Koala Joey Emerges For Warm Holiday Season

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Taronga Zoo is delighted to share images of their new male Koala joey. The tiny face has appeared just in time to catch the warmer weather of an Australian summer.

The joey has been named ‘Banks’ after naturalist and explorer Sir Joseph Banks. This continues Taronga’s tradition of choosing names for their Koalas while honoring Australian heritage.

Banks is nine months old and is the second joey to mum Malleey, who gave birth to Baxter three years ago.

According to keeper, Laura Jones, Banks is now eating eucalyptus leaves, supplemented with mum’s milk. Soon he will be weaned and his diet will consist of only Eucalyptus leaves.

Banks has also now completely emerged from the pouch. “At ninth months old, he’s already experimenting with sitting on his own, which usually happens around 10 months, so he is a bit advanced for his age,” remarked Laura.

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3_Banks and Malleey 9 (1)
3_Banks and Malleey 9 (1)Photo Credits: Taronga Zoo

Koalas are one of Australia’s most iconic species. Unfortunately, Koala numbers are declining in the wild due to habitat encroachment, so every birth helps to secure a future for this iconic species.

Found along the East Coast of Australia, Koala’s are losing their homes due to deforestation. Being a sensitive animal, Koala’s do not translocate habitats well. Rather than cutting down trees and planting new ones elsewhere in the hope that wildlife will relocate, it is very important to protect their home today.

“It is particularly important for people to watch out for Koalas on the roads with the arrival of the busy Christmas period,” Laura added.

Taronga’s Koala breeding program has now produced three joeys this year. A great time to see the new Koala joey, in the zoo’s Aussie Walkthrough exhibit, is during the daily keeper talks at 3:30pm.

More great pics below the fold!

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Giant Anteater Twins Born at Santa Barbara Zoo

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The Santa Barbara Zoo’s Giant Anteater, Anara, recently gave birth to a rare set of twins! The female pups were born overnight and discovered by keepers on Monday, November 21.

Twins are unusual in this species, and the likelihood for survival of both pups, if left with the mother, is extremely low.

“We monitored the newborn pups and allowed them both to stay with their mother for as long as possible,” says Dr. Julie Barnes, Director of Animal Care and Health. “We had several plans to implement, depending on how they progressed. Although Anara did an amazing job in the first few days, we were starting to see a significant weight discrepancy between the pups. That indicated it was time to start hand-rearing the smaller pup in order to increase the chances of survival of both pups.”

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SB Zoo Giant Anteater pups 11.17Photo Credits: Santa Barbara Zoo

Giant Anteater babies grow fast, and providing enough milk for more than one infant is difficult. In addition, the mother carries the baby on her back until they are nearly her size. Therefore, carrying both twins would prove impossible for the mother after just a few weeks. Anara herself is a twin and was hand- raised at the Fresno Zoo.

Keepers identify the larger pup by two black stripes on her back, while the smallest of the pair has only one stripe. Currently, the smaller pup is in an incubator at the Animal Hospital and is being fed every three hours, around the clock. She will not be on view to the public for several months.

Anara and the larger pup she is caring for are expected to go out on exhibit within the next two weeks, and the pup will be seen clinging to her mother’s back.

“Anara is doing well and is a great mother,” adds Dr. Barnes. “We are delighted that both pups are female, as her previous two surviving pups were male. We need more females in order to ensure we have a genetically healthy population for his species in North America. Her mate Ridley, who came from Germany, has valuable genes that are not well represented so far. Those genes go with his offspring and help diversity the genes of Giant Anteaters in human care in zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.”

Although the birth of twins is rare for Anteaters, it is not so much the case for Anara, as this is her second set of twins out of three pregnancies with Ridley. The pair’s first offspring were twins, a male and female, born in March 2014, but the female newborn did not survive. The male pup was hand-reared and is now at the Tennessee Zoo. Nine months later, another male pup was born and successfully raised by Anara. He now resides at the Birmingham Zoo.

