Meet Keti, An Adorable Baby Red Panda

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Over the years, Detroit Zoo officials have had the pleasure of caring for a number of adorable babies, but in the opinion of Dr. Ann Duncan, director of Animal Health at DZG, their current nursery resident – a female red panda cub – is arguably the most adorable animal in Detroit Zoo history.  She was born July 6, and weighed 112 grams (around 4 ounces), a good weight for a red panda cub.  While the cub’s mother Ash was pregnant, she allowed officials to ultrasound her abdomen while she happily ate treats, so they knew she was pregnant with a single cub that was growing well.  Ash delivered the baby with no problems, and showed the newborn lots of attention, but this was her first pregnancy, and she didn’t have all of the skills needed to raise the cub.  Red panda cubs have been hand-reared at several zoos, including the Detroit Zoo, and they had prepared in advance to care for the panda cub, just in case.  A hand-rearing manual that compiles collective experiences of zoo professionals was used to determine the formula and feeding schedule and help to develop a care plan.

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Endangered baby pangolin takes his first steps after rescue from poachers

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A rescued young Sunda pangolin takes his first tentative steps after being released back into the wild in Thailand, in a series of photographs snapped by staff from international conservation charity ZSL (Zoological Society of London). 

The Critically Endangered animal was being illegally kept in cramped conditions and constant darkness by a poacher, before being saved by ZSL staff and local park rangers.

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Nicknamed Kosin – inspired by the Thai name for the god Indra, celebrated as a friend to humanity - by his rescuers, the puppy-sized youngster, estimated to be under a year old, weighed just 1kg and measured 67-centimetres nose-to-tail.

Believed to have been snatched at night by poachers searching for pangolins to sell, experts think Kosin was kept alive as the meat and scales of live pangolins reach a higher price on the black market than those of dead animals.

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Following his rescue, Kosin was given a thorough health check and despite his ordeal found to be in good condition. After a short period of monitoring he was ready to be returned to the wild.

The team from ZSL transported him to a remote, safe place as far away from known poaching hotspots as possible and have been monitoring his release site ever since. They are pleased to report that no poachers have been seen there since his release, giving Kosin the best possible chance of survival.

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Dr Eileen Larney, ZSL Conservationist said: “It was an extraordinary moment to watch Kosin being released back into the wild and then take his first steps back to the wild, but sadly his story is rare. Our team was able to get to him in time, care for him and return him to the wild. Thanks to the support of our donors and our incredible team he has been given a precious second chance, something many thousands of his species do not get.

“A single pangolin is worth up to three months’ wages for rural villagers in Thailand and is considered as valuable as a lottery win.

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“However, to combat the illegal pangolin trade we must stop poaching at the source. It’s a complex puzzle which requires global collaboration to both reduce demand and increase protection. This story would have had a very different ending without the quick response of park rangers and ZSL’s conservation partners. Like all pangolins, Kosin faces an uncertain future but in moments like this we have hope.”

All eight species of pangolin are now threatened with extinction due to widespread poaching. Worldwide, pangolins are thought to be the most illegally trafficked mammal. A seizure of pangolin scales in April 2019 weighed 14 tonnes, representing about 36,000 individual animals. Estimates suggest more than 300 pangolins are poached from the wild every day.

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ZSL is working in Thailand, Cameroon, Nepal, and the Philippines to protect pangolins and other Endangered species from illegal wildlife trade. The team collaborates with communities to raise awareness, find alternative sources of income and create protected habitats where pangolins can thrive.

Drawing on a hugely successful track record of empowering communities across Asia and Africa. – ZSL will continue to support communities in Nepal helping communities to plan and create environmentally sustainable ways to make a living and build the same opportunities for people in Kenya too – home to rhinos and elephants – through its UK Aid Match appeal - For People. For Wildlife.

The future of wildlife and people are intertwined, and long-term success depends on solutions that work for everyone. Through the UK Aid Match appeal ZSL is working alongside rural communities in Nepal and Kenya to set up sustainable ways to make a living, empowering them to feed their families, build independent futures and protect the wildlife they live alongside.


