Taronga Zoo

Wallaby Joey Surprises Taronga Zoo Keepers

1_Wallaby Joey_Photo by Paul Fahy (16)

Keepers at Taronga Zoo are celebrating the unexpected birth of an endangered Brush-tailed Rock-Wallaby – more than a year after its father left the Zoo!

The joey recently started peeking out from mother Mica’s pouch to the surprise of keepers and delight of keen-eyed visitors.

“We weren’t planning for another joey, so it was quite a shock when we started seeing something moving inside the pouch,” said Keeper, Tony Britt-Lewis.

2_Wallaby Joey_Photo by Paul Fahy (8)

3_Wallaby Joey_Photo by Paul Fahy (9)

4_Wallaby Joey_Photo by Paul Fahy (10)Photo Credits: Paul Fahy / Taronga Zoo

 

The birth is the result of a phenomenon known as embryonic diapause, which enables certain mammals to extend their gestation period and time the birth of their young.

The reproductive strategy, which is used by a number of marsupial species (including: Kangaroos, Wallabies and Wombats), usually occurs when adverse environmental conditions threaten the survival of the mother and her newborn.

“It’s an interesting survival mechanism that allows the mother to delay the development of the embryo in drought conditions or if she already has a joey in the pouch,” said Tony.

Experienced mother Mica was carrying another joey in her pouch up until August last year, some five months after the only resident male, Sam, had moved to another wildlife park. Keepers suspect that Mica mated with Sam soon after giving birth to the joey growing in her pouch, and the resulting embryo stayed dormant while her pouch was occupied.

Tony said keepers are yet to determine the sex of the surprise joey, but it appears to be very healthy and about six months of age.

“Mica is a confident and attentive mum and her joey looks to be very strong. It shouldn’t be long before we start to see it venturing out of the pouch to take its first wobbly steps,” he said.

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Orphaned Possum Brothers Find New Mother

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Two orphaned Ringtail Possums have found a surrogate mum at Taronga Zoo.

Taronga staffer, Di Scott, is providing round-the-clock care to the twin brothers, carrying a makeshift pouch and waking at 3am to feed and toilet the joeys.

The four-month-old Possums, nicknamed ‘Ernie’ and ‘Bert’, arrived at Taronga Wildlife Hospital with their mother last week. Their mother was left paralyzed after a suspected collision with a car at Northbridge and sadly didn’t survive.

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4_Possum Twins (2)Photo Credits: Taronga Zoo

 

The twins were losing weight rapidly on arrival but have since made a remarkable recovery in Di’s care.

“It was really hard to tell them apart when they arrived, so the hospital staff put a spot of nail polish on one their toes to help with identification,” said Di.

“They’ve actually got quite distinct little personalities. Ernie is bouncy and boisterous, while Bert is quiet and shy in comparison.”

The Possums are learning to lap a special milk mixture from a dish and starting to nibble on solid foods, such as leaves and native flowers.

“I can hear them munching away on the flowers in the middle of the night. Their favorite is bottlebrush and they fight over the same part of the flower-- like true brothers,” said Di.

The twins will remain in Di’s care until they are ready to feed themselves. They’ll then stay at Taronga Wildlife Hospital until they are old enough to begin a soft release program, where they’ll be transferred to a specialized wildlife carer and ultimately released back into the wild.

Di said the Possums’ story should serve as a reminder to watch out for wildlife on the road, as native animals are often hit by cars.

Taronga Wildlife Hospital cares for and treats about 1,000 injured or orphaned native animals every year, including Wombats, Wallabies, Possums, Echidnas, birds and Sea Turtles.

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Taronga Zoo’s Meerkat Pups Given Names

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The two-month-old Meerkat pups at Taronga Zoo were recently given names to reflect their African heritage. Meet ‘Lwazi’ and his sister ‘Serati’! The playful siblings were born January 7 to first-time mom, Nairobi, and dad, Maputo.

The Zoo has been celebrating this birth of its first Meerkat pups in nearly seven years. Check out our earlier article that introduced the pair: "Meerkat Pups Go Exploring at Taronga Zoo"

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4_TarongaZooTwo-month-oldMeerkatsPhoto Credits: Rick Stevens

“They may be young, but they’re already showing signs of their own little personalities. Our male is the bigger of the two and he’s more adventurous and inquisitive, while the female is quieter and prefers to stay close to mum,” said Keeper, Courtney Mahony.

