The savannah at Spain’s BIOPARC Valencia is full of activity now that three Impala calves are running and playing with each other.
Born just a few weeks apart this spring, the Impala calves are part of the zoo’s small herd which mimics the social conditions these antelopes would experience in the wild. Pregnant females separate themselves from the herd before giving birth. Calves are usually born at midday, and when the calves are a few weeks old, they rejoin the herd. Young Impalas are grouped into nurseries, where they are watched over by adults.
Photo Credit: Bioparc Valencia
Impala are native to eastern and southern Africa, where they inhabit woodlands and the edges of savannahs, often near water sources. Only the males have the distinctive lyre-shaped, spiral horns, which are used during disputes with other males over territorial boundaries and mating rights. Impalas are generally active during the day, feeding on vegetation.
Impalas are not currently under threat, although like all wild animals, their habitat is slowly being encroached upon by growing human activity. Fortunately, about a quarter of all Impalas live within protected parks and reserves in Africa.
BIOPARC Valencia started off the summer with the birth of Rock Hyrax pups! They can be seen sunning themselves on the rocks of the park’s African Savannah exhibit.
Photo Credits: BIOPARC Valencia
The Rock Hyrax (Procavia capensis), or Rock Badger, 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.
Rock Hyraxes give birth to two or three young after a gestation period of 6–7 months (long, for their size). The young are well developed at birth with fully opened eyes and complete pelage. Young can ingest solid food after two weeks and are weaned at ten weeks.
After 16 months, the Rock Hyrax becomes sexually mature, they reach adult size at three years, and they typically live about ten years.
Rock Hyraxes produce large quantities of hyraceum (a sticky mass of dung and urine) that is said to have been used as a South African folk remedy, in the treatment of several medical disorders, including epilepsy and convulsions. It has been reported, that hyraceum is now being used by perfumers who tincture it in alcohol to yield a natural animal musk.
He may be small enough to climb along a keeper’s arm, but Taronga Zoo’s newest Yellow-bellied Glider joey is preparing to play a big role in protecting his vulnerable species.
The joey is the 16th born at Taronga, which has the world’s only successful breeding program for Yellow-bellied Gliders.
At five months of age, the joey recently left his mother’s pouch and will soon meet students taking part in Taronga’s Project Yellow-bellied Glider.
“He’s going to become our newest Yellow-bellied Glider ambassador, which is a very important role,” said Keeper, Wendy Gleen.
Also known as the Fluffy Glider, Yellow-bellied Gliders have remarkably soft fur and can glide up to 140 metres in a single leap. Listed as a vulnerable species, in Australia, due to habitat loss, these marsupials can still be found in bushland at the edge of Sydney, Australia, such as Bouddi National Park.
Taronga Zoo, in New South Wales, Australia, has joined forces with more than 160 school students from the Central Coast to help protect Gliders and their habitat through Project Yellow-bellied Glider. The project will see students become Yellow-bellied Glider guardians, habitat experts, and active participants in the development of wildlife corridors.
The students have also helped select a name for Taronga’s newest joey, with keepers choosing ‘Jiemba’, at the suggestion of students from St Joseph’s Catholic College at East Gosford. The name means “laughing star” in the language of the Wiradjuri people of central NSW.
Photo Credits: Paul Fahy/Taronga Zoo
Keepers are hoping that Jiemba will prove his star power when he meets the students during a visit to Taronga in August. Keepers have been helping to feed and care for the joey in recent weeks to assist with his weaning process and ensure he is comfortable around people.
“An encounter with a little Glider like Jiemba can help people form an emotional connection with Yellow-bellied Gliders and inspire them to take action to protect gliders in the wild,” said Wendy.
Wendy said people could help ensure a future for Yellow-bellied Gliders, in the wild, by protecting mature trees and planting native trees and shrubs to create wildlife corridors.
“The biggest problem for these Gliders is local bushland being broken up by development along the eastern seaboard where they’re found. It takes 120 years for mature trees to produce nesting hollows, so they are irreplaceable in our lifetime,” she said.
The Vancouver Island Marmot (VIM) is one of the most critically endangered animals in the world, and it is Canada's most endangered mammal.
The Toronto Zoo has been participating in the captive breeding program for the Vancouver Island Marmot since 1997, when it was first approached by the Marmot Recovery Foundation to begin a captive breeding and release program. This Marmot species is one of only five mammals endemic to Canada, and it was North America’s most endangered mammal in 2003, when there were only 30 individuals left in the wild.