Since 1975, a total of 29 Giant Anteaters have now been born at the Santa Barbara Zoo. Prior to Anara and Ridley’s first litter in 2014, the last time a Giant Anteater was born there was in 2006.

The Zoo was a leader in an early nationwide study of Giant Anteaters, thanks in great part to a special female named ‘Grandma’. The average lifespan for this species is between 20 and 23 years of age, and Grandma lived to be 31 years old. During her life she produced fifteen offspring. She was the oldest Giant Anteater in captivity when she died in 2002.

The Giant Anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla) was once found from northern Argentina to southern Belize, in savannas, grasslands, swampy areas, and humid forests. They have since disappeared from Belize, Guatemala, and probably Costa Rica. In South America, they are also gone from Uruguay and portions of Brazil.

The Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) estimates population loss of at least 30% over the past 10 years, and classifies the species as “Vulnerable.”

Giant Anteaters have a body length of 3 to 4 feet with a tail that is an additional 2 to 3 feet, and weigh 40 to 85 pounds, though some captive Anteaters have weighed more than 100 pounds.

This species uses powerful claws to rip apart termite and ant mounds, and an 18 to 24 inch tongue to eat termites, ants, and grubs. In the wild, they may consume as many as 35,000 ants in a single day. At the Santa Barbara Zoo, they eat a specially formulated insectivore diet, plus avocados, bananas, crickets, and worms. The avocados must be ripe because anteaters do not have teeth; they break open the skin with their long sharp claws.

Anteaters in the wild are solitary, except for females with young, and spend most of their days with their noses to the ground searching for food using exceptional senses of smell and hearing. Their sense of smell is 40 times more powerful than a human’s.

Giant Anteaters typically spend their first months of life clinging to their mother’s backs, where their black and gray stripes line up with those of the mother.

The new Giant Anteaters twins, like many of the animals at the Santa Barbara Zoo, can be named by making a donation to the Zoo. By donating for a chance to name the pups, sponsors also support the AZA Giant Anteater cooperative breeding program, with the goal of increased genetic diversity in North American zoos.

For more information, visit www.sbzoo.org .


Spotted Hyena Twins Born at Monarto Zoo

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Two adorable faces have joined Monarto Zoo’s Spotted Hyena clan. Twins were born on September 13 to first-time parents Thandi and Piltengi.

Carnivore Keeper, Rachel Robbins, said the little cubs were thriving under the careful watch of doting first-time mum Thandi.

“Thandi is doing incredibly well as a first-time mum,” Rachel said. “Due to their unique reproductive anatomy, first-time Hyena mums have a very high chance of something going wrong during birth, and a high percentage of first-time mothers in the wild die, so it’s incredible to see Thandi successfully rearing two cubs.”

Rachel continued, “It’s also really exciting to see Piltengi father his first cubs, as he has wild parentage which provides incredibly valuable genetics for the region.”

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3_Monarto Zoo Spotted Hyena cubs health check  credit Geoff Brooks  Zoos SA (18)Photo Credits: Adrian Mann

The cubs are currently spending most of their time in a private habitat with their parents and grandma, Kigali. Keepers expect they will be ready for their big public debut in a few months, once they become more confident.

“The cubs are still quite shy, sticking close to mum and their den, but every day they grow a little more confident,” Rachel Robbins said. “For now, the best time to catch a glimpse of the youngsters is during our ‘Lions at Bedtime’ tour.”

As a conservation charity that exists to save species from extinction, Monarto Zoo is proud to have bred a total of ten Spotted Hyena. The newest little cubs will act as ambassadors for their species, educating Australians about the plight of their wild cousins.

The Spotted Hyena (Crocuta crocuta), also known as the Laughing Hyena, is a species currently classed as the sole member of the genus Crocuta. It is native to Sub-Saharan Africa and is currently listed as “Least Concern” by the IUCN. The Spotted Hyena has a widespread range and large numbers, estimated between 27,000 and 47,000 individuals, however, the species is experiencing declines outside of protected areas due to habitat loss and poaching.

