ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Amur Tiger Cubs Hit the Ground Running

1_38823927_2196282313721160_772298393279004672_o

Four endangered Amur Tiger cubs at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo have finally taken their first steps outside.

The cubs, born June 23, were finally snapped stepping out as a family after mum, Naya, spent several days carrying them around in her mouth, one-by-one, to help them discover their surroundings. (ZooBorns shared photos of their first outing in a July feature: “Amur Tiger Mum Takes Cubs for First Outing”)

Team leader, Donovan Glyn, said, “Seeing all four of these endangered tiger cubs out and about, playing in the grass together, is the perfect way for us to begin the summer here at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. They are just as energetic and playful as one-month-old kittens would be, and we can’t wait to watch them learn and grow under their mum and dad’s watchful eyes over the next few months.”

“Naya has been such a patient, dedicated mum, picking up each cub in her mouth, and giving them little one-on-one tours of the enclosure, to help them get to know their surroundings and build their confidence.”

2_Mum Naya and her cubs (5)

3_Mum Naya and her cubs (2)

4_Mum Naya and her cubs (4)Photo Credits: ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

The cubs were born only 121 days after seven-year-old tigress, Naya, arrived at the UK’s largest Zoo and was introduced to male mate, Botzman, as part of the European Endangered Species breeding Programme (EEP) which works with zoos across the continent.

Donovan Glyn continued, “There are only 500 Amur Tigers left in the wild, so we are delighted to have four incredible little Amur cubs here at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. It’s great news for the breeding programme, and we know our visitors will be thrilled to see them for themselves and learn more about the importance of protecting endangered species like these.”

The Amur Tiger (Panthera tigris altaica) is classified as “Endangered” by the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species. Thanks to the conservation efforts of organisations like ZSL (Zoological Society of London), which works with Amur Tigers in the Russian Far East, there are now an estimated 500 Amur Tigers left in the wild, ten times the number that were estimated to exist in the 1940s.

More pics below the fold!

Continue reading "Amur Tiger Cubs Hit the Ground Running" »


Amur Tiger Mum Takes Cubs for First Outing

37065375_2152168148132577_5344059770112311296_o

Four endangered Amur Tiger cubs, born at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo on June 23, were recently seen being taken for a first look at the world by mother, Naya.

The as-yet unsexed cubs were born to their seven year-old mum after 108 days of pregnancy and only 121 days (four months) after Naya “met” the dad, Botzman.

Naya and one of her cubs outside

Tiger cub outside the den at ZSL Whipsnade ZooPhoto Credits: ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Keepers at the UK’s largest Zoo had been anxiously monitoring second-time mum, Naya, using remote camera technology as she gave birth to the first tiger cub at 7.25pm on June 23, and they were then elated to see her give birth to three further cubs over the subsequent five hours.

Team leader, Donovan Glyn, said, “It’s incredible news for us to have endangered Amur Tiger cubs born here at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, but to have four of them is just amazing, especially when you consider there are only 500 left in the wild.”

Naya and her cubs have been getting to know each other in a birthing den in the middle of the Zoo’s large tiger enclosure, with mum only venturing away from her babies occasionally to have a drink.

Donovan Glyn continued, “Having cameras in her den is allowing us to keep a close eye on how they’re all getting on 24/7, and it’s also letting us share in the magic of them taking their first steps.”

“Naya is very attentive, cleaning the cubs regularly and letting them suckle whenever they want to. She has also stayed very calm and relaxed throughout, even when dad Botzman went in to see what was going on. He seemed to take one look at the first cub and decide to give them some space!”

Mum Naya and dad Botzman have been getting on extremely well since Naya arrived at the Zoo in February, and the cubs are a success for the European Endangered Species breeding Programme (EEP) which works with zoos across the continent to breed the endangered species.

Amur Tigers (Panthera tigris altaica) are classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species. Thanks to the conservation efforts of organizations like ZSL (Zoological Society of London), which works with Amur Tigers in the Russian Far East, there are now an estimated 500 Amur Tigers left in the wild, ten times the number that were estimated to exist in the 1940s.

