Zoo Vienna

Endangered Penguins Hatch at Zoo Vienna

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Since mid-April, Zoo Vienna Tiergarten Schönbrunn has welcomed eleven Northern Rockhopper Penguin chicks!

After about 33 days of incubation, the hatchlings were greeted by caring penguin parents that have since been providing all the food and warmth they need.

The species is currently classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Therefore, conservation efforts in zoos around the world are important for their survival.

"The Northern Rockhopper Penguin breeds on the island group around Tristan da Cunha, in the southern Atlantic, and is strongly endangered. The main causes of its threat are the overfishing and pollution of the seas, as well as climate change," explains Animal Garden Director, Dagmar Schratter.

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3_PA_Felsenpinguin3Photo Credits: Daniel Zupanc

Currently, only 96 Northern Rockhopper Penguins live in European zoos. The largest colony, with 45 adults, can be found in Schönbrunn. The Tiergarten also runs the European Conservation Program (EEP) for this endangered and distinctive penguin. Since 2004, the Tiergarten has delivered 41 Rockhopper Penguins to other zoos.

Schratter continued, "Through our many years of experience in breeding, we would like to help build up colonies in other zoos..."

The Northern Rockhopper Penguin (Eudyptes moseleyi) is also known as “Moseley's Rockhopper Penguin”, or “Moseley's Penguin”.

More than 99% of them breed on Tristan da Cunha and Gough Island in the South Atlantic Ocean. Rockhopper Penguins have been considered to consist of two species: Northern and Southern Rockhopper (research published in 2006 demonstrated morphological, vocal, and genetic differences between the two populations).

In the wild, the Northern Rockhopper Penguin feeds on krill and other sea life such as crustaceans, squid, octopus and fish.

The species prefers to breed in colonies in a range of locations from sea level or on cliff sides, to sometimes inland. An interesting difference between the two subspecies is their mating ritual. They both use different songs and head ornaments in their mating signals. The reproductive isolation has led to not only physical difference but also behavioral. Adults feed their chicks lower trophic level prey than they themselves consume.

A study published in 2009 showed that the world population of the Northern Rockhopper had declined by 90% since the 1950s, possibly because of climate change, changes in marine ecosystems and overfishing for squid and octopus by humans. Other possible factors in the decline include: disturbance and pollution from ecotourism and fishing, egg harvesting, and predation and competition from sub Antarctic fur seals. Surveys show that the birds are also at risk of infection by goose barnacles. House mice (Mus musculus) have also been introduced into their environment by human sea expeditions, and the mice have proven to be invasive, consuming Northern Rockhopper eggs, as well as hunting their young.


Lemur Twins Are Twice the Fun at Zoo Vienna

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The Ring-tailed Lemur habitat at Zoo Vienna Schönbrunn just got a lot livelier with the birth of twins on March 18.

Mom has her hands full nursing her two tiny babies, but she is doing well and gets extra help from other females in the group. Twins are not uncommon in Ring-tailed Lemurs. 

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PA_Kattas3 (1)Photo Credit: Schönbrunn Zoo/Norbert Potensky

For the first few days of life, the babies spent most of their time nursing or sleeping as they clung to mom’s belly.  Newborn Lemurs are born with the ability to grip mom’s fur tightly so they can hang on as she climbs through the trees. After a few weeks, the babies will climb onto mom’s back and start to view their surroundings.  By one month of age, the babies will start to nibble on fruits and vegetables.

Ring-tailed Lemurs are one of about 100 species of Lemurs, all of which are found only on the African island of Madagascar.  More than two thirds of the species are Endangered or Critically Endangered according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. 

A dramatic loss of forest habitat in Madagascar is blamed for the rapid decline in Lemur numbers.  More than 90% of Madagascar’s original forest cover has been lost, mainly due to the demand for lumber, firewood, and charcoal by a growing human population.


Panda Twins Are Top Attraction at Vienna Zoo

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The Giant Panda twins at Schönbrunn Zoo are now five-months-old!

The popular brother and sister were born to mom, Yang Yang, on August 7, 2016. In early November, around 12,000 fans of Tiergarten Schönbrunn’s Panda twins cast online votes for names for the wiggly duo.

The male cub was given the name Fu Ban, which translates to “Happy Companion, Happy Half”. The name Fu Feng was given to the female and stands for “phoenix” (which together with the dragon forms the imperial couple in Chinese mythology).

Currently, the Panda House is the Zoo’s number one attraction. Visitors can’t seem to get enough of the fuzzy siblings, and the most asked question at the facility is: “What is the best time to see the Panda twins?”

The answer is however not simple. “Typical for all kinds of young animals, the little ones don’t yet have a daily rhythm. Their day consists of playing, being fed, exploring their surroundings and of course lots of sleeping. When they want to sleep, they both withdraw into their cozy tree hollow, where they can`t be seen,” says zoo director Dagmar Schratter.

Mother Yang Yang always keeps a close eye on her young ones. This is very necessary, as Fu Feng and Fu Ban are full of curiosity as they explore their surroundings.

The siblings are now making their first attempts at climbing, playing with balls, and gnawing on bamboo canes. If they get too boisterous, or when it’s time to be fed, Yan Yan keeps them in-check and carries them by the scruff of the neck to a suitable place.

The zoo is extremely pleased by their development: Fu Ban, the young male currently weighs seven kilos (15.4 lbs.), and his sister Fu Feng weighs more than nine kilos (20 lbs.), which well above average for this age.

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4_Pandas_TGS_Zupanc_09Photo Credits: Daniel Zupanc

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.

More pics below the fold!

Continue reading "Panda Twins Are Top Attraction at Vienna Zoo" »


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.

Continue reading "Giant Panda Mom Has Her Paws Full " »


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.

Continue reading "Keeper Becomes Surrogate Mother to Flying Fox" »


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!

Continue reading "It’s All About that Pumpkin" »


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.“