Rare Macaque Born at Chester Zoo

Baby Sulawesi macaque Amidala born to mum Lisa at Chester Zoo (5)
Zoo keepers at Chester Zoo have just released the first photos of a rare baby Sulawesi Crested Macaque born in January.

The tiny female baby, which keepers have named Amidala, is a welcome boost to the European endangered species breeding program that is working to protect Sulawesi's Macaques.  The species is listed as Critically Endangered, with fewer than 5,000 individuals remaining in the wild.

Baby Sulawesi macaque Amidala born to mum Lisa at Chester Zoo (2)
Baby Sulawesi macaque Amidala born to mum Lisa at Chester Zoo (9)Photo Credit:  Chester Zoo

Sulawesi Crested Macaques are the rarest of the seven Macaque species living in rain forests on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. 

The illegal wildlife trade and large scale habitat loss due to illegal logging has pushed the Sulawesi Crested Macaque to the edge of extinction. They are also targets for poachers and are over-hunted for food. The species’ wild number is believed to have plummeted by around 80% in the last 30 years.

With Amidala’s arrival, there are now 18 Sulawesi Crested Macaques living at Chester Zoo. Amidala was born to parents Lisa and Mamassa.

Conservationists from Chester Zoo works with communities in Sulawesi to help protect forests and the diverse animal species living in them.

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Dog Fills In As Nanny To Endangered Tiger Triplets

33013402791_f7bbfc861c_oAfter they were ignored by their mother following their birth on February 3, three Malayan Tiger cubs have been cared for by Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s nursery staff.  Now, the cubs’  care team includes the zoo’s four-legged, resident nursery companion and former nanny to several zoo babies: Blakely the Australian Shepherd Dog.  The six-year-old super-dog has been called into action to provide snuggling, comfort, and a body for the cubs to climb on.

“He’s more than just a large, warm pillow for the cubs.  Blakely is the adult in the room.  He teaches them proper Tiger etiquette by checking them when they’re getting too rough or aggressive,” said Dawn Strasser, head of Cincinnati Zoo’s nursery staff. “This is something that their human surrogates can’t do.”

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32846043985_44cf5d523a_oPhoto Credits:  Mark Dumont, DJJam, Lisa Hubbard

The cubs, named Chira (because she was treated by a chiropractor), Batari (which means goddess) and Izzy (which means promised by God,) would have received similar cues from their mom. Because being with her is not an option, Blakely is the next best thing.  His baby-rearing resume includes experience with Cheetahs, an Ocelot, a Takin, a Warthog, Wallabies, Skunks, and Bat-eared Foxes.  Last year, to recognize Blakely’s nurturing nature, the City of Cincinnati proclaimed October 19 to be Blakely Day!

“My team can feed and care for the Tiger cubs, but we can’t teach them the difference between a play bite and one that means ‘watch out’. So, that’s Blakely’s job,” said Strasser. “Just a little time with him at this early age will help them learn behaviors that will come in handy when they meet Tigers at other zoos in the future.” The cubs will move to the Zoo’s Cat Canyon this summer after they have received their last round of immunizations.

Malayan Tigers are Critically Endangered, with fewer than 250 breeding-age adults living in the wild.  Less than 100 of these Cats live in zoos, making these three cubs – and Blakely’s job as caregiver – incredibly important to the effort to save Malayan Tigers.

See more photos of Blakely and the Tiger cubs below.

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New Camel Calf Has the ‘Luck-Of-The-Irish’

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Milwaukee County Zoo visitors got quite a surprise on March 5 when they witnessed Bactrian Camel, Sanchi, give birth to her calf on exhibit! The handsome camel calf was named Patrick in honor of the Saint Patrick’s Day holiday!

Sanchi has given birth to several calves before, and she is quite accustomed to motherhood. This is the first offspring for dad, Stan. Accordingly, zookeepers are keeping Stan separate from Patrick until they can better assess his anticipated behavior near the calf. Big sister, AJ, also isn’t quite sure what to make of this new addition to the group, and has been keeping her distance for now.

The new guy weighed-in at about 100 pounds at birth and was walking less than two hours later. Zoo staff report that Patrick is extremely confident with loads of personality and was quite a handful during his first veterinary medical exam! Keepers are currently working on desensitizing Patrick to their touch, so his hooves, ears and other areas can be more easily examined by veterinarians as he grows.

For enrichment and as an outlet for his boisterous energy, keepers have been providing Patrick with “jolly balls”, commonly used with horses, which he very much likes to kick at. He is currently nursing from mom but will soon begin exploring solid foods, such as: hay, pellet mix, carrots and apples.

