Baby Orangutan Debuts at Brookfield Zoo

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A 2-week-old female Bornean Orangutan born at Brookfield Zoo on December 20 made her official public debut this week to the delight of zoo staff and guests.

As she clings to her mother, the unnamed female infant demonstrates a baby Orangutan’s amazing ability to hold on tight as her mother moves through the treetops.  This infant is the sixth for 35-year-old Sophia, so she is experienced at raising babies.

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DSC_7152--1-1Photo Credit: Jim Schulz/Chicago Zoological Society



For about the next 10 months, the infant will continuously cling to Sophia. An infant Orangutan relies on its mother longer than any other mammal except humans. An infant may nurse from its mother for up to five years and stays close to her up to age eight. Because of this long dependency, there is a six- to eight-year interval between births. A female remains with her mother into her teens, which gives the young Orangutan the opportunity to observe her mother raise an infant and gain the knowledge she will need once she becomes a mother herself. This birth will be a great opportunity and experience for Sophia’s daughter Kekasih, 8, to watch her mother care for and raise a baby.

Orangutans, a critically endangered species, once lived in much of Southeast Asia, but their range and population have been dramatically reduced due to deforestation, the illegal pet trade, and poaching. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the Bornean Orangutan population declined by more than 60 percent between 1950 and 2010, and a further 22 percent decrease is projected through 2025.

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Two Koala Joeys Emerge at Taronga Zoo

1_Sydney's Joey (4)_Photo by Paul Fahy

Taronga Zoo’s Koala keepers received an early gift this past festive season…two Koala joeys emerged from their pouches just in time for Christmas!

The tiny face of a male joey appeared in time to catch some of Australia’s warmer weather. The seven-month-old is the second joey for mother Sydney. “It’s a bit hot inside that pouch on steamy summer days, so he’s started to climb out and sit on Sydney’s head or cling to her belly and back,” said Koala Keeper, Laura Jones.

Prior to Christmas, Keeper Laura reported it would not be long before the joey began to spend all its time outside the pouch. “He’s still climbing back into the pouch occasionally, but it’s a tight squeeze and his arms or legs are often sticking out. By New Year’s Eve I don’t think he’ll fit back in,” she said.

Sydney isn’t the only new mum at Taronga Zoo’s Koala Encounter; her neighbor Willow also recently welcomed her second joey.

At eight months old, the female joey is slightly more developed than her tree mate and already starting to sample eucalyptus leaves. “She’s begun to nibble on leaves while mum is having breakfast. She’s a bit awkward and clumsy trying to get the leaves into her mouth, but she’s getting better every day,” said Laura.

2_Sydney's Joey (3)_Photo by Paul Fahy

3_Sydney's Joey (5)_Photo by Paul Fahy

4_Sydney's Joey (2)_Photo by Paul FahyPhoto Credits: Paul Fahy/Taronga Zoo (Images 1-5: Sydney and her male joey; Images 6-12: Willow and her female joey)

The yet-to-named joeys will spend at least another three to four months with their mothers before starting to venture out on their own.

Visitors have begun to meet the two joeys at Taronga’s Koala Encounter, where they also learn more about the threats that Koalas face in the wild.

Laura said it was particularly important for locals to watch out for Koalas on the roads over the Christmas holidays.

“It’s breeding season and that means Koalas, particularly males, will be on the ground more and potentially crossing roads as they range around for territory and search for females. Motorists should be particularly careful when driving at dawn and dusk,” said Laura.

More great pics below the fold!

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First Giant Anteater Birth for Zoo Miami

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December 21st not only marked the beginning of winter, it also marked the arrival of a special new resident of Zoo Miami…a Giant Anteater pup!

This is the first Giant Anteater birth in the history of the zoo. Mom is 3 years old and arrived at Zoo Miami in 2014 from Zoo Boise. The first time dad is 7 years old and arrived from Busch Gardens in 2010. Although the new pup recently had its first neonatal exam, it is still difficult to determine the sex. So far, the baby is healthy and is successfully nursing, and the first time mother is exhibiting outstanding maternal care.

Zoo Miami’s newborn will ride on its mother’s back for up to a year before becoming more independent.

Keepers report that it will be several weeks before the Giant Anteater pup will be exhibited to the public to insure that it is well bonded with its mother and progressing normally.

