It may be summer in the northern hemisphere, but in New Zealand, it’s almost winter – the perfect time for a pair of Red Panda cubs to debut at the Hamilton Zoo.
Photo Credit: Hamilton Zoo
Born on January 22, the cubs – one male and one female – are thriving under the care of their mother, Tayla. This is Tayla’s fourth litter.
Cubs typically remain in the nest box with their mother for several months before venturing out. At about five to six months of age, Red Panda cubs begin weaning from mother’s milk to a diet of bamboo.
Red Pandas have only one litter of cubs per year. In fact, there is only a 24-hour window each year during which Red Pandas breed. This limited breeding cycle, coupled with habitat loss, contributes to Red Pandas’ decline in the wild. The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists Red Pandas as Vulnerable in their native range of southwestern China, northern India, Tibet, Bhutan, Burma and Nepal.
Hamilton Zoo has two new cuties of the feline variety. The zoo’s female Sumatran Tiger, ‘Sali’, gave birth to a pair of cubs earlier this month. The male and female cubs are a significant achievement for both the species and the popular Hamilton, New Zealand visitor attraction.
Photo Credits: Hamilton Zoo
Hamilton Zoo Curator, Samantha Kudeweh says, “She gave birth on November 16th, but we needed to keep this news under wraps to ensure a stress-free start to motherhood for Sali. For any first-time mother, those first few days are very important, so we kept our distance and just observed what we could.”
Mrs. Kudeweh says staff were able to assess the cubs for the first time this week. The male cub weighed in at 2.15 kg (4.7 lbs), while his sister was slightly smaller at 2.04kg (4.5 lbs).
“They are fat, loveable, and very strong,” Mrs. Kudeweh says. “Like most newborns, they’re noisy and easily tired, but do seem to be doing okay. They have just started opening their eyes and their ears have begun to unfurl.”
Staff will inspect the cubs weekly over the next three months, monitoring their weight gain and general health. The two cubs have different markings on their necks, which is how they will be identified for the next few months.
Mrs. Kudeweh says Sali will likely remain extremely protective of her offspring for the first two months of their lives, keeping them in her den. Mrs. Kudeweh expects the two cubs to become visible to zoo patrons in late December or early January.
“Once they’re out and about, they’ll demonstrate those traits which make them so loveable! They’ll be adventurous, active, busy, playful and smart.”
The arrival of the cub’s father, ‘Oz’, at Hamilton Zoo, earlier this year was planned as part of the Global Species Management plan for Sumatran Tigers. His introduction to Sali was intended to result in cubs. The birth of the two cubs is a significant achievement for Hamilton Zoo, and the critically endangered Sumatran Tiger species.
“This is career highlight for me and the rest of the team involved,” Mrs. Kudeweh says. “It’s very exciting for the zoo and the species.”
The Sumatran Tiger is a rare sub-species of the tiger. The species is only found on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, and the gradual decline in its population is attributed to human activity, particularly impacts on their natural forest habitat. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature estimates only 500 of the animals live in the wild.
The birth of two rare Nepalese Red Pandas thrilled Hamilton Zoo keepers earlier this year and now that they’ve reached four months old, they are venturing out and exploring their enclosure.
“The pair and their mum are doing great,” says Hamilton Zoo Curator Samantha Kudeweh.
“Initially the cubs weren’t gaining as much weight as they should have so we started supplement feeding. That worked really well and now the pair are fit and healthy and enjoying hanging out with their extended family”.
Although it’s difficult to tell early on, Kudeweh said they are fairly confident the two cubs are both females.
“If this is the case, it means we have a nice mix with our juveniles, as the new cubs have three male siblings Karma, Nima and Dawa who were born last year.”
Red Pandas are found throughout the Himalayan ranges, in Western China, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar and India. They live in the same habitat as the Giant Panda and almost exclusively eat bamboo leaves and occasionally fruit, small animals, eggs and roots.
Classified as “vulnerable” by the International Union of Conservation of Nature, their population in the wild is thought to be less than 10,000 and decreasing. Deforestation and habitat fragmentation are the main threats to the survival of the species, and poaching for their beautiful fur is a major problem in China, where pelts have cultural significance.
The Hamilton Zoo in New Zealand recently announced the birth of three rare Red Panda cubs. The cubs, all male, were born on December 20th. They joined their mother Tayla, father Chito, and older brother Ketu at the zoo, doubling the zoo's Red Panda population.
Now, at eight weeks old, the cubs are continuing to grow and thrive off exhibit in their mother's den. "Red panda cubs are slow to develop so the first months are really crucial,'' explained zoo Curator Sam Kudeweh. ''We have been undertaking regular weigh ins with the cubs so that we can keep an eye on their progress - but need to balance this with hands off approach as much as possible so we can leave mum Tayla to look after her cubs," she continued. At the first weighing, when the cubs were 19 days old, they tipped the scales at 225 grams. They have continuined to grow and have now ballooned up to 400 grams, about the weight of a can of beans.
