Rare Litter of Cheetahs Born at Allwetterzoo Münster

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Allwetterzoo Münster’s resident Cheetah, Namoja, gave birth to a remarkable litter of seven cubs on April 28. Affectionately known by zoo staff as “The Magnificent Seven” and the “Seven Dwarfs”, Namoja’s large litter is somewhat rare. Cheetahs typically give birth to three to five cubs. 

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4_11536513_10155689525985263_3091912715508834970_oPhoto Credits: Allwetterzoo Münster

This is the second litter for Namoja and her mate, Jabari. Their first group of offspring was a litter of five male cubs, and all of the boys are now at home in other zoos, throughout Europe, as part of the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP).  Since the 1970s, Alwetterzoo has welcomed forty Cheetah births.

The Cheetah is a large member of the family Felidae and is native to Africa and parts of Iran. It is the only extant member of the genus Acinonyx. Aside from its distinctive coat pattern, the Cheetah is well known for its athletic prowess. It can run faster than any other land animal and has been clocked at speeds of 68 to 75 mph (110 to 120 km/h). The Cheetah also has the ability to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph (96 km/h) in three seconds.

Female Cheetahs reach sexual maturity in twenty to twenty-four months. Males reach maturity at around twelve months, but they do not usually mate until at least three years old. Females are not monogamous and are known to have cubs with many different mates.

Litters, of up to nine cubs, result after a gestation period of ninety to ninety-eight days, although the average litter size is four. Cubs are born with a downy underlying fur on their necks, called a mantle, extending to mid-back. The mantle gives them a mane or Mohawk-type appearance, but this fur is shed as the Cheetah matures.

Females are solitary, except when raising cubs, and tend to avoid each other, though some mother/daughter pairs have been known to remain together for small periods of time. When cubs reach about 18 months of age, the mother leaves them, and they form a sibling group that will stay together for another six months. At about two years, the female siblings leave the group, and the young males remain together for life. Life span, in the wild, is up to twelve years, and they have lived up to twenty years, in captivity.

The Cheetah is classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. They face various threats, in the wild, including: loss of habitat and prey, conflict with humans, illegal pet trade, competition with/predation by other carnivores, and a gene pool with low variability.

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New Emperor Tamarin at Schönbrunn Zoo

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Schönbrunn Zoo’s mustache collection increased by one this spring. A new Emperor Tamarin was born April 26, at the Vienna Zoo.

The infant is frequently seen, riding piggyback, on the father or older brother. “The male Emperor Tamarins take on the care and rearing of the young. If the baby gets hungry, however, it is returned quickly to mother,” said Zoo Director, Dagmar Schratter.

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4_pa_baertigeraffennachwuchs3_animal_detail_801Photo Credits: Georg Blaha (Image 1), Franz Wunsch (Image 2,4), Norbert Potensky (Image 3)

The Emperor Tamarin is a species allegedly named for its mustached resemblance to the German Emperor Wilhelm II.  Both male and female Emperor Tamarins are known to sport the distinctive facial hair.

This species of tamarin is native to the southwest Amazon Basin, eastern Peru, northern Bolivia, and the western Brazilian states of Acre and Amazonas.  They prefer Amazonian lowland and lower montane rain forests, as well as remnant, primary, and secondary forests.

They consume a wide range of specimens in their daily dietary routine, including: fruits, flowers, exude of plants (gums and saps), insects, frogs, and other animal prey.

The age of first reproduction in Emperor Tamarins is around 16 to 20 months old, with a gestation period of up to 6 months. Tamarins are seasonal breeders, and breeding is based around food availability, with most births occurring during the wet season when food resources are in abundance.

Tamarin species were once thought to be monogamous, but observations of Emperor Tamarins in the wild shot they often have a polyandrous mating system, with one dominant female mating with multiple males.

