Birds on Verge of Extinction Hatch at Chester Zoo

1_Keeper Lauren Hough gently carries a critically endangered nothern bald ibis chick to be weighed at Chester Zoo (14)

Keepers at Chester Zoo are celebrating the arrival of seven Northern Bald Ibis chicks.

The species, which was once found in abundance across North Africa, southern and central Europe and the Middle East, is now critically endangered as a result of hunting, habitat loss, pesticide poisoning and an increase in construction works around their preferred nesting sites.

The Northern Bald Ibis has undergone a long-term decline, and more than 98% of the wild population has been lost, putting the birds on the very brink of extinction. Experts estimate that only 115 breeding pairs remain in the wild (in small populations in Morocco and Turkey). The species was last seen in Syria in 2014, and it is feared that Syrian population is now extinct.

2_Keeper Lauren Hough gently carries a critically endangered nothern bald ibis chick to be weighed at Chester Zoo (13)

3_Keeper Lauren Hough gently carries a critically endangered nothern bald ibis chick to be weighed at Chester Zoo (8)

4_Keeper Lauren Hough gently carries a critically endangered nothern bald ibis chick to be weighed at Chester Zoo (3)Photo Credits: Chester Zoo

 

Mike Jordan, collections director at the Zoo, explains more about the programme: “The breeding of seven Northern Bald Ibis chicks is a remarkable addition to the endangered species breeding programme and a welcome boost to their global numbers. Our team has been weighing the chicks daily and carefully monitoring how often the parents are bringing them food – as each one is absolutely vital to the future of the species.

“Sadly, the species has been extinct in Europe for more than 300 years, and since joining the reintroduction programme in 2007, we’ve made great efforts to breed these birds so that they can eventually go on to be released back into the wild. We hope that by reintroducing birds back into a safe, secure and monitored site in southern Spain, that they will hopefully go on to successfully breed and give the species, once more, a foothold in Europe.”

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed the Northern Bald Ibis as “Critically Endangered” on its Red List of Threatened Species since 1994.

Mike added, “Breeding such critically endangered birds successfully over the years is a huge achievement, and this remarkable project really shows the important role zoos can play in conserving species that face a wide range of threats, and are on the edge of extinction.”

The chicks are part of a carefully coordinated breed and release programme at Chester Zoo. The zoo joined the reintroduction programme in 2007 and has been working closely with Jerez Zoo, the Andalusian government, and other conservation institutions across Europe to re-establish the species in Europe and help prevent the birds from disappearing from the wild altogether.

The Northern Bald ibis arrived at Chester Zoo in 1986 when its wild number started to rapidly decline. The zoo is now home to 30 individuals.

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Rare Condor Chick Hatches at Cincinnati Zoo

Condor_chick (1)Photo: Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is excited to announce that a rare Andean Condor chick has been spotted with parents, Gryph and Laurel. This is the first chick, of this species, to hatch in Cincinnati in 30 years and only the fourteenth to hatch in any North American institution in the past decade.

They are a naturally slow breeding species (averaging one chick every other year). “This is mostly because the chick stays dependent on both parents longer than other bird species,” said Kim Klosterman, Senior Aviculture Keeper at the Cincinnati Zoo. “Andean Condor chicks will not attempt to leave the nest until they are close to six months of age.”

The Zoo’s Condor pair has been laying one egg per year since 2008 but did not produce a chick until now! The success may have something to do with the installation of a nesting chamber in 2014. The 300-pound box, built by Zoo volunteers, was designed to provide a more secure, cave-in-a-cliff-like environment for the birds.

“The chick, a female, is about six weeks old and appears to be growing at a normal rate,” said Klosterman, who was able to pull the chick for a quick exam a few weeks ago. “It’s difficult to get a good look inside the nest box, but we know that the food we put in there has been disappearing quickly. In fact, we recently increased the Condors’ usual diet (which includes rodents, rabbits, goats and fish).”

