Zurich Zoo

Black-Necked Swan Cygnets Hatch at Zoo Zurich

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Black-Necked Swan cygnets have hatched at Zoo Zurich. The grey offspring can be seen following their graceful parents in the water or riding, stylishly, on their backs. 

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4_10333657_979323328785639_3986113645097048609_o (1)Photo Credits: Peter Bolliger / Zoo Zurich

The Black-Necked Swan is native to South America. They are found in freshwater marshes, lagoons, and lake shores in southern South America. They breed in the Chilean Southern Zone, Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego, and on the Falkland Islands. In the austral winter, they migrate northwards to Paraguay and southern Brazil.

Adults average 40 to 49 inches (102 to 124 cm) and weight 7.7 to 14.8 lbs (3.5 to 6.7 kg). The wingspan ranges from 53 to 70 inches (135 to 177 cm). The body plumage is white with a black neck and head, and the bill is grey. The Black-Necked Swan has a red knob near the base of the bill and a white stripe behind the eye. The sexes are similar, with the female being slightly smaller. The cygnets are covered in light grey plumage, and they have a black bill and feet. They will develop the characteristic black neck in their second year.

The Black-Necked Swan is the smallest member of the genus: Cygnus. Its nearest relatives are the Black and Mute Swan, and like their relations, they are mostly silent.

Swans reach sexual maturity between 4 and 7 years of age. However, they can form socially monogamous pair bonds from as early as 20 months of age. These bonds last for many years, and in some cases, they can last for life. The female lays four to six eggs in a mounded nest of vegetation. Both Black-Necked parents regularly carry their cygnets on their backs. Their diet consists of vegetation, insects, and fish spawn.

The Black-Necked Swan is currently listed as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

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UPDATE: Rhino Calf's Horn Starts to Sprout!

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An Eastern Black Rhinoceros calf born on December 28 at Switzerland’s Zoo Zurich is out to prove that she’s growing up.  Not only is this little female calf, named Olmoti, starting to grow her horn, she’s also practicing her charging skills, as seen in the video below.

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11043098_922767824441190_1390896438203456598_oPhoto Credit:  Zoo Zurich/Enzo Franchini



Video Credit:  Nicole Schnyder

You first met Olmoti
here shortly after her birth.  Now over two months old, her horn is beginning to grow on her snout.  You can see the little “button” that will slowly grow into a horn. 

In the video, Olmoti charges at her mother in little bursts, a skill all Rhinos use as a defense against unfamiliar things. Rhinos have relatively poor eyesight, so when taken by surprise, they may rush at people, vehicles, stationary objects, or other Rhinos to frighten them off.

Unfortunately for Rhinos, their horns led to a 96% loss in population from the 1970s to the 1990s, putting these unique animals on the brink of extinction.  Demand for Rhino horn, which is made of keratin like your hair and fingernails, has exploded in the last 40 years.  Sold on illegal markets, Rhino horn is used in traditional Asian medicine and for traditional dagger handles in Yemen. 

Thanks to enhanced protection and Yemen signing the Convention on International trade in Endangered Species (CITES), Black Rhino populations are slowly increasing.  However, these animals are still Critically Endangered, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  


Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

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Zoo Zurich has eagerly waited 18 years to be able to announce the birth of a new East African Black Rhino. After years of failed breeding attempts, the zoo has been closely monitoring the recent pregnancy of one of their females. Finally, on December 28th, 14-year-old mother, ‘Samira’, and 15-year-old father, ‘Jeremy’, welcomed a healthy, feisty rhino girl, named ‘Olmoti’!

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10866068_902158129835493_3119401308197719972_oPhoto Credits: Zoo Zurich/Peter Bolliger (Images 1,3,4); Zoo Zurich/Enzo Franchini (Images 2,5,6)

When fully grown, Olmoti could grow to 12 feet long and five feet high at the shoulder, and she could weigh up to 3,000 pounds.

