These Bison Babies Could Have a Wild Future

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Two baby European Bison born at Scotland’s Highland Wildlife Park may one day roam eastern Europe’s natural areas as part of a program to reestablish the species, which became extinct in the wild in 1927.

The calves, one male and one female, were born at the drive-through reserve on May 13 to two different mothers.  The births are part of an international program, led by Highland Wildlife Park, to manage the zoo-dwelling Bison population and help increase the wild herds.

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16_06_28_EuropeanBison_01_kpPhoto Credit: Highland Wildlife Park

European Bison are similar to American Bison and once roamed most of eastern, central, and western Europe.  By 1927, there were no European Bison remaining in the wild, but 54 animals were living in zoos.

Since then, the European Bison has become a conservation success story.  Through managed breeding, genetic diversity has been maximized and animals have been transported from zoos to wilderness areas in eastern Europe. Bison born at Highland Wildlife Park have been translocated in the past, and a large group is set to move to Romania later this year.

When these two calves are old enough, they may join their herdmates in the wilds of eastern Europe.


New Zebra for Zoo Basel’s Africa Enclosure

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Since mid-June, the Africa Enclosure at Basel Zoo has had a new main attraction: a young Grant’s Zebra. Shortly after the birth, the mother and foal headed out into the enclosure with the rest of the herd and have since been delighting the zoo’s visitors.

Basel Zoo’s Africa Enclosure is currently attracting large numbers of visitors. The reason for this is clear: they all want to see the colt Nyati, who was born on June 19th.

This is the fifth foal that the mother Chambura (age 11) has given birth to. The father is Tibor (age 6). Nyati was born in the stall in the early hours of the morning, and a Zookeeper was fortunate enough to observe the birth.

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4_13668837_1081756421862097_8908854090968115986_oPhoto Credits: Zoo Basel

Zebras have a gestation period of one year, and births are relatively swift. While the mother lies on the floor, the rest of the herd stands guard nearby. One extraordinary characteristic is that baby Zebras are extremely active, almost straight after they are born. They stand up after little more than ten minutes, can already start to walk after another twenty minutes and, another ten minutes later, start to gallop. According to Adrian Baumeyer, curator of the Africa Enclosure, this is “vital to the animals’ survival” in the wild.

In the first few days after the birth, the mother generally keeps other members of the herd at a distance, until she has established a strong bond with the foal. On the second day after Nyati’s birth, mother and foal headed out into the enclosure with the rest of the herd. During the first week, this activity was supervised to prevent Nyati falling into the moat while learning to walk.

Foals are suckled for six to eight months. Colts have to leave the herd after one to one-and-a-half years. They are driven away by their father and, in the wild, join a group of bachelors comprising five to ten stallions, in which they remain for three to five years. After this time, the bachelors start to challenge the stallions, which lead a herd with several mares, to an even greater extent. If a stallion shows weakness, it is driven away. A new stallion then takes over the mare herd.

Basel Zoo’s Africa Enclosure is a community enclosure with Zebras, Ostriches and Hippopotamuses. It opened in July 1992. The first animals to move in were a young Hippopotamus pair and a small herd of Zebras. The Ostriches joined these one-year later. During the day, a partition exists between the Zebras and the Ostriches on one side of the enclosure and the Hippopotamuses on the other side, preventing any direct contact between the animals. At night, either the Hippopotamuses or the Zebras can then use the enclosure.

Grant's Zebra (Equus quagga boehmi) is the smallest of six subspecies of the plains Zebra. This subspecies represents the Zebra form of the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem.

Zebras are widespread in Eastern Africa. They live in the savannah and open forests. They are highly dependent on water and need to drink almost daily to survive. They primarily feed on grass, leaves and bark. A zebra’s stripe pattern is its most striking feature and as unique as a human fingerprint. The animals use this pattern to recognize each other.


Twin ‘Punk-Rock’ Primates at Cotswold Wildlife Park

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Cotswold Wildlife Park recently celebrated the birth of twin Cotton-top Tamarins. The striking infants are the second set of twins for parents Johnny and Louise. Twins Lilley and Lana were born last year, and the newborns share their enclosure with these older siblings.

