Zoo Basel

Meet Zoo Basel's Four Reindeer Calves

Rentier_jungtiere_ZO21291Four Reindeer were born at Zoo Basel in quick succession between April 20 and May 5.  All four calves were healthy, following their mothers and nursing within just a few hours of their births. 

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Rentier_jungtiere_ZO21033Photo Credit:  Zoo Basel

Zoo staff are always pleased to see babies nurse soon after birth, because this is the only time when the mothers produce colostrum milk.  Colostrum is rich in antibodies that protect against disease in newborns with underdeveloped immune systems. Reindeer milk is rich in fat, which allows the young animals to grow very quickly in a short period of time – something vital for their survival in the bitterly cold Arctic tundra.

Before giving birth, pregnant female Reindeer separate themselves from the herd and look for a quiet location, usually a stall in the barn. When a calf is born, the zoo’s veterinarians examine the newborn, insert an ID chip, deliver a selenium and Vitamin E shot to prevent white muscle disease, and antibodies to boost their immune system. Their navel is also disinfected with an iodine solution. 

Reindeer have unusual feeding habits, and the nutritional quality of their food is more important than the quantity.  In the Arctic tundra where they live, Reindeer feed mainly on lichens, which are a good source of energy.  They do not graze on grasses, which are high in fiber and low in nutrients.  At the zoo, the Reindeer receive hay, vegetables, and pelleted food supplemented with vitamins and minerals.

Reindeer are the only species of domesticated deer and the only one where the females have antlers. On their seasonal migrations, huge herds of more than 100,000 Reindeer migrate up to 3,000 miles - the longest migration of any land mammal. Reindeer have another peculiar characteristic, which can be heard if you stand close by:  when they walk, they make a soft clicking noise. This sound comes from a tendon on their hind legs that slips over the bone as they walk.

See more photos of the calves below.

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Piglets Make Mischief at Zoo Basel

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Just a few weeks old, six Wild Boars born March 11 at Zoo Basel constantly play, romp, gallop, and make mischief together.

The piglets haven’t stopped since they came out of their den a few weeks after birth.  According to keepers, the piglets run excitedly around their enclosure, then flee to the safety of their mothers if they fear any danger.  Speaking of danger, the piglets will even climb recklessly on their snout of their sleeping father, a huge male Wild Boar.  Dad makes it clear he does not like this, but the piglets persist in their play.

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Litters of young Wild Boars nurse for four to five months and develop a "suckling order" after a few weeks:  every piglet competes for its own teat, with the good positions at the back taken by the stronger offspring. The easily-digestible milk means that the young nearly double their birth weight in just two weeks.

With striped coats, the piglets can easily blend into their wooded surroundings.  By the time they are six months old, the piglets take on the black coloration of adult Wild Boars. 

Native to much of Europe, Asia, and northern Africa, Wild Boars are the most wide-ranging mammals in the world.  In the early 20th century, some populations were nearly eradicated, but Wild Boars have recovered most of their original range.  Wild Boars have been introduced in North America, South America, Australia, and other areas.

See more pics of the piglets below.

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There's a Joey Boom at Zoo Basel

Za_160317_15Pouches are packed in Zoo Basel’s Kangaroo yard this spring:  nearly all the females in the mob have babies!Za_160317_04

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The youngsters are of varying ages, but they all have the same father, five-year-old Mitchel. No one knows the exact birthdates of the babies, which are called joeys.  That’s because Kangaroo babies are the size of jellybeans at birth, and they begin life by making a very dangerous journey – the blind babies, which have only front legs, crawl unassisted from the birth canal to their mother‘s pouch. The entire birth process takes only about five minutes.

Once inside the pouch, joeys latch onto a teat and begin drinking nutritious milk.  They remain in the pouch for several months as they develop, then gradually start exploring the world around them and eating solid food.

