Rare Caterpillars Will Bring Butterflies Back From Near Extinction

! Tiny  rare large heath caterpillars destined for the wild hatch at Chester Zoo (15)

More than 150 rare caterpillars hatched at Chester Zoo are now destined for release into the wild in parts of England, where they have been extinct for a century.

Tiny  rare large heath caterpillars destined for the wild hatch at Chester Zoo (1)
Tiny  rare large heath caterpillars destined for the wild hatch at Chester Zoo (1)
Tiny  rare large heath caterpillars destined for the wild hatch at Chester Zoo (1)Photo Credit: Chester Zoo

Conservationists at the zoo have been using fine art paintbrushes to move the miniscule species into their specially designed habitats at the zoo.

The paintbrushes allow the zoo’s invertebrate keepers to be precise and delicate when handling the precious insects.

After plenty of eating and growth, the tiny youngsters will hibernate over the winter and pupate next year, emerging in the summer as Large Heath Butterflies.

Large Heath Butterflies were once common across the British Isles but over the last 200 years, they have been pushed further and further north. Large colonies previously at home in the boggy mosses of Manchester and Liverpool have long since been lost to local extinction.

As the UK has built its agriculture over the last two centuries, the wet mosslands that the Large Heath needs to survive have been drained and converted into farmland. As the land dried, the food plants for the Butterfly were lost, resulting in a cascade of wildlife disappearance.

The Butterfly can be identified by its orange wings, each bearing six black and white ‘eyespots’ on the underside. Conservationists hope to ensure that they will one day be a common sight across the UK once again.

Ben Baker, Team Manager of the Chester Zoo Butterfly team, said, “Few people realize that the Butterflies we might see in our gardens, forests and mosslands across the UK are heavily under threat, with many species disappearing from their last strongholds throughout England. It is an amazing privilege to play a part in embarking these rare caterpillars on their journey, returning the species to their historic home.”

Chester Zoo supports conservationists and conservation projects across the United Kingdom to prevent the extinction of unique and endangered species, safeguarding diverse and healthy ecosystems.




Grey Crowned-crane Chick Makes Debut

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A Grey Crowned-crane, which hatched at the National Aviary on July 27, made its public debut last week. The fluffy chick strutted around the historic National Aviary Rose Garden for visitors, stretching its long legs during one of its multiple daily walks. The daily walks provide the chick with opportunities to stretch its growing legs and prepare it for its role as an educational ambassador for its species.

“The hatching of our new Grey Crowned-crane chick is an exciting opportunity for visitors to experience what we at the National Aviary see every day: birds growing and thriving. Visitors can watch this chick grow up right before their eyes,” said Cathy Schlott, Curator of Behavioral Management and Education at the National Aviary. “The fact that Grey Crowned-cranes are endangered makes this little one even more special!”

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Grey Crowned-cranes (Balearica regulorum) are one of the most recognizable crane species, noted for their elaborate golden-yellow plumage resembling a crown on their heads. Cranes are precocial birds, and begin walking and exploring their world within hours of hatching.

The crane chick is being hand-raised by experts at the National Aviary, where it will live behind the scenes and become an educational ambassador for its species. Visitors to the National Aviary will be able to meet the crane and learn about the species. Grey Crowned-cranes are listed as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, with fewer than 25,000 individuals remaining in the wild. Native to the wetlands and grasslands of Eastern and Southern Africa, the species faces declining numbers due to habitat loss and overuse of pesticides.

The National Aviary’s new chick weighed 87 grams when it hatched, and was about the size of a large pear, and is growing rapidly. Recently, it weighed 183 grams, about a half a pound. In just three months, the downy tan chick will reach its full adult size of over three feet tall, with a wingspan of 6.5 feet. In about 18 months, the chick will have full adult plumage, and will be a striking gray with red, black, and white features. A feather DNA test will determine the sex of the chick.


Nashville Zoo Hatches First Chilean Flamingo

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Nashville Zoo is pleased to announce the successful hatching of a Chilean Flamingo. The Flamingo egg came from Memphis Zoo on July 16 and had been kept in an incubator to develop until it hatched in the early morning hours of Monday, July 29. 

