Zebra Foal Sticks Close to Mom At Brookfield Zoo

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A Grevy’s Zebra foal born at the Brookfield Zoo on July 7 stays close to mom as if to say, “You can’t see me!”

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Photo Credit:  Brookfield Zoo

Indeed, Zebras’ striped coats help them blend in with the herd and surrounding vegetation, making them nearly invisible to predators. Like most Zebra foals, this little girl was born with brownish stripes.  The stripes will turn black as she grows.

The foal weighed 100 pounds at birth.  She was born to five-year-old Kali and her mate, 15-year-old Nazim.  The pairing of the two was based on a recommendation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Grevy’s Zebra Species Survival Plan (SSP). An SSP manages breeding to maintain a healthy and self-sustaining population that is both genetically diverse and demographically stable. Currently, fewer than 200 Grevy's Zebras live in less than 50 accredited North American zoos. This is the first Grevy’s Zebra birth at Brookfield Zoo since 1998.

Grevy’s Zebras, which are the largest of all wild equids, are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The species is now found only in its native habitat of northern Kenya and southern Ethiopia and is considered to be extinct in Somalia. Researchers estimate that the Grevy's Zebra population has declined by more than 50 percent over the past two decades, with approximately 2,000 remaining in the wild.

Major threats to the species include reduction of and competition for water sources; habitat degradation and loss due to overgrazing; and hunting. Most Grevy's Zebras live outside of national parks on communal lands, making community participation in their conservation critical.


Seeing Double: Two Rare Onagers Born In One Day

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Keepers at the United Kingdom's Chester Zoo are celebrating the arrival of two exceptionally rare Onagers.  The foals were born within hours of each other to two different mothers on July 4 after year-long pregnancies.

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Photo Credit:  Chester Zoo
 
The Onager is an Asiatic wild ass and was once found in abundance across the deserts of Mongolia, China, and Iran. Now, they are found in just two protected areas and over the past 16 years their numbers have declined by more than 50%.

“Onagers are the rarest equid species in the world and one of the rarest animals that we have here at the zoo, so we were absolutely delighted to have two foals arrive - one male and one female - during same night!” said Tim Rowlands, curator of mammals at Chester Zoo.

“We hope the foals themselves will one day go on to contribute to the international breeding program for the species, which is working to ensure there’s a sustainable population in zoos,”  Rowlands said.

The species is listed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature after decades of illegal poaching, overgrazing, and disease passed on from farm animals. Research suggests that only 600 Onagers remain in the wild and very few zoos in the world work with the animals due to the challenges of breeding and keeping the species.

Chester Zoo is part of an international conservation effort and is helping to save Onagers from extinction through this successful breeding program.


Three Lion Cubs Snuggle Up at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

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Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado is thrilled to welcome three roly-poly African Lion cubs! The cubs were born on June 25 to first-time parents Lomela, a seven-year-old female, and Abuto, a three-year-old male. Mom and the cubs—two males and one female—appear to be healthy and doing well.

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“Lomela and her babies are currently off-exhibit in the Lion building to give them time to bond and the cubs time to grow,” Dina Bredahl, animal care manager, said. “The cubs are nursing and are quite active for being less than a week old.”

Lions are pregnant for an average of 110 days. Zoo staff set up a camera system weeks prior to the birth, so they could monitor Lomela in two different nesting locations. Animal keepers were able to observe the birth, and can now keep close tabs on mom and cubs without disturbing them. The zoo set up a second video camera monitor above the Lion relaxation room window, so zoo guests can see the new additions to the lion pride.

Bredahl says, “If they remain healthy, as they appear to be now, we will take a hands-off approach and let Lomela take care of her babies without intervention.” In keeping with zoo tradition, the Lion cubs will not be named until they are at least 30 days old.

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Zoo Vienna Has Tons of Pink Flamingo Chicks!

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Ok, not literally tons. But Zoo Vienna in Austria is thrilled about the number of this year's Pink Flamingo chicks: 19 chicks have hatched, and still more eggs are being incubated by parents. 