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4_EPhoto Credits: Ron Magill/ Zoo Miami

Giant Anteaters (Myrmecophaga tridactyla) are the largest of the four Anteater species and boast one of the most fascinating tongues in the animal kingdom. They are specialist predators of termites and ants and may consume tens of thousands of these tiny nutritious insects every day. Anteaters are edentate animals; they have no teeth. Ant and termite nests are ripped open with their powerful claws, and the tongue acts as animated flypaper. These tongues can protrude more than 2 feet (60 cm) to capture prey. Ants possess a painful sting when attacked, so Anteaters have to eat quickly. They do so by flicking their tongue up to 160 times per minute to avoid being stung. An Anteater may spend only a minute feasting on each mound. They never destroy a nest, preferring to return and feed again in the future.

Anteaters are generally solitary animals, except during the mating season. After a gestation period of around 190 days, the female produces a single pup, which weighs approximately 1.3kg. The female gives birth standing up and the young Anteater immediately climbs onto her back. The young are born with a full coat of hair and adult-like markings, aligning with their mother’s camouflaging. A mother will carry the baby on her back for approximately 6 to 9 months (until it is almost half her size). The young suckle for 2 to 6 months and become independent after roughly 2 years, or when the mother becomes pregnant again.

Giant Anteaters are prey for Jaguars and Pumas in the wild. They typically flee from danger by galloping away, but if cornered, they use their immense front claws to defend themselves, rearing up on their hind legs, striking their attacker violently with their powerful claws and are capable of inflicting fatal wounds to predators.

The Giant Anteater is considered to be the most threatened mammal of Central America and is feared extinct in Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala and Uruguay, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Giant Anteaters are listed as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species. Habitat loss, road kills, hunting and wildfires have substantially affected their population numbers over the last ten years. Scientists estimate that 5,000 individuals are left in the wild.

More great pics, below the fold!

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Longleat’s Cheetah Cubs Enjoy a Day-Out

1_Cheetah cubs Winston and Poppy with their mum Wilma in their outdoor paddock for the first time at Longleat Safari Park PIC Caleb Hall (3000x2000)

A rare pair of Cheetah cubs has ventured outside for the first time at Longleat Safari Park.

Thirteen-week-old cubs, Poppy and Winston (who were named by the public), are the first of their kind to have been born at the Wiltshire, UK wildlife attraction.

The brother-and-sister duo, still sporting juvenile fur, was allowed outside to explore their paddock under the watchful eye of mum Wilma.

“It’s amazing to see how fast they are developing and fascinating to watch their reactions to the outside world,” said keeper Eloise Kilbane.

“Both of them were initially a little disconcerted by the wet grass and kept trying to wipe the water off their paws. Poppy also got a leaf stuck to her back and couldn’t quite work out how to get it off!

“However it wasn’t long before they were demonstrating the Cheetah’s famous turn of speed as they chased each other around,” she added.

2_Cheetah cubs Winston and Poppy with mum Wilma at Longleat Safari Park PIC Caleb Hall (3000x2089)

3_Cheetah cubs Winston and Poppy explore their outdoor paddock for the first time at Longleat Safari Park PIC Caleb HallPhoto Credits: Longleat Safari Park / Caleb Hall

The Cheetah is officially classified as ‘Vulnerable’ on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species, which means it is very likely to become ‘Endangered’ unless the circumstances threatening its survival and reproduction improve.

In 2008 the IUCN estimated there to be around 7,500-10,000 adult Cheetahs in Africa and there are concerns the numbers have decreased significantly since then.

The births, which come almost five years after Cheetahs first arrived at Longleat, are particularly welcome as the cubs are part of the European Endangered Species Programme.

“Both mum Wilma and dad Carl have very valuable genetics within the European population as they came to us from a captive breeding population in Pretoria, South Africa,” said Eloise.

“This means Winston and Poppy, are also genetically distinct from the vast majority of the Cheetah within Europe, which means their birth is even more important,” she added.

Despite being the fastest developing member of the cat family, the cubs will remain reliant on mum for up to two years.

Cheetahs are the world’s quickest land animals, capable of top speeds of 71 miles per hour. While running they can cover four strides in a second, with each stride measuring up to eight metres.