 

The Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) will determine the chick’s future. She will remain at the Cincinnati Zoo, in the Condor exhibit, with her 34-yr-old parents until the SSP decides to send her to another facility for breeding or to Cincinnati Zoo’s off-site facility to be conditioned for release into the wild.

The Cincinnati Zoo has participated in conservation efforts and the AZA’s breeding program for this endangered species since 1989 and operates a staging site for North American-hatched Andean Condors destined for release.   In the summer of 2013, a breeding pair was moved from the Zoo’s staging facility to Colombia, where they were released and, soon after, produced chicks. “When they reproduce, that tells me that we are doing something right. That’s the gauge of success,” said Klosterman.

Andean Condors, a type of vulture, typically stand around four feet tall and can weigh as much as 33 pounds. Thanks to its massive wingspan of 10.5 feet, this species can rightly claim the title of the largest flying land bird in the Western Hemisphere. They are currently listed as “Endangered” by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and as “Threatened” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.


The Coolest of Chicks Gets a Name

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The Magellanic Penguin chick, at Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, has a name. Meet Sharky!

When the little guy hatched June 3, his first-time parents, Troy and Victoria, were unable to care for him, so keepers stepped in to provide the life-saving help he needed.

Sharky is still being hand-reared by his keepers, and he has also been “adopted” by one of the Zoo’s female penguins, Lola. Keepers are hopeful that Lola will soon be able to take-over fulltime parental duties for Sharky.

(ZooBorns introduced readers to the chick on June 20: “Cool Chick Hatches at Jacksonville Zoo”)

13701018_10154414707058336_4771706323671687454_oPhoto Credit: DeeAnna Murphy/Pink Pelican Photography

The Magellanic Penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus) is native to the southern coasts of South America and is considered a warm-weather penguin. Its nearest relatives are the African, the Humboldt penguin and the Galápagos penguins. This species of penguin was named after Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, who spotted the birds in 1520.

Magellanic Penguins are medium-sized penguins, which grow to be 61–76 cm (24–30 in) tall and weigh between 2.7 and 6.5 kg (6.0 and 14.3 lb).

They travel in large flocks when hunting for food. In the breeding season, they gather in large nesting colonies at the coasts of Argentina, southern Chile, and the Falkland Islands, which have a density of 20 nests per 100 m2. Breeding season begins with the arrival of adults at the breeding colonies in September and extends into late February and March when the chicks are mature enough to leave the colonies.

Nests are built under bushes or in burrows. Two eggs are laid, and incubation lasts 39–42 days (a task the parents share in 10–15 day shifts). The chicks are cared for by both parents for 29 days and are fed every two to three days.

The male and female penguins take turns hatching, as they forage far away from their nests. Magellanic Penguins mate with the same partner year after year. The male reclaims his burrow from the previous year and waits to reconnect with his female partner. The females are able to recognize their mates through their call.

They are listed as “Near Threatened” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).


Hyrax Pups ‘Rock-On’ at Chester Zoo

1_Four rock hyrax pups born at Chester Zoo (44)

Four adorable baby Rock Hyraxes have been born at Chester Zoo. The quartet of pups, one male and three female, arrived weighing between just 250g and 290g. They were born on July 14 and are yet to be named.

When Rock Hyrax pups are born, they look like miniature adults, eyes and ears open and with the same coat.

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3_Four rock hyrax pups born at Chester Zoo (2)

4_Four rock hyrax pups born at Chester Zoo (6)Photo Credits: Chester Zoo

 

Although similar in appearance to the Guinea Pig, Rock Hyraxes are in fact more closely related to the Elephant than any other species on Earth, and they are sometimes referred to as ‘the elephant’s cousin’ as a result of a surprising genetic link.

Small mammals typically go through a short gestation period but the Rock Hyrax is different, with pregnancies lasting more than seven months: a connection to their larger relatives.

They also share physical similarities with Elephants, such as the shape of their feet, skull structure and their continually growing incisors, which are reminiscent of an Elephant’s tusks.

