Tierpark Berlin Welcomes New Porcupette

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The North American Porcupine family at Tierpark Berlin made a ‘prickly’ welcome to their newest offspring.

The baby arrived on April 20, and for a brief moment, the porcupette was soft and furry. However, the quills began to harden soon after the birth, just like those of mom and dad.

This is the second North American Porcupine birth at Tierpark Berlin. The baby joins older sister, Pixie.

"Although the Porcupine looks very cute with their short legs and their otherwise rather chubby body shape, they are extremely defensive," said Zoo Curator, Dr. Florian Sicks. "This is ensured by the approximately 30,000 spines, which are up to 75 mm long and barbed at their ends. Also, the high-contrast brown-white coloring of the spines is a warning signal for cougar, lynx or golden eagle, better to keep a distance."

BaumstachlerNachwuchs_TierparkBerlin (7)Photo Credits: Tierpark Berlin

The species is also known as the Canadian Porcupine or Common Porcupine. It is a large rodent in the New World porcupine family. In their natural habitat in Canada, the US, and northern Mexico, the North American Porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum) spends much of the day asleep in trees or caves.

Tierpark Berlin’s Zoo Director, Dr. Andreas Knieriem, shared his thoughts about the successful breeding of the new porcupette’s parents: "Although the Porcupines moved to the zoo only in 2016, they have become an integral part of the future North American part of the zoo.”

“The fact that Oskar and Anni got offspring so quickly is not only a pleasure for the visitors, but also a confirmation for us that they feel comfortable here. They are a popular motif, and their sight is now so much the zoo, that we have immortalized them in our new zoo Animal Park.”


Mischievous Orangutan Caught on Camera

3_Mischievous Sumatran orangutan Tuti pesters her aunt in the most adorable way at Chester Zoo

Chester Zoo recently shared video of their five-year-old Sumatran Orangutan, named Tuti, pestering her aunt Emma in a most mischievous way.

Thirty-year-old Emma gave birth to a female, Kesuma, on December 18. (See the ZooBorns feature on Kesuma: “Chester Zoo Introduces Early Spring ‘Flower’).

Chester Zoo’s adorable new footage shows the attention-seeking Tuti using multiple sticks to “wind up” new-mum Emma, as she looks to play with her baby cousin.

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1_Mischievous Sumatran orangutan Tuti pesters her aunt in the most adorable way at Chester Zoo

4_Adorable video shows young orangutan poking her aunt with sticks at Chester ZooPhoto & Video Credits: Chester Zoo

Chester Zoo is currently the only zoo in mainland Britain that cares for Sumatran Orangutans, which can be found in its South East Asian Islands habitat.

Sumatran Orangutans (Pongo abelii) are one of the world’s most endangered great apes and are currently listed as “Critically Endangered” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), with recent estimates suggesting just 14,000 remain in the wild.

It is among the many species being pushed to the brink of extinction in South East Asia by hunting, forest clearance and the planting of oil palm plantations, which are destroying vast areas of rainforest.

Unfortunately, there is an intense demand for palm oil, which can be found in more than 50% of every day products in the UK, and around the world, including food, cleaning and cosmetic goods.

Cat Barton, Field Conservation Manager at Chester Zoo, said, “All species of Orangutan are under enormous pressure in the wild, as their forest homes are cleared to make way for oil palm plantations. Right now we are fighting for these amazing animals in South East Asia – helping restore depleted forests and building bridges so Orangutans can roam between forests freely.”

“We can all help make a huge difference here in the UK by being vigilant when shopping in supermarkets and checking labels to make sure products only contain sustainable palm oil. It’s a small action that will, in time, make a huge difference to their future. Without urgent action they could be the first great apes to go extinct. We just cannot let that happen.”

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Hundreds of Octopus Eggs Hatch at Alaska SeaLife Center

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After being tended by their mother for almost a year, thousands of Giant Pacific Octopus eggs are beginning to hatch at the Alaska SeaLife Center (ASLC).

The eggs were laid by Gilligan, the ASLC’s eldest female Giant Pacific Octopus, beginning in May 2017. For the past year, Gilligan guarded her eggs, blew water over them, and groomed them to remove algae. About two weeks ago, aquarists noticed tiny Octopus babies – each about the size of a pea - floating in the tank.

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HighRes4Photo Credit: Alaska SeaLife Center

The eggs are expected to hatch by the end of May, with about a hundred hatching so far. Each Octopus hatchling looks like a miniature adult, with all eight arms, sucker discs, and well-developed eyes. The babies swim by jet propulsion, just like adults.

