Paignton Zoo

Paignton Zoo's New Baby Orangutan is a Girl

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Paignton Zoo's Orangutan mom Mali gave birth on May 11 to what keepers are 99% sure is a little girl. She is healthy and has bonded exceptionally well with Mom. Paignton Zoo spokesperson Phil Knowling said:  “Mali and baby are doing well. They have the largest of our Orangutan islands and an off-exhibit den to themselves. We hope that visitors will be able to catch a glimpse of the youngster, which will become more mobile over the coming months."

The Bornean Orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) is threatened by hunting, the pet trade and the destruction of its rainforest habitat. That forest is being destroyed to create plantations producing palm oil, an ingredient found in an enormous amount of products people use daily Given the declining populations, measures such as switching to alternative oil products and maintaining sustainable populations of Orangutans in zoos are becoming ever more important. Everyone can help by reading labels at the grocery store to determine what products are made without palm oil. 

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Photo Credit: Photos 1, 2 4: Ray Wiltshire, Photo 3: Simon Maddock

Bornean Orangutans have suffered declines and the population is estimated at around 50,000. To put this in context, there are fewer Bornean Orangutans in the entire world than there are human beings in Torquay (the population of Torquay is about 62,000).

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Tiny King Born at Paignton Zoo

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There’s been a royal birth at Paignton Zoo!  A King Colobus Monkey was born on October 3.

This is the fourth baby for father Martin and mother Ivy.  King Colobus babies typically weigh under two pounds.  The sex is not yet known – the first vet check is not due until the youngster is at least 6 months old.

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Colobus babies are born with pure white fur, but they develop the species’ typical black markings at about one month of age.  The new arrival brings the zoo’s Colobus troop to six individuals.

The baby is important, as Paignton Zoo Curator of Mammals Neil Bemment explained: “There are only six collections in Europe holding King Colobus, so the birth is special as we and EAZA - the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria - want this population to grow.”

The species is listed by the IUCN as Vulnerable. It is threatened by habitat destruction and hunting for food. Paignton Zoo participates in the European zoos' Endangered Species Programme (EEP) for King Colobus.

King Colobus Monkeys live in the forests of central Africa, where they feed on leaves.  They often rest quietly for hours while they digest this low-value food in their unusually large stomachs. King Colobus Monkeys spend their lives in the tree-tops. Four long fingers on each forelimb grasp branches like hooks.

Photo Credit:  Ray Wiltshire

Paignton Zoo Welcomes Baby Rothschild's Giraffe

Cu noses

Zoo keepers are watching over a baby Rothschild's Giraffe born at Paignton Zoo. The new arrival was came into the world at around 6:00 a.m. on September 4 to mother Sangha and father Yoda. The as yet unnamed calf stands at nearly six feet tall. Rothschild Giraffes are one of the most threatened of the nine giraffe sub-species, with fewer than 700 remaining in the wild.

Although the youngster tried valiantly to nurse, its keepers have now taken the baby under their wing to hand-rear because it was not getting enough milk. Parent rearing is always preferable and keepers were hopeful, as this mother has done it before quite successfully -- but in this case they ended up having to step in. Luckily, a local dairy, Riverford Organic Dairy, has been able to supply them with the necessary milk.



Photo Credit: Paignton Zoo

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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

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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