The ‘Force’ Is With These Minnesota Twins


Meet Luke and Leia…the Como Park Zoo’s version of ‘Minnesota twins’!

The Emperor Tamarin twins were born at the Zoo on January 27, and they are the 2nd and 3rd babies born to parents Lara and Roger. Visitors to the Como Zoo’s Primate Building will often see them clinging to big brother Franklin.



4_ComoZooTamarinTwinsPhoto Credits: Como Park Zoo & Conservatory


The Emperor Tamarin is a species allegedly named for its mustached resemblance to the German Emperor Wilhelm II. Both male and female Emperor Tamarins are known to sport the distinctive facial hair.

This species of tamarin is native to the southwest Amazon Basin, eastern Peru, northern Bolivia, and the western Brazilian states of Acre and Amazonas. They prefer Amazonian lowland and lower montane rain forests, as well as remnant, primary, and secondary forests.

They consume a wide range of specimens in their daily dietary routine, including: fruits, flowers, exude of plants (gums and saps), insects, frogs, and other animal prey.

The age of first reproduction in Emperor Tamarins is around 16 to 20 months old, with a gestation period of up to 6 months. Tamarins are seasonal breeders, and breeding is based around food availability, with most births occurring during the wet season when food resources are in abundance.

Tamarin species were once thought to be monogamous, but observations of Emperor Tamarins in the wild shot they often have a polyandrous mating system, with one dominant female mating with multiple males.

Due to the high rate of twins or multiples at birth, Emperor Tamarins rely on parental and paternal care to ensure infant survival. Helpers are either older female offspring of the dominant female that have remained a part of the group, or they are males that have frequent interaction with the dominant female. Infant carrying has a high energetic cost due to the relatively large fetal weight of infants to the weight of adults. Helpers provide the extra support needed for caring of multiple infants. Male Emperor Tamarins have been observed to spend the most time with infants, often carrying several while the mother forages for food. The males have also been observed to be more protective of the young and are known to react faster to distress calls.

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Taipei Zoo's Pups Learn the 'Ways of the Otter'


Asian Small-clawed Otter quintuplets were born at Taipei Zoo on November 16, 2015. The lively siblings have been learning the ‘ways of the otter’ from their attentive mom, Nina.



4_12744631_1116262118418600_822246060100748544_nPhoto Credits: Taipei Zoo



The Asian Small-clawed Otter (Amblonyx cinerea), also known as the Oriental Small-clawed Otter, is the smallest otter species in the world. Weighing less than 5.4 kg (11.9 lbs.), the species lives in mangrove swamps and freshwater wetlands of Bangladesh, Burma, India, southern China, Laos, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.

The otter’s paws are its distinctive feature. The claws don’t extend beyond the fleshy end pads of its partially webbed fingers and toes, giving it a high degree of manual dexterity for feeding on mollusks, crabs and other aquatic animals.

Asian Small-clawed Otters form monogamous pairs for life. The mates can have two litters of one to six young per year, and their gestation period is about 60 days. Newborn pups are immobile, and their eyes are closed. The pups remain in their birthing dens, nursing and sleeping, for the first few weeks. They open their eyes after 40 days and are fully weaned at 14 weeks. Within 40 days, the young start to eat solid food and can swim at three months. Young otters will stay with their mother until the next litter is born. Males assist females in nest building and food procurement.

The Asian Small-clawed Otter is classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List. Threats to their existence in the wild are: habitat loss, pollution, and hunting.

More great pics below the fold!

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Taronga Zoo’s Meerkat Pups Given Names


The two-month-old Meerkat pups at Taronga Zoo were recently given names to reflect their African heritage. Meet ‘Lwazi’ and his sister ‘Serati’! The playful siblings were born January 7 to first-time mom, Nairobi, and dad, Maputo.

The Zoo has been celebrating this birth of its first Meerkat pups in nearly seven years. Check out our earlier article that introduced the pair: "Meerkat Pups Go Exploring at Taronga Zoo"



4_TarongaZooTwo-month-oldMeerkatsPhoto Credits: Rick Stevens

“They may be young, but they’re already showing signs of their own little personalities. Our male is the bigger of the two and he’s more adventurous and inquisitive, while the female is quieter and prefers to stay close to mum,” said Keeper, Courtney Mahony.