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48430629212_65f739d7a0_bPhoto Credit: Nashville Zoo

This is the first time Nashville Zoo has housed a Chilean Flamingo. It will be hand-reared by keeper and veterinary staff, so it can be a part of the Ambassador Animal program. The goal of the Ambassador Animal program is to encourage guests to learn more about animals and have up-close experiences through animal encounters, animal shows and outreach programs.

“We’re excited to welcome this Chilean Flamingo to Nashville Zoo and as an ambassador for its species,” said Jac Menish, Nashville Zoo Behavioral Husbandry Curator. “Our goal is to eventually build a flock of ambassador Flamingos, which will help us educate the public about how threatened this species is in the wild and ways humans can help them survive.”

The sex of the chick will be determined within the next couple of weeks. Gender determination is based on the biological materials that remain in the egg post-hatch. Those materials are sent to a lab for genomic analysis and they provide the information on the gender. This process eliminates the need to draw blood samples to determine gender when the chick is older.

The Chilean Flamingo is considered Near Threatened by the International Union For Conservation of Nature. Populations are in decline due to energy production and mining, biological resource use, human intrusions and disturbance and natural system modifications.

Through the Zoo's Wild Works Global Conservation program an avian keeper traveled to Bolivia to help research and band three species of Flamingos, including St. James, Andean and Chilean. The keeper was able to work with the Flamingos directly and gain knowledge about what is impacting them in the wild.

Unlike the bright pink hue of the Caribbean Flamingo found in the parts of the United States, the Chilean Flamingo has a pale pink plumage with black and gray secondary feathers. These Flamingos are found in warm, tropical environments at high altitudes in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay and Peru. Because the waters and soils in their native habitats are alkaline, most of the surrounding areas are arid and barren of vegetation.




Two Amur Leopard Cubs Boost This Rare Species

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Two Amur Leopard cubs born at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo on June 19 had their six-week health checks last week. This was the first time that the care team has handled the cubs, who have been bonding with their mom, Tria, behind the scenes.  The cubs’ father is Rafferty.

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Male cub 7-31-19

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Amur Leopards are the most endangered of all big Cats, so this birth is a significant boost for the species. Fewer than 90 individuals remain in the wild in their native habitat in the Amur River Basin in Far East Russia.

The zoo’s care team has been observing the cubs via closed-circuit camera with minimal intervention to allow Tria to care for them undisturbed, and she has proven to be a great mom. Veterinary staff were able to administer the cubs’ 6-week vaccinations during the checkup, as well as weigh them and check their development.  The male weighed 6.2 pounds, and the female weighed 5.6 pounds.

The zoo acquired Tria and Rafferty last year from the Greenville, SC. and San Diego zoos respectively as part of the Species Survival Plan for Amur Leopards.

This species faces extinction because of habitat destruction for logging and farming, overhunting of its prey by humans and illegal poaching for their beautiful coats. Those in the wild are now protected in a preserve established by Russia in 2012, but the wild population is so small that inbreeding has become another threat to the species’ survival.


Twins' Arrival Brings 'Otter' Joy

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The staff at Banham Zoo are ‘otterly' delighted with the birth of two Asian Small-clawed Otter pups. The babies have recently started coming out of the den to play with their one-year-old sibling Makati, mother Tilly, and father Sam.  

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IMG_8692Photo Credit: Banham Zoo

The two cubs were born on May 22 and are the second litter for Tilly and Sam. As experienced parents, Tilly and Sam share care of the pups are showing excellent parenting skills.

For the first eight to 10 weeks of life, Otter pups remain tucked away in the den with mom and dad. In fact, the keepers were only able to discern that Tilly had given birth when she stopped coming outside to be fed. Once the pups were heard squealing from within the nest box there was no doubt that babies had been born.

The pups are now beginning to venture out of their nest box to explore their outdoor habitat. They will soon undergo their first veterinary exam, where their genders will be determined.

In the coming weeks, Tilly and Sam will start giving swimming lessons and impart other essential skills to their offspring, just as they would in their native habitat.  

