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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4_BIOPARC Valencia - leopardos - madre y cachorro (primer día en el bosque ecuatorial) (8)Photo Credits: BIOPARC Valencia

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.


First Penguin Chicks of the Season at Maryland Zoo

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The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore is excited to announce the hatching of three African Penguin chicks. They are the first to hatch during the 2016-2017 breeding season at the Zoo’s Penguin Coast exhibit. The first chick hatched on October 20 to parents Portia and Beckham while the next two chicks, offspring of Ascot and Dennis, hatched on October 22 and October 25.

“This breeding season is off to a wonderful start,” said Jen Kottyan, Avian Collection and Conservation Manager. “As soon as the nest boxes were made available to the Penguins again for the start of breeding season, the birds began exhibiting breeding behaviors and claiming their nests. We are really excited about the prospects for this season, and these three are just the beginning.”

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4_DSC_3632(Parentsofchick2+3)Photo Credits: Maryland Zoo

Breeding season for the African Penguins at Penguin Coast begins in mid-September and lasts until the end of February, mimicking the spring/summer breeding season for these endangered birds in their native South Africa.

Penguin chicks will hatch 38-42 days after the eggs are laid. Zookeepers monitor development of the eggs by candling them about a week after they are laid to see if they are fertile and developing. The eggs are then placed back with the parents. “With African Penguins, both the male and the female take turns sitting on the eggs,” said Kottyan. “Once the eggs hatch, parents take turns caring for their offspring; they each protect, feed, and keep the chick warm for 2-3 days and then switch off.”

At Penguin Coast, chicks stay with their parents for about three weeks after they hatch and are fed regurgitated fish from their parents. During this time, zookeepers and vets keep a close eye on the development of the chicks, weighing and measuring them daily for the first week to make sure that the parents are properly caring for each chick.

When a chick is three-weeks-old, the keepers remove it from the nest, and start to teach the chick that they are the source of food. This step is critical, as it will allow staff to provide long term care for the birds including daily feeding, regular health exams and both routine and emergency medical care.

The Maryland Zoo has been a leader in breeding African Penguins for close to 50 years, winning the prestigious Edward H. Bean Award for the “African Penguin Long-term Propagation Program” from the AZA in 1996. The Zoo has the largest colony of African Penguins in North America, with now over 75 birds.

“Our Penguins are bred according to recommendations from the AZA African Penguin SSP, which helps maintain their genetic diversity,” said Kottyan. “Many of the African Penguins previously bred at the Zoo now inhabit zoo and aquarium exhibits around the world.” 

Continue reading "First Penguin Chicks of the Season at Maryland Zoo " »


Black Rhino Calf’s First Steps Caught on Camera

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Keepers and staff at Howletts Wild Animal Park, in the UK, have been celebrating the birth of a delightful female Black Rhino.

The tiny calf, born on October 16, has been bonding with her mother in their heated stable, whilst the dedicated keeper team monitors her progress.

Animal Director, Neil Spooner said, “We are absolutely thrilled. She’s delightful, and both calf and mum, Salome, are doing well. This latest arrival signifies real hope for the future of this critically endangered species.”

The young calf, born to first time mother, Salome, has yet to be named. Keepers are so pleased with her progress that they have released CCTV footage of her birth and first steps. The team is confident that mum and baby will be ready to explore the outside exhibit very soon.

Jonathan Usher Smith, Head of Hoofstock Section added, “The footage of the calf taking her first steps is wonderful! As you can see, she is a little wobbly but that is to be expected just hours after birth. After only a week, she is already getting stronger and more confident – we’ve even seen her copying her mother and trying to eat browse – although she won’t be ready for solid food for quite some time yet.”

Baby rhino at Howletts Wild Animal ParkPhoto Credits: Howletts Wild Animal Park/ Aspinall Foundation

The Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) is currently classified as “Critically Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Numbers in the wild have been decimated at the hands of poachers, who sell Rhino horn to the Asian market (where it is believed to have medicinal properties).

