Red Panda Brothers Debut at Philadelphia Zoo

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The Philadelphia Zoo’s two new adorable Red Panda cubs recently made their public debut.

Brothers, Yeren and Ping Jing, were born to mom, Spark, and dad, Khumbie, in June. This is the second successful Red Panda litter at Philadelphia Zoo. Twins, Benjamin and Betsey, were born in June of 2015.

Spark is a wonderful mom and is doing a great job caring for her new babies, and the Zoo says all are doing very well.

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3_RedPanda_CubPingjing_5622Photo Credits: Philadelphia Zoo

The birth of this litter is important, as Red Pandas are classified as “Endangered” by the IUCN. The main threats to the species in the wild are habitat destruction, poaching and climate change.

Known for their cinnamon colored fur and bushy, ringed-tail, the Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens) is native to the mountains of Central China, Nepal and northern Myanmar (Burma).

Yeren and Ping Jing are now on exhibit with their mom Spark each day at Philadelphia Zoo.


Newborn Lemur Is a First for Altina Wildlife Park

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Staff members at Altina Wildlife Park are very excited to announce their very first baby Ring-tailed Lemur!

Altina Wildlife Park, in NSW, Australia, is one of the few privately own zoos to exhibit this remarkable endangered species and is proud to be a member of the Australasian breeding program.

In December 2015, Altina acquired two females, Allina and Ipollo. Both girls settled in immediately, and in July 2016, Stan (referred to as the park’s very own “King Julian”) arrived from Australia Zoo.

In early 2017, Ipollo left the Altina family for Hunter Valley Zoo to start her very own family. It wasn’t long before Stan and Allina became quite the couple!

Staff isn’t yet sure if the newborn is male or female, but first time mum, Allina, and her baby are said to be doing extremely well.

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3_Ring-tailed Lemur Altina WP DP 1Photo Credits: Vince Bucello /Altina Wildlife Park

 

The Ring-tailed Lemur (Lemur catta) is a large strepsirrhine primate and the most recognized Lemur due to its long, black and white ringed tail. It belongs to the family Lemuridae, and is the only member of the Lemur genus. Like all Lemurs, it is endemic to the island of Madagascar.

Despite reproducing readily in captivity, and being the most populous Lemur in zoos worldwide, numbering more than 2,000 individuals, the Ring-tailed Lemur is currently listed as “Endangered” by the IUCN Red List due to habitat destruction and hunting for bush meat and the exotic pet trade. As of early 2017, the population in the wild is believed to have dropped as low as 2,000 individuals due to habitat loss, poaching, and hunting.


Zoo Basel’s New Chimp May Help Researchers

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A baby Chimpanzee, born on September 27, is seeing the beginnings of collaboration between the University of Neuchâtel and Zoo Basel, researching how apes communicate and learn.

The little Chimpanzee, named Obaye, was born at Zoo Basel and is the son of 24-year-old Kitoko. He is the youngest offshoot of the Zoo’s twelve-strong group of Chimpanzees. At the moment, he is still too small to take part in the study, but Obaye will have an opportunity to participate in the future. Hopefully, the young male will provide valuable information for the researchers.

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4_schimpanse_kitoko_obaye_fifi_ZO57048Photo Credits: Zoo Basel

A group of researchers from the University of Neuchâtel (led by Prof. Klaus Zuberbühler) is interested in how apes absorb and process information and how they solve problems. Scientists call this cognitive research.

The study is conducted by observing how the Chimps approach different situations. A screen is installed in their enclosure and tasks appear on the screen (example: the Chimpanzee must identify a tree from among other objects). If they tap the right solution on the touch screen, they automatically receive a small reward. The next step tests whether their ability to identify the image changes if it is accompanied by a sound recording. The researchers gradually set increasingly complex tasks, and their long-term objective is to study how apes communicate and how this affects learning and memory.

