Twin Porcupettes Make a Surprise Appearance

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Already squeaking and stamping their feet when just a few days old, twin Porcupettes were surprise arrivals at Cotswold Wildlife Park.

The baby Cape Porcupines, both males, stay close to mom Hannah and dad Prickles and have begun to show their unique personalities. The larger, more confident twin has been named Boulder. His shy brother has been named Shrimpy.  The pair recently ventured outdoors for the first time and closely followed Prickles during that big adventure.

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7 First venture outside with dad Prickle (credit Estelle Morgan) (8)Photo Credit: Estelle Morgan

The babies are miniature versions of their parents and were born with a full set of quills. After a gestation period of approximately 112 days (the longest gestation period of any Rodent), the female gives birth to offspring covered in soft, moist and flexible quills, enclosed in a thin placental sac. Immediately after birth, the quills quickly harden in the air and become prickly. Porcupines are born relatively well developed with eyes open and teeth present.

Hannah and Prickles were only recently introduced to each other and the care team was surprised how quickly they bonded with each other.

According to their keeper, Hannah and Prickles immediately began grooming each other and slept side by side from day one of their introduction. Keepers hoped the pair would someday have their first litter, but they weren’t expecting babies quite so soon. This is only the second time in the Park’s forty-nine-year history this species has successfully bred.

Twenty-five different Porcupine species span the globe. Their Latin name means “quill pig,” a reference to the approximately 30,000 sharp quills that adorn their back. Contrary to popular belief, they cannot fire their quills at enemies, but the slightest touch can lodge dozens of barbed quills into a predator’s body. The quills are modified hairs made of keratin (the same material as human hair, fingernails and Rhino horns). Each quill has up to 800 barbs near the tip. If threatened, Porcupines reverse charge into a predator, stabbing the enemy with its sharp quills. The resulting wound can disable or even kill predators including Lions, Leopards and Hyenas.

Unfortunately, Porcupines’ unique defense is also the biggest threat to their survival. Although naturally shed, Porcupines are killed for their quills. In traditional African medicine, puncturing the skin with Porcupine quills is believed to heal ailments such as fainting, lethargy, swollen legs and lameness. Porcupine meat is also in demand for its reputed healing properties. Quills are sought after as ornaments and talismans. Cape Porcupines are native to the southernmost third of Africa.

See more photos of the Porcupettes below!

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Dusky Pademelon Joey Peeks Out of Pouch

Rare dusky pademelon born at Chester Zoo begins to peek out from mum’s pouch (5)

Keepers at Chester Zoo are celebrating the birth of the zoo’s first Dusky Pademelon – a small cousin of the Kangaroo from Indonesia.   

Rare dusky pademelon born at Chester Zoo begins to peek out from mum’s pouch  (21)
Rare dusky pademelon born at Chester Zoo begins to peek out from mum’s pouch  (21)
Photo Credit: Chester Zoo

The joey has just started to peek out from the pouch of first-time mother Styx. 

Dusky Pademelons, also known as Dusky Wallabies, are small, hopping marsupials found in forests on the island of New Guinea, as well as some neighboring islands. 

Infants are born 30 days after mating and then continue to grow inside their mother's pouch until they fully emerge at around seven months.

Dave White, Team Manager of the zoo’s Twilight team, said, “Just like Kangaroos and other marsupials, newborn Dusky Pademelons will climb up to the safety of mum’s pouch to nurse when they are merely the size of jellybeans. It’s in that pouch that they receive all of the nourishment and protection they need as they develop, right up to the moment they are old enough to begin exploring the outside world for themselves.” 

“An adult Dusky Pademelon’s pouch has a powerful muscle to prevent the joey from falling out, but it won’t be too long until it’s ready to fully emerge and start hopping around on its own two feet. That’s when we’ll discover whether it’s a boy or a girl and choose its name,” White said.

The Dusky Pademelon is listed as Vulnerable to Extinction by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Its population is estimated to have declined by 30% in the last 15-20 years, largely due to trapping, hunting and habitat loss.

Tim Rowlands, the zoo’s Curator of Mammals, said, “Relatively little is known about the Dusky Pademelon and we’re working to better understand these fantastic animals. Through the scientific observations we’re making at the zoo, and all that we’re learning as mum brings up her new joey, we’re able to better document Dusky Pademelon behavior. This could help add to the baseline of data that already exists and help other conservation teams to ensure its long-term survival in the wild.”

