London Zoo

London Zoo Welcomes First Birth at New Exhibit

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Zookeepers at ZSL London Zoo are celebrating the arrival of the first Hanuman Langur born at the Zoo’s Land of the Lions exhibit.

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4_Hanuman langur birth (c) ZSL (3)Photo Credits: ZSL London Zoo

Born to first-time parents, Saffron and Rex, after a 200-day gestation, zookeepers were delighted when they first spotted the tiny, female Hanuman Langur early on the morning of July 23.

Zookeeper, Agnes Kiss, said, “The first Hanuman Langur to be born to this troop at ZSL London Zoo and the first new arrival at Land of the Lions, this tiny primate is an exciting symbol of the success of this project.”

“To mark the occasion we’ve called her, Kamala, which means ‘lotus flower’ in Gujarati – the sign of beauty, fertility and prosperity.”

“Everyone is very pleased with Kamala’s progress so far,” said Agnes. “At the moment she has a pale face and downy dark fur, but it won’t be long before her skin turns black and her coat thickens and turns a magnificent silver - just like her parents.”

“She’ll also grow into her large ears, which are perfect for picking up subtle noises over long distances; in the Gir National Park, Hanuman Langurs act as an early warning system for other wildlife – making loud ‘barks’ from high in the treetops to warn of a lion’s approach. In Land of the Lions, the troop can often be heard vocalizing in response to the lions’ roars, which Kamala will learn how to do from her parents.”

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Tiny Turtle Arrives for ‘World Turtle Day’

Spiny hill turtle 2 (c) ZSL

A tiny turtle made a timely debut on May 15 at ZSL London Zoo. Not only was the Spiny Hill Turtle hatchling the first ever of its kind to hatch at the Zoo, it arrived just in time for World Turtle Day on May 23*.

After keeping a close eye on the egg during its 136 day incubation period, keepers managed to capture the ‘cracking’ moment the endangered Spiny Hill Turtle came out of its shell, on a time lapse camera.

ZSL keeper, Francesca Servini, said, “The reptile team have spent four years carefully researching this fascinating turtle species so we’re very excited to have our first ever hatch at ZSL London Zoo – just in time for World Turtle Day.”

“The hatchling used its special egg-tooth to break the shell’s surface early in the morning, and it took 36 hours to completely push its way out. The egg-tooth, which is a tiny sharp white bump on the turtle’s head, will soon fall off now its job is done.”

The turtle weighed a tiny 33g at birth and measured just 61mm, although it will eventually grow to approximately 27cm in size.

Spiny hill turtle (c) ZSLPhoto Credits: ZSL London Zoo

The Spiny Hill Turtle (Heosemys spinosa) is native to lowland and hill rainforests, usually in the vicinity of small streams, from Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.

The unusual spiny shell spikes that give the turtles their name are used to deter predators and provide camouflage among their forest floor homes.

The Spiny Hill Turtle has been classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List. According to the IUCN: “…known trade volumes of the species have declined by about 50% in Indonesia recently despite high demand in the food trade. It is restricted to small and isolated populations over much of its range, although there is a lack of data for some areas.”

ZSL London Zoo is honored to be a part of the work being done to save this endangered species. According to a Zoo spokesperson, “It has been estimated that more than ten million turtles are being traded for food, traditional medicine and the pet trade each year in Asia, where this turtle originates. The husbandry research being carried out here at ZSL London Zoo is becoming increasingly important in guaranteeing the existence of these animals for the future.”

*American Tortoise Rescue (ATR), a nonprofit organization established in 1990 for the protection of all species of tortoise and turtle, is celebrating its 17th annual World Turtle Day® on May 23rd. The day was created by ATR to celebrate and protect turtles and tortoises and their disappearing habitats around the world. Now celebrated around the globe, turtle and tortoise lovers are taking “shellfies” and holding “shellebrations” in the US, Canada, Pakistan, Borneo, India, Australia, the UK and many other countries.

ATR launched World Turtle Day to increase respect and knowledge for the world’s oldest creatures. These gentle animals have been around for 200 million years, yet they are rapidly disappearing as a result of smuggling, the exotic food industry, habitat destruction, global warming and the cruel pet trade. It is a very sad time for turtles and tortoises of the world.

For more information about American Tortoise Rescue and World Turtle Day, see their website: www.worldturtleday.org


London Zoo Celebrates Arrival of ‘Easter' Chicks

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The first of two Penguin chicks timed its arrival perfectly, at ZSL London Zoo, by hatching on Easter Monday (April 17).