RARE AYE-AYE BORN AT THE DUKE LEMUR CENTER

EDSHPDSC6945Photos 1, 3, and 4 by David Haring. Photo 2 by Sara Clark.

Meet Melisandre, a rare baby aye-aye born at the Duke Lemur Center on August 13, 2019!

The daughter of 23-year-old Ardrey and 9-year-old Grendel, “Mel” is one of nine aye-ayes at the DLC and one of only 25 of her kind in the United States. She is Ardrey’s sixth infant and Grendel’s first.

Melisandra weighed 81 grams on her first weighing on August 14. Although her birthweight was lower than average, Mel’s keeper, Matt Cuskelly, observed that despite her small size she seemed bright, alert, and strong.

Ardrey is an experienced, attentive mother who spends most of her time inside her nest with her infant. And Melisandre is thriving: By August 16, she’d grown to 98 grams; and on August 27, she tipped the scales at 210 grams. (Way to go, Ardrey!)

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Nocturnal primates with bushy tails and bony middle fingers, aye-ayes are endangered on their native island of Madagascar, where logging, slash-and-burn agriculture, and hunting are suspected to have cut their numbers in half in recent decades.

Some villagers in Madagascar believe these lemurs are evil omens and can curse a person by pointing their middle fingers at them; hence many aye-ayes are killed on sight.

In reality, says DLC curator Cathy Williams, the aye-aye is one of the gentlest lemur species. “They’re not at all aggressive, they’re extremely curious and energetic and they’re very intelligent — they learn very quickly.”

Melisandre’s parents Ardrey and Grendel were deemed a good genetic match by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan. Her grandparents — Morticia and Poe (Ardrey) and Endora and Nosferatu (Grendel) — are the first aye-ayes ever imported to the United States.

When Poe and Nosferatu arrived at Duke from Madagascar in 1987, they represented the only aye-ayes in the world within human care. Morticia and Endora arrived in 1991.

Today, all but one of the aye-ayes in North America — as well as others overseas in London, Frankfurt, Bristol, and the Jersey Channel Islands — are descendants of these eight founders.

Melisandre will stay with Ardrey for two to three years while she learns how to forage for food, build a nest and other aye-aye survival skills.

Visitors won’t be able to see the new infant, but they can see her 36-year-old grandmother, Endora. Just be sure to book a tour before visiting.

In the meantime, the Duke Lemur Center works diligently to maintain a genetic safety net for aye-ayes in the wild. Together, aye-ayes at the DLC and other institutions worldwide form a genetic safety net for their species, and each new birth helps sustain a healthy and genetically diverse population of aye-ayes for the long-term future.

If you want to learn more about aye-ayes AND help support their care and conservation, please consider symbolically adopting Agatha, an aye-aye born at the DLC in 2017, through the DLC’s Adopt a Lemur Program! Your adoption goes toward the $8,400 per year cost it takes to care for each lemur at the DLC, as well as aiding our conservation efforts in Madagascar. You’ll also receive quarterly updates and photos, making this a fun, educational gift that keeps giving all year long! Please visit our Adopt a Lemur homepage to learn more.

To learn more about the DLC’s aye-ayes, visit our Meet the Lemurs webpage.

VIDEO! To watch a video of Melisandre taken on September 19, please click here or on the screenshot below to be redirected to the DLC’s YouTube channel. We love her bright, beautiful eyes!

 


Snow Leopard Siblings Arrive in Omaha

Two Snow Leopard CubsPhoto Credits: Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo

 

Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium is proud to announce the birth of two Snow Leopard cubs on May 22.

When they were one month old, the male and female cubs weighed just over five pounds. The cubs’ parents are Rosemary and Pasha. Rosemary is 5-years-old, weighs approximately 78 pounds, and has lived at the Zoo since 2015. Pasha is 10-years-old, weighs approximately 106 pounds, and arrived at the Zoo in 2012.