Photo Credit: Hamilton Zoo
Red Pandas, despite their name, are more closely related to raccoons, skunks and weasels than Giant Pandas. Native to the Eastern Himalayans and Southwestern China, the Red Panda feeds primarily on bamboo. However, they are omnivorous and will eat insects, birds and eggs to supplement their bamboo diet.
On March 6 a female Southern White Rhino calf was born at Hamilton Zoo in New Zealand, the sixth to be born at the facility and the seventh to be bred there. The new calf is the second for mother Moesha, age 18, and the fourth for father Kruger, age 23. The "little" one brings the zoo’s current herd population to seven.
Hamilton Zoo Team Leader of Mammals Samantha Kudeweh, said the birth of the calf is significant for the species as a whole. “Zoo populations have an important role to play in the conservation of species such as rhinos,” she said. “Rhinos bred and housed in zoos, such as this new calf, serve as ambassadors for wild populations and conservation projects, as well as provide genetically sound reserve populations in case of major decline in range states.”
Southern white rhino have been a major success story of wildlife conservation – while their numbers were reduced to less than 100 animals in the early 1900s, conservation efforts have seen the wild population increase to over 20,000 as at the end of 2010. A recent boom in the black market price for rhino horn has been driven by its perceived value as a traditional Asian medicine remedy and has resulted in a dramatic increase in poaching over the past two years.
These little Ring-Tailed Lemur twins are the newest residents at Hamilton Zoo in New Zealand. The babies were born on October 10 to parents Rachel and Bruce. It is not the first time the couple have welcomed twins after becoming parents to Julian and Josie on August 20, 2010.
Hamilton Zoo Director Stephen Standley said the two new additions are creating quite a stir within the lemur group. “The twins are quite active and vocal, and the other ring-tailed lemurs are very interested in these new arrivals. Rachel is extremely attentive to the twins and make sure she keeps a close eye on what the pair gets up to,” he said.
Lemurs are primates found only on the island of Madagascar in Africa, and some of the small, nearby islands. Lemurs use their hands and feet to move through the trees, but can't grip with their tails as other primates may. Ring-tails also spend time on the ground, which is unusual among lemur species, foraging for fruit, which makes up the bulk of their diet. They supplement that with flowers, leaves, tree bark, and sap. Ring-tailed lemurs are endangered, mostly because the forests they call home are quickly vanishing.
The baby white rhinoceros recently born at New Zealand's Hamilton Zoo had a
rough start to life but is now making good progress. The male calf was
born at the zoo in the early hours of Friday, 12 March to first-time mum
Kito (9-years-old) and father Kruger (21-years-old). Born with blood
blisters in his eyes, the calf had almost zero vision at birth. His eye
problem caused further difficulties when it came to feeding.
Photo Credit: DONNA WALSH/Waikato Times
"In the end staff had to milk Kito in order to bottle-feed (check out the below video!)
the calf, as his lack of vision and Kito's inexperience as a mother
meant they weren't having any success with suckling," said Hamilton Zoo
acting director Samantha Kudeweh.
Photo Credit: Hamilton Zoo
"However since then the calf's eyesight has gradually improved and
with support from staff a breakthrough came five days after the birth
when the calf found the right spot and began to suckle. We hope the
calf's eyesight will continue to improve in the coming weeks."
Photo Credit: Hamilton Zoo
The calf, which is yet to be named, is the fifth baby rhino to be
born at the facility and the seventh to ever be born in New Zealand.
Last April a female white rhino calf named Kifaru was born at Hamilton
Zoo to first-time mum Moesha.
In the early 1900s white rhinos were on the verge of extinction
however thanks to the protection of habitat and animals this species has
gone from fewer than 100 animals to over 17,000 in the wild, and they
are no longer on the endangered species list.
One of the few alpine parrots in the world, the Kea are known for their extreme curiosity, frequently landing on tourists' backpacks and stealing clothing and shiny things and even pulling rubber parts off of cars. Hunted to near extinction by New Zealand's ranchers, long annoyed by the omnivorous parrots' occasional attacks on their livestock (parrot attack!), the Kea was protected in 1986 and has marginally recovered to a population of a few thousand.
The Hamilton Zoo in New Zealand was lucky enough to welcome two extremely rare Kea chicks just last month.
Last week, Zooborns delivered footage of Hamilton Zoo's boisterous rhino baby tossing around both before and after birth. When he's not racing around the enclosure to the amusement of zoo visitors and keepers alike, he exhibits a gentler, softer side.
Maybe you've felt a baby kicking in the womb, but we can only imagine what it's like to have a baby rhino fussing about in there (check out his feet)! In this short but fascinating video, the Hamilton Zoo in New Zealand shares their new baby white rhino's progress from gestation, through his first steps, and first romps about his enclosure.