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3_Camel Baby 03-2017-1415 EPhoto Credits: Milwaukee County Zoo

The Bactrian Camel (Camelus bactrianus) is a large, two-humped, even-toed ungulate native to the steppes of Central Asia. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) uses the binomial name Camelus ferus for the wild Bactrian Camel and reserves Camelus bactrianus for the domesticated Bactrian Camel. (Their name comes from the ancient historical region of Bactria.)

There are currently three species of camels: the one-humped Dromedary, the domestic two-humped Bactrian Camel, and the wild Bactrian Camel. Wild Bactrian Camels are listed as “Critically Endangered” by the IUCN, primarily due to hunting and development associated with the mining industry in China and Mongolia.

Bactrian Camels are diurnal, sleeping in the open at night and foraging for food during the day. They are primarily herbivorous. They are able to eat plants that are dry, prickly, salty or bitter, and can ingest virtually any kind of vegetation.

Gestation lasts around 13 months, with most young being born from March through April. One or, occasionally, two calves are produced, and the female can give birth to a new calf every other year. Young Bactrian Camels are precocial, being able to stand and run shortly after birth, and are fairly large at an average birth weight of 36 kg (79 lb). They are nursed for about 1.5 years. The young calf will stay with its mother for three to five years, until it reaches sexual maturity, and often serves to help raise subsequent generations for those years.

The Milwaukee County Zoo hopes its Bactrian Camel herd can serve as ambassadors for the declining wild camel population.

Although the schedule may fluctuate, Patrick is usually on exhibit for several hours beginning at about 10 a.m. daily. He tends to be most active in the morning, so that is an ideal time for visitors to see him. The Zoo encourages visitors to stop by the outdoor Camel Yard and meet the new guy, Patrick!


London Zoo Welcomed New Colobus to Troop

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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.


Handsome Takin Calf Is a First for Swedish Zoo

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A Mishmi Takin calf, named Nanook, was born on February 19th at Kolmården Wildlife Park. Mother to the handsome male calf is Aisha, and his father is Hobbit.

Nanook is the first successful Takin birth for the Swedish zoo. He was born in the early morning of a cold, snowy day. The name Nanook was chosen by the keepers, in honor of his day of birth, and means ‘polar bear’ in Inuit. At birth, Nanook weighed-in at a healthy 7 kilos.

Kolmården staff reported, “We are very happy that Aisha, first time mum, has taken such good care of Nanook. It’s a break through for us, and the Takin breeding, here in Kolmården. Nanook is a much welcomed addition to our Takin group and the European population.”

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5_takinenPhoto Credits: Kolmården Wildlife Park

Thanks to the zookeeper’s excellent training with Takins, they were able to do a check of Nanook soon after his birth. The calf is considered healthy and is growing.

The new Takin calf is an important part of the EAZA European Studbook breeding programme for Mishmi Takins. Takins are currently classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List. Populations in the wild are threatened and decreasing due to hunting and deforestation.

The Mishmi Takin (Budorcas taxicolor taxicolor) is an endangered goat antelope native to India, Myanmar and the People's Republic of China. It is a subspecies of Takin.

The Mishmi Takin is native to southern China and eats bamboo and willow shoots. It has an oily coat to protect it from the fog.

Takin are found in small family groups of around 20 individuals, although older males may lead more solitary existences. In the summer, herds of up to 300 may gather high on mountain slopes.

In the wild, mating generally takes place in July and August. Usually, a single young is born after a gestation period of around eight months.

Takin tend to migrate from upper pastures to lower, more forested areas in winter and favor sunny spots. When disturbed, individuals give a 'cough' as an alarm call, and the herd retreats into thick bamboo thickets and lies on the ground for camouflage.


Fishing Cat Cub Is a First for Denver Zoo

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Denver Zoo is excited to announce its first successful birth of a Fishing Cat. The cub, whose sex is not yet known, is named Miso-Chi (MEE-soh-CHEE) and was born on January 25.

The cub was born to mother Namfon (NAAM-fawn) and father Ronaldo. Namfon was born at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, in Washington D.C., in May 2012 and arrived at the Denver Zoo in July 2013. Ronaldo was born in June 2013 at a private facility in Houston, Texas, that specializes in the propagation of rare and endangered species and arrived at Denver Zoo from there in April 2014. The two were paired under recommendation of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP), which ensures healthy populations and genetic diversity among zoo animals. Fortunately, the couple has proved to be an excellent match.

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4_baby_fishing_cat_02Photo Credits: Denver Zoo

Fishing Cats are scattered throughout southwest India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Malaysia, Thailand, Sumatra, Java and Pakistan, living primarily in wetland areas like swamps, marshes and densely vegetated areas along rivers and streams.

As their name suggests, Fishing Cats are powerful swimmers and fish form an important part of their diet. However, they are generalist feeders. Rodents, amphibians and aquatic birds are also fare. The cats have been observed attracting fish by lightly tapping the water’s surface with their paw, mimicking insect movement. They then dive into water to catch the fish that come near and, because their claws do not fully retract, use them like fishing hooks to spear the slippery fish. Fishing Cats also wade in shallow water to hunt for prey to scoop out.