See more photos of the joey below.

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New Births Kick-off Spring at Virginia Zoo

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The Virginia Zoo kicked off Spring with two new babies! A Bongo calf and a Porcupette were born recently, and both will soon be seen on exhibit.

A Crested Porcupine baby, or 'porcupette', was born to parents, Wilma and Flapjack, on March 26. This is the second offspring for the parents. Keepers have been calling the new little female, Stompers. She weighed just over a pound at birth and is already starting to nibble on solid foods. Mom and baby are expected to be off exhibit in the ZooFarm for another week or so while they bond and the exhibit is “baby-proofed”. Crested Porcupines are native to various regions in Africa. The species can grow up to 25 to 32 inches long and weigh from 25 – 32 pounds.

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3_Photo 3 Virginia Zoo Porcupine

4_Photo 1 Virginia Zoo BongoPhoto Credits: Virginia Zoo

A handsome male Eastern Bongo calf was born to mom, Betty, on April 5. He weighed 48.5 pounds at birth and is the seventh offspring for mom, Betty, and fifth for father, Bob. The new calf, which keepers named Boomer, brings the herd total to eight. Betty and new baby are out on exhibit with the rest of the herd and can be seen in their exhibit in the Africa – Okavango Delta at various times throughout the day, depending on weather conditions and their activity levels.

Bongo are large-bodied, relatively short-legged antelope with long spiraling horns that make one complete twist from base to tip. Bongos inhabit lowland forest of Kenya.

Visit virginiazoo.org for more info.

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Denver Zoo’s Sloth Baby Finally Arrives!

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After what felt like an eternity for the Denver Zoo, their long-awaited Linne’s Two-toed Sloth baby finally arrived on April 11.

The new baby, whose name and sex are yet to be determined, has been deemed “very healthy” by the Zoo’s veterinary team. The infant was born to 23-year-old mom, Charlotte Greenie, and her 28-year-old mate, Elliot. The little one is said to be bonding and resting with Charlotte in their Bird World habitat, while dad and older sister, Baby Ruth (who was born in January 2018), are temporarily off-exhibit to give mom and baby time and space to bond.

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BabySloth4Photo Credits: Denver Zoo

When Denver Zoo announced Charlotte’s pregnancy in December, they estimated that the baby would be born as early as January. However, Sloth due dates are notoriously challenging to predict because they are primarily active at night and breeding is rarely observed. The Zoo’s animal care team closely monitored Charlotte for months to ensure that she and the baby were healthy and gaining the appropriate amount of weight. According to keepers, the baby clung to Charlotte immediately after birth and will remain attached to her almost exclusively for at least six months.

Linne’s Two-toed Sloths (Choloepus didactylus)---also known as the Linnaeus’s Two-toed Sloth or Southern Two-toed Sloth---are found in the rainforests of South America, primarily in Venezuela, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru and Brazil. They are a nocturnal species that spend 15 to 20 hours per day sleeping, and become active about an hour after sunset until about two hours before sunrise. Linne’s are among two types of sloth: two-toed and three-toed—and six different species, including the Pygmy Three-toed, Maned, Pale-throated, Brown-throated, and Hoffman’s. Although the Linnaeus’s Two-toed is not currently considered threatened, two other species, the Pygmy Three-toed and Maned, are “critically endangered” and “vulnerable”, respectively.

Denver Zoo keepers say the best time to visit the new baby and mother is late in the afternoon when mom, Charlotte, is more likely to be moving around. Keepers ask that visitors keep their voices low while the baby adjusts to life in its new world.

Be sure to follow the Denver Zoo on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for regular baby sloth updates!


Brand-New Nyala for Newquay Zoo

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Newquay Zoo recently welcomed the arrival of a new Nyala. The calf was born to parents, Ayra and Arnold.

John Meek, Newquay Zoo Curator of Animals, said, “We are thrilled that our successful breeding of this handsome antelope continues. Our newest addition is settling in well and has recently taken her first steps into the outside world now that she is steady on her feet.”

