Eggcellent News: Four Penguins Hatch at Chester Zoo

Penguin chick Wotsit is weighed by keepers at Chester Zoo (8)
Four fuzzy Penguin chicks named Wotsit, Quaver, Frazzle, and Cheeto have become the first of their kind to hatch at the Chester Zoo this year.

The tiny Humboldt Penguin chicks, which hatched between March 27 and April 5 to four different sets of parents, were named after their keepers’ favorite snacks.

Quaver the Humboldt penguin chick is weighed by keepers at Chester Zoo (3)
Penguin chick Wotsit is weighed by keepers at Chester Zoo (4)Photo Credit:  Chester Zoo
 
Staff at the zoo use a different naming theme each year to help them to keep track of the new chicks, with popular potato snacks getting the nod this year. Previous topics have included British Olympic athletes and chocolate bars.  

Both Penguin parents help rear their young, including regurgitating fish for the chicks to eat. To keep the adults and babies well-nourished, the adults get extra servings of fish each day.  Keepers weigh the little chicks daily to make sure they are gaining weight.

So far, the chicks are thriving – keepers expect them to triple in size and weight in the first month. 

Humboldt Penguins live on the coasts of Peru and Chile, and are listed as Vulnerable to Extinction on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species.  Of the world’s 17 Penguin species, they are now among the most at risk.  Humboldt Penguins are threatened by climate change, rising acidity levels in the ocean and over-fishing – all of which force them to search further from their nests for fish.

See more photos of the chicks below.

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Masai Giraffe Calf Joins Santa Barbara Zoo Herd

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The Santa Barbara Zoo has a new Masai Giraffe calf. Audrey, aged eight, gave birth to the calf on the evening of March 26 in the Zoo’s Giraffe Barn, after approximately five hours of labor.

The male calf has been named “Chad” in honor of long-time Santa Barbara Zoo supporters, the Dreier Family. The Dreier Family has sponsored seven Giraffes at the Zoo including Chad’s parents Michael and Audrey. “Chad” represents many members of the Dreier family whose first or middle names contain the appellation.

At the calf’s first exam by the Santa Barbara Zoo Animal Care team, the male was measured at six-feet-six-inches-tall and weighed 191 pounds.

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4_Chad's first day outPhoto Credits: Santa Barbara Zoo

 

According to the Santa Barbara Zoo’s director of animal care, Sheri Horiszny, Giraffe calves are born after a gestation of roughly 14.5 months and are typically 125-150 pounds and six feet tall at birth. Chad should grow approximately three feet during his first year of life. Horiszny is also the Program Leader for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Masai Giraffe Species Survival Program.

Chad recently made his public debut and explored the outdoor exhibit with mom Audrey. Zoo staff say the best time to catch a glimpse of Chad is between 10am and noon.

The Zoo’s Giraffe herd is part of the population of 120 Masai Giraffes that live at 28 North American zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Michael, the calf’s sire, is considered the most genetically valuable male Masai Giraffe in captivity, because he has few relatives in zoos other than his offspring born here at the Zoo, which now numbers five.

“Michael’s genetics greatly help the diversity of the North American Masai population,” said Sheri Horiszny, director of animal care. “Every Masai Giraffe born here is critical to keeping the gene pool robust.”

This is the fourth birth for Audrey at the Zoo. Her last calf, Buttercup, born in November 2014, is currently part of the Zoo’s herd. The Zoo’s other female, Betty Lou, is also pregnant, and is expected to give birth in July 2016. This is her third pregnancy and her other offspring are at other accredited zoos as part of a cooperative breeding program of the AZA’s Species Survival Plan. Giraffes have a 14.5-month gestation period.

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Brazilian Ocelot Births Help Conservation and Research

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Since 2010, three Brazilian Ocelot kittens (females “Milagre,” “Ayla,” and “Revy”) have been produced using artificial insemination (AI) techniques developed and performed by scientists from the Cincinnati Zoo’s Center for Conservation & Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW).

All three of these genetically valuable Ocelots have gone on to produce offspring of their own as a result of natural breeding. The most recent kitten was Neto who was born to Revy at the Santa Ana Zoo in December. Revy is the last of the three AI offspring to reproduce.

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4_neto -ethan fisherImage 1: Revy as a kitten by Bill Swanson ; Images 2,3,4,8: Revy and Neto by Ethan Fisher ; Images 5,6,7: Revy and Neto by Lauren Bergh ; Images 9,10,11,12: Milagre and kitten Matteo by Shannon Calvert ; Images 13 & 14: Ayla and kitten courtesy Dallas Zoo

“Without the AI option, Milagre, Ayla and Revy – and all of their subsequent offspring - would have never existed and the long-term genetic viability of our Brazilian Ocelot population would have been further diminished as a consequence,” said Dr. Bill Swanson, CREW’s Director of Animal Research and one of the world’s authorities on breeding endangered small cats. “Only 30 Brazilian Ocelots exist in North American Zoos, and seven, or nearly one quarter of the population, were born as a direct or indirect result of AI. That’s strong evidence that biotechnology can play a major role in species conservation.”