Eastern Black Rhinos, in the wild, inhabit transitional zones between grasslands and forests, generally in thick thorn bush or acacia scrub. However, they may also be found in more open country.

As a herbivorous browser, the Black Rhino eats leafy plants as well as branches, shoots, thorny wood bushes and fruit. Rhino skin harbors many external parasites, which are eaten by tickbirds and egrets that live with the rhino. In the wild, young are preyed upon by hyenas. These solitary animals are more nocturnal than diurnal. Females are not territorial; their ranges vary according to food supply. Males are more aggressive in defending turf, but will tolerate properly submissive male intruders.

Mating is non-seasonal, but births peak toward the end of the rainy season in drier habitats. Gestation is 15-16 months, after which single young are born weighing about 85 pounds. These calves are active soon after birth and can follow mother after about three days. Eastern Black Rhinos mature at five years.

Continue reading "Good Things Come to Those Who Wait" »


Zoo Zurich Welcomes New Guanaco

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In late December, Zoo Zurich welcomed the arrival of a newborn male Guanaco, named ‘Omar’.

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Photo Credits: Zoo Zurich/Enzo Franchini

Wild relatives of the Llama, Guanacos are hump-less members of the Camelidae family that inhabit the arid and semi-arid habitats of South America, as well as the Andean forests of Tierra del Fuego. They range from southern Chile to southern Peru, up to elevations of 14,500 feet. Their last remaining stronghold is the Patagonian steppe, a vast, windswept expanse of Argentina and southernmost Chile. To survive in harsh, dry climates, Guanacos have a remarkable ability to conserve water and, like other camels, can obtain moisture from the plants they eat.

Most Guanacos live in herds composed of family groups or “bachelor” males and females, but some males are solitary. They graze on grasses, leaves and buds, and, as the largest native herbivore in Patagonia, played a key role in structuring native vegetation communities. Their quivery, sensitive lips help them select tender food among thorny and woody vegetation, and their softly padded feet do not damage the soil and vegetation as do the hard hooves of livestock.

Guanacos have been reduced by nearly 95 percent of their original number, which may have been as much as 50 million. Early explorers described long-distance migrations by huge herds, but now Guanacos are mostly sedentary, confined by fences, livestock, and hunting.

Continue reading "Zoo Zurich Welcomes New Guanaco" »


Let It Snow! (Leopards, That Is)

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Eight-month-old Snow Leopard twins, ‘Okara’ and ‘Orya’, are practicing their big cat skills, at Zoo Zurich.

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ZooZurich_SnowLeopards_Peter Bolliger_4Photo Credits: Zoo Zurich/ Peter Bolliger (Images 1,2,3,4,11,12) ; Emmanuel Keller (Images 5,6,7,8,9,10)

The sisters are also quite skillful at testing the patience and fortitude of 14-year-old mom, ‘Dshamilja’, and 11-year-old father, ‘Villy’.

The Snow Leopard is native to the mountain ranges of Central and South Asia. It is currently listed as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. As of 2003, there were only estimated to be a global population of 4,080 to 6,590 adults, of which fewer than 2,500 may reproduce in the wild. There are approximately 600 Snow Leopards in zoos around the world.

**You can see more of Emmanuel Keller's amazing photos here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/tambako/

More pics below the fold!

Continue reading " Let It Snow! (Leopards, That Is)" »


A Wolf Pup for Zoo Zurich!

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A Mongolian wolf pup was born April 25th, 2013, at Zoo Zurich in Switzerland. Zoo keepers had prepared a den (with a hidden camera) for the first time wolf mother, but she used it for only several days. She soon took her pup to different dens the wolves had burrowed themselves. According to keepers, the small female pup has an independent streak, preferring at times to wander around alone. As she grows older, she'll learn to adjust to life within the pack.

The mating season for wolves is approximately from December to January, starting when wolves reach maturity at two years of age. Gestation takes about 65 days and often produces 4-7 offspring in a litter. Wolves can live up to 20 years.