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4_nyala 5Photo Credits: Newquay Zoo

Found across southern Africa, Nyala (Tragelaphus angasii) breed throughout the year, although most young are born in the spring or autumn. The gestation period is seven months, with one or two calves being born.

Males and females of the species look quite different. The males have striking spiral horns, are slate grey to dark brown, and have up to 14 white stripes across the back. Females are a bright chestnut colour, with up to 18 distinct white stripes across their back.

As human settlements encroach into their territory, the main threats to the Nyala are poaching and habitat loss. With their elegant spiral horns, the males are also prized as trophy animals.

Newquay Zoo is now home to five Nyala, and visitors might spot them in the African Savanna exhibit.

For more information, go to: www.newquayzoo.org.uk   

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Six Baby Lemurs Climb Into View At Chester Zoo

! The first ring-tailed lemurs born in Chester Zoo’s new Madagascar zone cling onto their mums  (22)
Five endangered Ring-tailed Lemur babies - including two sets of twins - and the zoo’s first-ever baby Black Lemur, a species which is Vulnerable to Extinction in the wild in Madagascar, are the latest arrivals at Chester Zoo.

Born between mid-January and early March, each of the babies weighed less than a tennis ball at birth.

The first baby black lemur ever born at Chester Zoo (7)
The first baby black lemur ever born at Chester Zoo (7)Photo Credit: Chester Zoo

Lemurs are born with their adult markings. But because they spend most of their time riding “piggyback” on their mothers, the care team can’t yet tell if the babies are male or female.

Wild Lemurs are found only on the island of Madagascar. As a group, Lemurs are one of the planet’s highest conservation priorities.

Madagascar has already lost up to 90% of its forests, which means that many species living in these environments are now on the brink of extinction.

Dr. Nick Davis, Deputy Curator of Mammals, said, “Madagascar is a truly inspirational place; home to incredible, unique wildlife that cannot be found anywhere else on the planet. Yet we can report first-hand that we are on the brink of losing many of these species forever. Conserving Madagascar’s lemurs is urgent and critical. That’s why any birth is important, but to have six rare baby Lemurs born within weeks of each other is great news for the breeding programme.”

Chester Zoo has been working with Madagasikara Voakajy in the country’s Mangabe New Protected Area, in a bid to save the unique animals that live there.

See more baby Lemur pics below!

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Zoo Welcomes Four of the "World's Most Beautiful" Tortoises

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The staff at South Africa’s Cango Wildlife Ranch is celebrating the hatching of four critically endangered Radiated Tortoises. Known as one of the world’s most beautiful Tortoise species, Radiated Tortoises are under serious threat due to illegal capture for the pet trade and human consumption in their native Madagascar.

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IMG_0156Photo Credit: Cango Wildlife Ranch

More than nine months ago, the hatchlings’ 78-year-old mother carefully excavated two holes and laid a total of six eggs in the holes. Four of those eggs finally hatched during the month of March.

The tiny hatchlings are receiving extra-special care at the facility. They are kept warm, with room temperatures between 77-82 degrees Fahrenheit. A cozy heat pad for cuddle time is kept at 104 degrees if the babies need a quick warm-up. Reptiles are ectothermic (cold-blooded), so they rely on their environment to maintain appropriate body temperatures.

Mealtime includes green beans, lettuces, hibiscus flowers, and other leaves chopped into bite-sized pieces.

Cango Wildlife Ranch Director Narinda Beukes is the PAAZA (Pan-African Association of Zoos and Aquaria) studbook manager for the Radiated Tortoise. This studbook lists the known parentage of all Radiated Tortoises in accredited African facilities. By using the studbook to pair unrelated animals for breeding, managers can ensure the greatest amount of genetic diversity in the zoo-dwelling population of these imperiled reptiles. 

See more photos of the hatchlings below.

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Zoo Wroclaw Welcomes First Golden Takin Birth

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On March 12, a female Takin was born at Zoo Wrocław. The Zoo proudly shared that she is the first Golden Takin ever born in Poland!

Keepers have been observing a very good relationship between the new calf and her mother. “The mother is caring, and when we come near, she literally covers her calf with her body,” said Anna Rosiak, Zoo Wroclaw keeper.

The Zoo will continue to monitor the calf for the next month. After that, staff will make plans for the selection of a name for the new female Takin. Anna Rosiak shared that the name will relate to China (the native country for Takins) and it will start with the letter Z (same as the mother, Zhaoze).

