ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

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.

Newborn Grevy's Zebra Gives Mom the Run-around


She may be only three-weeks old but a rare baby zebra born at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo is already making her mom earn her racing stripes. The as-yet-unnamed Grevy’s Zebra, born on July 17, can be spotted giving mother Henna the run around and gambolling in the paddock they share with the rest of the herd, including dad Abeba.

Africa section team leader Mark Holden said: “Henna is doing a great job of looking after her new arrival. It’s her first-born so she’s very protective but both of them are doing really well. The foal can often be seen up and running with the rest of the herd or having a rest with mom.” The leggy youngster was born with brown stripes that will turn black as she matures – her striped pattern is as unique as a fingerprint; no two zebra patterns are the same.

She is the 27th foal to be born at the Zoo as part of a European Endangered Species Program and is an important addition to the species which is classified as 'Endangered' on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species -- with only an estimated 2,500 animals remaining in the wild. In the past, particularly in the 1970s and 80s, the Grevy's Zebra suffered declining numbers due to commercial hunting for their skins and have continued to be affected by habitat loss.



Photo Credit: ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Little Lynx Lady-trio Born at Whipsnade Zoo


One proud set of parents at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo have three reasons to celebrate this summer: the birth of European Lynx kitten triplets. The all-female trio, born in June to parents Maja and Timo, have spent their first weeks of life tucked up in their den but have just now begun to explore outside. This is the second litter of Whipsnade’s rare European Lynx, one of Europe’s largest predators. They were born blind and helpless, weighing between 8.5 -15oz and will reach adult-size at around two-years-old. 

Now that they are big enough to venture out on their own, the playful kittens can be spotted perched on logs and playing hide and seek with each other in the long grass while mom keeps a close watch. Senior keeper Carole Day said: “Mum’s doing a sterling job of looking after all three kittens. They are starting to become more adventurous and independent and are having lots of fun exploring their paddock.”

Known to be a crepuscular species, European Lynx are most active at dawn and dusk and the kittens are no exception. Keepers at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo see the cheeky three playing most often at the beginning and end of the day. Whipsnade’s kittens are already showing off their distinctive pointed ears and large padded paws but won’t develop their spotted markings for another few months yet.

Side in grass Side

Photo Credit: Michael Abel


Baby Hula, The Hippo, Makes a Splash!


A baby Hippo has made its debut splash in the public pool at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. Born on September 14 2011, and weighing in at a hefty 90 pounds (40kg), the baby has so far been staying with mum in their private dens, but last month made its first appearance in the big pool. The “tiny” tot is thought to be a little girl, but its sex is yet to be confirmed. In the meantime, keepers have nicknamed the youngster Hula – an abbreviation of dad’s name, Hoover, and mum’s, Lola. Zookeeper Mark Holden said: “We’re really excited by this new arrival at the Zoo, especially as both mum and dad are first-time parents - and Lola seems besotted with her new arrival.”





“After taking a few tentative steps on the water’s edge, baby Hula was encouraged into the pool by mum, and is now enjoying blowing bubbles under the surface and paddling around by herself”. Born after a 240-day gestation period baby Hula will one day weigh approx. 3090 lbs (1400kg) when she’s fully grown, and reach up to 1.6 metres in height.  Classed as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, and under threat from poaching and habitat loss in the wild, Hula is a much welcomed addition to the European Studbook for common Hippos.

Longest Pregnancy Recorded, Smallest Baby Elephant Too!

Baby 2

A baby elephant was born after the longest pregnancy recorded at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo... and, to make matters more interesting, he is also the smallest baby ever recorded there.

After a whopping 700-day pregnancy, the newest addition to the zoo's Asian elephant herd was born at 12:15am on October 18. This is the third baby for experienced mum Azizah. The normal gestation period for an Asian elephant is 22 months but the new calf stayed put for nearly two years.

Despite this, the new calf, who has yet to be named, weighed in at just 228 pounds (104kg) at birth. Keepers were initially worried the pint-sized pachyderm would not be tall enough to reach his mum’s milk, but he quickly learnt to get on his tip-toes and has had no problem feeding.

Elephant keeper Lee Sambrook said: “Azizah took to him straightaway and the rest of the herd are so excited to be around the baby and touch it. Elephants are social animals and having youngsters joining the herd is what elephant life is about.”