“This is all new for them and they learn by observing their mum and dad, so we’re very lucky that Nairobi and Maputo are proving to be fantastic and attentive first-time parents. Nairobi is letting the pups suckle and grooming them at the right times and Maputo protects them, huddles over them and curls up with them at night.”

Gestation for Meerkats is about eleven weeks. In the wild, Meerkats give birth in underground burrows to help keep the newborns safe from predators. To shield the pups from dust in their subterranean homes, they are born with their eyes and ears closed. Meerkat babies are also nearly hairless at birth, though a light coat of silver and brown fur begins to fill in after just a few days.

These desert-dwellers are highly social critters and live in groups, called mobs, which can include dozens of individuals from multiple families.

The babies nurse for about nine weeks, and they grow very quickly. Though they weigh only about an ounce at birth, by six months old, the pups are about the same size as the adults.

The Meerkat, or Suricate (Suricata suricatta), is a small carnivoran belonging to the mongoose family. They are native to all parts of the Namib Desert in Namibia and southwestern Angola, and in South Africa.

They are currently classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. In the wild, they are present in several large and well-managed protected areas. However, population densities can fluctuate due to predation and rainfall variations.


Meerkat Pups Go Exploring At Taronga Zoo

Meerkat Pups_Photo by Paul Fahy (5)
Two Meerkat pups born January 7 at Australia’s Taronga Zoo are already practicing the skills they’ll need as adults. 

Meerkat Pups_Photo by Paul Fahy (9)
Meerkat Pups_Photo by Paul Fahy (15)Photo Credit:  Paul Fahy

 
The pups, which are the first to be born at Taronga Zoo in nearly seven years, have just started venturing out of their nest box.  At less than one month old, they’re already eating solid food like mealworms and insect larvae.  The pups are also practicing to be sentries by standing on their hind legs.  Meerkats take turns standing as sentries to protect their social group from predators and other threats.

Keepers think that the pups are a male and a female, but the genders will be confirmed later this month when they have their first vaccinations and veterinary exam.   Keepers perform quick health checks and weigh-ins regularly to ensure that the pups are healthy and comfortable in the presence of keepers.

As with all Meerkat young, the yet-to-be named pups are developing very quickly. Despite only weighing less than an ounce at birth, they now weigh more than a quarter of a pound.  

Meerkats are native to southern Africa, where they inhabit arid locales such as the Kalahari and Namib Deserts.  Living in clans of about 20 individuals, Meerkats construct large networks of underground burrows.  Aside from acting as sentries, they exhibit other social behaviors such as babysitting and protecting young of other group members.  Meerkats are not under significant threat and are classified as Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

See more photos of the Meerkat pups below.

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Cheetah Cub Gets A Helping Hand

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A Cheetah cub born October 17 at Australia’s Taronga Zoo is being hand-raised after she was rejected by her mother.

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IMG_6161Photo Credit:  Taronga Zoo
 

The female cub was one of two born to first-time mother Kyan. Sadly, the other cub was stillborn.

Because singleton cubs are often rejected by their mothers, keepers monitored the mother and cub closely. When they noticed Kyan’s attention to the cub decreasing, especially when feeding, the staff decided to intervene to give the cub the best chance of survival.

The little Cheetah is now receiving round-the-clock care, with a team of keepers staying overnight and feeding her five times a day.

So far, the cub is developing well, growing in strength, and starting to chase balls and stalk play toys. She weighed just under four pounds at her most recent health check, a promising result for the team who is helping to raise the cub.

Though Cheetahs are the world’s fastest land animals, they cannot escape the effects of human encroachment on their wild habitats.  With only 10,000 remaining in the wilds of southern Africa, Cheetahs are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.


Bright Orange Leaf Monkey Born at Taronga

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Taronga Zoo is celebrating the birth of a bright orange Francois’ Langur, one of the world’s rarest monkeys.

The male infant, whom keepers have named ‘Nangua’ after the Mandarin word for pumpkin, was discovered cradled in mother Meili’s arms on 7 November.

Also known as Francois’ leaf monkeys, Langurs are born with bright orange hair while their parents are black in color. It is thought this color distinction makes it easier for adults to identify and look after infants.

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Senior Primate Keeper, Jane Marshall said Nangua was already receiving lots of attention from his mother and the harem group’s other females, Noel and Elke.

“Meili has shown her calmness and experience since the birth, cradling and protecting the baby, but also allowing Noel and Elke to get close to him,” said Jane.

Francois’ Langurs practice allomothering or ‘auntying’, in which other females participate in raising the baby. Infants can often be seen being passed around as each of the Langurs take turns caring for their newest addition.

