UK’s Only Koala Joey Emerges From Mom’s Pouch

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Earlier in the year, RZSS Edinburgh Zoo keepers announced the birth of a joey in the Zoo’s Koala Territory exhibit. The new little Koala is starting to emerge, to the delight of visitors who are lucky enough to catch a glimpse.

Born on January 31 to mum, Alinga, and father, Goonaroo, the new arrival to the UK’s only Koala group was still curled up inside mum’s pouch until very recently; however, the joey is growing fast and was photographed as it ventured out of the pouch for the first time last week.

Lorna Hughes, Team Leader for Koalas at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo, said, “We are really happy that the joey has started to fully emerge. At seven months old, the joey is almost too big to fit inside mother’s pouch, which means it will now be venturing outside more regularly. Soon it will begin riding on Alinga’s back, until it becomes independent at around twelve months. Soon we will be able to begin weighing the new addition and determine its sex so we can name it.”

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According to the zoo, Alinga will carry the joey around on her back until it is around twelve-months-old and, once it reaches sexual maturity, it will go on to become part of the European Breeding Programme. RZSS Edinburgh Zoo is the only zoo in the UK to have Koalas and this new arrival is testament to the Zoo’s animal husbandry expertise.

As members of the European Breeding Programme for Queensland Koalas, RZSS Edinburgh Zoo makes regular contributions that support conservation projects in Australia to help rehabilitate and release sick and injured Koalas back into their natural habitat.

Koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) are native to eastern Australia and are currently classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List. The main threats facing Koala populations in the native territory are habitat loss, wildfires and climate change.


Paignton Zoo Hatches Two Toco Toucans

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Paignton Zoo Environmental Park is the only collection in the UK to have hatched Toco Toucan chicks this year, and the facility is one of only three in all of Europe to have bred this remarkable bird in 2017.

It’s hard to believe that the two new hatchlings, looking more like comical puppets than growing chicks, will turn into examples of one of the most striking and familiar birds in the world. The Toco is the largest, and probably the best-known, member of the Toucan family.

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4_2017 08 PZ toco toucan chicks one month old croppedPhoto Credits: Paignton Zoo Environmental Park 

The two are being hand-reared by Paignton Zoo bird keeper, Nikki Watt. Although the parents have hatched chicks in the past, they failed to successfully rear their previous offspring. Zoo staff opted to care for the chicks themselves to ensure their survival.

The chicks are demanding: they are fed first at 7:00am, then every two hours or so until 10:00pm. Each meal of special baby bird formula and fruit has to be prepared and delivered by hand. Nikki records amounts consumed at each sitting.

Now one month old, the pair is doing well and already starting to look more like the recognizable image of a Toucan.

The Toco Toucan (Ramphastos toco), also known as the Common Toucan, Giant Toucan or Toucan, is the largest and probably the best-known species in the toucan family. It is native to semi-open habitats throughout a large part of central and eastern South America.

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Chester Zoo Introduces Their New ‘Fab Five’

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Five tiny Dwarf Mongoose pups, born at Chester Zoo, recently emerged from their den for the first time.

The pups were spotted following in the footsteps of mum as they took their maiden steps into the outside world.

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4_Fab five! Dwarf mongoose pups emerge from their den at Chester Zoo (3)Photo Credits: Chester Zoo

The quintet is the first litter for mum, Mini, and dad, Cooper. Both parents arrived at Chester Zoo in late 2016.

Keepers were first alerted to the new arrivals several weeks ago when they heard “little squeaks” coming from their nest box.

Nick Davis, Deputy Curator of Mammals at Chester Zoo, said, “Dwarf Mongooses are curious characters and are incredibly adventurous and playful. The babies are certainly keeping mum and dad on their toes.”  

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Double the Fluff: Twin Red Pandas Born at Cleveland Zoo

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The fluffle is real! Two Red Panda cubs were born at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo on June 20.

The cubs, both male, are snug in their nest box under the care of their mother, Xue Li. These are Xue Li’s first cubs.

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Red Panda cubs typically remain in the next box for the first three months of life. Mom may occasionally carry the cubs in her mouth from one nest box to another during this time. The zoo staff does not intervene in the cubs’ care except to perform occasional checkups and weigh the cubs to monitor their progress.  At their most recent weigh-in, the cubs weighed about two pounds each.  Adult Red Pandas weigh eight to 14 pounds. 