Most of Zoo Basel’s joeys were born last fall, and only recently started coming out of the pouch.  One little joey named Manilla lost her mother to illness recently, but luckily two of the nursing females will allow her to drink their milk.  Manilla is starting to eat solid food, but milk will be very important for her growth for another six months.  One of those females, Lamilla, has her own joey in the pouch, and it peeks out from time to time.

The zoo’s Kangaroo mob has ten adults and five young kangaroos, which were born in late 2014, plus the new joeys.

Kangaroos are marsupials.  Unlike placental mammals (such as humans), marsupials give birth to highly underdeveloped young which complete their development in the pouch.  Most of the world’s 320 marsupial species live in Australia.     

See more photos of the Kangaroo joeys below.

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The ‘Three Little Kings’ of Zoo Basel are Growing Up

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The “Three Little Kings” at Zoo Basel are growing up! At almost eight-months-old, the boys are nearly tall as Dad, and their youthful spots (or rosettes) are beginning to fade.

ZooBorns introduced the family to readers this past summer, and you can see pics of their younger days, in that article: “Three New Boys for Zoo Basel’s Lion Pride

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4_11872147_968955843142156_7957932688121563886_oPhoto Credits: Zoo Basel

The pride of African Lions, at Zoo Basel, increased by three this past summer. On May 28, Okoa gave birth to two male cubs, and on June 15, Uma delivered another male cub. The two lionesses’ gave birth to their young in the same area and are raising them together. Mbali is father to all three boys and has proven a playful participant in their upbringing.

African Lions are currently classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. There has been an estimated population decline of 30-50%, in the last 20 years. Noted causes for the decline include disease and human interference. Habitat loss and conflicts with humans are considered the most significant threats to the species. The remaining populations are often geographically isolated from one another, which can lead to inbreeding, and consequently, reduced genetic diversity.

Zoo Basel supports the Big Life Foundation, which works in the Amboseli-Tsavo ecosystem in Kenya to protect the Lions. The Zoo is also a participant in the EAZA Endangered Species Breeding Programme for African Lions.

More pics below the fold!

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Three New Boys for Zoo Basel’s Lion Pride

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The pride of African Lions, at Zoo Basel, has increased by three this summer. On May 28, Okoa gave birth to two male cubs, and on June 15, Uma delivered another male cub. The two lionesses’ gave birth to their young in the same area and are raising them together. Mbali is father to all three boys and has proven a playful participant in their upbringing. 

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4_11411892_892164597487948_7789860505042479653_oPhoto Credits: Zoo Basel

African Lions are currently classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. There has been an estimated population decline of 30-50%, in the last 20 years. Noted causes for the decline include disease and human interference. Habitat loss and conflicts with humans are considered the most significant threats to the species. The remaining populations are often geographically isolated from one another, which can lead to inbreeding, and consequently, reduced genetic diversity.

Zoo Basel supports the Big Life Foundation, which works in the Amboseli-Tsavo ecosystem in Kenya to protect the Lions. The Zoo is also a participant in the EAZA Endangered Species Breeding Programme for African Lions.

More incredible pics, below the fold!

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Another New Addition for Gorilla Troop at Zoo Basel

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On July 16, Zoo Basel witnessed the arrival of another new Western Lowland Gorilla. It is the third birth for mom, Faddama, and it is the second offspring for dad, M'Tongé.

M'Tongé’s first child was born in May to mother, Joas, and was Zoo Basel’s first Gorilla birth in a decade. 

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2_11742718_894160777288330_5266875776503188310_nPhoto Credits: Zoo Basel

New mom, Faddama (age 32), is already a great-grandmother. Her son, Viatu (age 17), resides in Frankfurt. He is not only a father of four but grandfather of two, as well.

Aside from Faddama and her new baby, the troop of Gorillas at Zoo Basel consists of: M'Tongé (age 16), Joas (26), Mobali (son of Joas and M'Tongé), Zungu (13), Goma (56), and Quarta (47).  Quarta is the mother of Faddama, and she full-filled her ‘grand-motherly’ duties and stayed close by her daughter during the childbirth.

