Snowy Owlets Hatch at Zoo Osnabrück

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In June, keepers at Zoo Osnabrück, in Germany, made the observation that their Snowy Owl was no longer attempting to incubate the three eggs she laid in her nest. Staff removed the eggs, and an incubator took over the work, warming the eggs at 37.5 degrees Celsius. The owlets began emerging from their eggs on July 12, and the youngest hatched on July 14. 

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4_11058299_1152605204766423_9101622692702152741_oPhoto Credits: Zoo Osnabrück

Andreas Wulftange, research associate, said, “I had to feed them four times a day. They cried for attention and craned their beaks, demanding food. You can hear them before you see them.”

Staff are currently attempting to teach them the ways of being a predatory bird. The owlets practice balancing on logs, placed on ground level. For now, they are only able to hop about their aviary, but some flight feathers are starting to emerge on their fuzzy bodies.

Wulftange, a trained falconer, continued, “We want to enable the Snowy Owlets free flight and let them fly over the zoo grounds, so visitors can see how these special birds silently glide through the air and land with pinpoint accuracy.”

The trio will remain in the aviary until they have matured and grown the feathers they need to master flight.

The Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus) is a large white owl of the typical owl family. They are native to Arctic regions in North America and Eurasia. Younger owls start with darker plumage, which turns lighter as they mature. Males are mostly white, while adult females have more flecks of gray plumage.

Snowy Owls are highly nomadic and their movements are tied to locating their prey. The powerful bird relies on lemmings and other small rodents for food during the breeding season. At times of low prey density, they may switch to eating juvenile ptarmigan. Like other birds, they swallow their prey whole. Strong stomach juices digest the flesh, while the indigestible bones, teeth, fur, and feathers are compacted into oval pellets that the bird regurgitates 18 to 24 hours after feeding.

Their mating season is in May, and eggs are incubated for about 32 days. The size of the clutch varies, depending on food availability. Only females incubate the eggs. The male provides the female and young with food. Young owls begin to leave the nest around 25 to 26 days after hatching. They are not able to fly until at least 50 days of age. They continue to be fed by the parents for another 5 weeks after they leave the nest.

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Endangered Crocs Hatch at Smithsonian’s National Zoo

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Five critically endangered Cuban Crocodiles recently hatched, at the Reptile Discovery Center of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, between July 29 and Aug. 7. Dorothy, a 57-year-old genetically valuable crocodile, laid the eggs. The hatchlings are less than a foot long, but they could reach up to 10.5 feet long when fully grown.

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4_19893839283_12d67c93ac_kPhoto Credits: Amy Enchelmeyer/Smithsonian’s National Zoo

Dorothy laid a clutch of 24 eggs in a hole nest on May 12. Crocodiles build either mound or hole nests. Hole nests are not always easily visible after females dig them; however, keepers had been monitoring Dorothy carefully and noticed physical changes indicating she had recently laid eggs. After a week of searching the exhibit for her nest, they found it and excavated the eggs. Ten of the eggs were fertile and moved to an incubator. Half of those fertile eggs continued to develop during the entire gestation period.

A crocodile embryo will develop into a male or female depending on the incubating temperature of the eggs. Only eggs incubated between 89.6 and 90.5 degrees Fahrenheit will hatch out males; any temperature higher or lower will result in females. The surface temperature of Dorothy’s nest was 84.7 degrees Fahrenheit when keepers reached it, and it was seven inches deep.

Keepers incubated the eggs in the temperature range to hatch out males, but it is too early to definitively determine the sex of each crocodile.

The Species Survival Plan (SSP) for Cuban Crocodiles requested that the Zoo hatch all males to ensure that the Cuban Crocodile population in human care continues to be sustainable. In the wild, a Cuban Crocodile’s nest will range in temperature. Depending on an egg’s temperature in the nest, some eggs could incubate at much warmer temperatures than others, resulting in males and females hatching out of the same clutch.

Keepers are behind the scenes, at the Reptile Discovery Center, caring for the baby crocodiles. Guests can see adult Cuban Crocodiles: Dorothy, Blanche, Rose and Jefe, on exhibit as usual.

Cuban Crocodiles are listed as “Critically Endangered” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature. They are threatened with habitat loss, hybridization and illegal hunting. They are only found in two swamps in Cuba.

More pics, below the fold!

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Four New ‘Rock’ Stars at Chester Zoo

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Four baby Rock Hyraxes have been born at Chester Zoo, in the UK. The tiny quartet arrived on July 25, after a seven-month gestation, weighing just a few ounces.