The Aspinall Foundation*, a leading conservation charity, working with Howletts and sister park Port Lympne, has been working to protect the Black Rhino since 1971. The foundation has returned Black Rhinos, born at Port Lympne Reserve, to protected areas in Africa, in the hope of saving the species. This summer, two of the returned Rhinos successfully gave birth in Africa---a testament to the success of the charity’s ‘Back To The Wild’ initiative.

Howletts latest arrival, firmly cements the conservation charity’s reputation as being the most successful breeder of Black Rhinos in the UK, with a total of 37 births to date.

*The Aspinall Foundation manages conservation projects in Congo, Gabon, Indonesia and Madagascar, as well as providing financial support to various partner projects around the world. The conservation charity’s important work helps prevent some of the most endangered species on the planet from becoming extinct.


“Are These My Stripes or Yours?”

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ZooBorns recently offered readers a glimpse of the beautiful twin Sumatran Tigers born at ZSL London Zoo. (Please see the lovely pics from our article: “Zoo Releases Video of Cubs for International Tiger Day”)

The cubs were born June 27 to mom, Melati, and dad, Jae Jae. Keepers eventually discovered they were dealing with a male and a female cub.

In relation to “twins”, there is always the question of how to tell which-from-which. A recent blog post from the Zoo offered some insight into how they are able identify which one is the relaxed male, Achilles, and which one is confident female, Karis.

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Photo Credits: ZSL London Zoo / Images 1 & 2: Karis (left), Achilles (right) ; Images 3 & 4: Achilles (two distinct curves come out of the outer corners of his eyes); Image 5: Karis (small heart-shape, or upside down V, on top of head)

Keepers note that Achilles is darker in comparison to his sister Karis, and he also has thicker markings. According to the Zoo, Achilles very much takes after dad Jae Jae, with a chilled-out personality and wide face, and young Karis is defined as her mother’s daughter, with narrow features and feisty character.

Achilles also has two distinct curves that come out of the outer corners of his eyes. These thick, dark lines are prominent in comparison to markings around sister Karis’s eyes.

If looking at Karis from above, she has a small heart shape (or upside down 'V') on the top of her head, in addition to some solid strips of ginger on her back. Tigers ordinarily have a solid black line running down their spine, but Karis has a few breaks, resulting in two distinct stripes running horizontally across the length of her back.

The mischievous pair has had meat introduced into their diet. According to the Zoo’s blog post, “When they’re not having play fights with each other you’ll most likely find them enjoying a nap somewhere in Tiger Territory, sleeping for up to 20 hours a day.”

The Sumatran Tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) is the smallest of the six subspecies in existence today and are only found on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia.

Originally, nine Tiger subspecies were found in parts of Asia but three have become extinct in the 20th century. Less than 400 Sumatran Tigers remain the wild. They are classified as “Critically Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

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“It’s the Great Pumpkin…!”

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Pumpkins and Jack-o-Lanterns are indicative of the fall season…and Halloween.

Zoo Keepers work hard to keep their animals healthy and happy. Enrichment toys and activities are an important tool that Keepers utilize to help in that pursuit. Enrichment items encourage natural behavior and stimulate the senses…and what could be more stimulating, this time of year, than celebrating by tearing into a bright orange pumpkin!

Happy Halloween from ZooBorns!

2_Red pandas Jung and Nima get into the Halloween spirit at Chester Zoo on Pumpkin Day

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Image 1: (Lynx) Tierpark Hellabrunn / Marc Muller