The sex of the new baby isn’t known yet, but once staff can examine the tiny Gorilla, a name will be given.

The Western Lowland Gorilla is native to the rainforests of western central Africa.

Gorillas live in groups called troops. Troops tend to be made of one adult male (or silverback) and multiple adult females and their offspring. A silverback is typically a male that is more than 12 years of age.

Females mature at 10-12 years (earlier in captivity) and males at 11-13 years. Female Gorillas mate and give birth in, typically, four-year intervals. Gestation lasts about 8.5 months. Infants are entirely dependent on their mothers. Male Gorillas are not active in caring for the young, but they do play a role in socializing them to other youngsters and work to shield them from aggression within the group. Infants suckle at least once per hour and sleep with their mothers in the same nest.

Infants begin to break contact with their mothers after five months but only for brief periods of time. By 12 months, infants move up to 16 feet from their mothers. At around 18-21 months, the distance between mother and offspring increases and they regularly spend time away from each other. They enter their juvenile period at their third year, and by the sixth year, they begin to sleep in a separate nest from mother.

The Western Gorilla, and its subspecies, is classified as “Critically Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The Mountain Gorilla is also listed as “Critically Endangered”, while the Eastern Gorilla is currently classified as “Endangered”.

Major threats to gorilla survival include habitat destruction and poaching for bushmeat trade. It is also believed that several thousand gorillas, in the Republic of Congo, died from Ebola during the outbreak in 2004.

 


Zoo Basel Announces New Addition to Gorilla Troop

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It has been ten years since Zoo Basel has been able to share news of a Western Lowland Gorilla birth, but the day is finally here. On May 19, gorilla mom, Joas, and father, M’Tonge, welcomed their newborn at the Swiss zoo.

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4_gorilla_joas_direkt_nach_geburt_ZO26631Photo Credits: Zoo Basel

The newest addition to Zoo Basel’s gorilla group has caused plenty of excitement among the other members. The baby is doing well, and mom, Joas, is content to bond with and care for her newborn.

The newborn was welcomed, not only, by his 26 year-old mother and 16 year- old dad, but also the rest of the gorilla troop: Faddama, Quarta, Zungu, and Goma.

Gorillas are ground dwelling, predominately herbivorous apes that are native to the forests of central Africa.

Gorillas live in groups called troops. Troops tend to be made of one adult male (or silverback) and multiple adult females and their offspring. A silverback is typically a male that is more than 12 years of age.

Females mature at 10-12 years (earlier in captivity) and males at 11-13 years. Female Gorillas mate and give birth in, typically, four-year intervals. Gestation lasts about 8.5 months. Infants are entirely dependent on their mothers. Male Gorillas are not active in caring for the young, but they do play a role in socializing them to other youngsters and work to shield them from aggression within the group. Infants suckle at least once per hour and sleep with their mothers in the same nest.

Infants begin to break contact with their mothers after five months but only for brief periods of time. By 12 months, infants move up to 16 feet from their mothers. At around 18-21 months, the distance between mother and offspring increases and they regularly spend time away from each other. They enter their juvenile period at their third year, and by the sixth year, they begin to sleep in a separate nest from mother.

The Western Gorilla, and its subspecies, is classified as “Critically Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The Mountain Gorilla is also listed as “Critically Endangered”, while the Eastern Gorilla is currently classified as “Endangered”.

Major threats to gorilla survival include habitat destruction and poaching for bushmeat trade. It is also believed that several thousand gorillas, in the Republic of Congo, died from Ebola during the outbreak in 2004.

More pics, below the fold!

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Rare Giraffe Calf Surprises Keepers at Zoo Basel

Kordofan_giraffe_majengo_mutter_sophie_ZOB0584When keepers arrived at Switzerland’s Zoo Basel in the early morning on April 1, they were greeted by a brand-new arrival:  female Giraffe Sophie had just delivered a healthy baby boy!