The Asian Small-clawed Otter is the smallest of all Otter species. These Otters inhabit shallow, fast-flowing waters in southeast Asia and feed on crabs, snails, frogs, young birds, eggs, fish and small mammals. The species is classified as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Habitat destruction from farming, water pollution, hunting, and overfishing have led to a rapid decline in the Otters’ numbers in the wild. The IUCN estimates the global population of Asian Small-clawed Otters has declined by up to 30% over the last 30 years.

See more photos of the Otters below.

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Denver Zoo Roars With Pride Over Newborn Lion

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There’s a lot to roar about this summer at Denver Zoo with the arrival of an African Lion cub. The cub, whose sex has yet to be determined, was born on July 25 to mom Neliah, 7, and dad Tobias, 3. Animal care staff say mom and cub are both healthy and active, and bonding behind the scenes. Although the cub won’t make his or her public debut until later this summer, zoo guests can still catch a glimpse of Neliah and her cub on TV screens near the exhibit.

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African lion cub 4Photo Credit: Denver Zoo

“This is Neliah’s second time around as a mom, so we were confident she’d show all the correct behaviors with her new cub,” said Assistant Curator of Predators Matt Lenyo. “She immediately started grooming and nursing the cub, which is exactly what we hoped she would do.”

Half of Africa’s Lions have disappeared in the past 25 years and the species faces growing threats from poaching, loss of prey, and habitat destruction. The cub’s birth is a huge success for the Lion Species Survival Plan (SSP), which ensures healthy, genetically diverse populations of Lions within Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) institutions. The SSP recommended Tobias move to Denver in 2018 as a potential mate for Neliah and her daughter, Kamara.

“Tobias hasn’t fathered any cubs previously, which makes his genetics important to the AZA Lion population,” said Colahan. “The fact that he’s already successfully mated with one of our females speaks to the work our Lion team put in to make Tobias feel comfortable in his new home in such a short period of time.”

Neliah and the cub will stay behind the scenes for at least one to two months to give them time to bond and gradually introduce the cub to the rest of the pride. They'll primarily stay in their den box, which the animal care team provides to mimic the space Neliah would seek out to give birth in the wild. Neliah will still have access to other holding areas behind the scenes, but the addition of the den box provides a sense of security for mom and cub.



 


New Giraffe at Zoo Miami Makes Her Debut

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Zoo Miami's newest baby Giraffe recently made her exhibit debut!

The female calf, which was born on July 22, walked out onto the exhibit with her mother and other members of the herd, curiously exploring her new surroundings. The newborn had been held inside a holding area with her mother to give them time to bond and to allow staff to slowly introduce her to the herd.

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Shortly after birth, she received a neonatal exam where, in addition to a general physical, she was weighed, had her blood collected and received a microchip for identification. She weighed in at 149 pounds and is the fourth baby born to Sabra, her nearly 9-year-old mother. The father is a 6-year-old named Titan. This is the 56th Giraffe born in the zoo's history!

Giraffe have a pregnancy of approximately 15 months, and the mother rarely, if ever, lies down while giving birth. The baby falls about 4-6 feet to the floor where it receives quite an abrupt introduction to the world! Newborns stand nearly 6 feet tall at birth.

The status of the Giraffe in the wild has recently been elevated from a “Least Concern” to “Vulnerable” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to significant reductions in their populations over the last several years.  

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Naptime for Shedd Aquarium’s Orphaned Otters

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Two orphaned Sea Otter pups, taken in only a few weeks ago, are bonding with caretakers as they continue to grow and build important otter skills at Shedd Aquarium’s Regenstein Sea Otter Nursery.

ZooBorns introduced the orphans in a recent feature: “Rescued Sea Otter Pups Get a Second Chance At Shedd Aquarium” 

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4_BRH_0706Photo credit: Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

Much of an otter’s behavior is not instinctual but is learned by watching mom. So, since mom isn’t around, the care team at Shedd is filling that role, providing food, helping the otters learn to groom their fur and more.

These are busy days for otters, which are naturally highly active to help them withstand the cold temperatures in their native waters. But the pups need their sleep as well, so the aquarium decided to share a few recent photos from naptime.

The aquarium is inviting fans to stay tuned for more milestone updates on the otters--including details on a media open house, potential naming opportunities, and info on when the public will be able to see them on exhibit at Shedd.