Because of significant captive breeding efforts (including the Toronto Zoo's) the wild population has steadily grown. The Toronto Zoo has also been involved in many research projects to help increase the understanding of this unique mammal and has spearheaded studies on mating behavior, pup development and hormone analysis for monitoring reproductive cycles of breeding females. This information is vital to ensure that the VIM experiences a triumphant return to the wild.
"With the expertise, passion and commitment from zoological organizations like the Toronto Zoo, the Vancouver Island Marmot conservation breeding and reintroduction program has been crucial in preventing this species from becoming extinct," says Maria Franke, Curator of Mammals, Toronto Zoo. "This is a huge step in the right direction in saving this truly Canadian species.”
Photo Credits: K. Wright / Toronto Zoo
This year, Toronto Zoo has six pairs of adult Marmots. On May 4, 2016, keepers heard sounds coming from one of the nest boxes. To minimize disturbance, keepers wait three to four weeks before opening nest boxes.
At four weeks, four pups were confirmed. On first examination, they were 20-30 cm long and starting to open their eyes. Now, they are almost eight-weeks-old and exploring their surroundings. Sitka, the mother, has been taking very good care of her pups. Because of her cautious and protective nature, it even took her a few extra days to allow the pups to explore the outdoor area. Hunter, the father, sleeps outside the nest box like a good “guard-dad”.
Another pair of Marmots, River and Oban, gave birth to five pups on May 19, 2016. They still snuggle in the nest box but are very vocal, emitting sounds like those of dog puppies. They should be emerging soon.
This year, Toronto Zoo has had a total of nine VIM pups born. Toronto Zoo is also housing one full-grown pup, Rizzo, who was born last year and is appropriately named after the character from Grease-- or the rat from The Muppets--depending on who you speak to! She is quite spunky and will do very well in the wild.
To date, joint efforts from four facilities have released 445 captive-born Marmots back to Vancouver Island, and the population is now estimated between 215-277 individuals. Conservation efforts in Vancouver continue to protect Marmot habitat to help ensure the recovery of this highly-endangered Canadian species.
The Vancouver Island Marmot (Marmota vancouverensis) naturally occurs only in the high mountains of Vancouver Island, in British Columbia. This particular Marmot species is large compared to some others, and most other rodents. The species is currently classified as “Critically Endangered” on the IUCN Red List.
*Please note: the Vancouver Island Marmot pups are not viewable to the public.
Father’s Day was celebrated the ‘zoo way’ at Lincoln Park Zoo, with the arrival of a female Grevy’s Zebra foal. It is the first zebra birth at the zoo since 2012.
Animal care staff arrived at about 7 a.m. Saturday, June 18 to find mom and foal standing in the yard together. This is the first offspring for 5-year-old sire, Webster, and the third foal for 9-year-old dam, Adia. Her most recent offspring, Kito, resides in the yard next door.
“We’re thrilled to welcome this new foal to Lincoln Park Zoo,” said Curator Diane Mulkerin “Like all the animals in our care, zebras play an important role in educating our guests about wildlife.”
Photo Credits: Todd Rosenberg / Lincoln Park Zoo
The Grevy's Zebra is endangered in the wild due to hunting and habitat loss. Lincoln Park Zoo participates in the Grevy's Zebra Species Survival Plan®, a shared conservation effort by zoos throughout the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The Grevy's Zebra is native to eastern Africa, where it ranges from Ethiopia to Kenya.
“Research tells us that fostering an emotional connection between humans and animals is key to creating a real commitment to wildlife conservation,” said Lincoln Park Zoo Vice President of Education and Community Engagement Dana Murphy. “Species like zebras, with which we are relatively familiar—and become so at an early age—help us forge that connection and inspire our guests to care about their future.”
This is the third year Blanding’s Turtles have been released in the park. In June 2015, the same group of partners collaborated on the release of 21 baby Blanding’s Turtles in the Rouge and in June 2014, 10 baby turtles were released.
The long-lived species, with a life span of up to 80 years, has inhabited the Rouge Valley for thousands of years, though prior to 2014 its future was uncertain, with as few as six Blanding’s Turtles remaining.
Photo Credits: Heike Reuse
“Blanding’s Turtles are a flagship species representing a group of animals facing a variety of threats," said Dr. Andrew Lentini, Curator of Reptiles and Amphibians, Toronto Zoo. "Seven of eight turtle species in Ontario are at risk and need our help. All Canadians can learn how to help turtles by visiting Toronto Zoo’s Adopt-A-Pond website and by reporting sighting to Toronto Zoo’s Ontario Turtle Tally.”
