Taronga Western Plains Zoo

Two Przewalski’s Horse Foals Born One Day Apart

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Taronga Western Plains Zoo has double the reason to celebrate with the birth of two endangered Przewalski’s Horse foals just one day apart. The species was once completely extinct in the wild.

Keepers are delighted with the arrival of a female Przewalski’s Horse foal to mother Mila on October 9, and a male foal to mother Tegus on October 10.

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IMG_1104Photo Credit: Taronga Western Plains Zoo

The sire of both foals is Nikolai, and both mothers are first time moms, creating further genetic diversity in the herd. The mothers are each being very protective of their foals, a natural maternal behavior.

“Both foals were born on exhibit during the day time, much to the delight of visitors,” said Keeper Jacinta Vaughan. “The foals were standing and suckling quickly and we couldn’t be happier with how both mums are doing given they are first time mothers.”

The Przewalski’s Horse foals are yet to be named but are both doing well so far. The foals will stay close to their mothers’ sides as they grow, and they will start to explore their surroundings over the coming months.

“This year has been very successful for the Przewalski’s Horse breeding program with four foals born to date and potentially another one on the way in the coming few months,” Jacinta said.

The two new foals bring the total Przewalski’s Horse herd to 14, with four foals in the herd, including Dash born in January and Khan born in May this year.

“It’s so wonderful to see the foals of varying ages in the herd. Khan and Dash are already interacting with each other and enjoy galloping around the paddock, so I am sure the two latest additions will join them once they are a little older and more confident,” said Jacinta.

Przewalski’s Horses are classified as Endangered, but were once extinct in the wild. Prior to reintroduction programs in the early 1990s, Przewalski’s Horses were last seen in the wild in the Gobi Desert, in south Mongolia. Their numbers dwindled as a result of human interference such as poaching and capture. Today, their main threats are habitat loss and low genetic diversity.

See more photos of the foals below.

Continue reading "Two Przewalski’s Horse Foals Born One Day Apart" »


Two Przewalski’s Horse Foals Born One Day Apart

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Taronga Western Plains Zoo has double the reason to celebrate with the birth of two endangered Przewalski’s Horse foals just one day apart. The species was once completely extinct in the wild.

Keepers are delighted with the arrival of a female Przewalski’s Horse foal to mother Mila on October 9, and a male foal to mother Tegus on October 10.

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IMG_1104Photo Credit: Taronga Western Plains Zoo

The sire of both foals is Nikolai, and both mothers are first time moms, creating further genetic diversity in the herd. The mothers are each being very protective of their foals, a natural maternal behavior.

“Both foals were born on exhibit during the day time, much to the delight of visitors,” said Keeper Jacinta Vaughan. “The foals were standing and suckling quickly and we couldn’t be happier with how both mums are doing given they are first time mothers.”

The Przewalski’s Horse foals are yet to be named but are both doing well so far. The foals will stay close to their mothers’ sides as they grow, and they will start to explore their surroundings over the coming months.

“This year has been very successful for the Przewalski’s Horse breeding program with four foals born to date and potentially another one on the way in the coming few months,” Jacinta said.

The two new foals bring the total Przewalski’s Horse herd to 14, with four foals in the herd, including Dash born in January and Khan born in May this year.

“It’s so wonderful to see the foals of varying ages in the herd. Khan and Dash are already interacting with each other and enjoy galloping around the paddock, so I am sure the two latest additions will join them once they are a little older and more confident,” said Jacinta.

Przewalski’s Horses are classified as Endangered, but were once extinct in the wild. Prior to reintroduction programs in the early 1990s, Przewalski’s Horses were last seen in the wild in the Gobi Desert, in south Mongolia. Their numbers dwindled as a result of human interference such as poaching and capture. Today, their main threats are habitat loss and low genetic diversity.

See more photos of the foals below.

Continue reading "Two Przewalski’s Horse Foals Born One Day Apart" »


Lively Litter of Cheetah Cubs Pass Health Checks

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Taronga Western Plains Zoo’s six Cheetah cubs have been given a clean bill of health from Zoo veterinarians following their recent health check behind the scenes. The cubs were born on June 6 to mother, Kyan, and father, Jana.

The lively cubs currently weigh between 6 – 7 kilograms each. During their health check, keepers were also able to determine the sexes: three females and three males.

