In 1936, Australia said farewell to the very last Tasmanian Tiger, also known as the Thylacine. The Perth Zoo is committed to preventing the endangered Numbat and Dibbler, two marsupials found only in Australia, from facing the same fate.
Photo Credit: Alex Asbury
Perth Zoo’s Native Species Breeding Program (NSBP), in partnership with other organizations, has bred and released more than 220 Numbats and more than 800 Dibblers into the wild. This spring there has been a flurry of furry activity from 22 Numbat joeys, and 53 Dibbler joeys!
In June this year, three Dibbler mothers, with 21 pouch young between them, were released. The NSBP’s goal is to repopulate these species in their natural habitats. Perth Zoo is the only zoo in the world breeding both of these rare species.
The Numbat, a striped, bushy-tailed relative of the extinct Tasmanian Tiger, is so rare that there are less than 1,000 of them remaining in the wild.
Dibblers, tiny mouse-like carnivorous marsupials, were thought to be extinct for more than 50 years until a chance rediscovery in 1967.
As keepers prepare to release the joeys, they must first wean the Dibbler young from their mothers and prepare enough termite custard to meet the Numbats’ appetite for 20,000 termites a day.
The main threats facing both animals in the wild include habitat loss and introduced predators such as feral cats and foxes. Australia’s zoos, including the Perth Zoo, government agencies, and private groups are determined to protect Australia’s unique wild heritage.
Eleven endangered African Painted Dog puppies were given their first hands-on health check following their birth in April at Perth Zoo. The pups also received their names!
Photo Credit: Alex Cearnes (1,2,4); Perth Zoo (3,5)
The puppies were each individually medically assessed, weighed, vaccinated just like domestic Dogs and their sex determined by two teams of veterinarians who worked efficiently to reunite them with their protective parents quickly.
Senior Zoo Keeper Becky Thomasson said, “Since their birth in April, we’ve taken a hands-off approach to allow the pack to develop as they would naturally in the wild, but it is important to give each of the new arrivals a veterinary examination.”
Thomasson said the exam revealed that the pack includes seven females and four males. “Importantly they were all in excellent shape, with one tipping the scales over six kilograms [13 pounds], a very healthy weight for a 12 week old African Painted Dog pup!”
The zoo held a naming contest for the pups, and chose these names suggested by fans: Aisha, Baraka, Chikondi, Kamali, Muhumhi, Onika, Skabenga, Tokwe, Tamba, Umfazi, and Zuberi
The eleven puppies were the result of matchmaking a Perth Zoo-born adult female with a male from Altina Wildlife Park, introducing a new bloodline into the regional breeding program.
“Mother Kisuri and father Hasani have been perfect first time parents. They let the pups eat first, but also discipline them, setting the boundaries when required.”
“With less than 6,000 of these Dogs in the wild, there is a real risk of this species going extinct in our lifetime,” said Thomasson. “Zoo breeding programs have never been more important and the birth of these eleven puppies helps put their species a step further away from extinction.”
Australia’s Perth Zoo has unveiled a spiky new addition: a Short-Beaked Echidna puggle.
Hatched in September last year, this is the second offspring for parents Chindi and Nyingarn, who were the world’s first zoo-born Echidnas to successfully breed in 2015. The first and second photos show the puggle at 69 days old. The remaining photos show the puggle at about six months old, looking more like a spiky adult Echidna.
Photo Credit: Perth Zoo (1,2); Alex Asbury (3,4,5)
The puggle, as baby Echidnas are called, is still growing its protective covering of spines and will remain off display in its nursery burrow for a few more months.
Weighing around 3.5 pounds, the puggle is the 10th Echidna since 2007 to successfully hatch at Perth Zoo. Perth Zoo is considered an expert in Echidna breeding, having significantly advanced global reproductive knowledge of these unusual egg- laying mammals.
Zoo keeper Katie Snushall said, “This species is notoriously difficult to breed, so to have not just one, but two puggles from zoo-born parents; and in consecutive years is a significant achievement.”
Known as monotremes, Echidnas and Platypus are the only mammals that lay eggs. These species are found only in Australia and New Guinea.
It takes about 10 days for a baby Echidna to hatch from the egg. It is then carried by its mother in a temporary pouch for the first two months until its spikes start to emerge, at which point the mother constructs a nursery burrow and places the puggle safely inside, returning only every two to six days to feed it.
Perth Zoo welcomed an endangered Goodfellow’s Tree Kangaroo joey, the second to be born at the zoo since 1980.
