It’s Going to Be a Doubly Good New Year at Taronga

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Taronga Western Plains Zoo excitedly welcomed the birth of two sets of Ring-tailed Lemur twins! The first set was born on October 5, and the second pair arrived October 17.

Mothers Rakitra and Cleo are both doing well and keepers are pleased with the maternal behaviors they are displaying towards their babies.

“Both Rakitra and Cleo are new mothers, they have had offspring before but sadly none of their young have survived past the first 12 weeks, so we’re taking things very slowly,” said Keeper Sasha Brook.

“So far the mothers and their babies are doing well and we are very happy with progress to date. Both mums are quite protective and are very careful of the way they move around and the speed at which they move around, ensuring their babies are holding on properly,” said Sasha.

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The babies will cling to their mothers until they are about four months old, but they have started to venture short distances away from their mothers to play. They are also starting to mouth and chew on food, but at this stage, it is simply practice and doesn’t serve a nutritional purpose. Ring-tailed Lemur babies are generally weaned from their mothers at around two months of age.

“Ring-tailed Lemur twins and triplets are not uncommon. In the wild, multiple births are usually dependent on a good season and an abundance of food,” Sasha continued.

Ring-tailed Lemur babies grow and develop rapidly; just like humans they need to learn how to do everything such as walking, jumping and climbing.

“When they are born, they instinctively know how to cling on to their mothers, but everything else they learn over a short period of time,” said Sasha.

The two sets of Ring-tailed Lemur twins are currently not on exhibit, as they are being given plenty of time to bond with their mothers, but they can occasionally be seen in the breeding facility from the perimeter fence. The mothers and their babies are likely to be on exhibit in the New Year.

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Sumatran Orangutan Becomes Adoptive Mother

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Matra, a Sumatran Orangutan at Hellabrunn Zoo, is known as good-natured and an affectionate mother to her offspring. She was born in 1975 and has made her home at the Zoo since 1993. In early October, she gave birth to a lovely little boy.

Not long after the birth of Matra’s boy, 13-year-old Jahe also welcomed a baby into the world. For Jahe, who is a relatively young and inexperienced mother, this represents her first successful pregnancy. The father of the two new arrivals is Bruno (the head of the group), making the two infants half-siblings.

Orangutans are typically solitary animals, but social bonds often form between adult females and their offspring. Keepers report that Jahe experienced apprehension and was overwhelmed soon after her baby’s birth. She willingly handed over her offspring to experienced mom, Matra, who has happily taken on the role of raising both babies. For several days, zookeepers began to notice that, in addition to her own son, Matra was carrying a second baby in her arms and breastfeeding both infants.

"As long as Matra produces enough milk, which she does, she can raise the two babies without any problem," says curator Beatrix Köhler. "The fact that Matra is caring for both babies is not so uncommon. This behavior is known to occur among Orangutans in their natural habitat, as well as in zoos. In the past, zoos have observed that the most experienced mum in the group takes care of all new offspring. This is a great relief for Jahe. One can observe that although she always watches Matra from afar, she is not interested in the child."

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Matra, who has lived at Hellabrunn since 1993, is now a mother for the sixth time. Her daughter Jolie, born in 2009 at Hellabrunn, also lives with her. She and the other female members of the group, Sitti and Isalie, have now become accustomed to the new situation with the two new babies. 

"To give Matra some privacy with the babies we have decided to create a temporary retreat space that will be screened off from the public, placing greater distance between the visitors and the animals", explains Köhler. "This allows Matra to decide when she wants to show off her offspring."

Furthermore, the retreat space and the screen, which will be in place until further notice, will also ensure that the other Orangutans continue to feel at ease in the group. "Bruno, in particular, loves the attention of visitors and, despite the new additions to the group, would like to be noticed by you," adds Köhler, who is in constant contact with the keepers and is confident that Matra will be able to handle the situation with two babies well.

Bruno, Hellabrunn's oldest Orangutan, has become a dad thirty times over. In addition to the two newborns, two of his daughters, Isalie and Jolie, also live at Hellabrunn Zoo. He was born in 1969 in Munich. However, he is not the oldest Orangutan residing in a scientifically managed zoo. The oldest is a 60-year-old Sumatran Orangutan, named Puan, who lives in Perth. His achievement is recorded in the Guinness Book of Records.

