Ducklings Stand Beak to Beak Against Extinction

White Winged Ducklings-1 (2)With fewer than 250 remaining in the wild, hopes are high that a pair of rare white-winged ducks hatched at the Chester Zoo can boost this endangered species.

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White Winged Ducklings-17Photo Credit:  Chester Zoo

The duo can be seen swimming in their exhibit pond, but zoo staff are keeping a close watch on the ducklings. Curator of Birds Andrew Owen said, “Our two new white-winged ducklings are very important birds given that their numbers are extremely low in the wild. Our dedicated bird team will be keeping a very close eye on them to make sure they make it through to adulthood."

White-winged ducks are on the brink of extinction, with their wetland and forest habitats significantly destroyed by human activity.  Only a few populations remain along riverbanks in India and Indonesia.  In some locations, such as Java, Thailand, and Malaysia, white-winged ducks have not been seen for many years.  They are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Chester Zoo participates in the European breeding program, which builds an insurance population in zoos should the wild population be lost completely.  In addition, zoos are working in Southeast Asia to preserve habitats, which will benefit this and many other species.


Herd Trumpets Baby Elephant's Arrival

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A baby Asian Elephant arrived to the sound of a trumpeting herd on June 16 at Planckendael in Belgium.

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Baby-olifant-qiyo-planckendael-jonas-verhulst5Photo Credit:  Jonas Verhulst

 

Mom Phyo Phyo delivered her female calf, named Qiyo, surrounded by her five female herdmates and offspring in a special sand-floored stable in the zoo’s Elephant barn.  This scenario mimics the way Elephants deliver their calves in the wild.

In the video below, you can hear loud trumpeting as the calf falls to the ground amid the birth fluids. Her arrival causes quite a stir as the other Elephants reach out to touch the newborn with their trunks.

Phyo Phyo had a normal 22-month-long pregnancy, and her experience rearing four other calves is a huge advantage for the new baby.  Within just 15 minutes, Qiyo stood on her shaky legs, and just a half hour later, she was nursing.  Zoo keepers estimate Qiyo’s birth weight at about 190 pounds.

Phyo Phyo is an excellent mother and protects Qiyo from the zoo’s two playful and curious juvenile Elephants, Kai-Mook and May Tagu. By having the other female Elephants present at the birth, their chances of successfully caring for their own future babies is greatly increased.

Qiyo’s father, Chang, was not present for the birth, which is just as it would be in nature.  Chang is a gentle Elephant and the zoo staff expects to introduce him to Qiyo very soon.

Asian Elephants are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  They survive in small fragments of forest scattered across southeast Asia.  

See more photos and video of the baby Elephant below.

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Zoo Basel Announces New Addition to Gorilla Troop

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It has been ten years since Zoo Basel has been able to share news of a Western Lowland Gorilla birth, but the day is finally here. On May 19, gorilla mom, Joas, and father, M’Tonge, welcomed their newborn at the Swiss zoo.

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4_gorilla_joas_direkt_nach_geburt_ZO26631Photo Credits: Zoo Basel

The newest addition to Zoo Basel’s gorilla group has caused plenty of excitement among the other members. The baby is doing well, and mom, Joas, is content to bond with and care for her newborn.

The newborn was welcomed, not only, by his 26 year-old mother and 16 year- old dad, but also the rest of the gorilla troop: Faddama, Quarta, Zungu, and Goma.

Gorillas are ground dwelling, predominately herbivorous apes that are native to the forests of central Africa.

Gorillas live in groups called troops. Troops tend to be made of one adult male (or silverback) and multiple adult females and their offspring. A silverback is typically a male that is more than 12 years of age.

Females mature at 10-12 years (earlier in captivity) and males at 11-13 years. Female Gorillas mate and give birth in, typically, four-year intervals. Gestation lasts about 8.5 months. Infants are entirely dependent on their mothers. Male Gorillas are not active in caring for the young, but they do play a role in socializing them to other youngsters and work to shield them from aggression within the group. Infants suckle at least once per hour and sleep with their mothers in the same nest.