Image 2: “Red Pandas, Jung and Nima, get into the Halloween spirit”/ Chester Zoo

Image 3: (Snow leopard) Woodland Park Zoo

Image 4: (Amur Tiger) Woburn Safari Park

Image 5: Piglets-in-a-pumpkin/ Tierpark Berlin

Image 6: “Andean Bear, Bernie, tucks into honey-coated treats”/ Chester Zoo

Image 7: “Black Jaguar, Goshi, enjoys and early treat”/ Chester Zoo

Images 8, 9: Elephant Pumpkin Stomp/ Denver Zoo

Image 10: (Chimpanzee)/ Detroit Zoo/ Jennie Miller

Image 11: (Bison)/ Detroit Zoo/ Jennie Miller

Image 12: (Giraffe “Mpenzi”)/ Detroit Zoo/ Jennie Miller

Image 13: (Hippo)/ Woodland Park Zoo/ Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren

Image 14: (Tiger)/ Woodland Park Zoo/ Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren

Image 15: (Maned Wolf)/ Woodland Park Zoo/ Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren

More adorable Halloween pics, below the fold!

Continue reading "“It’s the Great Pumpkin…!”" »


Rare Baby Aye-aye Not So Spooky

Aye-aye 2016 (c) ZSL Tony Bates (3)Sporting a crooked finger, piercing yellow eyes, and coming out only after dark, some might think this baby Aye-aye at ZSL London Zoo was custom-made for Halloween.  But the baby’s arrival is a rare event that will benefit efforts to conserve this unique species. 

The baby Aye-aye, born on August 1, is a first for ZSL London Zoo.  Named Malcolm, the infant emerged from its secluded nest box for the first time last week. 

Aye-aye 2016 (c) ZSL Tony Bates (4)Photo Credit:  Tony Bates/ZSL London Zoo

Aye-ayes, which are a species of Lemur, have an unusually large middle finger and are considered harbingers of doom in their native Madagascar.  Legend has it that if an aye-aye points its long finger at you, death is not far away.  In reality, Aye-ayes use the elongated digit to forage for tasty beetle larvae from inside trees.

Aye-ayes are solitary and nocturnal, so their habits are difficult to observe.  They eat, sleep, and mate high in the trees.   

Found only in Madagascar, Aye-ayes are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Like all species in Madagascar, they face enormous pressure from human activity, such as deforestation and agriculture.  Due to the belief that Aye-ayes portend doom, they are often killed by villagers.  Only about 50 Aye-ayes live in zoos worldwide.


Tiny Squeals Reveal Bush Dog Pups in Underground Den

FB TW Two litters of bush dog pups have been born and started to venture outside for the first time at Chester Zoo (52)Two litters of Bush Dog pups at the Chester Zoo have begun to venture outside their dens for the first time.  The first litter, consisting of five pups, was discovered in August after keepers heard tiny squeals coming from the den. A second set arrived in September, but the number of pups is not yet known.  Some pups in the second litter may still be tucked in underground burrows.

The pack of pups means non-stop action in the Bush Dog exhibit.  The pups play-fight and explore most of the day.  When intervention is needed, the moms carry the pups in their mouths, careful not to injure the youngsters with their sharp teeth.

Two litters of bush dog pups have been born and started to venture outside for the first time at Chester Zoo (29)
Two litters of bush dog pups have been born and started to venture outside for the first time at Chester Zoo (57)
Photo Credit:  Chester Zoo



Bush Dogs are not well studied, so Chester Zoo keepers hope that these two litters will add to the knowledge base for the species.  For example, it is rare for two litters to be produced within one pack only weeks apart.  Normally, the alpha male and only one female produce offspring.

Once all the pups emerge, the zoo staff will weigh, sex, and microchip the pups, and conduct a hands-on health check.  This will allow the staff to monitor each individual pup’s progress.

Bush Dogs are native to Central and South America, where they inhabit wet forests and grasslands.  They hunt in packs to chase down small mammals, lizards, and birds, but can also hunt and kill animals twice their size.  With a web of skin between their toes, Bush Dogs are excellent swimmers. 

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature lists Bush Dogs as Near Threatened after their wild numbers dropped by more than 25% in just 12 years. They have suffered from habitat loss from farming, a loss of prey species, and from contracting diseases spread by other canines or domestic dogs.

See more photos of the pups below.