Rock Hyraxes in the wild live in Africa and along the Arabian Peninsula and, as their name suggests, they frequent rocky terrain, seeking shelter and protection in rugged outcrops or cliffs.

Rock Hyraxes live in colonies of two to 26 individuals and communicate with each other by make 20 different noises. They produce an episode of ‘harsh yips’ which build up to ‘grunts’ to defend their territory.

Hyraxes don’t need much water. They get most of it from their food.

Hyrax feet are built for rock climbing: the bottom of each foot is bare and has a moist, rubbery pad that provides a suction-cup effect to help the Hyrax cling to rocks without slipping.

More adorable pics, below the fold!

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Glider Joey Gets Special Care at Taronga Zoo

YBG Joey 1_Photo by Paul Fahy

A tiny Yellow-bellied Glider joey has found a surrogate mum at Taronga Zoo, after the joey and her mother survived a collision with a barbed-wire fence.

Taronga vet nurse, Felicity Evans, has been providing round-the-clock care to the female joey, carrying a makeshift pouch and feeding her six times a day from a dessert spoon.

“She gets really excited about food and can be quite a messy eater. She’ll grab hold of the spoon and pull it down so she ends up with milk all over her paws and stomach. I have to carefully clean her fur afterwards and wipe off her little milk moustache,” said Felicity.

YBG Joey 2_Photo by Paul Fahy

YBG Joey 3_Photo by Paul Fahy

YBG Joey 4_Photo by Paul FahyPhoto Credits: Paul Fahy/Taronga Zoo

 

The 10-week-old Glider and her mother arrived at Taronga Wildlife Hospital in early July after being rescued by WIRES wildlife carers on the Central Coast.

The mother was found with a series of injuries, including a major tear in her gliding membrane (the joey still inside her pouch), after becoming entangled in a barbed-wire fence. She had also stopped producing milk, forcing hospital staff to step in to care for the joey.

The yet-to-be-named joey has since made a remarkable recovery in Felicity’s care, growing from 48 grams to 80 grams in two weeks.

“She’s got a big personality for such a tiny animal. She climbs all over me and is very vocal if I have to wake her up for a feed. She doesn’t like being interrupted during sleep,” said Felicity.

The joey will remain in Felicity’s care for another few months, as she grows and gradually transitions to eating a special Glider mix and solid foods, such as fruit and fly pupae. The joey’s mother is also on the mend at Taronga Wildlife Hospital, where she continues to receive antibiotics and treatment for her wounds.

“Mum is eating well and healing nicely. Her range of movement is restricted, but she’s working out what she can and can’t do and getting better with practice,” said Felicity.

Unable to be released due to the extent of her injuries, the mother will remain in care at Taronga where she will become an important ambassador for her species.

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 due to habitat loss, they can still be found in bushland at the edge of Sydney, such as Bouddi National Park.

More adorable pics, below the fold! 

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Doubling-Up on Cuteness at The Maryland Zoo

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The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore released news of two of its newest babies: a male Lesser Kudu calf (born June 18th) and a male Sitatunga calf (born June 25th).

The Kudu calf was born to six-year-old Lemon and sired by five-year-old Ritter. He currently weighs almost 19 pounds and has been named Jalopy.

The Sitatunga calf, named Chopper, weighed 13.1 pounds at his first health check. His mother is six-year-old Lela, and the father is eight-year-old Lou.

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4_Kudu Lemon & Jalopy DSC_9702Photo Credits: The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore

“The calves are being well cared for by their mothers inside their barns,” noted Margaret Inness, assistant general curator at the Zoo. “We like to give them time and space to bond during their early days and keep them as relaxed as possible for the health and wellbeing of all.”

Both calves now have limited access to the outdoor areas for a few weeks as they become acclimated to the yards and zoo visitors.

The Lesser Kudu calf had a few complications at birth, including a heart murmur discovered by veterinarians during his first health check. “This little guy had a bit of a rough start, but he’s nursing well and gaining weight as he should,” continued Innes. “Lemon is taking great care of him and we are pleased with his progress so far.”

