Cotswold Wildlife Park

Cotswold Keeper Cares for Fruit Bat Orphans

1_Babies Bruce & Wayne being fed banana by Natalie (1)

Deputy Section Head of Primates, Natalie Horner, has successfully taken on the role of surrogate mother to two abandoned Egyptian Fruit Bat pups at Cotswold Wildlife Park.

This is the first time Natalie has hand-reared these nocturnal mammals and, according to Park records, it is also the first time this species has been hand-reared at the Burford collection. The pups were discovered on their own when the Bat House was undergoing a major revamp.

Natalie explained, “A couple of days after we moved all of the Bats into temporary holdings, while we refurbished the Bat House, we saw both babies roosting by themselves. Mother Bats often 'park' their babies to give themselves a break. So we left them for a day, in the hope their mums would come and collect them again, as the chances of the babies surviving without a feed and warmth are very slim.”

Their mothers never returned so the decision was made to hand-rear them in order to give the pups, named Bruce and Wayne, the best possible chance of survival. Natalie became their surrogate mother and took them to her home where they could be given around-the-clock care. At the time, they were around four to six weeks old and weighed forty grams. Unable to maintain their own body temperature, they were kept in an incubator for two weeks and monitored closely by Natalie.

2_Babies Bruce & Wayne being fed banana by Natalie (2)

3_Babies Bruce & Wayne being fed banana by Natalie (6)

4_1st photos of Bruce & Wayne (asleep after feeding) (1)Photo Credits: Cotswold Wildlife Park

Hand-rearing these tiny winged-mammals was no mean feat. A lot of time and effort was invested in the newborns, which hopefully would result in not only their survival but also their eventual reintroduction to the colony.

Natalie said, “I had to feed the babies every three hours in the early days. They were given milk as well as mashed fruit. The first feed of the day was at six o’clock in the morning and the last feed was at midnight.”

Feeding soon became one of Natalie’s favorite parental duties, and she explained why: “One of the things I'll never forget was wrapping the babies in their blankets for feed times. Wrapping them up gave them comfort, as their mother would wrap her wings around them to keep them safe. As soon as they finished their feed (and sometimes during) they would fall asleep wrapped in their blankets. It really melted my heart.”

As they continued to grow, and in order for their wings to developed properly, she encouraged them to fly.

“When they were around ten weeks old we began flying lessons. This was great fun. Bats instinctively know how to fly, so they just needed a little bit of encouragement. I would hang them from my finger and gently bob them up and down to encourage them to wing beat. I hung towels and sheets on the walls of my spare room to give plenty of roosting opportunities. The first lesson went as expected - they flapped their wings and flopped straight on the floor! They quickly recovered though and it didn't take long at all for their muscles to strengthen and for them to fly from one side of the room to the other. From then we had nightly flying lessons. As soon as they were able to fly comfortably around my spare room they were upgraded to their own enclosure at the Park before being reintroduced to the colony.”

Bruce and Wayne developed into strong young Bats and the day Natalie had been hoping for finally arrived. Natalie continued, “By the time the Bats were six months old they were fully self-feeding and very strong and capable flyers. They are still only half the size of the adult Bats but shouldn't have any problems integrating and competing for food. So the decision was made to reintroduce them to the rest of the colony. There wasn't much preparation needed so the Bats were put into transport bags and taken to the Bat enclosure. Once taken out of the bags, I placed them on my finger for one last time and watched them fly off to rejoin the rest of the colony. They both flew a couple of circuits of the enclosure before roosting with the rest of the colony. It was such a proud moment for me, and such a happy ending to what had been four amazing months. To see the babies back with their family made all the hard work worth it. I'm so happy for them to be back where they belong.”

The tiny survivors are testament to Natalie’s dedication as their keeper. Looking back on her time as their surrogate mother, she said: “Hand-rearing Bruce and Wayne was an amazing experience. To care for them, help them grow and develop into strong, healthy Bats and then reintroduce them back to their colony was incredibly rewarding. Bats are fascinating animals and are important plant pollinators and seed dispersers. It’s been great to raise awareness for these misunderstood animals and hopefully we've been able to change some opinions and generate more love for these wonderful mammals.”

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Rowdy Rhino Calf Joins 'Crash' at Cotswold

1_Baby Alan (photo credit Jackie Thomas) (2f) (1)

Cotswold Wildlife Park is celebrating the birth of a White Rhino calf. The newborn male, named Alan, is the newest additions to the UK park’s “crash” (collective noun for a group of Rhinos) at their Burford collection.

It’s been a remarkable few years for the Rhino family at Cotswold. After almost forty years of hoping the Rhinos would breed, history was finally made in 2013 with the birth of Astrid, the Park’s first Rhino breeding success.

Since the arrival of Astrid, thanks to the dedication of the mammal keepers, the breeding programme has gone from strength to strength. The newest arrival, Alan, is the fourth White Rhino to be born at the Park.

2_Baby Alan (photo credit Jackie Thomas) (2g)

3_Baby Alan (photo credit Jackie Thomas) (2f) (2)

4_Rhino baby Alan (photo credit Jackie Thomas) (3c) (3)Photo Credits: Jackie Thomas /Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens

Alan is the second calf for parents, Ruby and Monty. At just one-week old, he weighed around eleven stone (154 lbs.), and he is proving to be a high-spirited and boisterous youngster. Ruby also continues to impress keepers with her skills as an exceptional and protective mother.

