Litter of Eight Cheetahs Born at Saint Louis Zoo

7_Cheetah cubs 3 weeks old 12-18-17_credit Carolyn Kelly Saint Louis Zoo_web

For the first time in Saint Louis Zoo history, a Cheetah has given birth to eight cubs. Three males and five females were born at the Saint Louis Zoo River’s Edge Cheetah Breeding Center on November 26, 2017.

In over 430 litters documented by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), this is the first time a female Cheetah has produced and reared on her own a litter of eight cubs at a zoo. The average litter size is three to four cubs.

The first few months of life are critical for newborn Cheetahs. The Saint Louis Zoo’s animal care staff is closely monitoring the new family and it appears that all eight cubs are healthy. Four-year-old Bingwa (BING-wah), which means “champion” in Swahili, continues to be an exemplary mother, according to the Cheetah care team.

“She has quickly become adept at caring for her very large litter of cubs: grooming, nursing and caring for them attentively,” says Steve Bircher, curator of mammals/carnivores at the Saint Louis Zoo.

5_Cheetah cubs 3 weeks old 12-19-17_credit Carolyn Kelly Saint Louis Zoo_web

12_Cheetah cubs 2 weeks old 12-12-17_credit Saint Louis Zoo_web

6_Cheetah cubs 3 weeks old 12-19-17_credit Carolyn Kelly Saint Louis Zoo_webPhoto Credits: Carolyn Kelly & Saint Louis Zoo (Images 1,2,4) / Saint Louis Zoo (Images 3,5)

Bingwa is on loan to the Saint Louis Zoo from Wildlife Safari in Winston, Oregon. The cub’s nine-year-old father, Jason, is on loan from White Oak Conservation in Yulee, Florida. The birth of these eight cubs is a result of a breeding recommendation from the AZA Cheetah Species Survival Plan (SSP), a program to manage a genetically healthy population of cheetahs in North American zoos.

“We’ve brought together Cheetahs from great distances to continue this important breeding program,” says Bircher. “These handsome cats add genetic diversity to the North American Cheetah SSP population.”

Since 1974, the Zoo has been a leader in Cheetah reproductive research and breeding. Over 50 cubs have been born at the Saint Louis Zoo’s Cheetah Breeding Center.

Historically, Cheetahs have ranged widely throughout Africa and Asia. Today, fewer than 10,000 individuals inhabit a broad section of Africa, and less than 100 remain in Iran. Over the past 50 years, Cheetahs have become extinct in at least 13 countries. The main causes of decline are human-cheetah conflict, interspecific competition and lack of genetic diversity.

To help protect Cheetahs in the wild, the Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Institute Center for Conservation of Carnivores in Africa is working with its partners in Tanzania and Namibia to coordinate cheetah conservation efforts, including education, research and other programs to mitigate human-cheetah conflicts.

“Cheetahs are frequently persecuted for killing livestock. Our conservation partners are finding ways to improve the lives of local herders by providing education opportunities, food and medical supplies, so they can live peacefully with Cheetahs and support their protection,” says Bircher.

According to staff, the Zoo’s mother and eight cubs are doing well and will remain in their private, indoor maternity den behind the scenes at River’s Edge for the next several months.

10_Cheetah cubs 2 weeks old 12-12-17_credit Saint Louis Zoo_web


Holiday Season Brings Bongos to Two Facilities

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The holiday season brought the bountiful gift of Bongos for two U.S. facilities. The Audubon Nature Institute and the Virginia Zoo both ended 2017 with the significant births of two female calves.

The groundbreaking conservation partnership between Audubon Nature Institute and San Diego Zoo Global recently welcomed the birth of a baby Eastern Bongo, a critically endangered species of antelope battling for survival in the jungles and forests of Africa.

Just months after its first animals arrived at Audubon’s West Bank campus in Lower Coast Algiers, staffers at the Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center welcomed the female Bongo calf on the morning of December 11.

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Babybongo26Photo Credits: Audubon Nature Institute (Images 1-3; Video) / Virginia Zoo (Images 4-6) 

The Bongo is the largest forest-dwelling antelope species and one of the most distinctive, sporting a glossy chestnut or orange colored coat, large ears, eye-catching vertical white stripes and long horns that spiral as high as three feet.

The Audubon Nature Institute/San Diego Zoo Global collaboration – known as the Alliance for Sustainable Wildlife – is akin to a modern-day ark designed to preserve species that are vulnerable in the wild and to sustain populations in human care.

