Naturzoo Rheine

A Pile of Otter Pups at NatureZoo Rheine


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A furry pile of tiny baby Otters snuggled in the nest box at Germany’s NaturZoo Rheine represents the first-ever birth of Asian Small-clawed Otters at the zoo.

The pups, which were born on October 31, stay so close together that the staff is unsure how many pups are in the nest, but they expect there are four or five little ones.

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Photo Credit: NaturZoo Rheine

Four adult Asian Small-clawed Otters, all about six years old, arrived at NaturZoo Rheine in the summer of 2017. The staff allowed the female to select her mate from among the three males in the group and she became pregnant shortly after.

Keepers knew that the female had given birth because they heard the pups chirping loudly from within the nest box. The female did not come out of the box for four days.  Keepers respected her privacy and allowed her to bond with her newborns. Two of the males cared for the female and her pups by bringing her food during this time. Later, when the female left the nest box for brief periods, the males guarded the nest. The males also brought fresh bedding, cleaned waste from the nest, and helped transfer the pups to a second nest box when the pups were about three weeks old.

Keepers have not disturbed the nest, but one day, when all the adults were out of the box, they peeked inside to check on the pups. At first glance, they thought there were three pups in the box, but then realized there were at least four.  Later, another keeper thought she saw five pups. The number will remain a mystery until the pups come out of the nest with their mom, probably in late December.

Asian Small-clawed Otters, which are the smallest of all Otter species, are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. They inhabit wetlands, mangrove swamps, and waterways in Southeast Asia.  Many of these areas are rapidly being converted for aquaculture production, which diminishes the quality of the habitat.  Many surrounding hillsides are being converted to tea and coffee plantations, with the pesticides used in those plantations running off into waterways where Otters live.  


NaturZoo Rheine’s Penguins Go to Kindergarten

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NaturZoo Rheine considers themselves very lucky to be able to announce the hatching and rearing of nine Humboldt Penguin chicks this year.

NaturZoo’s breeding success with this species has been so huge over the past four decades, their Humboldt Penguin’s, known as “made in Rheine”, are spread all over Europe. Care must be given for a balanced distribution of bloodlines.

After brooding for 40 days, all of the eggs from this season have hatched. At an age of approximately six-weeks, the young penguins have now moved from their parents’ den nests to the “kindergarten” or crèche.

When they have successfully completed kindergarten and have molted to the first full plumage, the young Humboldt Penguins will return to the colony or move to another zoo.

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The Humboldt Penguin (Spheniscus humboldti) (also known as the Chilean Penguin, Peruvian Penguin, or Patranca) is a South American penguin 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.

Humboldt Penguins are medium-sized, growing to 56–70 cm (22–28 in) long and a weight of 3.6-5.9 kg (8-13 lbs). They have a black head with a white border that runs from behind the eye, around the black ear-coverts and chin, and joins at the throat. They have blackish-grey upper parts and whitish underpants, with a black breast-band that extends down the flanks to the thigh. Juveniles have dark heads and no breast-band. They have spines on their tongue, which they use to hold their prey.

Humboldt’s nest on islands and rocky coasts, burrowing holes in guano and sometimes using scrapes or caves.

Penguins, for the most part, breed in large colonies. Living in colonies results in a high level of social interaction between birds, which has led to a large repertoire of visual as well as vocal displays in all penguin species.

Penguins form monogamous pairs for a breeding season. Most penguins lay two eggs in a clutch. With the exception of the Emperor Penguin, where the male does it all, all penguins share the incubation duties. These incubation shifts can last days, and even weeks, as one member of the pair feeds at sea.

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Prairie Dog Pups Pop Up at NaturZoo Rheine

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A passel of Prairie Dog pups popped up this spring at Germany’s NaturZoo Rheine.  Seven playful and social babies make the colony busy and active all day long.

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The seven pups are from three different litters born to three different mothers.  All were born in the colony’s network of underground burrows and chambers.  In this extensive burrow system, there are special “rooms” for sleeping, toileting, and nursing babies.  The zoo's colony is home to 20 Prairie Dogs.

Young Prairie Dogs are born blind and hairless, and they remain safely underground until about six weeks of age.  The babies in the photos are seven to eight weeks old.

Prairie Dogs live colonies containing a few dozen to thousands of animals.  Their burrowing habits cause them to viewed as pests by ranchers in central and western North America, where they favor open grassland and rangeland.  Once numbering in the millions, their habitat has been fragmented and their numbers drastically reduced.  However, Prairie Dogs are not considered under threat of extinction at this time.

See more photos of the Prairie Dogs below.