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Birth Adds Crucial New Member to Gorilla Population

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Lulu, a 19-year-old Western Lowland Gorilla at Zoo Atlanta, gave birth to an infant on July 24. The newborn is Lulu’s second surviving offspring and the eleventh for 30-year-old silverback, Taz.

“Every animal birth is important, and there is an added cause for celebration when the birth is a critically endangered species like the Western Lowland Gorilla,” said Hayley Murphy, DVM, Deputy Director. “We look forward to sharing the joy of watching another infant grow up in Taz’s family group in ‘The Ford African Rain Forest’, where our visitors can observe the maternal care, sibling interactions and family dynamics that make watching a troop of gorillas such a special experience.”

Every birth is crucial for Western Lowland Gorillas. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), over a 25-year period, the combined threats of poaching, illegal hunting for the bushmeat trade, habitat loss and emerging diseases such as Ebola have reduced their numbers by 60 percent in the wild, with declines of as much as 90 percent in some parts of their range in western Africa. Populations living within North American zoos are overseen by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Gorilla Species Survival Plan® (SSP), which seeks to maintain a self-sustaining, genetically diverse gorilla population for future generations, and in which Zoo Atlanta is an active partner.

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Lulu is the youngest of the five offspring of the late Willie B. Her newborn is the 24th gorilla born at Zoo Atlanta since the opening of The Ford African Rain Forest in 1988. In the more than 50 years since the arrival of the infant’s famous grandfather in 1961, the Zoo Atlanta gorilla program has evolved into a nationally recognized center of excellence in the care and study of gorillas.

Zoo Atlanta has been a significant conservation partner of The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International for over 20 years, providing headquarters space, information technology and financial support for the organization. Over the years, the Zoo has also provided the Fossey Fund with board leadership and program support, as well as shared scientific team members.

Research by Zoo Atlanta team members has influenced industry-wide improvements in the care of gorillas in zoos, as well as enhanced the world’s understanding of gorillas, with more than 100 published papers on maternal care, reproduction, social behavior and cognition. Zoo Atlanta is the headquarters of the Great Ape Heart Project, the world’s first effort to understand, diagnose, and treat cardiac disease across all four great ape taxa: gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees and bonobos. The Zoo is a Platinum Supporter of the AZA Ape Taxon Advisory Group (TAG), a collective effort to preserve wild ape populations and to increase and sustain financial support from zoos for their conservation.

Zoo Atlanta houses one of the largest populations of gorillas in North America and is home to 19 individuals. The Zoo is also home to two of the world’s oldest gorillas: female Choomba, 56, and Ozzie, the world’s oldest living male gorilla at 58 – and as such has become a leader in the emerging field of geriatric gorilla care. Gorillas are considered geriatric after the age of 40.

Plan a visit or learn more about the gorillas of Zoo Atlanta at www.zooatlanta.org .


Flamingo Hatching Caught on Camera at Marwell Zoo

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There’s a new fluffy addition to the Greater Flamingo family at Marwell Zoo in Hampshire, UK. A little chick hatched recently and was caught on camera on its very first day in the world.

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4_Credit Marwell Zoo - Greater Flamingo chick 12Photo Credits: Marwell Zoo

It’s been over four years since the zoo had a Greater Flamingo chick successfully reared. Before the new arrival, the animal team worked hard to encourage the adult birds to nest by adjusting a few husbandry techniques. Keepers constructed some artificial nests earlier in the year to encourage the birds to build their own, and a new soil and sand ratio mix was added to make it easier for the flamingos to build the nests. With the recent heat, the bird team has also been using a sprinkler system twice a day to help the nests retain their shape and not crumble.

Ross Brown, Animal Collection Manager at Marwell Zoo, said, “We’ve had 12 eggs this year, however fertility levels are notoriously unpredictable in Greater Flamingos, so as the saying goes, we’re not counting our flamingos until they’ve hatched! However, we are hopeful we should see some more chicks in the coming weeks, so watch this space.”

When Greater Flamingo chicks first hatch, they have pale grey down, which is soon replaced by a second, darker coat of down. Flamingos feed their chicks with ‘flamingo milk’, which is produced in their crop. This milk is similar to mammal milk and is produced by both male and female flamingos.

For more information, or to adopt a Greater Flamingo, visit www.marwell.org.uk .

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