There are only about 100 Bongos remaining in the wild, and their numbers continue to dwindle due to habitat loss from illegal logging, hunting and transmission of disease from grazing cattle.

“Zoos may be the last hope for the Eastern Bongo,’’ said Michelle Hatwood, curator of Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center.

“Bongo conservation in the wild is ongoing, but the effort continues to meet many challenges. Audubon Nature Center has joined zoos around the world to make sure this beautiful animal continues to exist.’’

Their Bongo newborn was conceived at Audubon Species Survival Center shortly after its parents arrived in mid-April from San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

Both parents were born in zoos and are part of the Species Survival Plan administered by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). That plan reviews the animals throughout its accredited facilities and makes recommendations about which should be moved where, given their genetics and personalities and the needs of potential mates at other zoos.

The soon-to-be-named calf weighed in at a healthy 46 pounds, Hatwood said. Both mother, known only as “3,’’ and father, Kibo, are five-years-old and experienced parents.

Hatwood continued, “The mother is displaying all the right behaviors to successfully raise her calf, including making sure curious herd mates behave around the little one.’’

Audubon officials expect their Bongo collection, which now comprises six females and one male, to continue to grow inside the new, four-acre enclosure.

“This is a water-loving, forest antelope,’’ Hatwood said. “And Louisiana has the perfect habitat for this beautiful species to thrive.’’

Once the new calf reaches the age when it would disperse from the herd naturally, Hatwood said the Species Survival Plan would determine the next move.

The Bongo may remain at the Species Survival Center, or it could be sent to another zoo - a decision that will consider both the animal’s needs and the genetic health of the AZA’s zoo population.

“Bongo are one of the first species of antelope I’ve ever gotten the privilege to work with,’’ said Hatwood. “They are secretive, curious and they have a special place in my heart. I hope they continue to flourish in AZA zoos so future generations can fall in love with them too.’’

Continue reading "Holiday Season Brings Bongos to Two Facilities " »


Aadorable Aardvark Born at Cincinnati Zoo

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Meet the latest “aaddition” to the Cincinnati Zoo: a little male Aardvark! Born on December 21 to mom Ali, the newborn is healthy and weighs just over four pounds. For now, the baby is bonding with Ali behind the scenes.

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25994936_10155813418620479_485975902406650425_nPhoto Credit: Cincinnati Zoo

Aardvarks are mammals, so the babies nurse from their mothers. They are nocturnal creatures, emerging from burrows at sunset to feed on ants at termites all night long. Aardvarks are found in all types of habitats south of Africa’s Sahara Desert.

The Aardvark’s long snout is held close to the ground while foraging for food. Once ants or termites are detected, they Aardvark uses its strong foreclaws to dig out enough dirt to reveal the insects. Using its long, sticky tongue, the Aardvark can collect up to 50,000 insects in a single night. The large ears remain upright, helping to detect predators while the Aardvark is feeding.

Aardvarks are not listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as being under threat, but some believe their numbers may be declining.

 


Baby Elephant Born on Christmas Day

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The staff at Belgium’s Planckendael Animal Park received an amazing Christmas present: a female Asian Elephant was born on Christmas Day, December 25.

Female Elephant May Tagu gave birth surrounded all the females in the zoo’s Elephant herd, including her sister, Kai-Mook. Planckendael staff called this the “best conceivable delivery scenario.”

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26169455_1828971157145113_6027206929366815055_nPhoto Credit: Planckendael



In Elephant society, the birth of a baby generates great excitement. Female herd members gather around the mother during childbirth and welcome the newborn by sniffing and touching the baby with their trunks. This gathering allows young females to witness childbirth and better prepare them for their future roles as mothers.

May Tagu gave birth after being pregnant for 629 days – more than 20 months. May Tagu’s newborn stood about 25 minutes after birth and held her tiny trunk in the air.

Mom and baby appear healthy, and May Tagu is a caring mother. The zoo staff are thrilled with the successful birth because May Tagu’s first baby, born about two years ago, died of liver failure shortly after birth.

The newborn’s father is Chang, who recently moved to the zoo in Copenhagen. Chang is also the father of two more baby Elephants expected to be born in the coming months at Planckendael. May Tagu’s sister, Kai-Mook, is pregnant, and Phyo Phyo, the mother of May Tagu and Kai-Mook, is also expecting a baby.