As the babies rise to the surface of their tank, the staff collects them and places them in a rearing tank where they float and eat zooplankton.

Hatching and successfully rearing Giant Pacific Octopuses in an aquarium setting is extremely rare, with only one documented case of this species being reared to adulthood at the Seattle Aquarium in the 1980s. In the wild, the survival rate of hatchlings is about 1 percent. In an aquarium, the odds of survival are very low as the hatchlings are extremely delicate and have complex nutritional needs. This is ASLC’s third opportunity to raise Giant Pacific Octopus babies and staff remains hopeful as they begin rearing.

Giant Pacific Octopus mate only once in their three- to six-year lifespan. The male passes a spermatophore into the female’s mantle during mating. The female has up to 6 months to use it to fertilize her eggs. She then lays 20,000 to 80,000 eggs in long, braided strands that look like white, tear-shaped grape clusters. The process of laying the eggs can take about a month.

As for Gilligan, the hatching of her babies signals the end of her life. Because the female Octopus continuously guards her eggs for many months without hunting or feeding, she typically dies after her babies begin to hatch. Octopus hatchlings receive no maternal care, hence the low odds of survival to adulthood in the wild.

Giant Pacific Octopus are the largest of all Octopus species, with an adult weight of about 30 pounds and an arm span of about 14 feet. They feed on crabs, scallops, snails, clams, fish in the cold waters of the North Pacific Ocean to depths of 2,000 feet.


Rare Leopard Cubs Born in Vienna

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With fewer than 100 individuals remaining in the wild, Amur Leopards are the world’s rarest big Cats. That’s why the birth of two cubs at Zoo Vienna Schönbrunn is cause for celebration.

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X31855149_1626993224022643_6275272391429980160_oPhoto Credits: Daniel Zupanc Fotographie and Norbert Potensky

Born on March 27 to first-time parents Ida and Piotr, the cubs are the first ever to be born at Zoo Vienna.  For the past month, the cubs have been in the maternity den with Ida. But last week, they began making their first visits to the zoo’s indoor Leopard habitat, where they can be seen by zoo guests – but only for a few minutes before they scurry back to the den or are carried off by their mother.

At birth, the little cubs were blind and helpless. After about two weeks, they opened their eyes. Their genders are not yet known, so the cubs have not yet been named.

The staff reports that first-time mother Ida is doing a good job of nurturing her cubs.

Amur Leopards are Critically Endangered and live in remote forests of the Russian Far East, with a few individuals roaming over the Chinese border. They possess thick fur as an adaptation for the bitterly cold winters in the area. Poaching for body parts is the main threat to their survival, as is the poaching of the Leopards’ prey. Forest fires, the building of roads and settlements, and disease are additional threats to the Cats’ survival.

Zoo Vienna Schönbrunn participates in the European conservation breeding program to create a sustainable, genetically diverse population of these magnificent Cats.

See more adorable photos below!

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Five Otter Pups Get First Check-Up at Chester Zoo

1_Vets give a clean bill of health to five newborn Asian short-clawed otter pups at Chester Zoo (8)

Five baby Asian Short-clawed Otters were recently given their first ever health check-ups at Chester Zoo.

The quintet of tiny pups, born February 22, are reported to be in ‘tip-top condition.’ They were checked over by Chester Zoo’s keepers and vets who determined their sexes (four girls and a boy), weighed them, listened to their heartbeats and gave them all a physical examination.

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3_Vets give a clean bill of health to five newborn Asian short-clawed otter pups at Chester Zoo (6)

4_Vets give a clean bill of health to five newborn Asian short-clawed otter pups at Chester Zoo (1)Photo Credits: Chester Zoo

The adorable litter of Otter pups was born to three-year-old mum, Annie, and five-year-old dad, Wallace.

Keeper Hannah Sievewright said, “Each of the five pups showed themselves to be feisty little characters! We’re thrilled though that every one of them is in tip-top condition and they’re all doing ever so well.”

“We can’t wait to see them start to take to the water as they continue to grow, become more and more confident and gain independence from mum and dad.”

Asian Short-clawed Otters have the amazing ability to close their nostrils and ears underwater to stop water entering. They also have highly sensitive whiskers to help them find prey underwater, and they have partially webbed feet for powerful movement in water and land.