The baby is venturing out of the elephant barn with the rest of the herd on warmer days, where visitors can see him outside in the paddock playing with his siblings and suckling his mum.

Baby solo

E Nursing

Azizah and calf

Photo Credit: ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Tiny Tim the Tortoise has “Grape” Expectations


What the Dickens? This tiny month-old Egyptian Tortoise at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, Bedfordshire, UK, is dwarfed by a juicy grape. He is part of a small litter born to a group of Tortoise seized by HM Customs and Excise last year that were destined for the illegal pet trade. Weighing in at just 6g on hatching, the tiny Tortoise will grow to 500g over the next 10 years, when he might just be big enough to enjoy a whole grape to himself. These critically endangered creatures originate from Egypt and Libya, but visitors to Whipsnade Zoo can see the pint-sized chap taking one of his slow jaunts around his specially designed miniature home.


Photo credits: ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

A Near Perfect Pouch for a Tiny Wallaby Baby


Four-hourly-feeds are the norm for keeper Alex Pinnell who has taken charge of an orphaned Wallaby joey at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. The tiny Wallaby named Pip was abandoned by her mother and so is being hand-reared by Alex, who is using her rucksack as a makeshift pouch for the little marsupial.


Photo credits: ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Alex, 29, who works on the farm section and with the sealions, keeps Pip with her during the day at all times, just as her real mum might do and also has to make sure she is fed – every four hours. The seven-month-old joey will be looked after by Alex for the next few months. After that, she will live on the zoo’s Children’s Farm, where visitors will be able to see her hopping around with the other free roamers.
For the next few months though, mum’s the word for Alex who is getting used to her new charge:

“She is adorable but exhausting! Luckily she is starting to sleep through at night now and is very good at taking her bottle!”

Alex can also looking forward to her first Mother’s Day at the zoo as surrogate mum to little Pip.

Whipsnade Zoo Rescues Baby Rhino after Breech Birth

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo staff are celebrating after a challenging Asian Rhino calf birth. Baby Karamat, which means miracle in Nepalese, was born breeched (back feet first) to mom Beluki and as a result was traumatized and unable to suckle properly. Despite attempts by keepers and vets to entice the calf to latch on, things were looking bleak when after 24 hours she still had not taken any of her mother’s milk.

Baby rhino and mom after a bath

Staff, who were camped out in sleeping bags in the next door hay barn, took the rare step of intervening. Their job was complicated by the fact that not just any milk would do. As a newborn, the calf needed colostrum, which is the special milk high in antibodies produced by mammals in late stage pregnancy. Lucky for Karamat, there were local farmers and local pregnant dairy cows willing to share! After sourcing special colostrum milk, high in antibodies, from local dairy farmers, they fed the youngster by bottle.

Baby rhino and mom after a bath

Baby rhino calf ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Over the next few days and nights keepers and vets worked relentlessly to keep the youngster alive. Finally, after three long days and two overnight vigils the calf responded to their efforts and started feeding by herself from Beluki

Continue reading "Whipsnade Zoo Rescues Baby Rhino after Breech Birth" »

Tricks and Treats for the Whipsnade Zoo's Cheetah Cubs

Born and covered by ZooBorns back in July, the ZSL Whipsnade Zoo's Cheetah cubs are growing up but appear just as curious and playful as ever. To celebrate the season and provide the cubs with an interesting activity, Whipsnade keepers hid meaty treats inside of jack-o-lanterns, which the cubs clearly enjoyed as evidenced in the video below. The Whipsnade Zoo works closely with the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI) to monitor wild Cheetah populations and develop ways to help cheetahs and humans co-exist in the larger landscape.

Cheetah cub zsl whipsnade zoo 1Photo credit: Emma Herford

Cheetah cub zsl whipsnade zoo 1Photo credit: David Alan Rich

Extremely Rare North African Cheetah Cubs

Just one month old, six little North African Cheetah cubs made their debut yesterday at the ZSL's Whipsnade Zoo. This is the first time that a UK zoo has welcomed cubs of this rare subspecies. There are only believed to be about 250 North African Cheetahs left in the wild and these cubs were planned as part of the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme (EEP). Do not miss the wonderful video at the bottom.

Cheetah cub whipsnade zoo 3

Cheetah cub whipsnade zoo 3