All of these young Elephants will be valuable additions to the European breeding program for this Endangered species. The wild Asian Elephant population is threatened by the degradation and fragmentation of habitat, which leads to more frequent conflicts between Elephants and people. Elephants are also illegally killed for their ivory tusks.

 


Rare Malayan Tiger Cubs Show Their Personalities

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Two Critically Endangered Malayan Tiger cubs at the Prague Zoo are beginning to show their personalities.

The cubs – one male and one female – were born on October 3 and only recently came out of the den with their mother, Banya. The animal care team chose the name Bulan for the male and Wanita for the female.

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25497962_1558310120919579_5646591906181534560_nPhoto Credit: Prague Zoo

From the start, Wanita was smaller than her brother. She experienced some health problems shortly after birth and has since recovered completely, but Wanita has yet to catch up with her brother’s growth.

Bulan currently weighs 17.5 pounds, and Wanita weighs 13.1 pounds. But keepers say that Wanita makes up for her smaller size with a big personality. Feisty little Wanita is not afraid of anything, while Bulan is more timid. Plus, Wanita has figured out how to roar properly!

Both cubs are healthy and active, and have begun tasting bits of meat in addition to nursing from Banya. They are hugely important to the global effort to save this rare Cat species from extinction. Experts say only 250-340 Malayan Tigers remain in the wild – a precariously low number – and only about 200 are of breeding age. They inhabit only the Malay peninsula in Southeast Asia.

Fragmentation of habitat is a major threat to Malayan Tigers, as is illegal poaching for use of body parts in traditional Asian medicine.

See more photos of Wanita and Bulan below.

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Meerkat Pups Named After Santa's Reindeer

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Three Meerkat pups born at the Brevard Zoo on December 4 have been given Christmas-themed names after fans voted in an online contest.

The tiny triplets were named Vixen, Comet, and Cupid after three of Santa’s Reindeer. The genders of the pups are not yet known.

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Meerkat-pupsPhoto Credit: Brevard Zoo


At birth, the Meerkat pups’ eyes and ears were closed, and they each weighed about one ounce (roughly the weight of five U.S. quarters). They were born to mom Cashew, age three, and five-year-old dad Kirabo. For now, the trio is still behind the scenes with their parents and several other adults. Young Meerkats typically remain in the burrow for about a month before emerging to explore the outside world.

Meerkats are found only in southern Africa, where they inhabit grasslands and savannahs. Strong social bonds exist among members of a mob. One member will stand guard while others forage for insects, lizards, and small mammals. Adults share the task of teaching younger members of the mob how to find food and avoid predators.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists Meerkats as a species of Least Concern, meaning that Meerkats are not under a serious threat at this time.


Endangered Tree Kangaroo Emerges at Belfast Zoo

1_(2)  “Our ‘good little fellow’  Kayjo  was born to mother Jaya and father  Hasu Hasu on 9 June 2017.

A Goodfellow’s Tree Kangaroo joey has been spotted peeking out of the pouch for the first time at Belfast Zoo!

Senior keeper, Allan Galway, explained, “Our ‘good little fellow’, Kayjo, was born to mother, Jaya, and father, Hasu Hasu, on 9 June 2017. Like all marsupials, female Tree Kangaroos carry and nurse their young in the pouch. When the joey was first born, it was the size of a jellybean and remained in the pouch while developing and suckling from Jaya. Female Tree Kangaroos have a forward facing pouch, containing four teats and we carry out routine ‘pouch’ checks as part of our normal husbandry routine with this species.”

Allan continued, “Jaya moved to Belfast Zoo in January 2013, as part of the collaborative breeding programme. Since then, we have incorporated training into her daily husbandry routine. This involves getting Jaya used to being touched by keepers through a process of ‘positive reinforcement’. We started by providing Jaya with her favourite treat, sweetcorn, until she gradually became used to the keepers touching her. We then built this up to allow keepers to open her pouch. This allows us to check Jaya’s pouch for health purposes and to track the development of the young during these crucial early months. However, it is completely optional, and if Jaya does not want to take part, she has the freedom to move away from the keeper.”

Zookeeper, Mitchell Johnston, is part of the Belfast Zoo team who care for the Goodfellow’s Tree Kangaroos: “I have been a keeper for four and a half years and I definitely have a soft spot for the tree kangaroos. Through the daily training routine, I have developed a strong relationship with the Kangaroos but especially Jaya. Having worked with her for a while now, I have a strong understanding of her behaviour and, last summer, I started to notice signs that a joey may be on the way. Following further behavioural changes on 9 June, I carried out the pouch check and was delighted to find the jellybean-sized joey. Being able to witness and photograph the infant’s development over the last six months has been fascinating. In fact, I have become so fond of both mother and baby that I decided to name him Kayjo which is a play on words of my eldest child’s name, as the joey certainly feels like one of the family!”