Longleat Safari & Adventure Park is a member of the British and Irish Association of zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA). The facility celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.


Bilby Joeys Born at Alice Springs Desert Park

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Alice Springs Desert Park, in central Australia, has produced two new resident marsupials.

The Greater Bilby is currently listed as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, so the birth of the two healthy little male Bilbies puts the Desert Park on the conservation front and helps ensure that the unique marsupial will survive for generations to come.

Specialist Zoo Keeper, Bronte Stray, said these two Bilbies are part of the National Recovery Plan and are genetically important to the program.

Ms. Stray began, “The boys will help in diversifying the gene pool, unlike many marsupials, the male Bilby actually helps protect and raise the young.

“Bilbies are slowly becoming endangered because of environmental factors which encompass habitat loss and change, and competition with other animals and feral predators.

“The Bilby is perfectly designed for foraging for food with its huge ears and very good nose, the Bilby doesn’t need good eye sight, as it listens and smells for invertebrates, fruits, seeds and even witchetty grubs, which are inside tree roots. It also doesn’t need to drink as it can get all its water from its food, especially tubers and roots which can have very high water content,” continued Ms. Stray.

The National Recovery Program includes captive breeding, monitoring populations, and re-establishing Bilbies where they once lived.

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4_P1010031Photo Credits: Alice Springs Desert Park

The Greater Bilby (Macrotis lagotis), often referred to simply as the Bilby since the Lesser Bilby (Macrotis leucura) became extinct in the 1950s, is an Australian species of nocturnal omnivorous animal in the order Peramelemorphia. (Other vernacular names include dalgyte, pinkie, or rabbit-eared bandicoot).

The species lives in arid areas of central Australia, but their native range and population is in decline.

They do not need to drink water and get all the moisture they need from their food, which includes: insects and their larvae, seeds, spiders, bulbs, fruit, fungi, and very small animals. Most of their food is found by digging or scratching in the soil, and using their very long tongues.

Greater Bilbies have a short gestation period of about 12–14 days, one of the shortest among mammals. Their young are only 0.25 in (0.6 cm) long and very underdeveloped when they are born. They crawl to the mother’s pouch and latch onto one of her eight teats, and they leave the pouch after 70–75 days. But they will remain in the burrow for two to three weeks before independence. Litters usually consist of one to three joeys, and females can have up to four litters per year, depending on conditions.

The baby Bilbies can now be viewed at the Desert Park Nocturnal House.

For further details and park information visit www.alicespringsdesertpark.com.au.


Amur Leopard Twins Debut in Indiana

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The Amur Leopard cubs at Potawatomi Zoo have been kept from view and safely tucked away with mom Pearl, since their birth on July 26th.

Just prior to Christmas, Zoo guests were treated with a glimpse of the little ladies exploring their outdoor exhibit, on their official public debut.

According to staff, each cub has her own personality. One of the girls is a bit more reserved, while the other sister is more eager and bold.

While the sex of the cubs is known, the Zoo has yet to choose names. Keepers anticipate recruiting the public’s assistance in selecting names, after the winter season.

Potawatomi Zoo is the oldest zoo in Indiana, USA. In an effort to protect the animals and guests from the sometimes-brutal cold of the winter season, the Zoo implemented “Winter Days”. The facility will be closed for regular hours during the season, but visitors can still experience some of the Zoo and its residents on specially selected days. For more info, please see the Zoo’s website: https://potawatomizoo.org/events/winter-days-at-potawatomi-zoo.

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3_5855a65145fc9.imagePhoto Credits: Robert Franklin/South Bend Tribune

Potawatomi Zoo residents, 14 year-old Pearl and 18 year-old Sergei, are the parents of the cubs. The twins represent the fourth and fifth Amur Leopard cubs born at Potawatomi Zoo within the last two years. They are incredibly significant for both the Amur Leopard population and the Zoo. The remarkable birth marks nine successful Amur Leopard cubs born, through four litters, at the Zoo since 2007.

The Amur Leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis) is a subspecies native to the Primorye region of southeastern Russia and the Jilin Province of northeast China. They are classified as “Critically Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, with approximately 70 individuals remaining in the wild and just over 200 in Zoos worldwide. They are on the brink of extinction in the wild due to poaching and loss of habitat.

