Nigerian Dwarf Goat Twins Born at Point Defiance Zoo

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There are two new kids on the block at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. A Nigerian Dwarf Goat, named Hazel, gave birth to the female twins June 24 in the Kids’ Zone area of the zoo.

This is the third birth for 4-year-old Hazel, who has been at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium for only a few months. Her two 3-year-old offspring, Newman and Hanson, are among the herd of goats roaming the feeding, petting and grooming area at Kids’ Zone.

“We’re elated by the birth of these goats,” Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium Land Animal Curator Natalie Davis said. “Kids’ Zone is meant to instill children with a sense of wonderment about animals; help them gain an increased level of respect for all living things; and teach them about the need to protect and care for animals.”

The newborn goats, along with some recently acquired kids, bring a whole new meaning to the term “Kids’ Zone” at the zoo. With the birth of the twin sisters, the Contact Junction portion of the child-friendly area is now home to 17 Nigerian Dwarf Goats.

The Zoo recently accepted nominations for names of the new twins. They are expected to announce the winning names very soon, via social media: https://www.facebook.com/PtDefianceZoo/ or www.pdza.org

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4_DSC_0878Photo Credits: Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

 

Nigerian Dwarf Goats are noted for their wide range of color patterns, which include combinations of black, brown or gold mixed with white, as well as for their easy-going temperaments.

Adult males can reach a maximum size of 19–23.5 inches (48–60 cm), and females can grow to about 17–22.5 inches (43–57 cm).

These herbivorous miniature goats (Capra aegagrus hircus) are of West African descent. They have been domesticated as dairy goats and can be found all over the world. Highly adaptable, Nigerian Dwarf Goats can live in climates ranging from cold to hot and dry.

Despite their size, Nigerian Dwarf Goats are known for expressing a high quantity of milk. Their production ranges from 1 to 8 pounds of milk per day (one quart of milk weighs roughly 2 pounds), with an average doe producing about 2.5 pounds of milk per day. Their milk has a higher butterfat content than milk from full-sized dairy goats, making Nigerian Dwarf Goat milk excellent for cheese and soap making.

The gestation period for goats is 145 days, or just under five months. Twins are quite common among goat births.

Nigerian Dwarf Goats are gentle, friendly, and can easily be trained to walk on a leash. Their size and temperament enable them to be excellent "visitor" animals for nursing homes and hospitals.

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Black-footed Ferret Baby Boom

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Toronto Zoo has been participating in the conservation-breeding program for the Black-footed Ferret since 1992. Since then, the Zoo has bred hundreds of baby ferrets (kits) for reintroduction to the wild in USA, Mexico, and Canada where they were listed as extirpated in 1978.

“The black-footed ferret was once thought to be extinct in the wild. Saving species at risk, like the Black-footed Ferret, is only possible through partner collaboration and the success of international ferret recovery demonstrates how working together can have a big impact on saving critically endangered species,” says Maria Franke, Curator of Mammals, Toronto Zoo.

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4_13581986_1041548115881633_4843557045223139156_oPhoto Credits: Toronto Zoo

 

This year, Toronto Zoo has 16 adult ferrets. One female, named Twilight Sparkle, after a My Little Pony character, gave birth to four kits (three males and one female) on April 16, 2016.

Kits are born blind, hairless, and are less than 10 centimeters long. Twilight Sparkle was instantly a very good first-time mom, nursing and protecting her babies. The kits weaned at approximately 30 days of age and started eating meat brought over by Mom. A week or so after weaning, their eyes started to open and they began to explore their surroundings.

Now, at almost three-months-old, their personalities are strong and they are very active and chatty. The kits recently had their first veterinary exam and are all healthy, with beautiful adult colors. They are full-grown and the boys weigh more than Mom. Adult females weigh 700-800 grams and adult males 900-1,000 grams.

On June 13, 2016, another female, named Indigo, gave birth to six kits (unfortunately, two were stillborn). Mom and her four kits have been doing very well. Now, at almost one-month-old, they have grown quite a bit, have white baby fuzz, and are even squirmier.

Four other females bred this year; three did not become pregnant. The remaining female, named Fiddlesticks, gave birth on June 22 to one kit.

Females can have between one and seven kits, with an average litter of three to four, so this is a small litter but not uncommon. Fiddlesticks is an experienced mom and not bothered by a single noise in the barn. She has been caring for this kit just as well as she did for her four kits last year.

