Edinburgh Zoo

The Pitter Patter of Tiny Meerkat Feet

15_06_5_Meerkat_pups_5_kp_medThe Meerkat exhibit at the Edinburgh Zoo is abuzz with the pitter patter of tiny feet – five babies were born on May 8.

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Photo Credit:  Edinburgh Zoo

The babies were born to Queenie, who is also the mother of three pups born earlier this year.  The pups spent their first few weeks in the nest box with Queenie, but are now beginning to explore their surroundings. 

Meerkats live in groups of 3-50 animals called mobs.  They are cooperative breeders, which means all adults within the group share the responsibility of raising the pups. Keepers have yet to name and determine the gender of the little Meerkats.

Native to the arid grasslands of southern Africa, Meerkats feed on small lizards, frogs, small birds, millipedes, beetles, grasshoppers, and any type of insect they can find.  Groups emerge at dawn to forage, and one Meerkat assumes the role of sentry.  This individual stands atop a rock or other high place and keeps watch for predators.  The mob is alerted of danger by a repertoire of alarm calls, depending on the severity of the threat.

In the wild, Meerkats are not considered under threat.  

See more photos of the baby Meerkats below.

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Rock Hyrax Siblings Enjoying the Scottish Sunshine

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The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland’s Edinburgh Zoo recently welcomed two baby Rock Hyraxes. They were born in the middle of February to mum, ‘Sarabi’.

The youngsters, one male and one female, have been staying in their burrow, but the two are now starting to jump out to explore their surroundings in the Scottish sun. These small creatures are probably most well known for their distant relation to the elephant, and they often look as if they are smiling happily for the camera. 

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15_4_29_Rock_Hyrax__Babies_1_GKCPhoto Credits: RZSS

This is the first time mum Sarabi has bred, and the babies are doing well. Hyrax babies are quite fully developed when they are born and normally start running and jumping within an hour after birth. The youngsters will suckle until they are three months old, but often begin to eat plants from their second day. Rock Hyrax litters normally consist of two to three young, but they can sometimes have as many as four babies in one litter. Unlike other small mammals, the Rock Hyrax has a much longer gestation period of seven and a half months.

Fossil remains show that there were once Hyraxes the size of cows, which could explain the longer gestation period. These rock-dwelling mammals are so unique that they have been placed in a separate order by themselves, Hyracoidea. Rock Hyraxes are normally grouped with elephants, dugongs and sea cows as ‘subungulates’ and it is believed they all may have descended from a common stock.

Lorna Hughes, Animal Team Leader at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo said, “Our Rock Hyrax babies are doing really well, and they were up and running about, soon after they were born. We haven’t named them yet, as we normally wait a while before we name any new-born. People are always really fascinated and interested when we tell them the Hyraxes are distant relatives of the elephant.”

“The Rock Hyraxes, here at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo, love basking in the sun, and can often be seen lazing about on the rocks; this is because Rock Hyraxes have poorly developed thermoregulation. When it’s cold and rainy, as is often typical of Scottish weather, they prefer to stay in their burrows to try keep warm, but now with summer approaching they are often seen outside enjoying the sun,” Lorna continued.

The Rock Hyrax can be found across Africa and some parts of the Middle East. They love to hang out on rocky areas and prefer to hide in the nooks of cliff faces. They have black rubbery pads under their feet which help them to grip onto rocky and slippery surfaces.  Hyraxes are very adaptable creatures; in East Africa they can be found living at sea level and at altitudes of more than 14,000 feet. Their habitats also range from dry savannah to dense rainforest.

RZSS Edinburgh Zoo is currently home to six adult rock hyraxes and the two babies. The herd lives in a large rocky enclosure with plenty of rocks and crevices for them to jump and run about. 

More great pics, below the fold!

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Meerkat Pups Out and About at Edinburgh Zoo

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Keepers at Edinburgh Zoo are delighted to announce the arrival of three Meerkat pups.

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_MG_5374_edited-1_Mike_GilburtPhoto Credits: Royal Zoological Society of Scotland

The lively bunch has joined the troop of Meerkats at Meerkat Plaza, in Edinburgh Zoo, and has started to venture outside the safety of the burrow and is slowly learning the ropes.

Andrew Laing, Carnivore Keeper at Edinburgh Zoo, said, “The Meerkats are always a favorite with our visitors, so it’s wonderful to see some new additions to the group. At only four weeks old the pups are settling in well and their individual personalities are starting to show. Mum, ‘Queen’, and dad, ‘Ace’, are doing really well and are getting plenty of help from other members of the group to raise the pups. Meerkats are actually cooperative breeders, which mean that all adults within the group will help to care for the young.”

Andrew continued, “Meerkats have a gestation period of around 11 weeks, so we didn't have long to wait for them to arrive, but for the first three weeks of life they stay in the burrow being looked after by the adults. At around four weeks old they will start to explore outside of the den. It’s good to see them out and about learning how to catch their own food.”

Meerkats are the most well-known member of the mongoose family. They inhabit dry, open areas with short grass and sparse woody scrub, mainly in southern Africa.

