National Zoo Welcomes Western Lowland Gorilla

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For the first time in nine years, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute is celebrating the birth of a male Western Lowland Gorilla. The baby boy was born on April 15 and has been named Moke [Mo-KEY], which means “junior” or “little one” in the Lingala language.

The 15-year-old mother, Calaya, and 26-year-old father, Baraka, bred in summer 2017 following a recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan (SSP).

Keepers have observed Calaya nursing the clinging infant, and they are cautiously optimistic that the newborn will thrive. The Great Ape House is currently closed to provide Calaya a private space to bond with her infant.

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4_img_4503_15apr18_msPhoto Credits: Matt Spence/ Smithsonian’s National Zoo

Using a human pregnancy test in the Fall of 2017, keepers confirmed that Calaya had successfully conceived. The team also trained Calaya to participate voluntarily in ultrasounds, so they have been able to monitor fetal growth and development throughout the pregnancy. On November 3, the Zoo finally announced her pregnancy and has been providing updates via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #GorillaStory. The Zoo will continue to share updates, photos and videos of the infant’s development.

“The birth of this Western Lowland Gorilla is very special and significant, not only to our Zoo family but also to this critically endangered species as a whole,” said Meredith Bastian, curator of primates. “The primate team’s goal was to set Calaya up for success as best we could, given that she is a first-time mother. Doing so required great patience and dedication on the part of my team, and I am very proud of them and Calaya.”

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Ring-tailed Lemur Twins Venture Outdoors

Lemur Baby with rope 2018-Carla Knapp

With the slow arrival of spring in the Midwest, visitors to the Indianapolis Zoo had to wait a few weeks before meeting two Ring-tailed Lemurs born on March 14. But the twins finally went outdoors for the first time on a warm, sunny day late last week.

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Bree wBabies outside2 2018-Carla KnappPhoto Credit: Carla Knapp/Indianapolis Zoo

The babies were born to experienced mother Bree, who is attentive and nurturing with her newborns. The one-month-old twins are growing fast, and they have already transitioned from clinging to Bree’s belly to riding on her back.  They’ve begun to explore their surroundings, but never venture far from mom.

The babies’ genders are not yet known, so they have not been named. Twins are common in this species.

Ring-tailed Lemurs are native to the island of Madagascar, where they live in social groups of a dozen or more individuals. These primates feed, huddle, and sunbathe together.

The clearing of Madagascar’s forests for pasture and agricultural land has severely affected Ring-tailed Lemurs, which rely on trees for food and shelter. Recent studies estimate that only about 2,000 Ring-tailed Lemurs remain in the wild. The species is listed as Endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

See more photos of the twin Lemurs below.

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Baby Wallaby Grew Up In A Backpack

Newt the baby wallaby in the spring sunshine at Longleat  PIC Ian Turner (1500x1000)
A baby Wallaby which is being hand reared in a backpack after being found abandoned is delighting keepers at Longleat with his progress.

The baby, who has been nicknamed Newt, is thought to be around 30 weeks old. He has been adopted by keepers Gemma Short and Jodie Cobb, who carry Newt around in a substitute pouch made from a backpack.

Newt the baby wallaby being bottle fed at Longleat  PIC Ian Turner (1500x1000)
Newt the baby wallaby being bottle fed at Longleat  PIC Ian Turner (1500x1000)
Newt the baby wallaby being bottle fed at Longleat  PIC Ian Turner (1500x1000)Photo Credit: Longleat

The Red-necked Wallaby, who was rescued after being found abandoned during snowy weather, is thriving under the care of his keepers at this safari park in the United Kingdom.

“It appears that for some reason his mum let him out of her pouch during the cold weather but then refused to let him back in again,” said keeper Gemma.  “We kept him under closer observation but when it became clear she had abandoned him, we had to step in and hand rear him.”

“Initially we had to feed him every two hours, but now he feeds at four-hour intervals and he’s starting to take solids,” Gemma said.  “At first it felt a little strange to be carrying this backpack around but after a while you do get used to it. He’s a real character and is beginning to venture out on his own again and explore the outside world,” she added.

At birth, Newt weighed just 20 grams and was little larger than a baked bean. He crawled through his mother’s fur from the birth canal into the pouch where he began to suckle.

Volunteering to take over as surrogate mothers has been a real labor of love for the keepers - especially with feedings every four hours day and night.

Gemma and Jodie will have to keep up their role as adoptive parents for up to 18 months until the youngster is fully weaned and ready to return to the Wallaby colony.