Hyenas can sometimes be a misunderstood species, but, in fact, they are excellent hunters with a success rate of up to 95 per cent, are extremely intelligent and have wonderful characters.

Research has proven Hyenas to be excellent problem solvers, sometimes even out-performing great apes in problem solving tests.


Tiger Cubs Get Their First Checkup at Jacksonville Zoo

Cub one with closed eyesJacksonville Zoo and Gardens is celebrating the birth of two critically endangered Sumatran Tiger cubs. The cubs’ mother, 6-year-old Dorcas, gave birth at 11:40 a.m. on November 20. The Tigers’ keepers were able to keep an eye on the process using a closed-circuit camera system.

Both cubs are male and represent the second litter for Dorcas and father, Berani. The Zoo’s first Sumatran Tiger birth in its 102-year history is big sister Kinleigh Rose, born on November 19, 2015 – two years and a day before the arrival of her little brothers. 

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Cub one with closed eyesPhoto Credit: Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

“One of the biggest pleasures as the Zoo’s Tiger-management program evolves, is watching the effect that it has on the wellness of our animals,” said Dan Dembiec, Supervisor of Mammals. “Dorcas started out as a skittish and shy Tigress, but she is now a confident and skilled mother.  She is a natural at providing her cubs with the necessary care to help them develop, and this is reflective of the care that she has received from the staff at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens.”

The cubs received their first medical exam on November 28. Zoo Animal Health staff were able to quickly and efficiently examine the cubs because of the exceptional bonding and training the keeper staff has established with the mother. Dorcas trusted her keepers and was therefore willing to be separated from the cubs when keepers requested it.

Dr. Yousuf Jafarey gave the cubs’ brief physical examinations and determined they look healthy, are nursing well, and have no congenital health problems. Both cubs weighed 4.5 pounds. Within minutes the cubs were back with their mother in the nesting box, behind-the-scenes in the Tiger viewing building.

The cubs will not be on exhibit for several months. They still require a series of health examinations and vaccinations. They’ll continue to strengthen the bond with their mom, and even require a swim test before the cubs are ready to explore their outdoor habitat in public viewing areas. A live video feed of the nest box can be seen in the Tiger viewing building, on either side of the donor wall.

The birth of two Sumatran Tiger cubs is especially significant because the Zoo’s Tigers are part of a globally-managed species program. Zoological facilities around the world, including Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens’ work to maintain a healthy population. There are currently less than 400 Sumatran Tigers in the wild.

See more photos of the cubs below.

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A Pile of Otter Pups at NatureZoo Rheine


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A furry pile of tiny baby Otters snuggled in the nest box at Germany’s NaturZoo Rheine represents the first-ever birth of Asian Small-clawed Otters at the zoo.

The pups, which were born on October 31, stay so close together that the staff is unsure how many pups are in the nest, but they expect there are four or five little ones.

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Photo Credit: NaturZoo Rheine

Four adult Asian Small-clawed Otters, all about six years old, arrived at NaturZoo Rheine in the summer of 2017. The staff allowed the female to select her mate from among the three males in the group and she became pregnant shortly after.

Keepers knew that the female had given birth because they heard the pups chirping loudly from within the nest box. The female did not come out of the box for four days.  Keepers respected her privacy and allowed her to bond with her newborns. Two of the males cared for the female and her pups by bringing her food during this time. Later, when the female left the nest box for brief periods, the males guarded the nest. The males also brought fresh bedding, cleaned waste from the nest, and helped transfer the pups to a second nest box when the pups were about three weeks old.

Keepers have not disturbed the nest, but one day, when all the adults were out of the box, they peeked inside to check on the pups. At first glance, they thought there were three pups in the box, but then realized there were at least four.  Later, another keeper thought she saw five pups. The number will remain a mystery until the pups come out of the nest with their mom, probably in late December.