Efforts at breeding Amur Leopards in captivity have been marginally successful at best, with just a handful of births in Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) facilities last year. The significance of Potawatomi Zoo’s twin cubs arriving 16 months after triplets, which were born in March of 2015, puts the Zoo on the conservation field map in terms of the Amur Leopard Species Survival Plan (SSP) program’s breeding efforts. In the last year and a half, over 60% of viable Amur Leopard cub births in North American accredited zoological institutions took place at Potawatomi Zoo.

The Potawatomi Zoo, a participant in the AZA’s SSP program for Amur Leopards, is actively engaging in breeding genetically healthy Amur Leopards to help populate the critically endangered species. Amur Leopards are only found in Far Eastern Russia and Northeast China.


Giraffe Calf is The "Best Christmas Gift"

2) Keepers at Chester Zoo are celebrating “the best Christmas gift they could have wished for” following the birth of a rare Rothschild’s giraffe calf (7)
A rare Rothschild’s Giraffe calf born on Boxing Day (December 26) at Chester Zoo has been described by keepers as “the best Christmas gift.” 

The six-foot-tall youngster, which is yet to be sexed or named, arrived to first time mother Tula at around 7:00 am and was up on its feet just minutes later.

Keepers at Chester Zoo are celebrating “the best Christmas gift they could have wished for” following the birth of a rare Rothschild’s giraffe calf (3)
1) Keepers at Chester Zoo are celebrating “the best Christmas gift they could have wished for” following the birth of a rare Rothschild’s giraffe calf (16)Photo Credit:  Chester Zoo

Rothschild’s Giraffes are one of the most endangered subspecies of Giraffe and one of the world’s most at-risk species. Recent estimates suggest that less than 1,600 individuals remain in the wild, primarily as a result of poaching and habitat loss.

Sarah Roffe, team manager of Giraffes at the zoo, said, “Rothschild’s Giraffes are highly endangered and so the arrival of a new calf is a major cause for celebration. It really is the best Christmas gift we could have ever have wished for."

The calf will remain with Tula but separated from the rest of the herd until the two bond with each other and the calf nurses regularly.

Chester Zoo staff point out the Rothschild’s Giraffes are experiencing a “silent extinction.”  In the last 45 years, the population of Rothschild’s Giraffes in Uganda’s Kidepo Valley National Park – where they were once found in large numbers – has reduced by over 90%. A huge part of this decline was due to poaching in the 1990s and since then the population has failed to bounce back as habitat loss continues to threaten their survival.

Rothschild’s Giraffes are classified as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  With less than 1,600 remaining in the wild,Rothschild’s Giraffes are more endangered than African Elephants or Giant Pandas.

Roughly one-third of the surviving population of Rothschild’s Giraffes live in zoos, where carefully coordinated breeding programs are creating a safety-net population for the species.

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Giant Panda Cubs Learn to Walk

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Giant Panda cubs Ya Lun and Xi Lun are nearly four months old and can now scoot, wobble, and walk across their day room at Zoo Atlanta.

Born September 3, the female cubs are capturing the world’s attention as they become more mobile. Experienced mother Lun Lun is gradually introducing her cubs to new and exciting adventures, including the wide-open spaces of the day room. 

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Panda_cubs2016_161227_dayroom_ZA_5942Photo Credit:  Zoo Atlanta
You met the twins on ZooBorns when they were named at their 100-Day Celebration in keeping with an ancient Chinese tradition.  They now weigh nearly 11 pounds, through their woolly fur makes them appear much larger. 

The next milestone for the cubs will be climbing, and they’ve already been testing those skills on logs within the dayroom. 

Giant Pandas’ status was recently downgraded from Endangered to Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, but fewer than 1,900 Giant Pandas are estimated to remain in the wild.  The population still relies heavily on conservation breeding programs like the one at Zoo Atlanta. 

The twins are the sixth and seventh offspring for Lun Lun and her mate, Yang Yang.  Their five previous cubs now reside at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in China.

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L.A. Zoo Debuts Rare and Endangered Snake Babies

1_Los Angeles Zoo Baby Cape Cobra by Tad Motoyama

Two deadly African Snake species have taken up residence at the Living Amphibians, Invertebrates, and Reptiles (LAIR) exhibit at the Los Angeles Zoo for the first time in the Zoo’s history. The Zoo also welcomed a baby boom of 50 plus snakes from six different species.

