Panda Twins Are Top Attraction at Vienna Zoo

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The Giant Panda twins at Schönbrunn Zoo are now five-months-old!

The popular brother and sister were born to mom, Yang Yang, on August 7, 2016. In early November, around 12,000 fans of Tiergarten Schönbrunn’s Panda twins cast online votes for names for the wiggly duo.

The male cub was given the name Fu Ban, which translates to “Happy Companion, Happy Half”. The name Fu Feng was given to the female and stands for “phoenix” (which together with the dragon forms the imperial couple in Chinese mythology).

Currently, the Panda House is the Zoo’s number one attraction. Visitors can’t seem to get enough of the fuzzy siblings, and the most asked question at the facility is: “What is the best time to see the Panda twins?”

The answer is however not simple. “Typical for all kinds of young animals, the little ones don’t yet have a daily rhythm. Their day consists of playing, being fed, exploring their surroundings and of course lots of sleeping. When they want to sleep, they both withdraw into their cozy tree hollow, where they can`t be seen,” says zoo director Dagmar Schratter.

Mother Yang Yang always keeps a close eye on her young ones. This is very necessary, as Fu Feng and Fu Ban are full of curiosity as they explore their surroundings.

The siblings are now making their first attempts at climbing, playing with balls, and gnawing on bamboo canes. If they get too boisterous, or when it’s time to be fed, Yan Yan keeps them in-check and carries them by the scruff of the neck to a suitable place.

The zoo is extremely pleased by their development: Fu Ban, the young male currently weighs seven kilos (15.4 lbs.), and his sister Fu Feng weighs more than nine kilos (20 lbs.), which well above average for this age.

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4_Pandas_TGS_Zupanc_09Photo Credits: Daniel Zupanc

The Giant Panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) also known as “panda bear” or simply “panda, is a bear native to south central China. Though it belongs to the order Carnivora, the Giant Panda's diet is over 99% bamboo. Giant Pandas in the wild will occasionally eat other grasses, wild tubers, or even meat in the form of birds, rodents or carrion. In captivity, they may receive honey, eggs, fish, yams, shrub leaves, oranges, or bananas along with specially prepared food.

The Giant Panda is native to a few mountain ranges in central China, mainly in Sichuan province, but also in neighboring provinces (Shaanxi and Gansu). As a result of farming, deforestation, and other development, the Giant Panda has been driven out of the lowland areas where it once lived. It is classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List.

Giant Pandas give birth to twins in about half of pregnancies, and generally, only one twin will survive. The mother will select the stronger of the cubs, and the weaker will die. Experts believe that the mother is unable to produce enough milk for two cubs, since she does not store fat. (The father has no part in helping raise the cub.)

When the cub is first born, it is pink, blind, and toothless, weighing only 90 to 130 grams (3.2 to 4.6 ounces). It nurses from its mother's breast six to 14 times a day for up to 30 minutes at a time. For three to four hours, the mother may leave the den to feed, which leaves the cub defenseless. One to two weeks after birth, the cub's skin turns gray where its hair will eventually become black. A slight pink color may appear on cub's fur, as a result of a chemical reaction between the fur and its mother's saliva. A month after birth, the color pattern of the cub's fur is fully developed. Its fur is very soft and coarsens with age.

The cub begins to crawl at 75 to 80 days of age. The cubs can eat small quantities of bamboo after six months, though mother's milk remains the primary food source for most of the first year. Giant Panda cubs weigh 45 kg (100 pounds) at one year, and live with their mothers until they are 18 months to two years old. The interval between births in the wild is generally two years.

More pics below the fold!

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Six Cubs Keep This Cheetah Mom Busy

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A Cheetah mom at Burgers’ Zoo in the Netherlands has her paws full with a litter of six frisky cubs.

Born September 14, the cubs have spent the last few months behind the scenes in their den, just as they would in the wild.  They recently explored outdoors for the first time.

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Cheeta-zesling5Photo Credit:  Burgers' Zoo

This is the second litter of six cubs for the mother.  The coordinator of the European breeding program for Cheetahs notes that only about 5% of Cheetah litters contain six cubs – most have three to four cubs at a time.

The cubs are still nursing but have started to eat meat.  They sport the typical gray “mantle” seen in young cubs, which may offer camouflage.  The mantle is shed as the cubs grow older.