“The six cubs are now very active, spending the mornings running around and climbing on logs and rocks in their behind the scenes yard, all under the watchful eye of their mother, Kyan,” said Cheetah Keeper, Jordan Michelmore. “Kyan is being a great mum, she is very protective and likes to be able to see all six cubs at all times, ensuring they don’t stray too far from her side.”

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The cubs are now rarely observed drinking milk from their mother, preferring to drink water and eat solid foods. Currently they are eating a variety of meats but usually prefer to eat whatever Kyan is eating.

“We have found this large litter to be much more active than our previous litters,” said Jordan. “We think this is because there are so many cubs that there is always some action! Whenever one of the cubs has a rest they are shortly joined by a sibling wanting to wrestle, race or explore.”

Continue reading "Lively Litter of Cheetah Cubs Pass Health Checks" »


‘Monkey See, Monkey Do’ in the Taronga Troop

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Taronga Western Plains Zoo’s Black-handed Spider Monkey babies are growing and developing rapidly. Born in October and December 2017, the two females have started to explore their island home away from their mothers. Isadora, the eldest of the two youngsters, is already becoming quite an influence on her younger half-sister. The younger female, Ariana is quite curious of Isadora, and often follows and copies her to pick-up items or practice climbing skills. As the old saying goes: “monkey see, monkey do”!

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Sasha Brook, Keeper, said, “The two babies have started playing with each other only very recently, and it is one of the cutest things I’ve seen in all my years as a keeper!”

Both the mothers, particularly Jai, are very relaxed and allow the keepers to interact with their babies. The babies love to climb and chew on the keeper’s hands and are now at an age where their confidence is rapidly increasing.

“Both babies are eating a fair amount of solid food now, but are still quite reliant on the nutrition of their mothers’ milk,” said Sasha.

The babies will be fully weaned and completely independent by the age of two, but will still stay close to their mothers until they are approximately four years old.

“They can still be seen riding on their mothers back, and when they run amok their mums will chase after them and scoop them up. The two often copy their mothers, and other members of the troop, by picking up and mouthing carrots and other fruits and vegetables provided,” Sasha shared.

The Black-handed Spider Monkey (Ateles geoffroyi), also known as Geoffroy's Spider Monkey is a species of spider monkey native to Central America, parts of Mexico, and possibly a small portion of Colombia. As a result of habitat loss, hunting and the pet trade, the species is classified as “Endangered” by the IUCN.

Their body color varies by subspecies and population: buff, reddish, rust, brown or black. Hands and feet are dark or black, and the face usually has a pale mask and bare skin around the eyes and muzzle.

Unlike most primates whose males leave to find other troops for breeding, female Black-handed Spider Monkeys are generally the ones to seek a new troop upon becoming sexually mature. These females may eventually go to another zoo in the future, but for now they will continue to grow and develop under the watchful eye of their mothers and keepers.

A great time to see the Black-handed Spider Monkeys is at 12:50pm when keepers provide them with their lunch. Visitors to the zoo can also grab their own lunch or a coffee and watch the Spider Monkey antics any time during the day.

Taronga Western Plains Zoo had not bred Black-handed Spider Monkeys for 16 years, until the arrival of Isadora last year, followed by Ariana soon after.

For more information about the facility, visit www.zoofari.com.au .

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Rare Przewalski's Foal Adds to Breeding Success


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The staff at Australia’s Taronga Western Plains Zoo is delighted by the birth of a male Przewalski’s Horse foal born on May 25.

This is the fourth foal for experienced mother Genghis, who is taking motherhood in her stride.

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Photo Credit: Taronga Western Plains Zoo

 

“The foal has been named Khan, as a tribute to his mother,” said keeper Jack Foley. “So far we couldn’t be happier with how both mother and foal are doing. Khan is staying close to his mother and is still finding his place in the herd. He can often be spotted sleeping in the sun during the day.”

“Khan is the second new arrival to the herd this year, with a filly named Dash born on January 1. As Khan grows he will interact more with Dash and no doubt we’ll see them galloping around the paddock together.”

“Genghis is a very relaxed, easy going mother and has been a pillar of the breeding program at Taronga Western Plains Zoo, with two of her four foals having already bred, carrying on this important genetic line to another generation.”

