Longleat Safari Park

Rare Armadillo Born at Longleat

1_Baby three banded armadillo on hand at Longleat PIC Ian Turner (1200x913)

A rare Southern Three-Banded Armadillo has been born at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park, in the UK. Born at the end of April, Charlie, as he has been nicknamed by keepers, is only the second armadillo to be successfully reared at the Wiltshire park.

2_Baby three banded armadillo with mum at Longleat PIC Ian Turner (1200x958)

3_Baby three banded  armadillo and its mum at Longleat PIC Ian TurnerPhoto Credits: Ian Turner

Keeper Emily Randall said, “Charlie is doing really well and putting on lots of weight. When he was born he was about the size of a golf ball, and although his armour was very soft, his claws weren’t!”

Emily continued, “The Three-Banded is one of only two species of armadillo that can roll into a defensive ball, in fact it is known as the ‘ball armadillo’ in Brazil. The ears can be fully tucked into the shell, and the head and tail interlock to make an incredibly strong seal. In captivity they can be expected to live for up to 20 years.”

“Charlie’s mum, Hattie and dad, Knobbly, who is 14, have been living here at Longleat since 2012. We’re really proud of Hattie and Knobbly and the rest of the armadillo family we have had here at Longleat. Charlie will now be the third generation of the same family who has been born in the park.”

The armadillo’s diet mainly consists of ants and termites. When it detects prey, it digs a hole and puts its nose into it, using its long, sticky tongue to lap up any insects.

The defense system of the Southern Three-Banded Armadillo is so effective it’s safe from the majority of predators. Adult pumas and jaguars are the only South American mammals powerful enough to be a natural threat. However, the main danger to the species is the destruction of its natural habitat to graze livestock.

The species has suffered a 30% decline in population, in the last 10 years, in its native South America. It has been classified as “Near Threatened” on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List of Threatened Species.


Baby Meerkat Emerges from the Burrow at Longleat

Baby meerkat at Longleat Safari and Adventure Park two PIC Ian TurnerA baby Meerkat is making its first public appearance at the United Kingdom’s Longleat Safari & Adventure Park.

Baby meerkat at Longleat Safari and Adventure Park one PIC Ian Turner
Baby meerkat and adult at Longleat Safari and Adventure Park PIC Ian TurnerPhoto Credit:  Ian Turner
 

Although born in May, the pup has spent the last two months inside an underground den with first-time parents Cassie and Pipsqueak.  This week, the baby is venturing outside for the first time!

“It’s been a long wait but the pup is now loving the outside and can be regularly spotted alongside the six other adults in this group,” said Longleat’s Darren Beasley.  “All the older Meerkats take turns in keeping watch over the baby and share any tasty bugs that they find.”   Keepers don’t know the baby’s gender yet.

Baby Meerkats are born virtually naked and helpless with their eyes closed. They spend the first weeks of life underground and are completely reliant on their mother’s milk.  Once they begin venturing outside, they stay close to their burrows under the watchful eye of a Meerkat babysitter.

At around two months of age the pups, although still nursing, will start foraging for insects and other food items with the rest of the group but it can take up to 16 weeks for them to be completely weaned.

Native to southern Africa, Meerkats spend much of their day sunbathing.  Lying on their backs, their dark-skinned, sparsely-furred bellies act as 'solar panels' to warm them up.

Meerkats have a wide vocabulary with a variety of alarm calls. Meerkats are relatively long-lived, particularly in captivity where individuals can live for up to 12 years or more.


"Thunderbirds" Thriving After Stormy Start

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Zoo keepers at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park have nicknamed five Chilean Flamingo chicks “Thunderbirds” after the eggs were abandoned by their parents during a thunderstorm.

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Photo Credit:  Longleat Safari & Adventure Park

A violent thunderstorm apparently caused the parents to flee the nest and take shelter.  When the adult Flamingoes did not return to the nest, zoo keepers at the United Kingdom zoo collected the eggs from the nests and placed them in an incubator, where they hatched.  Now about a month old, the five chicks are fed by syringe five times per day.

Adult flamingos build a volcano-shaped nest and lay a single egg, which they then usually sit on for around a month.  “It’s extremely unusual for all the parents to abandon their eggs at the same time, however the storm was particularly severe and the adults decided to head for cover – leaving us to look after the eggs,” said Longleat’s Mark Tye.

All Flamingo chicks are born with white plumage, which they keep for around three years.  The bright red pigment in Flamingoes’ feathers is derived from pigments in the small crustaceans and other microscopic plants that the birds eat.  In zoos, special pigments are added to the Flamingoes’ diet to maintain their brilliant hues.

Chilean Flamingoes are native to lakes high in the Andes Mountains of South America and can easily withstand cold temperatures.


UPDATE! Snowy Adventure for Longleat Lion Cubs

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Last time you read about these eight Lion cubs here on ZooBorns, they were taking their first stroll with their mothers out in the habitat at Longleat Safari and Adventure Park. This time, they got out to play in inches of fluffy white snow. All four male and four female cubs were born back in August -- and between the two forays into the elements, it can be seen how much they've grown.

This group is so big because they are actually two different families, with 2 of each gender born to different first-time mothers Nikata and Louisa. All are fathered by Hugo, the zoo's majestic male. The cubs practiced plenty of climbing, crouching and pouncing on each other... and their parents.

Keeper Bob Trollope said, “Nikata and Louisa don’t seem to have any problem joining in the rough and tumble games with their cubs. However, they are extremely protective and are nowhere near as accommodating with us!”