Due to the high rate of twins or multiples at birth, Emperor Tamarins rely on parental and paternal care to ensure infant survival. Helpers are either older female offspring of the dominant female that have remained a part of the group, or they are males that have frequent interaction with the dominant female. Infant carrying has a high energetic cost due to the relatively large fetal weight of infants to the weight of adults. Helpers provide the extra support needed for caring of multiple infants. Male Emperor Tamarins have been observed to spend the most time with infants, often carrying several while the mother forages for food. The males have also been observed to be more protective of the young and are known to react faster to distress calls.

Emperor Tamarins are currently listed as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. There are currently no conservation efforts aimed directly toward this species of primates. However, their populations have been in decline due to threats of deforestation and human encroachment.   

 


North American Elk Calf Debuts at Topeka Zoo

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On June 2, the Topeka Zoo welcomed a female North American Elk calf. The girl was born to 4-year-old mother Aspen, and she has been given the name Maple. According to Zoo Staff Veterinarian, Dr. Shirley Llizo, the birth was “textbook style from delivery to nursing.”

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The zoo is now home to three Elk: Aspen and her one-year-old daughter, Juniper, and newborn Maple. The newest girl recently joined her mom and sister on public display.

The Elk calf is now on public display with mom and sister, Juniper.

The Topeka Zoo’s Elk were a donation from local chiropractor, Dr. Tim Bolz.

The Elk is one of the largest species within the Cervidae (deer) family, and they are one of the largest land mammals in North America and eastern Asia. The Elk is native to North America and eastern Asia, but they have adapted well to countries where they have been introduced, including: Argentina, Australia and New Zealand.

They prefer to reside in forest and forest-edge habitat, feeding on grasses, plants, leaves and bark. Males have large antlers, which are shed each year. Males also engage in ritualized mating behaviors during the rut, including posturing, sparring, and bugling (a loud series of vocalizations which establishes dominance over other males and attracts females.

Females have a short estrus cycle of only a day or two, and mating usually involves a dozen or more attempts. By the autumn of their second year, females can produce one, or occasionally two, offspring. Gestation period is 240 to 262 days, and the offspring are born weighing about 33 to 35 lbs (15 to 16 kilograms). Calves are born spotted and lose the spots by end of summer.

Elk live 20 or more years, in captivity, but they average only 10 to 13 years, in the wild.

The Elk is currently classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Some cultures revere the species as a spiritual force and use their antlers and velvet in traditional medicines. They are also hunted as a game species.

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King Julien Announces Birth of Royal Twins

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The world’s critically endangered Lemur population recently expanded by two! Twin Ring-Tailed Lemurs were born at the Duke Lemur Center, and both were named Princess Julien, after Madagascar’s most famous royal Lemur, King Julien. 

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Photo Credits: Duke Lemur Center

Princess Julien and her sister, Princess Julien, were born on May 4, but their birth was not announced until June 3, following a month of careful monitoring. The announcement was jointly made by Duke Lemur Center and by King Julien XIII, star of the Netflix original series, “All Hail King Julien” (DreamWorks Animation).

In an upset worthy of the tabloids, King Julien was shocked by the news that his heir apparent was not a boy (as he had anticipated following a prediction by his psychic adviser, Masikura the chameleon) and that his royal lineage would be secured with the birth of two females. Nonetheless, Julien was elated and decreed that both infant Lemurs would be named “Princess Julien”.

“I can’t believe they’re making more of me! This is so awesome!” said King Julien, speaking from his royal throne, atop the Baobab Tree, in Madagascar. “My first royal duty will be to teach Princess Julien and Princess Julien how to shake their booties and party in the most regal of ways.”

At birth, the first Princess Julien weighed 59 grams, while the second Princess Julien weighed 48 grams. Both girls were approximately 4 inches long.

Following a thorough check-up by researchers at the Duke Lemur Center, both females were healthy and clinging tightly to their mother, Sophia. Father Randy and grandmother, Cloris, have all been united as a family and are looking forward to meeting their namesake King Julien XIII.

“Male or female, every Lemur baby born is incredibly important,” said Janice Kalin, of the Duke Lemur Center, world’s largest Lemur research facility. “Lemurs have recently been classified as the world’s most threatened mammal group. Every time we can add one, two, or more to their ranks, it helps to stabilize the genetic diversity of these fascinating primates.”