Dad can currently be seen by guests in the Asian Highlands exhibit. This pair also had a cub named Victoria in 2017. Victoria recently went to live at the Binder Park Zoo near Battle Creek, Michigan.

Snow Leopards are listed as “Vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List. There are only an estimated 2,700 - 3,300 Snow Leopards left in the world. The main threats facing them include loss of habitat, retaliatory killing from predation on livestock, and illegal trade in furs, bones and other body parts.

Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium is a dedicated member of the Snow Leopard Species Survival Plan (SSP), a program that works to maintain a genetically stable assurance population of Snow Leopards in zoos. Research conducted by the Zoo’s nutrition and reproductive physiology departments has provided valuable information to the Snow Leopard SSP that is helping to improve the care and management of these amazing cats around the world.

In addition to efforts taking place on Zoo grounds, Omaha’s Zoo and Aquarium supports the Snow Leopard Trust, an organization working out in the field within Snow Leopard habitat. Snow Leopard Trust focuses primarily on community education directed toward improving the relationships between herders and big cats by creating incentives for the community to protect Snow Leopards and their ecosystem. To learn more about Snow Leopard Trust’s mission, visit: www.snowleopard.org


Germany's First Giant Panda Cubs Born at Zoo Berlin

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Behind the scenes in the Panda Garden at Zoo Berlin, first-time Giant Panda mom Meng Meng snuggles her tiny newborns into the warm, soft fur of her face. On August 31, Berlin’s Panda population doubled as Germany welcomed its first-ever Panda offspring – two of them!

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The past month at Zoo Berlin has been particularly tense and exciting, with plenty of waiting and crossed fingers. Finally, on August 31 at 6:54 p.m., the moment everyone had been waiting for arrived: following a gestation period of 147 days, female Panda Meng Meng, 6, gave birth to her very first cub. The joyous event came just one week after experts from Zoo Berlin and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) were able to perform an ultrasound scan that determined Meng Meng was indeed pregnant.

Immediately after giving birth, the new mother knew just what to do: she placed the tiny creature gently on her belly and began to warm it lovingly with her big paws, warm breath, and the soft fur of her cheeks. But mother and child weren’t alone for long, as at 7:42 p.m. – just under an hour later – a second cub was born!

“Meng Meng and her two cubs coped well with the birth and are all in good health,” reports Zoo Director Dr. Andreas Knieriem. “Even though these are the first offspring born to our young female Panda, she is already doing a wonderful job as a mum. In the beginning, the young have to feed roughly every two to three hours and are dependent on the body heat of their mother to keep warm.”

Like all baby Giant Pandas, Germany’s first Panda cubs were born pink with fine white down and a disproportionately large tail. Though they are helpless, the youngsters came out with strong lungs and immediately put them to good use. Meng Meng responds to their loud squeaks by carefully guiding the little ones to her teats to feed. As Pandas that give birth to twins usually only raise one of the cubs, in close cooperation with Chinese experts of the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding Zoo Berlin has decided to actively support Meng Meng in the rearing process to ensure the survival of both cubs.

“There are only 1,864 adult Giant Pandas currently living in their natural habitat,” says Knieriem. “As a result, every single new cub represents an important contribution to the conservation of the species.” The young Pandas are therefore currently on alternating, two-to-three-hour shifts with their mother, and are otherwise being cared for in a cozy warm incubator by the Chinese breeding experts. Vets have even managed to conduct an initial examination – with promising results. At two weeks old, the cubs had more than doubled their birth weights to 431 grams (about one pound) and 343 grams (roughly 12 ounces). They are nursing so well from Meng Meng that supplemental bottle feedings are no longer needed. The cubs’ genders have not been determined yet.

The young Panda family will stay behind the scenes for a while and will not be on view to Zoo visitors until further notice. For Panda dad Jiao Qing, 9, on the other hand, life goes on as normal. Male Pandas are not involved in the rearing of their young, so he can be found relaxing and munching on bamboo in the Panda Garden.

See more photos of Meng Meng and her babies below.

