Zoo Vienna

UPDATE: Vienna’s Giant Panda Twins Keeping Mom Busy

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The Giant Panda twins at Schönbrunn Zoo are 18 days old and keepers report they are developing splendidly.

Mother Yang Yang is confident and relaxed in her care of the two young ones. Staff daily observes her (via a den camera) suckling them, cleaning them and keeping them warm. The babies also get more and more active every day. “The young Pandas stretch, wave their little paws in the air, and make first tentative efforts to crawl on their mother’s tummy,” explains the zoo’s director, Dagmar Schratter. Their pink tinge is also increasingly being replaced by black and white fur, resulting in their looking more like miniature Pandas every day.

The next big step in the development of the Panda twins is the formation of their auditory senses, which takes place at about five weeks of age. On top of this, the young animals are still blind and will only open their eyes when they are approximately 40 days old. It will be the end of the year before they can really crawl and leave the breeding box.

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3_Pandazwillinge 22_ AugustPhoto Credits: Schönbrunn Zoo

 

As we previously shared, the Panda mother will rear her babies in their breeding box, behind the scenes, which is out of sight of Schönbrunn Zoo visitors. At about four months old, the young Pandas will make their first excursions to the indoor enclosure, where the visitors will be able to watch them. The Zoo will do its best to keep Panda fans all over the world informed. At regular intervals, videos from the breeding box will be published on Schönbrunn Zoo’s website: https://www.zoovienna.at/ …YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/thezoovienna … and other social media pages. There is also a public video screen in the Zoo that allows visitors to peek in on the new family.

The Giant Panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) also known as “panda bear” or simply “panda, is a bear native to south central China. Though it belongs to the order Carnivora, the Giant Panda's diet is over 99% bamboo. Giant Pandas in the wild will occasionally eat other grasses, wild tubers, or even meat in the form of birds, rodents or carrion. In captivity, they may receive honey, eggs, fish, yams, shrub leaves, oranges, or bananas along with specially prepared food.

The Giant Panda is native to a few mountain ranges in central China, mainly in Sichuan province, but also in neighboring provinces (Shaanxi and Gansu). As a result of farming, deforestation, and other development, the Giant Panda has been driven out of the lowland areas where it once lived. It is classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List.

Giant Pandas give birth to twins in about half of pregnancies, and generally, only one twin will survive. The mother will select the stronger of the cubs, and the weaker will die. Experts believe that the mother is unable to produce enough milk for two cubs, since she does not store fat. (The father has no part in helping raise the cub.)

When the cub is first born, it is pink, blind, and toothless, weighing only 90 to 130 grams (3.2 to 4.6 ounces). It nurses from its mother's breast six to 14 times a day for up to 30 minutes at a time. For three to four hours, the mother may leave the den to feed, which leaves the cub defenseless. One to two weeks after birth, the cub's skin turns gray where its hair will eventually become black. A slight pink color may appear on cub's fur, as a result of a chemical reaction between the fur and its mother's saliva. A month after birth, the color pattern of the cub's fur is fully developed. Its fur is very soft and coarsens with age.

The cub begins to crawl at 75 to 80 days of age. The cubs can eat small quantities of bamboo after six months, though mother's milk remains the primary food source for most of the first year. Giant Panda cubs weigh 45 kg (100 pounds) at one year, and live with their mothers until they are 18 months to two years old. The interval between births in the wild is generally two years.


Giant Panda Mom Has Her Paws Full

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On August 7th, not just one…but…two Giant Pandas were born at Schönbrunn Zoo!

Dagmar Schratter, Schönbrunn Zoo’s Director, remarked, “As we believe in natural rearing, we will simply be watching via camera what is happening in the breeding box. It had sounded as if there were two young animals squeaking, but the pictures only ever showed one. On Friday [August 5th], the keepers could see two babies on the screen for the first time.”

According to the Zoo, it happens quite often that Giant Pandas give birth to twins, but the mother usually only rears the stronger of the two. However, after the first few days, the two young offspring seem to be developing very well. Nevertheless, the survival rate for Pandas, in their first few weeks of life, is only by 50 percent. This is why according to Chinese tradition names are only given after 100 days of life.

Zoologist, Eveline Dungl, said, “Both little Pandas have fat little tummies, and Panda mother Yang Yang is totally relaxed”. The experienced mom cares lovingly for her babies and cleans and feeds the twins (with their estimated length of 15 centimeters).

