Whipsnade Zoo

Sleepy Sea Lion Pup Takes a Nap ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

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Keepers at Zoological Society of London's (ZSL) Whipsnade Zoo have an exciting new addition to care for, with the arrival of a tiny California Sea Lion pup.

Born to first-time parents Bailey and Dominic on June 18, the two-week-old male, named Oscar, is the first pup to arrive at the zoo since dad Dominic was born in 2007.

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After giving birth outside on the edge of the Sea Lions' pool, Bailey has taken to motherhood swimmingly, and is already proving to be a doting mum to the incredibly lively pup. 

Covered in a downy fur, Oscar will grow up to 7.5 feet (2.3 m) in length and is already showing similarities with dad Dominic - who was a notoriously cheeky pup – by demanding mum’s attention at all times. 

Zookeeper Alex Pinnell said, "A new infant is not only exciting for the zookeepers, but also for the other Sea Lions as it’s something brand new for them and they all love the new addition to their group. We’re staying hands-off for now, to allow them all to get to know one another.

“The new pup is a great addition to the colony here at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo and the European conservation breeding programme for this species, and it’s brilliant for us to see Bailey being such a good mum.  

“We’ve named the pup Oscar, which we think suits his personality, and as ‘O’ is the fifteenth letter in the alphabet, we’ll always easily remember that he was born in 2015!"

Originating from the rocky coastlines of the Pacific Ocean, all along the west coast of the USA, California Sea Lions live in large colonies, led by a dominant male and his harem of female mates. 

Perfectly adapted to life on land and underwater, California Sea Lions have smooth streamlined bodies, and strong flippers to power them through the water in pursuit of their prey. Able to rotate their rear flippers forward, the Sea Lions are able to move comfortably on land where they usually breed and give birth.  

They are listed as a species of Least Concern on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List.

Visitors to the Zoo will be able to see Oscar and mum Bailey splashing around with the rest of the sea lion clan, dad Dominic, and aunt Lara. 

The Whole Herd Welcomes Whipsnade's Elephant Calf

2-Azizah-and-babyZSL Whipsnade Zoo is celebrating the arrival of a male Asian Elephant. The little heavyweight was born on September 16 to four-time mother Azizah in one of the zoo’s large grassy paddocks.8-baby-under-legs-2

3-portrait-Azizah-and-babyPhoto Credit: Dan John
Other members of the herd of ten Asian Elephants were nearby, showing their support for Azizah as her labor progressed. This calf is the ninth Elephant to be born at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo.

Assistant Curator of Elephants Lee Sambrook said, “It was wonderful to be able to witness a herd birth at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. We have a great track record with the Elephant breeding program here, but seeing a baby born with all his aunties and uncles around in such a natural environment was an incredible privilege.

“Elephants are such social animals and you could see that the rest of the herd’s presence was just what Azizah needed to stay calm and do what she needed to do. The team of vets and keepers were standing by and monitoring her development, but it was so fantastic that the birth happened naturally, and with the herd’s help, rather than ours.”

The new calf is already a visitor favorite and is mingling with other young male calves in the herd.  

Asian Elephants are native to Southeast Asia, where they are Endangered due to habitat loss and habitat degradation.  Elephants are illegally hunted for their ivory tusks, which are carved and sold as trinkets in Thailand, Myanmar, and other Asian markets.  A growing middle class and increased tourism in the region has fueled the demand for ivory.



It's a Girl! Whipsnade Zoo Welcomes a Giraffe Calf

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At just four weeks old, the newest arrival of the Zoological Society of London's Whipsnade Zoo is already standing tall – at almost six feet (1.83 m)!

The Reticulated Giraffe, a baby girl, was born to proud parents Savannah and Uno on November 13. Thrilled zookeepers arrived just in time to see the calf take her first wobbly steps an hour after birth, and start to suckle soon after that.

Zookeeper Cassie Taylor said, “Savannah was born at Whipsnade 12 years ago, so it’s fantastic to see her as a mum herself now, and even more special that we were able to see the calf’s very first moments.

“It’s Savannah’s third calf and she’s  taken motherhood all in her rather long stride – the new arrival is settling in well, and is already showing signs of mum’s calm nature as well as dad’s inquisitiveness.”

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6 giraffePhoto credit: Whipsnade Zoo

The calf, who will be named by zoo visitors, has spent the first few weeks getting to grips with her long legs as she explores her new home – the zoo’s brand new Giraffe Heights enclosure. Unveiled in October, it includes a revamped barn to keep the new arrival extra warm and snug, and a nine-foot-high viewing platform which brings visitors face-to-face with Whipsnade’s Giraffes.

Over the next few weeks, the calf will slowly be introduced to the rest of the herd, including half-brother Jengo, aged one, and aunties, Ijuma and Ina. 

Whipsnade Zoo’s new arrival is an important part of the European Endangered Species Programme for Reticulated Giraffes. In the wild, Reticulated Giraffes are confined to north-eastern Kenya, eastern Sudan and Eritrea and it is thought there could be less than 5,000 left due to poaching and habitat degradation. 

See and learn more after the fold!

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Whipsnade Zoo Trumpets a New Arrival

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The Zoological Society of London welcomed Max the Asian Elephant calf on October 12 at the Whipsnade Zoo in the United Kingdom.

Measuring three feet (1m) tall and weighing 283 pounds (129 kg), Max was born to second-time mother Karishma and was on his feet within minutes of his birth. 

Max and mum Karishma
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Scott and Max
Photo Credits:  Stefan Groeneveld (1,3,5,6,7); Whipsnade Zoo (2,4,8,9,10)

Keeper Stefan Groeneveld said: “Max is already showing an independent streak. He’ll happily leave his mum’s side to go and play in the paddock with the rest of the herd.  Elephants are very social animals and having youngsters joining the herd is what Elephant life is all about.”

Max shares Whipsnade’s seven acre paddock with nine other Elephants – including brother George, aged three, and half siblings Donna, four, and Scott, two – and is an important addition to the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP) for Asian Elephants.

See more photos and learn more about Elephants below the fold.

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Rare Red Panda Twins Take First Peek Outside


The Zoological Society of London’s Whipsnade Zoo is getting a glimpse of their Red Panda twins for the first time since they were born in June. The girls, named Yin and Yang, have stayed close to first-time mom, Tashi, for the last few months, and are only now beginning to take tentative steps to explore their surroundings.



Photo Credits: Photos 1,3: Richard Claypole, Photo 2: A. Harris

Keepers have spotted the cute cubs peeping their heads out of their nest box, and say the duo are already starting to live up to their names.

Senior keeper Tessa Knox said, “Yin is more sedate while Yang seems to be quite feisty, mirroring the philosophies behind their names – opposite yet complementary forces.

“Both are doing really well and are beginning to get more adventurous and confident, though they will continue to stick close to mum for a little while longer yet.” 

The twins live with Tashi and dad, Peter, in a tree in the middle of the Zoo. The family eat a special high fiber, leaf eater diet - their favorite food is bamboo but they also enjoy bananas and grapes. 

The Red Panda is listed on the IUCN Red List as "Vulnerable" and is thought to be under threat because of habitat loss in their native Nepal, with an estimated population of less than 10,000.  The twins at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo are an important addition to the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP).