Paignton Zoo

Paignton Zoo Lion Cub Update: Vaccination Day


The four rare Asiatic Lion cubs (Panthera leo persica) at Paignton Zoo Environmental Park have been to the vet - or rather, the vet has been to them – for their 9-week vaccinations. 

For the zoo staff, it’s thrilling to be up close to the cubs, who were born May 15, but they must carefully follow safety protocols.  Speed and efficiency are essential so the cubs can be reunited with the protective mother Lion who is prowling nearby.  

The keepers wear big leather gauntlets because the cubs are feisty, snarling throughout, while the growls of their mother echo in the den. The four are vaccinated, micro-chipped, given a quick health check and weighed. They are soon back with their mother.


Veterinarian Catherine Bergzoll says, “We use a cat vaccine - the process is essentially the same as for pet cats. We give them a thorough exam to check things like their hearts and in male cats we check that their testicles have descended.”

At 9 weeks the four Lion cubs weighed between 16 and 19 pounds (7.6 to 8.8 kilos) – far more than your average adult domestic cat which tips the scales at around 8 to 11 pounds (4 to 5 kilos). The Lions are also stronger, wilder and come fully-equipped with claws and teeth.

“We try to handle them as little as possible,” says Bergzoll of the cubs. “Making sure they are growing and increasing in weight is important.”  Closed circuit cameras allow the staff to check on the cats often without disturbing the new family. 


Photo Credits:  Paignton Zoo

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A Pile o' Four! Rare Asiatic Lion Cubs Born at Paignton Zoo


Four little Asiatic Lion cubs (Panthera leo persica) were born on May 15 after a gestation of about 3.5 months to mother Indu and father Mwamba at the UK's Paignton Zoo Environmental Park. This is the parent first success after several failed attempts. 

Neil Bemment, Director of Operations and Curator of Mammals said, “They have come through the critical first few weeks. We have been letting her get on with being a new mum and so far she seems to be doing really well. We are cautiously excited. If she is successful then it will be thanks to a lot of care and attention from the keepers. It is very good news for the species.” 

Asiatic lions are threatened by hunting and habitat destruction. Fewer than 400 survive in the wild in the Gir National Park and Lion Sanctuary (India). There are conservation breeding programs in zoos including a European Endangered species Programme (EEP). The Asiatic lion is smaller than the African lion and has a distinctive fold of skin on the belly. Also, the male's mane is smaller and lighter in colour. 



Photo credit: Paington Zoo

It's All Black and White: Baby Zebra Born at Paignton Zoo!


The UK's Paignton Zoo is celebrating its first zebra birth in a decade when a new baby Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra was born in the early morning on February 28 to six-year-old mom Goma. Senior Head Keeper of Mammals Matthew Webb said: “We had to help him get to his feet, but after that he started to suckle well.” The as-of-yet unnamed foal is thought to be a male. 

“This is great news," said Paignton Zoo Director of Operations and Curator of Mammals Neil Bemment said. "We need more foals to increase the zoo population and, as there is presently a lack of available males in the European Endangered species Program, he will certainly have a future part to play in saving his species.”

A single foal is born after a gestation of 11.5 months (350 days). Some populations are protected in national parks. There is a European Endangered species Program (EEP) for this zebra managed by Marwell Zoo.  

Mom and zeb


Photo Credit: Paignton Zoo

Read more about Zebras after the jump!

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Valentine Baby - Giraffe Born at Paignton Zoo


This baby Rothschild's Giraffe was born at the UK's Paignton Zoo on Valentine’s Day. The new arrival was came into the world in the wee hours on February 14 to mom Janica and dad Yoda. The as yet unnamed male calf stands at nearly six feet tall.

Senior Head Mammal Keeper Matt Webb said: “He did not suckle on Tuesday. We hoped mother and calf would settle down and he would be able to feed, but keepers and the Zoo’s in-house vet team had to step in and feed him by hand."

While the baby bonded with it's mother, she didn't quite bond with him. Keepers were surprised, as she had previously reared this baby's little brother Tonda, who was born in February 2010, just fine. So he will be bottle fed by hand. It will take up to three gallons of hand-fed full-fat milk a day to help this little boy grow.

The baby, mother and father, along with the herd's other adult female are all Rothschild's (Baringo) giraffes. Rothschild's giraffes are classified as Endangered and there is a European Endangered species Program for the species.

Photo Credit: Paignton Zoo

Dexter, The Baby Tapir, at Two-Hours Old!


A male Brazilian Tapir has been born at Paignton Zoo Environmental Park. The new arrival, named Dexter, was born on Sunday, February 5th. His parents are Misha and Ryan. Paignton Zoo has enjoyed regular successes with Tapirs, breeding seven young over the last 11 years.

Paignton Zoo Environmental Park Director of Operations and Curator of Mammals Neil Bemment said: “There are few zoo youngsters as endearing as a baby Tapir. It is always good news to breed such a popular and charismatic species.”

Photo credit: Paignton Zoo

Brazilian or lowland tapirs are threatened due to habitat destruction and hunting for food. The population in European zoos is managed co-operatively.