Continue reading "Germany's First Giant Panda Cubs Born at Zoo Berlin" »


Little Geckos Will Become 'Giants'

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Two baby Madagascar Giant Day Geckos (Phelsuma grandis) hatched last month from eggs laid by adults currently living in the rainforest habitat at the Tennessee Aquarium.

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DSC_9341Photo Credit: Tennessee Aquarium

In spite of their name, the babies are only a few inches long right now. The Aquarium's experts are caring for these tiny reptiles behind the scenes in a special Gecko nursery.

The Aquarium’s herpetology team says the pair are currently growing well and “eating like champs.”

The Madagascar Giant Day Gecko has a bright green body with brilliant red markings. The red markings fade as the Gecko ages, so the adults are mostly green in color. In the wild, these Geckos feed on insects, small reptiles, nectar and pollen. Adults can grow to around 12 inches in length.

Geckos are a type of Lizard. Madagascar Giant Day Geckos are native to the tropical forests of northern Madagascar, and a few other locations to which they have been introduced by humans.

Madagascar Giant Day Geckos are rumored to be the inspiration for the Geico Gecko of advertising fame.


Delightful Duo of Red Panda Cubs for Chester Zoo

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Chester Zoo’s two Red Panda cubs have been revealed as a boy and a girl, during their first ever health check-up.

The precious twelve-week-old twins, classed by conservationists as endangered in the wild, were born on June 22 to mum, Nima, and dad, Koda, who have kept them tucked up in their nest boxes since birth.

Now, specialist vets and keepers have had their very first look at the delightful duo, examining the pair during the health check, where they were weighed, sexed and vaccinated. Each of the fluffy youngsters was given a full, clean bill of health.

James Andrewes, Assistant Team Manager at the zoo, said, “These Red Panda twins are wonderful, important new additions to the carefully managed breeding programme for the species, which is working to increase the safety-net population in Europe as numbers in the wild continue to decline. Happily, both cubs are developing very well indeed and the health MOTs we’ve been able to perform confirmed that mum Nima is clearly doing a great job of caring for them.”

James continued, “We also discovered the genders of each of the cubs - one male and one female - and returned them to their mum as soon as we’d finished giving them a quick once over. Nima took them straight back to her nest and it’ll be a few weeks now until the cubs start to develop the confidence to come out and explore by themselves. Before they’re able to stand on their own feet, it is though possible that some lucky people will have the occasional glimpse of Nima carrying them from nest to nest by the scruffs of their necks.”

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4_Adorable red panda twins born at Chester Zoo have first health check up (2)Photo Credits: Chester Zoo

Red Pandas are found in the mountainous regions of Nepal, India, Bhutan, Myanmar and southern China where their wild number is estimated at fewer than 10,000 – a 40% decline over the past 50 years.

This decrease is a direct result of human actions, such as widespread habitat destruction, trapping for the illegal pet trade and poaching for their iconic red fur – which in some countries is used to make hats for newly-weds as a symbol of happy marriage.

Conservationists at Chester Zoo have called on the public help to fight the illegal wildlife trade that is driving species to extinction around the world. People can report any suspicious activity they may spot, online or on holiday, via the zoo’s online illegal wildlife trade reporting form: www.chesterzoo.org/illegalwildlifetrade    

In recent years, Chester Zoo has been fighting for the future of the Red Panda through habitat-focused conservation projects in the Sichuan Mountains of China, where they can be found among the bamboo forests.

Continue reading "Delightful Duo of Red Panda Cubs for Chester Zoo" »


‘The Wilds’ Sees Greater One-horned Rhino Birth

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The Wilds, in Cumberland, OH, proudly welcomed a Greater One-horned Rhinoceros calf on August 24.

The female calf is receiving excellent care from her mother and is the eighth Greater One-horned Rhino to be born at The Wilds. The birth is a significant achievement as the species nearly went extinct during the 20th century.

The calf and mom, Sanya, are doing well and have been bonding in pasture on The Wilds property. The Animal Management team has been monitoring the pair closely and has not needed to provide any immediate assistance, as Sanya is an experienced mother and the calf appears to be strong and healthy. Calves usually weigh more than 100 pounds at birth and gain a few pounds every day. An adult Greater One-horned Rhino can reach weights of approximately 4,000 to 6,000 pounds.