In the fall, kits will go to the National Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center, in Colorado, to prepare for release into the wild. They will live in outdoor pens and learn valuable skills, such as hunting prairie dogs.

Toronto Zoo is proud to be part of this successful program, which has helped restore the wild population to approximately 300 animals. However, the ferret continues to need help as they face habitat loss and disease.

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Night Safari’s Little ‘Princess’ Joins the Herd

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Night Safari’s largest baby of the year, an Asian Elephant calf, is two months old. The female calf is ready to greet her fans and join the adults in Night Safari’s elephant exhibit.

The adorable baby was born to Chawang, Night Safari’s famed four-ton male Asian Elephant, and mom, Sri Nandong.

Chawang is the Singapore park’s biggest animal and has always been regarded as ‘King of Night Safari’. His princess joins five other elephants in the world’s first nocturnal wildlife park. Aside from her parents, the calf’s brother, 15-year old Sang Wira, also resides at the park.

Inquisitive and intelligent, the calf surprised keepers on May 12 this year, when she bounded into the world earlier than expected. Mom had only been pregnant for 19 months, when usual gestation is closer to 22 months.

True to her eager attitude to life, the little one has grown by leaps and bounds. For a start, her weight has increased to 210kg (463 lbs.), up from an initial 149kg (328) at birth. Ever the curious one, she is an avid fan of all things wet, and will never pass up a chance to slosh about in her play pool, following that with a roll in the sand whenever possible.

She is starting to relish in her independence and is especially close to dedicated caretaker ‘Auntie Tun’, whom she regards as a larger than life playmate. Elephants live in herds, which are made up primarily of related females, who will act as surrogate mothers to juveniles in the group. Although unrelated, Tun continues to play this role with much gusto, and is always on hand to watch over the little one.

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4_Image 1_NS baby ele debut_WRSPhoto Credits:Wildlife Reserves Singapore

Yet to be named, the two-month old calf has already received quite the following on social media, having starred in two videos showing her indulging in all things elephant: splashing around in her signature rainbow tub, going for walks, and experimenting on adult food. Her caregivers are waiting a few more months, to allow her personality to fully develop, before choosing a suitable name reflecting her character.

Dr. Cheng Wen-Haur, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, and Chief Life Sciences Officer said, “The birth of this female calf is particularly significant as elephants are very slow breeders, and she will contribute towards achieving a sustainable population under human care. She will also play a leading role as an ambassador to help raise awareness on the plight of her threatened relatives in the wild.”

The Asian or Asiatic Elephant (Elephas maximus) is the only living species of the genus Elephas and is native to Southeast Asia from India in the west to Borneo in the east. Three subspecies are recognized: E. m. maximus from Sri Lanka, the E. m. indicus from mainland Asia, and E. m. sumatranus from the island of Sumatra. Asian Elephants are the largest living land animals in Asia.

Since 1986, E. maximus has been listed as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List, as the population has declined by at least 50% over the last three generations (estimated to be 60–75 years). Asian Elephants are primarily threatened by degradation, fragmentation and loss of habitat, and poaching.

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Restoring an Endangered Species, One Calf at a Time

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A rare Bukhara Deer calf born in June at Scotland’s RZSS Highland Wildlife Park is part of a global effort to bring the species back from the brink of extinction.

Bukhara deer are a subspecies of Red Deer native to central Asia. These deer were once one of the world's most threatened mammal species after populations diminished greatly in the 1970s and 1980s. By 1999, only 350 Deer were left in the wild.

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DSC_1646Photo Credit:  RZSS/Alex Riddell

Thanks to reintroduction of zoo-born animals and restoration of their natural habitat, Bukhara deer now number over 1,400 animals in the wild. While the reintroduction of this Deer has been successful, their population numbers are still low, which is why captive breeding of Bukhara deer remains important to their survival.

RZSS Highland Wildlife Park is home to the only breeding herd of Bukhara deer in the United Kingdom and currently has a herd of six animals.

See more photos of the calf below.

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Impala Calves Leap Into Action

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The savannah at Spain’s BIOPARC Valencia is full of activity now that three Impala calves are running and playing with each other.

Born just a few weeks apart this spring, the Impala calves are part of the zoo’s small herd which mimics the social conditions these antelopes would experience in the wild.  Pregnant females separate themselves from the herd before giving birth. Calves are usually born at midday, and when the calves are a few weeks old, they rejoin the herd.  Young Impalas are grouped into nurseries, where they are watched over by adults.

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BIOPARC Valencia - Las crías de impala son el centro de atención para los habitantes de la Sabana (2)Photo Credit:  Bioparc Valencia

Impala are native to eastern and southern Africa, where they inhabit woodlands and the edges of savannahs, often near water sources.  Only the males have the distinctive lyre-shaped, spiral horns, which are used during disputes with other males over territorial boundaries and mating rights. Impalas are generally active during the day, feeding on vegetation.

Impalas are not currently under threat, although like all wild animals, their habitat is slowly being encroached upon by growing human activity.  Fortunately, about a quarter of all Impalas live within protected parks and reserves in Africa.

See more photos of the calves below.

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Rock Hyrax Pups Have 'Fun In The Sun'

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BIOPARC Valencia started off the summer with the birth of Rock Hyrax pups! They can be seen sunning themselves on the rocks of the park’s African Savannah exhibit.

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4_BIOPARC Valencia - cría de damán roquero - verano 2016 (2)Photo Credits: BIOPARC Valencia

 

The Rock Hyrax (Procavia capensis), or Rock Badger, is one of the four living species of the order Hyracoidea, and the only living species in the genus Procavia. Like all hyraxes, it is a medium-sized terrestrial mammal, superficially resembling a guinea pig with short ears and tail. The closest living relatives to hyraxes are the modern-day elephants and sirenians (sea cow).

The species lives primarily in Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, where it is known natively as a ‘dassie’ or ‘rock rabbit’. As their name indicates, Rock Hyraxes occupy habitats dominated by rocks and large boulders, including mountain cliffs, where they use their moist and rubber-like soles to gain a good grip to clamber around steep slopes.

They typically live in groups of 10 to 80 animals, and forage as a group. They feed on a wide variety of plants and have been known to eat insects and grubs.

They have been reported to use sentries: one or more animals take up position on a vantage point and issue alarm calls on the approach of predators. They are said to have excellent eyesight. They are able to survive their dry habitat by getting most of their water from food supplies.

Rock Hyraxes give birth to two or three young after a gestation period of 6–7 months (long, for their size). The young are well developed at birth with fully opened eyes and complete pelage. Young can ingest solid food after two weeks and are weaned at ten weeks.

After 16 months, the Rock Hyrax becomes sexually mature, they reach adult size at three years, and they typically live about ten years.

Rock Hyraxes produce large quantities of hyraceum (a sticky mass of dung and urine) that is said to have been used as a South African folk remedy, in the treatment of several medical disorders, including epilepsy and convulsions. It has been reported, that hyraceum is now being used by perfumers who tincture it in alcohol to yield a natural animal musk.

They are currently classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

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New Joey ‘Gliding’ Into Hearts at Taronga Zoo

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He may be small enough to climb along a keeper’s arm, but Taronga Zoo’s newest Yellow-bellied Glider joey is preparing to play a big role in protecting his vulnerable species.

The joey is the 16th born at Taronga, which has the world’s only successful breeding program for Yellow-bellied Gliders.

At five months of age, the joey recently left his mother’s pouch and will soon meet students taking part in Taronga’s Project Yellow-bellied Glider.

“He’s going to become our newest Yellow-bellied Glider ambassador, which is a very important role,” said Keeper, Wendy Gleen.

Also known as the Fluffy Glider, Yellow-bellied Gliders have remarkably soft fur and can glide up to 140 metres in a single leap. Listed as a vulnerable species, in Australia, due to habitat loss, these marsupials can still be found in bushland at the edge of Sydney, Australia, such as Bouddi National Park.

Taronga Zoo, in New South Wales, Australia, has joined forces with more than 160 school students from the Central Coast to help protect Gliders and their habitat through Project Yellow-bellied Glider. The project will see students become Yellow-bellied Glider guardians, habitat experts, and active participants in the development of wildlife corridors.

The students have also helped select a name for Taronga’s newest joey, with keepers choosing ‘Jiemba’, at the suggestion of students from St Joseph’s Catholic College at East Gosford. The name means “laughing star” in the language of the Wiradjuri people of central NSW.

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4_Jiemba_Photo by Paul Fahy (5)Photo Credits: Paul Fahy/Taronga Zoo

Keepers are hoping that Jiemba will prove his star power when he meets the students during a visit to Taronga in August. Keepers have been helping to feed and care for the joey in recent weeks to assist with his weaning process and ensure he is comfortable around people.

“An encounter with a little Glider like Jiemba can help people form an emotional connection with Yellow-bellied Gliders and inspire them to take action to protect gliders in the wild,” said Wendy.

Wendy said people could help ensure a future for Yellow-bellied Gliders, in the wild, by protecting mature trees and planting native trees and shrubs to create wildlife corridors.

“The biggest problem for these Gliders is local bushland being broken up by development along the eastern seaboard where they’re found. It takes 120 years for mature trees to produce nesting hollows, so they are irreplaceable in our lifetime,” she said.

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Critically Endangered Marmots Born at Toronto Zoo

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The Vancouver Island Marmot (VIM) is one of the most critically endangered animals in the world, and it is Canada's most endangered mammal.

The Toronto Zoo has been participating in the captive breeding program for the Vancouver Island Marmot since 1997, when it was first approached by the Marmot Recovery Foundation to begin a captive breeding and release program. This Marmot species is one of only five mammals endemic to Canada, and it was North America’s most endangered mammal in 2003, when there were only 30 individuals left in the wild.

Because of significant captive breeding efforts (including the Toronto Zoo's) the wild population has steadily grown. The Toronto Zoo has also been involved in many research projects to help increase the understanding of this unique mammal and has spearheaded studies on mating behavior, pup development and hormone analysis for monitoring reproductive cycles of breeding females. This information is vital to ensure that the VIM experiences a triumphant return to the wild.

"With the expertise, passion and commitment from zoological organizations like the Toronto Zoo, the Vancouver Island Marmot conservation breeding and reintroduction program has been crucial in preventing this species from becoming extinct," says Maria Franke, Curator of Mammals, Toronto Zoo. "This is a huge step in the right direction in saving this truly Canadian species.”

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3_TZ_River&ObansPups_3 weeks old - Photo Credit K.Wright, Toronto ZooPhoto Credits: K. Wright / Toronto Zoo

 

This year, Toronto Zoo has six pairs of adult Marmots. On May 4, 2016, keepers heard sounds coming from one of the nest boxes. To minimize disturbance, keepers wait three to four weeks before opening nest boxes.

At four weeks, four pups were confirmed. On first examination, they were 20-30 cm long and starting to open their eyes. Now, they are almost eight-weeks-old and exploring their surroundings. Sitka, the mother, has been taking very good care of her pups. Because of her cautious and protective nature, it even took her a few extra days to allow the pups to explore the outdoor area. Hunter, the father, sleeps outside the nest box like a good “guard-dad”.

Another pair of Marmots, River and Oban, gave birth to five pups on May 19, 2016. They still snuggle in the nest box but are very vocal, emitting sounds like those of dog puppies. They should be emerging soon.

This year, Toronto Zoo has had a total of nine VIM pups born. Toronto Zoo is also housing one full-grown pup, Rizzo, who was born last year and is appropriately named after the character from Grease-- or the rat from The Muppets--depending on who you speak to! She is quite spunky and will do very well in the wild.

To date, joint efforts from four facilities have released 445 captive-born Marmots back to Vancouver Island, and the population is now estimated between 215-277 individuals. Conservation efforts in Vancouver continue to protect Marmot habitat to help ensure the recovery of this highly-endangered Canadian species.

The Vancouver Island Marmot (Marmota vancouverensis) naturally occurs only in the high mountains of Vancouver Island, in British Columbia. This particular Marmot species is large compared to some others, and most other rodents. The species is currently classified as “Critically Endangered” on the IUCN Red List.

*Please note: the Vancouver Island Marmot pups are not viewable to the public.

One-year-old Rizzo:

4_TZ_Marmot_1yearoldRizzo - Photo Credit K.Wright, Toronto Zoo


Father’s Day Zebra Birth at Lincoln Park Zoo

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Father’s Day was celebrated the ‘zoo way’ at Lincoln Park Zoo, with the arrival of a female Grevy’s Zebra foal. It is the first zebra birth at the zoo since 2012.

