Spring is in the air at Zoo Basel and so are the baby Goats, literally! These playful Goat kids are delighting zoo visitors with their acrobatic leaps and bounds by day. Baby goats are always a popular attraction as the weather warms at Switzerland's oldest and biggest zoo.
The arrival of new baby Golden Lion Tamarins on February 14th has brought particular joy to Zoo Basel. Castor (17) and Lilian (5) have become an experienced breeding pair with their second delivery of twins. Last year, they made the headlines with Basel Zoo’s first golden lion tamarin birth in twenty years. This year’s two baby Monkeys are full of energy and doing very well.
The zoo has had to wait a long time for these happy events, as the last opportunity to marvel at young golden lion tamarins in Basel was twenty years ago. The first pairing between Castor, from Sweden, and Lilian, imported from Holland, took place following an approach phase of just under two years in exile whilst the monkey house was being renovated. Apparently they now feel equally at home in the re-opened monkey house, demonstrated by the arrival of their two offspring on 14th February this year. Twin births are common in Tamarin and Marmoset pairings, and are standard for Golden Lion Tamarins.
Golden Lion Tamarins live in family groups of up to ten. In Brazil’s Atlantic rainforest, their area of origin, a family will claim a territory covering an area at least four times the size of Basel Zoo. What is particularly fascinating about these monkeys is the way in which social frameworks vary greatly from family to family. The most common framework is a pairing for life (monogamy), followed by a female with multiple male mates (polyandry) and a male with multiple female mates (polygyny). All members of the group are needed to successfully rear young. For example, the father offers energetic help in carrying the young monkeys around on his back.
This tiny Titi Monkey is the youngest resident of the Basel Zoo monkey house. Born on December 27, the baby is tiny, and is being carefully looked after by all the family members.
Titi monkeys form lifetime relationships with a partner they choose right after leaving their family group at the age of three. Third-time mother Chica, age 9, and 6 year-old father Gunther are the parents. Gestation lasts for about 5 months after which a single baby -- or sometimes twins -- are born. Two days later, the father starts taking care of the newborn, carrying it on his back, and teaching the little one all it will need to know to become independent. The process takes about 3-4 months. Male Titi monkey are surprisingly caring and attentive and play the largest role in a baby’s upbringing; mothers interact with the baby only when it’s time for feeding. The father tends to its offspring for three to four months, when the young monkey can climb and feed on its own.
In the wild these monkey families live in the lower floors of the South American rain forest. They claim small territories of several square kilometers, where they feed mainly on fruit and leaves. Titi monkeys' survival is threatened mainly by habitat destruction.
Photo Credit: Zoo Basel
Since the summer of 2011, Switzerland's Zoo Basel has been working behind the scenes with their new breeding vivarium equipment called "Plankton Kreisel". It ensures that baby jellyfish float like the ocean - in a continuous flow.They are so delicate that they could not withstand the corners found in normal tanks. Thanks to a new method of breeding and rearing, they are thriving.
Jellyfish in the vivarium have different feeding rhythms and the Zoo will fluctuate the temperatures within it to stimulate reproduction. This system was discovered by accident when, in December 1987, a cooling system in the vivarium went out for two days. Surprisingly, the jellyfish began to multiply! Now It takes a lot of work and knowledge to employ this new method for breeding them, but it has become a successful effort.
Jellyfish are composed of two different life forms: affixed (polyps about 2 mm or .078 inches small) and free-swimming medusa, the actual "jellyfish". The polyps produce buds within the fluctuating environmental conditions, which detach with time and in the wild become jellies freely floating in the sea. Those jellyfish will in turn become sexually mature after a few months and then produce eggs and sperm.
Thanks to these new methods, jellies can again be seen on ehxibit at the Zoo in all their other-worldly beauty.
