Blind, Orphaned Red Fox Kit at Buttonwood Park Zoo

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Buttonwood Park Zoo, in New Bedford, Massachusetts, was contacted in late April by a local resident concerning a Red Fox kit. The kit’s mother had been struck by a car, leaving the juvenile an orphan. 

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4_11406216_10153373588649394_2092769012726369193_oPhoto Credits: Buttonwood Park Zoo

Zookeepers determined the kit was blind and could not be returned to the wild. The decision was made to raise the young fox and integrate her into the zoo’s Animal Ambassador Program. The Animal Ambassador Program is an educational tool provided to schools and the community as part of the zoo’s wildlife education initiatives.

Zoo staff have chosen the name Piper for the 9-week-old Red Fox, and she is currently living in the zoo’s veterinary hospital. Staff are working to acquaint Piper with various smells and sounds, as well as training her to walk on a leash.

The Red Fox is the largest of the true foxes and the most abundant member of the order Carnivora. They are found across the entire Northern Hemisphere from the Arctic Circle to North Africa, North America and Eurasia.

Red Foxes are usually found together in pairs or small groups consisting of families, such as: a mated pair and their young, or a male with several females having kinship ties.  The young will remain with their parents to assist in caring for new kits that are born.

The species feeds, primarily, on small rodents, but they will also target rabbits, game birds, reptiles, invertebrates and young ungulates. Fruits and vegetables are sometimes part of their diets, as well.

The Red Fox has a long history of association with humans. Because of their widespread distribution and somewhat unaffected population, the Red Fox is one of the more dominant fur-bearing animals harvested for the fur trade. They are currently classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

More adorable pics, below the fold!

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First Photos of Snow Leopard Cubs at Assiniboine Park Zoo

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Assiniboine Park Zoo, in Canada, recently released the first photos of two Snow Leopard cubs born at the zoo on May 15.  The yet-to-be-named males are healthy and each weighed a little over 1.5 kg (3.3 lbs). 

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According to staff, it will be another 8 weeks before the duo goes on exhibit. They are currently under the care of six-year-old mom Batu. The boys are the second litter for Batu and her 5-year-old mate Henry James. Their first twins, Raj and Kovo, were born in 2013 and still reside at the Winnipeg zoo.

The Snow Leopard is native to the mountain ranges of Central and South Asia. They are insulated by thick hair, and their wide, fur-covered feet act as natural snowshoes. Their powerful legs enable them to be tremendous leapers, and they are able to jump as far as 50 feet. Their long tails provide balance.

Snow Leopards are powerful predators and can kill animals three times their weight. Unfortunately, they also have a taste for domestic animals and this has led to killings of the leopards by herders and farmers.

The Snow Leopard is currently listed as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.  As of 2003, there were only estimated to be a global population of 4,080 to 6,590 adults, of which fewer than 2,500 may reproduce in the wild. The main factors contributing to their demise in the wild are: poaching for illegal trades in pelts and body parts, habitat destruction, and killings by indigenous herders. There are approximately 600 Snow Leopards in zoos around the world.


Rare Wolverine Triplets at Cotswold Wildlife Park

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Meet ‘Sunshine’, ‘Liv’ and ‘Gutt’: the new Wolverine cubs at Cotswold Wildlife Park, in the UK. After spending approximately nine weeks hidden away in their den, the rare cubs are beginning to venture out and explore their new woodland enclosure under the watchful eye of parents ‘Sarka’ and ‘Sharapova’. 

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4_Wolverine 5 NIPhoto Credits: Cotswold Wildlife Park

Cotswold Wildlife Park made history in 2012 as the first in the UK to successfully breed Wolverines in captivity. These new arrivals are Sarka and Sharapova’s second litter and are testament to the Park’s excellent European Endangered Species Programme (EEP). Only around eighty Wolverines are believed to exist in captivity worldwide. Breeding is notoriously difficult with this species, so the new cubs are encouraging news for future generations.

Keepers were unsure exactly how many cubs had been born until mother Sharapova started bringing the youngsters out of the den. Jamie Craig, Curator of Cotswold Wildlife Park and member of the EEP committee for Wolverines, commented: “Once the female enters her den, we are pretty confident that the kits have arrived. She is an excellent mother, only leaving the kits for very brief periods to eat and drink. Once the kits are old enough, she will allow them out to investigate their surroundings but always under her vigilant eye. We were delighted to be the first UK collection to breed this species, and in many ways, it is even more rewarding to repeat our success.”

The tiny kits are born blind and covered in white fur with a pungent waxy substance on their pelage. This acts as a great defense against predation while the kits are vulnerable.

