Rescued Sea Otter Pups Find a Home

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Found alone in frigid Alaskan waters last winter, two Sea Otter pups rescued as infants have found a permanent home at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre.

Both pups were just a few weeks old when rescued – far too young to survive on their own. They were brought to Alaska SeaLife Center’s I.Sea.U where they each received 24-hour care.

The pups were deemed non-releasable by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services because without their mothers, the pups never learned basic survival skills. Vancouver Aquarium was asked to provide a long-term home for the pups. Accompanied by animal care professionals, the pups departed Alaska last week for their new home in Vancouver.

The pups do not yet have names.  Fans can help select their names by voting here through November 16.

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Photo Credit:  Daniela Ruiz/Alaska SeaLife Center


“After being found without their mothers and unable to care for themselves, these animals have been given a second chance at life,” said Brian Sheehan, curator of marine mammals at Vancouver Aquarium. “The ongoing care for a Sea Otter takes a tremendous amount of resources, and that role will continue here as our marine mammal team helps them integrate into their new home.”

Now weighing a healthy 12 kilograms, the male Sea Otter pup has been maintaining a steady diet, eating about 2.5 kilograms daily of clams, capelin, and squid. At 10.9 kilograms, the female otter eats about 2.0 kilograms of the same seafood mix.

Sea Otters face a number of challenges in the wild. During its first six months a Sea Otter pup is highly dependent on its mother for food and, without her, is unable to survive. Much of the mother’s energy is dedicated to the pup and, as a result, her health may decline over the feeding period. Female Sea Otters give birth every year so if she determines that she has a better chance of rearing a pup the following year, due to environmental factors or availability of prey, then she may abandon the pup before it’s weaned. In adult life, Sea Otters continue to face numerous threats including disease, oil spills, predation, interactions with fisheries and overharvest.

Ninety per cent of the world’s Sea Otters live in Alaska’s coastal waters. Within the state of Alaska, the Southeast and Southcentral stocks are stable or are continuing to increase. The Southwestern stock is listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) after experiencing a sharp population decline over the last two decades, attributed to an increase in predation from transient Killer Whales.

 


Chirpin' Cheetahs! Twin Cubs Born at Longleat Safari

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Two fluffy Cheetah cubs are chirping their way into the hearts of fans at Longleat Safari Park.

The cubs, a male and a female, were born in September and will remain indoors with their mother Wilma until they are 12 weeks old.

In the video below, you can hear the tiny cubs chirping and purring as they climb on their mother.  Cheetahs are among the most vocal of all cats and produce a variety of chirps, growls, and purrs.  They cannot roar like big cats.  

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Photo Credit:  Longleat Safari Park

Cheetahs are the fastest-developing members of the cat family. The cubs opened their eyes after just six days, began moving around on their own within three weeks, and started chewing on bones at five weeks.

The birth of these cubs is extremely important to the European Endangered Species Programme, which manages the breeding of rare species in European zoos to maintain a high level of genetic diversity. 

“Both mum Wilma and dad Carl have very valuable genetics within the European population as they came to us from a captive breeding population in Pretoria, South Africa,” said keeper Eloise Kilbane.  “This means they, and their offspring, are genetically distinct from the vast majority of the Cheetah within Europe.”

“It’s crucial for us to be able to widen the gene pool as much as possible within the breeding programme to maintain genetic diversity and create a healthy population,” she added.

Cheetahs are the world’s fastest land animals, capable of top speeds of 71 miles per hour.

Cheetahs are classified as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which in 2008 estimated that only about 7,500-10,000 adult Cheetahs remain in Africa.  Many believe that the numbers have decreased significantly since then.


Rhino Calf Charms Blank Park Zoo Keepers

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Iowa’s Blank Park Zoo recently announced that Ayana, a six-year-old Eastern Black Rhino, has given birth to an 80-pound female calf.

“This is an extremely significant event, not only in Blank Park Zoo’s 50 year history, but also for this critically endangered animal species,” said Mark Vukovich, Blank Park Zoo CEO.