New father Johnny is an important individual for the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP) as he has an impressively pure bloodline. These new births are considered significant additions to the EEP, helping to ensure the genetic diversity of the species.

Each member of the family plays a specific role when it comes to rearing the young. The dominant male spends the most time carrying his infants; the mother carries them for the first week of life, and then holds them only to suckle.

Primate keeper, Natalie Horner, commented: “Male Tamarins take an active role in rearing their young by carrying and caring for the infants the majority of the time. The babies only return to their mother to feed…[The dads] even teach the older youngsters how to care for their younger siblings, which is an important part of their development.”

2_Baby Cotton-top Tamarins 2Photo Credits: Cotswold Wildlife Park

 

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“Q” & A at Hellabrunn Zoo Munich

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The youngest European Elk (Moose in North America), at Hellabrunn Zoo Munich, was born on May 23. 

This year every offspring born at Hellabrunn Zoo Munich will get a name starting with “Q”…so the new calf has been named Quanita. She is doing well and is under the great care of her mother Anita. Staff report that Quanita has also started to become more acquainted with her half-brother Quebec, who is one week older.

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4_Elk_offspring_Hellabrunn_2016_Marc Mueller (4)Photo Credits: Tierpark Hellabrunn / Marc Mueller

The Elk (Eurasia) or Moose (North America), Alces alces, is the largest extant species in the deer family. The palmate antlers of the males distinguish Elk/Moose; other members of the family have antlers with a dendritic ("twig-like") configuration. They typically inhabit boreal and mixed deciduous forests of the Northern Hemisphere in temperate to subarctic climates. The species used to have a much wider range but hunting and other human activities have greatly reduced it. Elk/Moose have been reintroduced to some of their former habitats. Currently, most are found in Canada, Alaska, New England, Scandinavia, Latvia, Estonia and Russia.

Their diet consists of both terrestrial and aquatic vegetation. Their most common predators are wolves, bears and humans. Unlike most other deer species, Elk/Moose are solitary animals and do not form herds. Although generally slow-moving and sedentary, they can become aggressive and move quickly if angered or startled. Their mating season in the autumn can lead to spectacular fights between males competing for a female.

On average, an adult stands 1.4–2.1 m (4.6–6.9 ft) high at the shoulder. Males (or "bulls") normally weigh from 380 to 700 kg (838 to 1,543 lb) and females (or "cows") typically weigh 200 to 490 kg (441 to 1,080 lb). The head-and-body length is 2.4–3.1 m (7.9–10.2 ft), with the vestigial tail adding only a further 5–12 cm (2.0–4.7 in). Typically, the antlers of a mature bull are between 1.2 m (3.9 ft) and 1.5 m (4.9 ft).

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Surprise Macaque Birth at Zoo de Granby

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Keepers at Zoo de Granby had a small, yet big, surprise last month. In the middle of June, they discovered a female Japanese Macaque baby in the exhibit.

Keepers, on their morning rounds, were first alerted to the newborn by her screeches. The mother had rejected and abandoned the small monkey, so staff quickly intervened and placed the baby in an incubator.

The wee one was recently given the name Kimi and has been carefully tended by keepers for the past four weeks. She will remain off-exhibit until old enough to join the Zoo’s troop.

Kimi is also the first Macaque to be born at Granby in ten years!

 

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Hellabrunn’s Emu Chicks Go to ‘Daddy Day Care’

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Hellabrunn Zoo Munich currently has five new Emu chicks! The chicks hatched between May 8th and May 14th, and the new mob is currently under the protective care of their ten-year-old father “Kanoro”.

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4_Emu_chicks_Hellabrunn_2016_Marc Mueller (1)Photo Credits: Marc Mueller

The Emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae) is the second-largest living bird by height, after the ostrich. It is endemic to Australia where it is the largest native bird and the only extant member of the genus Dromaius.

Emus are soft-feathered, brown, flightless birds with long necks and legs, and can reach up to 1.9 metres (6.2 ft) in height. Emus can travel great distances and sprint at 50 km/h (31 mph). They forage for a variety of plants and insects, but have been known to go weeks without eating. They drink infrequently, but take in large amounts of water when opportunity arises.

