Four Otter Pups Come Out of the Den at Woburn Safari Park

Otter-pup-1_715x589Four Otter pups were born at Woburn Safari Park in late September, and they’re now out of the den exploring their exhibit.

The Asian Small-clawed Otter pups are the second litter born to parents Kovu and Kelani. The first litter of five pups was born in July 2016. The one-year-olds are proving to be great helpers to Kovu and Kelani when it comes to managing the newborns.

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Photo Credits: Woburn Safari Park (1,3,4,5); Linda McPherson (2)

The four new pups, one female and three males, recently received their first hands-on health check from keepers.  The pups were microchipped, sexed, and given a quick exam. All four are doing well.

Animal keeper Louise Moody said, "We are really excited that Kelani has welcomed another litter successfully and that all the pups are doing well. Their older siblings are helping out their parents and bringing food for them all into the nest box.”

The four pups and seven adult Otters can now be seen playing together in their outdoor enclosure, and the pups are learning to swim. The water level in the exhibit pool has been temporarily lowered until the little Otters grow a bit bigger.

In a few months, the family will say goodbye to the older pups.  They will be sent to other zoos to become part of Otter breeding programs.

Asian Small-clawed Otters are listed as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. They live in coastal wetlands in South and Southeast Asia, and their habitat has been degraded and reduced significantly in recent decades.

 


Baby Giraffe Joins the Tower at Zoo Wroclaw

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On October 24, Poland’s Zoo Wroclaw welcomed a female Reticulated Giraffe to their tower (a herd of Giraffes is called a tower).

The baby, named Irma, stood just under six feet tall at birth, and is the tallest of all the babies born at the zoo to date.  Irma’s parents are Imara, the mom, and Rafiki, the father. Two other young females, named Nala and Shani, also live in the tower.

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Photo Credit:  Zoo Wroclaw

Like all Giraffes, Irma was born while her mother was standing up. The baby dropped six feet to the ground and soon afterward was standing and nursing. The standing birth and the minimal time the baby spends on the ground are essential to survival in the wild, where a newborn baby could be targeted by predators.

Giraffes were once plentiful across Africa, but today the nine subspecies live in fragmented populations, and many of those populations are declining. As a whole, Giraffes are listed as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, due to illegal hunting and degradation of their habitat. Only about 80,000 Giraffes are estimated to remain today.  Zoo breeding programs are an important part of the species’ future.

See more photos of Irma below.

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Southern Black Rhino Calf Born in Australia

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Taronga Western Plains Zoo is pleased to announce the arrival of a rare Southern Black Rhinoceros calf, born on October 31 to mother Bakhita and father Kwanzaa.

The yet-to-be-named male calf is the second Black Rhino calf to be born at the Zoo this year, boosting the Zoo’s successful Black Rhino breeding program.

“We are very happy with the arrival of a healthy male calf born overnight on 31 October. Every birth is special, but to have two Black Rhino calves born in one year is particularly exciting. We’re thrilled,” Keeper Scott Smith said. “The birth occurred in the early hours of Halloween, following a 15-month gestation period for Bakhita. It was a smooth delivery, and the calf is strong, healthy and well. Bakhita is an experienced and nurturing mother, and while she’s protective of her baby, she is relatively relaxed and trusting around Keepers.”

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4 - Black Rhino calf with mother BakhitaPhoto Credits: Rick Stevens/ Taronga Western Plains Zoo

“At just two weeks of age, the calf was showing his confidence and interacting with Keepers via a ‘creep’ yard - a fence opening large enough for the baby to pass through, but too small for Bakhita,” Scott said. This ‘creep’ yard allows the calf to get close to Keepers and grow used to their presence, while Bakhita comfortably eats hay nearby. By encouraging this interaction from a young age, Keepers can develop an important bond with him, which helps to make working with the calf a positive experience as he grows into an adult Rhino.

“The new calf is one of the biggest Black Rhino calves born here at the Zoo, with an estimated birth weight of 35 to 40 kilograms. We’re pleased to see he is suckling very well from Bakhita,” Scott said. “He has already been seen galloping around his behind-the-scenes enclosure and venturing a considerable distance from Bakhita for short periods of time. He’s an active calf and is very inquisitive about his surroundings.”

The calf is imitating eating behaviors by mouthing browse (leaves), but will only start to eat solid food at around three months of age. While Black Rhino are born without horns, the calf’s horn will soon begin growing at a rate of around half a centimeter to one centimeter per month.

The calf’s mother, Bakhita, is the first Black Rhino female to be born at Taronga Western Plains Zoo, with her arrival in 2002 being a widely celebrated occasion. The Zoo currently has three generations of Black Rhino. Bakhita’s daughter, Kufara, currently has a calf of her own - Mesi, born in April this year.