The birth occurred October 11, and within the first hour, the calf was standing and walking. By two hours old, the calf was attempting to feed: all positive signs of a healthy baby Rhino calf.

The Eastern Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis michaeli) is also known as the East African Black Rhinoceros. A subspecies of the Black Rhino, its numbers are low due to poaching for its horn. Fewer than 1,000 remain (a combined estimate of wild and captive populations). Only two have been born in the United States, this year, and a total of seven in zoos worldwide. The species is currently listed as “Critically Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

"The Eastern Black Rhino is at a 'tipping point' in the wild, meaning that deaths, mostly due to poaching, will soon outnumber births," said Kevin Drees, director of animal care and conservation. “The captive zoo population plays a role in survival of the species, and Blank Park Zoo has partnered with the International Rhino Foundation to secure the species future. This celebrated birth should raise awareness and bring attention to this critical wildlife situation.”

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4_IMG_6256Photo Credits: Blank Park Zoo 

Blank Park Zoo intends to organize a fund-raising campaign that will offer a chance to name the new baby Rhino.

Zoo officials stated that the baby would not be on public exhibit. Their intention is to allow an appropriate amount of bonding time for mom and baby. The Zoo will, however, be releasing updates via pictures, video and live webcams on its Facebook page located at: www.facebook.com/blankparkzoo and on the Zoo’s YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/blankparkzoo .

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Endangered Painted Dogs Arrive By the Dozen

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The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s African Painted Dog pack grew from four to sixteen in mid-October when four-year-old mom Imara gave birth to a dozen pups!

It’s not the first time Imara has had her paws full. In January of 2015, she produced and raised a litter of ten pups, with the help of her first mate, Brahma.  This time, in addition to having new dad, Kwasi, as a helper, she’ll have assistance from her older offspring, Lucy (the only pup from the original litter that’s still in Cincinnati) and the new litter’s uncle, Masai (dad’s brother).

“Kwasi and Masai lived in a multigenerational pack that numbered 23 dogs at one point, so they’re well versed in dog etiquette. They witnessed the birth of at least one litter of pups and should be able to figure out their roles as father and helper,” said Christina Gorsuch, Curator of Mammals at the Cincinnati Zoo and Vice Coordinator of the African Painted Dog Species Survival Plan (SSP).

“The social structure of African Painted Dogs is built around the raising of pups -the entire pack works together to ensure that the female and her pups have everything they need to succeed and survive. Just like in the wild, the members of our pack will help Imara by guarding the den box, regurgitating meat, and babysitting the pups when Imara leaves the den box.”

Kwasi and Masai, are both five-years-old and originally from the Perth Zoo in Australia. The male siblings arrived in Cincinnati, this past summer, with a breeding recommendation from the SSP.

“We felt pretty confident that Imara would remain our alpha female but the male dogs were a bit of an unknown. Within minutes of the group’s introduction, Imara and Kwasi clearly identified each other as alphas and Masai and Lucy displayed all the appropriate submissive behaviors. It was really amazing to see Imara teaching Lucy all the proper dog social skills for meeting new males. In Painted Dog packs, usually only the alpha pair breed and produce pups. We are very happy to see our pack functioning in similar ways to their wild counterparts,” said Gorsuch.

The pack has access to the outdoor exhibit, but visitors are not likely to see pups for a couple of months. Keepers expect Imara to keep them safely tucked away in their behind-the-scenes den.

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Photo/ Video Credits: Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

The African Painted Dog (Lycaon pictus), also known as the African Wild Dog or African Hunting Dog, is a canid native to Sub-Saharan Africa. They are known for their large, round ears and beautiful, multi-colored coats. The species could once be found all over Africa. Today they are one of the most endangered carnivores on the continent, with fewer than 5,000 dogs concentrated in parts of southern and eastern Africa. They are currently classified as “Endangered” by the IUCN.