Continue reading "Tiny Squeals Reveal Bush Dog Pups in Underground Den" »


Four ‘Fierce’ Panther Chameleons Hatch in Tennessee

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Four tiny (but fiercely-cute) Panther Chameleons recently hatched at the Tennessee Aquarium!

After hatching, from eggs laid in January of this year, the babies measured in at around two inches long. They are now growing quickly under the care provided by Tennessee Aquarium herpetologists.

The daily routine for these tiny reptiles includes feeding them small insects (along with calcium and vitamins twice a day), cleaning their environment, and spraying them with lukewarm water.

Right now these babies, along with their parents, live in a backup area at the Aquarium, but it is hoped that these creatures will be viewable by the public in the near future.

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4_Adult Male Panther Chameleon at the Tennessee AquariumPhoto Credits: Tennessee Aquarium

Panther Chameleons (Furcifer pardalis) are native to tropical forest biome areas of Madagascar. Like other chameleon species, Panther Chameleons display a wide array of colors. Females are typically peach, pink or grey while the males have red, blue or green color patterns. Babies have a more neutral coloring until they reach reproductive maturity at several months old.

These fascinating reptiles are carnivorous and eat a variety of insects in the wild. Chameleons are stealthy hunters, using a sticky, mucus-covered tongue to strike their prey and pull it back into their mouths.

Male Panther Chameleons can grow up to 20 inches (51 cm) in length, with a typical length of around 17 inches (43 cm), and females are smaller, at about half that size.

Panther Chameleons can reach sexual maturity at around seven months old. When carrying eggs, females turn dark brown or black with an orange stripe to signify to males they have no intention of mating.

Females usually live two to three years after laying eggs (with a total of between five and eight clutches) because of the stress put on their bodies. Females can lay between 10 and 40 eggs per clutch, depending on the food and nutrient consumption during the period of development. Eggs typically hatch in 240 days.

Continue reading "Four ‘Fierce’ Panther Chameleons Hatch in Tennessee " »


Pack of Endangered Pups Emerge From Den

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Taronga Western Plains Zoo recently announced the arrival of eleven African Wild Dog pups!

The pups were born on August 25, 2016, and they are the second litter for breeding pair Kimanda (female) and Guban (male), who produced their first litter in late 2014.

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4_14753781_1209062335804312_2498235218252250916_oPhoto Credits: Taronga Western Plains Zoo

“The pups have recently emerged from the den and can be spotted out and about in the exhibit, especially in the mornings and at meal times,” said Keeper Genevieve Peel.

“African Wild Dogs can have up to 18 pups in a single litter, so it is not uncommon to see large litter sizes in this species. Kimanda is being a very attentive and nurturing mother. She will regurgitate food for the pups, and at this stage, they are still suckling. But this won’t be for much longer.”

The whole pack has been observed getting involved in the raising of the pups. The older siblings have been seen taking food to them as well as babysitting the newest members of the pack.

“The pups are getting really confident at coming up and participating in feeding time. It’s a great opportunity to see the pack rally and work together to devour their meal whilst caring for the pups’ needs,” Genevieve continued.

“The pups are now nine weeks old and continue to grow in confidence. From approximately 10 weeks old, they should be visible most of the time on exhibit.”

The African Wild Dog (Lycaon pictus), also known as ‘African hunting dog’ or ‘African painted dog’, is a canid native to Sub-Saharan Africa. It is the largest of its family in Africa, and the only extant member of the genus Lycaon.

The species is classed as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The current population has been estimated at roughly 39 subpopulations, containing 6,600 adults. The decline of these populations is ongoing, due to habitat fragmentation, human persecution, and disease outbreaks. They are considered to be the most endangered large carnivore in Africa.

The African Wild Dog is a highly social animal, living in packs with separate dominance hierarchies for males and females.

Like other canids, it regurgitates food for its young, but this action is also extended to adults. It has few natural predators, though Lions are a major source of mortality, and Spotted Hyenas are frequent kleptoparasites (theft of prey by another competing animal).