Lesser Kudu (Tragelaphus imberbis australis) are one of eight species of African Spiral-horned Antelope. Male Lesser Kudu horns can grow to be 72 inches long, with 2 ½ twists. In the wild, they live in dry, densely thicketed scrub and woodlands of northern east Africa. Interestingly, they rarely drink water, apparently getting enough liquid from the plants that they eat.

At The Maryland Zoo, the Lesser Kudu herd of five can be found in the African Watering Hole exhibit, along with Addra Gazelle and Saddle-billed Storks.

The Sitatunga (Tragelaphus spekii) is a species of antelope native to Central Africa. They live in semi-aquatic swamps, marshes and flood plains. Outside of protected areas, Sitatunga are vulnerable to over-hunting and habitat loss, as people drain and develop swampland. Currently, however, Sitatunga are not classified as threatened or endangered.

The Maryland Zoo’s Sitatunga herd is made up of ten animals, including the new calf, and can be found in two exhibit spaces along the boardwalk in the African Journey section of the Zoo.

Both of the calves’ births are the result of a recommendation from the Species Survival Plan (SSP) for each species, coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). SSPs provide breeding recommendations to maximize genetic diversity, with the goal of ensuring health of the individual animal, as well as the long-term survival of the species population to help save animals from extinction.

More great pics, below the fold!

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Rare Lions Cubs are the Pride of Paignton Zoo

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A pair of male Asiatic Lions born June 16 at Great Britain’s Paignton Zoo are two of just 15 born in zoos around the world so far this year. 

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2016 07 PZ Asiatic lion cubs 1
Photo Credit:  Paignton Zoo
 
Only about 500 Asiatic Lions are found in the wild today, all living in India’s Gir National Park & Sanctuary.  These cats once lived across southeastern Europe, the Middle East, Pakistan, and India.  The subspecies is listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  Hunting and habitat destruction through the centuries have caused the cats’ decline.

The cubs’ mother, Maliya, has kept the cubs tucked away in the birthing den for several weeks.  The zoo staff is pleased with how Maliya, a first-time mother, has been caring for her babies with the help of her mother, Indu, and the cubs’ father, Lucifer. 

Asiatic Lions are smaller than Africa Lions and have a distinctive fold of skin on the belly and a smaller, lighter-colored mane on adult males.


Baby Giraffe Arrives in a Hurry

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The Cincinnati’s Zoo’s newest resident must have been in a hurry to meet the world: The 100-pound Masai Giraffe calf was born after a brief 30-minute labor and stood within an hour of its birth.

Most Giraffe births take up to six hours from the onset of active labor to delivery, but this calf took the shortcut.  It all began when the calf’s first-time mother, Cece, refused to leave her night quarters and enter the zoo’s Giraffe Ridge exhibit on July 27. 

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13686602_10154227951375479_7858067783709357253_nPhoto Credit:  Cincinnati Zoo
 
“Labor started at 9:57 a.m., hooves out at 10, head at 10:22 and birth at 10:27!  The birth process can take up to six hours, so 30 minutes is incredibly fast, especially for a first-time mom,” said Christina Gorsuch, curator of mammals at the Cincinnati Zoo.

The calf, whose gender is not yet known and does not yet have a name, appears strong and healthy.  Keepers identified a heart-shaped spot on the baby’s right shoulder.

The Cincinnati Zoo’s history with Giraffe births dates back to 1889 when it became the first zoo in the Western Hemisphere to produce a baby Giraffe.  This is the 14th Giraffe born in Cincinnati.

After nearly 15 months of gestation, a baby Giraffe drops to the ground head first during the birth process. The fall and the landing do no hurt the calf, but they do cause it to take a big breath.  To prepare for the birth, keepers added more than six inches of wood shavings in Cece’s indoor stall and placed straw on top of large rubber mats to provide stable footing for the calf's first attempts at standing.

Although their numbers have decreased by about 35% in the past two decades, the International Union for Conservation of Nature lists Giraffes as a species of Least Concern.  Researchers are gathering data to better understand the implications of hunting, agriculture, and shrinking wild lands on all nine subspecies of Giraffes.