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4_RockHyrax-13Photo Credits: Chester Zoo

As soon as Rock Hyrax babies are born, they look like miniature adults, with their eyes and ears open, sporting the same coat. And despite being small in stature, the species actually has an incredible genetic link to the elephant.

Nick Davis, assistant curator of mammals at the zoo, said, “It’s quite an oddity, but Rock Hyraxes and elephants share a number of common features. For example, a small mammal would typically go through a short gestation period, but the Rock Hyrax is different, with pregnancies lasting over seven months (245 days) – highlighting a connection to their much larger relatives.”

“There are also other physical similarities between the two species, such as the shape of their feet and their continually growing incisors, which are reminiscent of an elephant’s tusks,” Davis continued.

The Rock Hyrax (Procavia capensis) is one of the four living species of the order Hyracoidea, and the only living species in the genus Procavia. Like all hyraxes, it is a medium-sized terrestrial mammal, superficially resembling a guinea pig with short ears and tail. The closest living relatives to hyraxes are the modern-day elephants and sirenians (sea cow).

The species lives primarily in Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, where it is known natively as a ‘dassie’ or ‘rock rabbit’. As their name indicates, Rock Hyraxes occupy habitats dominated by rocks and large boulders, including mountain cliffs, where they use their moist and rubber-like soles to gain a good grip to clamber around steep slopes.

They typically live in groups of 10 to 80 animals, and forage as a group. They feed on a wide variety of plants and have been known to eat insects and grubs. They have been reported to use sentries: one or more animals take up position on a vantage point and issue alarm calls on the approach of predators. They are said to have excellent eyesight. They are able to survive their dry habitat by getting most of their water from food supplies.

They are currently classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

More amazing pics, below the fold!

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Endangered Wallaby Joeys Emerge at Taronga Zoo

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Two tiny Brush-tailed Rock-Wallaby joeys have emerged from their mother's pouches at Taronga Zoo, continuing its successful breeding program for the endangered species.

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4_Wallaby Joey (16) Photo by Paul FahyPhoto Credits: Paul Fahy / Taronga Zoo

A female joey has started peeking out from mother Mica’s pouch in the Zoo’s Platypus Pools exhibit, delighting keepers and keen-eyed visitors.

“She’s still quite shy, but we’re starting to see her little face more and more. Mica likes to find a nice spot to rest in the sun and the joey will often pop its head out to look around,” said Keeper, Tony Britt-Lewis.

At five months of age, the joey will likely spend another month inside the pouch, before venturing outside to explore its surroundings.

The joey is one of two Brush-tailed Rock-Wallabies to emerge in the past week. Another of the Zoo’s breeding group, Ruby, is also carrying a joey.

Once abundant and widespread across the rocky country of southeastern Australia, Brush-tailed Rock-Wallabies (Petrogale penicillata) are now listed as an endangered species in New South Wales. They are classified as “Near Threatened” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The Brush-tailed Rock-Wallaby population has declined by up to 97% in the last 130 years.

Brush-tailed Rock-Wallabies have called Australia home for millennia. They are found nowhere else on earth and are a unique part of Australia’s natural heritage. “Brushies” were once common in all of Eastern Australia, and they numbered over half a million individuals. In the 19th century, Brushies were hunted by humans for their fur (now outlawed), but today they are still killed by predators, such as: foxes, feral dogs, and cats. They also face competition from introduced species such as goats and of course, a loss of habitat due to farming, weed invasion and the generally expanding human population. They’re vulnerable to introduced diseases and suffer from a lower overall genetic health, due to the increasing isolation of colonies.

Taronga Zoo is working with the Office of Environment and Heritage on a coordinated program to help the recovery of the species.

More incredible pics, below the fold!

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‘A’ Is for Aardvark at Burgers’ Zoo

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Burgers’ Zoo, in the Netherlands, recently welcomed a new Aardvark cub! The healthy baby was born the end of July and has been carefully monitored by zookeepers.

Burgers’ Zoo, under the authority of the EAZA, manages the European breeding program for the Aardvark. They are the only zoo in the Netherlands to house this special species.

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3_11807685_1008322749240617_8542890582731456660_oPhoto Credits: Burgers' Zoo

The Aardvark (Orycteropus afer) is a medium-sized, burrowing, nocturnal mammal that is native to Africa. It is the only living species of the order Tubulidentata.

