Two Endangered Sri Lankan Leopard cubs at the Czech Republic’s Zoo Brno had their first veterinary checkup last week.
Born in November 2017 to female Nayana, the cubs – one male and one female – were proclaimed healthy and strong by the veterinary team. Each weighs a little over four-and-a-half pounds.
Photo Credit: Zoo Brno
The cubs have spent their first weeks of life tucked into the den with Nayana, where they nurse, sleep, and play with each other. They are the first Ski Lankan Leopard cubs to be born at the zoo in 17 years.
Sri Lankan Leopards are one of nine Leopard subspecies recognized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). (Some taxonomists recognize only eight Leopard subspecies.) Even though Leopards are considered highly adaptable and live in mountains, forests, deserts, and grasslands in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, all Leopard subspecies are in decline. Sri Lankan Leopards are listed as Endangered by the IUCN, with the primary threats coming from loss of habitat, loss of prey species, and poaching for body parts.
Nashville Zoo recently announced the birth of a Giant Anteater pup on December 25, 2017.
A carnivore keeper and a docent walked into the Zoo’s Giant Anteater barn and were greeted with an adorable Christmas morning surprise.
“They were elated to discover that the female Anteater, Consuela, had delivered a special Christmas gift,” said Shawna Farrington, carnivore area supervisor. “Curled under Consuela's hair and clinging tightly, was a new baby female Anteater.”
The docent, Kerry Foth, has been volunteering with the Nashville Zoo in various departments since 2003, suggested the name “Noel” for the newest addition. Noel will stay with her mother for at least two years, until she is fully grown.
The Zoo shared that this is nine-year-old Consuela’s third pup, and it is the fourth offspring for 14-year-old father, Carib. This is also Consuela’s second female pup, and both mom and baby are reportedly doing well.
Since 2001, 18 Giant Anteaters have been born at Nashville Zoo’s off-exhibit breeding facility. These reproductive successes have been enhanced by research projects done at the Zoo that focus on the biology of Anteaters and their reproductive system.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the Giant Anteater as “Vulnerable”, although it is considered extinct in areas of Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Uruguay. Giant Anteaters are disappearing because of habitat destruction, hunting and road kills. Only about 5,000 Anteaters remain in the wild.
Nashville Zoo is paired with the conservation organization “The Giant Armadillo Project” and is recognized as a leader in caring for both Giant Anteaters and Tamanduas. The Zoo’s animal care and veterinary staff are currently working on an Anteater care manual, in conjunction with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Species Survival Program, that will provide husbandry guidelines and veterinary issues associated with these species.
For the first time in Saint Louis Zoo history, a Cheetah has given birth to eight cubs. Three males and five females were born at the Saint Louis Zoo River’s Edge Cheetah Breeding Center on November 26, 2017.
In over 430 litters documented by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), this is the first time a female Cheetah has produced and reared on her own a litter of eight cubs at a zoo. The average litter size is three to four cubs.
The first few months of life are critical for newborn Cheetahs. The Saint Louis Zoo’s animal care staff is closely monitoring the new family and it appears that all eight cubs are healthy. Four-year-old Bingwa (BING-wah), which means “champion” in Swahili, continues to be an exemplary mother, according to the Cheetah care team.
“She has quickly become adept at caring for her very large litter of cubs: grooming, nursing and caring for them attentively,” says Steve Bircher, curator of mammals/carnivores at the Saint Louis Zoo.
Photo Credits: Carolyn Kelly & Saint Louis Zoo (Images 1,2,4) / Saint Louis Zoo (Images 3,5)
Bingwa is on loan to the Saint Louis Zoo from Wildlife Safari in Winston, Oregon. The cub’s nine-year-old father, Jason, is on loan from White Oak Conservation in Yulee, Florida. The birth of these eight cubs is a result of a breeding recommendation from the AZA Cheetah Species Survival Plan (SSP), a program to manage a genetically healthy population of cheetahs in North American zoos.
“We’ve brought together Cheetahs from great distances to continue this important breeding program,” says Bircher. “These handsome cats add genetic diversity to the North American Cheetah SSP population.”
Since 1974, the Zoo has been a leader in Cheetah reproductive research and breeding. Over 50 cubs have been born at the Saint Louis Zoo’s Cheetah Breeding Center.
Historically, Cheetahs have ranged widely throughout Africa and Asia. Today, fewer than 10,000 individuals inhabit a broad section of Africa, and less than 100 remain in Iran. Over the past 50 years, Cheetahs have become extinct in at least 13 countries. The main causes of decline are human-cheetah conflict, interspecific competition and lack of genetic diversity.
To help protect Cheetahs in the wild, the Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Institute Center for Conservation of Carnivores in Africa is working with its partners in Tanzania and Namibia to coordinate cheetah conservation efforts, including education, research and other programs to mitigate human-cheetah conflicts.
“Cheetahs are frequently persecuted for killing livestock. Our conservation partners are finding ways to improve the lives of local herders by providing education opportunities, food and medical supplies, so they can live peacefully with Cheetahs and support their protection,” says Bircher.
According to staff, the Zoo’s mother and eight cubs are doing well and will remain in their private, indoor maternity den behind the scenes at River’s Edge for the next several months.
The holiday season brought the bountiful gift of Bongos for two U.S. facilities. The Audubon Nature Institute and the Virginia Zoo both ended 2017 with the significant births of two female calves.
The groundbreaking conservation partnership between Audubon Nature Institute and San Diego Zoo Global recently welcomed the birth of a baby Eastern Bongo, a critically endangered species of antelope battling for survival in the jungles and forests of Africa.
Just months after its first animals arrived at Audubon’s West Bank campus in Lower Coast Algiers, staffers at the Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center welcomed the female Bongo calf on the morning of December 11.
Photo Credits: Audubon Nature Institute (Images 1-3; Video) / Virginia Zoo (Images 4-6)
The Bongo is the largest forest-dwelling antelope species and one of the most distinctive, sporting a glossy chestnut or orange colored coat, large ears, eye-catching vertical white stripes and long horns that spiral as high as three feet.
The Audubon Nature Institute/San Diego Zoo Global collaboration – known as the Alliance for Sustainable Wildlife – is akin to a modern-day ark designed to preserve species that are vulnerable in the wild and to sustain populations in human care.
There are only about 100 Bongos remaining in the wild, and their numbers continue to dwindle due to habitat loss from illegal logging, hunting and transmission of disease from grazing cattle.
“Zoos may be the last hope for the Eastern Bongo,’’ said Michelle Hatwood, curator of Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center.
“Bongo conservation in the wild is ongoing, but the effort continues to meet many challenges. Audubon Nature Center has joined zoos around the world to make sure this beautiful animal continues to exist.’’
Their Bongo newborn was conceived at Audubon Species Survival Center shortly after its parents arrived in mid-April from San Diego Zoo Safari Park.
Both parents were born in zoos and are part of the Species Survival Plan administered by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). That plan reviews the animals throughout its accredited facilities and makes recommendations about which should be moved where, given their genetics and personalities and the needs of potential mates at other zoos.
The soon-to-be-named calf weighed in at a healthy 46 pounds, Hatwood said. Both mother, known only as “3,’’ and father, Kibo, are five-years-old and experienced parents.
Hatwood continued, “The mother is displaying all the right behaviors to successfully raise her calf, including making sure curious herd mates behave around the little one.’’
Audubon officials expect their Bongo collection, which now comprises six females and one male, to continue to grow inside the new, four-acre enclosure.
“This is a water-loving, forest antelope,’’ Hatwood said. “And Louisiana has the perfect habitat for this beautiful species to thrive.’’
Once the new calf reaches the age when it would disperse from the herd naturally, Hatwood said the Species Survival Plan would determine the next move.
The Bongo may remain at the Species Survival Center, or it could be sent to another zoo - a decision that will consider both the animal’s needs and the genetic health of the AZA’s zoo population.
“Bongo are one of the first species of antelope I’ve ever gotten the privilege to work with,’’ said Hatwood. “They are secretive, curious and they have a special place in my heart. I hope they continue to flourish in AZA zoos so future generations can fall in love with them too.’’
Meet the latest “aaddition” to the Cincinnati Zoo: a little male Aardvark! Born on December 21 to mom Ali, the newborn is healthy and weighs just over four pounds. For now, the baby is bonding with Ali behind the scenes.
Photo Credit: Cincinnati Zoo
Aardvarks are mammals, so the babies nurse from their mothers. They are nocturnal creatures, emerging from burrows at sunset to feed on ants at termites all night long. Aardvarks are found in all types of habitats south of Africa’s Sahara Desert.
The Aardvark’s long snout is held close to the ground while foraging for food. Once ants or termites are detected, they Aardvark uses its strong foreclaws to dig out enough dirt to reveal the insects. Using its long, sticky tongue, the Aardvark can collect up to 50,000 insects in a single night. The large ears remain upright, helping to detect predators while the Aardvark is feeding.