See more photos of the baby Giraffe below.

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Zoo Releases Video of Cubs for International Tiger Day

1_Sumatran tiger cubs July 2016 (c) ZSL London Zoo (5)

The twin Sumatran Tiger cubs, at ZSL London Zoo, recently joined their seven-year-old mum, Melati, when she emerged to bask in the summer sunshine.

In honor of “International Tiger Day”, keepers at the Zoo have released incredible close-up footage of the critically endangered cubs, born June 27.

According to Tigerday.org, “International Tiger Day is held annually on July 29 to give worldwide attention to the preservation of tigers. It is both an awareness day as a celebration. It was founded at the Saint Petersburg Tiger Summit in 2010. This was done because at that moment wild tigers were too close to extinction. Many animal welfare organizations pledged to help these wonderful creatures and are still helping to raise funds to reach this goal. The goal of Tiger Day is to promote the protection and expansion of the wild tigers habitats and to gain support through awareness for tiger conservation.”

2_Sumatran tiger cubs July 2016 (c) ZSL London Zoo (1)

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4_Tiger Cub - ZSL London ZooPhoto Credits: ZSL London Zoo

 

Concerning the cubs' recent adventure, Senior Curator of Mammals, Malcolm Fitzpatrick remarked, “…The trio spent all day outside in the sunshine, and when Melati took a break, dad Jae Jae was on hand to keep an eye on the twins.

“The cubs are very young, so they’re still sticking quite close to mum, but the more time they spend outside the more confidant they’ll become. We’re looking forward to seeing them explore the rest of their new territory over the coming weeks.”

Keepers have been keeping a close eye on the cubs since they made their public debut in the Zoo’s Tiger Territory exhibit, and they are pleased with how well the twins have been developing.

Until they all ventured out for the first time, keepers report that Melati and her small duo were left alone in their dens. Keepers are now starting to spend more time working near the dens and the enclosure. They are slowly introducing the cubs to the keepers’ presence, which will, hopefully, allow for a more relaxed and comfortable experience when the cubs have their first health check. Once the cubs are sexed, they will also be given names.

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First Little Blue Penguin Hatches at WCS’s Bronx Zoo

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The colony of Little Penguins (Eudyptula minor) that debuted in 2015, as a new species at WCS’s (Wildlife Conservation Society) Bronx Zoo, has successfully produced a chick that is now on exhibit with the rest of the colony.

The chick hatched May 10, and this is the first time this species has bred at the Bronx Zoo, in the zoo’s 120-plus year history.

Known for their small size and characteristic bluish hue, Little Penguins are also known as Blue Penguins, Little Blue Penguins, and Fairy Penguins. Adults are only about 13 inches tall and weigh around 2 to 3 pounds. They are the smallest of the 18 penguin species and native to coastal southern Australia and New Zealand.

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4_Julie Larsen Maher_7335_Little Penguin Chick_ABH_BZ_07 25 16Photo Credits: Julie Larsen Maher / WCS

 

Little Penguins lay their eggs in burrows dug in sand, natural cavities, or under thick vegetation. They may even nest under man-made structures. Both parents care for and incubate the egg. Newly hatched chicks weigh just 25g. The chicks lose their downy plumage at about 50 days of age when it is replaced with waterproof feathers.

With the exception of the new chick, all of the birds in the Bronx Zoo colony were hatched at the Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia and brought to the Bronx Zoo as part of a breeding program. Approximately 15 penguins a year hatch at Taronga, making it the most successful Little Penguin breeding program in the world. The Bronx Zoo penguins will help ensure continued genetic diversity in the Little Penguin populations in the U.S.

The species occurs in temperate marine waters and feeds on fish, cephalopods and crustaceans. They nest, colonially, in burrows on sand dunes or rocky beach areas. Like other penguin species, they use a wide range of vocalizations to communicate with each other. In the wild, their populations are threatened by climate change and human activities.

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