Zoo Osnabrück

Snowy Owlets Hatch at Zoo Osnabrück

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In June, keepers at Zoo Osnabrück, in Germany, made the observation that their Snowy Owl was no longer attempting to incubate the three eggs she laid in her nest. Staff removed the eggs, and an incubator took over the work, warming the eggs at 37.5 degrees Celsius. The owlets began emerging from their eggs on July 12, and the youngest hatched on July 14. 

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4_11058299_1152605204766423_9101622692702152741_oPhoto Credits: Zoo Osnabrück

Andreas Wulftange, research associate, said, “I had to feed them four times a day. They cried for attention and craned their beaks, demanding food. You can hear them before you see them.”

Staff are currently attempting to teach them the ways of being a predatory bird. The owlets practice balancing on logs, placed on ground level. For now, they are only able to hop about their aviary, but some flight feathers are starting to emerge on their fuzzy bodies.

Wulftange, a trained falconer, continued, “We want to enable the Snowy Owlets free flight and let them fly over the zoo grounds, so visitors can see how these special birds silently glide through the air and land with pinpoint accuracy.”

The trio will remain in the aviary until they have matured and grown the feathers they need to master flight.

The Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus) is a large white owl of the typical owl family. They are native to Arctic regions in North America and Eurasia. Younger owls start with darker plumage, which turns lighter as they mature. Males are mostly white, while adult females have more flecks of gray plumage.

Snowy Owls are highly nomadic and their movements are tied to locating their prey. The powerful bird relies on lemmings and other small rodents for food during the breeding season. At times of low prey density, they may switch to eating juvenile ptarmigan. Like other birds, they swallow their prey whole. Strong stomach juices digest the flesh, while the indigestible bones, teeth, fur, and feathers are compacted into oval pellets that the bird regurgitates 18 to 24 hours after feeding.

Their mating season is in May, and eggs are incubated for about 32 days. The size of the clutch varies, depending on food availability. Only females incubate the eggs. The male provides the female and young with food. Young owls begin to leave the nest around 25 to 26 days after hatching. They are not able to fly until at least 50 days of age. They continue to be fed by the parents for another 5 weeks after they leave the nest.

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Adventures in Babysitting for Meerkat Mob

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Zoo Osnabrück, in Germany, is home to four new Meerkat pups!

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Meerkats_ZooOsnabruck_1Photo Credits: Zoo Osnabrück

The youngsters were born September 2nd and are, now, wonderfully playful six-week-olds! ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad’ have their hands full but are assisted in babysitting duties by their elder offspring.

Meerkats are native to the Kalahari Desert in Botswana, much of the Namib Desert, southwestern Angola, and South Africa. They are members of the mongoose family and primarily insectivores, but Meerkats will also eat other small animals, reptiles, arachnids, birds and fungi.

Meerkats are small burrowing animals, living in large underground networks with multiple entrances which they leave only during the day. They are very social, living in colonies, known as ‘clans’ or ‘mobs’, of about 20-50 individuals.

Meerkats forage in a group with one ‘sentry’ on guard watching for predators while the others search for food. A Meerkat can dig through a quantity of sand equal to its own weight in just seconds.Baby Meerkats do not start foraging for food until they are about one month old, and do so by following an older member of the group who acts as the pup's tutor. The Meerkat standing guard makes peeping sounds when all is well. If the Meerkat spots danger, it barks loudly or whistles.

There are, currently, no major threats to the Meerkat, in the wild.  Their main predators are martial eagles and jackals. They occasionally succumb to snakebites from confrontations, as well. They are, at this time, classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List.

More awesome pics below the fold!

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Seal Pup Birth Long Awaited at Zoo Osnabrück

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In the early morning hours of July 4, Germany's Zoo Osnabrück welcomed the first Seal pup to be born there in five years. The little one with the coal- black eyes is already swimming with the others, but still likes to cuddle extensively with its mom, Bee. The sex has not yet been determined, so the baby has no name yet. 

"We are very pleased that the birth went so well. The baby is very attentive and swims very well," said head staff member Kirsten Bischoff. The 14-year-old mother has gotten through her third birth well. This was the first baby for six-year-old father Max, but Bee has not let him get close to the new baby. As soon as Bee sees Max, she protectively nudges the baby away.

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Photo Credit: Photo 1,3: Zoo Osnabrück, Photos 2, 4: Cindy Schrooten 

Keepers have left the two in peace thus far to bond so they don't have a weight yet, but they estimate the pup is between 22-26 pounds (10-12 kg), about one tenth of Mom's body weight. Seals nurse their young mostly on land, so Bee brings her baby on shore to feed. The pup will suckle for the first month or so before the mother's milk is supplemented with fish.