The species can eat up to a quarter of their body weight every day and have large upper back teeth for crushing hard shelled prey like crabs. They have sensitive paws to feel-out and catch fish, frogs, and mollusks on riverbeds. Their thick, waterproof fur protects them against cold water. Their under fur has around 70,000 hairs per cm2.

Asian Short-clawed Otters are classified by the IUCN as “Vulnerable” to extinction and face increasing threats to their survival in the wild. Many areas of wetland where they are found are being taken over by human populations and some are also hunted for their skins and organs, which are used in traditional Chinese medicines.

In the UK, Chester Zoo has helped fund research and conservation projects in Cheshire, which are monitoring and safeguarding threatened native Otter populations – distant relatives of the Asian Short-clawed species.

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6_Vets give a clean bill of health to five newborn Asian short-clawed otter pups at Chester Zoo (14)


Prairie Dog Pups Emerging at San Francisco Zoo

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Spring means it’s time for Prairie Dog pups! At the San Francisco Zoo, the cute little pups have been popping-up out of their burrows, keeping zoo visitors entertained!

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IMG_6170edited1PrairieDogPhoto Credits: San Francisco Zoo/ Marianne Hale

Prairie Dogs (genus Cynomys) are herbivorous, burrowing rodents native to the grasslands of North America. There are five species: Black-tailed, White-tailed, Gunnison's, Utah, and Mexican Prairie Dogs. They are a type of ground squirrel, found in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

In the United States, they range primarily west of the Mississippi River, though they have also been introduced in a few eastern locales. Despite the name, they are not actually canines. Prairie Dogs are named for their habitat and warning call, which sounds similar to a dog's bark.

Prairie Dogs are chiefly herbivorous, though they eat some insects. They feed primarily on grasses and small seeds.

Prairie Dogs are highly social and live in large colonies, or "towns", that can span hundreds of acres and may contain 15-26 family groups.

Family groups are the most basic unit if their society, and members of a family group inhabit the same territory. Members of a family group interact through oral contact or "kissing" and grooming one another, but they do not perform these behaviors with Prairie Dogs from other family groups.


Belfast Zoo Says 'Hola' to Their New Babies

1_(9)  Call by the zoo this weekend and spot Belfast Zoo's latest arrivals.

Belfast Zoo keepers are saying ‘hola’ to two Capybara babies! The twins were born to mother, Lola, and father, Chester, on April 2.

The Capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris) is a South American mammal that resembles a giant Guinea Pig. They are the largest rodents in the world and measure up to 130 centimeters in length (4.2 feet).

The scientific name for this species “hydrochaeris” is Greek for ‘water hog’. This refers to the fact that the Capybara is a semi-aquatic mammal.

The species is native to Central and South American riverbanks, ponds, and marshes. When the Capybara swims, its eyes, ears and nostrils are positioned above the water to help with vision and breathing. This unusual animal has webbed feet and can even hold its breath for up to five minutes underwater!

2_(1)  Belfast Zoo keepers are saying ‘hola’ to more new arrivals as two capybara have been born!

3_(2)  The capybara babies were born on 2 April 2018 and are beginning to explore their home with their family.

4_(3)  Capybara are the largest rodents in the world and closely resemble giant guinea pigs.Photo Credits: Belfast Zoo

The arrival of the two latest Capybara babies means that Belfast Zoo is now home to a total of thirteen. In the wild, these rodents live in large family groups of ten to 40 individuals. They are incredibly vocal and communicate through barks, whistles, huffs and purrs.

Zoo Curator, Raymond Robinson, said, "Our Capybaras share their home with some other South American 'amigos', including Giant Anteaters and Darwin's Rhea. While the Capybara is not currently classified as an endangered species, it is hunted and poached for its meat and skin. It is important that zoos, such as Belfast Zoo, help to raise awareness of this species and the increasing dangers which Capybara face in their natural habitat. We have no doubt that our South American babies will soon be a firm favourite with visitors!"

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Zoo Miami Celebrates the Birth of Two Females

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Zoo Miami recently announced the birth of two new bovid calves!

On April 19th, after approximately nine months of gestation, a rare Giant Eland was born. The female calf weighed-in at 62 pounds. She is the third calf for the 6-year-old mother and is the 4-year-old father’s first calf, at Zoo Miami.

After remaining off exhibit for a short time to insure that baby and mother had bonded well, they were introduced to their exhibit to join the rest of the herd. Zoo staff reports that both mother and baby are doing very well and adjusting to the exhibit.