(Alan is named in honor of Cotswold Wildlife Park’s electrician who retires this year after twenty-three years of dedicated service.)

Managing Director of Cotswold Wildlife Park, Reggie Heyworth, said, “Everyone is over-joyed about the birth of another Rhino calf to Ruby, who is being such a good mother, for the second time. The calf looks like a strong lad already, and the rest of the Rhino ‘crash’ seem to be taking his arrival in their stride. With Rhinos facing such poaching pressures in the wild, every birth in captivity is a sign of hope for this wonderful species”.

Births in captivity are considered extremely rare, with only thirteen White Rhinos being born in European zoos in the last twelve months.

Females only reproduce every two-and-a-half to five years, so the window of opportunity for successful reproduction is limited. After a gestation period of sixteen to eighteen months, a single calf is born. This is one of the longest gestation periods of any land mammal, surpassed only by the twenty-two month gestation period of an Elephant. A newborn Rhino calf will stand up within one hour of birth and immediately attempt to suckle, although he or she may be a little unsteady on their feet for the first few days. It will remain under the watchful eye of the mother, suckling from her for approximately one year. Their bond is an intensely strong one, and the calf will remain with its mother for at least two years, benefiting from her protection. Females guard their offspring aggressively and are intimidating adversaries if challenged.

The White Rhino (Ceratotherium simum ssp. simum) is living proof of conservation success. They were once the rarest subspecies of any Rhino and were on the verge of extinction in the early 1900s, when it was believed only some fifty animals remained in their native South Africa. Thanks to excellent and sustained protection, they are now the most common of the five Rhino species, although poaching in the last five years has once again escalated to serious levels. Three of the five Rhino species – the Black, Javan and Sumatran – are critically endangered.

Poaching for their horns remains the biggest threat to these iconic animals. Recently HRH Prince William warned: “Rhinos face extinction in our lifetime as we struggle to correct lies about the supposed benefits of using its horn as a drug”. There is no evidence that horns, made of the same substance as human fingernails and hair, have any medicinal value. However, the false belief that Rhino horn can cure cancer and other life-threatening diseases has resulted in a population slaughter of one thousand and fifty four Rhinos in South Africa alone in 2016.

White Rhinos have always been an important species at the Wildlife Park. They were one of the first large mammals to join the collection, which was founded by Mr. John Heyworth in 1970.

Cotswold Wildlife Park is committed to the conservation of these iconic mammals. Each year the Park hosts Rhino Month to raise awareness and funds for Rhino conservation work in Africa. This year £1,000 was raised and donated to Save the Rhino International for their conservation work with the critically endangered Black Rhinos in Namibia.

Visitors to the Park can see the new calf daily in the large Rhino paddock and solar powered Rhino House.

More great pics of Alan, below the fold!

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Five Playful Wolf Pups Pop Out of Their Den

First Wolf cub seen emerging from the den (photo credit Jackie Thomas) (4)

Cotswold Wildlife Park is celebrating the birth of a litter of five Eurasian Wolf cubs – the first to be born at the Park in its 47-year history.  

For the first ten days of their lives, the cubs were hidden from sight in one of the underground dens their parents, Ash and Ember, had excavated. One night, after a heavy downpour of rain, Ember took her cubs out of the birthing den and placed them above ground to stay dry. This was the first time anyone had seen the cubs. Both Ember and Ash are devoted first-time parents and keepers are delighted that the youngsters are healthy.

Wolf cubs  3 (photo credit Jackie Thomas)
Ember feeding cubs (photo Jackie Thomas)Photo Credit: Jackie Thomas (images 1-6), Cotswold Wildlife Park (images 7-15)

 

The births were unexpected for the Wolves’ care team.  Two-year old male Ash and three-year old female Ember arrived at the zoo just last year, and Wolves normally take a long time to form pair bonds. Additionally, females come into heat only once a year, between January and March.

Curator of Cotswold Wildlife Park Jamie Craig said, “Our Wolves are a new pairing and we did not really expect a successful breeding so soon. They have settled well and at present, everything with the adults and cubs is going to plan – we are keeping our fingers crossed that it continues but we have more confidence with every day that passes. The cubs will form an important nucleus to the ‘pack’ for the coming years.”

Wolves generally pair for life. Mating takes place in late winter or early spring. After a gestation period of approximately sixty-two days, the alpha female gives birth to a litter (usually between four and six cubs). At birth, the cubs are blind and deaf and are reliant on their parents for survival. After 11 to 15 days, their eyes open. Cubs develop rapidly under the watchful eye of their mother. At five weeks, the cubs are beginning to wean off their mother’s milk but cannot immediately fend for themselves and require considerable parental care and nourishment.

The Eurasian Wolf (Canis lupus) is one of the largest Wolf subspecies and the largest found outside of the Americas. There are almost 40 Wolf subspecies including Arctic Wolf, Tundra Wolf, critically endangered Red Wolf, Dingo and the domestic Dog.

See more photos and learn more about Eurasian Wolves below.

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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

1_Chinese Crocodile Lizard baby 7

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

1_Nelson on mum's back

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

3_Nelson having a snooze

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

1_Mossy Froglet close up on finger 2

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.”

2_Mossy Froglet side view

3_Mossy Froglet front profile

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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