Taronga Western Plains Zoo

Meet the First Greater One-horned Rhino Born in Australia

Greater One horned Rhino calf_Photo by Bobby-Jo Clow_1

Taronga Western Plains Zoo is thrilled to announce the birth of Australia’s first Greater One-horned Rhino calf! The male calf was born early on the morning of October 25th, to first-time mother Amala.

Zoo Keepers are closely monitoring both mother and calf, and although it is still early days, report that both are doing well.

“Amala is being very protective of him,” said Unit Supervisor Jennifer Conaghan. “She is keeping her distance from us and keeping the calf close, which is what we expected to see. In the last couple of days, Amala has brought the calf into a behind the scenes yard, and we’ve been able to monitor things more closely. We have seen the calf suckling and although it is still only days old, we are extremely happy with the situation so far and absolutely thrilled to have this new addition on the ground.” 

Greater One horned Rhino calf_Photo by Bobby-Jo Clow_2

Greater One horner Rhino calf with mother Amala_Photo by Ian AndersonPhoto Credits: Bobby-Jo Clow (Images 1,2); Ian Anderson (Image 3)Taronga Western Plains Zoo is home to three species of rhino: Black Rhino, White Rhino (Africa) and Greater-One horned Rhino (Asia), and they have breeding and conservation programs for all three species.

The Greater One-horned Rhino breeding program commenced in 2009, when Amala arrived from Los Angeles Zoo to join resident male Dora (who came from Nagoya Higashiyama Zoo in Japan).

“This birth is a credit to years of work by the Zoo’s dedicated Life Sciences team to successfully introduce the two, an introduction which has produced a healthy calf following Amala’s 15 month gestation,” said Taronga Western Plains Zoo Director Matthew Fuller. “We’re the only Zoo in Australia to have three species of rhino, and three successful rhino breeding programs, so critical for these species that are all threatened in the wild.”

The Greater One-Horned Rhinoceros is classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List, with as few as 2,700 animals left in the wild.

This recent birth follows the exciting arrival of a Black Rhino calf at the Zoo, earlier this year.

“The situation facing wild rhinos is devastating. Taronga actively supports conservation efforts for wild rhinos in Africa, Indonesia and India, including providing funds and support for habitat protection and reforestation, anti poaching and rhino protection units and reduction of human-rhino conflict. We’re also a founding member of the International Rhino Foundation,” said Matt.

Amala and her calf will remain behind the scenes for the coming weeks where they can continue to bond.

New Ring-tailed Lemur at Taronga Western Plains Zoo

1_Mother and baby CREDIT Sasha Brook

Taronga Western Plains Zoo, in Australia, has welcomed a baby Ring-tailed Lemur! The female Lemur, which Keepers have named Imerina (after one of the old kingdoms of Madagascar), was born on August 25. 

2_Peekaboo CREDIT Sasha Brook

3_Close up CREDIT Sasha Brook

4_Ring tailed Lemur baby SM aPhoto Credits: Sasha Brook (1,2,3) / Taronga Western Plains Zoo

Zoo Keepers are thrilled with this breeding success, which comes three years after the arrival of three female Lemurs from Italy to commence the Zoo’s Ring-tailed Lemur breeding program.

“It’s wonderful to have a successful breeding season and a healthy baby on the ground,” Keeper Sasha Brook said. “Imerina is a strong baby and first time mother, Rikitra, is doing all the right things, nursing and grooming her baby well, which is great to see.”

In the past two to three weeks, Keepers have been delighted to see Imerina starting to explore a little bit independently of her mother.

“She has started to climb on her own and is also starting to mouth solid foods,” Sasha said. “Rikitra is never more than one to two meters away, keeping a watchful eye on her offspring, and rescuing her from any pickles she gets herself into! Imerina is also starting to jump onto her father Bruce’s back. Bruce is an experienced father so he’s taking things in his stride.”

For the short term, Keepers have separated Rikitra and her baby, along with Bruce, from the group’s two other females, to give them time to bond and prevent interference from the females.

“The family is currently alternating access to their island exhibit with the two females, and during the day they have access to their night yards so they can choose to go where they feel most comfortable,” Sasha said. “In time we will introduce the two females back to the group, as it’s important to keep the group cohesive. The females enjoy each other’s company usually; but we’re giving them some space.”

When Imerina grows up she will play a vital role in the Zoo-based Ring-tailed Lemur breeding program, and with Lemurs endangered in the wild due to habitat destruction, her birth is very important for the future of her species.

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Boisterous Black Rhino Boy Makes Debut

1_Black Rhino calf by Rick Stevens May 2015 (7)

Taronga Western Plains Zoo is thrilled to announce the arrival of a male Black Rhino calf, born in the very early hours of Monday April 20th

2_Black Rhino calf by Rick Stevens May 2015 (1)

3_Black Rhino calf by Rick Stevens May 2015 (4)

4_Black Rhino calf by Rick Stevens May 2015 (8)Photo Credits: Rick Stevens /Taronga Western Plains Zoo

The yet-to-be-named arrival is the second calf born to mother ‘Bakhita’, and the third calf born in 10 years to the Zoo’s internationally renowned breeding program for this critically endangered species.