Today, there are approximately 122 African Painted Dogs in 37 North American Zoos and 534 in Zoos worldwide. Gestation period for the species is approximately 68-73 days. Litters typically include 6 to 12 pups but can number up to 20. Pup survival rate is about 52%, making it a difficult population to sustain.

The Cincinnati Zoo supports the conservation of African Painted Dogs and other wildlife in southern Tanzania through the Ruaha Carnivore Project (RCP). The RCP works with local communities to help ensure the survival of carnivores and people in and around Ruaha National Park.

The third largest African Painted Dog population lives in the Ruaha region and is also home to 10% of Africa’s Lions. The RCP documents the presence and location of wildlife species through community-reported sightings and photos taken by motion-triggered cameras, or camera traps. The project aims to gather baseline data on carnivore numbers and ecology and work with the local communities to reduce human-carnivore conflict.


Beautiful Babette Developing Big-Cat Skills

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The Tulsa Zoo welcomed this beautiful Jaguar cub, Babette, on June 29. ZooBorns introduced our fans to the sweet girl in early September (See our article: “Meet Baby Babette, the Jaguar Cub”)

This is the third successful reproduction of this species for the Tulsa Zoo. Jaguar mom, Ixchel, has been consistently attentive and protective. Staff says she never lets her little one out of sight. The pair went on exhibit in October, and Zoo visitors now have a chance to see the lovely mother-daughter duo.

Zoo staff voted to name this new cub in honor of her late father, Bebeto, who was humanely euthanized in April due to age-related complications.

In the wild, Jaguars prefer to stalk and ambush their prey, and Babette currently practices her developing skills in playtime with her mother. As with mothers of all species, this can be a test of patience, and Ixchel endures annoying moments of her daughter awaking her from naptime to play with her tail. Babette also like to ambush mom from inside boxes.

Staff reports that the young Jaguar is also working to perfect another important big cat skill—climbing. According to Keepers, she learned to climb out of the nest box earlier than previous Jaguar cubs in their care, and once she was given access to the exhibit, it took no time at all before she was climbing up into the trees and onto the higher perching.

Despite her dabbling with independence, Babette is still a ‘mommas-girl’ and is taking a bit longer to wean. This includes being a bit particular and picky with the solid food she is given as well.

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4_IMG_4344Photo Credits: Dr. Jen Kilburn/ Tulsa Zoo

The Jaguar (Panthera onca) is a feline in the Panthera genus, and is the only extant Panthera species native to the Americas. The Jaguar is the third-largest feline after the Tiger and the Lion, and the largest in the Americas. The Jaguar's present native range extends from the Southwestern United States and Mexico, across much of Central America, and south to Paraguay and northern Argentina.

This big cat closely resembles the Leopard physically, although it is usually larger and its behavioral and habitat characteristics are closer to those of the tiger.

Its preferred habitats are usually rainforests, swamps, and wooded regions, but Jaguars will also live in scrublands and deserts.

The Jaguar enjoys swimming, and it is largely a solitary, opportunistic, stalk-and-ambush predator at the top of the food chain (an apex predator).

The Jaguar is currently classified as “Near Threatened” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Threats include loss and fragmentation of habitat. Although international trade in Jaguars or their parts is prohibited, humans frequently kill the species (by poachers and farmers who view them as pests).

The birth of Babette at the Tulsa Zoo was in conjunction with the Jaguar SSP, or the Species Survival Plan®, which manages species in Association of Zoos and Aquariums-accredited zoos across the nation. There are currently more than 100 Jaguars in North American-accredited AZA zoos, while it is estimated that 10,000 Jaguars currently exist in the wild.


Little Asian Elephant Calf Is a Really ‘Big’ Deal

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Taronga is thrilled to announce the birth of the first Asian Elephant calf at Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo. The male calf was born November 1 to experienced mother, Thong Dee, in a behind-the-scenes paddock.

“This is tremendous news for the Australasian conservation breeding program for Asian Elephants. I’m delighted to report that mother and calf are doing well and veterinarians are happy with the calf’s progress at this early stage,” said NSW Environment Minister, Mark Speakman.

