their development.”

2_Baby Cotton-top Tamarins 2Photo Credits: Cotswold Wildlife Park

 

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Royally Giant Baby Debuts at Cotswold Wildlife Park

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A Giant Anteater baby made his debut at Cotswold Wildlife Park. The pup, named Nelson, is the second breeding success for parents Zorro and Zeta since their arrival at the Burford Collection in 2010. Keepers named the newborn after the late singer, Prince Rogers Nelson.

Curator of Cotswold Wildlife Park, Jamie Craig, commented, “Zeta has again proved to be an excellent and diligent mother. We are extremely proud of her here at the Park and it is great to see another healthy baby growing rapidly and exploring his surroundings from the safety of his mother's rather formidable back!” 2_Nelson asleep

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4_Nelson looking at camera on Zeta's backPhoto/Video Credits: Cotswold Wildlife Park

 

 

Giant Anteaters (Myrmecophaga tridactyla) are the largest of the four Anteater species and boast one of the most fascinating tongues in the animal kingdom. They are specialist predators of termites and ants and may consume tens of thousands of these tiny nutritious insects every day. Anteaters are edentate animals; they have no teeth. Ant and termite nests are ripped open with their powerful claws, and the tongue acts as animated flypaper. These tongues can protrude more than 2 feet (60 cm) to capture prey. Ants possess a painful sting when attacked, so Anteaters have to eat quickly. They do so by flicking their tongue up to 160 times per minute to avoid being stung. An Anteater may spend only a minute feasting on each mound. They never destroy a nest, preferring to return and feed again in the future.

Anteaters are generally solitary animals, except during the mating season. After a gestation period of around 190 days, the female produces a single pup, which weighs approximately 1.3kg. The female gives birth standing up and the young Anteater immediately climbs onto her back. The young are born with a full coat of hair and adult-like markings, aligning with their mother’s camouflaging. A mother will carry the baby on her back for approximately 6 to 9 months (until it is almost half her size). The young suckle for 2 to 6 months and become independent after roughly 2 years, or when the mother becomes pregnant again.

Giant Anteaters are prey for Jaguars and Pumas in the wild. They typically flee from danger by galloping away, but if cornered, they use their immense front claws to defend themselves, rearing up on their hind legs, striking their attacker violently with their powerful claws and are capable of inflicting fatal wounds to predators.

The Giant Anteater is considered to be the most threatened mammal of Central America and is feared extinct in Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala and Uruguay, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Giant Anteaters are listed as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species. Habitat loss, roadkills, hunting and wildfires have substantially affected their population numbers over the last ten years. Scientists estimate that 5,000 individuals are left in the wild.

Visitors can see Cotswold’s Anteater family in the enclosure they share with the Capybaras and Crested Screamers– species also native to Central and South America.

More great pics, below the fold!

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Cotswold Wildlife Park Breeds Mossy Frogs

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Meet the ultimate camouflage artist --- a brand new species to Cotswold Wildlife Park, the Vietnamese Mossy Frog (Theloderma corticale).

Reptile keepers are thrilled with the first successful breeding of this species at Cotswold Wildlife Park. Eight Mossy Froglets are currently under the watchful eye of the dedicated Reptile Team, along with several tadpoles yet to metamorphosise. At this delicate stage of their development, the froglets remain off-show in the Reptile Incubation Room. Visitors will be able to see the new species later this year. Updates will be posted on the Park’s Facebook and Twitter pages: (www.facebook.com/cotswoldwildlifepark and @CotsWildTweets).

Curator of Cotswold Wildlife Park, Jamie Craig, commented, “We treat the rearing of any amphibian to adulthood as a success. The metamorphosing stages can be very tricky and we are delighted to have had repeatable successes with our Mossy Frogs. They are growing well and we hope to create a new display for them in the near future.”

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4_Mossy Froglet close up on 20p piecePhoto Credits: Cotswold Wildlife Park

In scientific terms, these remarkable amphibians are a relatively recent discovery. Their first recorded sighting was in 1903, originating from the steep mountain slopes of Northern Vietnam. Due to their remote location, they have been out of reach for scientists and researchers for decades, and very little is known about this species in the wild. They are currently protected by the Vietnamese government.

Their camouflage has been described as one of the best in the amphibian world. Rough, bumpy skin, combined with complex green and black coloring, makes them almost indistinguishable from a lump of moss or lichen, enabling these tiny frogs to blend in perfectly with their surroundings and avoid detection by predators. When frightened, they curl into a ball and remain motionless, mimicking death to avoid further harm.

In the wild, this species breeds by larval development in rock cavities containing water and also in tree holes. It takes approximately one year for a tadpole to become a fully developed adult. Researchers have discovered that Mossy Frog tadpoles can exist in water for months without developing, but they metamorphose into froglets within days when the water dries up.

Frogs have appeared in legend and folklore in many cultures throughout history. Chinese legends involving frogs date back to 4 B.C. - 57 A.D. Special temples were built specifically for frogs. In these temples, live frogs were encouraged to stay with offerings of food and water. When the amphibians wandered away from their appointed homes, they would be brought back to the temple accompanied by drums and music. In ancient Egypt, carvings and religious statues were made in the image of frogs. Archaeologists have also discovered embalmed frogs in some Egyptian burial sites.

In the wild, the Mossy Frog’s population numbers are under threat from habitat destruction and demand by the global pet trade, and they are also known as the Tonkin Bug-eyed Frog.