“With just over 4,000 Black Rhinos remaining, and all five rhino species under enormous pressure in the wild, every birth is critical,” said General Manager, Matthew Fuller.

“This little rhino is precious, as are all rhinos, and we’re hopeful that his birth will further highlight the need to protect these remarkable creatures.”

The calf, which weighs between 30-40kg, has already captured the hearts of zookeepers. His birth, ahead of Mother’s Day, is a great reminder of the achievements of the remarkable wild mothers in the zoo’s care.

“At three weeks of age, he is very confident and bold,” Keeper Jake Williams said. “He is full of energy and likes to run flat out around his yard, first thing in the morning, sometimes venturing 15-20 meters from Bakhita before galloping back to her. He is a strong calf and doesn’t show much fear.”

Mr. Williams said experienced mother Bakhita is taking things in her stride.

“She’s doing all the right things. She is alert when keepers approach her yard and is protective of her calf, but she quickly settles. She is a pretty relaxed mother.”

Bakhita and the calf will remain behind the scenes for the coming weeks, where they can continue to bond, before going on public display in June.

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First Vet Visit for Taronga's Lion Cub Trio

Lion cubs vaccination_SM_7.4.15 (38)Three Lion cubs born at the Taronga Western Plains Zoo on February 28 had their first veterinary visit this week, and all were pronounced healthy and strong.

Lion Cubs_20.3.15_Roger Brogan (19)

Lion cubs vaccination_SM_7.4.15 (30)Photo Credit:  Taronga Western Plains Zoo

The cubs, a male and two females, are the first Lion cubs ever born at the zoo, so the staff is especially thrilled with the new arrivals.  The cubs have not yet been named.  This is the first litter for mother Maya and father Lazarus.    

Maya and Lazarus were introduced in 2014 and breeding behavior was observed almost immediately after the introduction.  Staff monitored Maya carefully throughout her pregnancy, and keepers have been monitoring Maya and her cubs via a video camera in their den since birth, allowing them time to bond together on their own. 

The staff is taking a hands-off approach, allowing Maya to use her natural mothering instincts.

At their veterinary check-up this week, the cubs each weighed about 11 pounds, more than doubling their birth weights.  In the coming weeks, the cubs will begin to eat solid food and explore their surroundings. 

Wild African Lions are classified as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, with populations decreasing due to human-animal conflict, depleted prey base, and habitat loss.  

See more photos of the cubs below.

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Otter Pups Venturing out with Their Fam

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Keepers at Taronga Western Plains Zoo are excited by the birth of three Oriental Small-Clawed Otter pups, born January 8, 2015.

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Otter pups_6.3.15_MT (5)Photo Credits: Taronga Western Plains Zoo

The litter consists of two females and one male, and all are yet to be named. Keepers will name two of the siblings, but they are seeking name suggestions for one of the female pups, via the Zoo’s facebook page.

This is the second litter for mother, ‘Emiko’ and father, ‘Pocket’. Both are exceptional parents, and they are taking great care of their offspring.

“Emiko and Pocket are very hands-on parents and have been displaying ideal nurturing behaviors,” said Keeper, Ian Anderson. “The pups have been in the den, to date, and we have been monitoring them via a video camera, to ensure they are growing and developing well.”

This birth of this litter continues the breeding success for the Oriental Small-Clawed Otters at the Zoo, with the first litter born to the breeding program in January 2014.

“The older siblings born in 2014 have been assisting their parents with the daily care of the pups including grooming and babysitting the new arrivals. Oriental Small-Clawed Otters are a special species and live in large families, so it is anticipated that the family will remain together for the near future,” said Ian.

The Otter pups are currently on display sporadically as they spend a lot of their time in their den. Over the coming weeks they will start to venture out with their parents and older siblings, more often, to explore their exhibit and to learn to swim.

“By the end of April we will expect to see the pups out and about more regularly in the exhibit…,” said Ian.

More pics below the fold!

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Hot Fun in the Summertime for Hippo Calf

Hippo calf enjoying being hosed_December2014_MT (87)

While it is definitely winter for a lot of us, ‘Kibibi’, the 15 week old Hippo calf, is testimony to the fact that it is summer in Australia. Keepers at Taronga Western Plains Zoo have been treating Kibibi to a cooling hose down in the summer heat, while her mother, ‘Cuddles’, enjoys her morning meal.

Hippo calf enjoying being hosed_December2014_MT (25)

Hippo calf enjoying being hosed_December2014_MT (44)Photo Credits: Taronga Western Plains Zoo

“Kibibi really enjoys being hosed down just like her mum. I think the sensation of the water spraying over her is a real treat for her,” said Keeper, Carolene Magner.

“We have been working hard to develop a relationship with Kibibi, just like the one we have with her mother, so that she trusts us. Hosing her down is just one way we are working to build a bond with her as she continues to thrive,” said Carolene.

Kibibi is continuing to grow and develop rapidly. She is now well over double her birth weight and growing in confidence.

“She is becoming more confident and will sometimes stay in the shallow water on her own while Cuddles comes out to feed, but most of the time they are spotted side by side in their pond together,” said Carolene.