Asian Small-clawed Otters, which are the smallest of all Otter species, are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. They inhabit wetlands, mangrove swamps, and waterways in Southeast Asia.  Many of these areas are rapidly being converted for aquaculture production, which diminishes the quality of the habitat.  Many surrounding hillsides are being converted to tea and coffee plantations, with the pesticides used in those plantations running off into waterways where Otters live.  


Fort Worth Zoo Welcomes First Dragon Hatchlings

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For the first time in its 108-year history, the Fort Worth Zoo proudly announces the hatchings of eleven Komodo Dragons. Upon hatching, the juveniles were approximately 12 to 15 inches long and weighed less than half a pound each (about as much as a bar of soap).


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5_20170405_140939Photo Credits: Fort Worth Zoo

The female Komodo Dragon arrived at the Zoo in 2012 from Prague. She is 7 years old, 6 feet in length and weighs 26 pounds. The male is 7 years old, 6.5 feet long and 44 pounds. This is the first clutch for both young parents. (Full-grown adult males can reach over 8 feet in length and weigh up to 200 pounds). The adult Dragons’ unique genetic material makes them valuable assets in the development of Komodo Dragons in managed populations in the United States. They have now introduced an entirely new bloodline of healthy, genetically diverse Komodo Dragons into the population, which contributes as a hedge against extinction of these vulnerable reptiles.

Typically, female Komodo Dragons lay about 20 to 30 eggs and the eggs incubate for about nine months. There is little research to support parental care of newly hatched Komodo Dragons; in fact, adults will often eat juveniles. For this reason, and to ensure the eggs were kept at a constant temperature and humidity, the Fort Worth Zoo herpetological team cared for the eggs in the incubation nursery housed inside the Zoo’s Museum of Living Art (MOLA) until they hatched. Each one of the hatchlings now resides in its own off-exhibit habitat; however, one is now on exhibit in MOLA, across from their parents’ exhibit.

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Blank Park Zoo’s Lioness Has Her Paws Full

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Iowa’s Blank Park Zoo recently announced that their Lioness, Neema, had successfully given birth to three cubs! Two females and one male were born on November 14.

The cubs have been spending time bonding with mom. At their first physical on November 20th, they individually weighed 1.46 kg, 1.37 kg and 1.2 kg.

“Neema has been a very attentive and protective mother to the cubs,” said Dr. June Olds, chief veterinary programs officer. “We suspect the cubs were a bit underweight at their first physical because it was a large litter.”

Staff has been supplementing the feeding of the smallest cub, the male, because he is currently a week behind in growth compared to the other cubs, and his condition is considered guarded. “We are going to continue to evaluate his milestones and supplement him as needed. I am very impressed that ‘Neema’ has been allowing us to do that,” said Olds.

Two other cubs, born four hours after the initial three, failed to thrive and unfortunately did not survive.

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4_IMG_1982Photo Credits: Blank Park Zoo

Blank Park Zoo staff never goes directly into areas with dangerous animals such as Lions. For the keepers to attend to the cubs and perform exams, Neema had to ‘shift’ to another room.

Blank Park Zoo’s male lion, Deuce, arrived at the zoo in 2012. Neema and another female, Kadi, arrived at the zoo’s Tom and Jo Ghrist Great Cats Complex in June of this year from the Santa Barbara Zoo. The Lions are part of the Species Survival Plan. Deuce and Neema were given a breeding recommendation by the SSP.

“As we see populations of Lions declining in their natural habitats, these cubs will play an important role in saving Lions for the future,” said Mark Vukovich, CEO. “The population of Lions has decreased by more than 40 percent in the past 20 years.”

The cubs and Neema are still spending quality time together and are not currently available to be seen by visitors. Before visitors will be allowed to see them, the cubs must go through a series of vaccinations, which will take a few months. Blank Park Zoo will be setting up some remote viewing options for visitors in the coming weeks.