Zookeepers will also be revealing exclusive footage of the cubs on ZSL Whipsnade Zoo’s social media channels over the next few months. Check their website for more info: www.zsl.org/zsl-whipsnade-zoo   


Sea Lion Pups Double the Excitement at UK Zoo

3_Hanno (3)
ZSL Whipsnade Zoo’s keepers have a couple of exciting new additions to care for, with the arrival of two California Sea Lion pups.

Adventurous male pup, Hanno, was born to first-time mum, Lara, on June 10. Laid-back male, Oakley, was born to second-time mum, Bailey, on June 23.

After giving birth at the UK’s largest Zoo, ten-year-old, Lara, and eleven-year-old, Bailey, have taken to motherhood swimmingly and are already proving to be doting mums to the lively pups.

Team Leader, Tim Savage, is overjoyed at the new arrivals and said, “The first pup was immediately so curious and adventurous, we decided to name him Hanno, after the fifth century oceanic explorer. At night he goes on little missions and explores the sea lion house!”

“Lara’s always been the cheekiest member of the group, but she’s so attentive with Hanno, never letting him out of her sight. Every time Hanno tries to go near the water, she pulls him back. This isn’t Bailey’s first pup, so she’s much more confident and relaxed. She leaves Oakley to snooze while she goes off for a swim.”

Tim continued, “They’ve both had a little splash in the pool, but neither of the pups are strong swimmers yet. Over the next month they will learn to dive, and practice holding their breath, and soon visitors will see them confidently swimming around the pool with their mums, and dad Dominic.”

2_Lara and pup Hanno

1_Hanno (1)

4_Hanno (2)Photo Credits: ZSL Whipsnade Zoo (Images 1-4: Hanno /Images 5-8: Oakley)

Covered in fur, the pups will eventually grow to be over two meters long. The new pups are a valuable addition to the colony of California Sea Lions at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo and the European conservation breeding programme for the species.

Originating from the rocky coastlines of the Pacific Ocean, along the west coast of the USA, California Sea Lions (Zalophus californianus) live in large colonies, led by a dominant male and his harem of female mates.

Tim shared, “After a birth, male Sea Lions guard their harem of females, which means they do not leave to get food. Although Dominic has no competition and plenty of food available to him here, he acts in exactly the same way, fasting for a month and making a lot of noise to show this is his territory! Don’t feel too bad for him though, he prepared for his fast by eating lots before the births!”

Summer visitors to ZSL Whipsnade Zoo will be able to see Hanno and Oakley learning to swim alongside the rest of the Sea Lion clan. Visit www.zsl.org to find out more.

5_Bailey and her pup Oakley 2 (3)

6_Bailey and her pup Oakley 2 (2)

7_Oakley

8_Bailey and her pup Oakley


Photogenic Przewalski’s Foal Born at Whipsnade Zoo

1_zsl foal 4

An endangered Przewalski’s Horse foal has been born at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo!

Once classified as extinct in the wild, the Przewalski’s Horse is a rare species of wild horse. Thanks to conservation breeding efforts by organisations, such as the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), the species has been reintroduced to its native habitat in Mongolia.

2_zsl foal 6

3_zsl foal 5

4_zsl foal 3Photo Credits: Zoological Society of London (ZSL)

The Przewalski's Horse (Equus ferus przewalskii) is the last true wild horse. They are the only living, wild ancestor of the domestic horse that has survived to the present day.

They are named after Nikolai Przewalski, the Russian explorer who first brought specimens back for a formal description in the 1870s. But the first time the species was made known to the West was in the 1763 published accounts of a Scottish doctor, John Bell, who travelled with Tsar Peter the Great.

This wild horse has a stocky body with robust, short legs, a short neck and an erect mane. Typical height of the species is about 12–14 hands (48–56 inches, 122–142 cm), and their length is about 2.1 m (6 ft 11 in). On average, they weigh around 300 kilograms (660 lb).

The hooves of the Przewalski's Horse are longer in the back and have a thick sole horn. This characteristic improves the performance of the hooves.