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San Diego Zoo’s Sloth Baby Has First Health Check

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A baby Linné’s Two-toed Sloth recently received its first health check at the San Diego Zoo!

The baby was born October 12 and now weighs 1.43 pounds (.65 kilograms). Staff also saw four teeth during the exam. According to the Zoo, it is difficult to determine the sex of a sloth at this age, so a hair sample was sent to a lab for analysis, to determine if the baby is male or female.

Zoo visitors may have trouble catching a glimpse of the baby, as it is typically found clinging to its mother, Consuelo, in their nesting box at the Zoo’s Harry and Grace Steele Elephant Odyssey Sloth habitat.

Sloths may begin eating solid foods as early as four days old, but they also continue to nurse until they around four months old (typical weaning age). San Diego Zoo keepers report that their new baby is eating solid foods and has a preference for apples.

To acclimate the baby to being handled for routine health checks and veterinary exams (as part of overall animal welfare), keepers have a plan to work with the baby and the mother on a regular basis. So far, Consuelo has been attentive, but calm, when the keepers hold and interact with her baby.

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Because Sloths are nocturnal, Zoo guests might not be able to see the new family. However, animal care staff have observed that the baby is becoming more independent and is starting to venture away from Consuelo, so staff suggest that guests may have a better chance of seeing the baby if they stop by the exhibit closer to dusk.

Linné’s Two-toed Sloth (Choloepus didactylus), also known as Southern Two-toed Sloth, Unau, or Linnaeus's Two-toed Sloth, is a species from South America. It is native to Venezuela, the Guyanas, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Brazil--north of the Amazon River.

The species has a ten-month gestation period. Their inter-birth rate extends past sixteen months (so there is not an overlap of young to care for). There is generally only one offspring per litter, and the young typically become independent at about a year old.


It's Christmas for the Animals at London Zoo

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Christmas gifts aren't just for people - the animals at ZSL London Zoo got their paws on Christmas presents this year, too!

Six-month-old Sumatran Tiger cubs Achilles and Karis woke up to a pile of pretty presents to rip open, while the Meerkat mob merrily munched on pinecone ornaments stuffed with veggies, hanging from a Christmas tree.
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Zoological Manager Mark Habben said, “We love a bit of festive cheer at ZSL London Zoo, and like to find fun ways for the animals to join in the festivities."

“We’ve come up with a variety of activities to encourage them to use their natural skills, like foraging or sniffing out their next meal: our Tiger cubs loved using their newly learnt hunting prowess to rip open their presents, while our Meerkats searched for their treats under the tree - just like kids all over the country on Christmas day.”

Merry Christmas from ZooBorns!


Snow Leopard Cubs vs. Christmas Tree

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A trio of endangered eight-month-old Snow Leopard cubs at the Tulsa Zoo got early Christmas presents from their keepers – including a life-sized cardboard Christmas tree.  In a matter of minutes, the curious cubs felled the tree, then went on to explore giant candy canes, garlands, and more. 

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IMG_2760Photo Credit:  Ruth Holland/Tulsa Zoo

All of these items are enrichment for the cats.  Enrichment provides novel smells, textures, tastes, or play items to stimulate animals physically and mentally.  

Born May 3, the cubs’ birth was recommended by the Snow Leopard Species Survival Plan of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which manages rare species to maintain high genetic diversity. Sherab, their mother, takes excellent care of her cubs.

Named Kavi, Amir, and Zahra, the cubs have experienced some health challenges since birth.  All three were born with congenital abnormalities in their eyelids, which resulted in incomplete eyelid formation.  These abnormalities left their eyes more vulnerable to trauma or other damage. Eyelid abnormalities affect domestic and exotic felines, including Snow Leopards. To correct these abnormalities, the zoo enlisted the help of a veterinary ophthalmologist who performed corrective surgeries to give the cubs more functional eyelids. The surgeries were a success, so each cub now has properly functioning eyelids. To ensure their safety and wellbeing, Kavi, Amir and Zahra remained behind-the-scenes with mom, Sherab, for their first few months as they received constant care and monitoring.