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Kordofan_giraffe_majengo_vater_xamburu_ZOB0966Photo Credit:  Zoo Basel

A video camera installed in the barn revealed that Sophie became restless at about 4:45 AM and kept looking at her belly.  After just a few hours of labor, her calf was born at 7:10 AM.  Another female Giraffe, named Kianga, was present during the birth and the calf’s father, Xamburu, looked on.  Though both were very interested in the new arrival, Sophie would not allow them to get too close.

The calf, named Majengo, easily walked onto a scale later in the day and weighed in at 123 pounds.  He stood about six feet tall.  For now, Majengo gets most of his nourishment by nursing, but he has already nibbled on leaves and alfalfa hay.

The Giraffes at Zoo Basel are members of a rare subspecies known as the Kordofan Giraffe.  Found in southern Chad, the Central African Republic, Cameroon, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kodofan Giraffes inhabit some of Africa’s most hostile regions.  Only about 3,000 Kordofan Giraffes are thought to remain in the wild.  They can be distinguished from other Giraffe subspecies by their pale spots.

See more photos of the rare calf below.

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Four Fluffy Female Cheetah Cubs for Zoo Basel

Jung_geparden_ZO25740The birth of four Cheetah cubs on July 24 at Zoo Basel demonstrates the importance of inter-zoo cooperation and keeper knowledge to help an endangered species reproduce.
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On April 24 this year, keepers noticed that instead of spitting at each other through the fence as they normally did, Cheetahs Alima and Gazembe were expressing interest in each other with loud purrs. Alima was rolling on her back, a sure sign that she was interested in a male visitor. The keepers allowed her in with the male and the two immediately began to mate.

Exactly three months later, Alima gave birth to four healthy and lively offspring. The cubs remained behind the scenes with Alima for six weeks.  Now that the cubs have access to their outdoor yard, keepers report that the sisters often play until they keel over from exhaustion!

Zoo Basel participates in the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP) to cooperatively manage zoo-dwelling populations of endangered and threatened animals, such as Cheetahs.

Breeding Cheetahs in zoos is notoriously difficult. Female Cheetahs are loners, and it is only during the mating season that they allow a partner to approach. For this reason, the males and females at the zoo are kept in adjacent enclosures, which allows them to leave their scent and potentially arouse interest in each other. If a female Cheetah shows interest in a male, keepers must put them together as quickly as possible. If the animals are separated too early then there may not be any offspring, and if they are separated too late they may become aggressive. Zoo keepers must therefore know their animals well and be able to interpret their behavior.

Cheetahs are classified as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. There are only about 5,000 remaining in all of Africa. Since 2013, Basel Zoo has supported the Big Life Foundation in Kenya – a successful conservation project for predators in the Amboseli National Park. The Cheetah population in this park has begun to increase again since the project was launched.

See more photos of the Cheetah sisters below.

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Feeling Chipper at Zoo Basel

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Seven Miniature Zebus, in the Children’s Zoo of Zoo Basel, Switzerland, have recently been given identification in the form of a microchip the size of a grain of rice.

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The microchip, also called a transponder, is fitted by a veterinarian beneath the skin, above the shoulder blades and contains a fifteen-digit code that can be read using a small mobile reader. Information on the microchip allows quick access for veterinarians, and includes date of birth, parentage, offspring, and medical conditions or treatment. The ability to differentiate between individual animals of a particular species is also required by the breeding initiatives sponsored by the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP), which enables zoos to ensure genetic diversity among their populations.

The veterinarians were assisted during the procedures by two young Children’s Zoo volunteers.  The girls, who work regularly with the animals at Zoo Basel, kept the animals calm and relaxed during the fitting.

Since the procedure cannot be performed on adult animals without anesthesia, the chips are, ideally, fitted at a very early age. In addition to the Miniature Zebu calves, several other species of zoo babies received microchips.  A Lion cub, Snow Leopard cub, a critically endangered African Wild Ass foal, and a young Sable Antelope received the transponders.  

See more photos below the fold.

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