Although they resemble a domestic house cat, they are about twice the size of an average house cat. They can grow from about two to almost three feet long, with a foot long tail. They also weigh 18 to 26 pounds and have stocky builds with short legs. Their fur is olive gray with dark spots arranged in longitudinal stripes down the back and a ringed tail tipped in black. They have flat-nosed faces with short round ears and six to eight distinctive dark lines running from above the eyes between the ears over the head to the neck. Fishing Cats are very much adapted to their semi-aquatic life, with water resistant fur and webbed hind feet to power them through the water. Their short, flattened tail acts as a rudder to help control direction as they swim.

Exact Fishing Cat population numbers in the wild aren’t known because they are so rarely encountered. However, it is believed there are less than 10,000 individuals, and their numbers are declining. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) currently classifies them as “Vulnerable”. Their biggest threats are wetland destruction and conversion to farmland. They are also threatened by pollution from industry, agricultural pesticides, and destructive fishing practices. The species is also threatened by poaching for food, medicine and body parts. In addition, Fishing Cats are often a target of local farmers in their native habitat. The farmers believe the cats are solely responsible for the killing of their small livestock and damage to their fishing nets. While this does happen occasionally, they are often blamed for acts other animals commit. Fishing Cats are also hunted for the exotic pet trade.

Denver Zoo recently voted to donate $1,500 to the Fishing Cat Fund, which seeks to educate the public about Fishing Cats as well as to conserve cats in the wild. The money for this comes from the Zoo’s membership animal care donation “check box,” which supports conservation projects for species of the AZA Species Survival Plan (SSP).

Visitors to the Denver Zoo can see the new cub, alongside mom, learning to dive for live fish in the waters of the Marynelle Philpott Fishing Cat Lagoon exhibit at Toyota Elephant Passage.


Brevard Zoo’s Meerkat Pups Emerge for Spring

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Two Meerkat pups at Brevard Zoo recently emerged from their burrow, just in time for Spring!

The pups were born to mom Kiki on February 17 and have spent the first few weeks of their lives snuggled safely underground. At this time, the keepers do not know the sex of either pup.

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Although their name might suggest otherwise, Meerkats are not related to cats. The Meerkat, or Suricate (Suricata suricatta), is a small carnivoran belonging to the mongoose family. They are native to all parts of the Namib Desert in Namibia and southwestern Angola, and in South Africa.

Gestation for Meerkats is about eleven weeks. In the wild, Meerkats give birth in underground burrows to help keep the newborns safe from predators. To shield the pups from dust in their subterranean homes, they are born with their eyes and ears closed. Meerkat babies are also nearly hairless at birth, though a light coat of silver and brown fur begins to fill in after just a few days.

The babies nurse for about nine weeks, and they grow very quickly. Though they weigh only about an ounce at birth, by six months old, the pups are about the same size as the adults.

These desert-dwellers are highly social critters and live in groups, called mobs, which can include dozens of individuals from multiple families. Some members of the mob may also act as “babysitters” to the pups.

Meerkats have scent pouches below their tails and will rub these pouches on rocks and plants to mark their territory. The dark patches around their eyes act to cut down on sun glare and help them see far into the distance.

Meerkats have four toes on each feet and very long, non-retractable claws to help them dig. They can also close their ears to keep dirt out while digging.

As a species they have an interesting feeding approach as they will always maintain visual and vocal contact whilst foraging, with one of the group standing on its hind legs and acting as sentry on the lookout for predators. They feed mostly on invertebrates and plant matter.

They are currently classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. In the wild, they are present in several large and well-managed protected areas. However, population densities can fluctuate due to predation and rainfall variations.

Wild populations are currently stable. However, over the past couple of decades, movies and television shows have brought Meerkats a lot of attention, with many people wondering if they can keep a Meerkat as a pet. Although they may look cute, Meerkats, like all wild animals, do NOT make good pets, and they are illegal to own without the proper permits and licenses!

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Zoo Atlanta's Giant Panda Twins Play All Day

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Six-month-old Giant Panda twins Ya Lun and Xi Lun are old enough to spend the entire day playing in their dayroom at Zoo Atlanta.

Born September 3 to experienced mother Lun Lun, the sisters spend their time playing, exploring, and sometimes wrestling for access to coveted napping spots.

The cubs had previously been spending parts of the day in their sleeping quarters, but reached this new milestone right on schedule.

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Ya Lun and Xi Lun_Zoo Atlanta 2Photo Credit:  Zoo Atlanta

You met the twins on ZooBorns when they were named and when they learned to walk. Next up for the only Giant Panda twins in the United States:  playing outdoors.  Zoo staff expect this to occur in the next few weeks. 