2_(1)  Endangered tree kangaroo pops out of pouch at Belfast Zoo!

3_(10)  This species is listed as Endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red list.

4_(11)  Keepers treated the new mum and the rest of her family to some Christmas themed enrichment with a wreath of their favourite foods.Photo Credits: Belfast Zoo

As their name suggests, the Goodfellow’s Tree Kangaroo (Dendrolagus goodfellowi) is a tree-dwelling mammal, which is native to the mountainous rainforests of Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. These animals are well adapted to a life in the trees by climbing up to 20 feet high and leaping more than 30 feet through the air from branch to branch. However, this species is facing increasing threats due to habitat destruction and hunting.

Zoo manager, Alyn Cairns, said, “As part of our commitment to conservation, we take part in a number of global and collaborative breeding programmes. Until this year, Belfast Zoo was the only zoo in the United Kingdom and Ireland to care for Goodfellow’s Tree Kangaroo, and we were the first in the UK to breed the species back in 2014. Since then, we have bred three joeys. This species is listed as ‘Endangered’ on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red list, as the population has dramatically declined in Papua New Guinea by at least 50% over the past three generations. The efforts of zoos around the world, are becoming ever more vital in ensuring the survival of so many species under threats. We are delighted that our team’s efforts have led to the arrival of Kayjo, and that we are playing an active role in the conservation of this beautiful and unique species.”

Kayjo is following in the footsteps of big sister, Kau Kau, who hopped out of Jaya’s pouch earlier this year. At this age, visitors who are patient may be rewarded with a glimpse of the new joey. The new arrival will continue to develop in the pouch. As the joey grows it will begin to explore the world outside of the pouch, officially moving out at about 10 months but will continue to feed from mum until at least 16 months old. The youngster will live with the family group at Belfast Zoo until old enough to move to another zoo as part of the collaborative breeding programme.

Amazing pics below of Kayjo's life-in-the-pouch!

Continue reading "Endangered Tree Kangaroo Emerges at Belfast Zoo" »


Topeka Zoo Receives Special Holiday Gift

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A sweet Hoffman’s Two-toed Sloth, born at the Topeka Zoo on December 16, is clinging to mom and doing everything a baby Sloth should do.

When new mom Jacque showed her new baby to the Zoo’s Animal Care Staff, the baby was alert and clinging to mom in a good nursing position. According to keepers, both mom and baby appear to be bright and alert and doing great. A primary zookeeper at the Zoo’s Tropical Rain Forest exhibit has named the baby “Foley”.

There are currently four Sloths living in the Topeka Zoo’s ‘Tropical Rain Forest’. They include new mother, Jacque (age 27), father, Mocha (age 19), Newt (age 1) and the newborn, Foley. This is the 15th offspring for Jackie and the fourth for Mocha. Zoo staff monitored Jacque’s pregnancy closely but had high confidence that mom knew exactly what to do.  

The Topeka Zoo is proud of the long successful history with Sloth reproduction, and they attribute it, largely, to the rain forest environment the Sloths are provided at the Zoo.

Foley-1Photo Credits: Topeka Zoo

The Hoffmann's Two-toed Sloth (Choloepus hoffmanni) is a species of sloth native to Central and South America.

It is a solitary, largely nocturnal and arboreal animal, found in mature and secondary rainforests and deciduous forests. The common name commemorates the German naturalist Karl Hoffmann.

Sloths are known for their slow moving, solitary arboreal behavior. They do everything upside down, including: eating, sleeping, mating and even giving birth.

Habitat destruction is causing a decrease in the wild Hoffmann's Two-toed Sloth population, but sloths and humans have little contact with one another in the wild. They are currently classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List.


Two New Elephant Shrews at Zoo Antwerpen

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Until recently, two of Zoo Antwerpen’s newest arrivals were safely tucked away in an underground burrow with mom and dad.

Tiny, twin Black and Rufous Elephant Shrews were born around November 14 and can now be seen exploring outside their den. Although they are curious of their surroundings, they never stray far from mom, Guusje, or dad, Olli.

Keeper Natalie said, "It's a first for Zoo Antwerp because…with Blijdorp [Rotterdam Zoo], we are the only European zoo where Elephant Shrew have been born."