In February 2016, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, and Minister responsible for Parks Canada Catherine McKenna announced that Parks Canada would be making a $150,000 contribution to the Toronto Zoo to support the Blanding’s head start program in the Rouge.
“Blanding's Turtles are an important indicator of a healthy park,” said Pam Veinotte, Parks Canada's Superintendent responsible for Rouge National Urban Park. "Parks Canada is dedicated to re-establishing a healthy, local population of this threatened turtle species in Rouge National Urban Park now and for future generations, and we are thankful for the opportunity to collaborate with the Toronto Zoo and other wonderful partners to conserve and restore threatened species in Canada's first national urban park.”
The turtle eggs were collected from a stable source population in southern Ontario in 2014 and have been raised in a controlled environment at the Toronto Zoo over the last two years. The University of Toronto Scarborough has joined this head-starting project and is assisting with long-term monitoring of the released turtles. Parks Canada, the TRCA and the Toronto Zoo believe that this type of head starting and reintroduction of the turtles, along with long-term monitoring and ongoing habitat restoration, are keys to the animal’s survival in the future Rouge National Urban Park.
The local public can help protect the turtles by avoiding their nesting areas and by contacting authorities if they observe harmful behavior toward turtles or suspicious behavior in their habitat. The location of the wetland housing the reintroduced turtles will not be disclosed at this time to help minimize disturbances and give the animals the best chance of surviving.
The Toronto Zoo and TRCA began collecting information on and monitoring Blanding’s Turtles in the Rouge Valley in 2005. Environment Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry provided funding, permits and in-kind support for Blanding’s Turtle monitoring in the Rouge Valley in previous years. With the area slated to become Canada’s first national urban park, Parks Canada has come on board and will continue to work on a long-term turtle monitoring program.
Earth Rangers, an environmental conservation organization focused on engaging youth in the protection of nature, also provided support for the project by building a facility to house the turtle eggs and babies at the Toronto Zoo.
Samantha Keller, keeper at Zoo Vienna Schönbrunn, has become “surrogate mother” to Banshi, a small Kalong Fruit Bat or Large Flying Fox. “We found the small bat alone in a tree in our tropical rain forest house. It was only just a few hours old and already suffering from a reduced temperature. We brought him to his mother, but unfortunately she showed no interest. That is why I have become his mum, so to speak” says the keeper.
Bringing up a Fruit Bat is a 24-hour job. On the first day he had to be fed hourly with rearing milk and now, every three hours.
At the start of a bat pup’s life, the mother will carry her young wherever she goes. Now, that job belongs to Samantha Keller. The small bat sleeps most of the day, like any other baby, in a shawl slung around the keeper`s tummy. He almost always has a dummy in his mouth. “If he were with his mother he would be sucking her teats. The dummy is a substitute and calms him down,” says Keller.
As a Fruit Bat mum, the working day never ends. In the evening, Ms. Keller takes Banshi home with her. He sleeps in a small nest, of heating mats and blankets, next to her bed.
The Large Flying Fox, with its wingspan of up to 1.70 meters is the largest bat in the world. Banshi still has a long way to go. At the moment he only weighs just 160 grams.
Photo Credits: Daniel Zupanc / Tiergarten Schönbrunn
Large Flying Foxes live in the tropical rain forest of South-East Asia and are solely vegetarian, feeding on fruits, nectar and pollen. In about a month, Banshi will get his first fruit. He is already spreading his wings and fluttering them a little. “We will start with his flight training in a couple of months,” says Keller, “and when he is about 6 months old he will be able to fly properly and live with the other fruit bats in the tropical rainforest house.”
The Large Flying Fox (Pteropus vampyrus), also known as the Greater Flying Fox, Malayan Flying Fox, Malaysian Flying Fox, Large Fruit Bat, Kalang or Kalong, is a Southeast Asian species of megabat in the family Pteropodidae.
Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens proudly announced the birth of a male Reticulated Giraffe calf. Born in the early hours of June 12, his birth marks the 39th giraffe born at the Zoo. Mother, Naomi, has had four previous calves and father, Duke, is famous for being the sire of 15 other “little” ones.
Veterinary staff examined the calf early, the morning after the birth, and determined that it was a healthy boy. He measured 6’4” tall and weighed-in at 187 pounds, and he is the tallest giraffe calf ever born at the Zoo!
After trial introductions to his habitat the weekend after his birth, the calf and mother are now on exhibit with the rest of their herd.
The Reticulated Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata), also known as the Somali Giraffe, is a subspecies of giraffe native to savannas of Somalia, southern Ethiopia, and northern Kenya. Reticulated Giraffes can interbreed with other giraffe subspecies in captivity or if they come into contact with populations of other subspecies in the wild.