“This is all new for them and they learn by observing their mum and dad, so we’re very lucky that Nairobi and Maputo are proving to be fantastic and attentive first-time parents. Nairobi is letting the pups suckle and grooming them at the right times and Maputo protects them, huddles over them and curls up with them at night.”

Gestation for Meerkats is about eleven weeks. In the wild, Meerkats give birth in underground burrows to help keep the newborns safe from predators. To shield the pups from dust in their subterranean homes, they are born with their eyes and ears closed. Meerkat babies are also nearly hairless at birth, though a light coat of silver and brown fur begins to fill in after just a few days.

These desert-dwellers are highly social critters and live in groups, called mobs, which can include dozens of individuals from multiple families.

The babies nurse for about nine weeks, and they grow very quickly. Though they weigh only about an ounce at birth, by six months old, the pups are about the same size as the adults.

The Meerkat, or Suricate (Suricata suricatta), is a small carnivoran belonging to the mongoose family. They are native to all parts of the Namib Desert in Namibia and southwestern Angola, and in South Africa.

They are currently classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. In the wild, they are present in several large and well-managed protected areas. However, population densities can fluctuate due to predation and rainfall variations.

Playtime for Lion Cubs at Linton Zoo

Zuri and cub playing
Two five-month-old African Lion cubs at Great Britain’s Linton Zoo recently enjoyed outdoor playtime with their mom and dad.

African Lion cubs with mum Safina at Linton Zoo, photo by Michelle Aylott (8)
African Lion cubs with mum Safina at Linton Zoo, photo by Michelle Aylott (7)
Sleepy lion cubs cuddle time ccPhoto Credit:  Michelle Aylott

The cubs, a male and a female, were born September 30 to parents Safina and Zuri.  As you can see from the photos, the energetic cubs keep mom and dad busy playing and snuggling.   Of course, so much play can wear out the little cubs, so they take naps several times a day.

As the cubs grow, interacting with their parents and each other through play helps to hone their survival skills.  Because Lions live in social groups called prides, it’s important for cubs to learn Lion etiquette so they can succeed as adults. So far, Safina and Zuri are proving to be excellent parents.

The cubs have not yet been named, but the zoo plans to hold a naming contest in conjunction with Lion Guardians, an Africa-based conservation organization, this spring.

African Lions are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, due to habitat loss and persecution in non-protected areas. The population is believed to have fallen by up to 50% in the last 50 to 60 years.  Many conservation organizations are working to protect the remaining Lions in eastern and southern Africa, and zoo breeding programs aim to maximize genetic diversity in the captive population.

See more photos of the cubs below.

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Once Believed Extinct, Rare Insects Hatch at San Diego

Once thought to be extinct, 73 critically endangered Lord Howe Island Stick Insects hatched at the San Diego Zoo as part of an international breeding program to save these rare Australian insects.

24847567383_d87daa6a15_oPhoto Credit:  Tammy Spratt/San Diego Zoo

Lord Howe Island Stick Insects – also known as Tree Lobsters – was believed to be extinct after rats invaded the Australian island from cargo ships in the 19th century and ate all the insects.  But in the 1960s, scientists found one small colony – fewer than 40 individuals – living on a single shrub on a remote volcanic island off the coast of Australia.

From this fragile colony, scientists from the Melbourne Zoo collected a few individuals to begin a captive breeding program to save the species.  From those offspring, colonies were established at zoos around the world, including the San Diego Zoo, as insurance populations should a disease or natural disaster strike the original group.  The population has since grown to more than 9,000 individuals. 

Three hundred eggs went to the San Diego Zoo in January 2016, and the first 73 have hatched.  At this stage, the green insects are called “nymphs” and are experiencing their first “instar” or growth period between molts. They will molt their hard exoskeletons several more times, becoming darker each time, until they reach maturity at about seven months of age.  Adults are dark brown and measure five to six inches in length.   

Scientists hope to eventually reintroduce these insects to their former home on Lord Howe Island.

New Aardvark Cub for BIOPARC Valencia

1_BIOPARC Valencia - Bebé oricteropo con 2 días de vida

BIOPARC Valencia is the first zoo in Spain to breed the Aardvark. On March 4, they welcomed a new member of this rare species.