The best time to see Kufara and Mesi is at the Black Rhino Keeper Talk at 9.25am daily. Bakhita and her baby will remain behind the scenes as they continue to bond as mother and calf, and they will be on exhibit for the public to see early next year.

Taronga Western Plains Zoo is the only zoo in Australia to have successfully bred three species of Rhino: the Black Rhino and White Rhino from Africa, and the Greater One-horned Rhino from Asia. The new calf is the 14th Black Rhino calf to be born at Taronga Western Plains Zoo.

Every Rhino birth is extremely important. Southern Black Rhinoceros are critically endangered with only an estimated 4000 left in the wild, predominantly due to poaching for their horns. Taronga is a founding member of the International Rhino Foundation, and in addition to the breeding conservation program, actively supports conservation efforts for wild Rhinos in Africa, Indonesia and India in areas including habitat protection, anti-poaching and reduction of human-rhino conflict.

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Cheetah Cub Arrives at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

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A six-week-old female Cheetah cub arrived at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, on November 13, from Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose, Texas.

Cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) are currently classified as “Vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The species has suffered a substantial decline in its range due to hunting, and several African countries have taken steps to improve Cheetah conservation. By late 2016, the population had fallen to approximately 7,100 individuals in the wild due to habitat loss, poaching, illegal pet trade, and conflict with humans. Some researchers suggest that the animal could soon be reclassified as "Endangered" on the IUCN Red List.

In light of the challenges facing the future survival of the Cheetah, animal care staff in charge of the new little cub made the decision to hand-rear. After birth, the little female was very small compared to her four brothers and one sister. She could not successfully compete with her litter-mates at nursing time and was not gaining weight. Since bottle feedings began, she is now thriving and gaining weight consistently.

Cheetah_003_Med-860x450Photo Credits: San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Animal care staff now reports that the cub has a “sweet personality” and is very vocal. According to them, she seeks interaction and attention from her keepers. Although she is still formula-fed, it is now being mixed with meat. The growing cub is eating four times a day and weighs just over four pounds.

Visitors to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park can see the curious cub daily in the nursery at the park’s Ione and Paul Harter Animal Care Center. She will remain at the Safari Park for about three months, and then will move to the San Diego Zoo, to become an ‘animal ambassador’.


Endangered Iguanas Hatch at SDZ Safari Park

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The population of critically endangered Jamaican Iguanas is on the rise, thanks in part to the efforts of researchers at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research’s Kenneth and Anne Griffin Reptile Conservation Center (an off-exhibit breeding facility at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park).

Since September, four Jamaican Iguanas have hatched here from eggs of two different pairs of adult Iguanas. One egg from the first clutch hatched September 4, and three eggs from the second clutch hatched October 6, 7 and 11. With the addition of these four new animals, a total of 11 Jamaican Iguanas now reside at the Park’s Reptile Conservation Center.

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Jamaican_003_LGPhoto Credits: Ken Bohn/ San Diego Zoo Safari Park

The baby Iguanas now have a much lighter gray color overall, with more pronounced striping than they will have when they become adults. As they grow, their body will become dark gray and rust-colored, with greenish-blue highlights. Jamaican Iguanas continue to grow over their entire lifetime, and they can eventually reach up to three feet in length and weigh up to 15 pounds.

San Diego Zoo Global first received a group of Jamaican Iguanas in 1996: three males and three females. The first successful hatching of this critically endangered lizard occurred in 2013, with the birth of a female that still lives at the Reptile Conservation Center. She will become part of the center’s breeding program when a suitable mate can be found for her.

"I'm very pleased with the results of our work this year,” said Jeff Lemm, conservation program specialist at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. “Our job is to help make the animals successful at reproducing through the husbandry we provide, and it's fantastic that we are starting to achieve these goals."

The Jamaican Iguana (Cyclura collei) is found only in the tropical dry forests of the Hellshire Hills outside of Kingston, Jamaica. They are Jamaica’s largest native species and believed to be extinct in the 1940s. However, in 1990, a pig hunter’s dog found a live specimen and the Iguana was brought to the Hope Zoo in Kingston, Jamaica. That same year, a survey of the Hellshire Hills found a small population of fewer than 100, and researchers began a large-scale program to try to save this Iguana from extinction. Due to deforestation and threats from non-native animals (including mongooses, cats, dogs and pigs), the Jamaican Iguana is currently listed as “Critically Endangered” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.


Jaguar Cubs Explore With Mom at Houston Zoo

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The Houston Zoo’s four-month-old Jaguar cubs recently made their public debut.