In October of 2014, on a recommendation from the Ocelot Species Survival Plan (SSP), which makes breeding pairings based on each individual’s genetic importance to the population as a whole, Revy moved from the Cincinnati Zoo, where she was born, to the Santa Ana Zoo to breed with “Diego,” a male from Oklahoma City Zoo. Because Diego’s parents were imported from Brazil to the United States in 2006 (a process that took six years to plan & execute), Diego’s genetic lineage was considered critically important to establishing a sustainable, genetically viable population.

“Revy and Diego are both extremely valuable to the Ocelot SSP due to the multiple founder lines they represent. The fact that they are compatible and have produced a kitten through natural breeding is a significant step toward conserving this species,” said Swanson. “Our objective is to use AI when necessary to produce offspring that then can breed on their own.”

The SSP’s goal is to increase the Brazilian ocelot population in North American zoos from 30 to 125 individuals. In some cases, however, the SSP’s carefully selected breeding pairs fail to reproduce naturally, sometimes due to behavioral incompatibilities (as with Revy’s parents) or, occasionally, physical impairments (as with Milagre’s and Ayla’s mother).

CREW scientists perform many of the AI procedures with wild cats in the U.S. They focus primarily on five priority small cat species: Ocelots, Pallas’ Cats, Black-footed Cats, Sand Cats, and Fishing Cats.

Dr. Swanson has also aided in AI procedures on tigers, lions, and leopards, in the past few years. “We have become the go-to source for AI in cats, as well as rhinos and polar bears, because of CREW’s expertise and past success. All cat SSPs have pairs that are not reproducing on their own for various reasons, so we try to help out with other cat species as much as possible,” said Swanson.

In cats, AI has been used to produce offspring in 12 species (tiger, snow leopard, cheetah, clouded leopard, leopard cat, ocelot, tigrina, fishing cat, Pallas’ cat, golden cat, leopard, puma), but half of those AI births consist of only a single pregnancy.   Historically, cheetahs have been most successful, with about 13 AI pregnancies produced since 1991 (but none since 2003) followed by the ocelot (with 5 pregnancies).

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Curious Cubs Explore at Planckendael

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An Asiatic Lioness named Lorena gave birth to three adorable cubs on January 25, at Planckendael Zoo. This is the first litter for Lorena, and the two boys and one girl recently explored their outdoor exhibit for the first time.

Lorena was seen taking her children by the scruff of the neck in an effort to keep them in line. These mini-lions are not only cute and beautiful, but they are also very curious. They are attracted to adventure, and do so with the craziest antics. It will be a busy period for mom Lorena.

They were also recently given names: the boys are called Raman and Ravi, and the girl was named Rani.

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4_Fotolink_welpen-3Photo Credits: Planckendael / Jonas Verhulst

 

Mom Lorena was also born at Planckendael. She was one of five cubs born to mom Kolya in 2010, and she has now taken over the role of ‘Mother Hen’, previously held by her mother. New dad, Jari, has been at Planckendael since 2014.

The Asiatic lion (Panthera leo persica), also known as the Indian lion or Persian lion, is a lion subspecies that exists as a single population in India's Gujarat state.

The Asiatic Lion was first described by the Austrian zoologist Johann N. Meyer under the trinomen Felis leo persicus.

The Asiatic lion is one of five big cat species found in India, along with the Bengal Tiger, Indian Leopard, Snow Leopard and Clouded Leopard. It formerly occurred in Southeastern Europe, Black Sea Basin, Caucasus, Persia, Canaan, Mesopotamia, Baluchistan, from Sindh in the west to Bengal in the east, and from Rampur and Rohilkund in the north to Nerbudda in the south. It differs from the African Lion by less inflated auditory bullae, a larger tail tuft and a less developed mane.

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Pups Emerge With Meerkat Mob at Chester Zoo

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Three Meerkat pups recently made their first public appearances at Chester Zoo. Born on January 28, the terrific trio had been kept out of sight by their mum, and the rest of the Meerkat mob, until they were ready to emerge from their underground burrow.

For the time being, it is unclear whether the pups are male or female. However, the three are scheduled to undergo their first health check-up soon, and then all will be revealed!

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4_Meerkat pups at Chester Zoo (33)Photo Credits: Chester Zoo

 

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.

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Tiny Tamandua Arrives at Nashville Zoo

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A baby Southern Tamandua born March 22 at the Nashville Zoo will help to bolster the zoo-dwelling population of this unique species.

The baby, a female, is the first birth for mother Ke$ha.  Because it was Ke$ha’s first pregnancy, keepers monitored her baby’s growth with regular ultrasounds.  She was also pampered with extra attention and a special diet. 

Tamandua - Heather RobertsonPhoto Credit:  Heather Robertson/Nashville Zoo

The tiny Tamandua, which weighed less than half a pound at birth, is the ninth born at the Nashville Zoo. Her birth is significant because the reproductive rate for this species is low in zoos.  Only 45 Southern Tamanduas live in zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums in North America.

The Nashville Zoo is writing the animal care manual for Southern Tamanduas, which will be used as a reference by AZA zoos across North America. 