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Three Cuban Hutias Born at NaturZoo Rheine

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Cuban Hutias are not commonly seen in zoos, but NaturZoo Rheine has been home to some of these fascinating rodents since the late 1980s. Their current colony, originating from the Munich Zoo, recently increased its size. On September 1, two hutia mothers delivered their young; one birthed twins and the other a single birth.

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Also known as Desmarest’s Hutia, the Cuban Hutia (Capromys pilorides) is a species of rodent endemic to Cuba. Weighing up to 19 lbs. (8.5 kg), it is the largest of the extant species of hutia.

They are found in a wide range of habitats throughout Cuba. In northern Cuba, they tend to be centered on areas where mangroves are abundant, and southern populations tend to favor terrestrial habitat.

Cuban Hutias normally live in pairs, but can be found alone or in small groups. They are diurnal and do not burrow. During the night, they rest in hollows of rocks or trees. They are omnivorous, eating mostly bark, leaves and fruit, but they will occasionally take in small vertebrates, such as lizards.

They breed throughout the year with a gestation period of between 110 to 140 days, although peak season is in June or July. They typically produce one to three young. The offspring are precocial, with fur, fully opened eyes and the ability to walk. In captivity, they are known to share nursing and rearing duties of all young within the colony. They are weaned at around five months and reach sexual maturity at about ten months.

Hutias were traditionally hunted for food in Cuba, as their quality of flesh and size provides a substantial meal. At one time, they were also raised as a minor stock animal. In 1968, it was made illegal to hunt or kill hutias without a permit from Cuba’s Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. Cuban Hutias are currently classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. However, all other species of hutia are considered threatened (excluding the Prehensile-tailed Hutia, which is classified as “Near Threatened”). At least one third of the identified species of hutia are now extinct.

More great pics, below the fold!

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Tiny Cavies Come Out to Play at NaturZoo Rheine

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In mid-June, NaturZoo Rheine in Germany welcomed a litter of two Patagonian Cavies, also called Mara. Baby Cavies can walk almost immediately after birth, and from their very first days, the pair started exploring outside of the burrow to play, cuddle and groom. 

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7 maraPhoto credits: Eva Bruns / NaturZoo Rheine

These rodents, a Near Threatened species related to Guinea-pigs and Chinchillas, come from Patagonia. At the zoo, the Cavies live in a larger group together with Llamas in a walk-through exhibit. Because Cavies are active during the day, visitors have a unique chance to follow the development of the litter from close-up. 

Cavies mate for life, only finding a new mate if a partner dies, and breed in the company of other pairs in shared burrows or warrens. Having many pairs of eyes around the den helps to protect offspring from predators.

The young can walk almost immediately after birth, but stay close to the den for their first three weeks as they explore. They will begin grazing on plants with their parents and are weaned at about 13 weeks old. 


Golden Jackal Pups Emerge at NaturZoo Rheine

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Two Golden Jackal pups recently emerged from their mother’s den, at NaturZoo Rheine. Until their recent venture out into the exhibit, keepers were unsure how many pups were safely tucked in the burrow. 

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The Golden Jackal (also known as Common Jackal, Asiatic Jackal, or Reed Wolf) is a canid native to north and northeastern Africa, southeastern and central Europe, Asia Minor, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia.

Although similar to a small grey wolf, the Golden Jackal is distinguished by a lighter tread, a more slender build, a sharper muzzle and a short tail. Its winter fur also differs from the wolfs by its more fulvous-reddish color.

Golden Jackals are known to mate for life, and they will reproduce for about eight years. Young jackals are born in a den. Each litter can contain up to nine pups, but two to four are the average number. The pups are nursed for about 8 weeks and then begin weaning by eating regurgitated food. They begin to eat solid food at three months and are sexually mature at eleven months. The Golden Jackal is not a pack animal.

The Golden Jackal is classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It is fairly common throughout their range, with high densities observed in areas with abundant food and cover. A minimum population estimate of over 80,000 is estimated for the Indian sub-continent. Due to their tolerance of dry habitats and their omnivorous diet, the Golden Jackal can live in a wide variety of habitats. They are opportunistic and will venture into human habitation at night to feed on garbage.

More adorable pics, below the fold!

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Sloth Bear Cub Hitches a Ride

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Back in February, ZooBorns featured news of the birth of ‘Niko’, the Sloth Bear cub, at NaturZoo Rheine. The young guy is now on public display in the Zoo’s outdoor exhibit, and he is enjoying one of the perks of being a Sloth Bear cub---traveling, in style, on mom 'Devi's' back! 