However, to help the Chimpanzees learn how to work the screen, the first task is a simple one: the screen lights up green and the Chimpanzee touches it for a reward.

The Chimpanzees have access to the screen for two hours every working day, and then they have the weekends ‘free’, although this is more to do with the researchers’ workload than that of the Chimpanzees. All members of the group who enjoy completing the task are able to do so, whilst those who are not interested can simply ignore the screen. Whilst some of Zoo Basel’s Chimpanzees eagerly collected their rewards, twelve-year-old Colebe was only interested in completing the tasks and chose to leave the food rewards behind. Newborn Obaye’s mother, Kitoko, has not shown any interest in the screen, as she is currently busy with her little one.

The Gorilla and Orangutan enclosures at Zoo Basel will also soon be fitted with screens to allow a comparison of cognitive abilities in the three primate species. The researchers have been trained by Basel’s zoo keepers to allow them to work near the apes, and they are also helping with everyday animal care: it is not just the apes but also the zoo keepers who are being set new tasks as a result of the university collaboration, so assistance with everyday work is welcome.

The collaboration with the University of Neuchâtel is still in its infancy, but the project is designed to last for several years and should help to study the cognitive abilities of the apes.

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Rowdy Rhino Calf Joins 'Crash' at Cotswold

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Cotswold Wildlife Park is celebrating the birth of a White Rhino calf. The newborn male, named Alan, is the newest additions to the UK park’s “crash” (collective noun for a group of Rhinos) at their Burford collection.

It’s been a remarkable few years for the Rhino family at Cotswold. After almost forty years of hoping the Rhinos would breed, history was finally made in 2013 with the birth of Astrid, the Park’s first Rhino breeding success.

Since the arrival of Astrid, thanks to the dedication of the mammal keepers, the breeding programme has gone from strength to strength. The newest arrival, Alan, is the fourth White Rhino to be born at the Park.

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4_Rhino baby Alan (photo credit Jackie Thomas) (3c) (3)Photo Credits: Jackie Thomas /Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens

Alan is the second calf for parents, Ruby and Monty. At just one-week old, he weighed around eleven stone (154 lbs.), and he is proving to be a high-spirited and boisterous youngster. Ruby also continues to impress keepers with her skills as an exceptional and protective mother.

(Alan is named in honor of Cotswold Wildlife Park’s electrician who retires this year after twenty-three years of dedicated service.)

Managing Director of Cotswold Wildlife Park, Reggie Heyworth, said, “Everyone is over-joyed about the birth of another Rhino calf to Ruby, who is being such a good mother, for the second time. The calf looks like a strong lad already, and the rest of the Rhino ‘crash’ seem to be taking his arrival in their stride. With Rhinos facing such poaching pressures in the wild, every birth in captivity is a sign of hope for this wonderful species”.

Births in captivity are considered extremely rare, with only thirteen White Rhinos being born in European zoos in the last twelve months.

Females only reproduce every two-and-a-half to five years, so the window of opportunity for successful reproduction is limited. After a gestation period of sixteen to eighteen months, a single calf is born. This is one of the longest gestation periods of any land mammal, surpassed only by the twenty-two month gestation period of an Elephant. A newborn Rhino calf will stand up within one hour of birth and immediately attempt to suckle, although he or she may be a little unsteady on their feet for the first few days. It will remain under the watchful eye of the mother, suckling from her for approximately one year. Their bond is an intensely strong one, and the calf will remain with its mother for at least two years, benefiting from her protection. Females guard their offspring aggressively and are intimidating adversaries if challenged.

The White Rhino (Ceratotherium simum ssp. simum) is living proof of conservation success. They were once the rarest subspecies of any Rhino and were on the verge of extinction in the early 1900s, when it was believed only some fifty animals remained in their native South Africa. Thanks to excellent and sustained protection, they are now the most common of the five Rhino species, although poaching in the last five years has once again escalated to serious levels. Three of the five Rhino species – the Black, Javan and Sumatran – are critically endangered.