Aardvarks are not listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as being under threat, but some believe their numbers may be declining.
The staff at Belgium’s Planckendael Animal Park received an amazing Christmas present: a female Asian Elephant was born on Christmas Day, December 25.
Female Elephant May Tagu gave birth surrounded all the females in the zoo’s Elephant herd, including her sister, Kai-Mook. Planckendael staff called this the “best conceivable delivery scenario.”
Photo Credit: Planckendael
In Elephant society, the birth of a baby generates great excitement. Female herd members gather around the mother during childbirth and welcome the newborn by sniffing and touching the baby with their trunks. This gathering allows young females to witness childbirth and better prepare them for their future roles as mothers.
May Tagu gave birth after being pregnant for 629 days – more than 20 months. May Tagu’s newborn stood about 25 minutes after birth and held her tiny trunk in the air.
Mom and baby appear healthy, and May Tagu is a caring mother. The zoo staff are thrilled with the successful birth because May Tagu’s first baby, born about two years ago, died of liver failure shortly after birth.
The newborn’s father is Chang, who recently moved to the zoo in Copenhagen. Chang is also the father of two more baby Elephants expected to be born in the coming months at Planckendael. May Tagu’s sister, Kai-Mook, is pregnant, and Phyo Phyo, the mother of May Tagu and Kai-Mook, is also expecting a baby.
All of these young Elephants will be valuable additions to the European breeding program for this Endangered species. The wild Asian Elephant population is threatened by the degradation and fragmentation of habitat, which leads to more frequent conflicts between Elephants and people. Elephants are also illegally killed for their ivory tusks.
Two Critically Endangered Malayan Tiger cubs at the Prague Zoo are beginning to show their personalities.
The cubs – one male and one female – were born on October 3 and only recently came out of the den with their mother, Banya. The animal care team chose the name Bulan for the male and Wanita for the female.
Photo Credit: Prague Zoo
From the start, Wanita was smaller than her brother. She experienced some health problems shortly after birth and has since recovered completely, but Wanita has yet to catch up with her brother’s growth.
Bulan currently weighs 17.5 pounds, and Wanita weighs 13.1 pounds. But keepers say that Wanita makes up for her smaller size with a big personality. Feisty little Wanita is not afraid of anything, while Bulan is more timid. Plus, Wanita has figured out how to roar properly!
Both cubs are healthy and active, and have begun tasting bits of meat in addition to nursing from Banya. They are hugely important to the global effort to save this rare Cat species from extinction. Experts say only 250-340 Malayan Tigers remain in the wild – a precariously low number – and only about 200 are of breeding age. They inhabit only the Malay peninsula in Southeast Asia.
Fragmentation of habitat is a major threat to Malayan Tigers, as is illegal poaching for use of body parts in traditional Asian medicine.
Three Meerkat pups born at the Brevard Zoo on December 4 have been given Christmas-themed names after fans voted in an online contest.
The tiny triplets were named Vixen, Comet, and Cupid after three of Santa’s Reindeer. The genders of the pups are not yet known.
Photo Credit: Brevard Zoo
At birth, the Meerkat pups’ eyes and ears were closed, and they each weighed about one ounce (roughly the weight of five U.S. quarters). They were born to mom Cashew, age three, and five-year-old dad Kirabo. For now, the trio is still behind the scenes with their parents and several other adults. Young Meerkats typically remain in the burrow for about a month before emerging to explore the outside world.
Meerkats are found only in southern Africa, where they inhabit grasslands and savannahs. Strong social bonds exist among members of a mob. One member will stand guard while others forage for insects, lizards, and small mammals. Adults share the task of teaching younger members of the mob how to find food and avoid predators.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists Meerkats as a species of Least Concern, meaning that Meerkats are not under a serious threat at this time.
A Goodfellow’s Tree Kangaroo joey has been spotted peeking out of the pouch for the first time at Belfast Zoo!
Senior keeper, Allan Galway, explained, “Our ‘good little fellow’, Kayjo, was born to mother, Jaya, and father, Hasu Hasu, on 9 June 2017. Like all marsupials, female Tree Kangaroos carry and nurse their young in the pouch. When the joey was first born, it was the size of a jellybean and remained in the pouch while developing and suckling from Jaya. Female Tree Kangaroos have a forward facing pouch, containing four teats and we carry out routine ‘pouch’ checks as part of our normal husbandry routine with this species.”