Red-necked Wallabies, also known as Bennett’s Wallabies, are native to eastern Australia and the island of Tasmania.  As marsupials, their babies are born in a highly underdeveloped state and complete their growth inside the female’s pouch.  They feed on grasses and leaves during the night and rest during the day. Red-necked Wallabies are not under threat, and so are listed as a species of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

 


Lincoln Park Zoo’s New Exhibit Welcomes First Chick

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The first-ever endangered African Penguin chick has hatched at Lincoln Park Zoo’s new Robert and Mayari Pritzker Penguin Cove. After a 38-day incubation period, the chick emerged on February 10.

At a recent wellness exam, veterinary staff deemed the chick healthy. During the exam, veterinary staff also drew blood, which will be sent for lab analysis to determine the chick’s sex. Once that is revealed, keepers can decide on an appropriate name.

The chick is the offspring of mom, Robben, and dad, Preston. According to Hope B. McCormick Curator of Birds, Sunny Nelson, the first-time parents are proving to be naturals.

“Our keepers are constantly monitoring both the parents and the chick to ensure that the parents are meeting the chick’s needs as it reaches developmental milestones,” said Nelson. “Both Robben and Preston are performing parental duties as expected, sharing brooding and feeding responsibilities.”

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4_20180403_CB_penguin chick-13Photo Credits: Lincoln Park Zoo / Chris Bijalba (Image 1)

African Penguin chicks typically fledge around 70 to 80 days after hatching. The chick will retain its downy feathers until it molts into waterproof juvenile plumage. After one to two years, African Penguins molt into their iconic tuxedo-like adult plumage.

Animal Care staff plans to give the chick access to a behind-the-scenes pool to ensure that its feathers are waterproof before introducing the chick to the rest of the exhibit.

The chick’s parents were paired as a part of the African Penguin Species Survival Plan® (SSP), a collaborative population management effort among institutions within the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

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Adorable Asian Small-clawed Otter Duo Born

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Two adorable Asian Small-clawed Otter pups were born the middle of March at the Kansas City Zoo.

For now, the fluffy male and female pups will remain behind-the-scenes with their parents and big brother, Otis.

However, the Zoo is happy to share updates of the duo via social media. Keepers also organized a naming contest, allowing the public to select the tiny otters new names. And the winning names are…Conner and Clover.

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Kczoo-female-pupPhoto Credits: Kansas City Zoo

Although the Asian Small-clawed Otter (Aonyx cinerea syn. Amblonyx cinereus) is only listed as “Vulnerable” by the IUCN, the species is seriously threatened by rapid habitat destruction for palm oil farming and by hunting and pollution. They are considered an “indicator species,” meaning their population indicates the general health of their habitat and of other species.

The species is the smallest Otter in the world and lives in freshwater wetlands and mangrove swamps throughout Southeast Asia, including southern India and China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Borneo, and the Malay Peninsula. They prefer quiet pools and sluggish streams for fishing and swimming.

Unlike Sea Otters, they spend more time on land than in water, but they are skillful, agile swimmers and divers, with great endurance. They can stay submerged for six to eight minutes.

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Rare Goat Kids Born at Kansas City Zoo

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The Kansas City Zoo has four ‘new kids on the block’…goat kids, that is!

Four Arapawa Goats were born at the Zoo during the first week of April. Keepers have been able to determine there are at least one boy and one girl, and they will find out the sex of the other pair once a neonatal exam is performed.

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30261913_10155008363716377_7792542362667843584_oPhoto Credits: Kansas City Zoo

The Arapawa Goat is a New Zealand breed. They are medium-sized and of a non-aggressive temperament. The breed is also considered to be critically close to extinction.

According the American non-profit organization, The Livestock Conservancy: “The Arapawa goat is a breed of domestic goat whose ancestors arrived with European explorers or colonists in New Zealand, possibly as early as the 1600’s. The breed was originally only found on the rugged island of Arapawa, which is situated at the top of the South Island of New Zealand. The origin of the goat population on this island has often been associated with the expeditions of Captain James Cook. Historical records indicate that goats were released by Cook on the island in 1777. According to local lore the present goats are directly descended from those original goats brought by the British explorers. The goats are thought to be descended from 'Old English', a common goat breed in Britain in the 18th century. This breed is a likely candidate to have been brought by British colonists as it is an all-purpose family goat suitable to meet the challenges of founding new colonies.