Mom Xue Li was born at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo in 2013. Her mate, Firecracker, age 11, previously lived at the Buffalo Zoo and the Greenville Zoo. Their pairing was recommended by the Red Panda Species Survival Plan, a program that aims to maximize genetic diversity in threatened populations under human care. These two male cubs will make important genetic contributions to the zoo-dwelling Red Panda population when they are paired with unrelated females in a few years.

Feeding mainly on bamboo, Red Pandas are most active at night and sleep much of the day. They prefer to rest on tree branches and are quite comfortable outdoors in very cold weather.

Red Pandas are native only to the Himalayan Mountains in southwestern China. They are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to the consistent decline in their wild population, which numbers only 10,000 mature individuals.  As Red Pandas’ habitat is lost and fragmented into smaller and smaller tracts, the population shrinks and the effects of inbreeding, such as lowered fertility, further the decline.

 


Meet Kitai the Endangered Snow Leopard Cub

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A blue-eyed bundle of fluff arrived at Tierpark Berlin on June 13: Kitai the Snow Leopard cub!

Kitai was born to parents Maya and Bataar, both six years old. This is their third litter together.

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The now two-month-old cub recently had a health check, at which he received vaccinations and an ID chip. The vaccinations are the same as all housecats receive for protection against distemper and other feline diseases.

Kitai’s name was chosen from among more than 1,000 suggestions made by zoo fans. The word “Kitai” or “Catai” is a variation of  “Cathay,” which is what China was called during the times of Marco Polo. Snow Leopards are found in the mountains of Central Asia. The largest population resides in China.

At eight weeks old, Kitai weighed about eight pounds. As an adult, he may weigh 100-150 pounds. For now, Kitai spends nearly all his time with Maya in their den, but last week the staff opened the door into the main exhibit to give mother and son the chance to explore outdoors. It is completely up to Kitai and Maya to decide if and when they go outside.

Snow Leopards are among the most endangered of all big Cats. Recent data from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) states that there are between 4,000-6,500 mature Snow Leopards spread across 12 Asian nations. A Global Snow Leopard Forum has been established to address the threats facing Snow Leopards, which include depletion of prey, illegal trade, and conflict with people.

Zoo Berlin is active in protecting Snow Leopards, and a total of 13 cubs have been born there in the last 20 years.

See more photos of Kitai below.

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Zoo Welcomes First Okapi Birth in Four Years

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The San Diego Zoo recently welcomed a handsome new resident. Okapi mom, Mbaya, gave birth to her first calf—adding one more individual to a population that is in steady decline worldwide.

Only a few zoos in the United States house the endangered Okapi, and four-week-old Mosi (pronounced MO-see) became the first of his species to be born at the San Diego Zoo in four years.

Animal care staff said Mosi (Swahili for first-born) is a robust little guy who exhibits many of the same personality traits as his mom, including a calm and easygoing demeanor.

“This is her first calf, and she is allowing us to interact with this calf because she trusts us,” said John Michel, senior keeper at the San Diego Zoo. “It was a relationship we had developed over a long period of time prior to this calf being born. And so, the relationship we have with her is the same relationship we have with the calf—very trusting.”

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The Okapi (Okapia johnstoni), the only living relative of the giraffe, is a large animal that lives in the Ituri Forest: a dense rain forest in central Africa, located in the northeast region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire). The species’ zebra-like white-and-black striped hindquarters and front legs give them added camouflage in the partial sunlight that filters through their rainforest habitat.

A very cautious animal, Okapis in the wild use their highly developed hearing to alert them before humans can get close. In fact, while natives of the Ituri Forest knew of Okapis, scientists did not know of the animal until 1900.

Today, the Okapi is listed as “Endangered” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, due to hunting and continued habitat loss.

San Diego Zoo Global, and other zoos and conservation organizations, work with local residents to protect and support this rare and unusual forest dweller in its native habitat. In 1992, one-fifth of the Okapi habitat in the Ituri Forest was protected to create the Okapi Wildlife Reserve, a World Heritage Site providing the species a place removed from most human interference.

Okapis first arrived at the San Diego Zoo in 1956, and since then, there have been more than 60 births at both the Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

Zoo guests can visit Mosi, his mom, and the other Okapis in their habitat along Hippo Trail in Lost Forest. Their exhibit is designed to let guests enjoy a good look at these beautiful animals without disturbing them.

Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes on-site wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The work of these entities is inspiring children through the San Diego Zoo Kids network, reaching out through the internet and in children’s hospitals nationwide. The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.


Point Defiance Zoo’s Penguin Siblings Swim On-Exhibit

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The two juvenile Magellanic Penguin chicks, at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, recently slipped into the water of their on-exhibit pool and excitedly darted from end to end.

Members of the adult Penguin colony stood watch on the rocks above, squawking loudly, acting as black-and-white sentries warily guarding their turf from these upstart juveniles. “That’s normal behavior,” staff biologist Amanda Shaffer said. “Eventually, the adults will welcome the younger Penguins into their midst.”

In just 12 weeks, the chicks have grown from fuzzy balls, weighing just under 6 ounces, to recognizable Penguins almost as large as the adults from whose eggs they hatched.

According to zoo staff, the chicks have been off exhibit for a few weeks, gaining strength, getting accustomed to feeding schedules, and growing the coarse feathers and stiff wings needed for swimming. Point Defiance zookeepers have kept careful watch over the brother-and-sister pair as they learned to swim.

The siblings are now on-exhibit daily in the Penguin Point habitat at the zoo.

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4_95A0228Photo Credits: Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium /Brian DalBalcon

ZooBorns eagerly shared news and adorable pics of the Penguin siblings when their birth was announced earlier in the summer: Point Defiance Zoo Welcomes Magellanic Penguin Chicks”.

The chicks broke out of their shells on May 23 and May 25 and are the first Magellanic Penguins to hatch at the zoo since 2006.

The little Penguins aren’t given names. They are known by the colors of the bands on their wings. These two are the offspring of mother “Pink” and father “Red.” The male chick is banded as “Red/White” and the female is “Pink/Black.”

Point Defiance Zoo’s Penguin colony now numbers a total of ten: five males and five females.

“I’m pleased with their progress,” said Shaffer, the zoo’s lead Penguin keeper. “They are healthy and they did great while learning to dive into the off-exhibit pool, swim and then pull themselves out.”

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Kangaroo Joey Given Bright, Shiny New Name

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About three months ago, a little Kangaroo joey at Allwetterzoo Münster lost her mother. Ralf Nacke, zookeeper, has since been foster parent to the joey, and he has lovingly devoted himself to her care.

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4_20645191_10159100335080263_3390958574437080484_oPhoto Credits: Allwetterzoo Münster 

According to zoo staff, bottle breeding does not always work with Kangaroos, particularly when the baby is transitioning from breast milk to bottle. There were initial difficulties for the joey at the Münster Zoo, but she is now developing magnificently.

The female was recently named Alinga, which is the Aboriginal word for “the sun”. Although Alinga still requires bottle-feedings and likes to spend time in Papa Ralf’s “pouch” (backpack), keepers are introducing her to solid foods and are hopeful she will one day be integrated with the other Kangaroos at the zoo.

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Rare Four-Eyed Turtles Hatch at Tennessee Aquarium

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The Tennessee Aquarium recently celebrated the successful hatching of four endangered turtles.

When it comes to breeding some turtles, making even small changes to their environment can be like trying to introduce new foods to an especially picky eater.

“You don’t want to go changing a lot of stuff, or you may unsettle them and have to wait until next year to try again,” says Tennessee Aquarium Senior Herpetologist Bill Hughes. “With some turtle species, it doesn’t matter. With others, you move them to a different space, and they don’t lay eggs for five years. It throws them off track.”

Because of their fickleness and tendency to be slow to reproduce, every successful turtle-breeding season is significant, especially for imperiled species. At the Aquarium, Hughes recently celebrated the successful hatching of a pair each of endangered Four-eyed Turtles (Sacalia quadriocellata) and critically endangered Beal’s Four-eyed Turtles (Sacalia bealei).

The hatchlings emerged from their shells in the Tennessee Aquarium’s rooftop turtle nursery on June 13 (Four-eyed) and July 2-3 (Beal’s) from eggs that had been incubating at 82 degrees since being laid in April.

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The Aquarium is home to the largest collection of freshwater turtles in North America. In 2007, it received national attention as the first North American zoo or aquarium to successfully hatch a Beal’s Four-eyed Turtle.

In the last decade, the Aquarium has had continued success in hatching these “four-eyed” species, which are native to Southeast Asia and named due to eye-like markings on the top of their heads. Including the most recent babies, the Aquarium has successfully hatched 15 Beal’s Four-eyed and 37 Four-eyed Turtles since 2007.