Fitz and his sister, Emma, were born to first-time parents Maya and Tesoro on July 20. The cubs have been behind-the-scenes with mom the past few months.

During most mornings, the family can be seen exploring their outdoor habitat. According the zoo, the cubs and their mom also have access to their “night houses” or caves if they choose to have privacy.

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4_23456221_10156096682252526_6083372874291509906_oPhoto Credits: Houston Zoo

The Jaguar (Panthera onca) is a big cat and is the only extant Panthera species native to the Americas. The Jaguar is the third-largest feline species after the Tiger and the Lion, and the largest in the Americas.

The Jaguar's present range extends from Southwestern United States and Mexico across much of Central America and south to Paraguay and northern Argentina. The species has largely been extirpated from the United States since the early 20th century.

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Zoo Osnabrück’s Otter Pups Make Public Debut

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Zoo Osnabrück recently released photos of four Asian Small-clawed Otter pups. The pups were born to mother, Haima, and father, Ambu, in early August, but keepers wanted to give the new family time to bond before they made a public debut.

According to veterinarians, the pups all appear healthy. Staff was able to ascertain that two of the pups are females and one is certainly male, however, the smallest and quickest of the litter has yet to allow staff that close-up of an exam. Zoo Veterinarian, Thomas Scheibe, smiled and said, "A small, agile otter is really difficult to catch. One of the four cubs hid completely, so we could only catch and examine three of the cubs. But…we'll catch up soon!”

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4_23215718_1912625722097697_2821923821153530414_oPhoto Credits: Zoo Osnabrück

As part of their routine vet examinations and care, the Asian Small-clawed Otters at Zoo Osnabrück are regularly vaccinated against distemper, a viral disease that often occurs in dogs or some wild animals. "Because the Zoo is not an isolated area, we vaccinate the animals that are susceptible to distemper," explains the wildlife veterinarian.

During the time of the recent exam, each of the pups weighed about 500 grams.

In addition to the vaccination, the otter pups received a microchip, which is also used in pets or horses. "The chip is used for the animals, so that they are individually recognizable. Within one to two years, the young animals will leave us for another zoo, "explained Tobias Klumpe, research associate responsible for the Zoo’s animal transfers.

Visitors can watch the busy family life of the Asian Small-clawed Otters in Zoo Osnabrück’s outdoor area of ​the Tetra Aquarium. Until about the end of November, the small predators will use the outdoor area before they are moved into their winter quarters inside the Tetra Aquarium, where they will also be on-exhibit.

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Gazelle Extinct in the Wild Is Born in Valencia

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A Mhorr Gazelle, which is extinct in the wild, was born while amazed visitors watched at Spain’s Bioparc Valencia on November 9.

The newborn immediately tried to stand while its attentive mother hovered close by. It was eventually successful and nursed from mom shortly after.

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BIOPARC Valencia - Gacela Mhorr recién nacida - 9 de noviembre 2017 (2)Photo Credit: Bioparc Valencia

Mhorr Gazelles, once found in western regions of Africa’s Sahel and the Sahara Desert, became extinct in the wild in 1968. Since then, European, African, and Middle Eastern zoos have developed breeding programs for Mhorr Gazelles. Some individuals have been reintroduced to their former native range as part of an effort to reestablish the wild population.

Mhorr Gazelles (Nanger dama mhorr) are one of three subspecies of Dama Gazelles. The other two are Addra Gazelles (N. d. ruficollis) which live in the eastern Sahel and Sahara, and the nominate subspecies, Dama Gazelles (N. d. dama), which lives in the central region between the other two subspecies.

Scientists continue to debate whether each are separate subspecies based on genetic sampling.

These Gazelles are well-adapted to arid habitats, requiring little water and feeding on grasses, acacia leaves, and fruits.

With all three subspecies, small, fragmented populations in the wild are a concern for the future of these Gazelles. There are only five remnant populations remaining in the wild, and some number fewer than 100 individuals. All Dama Gazelles are listed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. Zoos and other breeding programs are the only hope for the survival of these elegant and graceful Gazelles.

 

 

 


Dwarf Crocodiles Hatch at San Diego Zoo

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On November 6, eight West African Dwarf Crocodiles hatched from eggs at the San Diego Zoo’s Reptile House—the first hatching of its kind in the zoo’s 101-year history. Three baby Crocs successfully hatched on their own, keepers assisted a fourth one in hatching, and more emerged from their eggs throughout the day. The hatchlings are being cared for behind the scenes—and the parents, an 11-year-old female named Yendi and a 50-year-old male named Kumba, can be seen by guests in the Africa Rocks exhibit.