Dungl added, “The little ones can be rarely seen on the pictures because Yang Yang warms them between her large paws most of the time. Their fluff gets more every day, and one can already make out the black and white marking. The sound of their contented noises, when they are being suckled or cleaned, can be heard quite clearly over the speaker.” The keepers watch the rearing round the clock via the box camera.

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4_Pandazwillinge4Photo Credits: Schönbrunn Zoo

 

For now, the Panda mother will rear her babies in the breeding box, behind the scenes, which is out of sight of Zoo visitors. At about four months old, the young Pandas will make their first excursions to the indoor enclosure where the visitors will be able to watch them. The Zoo will do its best to keep Panda fans all over the world informed: at regular intervals, videos from the breeding box will be published on Schönbrunn Zoo’s website: https://www.zoovienna.at/ and other social media pages. There is also a public video screen in the Zoo that allows visitors to peek in on the new family.

The Giant Panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) also known as “panda bear” or simply “panda, is a bear native to south central China. Though it belongs to the order Carnivora, the Giant Panda's diet is over 99% bamboo. Giant Pandas in the wild will occasionally eat other grasses, wild tubers, or even meat in the form of birds, rodents or carrion. In captivity, they may receive honey, eggs, fish, yams, shrub leaves, oranges, or bananas along with specially prepared food.

The Giant Panda is native to a few mountain ranges in central China, mainly in Sichuan province, but also in neighboring provinces (Shaanxi and Gansu). As a result of farming, deforestation, and other development, the Giant Panda has been driven out of the lowland areas where it once lived. It is classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List.

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Keeper Becomes Surrogate Mother to Flying Fox

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Samantha Keller, keeper at Zoo Vienna Schönbrunn, has become “surrogate mother” to Banshi, a small Kalong Fruit Bat or Large Flying Fox. “We found the small bat alone in a tree in our tropical rain forest house. It was only just a few hours old and already suffering from a reduced temperature. We brought him to his mother, but unfortunately she showed no interest. That is why I have become his mum, so to speak” says the keeper.

Bringing up a Fruit Bat is a 24-hour job. On the first day he had to be fed hourly with rearing milk and now, every three hours.

At the start of a bat pup’s life, the mother will carry her young wherever she goes. Now, that job belongs to Samantha Keller. The small bat sleeps most of the day, like any other baby, in a shawl slung around the keeper`s tummy. He almost always has a dummy in his mouth. “If he were with his mother he would be sucking her teats. The dummy is a substitute and calms him down,” says Keller.

As a Fruit Bat mum, the working day never ends. In the evening, Ms. Keller takes Banshi home with her. He sleeps in a small nest, of heating mats and blankets, next to her bed.

The Large Flying Fox, with its wingspan of up to 1.70 meters is the largest bat in the world. Banshi still has a long way to go. At the moment he only weighs just 160 grams.

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4_Flughund_01_TGS_ZupancPhoto Credits: Daniel Zupanc / Tiergarten Schönbrunn

 

Large Flying Foxes live in the tropical rain forest of South-East Asia and are solely vegetarian, feeding on fruits, nectar and pollen. In about a month, Banshi will get his first fruit. He is already spreading his wings and fluttering them a little. “We will start with his flight training in a couple of months,” says Keller, “and when he is about 6 months old he will be able to fly properly and live with the other fruit bats in the tropical rainforest house.”

The Large Flying Fox (Pteropus vampyrus), also known as the Greater Flying Fox, Malayan Flying Fox, Malaysian Flying Fox, Large Fruit Bat, Kalang or Kalong, is a Southeast Asian species of megabat in the family Pteropodidae.

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Rare Giant Jellyfish Bred at Zoo Vienna

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The Giant Jellyfish, Rhizostoma luteum, has a bell diameter of up to 60 cm (2 ft) and can reach a max weight of 40 kg (88 lb).

Zoo Vienna has now successfully bred this rare sea dweller for the first time in captivity. The baby jellyfish are about 4 centimeter tall and are now on exhibit in the Zoo’s Aquarium.

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PA_Riesenqualle3Photo Credits: Image 1,2:Daniel Zupanc / Image 3:Karen Kienberger

 “The Giant Jellyfish was first discovered in the Western Mediterranean Sea in 1827. It is such a rare species that some scientists even doubted its existence. During the last couple of years, some specimens were stranded on the beaches of Morocco and Spain, and it could finally be proven that Rhizostoma luteum does indeed exist,” said Dagmar Schratter, director of Zoo Vienna.

