Nursery Dog Cares for Orphan Cheetah Cubs

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Five Cheetah cubs have been receiving critical care in the Cincinnati Zoo’s nursery since they were born on March 8. The cubs were born via C-section, to mom Willow, at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s Cheetah Breeding Facility.

Unfortunately, their mother has passed away. Zoo vets were hopeful that the five-year-old Cheetah would make a full recovery following surgery, but Willow remained lethargic and recently lost her appetite.

“Cheetahs are a fragile species and this difficult birth proved to be too much for her to pull through," said Thane Maynard, Director of the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. “Willow was able to contribute to the survival of her species by producing five Cheetah cubs. Without the C-section, we likely would have lost both the mom and the cubs.”

Nursery staff have been bottle-feeding the premature cubs every three hours and closely monitoring their weight. Australian Shepherd “Blakely,” the Zoo’s resident nursery companion and former nanny to several Zoo babies, has been called into action to provide snuggling, comfort and a body to climb.

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4_25645696440_e87706eaee_zPhoto Credits: Images 1,2 (Mark Dumont); Images 3,4 (DJJAM Photo); Image 5 (Cincinnati Zoo)

  

  

“They really turned a corner this weekend. They opened their eyes, had good appetites and, most importantly, they pooped!” said Head Nursery Keeper Dawn Strasser of the cubs. “It’s important to keep their digestive system moving. We’ve been massaging their bellies and giving them opportunities to exercise as much as possible.”

Blakely will have his paws full with this assignment. “His first job is to let the cubs climb on him, which they did as soon as they were put together. They need the exercise to build muscle tone and get their guts moving,” said Strasser, who supervises daily climbing sessions and other interactions with Blakely.

As the cubs grow, Blakely’s role in their development will shift from climbable companion and hairy warm body to teacher and role model. He taught his last student, a baby Takin named Dale, to jump up on rocks and to keep his head butts in the gentle range. Blakely’s first charge, a single Cheetah cub named Savanna, learned the difference between a playful bite and the start of a fight from Blakely.

The cubs (3 boys and 2 girls) will remain in the nursery for at least 8-12 weeks. After that, they will be hand-raised and trained to be Cheetah Ambassadors. Zoo visitors may be able to view the cubs through the nursery windows, but some feedings and exams will take place behind the scenes.

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Two Bonnie Baby Bentangs at Edinburgh Zoo

Banteng + Calf - Edinburgh Zoo - Wed 24 Feb 2016 (photographer - Andy Catlin www.andycatlin.com)
Two calves were born this spring to the Edinburgh Zoo’s herd of Banteng, an endangered species of wild Asian Cattle.

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Photo Credits: Andy Catlin (1), Maria Dorrian (2,4), Edinburgh Zoo (3, 5, 6, 7, 8)

The first calf was born on February 15 and is a male, and the second calf, a female, was born on March 11.  The two youngsters, who have not yet been named, can be seen with their family in the zoo’s outdoor paddock.  Keepers report that though the two calves will stay close to their mothers until they are six to nine months old, they often prance and jump with other members of the zoo’s herd.  Banteg are social animals that live in herds of up to 40 individuals.

The zoo is hopeful that the two Banteng calves will contribute to the conservation of this endangered species in the future. 

Banteng, also known as Tembadau, are a species of wild Cattle found in Southeast Asia that feed on grasses, bamboo, leaves, and fruits. Calves of both sexes are born with light brown coats. It is easy to distinguish between the sexes as they mature:  Males have a dark brown coat, while females are light brown with a dark strip down the back.

Listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Banteng are threatened by illegal hunting and habitat loss. In Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, this species faces local extinction. Interbreeding with domestic cattle has caused hybridization, thereby contaminating the gene pool and increasing the transmission of diseases with domestic cattle.

See more photos of the Bantengs below.

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There's a Joey Boom at Zoo Basel

Za_160317_15Pouches are packed in Zoo Basel’s Kangaroo yard this spring:  nearly all the females in the mob have babies!Za_160317_04

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Za_160317_24Photo Credit:  Zoo Basel

The youngsters are of varying ages, but they all have the same father, five-year-old Mitchel. No one knows the exact birthdates of the babies, which are called joeys.  That’s because Kangaroo babies are the size of jellybeans at birth, and they begin life by making a very dangerous journey – the blind babies, which have only front legs, crawl unassisted from the birth canal to their mother‘s pouch. The entire birth process takes only about five minutes.

Once inside the pouch, joeys latch onto a teat and begin drinking nutritious milk.  They remain in the pouch for several months as they develop, then gradually start exploring the world around them and eating solid food.