Followed two days later by its feathery sibling, both Humboldt Penguin chicks are now being hand-reared by keepers in the Zoo’s custom-built incubation room, after their parents were unable to care for them.

Covered in soft grey feathers, the tiny birds are weighed every morning and hand-fed three times a day by their keepers, and can be seen by visitors cozying up to a cuddly toy Penguin under the warming glow of a heat lamp.

ZSL’s Head of Birds, Adrian Walls, said, “While everyone was tucking into chocolate eggs over Easter, the first Penguin chick of the year was hatching at ZSL London Zoo. It was great timing!”

Keepers at ZSL London Zoo are taking turns looking after the youngsters, who aren’t shy about letting them know when they’re “peck-ish”.

“The chicks’ bodyweight increases by around 20 per cent every day, so they grow extremely quickly and are always eager for their next meal,” said Adrian. “They make sure we know it’s feeding time…they may be only weeks old but they’ve definitely perfected their squawks already.”

The feisty fish-lovers are being fed a special diet of blended fish, vitamins and minerals, referred to by ZSL London Zoo’s bird keepers as ‘penguin milkshake’. But as they grow bigger, they’ll also be given small portions of fresh fish to support their development.

The chicks are expected to stay in the incubation room until they reach 10-weeks-old, by which time they should have grown from around 70g at hatch to 3kg in weight.

They’ll then move into the Zoo’s specially-designed ‘penguin nursery’, which includes a shallow pool for their swimming lessons, before eventually being introduced to the other 70 Humboldt Penguins in the colony.

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4_Easter penguin chicks (ZSL London Zoo) (3)Photo Credits: ZSL London Zoo

The Humboldt Penguin (Spheniscus humboldti), also known as the Chilean Penguin, Peruvian Penguin, or Patranca, is a South American species that breeds in coastal Chile and Peru. Its nearest relatives are the African Penguin, the Magellanic Penguin and the Galápagos Penguin. The Penguin is named after the cold water current it swims in, which is named after Alexander von Humboldt, an explorer.

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London Zoo Welcomed New Colobus to Troop

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ZSL London Zoo recently welcomed a new arrival to its troop of Eastern Black-and-white Colobus Monkeys…a tiny baby named Mandible.

After a six-month gestation period, she was born to mum Sophia on February 2. Mandible was given her unique moniker by zookeepers to fit with the tradition of naming the Colobus family after bones in the body, which includes Mandible’s siblings Anvil and Maxilla.

Bernie Corbett, zookeeper at ZSL London Zoo, said: “Colobus Monkeys are born pure white, and they stay this way until they are around five-months-old when they begin to develop their adult colouring: a glossy black coat with a fringe of long white hairs and a large white tuft at the end of the tail.”

“The new-born Colobus Monkey will cling onto her mum as she swings from tree to tree, leaping metres into the air. Mandible is starting to test out her jumping skills and mimicking mum as she learns new actions and movements.”

“Contrary to what many people believe, not all monkeys eat bananas. This species (Colobus guereza) are leaf eaters; they enjoy a range of leaves, flowers and twigs. A particular favourite of the ZSL London Zoo family are the twigs from an apple tree.”

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4_ZSL London Zoo - Baby Colobus Monkey Mandible (1)Photo Credits: ZSL London Zoo

The Eastern Black-and-white Colobus is native to much of west central and east Africa, including Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Chad.

The species is currently classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List. Although the population is somewhat stable, threats exist in the wild. According to the IUCN: “This species is threatened in parts of its range by habitat loss through deforestation for timber, conversion to exotic forest plantations and conversion to agricultural land (e.g., von Hippel et al. 2000). Hunting may also be severely impacting populations in the western part of the species range; Mwenja (2007) commented, in passing, that this subspecies is killed for its skins by local pastoralists in and around the Matthews Range Forest Reserve.”

The family of Colobus Monkeys, at ZSL London Zoo, is the largest troop in Europe and second largest in the world (according to international zoo database, ZIMS).

The zoo’s troop of 17 will be moving house, in the summer of 2018, to a newly renovated enclosure. Their new home, the iconic Snowdon Aviary, will be transformed into a walk-through exhibit for the stunning primates.