Photo credit: Zoo Basel
On November 3rd at Zoo Basel, two Cotton-top Tamarin twins came into the world. As is customary with Cotton-tops, the mother and father alternate duties in caring for their new babies. Sometimes, both twins can be seen atop Dad's back, while at other times, Mom will shoulder both babies. Still at other times, it's one baby for each parent. When it's time to eat, of course, dad hands the kids off to Mom for suckling.
As these new twins get older, even their siblings will help to carry them. Older siblings play an important role in rearing young tamarins in the wild. They constantly monitor the environment and sound a high pitched whistle to alarm the group if any threats should arise. At birth, Cotton-tops weigh about 45 grams, compared with mom's impressive 600 grams.
In 1956, at Zoo Basel in Basel, Switzerland, "Rudra" became the first ever 'ZooBorn' Indian Rhinoceros. Over the last 55 years, Zoo Basel has heralded births of 32 Rhinos. Despite successful breeding and breeding programs at zoos worldwide, the threat of extinction to these endangered creatures is now more grave than ever. Hunted for their horns by unscrupulous poachers, all Rhino species are increasingly under attack. Zoo Basel plays a crucial role in the European Endangered Species Program (EEP), whose aim is to prevent inbreeding in captive populations by connecting breeding pairs from different bloodlines at zoos the world over. Zoos and animal parks are home to some 190 Rhinos which remind visitors to the urgent plight of their wild counterparts in India and Nepal.
Rudra was the son of Gadadhar and Joymohti. Within two days, he was out on exhibit and his birth was widely documented in newspapers, radio and television around the world. That year, Zoo Basel welcomed a record number of visitors. In all, 32 Rhinos have been born at Zoo Basel, with "Henna", the white-legged Indian Rhino born just last year ebing the youngest. In 1959, Rudra went to the Milwaukee Zoo and fathered his own child before his death in 1987. He is memorialized by a special exhibit in Zoo Basel's Gamgoas house.
Today, protection of rhinos in Africa and Asia is increasingly urgent. This year alone, over 280 Rhinos were killed in Africa. Ruthless poachers have in recent months even stolen Rhino horns from European museums. In many Asian countries, the Rhinoceros horn is regarded as a medical remedy, despite there being no medical evidence to support this. The result is that each day, one or more Rhinos is brutally and needlessly killed.
This past week Zoo Basel's furriest new residents began to venture outside of their den for the first time, proving to be bold and curious little cubs. Born April 22nd, the three little Snow Leopard cubs have stayed secluded with mom, Mayhan, in the den for the last two months and these pictures are their first debut to the world. While the cubs are still nursing, they are also getting practice at munching chicken, which appears to be more about having fun than dinner at this stage. In the wild, this shy, mountain dwelling feline is threatened by poaching and suspicious herders. Wild populations are estimated to be only 4,000 - 6,000 making these births all the more important.
More incredible photos below the fold!
Born October 18 at Switzerland's Zoo Basel, three baby African Ground Squirrels are already living up to their squirrelly reputation as keepers struggle to prepare them for transport to their new home at the Frankfurt Zoo. Together with their parents, they have built an elaborate series of underground tunnels beneath their enclosure. When they are alarmed, they quickly dart back into their tunnels making it impossible for keepers to reach them.
While the sex of the squirrel pups has yet to be determined, they all appear happy and healthy. One of the pups is smaller and shyer than the rest, but keepers have made a special effort to feed him or her individually, and the frenetic critter is doing just fine.
These little piglets may not be especially exotic, but they are a welcome addition to the Zoo Basel family. As well as these "mini-schweinn", the zoo is home to a variety of animals of the porcine persuasion (if only by name) including Wild Boar, Porcupines, and Guinea Pigs.
This past November Switzerland's Zoo Basel welcomed three new Sable Antelope calves. This brings the total number of Sable Antelope bred at Zoo Basel to seventy! To ensure the genetic health of the species at their facilities, zoos regularly transfer Sable Antelope between institutions internationally and Zoo Basel plays a big role in this exchange. Antelope calves are playful and love to test their long legs with sprints. These babies are clearly enjoying the snow.
More photos below the fold.