Infants begin to break contact with their mothers after five months but only for brief periods of time. By 12 months, infants move up to 16 feet from their mothers. At around 18-21 months, the distance between mother and offspring increases and they regularly spend time away from each other. They enter their juvenile period at their third year, and by the sixth year, they begin to sleep in a separate nest from mother.

The Western Gorilla, and its subspecies, is classified as “Critically Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The Mountain Gorilla is also listed as “Critically Endangered”, while the Eastern Gorilla is currently classified as “Endangered”.

Major threats to gorilla survival include habitat destruction and poaching for bushmeat trade. It is also believed that several thousand gorillas, in the Republic of Congo, died from Ebola during the outbreak in 2004.

More pics, below the fold!

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Black-Necked Swan Cygnets Hatch at Zoo Zurich

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Black-Necked Swan cygnets have hatched at Zoo Zurich. The grey offspring can be seen following their graceful parents in the water or riding, stylishly, on their backs. 

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4_10333657_979323328785639_3986113645097048609_o (1)Photo Credits: Peter Bolliger / Zoo Zurich

The Black-Necked Swan is native to South America. They are found in freshwater marshes, lagoons, and lake shores in southern South America. They breed in the Chilean Southern Zone, Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego, and on the Falkland Islands. In the austral winter, they migrate northwards to Paraguay and southern Brazil.

Adults average 40 to 49 inches (102 to 124 cm) and weight 7.7 to 14.8 lbs (3.5 to 6.7 kg). The wingspan ranges from 53 to 70 inches (135 to 177 cm). The body plumage is white with a black neck and head, and the bill is grey. The Black-Necked Swan has a red knob near the base of the bill and a white stripe behind the eye. The sexes are similar, with the female being slightly smaller. The cygnets are covered in light grey plumage, and they have a black bill and feet. They will develop the characteristic black neck in their second year.

The Black-Necked Swan is the smallest member of the genus: Cygnus. Its nearest relatives are the Black and Mute Swan, and like their relations, they are mostly silent.

Swans reach sexual maturity between 4 and 7 years of age. However, they can form socially monogamous pair bonds from as early as 20 months of age. These bonds last for many years, and in some cases, they can last for life. The female lays four to six eggs in a mounded nest of vegetation. Both Black-Necked parents regularly carry their cygnets on their backs. Their diet consists of vegetation, insects, and fish spawn.

The Black-Necked Swan is currently listed as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

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Rare Armadillo Born at Longleat

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A rare Southern Three-Banded Armadillo has been born at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park, in the UK. Born at the end of April, Charlie, as he has been nicknamed by keepers, is only the second armadillo to be successfully reared at the Wiltshire park.

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3_Baby three banded  armadillo and its mum at Longleat PIC Ian TurnerPhoto Credits: Ian Turner

Keeper Emily Randall said, “Charlie is doing really well and putting on lots of weight. When he was born he was about the size of a golf ball, and although his armour was very soft, his claws weren’t!”

Emily continued, “The Three-Banded is one of only two species of armadillo that can roll into a defensive ball, in fact it is known as the ‘ball armadillo’ in Brazil. The ears can be fully tucked into the shell, and the head and tail interlock to make an incredibly strong seal. In captivity they can be expected to live for up to 20 years.”

“Charlie’s mum, Hattie and dad, Knobbly, who is 14, have been living here at Longleat since 2012. We’re really proud of Hattie and Knobbly and the rest of the armadillo family we have had here at Longleat. Charlie will now be the third generation of the same family who has been born in the park.”

The armadillo’s diet mainly consists of ants and termites. When it detects prey, it digs a hole and puts its nose into it, using its long, sticky tongue to lap up any insects.

The defense system of the Southern Three-Banded Armadillo is so effective it’s safe from the majority of predators. Adult pumas and jaguars are the only South American mammals powerful enough to be a natural threat. However, the main danger to the species is the destruction of its natural habitat to graze livestock.

The species has suffered a 30% decline in population, in the last 10 years, in its native South America. It has been classified as “Near Threatened” on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List of Threatened Species.