Most of Zoo Basel’s joeys were born last fall, and only recently started coming out of the pouch.  One little joey named Manilla lost her mother to illness recently, but luckily two of the nursing females will allow her to drink their milk.  Manilla is starting to eat solid food, but milk will be very important for her growth for another six months.  One of those females, Lamilla, has her own joey in the pouch, and it peeks out from time to time.

The zoo’s Kangaroo mob has ten adults and five young kangaroos, which were born in late 2014, plus the new joeys.

Kangaroos are marsupials.  Unlike placental mammals (such as humans), marsupials give birth to highly underdeveloped young which complete their development in the pouch.  Most of the world’s 320 marsupial species live in Australia.     

See more photos of the Kangaroo joeys below.

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The Kids Are Alright at Hellabrunn Zoo Munich

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There has been a baby boom at Hellabrunn Zoo Munich…seriously, we aren’t ‘kidding’! Four Girgentana Goat kids were born there in the last two months!

According to staff, all new offspring born at the Zoo in 2016 are being given names that start with the letter ‘Q’ (babies born in 2015 all started with ‘P’).

Quirin was born February 18 to his mom, Orchidee. Male, Quax, and his sister, Quidana, were born February 22 to mom Mildred. The newest ‘kid’ was born March 9 to Penelope, and he has been named Quentino. The father of all the young is a four-year-old, known by the Zoo as “Mr. Montgomery”.

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4_Girgentanaziegen-Nachwuchs_Hellabrunn_2016_D. Greenwood (4)Photo Credits: Tierpark Hellabrunn/D. Greenwood

The Girgentana is a breed of domestic goat (Capra aegagrus hircus) indigenous to the province of Agrigento, in the southern part of the Mediterranean island of Sicily. The name of the breed derives from Girgenti, the name of Agrigento in local Sicilian language. There were in the past more than 30,000 head in the hills and coastal zone of the province. Today, however, this breed is in danger of disappearance. According to Hellabrunn Zoo Munich, there are only about 400 left.

The Girgentana Goat has characteristic horns, twisted into a spiral. It has a long beard and a primarily white coat with grey-brown hair around the head and throat. It is known for the production of high-quality milk.

The Girgentana is one of the eight autochthonous Italian goat breeds, for which a genealogical herdbook is kept by the Associazione Nazionale della Pastorizia (the Italian national association of sheep-breeders).

It was formerly numerous in the province of Agrigento, where there were more than 30,000 in the coastal area and the hilly hinterland. It has since fallen rapidly, to the point that measures for its protection may be needed. At the end of 1993 the population was estimated at 524. In 2007, the conservation status of the breed was listed as "Endangered" by the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations). At the end of 2013 the registered population was 390.

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Pueblo Zoo Has Their Hands Full of Cuteness

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The Pueblo Zoo is excited to share news of the birth of two North American River Otters. The pups were born to mom Freyja on March 8.

This is the second litter for Freyja, and the newest arrivals will stay with their mom, in the nest box, for at least eight weeks.

Freyja will have her hands full for the next few months. The pups will need to master their swimming skills before they can be visible to the public in the Zoo’s Otter Exhibit.

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The North American River Otter (Lontra canadensis) is native to much of Canada and the United States (except for portions of the Southwest), and in Mexico-- in the Rio Grande and Colorado River delta areas.

They can thrive in any water habitat---as long as the habitat provides adequate food: ponds, marshes, lakes, rivers, estuaries and marshes (cold, warm or even high elevation).

They have thick, protective fur to help them keep warm while swimming in cold waters. They have short legs, webbed feet for faster swimming, and a long, narrow body and flattened head for streamlined movement in the water. A long, strong tail helps propels them through the water.

The River Otter can stay underwater for as much as eight minutes. They have long whiskers, which they use to detect prey in dark or cloudy water and clawed feet for grasping onto slippery prey. They are very flexible and can make sharp, sudden turns that help them catch fish. Their fur is dark brown over much of the body, and lighter brown on the belly and face. On land they can run at speeds of up to 15 miles per hour.

Their diet consists of a variety of aquatic wildlife: fish, crayfish, crabs, frogs, birds’ eggs, birds and other reptiles such as turtles. They have also been known to eat aquatic plants and to prey on other small mammals, such as muskrats or rabbits. They are known to have a very high metabolism and need to eat frequently.

In the wild, River Otters breed in late winter or early spring and generally give birth to one to three pups. The young are blind and helpless when born and first learn to swim after about two months. River Otters generally live alone or in small social groups.

The North American River Otter is currently classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. However, habitat degradation and pollution are major threats to their conservation. They are said to be highly sensitive to pollution, and the species is often used as a bio indicator because of its position at the top of the food chain in aquatic ecosystems.


Orphaned Possum Brothers Find New Mother

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Two orphaned Ringtail Possums have found a surrogate mum at Taronga Zoo.