“At the moment Khan has quite a woolly looking coat however, as winter passes and the weather starts to warm up he will start to shed this layer,” said Jack.

Khan was born just before the July 3 opening of the new Wild Herds exhibit. Wild Herds is a newly redeveloped area that will showcase the Przewalski’s Horse and Taronga’s successful breeding program for this species and its role in helping to bring them back from the brink of extinction.

The Przewalski’s Horse is classified as Endangered, but they were once extinct in the wild and lived only in zoos. Prior to reintroduction programs Przewalski’s Horses were last seen in the wild in the Gobi Desert, in south Mongolia. Their numbers dwindled as a result of human interference such as poaching and capture. Today, their main threats are habitat loss and low genetic diversity.


Female Elephant Calf Celebrated as Breeding Success

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Taronga is thrilled to announce the birth of an Asian Elephant calf at Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo.

The healthy female calf was born in the zoo’s elephant barn on June 14 to mother Porntip, and was sired by Perth Zoo’s bull, Putra Mas, via artificial insemination in late 2016. The birth sees a new genetic bloodline created in the Australasian region’s Asian Elephant population.

“The fact that this calf is a female, and heralds the beginning of a new genetic blood line for the wider Asian Elephant conservation and breeding program, is a great achievement,” said Taronga Director and CEO, Cameron Kerr.

“I’m delighted to report that mother and calf are doing well and veterinarians are happy with the calf’s progress at this early stage.”

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The calf was standing on its own within the first hour and is now suckling from mother Porntip.

“We are absolutely delighted by the arrival of Taronga Western Plains Zoo’s second Asian Elephant calf. Experienced mother Porntip is doing a wonderful job and the keepers and veterinary staff are to be commended for their dedication and hard work, ensuring such a successful outcome. Every birth is so important for this endangered species and helps to secure their future,” said Zoo Director, Steve Hinks.

Keepers and vets monitored Porntip throughout the labor and birth of the calf, with staff staying overnight at the elephant barn for the past week to keep a close eye on her.

“Everything went to plan with the birthing process. Porntip and the calf are doing well and are spending time together in the elephant barn and behind the scenes paddock. Porntip is a very maternal elephant and already we are pleased with the attentive and nurturing behavior we are observing,” said Elephant Keeper, Bradd Johnston.

“Porntip gave birth to her first calf, Pathi Harn at Taronga Zoo in 2010 and has since been a very supportive and caring aunty to Sabai here in Dubbo,” said Bradd.

Taronga has now welcomed six elephant calves, across both Zoos, since the breeding program commenced 12 years ago, with four calves born in Sydney and two at Dubbo.

This successful breeding program is just one aspect of Taronga’s work in conserving this species. Taronga is working in the field with governments and conservation agencies in Asia to turn around the decline of Asian Elephants. Taronga also funds wildlife protection units and ranger stations in Thailand and Sumatra to help suppress elephant poaching.

Taronga Western Plains Zoo is now home to nine Asian Elephants, following the arrival of bull Gung in early 2018 and now Porntip’s calf in June 2018.

Mother and calf will be given further time to bond behind-the-scenes before making their public debut, and the Zoo will soon be announcing a competition to help choose a name for the calf.

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Taronga Western Plains Zoo Is Twice as Lucky

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Taronga Western Plains Zoo welcomed the arrival of a female Black-handed Spider Monkey baby, just prior to Christmas, on December 21, 2017.

After a little more than seven months gestation, the yet-to-be-named baby arrived to first-time mother, Margarita, and father, Pedro. The birth followed the exciting arrival of baby Isadora on October 9, 2017. Isadora was the first Spider Monkey to be born at the Zoo in 16 years.

“We are very excited to announce the arrival of another healthy female Spider Monkey baby, marking a wonderful boost to the Spider Monkey breeding program,” Keeper Mel Friedman said. “The baby’s mother, Margarita, is one of the last female Spider Monkeys to be born at the Zoo, 16 years ago. She has been proving her skills as an excellent mother, and has been taking great care of the baby, who clings to her belly as Margarita swings around her island home.”

“Margarita is quite a private individual compared to Jai (Isadora’s mother), who is more social, but now and then, she allows her Keepers to see the baby up close, which is very special,” Friedman said.

