Toronto Zoo

Toronto’s Giant Panda Twins Are One Month Old

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At one month old, the twin Giant Panda cubs at the Toronto Zoo are healthy and continuing to grow. The larger of the two cubs now weighs over one kilogram (2.2 lbs.), with the smaller cub not far behind at approximately 750 grams (1.6 lbs.).

Their undercoat (or insulating hair) continues to grow in thicker and whiter, making the areas on their bodies, where the skin is not pigmented black, look much whiter. Although small, they truly look like Giant Pandas now.

Er Shun continues to be a great mother, and the cubs are progressing very well with the coordinated care from mother and zoo staff. However, it is still a very critical time for these little cubs.

Toronto-Zoo-Giant-Panda-Cub-at-One-Month(1)Photo Credits: Toronto Zoo

   

On October 13th Toronto Zoo announced the birth of two Giant Panda cubs, and ZooBorns shared the initial birth announcement and a later update.

The Toronto Zoo has stated that Er Shun and her twin cubs would be living within the private maternity area, inside the Giant Panda House, for approximately four to five months.

Giant Panda mothers are known for only looking after one cub at a time, so keepers are helping raise the twins using a method called ‘twin swapping’. One baby is left with the mother, and the keepers switch the twins every few hours, so each one gets care and milk directly from mom. Since the beginning, Er Shun has been demonstrating excellent maternal instincts, and she began cleaning and cradling the first cub soon after its birth.

As the maternity area of the Giant Panda House is not visible to the public, Toronto Zoo staff have been providing regular updates on the progress of the cubs, via the zoo’s website and social media: http://www.torontozoo.com/GiantPandaCubs/

The Giant Panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) is native to only a few mountain ranges in central China, usually at elevations between 5,000 – 10,000 feet. In these cool, misty forests, Giant Pandas forage for bamboo, which comprises 99% of their diet, about 10 to 16 hours a day.

Giant Pandas reach sexual maturity between the ages of four and eight and may be reproductive until age 20. Their gestation period ranges from 95 to 160 days. In about half of their pregnancies, twins are birthed. In the wild, usually only one twin survives, due to the mother selecting the stronger cub to care for and neglecting the weaker.

Only about 1,600 Giant Pandas remain in the wild. About 300 live in zoos and breeding centers around the world, mostly in China. Giant Pandas are listed as “Endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Their population is threatened by continued habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, and by a very low birthrate-- both in the wild and in captivity.


UPDATE: Giant Panda Cubs Triple Their Weight

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Twin Giant Panda cubs born on October 13 at the Toronto Zoo have tripled their weights but are still in a critical period of their infancy.

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12194619_918029888233457_4091861711405412373_oPhoto Credit:  Toronto Zoo

You first met the cubs on ZooBorns a few weeks after their birth. Their mother, Er Shun, has been providing excellent care, but zoo keepers help her by ‘twin-swapping’ – one baby stays with Er Shun while the other is moved to an incubator every few hours.  This allows each infant to be nursed and cared for by Er Shun equally.

The cubs weighed 187 and 115 grams at birth.  At 21 days old, the cubs’ weights had increased to 672 and 422 grams.  In addition, they had each grown six centimeters in length.

If you look closely at the photographs, you can see the cubs’ black-and-white markings beginning to appear as their fur comes in  On their tiny paws, you can see grooves developing on their pseudo thumb pads – these grooves will enable them to hold bamboo when they get much older.

Giant Pandas live in only a few mountain ranges in central China, usually at elevations between 5,000 – 10,000 feet.  In these cool, misty forests, Giant Pandas forage for bamboo, which comprises 99% of their diet, about 10 to 16 hours a day. 

Only about 1,600 Giant Pandas remain in the wild.  About 300 live in zoos and breeding centers around the world, mostly in China.  Giant Pandas are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.