Check out the great photos of Mossy Frog adults--below the fold!

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“It’s So Fluffy!”...at Cotswold Wildlife Park

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Here’s something to add more ‘fluffy’ to your day…a herd of cute baby Mini-Lop Rabbits! The wee fluffy ones were born in the Children’s Farmyard Barn, at Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens, in the UK.

The bunnies are four-weeks-old and now starting to come out of their nest and explore.

The baby rabbits make their home in the Children’s Farmyard at Cotswold Wildlife Park, where all the animals may be approached and in some cases touched or stroked.

The Mini-Lop is a popular breed of rabbit that is quite often seen in rabbit shows. They are also popular in the pet trade. Bob Herschbach discovered the breed at a German National Rabbit Show in Essen, Germany in 1972. The rabbit was then known as Klein Widder. The first Mini-Lops were originated from the German Big-Lop and the small Chinchilla Rabbit.

Mini-Lops are known to be friendly and playful and can be taught tricks and commands.

Rabbits and Guinea Pigs living at Cotswold Wildlife Park are unwanted pets that have been donated to the facility. The Park does not breed small animals for the pet trade. As with their endangered inhabitants, Cotswold Wildlife Park endeavors to manage all species in a responsible manner.

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Cotswold Wildlife Park Is ‘Tickled Pink’ With New Chicks

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It’s been over eight years since the Chilean Flamingos colony, at Cotswold Wildlife Park, last produced eggs. Despite plenty of displaying, nest-building and mating, keepers have been patiently waiting for the flock of forty-four adults to produce eggs. Despite their valiant efforts, no chicks appeared.

The decision was made to add new chicks to the flock in the hope this would stimulate the existing adults into laying their own eggs again and increase the flock’s size. In the wild, Flamingos nest in large groups. These crowded conditions are ideal for Flamingo breeding as it gives the flock a sense of stability, which, in turn, profoundly increases their chances of successfully producing eggs.

Flamingo eggs were donated by Chester Zoo as part of the European Breeding Programme (EEP) and were immediately taken to the Park’s incubation rooms. The chalky white eggs hatched after roughly twenty-six days. Keepers named the new chicks Mambo and Ringo and tended to them around-the-clock.

3_One of the Flamingo eggs (either Mambo or Ringo)

2_1. Flamingo chick Ringo being weighed

4_Fluffy white chick Ringo being weighed (2)Photo Credits: Cotswold Wildlife Park /"Flamingos In Snow" by Louise Peat

 

 

 By a strange coincidence, while the donated eggs were still in incubation, much to the surprise of keepers, the adults had made nests and were sitting on their own eggs for the first time in eight breeding seasons. Three chicks eventually hatched. In the meantime, Mambo and Ringo continued to be hand-reared by the dedicated team, undergoing health checks, growth monitoring and regular exercise, including daily walks to strengthen their delicate legs. Eventually, the task of gradually introducing the new chicks to the adult group began.

Assistant Curator of Cotswold Wildlife Park, Chris Kibbey, commented: "Not only is it great news that the Bird Section have successfully hand-reared their first ever Flamingo chicks, but to discover our Flamingos group had laid their first eggs in eight years was a wonderful and unexpected surprise. It’s been a long wait, and we are delighted that our Flamingo flock have finally started breeding again.”

Mambo and Ringo have now successfully been introduced to the flock in their new lakeside home, a brilliant end to several barren years on the Flamingo Lake. Hopefully, next year the Flamingos will successfully breed again without a helping hand from keepers.

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Rhino Calf ‘Crashes’ the Party at Cotswold Wildlife Park

1_Baby Rhino resting on mother's horn

On August 18, Cotswold Wildlife Park, in the UK, had a rather unexpected arrival. Their Southern White Rhino, Nancy, gave birth to her second calf. Keepers knew Nancy was pregnant, but the actual time of birth came as a bit of a surprise and was a little earlier than expected.

Births in captivity are considered extremely rare, with only fourteen White Rhinos being born in European zoos in the last twelve months. Cotswold Wildlife Park was responsible for two out of the three recorded UK births. The new addition is the sixth member to join the ‘crash’ (the collective noun for a group of Rhinos).  

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3_Baby Rhino in paddock with Nancy (9)

4_Baby Rhino in paddock with Nancy (6)Photo Credits: Cotswold Wildlife Park

 Curator Jamie Craig commented: “After almost forty years of desperately trying to breed from our old group of Rhinos with no success, we are delighted to now have had three calves since 2013. The newest member of the crash was somewhat more of a surprise than we’d like, but at present, all seems to be going well.”

It’s been a remarkable few years for the Rhino family. In 2013, first-time parents, Monty and Nancy (both nine years old), delighted staff and visitors when they produced the first calf in the Park’s forty-three year history - a female named Astrid. Two years later, she has been joined by a baby brother, who is yet to be named. To add to the celebrations, earlier this year, another of the Park’s breeding females, Ruby, gave birth to a male calf, named Ian.

Southern White Rhinos (Ceratotherium simum simum) are the largest of the five Rhino subspecies and range throughout the grassland of Southern Africa. They are currently classified as “Near Threatened” on the IUCN Red List and have always been an important species at Cotswold Wildlife Park, which was founded by Mr. John Heyworth in 1970. His son Reggie Heyworth, Managing Director of Cotswold Wildlife Park, commented: “You wait forty years, then it seems like three come along at once!  This is such a happy event for the Park, and I have to pinch myself when I see six rhinos on the lawn.”

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