Poaching for their horns remains the biggest threat to these iconic animals. Recently HRH Prince William warned: “Rhinos face extinction in our lifetime as we struggle to correct lies about the supposed benefits of using its horn as a drug”. There is no evidence that horns, made of the same substance as human fingernails and hair, have any medicinal value. However, the false belief that Rhino horn can cure cancer and other life-threatening diseases has resulted in a population slaughter of one thousand and fifty four Rhinos in South Africa alone in 2016.

White Rhinos have always been an important species at the Wildlife Park. They were one of the first large mammals to join the collection, which was founded by Mr. John Heyworth in 1970.

Cotswold Wildlife Park is committed to the conservation of these iconic mammals. Each year the Park hosts Rhino Month to raise awareness and funds for Rhino conservation work in Africa. This year £1,000 was raised and donated to Save the Rhino International for their conservation work with the critically endangered Black Rhinos in Namibia.

Visitors to the Park can see the new calf daily in the large Rhino paddock and solar powered Rhino House.

More great pics of Alan, below the fold!

Continue reading "Rowdy Rhino Calf Joins 'Crash' at Cotswold" »


Maritime Aquarium Works to Save Baby Loggerhead

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The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk is caring for a rescued Loggerhead Sea Turtle, during its first year of life, in a new “Sea Turtle Nursery” exhibit. The Aquarium is providing care for the baby in preparation for it being released into the Atlantic Ocean next fall.

The guest Sea Turtle will be living at The Maritime Aquarium as part of a loan program of the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores, whose staff and volunteers inspect turtle nests on beaches to look for “stragglers” (newly hatched turtles) that, for various reasons, didn’t make it out of nests.

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According to staff, these young turtles are rescued and raised for a year at loan institutions, such as The Maritime Aquarium, before being returned to North Carolina the following fall for release into the Gulf Stream.

Tom Frankie, director of Exhibits for The Maritime Aquarium, said, “Aquarium staff repeat the process each October: travel to North Carolina to release a year-old Loggerhead and then bring a new hatchling back to Norwalk.”

The newest hatchling is about five weeks old and only 3.5 inches long. The little Loggerhead will live in a new habitat near the Aquarium’s exhibit that features two large Green Sea Turtles.

Loggerhead Sea Turtles (Caretta caretta) were named for their relatively large heads, which support powerful jaws that allow them to feed on hard-shelled prey, such as whelks and conch. They generally grow to weigh about 300 pounds and are found around the globe in nine “distinct population segments”: five of the populations are considered to be “Endangered,” and the other four, including the Loggerheads off the U.S. Atlantic Coast, are considered “Threatened.” Their biggest threats are from coastal development that destroys nesting habitats and from accidental capture in fishing gear.

“We are very excited to welcome this Loggerhead hatchling to the Aquarium,” Frankie said. “Besides the unique opportunity to give the turtle a safe environment for its first year, the exhibit also provides an important chance to talk about Sea Turtle conservation and to inspire our guests to support conservation efforts.”

The “Sea Turtle Nursery” exhibit opened October 21 and is free with admission to The Maritime Aquarium.

For those unable to visit the Connecticut facility, staff will provide updates on the hatchling’s development and progress via The Maritime Aquarium’s website www.maritimeaquarium.org and Facebook page.


Beautiful Black-footed Kitten Born at Hogle Zoo

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A Black-footed Cat at Utah’s Hogle Zoo gave birth to a single kitten on August 23. Mom and kitten can now be seen on-exhibit in the Zoo’s Small Animal Building.

Although the kitten has had several veterinarian check-ups since birth, staff aren’t yet sure if it is male or female. The wee-one is up for the first round of vaccinations very soon, and keepers hope they will then know the sex and can choose an appropriate name.  