A Wolverine’s start in life is a unique one. Adult females have a fascinating reproductive strategy known as embryonic diapause or delayed implantation. The embryo does not immediately implant in the uterus, but is maintained in a state of dormancy which allows pregnant females to fine-tune births and wait for the best possible conditions. Reproduction is hugely energetically expensive for any animal. If the environmental conditions aren’t able to support a female through the intense periods of pregnancy and nursing, it makes no sense to put energy into giving birth to young that may not survive. Diapause can last up to ten months in Wolverines.

The Wolverine is the largest land-dwelling species of the family Mustelidae (weasels). They are a stocky and muscular carnivore and have a reputation for ferocity and strength that is out-of-proportion to their size. The adult Wolverine is about the size of a medium dog. 

Wolverines prefer colder habitats and can be found primarily in remote reaches of the Northern boreal forests and subarctic and alpine tundra of the Northern Hemisphere, with the greatest numbers in northern Canada, Alaska, Nordic Europe, western Russia, and Siberia.

The Wolverine is currently classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. However, their populations have experienced a steady decline since the 19th century due to trapping, range reduction and habitat fragmentation.

More amazing pics, below the fold!

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‘Otterly’ Adorable Siblings Ready for Adventure

1_11402543_10152936392331984_4305523161385450555_oTwo Asian Small-Clawed Otter pups, born in early March at the Auckland Zoo, are more than eager to be exploring outside their den. ‘Kalaya’, and her brother, ‘Chet’ have been keeping staff and the rest of their otter family on their toes. The adventurous siblings have also jumped right in to swimming lessons. 

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4_11165059_10152904754346984_4238219435269671420_oPhoto Credits: Brian Cairns (Image 1); Auckland Zoo (Images 2,3,4) 

The Asian Small-Clawed Otter is the smallest otter species in the world. They are native to mangrove swamps and freshwater wetlands of Bangladesh, Burma, India, southern China, Taiwan, Laos, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Their maximum body length, including a twelve-inch tail, is about 28 to 39 inches (70 – 100 cm). Their weight can range from 2.2 to 11.9 lbs (1 – 5.4 kg). The paws are one of its distinctive features, the claws not extending beyond the fleshy end pads of its partially webbed fingers and toes. This feature give the otter a high degree of manual dexterity so it can use its paws to feed on mollusks, crabs and other small aquatic animals.

Asian Small-Clawed Otters are monogamous. The mates can have two litters of one to six pups per year, and the gestation period is about 60 days. The newborn pups are born toothless, practically immobile and eyes closed. The young will remain in their birthing den for the first few weeks, nursing and staying close to mom. They open their eyes after 40 days and are fully weaned at about 14 weeks. They begin swimming at about three months. Young otters will stay with the mother until the next litter is born. The father assists the mother in nest building and food procurement. Otters have a life span, in the wild, of around 11 to 16 years.

Asian Small-Clawed Otters are currently classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List. Their main threats are habitat destruction, hunting and pollution. Unfortunately, their population trend is decreasing, despite being a protected species. 


Baby Orangutan Climbs and Explores at Fort Wayne Children's Zoo

Baby Asmara Climbing 7What does a six-month-old Sumatran Orangutan like to do?  Climb, explore, and climb some more!

Asmara the Sumatran Orangutan was born at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo on November 22, 2014, one of only two babies of this critically endangered species to be born in a United States zoo in 2014.  

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Baby Asmara learning to climbPhoto Credit:  Fort Wayne Children's Zoo

You first met Asmara on ZooBorns when she was four months old and still clinging tightly to her mother, Tara.  Asmara first started climbing at about five months old, using small ropes that keepers hung close to the ground.  Now, Tara carries her baby high into the trees within the exhibit and lets her little one explore.  Asmara grips the vines with both hands and both feet, sometimes unsure of what she should do next.  Mom is always close by to rescue the little ape when she gets herself in a fix.

It’s easy to see that Orangutans are specially adapted for life in the treetops.  With thumb-like big toes, these apes can grasp branches with ease.

Sumatran Orangutans are native to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, and are found nowhere else in the wild.  Because their rain forest habitat is being destroyed, often for the illegal construction of palm oil plantations, Sumatran Orangutans are confined to small fragments of forest.  They are listed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Only about 7,000 remain in the wild. 

See more photos of Asmara below the fold.

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Shy Pudu Fawn Born at Bristol Zoo

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A baby Pudu, the world's smallest species of deer, was born at the United Kingdom’s Bristol Zoo in May.

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Photo Credit:  Bob Pitchford

Weighing only about two pounds at birth, Pudu fawns have distinctive white-spotted markings on their backs, which help provide camouflage from predators. Because the zoo staff can’t get too close to the fawn yet, they don’t know its gender.  The fawn is being raised by its mother.