Native to Central Asia’s mountainous areas from Afghanistan to Kazakstan and Russia to northern India and China, Snow Leopards are listed as endangered due to poaching and habitat loss.


Meet Chester Zoo’s ‘Christmas Bauble On Tiny Legs’

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A Philippine Mouse Deer has been born in the UK for the first time. The tiny female Mouse Deer (one of the smallest hoofed animals in the world) was born to mum Rita and dad Ramos, at Chester Zoo, on November 16.

This is the latest addition to a special European-wide endangered species breeding programme, designed in response to the deforestation of its Asian habitat. The animals are also poached for their meat, which is considered a delicacy in parts of the Philippines.

Curator of mammals Tim Rowlands said, “Our newborn deer is incredibly small – similar in size to a Christmas bauble on tiny little legs, weighing just 430 grams!

“But, while this new arrival may be small in stature, it’s big in terms of importance. It’s the very first time the animal has been bred in the UK and to break new ground like this with a mammal species is really quite rare.

“The Philippine Mouse Deer is an endangered species. It’s highly threatened by massive deforestation in South East Asia and so, it’s great news that our newcomer will add valuable new bloodlines to the conservation breeding programme in zoos. It’s vitally important that we work to ensure these wonderful animals do not disappear for good.”

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Chester Zoo is only one of only seven institutions in the whole of Europe to care for the charming species.

Conservationists from the zoo are also working to protect habitat in areas of South East Asia where the Mouse Deer live.

The Philippine Mouse Deer (Tragulus nigricans) is listed as “Endangered” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The species is in continuing decline. It is subject to poaching for food and affected by habitat loss, as its forest home is converted to oil palm plantations.

Contrary to its common name, the Philippine Mouse Deer does not belong to the deer family Cervidae, but is a member of the chevrotain family.

Adult mouse deer stand at just 18cm tall and rarely weigh more than 1kg.

More pics below the fold!

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Adelaide Zoo Receives Early Holiday Gift

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Christmas has come early at Adelaide Zoo with the arrival of a special gift…a critically endangered White-cheeked Gibbon baby! Born in the early hours of December 10, the infant is the fourth offspring of parents Viet and Remus.

The birth is a significant achievement for Adelaide Zoo, as the youngster is one of only four White-cheeked Gibbon infants to be born at the zoo in its 130-year history.

The infant is extremely important to the international breeding program working to save the White-cheeked Gibbon from extinction. With a declining trend in the wild population of at least 80 per cent over the past 45 years, the species is classified as “Critically Endangered” by the IUCN. It is in serious decline in its native Laos, Vietnam and Southern China, due to deforestation and poaching for the wildlife trade.

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Adelaide Zoo Senior Primate Keeper, Jodie Ellen, said Viet and Remus were doting parents, while older sisters Nhu and Tien were fascinated by the new addition. “The baby is absolutely adorable and is looking strong and healthy, clinging tightly to mum, which is important considering they live high up in the tree tops of their island home,” Jodie said.

“Viet and Rhemus are incredibly loving and capable parents and it’s heart-warming to the entire family caring for the little one. Older sisters Nhu and Tien are excited by the new addition to the family and will play a very hands-on role in the upbringing of the new baby,” Jodie added.

The new family spent the first few days relaxing between their night quarters and their leafy island habitat.

White-cheeked Gibbons are born a golden color before gradually turning black. Females turn gold again when they reach maturity at around five years of age while males remain black. The baby’s gender is not yet known and it may be many months before it can be determined.


Münster Zoo Surprised by Gorilla Birth

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Allwetterzoo Münster recently welcomed the birth of a Western Lowland Gorilla. The Zoo’s Gorilla keepers arrived for work on December 7 and were greeted by mom, Changa-Maidi, holding her just born infant.

The birth was a surprise for keepers. "We did not expect [the birth], especially as various tests had found no pregnancy. The nurse did however wonder about a steady weight gain in Changa." Changa-Maidi’s last offspring was Demba, who will be four-years-old in January.

Zoo staff are currently keeping their distance and allowing mom to bond with her new baby. Once the sex of the infant is determined, a name will also be given. 