The Grey Wolf and its subspecies, such as this pup, once ranged over most of North America, Europe, and Asia, but have been pushed to the northern boundaries of most of these continents by habitat destruction and eradication efforts. These wolves share a common ancestry with domestic dogs and live in packs. Group life requires a versatile and precise language. Members of a Wolf pack communicate with visible signals such as ear position, baring teeth, fur bristling, and tail position. But there are also olfactory signals, such as urine or feces; audible signals, such as growling, whining, and howling; and tactile signals like snout poking. 

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Photo and VIdeo Credit: Peter Bolliger/Zoo Zürich

Watch this video of the pup at play.

See more pictures of the pup after the fold

Continue reading "A Wolf Pup for Zoo Zurich!" »


Wobbly Little Camel Gets Upright at Zoo Zurich

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Standing up can be a big challenge when you've got extra-long legs and haven't had much practice.  But Nara, a female Bactrian Camel born on April 24 at Zoo Zurich, finally got the hang of it.

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Photo Credit:  Zoo Zürich, Peter Bolliger

Bactrian Camels have been domesticated for use as pack animals in central Asia for centuries.  Their exceptional tolerance of extreme heat and freezing temperatures and their ability to go for several months without water makes them ideal for travelling across the remote steppes of central Asia.  More than two million domesticated Bactrian camels exist, but they are critically endangered, possibly extinct, in the wild. 


Presenting... A One Day Old Mouse Deer!

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Last week, Zoo Zurich welcomed one of the world's smallest hoofed animals into the world. Mouse Deer, also known as Chevrotains, are neither mouse nor deer. Nine of the 10 extant Mouse Deer species are found in South and Southeast Asia, with one other species inhabiting Central and West Africa. The French word Chevrotain can be translated as "little goat".


Three Tiny Meerkat Pups Get a Foster Mom

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Christmas came a little early at the UK's Dartmoor Zoological Park when three adorable Meerkat pups were born just before last month's holiday. Adults Sue and Timon arrived at the zoo in the spring of 2010 and while they settled in well, they left keepers waiting for the kits they were hoping for despite the fact that Sue was an experienced mother.

Things started to take a positive turn when the zoo received another female named Xena this past summer. "We were apprehensive because meerkats are very territorial, but we were very careful and it seemed to work," said operations manager George Hyde.

Xena certainly seems to be getting along just fine with Timon and gave birth to their three offspring, a male and two females, just before Christmas. Sue, being an experienced mother, immediately began helping with mothering duties. Xena shouldn't mind the help caring for her dependents who, like all Meerkats, didn't open their eyes or ears for close to two weeks after birth.

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Photo credits: Steve Haywood / Dartmoor Zoological Park

The tiny trio has been out on exhibit for visitors to admire since early January. Keepers are currently working on coming up with names for their newest arrivals and are taking suggestions from the public. Be sure to contact them with any ideas!


Teensy Mouse Deer baby born at Zurich Zoo

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A Mouse Deer has given birth to an itty-bitty baby at the Zurich Zoo.  Less than 22 inches (55 centimeters) long as adults, Mouse Deer are one of the smallest hoofed animal species.  They are not really deer at all, but belong to their own unique family of hoofed mammals.

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At first, the baby Mouse Deer hid beneath plants in its enclosure, but then began to follow its mother around the exhibit.  The baby’s sex is not yet known.

Mouse Deer have no horns or antlers, but males have long, dagger-like canine teeth that are used as weapons in conflicts with other males.  Adults weigh only about 5 pounds (2.5 kg) and have legs about the size of a pencil.  Amazingly, the tongue is 5 inches (2 cm) long – long enough for the Mouse Deer to wipe its eyes! 

Mouse Deer feed primarily on leaves, shoots, and fruit, and live alone or in pairs.  Their tiny size allows them to easily pass through the dense underbrush of the forest.  Mouse Deer are eaten by people and sometimes kept as pets in their native Southeast Asian range.

Photo Credit:  Zurich Zoo