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After mating, the gestation period, for Sloth Bears, lasts from 6 to 7 months. The mother will usually give birth to one to two hairless, blind cubs. Mom will remain in the cave with the cubs for the first 6 to 10 weeks, living mainly on her body reserves. When the time comes to leave their den, the cubs will ride on mothers back to and from the feeding grounds. The mother bear will usually carry her young in this manner for about 6 months, until the cubs are almost one-third her size.

The cub was born on December 6, 2014, but the news of the birth was kept under-cover in order to allow much needed bonding time with the mother. Remote control cameras, in the den, showed the mother was doing an outstanding job with her new offspring, during this time.  In early February, it was determined the cub was a male, and Zoo staff named the new little guy ‘Niko’.

Sloth Bears, originating from India, Nepal and Sri Lanka, are rare sights in zoos. There are just 25 individuals kept in European zoos, and these are managed by a breeding-programme (EEP). This season, only Zoo Leipzig and NaturZoo Rheine are lucky enough to have successful births of this unique bear species, which is characterized by a shaggy black coat, long claws and long snout.

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Sloth Bear Born at NaturZoo Rheine

IMG_7180pNaturZoo Rheine is happy to announce the birth of a Sloth Bear! 

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The cub was born on December 6, 2014, but the news of the birth was kept under-cover in order to allow much needed bonding time with the mother. Remote control cameras, in the den, showed the mother was doing an outstanding job with her new offspring, during this time.  In early February, it was determined the cub is a male. Zoo staff have named the new little guy ‘Niko’.

Sloth Bears, originating from India, Nepal and Sri Lanka, are rare sights in zoos. There are just 25 individuals kept in European zoos, and these are managed by a breeding-programme (EEP). This season, only Zoo Leipzig and NaturZoo Rheine are lucky enough to have successful births of this unique bear species, which is characterized by a shaggy black coat, long claws and long snout.

NaturZoo Rheine has cared for Sloth Bears since 2009 when a new state-of-the-art bear-enclosure was opened. There was a first birth in December 2013, but the young was found dead two days after birth. Hopefully, Niko will be the first successful birth and rearing of a Sloth Bear in Rheine.

The parents of Niko are both zoo-born themselves: Father “Franz” was born in Leipzig Zoo in 2005, and mother “Devi” originates from Zoo Berlin, where she was born in 2008.

It will take several more weeks until the young bear will start to explore the outdoor-enclosure. So far he is exercising in the indoor-rooms.

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Lion-tailed Macaque Siblings Are Thick As Thieves at NaturZoo Rheine

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It's always so good to see siblings getting along! 

2014 was a good year for NaturZoo Rheine in Germany: last year a total of three Lion-tailed Macaques, an Endangered species, were born at the zoo. 

The two most recent are half-siblings, born on November 10 and December 14. Both mothers, one of which is a first-time mom, have been taking good care of their babies, and now the two half-sibs are starting to get to know each other.

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Adult Lion-tailed Macaques, both males and females, have gray 'beards' surrounding their faces. Newborns, lacking these beards, are born with pale rosy faces which develop from gray to black. Their beards begin to sprout at about one month old. 

There are 24 Lion-tailed Macaques at NaturZoo Rheine who live in a few small sub-groups, creating the sort of social life they would have in the wild. The births are the result of natural pairings, rather than planned breeding efforts. 

See and read more after the fold.

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NaturZoo Rheine Welcomes Gelada Baby

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NaturZoo Rheine, in Germany, is excited to share news of the arrival of their newest Gelada Baboon baby.

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The baby was born October 13th and is the sixth Gelada Baboon birth, this year, at the zoo.  The new birth brings the total number of Geladas, currently kept at NaturZoo, to 65.  The zoo has the largest group of this unique primate species of any zoo worldwide.

For more than 20 years, NaturZoo Rheine has kept the international studbook for the Gelada Baboon. By the end of 2013, a total of 303 Geladas were living in 21 zoos across Europe, which are all part of a European Endangered Species Programme (EEP), managed by NaturZoo. 

The Gelada Baboon is native to the Ethiopian Highlands of Africa and spends much of their time, in the wild, foraging in grasslands. They are currently listed as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List, but their populations have reduced from an estimated 440,000 in the 1970s to around 200,000 in 2008.  Major threats to the Gelada, in the wild, are a reduction of their range as a result of agricultural expansion and shooting of them as crop pests. Threats that once existed, but no longer do, are trapping for uses as laboratory animals and killing them to uses in making clothing.

The sex of the new baby is still unknown, but keepers are crossing their fingers for a female.  Geladas prefer a ‘harem-like’ social unit, consisting of one adult male and several females, with their offspring. Currently, there is a surplus of males within the zoo’s roster, and a new female would not only even the playing field, but provide a viable candidate for the future of the breeding program.

More amazing pics, below the fold!

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