The new cub spends valuable time with his attentive mother, but zoo staff follow special protocol in monitoring the new baby. Keepers work to ensure the proper cleanliness of the baby and also provide special care for his skin, which includes needed moisturization and a special humidifier. During the day, while mother is sleeping, staff keep a careful eye to maintain that the baby is nursing every two hours.

The new cub was the zoo’s first baby for the month of March. The cub and mother are currently off-exhibit, but, with the continued healthy progress of the baby, staff anticipate visitors being able to view them very soon.

2_Bebé oricteropo con 3 días de vida - BIOPARC Valencia (3)

3_Bebé oricteropo con 3 días de vida - BIOPARC Valencia (2)

4_Oricteropos - cerdos hormigueros - madre junto a su cría de 3 días de vida - BIOPARC ValenciaPhoto Credits: BIOPARC Valencia


The Aardvark (Orycteropus afer) is a medium-sized, burrowing, nocturnal mammal that is native to Africa. It is the only living species of the order Tubulidentata.

According to the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature): “Aardvarks were originally thought to be congeneric with the South American Anteaters (Myrmecophaga), until they were put in their own genus: Orycteropus. After 1872, Aardvarks were also put in their own order: the Tubulidentata. But this order was long considered to be closely related to the Xenarthrans and the Pangolins in the now obsolete clade "Edentata" (Lehmann 2007). It is only since the beginning of the 20th century, that Aardvarks have been considered to be basal "ungulates". It was also at this time that the seven then recognized species were merged into the single species Orycteropus afer (Shoshani et al. 1988). Since then, Tubulidentata is the only order of Mammals to be represented by a single living species. To date, 18 subspecies have been described (Meester 1971). However, their validity is doubtful and studies in this regard are ongoing. Finally, at the turn of the millennium, molecular phylogenetic analyses integrated the Aardvarks into the new super-cohort Afrotheria, next to Elephants, Hyraxes, Sea-cows, Sengis, Tenrecs, and Golden Moles.”

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Zoo Brno’s Polar Bear Cub Sticks Close to Mom


Visitors to Zoo Brno will soon be able to catch a glimpse of their new Polar Bear cub.

The cub was born to mom Cora at the end of November 2015. Until now, the two have been safely tucked away in their nesting box. However, at three-months-old, the new cub is ready to start exploring the exhibit.

Keepers have had a watchful eye on the new family via a nesting box cam. Staff have also been working on getting the pair accustomed to necessary health checks. "First contact went well. Cora was a little nervous, but this is important to gradually get them used to human presence and allow veterinary inspection of the baby, "says keeper, Jaroslav Jasinek.


3_ZooBrnoPolarBearCubAndMomCoraPhoto Credits: Eduard Stuchlik



Keepers currently do no know the sex of the new cub, but once they do, they will allow the public to assist in finding a name—thereby making the public, as a whole, the cub’s honorary ‘godparents’.

Polar Bears are native to the circumpolar north, including the United States (Alaska), Canada, Russia, Norway and Denmark (Greenland). They are at the top of the Arctic food chain and primarily eat seals.

Populations are declining due to the disappearance of sea ice, and experts estimate that only 20,000-25,000 Polar Bears are left in the wild. Some scientists believe if the warming trend continues, two-thirds of the Polar Bear population could disappear by the year 2050. They are currently classified as "Vulnerable" on the IUCN Red List.

World's Tiniest Monkey Species Born at Chester Zoo


A baby Eastern Pygmy Marmoset – the world’s smallest species of Monkey – was born January 3 at Chester Zoo.  

Photo Credit:  Chester Zoo

You can imagine how tiny these infants are – even fully grown, Pygmy Marmosets weigh only one-third of a pound and are about five inches long. The baby is so small that at two months old, it is only now large enough to be spotted by zoo guests.

The itty-bitty infant, who has yet to be named or sexed, is carried by its father Gumi.  The baby’s mother, Audrey, nurses her baby but performs no other parental care, which is typical for this species. 

Eastern Pygmy Marmosets may be the smallest of all Monkeys, but they’re not the quietest.  They emit loud squeaks and whistles, which can be heard throughout the rain forests where they live in Brazil, Ecuador and Peru.  Marmosets are tree-dwellers and feed on insects, fruits, and tree sap.

