Vienna Zoo

UPDATE: Vienna’s Giant Panda Twins Keeping Mom Busy

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The Giant Panda twins at Schönbrunn Zoo are 18 days old and keepers report they are developing splendidly.

Mother Yang Yang is confident and relaxed in her care of the two young ones. Staff daily observes her (via a den camera) suckling them, cleaning them and keeping them warm. The babies also get more and more active every day. “The young Pandas stretch, wave their little paws in the air, and make first tentative efforts to crawl on their mother’s tummy,” explains the zoo’s director, Dagmar Schratter. Their pink tinge is also increasingly being replaced by black and white fur, resulting in their looking more like miniature Pandas every day.

The next big step in the development of the Panda twins is the formation of their auditory senses, which takes place at about five weeks of age. On top of this, the young animals are still blind and will only open their eyes when they are approximately 40 days old. It will be the end of the year before they can really crawl and leave the breeding box.

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3_Pandazwillinge 22_ AugustPhoto Credits: Schönbrunn Zoo


As we previously shared, the Panda mother will rear her babies in their breeding box, behind the scenes, which is out of sight of Schönbrunn Zoo visitors. At about four months old, the young Pandas will make their first excursions to the indoor enclosure, where the visitors will be able to watch them. The Zoo will do its best to keep Panda fans all over the world informed. At regular intervals, videos from the breeding box will be published on Schönbrunn Zoo’s website: …YouTube: … and other social media pages. There is also a public video screen in the Zoo that allows visitors to peek in on the new family.

The Giant Panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) also known as “panda bear” or simply “panda, is a bear native to south central China. Though it belongs to the order Carnivora, the Giant Panda's diet is over 99% bamboo. Giant Pandas in the wild will occasionally eat other grasses, wild tubers, or even meat in the form of birds, rodents or carrion. In captivity, they may receive honey, eggs, fish, yams, shrub leaves, oranges, or bananas along with specially prepared food.

The Giant Panda is native to a few mountain ranges in central China, mainly in Sichuan province, but also in neighboring provinces (Shaanxi and Gansu). As a result of farming, deforestation, and other development, the Giant Panda has been driven out of the lowland areas where it once lived. It is classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List.

Giant Pandas give birth to twins in about half of pregnancies, and generally, only one twin will survive. The mother will select the stronger of the cubs, and the weaker will die. Experts believe that the mother is unable to produce enough milk for two cubs, since she does not store fat. (The father has no part in helping raise the cub.)

When the cub is first born, it is pink, blind, and toothless, weighing only 90 to 130 grams (3.2 to 4.6 ounces). It nurses from its mother's breast six to 14 times a day for up to 30 minutes at a time. For three to four hours, the mother may leave the den to feed, which leaves the cub defenseless. One to two weeks after birth, the cub's skin turns gray where its hair will eventually become black. A slight pink color may appear on cub's fur, as a result of a chemical reaction between the fur and its mother's saliva. A month after birth, the color pattern of the cub's fur is fully developed. Its fur is very soft and coarsens with age.

The cub begins to crawl at 75 to 80 days of age. The cubs can eat small quantities of bamboo after six months, though mother's milk remains the primary food source for most of the first year. Giant Panda cubs weigh 45 kg (100 pounds) at one year, and live with their mothers until they are 18 months to two years old. The interval between births in the wild is generally two years.

Rare Giant Jellyfish Bred at Zoo Vienna


The Giant Jellyfish, Rhizostoma luteum, has a bell diameter of up to 60 cm (2 ft) and can reach a max weight of 40 kg (88 lb).

Zoo Vienna has now successfully bred this rare sea dweller for the first time in captivity. The baby jellyfish are about 4 centimeter tall and are now on exhibit in the Zoo’s Aquarium.


PA_Riesenqualle3Photo Credits: Image 1,2:Daniel Zupanc / Image 3:Karen Kienberger

 “The Giant Jellyfish was first discovered in the Western Mediterranean Sea in 1827. It is such a rare species that some scientists even doubted its existence. During the last couple of years, some specimens were stranded on the beaches of Morocco and Spain, and it could finally be proven that Rhizostoma luteum does indeed exist,” said Dagmar Schratter, director of Zoo Vienna.

The story behind this breeding success is as spectacular as the jellyfish itself. Schratter continued, “The marine researcher Karen Kienberger from Jellyfish Research, South Spain, collected an adult Giant Jellyfish in the coastal waters of South Spain for her scientific research. At the laboratory, she discovered that the jellyfish was sexually mature and collected planula larvae which she sent to Zoo Vienna.”

