A Visayan Spotted Deer, which is believed to be one of the rarest mammals in the world, has been born at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo.
Photo Credit: RZSS/Katie Paton
The latest arrival will join the conservation breeding program aimed at safeguarding this endangered species, which is thought to be extinct in over 95% of its native habitat.
The male fawn, which is yet to be named by keepers, was born in early June and has been delighting visitors as he enjoys exploring his enclosure. The youngster will stay close to his mother, Summer, for around six months before becoming more independent.
Karen Stiven, senior keeper at Edinburgh Zoo, said, “It is very exciting to have a fawn born at the zoo. The Visayan Spotted Deer is facing severe threats from intensive hunting and land clearing for agriculture.”
Found only on the Visayan islands in the Philippines, the species is thought to be one of the most narrowly distributed mammals on the planet, with possibly just a few hundred remaining in the wild.
“This makes each addition to the breeding programme a positive step towards a genetically stable population, which may need to be introduced to the wild in the future,” said Stiven.
The kittens will join a conservation breeding programme, which it is hoped will save the species from extinction in the wild through future reintroductions.
David Barclay, RZSS cat conservation project officer, said, “Scottish Wildcats are facing severe threats due to cross-breeding with domestic and feral cats, disease transfer and accidental persecution.”
“Wildcat populations have suffered a sharp decline in Scotland in recent decades with studies suggesting there may be as few as 115 Scottish Wildcats left in the wild, making them one of the UK’s most endangered mammals. Our conservation breeding programme and work with partners in Scottish Wildcat Action, the national conservation project, is therefore vital.”
David continued, “Every birth is a potential lifeline and improves the chances of a genetically healthy population that can act as a source for future wildcat release.”
Born in April, the kittens have recently started to emerge from their den and explore their habitat.
Photo Credits: RZSS/Siân Addison
Although some similarities with domestic tabby cats exist, the two are not to be confused. The Scottish Wildcat (Felis silvestris) is the same species of wildcat found in continental Europe, but it has been separate since the end of the last ice age, around 9,000 years ago.
Males of the species are around 3.77–7.26 kg (8.3–16.0 lb), while females are smaller at 2.35–4.68 kg (5.2–10.3 lb). Scottish Wildcats have heavier skulls than domestic cats. They also have a larger body size. Their coats are distinctive, solid-striped tabby patterning without white feet. The tail is thick with a black, blunt tip and thick black stripes.
RZSS is a key partner in Scottish Wildcat Action, the first national project to save the highly threatened species from extinction. Scottish Wildcat Action brings together more than 20 other organisations in the conservation, scientific and land management communities, supported by Scottish Government and the Heritage Lottery Fund. Learn more at: http://www.scottishwildcataction.org/about-us/#overview
A Pancake Tortoise was recently hatched at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo. The tortoise has been named Pamba and is an important addition to the Zoo as the species is classed as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Gareth Bennett, Senior Presentation Keeper at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo, said, “We are very happy to be announcing the hatching of the first ever Pancake Tortoise to be born at the Zoo. The wild population is under threat due to young Pancake Tortoises being captured to be sold as pets. Pamba’s parents are an example of this as they joined us from Edinburgh Airport, where they had been seized by customs after being illegally imported. We welcomed them into our care and are very pleased to say they have thrived here.”
“Pamba’s birth is very important as it adds important genetic diversity to the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme, which is helping to safeguard the species from the decline in the wild.”
Photo Credits: RZSS/Siân Addison
The Pancake Tortoise (Malacochersus tornieri) is a species of flat-shelled tortoise in the family Testudinidae. The species is native to Tanzania and Kenya. Its common name refers to the flat shape of its shell. Aside from the pet trade, Pancake Tortoises are also under threat by continued destruction of their natural habitat for agricultural developments and overgrazing of domestic cattle and goats.
Pamba won’t be on show until the young tortoise is a little older, but visitors to the Zoo can see Pamba’s parents in the Wee Beasties exhibit.
RZSS Edinburgh Zoo keepers are hearing the “pitter-patter” of tiny hooves with the birth of an endangered Malayan Tapir calf.
The female calf, born on September 18, has been named Maya. The new arrival was welcomed by mother, Sayang, and father, Mowgli, and is being well cared for by her experienced mum.
Karen Stiven, Senior Hoofstock Keeper at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo, said, “Currently, Maya is staying very close to mum and she is doing well. She has the signature brown fur and white markings that all baby Tapirs are born with, which helps to provide camouflage in the forest. She will begin to get her adult coloration at around three months old. Sayang is a great mum with lots of practice under her belt now and she really knows the ropes. Tapirs are pregnant for around 13 months so it is great to finally see another healthy calf being born.”
“Maya will go on to play an important role in the conservation of her species as part of the wider European Endangered Species Breeding Programme. The programme has a high demand for female Tapirs to help create a diverse safety-net population to ensure that the species does not go extinct in the wild.”