Pudus are native to lowland temperate rainforests in Chile and southwest Argentina.  They are usually active at night, when they emerge to feed on leaves, bark, and fallen fruit.  In the wild, Pudu populations are declining as their rain forest habitat is cleared for cattle ranching and other human development.  The Bristol Zoo participates in an international conservation breeding program for the species. Pudus are classified as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. 

See more photos of the Pudu fawn below.

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Cincinnati Zoo Shares Photos of New Flamingo Hatchlings

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Greater Flamingo chicks are starting to hatch at Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.  The eggs nestled safely in the mud mounds are one-by-one beginning to reveal their contents, and the Zoo is excited to share pics of the first few fluffy hatchlings.

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4_11295648_10153281045410479_8272391589082796505_nPhoto Credits: Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

The Greater Flamingo is the most widespread species of the flamingo family. It is native to parts of Africa, southern Asia (Bangladesh and coastal regions of Pakistan and India), Israel, and southern Europe.

The Greater Flamingo is the largest species of flamingo and averages 43 to 60 inches tall and a weight of 4.4 to 8.8 lbs.

The bird prefers to reside in mudflats and shallow coastal lagoons with salt water. The Greater Flamingo feeds with the head down. Their upper jaw is movable and not fixed to the skull. Using their feet, they stir up mud, then suck water through their bill and filter out small shrimp, seeds, blue-green algae, microscopic organisms and mollusks.

When nesting, they lay a single egg on a mound of mud. Most of their plumage is pink and white, but the wing coverts are red, with black along primary and secondary flight feathers. Their bill is pink with a black tip, and their legs are entirely pink. Sub-adult flamingos are whitish-grey and only attain the pink coloration several years into adult life. The bird’s coloration comes from the carotenoid pigments in the organisms that live in their feeding grounds.

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Topeka Zoo “Gets ‘Round” to Announcing Armadillo Birth

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The Topeka Zoo is excited about the arrival of their newest Southern Three-Banded Armadillo. The spherically prone boy was born May 5th and is the third offspring of mom, ‘Erin’, and dad, ‘Mulligan’.

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The Southern Three-Banded Armadillo, also called the La Plata Three-Banded Armadillo, is an armadillo species from South America. It is native to parts of northern Argentina, southwestern Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia.

The species, along with the Brazilian Three-Banded Armadillo, is the only armadillo capable of rolling into a complete ball for defense and protection. The three characteristic bands that cover the back of the animal allow it enough flexibility to fit its tail and head together, allowing it to protect its underbelly, limbs, eyes, nose and ears from predators. The shell covering its body is armored and the outer layer is made out of keratin, the same protein that builds human fingernails.

The Southern Three-Banded Armadillo is typically yellow or brownish in color. They are among the smaller armadillos, with a total body length of about 8.7 to 10.6 inches (22 to 27 cm) and a weight of between 2.2 and 3.5 lbs (1 and 1.6 kg).

Gestation for an armadillo lasts 60 to 120 days, depending on the species. Some species, such as the Southern Three-Banded Armadillo, will have litter sizes that range from one to eight. The young are born with soft, leathery skin, which hardens within a few weeks. They reach sexual maturity in three to 12 months, depending on species.

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‘Little Things Mean A Lot’ at Melbourne Zoo

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Melbourne Zoo is celebrating its first Pygmy Hippopotamus calf birth since 1981!  Keepers have not had any direct contact with the calf so far, but, from their careful observations, they have been given the impression that the calf is male.

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Photo Credits: Melbourne Zoo

The birth was announced last week, and video footage of mother and calf was released. The new baby is a first offspring for mother ‘Petre’ with new mate, ‘Felix’. Petre previously produced three calves at Taronga Zoo with another mate.

Thanks to recently installed CCTV cameras, keepers were able to observe the calf’s arrival on a screen in an office adjacent to the night den where Petre had been awaiting the birth.

Petre is showing herself to be a very good and attentive mother, and keepers have observed the calf suckling and feeding at varying intervals since birth.

Zoo Veterinarian, Dr. Sarah Frith, will soon attempt to weigh the calf and hopefully confirm the sex, if such can be done without causing distress to mother and baby.

The Pygmy Hippopotamus is native to the forests and swamps of West Africa, primarily Liberia, with small populations in Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Ivory Coast. They are herbivorous, feeding on ferns, broad-leaf plants, grasses and fruits.

The Pygmy Hippo is reclusive and nocturnal, and their rainforest habitat makes it very difficult for researchers to determine exact populations. However, it is known that loss of habitat and poaching are drastically affecting their numbers in the wild, making the regional and international breeding programs even more important to ensure the future of the species.

The Pygmy Hippopotamus is currently classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List