Christmas gifts aren't just for people - the animals at ZSL London Zoo got their paws on Christmas presents this year, too!
Six-month-old Sumatran Tiger cubs Achilles and Karis woke up to a pile of pretty presents to rip open, while the Meerkat mob merrily munched on pinecone ornaments stuffed with veggies, hanging from a Christmas tree.
Photo Credit: ZSL London Zoo
Zoological Manager Mark Habben said, “We love a bit of festive cheer at ZSL London Zoo, and like to find fun ways for the animals to join in the festivities."
“We’ve come up with a variety of activities to encourage them to use their natural skills, like foraging or sniffing out their next meal: our Tiger cubs loved using their newly learnt hunting prowess to rip open their presents, while our Meerkats searched for their treats under the tree - just like kids all over the country on Christmas day.”
The cubs were born June 27 to mom, Melati, and dad, Jae Jae. Keepers eventually discovered they were dealing with a male and a female cub.
In relation to “twins”, there is always the question of how to tell which-from-which. A recent blog post from the Zoo offered some insight into how they are able identify which one is the relaxed male, Achilles, and which one is confident female, Karis.
Photo Credits: ZSL London Zoo / Images 1 & 2: Karis (left), Achilles (right) ; Images 3 & 4: Achilles (two distinct curves come out of the outer corners of his eyes); Image 5: Karis (small heart-shape, or upside down V, on top of head)
Keepers note that Achilles is darker in comparison to his sister Karis, and he also has thicker markings. According to the Zoo, Achilles very much takes after dad Jae Jae, with a chilled-out personality and wide face, and young Karis is defined as her mother’s daughter, with narrow features and feisty character.
Achilles also has two distinct curves that come out of the outer corners of his eyes. These thick, dark lines are prominent in comparison to markings around sister Karis’s eyes.
If looking at Karis from above, she has a small heart shape (or upside down 'V') on the top of her head, in addition to some solid strips of ginger on her back. Tigers ordinarily have a solid black line running down their spine, but Karis has a few breaks, resulting in two distinct stripes running horizontally across the length of her back.
The mischievous pair has had meat introduced into their diet. According to the Zoo’s blog post, “When they’re not having play fights with each other you’ll most likely find them enjoying a nap somewhere in Tiger Territory, sleeping for up to 20 hours a day.”
The Sumatran Tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) is the smallest of the six subspecies in existence today and are only found on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia.
Originally, nine Tiger subspecies were found in parts of Asia but three have become extinct in the 20th century. Less than 400 Sumatran Tigers remain the wild. They are classified as “Critically Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Sporting a crooked finger, piercing yellow eyes, and coming out only after dark, some might think this baby Aye-aye at ZSL London Zoo was custom-made for Halloween. But the baby’s arrival is a rare event that will benefit efforts to conserve this unique species.
The baby Aye-aye, born on August 1, is a first for ZSL London Zoo. Named Malcolm, the infant emerged from its secluded nest box for the first time last week.
Photo Credit: Tony Bates/ZSL London Zoo
Aye-ayes, which are a species of Lemur, have an unusually large middle finger and are considered harbingers of doom in their native Madagascar. Legend has it that if an aye-aye points its long finger at you, death is not far away. In reality, Aye-ayes use the elongated digit to forage for tasty beetle larvae from inside trees.
Aye-ayes are solitary and nocturnal, so their habits are difficult to observe. They eat, sleep, and mate high in the trees.
Found only in Madagascar, Aye-ayes are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Like all species in Madagascar, they face enormous pressure from human activity, such as deforestation and agriculture. Due to the belief that Aye-ayes portend doom, they are often killed by villagers. Only about 50 Aye-ayes live in zoos worldwide.
The twin Sumatran Tiger cubs, at ZSL London Zoo, recently joined their seven-year-old mum, Melati, when she emerged to bask in the summer sunshine.
In honor of “International Tiger Day”, keepers at the Zoo have released incredible close-up footage of the critically endangered cubs, born June 27.
According to Tigerday.org, “International Tiger Day is held annually on July 29 to give worldwide attention to the preservation of tigers. It is both an awareness day as a celebration. It was founded at the Saint Petersburg Tiger Summit in 2010. This was done because at that moment wild tigers were too close to extinction. Many animal welfare organizations pledged to help these wonderful creatures and are still helping to raise funds to reach this goal. The goal of Tiger Day is to promote the protection and expansion of the wild tigers habitats and to gain support through awareness for tiger conservation.”
Photo Credits: ZSL London Zoo
Concerning the cubs' recent adventure, Senior Curator of Mammals, Malcolm Fitzpatrick remarked, “…The trio spent all day outside in the sunshine, and when Melati took a break, dad Jae Jae was on hand to keep an eye on the twins.
“The cubs are very young, so they’re still sticking quite close to mum, but the more time they spend outside the more confidant they’ll become. We’re looking forward to seeing them explore the rest of their new territory over the coming weeks.”
Keepers have been keeping a close eye on the cubs since they made their public debut in the Zoo’s Tiger Territory exhibit, and they are pleased with how well the twins have been developing.
Until they all ventured out for the first time, keepers report that Melati and her small duo were left alone in their dens. Keepers are now starting to spend more time working near the dens and the enclosure. They are slowly introducing the cubs to the keepers’ presence, which will, hopefully, allow for a more relaxed and comfortable experience when the cubs have their first health check. Once the cubs are sexed, they will also be given names.