Photo Credits: RZSS/Siân Addison
Listed as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List, the species is increasingly threatened, with population numbers continuing to decline as a result of habitat loss and fragmentation as well as increasing hunting pressure.
The Malayan Tapir (Acrocodia indica), also known as the Asian Tapir, is the largest of four Tapir species and is the only Old World Tapir. Native to the rainforests of Burma, Malaysia, Sumatra and Thailand, Tapirs’ noses and upper lips are extended to form a prehensile proboscis, which they use to grab leaves. Female Tapirs have a long gestation period of 13 months before giving birth to a single calf.
Earlier in the year, RZSS Edinburgh Zoo keepers announced the birth of a joey in the Zoo’s Koala Territory exhibit. The new little Koala is starting to emerge, to the delight of visitors who are lucky enough to catch a glimpse.
Born on January 31 to mum, Alinga, and father, Goonaroo, the new arrival to the UK’s only Koala group was still curled up inside mum’s pouch until very recently; however, the joey is growing fast and was photographed as it ventured out of the pouch for the first time last week.
Lorna Hughes, Team Leader for Koalas at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo, said, “We are really happy that the joey has started to fully emerge. At seven months old, the joey is almost too big to fit inside mother’s pouch, which means it will now be venturing outside more regularly. Soon it will begin riding on Alinga’s back, until it becomes independent at around twelve months. Soon we will be able to begin weighing the new addition and determine its sex so we can name it.”
Photo Credits: RZSS Edinburgh Zoo
According to the zoo, Alinga will carry the joey around on her back until it is around twelve-months-old and, once it reaches sexual maturity, it will go on to become part of the European Breeding Programme. RZSS Edinburgh Zoo is the only zoo in the UK to have Koalas and this new arrival is testament to the Zoo’s animal husbandry expertise.
As members of the European Breeding Programme for Queensland Koalas, RZSS Edinburgh Zoo makes regular contributions that support conservation projects in Australia to help rehabilitate and release sick and injured Koalas back into their natural habitat.
Koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) are native to eastern Australia and are currently classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List. The main threats facing Koala populations in the native territory are habitat loss, wildfires and climate change.
RZSS Edinburgh Zoo bird keepers are delighted to announce the arrival of three Darwin’s Rhea chicks. The trio can be seen running around their enclosure, alongside protective dad, Ramon.
Bird Section Team Leader, Colin Oulton, said, “We are really excited to see the three chicks doing so well and following dad around the enclosure. A Darwin’s Rhea can run at speeds of up to 37mph, so our keepers will soon be easily outpaced by the new arrivals.”
“With Rheas, it is the male that does all the egg incubation and rearing and, so far, dad Ramon has been doing a fantastic job. Rhea chicks grow very quickly and our chicks are already finding their stride. We are carefully monitoring them and can’t wait to see them become more confident and begin to take on their own personalities.”
Oulton concluded, “We have had great success breeding our Rheas in the past and to have chicks again this year is a great testament to the hard work the team have put in.”
Photo Credits: Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS)
Darwin's Rhea (Rhea pennata), also known as the Lesser Rhea, are found in the Altiplano and Patagonia in South America.
They are “ratites”, a group of flightless birds that includes the African Ostrich and the Australian Emu. The Darwin’s Rhea has relatively larger wings than other ratites, enabling it to run particularly well. It can reach speeds of up to 60 km/h (37 mph), enabling it to outrun predators.
Although the species has been recently reclassified by the IUCN to a status of “Least Concern”, the population is reportedly decreasing. Some of the major threats to this species include: hunting, egg-collecting, persecution by human populations, and habitat destruction from farming and conversion of land for cattle grazing.
Keepers at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo excitedly announced the arrival of Wallaby joeys! The bouncing babies have been spotted in their pouches in Edinburgh Zoo’s Wallaby Outback exhibit.
There are five joeys at present, each eagerly peeking out of mum’s pouch. There are also a couple already exploring the enclosure without mum.
Lorna Hughes, Primate Team Leader at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo, said, “It’s great to see the Wallaby mums with their new young and getting on so well. The babies will tend to stay close to mum for the first few months, but they can now be seen venturing out around the enclosure on their own…Wallabies are a marsupial mammal, which means they continue to breed throughout the year. We are looking forward to welcoming more this year, so keep your eyes peeled for them as you walkthrough Wallaby Outback!”
Keepers at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo are delighted to welcome their first fluffy Flamingo hatchlings of 2016.
Two Chilean Flamingo chicks have recently hatched, with the first peaking its beak out of its shell on August 31 and the other following a few days later, on September 5. There are still a number of eggs on the nests, so more chicks are expected to start hatching in the next couple of weeks and join the Zoo’s Flamingo flock (also known as a “flamboyance”).
Some visitors have even been lucky enough to witness the tiny grey chicks slowly hatching out of their shells. Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) member, Margaret Mollon, managed to capture the hatching of a chick in a series of stunning photographs (seen in the YouTube video link below).