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The first chicks of the year were hatched on June 7. The rearing of chicks at different ages is fascinating to watch. 

“The youngest birds are still in the nest under the wings of their parents, who alternatively keep the chicks warm and feed them with a high-energy liquid from their crop. The bigger birds have already left the nest and are being looked after in a group, similar to a kindergarten,” Zoo Director Dagmar Schratter explains. 

“The baby flamingos are grey. In the wild, this unobtrusive plumage protects the little ones better from predators, but in three years’ time their feathers will be just as pink as their parents'."

In their natural habitat the birds get their pink and orange coloring from carotenoid pigments found in algae and crustaceans which they filter out of the water using their beaks. In captivity, Flamingos are fed food that is high in these pigments, otherwise their feathers would be a very pale pink.

Pink or Greater Flamingos have a very large distribution area: they are found from West Africa through the Mediterranean, Europe, South West and South Asia, and in sub-Saharan Africa. There is estimated to be a population of about 20,000 breeding pairs in Europe, the majority living in the Camargue region in France. Zoo Vienna has been very successfully breeding these birds for many years.


Fennec Fox Kit Surprises Keepers at Zoo Wroclaw

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Just a few days ago, a new Fennec Fox kit ventured outside of the den for the first time at Zoo Wroclaw in Poland! 

The kit was born some time in early June, but keepers aren't sure exactly when, since the kit has stayed inside the den with mom, Tina, until now. 

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The kit is so tiny that he or she could fit in your hand- but Tina definitely wouldn't allow that! So far, zoo keepers have been hands-off, and Tina seems to be doing a great job protecting and nursing her new baby.

Fennec Foxes range from northern Africa to northern Sinai, and are specially adapted to survive harsh desert conditions. The enormous bat-like ears of adult Fennec Foxes provide more than excellent hearing ability: the blood vessels in the ears easily lose heat to the air, helping the foxes to regulate body temperature. Fennec Foxes live in social groups in underground burrows, and are mostly nocturnal, staying out of the hot sun.

Fennec Foxes are very widespread, and are considered a species of Least Concern on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species. However, they can be difficult to find and study, so it difficult to assess their population numbers in the wild. 


Tiny Cavies Come Out to Play at NaturZoo Rheine

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In mid-June, NaturZoo Rheine in Germany welcomed a litter of two Patagonian Cavies, also called Mara. Baby Cavies can walk almost immediately after birth, and from their very first days, the pair started exploring outside of the burrow to play, cuddle and groom. 

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These rodents, a Near Threatened species related to Guinea-pigs and Chinchillas, come from Patagonia. At the zoo, the Cavies live in a larger group together with Llamas in a walk-through exhibit. Because Cavies are active during the day, visitors have a unique chance to follow the development of the litter from close-up. 

Cavies mate for life, only finding a new mate if a partner dies, and breed in the company of other pairs in shared burrows or warrens. Having many pairs of eyes around the den helps to protect offspring from predators.

The young can walk almost immediately after birth, but stay close to the den for their first three weeks as they explore. They will begin grazing on plants with their parents and are weaned at about 13 weeks old. 


Sleepy Sea Lion Pup Takes a Nap ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

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Keepers at Zoological Society of London's (ZSL) Whipsnade Zoo have an exciting new addition to care for, with the arrival of a tiny California Sea Lion pup.

Born to first-time parents Bailey and Dominic on June 18, the two-week-old male, named Oscar, is the first pup to arrive at the zoo since dad Dominic was born in 2007.

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After giving birth outside on the edge of the Sea Lions' pool, Bailey has taken to motherhood swimmingly, and is already proving to be a doting mum to the incredibly lively pup. 

Covered in a downy fur, Oscar will grow up to 7.5 feet (2.3 m) in length and is already showing similarities with dad Dominic - who was a notoriously cheeky pup – by demanding mum’s attention at all times. 

Zookeeper Alex Pinnell said, "A new infant is not only exciting for the zookeepers, but also for the other Sea Lions as it’s something brand new for them and they all love the new addition to their group. We’re staying hands-off for now, to allow them all to get to know one another.