Cheetahs are the world’s fastest land mammal, able to reach speeds of 70 mph for short intervals.  But due to poaching for wildlife trafficking, loss of habitat, and human interference, Cheetah numbers have fallen drastically in the past decades, with fewer than 8,000 remaining in Africa.  These cats are classified as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and as a Species of Priority in efforts to curb wildlife trafficking in northeastern Africa.

Zoo breeding programs like that at Burgers' Zoo are key to protecting Cheetahs for future generations.

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Baby Orangutan Debuts at Brookfield Zoo

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A 2-week-old female Bornean Orangutan born at Brookfield Zoo on December 20 made her official public debut this week to the delight of zoo staff and guests.

As she clings to her mother, the unnamed female infant demonstrates a baby Orangutan’s amazing ability to hold on tight as her mother moves through the treetops.  This infant is the sixth for 35-year-old Sophia, so she is experienced at raising babies.

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DSC_7152--1-1Photo Credit: Jim Schulz/Chicago Zoological Society



For about the next 10 months, the infant will continuously cling to Sophia. An infant Orangutan relies on its mother longer than any other mammal except humans. An infant may nurse from its mother for up to five years and stays close to her up to age eight. Because of this long dependency, there is a six- to eight-year interval between births. A female remains with her mother into her teens, which gives the young Orangutan the opportunity to observe her mother raise an infant and gain the knowledge she will need once she becomes a mother herself. This birth will be a great opportunity and experience for Sophia’s daughter Kekasih, 8, to watch her mother care for and raise a baby.

Orangutans, a critically endangered species, once lived in much of Southeast Asia, but their range and population have been dramatically reduced due to deforestation, the illegal pet trade, and poaching. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the Bornean Orangutan population declined by more than 60 percent between 1950 and 2010, and a further 22 percent decrease is projected through 2025.

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Two Koala Joeys Emerge at Taronga Zoo

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Taronga Zoo’s Koala keepers received an early gift this past festive season…two Koala joeys emerged from their pouches just in time for Christmas!

The tiny face of a male joey appeared in time to catch some of Australia’s warmer weather. The seven-month-old is the second joey for mother Sydney. “It’s a bit hot inside that pouch on steamy summer days, so he’s started to climb out and sit on Sydney’s head or cling to her belly and back,” said Koala Keeper, Laura Jones.

Prior to Christmas, Keeper Laura reported it would not be long before the joey began to spend all its time outside the pouch. “He’s still climbing back into the pouch occasionally, but it’s a tight squeeze and his arms or legs are often sticking out. By New Year’s Eve I don’t think he’ll fit back in,” she said.

Sydney isn’t the only new mum at Taronga Zoo’s Koala Encounter; her neighbor Willow also recently welcomed her second joey.

At eight months old, the female joey is slightly more developed than her tree mate and already starting to sample eucalyptus leaves. “She’s begun to nibble on leaves while mum is having breakfast. She’s a bit awkward and clumsy trying to get the leaves into her mouth, but she’s getting better every day,” said Laura.

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4_Sydney's Joey (2)_Photo by Paul FahyPhoto Credits: Paul Fahy/Taronga Zoo (Images 1-5: Sydney and her male joey; Images 6-12: Willow and her female joey)

The yet-to-named joeys will spend at least another three to four months with their mothers before starting to venture out on their own.

Visitors have begun to meet the two joeys at Taronga’s Koala Encounter, where they also learn more about the threats that Koalas face in the wild.

Laura said it was particularly important for locals to watch out for Koalas on the roads over the Christmas holidays.

“It’s breeding season and that means Koalas, particularly males, will be on the ground more and potentially crossing roads as they range around for territory and search for females. Motorists should be particularly careful when driving at dawn and dusk,” said Laura.

More great pics below the fold!

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First Giant Anteater Birth for Zoo Miami

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December 21st not only marked the beginning of winter, it also marked the arrival of a special new resident of Zoo Miami…a Giant Anteater pup!