The twins are currently under the care of their parents. Keepers will allow the family to bond and will have little interaction with the young. When they are old enough to be weaned and away from their mom and dad, staff will examine them to determine their sex and give them names, as well.

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Fotolink Steppeslurfhondje (4)Photo Credits: ZOO Antwerpen / Jonas Verhulst

The Black and Rufous Elephant Shrew (Rhynchocyon petersi) is a small insectivorous mammals native to Africa, belonging to the family Macroscelididae, in the order Macroscelidea.

They are widely distributed across the southern part of Africa, and although common nowhere, can be found in almost any type of habitat, from the Namib Desert to boulder-strewn outcrops in South Africa to thick forest. One species, the North African Elephant Shrew, remains in the semiarid, mountainous country in the far northwest of the continent.

The creature is one of the fastest small mammals. Despite their weight of just under half a kilogram, they have been recorded to reach speeds of 28.8 km/h.

Elephant Shrews mainly eat insects, spiders, centipedes, millipedes, and earthworms. They use their nose to find prey and their tongue to flick small food into its mouth, much like an anteater. Some Elephant Shrews also feed on small amounts of plant matter, especially new leaves, seeds, and small fruits.

Female Elephant Shrews undergo a menstrual cycle similar to that of human females, and the species is one of the few non-primate mammals to do so.

After mating, a pair will return to their solitary habits. After a gestation period varying from 45 to 60 days, the female will bear litters of one to three young, several times a year. The young are born relatively well developed, but remain in the nest for several days before venturing outside.

After five days, the young's milk diet is supplemented with mashed insects, which are collected and transported in the cheek pouches of the female. The young then slowly start to explore their environment and hunt for insects. After about 15 days, the young will begin the migratory phase of their lives, which lessens their dependency on their mother. The young will then establish their own home ranges and will become sexually active within 41–46 days.

The Black and Rufous Elephant Shrew is currently listed as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List. It was still listed as “Vulnerable” in 2008. However, its numbers are reportedly still under threat from severe forest fragmentation and degradation from human expansion.


Rare Okapi Calf Nursed to Health at Denver Zoo

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Denver Zoo welcomed a rare baby Okapi on December 4. The male calf, named Forest, was born to mother Kalispell and weighs just under 40 pounds. The calf is only the seventh birth of this species at the Zoo.

“Shortly after he was born, Zoo staff noticed that Forest was unable to stand and was therefore unable to nurse,” said Brian Aucone, Senior Vice President for Animal Sciences. Forest’s blood work showed that had not received vital antibodies from his mother and that he needed a plasma transfusion. The team asked the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium to overnight plasma for the new calf.

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25299286_10156129149852122_9081585546053964722_nPhoto Credit: Denver Zoo

“We are very proud of the training that allows us to do voluntary blood draws with our Okapi and other species,” said Patty Peters, Vice President Community Relations at Columbus Zoo. “We all want to see Forest healthy and are thankful we could give aid in this way.”

Forest’s plasma transfusion was successful, and he is now strong enough to nurse on his own. He will remain behind the scenes for several weeks as he continues to develop and is prepared to step outside on warm winter days.

Forest is the second calf for both of his parents. Sekele, Forest’s father, was born in June 2009 at San Diego Zoo and arrived at Denver Zoo in November 2010. Kalispell (Kali, for short) was born at Denver Zoo in June 2009. Sekele and Kali were paired under recommendation of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP), which ensures healthy populations and genetic diversity among zoo animals. Their first calf, Jabari, was born at Denver Zoo in February 2014. In 2016, he moved to Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo by recommendation of SSP.

Okapis are the only living relative of Giraffes. In addition to a long neck, Okapis have a reddish coat, black-and-white striped legs and a 12-inch-long, purple prehensile tongue. Adult Okapis weigh 500 to 700 pounds and stand about five feet tall at the shoulder. Females are generally larger than males. Okapis’ gestation period is 14 to 15 months.

Native only to the Ituri Forest in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Okapis are seriously threatened by political unrest in their native range. Population estimates are difficult to determine because the forest is so dense, but experts believe there are between 10,000 and 50,000 individuals, and their numbers are declining. Okapis are classified as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Additional threats come from habitat loss and hunting.

This rare species was first discovered only about 100 years ago. Very little is known about the behavior of the Okapi in its native land due to its shy, elusive nature. Much of what is known has been learned in zoos during the past 45 years.