“Noel has taken on the role of allomother, carrying the baby about 50 percent of the time. This gives mum a break to eat and rest, but as soon as the baby whimpers she races straight back over to him,” said Jane.

Nangua has begun to explore his exhibit on Taronga’s Rainforest Trail to the delight of keen-eyed visitors.

Once widespread in China and Vietnam, Francois’ Langurs have become one of the world’s rarest monkeys due to habitat loss and poaching for traditional medicines. Taronga is the only zoo in Australia to care for these primates, but is working with other zoos globally to help ensure a future for the species.


Injured Plover Receives Care at Taronga Zoo

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A young Plover named Grover was found injured and alone on the side of a busy road and brought to the Wildlife Hospital at Taronga Zoo, in Sydney, Australia, when she was just a week old. The little ball of fluff is now being hand raised by Bird Keeper Grey who says she's growing by the day!

2_Grover the Plover_TarongaPhoto Credits: Taronga Zoo

Plovers are a widely distributed group of wading birds belonging to the subfamily Charadriinae. The Masked Lapwing (Vanellus miles) is a large and conspicuous bird species native to northern and eastern Australia, New Zealand, and New Guinea. They are also known as: Masked Plover, Spur-winged Plover, or simply—Plover.

They spend most of their time on the ground searching for insects and worms. They are shy and harmless, but have nesting habits that cause distress in urban areas. They will build their nests on almost any stretch of open ground, including: parks, gardens, school grounds, parking lots or rooftops. They have also proven intrusive at airports, where bird strikes have occurred.

Commonly, two birds are seen together, nearly identical male and female. They can also be seen in groups during feedings. Chicks reach full growth at about four to five months and will stay with the parents for up to two years.

They are currently classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

The Wildlife Hospitals at Taronga and Taronga Western Plains Zoos care for around 1,500 native animals each year. The animals are brought to the hospitals by members of the community, after being found sick, injured or orphaned.

The main aim of the Wildlife Hospitals at Taronga and Taronga Western Plains Zoos is to rehabilitate as many native animals as possible for release back to the wild.

The variety of animals treated is enormous, ranging from stranded seals and orphaned baby bats, to pelicans tangled in fishing line.

All the animals need, and are provided with, professional care and attention during the treatment and rehabilitation process to ensure they can be returned to their natural environment.

The hospitals at both Taronga and Taronga Western Plains Zoos provide a high standard of veterinary expertise in the care of native animals and have well-equipped, modern veterinary facilities.

When an animal is brought to one of the two hospitals, the details are recorded on a hospital record sheet. A veterinarian examines the animal, and a prognosis made. The treatment details and the animal's progress are recorded on its hospital record sheet throughout the rehabilitation process. Whenever possible the rescuer is involved in the eventual release of the animal.

Prior to release, most animals are given a permanent and unique identifier, such as ear tags for possums and leg bands for birds and bats. If the animal is recaptured at a later date, details about its health, movements and post-release behavior can be recorded.

Some animals arrive as orphans and require hand-rearing by Zoo staff, or may have an injury, which makes them unsuitable for release. These animals may be kept for breeding or education purposes at Taronga or Taronga Western Plains Zoos.


Koala Joeys Emerge for Spring at Taronga Zoo

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Spring, in Australia, has heralded the arrival of more tiny paws at Taronga Zoo, with two new Koala joeys emerging from the pouch to the delight of keepers and visitors.

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4_TJ_Photo by Laura Jones (2)Photo Credits: Paul Fahy/Taronga Zoo (Koala Joey 'TJ': images 2,3,4,5,7,12 / Koala 'Baxter': images 1,6,8,9,10,11)

A male joey has appeared just in time to catch the warmer weather. The seven-month-old, who keepers have named TJ, is the first joey for mother Sydney.

“We’ve been seeing arms and legs and even a little pair of eyes peeking out from Sydney’s pouch in recent weeks, but he wasn’t ready to venture outside until this week,” said Koala Keeper, Laura Jones.

Sydney isn’t the only first-time mother at Taronga’s Koala Encounter, with neighbor Mallee also welcoming her first joey.

The male joey has been named Baxter, after a stringybark species called Eucalyptus Baxteri, and he’s already developing a taste for leaves.

“Baxter is chomping on leaves like a champion. He’s obviously still suckling from mum, but he’ll become more and more independent over the coming months,” said Laura.

“He loves climbing up near Mallee’s head to look around and I saw him step off on his own for the first time this week. He only lasted a few seconds before returning to mum, but he looked quite pleased with himself.”

