Taronga Zoo

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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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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Baby Langur (20)

Baby Langur (23)

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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

1_Baxter_Photo by Paul Fahy (4)

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.

2_TJ_Photo by Laura Jones (3)

3_TJ_Photo by Laura Jones (1)

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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Sooty Owl Chick Training for Bird Show

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A very fluffy Lesser Sooty Owl chick has recently joined the Free Flight Bird Show team, at Taronga Zoo. At the moment, he looks more like a ball of fluff than an owl, but soon the nine-week-old male will be fully fledged and ready to fly.

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11160040_919991424730416_4981664247546811123_oPhoto Credits: Taronga Zoo

The chick, named ‘Griffin’, arrived at Taronga from Featherdale Wildlife Park and is being hand-raised by Bird Show Supervisor, Matt Kettle, who says that the chick was a big hit when he started taking him home.

“As soon as I walked in the door with him and set him down in his box, my four year old daughter came up and started telling him a story. At home he stretches out in my lap while I watch TV and I give him a bit of a scratch. While nice for us, this is actually part of his training. This human interaction is important as he’ll be doing encounters and flying in the show one day, so it’s essential that he’s prepared for anything,” said Matt.

Griffin is growing up fast and is already starting to lose his fluffy down feathers. Matt continued, “Like most babies, he spends most of his time sleeping, but he’s starting to explore his surroundings more, and he’s jumping off things getting ready to fly.”

Sooty Owls are Australia’s most nocturnal species of owl, preferring very dark and dense rainforest habitat. Lesser Sooty Owls, like Griffin, are found in Northern Queensland; however, the more common Greater Sooty Owl ranges from Sydney, Victoria and into Papua New Guinea. Despite their wide range of habitat, it is very rare to actually see one of these birds in the wild.

Matt said, “They are very, very secretive birds. They aren’t very common to see. Even people who go out searching for Sooty Owls in Sydney find them very hard to find.”

“That’s why it’s so special for Griffin to be here with us as an ambassador for his species, so people can come in and learn about these stunning owls, which also hunt rats and mice.”

Matt plans to start taking Griffin for walks around the Zoo, to continue his training getting used to people, and the youngster will soon be practicing flying in the Bird Show amphitheater. 

Taronga’s birds have helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for wildlife conservation through encounters at the Bird Show.

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Bulldozer Can't Stop Baby Echidna

Newman (2)A baby Echidna is recovering at Australia’s Taronga Zoo after being seriously injured when its burrow was dug up by a bulldozer.

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Newman (11)Photo Credit:  Paul Fahy

 

Zoo keepers have taken on the role of surrogate mother to the baby Echidna, called a puggle, feeding it a special milk mixture from the palms of their hands.

The puggle was first brought to the zoo with a deep wound to the side of its body after its nursery burrow was accidentally dug up by a bulldozer in December.

Believed to have been just two months old when rescued, the Echidna required weeks of antibiotics, hand rearing and sleep in a temperature-controlled artificial burrow. 

The puggle – which is still too young for keepers to determine its gender –has doubled in size since February.  Dubbed ‘Newman’ after the Seinfeld character who shares its beady eyes, the puggle is finally feeding confidently.

Instead of having teats like other mammals, Echidnas have patches on their abdomen that excrete milk for their young to lap up.  Newman now eats steadily for about 40 minutes at a time, stopping only to blow milk out its nose. As adults, Echidnas use their sticky tongues to slurp up ants and termites.

Echidnas belong to a group of egg-laying mammals called monotremes, which are found only in Australia and New Guinea.  Their spiny coats are an effective defense against predators.  If their spines aren’t enough to keep them safe, Echidnas use their powerful claws to dig themselves into the earth, disappearing like a sinking ship.

See more photos of Newman below.

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