Born the size of a jellybean in July 2016, the male joey, named Haroli, is just starting to become noticeable to zoo guests. This successful birth follows the arrival of Mian, the first Goodfellow's Tree Kangaroo joey born at the zoo in 36 years, whom you met on ZooBorns last summer. Both joeys are important contributions to the World Zoo Association global breeding program for this rare species.
Photo Credit: Perth Zoo
Zoo keeper Kerry Pickles said, “Haroli and Mian are half-brothers, both fathered by Huli who came to Perth Zoo from Queensland in 2015 after being identified as the best genetic match for the breeding program.”
“Mother Doba is a first-time mum and is very cautious with her joey who has been keeping his head out of the pouch more frequently,” said Kerry. “Tree Kangaroos remain in their mother’s pouches for approximately six to eight months before testing out their wobbly arboreal legs.”
Native to Papua New Guinea, Goodfellow’s Tree Kangaroos are so endangered that zoos around the world have been working together to coordinate breeding with the aim of reversing their decline.
“Young Haroli is only the 16th male Goodfellow’s Tree Kangaroo to be born as part of the global program,” said Kerry.
“Their genetics are vitally important once they reach sexual maturity. Mian is coming of age, so there are already plans in progress for him to go to the UK to be paired with a female and help provide an insurance against extinction for his wild counterparts.”
Found abandoned and separated from his mother, Frankie the orphaned Numbat is receiving expert care from keepers at Australia’s Perth Zoo.
Photo Credit: Perth Zoo
Estimated to be about six to seven months old, Frankie is too young to survive on his own. Keepers have been working around the clock, feeding this baby Numbat more than five times a day. He eagerly laps up milk from a tiny bowl. He eats well and is gaining strength every day.
Frankie is so small that he fits right into his keepers’ hands. They describe him as exceptionally relaxed and confident for a wild Numbat.
This little orphan was brought to the zoo by a Project Numbat, community group dedicated to saving this endangered species. The Perth Zoo has the world’s only Numbat breeding program.
Numbats are marsupials – after birth, their young nurse and develop inside the mothers’ pouch. Adults weigh about one to two pounds and feed exclusively on termites. They are currently found in only a few small colonies in Western Australia. Only about 1,000 Numbats are believed to survive in the wild.
Perth Zoo is celebrating the birth of an endangered Goodfellow’s Tree Kangaroo joey, the first to be born there in 36 years.
The male joey, which was born the size of a jellybean eight months ago, is now out of his mother’s pouch. The joey is named Mian after a province in Papua New Guinea, the native home of the species.
Photo Credit: Perth Zoo
The joey’s birth is the result of successful matchmaking between mother Kaluli and father Huli, who were identified as the best genetic match. Mian is one of only 15 males in the global species management program, so his genetics will be highly valuable when he reaches breeding age.
Perth Zoo keepers were able to keep a close eye on the joey’s development because they trained Kaluli to have her pouch checked.
Keepers used a small camera to peer inside the pouch and were able to see when Mian’s toenails developed, when his eyes first opened, and when he first grew fur, all without disturbing Kaluli. The information gained is extremely valuable for managing the species.
Perth Zoo partners with the Tenkile Conservation Alliance in the mountains of Papua New Guinea to safeguard Tree Kangaroos in the wild.
Two seven-week-old endangered Red Panda cubs had their first visit to the veterinarian at Australia’s Perth Zoo.
Though the zoo staff has kept a watchful eye on the cubs since their December 8 birth, this is the first time the red pandas received a hands-on health check. During the exam, the cubs got a quick health assessment, then had their body condition, eyes, teeth, ears, and weight checked by the veterinary staff.
Photo Credit: Perth Zoo
The Red Pandas are a part of the Global Species Management Program, where zoos around the world actively collaborate to prevent the species from becoming extinct. Including the two new arrivals, 18 cubs have been successfully reared at Perth Zoo since 1997.
In the next few weeks, the Red Panda cubs will start venturing out of the nest box. Until now, they’ve been in the nest box with their mother, Anusha. “Anusha is doing a fantastic job rearing her cubs. She’s being really protective and attentive, just what we want to see as she cares for her young who are still tucked up in their nestbox,” said Senior Keeper Becky Thomasson.
Red Pandas, which range across the Himalayan mountains and foothills of northern India, China, Nepal and Bhutan, are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. It is uncertain how many Red Pandas remain in the wild today, but estimates suggest numbers may be as low as 2,500 individuals.
Red Pandas are threatened by illegal hunting and deforestation of their wild habitat. Remaining populations are fast becoming fragmented and isolated from each other.
Three Slender-tailed Meerkat kits are out of the den at Australia’s Perth Zoo! Born in September to mom Tilly, the kits have recently opened their eyes and started exploring their habitat.
Tilly is an experienced mother – this is her third litter in the past 12 months.