Tapirs live in wet forest and grassland, where they eat grasses, leaves, buds, fruits and aquatic vegetation. The tapir's short, fleshy, trunk-like nose helps the animal to sniff its way through the forest and is a sensitive finger used to pluck leaves and shoots. This prehensile snout also makes a great snorkel when the tapirs are bathing. They love water and are excellent swimmers.

A single youngster is born after a gestation period of about 13 months. Baby tapirs have striped and spotted coats for camouflage but they lose their patterns as they grow older.

Paignton Zoo's "Royal" Family Grows: Cherry-Crowned Mangabey Born


A Cherry-crowned Mangabey has been born at Paignton Zoo. On October 21, mother Kibibi and father Yengo welcomed the little male, who has yet to be named. The arrival brings the Zoo’s troop up to six - two males and four females. 

Head Keeper Andrew Fry said: “It’s a family group - mom, dad, sister, granny, aunty and baby. This is the second time they have bred with us - his older sister was born here last summer.”

Andy added: “This is one of my favourite species to work with. They are great fun but they can be very challenging. They have an inquisitive nature and great strength - they like to test things to destruction! We can’t, for example, given them the big plastic buoys that we sometimes give to other animals to play with, as they can shred them with their large canines. They enjoy food-based and sensory enrichment – cardboard tubes and paper sacks with scents on them.”

Named for the patch of red hair on their heads, Cherry-crowned mangabeys (Cercocebus torquatus) are African forest monkeys. Their range includes the Omo Forest in Nigeria where Paignton Zoo funds environmental education work.

The species is classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List, mainly due to habitat destruction and the bush meat trade. The Zoo’s troop can be found in the Monkey Heights complex.




Photo Credit: Ray Wiltshire



Paignton Zoo Hand Rears Chilean Flamingo Chick

Chick 5

A Chilean Flamingo chick is being hand-reared by zoo keepers after the egg was abandoned by its parents. Paignton Zoo Environmental Park is known for its flock of some 50 Chilean Flamingos that live by the entrance to the Devon zoo. 

Senior head bird keeper Peter Smallbones said, “The chick hatched on July 21, 2011. It is being kept warm in a brooder and fed every 3 hours. We lose eggs to seagulls and to clumsy-footed adult birds, so we take in abandoned eggs to make sure we have some youngsters.” In addition, there are currently two chicks with the flamingo flock on the island. 

Staff are using a syringe to feed the chick on a mixture of children’s porridge and fish. The Chilean flamingo (Phoenicopterus chilensis) comes from Chile but is also found in southern Peru, Bolivia, Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina and southern Brazil, and can be found in brackish or saltwater lakes and lagoons. This large bird is classed as Near Threatened.

Chick 2

Chick 6

Chick 7
Photo Credit: Paignton Zoo

A Trio of Fuzzy: Southern Screamer Chicks

1 chick

Three Southern Screamer chicks hatched at Paignton Zoo, UK, on May 13, 2011. The father of these chicks came to Paigntion Zoo from Paris in September 2006.The mother arrived at Paignton Zoo in December 2006 from Blackbrook Zoo in the UK.

The Southern Screamer mates for life (the bird is thought to live around 15 years). Courtship involves loud calling by both sexes; this can be heard some two miles away. They nest on a platform of reed and straw near water. The female lays up to seven white eggs. The pair share incubation duties, which takes around 46 days. Chicks leave the nest as soon as they hatch, but the parents care for them for several weeks. The fledging period takes 8 to 14 weeks. Southern Screamers are native to South America.

2 chick

3 chi

4 chi
Photo Credit: Ray Wiltshire

Meerkat Kits at Paignton Zoo!

Meerkat CU
About a month ago, these tiny Meerkat kits were born at Paignton Zoo in the UK. In these pictures they are about 10 days old.

The babies were born to mum Aurora and dad Kang. A Meerkat mother usually has two to five young, usually once a year, after a gestation period of 11 weeks. Kits come into the world with eyes and ears closed and are sparsely furred. Various adults will baby-sit the youngsters while the mother feeds. 

Group meerkats

Mom kits

The kits are now old enough to be seen on exhibit, and will be a part of the Zoo's Meerkat Encounters. Senior keeper Andrew Fry said: “We take visitors in to meet the mob and talk about their habits and their characteristics, then let people help out at feeding time. The pups are keen to get in on the act!”

A web camera has now been set up overlooking the meerkat enclosure. To view this, go to:

Older meerkat
Photo Credit: Ray Wiltshire

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World’s Largest Rodent Born at Paignton Zoo

On August 18th, the UK's Paignton Zoo welcomed a baby Capybara to parents David and Davina. Sometimes called a the Giant Guinea Pig, these massive rodents can grow four feet long (a rodent of unusual size perhaps?). Capybaras love to lounge, and even sleep, in swamps and rivers with only their eyes and nostrils poking out.

Baby capybara Paignton Zoo 1

Baby capybara Paignton Zoo 1

Baby capybara Paignton Zoo 1

Family portrait

Baby capybara Paignton Zoo 1

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