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Screen Shot 2017-11-10 at 8.36Photo Credit: San Diego Zoo

The eggs were laid by Yendi on August 13. To ensure the eggs’ viability, animal care staff collected the eggs and incubated them in an off-exhibit area at 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Like other Crocodilian species, the gender of West African Dwarf Crocodiles is influenced by incubation temperatures, with higher temperatures required for the development of males. Although it is too soon to tell whether the hatchlings are male or female, keepers hope to determine the Crocodiles’ genders in a few days.

West African Dwarf Crocodiles are the smallest of the world’s Crocodile species, with an average adult length of about five feet.  They inhabit small waterways, wetlands, and swamps in Sub-Saharan West Africa and Central Africa. They are listed as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. There is little data currently available on this species in the wild, so San Diego Zoo Global supports research projects in Africa to better understand the status of West African Dwarf Crocodiles.

 


Cotswold Keeper Cares for Fruit Bat Orphans

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Deputy Section Head of Primates, Natalie Horner, has successfully taken on the role of surrogate mother to two abandoned Egyptian Fruit Bat pups at Cotswold Wildlife Park.

This is the first time Natalie has hand-reared these nocturnal mammals and, according to Park records, it is also the first time this species has been hand-reared at the Burford collection. The pups were discovered on their own when the Bat House was undergoing a major revamp.

Natalie explained, “A couple of days after we moved all of the Bats into temporary holdings, while we refurbished the Bat House, we saw both babies roosting by themselves. Mother Bats often 'park' their babies to give themselves a break. So we left them for a day, in the hope their mums would come and collect them again, as the chances of the babies surviving without a feed and warmth are very slim.”

Their mothers never returned so the decision was made to hand-rear them in order to give the pups, named Bruce and Wayne, the best possible chance of survival. Natalie became their surrogate mother and took them to her home where they could be given around-the-clock care. At the time, they were around four to six weeks old and weighed forty grams. Unable to maintain their own body temperature, they were kept in an incubator for two weeks and monitored closely by Natalie.

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4_1st photos of Bruce & Wayne (asleep after feeding) (1)Photo Credits: Cotswold Wildlife Park

Hand-rearing these tiny winged-mammals was no mean feat. A lot of time and effort was invested in the newborns, which hopefully would result in not only their survival but also their eventual reintroduction to the colony.

Natalie said, “I had to feed the babies every three hours in the early days. They were given milk as well as mashed fruit. The first feed of the day was at six o’clock in the morning and the last feed was at midnight.”

Feeding soon became one of Natalie’s favorite parental duties, and she explained why: “One of the things I'll never forget was wrapping the babies in their blankets for feed times. Wrapping them up gave them comfort, as their mother would wrap her wings around them to keep them safe. As soon as they finished their feed (and sometimes during) they would fall asleep wrapped in their blankets. It really melted my heart.”

As they continued to grow, and in order for their wings to developed properly, she encouraged them to fly.

“When they were around ten weeks old we began flying lessons. This was great fun. Bats instinctively know how to fly, so they just needed a little bit of encouragement. I would hang them from my finger and gently bob them up and down to encourage them to wing beat. I hung towels and sheets on the walls of my spare room to give plenty of roosting opportunities. The first lesson went as expected - they flapped their wings and flopped straight on the floor! They quickly recovered though and it didn't take long at all for their muscles to strengthen and for them to fly from one side of the room to the other. From then we had nightly flying lessons. As soon as they were able to fly comfortably around my spare room they were upgraded to their own enclosure at the Park before being reintroduced to the colony.”

Bruce and Wayne developed into strong young Bats and the day Natalie had been hoping for finally arrived. Natalie continued, “By the time the Bats were six months old they were fully self-feeding and very strong and capable flyers. They are still only half the size of the adult Bats but shouldn't have any problems integrating and competing for food. So the decision was made to reintroduce them to the rest of the colony. There wasn't much preparation needed so the Bats were put into transport bags and taken to the Bat enclosure. Once taken out of the bags, I placed them on my finger for one last time and watched them fly off to rejoin the rest of the colony. They both flew a couple of circuits of the enclosure before roosting with the rest of the colony. It was such a proud moment for me, and such a happy ending to what had been four amazing months. To see the babies back with their family made all the hard work worth it. I'm so happy for them to be back where they belong.”

The tiny survivors are testament to Natalie’s dedication as their keeper. Looking back on her time as their surrogate mother, she said: “Hand-rearing Bruce and Wayne was an amazing experience. To care for them, help them grow and develop into strong, healthy Bats and then reintroduce them back to their colony was incredibly rewarding. Bats are fascinating animals and are important plant pollinators and seed dispersers. It’s been great to raise awareness for these misunderstood animals and hopefully we've been able to change some opinions and generate more love for these wonderful mammals.”

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