Meerkat kits grow quickly, and the kits will soon start to eat insects, meat, and vegetables like the adults. In just a few months, they will be the same size as their parents.
Native to southern Africa, Meerkats are extremely social. Living in groups of up to 30 individuals, they forage, hunt, and care for their young as a group. Like many social animals, they have a wide vocal repertoire to communicate alarm, danger, and contentment. One Meerkat is often on sentry duty, standing erect at the burrow entrance on watch for predators and threats.
Meerkats are plentiful in the wild and not under significant threat.
The Perth Zoo bred animals were released into a 150 hectare (371 acre) fenced area at Whiteman Park, giving them a chance to establish in the absence of foxes and cats, which have likely contributed to their decline in the wild.
Lisa Mantellato, from Perth Zoo’s Native Species Breeding Program, said: “We have bred Dibblers for release into various habitats in the past, but this is the first time they have been returned to metropolitan Perth. Judging from sub-fossil records, Whiteman Park formed part of the Dibbler’s former natural range. We hope that through this program we can establish a self-sustaining population of Dibblers within the metropolitan parkland.”
Perth Zoo has been breeding Dibblers for release since 1997 resulting in the establishment of two new wild populations. In 1996, the first recovery plan was put in place by the Western Australia Department of Parks and Wildlife, with an aim to increase the species’ numbers and expand their distribution. The 2007 recovery plan maintains the need for a captive breeding colony to establish further populations.
Dr Tony Friend, from the Department of Parks and Wildlife said: “Establishing populations of small carnivores is always challenging and the Dibblers certainly fit that bill with a short life-span, matched with a ‘live fast and die young strategy to life’. So anything that limits the success of the first few years of breeding in the wild can have a big impact.”
Fourteen of the Dibblers will carry tiny radio transmitters, weighing less than one gram each, to assist in determining the success of the reintroduction into the predator-free area. University of Western Australia researchers will undertake the monitoring to learn more about the habits of this crepuscular animal and help inform future recovery actions.
This endangered Western Australian species was once found in coastal areas around the south-west corner of Australia, from SharkBay around to Albany and east to the western parts of South Australia, but by the early 1900s they were thought to be extinct. Only a chance discovery in 1967 revealed the species still survived, though in much smaller numbers. Since then, Dibblers have only been found to survive, in the wild, on two small Jurien Bay islands and in the Fitzgerald River National Park.
The Dibbler is threatened by loss of habitat caused by land clearing, the plant disease Phytophthora, die-back, and wildfires. On top of that, introduced foxes and cats also prey on them.
Perth Zoo’s Native Species Breeding Program breeds threatened Western Australian fauna for release into natural habitat. Since 1992, more than 2700 animals bred at the Zoo including Dibblers, Numbats, Western Swamp Tortoises and endangered frogs have been released into the wild and through this collaboration between Parks and Wildlife and Perth Zoo, a huge effort continues to save the State’s wildlife.
A rare Javan Gibbon has survived the first few months of life, all thanks to the round-the-clock care and attention provided by the staff at Perth Zoo, Western Australia.
Photo Credits: Perth Zoo
The little male Javan Gibbon, named ‘Owa’ (Indonesian for ‘gibbon’), was born on June 20th, and has had to be reared by Perth Zoo keepers. Six days after his birth, it became evident that his mother, ‘Hecla’, wasn’t producing enough milk to sustain her infant.
Primate Supervisor, Holly Thompson, said, “It is difficult to rear a primate and introduce it back to its family, so it’s not something we took on lightly. However, Perth Zoo has an exceptionally good track record in this area. We’ve successfully hand-reared four White-Cheeked Gibbons, but Owa is our first Javan Gibbon!”
According to Holly, life in her department has become a blur of nappies, milk formula and sleepless nights. Their department now features a portacot, and has been essentially turned into a temporary nursery. However, Thompson emphasizes, “It’s certainly a labor of love!”
Currently weighing in at a healthy 860g (1.9 lbs), Owa receives six bottle feeds a day and has just started enjoying mashed fruit and vegetables.
The infant Javan Gibbon visits his mother and father, ‘Jury’, and four-year-old sister, ‘Sunda’, at least twice a day. The group is very interested and protective of him, and it’s anticipated that he will return to his family once he is old enough to be weaned off his milk feeds.
Owa is Hecla’s tenth offspring. Hecla and her mate, Jury, are the world’s most successful breeding pair of Javan Gibbons. Perth Zoo is responsible for the coordination of the Studbook for this unique species, which involves updating the international studbook for Javan Gibbons and advising on suitable breeding and genetics for this species throughout Australasia.
See more great pics and learn more, below the fold!