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Tiny Tapir Makes New Year’s Eve Appearance

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A tiny new arrival managed to make a big appearance just hours before 2014 drew to a close, at Edinburgh Zoo. A male Malayan Tapir was born to mother, ‘Sayang’, and first time father, ‘Mogli’, in the early hours of December 31st.

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Tapir2Photo Credits: Maria Dorrian

Lorna Hughes, Hoofstock Team Leader, said, “The last birth of the year at Edinburgh Zoo, the calf has had a big impact on keepers and visitors already. ‘Mekong’, named after the delta river which flows through where they are found in the wild, is lively and very distinctive.

“Although they are not genetically related and are much larger, Malayan Tapirs are similar in build to pigs, but have noses and upper lips that form a long prehensile snout and large, barrel shaped bodies made for crashing through dense forest vegetation. Adult tapirs are black, with a white or grey midsection, whilst youngsters like Mekong are born with spots and stripes all over their small bodies, face and legs. Mekong’s adult coloration will come in between four and seven months of age. When Mekong is fully grown he is likely to stand at over three feet tall and be up to eight feet in length, weighing up to 900 pounds.”

“Sayang is a great mum with lots of experience as she has had five babies now and really knows the ropes. Tapirs are pregnant for around 13 months so it is great to finally see another healthy calf being born. However, although we are very pleased with his progress and he is putting on weight steadily, the first week or so is a sensitive time for mother and baby.” 

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UPDATE: Rica the Baby Armadillo is Still a Beauty

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Last week, we brought you the story of Rica, the baby Southern Three-Banded Armadillo born at Edinburgh Zoo. Rica was only the size of a golf ball when she was born August 24, but she is progressing and developing, as she should, and now weighs in at 16 ounces (450g)! 

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14_09_24_SouthernThreeBandedArmadillo_Adult_Rio_kp_1Photo Credits: Edinburgh Zoo

One-month-old Rica posed for new pics a few days ago, and she is beginning to show even more of a resemblance to her healthy mother, Rio. Rica’s parents, Rio and Rodar, arrived at Edinburgh Zoo in March 2014.

Southern Three-Banded Armadillos are native to South America. They are found in parts of northern Argentina, southwestern Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia. This armadillo and the other member of the genus ‘Tolypeutes’, the Brazilian Three-Banded Armadillo, are the only species of armadillos capable of rolling into a complete ball to defend themselves.  The three characteristic bands that cover the back of the animal allow it enough flexibility to fit its tail and head together, allowing protection from predators.  They are currently classified as ‘Near Threatened” on the IUCN Red List .


“¡Qué Rica!”, Edinburgh Zoo Introduces Baby Armadillo

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Edinburgh Zoo is proud to introduce, Rica, a baby Southern Three-Banded Armadillo!  She was born to mother, Rio, and father, Rodar, on August 24th.  

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Although, Rica was a mere 81 grams (less than 3 oz) at birth, and was around the size of a golf ball, she has already quadrupled in weight during the first month of life.

Both parents arrived at Edinburgh Zoo in March 2014.  Given the short length of time the two have been at the Zoo, it is an amazing achievement and testament to the specialist skills of their keepers, that both Rio and Rodar felt comfortable enough to make a family in their new home.

Southern Three-Banded Armadillos are native to South America. They are found in parts of northern Argentina, southwestern Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia. This armadillo and the other member of the genus ‘Tolypeutes’, the Brazilian Three-Banded Armadillo, are the only species of armadillos capable of rolling into a complete ball to defend themselves.  The three characteristic bands that cover the back of the animal allow it enough flexibility to fit its tail and head together, allowing protection from predators.  They are currently classified as ‘Near Threatened” on the IUCN Red List.

See more great pics below the fold!

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Keepers Step in to Hand Rear Little Pudu Fawn

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Scarlet the Pudu fawn at Edinburgh Zoo has been keeping her keepers busy with around the clock bottle feeds.

The newborn Southern Pudu sadly lost her mother at two and a half weeks, but her dedicated keepers stepped in to hand-rear the tiny fawn. Hoofstock keeper,Liah Etemad, said: “Sadly Scarlet lost her mother at a really young age after birth exasperated an underlying untreatable condition. It was touch and go for a while for the fawn as she was being mother reared, but her keeper’s have worked around the clock to nourish and nurture the little fawn and she is doing so well now.

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“Scarlet started on seven to eight bottled feeds of milk each day, getting her first feed early in the morning, throughout the day and then into the early hours. She is steadily gaining weight each day. During the first week after mum died she was cared for solely by her keepers, but then at four weeks she was reintroduced to her dad Normski. We were all delighted how well it went and the two were soon cuddled up together in the evenings and he maintains a watchful eye over her during the day. The fact she and her father have bonded so well means that he is teaching her natural Pudu behaviour."

“It has taken a lot of time and commitment from keepers, and at seven weeks old we are still giving her a small number of bottles during the day, but we could not be happier to see little Scarlet thrive. She has done so well that visitors are able to see her with dad at our Pudu enclosure at Edinburgh Zoo.”