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3_BabyPhoto Credits: Utah's Hogle Zoo

The Black-footed Cat (Felis nigripes) is the smallest African cat and endemic to the southwestern arid zone of the southern African sub-region. Despite its name, only the pads and under parts of the cat's feet are black.

It is currently classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List. The wild population is suspected to decline due to bush-meat poaching, persecution, traffic accidents and predation by domestic animals. The species is protected by national legislation across most of its range, and hunting is banned in Botswana and South Africa.

Males reach a head-to-body length of 36.7 to 43.3 cm (14.4 to 17.0 in) with tails 16.4 to 19.8 cm (6.5 to 7.8 in) long. Females typically reach a maximum head-to-body-length of 36.9 cm (14.5 in) and tails 12.6 to 17.0 cm (5.0 to 6.7 in) long. Adult resident males weigh on average 1.9 kg (4.2 lb) and a maximum of 2.45 kg (5.4 lb). Adult females weigh on average 1.3 kg (2.9 lb) and a maximum of 1.65 kg (3.6 lb). The shoulder height is about 25 cm (9.8 in).

Due to their small size, they hunt mainly small prey, such as rodents and small birds. Insects and spiders are a small supplement to their diet. Black-footed Cats hunt mainly by stalking, rather than ambush.

Females reach sexual maturity after 8 to 12 months. Gestation lasts from 63 to 68 days. A litter consists usually of two kittens, but may vary from one to four young.

Females may have up to two litters during the spring, summer, and autumn. They rear their kittens in a burrow, moving them to new locations regularly after the first week. Kittens become independent by five months of age, but may remain within their mother's range.


Tiny Trio of Otter Pups Born at Santa Barbara Zoo

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A pair of Asian Small-clawed Otters at the Santa Barbara Zoo produced their first litter of pups. Three healthy offspring were born in a nesting box in their holding area on October 7.

As in the wild, Otter parents prefer to keep their pups safely tucked in a den. The Zoo’s newborn Otters will not leave the behind the scenes holding area until they are old enough to safely swim and have grown the teeth needed to eat solid foods.

Depending on how their development progresses, keepers estimate the pups could go on exhibit as early as mid-December.

Animal Care staff had recently confirmed that new mom, Gail, was pregnant and estimated that she was due any day. When keepers arrived the morning of October 7, Gail and the father, Peeta, remained in the nesting box.

“The parents didn’t come out to greet us, and then we heard squeaks,” said the Zoo’s Curator of Mammals Michele Green. “That’s how we knew Gail had given birth.”

Gestation is 68 days, and after birthing, the female stays in the nesting box with the pups. Otter moms are given some relief, however, when new dads take over care for short periods of time.

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3_SB Zoo Otters Born 1Photo Credits: Santa Barbara Zoo

Both of the adult Otters are first-time parents. According to keepers, the pair is showing excellent parenting skills toward the two females and one male.

“Gail only arrived in March and it’s been fun to watch them bond, and now become parents,” says Green. “She’s a young mom, but doing very well. Peeta is attentive and diligent.”

Peeta was born at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. in 2008. Gail was born at the Greensboro Science Center in North Carolina in 2013. The two were paired as part of a cooperative breeding program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The names (inspired by characters in the popular “Hunger Games” books and movies) were given by their Santa Barbara Zoo sponsors, Peter and Pieter Crawford-van Meeuwen.

Another female, Katniss, was first paired with Peeta, but they did not breed. She passed away in December 2016 from a kidney ailment.

The last time Asian Small-clawed Otters were born at the Zoo was in May 2011 when six pups were born to a pair named Jillian and Bob. That pair also produced five young in August 2010, the first of the species to be born at the Zoo in more than 20 years. The entire family group later moved to the National Zoo, where they live today.

Keepers predict that by January, the pups should be proficient swimmers, and will be on-exhibit at that time. Information on the progress of the Otter pups will be made available at the Zoo’s website: www.sbzoo.org .

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.

