London Zoo

'Preemie' Penguin Saved by London Zoo Keepers

1_Rainbow the penguin chick at ZSL London Zoo (c) ZSL (6)

Keepers at ZSL London Zoo’s were checking the nest boxes at their Penguin Beach exhibit. Unfortunately, they found one of this season’s eggs had been accidentally broken by its parents, but they were astonished to find the tiny chick still alive inside!

2_Rainbow the penguin chick at ZSL London Zoo (c) ZSL (2)

3_Rainbow the penguin chick at ZSL London Zoo (c) ZSL (1)

4_Rainbow the penguin chick at ZSL London Zoo (c) ZSL (8)Photo Credits: Zoological Society of London

Quick-thinking keepers knew the delicate Humboldt Penguin chick (nicknamed Rainbow) wouldn’t survive without help, so they rushed her to the Zoo’s onsite vet clinic, where the heroic vet team sprang into action.

ZSL penguin keeper, Suzi Hyde, explained, “The chick had a little way to go before she should have hatched, so it was very much touch and go – but we knew we had to get her safely out of the shell and into an incubator to give her a fighting chance.”

ZSL vets carefully set about removing bits of shell from around the tiny chick with tweezers until she could be gently lifted out and laid in a makeshift nest - before being transferred to the custom-built incubation room in the colony’s home on Penguin Beach.

“We were overjoyed when she started begging for food by opening her mouth wide and making tiny squawks. It was the first sign that she might just make it.”

Rainbow spent the next few weeks cozying up to a cuddly toy penguin under the warming glow of a heat lamp and being hand-fed three times a day with a special diet of blended fish, vitamins and minerals – referred to by ZSL London Zoo’s bird keepers as ‘penguin milkshake’.

“Rainbow’s bodyweight has steadily increased by around 20 per cent every day, so she’s growing extremely quickly,” said Suzi. “She’s always eager for her next meal and makes sure we know it’s feeding time – she may be only weeks old but she’s definitely perfected her squawk already.”

“Penguins do accidentally step on their eggs, which – even if the chick survives – invariably leads to them rejecting the infant. Luckily a combination of heroic keepers and a very plucky chick meant that Rainbow will be splashing around in Penguin Beach with the rest of the colony this summer.”

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Just Tobi and Ria…and Baby Makes Three!

1_Tamandua baby (c) ZSL London Zoo 3

‘Tobi the Tamandua’ took-up residence at ZSL London Zoo, last October, as a potential companion for female, Ria. Zookeepers hoped to someday hear the pitter patter of tiny Tamandua toes. So, the Zoo was overjoyed when just five months later they spotted a tiny baby clinging to Ria’s back. When keepers did the math, they discovered that Ria must have fallen pregnant the same week of meeting her new mate, making newcomer Tobi a very fast mover!

ZSL keeper, Steve Goodwin, said, “Ria went into her nest box that morning, which isn’t unusual, as Tamanduas are nocturnal animals and often nap during the day. But at around 5pm, as the sun began to set, she amazed us all when she came outside for her evening explorations with a tiny newborn holding onto her fur.”

“We were confidant Ria was pregnant, as she’d just started to put on some weight, but we weren’t expecting to welcome a new member of the family quite so soon. They must have got together pretty much on their very first date – Tobi clearly pulled out all the stops!”

2_Tamandua baby (c) ZSL London Zoo 4

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4_Tamandua baby (c) ZSL London Zoo 2Photo Credits: ZSL (Zoological Society of London)

The new baby, nicknamed ‘Poco’ by keepers, has remained close to Ria since the Easter Monday birth. Mum is sometimes seen tucking the youngster safely away in a hollow log.

Now, the two-month-old has started to tentatively venture away from mum to explore its “Rainforest Life” home, which the Zoo’s Tamanduas share with Two-toed Sloths (Marilyn, Leander and baby Lento), Emperor Tamarins, Red Titi Monkeys and Fruit Bats.

Steve added, “We set up a camera to keep a close eye on the pair, as they’re most active at night: we’ve been delighted to see the youngster peeking its head out of the tree stump at after dark, and now Ria is confident enough to carry her around the exhibit visitors will be able to spot the pair - especially at our Zoo Nights events this summer.”

The little one has also been spotted practicing sticking out its long tongue, which will grow up to 40cm in length and is used to extract tasty insects from inside branches and holes.

The Tamandua (Tamandua tetradactyla) is a nocturnal mammal. It is part of the anteater family and native to South America. They are also impressive climbers - holding on to mum enables the infant to build up the valuable muscles needed to climb easily through the treetop branches of London’s only living rainforest.

Juvenile Tamanduas spend the first three months clinging to their mother’s backs, sliding down to feed before pulling themselves back up to nestle into mum’s fur. They have fantastic camouflage as their distinguishable matching patterns align to create one continuous stripe, allowing the young pup to avoid the eyes of predators.

Keepers won’t know the youngster’s sex until it is scanned by vets, as the baby will remain close to mum until around six-months-old. Boy or girl, the newborn is a valuable addition to its species and once its sex is confirmed, its details will be added to the European Studbook (ESB), part of a coordinated breeding programme for Tamanduas.

The youngster’s public debut is just in time for the ZSL London’s Zoo Nights event. Every Friday, throughout June, visitors will be able to explore the Zoo after-hours, seeing its 19,000 animals in a completely different light.