In all, just 47 Four-eyed and 24 Beal’s Four-eyed are housed in North American facilities accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Hatchlings raised at the Tennessee Aquarium have been shared with other caretakers in an effort to shore up their captive population. In 2015, a trio of Beal’s Four-eyed were sent to the Knoxville Zoo — the only other AZA institution to house them — and Four-eyed hatchlings have been shipped to facilities as far as New York, Texas and California.

In light of these turtles’ limited numbers, both in the wild and in captivity, Hughes says he’s largely opted to avoid tampering with his breeding setup for fear of derailing programs that are helping to significantly bolster their overall populations.

“The only thing I’ve really changed is cooling them off more in winter and incubating them a degree or two warmer,” he explains. “They’re all still in their same space they’ve been in for years, which is helping.”

Like many Southeast Asian species, both the Beal’s Four-eyed and Four-eyed Turtle wild populations have been in free fall in recent decades. This decline is thanks to a combination of human-induced threats, including habitat destruction and capture for use as a food source or to supply the pet trade.

According to a 2014 study by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, 50-60 percent of the 335 modern turtle and tortoise species are either extinct or threatened with extinction. That gives them the dubious distinction as the most imperiled major group of vertebrates on the planet.

The Aquarium’s successful rearing of Beal’s Four-eyed and Four-eyed Turtles is crucial to their survivability. Hughes serves as the coordinator of the Species Survival Plan (SSP) for the Four-eyed Turtle since that plan became active in 2012. This year, the Beal’s Four-eyed Turtle became a candidate for the program, and Hughes says the turtle’s conservation status puts it on the fast track to achieving full SSP status in the future.

Even after years of success in raising them, Hughes never tires of seeing new turtles emerge from their eggs. And as you would expect from such dogged creatures of habit, they tend to arrive almost like clockwork, he says.

“They lay at the same time or year, and the eggs hatch at the same time of year, so it’s like a floating holiday that doesn’t float that much. You know when it’s coming,” Hughes says. “It’s still a thrill to see them.”

Photo below by Todd Stailey, Tennessee Aquarium photographer, showing the ocelli, "false eyes", of the Four-eyed Turtle5_FOUREYEDTURTLE


Rhino Birth Viewed Live at Burgers' Zoo

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As thousands of viewers watched via live webcam on August 10, Izala the Southern White Rhinoceros gave birth to a healthy female calf at Burgers’ Zoo.

Zoo staff members were anxious about the birth because Izala’s first calf was stillborn in January 2016. It is not uncommon for a White Rhino’s first pregnancy to be unsuccessful. Fortunately, this calf appears healthy and strong, and she was walking and nursing within just hours of birth.

The lively calf, named Wiesje, runs and plays in her large exhibit, with Izala usually trotting close behind.

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Seven Rhinos have been born at Burgers’ Zoo in the past 17 years, and around 12 are born each year in European zoos. Last year, 22 Rhino births occurred in European zoos, due in part to increased cooperation among zoos. This cooperation resulted in more Rhinos being transferred among zoos into more favorable breeding situations.

While other Rhino species live mostly solitary lives, White Rhinos live in small social groups which typically include adult females and their young.  Males’ territories overlap those of females. Researchers have learned that the hormonal cycles of lower-ranking females in these groups are suppressed, resulting in only higher-ranking females being bred.

In zoos, this research has a practical application: moving a young female to a new environment increase the odds that her hormonal cycle will be restored, which improves the odds that she will breed. Thus Izala, who lived at the Kolmarden Zoo with her mother, was brought to Burgers’ Zoo so she could successfully breed and rear her own baby.

Southern White Rhinos are the largest of all five Rhino species, and are also the most numerous in the wild, with about 20,000 individuals found mainly in South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Kenya. 

Southern White Rhinos are listed as Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The main threat remains poaching for the illegal Rhino horn trade. As prices for Rhino horn increase, hunting increases as well. Rhino horn, which is used for ornamental purposes and in Traditional Asian Medicine, is made of solid keratin, the same material in human fingernails.  It has no proven medical benefits, yet has driven some Rhino species to the brink of extinction: only about 60 Javan Rhinos and 200 Sumatran Rhinos remain in Asia.

See more photos of Wiesje and Izala below.

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