“The new pup is a great addition to the colony here at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo and the European conservation breeding programme for this species, and it’s brilliant for us to see Bailey being such a good mum.  

“We’ve named the pup Oscar, which we think suits his personality, and as ‘O’ is the fifteenth letter in the alphabet, we’ll always easily remember that he was born in 2015!"

Originating from the rocky coastlines of the Pacific Ocean, all along the west coast of the USA, California Sea Lions live in large colonies, led by a dominant male and his harem of female mates. 

Perfectly adapted to life on land and underwater, California Sea Lions have smooth streamlined bodies, and strong flippers to power them through the water in pursuit of their prey. Able to rotate their rear flippers forward, the Sea Lions are able to move comfortably on land where they usually breed and give birth.  

They are listed as a species of Least Concern on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List.

Visitors to the Zoo will be able to see Oscar and mum Bailey splashing around with the rest of the sea lion clan, dad Dominic, and aunt Lara. 


Sea Lion Pup Dives In at Denver Zoo

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There's a new set of flippers splashing around Colorado's Denver Zoo. A California sea lion pup, born on the evening of June 11, is the first of its species born at the zoo since 2010. Weighing in at just 20 pounds, the unnamed male pup is starting to learn how to swim with the help of his mother,  Luci.

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 Although pups can see and vocalize at birth, they usually don't learn to swim for a week or two. Keepers say that he's turning out to be very vocal, making lots of sheep-like noises, and he's starting to show a curious and independent personality in his swimming sessions with mom. 

Luci makes a wonderfully attentive mother. At night, she wakes her pup to make sure he is nursing regularly, and keeps a close eye on him when the two are at the seal pool. She's been eating 20 pounds of fish per day to ensure that the pup is receiving milk that is high in nutrients. The pup will spend his first year nursing while transitioning to fish.

Visitors can watch mother and pup exploring the zoo's Northern Shores exhibit, weather permitting. 

The pup is the second offspring for Luci and father, Nick, who welcomed female Ady in 2010. (Luci was born in Orlando, Florida at Sea World in 2001 and came to Denver Zoo two years later. Nick came to Denver Zoo from the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach, California in 2008.) 

California Sea Lions are found along the west coast of North America from Baja California to British Columbia. They are highly social animals, gathering in large groups called colonies. Their streamlined bodies allow them to swim at speeds of 25 to 30 miles per hour (40 to 48 km/hr), and their remarkable vision allows them to see well during the day and at night. They are listed as a species of Least Concern on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List.

Sea Lions are born after a 12-month reproductive cycle. This begins with a 3-month delayed implantation, when the embryo lies dormant before implanting into the uterus. This process is followed by a 9-month gestation period. The little pup has a lot of growing to do: adult males weigh 500 to 800 pounds (227 to 363 kg) as adults, while adult females are between 200 and 250 pounds (91 to 113 kg). 


Orphaned Kangaroo Raised by Wallaby at Adelaide Zoo

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In a world first for conservation, Adelaide Zoo Keepers and Veterinarians saved the life of an orphaned Goodfellow’s Tree Kangaroo, by utilizing a surrogate wallaby mother. It’s a technique never attempted before with a Tree Kangaroo!

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In November last year, zookeepers arrived early one morning to make a horrible discovery. Overnight, a falling branch had crushed the zoo’s three-year-old female Tree Kangaroo, orphaning a five-week-old joey.

Acting on pure adrenalin, zookeepers made the decision to try and save the tiny joey. Due to the young age of the joey, hand rearing was not possible, which meant the only option available was to try and ‘cross-foster’ the joey into the pouch of a surrogate wallaby mother.

‘Cross-fostering’, a special breeding technique that Adelaide Zoo began pioneering in the 1990s, involves the transfer of endangered joeys to the pouch of a surrogate mother of a different wallaby species. This accelerates the breeding cycle of the original wallaby, allowing the female to increase its reproduction rate up to six or eight times in some species. This means Adelaide Zoo can build the captive population of an endangered species much more quickly.