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3 - Spider Monkey baby born 21 Dec 2017Photo Credits: Rick Stevens/Taronga Western Plains Zoo

After a hiatus from breeding the species, Keepers were optimistic about the potential for more babies following the arrival of breeding male, Pedro, from France in 2014.

“Pedro is a highly valuable Spider Monkey male in the Australia/New Zealand region due to his genetics, and he has certainly been a great addition to the breeding group,” Mel said. “We were delighted when baby Isadora arrived in October last year, so to have two babies born in a three-month period is fantastic,” she said.

Once the baby becomes more active later in the year, Keepers expect to see her interacting with Jai’s four-month-old baby, Isadora. Isadora is already starting to engage with the rest of the troop while riding on her mother’s back.

To date, fifteen Spider Monkey babies have been born at Taronga Western Plains Zoo, which is home to three sub-species of Black-handed Spider Monkeys. The best time to see them is at the “Spider Monkey Feed” which occurs at 12.50pm daily.

The Black-handed Spider Monkey (Ateles geoffroyi), also known as Geoffroy's Spider Monkey, is a species of New World monkey that is native to Central America, parts of Mexico and possibly a small portion of Colombia. There are at least five subspecies.

One of the largest New World monkeys, it often weighing as much as 9 kg (20 lbs.). The arms are significantly longer than its legs, and its prehensile tail can support the entire weight and is used as an extra limb. Its hands have only a vestigial thumb, but long, strong, hook-like fingers.

They reside in troops that contain between 20 and 42 members. Their diet consists primarily of ripe fruit, and they require large tracts of forest to survive. As a result of habitat loss, hunting and capture for the pet trade, the species is currently classified as “Endangered” by the IUCN.


New Year Brings New Przewalski's Horse Foal

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The pitter-patter of little hooves has been welcomed at Taronga Western Plains Zoo, with the arrival of a rare Przewalski's Horse foal. The filly was born on January 1 to first-time mother, Zaria.

The Zoo now has a breeding herd of eleven Przewalski's Horses, which are the last surviving subspecies of Wild Horse (Equus ferus), and are native to central Asia. Przewalski's Horses are also called ‘takhi’ which means ‘spirit’ in Mongolia.

“This foal has been named Dash, and she has certainly been living up to her name,” Keeper Pascale Benoit said. “She is healthy and well, and has plenty of energy, especially in the mornings. She can be seen dashing around and even lets out a tiny, high-pitched whinny when her mother strays too far away.”

“Dash is starting to become more independent, and while she generally stays close by her mother’s side, she is spending more and more time exploring and interacting with the herd,” Benoit said.

Dash’s father, Nikolai, was born at Werribee Open Range Zoo in 2012 and came to Taronga Western Plains Zoo in October 2016. Nikolai’s genetics make him an important breeding individual for the region, and thus a valuable addition to the Zoo’s Przewalski’s Horse breeding program.

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In 1995, five Przewalski’s Horses from Taronga Western Plains Zoo were flown to Mongolia and reintroduced to the wild in the Gobi Desert, as part of a herd assembled by world zoos. Through this collaboration, numbers have continued to steadily increase in Mongolia.

“There are now almost 2,000 Przewalski’s Horses in human care and in the wild today, which is a huge step for this species, that was once extinct in the wild,” Pascale said.

The foal’s birth represents yet another success for the Zoo’s breeding program, which saw another female foal, Naruu, born in February 2017. Keepers are awaiting the arrival of a second Przewalski’s Horse foal for the 2018 season, to mare Genghis, also sired by Nikolai.

Prior to reintroduction programs, Przewalski's Horses were last seen in the wild in the 1960s in the Gobi Desert, in south Mongolia. Their numbers dwindled as a result of human interference, such as poaching and capture. Today, their main threats include habitat loss and low genetic diversity.

Later this year, Taronga Western Plains Zoo will unveil a new exhibit for the Przewalski’s Horse to better tell the story of this incredible species.

Taronga Western Plains Zoo is located in Dubbo in Central Western NSW.

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Two Baby Lemurs Are Twice the Fun

_AT_042720151016Taronga Western Plains Zoo is proud to announce the arrival of not one, but two Ring-tailed Lemur babies!

A male baby was born on September 1 to mother Rakitra. He was joined eight weeks later on October 28 by a female, born to mother Cleopatra. Both Rakitra and Cleopatra came to the Zoo from Italy in 2012 to boost the Ring-tailed Lemur breeding program.