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Taronga Welcomes Second Giraffe Calf This Year

Ajali giraffe calf SM (6)

Keepers at Taronga Western Plains Zoo welcomed their second Giraffe calf of 2014 when a female baby was born on October 19.

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Ajali giraffe calf SM (1)Photo Credit:  Taronga Western Plains Zoo

The new calf is named Ajali, which means “destiny” in Swahili. Ajali’s mother Tuli has delivered seven previous calves, so she is a very experienced mother.

Ajali already has a best friend – male calf Nkosi, who was born on August 3. 

“It is always nice to see youngsters on exhibit together and knowing that they have a companion close to their age. As they grow and develop, visitors will see the pair running around together and exhibiting playful behaviors,” said zoo keeper Anthony Dorrian.

“The calves are already starting to develop a relationship, as Nkosi is very curious about the new calf,”  said Dorrian.

Giraffe numbers have been decreasing in the wild by more than 30% in the past decade, with about 80,000 Giraffes remaining on Africa's savannahs. Poaching for bush meat and habitat encroachment by humans are having a drastic effect on the wild population.

“Every birth for a species such as the Giraffe that is experiencing a decline in the wild population is important, as it helps to insure against extinction,” said Dorrian. 

See more photos of Ajali below.

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Little Hippo is Taronga's First in 10 Years

Hippo calf by Anthony Dorian (15)Taronga Western Plains Zoo is excited to announce the birth of a Hippo calf – the first in more than 10 years – on September 11 to mother Cuddles and father Mana.

Hippo calf by Anthony Dorian (13)

Hippo calf by Anthony Dorian (7)
Hippo calf by Anthony Dorian (18)Photo Credit:  Anthony Dorian

Because this birth is the first for Cuddles and Mana, the calf represents a new genetic bloodline for the species and will be important for the zoo-managed population of Hippos.

The calf weighs an estimated 88 pounds (40 kg). It is yet to be named and keepers have not determined the calf's gender, becuase Cuddles is being very protective.

“Hippos nurse their young underwater and whilst we haven’t seen this behaviour, from everything we have witnessed the pair is bonding really well,” said Hippo Keeper Carolene Magner.

Hippos most of their days in the water, feeding on vegetation.  For now, the calf stays close to its mother’s side.

Guests staying on the zoo’s Zoofari Lodge were able to see the calf just a few minutes after its birth.

Hippos once ranged throughout sub-Saharan Africa, but are now restricted to smaller, more fragmented habitats.  They are listed as Vulnerable to Extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

See more photos of the Hippo calf below.

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Visitors Witness Giraffe Birth at Taronga Western Plains Zoo

IMG_6808Visitors taking an early morning tour at Australia's Taronga Western Plains Zoo on August 3 got an unexpected bonus when they witnessed the birth of a baby Giraffe!

Giraffe calf with mum licking face by MT
Giraffe calf-LS-06-08-2014 (35)_cropPhoto Credit:  Taronga Western Plains Zoo 

Keepers named the male calf Nkosi (pronounced N-koh-see), meaning “ruler” or “chief” in Zulu.

Nkosi is the second calf for mother Ntombi, who is very protective of her calf but is showing all the right maternal behaviours.

“The Giraffe calf is on exhibit with the rest of the herd; however, he is still a little shy, spending most of the day at the back of the exhibit,” said Giraffe Keeper Kevin Milton

“Over the coming weeks, he will start to become more confident and explore the rest of the exhibit.”

Africa's Giraffe populations have decreased an estimated 30% in the last 10 years, with an approximately 80,000 Giraffes remaining in the wild. The dramatic decrease is directly due to poaching for bush meat and habitat encroachment by farmers.

“Every birth for a species such as the Giraffe that are seeing a decline in wild populations is important, as it helps to insure against extinction.”

The Taronga Zoo participates in programs such as Beads for Wildlife, which provides communities in Kenya alternate sources of income, thus reducing their dependence on livestock. 

“Less livestock means less pressure on water and food for wildlife such as the Giraffe,” said Milton. 

See more photos of the Giraffe calf below.

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Koala Joey Blooms at Taronga Zoo

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Taronga Western Plains Zoo in New South Wales, Australia, has a lovely new flower to share with visitors.  A female Koala joey, named “Rosea”, has recently emerged from her mother “Wild Child’s” pouch!

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Koala joey_7Photo Credits: Natacha Richards (Photos 1, 5), Rachel Hanlon (2,3,4,6), Jackie Stuart (7,8)

“Rosea (named for a species of flowering eucalypt) is approximately 8 months old and is a little shy at present, preferring to stay close to mum’s chest, but in the coming months will start to move on to her mother’s back,” said keeper, Natacha Richards.

The new Koala joey is the first offspring for her attentive mother, and the pair makes their home in the zoo’s Aussie Walkthrough exhibit.  They are joined by a small group of Koalas that is growing by several members this season. Two more Koala joeys are yet to emerge from their mother’s pouches.

Although Koalas are classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List, their numbers are declining in the wild due to habitat encroachment.  Every new birth in an accredited zoo is one way to help secure the future of the species.

See more photos below.

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