Breeding takes place in May and June, and fighting among females for a mate is common. Females can mate several times and lay several clutches of eggs in one season.

The male does the incubation; during this process he hardly eats or drinks and loses a significant amount of weight. Incubation takes 56 days, and the male stops incubating the eggs shortly before they hatch. The temperature of the nest rises slightly during the eight-week period. Although the eggs are laid sequentially, they tend to hatch within two days of one another, as the eggs that were laid later experienced higher temperatures and developed more rapidly. During the process, the precocial Emu chicks need to develop a capacity for thermoregulation. During incubation, the embryos are kept at a constant temperature but the chicks will need to be able to cope with varying external temperatures by the time they hatch.

Newly hatched chicks are active and can leave the nest within a few days of hatching. They stand about 12 cm (5 in) tall at first, weigh 0.5 kg (17.6 oz), and have distinctive brown and cream stripes for camouflage, which fade after three months or so. The male guards the growing chicks for up to seven months, teaching them how to find food.

Chicks grow very quickly and are fully-grown in five to six months; they may remain with their family group for another six months or so before they split up to breed in their second season.

During their early life, their father, who adopts a belligerent stance towards other Emus, including the mother, defends the young Emus. He does this by ruffling his feathers, emitting sharp grunts, and kicking his legs to drive off other animals. He can also bend his knees to crouch over smaller chicks to protect them. At night, he envelops his young with his feathers. As the young Emus cannot travel far, the parents must choose an area with plentiful food in which to breed.

In captivity, Emus can live for upwards of ten years.

In the 1930s, Emu killings in Western Australia peaked at 57,000, due to rampant crop damage. In the 1960s, bounties were still being paid in Western Australia for killing Emus. Since then, wild Emus have been granted formal protection under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. Their occurrence range is between 4,240,000 and 6,730,000 km2 (1,640,000–2,600,000 sq mi), and a 1992 census suggested that their total population was between 630,000 and 725,000. The bird is now classified as “Least Concern” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

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How To Feed a Baby Blesbok

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When a baby Blesbok born this summer at Spain's Bioparc Valencia wasn't able to get enough milk from its mother, zoo keepers stepped in to offer bottle-feedings to get the calf off to a strong start.

The little calf gulps down his bottles quickly and cooperates well at feeding time.

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Cuidador de BIOPARC Valencia alimentando con biberón a una cría de blesbok recién nacida - verano 2016Photo Credit:  Bioparc Valencia
Blesbok are a type of antelope that live on the plains and grasslands of South Africa, preferably near water.  They live in herds, grazing on grasses and following the seasonal rains. 

Centuries ago, Blesbok herds stretched for miles across the grasslands, but they were hunted to near extinction in the late 1800s.  After hunting regulations were enacted, Blesbok numbers strongly rebounded and they are no longer threatened with extinction.

The name “Blesbok” is derived from the Afrikaans word for “blazed antelope,” a reference to the prominent white blaze on the faces of adults. 

See more photos of feeding time below.

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Lion Cub Shares Father's Day Debut With Dad

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An African Lion cub born March 5 made his public debut alongside his dad on Father’s Day at the Buffalo Zoo.

The Buffalo Zoo’s staff had been preparing for this day ever since little Tobias was born to first time parents Lelei and Tiberius. 

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Tiberius and Tobias
Photo Credit:  Kelly Ann Brown

Like all Lion cubs, Tobias spent his first weeks in the den with his mother.  By the time Tobias was a few months old, the staff began allowing him to explore the Lion habitat early in the morning or in the evening, when zoo guests were not in the park. 

Lion cubs can be clumsy, so keepers wanted to make sure Tobias could navigate the Lion exhibit safely.  Once Tobias was comfortable in the exhibit, he was joined by his mother on his after-hours adventures.  Later, keepers allowed Tiberius to join mother and cub. 

Tobias is the first Lion cub to be reared at the Buffalo in 25 years.

In the wilds of Africa, Lions are considered Vulnerable to Extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  Because their wild habitat has been altered by humans and prey has becomes scarcer, African Lion populations have fallen by more than half since the 1990s.  Captive breeding programs in zoos are important tools for securing the future of the species.