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Photo Credit: Rick Stevens

“It’s very exciting to welcome two healthy Ring-tailed Lemur babies this year, and particularly special to have one of each sex,” Keeper Sasha Brook said. “Both babies are being well cared for by their experienced mothers, and can be spotted riding on their mothers’ backs at the Ring-tailed Lemur breeding facility,” Sasha said.

“At three months of age, Rakitra’s male baby is already spending more time away from his mother and interacting with the two sets of twins born last year. He spends lots of time wrestling with them, and it’s great to see the twins playing gently with the baby,” Sasha said.

“At nearly five weeks of age, Cleopatra’s female baby is still developing her coordination skills, but we have noticed her also start to bounce away from her mother for short periods of time. Cleopatra is particularly relaxed around her keepers, so she doesn’t mind her baby exploring. “We’ll start to see the female baby play with others soon, including her older brother, but for now it’s very positive that she’s bonding with her mother,” Sasha said.

Continue reading "Two Baby Lemurs Are Twice the Fun" »


Southern Black Rhino Calf Born in Australia

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Taronga Western Plains Zoo is pleased to announce the arrival of a rare Southern Black Rhinoceros calf, born on October 31 to mother Bakhita and father Kwanzaa.

The yet-to-be-named male calf is the second Black Rhino calf to be born at the Zoo this year, boosting the Zoo’s successful Black Rhino breeding program.

“We are very happy with the arrival of a healthy male calf born overnight on 31 October. Every birth is special, but to have two Black Rhino calves born in one year is particularly exciting. We’re thrilled,” Keeper Scott Smith said. “The birth occurred in the early hours of Halloween, following a 15-month gestation period for Bakhita. It was a smooth delivery, and the calf is strong, healthy and well. Bakhita is an experienced and nurturing mother, and while she’s protective of her baby, she is relatively relaxed and trusting around Keepers.”

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4 - Black Rhino calf with mother BakhitaPhoto Credits: Rick Stevens/ Taronga Western Plains Zoo

“At just two weeks of age, the calf was showing his confidence and interacting with Keepers via a ‘creep’ yard - a fence opening large enough for the baby to pass through, but too small for Bakhita,” Scott said. This ‘creep’ yard allows the calf to get close to Keepers and grow used to their presence, while Bakhita comfortably eats hay nearby. By encouraging this interaction from a young age, Keepers can develop an important bond with him, which helps to make working with the calf a positive experience as he grows into an adult Rhino.

“The new calf is one of the biggest Black Rhino calves born here at the Zoo, with an estimated birth weight of 35 to 40 kilograms. We’re pleased to see he is suckling very well from Bakhita,” Scott said. “He has already been seen galloping around his behind-the-scenes enclosure and venturing a considerable distance from Bakhita for short periods of time. He’s an active calf and is very inquisitive about his surroundings.”

The calf is imitating eating behaviors by mouthing browse (leaves), but will only start to eat solid food at around three months of age. While Black Rhino are born without horns, the calf’s horn will soon begin growing at a rate of around half a centimeter to one centimeter per month.

The calf’s mother, Bakhita, is the first Black Rhino female to be born at Taronga Western Plains Zoo, with her arrival in 2002 being a widely celebrated occasion. The Zoo currently has three generations of Black Rhino. Bakhita’s daughter, Kufara, currently has a calf of her own - Mesi, born in April this year.

The best time to see Kufara and Mesi is at the Black Rhino Keeper Talk at 9.25am daily. Bakhita and her baby will remain behind the scenes as they continue to bond as mother and calf, and they will be on exhibit for the public to see early next year.

Taronga Western Plains Zoo is the only zoo in Australia to have successfully bred three species of Rhino: the Black Rhino and White Rhino from Africa, and the Greater One-horned Rhino from Asia. The new calf is the 14th Black Rhino calf to be born at Taronga Western Plains Zoo.

Every Rhino birth is extremely important. Southern Black Rhinoceros are critically endangered with only an estimated 4000 left in the wild, predominantly due to poaching for their horns. Taronga is a founding member of the International Rhino Foundation, and in addition to the breeding conservation program, actively supports conservation efforts for wild Rhinos in Africa, Indonesia and India in areas including habitat protection, anti-poaching and reduction of human-rhino conflict.

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