Almost nothing is known about this jellyfish. It was a real challenge even for the jellyfish experts at Zoo Vienna to successfully breed this species. But they were successful and raised 30 baby jellyfish from the planula to the polyp--- and finally to the jellyfish.

The Zoo successfully took photos of all developmental stages and collected important data, which will be forwarded to Kienberger for further collaborative research.

French naturalists, Quoy and Gaimard, first described the Giant Jellyfish, Rhizostoma luteum, in 1827. Since its discovery, it has only been mentioned in scientific literature six times due to its rarity. Some researchers even doubted its existence until the recent discovery of specimens off the coast of Southern Spain.

Lumi the Snow-White Reindeer Born at Vienna Zoo


Named for the word “snow” in Finnish, Lumi the female Reindeer calf was born on April 25 at Austria’s Vienna Zoo.  Only minutes after the 11-pound (5 kg) calf was delivered by female Reindeer Helmi, Lumi stood up on her thin and wobbly legs.



Photo Credits: Norbert Potensky


According to Zoo Director Dagmar Schratter, “Reindeer live in the barren expanses of the Arctic tundra and taiga. Females and young animals have to move on a few days after birth to seek new pastures with the herd.”

Vienna Zoo’s Reindeer herd includes five adult females and one male named Hank.  With Lumi’s birth, Hank has become a father for the fifth time.  Lumi is the second calf born to Helmi.

Unlike other members of the deer family, where only the males have antlers, both male and female Reindeer have antlers.  Little Lumi will begin to grow her antlers when she is about seven months old.

Reindeer are widespread across extreme northern North America and Eurasia, but many herds are shrinking in numbers, possibly due to climate change and habitat disturbance.

See more photos of Lumi below the fold.

Continue reading "Lumi the Snow-White Reindeer Born at Vienna Zoo" »

Baby Sloth Clings to Mom at Zoo Vienna


On April 16th, Zoo Vienna welcomed a new member to their zoo in the form of a baby Two-Toed Sloth. Since then, the baby has been hitching a ride on its mother, where it will spend the next six months of its life. "Newborn Sloths use their mother for the first half year as a hammock and cling to her belly fur and cuddle," explained zoo Director Dagmar Schratter.

This is already fourth baby for parents Alberta and Einstein in the six years they have lived at Zoo Vienna. "Alberta is already an experienced mother. She nurses her baby, grooms it and shows him how to nibble lettuce leaves," Schratter said. Visitors can try to catch a view of the baby, whose sex has yet to be determined, clinging to its mother's belly in the zoo's aviary.


Photo Credits: Norbert Potensky / Zoo Vienna

Two-Toed Sloths, native to the rainforests of South America, spend their lives in the trees crawling through the canopies clinging upside down to branches. They have specially adapted long curved claws to help assist them in this lifestyle. Another notable adapation for this inverted lifestyle is the way sloths' hair parts. In order to allow rain water to drain easily, their hair is parted along their bellies, not their backs. Sloths generally move very slowly, simply because they don't have to move any quicker. With a fantastically camouflaged coat there is little worry about predation and sloths can slowly make their way through the canopy searching for their diet of fruits, leaves and buds.

Vienna Zoo is Booming with ZooBorns!


A new arrival is delighting keepers at Austria's Zoo Vienna. On Sunday, the 27th of November, a baby Giant Anteater was born and dubbed 'Hombrecito' by zoo veterinarians. Immediately following the birth, mother and child were allowed much needed rest and privacy. Visitors are now able to see the little one clinging tightly to his mother's back.

Little Hombrecito weighs around 3 pounds and measures about 14 inches in length. His mother will nurse the pup for about six months. His coloration is so similar to his mothers that it provides an almost perfect camouflage for him when he is positioned on her back.


Giant Anteaters are among the most endangered animal species in Central and South America. This uncommon captive birth is a testament to the success of the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP), of which Vienna Zoo is key participant.


Hombrecito's birth was followed closely by the birth of a Vicuna calf, just three days later. Keepers believe this calf, the second Vicuna to be born at Vienna this year, is a female.

Photo credits: Norbert Potensky

Extremely Rare Batagur Turtles

Long considered a "royal delicacy" in Cambodia, the Batagur turtle has been hunted to near extinction throughout Southeast Asia. Today the turtle is critically endangered and it is unclear where wild Batagurs still live. With the hatching of two baby Batagurs at Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo last week, the total number of this rare species in captivity climbs to 20. To breed the rare turtles, a father and son team of herpetology experts, Peter and Reinger Praschag, were brought in to recreate just the right natural environment for egg laying.

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Baby batagur baska turtles 1

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Photo credits and copyright: Photos 1 and 2 - Daniel Zupanc. Picture 3: Zoo Vienna / Norbert Potensky