Adelaide Zoo Veterinarian, Dr. David McLelland, says cross fostering has never been attempted on a Tree Kangaroo until that fateful morning. “We’ve had great success over the years’ cross-fostering between wallaby species, but the specialized breeding technique has never been used on a Tree Kangaroo,” David said.

“Not only are tree kangaroos distant relatives of wallabies, they also have many behavioral and physical differences. We had no idea if the Yellow-Foot Rock-Wallaby would accept the Tree Kangaroo joey, but if we wanted to save the joey we had to try our luck.”

The cross-foster procedure, to get the Tree Kangaroo joey to latch on to the new teat, ran smoothly and an anxious couple of days followed as zoo keepers closely monitored the wallaby to determine if the attempt was successful.

Adelaide Zoo Team Leader of Natives, Gayl Males, says tiny ripples of movement over the following days confirmed the joey was alive and thriving, tucked carefully away in its surrogate mother’s pouch.

“We were so excited when we confirmed the joey had made it past the first critical 24 hour period. We were uncertain as to whether the joey was going to be accepted. This joey was completely different from other joeys in body shape and behavior. It certainly wriggled around more than a wallaby joey!” Gayl said.

“The joey, which we named Makaia, first popped its head out of the pouch around the end of January. It was certainly a sight to see a Tree Kangaroo joey, with its reddish-tan fur, bright blue eyes and long claws riding around in a wallaby!”

“He stayed with his wallaby mum for about three and half months until I took over caring for him and in effect became his third mum. He’s certainly a cheeky little fellow and loves running amok, testing the boundaries, using my home as his personal playground, climbing on everything, pulling toilet paper off the rolls, but he also loves quiet time cuddling with my husband in the evening while we watch TV.”

“He truly is a special little guy and I am so pleased that Adelaide Zoo has the staff and expertise to successfully perform this world first cross-foster. Makaia is the result of all our hard work; we can’t wait to share his amazing story with the world!”

Makaia spends the day at the zoo and goes home with Gayl over evenings and on her days off. He will continue to be cared for full-time until he no longer requires overnight feeds and will be weaned at around 15-18 months old.

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Binghamton Zoo Celebrates Arrival of New Porcupine

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The Binghamton Zoo at Ross Park, in New York, is proud to announce the arrival of a Prehensile-Tailed Porcupine. The porcupette was born on Father’s Day, June 21.

Weighing in at 400 grams, the baby has progressively gained weight since birth. Once the sex is determined, a name will be announced. For now, the young porcupine is being monitored by zoo staff and is bonding with mom, Zoey, and dad, Mattie. 

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The birth of this porcupine is a major success for the Prehensile-Tailed Porcupine’s Species Survival Plan. The father, Mattie, came to the Binghamton Zoo in November 2014, under recommendations from the SSP as a breeding candidate for Zoey. Each SSP carefully manages the breeding of a species to maintain a healthy and self-sustaining captive population that is both genetically diverse and demographically stable.

Baby porcupines (also known as porcupettes) are not born with sharp or barbed quills. Instead, the porcupette’s quills are soft and bendable, gradually hardening in the first few days after birth. Their quills will reach maturity after 10 weeks. They are dependent on the mother for nutrition the first 4 weeks after birth, eventually foraging for other food sources. They are completely weaned at 15 weeks.

These porcupines have a prehensile tail that allows them to grasp branches for balance. They also have long, curved claws that enable excellent climbing abilities. They spend most of their time in trees and will den in tree nests, rock crevices, brush, logs, and tangled tree roots.

Prehensile-Tailed Porcupines are native to South America. They feed on the bark of trees, buds, fruits, roots, stems, leaves, blossoms, seeds, and crops like corn and bananas. At the zoo, the porcupines’ diet consists of yams, carrots, greens, and leaf eater biscuits.

The porcupette is currently on exhibit with its parents, Zoey and Mattie, in the New World Tropics building.