ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Visitors See ‘Bert and Ernie’ at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

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ZSL Whipsnade Zoo recently released the first photos of their new twin Red Panda cubs. The duo, named Bert and Ernie by their keepers, was born June 30.

The cubs had been hiding away in their nesting boxes until recently, when their mum, six year-old Tashi, began carrying them outside for short intervals.

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Photo Credits: ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Senior Keeper at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, Stephen Perry said, “It’s been magical to see the baby Red Pandas out and about for the first time.

“Red Pandas can be difficult to observe due to their shy and secretive nature, their nocturnal habits and the fact that they spend most of their time up trees. We never see much of their babies for the first couple of months of their lives but it’s worth the wait. They’re incredible and beautiful creatures, and a real visitor favorite.

“Tashi is a brilliant mum, and when the weather gets warmer you sometimes catch her carrying the babies between nesting boxes to find the coolest one for them.”

Bert and Ernie are part of the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP), a tool used by zoos, aquariums and wildlife parks across Europe to manage conservation breeding programmes. Bert and Ernie are also the fourth and fifth cubs born to experienced mum Tashi, at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo.

“Having such a confident mum there is great because it means we can just leave them to it and not interfere. We just check in on Tashi, the boys and their dad, Blue, once a day to make sure everything’s okay,” remarked Perry.

Red Pandas, which are classified as “Vulnerable” by IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species, are found mainly in Nepal, India, Bhutan, Myanmar, and southern China. There are thought to be around 10,000 Red Pandas left in the wild. It is estimated that their numbers may have decreased by as much as 40% over the last 50 years due to massive habitat loss, increased human activity and poaching.

As an international conservation and science charity, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) works in Nepal, as well as over 50 other countries, for worldwide conservation of animals and their habitats, through ground-breaking science, conservation projects, as well as two Zoos: ZSL London Zoo and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo.

Rhino Calf Arrives in Time for World Rhino Day

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Keepers at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo are celebrating the birth of a Greater One-Horned Rhino calf.

Weighing in at a whopping 76kg (almost 12 stone or 167 lbs.), the calf, which keepers have named Bali (Nepali for ‘strong’) was born on the evening of September 6th, after a 17-month gestation. This is the fourth calf for 19-year-old mother, Behan. Her other calves have all moved to other Zoos to breed, as part of the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP).

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Bali is the 14th Greater One-Horned Rhino calf to be born at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, which has an exceptional record with its breeding programme for the species. ZSL Whipsnade Zoo was one of the first Zoos in the world to breed the species in 1957. ln the past 12 months, there have been only four Greater One-Horned Rhino births in three European zoos, with only one other in the United States of America. Young Bali was born just in time to celebrate World Rhino Day on September 22nd.

Deputy Team Leader Veronica Watkins, said, “The whole team is very excited to see the safe arrival of our newest rhino. To be involved in bringing one of these endangered animals into the world makes all of our efforts feel worthwhile, and it makes celebrating World Rhino Day this year feel extra special.

“The labour was relatively straightforward. Behan was restless the previous night so we suspected the birth was imminent, but once her waters broke we were able to monitor her carefully through CCTV cameras, without interfering in the process.

“The following day Bali was up and about, looking around at everything inquisitively. Behan, who has always been an excellent mother to her calves, was staying very close to him.”

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ZSL Whipsnade Zoo Gets Late Christmas Gift


Keepers at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo had a late Christmas present when ‘Flora’, the Pygmy Hippo, gave birth to a much needed boy on Boxing Day.


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The Zoo’s keepers say they are especially proud of the baby’s mum, 28-year-old Flora, who has been battling cancer. Flora was featured in ITV’s documentary series ‘The Zoo’ last year, and although she is still living with a tumor in her mouth, vets say she has responded fantastically well to the treatment and the cancer did not affect her pregnancy at all.

The tiny hippo calf is a particularly welcome addition to the Zoo because there is a shortage of male Pygmy Hippos within the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme.

Senior Keeper, Steve White said, “Flora’s calf was due on Christmas Day, but the little one kept us waiting until the evening of Boxing Day. We knew Flora must be going into labor because she went off her food, which never happens! After six hour labor, the calf was born, a 7 kilo, perfect miniature of his mum. Since then, the baby hippo has been happily waddling around and seems to love spending time in water. On his first weigh-in, he was so slippery it was like picking up a big bar of soap!”

“We’re delighted for Flora, who has come through a difficult year and is now proving once again to be an attentive, experienced mum. She’s contributed three calves to the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme and she’ll now retire from breeding.”

