Pumpkins and Jack-o-Lanterns are indicative of the fall season…and Halloween.
Zoo Keepers work hard to keep their animals healthy and happy. Enrichment toys and activities are an important tool that Keepers utilize to help in that pursuit. Enrichment items encourage natural behavior and stimulate the senses…and what could be more stimulating, this time of year, than celebrating by tearing into a bright orange pumpkin!
Two critically endangered Amur Tiger cubs born September 17 at the United Kingdom’s Woburn Safari Park are off and running as they explore their nine-acre habitat.
Photo Credit: Woburn Safari Park
The playful five-month-old cubs, both females, are now old enough to live in the main Tiger reserve where they are being given the grand tour by their mother, four-year-old Minerva.
You first met the cubs here on ZooBorns when they were just one month old. Since birth, the cubs have been living with their mother in a den, much like they would in the wild. In the safety of the den, the cubs learned to play, pounce, sharpen their claws, feed on meat, and cause plenty of mischief.
These are the first Tiger cubs to be born at Woburn Safari Park in 23 years, so their birth is an important landmark for keepers. The latest estimates show that numbers of Amur Tigers (also referred to as Siberian Tigers) are as low as 520 in the wild. Less than 100 years ago, only about 40 Amur Tigers remained in the wild. Despite this perceived comeback, the International Union for Conservation of Nature lists these cats, which are the largest of all Tiger subspecies, as Critically Endangered due to the persistent threat of poaching and loss of habitat. The international Amur Tiger captive breeding program is of vital importance for the future of this magnificent species.
Two critically endangered Amur Tiger cubs, born to four-year-old tigress Minerva, have been welcomed at Woburn Safari Park, in Bedfordshire, UK.
These tiny tigers, born September 17th, are amongst the largest and rarest cats in the world. The new cubs signify an important achievement not just for the Park, but also for the international breeding programme of this threatened species.
Photo Credits: Woburn Safari Park
The as-yet unsexed cubs are the first to be born at Woburn Safari Park in 23 years, arriving in the bespoke Tiger House and weighing in at a healthy 800-1200 grams (1.8 to 2.6 lbs.). First time mum Minerva is understandably protective of her new babies and the Park is delighted that she has taken to motherhood brilliantly, remaining settled and calm.
The proud new mum and her two cubs are all together in a special private den, away from the public, with as little disturbance and noise as possible. The cubs will start to explore the 9-acre tiger reserve in early 2016, until then they will continue to be under the constant watchful eye of mum.
Genetically, Minerva is ranked as the 7th most important female in the captive tiger population across Europe; with the cubs’ dad, Elton, the two are a very important genetic match that has been coordinated by the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP).
There are 326 Amur Tigers (also referred to as the Siberian tiger) in captivity across Europe and Russia, and only approximately 520 in the wild – a slight increase in wild numbers in the last 10 years.
Jo Cook, Co-ordinator at Amur Leopard and Tiger Alliance and also species co-ordinator for the European breeding programme (Europe & Russia) commented, “This is the first litter for Minerva and Elton and so far she’s doing a great job as a new mum, although there is still a lot for her to learn. These cubs will make an important contribution to the European breeding programme for Amur Tigers, as Minerva in particular is genetically very important and doesn't have many relatives in the population.”
“Maintaining a healthy captive population of Amur Tigers in zoos and parks is important because they act as an insurance population and can be used for reintroductions should that become a necessary conservation action to support wild Amur Tigers. The tigers in captivity also help raise awareness and inspire visitors to do what they can to support these projects that are protecting these amazing animals in the Russian Far East and northeast China. Not only is Woburn Safari Park playing a role in the Amur Tiger breeding programme, but it is also raising funds for the Amur Leopard and Tiger Alliance which supports conservation activities such as anti-poaching and population monitoring in Russia and China.”
Woburn Safari Park is home to five Amur Tigers: two females – Minerva and Neurka, one male - Elton, and the two new cubs. Their home in ‘Kingdom of the Carnivores’ is a specially designed nine-acre enclosure complete with sleeping platforms and bathing pools, as they are the only big cats that like water.
Two Ring-tailed Lemurs at the United Kingdom’s Woburn Safari Park gave birth to three babies in March!
Both Koko, who delivered a single baby, and Krinidy, who gave birth to twins, are first-time mothers. All three babies are fathered by male Lemur Berenti. Until the babies are about two months old, they’ll cling tightly to their mothers. They’ll then begin climbing and leaping with abandon, as all little Lemurs do. At that time, keepers will observe the babies and determine their genders.
Photo Credit: Woburn Safari Park
The Ring-tailed Lemurs live in a walk-through enclosure at Woburn Safari Park, so visitors should be able to get close-up views of the babies. The Lemurs often sun themselves on the paths, spreading their arms and legs to soak up the warmth on cool mornings.
Ring-tailed Lemurs are primates, native only to the island of Madagascar. Due to habitat loss, these and other Lemurs are listed as Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Ring-tailed Lemurs inhabit forests and scrublands, where they travel in large groups of up to 30 individuals. They are one of the most vocal of all primates, emitting clicks, moans, and wails. They purr when content.
For the first time ever at Woburn Safari Park in England, not just one, but three critically endangered Somali Wild Ass foals have been born. Their keepers are extremely pleased to see these healthy and lively foals join the animals in the Road Safari drive-through reserves.
Five year-old Ira is mother to the first foal, shown in the photos. She came to Woburn from a collection in Switzerland. She is extremely protective of the male foal, and is keeping the other two mares in the herd away from the youngster. Once she and her foal have bonded, she will let the other mares interact with him, but under her watchful gaze.
The baby boom continued as a second male foal was born on September 28 and a third arrived on October 4. The babies will all be named by keepers in the next few days.
Photo Credits: Daniel Davies / Woburn Safari Park
The sire of all three foals is named Simon, who is 18 years old and came to Woburn Safari Park from Poland in early 2012. Since the gestation period for the Somali Wild Ass is 13 months, the foals were conceived very soon after his arrival. He is a really relaxed and calm stallion who enjoys a little fuss from the keepers.
The Somali Wild Ass is Critically Endangered, with estimates at only 280-300 left in the wild. Breeding plans are overseen by the European Endangered Species Programme to carefully plan for the conservation and future of these beautiful animals. There are only two other zoo collections in the UK holding a breeding herd of Somali Wild Ass, which makes the arrival of these youngsters particularly important.