Dwarf Crocodiles Hatch at San Diego Zoo

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On November 6, eight West African Dwarf Crocodiles hatched from eggs at the San Diego Zoo’s Reptile House—the first hatching of its kind in the zoo’s 101-year history. Three baby Crocs successfully hatched on their own, keepers assisted a fourth one in hatching, and more emerged from their eggs throughout the day. The hatchlings are being cared for behind the scenes—and the parents, an 11-year-old female named Yendi and a 50-year-old male named Kumba, can be seen by guests in the Africa Rocks exhibit.

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Screen Shot 2017-11-10 at 8.36Photo Credit: San Diego Zoo

The eggs were laid by Yendi on August 13. To ensure the eggs’ viability, animal care staff collected the eggs and incubated them in an off-exhibit area at 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Like other Crocodilian species, the gender of West African Dwarf Crocodiles is influenced by incubation temperatures, with higher temperatures required for the development of males. Although it is too soon to tell whether the hatchlings are male or female, keepers hope to determine the Crocodiles’ genders in a few days.

West African Dwarf Crocodiles are the smallest of the world’s Crocodile species, with an average adult length of about five feet.  They inhabit small waterways, wetlands, and swamps in Sub-Saharan West Africa and Central Africa. They are listed as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. There is little data currently available on this species in the wild, so San Diego Zoo Global supports research projects in Africa to better understand the status of West African Dwarf Crocodiles.

 


Cotswold Keeper Cares for Fruit Bat Orphans

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Deputy Section Head of Primates, Natalie Horner, has successfully taken on the role of surrogate mother to two abandoned Egyptian Fruit Bat pups at Cotswold Wildlife Park.

This is the first time Natalie has hand-reared these nocturnal mammals and, according to Park records, it is also the first time this species has been hand-reared at the Burford collection. The pups were discovered on their own when the Bat House was undergoing a major revamp.

Natalie explained, “A couple of days after we moved all of the Bats into temporary holdings, while we refurbished the Bat House, we saw both babies roosting by themselves. Mother Bats often 'park' their babies to give themselves a break. So we left them for a day, in the hope their mums would come and collect them again, as the chances of the babies surviving without a feed and warmth are very slim.”

Their mothers never returned so the decision was made to hand-rear them in order to give the pups, named Bruce and Wayne, the best possible chance of survival. Natalie became their surrogate mother and took them to her home where they could be given around-the-clock care. At the time, they were around four to six weeks old and weighed forty grams. Unable to maintain their own body temperature, they were kept in an incubator for two weeks and monitored closely by Natalie.

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Hand-rearing these tiny winged-mammals was no mean feat. A lot of time and effort was invested in the newborns, which hopefully would result in not only their survival but also their eventual reintroduction to the colony.

Natalie said, “I had to feed the babies every three hours in the early days. They were given milk as well as mashed fruit. The first feed of the day was at six o’clock in the morning and the last feed was at midnight.”

Feeding soon became one of Natalie’s favorite parental duties, and she explained why: “One of the things I'll never forget was wrapping the babies in their blankets for feed times. Wrapping them up gave them comfort, as their mother would wrap her wings around them to keep them safe. As soon as they finished their feed (and sometimes during) they would fall asleep wrapped in their blankets. It really melted my heart.”

As they continued to grow, and in order for their wings to developed properly, she encouraged them to fly.

“When they were around ten weeks old we began flying lessons. This was great fun. Bats instinctively know how to fly, so they just needed a little bit of encouragement. I would hang them from my finger and gently bob them up and down to encourage them to wing beat. I hung towels and sheets on the walls of my spare room to give plenty of roosting opportunities. The first lesson went as expected - they flapped their wings and flopped straight on the floor! They quickly recovered though and it didn't take long at all for their muscles to strengthen and for them to fly from one side of the room to the other. From then we had nightly flying lessons. As soon as they were able to fly comfortably around my spare room they were upgraded to their own enclosure at the Park before being reintroduced to the colony.”

Bruce and Wayne developed into strong young Bats and the day Natalie had been hoping for finally arrived. Natalie continued, “By the time the Bats were six months old they were fully self-feeding and very strong and capable flyers. They are still only half the size of the adult Bats but shouldn't have any problems integrating and competing for food. So the decision was made to reintroduce them to the rest of the colony. There wasn't much preparation needed so the Bats were put into transport bags and taken to the Bat enclosure. Once taken out of the bags, I placed them on my finger for one last time and watched them fly off to rejoin the rest of the colony. They both flew a couple of circuits of the enclosure before roosting with the rest of the colony. It was such a proud moment for me, and such a happy ending to what had been four amazing months. To see the babies back with their family made all the hard work worth it. I'm so happy for them to be back where they belong.”

The tiny survivors are testament to Natalie’s dedication as their keeper. Looking back on her time as their surrogate mother, she said: “Hand-rearing Bruce and Wayne was an amazing experience. To care for them, help them grow and develop into strong, healthy Bats and then reintroduce them back to their colony was incredibly rewarding. Bats are fascinating animals and are important plant pollinators and seed dispersers. It’s been great to raise awareness for these misunderstood animals and hopefully we've been able to change some opinions and generate more love for these wonderful mammals.”

Continue reading "Cotswold Keeper Cares for Fruit Bat Orphans" »


Meet Zoo de Beauval’s Handsome New Tapir

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Zoo de Beauval is pleased to announce the birth of a male Brazilian Tapir. The handsome three-week-old has been named Diego.

Attentive mother, Chiquita, has been protectively caring for her sweet, striped son. The new family, including dad Farrusco, is at home in the Zoo’s South American exhibit.

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4_22769813_1781610285197243_4033519976349854851_oPhoto Credits: Zoo de Beauval

The South American or Brazilian Tapir (Tapirus terrestris) is one of five species in the Tapir family, including: the Mountain Tapir, the Malayan Tapir, the Baird's Tapir, and the Kabomani Tapir.

They are excellent swimmers and divers, but they can also move quickly on land and rugged, mountainous terrain. They have a life span of approximately 25 to 30 years. When frightened, they are known to run toward water to take cover.

Brazilian Tapirs are herbivores. Using their nose, they can feed on leaves, buds, shoots, and small branches torn from trees, fruit, grasses, and aquatic plants.

They generally mate in late Spring through early Summer. Females go through a gestation period of 13 months (390–395 days) and will typically have one offspring every two years. Newborns weigh about 15 pounds and are weaned at about six months of age.

The Brazilian Tapir is currently classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List. Dwindling numbers are due to poaching for meat and hide, as well as habitat destruction. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service designated the species as “Endangered” on June 2, 1970.


Perth Zoo Celebrates Birth of First Binturong Cubs

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Perth Zoo is celebrating the birth of the first Binturong cubs in the Zoo’s 119-year history.

Two cubs, a male and a female, were born September 6 to mother, Selasa, and father, Rabu. The parents arrived at the Zoo from Singapore Zoological Gardens, in 2016, to establish a Perth Zoo Binturong family.

Perth Zoo Keeper, Marty Boland, said, “It’s very exciting to welcome two rare Binturong cubs, less than 12 months after their parent’s arrival in Australia.”

“Binturongs are capable of delaying their pregnancy after mating until they feel the environmental conditions are favourable. So, it’s great to see that Selasa is feeling secure and content here in WA!”

“She is a first time Mum, but has been lovingly tending to her offspring in the nest box and also allowing us to photograph the cubs’ progression. She’s even trusted us to handle her cubs to quickly weigh them.”

“They tip the scales just over one kilogram, a good weight for Binturong infants,” said Marty.

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The new arrivals recently opened their eyes, and they are beginning to take in the world around them. Zoo Keepers expect they will start exploring their exhibit in coming weeks and become more visible to the public.

Marty continued, “Visitors who are unsure of where to catch a glimpse of the Binturong family may smell them first. They are famous for their strong odor, which is often likened to popcorn!”

The Binturong (Arctictis binturong), also known as a Bearcat, is a viverrid that is native to South and Southeast Asia.

Binturongs are omnivorous, feeding on small mammals, birds, fish, earthworms, insects and fruits.

The estrous period of the Binturong is 81 days, with a gestation of 91 days. The average age of sexual maturation is 30.4 months for females and 27.7 months for males. The Binturong is one of approximately 100 species of mammal believed by many experts to be capable of embryonic diapause, or delayed implantation, which allows the female of the species to time parturition to coincide with favorable environmental conditions. Typical litters consist of two offspring, but up to six may occur.

It is uncommon in much of its range, and has been assessed and classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List due to a declining population trend that is estimated at more than 30% over the last three decades. The main threat to the species is severe destruction of habitats in their native parts of the world.

Those wanting to help save Binturong from extinction are encouraged to “adopt” one of Perth Zoo’s cubs. Zoo adoption packages ensure more funds are poured into giving wildlife a chance of survival. More information can be found at: www.perthzoo.com.au

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Long-Awaited Anteater Pup at Nashville Zoo

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A Giant Anteater pup was recently born at the Nashville Zoo. The female arrived on October 22, and she is the first of her kind born at the Zoo since 2011.

The pup, named Isabel, has been under the careful attention of mom, Praim. According to sources, Isabel weighed-in at three pounds and was around 26 inches at birth.

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3_Praim's Baby Girl - 2017 - Margarita Colburn2Photo Credits: Nashville Zoo / Margarita Woc Colburn, DVM

The Giant Anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla), also known as the ‘ant bear’, is a large insectivorous mammal native to Central and South America. It is classified with Sloths in the order Pilosa.

The species is mostly terrestrial and is the largest of its family. It is especially recognizable by its elongated snout, bushy tail, and long fore claws. Adults can grow to a total length of around 7 feet and a maximum weight of around 90 pounds.

The Giant Anteater can be found in grasslands and rainforests. It forages in open areas and rests in more forested habitats. It feeds primarily on ants and termites, using its fore claws to dig them up and its long, sticky tongue to collect them.

They are mostly solitary, except during mother-offspring relationships. Giant anteaters can mate throughout the year. Gestation lasts around 190 days and ends with the birth of a single pup, which typically weighs around 1.4 kg (3.1 lb). Females give birth standing upright.

Pups are born with eyes closed and begin to open them after six days. The mother carries its pup on its back for the first few months. The pup's black and white band aligns with its mother's, camouflaging it. The young communicate with their mothers with sharp whistles and use their tongues during nursing. After three months, the pup begins to eat solid food and is fully weaned by ten months. The mother grooms her offspring during rest periods lasting up to an hour. Grooming peaks during the first three months and declines as the young reaches nine months of age. Young Anteaters usually become independent by nine or ten months.

The Giant Anteater is currently listed as “Vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. It has been extirpated from many parts of its former range, including nearly all of Central America. Threats to its survival include: habitat destruction, fire, and poaching for fur and bush meat.


Endangered Ducklings Hatch at Auckland Zoo

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A paddling of Whio Ducks has hatched at Auckland Zoo! These special ducklings are the first Whio born at the New Zealand facility in five years, and as part of their breed-for-release programme, they are destined for life at a beautiful North Island river.

Over the next eight weeks, as they continue to grow, they will eventually head to a duckling ‘boot-camp’ at a Department of Conservation facility in Turangi. There they will build up their muscles and learn to fly, which will prepare them for a new life in the wild. In 2002 Auckland Zoo successfully released eleven Whio chicks.

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3_20A6847Photo Credits: Auckland Zoo

This iconic native New Zealand bird features prominently on the countries $10 currency note, and it is nationally endangered. They require clean, fast flowing streams to swim in, and because of this, are a key indicator of the health of native rivers.

Once found in the North and South Island, of New Zealand, their numbers have reduced greatly due to pollution and predation.

Whio releases into the wild are a great example of the work that Auckland Zoo does behind-the-scenes with partners like DOC Whio Forever, in an effort to conserve native wildlife.

Although these new ducklings are off display, adult Whio can be seen by Zoo visitors swimming in the streams in The High Country aviary in Te Wao Nui.

Continue reading "Endangered Ducklings Hatch at Auckland Zoo" »


"Panda-monium" Grows Along With France's First Baby

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The “Panda-monium” continues as France’s first Giant Panda baby grows up at Zoo de Beauval.

Born on August 4, the little Panda is now three months old, has opened his eyes, and sports a fluffy black-and-white coat.

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Photo Credit: Zoo de Beauval

Temporarily named Mini Yuan Zi after his father, Yuan Zi, the little Panda has captured the hearts of fans around the world.  In keeping with Chinese tradition, the baby will receive his official name when he turns 100 days old. 

ZooBorns first reported on Mini Yuan Zi’s birth here, including a dramatic video of the cub’s delivery. The zoo shares weekly updates on the baby’s weight.  As of November 3, he weighed nearly 12 pounds – right on target for healthy development.

Mini Yuan Zi spends most of his time with his mother, Huan Huan. Keepers occasionally remove the baby from Huan Huan to weigh him and perform a health check.  These brief periods of “alone time” give Huan Huan a chance to eat and rest away from the demands of her baby. When mom and baby are together, Huan Huan holds Mini Yuan Zi close and keeps him warm.

Breeding Giant Pandas is a complex endeavor, and timing is crucial. Adults are solitary, and females come into heat only once per year for 24-48 hours.  After three unsuccessful breeding seasons, staff at Zoo de Beauval opted to use artificial insemination. The process worked, and Mini Yuan Zi was born.

See more photos of Mini Yuan Zi below.

Continue reading ""Panda-monium" Grows Along With France's First Baby" »


Help Name This Endangered Brown Kiwi Chick

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The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia, and the Embassy of New Zealand in the United States are asking animal lovers to help name an endangered female Brown Kiwi chick.

Members of the public can submit name suggestions, until November 5, via the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute’s website: https://nationalzoo.si.edu/animals/name-kiwi-chick . The top suggestions will be put up for a worldwide public vote via the Zoo’s Twitter account (@NationalZoo) on November 13.

Keepers describe the Brown Kiwi chick as fairly calm and laid-back, though she could become more cautious as she matures. She readily eats all of her food, but mealworms appear to be her favorite food. In the past three months, she has tripled her weight and now weighs about 2 pounds (908 grams), which is normal for a young Kiwi. Since Kiwi are nocturnal, she spends most of her day sleeping and only interacts with keepers during routine health checks and weigh-ins.

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The chick hatched at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) earlier this summer between July 29 and July 30. She is the fifth chick for her parents “Ngati Hine Tahi” and “Ngati Hine Rua”, and she is their first female offspring.

Ngati Hine Tahi and Ngati Hine Rua were both gifts from New Zealand in 2010. Their three older male offspring who hatched at SCBI in 2016 are named Kaha, Hari and Kake. New Zealand’s Ambassador to the United States, Tim Groser, named Kaha (“strong” from Maori). The name Hari translates as “joy”, and Kake translates as “to overcome.”

Kiwi are sacred to the Maori people in New Zealand. SCBI repatriates feathers molted from its Kiwi to New Zealand.

SCBI’s Kiwi participate in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan (SSP) for Brown Kiwi. The chicks born there enter a breeding program when they are fully mature. The SSP makes breeding recommendations to match the birds with mates that will increase the genetic diversity of the population living in human care.

Brown Kiwi are monogamous and usually mate for life. Kathy Brader, bird keeper at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, serves as the SSP coordinator for Brown Kiwi living outside of New Zealand.

Brown Kiwis (Apteryx mantelli) are flightless nocturnal birds that are native to New Zealand. They are classified as “Endangered” by the IUCN, due to non-native predators introduced by humans. They lay the second-largest eggs for body size of any bird—an average 20 percent of the female’s body weight.

In 1975, the Zoo became the first facility to hatch a Brown Kiwi outside of New Zealand. SCBI* has hatched six Kiwi eggs since 2012.

*SCBI plays a leading role in the Smithsonian’s global efforts to save wildlife species from extinction and train future generations of conservationists. SCBI spearheads research programs at its headquarters in Front Royal, Va., the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C., and at field research stations and training sites worldwide. SCBI scientists tackle some of today’s most complex conservation challenges by applying and sharing what they learn about animal behavior and reproduction, ecology, genetics, migration and conservation sustainability.


Mystic Aquarium Releases Rescued Harbor Seal Pups

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From the shores of Rhode Island to North Carolina and Alaska, Mystic Aquarium, in Mystic, Connecticut, works to care for marine animals in need.

On the morning of October 5, Mystic Aquarium’s Animal Rescue Program staff and volunteers released two Harbor Seal pups, Lavender and Bluebell, at Blue Shutters Beach in Charlestown, RI.