Giant Panda Cubs Born at Toronto Zoo

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On October 13th Toronto Zoo announced the birth of two Giant Panda cubs! The zoo excitedly reported that mom, Er Shun, and her twin cubs were doing well, and that they would be living within the maternity area, inside the Giant Panda House, for approximately four to five months.

Giant Panda mothers are known for only looking after one cub at a time, so keepers are helping raise the twins using a method called ‘twin swapping’. One baby is left with the mother, and the keepers switch the twins every few hours, so each one gets care and milk directly from mom.

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4_TorontoPandaTwinsPhoto Credits: Toronto Zoo

Since the beginning, Er Shun has been demonstrating excellent maternal instincts, and she began cleaning and cradling the first cub soon after its birth. Immediately following the birth of the second cub, Toronto Zoo staff from the Wildlife Health Centre, Wildlife Care, and two Giant Panda experts from Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in China retrieved the cub to initiate the Toronto Zoo's Giant Panda Twin Hand-Rearing Protocol. The cub was then placed in an incubator in the maternity area of the Giant Panda house, and approximately two hours after its birth, the second cub was twin-swapped so it could begin the bonding process with Er Shun. The first cub weighed 187.7 grams at birth, and the second cub weighed 115 grams.

As the maternity area of the Giant Panda House is not visible to the public, Toronto Zoo staff will endeavor to provide regular updates on their progress, via their website and social media: http://www.torontozoo.com/GiantPandaCubs/

At this time Zoo staff do not know the sex of the cubs and have not confirmed which panda is the father. It may be several months before they are able to determine either.

With the assistance of the two Giant Panda experts from the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in China, the zoo team continues to twin-swap the cubs. This not only enables Er Shun to nurse and bond with each cub, but also provides the Zoo's Wildlife Health Centre and Wildlife Care staff the opportunity to weigh each cub and conduct regular health checks.

While there has been some weight fluctuations with both cubs, which is very common with newborns, both of them are currently stable. If the team notices that one or both of the cubs are not suckling from their mother, the team is able to collect milk from Er Shun and give it to the cubs extremely carefully, by bottle.

Continue reading "Giant Panda Cubs Born at Toronto Zoo" »


UPDATE! Toronto Zoo's Polar Bear Cub is Making Strides

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Toronto Zoo's Polar Bear cub is growing up strong and healthy! Born on November 9 to a resident mom, Aurora, the cub was one of three born in the litter. Despite Aurora showing perfect maternal instincts, including nursing the cubs shortly after their birth, the zoo was saddened to discover that two of the three cubs did not survive the first 48 hours. They made the decision to hand raise and carefully monitor the third cub so he would have to best chance of survival. (See our previous update here.)

Since then, the male cub has recovered from low weight and made many developmental milestones. His eyes have been fully open since day 35 and he's already taken his first steps. He is quite active and starting to play. 

The cub now weighs about 9.7 pounds (4 kg), which is a is a 529% increase since his original birth weight.  Although he receives milk from a bottle six times a day, he has recently started to learn how to lap milk from a dish, a transition that eventually will help him learn to eat solid foods.

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Watch the cub's first steps:

 

Watch a bottle-feeding:

 

Happy bear sounds!

 

The little cub is beginning to teethe and he likes to bite objects such as his blanket. His canine teeth, incisors and some of his molars can now be felt. He has a few whiskers and his coat is becoming thicker as he continues to grow.

He still remains in a temperature-controlled environment within the Wildlife Health Centre but has been out of his incubator for the past month.  The temperature in his room has been gradually reduced. In fact, an air conditioner has been installed for his comfort. He is a Polar Bear, after all!

See and read more after the fold.

Continue reading "UPDATE! Toronto Zoo's Polar Bear Cub is Making Strides" »


UPDATE! Toronto Zoo's Polar Bear Cub Grows Steadily in Intensive Care

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In November we learned that a Polar Bear cub was in the intensive care unit at Toronto Zoo's Wildlife Health Center. The little cub was born at the zoo on November 9th, but was the only one to survive out of a litter of three. 