Taronga’s Koala breeding program has now produced three joeys this season, with experienced mother, Wanda, welcoming a female joey in June.

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Endangered Wallaby Joeys Emerge at Taronga Zoo

1_Wallaby Joey (2) Photo by Paul Fahy

Two tiny Brush-tailed Rock-Wallaby joeys have emerged from their mother's pouches at Taronga Zoo, continuing its successful breeding program for the endangered species.

2_Wallaby Joey (9) Photo by Paul Fahy

3_Wallaby Joey (12) Photo by Paul Fahy

4_Wallaby Joey (16) Photo by Paul FahyPhoto Credits: Paul Fahy / Taronga Zoo

A female joey has started peeking out from mother Mica’s pouch in the Zoo’s Platypus Pools exhibit, delighting keepers and keen-eyed visitors.

“She’s still quite shy, but we’re starting to see her little face more and more. Mica likes to find a nice spot to rest in the sun and the joey will often pop its head out to look around,” said Keeper, Tony Britt-Lewis.

At five months of age, the joey will likely spend another month inside the pouch, before venturing outside to explore its surroundings.

The joey is one of two Brush-tailed Rock-Wallabies to emerge in the past week. Another of the Zoo’s breeding group, Ruby, is also carrying a joey.

Once abundant and widespread across the rocky country of southeastern Australia, Brush-tailed Rock-Wallabies (Petrogale penicillata) are now listed as an endangered species in New South Wales. They are classified as “Near Threatened” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The Brush-tailed Rock-Wallaby population has declined by up to 97% in the last 130 years.

Brush-tailed Rock-Wallabies have called Australia home for millennia. They are found nowhere else on earth and are a unique part of Australia’s natural heritage. “Brushies” were once common in all of Eastern Australia, and they numbered over half a million individuals. In the 19th century, Brushies were hunted by humans for their fur (now outlawed), but today they are still killed by predators, such as: foxes, feral dogs, and cats. They also face competition from introduced species such as goats and of course, a loss of habitat due to farming, weed invasion and the generally expanding human population. They’re vulnerable to introduced diseases and suffer from a lower overall genetic health, due to the increasing isolation of colonies.

Taronga Zoo is working with the Office of Environment and Heritage on a coordinated program to help the recovery of the species.

More incredible pics, below the fold!

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First Koala Joey of the Season at Taronga Zoo

1_Wanda's Joey_Photo by Paul Fahy (1)

Taronga Zoo is celebrating the arrival of its first Koala joey for this year’s breeding season, with a tiny face starting to emerge from its mother’s pouch. The female joey has been spotted mouthing its first eucalyptus leaves and slowly exploring the world outside the pouch, to the delight of keepers and visitors.

“She’s still quite shy, but we’re beginning to see her little face more and more,” said Koala Keeper, Laura Jones. 

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3_Wanda's Joey_Photo by Paul Fahy (17)

4_Wanda's Joey_Photo by Paul Fahy (18)Photo Credits: Paul Fahy/Taronga Zoo

Part of Taronga’s Koala breeding program, the yet-to-be-named joey is the third for experienced mother, Wanda. “Wanda is a very relaxed and attentive mum. She keeps her little one nice and close at all times and I’ve never seen her complain when the joey is scratching around with its claws inside her pouch,” said Laura.

At six months old, the joey will continue to gain weight and the fluffy fur for which Koalas are known. She will spend, at least, another four months with her mother before venturing out on her own. “It won’t be long before she can’t fit back inside the pouch. At that point she’ll start to cuddle up with mum, only putting her head back inside the pouch to drink,” said Laura.

Tour groups have begun meeting Wanda and her joey at Taronga’s Koala Encounter, where they learn more about one of Australia’s most iconic species and how they are under threat from urban development and forestry breaking up their natural habitat.

Laura said it was important for people to watch out for Koalas on the roads at this time of year, particularly at dawn and dusk. “The quality of food declines during winter, so potentially you’ll see Koalas ranging further and closer to high-density areas to find leaves,” she said.

The Koala is currently classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. However, in 2012, the Australian government listed Koala populations in Queensland and New South Wales as “Vulnerable”, due to a 40% population decline in Queensland and a 33% decline in New South Wales. Populations in Victoria and South Australia appear to be abundant; however, the Australian Koala Foundation argues that the exclusion of Victorian populations from protective measures is based on a misconception that the total Koala population is 200,000, whereas they believe it is probably less than 100,000.

More great pics, below the fold!

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