In England, over time, the Old English goat slowly fell out of favor on small farms. The Old English breed eventually became extinct as more productive breeds became popular and the practice of keeping yard goats diminished towards the end of the 19th century. If New Zealand goat lore is true, then the Arapawa represents the last remaining examples of the Old English goat, and it has been conserved due to the relative isolation of the island. While the origins of the Arapawa goat will continue to challenge historians and biologists, phenotypical evidence and DNA evidence seem to support the hypothesis of the relationship to the Old English goat.

The Arapawa goat population thrived on the island without major threat for over 200 years, until the 1970s. At that time, the New Zealand Forest Service came to the conclusion that the goats were too damaging to the native forest and therefore had to be removed. In reaction to the news, Arapawa Island residents Betty and Walt Rowe stepped in with friends and volunteers and created a sanctuary in 1987. They began conservation work with 40 goats returned to domestication. It is largely through their efforts that the breed gained international attention and survives today. The Arapawa goat remains one of the rarest breeds. As of 2011 there are approximately 150-200 domesticated goats in the United States, and this is thought to represent about half of the global population. Dedicated breeders are also working with the breed in New Zealand and the United Kingdom…”


One Tiny Reindeer Born at Brookfield Zoo

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Bunny, a Reindeer at Brookfield Zoo, gave birth to a fawn on April 2 after a 7½-month gestation.  Within just a few minutes of the birth, the fawn was up and walking.

The fawn, Bunny’s second, weighed just over 12 pounds at birth but is expected to double her weight in just two weeks, thanks to the richness of her mother’s milk. She will soon graze on solid food but will continue to nurse from Bunny for about six months.

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DSC_0754Photo Credit: Jim Schultz/Chicago Zoological Society

Reindeer fawns are born with dark fur that absorbs radiant heat from the sun, which is important in the chilly northern regions where Reindeer live.  At about two to three months, fawns begin to shed their dark fur as lighter-colored fur grows in. At about one month of age, little antler buds begin to develop, followed by short spikes within the first year.

Reindeer differ from other Deer species because their noses are covered with fur and both sexes have antlers. The antlers are made of solid living bone and no two sets are alike. Antlers grow out of small bony platforms called pedicles and are covered with velvet, a soft tissue that supplies necessary nutrients. Males shed their antlers in November and December and females in January or February. Both genders begin growing a new set of antlers in early spring.

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Baby Bear Gets His First Exam

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A baby Spectacled Bear born at Tierpark Berlin “bears” a striking resemblance to Paddington Bear. That’s because the much-loved children’s book character was based on this species, which is native to the Andes Mountains of South America.

Born on December 26, the male cub underwent his first medical exam on March 27.  At the exam, the veterinary team confirmed his sex, implanted an ID chip, and gave the young Bear his first vaccinations. In just a few weeks, the cub – who is yet to be named – will join his mother Julia, age 20, and grandmother Puna, age 27, in the outdoor area of the Spectacled Bears’ habitat, where he is sure to win the hearts of Tierpark visitors.

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007_Tierpark_27Mrz18_FS2_0045Photo Credit: Tierpark Berlin

Zoo and Tierpark Director Dr. Andreas Knieriem is thrilled about the new arrival. “Welcoming new baby Bears is always a joyous occasion – especially when it means we are able to make a contribution to the survival of a threatened species,” he said.

Breeding of Spectacled Bears in Europe is managed by the European Endangered Species Programme for Spectacled Bears. The program acts as a kind of matchmaking service to pair males and females based on their genetic pedigree.  This strategic breeding maintains a healthy, sustainable, and genetically diverse population in zoos.

Spectacled Bears have lived at Tierpark Berlin since 1956, just one year after the park opened.  This is the seventh cub born to experienced mother Julia, but only the second cub sired by Carlos, age 21. It is the first Spectacled Bear born at Tierpark Berlin since 2013. A total of 17 Spectacled Bear cubs have grown up in the Tierpark. These Bears have contributed to safeguarding the global population of the threatened species by moving to new homes in countries as far away as Japan, Russia, and Argentina.

Spectacled Bears, also known as Andean Bears, live in the Andes Mountains, from Bolivia in the south to Venezuela in the north. The Bears live in a variety of habitats, from lowland rainforests to high-altitude grasslands at 15,000 feet above sea level.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature classifies the Spectacled Bear as Vulnerable. The main threat to their survival is loss and fragmentation of habitat, caused by deforestation and conversion of land for agricultural use. Spectacled Bears that wander onto fields in search of food – either crops or domestic animals – are often killed by their human rivals. Spectacled Bears are primarily herbivorous, occasionally adding protein to their diet by eating insects, rodents, and sometimes larger animals, such as domestic sheep.