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3_nowa-mieszkanka-nasladuje-mame1553779511Photo Credits: ZOO Wroclaw

When the new calf reaches sexual maturity, she will go to another zoological garden to help strengthen a newly established or existing breeding herd.

Eleven zoological gardens currently participate in conservation breeding of the species, including Tokyo and San Diego. Four individual specimens arrived at Zoo Wroclaw in the summer of 2017: Xian, Johnny Woo, Won Yu and Zhaoze.

The Golden Takin (Budorcas taxicolor bedfordi) is an endangered goat-antelope, native to the Qin Mountains in the southern Shaanxi province of China. Golden Takins have unique adaptations that help them stay warm and dry during the bitter cold of winter in the rugged Himalayan Mountains.

The diet of this species consists mostly of grass, leaves, flowers, and bamboo shoots. They prefer to feed at dawn and dusk.

Their large, moose-like snout has large sinus cavities that heats inhaled air, preventing the loss of body heat during respiration. A thick, secondary coat is grown to keep out the cold of the winters and provide protection from the elements. Another protection is their oily skin. Although Golden Takins do not have skin glands, their skin secretes an oily, bitter-tasting substance that acts as a natural raincoat in storms and fog.

The species is currently classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List. Deforestation, hunting and fragmentation of habitats are the biggest threat to them.


Clouded Leopard Cubs Make History at Nashville Zoo

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The first Clouded Leopard to be born from artificial insemination using frozen/thawed semen has given birth to two cubs at the Nashville Zoo.

The two-year-old female, Niran, gave birth with no complications. “We’ve really made history with Niran,” said Dr. Heather Robertson, Nashville Zoo Director of Veterinary Services.

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47434272392_4bbf2d317c_kPhoto Credit: Nashville Zoo

The newest cubs weigh about 187 and 192 grams each. After two-year-old Niran gave birth, the zoo's veterinary team removed the cubs to hand rear. The veterinary staff typically hand raises Clouded Leopard cubs because the mothers often neglect their offspring. Hand rearing also lowers animal stress for future hands-on care.

With the addition of these cubs, the zoo is now home to eight Clouded Leopards.

Nashville Zoo has been working with these cats since 1987 and has welcomed 34 cubs since 2009. There are currently 69 Clouded Leopards in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ care and 292 in facilities globally. 

Niran and one-year-old Ron, the father, are living behind the scenes, and the cubs will be placed in the HCA Healthcare Veterinary Center neonatal animal care room within a week. The cubs will stay at Nashville Zoo for now with plans to eventually introduce them to a potential mate at another zoo.

Nashville Zoo is part of the Clouded Leopard Consortium and also part of the Clouded Leopard Species Survival Plan®. Dr. Robertson is the nationwide vet advisor for this species. Much of the information known about this species is because of the collaboration between Nashville Zoo, Smithsonian's National Zoo, Khao Kheow Open Zoo in Thailand and The Zoological Parks Organization of Thailand.

Clouded Leopards are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  They are protected in much of their range, which spans from the Himalayan foothills to Southeast Asia, but enforcement of those protections is weak. Precise data on Clouded Leopard population numbers in the wild is not known. The reduced number of pelts encountered at markets and reduced sightings of Clouded Leopards by people within its range suggest the species is in decline.

See more photos of Niran's cubs below.

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Rare Tamarin Triplets Born at John Ball Zoo

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Early in the morning on March 28, the care team at John Ball Zoo discovered not one, not two, but three Cotton-top Tamarin babies had been born overnight.

The birth of triplets in this species is unusual. Most often, females give birth to twins. So far, parents Lilo and Kevin are providing excellent care for their trio of newborns.

IMG_7581 editPhoto Credit: John Ball Zoo

These tiny primates live in small family groups, with the males and other troop members helping to care for infants. Adults weigh only about one pound.

Cotton-top Tamarins are native to the forests of northwestern Colombia, but only about 5% of their original forest habitat remains intact. As a result of this drastic habitat loss, Cotton-top Tamarins are listed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

About 6,000 Tamarins are thought to survive in the wild. It is believed that 40,000 Tamarins were collected and sold for biomedical use before 1976, when international trade was banned.