Zoo officials will be releasing plans for naming the cubs in the coming days, as well.

Blank Park Zoo will be giving a donation to the *Ruaha Carnivore Project in honor of the cubs. A portion of every dollar spent at Blank Park Zoo is used to help save animals in their natural habitats.

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Jacksonville Zoo Welcomes Two Giraffes in One Week

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Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens is delighted to welcome another new Reticulated Giraffe to the family. The healthy female was born November 24 and is the second Giraffe born in the span of a week!

Much to the amazement of Zoo guests, the latest calf was born on exhibit. Guests were able to see the delivery from the Giraffe Overlook.  

This calf is the fourth for mom, Luna, and an impressive 18th offspring for sire, Duke. The most recent addition marks the 41st Giraffe calf born at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens (JZG).

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4_guests watching John ReedPhoto Credits: JJ Vitale / John Reed / JZG (Images 1-5: Female born Nov. 24, with mom Luna and Auntie Spock ; Images 6-8: Male born Nov. 19, with mom Naomi)

According to staff, Luna was not in labor the morning of November 24, but keepers felt confident in her previous pregnancy and birth experiences. She was encouraged to roam freely and comfortably with the rest of the herd, and knowing she was near the end of her pregnancy, keepers were closely monitoring her throughout the day.

When the calf’s front hooves made an appearance around 12:30 p.m. that day, keepers called most of the herd off exhibit to give Luna space. Another female, Spock, stayed with Luna and gave her privacy for the birth. However, Spock was quick to greet the youngster and help the new mom with the cleaning process. Although Spock has never had any offspring of her own, she has been an excellent “auntie” figure to many calves over the years.

With excited guests cheering form the Overlook, the newborn calf was standing within 30-minutes of birth. Zookeepers observed the calf nursing well, and Luna and the calf will be allowed to stay on exhibit for as long as they are comfortable.

The male calf was born, just a few days prior, on November 19 to mom Naomi. Duke is also his father. A review of security cameras in the Giraffe exhibit show this calf was born at 5 a.m. on the 19th. Veterinary staff examined him late in the afternoon of his birth and measured him at 6’4” tall, with a weight of 191 pounds.

The new male, his mother Naomi, and auntie Spock will also join the new female and mom, Luna, on-exhibit. Both new calves are expected to be out with their herd, assuming the two mothers are comfortable with the situation.

The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens supports the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, whose sole focus is on the conservation and management of Giraffes in the wild.

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Four Otter Pups Come Out of the Den at Woburn Safari Park

Otter-pup-1_715x589Four Otter pups were born at Woburn Safari Park in late September, and they’re now out of the den exploring their exhibit.

The Asian Small-clawed Otter pups are the second litter born to parents Kovu and Kelani. The first litter of five pups was born in July 2016. The one-year-olds are proving to be great helpers to Kovu and Kelani when it comes to managing the newborns.

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Photo Credits: Woburn Safari Park (1,3,4,5); Linda McPherson (2)

The four new pups, one female and three males, recently received their first hands-on health check from keepers.  The pups were microchipped, sexed, and given a quick exam. All four are doing well.

Animal keeper Louise Moody said, "We are really excited that Kelani has welcomed another litter successfully and that all the pups are doing well. Their older siblings are helping out their parents and bringing food for them all into the nest box.”

The four pups and seven adult Otters can now be seen playing together in their outdoor enclosure, and the pups are learning to swim. The water level in the exhibit pool has been temporarily lowered until the little Otters grow a bit bigger.

In a few months, the family will say goodbye to the older pups.  They will be sent to other zoos to become part of Otter breeding programs.

Asian Small-clawed Otters are listed as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. They live in coastal wetlands in South and Southeast Asia, and their habitat has been degraded and reduced significantly in recent decades.