The calf was standing on his own within 30 minutes of being born and began suckling within hours.

“Thong Dee is doing a magnificent job and the successful birth is a tribute to the hard work of our keepers and veterinary staff. It’s a milestone achievement in the almost 40 year history of our zoo and we couldn’t be happier. Every birth is important as it helps to secure a future for this endangered species,” said Zoo Director, Matthew Fuller.

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4_RST472120151016Photo Credits: Rick Stevens / Taronga Western Plains Zoo

The calf was sired by Taronga’s bull, Gung, in Sydney prior to Thong Dee moving to Dubbo with three other Elephants in 2015. The calf is the second for Thong Dee, who gave birth to Australia’s first Elephant calf, Luk Chai, in 2009.

Keepers and vets were on hand throughout the labor and birth of the calf.

“Everything went very smoothly with the birthing process. Thong Dee and the calf are in good health and spending time together in the Elephant barn. We have seen the calf suckling and we’re really pleased with the maternal behaviors we’re observing,” said Elephant Supervisor, Glenn Sullivan.

Coincidentally, the birth occurred with both the 10th anniversary of the Elephant herd’s arrival in Australia from Thailand in 2006 and the sixth birthday of Taronga’s third Elephant calf, Tukta.

Taronga has now welcomed four Elephant calves, across both Zoos, since the breeding program commenced 10 years ago (with three calves born in Sydney).

This successful breeding herd has been an important catalyst for Taronga’s work in the field with governments and conservation agencies in Asia to turn around the decline of Asian Elephants. Taronga also funds wildlife protection units and ranger stations in Thailand and Sumatra to help suppress elephant poaching.

Mother and calf will be given further time to bond behind-the-scenes before making their public debut. The Zoo will soon be announcing a competition to help choose a name for the calf.

Continue reading "Little Asian Elephant Calf Is a Really ‘Big’ Deal " »


Vienna’s Giant Panda Twins Un-Officially Named

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In the past few weeks, around 12,000 fans of Tiergarten Schönbrunn’s Giant Panda twins cast their online votes for names for the popular, wiggly duo.

Almost half of the votes were in favor of the Chinese name Fu Ban, which translates to “Happy Companion, Happy Half” and refers to the fact that there are twins. Fu Ban is the name being given to the male cub. Fu Feng, the name given to the female, was chosen by the Zoo. Feng stands for “phoenix”, which together with the dragon forms the imperial couple in Chinese mythology.

“Ever since our first young Panda was given the name Fu Long, we were keeping Fu Feng in mind for a female offspring,” explains the Zoo’s director, Dagmar Schratter.

The Panda twins were born to mom, Yang Yang, on August 7. They will be officially named on November 23, in a traditional name-giving ceremony. There will also be a big family celebration on November 27.

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4_Pandas_TGS_Zupanc_31Photo Credits: Daniel Zupanc/ Tiergarten Schönbrunn

 

Aside from their un-official naming, the twins were also recently weighed. Keepers took advantage of Yang Yang being away in the outdoor enclosure. The female offspring tipped the scales at 4.26 kilograms, while the male weighed 3.97 kilograms. Schratter remarked, “This is a fantastic weight. Compared to the other young Pandas born in Schönbrunn, this is exactly average. Fu Long was a little bit lighter at that age, our second offspring Fu Hu and the third one Fu Bao were a bit heavier.”

After the weighing process, the twins were of course returned immediately to their tree hollow in the indoor enclosure. The Zoo will allow Yang Yang and the twins to decide when they will make a public appearance for visitors. Towards the end of the year, they will probably be big enough to climb out of their tree hollow.

Continue reading "Vienna’s Giant Panda Twins Un-Officially Named " »


Pack of Pups Takes it Outside

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It didn’t take long for a litter of ten African Painted Dog pups at the Audubon Zoo to figure out how to enjoy the great outdoors on their first foray outside their den. 