Southern Tamanduas are native to South America, where they feed on ants, termites, and bees.  Insect nests are ripped open with powerful front claws, and Tamanduas suck up insects with their 16-inch-long tongue. 

Though these animals are found over a wide area, they are not common.  Southern Tamanduas are currently listed as a species of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.


Four Little Lemurs Born at Philadelphia Zoo

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Meet Philadelphia Zoo’s Black-and-white Ruffed Lemurs, born on February 21.  Together, these four fluffy babies weigh only one-third of a pound, but they add up to a ton of cuteness. 

The babies were born to 9-year-old Kiaka and 10-year-old Huey after a breeding recommendation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Species Survival Plan.  This program seeks to maintain genetically viable populations of rare and endangered animals.  Because of her genetic makeup, Kiaka is the most valuable breeding female of her species in the country.

Lemurs 2Photo Credit:  Philadelphia Zoo

 

An excellent mother, Kiaka carries the babies in her mouth from one nest box to another, a typical behavior as the babies cannot move around on their own for the first few months. The siblings will nurse until they are about five to six months old, but will try solid foods at six to eight weeks of age.

Native to Madagascar, Black-and-white Ruffed Lemurs are listed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature  due to poaching and habitat loss. 


Chester Zoo’s Rhino Calf Enjoys Muddy Puddles

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Chester Zoo’s Eastern Black Rhino calf, Gabe, was recently photographed enjoying his first ever mud bath.

The youngster was seen slipping and sliding in the mud as he charged around with 13-year-old mum, Ema Elsa.

Kim Wood, assistant team manager of Rhinos at Chester Zoo, said, “Rhinos love nothing more than to roll around and play in fresh mud and it was great to see Gabe charge right in and enjoy getting messy. With the start of spring bringing in some warmer weather, wallowing in mud is great way for our Rhinos to cool off and it also helps to keep the Rhinos’ skin nice and healthy. We really do give them the five star spa treatment!”

Kim continued, “We’re really pleased with how Gabe is developing. He’s gaining in confidence with every passing day and helping us to raise more awareness of the terrible plight that his species is facing up to in the wild where, sadly, the Eastern Black Rhino is being illegally hunted to very edge of extinction.”

2_Mud, glorious mud! Two-month-old Eastern black rhino calf, with mum Ema Elsa (3)

3_Mud, glorious mud! Two-month-old Eastern black rhino calf, Gabe, charges through a mud wallow at Chester Zoo (19)

4_Mud, glorious mud! Two-month-old Eastern black rhino calf, Gabe, charges through a mud wallow at Chester Zoo (12)Photo Credits: Chester Zoo

 

Black Rhino populations have dropped by more than 95% over the last 50 years due to a global surge in illegal poaching for their horns, which continues to devastate the species.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed the Eastern Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis michaeli) as “Critically Endangered”.  Their wild numbers are currently estimated at just 740 across Africa.

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Help Name Zoo Brno’s Polar Bear Cub

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It’s a girl! …The Polar Bear cub, born to mom Cora at Zoo Brno, had her first veterinarian exam, and staff confirmed the sex. The feisty female was born at the end of November 2015.

The cub is now almost five months old, and the Zoo is ready to give her a name. Fans can offer suggestions, until April 10, via the Zoo’s facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/zoo.brno/

The winning name will be announced, and the cub “Baptized”, on April 16!

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4_ZooBrnoPolarBearGirl_oPhoto Credits: Zoo Brno

 

Zoo Brno keepers had a watchful eye on the new family, after the cub’s birth, via a nesting box cam. Staff had also been working on getting Cora accustomed to necessary health checks, which would enable a successful inspection of the cub.

(ZooBorns shared news, photos, and video of the cub’s birth in early March: "Zoo Brno’s Polar Bear Cub Sticks Close to Mom".)

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Taipei Zoo Welcomes New Pangolin

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In the early morning hours of March 13, Taipei Zoo welcomed the birth of a male Pangolin. The small, energetic baby is part of the 3rd generation of Pangolin born at the Zoo.

Staff had been carefully monitoring the Pangolin mom’s pregnancy and provided special care prior to the pangopup’s birth. Veterinarians assisted with the birth and the new boy arrived at about 2:45am, weighing in at 132 grams. He has now grown to 293 grams.

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4_TaipeiZooPangolinPhoto Credits: Taipei Zoo

 

The veterinary nurse prepared a special nest of leaves and wood chips to allow insulation and protection for the new one. The new mother kept the baby completely buried in the heap of leaves to protect him from low temps.

Pangolins (also referred to as “Scaly Anteaters” or “Trenggiling”) are mammals of the order Pholidota. The one extant family, Manidae, has three genera: Manis, which comprises four species living in Asia, Phataginus, which comprises two species living in Africa, and Smutsia, which comprises two species also living in Africa. These species range in size from 30 to 100 cm (12 to 39 in). The name pangolin comes from the Malay word "pengguling", meaning "something that rolls up". It is found in tropical regions throughout Africa and Asia.

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