A baby Two-toed Sloth at the London Zoo has two special friends: a zoo keeper and a stuffed toy Sloth to cuddle with.
Photo Credit: ZSL London Zoo The baby, born in June to second-time parents Marilyn and Leander, needed a helping hand when his mother stopped producing milk and was unable to care for her infant.
Keepers have named the young male Edward after the character Edward Scissorhands, due to his impressive claws, which will grow up to four inches in length and enable him to cling on and climb easily through the trees in his habitat.
To help strengthen Edward’s little limbs, keepers fitted his Sloth-teddy with carabiners so that it can be hung from a branch, enabling the youngster to cling the same way he would with mom.
Edward gets a bottle of goat’s milk every three hours, but, befitting the notoriously slow nature of Sloths, keepers sometimes have to wait for him to stir from a deep slumber before feeding can begin. When Edward is hungry, he lets keepers know by emitting a loud, sneeze-like squeak.
Detailed records are maintained on everything the infant does, including eating , sleeping, and even Edward’s potty-habits. Sloths leave their high tree-top habitats only once a week to go to the toilet, so by keeping track of his poop, Edward’s keepers can account for any weight losses or gains.
Two-toed Sloths are slow-moving, tree-dwelling, nocturnal herbivores, found in tropical forests in Central and South America. Sloths are strong swimmers and can drop from a tree branch into a river to swim across it. When sleeping, Sloths often curl up in a ball in the fork of a tree.
Arriving from Scotland, Forrest is only 6-months-old and was hand-reared by his previous keepers. At the moment, the little guy is feeling a little shy around his new home, but keepers have been giving him lots of attention to help him settle, including lots of his favorite figs and peaches.
Kinkajous originate from Central and South America, living in tropical rainforests. They’re omnivores, meaning they eat both meat and plants, so Forrest is happy eating anything from small mammals, to tasty bits of fruit.
In the wild, Kinkajous also enjoy sipping at nectar, which they get with their long tongues. These tongues aren’t their only useful appendage. Kinkajous possess amazing tails that measure out longer than their head and body. These tails are also prehensile, meaning they can be used to hang upside down from branches of trees.
Keepers have already started encouraging this natural behavior as a form of enrichment. It’s hoped that when Forrest overcomes his stage fright, he’ll be able to show off this amazing behavior in the zoo’s Animals in Action demonstrations. However, for now, Forrest is quite happy using his cute little face to get more figs and peaches.
ZSL London Zoo has welcomed its first ever baby Sloth, after a very surprise pregnancy.
Zookeepers were dealt a huge surprise in the Rainforest Life exhibit when female Sloth Marilyn was found to be pregnant – as they didn’t even know the male and female had mated.
Photo credit: Paul Boyd
Male Leander arrived from Germany at the end of 2012 to be paired with ZSL London Zoo’s resident female Marilyn, but despite their ploys to get the pair together, keepers had no idea that the sloths had even acknowledged one another, let alone successfully mated.
Partula Hebe is one of eleven Snail species that have been extinct in the wild for over 20 years and have only survived due to an international zoo breeding program. The same zoo community, in close collaboration with the French Polynesian Government, has led a field conservation initiative to re-establish these endemic Snails back to their island homes. The Partulid Action Plan aims to reintroduce all surviving species to their island homes by the end of the decade. Bristol Zoo Gardens, ZSL, Edinburgh, Chester and Marwell Wildlife are some of the zoos involved in helping conserve this species.
Photo credit: ZSL London Zoo
These amazing images show an adult Partula Hebe Bella Snail sharing a special edition Darwin £2 coin with its 3-week-old baby at ZSL London Zoo. The species is one of 10 highlighted by the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) as owing its survival to zoos.
There’s a bright new addition at ZSL London Zoo – a neon orange baby monkey. And Zooborns first introduced you to the baby HERE.
Keepers at the Zoo were delighted when first-time mum Lu Lu, a rare Francois Langur, gave birth to the flame-haired baby in early September. Baby Tango's hair will gradually become black like Mom and Dad's when the baby is about six months old. In the mean time, it makes the baby even easier to see when out in their habitat.
Francois Langurs are one of the world’s rarest monkeys, and originate from northeast Vietnam and China. Classed as critically endangered, their populations are declining rapidly because of habitat loss.
First-time mom Lu Lu, a rare Francois Langur, gave birth to a brilliant red-haired baby on September 1 at the London Zoo. Lu Lu and dad Neo have dark black fur. The baby, who is named Tango, is covered head-to-toe in bright orange fur, making it quite tricky to see the family resemblance.
Zookeeper Kathryn Sanders said: “Baby Tango is currently rocking the redhead look, but it won’t actually be ginger for very long.” She added: “Its fur will begin to darken at around three months of age, and they are usually completely black by the time they reach six months old.”
The yet-to-be sexed youngster spends most of its time snuggled up to mum, but in the same way the females behave in the wild, “auntie” Lee Lee also helps out with babysitting duties. Francois Langurs are one of the world’s rarest monkeys, and originate from northeast Vietnam and China. Classed as critically endangered, their populations are declining rapidly because of habitat loss.