See the Zoo come alive after dark at Zoo Nights. To book tickets or find out more, visit: www.zsl.org/ZSLZooNights

5_Tamandua baby night cam first image (c) ZSL London Zoo


Keepers Are ‘Slow’ to Spot New Sloth Baby

1_Marilyn and Lento - two-toed sloths (c) ZSL London Zoo (3)

After mum Marilyn’s nearly yearlong pregnancy, keepers at ZSL London Zoo finally caught a glimpse of her new little one that was born on February 12. Keepers spotted the new Two-toed Sloth infant, being cradled by mum, as they made their morning rounds.

ZSL sloth keeper, Steve Goodwin, said, “We saw two big brown eyes peering out through mum’s fur, and on closer inspection, we were delighted to see a healthy-looking youngster tucked into her tummy.”

“Sloths have a long gestation period, so the infants are already physically well-developed when they’re born. Incredibly, this means they are able to eat solid food right away. However, juveniles tend to stay with their mother for around 12 months before leaving their side - they’re a very ‘clingy’ species in general; to trees and to their mum.”

2_Marilyn and Lento - two-toed sloths (c) ZSL London Zoo (1)

3_Marilyn and Lento - two-toed sloths (c) ZSL London Zoo (2)Photo Credits: ZSL London Zoo

Keepers won’t know the youngster’s sex until vets scan it, as there aren’t many obvious external differences between males and females. Boy or girl, the newborn is a valuable addition to its species and once its sex is confirmed, its details will be added to the European Studbook (ESB), which is part of a coordinated breeding programme for Two-toed Sloths.

In the meantime, keepers report that they are keeping a close eye on both Marilyn and her one-month-old baby, who they’ve nicknamed Lento, which means ‘slow’ in Spanish.

“Marilyn is doing an excellent job as a mum,” says Steve. “The baby is growing fast and is very inquisitive – we’ve spotted some brave attempts to clamber over mum’s head, using her as a climbing frame and grabbing at the trees!”

Two-toed Sloths (Choloepus didactylus) are nocturnal mammals that are native to South America. Although notoriously slow, they are impressive climbers. Holding on to its mum will enable ZSL London Zoo’s new infant to build up the valuable muscles needed to climb easily through the tree-top branches of its Rainforest Life home.

The new youngster was also born with the Two-toed Sloth’s characteristically impressive claws, which will grow up to four inches in length and also help when the youngster is ready to move from tree to tree on its own.

Guests can visit new mum, Marilyn, and the whole incredible sloth family at ZSL London Zoo’s Rainforest Life, while journeying through the Zoo’s brand new Superpowers Trail. Find out more at: www.zsl.org


Endangered Okapi Named ‘Meghan’ at ZSL London Zoo

2_Meghan okapi (c) ZSL London Zoo (2)

Zookeepers at ZSL London Zoo have named their new Okapi calf, “Meghan”, in honor of Prince Harry’s fiancée, Meghan Markle.

The name is particularly fitting since Okapis were first brought to the world’s attention in 1901 by another Harry - ZSL fellow, Sir Harry Johnstone.

Zookeeper, Gemma Metcalf said, “A new birth is always cause for celebration, but Meghan’s important arrival is also a great opportunity to draw attention to the Okapi, which is an extremely endangered species.”

After a 14-month gestation, it was a relatively speedy birth for first-time mum, Oni. The youngster emerged in just over half an hour on December 9, 2017. It wasn’t long before keepers, who were watching on camera from the next room, saw the newborn rise up to take her first tentative steps towards mum for a feed.

Gemma continued, “We’re very pleased with how mother and baby are doing. Oni is being very attentive, making sure she regularly licks her clean and keeping a watchful eye over Meghan as she sleeps.”

1_Meghan okapi (c) ZSL London Zoo (3)

3_Meghan okapi (c) ZSL London Zoo (4)

4_Meghan okapi (c) ZSL London Zoo (6)Photo Credits: ZSL (Zoological Society of London)

An important addition to the Zoo family, Meghan is already a firm favorite among visitors. To find out more about Okapis and the 18,000 other incredible residents at ZSL London Zoo visit: www.zsl.org

The Okapi (Okapia johnstoni), also known as the ‘forest giraffe’ or ‘zebra giraffe’, is an artiodactyl mammal native to the northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Central Africa. Although the species bears striped markings similar to zebras, it is most closely related to the giraffe.

They are classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List. Major threats include habitat loss due to logging and human settlement. Extensive hunting for bushmeat and skin and illegal mining have also led to a decline in populations.

5_Meghan okapi (c) ZSL London Zoo (1)


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.

2_Hanuman langur birth (c) ZSL (4)

3_Hanuman langur birth (c) ZSL (1)

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, the tiny female Hanuman Langur was spotted by zookeepers early in the morning on 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

1_Easter penguin chicks (ZSL London Zoo) (5)

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.

2_Easter penguin chicks (ZSL London Zoo) (1)

3_Easter penguin chicks (ZSL London Zoo) (4)

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

1_ZSL London Zoo - Baby Colobus Monkey Mandible (3)

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

1_Beanie - baby giant anteater (c) ZSL London Zoo (4)

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!”

2_Beanie - baby giant anteater (c) ZSL London Zoo (2)

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.
Meerkat Christmas treat 9c) ZSL London Zoo (2)

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!