Perhaps the most well known of the new inhabitants are a pair of Cape Cobras, a highly venomous species of cobra found across southern Africa that is known to raise its fore-body off the ground and spread its hood when feeling nervous or threatened.

“We’re really excited to welcome this species of snake to the collection for the first time,” said Ian Recchio, Curator of Reptiles and Amphibians at the Los Angeles Zoo. “Our visitors often ask if we have cobras because they are a popular and highly-recognizable species of snake, and now we can offer our guests the chance to safely view one of nature’s most unique animals.”

One of the deadliest snake species in Africa, the Cape Cobra’s powerful neurotoxic venom is the most potent of any African Cobra and when bitten, victims require urgent hospitalization and treatment. This particular species of cobra is also highly polymorphic and can come in a variety of vibrant patterns and colors including speckled polka dots, lemon yellow, and different shades of brown and gray. The LAIR now has two Cape Cobras: a young sibling pair from Zoo Atlanta, which are a unique yellowish-beige in color and three feet long.

Also from Africa, the LAIR now exhibits four extraordinarily rare Ethiopian Mountain Vipers, born at the San Diego Zoo. Found only in remote areas in Ethiopia, there is very little known about the natural history of this highly venomous species. And, like the Cape Cobra, its appearance is also very striking and unique with beautiful lemon yellow and black geometric patterns on their bodies.

The LAIR has also experienced a baby boom with over 50 snake babies, recently born to six different species. The list of rare and endangered snake babies includes: Armenian Vipers, Black-tailed Horned Vipers, Catalina Rattle-less Rattlesnakes, Aruba Island Rattlesnakes, Baja California Rat Snakes, and Southwest Speckled Rattlesnakes.

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Photo Credits: Tad Motoyama  (Image 1: Cape Cobra / Image 2: Ethiopian Mountain Viper / Image 3: Armenian Viper / Image 4: Black-tailed Horned Viper / Image 5: Catalina Rattle-less Rattlesnake / Image 6: Aruba Island Rattlesnake / Image 7: Baja California Rat Snake / Image 8: Southwest Speckled Rattlesnake )

The most likely reason for the influx in babies this season is the years of preparation and extraordinary work that the L.A. Zoo’s LAIR staff has put into understanding and raising these rare and endangered snake species. The team has endeavored to find the formula that worked best for the collection.

“The staff at LAIR has a special talent when it comes to breeding snakes and lizards,” said Recchio. “The baby boom we are experiencing now is the result of years of observation, tinkering with new breeding tactics, and doing our best to mimic a snake’s natural habitat in the wild.”

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Zoo’s First Malayan Tiger Cub Makes Her Debut

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Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo welcomed its first critically endangered Malayan Tiger cub on September 11, and the beautiful girl, named Berisi, recently made her public debut!

The cub was born to Bzui (pronounced Ba-ZOO-ee), and has been cared for, by mom, in a den off exhibit.

“The cub is growing normally and nursing well,” said Dr. Larry Killmar, the Zoo’s Chief Zoological Officer. “Our Zoo is proud to be working to preserve a species like the Malayan tiger, which is facing a growing number of threats in the wild.”

New mother, Bzui, arrived at the Zoo last spring to join her mate, Mata, on a recommendation from the Association of Zoo’s and Aquarium’s Malayan Tiger Species Survival Plan.

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3_15493827_10155496387701124_4233560740007881500_oPhoto Credits: Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo 

The Malayan Tiger (Panthera tigris jacksoni) subspecies was not recognized officially until 2004. They are the smallest in size of all tiger species, with an average weight of 260 pounds for adult males and 220 pounds for females.

Poaching and rapid habitat decline are the primary causes for their continued population decline. Heightened human and animal conflict, due to expanding development, has also been a factor in their endangerment. For these reasons, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified the Malayan Tiger as “Critically Endangered”.

Aside from maintaining a breeding program, the Lowry Park Zoo also offers regular tiger trainer talks and demonstrations, at their Asian Gardens habitat. By helping guests understand and make a connection with animals at their facility, the Zoo hopes they can encourage others to care and protect this at-risk species.