Pygmy Hippos (Choeropsis liberiesis) are classified as “Endangered” by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, and teams at international conservation charity ZSL are working in Liberia and Sierra Leone to research and protect the species.

Lazarus the Gazelle Makes a Comeback


A newborn Thomson’s Gazelle, abandoned by its mother, was taken home by a senior keeper at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo and nursed back to health.



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‘Larry’, who was born October 9th, is one of only four Thomson’s Gazelles in the UK, all of which live at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo.

After the little gazelle, Larry, was born, keepers noticed that his first-time mother was not returning to feed him, and they grew concerned for his survival. Senior staff-members at the zoo were forced to make the difficult decision to step in and hand-rear Larry, requiring Team Leader, Mark Holden, to bottle-feed the calf with goat milk five times a day and at regular intervals during the night.

Mark said, “It’s always a last resort to separate a calf from the group, but little Larry was getting very weak and needed our help. As soon as we got some milk into him he started to improve. We named him ‘Lazarus’---Larry for short---because for a moment there, we really didn’t think he was going to pull through.”

“We put a sky kennel in our lounge for him and he quickly settled into a routine. When he’d had his milk and a little walk-about, he’d just take himself back off to bed. It was a little tricky having Larry in the house. We had to keep an eye on him after each feed and get ready with a towel in case he started to urinate.”

Mark continued, “After two weeks, Larry was healthy enough to go back to ZSL Whipsnade Zoo and be reunited with the group, although he’s still getting a lot of extra care. He’s doing really well now, growing nicely and putting on weight. He has started to eat some solids like grass and hay, and he can be properly weaned in a few months.”

This Guy Knows How to Make an Entrance

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ZSL Whipsnade Zoo’s new Asian Elephant made a grand entrance into the world and arrived just a few days ahead of the zoo’s ‘Elephantastic Weekend’. 

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ZSL Whipsnade_BabyElephant_3Photo Credits: Natasha Jefferies (1); Jenny Soppet Smith (2); ZSL Whipsnade Zoo (3,4,5,6,7)

The brand new male calf was born September 16th to fourth-time mother, Azizah, in one of the zoo’s large grassy paddocks. Other members of the herd of ten Asian Elephants were nearby, showing their support for Azizah as her labor progressed, including the new calf’s siblings. Under the elephant breeding program, nine elephants have been born at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo.

Assistant Curator of Elephants, Lee Sambrook said, “It was wonderful to be able to witness a herd birth at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. We have a great track record with the elephant breeding program here, but seeing a baby born with all his aunties and uncles around in such a natural environment was an incredible privilege. Elephants are such social animals and you could see that the rest of the herd’s presence was just what Azizah needed to stay calm and do what she needed to do. The team of vets and keepers were standing by and monitoring her development, but it was so fantastic that the birth happened naturally, and with the herd’s help, rather than ours."

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo’s ‘Elephantastic Weekend’ was held September 20th and 21st.  It was planned to coincide with the world-wide Elephant Appreciation Day, and helps to raise money for elephant conservation and research projects, through fun family activities, fascinating talks, and unforgettable elephant encounters.

The Asian Elephant is native to Southeast Asia from India in the west to Borneo in the east. They are currently classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List.  In the wild, the pre-eminent threats to Asian Elephants are: loss, degradation and fragmentation of habitat, and poaching for ivory, meat and leather.

More amazing photos below the fold!

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Baby Hippo Takes a Dip at Whipsnade Zoo

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A baby Hippo made a splashing debut at Zoological Society of London's (ZSL) Whipsnade Zoo by taking a dip in the public pool for the very first time.

The five-week-old Common Hippo calf had been snuggled up to mum, Lola, in their private dens, before making its first appearance in the big pool today.

Born just after 9 a.m. on December 11, the tiny tot is Lola and dad, Hoover’s, second calf. The calf is thought to be a little girl, but its sex is yet to be confirmed. In the meantime, keepers have nicknamed the youngster Nelly.

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Zookeeper Steve White said, “After a few tentative steps on the water’s edge, Nelly was soon enjoying paddling around in the pool and blowing bubbles under the surface as she explored her new surroundings.

“She’s extremely playful and inquisitive and loves nothing more than watching what’s going on around her. She was standing and suckling just an hour after she was born, and mum’s been doing a brilliant job really helping her to thrive.” 

Born after an eight month gestation period, baby Nelly will one day weigh a whopping 1.4 tons (1400kg) when she’s fully grown, and reach up to around five feet four inches (1.6 meters) in height. 