Southern Pudus are normally found in southern Chile and south-western Argentina and are actually the world’s smallest deer. When fully grown they stand only at 38cm high and weigh around 9 to 15kg. Adults are reddish to dark brown and fawns have spots until they are a few months old. Females tend to give birth to a single fawn weighing around 1kg, which is weaned at around two months. Pudu are classified as a vulnerable species as their numbers have declined due to their primary rainforest habitat being destroyed and cleared for cattle ranching and other human developments.


Koala's Big Adventure at Edinburgh Zoo

1st Birthday in May 2014The only Koala ever born in the United Kingdom ventured outdoors for the very first time this week.

Yooranah is a male Koala joey born at the Edinburgh Zoo to mother Alinga and father Goonaroo in May 2013. In late 2013 he first emerged from the pouch. On his first outdoor adventure, Yooranah scaled the outdoor climbing frame for the first time on his own.  Before this, he needed help from his keepers!  He is one of four Koalas at the zoo.

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14_6_17_Koala_Yooranah_Outdoors_JP_1Photo Credit:  Edinburgh Zoo

When the weather is warm, keepers take the Koalas out of their special heated enclosures to spend time in an outdoor amphitheater at the zoo, complete with climbing frames and eucalyptus leaves. This outdoor time is important – the Koalas get their vitamin D from sunlight, and they can also enjoy the sights and sounds of the zoo.

See more photos of Yooranah below.

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Pygmy Hippo Calf Learns to Swim at Edinburgh Zoo

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Congratulations to Ellen and Otto, the latest Pygmy Hippo parents at Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland! The calf, a healthy female, was born on October 27.  

The calf has been named Adana by her keepers, which is a West African name meaning ‘her father’s daughter’. For now, the little one is keeping warm indoors with mom. Although she is still a little shy, Adana has just started to venture into the indoor pool.

Lorna Hughes, team leader for primates and hoofstock at Edinburgh Zoo, says, “A very maternal animal, Ellen has proven herself to be a fantastic parent to her offspring. Baby Adana is just over a week old now and is feeding well from mum. Growing in confidence every day, Adana has ventured into the water under the watchful eye of mum. Even though Pygmy Hippos are incredible swimmers, it’s a little known fact the Hippo calves need to be taught how to swim by their mothers."

Native to West Africa, Pygmy Hippos are an Endangered species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species, likely with fewer than 3,000 left in the wild. Populations are declining rapidly due to habitat destruction caused by logging, farming and human settlement. Pressures from wars in the Hippos’ native range are another dire threat. Sadly, Pygmy Hippos are also increasingly being threatened by bushmeat hunters. Edinburgh Zoo has successfully been part of the European Breeding Program for this species for many years, with 18 offspring successfully reared at the zoo since the 1970s.

Ellen was born at Edinburgh Zoo in 2005, named after yachtswoman Ellen McArthur, and this is her third female youngster born to dad Otto. Leishan was born in 2009 and Eve on New Year’s Eve in 2011. 

Visitors can see baby Adana in the indoor Hippo house with Ellen, while Otto and big sister Eve are in their outdoor enclosure during the day.


Edinburgh Zoo Welcomes an Endangered African Hunting Dog Puppy

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On October 23, carnivore keepers at Edinburgh Zoo announced the birth of an African Hunting Dog—a first for the zoo! The announcement coincides with the reopening of the hunting dog walkway, which keepers had closed to visitors in August as they suspected Jet, the pack’s non-dominant female, was pregnant. 

With less than 5,500 African Hunting Dogs left in the wild, the birth of this puppy is an immense achievement for Edinburgh Zoo. Habitat fragmentation is one of the biggest factors in the hunting dogs’ decline, as the packs need a large range in order to remain sustainable. Hunting Dogs are also heavily persecuted by farmers, even though the dogs rarely attack livestock. Education and conservation breeding programs, such as the one Edinburgh Zoo is part of, remain crucial to saving this species from extinction.

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Darren McGarry, head of living collections at Edinburgh Zoo says, “We are all really excited about the arrival of this puppy. Hunting Dogs, like many other pack animals, are very difficult to breed successfully. Although we don’t know its sex yet, this pup is proving to be a real bundle of attitude. It’s very bold for such a young age and we’ve often spotted it tugging along joints of meat that are twice its size. All of the dogs have been seen feeding it and it looks like an established member of the pack."

He continues, “Most first-time mothers can be very nervous, so we decided to close the enclosure to visitors in order to give Jet and her pup the best chance of a successful birth. Hunting dogs have a very intricate social hierarchy and if they feel threatened this can cause the mother to reject her pups.”

In about a week, the puppy will be caught for its first health check and to be sexed. As Hunting Dog puppies are born black and white and only start to get their mottled markings at around two months old, the keepers will only name the feisty little pup once its colors have come through. 

Although Edinburgh Zoo’s pack has two males, Blade and Two Socks, only Blade, the dominant male, will breed with the pack’s females. Usually, the dominant female will be the one to have pups but it is not uncommon for lower-ranking females to also give birth. The zoo’s keepers are confident that this pup will be the first of many for their pack.