Giant Eland (Taurotragus derbianus) are the world’s largest antelope with males often weighing over 2,000 pounds. Females are significantly smaller. They are found in small areas of the savannahs and woodlands of Central Africa. They are currently listed as “Vulnerable” by the IUCN, with major threats being habitat destruction and hunting for their meat.

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6_Giant Eland 8Photo Credits: Ron Magill/ Zoo Miami

On April 23rd, a female Sable Antelope was born at Zoo Miami. The newborn weighed 35 pounds and was the fourth offspring for her 9-year-old mother. Like the Giant Eland, Sable Antelopes have a pregnancy of approximately nine months.

Sable Antelope (Hippotragus niger) are found in savannah woodlands of Eastern Africa, south of Kenya, and down into South Africa. They are considered one of the most majestic and beautiful of the world’s antelopes. Males can weigh close to 600 pounds. They have majestic ridged horns that curve backwards and can approach four feet long. Females are slightly smaller. The males can become a jet-black color, with contrasting white markings on their face when sexually mature, and the females are dark brown.

Though they are not endangered, their population has been substantially reduced from their historic range due to habitat loss and hunting. They are currently classified as “Least Concern” by the IUCN.

Both new girls are on-exhibit daily at Zoo Miami.

 7_Sable 2More great pics of the Sable Antelope calf, below the fold!

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Dyeing Dart Frog Eggs Hatch at Stone Zoo

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April is National Frog Month, and Stone Zoo is celebrating their first successful hatching of Dyeing Dart Frog eggs.

The eggs require special care to reach the tadpole stage. The water conditions must be just right. The first little tadpole (in photo below) has been named Thad. He shares his aquarium with a snail named Chad.

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DyeingDartFrogTadpole2Photo Credit: Stone Zoo

The tadpoles breathe with gills underwater. They gradually develop legs, then lungs. and they metamorphose into adult Frogs. Along with Toads and Salamanders, Frogs are Amphibians. Amphibians are known as indicator species, because they can absorb environmental toxins through their skin. Ecosystems with large numbers of Amphibians are generally healthy.

Dyeing Dart Frogs are a type of Dart-poison Frog. These Frogs live in the moist forests of Guyana, Surname, Brazil, and French Guiana, where they feed on ants, mites, and termites.  Chemicals from their prey are accumulated in the Frogs’ skin glands, rendering the Frogs poisonous to the touch.

There are more than 170 species of Dart-Poison Frogs.  About four of those species have been documented as being used to create poisonous blowdarts. To create these poisonous darts, indigenous peoples apply the Frogs’ skin secretions to the darts’ tips.

In the video above, a Magnificent Tree Frog, native to Australia, munches on crickets. Zoo keepers use the crickets to lure the Frogs from their hiding places each morning, allowing the staff to account for each Frog under their care.

Stone Zoo is a partner in the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project, which works to protect existing amphibian populations and introduce captive-bred Frogs into the wild.

 


Orphaned Baby Manatees Find Refuge at Columbus Zoo

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The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium welcomed two rehabilitating Manatees on April 24. The two new additions, one male and one female, became the 28th and 29th Manatees to be rehabilitated at the Columbus Zoo since the zoo’s involvement in the Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP) began in 2001.

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Manatees (Group) 3412 - Grahm S. Jones  Columbus Zoo and AquariumPhoto Credit: Grahm S. Jones/Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

The 143-pound male calf is named “Heavy Falcon” – a nod to the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket launch that took place on February 6, 2018, which was also the day he was rescued. Heavy Falcon was found as an orphan in Crystal River, Florida and was taken to SeaWorld Orlando to begin his rehabilitation journey.

The female calf does not yet have a name and was rescued on February 8, 2018 with her mother off the coast of Florida. The female calf showed signs of cold stress, while her mother was negatively buoyant. Unfortunately, the calf’s mother succumbed to her serious injuries just two days after her rescue, leaving the female calf an orphan. After also beginning her rehabilitation at SeaWorld Orlando with Heavy Falcon, both Manatees have stabilized and will continue to recover in Columbus before their eventual releases into Florida waters.

The two new arrivals are now living in the zoo’s 300,000-gallon Manatee Coast pool. Both Manatees will also have access to behind-the-scenes areas as they continue to adjust to their new environment.

As part of the Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP), the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is a second-stage rehabilitation facility that provides a temporary home for Manatees until they are ready for release back to the wild.

See more photos of the calves below.

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