The Aardvark is stout with a prominently arched back and is sparsely covered in coarse hair. The limbs are moderate length, with the rear legs being longer than the forelegs. Their weight is typically between 130 and 180 lbs. (60 and 80 kg). Their length is usually between 3.44 and 4.27 feet (105 and 130 cm). They are typically 24 inches tall (60 cm). The Aardvark is pale yellowish gray in color and often stained reddish brown by soil it sorts through. The coat is thin, and the skin is tough.

The Aardvark is nocturnal and feeds almost exclusively on ants and termites. They will emerge from their burrow in late afternoon and forage for food over a range of about 6 to 18 miles from home. While foraging, they keep the nose to ground and ears pointed forward. When concentrations of ants or termites are detected, the Aardvark digs into the mound with powerful front legs and will take up the insects with their long, sticky tongue. It is possible for the animal to take in as many as 50,000 ants and termites in one night.

The Aardvark is mostly quiet, but will make soft grunting sounds as it forages and louder grunts when engaged in burrowing.

Aardvarks have a gestation of about seven months. They generally give birth to a single cub from May to July. When born, the young have flaccid ears and many wrinkles. After two weeks, the folds of skin disappear and after three weeks the ears are upright. At 5-6 weeks, body hair starts growing. They are weaned by about 16 weeks, and can dig their own burrow by 6 months of age. The young often remain with the mother till the next mating season.

The Aardvark is currently classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List. However, they are a species in a precarious situation and are declining in number as their food supplies begin to dwindle.


Meet Little Pudding, Oregon's Orphaned Otter Pup

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A boisterous, squeaky River Otter pup — orphaned last month near Oakridge, Oregon, and now living at the Oregon Zoo — has a name. The 4-month-old will be called Little Pudding, named for a tributary of Oregon’s Pudding River.

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Photo Credit:  Oregon Zoo

"A lot of the animals here get their names from nations or cultures associated with the species' native habitats," said Julie Christie, senior keeper for the zoo's North America area. "For the river otters, we like to choose names based on local waterways."

After narrowing their list of potential names to three choices — J.R. Papenfus and Hobson were the other two — keepers last week invited the public to vote for their favorite via the zoo website. More than 5,500 Otter fans weighed in, with Little Pudding earning around 36 percent of the votes.

The pup was alone, hungry and dehydrated when he was spotted wandering alongside a local highway. He was taken to the Chintimini Wildlife Center in Corvallis. Since the young Otter would not be able to survive in the wild without its mother, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife contacted the zoo to see if space was available once the pup's health stabilized.

Once threatened by fur trappers, North American River Otters are now relatively abundant in healthy river systems of the Pacific Northwest and the lakes and tributaries that feed them. Good populations exist in suitable habitat in northeast and southeast Oregon, but they are scarce in heavily settled areas, especially if waterways are compromised. Because of habitat destruction and water pollution, River Otters are considered rare outside the region.


Red Panda Cubs Are A Perfect Pair

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11791953_10153083270768137_1156151738392090804_oPhoto Credit:  Zoo Salzberg

The cubs were born to parents Banja and Eros, but are now being hand-reared by the staff after the loss of female Banja in July.

Under the care of zoo keepers, the cubs are developing well and now have their eyes open and weigh about one pound each. 

Red Panda cubs typically emerge from the nest box at 12 weeks old, and are weaned at around five to six months of age. 

Native to mountain forests in China, Nepal, and Myanmar, Red Pandas are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  Loss of habitat, caused by a near doubling of the human population in the region in the past 30-40 years, is the primary threat to the species.  As their forest habitat is broken into smaller and smaller chunks, the risk of inbreeding within smaller populations increases. 

These two cubs will be an important part of the worldwide effort to maintain a genetically diverse Red Panda population within zoos.

 

 


Lincoln Park Zoo Says They Are ‘Hooked’ on New Sloth

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Lincoln Park Zoo, in Chicago, Illinois, has announced a new arrival. A Hoffmann’s Two-Toed Sloth was born on July 25, at the zoo’s Regenstein Small Mammal-Reptile House!  

The sloth infant joins its 21-year-old mother, Hersey, and 32-year-old father, Carlos, on exhibit at the zoo. The sex and measurements of the newborn are yet to be determined, as the baby is clinging tight to Hersey. The sloth baby is a part of the Hoffmann’s Two-Toed Sloth Species Survival Plan, which cooperatively manages the accredited zoo population. The baby sloth is the first offspring of this breeding pair.

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“The sloth infant appears healthy and is passing critical milestones such as nursing regularly and clinging well to mother,” said Curator Diane Mulkerin. “Hersey is a first-time mother and is being very attentive to her new young.”