At birth, the twins weighed the same as a quarter-pound hamburger patty.  Ya Lun now weighs 22 pounds and her sister Xi Lun weighs 21 pounds.  As adults they will weigh more than 200 pounds.

Fewer than 1,900 Giant Pandas are estimated to remain in the wild in China’s Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces. Of these, more than 1,200 live inside nature reserves, eight of which are supported by Zoo Atlanta. In September 2016, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature downgraded the Giant Panda’s status from Endangered to Vulnerable. The species remains heavily reliant on conservation programs, and Giant Pandas face ongoing threats from habitat fragmentation and habitat loss as a result of deforestation and other human activities.


Twin Otter Pups Born at Oregon Zoo

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Tilly, a North American River Otter, is raising two tiny pups, born February 26 at the Oregon Zoo. The new arrivals — one male and one female — weighed around 4 ounces each at birth and have already doubled that thanks to their mother's naturally high-fat milk.

"Young River Otters are extremely dependent on their moms, and Tilly has been very nurturing," said Julie Christie, senior keeper for the zoo's North America area. "She did a great job raising her first two pups, Mo and Ziggy, both born in 2013. And she was a terrific adoptive mom to Little Pudding, the orphan pup who was rescued from a roadside in 2015. We expect she'll do well with her new babies as well."

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Tilly and her pups are currently in a private maternity den, and it will likely be another month or two before visitors can see them in their Cascade Stream and Pond habitat. Young River Otters usually open their eyes after three to six weeks, and begin walking at about five weeks. Surprisingly, swimming does not come naturally to River Otters — pups must be taught to swim by their moms.

Keepers have yet to decide on a name for the two new pups, though it is likely they will be named after Oregon rivers or waterways like their older siblings.

"This will be the first time Tilly has raised more than one pup at a time," said curator Amy Cutting, who oversees the zoo's North America and marine life areas. "It's exciting that they'll be growing up together and have the opportunity to play and wrestle with each other. Tilly's always been an extremely attentive mother, so it will be interesting to see what happens when her pups go in two different directions."

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Baby Boom of Baltic Grey Seal Pups at Kolmården

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In late February, two Baltic Grey Seal pups were born in Kolmården Wildlife Park in Sweden. The male and female half-siblings weighed in at 17 kilos each at birth.

The pups were born well developed, and in just a couple of weeks, they will be independent, thanks to both of their mother’s nourishing milk.

Keepers report they are happy to see such a wide variety of natural behaviors in their animals. Giving birth and rearing their young is one of the most important behaviors in the animal’s life. Giving them the opportunity means the Park can maintain a high animal welfare.

The male has been given the name Evert, and his sister has been named Eivor.

The proud and protective mothers are Liivi and Vinja and the father to both, who still has to keep some distance from the pair, is named Sten (“the rock” in Swedish).

Grey Seals enjoy swimming and at Kolmården Wildlife Park they have a 9-meter deep pool to swim in. Even though Eivor and Evert haven’t lost their pup fur yet, they have taken short swims. As soon as they loose their protective fur they will leave the cliffs and spend more and more time in the water.

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The Grey Seal (Halichoerus grypus, meaning "hooked-nosed sea pig") is native to both shores of the North Atlantic Ocean. It is a large seal of the family Phocidae or "true seals". It is the only species classified in the genus Halichoerus. Its name is spelled ‘Gray Seal’ in the US, but it is also known as Atlantic Seal and the Horsehead Seal.

The Grey Seal feeds on a wide variety of fish, mostly benthic or demersal species, taken at depths down to 70 m (230 ft.) or more. The average daily food requirement is estimated to be 5 kg (11 lbs.), though the Seal does not feed every day and it fasts during the breeding season.

In the wild, pups are born in autumn (September to November) in the eastern Atlantic and in winter (January to February) in the west, with a dense, soft silky white fur; at first small, they rapidly fatten up on their mothers' extremely fat-rich milk. The milk can consist of up to 60% fat. Within a month or so, they shed the pup fur, grow dense waterproof adult fur, and leave for the sea to learn to fish for themselves.

The Grey Seal is currently classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List. According to the IUCN: “Numerous countries have invoked protective measures to limit Grey Seal harvests, culls, disturbance, and by-catch (Bonner 1981, ICES 2005). Pollutant loads in Baltic Grey Seals have declined following regulations banning the use and discharge of toxic pollutants such as DDT and PCBs beginning in the 1970s. Although the prevalence of colonic ulcers has increased over the last decades, the reproductive health of female Grey Seals has improved, as has the population level in the Baltic (Bergman et al. 2001). Establishment of coastal marine reserves for Seals in Norway have been more effective in protecting Harbour Seals than Grey Seals because the latter are more likely to travel outside the areas closed to fisheries and become entangled in nets (Bjørge et al. 2002).”