The story behind this breeding success is as spectacular as the jellyfish itself. Schratter continued, “The marine researcher Karen Kienberger from Jellyfish Research, South Spain, collected an adult Giant Jellyfish in the coastal waters of South Spain for her scientific research. At the laboratory, she discovered that the jellyfish was sexually mature and collected planula larvae which she sent to Zoo Vienna.”

Almost nothing is known about this jellyfish. It was a real challenge even for the jellyfish experts at Zoo Vienna to successfully breed this species. But they were successful and raised 30 baby jellyfish from the planula to the polyp--- and finally to the jellyfish.

The Zoo successfully took photos of all developmental stages and collected important data, which will be forwarded to Kienberger for further collaborative research.

French naturalists, Quoy and Gaimard, first described the Giant Jellyfish, Rhizostoma luteum, in 1827. Since its discovery, it has only been mentioned in scientific literature six times due to its rarity. Some researchers even doubted its existence until the recent discovery of specimens off the coast of Southern Spain.


Zoo Vienna Has Tons of Pink Flamingo Chicks!

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Ok, not literally tons. But Zoo Vienna in Austria is thrilled about the number of this year's Pink Flamingo chicks: 19 chicks have hatched, and still more eggs are being incubated by parents. 

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Flamingo 3Photo credits: Daniel Zupanc / Zoo Vienna

The first chicks of the year were hatched on June 7. The rearing of chicks at different ages is fascinating to watch. 

“The youngest birds are still in the nest under the wings of their parents, who alternatively keep the chicks warm and feed them with a high-energy liquid from their crop. The bigger birds have already left the nest and are being looked after in a group, similar to a kindergarten,” Zoo Director Dagmar Schratter explains. 

“The baby flamingos are grey. In the wild, this unobtrusive plumage protects the little ones better from predators, but in three years’ time their feathers will be just as pink as their parents'."

In their natural habitat the birds get their pink and orange coloring from carotenoid pigments found in algae and crustaceans which they filter out of the water using their beaks. In captivity, Flamingos are fed food that is high in these pigments, otherwise their feathers would be a very pale pink.

Pink or Greater Flamingos have a very large distribution area: they are found from West Africa through the Mediterranean, Europe, South West and South Asia, and in sub-Saharan Africa. There is estimated to be a population of about 20,000 breeding pairs in Europe, the majority living in the Camargue region in France. Zoo Vienna has been very successfully breeding these birds for many years.


It’s All About that Pumpkin

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Pumpkins are everywhere, this time of year! They make great pies, Jack-O-Lanterns, and pretty awesome enrichment toys for zoo animals. Happy Halloween from ZooBorns!

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Photo Credits: Tammy Spratt/San Diego Zoo Safari Park (Image 1: African Lion Cub); Amiee Stubbs Photography (Image 2: "Charlie" the Porcupine at Nashville Zoo); Lincoln Children's Zoo (Image 3: "Lincoln" the Red Panda); ZooAmerica (Image 4: "Rainier" the Mountain Lion); Zoo Vienna Schönbrunn (Image 5: Elephants); Sue Ogrocki (Images 6-Gorilla,7-Red River Hogs,10-Galapagos Tortoise at Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Gardens); Minnesota Zoo (Image 8: Lynx); The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens (Image 9: Meerkats)

More great pumpkin pics below the fold!

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Baby Moray Eels are a Worldwide First

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There are over 200 species of Moray eels. Worldwide, not one of them had been successfully bred until recently. At Zoo Vienna Schönbrunn in Austria, a Black Ribbon Moray laid a clutch of fertilized eggs. This fact alone is quite a sensation. But it gets better: some larvae even hatched!

"It is the first time that the hatching of Morays could be observed. Up to now, nobody knew what the larvae look like, what they eat and how they behave“, explains the zoo’s director Dagmar Schratter. 

The breeding of Morays is completely new territory. The successful event in Schönbrunn Zoo supplies the first information - completely unknown up to now - about the development of their eggs and larvae. 

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3 morayMoray parents: sexually mature females are yellow, the males black or blue. They live in the the coral reefs of the Indo Pacific. Photo credits: Schönbrunn Zoo / Daniel Zupanc

"The heartbeat of the Moray larvae was clearly visible in the transparent egg. At the time of hatching, the larvae are only about one centimeter long and look like little deep-sea monsters with their long teeth," says Anton Weissenbacher, head of the Aquarium House. The animal keepers succeeded in offering the larvae adequate food and shortly after hatching they already started to eat.