Fans of King Julien can get regular updates about the growth and development of Princess Julien and Princess Julien by visiting the King Julien Facebook page at www.facebook.com/KingJulien or the Duke Lemur Center Facebook page at www.facebook.com/DukeLemurCenter.

An official naming ceremony for Princess Julien and Princess Julien will be held at the Duke Lemur Center on June 20, which will be presided over by the star of “All Hail King Julien”. This will be the first opportunity for the public to meet the Princesses and King Julien himself. For more information visit http://lemur.duke.edu/lemurpalooza-summer-2015/

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Okapi Calf Makes Reluctant Debut at Chester Zoo

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An Okapi calf recently made his public debut at Chester Zoo, in the UK.

The youngster, named Usala, was born April 30th to parents, Stuma and Dicky. Okapi calves are notoriously elusive, and Usala’s first public outing required some steady persuasion from mum Stuma.

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4_11393328_10153314472135912_8934405666939726885_oPhoto Credits: Chester Zoo

Keeper, Fiona Howe said, “Okapis are rather secretive animals. Up until now, Usala has been out of the spotlight, cozied up in his nest. But thanks to the support of mum Stuma, he’s now starting to explore.”

“A trademark of the Okapi is the stripy markings on their legs; designed to help offspring follow them through deep forest. And that’s exactly where you’ll tend to see Usala - sticking closely to his mum’s legs as she moves around foraging for food. Stuma is an excellent mum, and she’s doing a great job of helping her new charge gain confidence on his legs. She can often be seen offering him an affectionate nuzzle as reassurance that he’s doing well,” Fiona continued.

Usala’s arrival is an important boost to the breeding programme for the endangered animals, increasing the number of Okapis in UK zoos to 14. This is only the second Okapi ever born at Chester Zoo. Tafari, a female, was born in 2012.

The Okapi, also known as the “forest giraffe”, is a rare hoofed mammal, native to the dense Ituri Forest in the Democratic Republic of Congo. They are closely related to the Giraffe, and along with their long-necked cousin, they are the only living members of the family Giraffidae. American and European scientists did not discover the species until the early 1900s. Because of the Okapi’s elusiveness, little has been known about their behavior in the wild, including how they raise their calves.

Okapis are herbivores, feeding on tree leaves and buds, grasses, ferns, fruits, and fungi. Females become sexually mature when about one-and-a-half years old, while males reach maturity after two years.

After successful mating, there is a gestational period of around 440 to 450 days, which results, usually, in the birth of a single calf. Only male Okapi have horns, and females are commonly a bit taller than males.

Okapis are currently classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Population numbers of Okapi, in the wild, have been declining and are predicted to continue on this downward trend due to habitat loss, human settlement, mining, war and political instability in these animals’ region, and the bushmeat trade.

Chester Zoo is working with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN’s) Giraffe and Okapi specialist advisory group to develop a conservation strategy for Okapis. Chester Zoo also supports the DRC Wildlife Authority and their efforts to protect the species in the Ituri Forest in the DRC. 

More amazing pics and video, below the fold!

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The Pitter Patter of Tiny Meerkat Feet

15_06_5_Meerkat_pups_5_kp_medThe Meerkat exhibit at the Edinburgh Zoo is abuzz with the pitter patter of tiny feet – five babies were born on May 8.

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Photo Credit:  Edinburgh Zoo

The babies were born to Queenie, who is also the mother of three pups born earlier this year.  The pups spent their first few weeks in the nest box with Queenie, but are now beginning to explore their surroundings. 

Meerkats live in groups of 3-50 animals called mobs.  They are cooperative breeders, which means all adults within the group share the responsibility of raising the pups. Keepers have yet to name and determine the gender of the little Meerkats.