This is the first Giant Anteater birth in the history of the zoo. Mom is 3 years old and arrived at Zoo Miami in 2014 from Zoo Boise. The first time dad is 7 years old and arrived from Busch Gardens in 2010. Although the new pup recently had its first neonatal exam, it is still difficult to determine the sex. So far, the baby is healthy and is successfully nursing, and the first time mother is exhibiting outstanding maternal care.

Zoo Miami’s newborn will ride on its mother’s back for up to a year before becoming more independent.

Keepers report that it will be several weeks before the Giant Anteater pup will be exhibited to the public to insure that it is well bonded with its mother and progressing normally.

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4_EPhoto Credits: Ron Magill/ Zoo Miami

Giant Anteaters (Myrmecophaga tridactyla) are the largest of the four Anteater species and boast one of the most fascinating tongues in the animal kingdom. They are specialist predators of termites and ants and may consume tens of thousands of these tiny nutritious insects every day. Anteaters are edentate animals; they have no teeth. Ant and termite nests are ripped open with their powerful claws, and the tongue acts as animated flypaper. These tongues can protrude more than 2 feet (60 cm) to capture prey. Ants possess a painful sting when attacked, so Anteaters have to eat quickly. They do so by flicking their tongue up to 160 times per minute to avoid being stung. An Anteater may spend only a minute feasting on each mound. They never destroy a nest, preferring to return and feed again in the future.

Anteaters are generally solitary animals, except during the mating season. After a gestation period of around 190 days, the female produces a single pup, which weighs approximately 1.3kg. The female gives birth standing up and the young Anteater immediately climbs onto her back. The young are born with a full coat of hair and adult-like markings, aligning with their mother’s camouflaging. A mother will carry the baby on her back for approximately 6 to 9 months (until it is almost half her size). The young suckle for 2 to 6 months and become independent after roughly 2 years, or when the mother becomes pregnant again.

Giant Anteaters are prey for Jaguars and Pumas in the wild. They typically flee from danger by galloping away, but if cornered, they use their immense front claws to defend themselves, rearing up on their hind legs, striking their attacker violently with their powerful claws and are capable of inflicting fatal wounds to predators.

The Giant Anteater is considered to be the most threatened mammal of Central America and is feared extinct in Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala and Uruguay, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Giant Anteaters are listed as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species. Habitat loss, road kills, hunting and wildfires have substantially affected their population numbers over the last ten years. Scientists estimate that 5,000 individuals are left in the wild.

More great pics, below the fold!

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Longleat’s Cheetah Cubs Enjoy a Day-Out

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A rare pair of Cheetah cubs has ventured outside for the first time at Longleat Safari Park.

Thirteen-week-old cubs, Poppy and Winston (who were named by the public), are the first of their kind to have been born at the Wiltshire, UK wildlife attraction.

The brother-and-sister duo, still sporting juvenile fur, was allowed outside to explore their paddock under the watchful eye of mum Wilma.

“It’s amazing to see how fast they are developing and fascinating to watch their reactions to the outside world,” said keeper Eloise Kilbane.

“Both of them were initially a little disconcerted by the wet grass and kept trying to wipe the water off their paws. Poppy also got a leaf stuck to her back and couldn’t quite work out how to get it off!

“However it wasn’t long before they were demonstrating the Cheetah’s famous turn of speed as they chased each other around,” she added.

2_Cheetah cubs Winston and Poppy with mum Wilma at Longleat Safari Park PIC Caleb Hall (3000x2089)

3_Cheetah cubs Winston and Poppy explore their outdoor paddock for the first time at Longleat Safari Park PIC Caleb HallPhoto Credits: Longleat Safari Park / Caleb Hall

The Cheetah is officially classified as ‘Vulnerable’ on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species, which means it is very likely to become ‘Endangered’ unless the circumstances threatening its survival and reproduction improve.

In 2008 the IUCN estimated there to be around 7,500-10,000 adult Cheetahs in Africa and there are concerns the numbers have decreased significantly since then.

The births, which come almost five years after Cheetahs first arrived at Longleat, are particularly welcome as the cubs are part of the European Endangered Species Programme.

“Both mum Wilma and dad Carl have very valuable genetics within the European population as they came to us from a captive breeding population in Pretoria, South Africa,” said Eloise.

“This means Winston and Poppy, are also genetically distinct from the vast majority of the Cheetah within Europe, which means their birth is even more important,” she added.