Classed as 'Vulnerable' by the Internation Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species, and under threat from poaching and habitat loss in the wild, Nelly is a much welcomed addition to the European Studbook for Common Hippos.

Lynx Kitten Triplets Make Their Public Debut at Whipsnade Zoo

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With their pointy ears peeking out from the long grass, this trio of Lynx kittens played hide and seek as they recently made their public debut at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. The eight-week-old triplets named Ruby, Amber, and Opal, spent their first few weeks snuggled up inside with their mother, Maja, before taking their first tiny, tentative steps outside this week. And now they are big enough to venture out on their own! The playful kittens are getting bolder by the day and are often spotted perched on tree trunks from which to pounce, play fighting in the grass, and snoozing on logs.

Zookeeper Cliff Tack said: “All three kittens are doing fantastically well. Mum kept them well hidden in their den to begin with, but they’re now growing in confidence and becoming a lot more adventurous, especially with the warm weather encouraging them to come out to play.”

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Photo Credit: ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Known as a crepuscular species, European Lynx are most active at dawn and dusk, and the kittens are already showing signs of this behavior – with keepers spotting the cheeky trio at their most playful at the beginning and end of the day. The all-girl trio, who are parents Maja and Timo’s third litter, are a welcome addition to the European StudBook Breeding Program for Lynx. They are already showing off their distinctive pointed ears, and are just beginning to develop spotted markings on their coats which will continue to appear as they get older.

Read some Fun facts and see more pictures, after the jump:

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It's a Boy! Giraffe Born at Whipsnade Zoo


The ZSL Whipsnade Zoo is delighted to announce the birth of a male Giraffe.  The as yet-unnamed youngster was born on September 30 to proud first-time mother Ijuma and dad Uno. He's just begun exploring his outdoor exhibit.

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The baby boy took his first wobbly steps just a few hours after birth, a nerve-wracking experience for onlooking zoo keepers. He is now very confident on his long legs and can often be seen galloping around the Giraffe barn.

The Whipsnade Zoo staff  reports that Ijuma has been showing good maternal instincts and the other Giraffes, including Dad Uno, are very curious about the new arrival, peering over the fence to get a better look.

Giraffes are native to eastern and southern Africa.  There are nine subspecies, each with a distinctive coat pattern. As a whole, Giraffes are listed as “Least Concern” by the IUCN, but two of the subspecies are classified as endangered and many populations have become fragmented.  The overall population of Giraffes has decreased by nearly half in the last decade. 

Photo Credit:  ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Baby Pygmy Hippo a Big Splash at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

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She may be tiny, but this rare Pygmy Hippo is making a big splash at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. Born eight weeks ago, the little calf named Georgina is enjoying exploring her new surroundings, paddling around her heated indoor pool alongside mom. The youngster is the second born to parents Flora and Tapon. She arrived just 18 months after the birth of their son Sapo, who was the first male Pygmy Hippo to be born in Europe.

The new baby is an important addition to the European Endangered Species Program and for the conservation of this species worldwide. Pygmy Hippos are considered Threatened. In the wild their numbers have dwindled to less than 3,000. The species is part of ZSL’s Edge of Existence program – a global conservation effort dedicated to threatened animal species which have a unique evolutionary history. 

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Photo Credit: ZSL Whipsnade

Africa section team leader, Mark Holden, said, “Like the name hippopotamus – which means water horse – suggests, Georgina enjoys taking a dip, paddling around, and blowing bubbles under the water. Flora’s a star mum and is really helping the new calf to thrive.”


Meet The Magnificent Seven


It’s lucky number seven for one proud mother at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo – following the birth of cheetah septuplets! The litter of Northern Cheetah cubs spent their first weeks tucked up behind the scenes with mum Dubai before making their public debut in the Zoo’s Cheetah Rock enclosure. At 12-weeks-old the playful youngsters are just beginning to develop their own personalities, with keepers spotting them climbing on rocks and chasing each other in the summer sunshine, becoming more adventurous by the day.

Senior keeper Marie Brown said: “All seven are extremely playful but mum’s very patient with them all and is doing a great job of bringing them up." The cubs are the second litter of Northern Cheetah to be born at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo – and provide a valuable rearing experience for Dubai of this endangered species.




Photo credits: ©ZSL


The septuplets birth comes two years after Dubai gave birth to her first cubs, which were the first litter of Northern Cheetah cubs ever born in the UK.