The family remained behind the scenes at the zoo for about six weeks after the pups’ birth on September 11.  But last week, the pups entered their outdoor habitat for the very first time.  They were hesitant at first, but after lots of sniffing and encouragement from their parents, the pups began to do what pups do – play! 

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Photo Credit:  Audubon Zoo



The pups are the first litter for parents Sienna, age 4, and Pax, age 9.  Because African Painted Dogs are endangered and are bred in only a few zoos, this birth is highly significant for the species.  Pax is one of the most genetically valuable members of the African Painted Dog population under human care.

Also known as African Wild Dogs, the animals can be found on the open plains and sparse woodlands of sub-Saharan Africa. Due to the threats posed by habitat loss, poaching, snares, and poisoning, the Painted Dog population is at an all-time low of about 5,000 individuals in the wild.

There are approximately 112 African Painted Dogs in 37 North American zoos, and the pup survival rate is about 52 percent, so the survival of all ten of Sienna’s cubs is unusual.

Audubon Zoo and other accredited Association of Zoos & Aquariums member institutions work together to manage Species Survival Plan programs for African Painted Dogs and other endangered species to maintain a healthy, genetically diverse, and demographically stable population. Audubon Nature Institute has raised funds to help renowned British wildlife biologist Greg Rasmussen, the founder and director of the Painted Dog Conservation Project, who has studied the species for more than two decades.

See more photos of the pups below.

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Feeding Time for Red Panda Cubs

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Two Red Panda cubs are being hand-reared by keepers after their mother died unexpectedly at the Chattanooga Zoo.

Born on July 10, the cubs would not be fully weaned from their mother’s milk for at least two more months.  The staff feeds the cubs a mashed biscuit diet with a spoon three times a day.   The two male cubs are enthusiastic, if messy, eaters.  They have not yet been named.

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Photo Credit:  Chattanooga Zoo

Zoo keepers report that the cubs are playful, and they have confidence that the cubs will continue to thrive, despite the challenging circumstances.

Red Pandas are native to the Himalayan Mountains, where they inhabit forested foothills.  They feed mainly on bamboo, but also eat eggs, birds, and insects.  Due to habitat loss, poaching, and inbreeding, fewer than 10,000 Red Pandas are believed to survive in the wild.  They are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The breeding of Red Pandas in North American zoos is managed by the Species Survival Plan (SSP), which matches individuals for breeding based on their genetic background.  The goal of the SSP is to maximize genetic diversity in zoo-dwelling populations of rare animals. 


Big Day for a Little Leopard

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BIOPARC Valencia’s Sri Lankan Leopard cub timidly jumped at the opportunity to explore the outside area of his exhibit for the first time. The young male was born July 16, and until now, he has been safely tucked away with mom inside their den.

Although mom is never far away, the cub now has the opportunity to experience a simulation of all the things young Leopards enjoy in the wild. His new chance to explore will also allow zoo visitors a possible glimpse of the magnificent cub and his beautiful mother.

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When BIOPARC keepers discovered the new cub was a male, they decided to offer the students of Valencia School the opportunity to select his name. Keepers decided on three potential monikers: Kaos, Okon, and Ekon. Students were allowed to vote, and keepers anticipate announcing the winning name very soon.

The Sri Lankan Leopard (Panthera pardus kotiya) is a subspecies native to Sri Lanka that was first described in 1956 by the Sri Lankan zoologist Deraniyagala.

The Sri Lankan Leopard has a tawny or rusty yellow coat with dark spots and close-set rosettes, which are smaller than those that appear on the Indian Leopard.

They are solitary hunters, and like other Leopards, silently stalk their prey until it is within striking distance. Once close to the prey, it unleashes a burst of speed to quickly pursue and pounce on its victim.

According to some, there appears to be no birth season or peak, with births scattered across months. A litter usually consists of up to 2 cubs.

In 2008, the Sri Lankan Leopard was classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Because of its beauty, the species is a prized trophy for poachers. Unfortunately, the wild population is estimated between 700-950 individuals.