Golden Jackal Pups Emerge at NaturZoo Rheine

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Two Golden Jackal pups recently emerged from their mother’s den, at NaturZoo Rheine. Until their recent venture out into the exhibit, keepers were unsure how many pups were safely tucked in the burrow. 

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The Golden Jackal (also known as Common Jackal, Asiatic Jackal, or Reed Wolf) is a canid native to north and northeastern Africa, southeastern and central Europe, Asia Minor, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia.

Although similar to a small grey wolf, the Golden Jackal is distinguished by a lighter tread, a more slender build, a sharper muzzle and a short tail. Its winter fur also differs from the wolfs by its more fulvous-reddish color.

Golden Jackals are known to mate for life, and they will reproduce for about eight years. Young jackals are born in a den. Each litter can contain up to nine pups, but two to four are the average number. The pups are nursed for about 8 weeks and then begin weaning by eating regurgitated food. They begin to eat solid food at three months and are sexually mature at eleven months. The Golden Jackal is not a pack animal.

The Golden Jackal is classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It is fairly common throughout their range, with high densities observed in areas with abundant food and cover. A minimum population estimate of over 80,000 is estimated for the Indian sub-continent. Due to their tolerance of dry habitats and their omnivorous diet, the Golden Jackal can live in a wide variety of habitats. They are opportunistic and will venture into human habitation at night to feed on garbage.

More adorable pics, below the fold!

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First Koala Joey of the Season at Taronga Zoo

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Taronga Zoo is celebrating the arrival of its first Koala joey for this year’s breeding season, with a tiny face starting to emerge from its mother’s pouch. The female joey has been spotted mouthing its first eucalyptus leaves and slowly exploring the world outside the pouch, to the delight of keepers and visitors.

“She’s still quite shy, but we’re beginning to see her little face more and more,” said Koala Keeper, Laura Jones. 

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4_Wanda's Joey_Photo by Paul Fahy (18)Photo Credits: Paul Fahy/Taronga Zoo

Part of Taronga’s Koala breeding program, the yet-to-be-named joey is the third for experienced mother, Wanda. “Wanda is a very relaxed and attentive mum. She keeps her little one nice and close at all times and I’ve never seen her complain when the joey is scratching around with its claws inside her pouch,” said Laura.

At six months old, the joey will continue to gain weight and the fluffy fur for which Koalas are known. She will spend, at least, another four months with her mother before venturing out on her own. “It won’t be long before she can’t fit back inside the pouch. At that point she’ll start to cuddle up with mum, only putting her head back inside the pouch to drink,” said Laura.

Tour groups have begun meeting Wanda and her joey at Taronga’s Koala Encounter, where they learn more about one of Australia’s most iconic species and how they are under threat from urban development and forestry breaking up their natural habitat.

Laura said it was important for people to watch out for Koalas on the roads at this time of year, particularly at dawn and dusk. “The quality of food declines during winter, so potentially you’ll see Koalas ranging further and closer to high-density areas to find leaves,” she said.

The Koala is currently classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. However, in 2012, the Australian government listed Koala populations in Queensland and New South Wales as “Vulnerable”, due to a 40% population decline in Queensland and a 33% decline in New South Wales. Populations in Victoria and South Australia appear to be abundant; however, the Australian Koala Foundation argues that the exclusion of Victorian populations from protective measures is based on a misconception that the total Koala population is 200,000, whereas they believe it is probably less than 100,000.

More great pics, below the fold!

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Baby Giraffe Tries Out His New (Very Long) Legs

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At just five days old, Sanyu the Giraffe calf is already walking -and sometimes running - tall with the rest of the herd at the United Kingdom’s Chester Zoo

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GiraffePaddock-29Photo Credit:  Chester Zoo
 
The five-foot-tall  youngster – a rare Rothschild’s Giraffe – took his very first steps in the sunshine after being born on June 7. He is the second calf to be born at the zoo in just six months. Sanyu, whose name means “happiness” in Swahili, is the first male to be born at the zoo in recent years, with the previous four calves before him being female. 