Despite being the fastest developing member of the cat family, the cubs will remain reliant on mum for up to two years.

Cheetahs are the world’s quickest land animals, capable of top speeds of 71 miles per hour. While running they can cover four strides in a second, with each stride measuring up to eight metres.

Longleat Safari & Adventure Park is a member of the British and Irish Association of zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA). The facility celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.


Bilby Joeys Born at Alice Springs Desert Park

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Alice Springs Desert Park, in central Australia, has produced two new resident marsupials.

The Greater Bilby is currently listed as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, so the birth of the two healthy little male Bilbies puts the Desert Park on the conservation front and helps ensure that the unique marsupial will survive for generations to come.

Specialist Zoo Keeper, Bronte Stray, said these two Bilbies are part of the National Recovery Plan and are genetically important to the program.

Ms. Stray began, “The boys will help in diversifying the gene pool, unlike many marsupials, the male Bilby actually helps protect and raise the young.

“Bilbies are slowly becoming endangered because of environmental factors which encompass habitat loss and change, and competition with other animals and feral predators.

“The Bilby is perfectly designed for foraging for food with its huge ears and very good nose, the Bilby doesn’t need good eye sight, as it listens and smells for invertebrates, fruits, seeds and even witchetty grubs, which are inside tree roots. It also doesn’t need to drink as it can get all its water from its food, especially tubers and roots which can have very high water content,” continued Ms. Stray.

The National Recovery Program includes captive breeding, monitoring populations, and re-establishing Bilbies where they once lived.

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4_P1010031Photo Credits: Alice Springs Desert Park

The Greater Bilby (Macrotis lagotis), often referred to simply as the Bilby since the Lesser Bilby (Macrotis leucura) became extinct in the 1950s, is an Australian species of nocturnal omnivorous animal in the order Peramelemorphia. (Other vernacular names include dalgyte, pinkie, or rabbit-eared bandicoot).

The species lives in arid areas of central Australia, but their native range and population is in decline.

They do not need to drink water and get all the moisture they need from their food, which includes: insects and their larvae, seeds, spiders, bulbs, fruit, fungi, and very small animals. Most of their food is found by digging or scratching in the soil, and using their very long tongues.

Greater Bilbies have a short gestation period of about 12–14 days, one of the shortest among mammals. Their young are only 0.25 in (0.6 cm) long and very underdeveloped when they are born. They crawl to the mother’s pouch and latch onto one of her eight teats, and they leave the pouch after 70–75 days. But they will remain in the burrow for two to three weeks before independence. Litters usually consist of one to three joeys, and females can have up to four litters per year, depending on conditions.

The baby Bilbies can now be viewed at the Desert Park Nocturnal House.

For further details and park information visit www.alicespringsdesertpark.com.au.


Amur Leopard Twins Debut in Indiana

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The Amur Leopard cubs at Potawatomi Zoo have been kept from view and safely tucked away with mom Pearl, since their birth on July 26th.

Just prior to Christmas, Zoo guests were treated with a glimpse of the little ladies exploring their outdoor exhibit, on their official public debut.

According to staff, each cub has her own personality. One of the girls is a bit more reserved, while the other sister is more eager and bold.

While the sex of the cubs is known, the Zoo has yet to choose names. Keepers anticipate recruiting the public’s assistance in selecting names, after the winter season.

Potawatomi Zoo is the oldest zoo in Indiana, USA. In an effort to protect the animals and guests from the sometimes-brutal cold of the winter season, the Zoo implemented “Winter Days”. The facility will be closed for regular hours during the season, but visitors can still experience some of the Zoo and its residents on specially selected days. For more info, please see the Zoo’s website: https://potawatomizoo.org/events/winter-days-at-potawatomi-zoo.

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3_5855a65145fc9.imagePhoto Credits: Robert Franklin/South Bend Tribune

Potawatomi Zoo residents, 14 year-old Pearl and 18 year-old Sergei, are the parents of the cubs. The twins represent the fourth and fifth Amur Leopard cubs born at Potawatomi Zoo within the last two years. They are incredibly significant for both the Amur Leopard population and the Zoo. The remarkable birth marks nine successful Amur Leopard cubs born, through four litters, at the Zoo since 2007.