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Sanya, born at the Toronto Zoo in 1999, has now given birth to five calves since arriving at The Wilds in 2004. The calf’s father, Jahi, was born at Zoo Tampa in 2011, moved to the Central Florida Zoo in 2013 and then arrived at The Wilds in 2017 as per a breeding recommendation through the Species Survival Plan® (SSP), a program coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to maintain genetic diversity of threatened and endangered species in human care. This newborn is Jahi’s first offspring.

The Wilds, home to three Greater One-horned Rhinos, is one of only 30 facilities in North America to care for this species. The Wilds is also home to 15 Southern White Rhinos. In total, more than 500 animals representing 28 species from around the world make up the animal population at the open-range, natural landscape at The Wilds.

Once listed as an endangered species, the Greater One-horned Rhino (Rhinoceros unicornis) has seen a steady population increase thanks to strict government protection and is now listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species as “Vulnerable”. According to the World Wildlife Fund, there were only 600 individuals surviving in their native ranges of India and Nepal by 1975. Since then, researchers estimate the population has grown to exceed 3,000 Greater One-horned Rhinos living in these areas.

“We are thrilled to welcome this little rhinoceros into our Wilds family! Every rhinoceros is important to the survival of his or her species. While there has been some success in rhinoceros conservation recently, unfortunately, there are still threats to all rhino species. They are being poached for their horn, even though it is made only of keratin— the equivalent of fingernails—and they are facing habitat destruction in their native ranges. We are proud to be able to contribute to rhino conservation by welcoming this incredible new arrival, as the calf represents hope for future generations of Greater One-horned Rhinos,” said Dr. Jan Ramer, vice president of The Wilds.

The new calf may be visible to guests during either an Open-Air Safari or Wildside Tour. For more information about The Wilds or to book your visit, please visit www.TheWilds.org .

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Female White Rhino for Dubbo Zoo

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Taronga Western Plains Zoo has welcomed a female White Rhino calf!

The calf was born, behind-the-scenes, in the early hours of August 18 to mother, Mopani, at 16 months gestation. The new baby weighed in at 74kgs.

“The calf required some initial veterinary assistance over the first two days of her life, but being a very strong calf went from strength to strength,” said Keeper Supervisor Pascale Benoit.

“The calf is the third offspring for experienced mother Mopani, sired by White Rhino bull, Khulu who sadly passed away earlier this year. This birth heralds another breeding achievement for the rhino conservation breeding programs at Taronga Western Plains Zoo,” said Pascale.

Pascale continued, “The team is thrilled to welcome another precious White Rhino. Being a female, this little one will one day play an important role in the regional breeding program, hopefully creating a new genetic bloodline.”

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Both Mopani and her calf are now on exhibit, along with two other females in the herd. Mopani is a very protective and caring mother and has bonded well with her calf. She is taking motherhood in her stride again.

“We are really proud of Mopani and the maternal behaviors we are observing. She is very protective of her calf and is keeping the other herd members at a distance at present,” said Pascale.

NSW Environment Minister, Matt Kean, thanked all the zoo staff for their incredible care for the new calf, as well as all the animals at Taronga Western Plains Zoo.

“With about 19,000 White Rhinos left in the wild, every rhino birth is vital. It shows how critical the conservation work undertaken by Taronga is – not just for rhinos but our native animals that are also under threat. These conservation efforts wouldn’t be possible without the dedication from zoo staff.”

The White Rhino calf is yet to be named. Taronga Western Plains Zoo is planning to run a naming competition on its Facebook page to help find a name for the newest member of the White Rhino herd.

Taronga actively supports conservation efforts for wild rhinos in Africa, Indonesia and India, including providing funds and support for habitat and reforestation, anti-poaching and rhino protection units and reduction of human-animal conflict. Taronga is also a founding member of the International Rhino Foundation.

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