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Photo Credit: I.Turner 


Eight Lion Cubs Muddy Their Noses at Longleat Safari and Adventure Park

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A spot of rain did nothing to dampen the spirits of eight Lion cubs at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park as they ventured outside for the very first time this week. The eight cubs, four males and four females, were born back in August, but hadn’t joined the rest of the pride until now. 

They certainly made up for lost time. Even the pouring rain didn’t seem to be a problem for the youngsters, who played and explored their new surroundings under the watchful gaze of moms Nikata and Louisa. Both the first-time mothers have impressed keepers with their attentive behavior.

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Within minutes of being released, the cubs were covered in mud and leaves and were taking turns trying to balance their way along a slippery fallen tree trunk. Several of the braver individuals practiced their ambush skills on Mom, although they were rather more cautious when dad Hugo came over to say hello.

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Keeper Bob Trollope said, “Both mums have four cubs with two of each sex. Hugo is also a first time father, but he's considerably less interested in the youngsters and soon went back to what male lions do best – sleeping!” 

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Longleat is famed for its Lions, which are kept in two separate prides. However this is the first time the ‘woodland’ pride has had cubs. At birth the cubs weighed just 2.2 pounds (1 kgm), but they now tip the scales at almost 18 pounds (8 kgs)! Males usually reach their full size by the age of two, while females will be about three years old before they’re fully grown. Adults can weigh up to 440 pounds (200 kgs).


Meet Burrowing Owlets Linford and Christie

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News from the UK's Longleat Safari & Adventure Park: A pair of tiny hand-reared baby Burrowing Owls have taken to using teacups to roost in during the day. The owlets, nicknamed Linford and Christie (as they were hatched in the year of the London Olympics), are being cared for by keeper Jimmy Robinson. 

They hatched at the Hawk Conservancy Trust in Andover six weeks ago in February in an incubator and have had to be hand reared now. “Basically I have had to have them with me 24 hours a day every day and that means taking them home with me in the evening and getting up in the middle of the night to feed them,” Jimmy said, adding, “I spend so much time with them they do look at me as their surrogate mom and will follow me around the house or sit on my shoulder. They also enjoy the security of sitting inside their teacups and like to find small spaces on my bookshelf and in between my DVD collection to snuggle up into."

Found throughout the Americas, the burrowing owl is so named because itlives in underground burrows that have been dug out by small mammals such asprairie dogs and ground squirrels. Unlike most owls they are active during the day.

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Photo Credit: Longleat Safari & Adventure Park

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Visitors Witness Rare Giant Anteater Birth

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Visitors to Longleat Safari & Adventure Park in Wiltshire, UK had an unexpected surprise when they witnessed the arrival of a rare baby Giant Anteater. Choccy, as he’s been nicknamed by keepers, made his unscheduled appearance on March 9 in front of a stunned audience of onlookers. The tiny anteater’s arrival is particularly welcome as the species is officially listed as ‘Vulnerable’ on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

For the first six months mom Maroni will carry Choccy on her back virtually all the time. The baby takes milk by moving around underneath her and only very rarely lets go. The baby aligns itself to the pattern on mom's back to provide camouflage from any predators who might prey on the young. It’s so effective that it’s almost as if the baby become invisible.

Giant Anteaters originate from South America and can be found in tropical and deciduous forests. As its name suggests the giant anteater is the largest of the anteater family and can grow to over two metres in length with tongues that extend to more than 60cm. Their long nose, tongue and sharp claws enable them to get to into ant and termite mounds, eating over 30,000 insects in a single day!

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Photo Credit: Longleat Safari & Adventure Park 

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Rare Camel Baby Gets Kisses from Mom

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It's little wonder this doting mum can't get enough of her newborn - as he's one of the most endangered animals in the world. But like all children, the adorable baby Camel preferred to squirm in embarrassment and duck out of the way of his mother's sloppy kisses. The critically endangered Camel, named Lemmy, was too slow and got a loving smacker right on his hairy head. Little Lemmy is one of the newest Bactrian Camels to be born at Longleat Safari Park, to mum Bhali, 13, and dad Khan, nine. He was born weighing a hefty 65 lbs after a gestation period of 13 months, and is now busy exploring his large enclosure at the park. Now one month old, Lemmy is one of eight Bactrian Camels at the park - and is the first to be born at Longleat in two years.

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Photo credits: BNPS

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Baby Otter Swim Lessons at Longleat

Longleat's two baby Asian Small-clawed Otters are being taught to swim in a paddling pool - by the keeper they think is their mum.  Deputy Head of Section at Animal Adventure, Beverley Allen, is rearing the pups and has bottle-fed the cute pair since they were born. The pair, named Sumalee and Kasem, are now being taught to swim ready to return to their birth parents. As Beverley explains "I started off putting them in the sink with a little bit of water when they were about nine weeks old. Then they progressed to my bath, where I could make the water a bit deeper to let them practice their breathing. Now they're splashing around quite happily in a paddling pool, with a few toys to encourage them to play." Baby otters need to be taught to swim, so while they might look a little surprised int he first half of the video, it's for their own good!

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Baby otter swim lesson longleat safari parkPhoto credits: Longleat Safari Park

You can see pictures and video of these pups when they were just a few days old in this post from September.


Endangered Giraffes Born at Longleat

The latest species to be added to the "red list" of endangered animals has received a major boost after three baby Rothschild Giraffes have been born at Longleat Safari Park in August. All three Giraffe calves are doing well and can be seen enjoying their new surrounding within the East African Reserve. The first baby to be born has been named Kaiser, a male Rothschild Giraffe and the first to be born to dad, Doto, who was only introduced to the Longleat giraffe ladies in early summer 2009. This young chap measured in at a whopping six foot at birth and is already dwarfing many of his fellow residents in this popular Wiltshire attraction.

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Photo Credits: Longleat Safari Park

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