Both pups were abandoned, shortly after birth, and were rescued by Marine Mammals of Maine. Lavender, a female Harbor Seal, was rescued in Waldoboro, ME and was transferred to Mystic Aquarium for rehabilitation on May 18. Bluebell, a male Harbor Seal, was rescued in Scarborough, ME and arrived at Mystic Aquarium’s Animal Rescue Clinic on August 3.

Following months of rehabilitation, the dynamic duo, at approximately 4–5 months old, were deemed healthy and prepared for their release into the wild and a life at sea.

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Just three-weeks-later, on October 20, Mystic Aquarium’s Animal Rescue Program released four more Harbor Seal pups. The four Harbor Seals (Flax, Larkspur, Sunflower and Buttercup) were rescued by Marine Mammals of Maine before being transferred to Mystic Aquarium’s Animal Rescue Clinic.

Flax was rescued from Bustin’s Island, Freeport, ME, and was considered abandoned shortly after birth, arriving at Mystic Aquarium on May 28. Larkspur was rescued in Harpswell, ME, and Sunflower was rescued from Isle of Springs, ME. Both pups were also considered abandoned shortly after birth and arrived at Mystic Aquarium on June 1. Buttercup was rescued in Little Diamond Island, Portland, ME, and was found malnourished and suffering from pneumonia, arriving at Mystic Aquarium on July 15.

Following months of rehabilitation, the four pups, now approximately 4–5 months old, were deemed healthy and prepared for life at sea.

Mystic Aquarium’s Animal Rescue Program supports animals in need and educates the public about the marine environment and its inhabitants. The public is encouraged to call the Aquarium’s 24-hour hotline at 860.572.5955 ext. 107 if they encounter a marine mammal or sea turtle in Conn., R.I. or Fishers Island, N.Y. Mystic Aquarium is a founding member of the Northeast Region Stranding Network. This network in comprised of organizations along the eastern seacoast, which have facilities and trained staff to care for sick and injured animals. Marine Mammals are protected species, so only groups and facilities authorized by the National Marine Fisheries Service are permitted to handle these animals.


Two New Sitatunga Calves at The Maryland Zoo

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The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore has welcomed two female Sitatunga calves to its’ growing herd. The calves were born on October 9 and October 16.

Ruby was born October 9 to three-year-old Remy and sired by one-year-old Chopper, while Peggy, born on October 16, is the offspring of seven-year-old Lela and nine-year-old Hurley.

“Ruby is a healthy 14-pound calf,” stated Erin Cantwell, mammal collection and conservation manager at the Zoo. “Remy has been very attentive to her calf. The two are sharing space with others in the herd and have just begun exploring the outdoor behind-the-scenes area together with our month-old male calf Marcus and his mother Mousse.”

“Peggy, on the other hand, has had a bit of a rough start,” continued Cantwell. “Lela had a difficult delivery, and we decided it was best for both dam and calf that we hand-raise Peggy in close proximity to the herd. Animal care staff are bottle-feeding her a specialized milk formula six times a day. She has been steadily gaining weight and we are keeping a very close eye on her to ensure she thrives.”

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4_Ruby DSC_8346Photo Credits: The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore

The Sitatunga (Tragelaphus spekii) ​is a species of antelope native to Central Africa. They live in semi-aquatic swamps, marshes and flood plains. Outside of protected areas, Sitatunga are vulnerable to over-hunting and habitat loss, as people drain and develop swampland. Currently, Sitatunga are not classified as threatened or endangered.

The Maryland Zoo’s Sitatunga herd is made up of 12 animals, including the new calves, and can be found in two exhibit spaces along the boardwalk in the African Journey section of the Zoo.

“We hope that Zoo visitors will able to spot Remy and Ruby in the Sitatunga yard, next to the tortoises…weather permitting. Because of her specialized care, Peggy will need additional time behind-the-scenes to ensure her continued health and integration into the herd.”

The calves’ births were the result of a recommendation from the Sitatunga Species Survival Plan (SSP) coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). SSPs provide breeding recommendations to maximize genetic diversity, with the goal of ensuring health of the individual animal, as well as the long-term survival of the species population to help save animals from extinction.

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