For more information or to visit Mandible and the other 18,000 incredible residents at ZSL London Zoo (and save 10% on ticket prices*), simply book online now at: www.zsl.org  

*Children under three-years-old can visit for free.


Giant Anteater Loves Cuddles With Her Teddy Bear

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A female Giant Anteater was born on December 28, at ZSL London Zoo, weighing just 1.2kg.

Keepers soon realized first-time mum Inca was unable to care for her infant and that the pup would need a helping hand. Staff recruited a special teddy bear to help take on the role of surrogate mum to the tiny new arrival.

Young Anteaters get around by clinging to their mother’s backs, so the newborn has been keeping a firm grip on zookeeper Amy Heath’s shoulder, before going to sleep cuddling her giant teddy bear.

Nicknamed “Beanie” by her keepers, the young grey and black colored female already has impressive curved claws, which will grow up to four inches in length and will eventually be used to dig around in the ground to find tasty ants and termites.

Zookeeper Amy Heath said, “ZSL London Zoo is home to a group of Giant Anteaters: male Bonito and his female mates, Inca and Sauna. We were delighted when we discovered Inca was pregnant; but unfortunately she rejected the infant so we’ve stepped in to help until the baby is big enough to go back in with her parents.

“Hand-rearing an animal is an amazing privilege, but it’s hard work too; we’ve been bottle-feeding Beanie every two to three hours with special replacement milk and making sure she’s kept warm at night with a temperature-controlled incubator.

“Giant Anteaters are an incredible species. They’re unique to look at, and their iconic snouts are perfectly designed to sniff out their food. While they’ve got no teeth, their claws are the perfect tools for digging an opening into ants’ nests, and Beanie has been practicing her digging skills on her teddy bear…or even sometimes my shoulder!

“We’re very pleased with how well Beanie is developing. At 1.6kg, she’s gained about half a kilo in a month, and is the ideal weight for her age. She’s a very strong youngster with a sweet personality; she loves to burrow her long snout into my neck for a cuddle!”

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3_Beanie - baby giant anteater (c) ZSL London Zoo (3)Photo Credits: ZSL London Zoo

Although Beanie may be small now, eventually she’ll grow to be around 7ft in length and weigh as much as 45kg. In the meantime, Amy has been keeping detailed records on everything the infant does, from eating and sleeping to even her toilet habits.

Though she’ll continue to be hand-fed until she’s around six-months-old, the stripy baby will soon be introduced to the rest of the Giant Anteater family at ZSL London Zoo, where keepers hope that more experienced female, Sauna, will take over other mothering duties, such as carrying Beanie around and socializing her, so she can grow up part of the group.

The Giant Anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla), also known as the Ant Bear, is a large insectivorous mammal native to Central and South America. The mostly terrestrial species is one of four living species of anteaters and is classified with sloths in the order Pilosa.

The Giant Anteater is classified as “Vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Threats include habitat destruction, fire, and poaching for fur and bush meat. However, some anteaters inhabit protected areas.

To find out more about Beanie and the 18,000 other incredible residents at ZSL London Zoo visit: www.zsl.org


It's Christmas for the Animals at London Zoo

Tiger cubs get Christmas presents (c) ZSL London Zoo (1)
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.
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Tiger cubs get Christmas presents (c) ZSL London Zoo (3)
Meerkat Christmas treat 9c) ZSL London Zoo (6)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.”

Merry Christmas from ZooBorns!


“Are These My Stripes or Yours?”

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ZooBorns recently offered readers a glimpse of the beautiful twin Sumatran Tigers born at ZSL London Zoo. (Please see the lovely pics from our article: “Zoo Releases Video of Cubs for International Tiger 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.

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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.

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Rare Baby Aye-aye Not So Spooky

Aye-aye 2016 (c) ZSL Tony Bates (3)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. 

Aye-aye 2016 (c) ZSL Tony Bates (4)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.


Zoo Releases Video of Cubs for International Tiger Day

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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.”

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4_Tiger Cub - ZSL London ZooPhoto 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.

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Baby Sloth Cuddles With Furry Friend

Sloth baby bottle feed at ZSL London Zoo - July 2015 (c)ZSL
A baby Two-toed Sloth at the London Zoo has two special friends:  a zoo keeper and a stuffed toy Sloth to cuddle with.Yawning sloth baby at ZSL London Zoo - July 2015 (c)ZSL

Sloth baby on toy sloth at ZSL London Zoo - July 2015 (c)ZSLPhoto 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.