Taronga staffer, Di Scott, is providing round-the-clock care to the twin brothers, carrying a makeshift pouch and waking at 3am to feed and toilet the joeys.

The four-month-old Possums, nicknamed ‘Ernie’ and ‘Bert’, arrived at Taronga Wildlife Hospital with their mother last week. Their mother was left paralyzed after a suspected collision with a car at Northbridge and sadly didn’t survive.

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4_Possum Twins (2)Photo Credits: Taronga Zoo

 

The twins were losing weight rapidly on arrival but have since made a remarkable recovery in Di’s care.

“It was really hard to tell them apart when they arrived, so the hospital staff put a spot of nail polish on one their toes to help with identification,” said Di.

“They’ve actually got quite distinct little personalities. Ernie is bouncy and boisterous, while Bert is quiet and shy in comparison.”

The Possums are learning to lap a special milk mixture from a dish and starting to nibble on solid foods, such as leaves and native flowers.

“I can hear them munching away on the flowers in the middle of the night. Their favorite is bottlebrush and they fight over the same part of the flower-- like true brothers,” said Di.

The twins will remain in Di’s care until they are ready to feed themselves. They’ll then stay at Taronga Wildlife Hospital until they are old enough to begin a soft release program, where they’ll be transferred to a specialized wildlife carer and ultimately released back into the wild.

Di said the Possums’ story should serve as a reminder to watch out for wildlife on the road, as native animals are often hit by cars.

Taronga Wildlife Hospital cares for and treats about 1,000 injured or orphaned native animals every year, including Wombats, Wallabies, Possums, Echidnas, birds and Sea Turtles.

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Cotswold Wildlife Park Breeds Mossy Frogs

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Meet the ultimate camouflage artist --- a brand new species to Cotswold Wildlife Park, the Vietnamese Mossy Frog (Theloderma corticale).

Reptile keepers are thrilled with the first successful breeding of this species at Cotswold Wildlife Park. Eight Mossy Froglets are currently under the watchful eye of the dedicated Reptile Team, along with several tadpoles yet to metamorphosise. At this delicate stage of their development, the froglets remain off-show in the Reptile Incubation Room. Visitors will be able to see the new species later this year. Updates will be posted on the Park’s Facebook and Twitter pages: (www.facebook.com/cotswoldwildlifepark and @CotsWildTweets).

Curator of Cotswold Wildlife Park, Jamie Craig, commented, “We treat the rearing of any amphibian to adulthood as a success. The metamorphosing stages can be very tricky and we are delighted to have had repeatable successes with our Mossy Frogs. They are growing well and we hope to create a new display for them in the near future.”

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In scientific terms, these remarkable amphibians are a relatively recent discovery. Their first recorded sighting was in 1903, originating from the steep mountain slopes of Northern Vietnam. Due to their remote location, they have been out of reach for scientists and researchers for decades, and very little is known about this species in the wild. They are currently protected by the Vietnamese government.

Their camouflage has been described as one of the best in the amphibian world. Rough, bumpy skin, combined with complex green and black coloring, makes them almost indistinguishable from a lump of moss or lichen, enabling these tiny frogs to blend in perfectly with their surroundings and avoid detection by predators. When frightened, they curl into a ball and remain motionless, mimicking death to avoid further harm.

In the wild, this species breeds by larval development in rock cavities containing water and also in tree holes. It takes approximately one year for a tadpole to become a fully developed adult. Researchers have discovered that Mossy Frog tadpoles can exist in water for months without developing, but they metamorphose into froglets within days when the water dries up.

Frogs have appeared in legend and folklore in many cultures throughout history. Chinese legends involving frogs date back to 4 B.C. - 57 A.D. Special temples were built specifically for frogs. In these temples, live frogs were encouraged to stay with offerings of food and water. When the amphibians wandered away from their appointed homes, they would be brought back to the temple accompanied by drums and music. In ancient Egypt, carvings and religious statues were made in the image of frogs. Archaeologists have also discovered embalmed frogs in some Egyptian burial sites.

In the wild, the Mossy Frog’s population numbers are under threat from habitat destruction and demand by the global pet trade, and they are also known as the Tonkin Bug-eyed Frog.

Check out the great photos of Mossy Frog adults--below the fold!

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National Zoo’s Fennec Fox Kits Have Names

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The Smithsonian's National Zoo welcomed two Fennec Fox kits to their Small Mammal House February 4! The male and female were born to seven-year old mother Daisy and two-year-old father Charlie.

At her previous Zoo, Daisy had little success raising her own babies. Because of her valued genetics, the National Zoo received the recommendation, from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Species Survival Plan, to breed Daisy with Charlie.