“Sanyu has had a busy week getting used to his long legs, learning about his surroundings and settling in with the rest of the herd. He’s doing really well so far under the watchful guidance of his mum Dagmar,” said Giraffe team manager Sarah Roffe. 

Also known as Baringo or Ugandan Giraffes, this subspecies can be identified by the broader white lines dividing its spots and the lack of spots below the knees.

There are fewer Rothschild’s Giraffes left in the wild than either African Elephants or Giant Pandas.  Rothschild’s Giraffes were listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature in 2010 after estimates suggested less than 1,100 are left in the wild – making them one of the world’s most endangered Giraffe subspecies.  Once wide-ranging across Kenya, Uganda, and Sudan, Rothschild’s Giraffes have been almost totally eliminated from much of their former range and now survive in only a few small, isolated populations in Kenya and Uganda.

See more photos of Sanyu below.

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Tiny Primate Has a Really Tiny Baby at Columbus Zoo

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A very tiny primate at the Columbus Zoo had a very tiny baby on June 9!  Pygmy Slow Lorises weigh only one pound as adults, and their babies weigh only a few ounces but are born fully-developed and with eyes wide open.

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11428237_10152971562502106_5357639955651629422_oPhoto Credit:  Columbus Zoo

First-time parents Gouda and Muenster were paired through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan.  The baby’s gender is not yet known, but it is already climbing with mom Gouda in the zoo’s nocturnal house. 

These little Lorises are not monkeys, but belong to a group of primates called prosimians.  Prosimians include Lemurs, Lorises, Aye-ayes, and Tarsiers.  Slow Lorises produce a toxin from scent glands on their elbows.  When alarmed, they lick the scent glands so the toxin becomes mixed with their saliva, rendering bite from these animals dangerous.

During the day, Pygmy Slow Lorises sleep curled up in the treetops. At night, they emerge to forage for leaves, fruits, and insects.

Pygmy Slow Lorises are native to southeast Asia, including Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. Their habitat was devastated during the Vietnam War, and they are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  


Rare Litter of Cheetahs Born at Allwetterzoo Münster

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Allwetterzoo Münster’s resident Cheetah, Namoja, gave birth to a remarkable litter of seven cubs on April 28. Affectionately known by zoo staff as “The Magnificent Seven” and the “Seven Dwarfs”, Namoja’s large litter is somewhat rare. Cheetahs typically give birth to three to five cubs. 

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This is the second litter for Namoja and her mate, Jabari. Their first group of offspring was a litter of five male cubs, and all of the boys are now at home in other zoos, throughout Europe, as part of the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP).  Since the 1970s, Alwetterzoo has welcomed forty Cheetah births.

The Cheetah is a large member of the family Felidae and is native to Africa and parts of Iran. It is the only extant member of the genus Acinonyx. Aside from its distinctive coat pattern, the Cheetah is well known for its athletic prowess. It can run faster than any other land animal and has been clocked at speeds of 68 to 75 mph (110 to 120 km/h). The Cheetah also has the ability to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph (96 km/h) in three seconds.

Female Cheetahs reach sexual maturity in twenty to twenty-four months. Males reach maturity at around twelve months, but they do not usually mate until at least three years old. Females are not monogamous and are known to have cubs with many different mates.

Litters, of up to nine cubs, result after a gestation period of ninety to ninety-eight days, although the average litter size is four. Cubs are born with a downy underlying fur on their necks, called a mantle, extending to mid-back. The mantle gives them a mane or Mohawk-type appearance, but this fur is shed as the Cheetah matures.

Females are solitary, except when raising cubs, and tend to avoid each other, though some mother/daughter pairs have been known to remain together for small periods of time. When cubs reach about 18 months of age, the mother leaves them, and they form a sibling group that will stay together for another six months. At about two years, the female siblings leave the group, and the young males remain together for life. Life span, in the wild, is up to twelve years, and they have lived up to twenty years, in captivity.

The Cheetah is classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. They face various threats, in the wild, including: loss of habitat and prey, conflict with humans, illegal pet trade, competition with/predation by other carnivores, and a gene pool with low variability.

More pics, below the fold!

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