Native to the arid grasslands of southern Africa, Meerkats feed on small lizards, frogs, small birds, millipedes, beetles, grasshoppers, and any type of insect they can find.  Groups emerge at dawn to forage, and one Meerkat assumes the role of sentry.  This individual stands atop a rock or other high place and keeps watch for predators.  The mob is alerted of danger by a repertoire of alarm calls, depending on the severity of the threat.

In the wild, Meerkats are not considered under threat.  

See more photos of the baby Meerkats below.

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Rhino Calf Charges Into Lowry Park Zoo

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A baby Southern White Rhinoceros born May 21 at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo has increased the zoo’s herd by one, but the wild population of these magnificent beasts grows smaller every day.

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Photo Credit: Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo

  

 

The female calf is already important to the breeding population because she carries the genes of her mother Alaka, who came to the zoo from Africa.  Introducing new bloodlines is important for maintaining genetic diversity in the zoo-dwelling population.  The newborn marks the fourth successful Southern White Rhino birth and the seventh Rhino born in the zoo’s history.

The zoo is currently home to a herd of five Southern White Rhinos: three adult females from the Phinda Reserve in Africa, one adult male, and the newborn. In keeping with a natural herd structure, Alake and her calf have begun introductions to the other Rhinos and Grevy’s Zebras that share their habitat.

The White Rhinoceros has two horns at the end of its muzzle, with the largest in the front. Unlike some Rhinos, White Rhinos use their horns for defense. Females use their horns to protect their young while males use them to battle each other. Adult White Rhinos can reach weights of about 5,000 pounds, with most calves weighing between 80-140 pounds.

While the birth is welcome news for the managed population, record numbers of Rhinos were killed by poachers in South Africa last year. Despite increased protection efforts, the number of Rhinos killed by poachers jumped 21 percent to 1,215. The current poaching crisis is driven by the demand for Rhino horn in Southeast Asia where horn, which is made up of keratin -- the same material found in human hair and nails -- is believed to have medicinal properties.   

See more photos of the Rhino calf below.

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UPDATE: Clouded Leopard Quad Makes Public Debut

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Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium’s Clouded Leopard quadruplets made their official public debut on June 5th.  Visitors will be able to see the 4-week-old cubs during their 9:30am, 1:30pm and 5pm feedings, at the Tacoma, Washington zoo. 

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The cubs were born May 12 to mom, Chai-Li, and father, Nah-Fun. After their birth, Chai-Li nursed her litter for about 30 hours but, unfortunately, demonstrated she would no longer care for the newborns. According to the zoo’s General Curator, Karen Goodrowe Beck Ph.D., hand-raising the tiny Clouded Leopards was a necessary step for their health, growth and development.

Keepers plan to announce the cub’s names and genders within the coming weeks.

Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium is a recognized leader in conservation of the species. The Zoo Society’s Dr. Holly Reed Wildlife Conservation Fund sponsors Clouded Leopard research throughout Southeast Asia. Goodrowe Beck and staff biologist, Andy Goldfarb, make periodic trips to the Khao Kheow Open Zoo in Thailand to participate in a collaborative breeding program. Zoo Education Curator, Karen Povey, conducts education work in Southeast Asia to help children learn about Clouded Leopards and the perils they face in the wild. Zookeepers, in Tacoma, Washington, founded The Clouded Leopard Project fifteen years ago to aid in continual conservation of this amazing species.

The cub’s feeding times will change as they grow. Visitors are encouraged to check the zoo’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/PtDefianceZoo?ref=hl and website at www.pdza.org for exhibit times. They also will be posted at the front gate of the zoo.

There are just 93 Clouded Leopards, in 25 North American zoos, that participate in the Clouded Leopard Species Survival Plan.® Fifteen cubs have been born through the program this year.

Counting the quadruplet cubs, eleven Clouded Leopards live at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium.

People who are inspired by the Clouded Leopards’ story and want to contribute to conservation programs, on their behalf, may donate to the Dr. Holly Reed Wildlife Conservation Fund through the donation kiosk at the Cats of the Canopy exhibit on zoo grounds or through The Zoo Society at www.pdza.org/donate .

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