Prior to Daisy's pregnancy, Small Mammal House keepers teamed up with Zoo veterinarians and nutritionists to create a kit care plan. National Zoo staff anticipated having to hand-rear any new kits born to Daisy, so they began work on a nursery in the Small Mammal House. As soon as the babies were born, they were removed them from the exhibit and placed in the incubator to regulate and monitor their body temperature.

The National Zoo’s nutrition team developed a formula made of Esbilac (puppy milk replacer) and KMR (kitten milk replacer) to simulate the composition of a fox mother's milk. Initially, the kits were fed every two hours for their first ten days. As the kits grew stronger, feedings were reduced to every two hours (beginning at 6 a.m. and ending at midnight).

The six-week-old Fennec Fox kits now have names! The male has been dubbed Teddy (short for Theodore) and the female has been named Hokees (“my love” in Armenian). The kits are now transitioning to solid foods, including beef, vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potato, carrot, corn, beans, squash), fruits (apple, banana), wax worms, and kibble. Little Hokees appears to enjoy the addition of veggies to her diet.

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Fans of the Fennec Fox siblings can keep up-to-date on their progress via the National Zoo's social media and web pages.

The Fennec Fox is a small nocturnal fox that is native to the Sahara of North Africa. It is the smallest species of canid in the world. Their coat, ears, and kidney functions have adapted to high-temperature, low-water, and desert environments.

The large ears are indeed indicative of heightened auditory abilities. Its hearing is sensitive enough to hear prey moving underground. The Fennec Fox eats mainly insects, small mammals and birds.

Fennec Foxes mate for life, with each pair, or family, controlling their own territory. The species usually breed only once each year. Following mating, the male is known to become very aggressive and protective of the female, providing her with food during her pregnancy and lactation periods. Gestation usually lasts between 50 to 52 days. The typical litter is between one and four kits, with weaning taking place at around 70 days. When born, the kit’s ears are folded over and its eyes are closed. The eyes open at around ten days old, and the ears lift soon afterwards. The captive lifespan of a Fennec Fox has been recorded at up to 14 years.

The Fennec Fox is classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List. Their fur is prized by the indigenous peoples of North Africa, and in many parts of the world, the animal is considered an exotic pet.

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Two Cute: Clouded Leopard Cubs Born in Tampa

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Two rare Clouded Leopard cubs born February 29 are stable after their mother stopped caring for them at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo.

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Clouded leopard female cub feeding 1 mar 6 2016Photo Credit:  Dave Parkinson/Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo

 

Malee, the cubs’ mother, initially nursed them but after about 24 hours she stopped caring for her cubs.  Keepers decided to hand-rear the cubs to ensure their survival.

The cubs, a male and a female, receive around-the-clock care in the zoo’s veterinary hospital and nurse from a bottle five times a day.  They are the first set of multiples for Malee and her mate Yim, whose first offspring Mowgli was born in 2015. Over the next several weeks, the cubs will open their eyes, develop teeth, and begin to move on their own.   

Though parent-rearing is often best for zoo-dwelling animals, Clouded Leopards are routinely hand-reared for increased chances of survival. Hand-rearing also improves socialization for early introductions to potential mates and reduces fatal attacks by aggressive adults.

“Increasingly zoos are the last hope for many species due to the loss of habitat and political instability in range countries. The birth of these cubs is an example of the collective efforts to manage this species within North American zoos to ensure their survival,” said Dr. Larry Killmar, Chief Zoological Officer, Senior Vice President, and Zoo Director. 

See more photos of the cubs below.

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A Polar Bear Cub's Favorite Things

12803096_10153473306087106_5047792844480017729_nWhat do a traffic cone, a swimming pool, and a boomer ball have in common?  They’re favorite toys of Nora, a playful Polar Bear cub at the Columbus Zoo.

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12792275_10153473306197106_2442624859636011837_oPhoto Credit:  Columbus Zoo

As reported by ZooBorns, Nora was ignored by her mother just days after her November 6 birth.  Raising a Polar Bear cub is no small task, but the zoo staff decided to hand-rear the tiny cub.  Weighing just 1.5 pounds when keepers took her in, Nora now weighs 29 pounds and has started eating meat in addition to her soft food diet. 

Nora’s care team reports that she loves to play with the above mentioned toys and has a very independent nature.   They are pleased with how she is developing so far.

Wild Polar Bears are under threat due to melting sea ice in their Arctic habitat and other threats.  Because Polar Bears use ice floes as platforms for hunting Seals, the disappearing ice forces Polar Bears to swim longer distances in search of food.  As the sea ice melts earlier in the spring, Polar Bears are forced to the mainland before they have built up sufficient food reserves to survive the fall, when food is scarce.   

About 20,000-30,000 Polar Bears remain in the Arctic.  They are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.