Almost six weeks later, the cub is growing under the care of exceptional veterinary staff, the wildlife health care team, and keepers, who continue to monitor the little male cub 24 hours a day. As with any new birth, this little cub’s progress continues to be determined on a day-to-day basis. Caretakers ensure that he feeds from a bottle, continues to gain weight at an appropriate rate, avoids infections and continues to digest his formula to receive the nutrients a young cub needs. 

He is currently feeding 9 times a day and growing steadily. The veterinary staff have fondly nicknamed him 'Remy', as he was received into the Wildlife Health Centre on Remembrance Day. 

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3 polar bearPhoto credit: Toronto Zoo


Double the Fuzz: Two More Penguin Chicks Hatched at Toronto Zoo

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The Toronto Zoo's African Penguin family is growing! Proud parents Colby and Greenbird have hatched two penguin chicks. The first chick hatched on March 29, and the second on April 1. The fuzzy little duo is now on exhibit for intervals throughout the day in the Zoo's African penguin house. They join African Penguin chick Eldon, who was born January 28, and the Zoo's 12 adult penguins on exhibit.

Penguin chicks "grow up" very quickly. To get an idea of how fast, the first picture is of Eldon at 6-days-old and the third is of one of the new chicks, at 26-days-old. You can read all about Eldon and learn in-depth about the Zoo's African Penguin program in our ZooBorns article from May 12.

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Photo Credits: Toronto Zoo

 


A New Ring-tailed Lemur Baby for Toronto Zoo

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What's new at the Toronto Zoo? A baby Ring-tailed Lemur. Mom, Lily, gave birth to the little one on March 5... although the baby's father is a mystery, keepers believe it was most likely Lionel or Larry.

The gender of the baby will remain undetermined until the baby leaves the comfort of mom's furry chest. It's a natural instinct to separate and start exploring at about one month old.

Ring-tailed lemurs are only found on the island of Madagascar, and like all lemurs, are at risk from habitat destruction as jungle is converted to farmland. Sociable vegetarians, Ring-tails are currently listed as 'Threatened' by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. 

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Photo Credit: Toronto Zoo 


Toronto's Penguin Program Yields First Little Chick

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The Toronto Zoo announced Friday that the African Penguin breeding program initiated in November 2011 has been successful. The zoo's first chick hatched on January, 28, 2012, to penguin pair 'Gozi' and 'Puff'. The chick has been hand-raised by staff as the pair rejected the egg as it was hatching. Two other eggs have been laid by 'Colby' and 'Greenbird". It is expected that they will hatch later in March with the first three weeks being the most critical for their growth and survival.

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The baby Penguin will be known as either 'Eldon' or 'Ellie' once the gender has been determined. (A determination can be made when the Penguin is older and a small blood sample can be taken) The chick can be observed by the general public in the Penguin house at the exhibit at scheduled times throughout the day as of March 10.

Continue reading "Toronto's Penguin Program Yields First Little Chick" »


Toronto's Polar Bear Cub Debuts at 3.5 Months!

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After a precarious start to life, a now 3 ½ month old male Polar Bear cub was introduced today at Toronto Zoo. This energetic young cub represents a heartwarming journey of survival, one where expert Toronto Zoo Wildlife Health staff worked around the clock to save a vulnerable species. The cub has successfully reached many milestones in his young life and is a great ambassador for a species in need of public education and support.

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Photo credit: Toronto Zoo

"This has been an interesting and challenging case for the Zoo and a valiant and dedicated team effort of both the Wildlife Health Centre and Wildlife Care staff," said John Tracogna, the Zoo's Chief Executive Officer. "Ultimately, it has been a rewarding journey for everyone involved, and we are happy to introduce an active and healthy Polar Bear cub, our new Arctic ambassador to help share our conservation message with our visitors."

Learn about the cub's rocky start and about the zoo's naming contest beneath the fold...

Continue reading "Toronto's Polar Bear Cub Debuts at 3.5 Months!" »