Asian small-clawed otters are about two feet long and weigh less than ten pounds (half the size of North American River Otters). Their claws do not protrude beyond the ends of the digital pads, thus their names, and their feet do not have fully developed webbing and look very much like human hands.

They are one of the few species of Otter that live in social groups. The bond between mated pairs of Asian Small-clawed Otters is very strong. Both the male and female raise the young and are devoted parents. In the wild, Asian Small-clawed Otters live in extended family groups of up to 12 individuals. The entire family helps raise the young, which are among the most active and playful of baby animals.


Two Litters of Endangered Tasmanian Devils Born

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Taronga Western Plains Zoo is pleased to announce the arrival of two healthy litters of Tasmanian Devil joeys! According to keepers, this is one of the most successful years to date for the Zoo’s Tasmanian Devil conservation breeding program.

The first litter of three joeys arrived on March 19 to mother Lana. Keepers were recently able to take a close look at each joey and confirm their sex (two males and one female). Another female, Pooki, birthed four joeys more recently on June 19, which are yet to emerge from the pouch.

“We’re very pleased to see nurturing, maternal instincts from both Lana and Pooki, who are both two-year-old females and first-time mothers,” Taronga Western Plains Zoo Senior Keeper Steve Kleinig said.

“The three joeys born in March…are now weaned (meaning they have left mother Lana’s pouch) but they still remain close by her side. They are now playing with each other and exploring independently outside the den.”

“The four joeys born in June are starting to open their eyes and become more aware of their surroundings. While they are still attached to their mother's teats, we’re expecting they will begin to leave their mother’s pouch in the coming weeks,” Steve said.

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Taronga Western Plains Zoo is part of a national insurance population program designed to help save the Tasmanian Devil from becoming extinct as a result of the Devil Facial Tumour Disease*.

The Zoo’s breeding success this year is the result of a more targeted approach, and has benefited from favorable breeding recommendations. These are based on the unique characteristics and genetics of a breeding pair and, combined with their compatibility upon meeting, can determine breeding success.

“We are continuing to collaborate with other breeding institutions to improve the long-term viability of our program, such as Devil Ark in the Barrington Tops, where Lana and Pooki came from, and Tasmania’s Trowunna Wildlife Park, where the father originated,” Steve said.

Taronga Western Plains Zoo has two breeding facilities for the Tasmanian Devil located behind the scenes. The Zoo has bred 31 healthy Tasmanian Devil joeys so far - a significant boost to the regional zoo-based insurance population of this endangered species.

With Tasmanian Devil numbers in the wild currently dwindling to between 15,000 and 50,000 individuals, every birth is significant. The mainland breeding program of which the Zoo is a part could play an important role in helping to re-establish healthy wild populations of the species in Tasmania if needed in future.

The Tasmanian Devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) is a carnivorous marsupial of the family Dasyuridae. It was once native to mainland Australia, but it is now found only in the wild on the island state of Tasmania, including tiny east coast Maria Island where there is a conservation project with disease-free animals.

The Tasmanian Devil is the size of a small dog and became the largest carnivorous marsupial in the world following the extinction of the Thylacine in 1936. It is related to Quolls and distantly related to the Thylacine.

It is characterized by its stocky and muscular build, black fur, pungent odor, extremely loud and disturbing screech, keen sense of smell, and ferocity when feeding. The Tasmanian Devil's large head and neck allow it to generate among the strongest bites per unit body mass of any extant mammal land predator, and it hunts prey and scavenges carrion as well as eating household products if humans are living nearby.

A breeding Tasmanian Devil female can produce up to 50 young that are about the size of a grain of rice. Competition for survival is fierce, and only the first four joeys are able to latch onto the mother’s teats.

In 2008, the Tasmanian Devil was assessed and classified as “Endangered” by the IUCN. In 2009, the Australian Government also listed the species as “Endangered”, under national environmental law.

*Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) is an infectious cancer that only affects Tasmanian Devils, and is transmitted through biting, fighting and mating. Since the first official case of DFTD in Australia in 1996, there has been a decline of up to 50-70 per cent of the Tasmanian Devil population across the majority of Tasmania.


Important White Rhino Birth at The Wilds

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The Wilds welcomed a female Southern White Rhinoceros calf born in the pasture during the afternoon of October 5. The calf is the second fifth-generation White Rhino to be born outside of Africa (both fifth-generation calves were born at The Wilds).

The new calf was born to second-time mother, Anan, and first-time father, Roscoe. Anan’s first calf, a male named Letterman (born at The Wilds in 2014), was the first fifth-generation White Rhino to be born outside of Africa.

Anan had a notable birth herself, as she was the first fourth-generation Rhino to be born outside of Africa, and she, too, was born at The Wilds. Anan’s mother, Zen, was the very first Rhino born at The Wilds in 2004 and is still a part of the conservation center’s breeding herd.

The Wilds animal management team members have observed that the new calf is strong and is nursing in the pasture. This is the 17th White Rhino born at The Wilds; the conservation center has also produced seven Asian One-horned Rhinos.

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The breeding recommendations are part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan® (SSP) to enhance conservation of these species in their native range and to maintain a sustainable population of rhinos in human care.

“Every birth at The Wilds is significant, but this one is particularly special to us. With each new generation of Rhinos born, it is a testament to the success of the breeding program at The Wilds but more importantly a success for this species as a whole. The Wilds is proud to be a part of the conservation initiatives ensuring the survival of this species,” said Dr. Jan Ramer, vice president of The Wilds.

The White Rhino population had dwindled to perhaps only 50-200 at the beginning of the 20th century, but through conservation efforts, the population of White Rhinos in their native African range has rebounded to about 20,400 animals. However, even with the increase in numbers, the species remains classified as “Near Threatened” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). All five remaining Rhino species in Africa and Asia (White Rhinoceros, Black Rhinoceros, Greater One-horned Rhinoceros, Javan Rhinoceros, and Sumatran Rhinoceros) are persecuted by poachers who sell the horns for ornamental or traditional medicinal purposes, even though there are no scientifically proven health benefits for its use. The horns are made of keratin—the same substance that makes up fingernails and hair. The International Rhino Foundation, which receives support from The Wilds, estimates that one Rhino is killed every eight hours for its horn.

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Cheetah Cubs Born at Basel Zoo

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After spending months tucked away with their mother, two Cheetah cubs born at Basel Zoo can now be seen by zoo visitors. The cubs have been named Opuwo and Onysha.

Born on July 18 to first-time mother Novi and father Gazembe, the cubs’ birth is the result of careful planning and strategy by the zoo staff. 

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Geparden_mit_jungtieren_ZOB7306Photo Credit:  Basel Zoo

Cheetahs are solitary animals and will only tolerate having a partner nearby during mating season. To encourage breeding, male and female Cheetahs take turns living several enclosures behind the scenes. This allows each Cat to become familiar with a potential mate’s scent, which may encourage breeding.

If a female Cheetah shows interest in a male Cheetah, the zoo keeper must place them together immediately and hope that sparks fly. So far, this strategy has been successful for Basel Zoo with a total of 29 Cheetah cubs born there to date. The first Cheetahs arrived at Basel Zoo in 1936, but the first successful breeding occurred in 1993. Breeding Cheetahs remains a challenge for zoos. Of the more than 100 zoos holding Cheetahs in the EEP (European Endangered Species Programme), only around ten zoos had cubs this year.

It is typical for wild Cheetah mothers to move their newborns to new hiding places, so the family’s move to the zoo’s outdoor habitat on October 6 aligns with this instinct. 

Cheetahs are classed as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. According to an estimate by the IUCN, there were only 7,500 Cheetahs in all of Africa in 2008. This number is now thought to have dropped to 5,000.

See more photos of the Cheetah cubs below.

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