The breeding facility was not adapted to the special needs of the Moray larvae, because there was no knowledge based on experience to fall back on. The larvae could be kept alive for one week and the development of the creatures was closely watched and documented. According to the zoo, these first steps promise great hope for the future breeding and study of these creatures.

Weissenbacher says, "We have been able to learn a great deal in this short time and are now adapting the facility accordingly. All that remains is to hope for another oviposition [deposition of eggs] of our Black Ribbon Morays in the near future.“


It's a Boy! Zoo Vienna Welcomes a Healthy Panda Cub

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Zoo Vienna's newest Panda cub, the third Panda ever to be born at the zoo, is now two months old. The little animal is at an exciting phase of development: his eyes have opened.

"Panda babies are born blind. Between 30 and 45 days after birth their eyes slowly begin to open. One to two weeks later they have opened completely although perception is still restricted to light-dark contrasts," the zoo’s director Dagmar Schratter explains.

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Photo credits: Daniel Zupanc / Zoo Vienna

See an early video of Yang Yang with her newborn:

 

Meanwhile, mother Yang Yang is now comfortable leaving the breeding box to eat and drink about seven times a day. All in all, she now leaves the young animal, which already weighs around 6.5 pounds (3 kg), alone for up to six hours. Still, the black and white fur-ball’s admirers will have to be patient another few months until he will be able to climb out of the breeding box on his own. 

Schratter says, "The baby panda cannot crawl yet. He manages to push himself away from the floor only to fall over immediately and to tumble back into the soft bamboo nest."


Zoo Vienna's Elephant Calf is a Conservation Success

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At Zoo Vienna, the wait is over: after a lengthy gestation period of 645 days, Tonga the African Elephant brought a baby into the world. The little pachyderm, born on September 4, is a female.  She follows her mother's every step with clumsy feet, and nurses about every half hour. Zoo Staff have picked out three names to chose from but haven't decided on the perfect one yet. 

This is the second offspring for 28-year-old Tonga, who has lived at the zoo since 1998. Her first calf was born in 2003.  Says Zoo Director Dagmar Schratter, "Tonga is the matriarch of our herd and generally a very balanced animal."  She is devoted and caring mother, and will be raising for her own baby. For now, Tonga and her calf will live separate from the rest of the herd, to ensure that they will be able to bond and rest together. 

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Photo credits: Zoo Vienna

For Zoo Vienna, the coordinator of the European studbook for African Elephants, this is the fourth birth. Worldwide, the little elephant is a sensation: she is the first calf conceived through artificial insemination using frozen semen. The father is a wild bull from the Phinda Gamer Reserve in Africa, who was placed under general anesthesia for the collection.  

Artificial insemination is now routine in African Elephant breeding - but only with fresh or chilled semen. To transport the sperm of a wild bull of Africa in a European zoo, but it had to be frozen. But the sperm of elephants are extremely sensitive: only two cases using frozen and thawed sperm had resulted in a fertilization, and both pregnancies ended early. The successful new technique was developed by a team from the Berlin Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research. 

This new method is a great opportunity: it can be used to help strengthen the genetics of not only elephants, but of other endangered species in captivity as well. This little elephant is a positive result of a successful collaboration between the Vienna Zoo and Berlin Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW), the Zooparc de Beauval and the Pittsburgh Zoo.


Zoo Vienna Welcomes A Playful Porcupette

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Only a few weeks old and already thousands of quills! On August 4, Zoo Vienna welcomed a baby North American Porcupine. The porcupette is a female and weighed in at just about 1.3 pounds (600 g) at her first medical checkup. The gestation period for porcupines is relatively long, around seven months, so the juveniles are already well-developed at birth. They come into the world with eyes open and can run immediately. At just a few days old, the porcupette had started to practice climbing. Now at one month old, she still drinks milk but also nibbles on carrots, apples, beetroots, and branches. She will be weaned at one and a half months old. 

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Photo credits: Zoo Vienna

Although North American and European Porcupines might look very similar, they are actually not very closely related. North American Porcupines are the second largest New World rodent, after the North American Beaver. Commonly found from Alaska to Mexico, they are excellent albeit slow climbers and spend most of their lives in trees. These herbivores are crepuscular, meaning that they are mainly active at dawn and dusk.  A single North America Porcupine may have up to 30,000 barbed quills for self-defense. At birth, the quills of a porcupette are short and soft, but they harden after a few days.