The Amur Leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis) is a subspecies native to the Primorye region of southeastern Russia and the Jilin Province of northeast China. They are classified as “Critically Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, with approximately 70 individuals remaining in the wild and just over 200 in Zoos worldwide. They are on the brink of extinction in the wild due to poaching and loss of habitat.

Efforts at breeding Amur Leopards in captivity have been marginally successful at best, with just a handful of births in Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) facilities last year. The significance of Potawatomi Zoo’s twin cubs arriving 16 months after triplets, which were born in March of 2015, puts the Zoo on the conservation field map in terms of the Amur Leopard Species Survival Plan (SSP) program’s breeding efforts. In the last year and a half, over 60% of viable Amur Leopard cub births in North American accredited zoological institutions took place at Potawatomi Zoo.

The Potawatomi Zoo, a participant in the AZA’s SSP program for Amur Leopards, is actively engaging in breeding genetically healthy Amur Leopards to help populate the critically endangered species. Amur Leopards are only found in Far Eastern Russia and Northeast China.


Giraffe Calf is The "Best Christmas Gift"

2) Keepers at Chester Zoo are celebrating “the best Christmas gift they could have wished for” following the birth of a rare Rothschild’s giraffe calf (7)
A rare Rothschild’s Giraffe calf born on Boxing Day (December 26) at Chester Zoo has been described by keepers as “the best Christmas gift.” 

The six-foot-tall youngster, which is yet to be sexed or named, arrived to first time mother Tula at around 7:00 am and was up on its feet just minutes later.

Keepers at Chester Zoo are celebrating “the best Christmas gift they could have wished for” following the birth of a rare Rothschild’s giraffe calf (3)
1) Keepers at Chester Zoo are celebrating “the best Christmas gift they could have wished for” following the birth of a rare Rothschild’s giraffe calf (16)Photo Credit:  Chester Zoo

Rothschild’s Giraffes are one of the most endangered subspecies of Giraffe and one of the world’s most at-risk species. Recent estimates suggest that less than 1,600 individuals remain in the wild, primarily as a result of poaching and habitat loss.

Sarah Roffe, team manager of Giraffes at the zoo, said, “Rothschild’s Giraffes are highly endangered and so the arrival of a new calf is a major cause for celebration. It really is the best Christmas gift we could have ever have wished for."

The calf will remain with Tula but separated from the rest of the herd until the two bond with each other and the calf nurses regularly.

Chester Zoo staff point out the Rothschild’s Giraffes are experiencing a “silent extinction.”  In the last 45 years, the population of Rothschild’s Giraffes in Uganda’s Kidepo Valley National Park – where they were once found in large numbers – has reduced by over 90%. A huge part of this decline was due to poaching in the 1990s and since then the population has failed to bounce back as habitat loss continues to threaten their survival.

Rothschild’s Giraffes are classified as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  With less than 1,600 remaining in the wild,Rothschild’s Giraffes are more endangered than African Elephants or Giant Pandas.

Roughly one-third of the surviving population of Rothschild’s Giraffes live in zoos, where carefully coordinated breeding programs are creating a safety-net population for the species.

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Giant Panda Cubs Learn to Walk

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Giant Panda cubs Ya Lun and Xi Lun are nearly four months old and can now scoot, wobble, and walk across their day room at Zoo Atlanta.

Born September 3, the female cubs are capturing the world’s attention as they become more mobile. Experienced mother Lun Lun is gradually introducing her cubs to new and exciting adventures, including the wide-open spaces of the day room. 

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Panda_cubs2016_161227_dayroom_ZA_5942Photo Credit:  Zoo Atlanta
You met the twins on ZooBorns when they were named at their 100-Day Celebration in keeping with an ancient Chinese tradition.  They now weigh nearly 11 pounds, through their woolly fur makes them appear much larger. 

The next milestone for the cubs will be climbing, and they’ve already been testing those skills on logs within the dayroom. 

Giant Pandas’ status was recently downgraded from Endangered to Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, but fewer than 1,900 Giant Pandas are estimated to remain in the wild.  The population still relies heavily on conservation breeding programs like the one at Zoo Atlanta. 

The twins are the sixth and seventh offspring for Lun Lun and her mate, Yang Yang.  Their five previous cubs now reside at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in China.

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