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Changa-Maidi was born in June 1996 at Frankfort Zoo, and she has been a resident of Münster Zoo since April of 2003. The new baby is her fourth birth. Her sons Thabo (born November 2007) and Demba (born January 2013) are also residents of Münster. The new baby’s father is 20-year-old N'Kwango, who has been at the Zoo since 2004.

The Zoo’s Gorilla troop also includes 15-year-old ShaSha and her three-year-old daughter, Jamila. ShaSha has been at the Zoo since September 2012. Her daughter Jamila was born in August 2013. N'Kwango is also the father of Jamila.

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San Diego Zoo Keepers Care for Cheetah Sisters

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The Animal Care Center nursery, at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, is currently home to a pair of female Cheetah cubs.

The sisters were born November 19. Unfortunately, their mother wasn’t caring for them after their birth, so the Zoo’s animal care staff had to intervene. A team of eight keepers now cares for the cubs, bottle-feeding them a formula specifically designed for Cheetahs. The cubs are weighed daily to monitor their health, and staff also simulate the grooming that the duo would normally receive from their mother.

Although the girls are yet-to-be-named, keepers have been calling them “Yellow” and “Purple” (due to the colors of the temporary ID markings put on their tails). As the cubs grow, the bottle feedings will become less frequent. Zoo staff plans to introduce solid foods at four weeks of age, and when they reach 70-days-old, they will be weaned from their Cheetah formula.

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According to staff, guests visiting the Safari Park during the month of December can see the Cheetahs in their nursery, at the Nairobi Station exhibit, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. At this stage in their development, they spend about 22 hours a day sleeping, but they are expected to be more active as they mature. Staff have also shared that the lights in their nursery are usually turned off to simulate the darkness of a den, where they would typically spend their first five weeks with their mother.

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is one of nine breeding facilities participating in the Cheetah Breeding Center Coalition (BCC). The goal of the coalition is to create a sustainable Cheetah population that will prevent extinction of the world’s fastest land animal. San Diego Zoo Global has been breeding Cheetahs for more than 40 years, with more than 150 cubs born. It is estimated that the worldwide population of Cheetahs has been reduced from 100,000 in 1900 to just 10,000 left today, with about 10% now living in zoos or wildlife parks.


Taronga Welcomes Its Largest-Ever Meerkat Litter

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Taronga Zoo welcomed its largest litter of Meerkats ever, with keepers monitoring the progress of six playful pups.

The pups were born on November 7, but have just begun to venture outside their nest box to explore their habitat.  This is the third litter for experienced parents Nairobi and Maputo.  Previous litters had only two pups each. 

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Meerkat Pups 16_Photo by Courtney MahonyPhoto Credits:  Paul Fahy (1,2,3,5,6,7,8,9), Courtney Mahoney (4,10,11,12)

Keeper Courtney Mahony said the size of this litter came as a complete surprise.

“We knew that Nairobi was bigger than she was during her previous pregnancies, but we definitely weren’t expecting six pups! Meerkats usually give birth to 3-4 pups, so mum certainly has her paws full this time,” said Courtney.

Courtney said Nairobi appeared to be relaxed and confident caring for the largest litter of pups in Taronga’s history.

“She’s an incredible mother and seems to be taking it all in her stride. She’s so attentive to the pups and she’s getting lots of babysitting help from dad and her eldest daughter, Serati,” said Courtney.

Keepers will confirm the sex of the pups when they have their first veterinary examination next month, but they suspect there are three males and three females. They have begun to do hands on health checks and weigh the pups regularly to ensure they are healthy and comfortable in their presence.

The yet-to-be-named pups have started to sample solid foods, such as mealworms, wood roaches, fruit and vegetables.

“They are growing a bit slower than our two previous litters, but they’re still hitting all the right milestones and starting to show their own little personalities. The biggest pup is a boy and he’s definitely the most adventurous of the six. He’s the first out of the nest box each morning and the first one to explore new things,” said Courtney.

Native to southern Africa’s arid plains, Meerkats live in extended family groups called mobs.  With sharp claws, they dig for insects, spiders, centipedes, and other small animals, which are crushed with sharp teeth.  As social animals, Meerkats have a wide range of vocalizations to convey alarm, fear, and contentment.   The International Union for Conservation of Nature states that there are no major threats to the species.   

 

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