Photo Credits: RZSS Edinburgh Zoo & (Images 1,3,5: Maria Dorrian/ Images 2,4: Mike Gilburt) Video Credit: Margaret Mollon
Colin Oulton, Bird Team Leader at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo, said, “We are delighted to have flamingo chicks at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo again, as the last time we had bred the species was in 2014. Chilean Flamingos are listed as “Near Threatened” on the IUCN Red List, so these chicks will play an important role as ambassadors, in the conservation of this beautiful, yet increasingly threatened, water bird. RZSS Edinburgh Zoo has been home to Chilean Flamingos for more than 40 years, so it is wonderful to see this well-established flock grow.”
RZSS Edinburgh Zoo has welcomed the arrival of an endangered Malayan Tapir calf. The spotty and striped young male was born in the evening of May 19 to mother, Sayang, and father, Mowgli.
The tiny calf was born weighing 11kg (24 lbs), but he will double in size in the coming weeks, eventually growing up to weigh as much as 250kg to 320kg (550 lbs to 700 lbs)!
Malayan Tapir calves are born with brown fur and white stripes and dots, which provides camouflage in the forest. After a few months, Malayan Tapir youngsters start to lose their stripes and spots and, by six months of age, they look like miniature adults, with stocky black bodies and white or grey midsections.
Karen Stiven, Hoofstock Keeper at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo, said, “The tiny calf is doing very well and, whilst he is staying close to his mother, he has been rambling around a bit on his small shaky legs to explore his surroundings. On Monday afternoon he took his first tentative steps into the outdoor paddock and was even brave enough to take a few splashes in the pond.
“The birth of this calf is very significant as he will go on to play a role in the conservation of this rare species as, once he is old enough, he will join the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme to help augment a safety-net population for this species, ensuring they do not go extinct. RZSS Edinburgh Zoo has had great husbandry success with this increasingly threatened Tapir species.”
Photo Credits: RZSS/ Jon-Paul Orsi
The Malayan Tapir (Tapirus indicus), also known as the Asian Tapir, is the largest of four Tapir species and is the only Old World Tapir. They are native to the rainforests of Burma, Malaysia, Sumatra and Thailand. Their noses and upper lips are extended to form a prehensile proboscis, which they use to grab leaves. Tapirs normally measure 1.8 to 2.5m (6 to 8 feet) in length, with a shoulder height of 0.9 to 1.1m. (3 to 3.5 feet). Females have a long gestation period of 13 months before giving birth to a single calf.
Listed as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List, the Malayan Tapir is increasingly threatened, with population numbers continuing to decline as a result of habitat loss and fragmentation, as well as increasing hunting pressure. The population has been estimated to have declined by more than 50% in the last three generations (36 years) primarily as a result of Tapir habitat being converted into palm oil plantations.
Keepers at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo are delighted to announce the birth of a Southern Three-banded Armadillo. The tiny, female, armour-plated arrival was born in the middle of April and has been named Inti by her keepers. (Pronounced ‘In-tee’, the name comes from the ancient Inca sun god, of the same name.)
Inti is only the second birth of any Armadillo species at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo. In 2014 another female called Rica was also born to parents Rio and Rodar.
At two-days-old, Inti was about the size of a golf ball and weighed only 100g, but by two-weeks-old she was just a little smaller than a tennis ball. She is currently a little over three-weeks-old and is reaching the size of a baseball!
Once Inti gets a little older, she will take part in the Zoo’s daily educational show called Animal Antics, where she will help raise awareness of vital work taking place by the conservation charity Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, who own and manage Edinburgh Zoo, to help the Giant Armadillo in the Brazilian Pantanal.*
Photo Credit:RZSS/Jon-Paul Orsi
Sarah Wright, Animal Presentations Team Leader at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo, said, “Our new arrival is doing well, and we are all celebrating her birth, as she is only the second Armadillo to be born at the Zoo. Inti was about the size of a golf ball when she was born, but is growing quickly and is a little bundle of energy. She will grow up to play a very important role in raising awareness about the plight of Armadillos in the wild and the threats they face, as well as the vital conservation work undertaken by RZSS to help conserve the Giant Armadillo from extinction.”
Southern Three-banded Armadillos (Tolypeutes matacus) are listed as “Near threatened” on the IUCN Red List and are increasingly threatened as a result of being hunted for food, the pet trade and loss of habitat. Three-banded Armadillos are the only type of Armadillo that can roll into a ball when threatened. They get their name from the three characteristic bands on their back, which allows them the flexibility to roll into a ball. The Three-banded Armadillo is native to parts of northern Argentina, southwestern Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia.
The family of Three-banded Armadillos, at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo, is not on show, but can often be seen in the daily Animals Antics shows at 12:15pm and 3pm, at the top of the hill in the Zoo.