Animal care staff arrived at about 7 a.m. Saturday, June 18 to find mom and foal standing in the yard together. This is the first offspring for 5-year-old sire, Webster, and the third foal for 9-year-old dam, Adia. Her most recent offspring, Kito, resides in the yard next door.

“We’re thrilled to welcome this new foal to Lincoln Park Zoo,” said Curator Diane Mulkerin “Like all the animals in our care, zebras play an important role in educating our guests about wildlife.”

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The Grevy's Zebra is endangered in the wild due to hunting and habitat loss. Lincoln Park Zoo participates in the Grevy's Zebra Species Survival Plan®, a shared conservation effort by zoos throughout the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The Grevy's Zebra is native to eastern Africa, where it ranges from Ethiopia to Kenya.

“Research tells us that fostering an emotional connection between humans and animals is key to creating a real commitment to wildlife conservation,” said Lincoln Park Zoo Vice President of Education and Community Engagement Dana Murphy. “Species like zebras, with which we are relatively familiar—and become so at an early age—help us forge that connection and inspire our guests to care about their future.”

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Endangered Blanding’s Turtles Released in Canada

1_Blanding's Turtles (June 2016) _ credit Heike Reuse (2)

On June 21, the Toronto Zoo, Parks Canada and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) reintroduced 36 baby Blanding's Turtles to a wetland that will be part of Rouge National Urban Park in the Greater Toronto Area (Canada’s first national urban park).

This is the third year Blanding’s Turtles have been released in the park. In June 2015, the same group of partners collaborated on the release of 21 baby Blanding’s Turtles in the Rouge and in June 2014, 10 baby turtles were released.

The long-lived species, with a life span of up to 80 years, has inhabited the Rouge Valley for thousands of years, though prior to 2014 its future was uncertain, with as few as six Blanding’s Turtles remaining.

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4_Blanding's Turtles (June 2016) _ credit Heike Reuse (5)Photo Credits: Heike Reuse 

“Blanding’s Turtles are a flagship species representing a group of animals facing a variety of threats," said Dr. Andrew Lentini, Curator of Reptiles and Amphibians, Toronto Zoo. "Seven of eight turtle species in Ontario are at risk and need our help. All Canadians can learn how to help turtles by visiting Toronto Zoo’s Adopt-A-Pond website and by reporting sighting to Toronto Zoo’s Ontario Turtle Tally.”

In February 2016, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, and Minister responsible for Parks Canada Catherine McKenna announced that Parks Canada would be making a $150,000 contribution to the Toronto Zoo to support the Blanding’s head start program in the Rouge.

“Blanding's Turtles are an important indicator of a healthy park,” said Pam Veinotte, Parks Canada's Superintendent responsible for Rouge National Urban Park. "Parks Canada is dedicated to re-establishing a healthy, local population of this threatened turtle species in Rouge National Urban Park now and for future generations, and we are thankful for the opportunity to collaborate with the Toronto Zoo and other wonderful partners to conserve and restore threatened species in Canada's first national urban park.”

The turtle eggs were collected from a stable source population in southern Ontario in 2014 and have been raised in a controlled environment at the Toronto Zoo over the last two years. The University of Toronto Scarborough has joined this head-starting project and is assisting with long-term monitoring of the released turtles. Parks Canada, the TRCA and the Toronto Zoo believe that this type of head starting and reintroduction of the turtles, along with long-term monitoring and ongoing habitat restoration, are keys to the animal’s survival in the future Rouge National Urban Park.

The local public can help protect the turtles by avoiding their nesting areas and by contacting authorities if they observe harmful behavior toward turtles or suspicious behavior in their habitat. The location of the wetland housing the reintroduced turtles will not be disclosed at this time to help minimize disturbances and give the animals the best chance of surviving.

The Toronto Zoo and TRCA began collecting information on and monitoring Blanding’s Turtles in the Rouge Valley in 2005. Environment Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry provided funding, permits and in-kind support for Blanding’s Turtle monitoring in the Rouge Valley in previous years. With the area slated to become Canada’s first national urban park, Parks Canada has come on board and will continue to work on a long-term turtle monitoring program.

Earth Rangers, an environmental conservation organization focused on engaging youth in the protection of nature, also provided support for the project by building a facility to house the turtle eggs and babies at the Toronto Zoo.

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