The species is currently classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List. According to the IUCN: “Previously listed as Extinct in the Wild (EW) from the 1960s up to the assessment in 1996. The species was then reassessed as Critically Endangered (CR) due to at least one surviving mature individual in the wild. Successful reintroductions have qualified this species for reassessment. The population is currently estimated to consist of more than 50 mature individuals free-living in the wild for the past seven years. This taxon is threatened by small population size and restricted range, potential hybridization with domestic horses, loss of genetic diversity, and disease. As the population size is small, it is vulnerable to stochastic events such as severe weather. Equus ferus przewalskii qualifies as Endangered (EN) under Criterion D.”

5_zsl foal

6_zsl foal 2


Zebra Foals ‘Horsing Around’ at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

1_Grevys Zebra foal Sept17 cZSL 2 (5)

Two endangered Grevy’s Zebra foals were born this September at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo.

Female foal, Katie, was born to first-time mum Nafisa on September 10 and seemed delighted when a playmate joined her nine days later. Male foal, Kito, was born to mum Henna on September 19, and the two youngsters began tearing around their enclosure, much to the amusement of keepers and visitors.

2_Katie and mum Nafisa (2) cZSL

3_Katie and mum Nafisa  cZSL

4_Katie and mum Nafisa (1) cZSLPhoto Credits: ZSL (Zoological Society of London)

Team Leader, Mark Holden said, “Like all zebras, when Katie and Kito were born they just seemed to be all ears and legs. It wasn’t long before they were bounding around together, running and jumping around at a huge pace, before eventually running out of steam and returning to their respective mums.”

“It’s all typical behaviour for young zebra foals, as they learn what their legs are for, then going back to mum for comfort. Katie and Kito are settling in really well, interacting with the rest of the group of Grevy’s Zebras here at the Zoo and exploring their surroundings.”

Grevy’s Zebras are classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List, and there are thought to be only around 2,600 Grevy’s Zebras left in the wild.

Mark Holden continued, “We’re very privileged at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo to have successfully bred this beautiful but endangered species for 29 years. Kito is our 36th Grevy’s Zebra foal born here as part of the European Endangered Species Programme.”

The Grevy’s Zebra (Equus grevyi) has much narrower stripes than the other two zebras species, and it can live on grasses, which are too tough for cattle to eat or digest. Originally from Northern Kenya and Ethiopia, a whole herd can be seen at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. They are successfully bred at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo as part of the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP).

The EEP is a tool used by zoos, aquariums and wildlife parks across Europe to manage conservation breeding programmes. Each species is managed by a studbook, and the studbook holder is responsible for pairing well-matched animals and recording details such as birthplace and parentage to ensure a healthy and diverse population of animals.

5_Katie the Grevy's foal cZSL


Visitors See ‘Bert and Ernie’ at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

1_ZSL Whipsnade Red Pandas

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.

2_ZSL Whipsnade Red Pandas

3_ZSL Whipsnade Red Pandas

4_ZSL Whipsnade Red Pandas

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

1_Whipsnade Rhino Calf

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).

2_Whipsnade Rhino Calf

3_Whipsnade Rhino Calf

4_Whipsnade Rhino CalfPhoto Credits: ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

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.”

Continue reading "Rhino Calf Arrives in Time for World Rhino Day" »


ZSL Whipsnade Zoo Gets Late Christmas Gift

Pygmy-hippo-calf-(5)

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.

Baby-pygmy-hippo-1

Pygmy-hippo-calf-(4)Photo Credits: ZSL Whipsnade

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

1973458_974761075873296_8053399849410523403_o

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.

10547218_974761089206628_5341672615139468596_o

10687894_974761082539962_6026124405664364454_o

10484549_974761079206629_7268796461622791201_oPhoto Credits: ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

‘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

ZSL Whipsnade_BabyElephant_8

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’. 

ZSL Whipsnade_BabyElephant_9

ZSL Whipsnade_BabyElephant_4

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!

Continue reading "This Guy Knows How to Make an Entrance" »