 


Denver Zoo Celebrates the ‘Sunshine’ of Spring

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Denver Zoo is thrilled to announce their newest critically endangered Sumatran Orangutan.

The lovely female was born March 25 to mom, Nias, and dad, Berani. The new baby has been given the name, Cerah, which means “bright” in Indonesian and is often used to refer to sunshine.

Cerah arrived through a natural and uneventful birth, and keepers report both mom and baby are in good health. They are currently behind-the-scenes to give them time to rest and bond and allow the Zoo’s staff a chance to ensure Cerah is receiving proper care and nourishment from Nias.

Mom, Nias, is 29-years-old and arrived at Denver Zoo in 2005. Berani is 25-years-old and arrived in 2017. The two were paired together under recommendation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan® Program, which oversees the population management of select species within AZA member institutions and enhances conservation of those species in the wild. The coupling proved to be a fast success, as Nias and Berani met in July of 2017 and conceived Cerah less than a month later.

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4_Cerah_5Photo Credits: Denver Zoo

The Sumatran Orangutan (Pongo abelii) is one of the world’s most endangered great apes. It is among the many species being pushed to the brink of extinction in South East Asia by hunting, forest clearance and the planting of palm oil plantations, which are destroying vast areas of rainforest. There is intense demand for the oil, which features in all sorts of every day products, throughout the world, from food to cleaning materials and cosmetics.

The species currently has a classification of “Critically Endangered” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

According to the official report by the IUCN: “The most recent population estimate for the Sumatran Orangutan is 13,846 individuals, in a total area of 16,775 km² of forest (Wich et al. 2016). Excluding populations of fewer than 250 individuals (i.e., considering only populations that are potentially viable over the long term) leaves just 13,587 individuals. The vast majority (i.e., 95.0%) occur in the Leuser Ecosystem, while other populations are found in the Sidiangkat and Pakpak. The 2016 estimate is higher than the previous estimate of around 6,600 individuals remaining (Wich et al. 2008), as it takes into account three factors: a) orangutans were found in greater numbers at higher altitudes than previously supposed (i.e., up to 1,500 m asl not just to 1,000 m asl), b) they were found to be more widely distributed in selectively-logged forests than previously assumed, and c) orangutans were found in some previously unsurveyed forest patches. The new estimate does not, therefore, reflect a real increase in Sumatran Orangutan numbers. On the contrary, it reflects only much improved survey techniques and coverage, and hence more accurate data. It is extremely important to note, therefore, that overall numbers continue to decline dramatically.”

(More amazing pics, below the fold!)

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Rare ‘Forest Dragons’ Hatch at Chester Zoo

1_Rare baby forest dragons hatch at Chester Zoo. Pictured with zookeeper Nathan Wright (1) CROP

A clutch of rare baby ‘Forest Dragons’ have hatched at Chester Zoo.

The Bell’s Anglehead Lizard (Gonocephalus bellii), also known as the Borneo Forest Dragon, is found in parts of South East Asia. Reptile experts at Chester Zoo say very little is known about the mysterious reptile. Population estimates on the species have never been carried out; therefore, no one is aware of exactly how many exist in the wild or how threatened they might be.

However, the emergence of the four tiny lizards at the Zoo is helping reptile conservationists discover some of the secrets about how they live.

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5_Rare baby forest dragons hatch at Chester Zoo (1)Photo Credits: Chester Zoo (Image 1,2: "Reptile keeper Nathan Wright holds rare lizard at Chester Zoo / Image 5: Adult Bell's Anglehead Lizard)

Matt Cook, Lead Keeper of Reptiles at Chester Zoo, said, "The Bell’s Anglehead Lizard is an elusive a little-understood species. Reliable information about them is incredibly scarce, so much so that even to reptile experts they are somewhat of a mystery.”

“What we do know is that, as their name suggests, these ‘forest dragons’ live in forests in South East Asia. This is habitat which, across the region, is being completely decimated to make way for unsustainable palm oil plantations – a threat which is pushing all manner of species, big and small, to the very edge of existence.”

Matt continued, “Breeding these rare lizards at the Zoo allows us to increase our knowledge of the species. For example, we’ve already discovered that their incubation period is between 151 and 155 days; that they reach sexual maturity at around three-years-old and that the females deposit up to four eggs per clutch in a small burrow in deep soil.”

The recently hatched youngsters are currently being cared for in a special behind-the-scenes rearing facility at the Zoo, but visitors can see their parents in its Realm of the Red Ape habitat.

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