The Reticulated Giraffe is among the most well known of the nine giraffe subspecies. Together with the Rothschild Giraffe, it is the type most commonly seen in zoos. They are known to often walk around with birds on their backs. These birds are called tickbirds. The tickbirds eat bugs that live on the giraffe’s coat, and alert the animals to danger by chirping loudly.
A female has a gestation period of about 15 months and usually has only one young at a time, but a mature female can have around eight offspring in her lifetime. Females return to the same spot each year to give birth. The mother gives birth standing up and the calf falls seven feet to the ground. Calves can weigh up to 200 lbs. at birth and stand as tall as six feet. They are able to stand less than an hour after birth. The young are weaned at around one year of age.
In the wild, giraffes have few predators, but they are sometimes preyed upon by lions and less so by crocodiles and spotted hyenas. However, humans are a very real threat, and giraffes are often killed by poachers for their hair and skin. Currently, there are thought to be less than 80,000 giraffes roaming Africa, and some subspecies are thought to be almost completely gone, with fewer than 100 individuals. Reticulated Giraffes are currently classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List.
A Moose calf and his mother, Connie, are making a home in the Free-Roaming Area at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park. The male calf was born June 12.
The yet-to-be-named youngster brings the population of his species, at Northwest Trek, to five and is just the second Moose born at the wildlife park in the past 16 years. In addition to him and his mother, the calf’s 11-month-old sister, Willow, father, Ellis; and another adult female, Nancy, also live at the wildlife park.
Keepers can only estimate his weight right now. “Calves generally weigh around 30 pounds at birth”, Zoological Curator Marc Heinzman said.
The growing youngster can gain around three pounds a day while nursing.
When fully grown, he’ll likely sport an impressive rack of antlers and could weigh more than 1,500 pounds. For now, he appears comfortable hanging out with mom and testing those spindly legs with wobbly steps through the forest.
Photo Credits: Ingrid Barrentine/Northwest Trek Wildlife Park
Within the next two weeks, keepers will propose a slate of prospective names for the little guy. The Northwest-themed names will be posted at www.nwtrek.org, on the wildlife park’s Facebook page and publicized in a news release. Fans will have about two weeks to vote on their favorite, and the calf will receive the name that gets the most votes. That will happen in early July.
The growing moose family at Northwest Trek is a conservation success story. Both of the calves’ parents and the wildlife park’s third adult Moose all arrived as malnourished and abandoned orphans four years ago. Connie and Ellis were discovered, separately, hungry and in need of care in Idaho; Nancy was orphaned in Alaska. Northwest Trek keepers bottle fed the trio and gradually introduced them to browse: the tree limbs, twigs and leaves that are their primary diet. When they were old enough and strong enough, they joined other ungulates, or hooved mammals, in the wildlife park’s Free-Roaming Area.
A Yellow-breasted Capuchin was born on May 17, at Zoo de la Palmyre, bringing the number living in the Zoo’s Monkey House to a total of ten.
The sex of the young Capuchin is yet unknown. Determining the sex requires being able to observe the infant closely, in the right position, which isn’t easy during the first weeks, as the baby spends a lot of time sleeping with its belly pressed against mother.
Photo Credits: F. Perroux/Zoo de la Palmyre
Capuchins are New World monkeys of the subfamily Cebinae. They are readily identified as the "organ-grinder" monkey, and were once very popular in movies and television. The range of Capuchin monkeys includes Central America and South America as far south as northern Argentina. They usually occupy the wet lowland forests on Caribbean coast of Costa Rica and Panama and deciduous dry forest on the Pacific coast.
There are 22 different species of Capuchins in the wild. Yellow-breasted Capuchins (Cebus xanthosternos), also known as “Buff-headed Capuchin” or “Golden-bellied Capuchin”, are endemic to the Brazilian Atlantic forest and live in groups from 10 to 30 individuals. Males can exceed 4kg while females are smaller and weigh less than 3.5kg.
Their prehensile tail acts like a fifth limb and allows them to free their hands while foraging. But unlike the tail of Spider and Howler Monkeys, Capuchins cannot hang by their tail excepting young individuals helped by their lower weight.
Although their diet is mostly composed of fruits, Capuchins also consume eggs and small prey, such as lizards, insects, or birds.
The species is severely threatened by habitat loss, as a result of the massive ongoing deforestation throughout its range: about 92% of the original surface of the Brazilian Atlantic forest has already been destroyed. Captures for the illegal pet trade and hunting for food are also serious treats.