Allan continued, “Jaya moved to Belfast Zoo in January 2013, as part of the collaborative breeding programme. Since then, we have incorporated training into her daily husbandry routine. This involves getting Jaya used to being touched by keepers through a process of ‘positive reinforcement’. We started by providing Jaya with her favourite treat, sweetcorn, until she gradually became used to the keepers touching her. We then built this up to allow keepers to open her pouch. This allows us to check Jaya’s pouch for health purposes and to track the development of the young during these crucial early months. However, it is completely optional, and if Jaya does not want to take part, she has the freedom to move away from the keeper.”
Zookeeper, Mitchell Johnston, is part of the Belfast Zoo team who care for the Goodfellow’s Tree Kangaroos: “I have been a keeper for four and a half years and I definitely have a soft spot for the tree kangaroos. Through the daily training routine, I have developed a strong relationship with the Kangaroos but especially Jaya. Having worked with her for a while now, I have a strong understanding of her behaviour and, last summer, I started to notice signs that a joey may be on the way. Following further behavioural changes on 9 June, I carried out the pouch check and was delighted to find the jellybean-sized joey. Being able to witness and photograph the infant’s development over the last six months has been fascinating. In fact, I have become so fond of both mother and baby that I decided to name him Kayjo which is a play on words of my eldest child’s name, as the joey certainly feels like one of the family!”
Photo Credits: Belfast Zoo
As their name suggests, the Goodfellow’s Tree Kangaroo (Dendrolagus goodfellowi) is a tree-dwelling mammal, which is native to the mountainous rainforests of Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. These animals are well adapted to a life in the trees by climbing up to 20 feet high and leaping more than 30 feet through the air from branch to branch. However, this species is facing increasing threats due to habitat destruction and hunting.
Zoo manager, Alyn Cairns, said, “As part of our commitment to conservation, we take part in a number of global and collaborative breeding programmes. Until this year, Belfast Zoo was the only zoo in the United Kingdom and Ireland to care for Goodfellow’s Tree Kangaroo, and we were the first in the UK to breed the species back in 2014. Since then, we have bred three joeys. This species is listed as ‘Endangered’ on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red list, as the population has dramatically declined in Papua New Guinea by at least 50% over the past three generations. The efforts of zoos around the world, are becoming ever more vital in ensuring the survival of so many species under threats. We are delighted that our team’s efforts have led to the arrival of Kayjo, and that we are playing an active role in the conservation of this beautiful and unique species.”
Kayjo is following in the footsteps of big sister, Kau Kau, who hopped out of Jaya’s pouch earlier this year. At this age, visitors who are patient may be rewarded with a glimpse of the new joey. The new arrival will continue to develop in the pouch. As the joey grows it will begin to explore the world outside of the pouch, officially moving out at about 10 months but will continue to feed from mum until at least 16 months old. The youngster will live with the family group at Belfast Zoo until old enough to move to another zoo as part of the collaborative breeding programme.
A sweet Hoffman’s Two-toed Sloth, born at the Topeka Zoo on December 16, is clinging to mom and doing everything a baby Sloth should do.
When new mom Jacque showed her new baby to the Zoo’s Animal Care Staff, the baby was alert and clinging to mom in a good nursing position. According to keepers, both mom and baby appear to be bright and alert and doing great. A primary zookeeper at the Zoo’s Tropical Rain Forest exhibit has named the baby “Foley”.
There are currently four Sloths living in the Topeka Zoo’s ‘Tropical Rain Forest’. They include new mother, Jacque (age 27), father, Mocha (age 19), Newt (age 1) and the newborn, Foley. This is the 15th offspring for Jackie and the fourth for Mocha. Zoo staff monitored Jacque’s pregnancy closely but had high confidence that mom knew exactly what to do.
The Topeka Zoo is proud of the long successful history with Sloth reproduction, and they attribute it, largely, to the rain forest environment the Sloths are provided at the Zoo.
Photo Credits: Topeka Zoo
The Hoffmann's Two-toed Sloth (Choloepus hoffmanni) is a species of sloth native to Central and South America.
It is a solitary, largely nocturnal and arboreal animal, found in mature and secondary rainforests and deciduous forests. The common name commemorates the German naturalist Karl Hoffmann.
Sloths are known for their slow moving, solitary arboreal behavior. They do everything upside down, including: eating, sleeping, mating and even giving birth.
Habitat destruction is causing a decrease in the wild Hoffmann's Two-toed Sloth population, but sloths and humans have little contact with one another in the wild. They are currently classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List.