These petite primates are threatened by habitat destruction and their capture for the pet trade. 

See more photos of the baby Marmoset below.

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Baby Makes Three Generations of Orangutans in Tampa

Bornean orang hadiah and topi 3 feb 20 2016Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo is celebrating three generations of Bornean Orangutans after the birth of two infants in just two months.

Bornean orang josie and gojo 1 feb 13 2016
Bornean orang hadiah and topi 4 feb 20 2016
Bornean orang josie and gojo feb 22 2016Photo Credit:  Dave Parkinson/Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo

Thirty-year-old Josie gave birth to GoJo, a male, in December.  Then Josie’s daughter Hadiah delivered her very first baby, a female named Topi, on February 17 to make three generations of these endangered apes at the zoo. 

In the photos seen here, two-month-old GoJo displays his upright hairdo while Topi snuggles close to her mom. 

“We are very fortunate that Hadiah was able to observe her mother’s labor and delivery just two months before her own experience,” said Angela Belcher, animal care manager for primates.  “As a first time mother, it took her some time to learn how to properly handle the infant, but much progress has been made in the last few days and she has the benefit of a great role model.”

Topi spends her days being cradled or carried by Hadiah, and is totally dependent on her mother for care.  For several months Topi will nurse exclusively, then will be gradually introduced to solid foods.  Orangutans have the longest childhood of any animal other than humans:  Offspring stay with their mothers for six to eight years.

Bornean Orangutans are one of two Orangutan subspecies (the other is the Sumatran Orangutan), and all Orangutans are endangered.   About 50,000 Bornean Orangutans remain in the wilds of Malaysia and Borneo; only about 6,000 Sumatran Orangutans remain on the Indonesian island of Sumatra.  Both subspecies are threatened by human activities, especially the conversion of forest habitats to palm oil plantations.  In 2015, raging fires intentionally set to burn Bornean land before plantation development had devastating effects on the forests – more than 2 million hectares (nearly 5 million acres) were burned. In addition, poaching and the pet-trade remain major threats to Orangutans across most of Borneo.

Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo participates in the Bornean Orangutan Species Survival Plan (SSP), a program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) designed to maximize genetic diversity in zoo-dwelling populations of rare animals.  Nine Bornean Orangutan have been  born at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, and there are fewer than 100 Bornean Orangutans in 24 AZA-accredited institutions in North America.

See more photos of the babies below.

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Endangered Red Panda Cubs Are a Living Legacy


Auckland Zoo started the New Year celebrating the arrival of two Nepalese Red Panda cubs. The twins were born just after 3am on January 14, 2016. According to staff, everything is going well with mum and the cubs.

The two are an extremely valuable addition to the international breeding programme for this endangered species.



4_12792216_10153453714196984_7060545283068029138_oPhoto Credits: Auckland Zoo



"By watching the nest box cameras we've set up, we can see they have both been suckling. We couldn't ask for a better mum in Bo," said Carnivore's team leader Lauren Booth.

The twins are the fifth and sixth offspring of six-year-old mum Bo (who arrived at Auckland Zoo in mid-2012) and the last of 15-year-old Sagar, who was euthanized in December 2015.

"The average lifespan of a Red Panda is eight to 12 years, so Sagar reached a great old age for a Red Panda, but due to his age he had developed a spinal condition that was at the point where treatment was not able to increase his quality of life," says Lauren.

"Ever since arriving from Darjeeling Zoo in 2010, he had an amazing personality. He's left a great legacy within the region fathering six cubs over the course of three years. With these two being the last of his legacy with Bo, it was nice to have this positive to focus on as we said a difficult goodbye."

Lauren says that Red Pandas develop slowly and are dependent on Mum for at least three months, so it will be some time before visitors see the cubs venturing out of their nest box and around the enclosure with Bo.

"We're keeping a regular watch on the cubs, but taking a very hands-off approach so Bo can continue to do the great job she's doing, and we minimize any potential stress for her," she says.

Affectionately called 'little fluffs' by the Zoo’s keepers, the pair received their first weigh-in and checkup mid-February. They are being weighed weekly and keepers say they are both doing really well!

Visit Auckland Zoo's facebook page​ for further details and updates about the cubs.

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