Giraffe Birth at Planckendael’s Savannah Exhibit

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On June 23, Planckendael welcomed their tenth birth at their Savannah exhibit. The new male Giraffe calf entered the world at almost two meters (6.5 feet) long!

This is the fifth offspring for the experienced mother, and she has been spending quality time caring for her new calf.

Zoo Coordinator, Ben Van, said, "It is good that this is the tenth baby for our savannah. It is something to be very proud of, but we also know that it is never routine. Every birth is unique; every birth is different.”

Every year, Planckendael and ZOO Antwerp use one letter of the alphabet to help select names for the zoo babies born during the year. This year, they are using the letter “R”. A contest was recently held, and the public voted on the name “Rafiki” for the new male Giraffe calf!

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3_fotolink-girafR-3Photo Credits: Planckendael / Steffanie Klaassen

 

Planckendael participates in the European Breeding Programme (EEP). They are also supporters of protecting and preserving the lives of the Giraffes in nature. They are proud supporters of a project in the Garamba National Park in Congo. They provide help in protecting and monitoring the endangered Kordofan Giraffes.

The Kordofan Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis antiquorum) is a subspecies found in northern Cameroon, southern Chad, Central African Republic, and possibly western Sudan. Historically, some confusion has existed over the exact range limit of this subspecies compared to the West African Giraffe. Genetic work has also revealed that all "West African Giraffe" in European zoos are in fact Kordofan Giraffe.

Compared to most other subspecies, the Kordofan Giraffe has relatively small, more irregular spots on the inner legs. Its English name is a reference to Kordofan in Sudan (also spelled Kordofan, it is a former province of central Sudan).

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Nigerian Dwarf Goat Twins Born at Point Defiance Zoo

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There are two new kids on the block at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. A Nigerian Dwarf Goat, named Hazel, gave birth to the female twins June 24 in the Kids’ Zone area of the zoo.

This is the third birth for 4-year-old Hazel, who has been at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium for only a few months. Her two 3-year-old offspring, Newman and Hanson, are among the herd of goats roaming the feeding, petting and grooming area at Kids’ Zone.

“We’re elated by the birth of these goats,” Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium Land Animal Curator Natalie Davis said. “Kids’ Zone is meant to instill children with a sense of wonderment about animals; help them gain an increased level of respect for all living things; and teach them about the need to protect and care for animals.”

The newborn goats, along with some recently acquired kids, bring a whole new meaning to the term “Kids’ Zone” at the zoo. With the birth of the twin sisters, the Contact Junction portion of the child-friendly area is now home to 17 Nigerian Dwarf Goats.

The Zoo recently accepted nominations for names of the new twins. They are expected to announce the winning names very soon, via social media: https://www.facebook.com/PtDefianceZoo/ or www.pdza.org

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4_DSC_0878Photo Credits: Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

 

Nigerian Dwarf Goats are noted for their wide range of color patterns, which include combinations of black, brown or gold mixed with white, as well as for their easy-going temperaments.

Adult males can reach a maximum size of 19–23.5 inches (48–60 cm), and females can grow to about 17–22.5 inches (43–57 cm).

These herbivorous miniature goats (Capra aegagrus hircus) are of West African descent. They have been domesticated as dairy goats and can be found all over the world. Highly adaptable, Nigerian Dwarf Goats can live in climates ranging from cold to hot and dry.

Despite their size, Nigerian Dwarf Goats are known for expressing a high quantity of milk. Their production ranges from 1 to 8 pounds of milk per day (one quart of milk weighs roughly 2 pounds), with an average doe producing about 2.5 pounds of milk per day. Their milk has a higher butterfat content than milk from full-sized dairy goats, making Nigerian Dwarf Goat milk excellent for cheese and soap making.

The gestation period for goats is 145 days, or just under five months. Twins are quite common among goat births.

Nigerian Dwarf Goats are gentle, friendly, and can easily be trained to walk on a leash. Their size and temperament enable them to be excellent "visitor" animals for nursing homes and hospitals.

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