The sloth infant, Hersey, and Carlos can be seen on exhibit daily at Lincoln Park Zoo’s Regenstein Small Mammal Reptile House from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sloths are nocturnal so the infant and mother can be seen curled up in the canopy throughout the day and are more active towards the evening.

Hoffmann’s Two-Toed Sloth (Choloepus hoffmanni) is a species of sloth from 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.

The species is often confused with its relation, the Linnaeus’s Two-Toed Sloth, which it closely resembles. The primary difference between the two species relate to subtle skeletal features; for example, Hoffmann’s Two-Toed Sloth has three foramina in the upper forward part of the interpterygoid space, rather than just two, and often has fewer cervical vertebrae.

Hoffmann’s Two-Toed Sloths have large hooked claws that help the species hang from treetops in the canopies of tropical rainforests. On average, these sloths weigh around 12 pounds and can reach 27 inches in length and spend nearly all of their time upside down in treetops.

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Lion Cubs Are the ‘Pride’ of Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

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Three African Lion cubs are the “pride” of Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, in Colorado Springs, Colorado! The two boys and their sister were born June 25 to mom, Lomela, and dad, Abuto. 

The Zoo recently held a naming contest, for the furry trio, and asked for help from their fans and supporters. Names were submitted via facebook and the Zoo’s website. The Zoo will soon make a formal announcement on the decided-upon names. 

Keepers say "Boy #1" (Image 1) takes after his grandfather, Elson. He’s the darkest in color, and he’s the biggest of the cubs. "Boy #2" (Image 2) is described as being 'really laid back'. Keepers say the Girl is the bravest (Image 3) and takes after her daddy, Abuto. She’s said to be the first to explore new toys and spaces.

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3_11224555_10153647446386019_5729344708408349311_oPhoto Credits: Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

ZooBorns helped spread the Zoo’s excitement over the cub’s births and featured the trio in early July: http://www.zooborns.com/zooborns/2015/07/lion-cheyenne-zoo.html

There was much anticipation at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, prior to the arrival of the healthy trio of cubs. Lions are pregnant for an average of 110 days. Zoo staff set up a camera system weeks prior to the birth, so they could monitor Lomela in two different nesting locations. Animal Keepers were able to observe the birth and keep close tabs on mom and cubs without disturbing them. The Zoo set up a second video camera monitor above the Lion Relaxation Room window, so guests could see the new additions to the Lion pride.

Abuto was specifically chosen to breed with Lomela because of their genetic compatibility. The breeding program is known within the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) as a Species Survival Plan, or SSP. The breeding of the Zoo’s Lions is important to the SSP and to the zoo. The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s hope is that guests will fall in love with their pride and fight to help save their wild counterparts.

“These cubs are truly miracle babies,” Amy Schilz, Lead Giraffe/Lion Keeper, said. “We weren’t sure whether Lomela would be able to conceive.”

African Lions are currently classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. There has been an estimated population decline of 42%, in the last 21 years. Noted causes for the decline include disease and human interference. Habitat loss and conflicts with humans are considered the most significant threats to the species. The remaining populations are often geographically isolated from one another, which can lead to inbreeding, and consequently, reduced genetic diversity.

 

The cub's mother, Lomela:

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The father of the trio, Abuto:

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Zoo Liberec Celebrates First Red Panda Cubs

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For the first time in Zoo Liberec’s history, they have succeeded in breeding Red Pandas! A pair of young pandas was born, on June 28, at the Czech Republic zoo.

The brother and sister are the offspring of mom, Lotus, who arrived at Liberec from the French Zoo de Bordeaux-Pessac. The father is Kamala, who came from Paradise Park in Cornwall, UK. 

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3_11816200_881453561909069_6394997806025376310_oPhoto Credits: Zoo Liberec

The twins are yet-to-be-named, but zoo staff are intent on them having Asian inspired monikers. The Zoo anticipates them being on public display by September when they will be old enough to begin exploring on their own. They are currently safely tucked away under their mom’s care and supervision.

Red Pandas are native to the eastern Himalayas and southwestern China. They are slightly larger than a domestic cat. They are omnivorous, feeding mainly on bamboo, but they are also known to eat eggs, birds, insects, and small mammals. They are solitary and are mainly active from dusk till dawn.

The Red Panda is the only living species of the genus Ailurus and the family Ailuridae. It had been previously placed in the raccoon and bear families, but results of phylogenetic research indicate strong support for its taxonomic classification in its own family Ailuridae, which along with the weasel, raccoon and skunk families, is part of the superfamily Musteloidea. The Red Panda is not closely related to the Giant Panda.

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