Two young Elephant calves at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park enjoyed a high-spirited play session recently. Three-month-old male calf, Umzula-zuli (known as “Zuli”), and almost two-month-old female calf, Mkhaya (called “Kaia”), engaged in some friendly sparring, pushing, climbing, and head-butting!
Zuli was born August 12 to mother Ndulamitsi (pronounced en-DOO-lah-mit-see) and Kaia was born September 26 to mother Umngani (pronounced OOM-gah-nee.)
Keepers report the calves are almost the same size, so they naturally gravitate to each other. The calves’ moms know they are in a safe environment and are allowing them to roam the exhibit, knowing that if the calves stray too far or get too rough with each other, an “auntie” will intercede and make sure they are okay. The two calves have plenty of “aunties,” who help the moms out by alloparenting—a system of group parenting in which individuals, other than the parents, act in a parental role.
The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is home to a total of 14 Elephants: four adults and 10 youngsters. The new calves and their herd may be seen at the Safari Park’s elephant habitat and on the Safari Park’s Elephant Cam, at: www.sdzsafaripark.org/elephant-cam.
Photo Credits: Ken Bohn/ San Diego Zoo Safari Park
Capron Park Zoo, in Attleboro, Massachusetts, welcomed a baby Hoffmann’s Two-toed Sloth on August 24.
Photo Credits: Dan Dibattista
Because the little sloth sticks close to mom, veterinarians still don’t know the sex, but they report that the baby is moving around on its own. The Zoo is also happy to share that the baby sloth is learning to eat solid food...by taking it right from mom’s paws and mouth!
Hoffmann's two-toed Sloth (Choloepus hoffmanni) is a species native to Central and South America.
It is solitary, largely nocturnal and arboreal. The species prefers mature and secondary rainforests and deciduous forests.
The Hoffmann’s Two-toed Sloth is currently classified as “Least Concern” by the IUCN. However, habitat destruction is causing a gradual decrease in the wild population.
It’s spring in Australia, and the Healesville Sanctuary finally got a look at a baby Koala that is just beginning to explore outside of mom’s pouch.
Photo Credit: Healesville Sanctuary
Born the size of a jelly bean to first-time parents Hazel and Noojee, the unnamed male joey has spent the past six months growing in Hazel’s pouch.
“When he was first born, he was pink, hairless and tiny,” said Koala Keeper Kristy Eriksen.
“We watched him make his way from the birth canal to the pouch completely unaided, relying on his already well-developed senses of smell and touch and an innate sense of direction,” Eriksen said.
The joey recently began exploring more and more, with his confidence growing each time he ventures out of Hazel’s pouch. Soon he will be riding on Hazel’s back and will eventually graduate to climbing trees all on his own - under mom’s watchful eye, of course.
Koalas are marsupials, a group of mammals that give birth to highly underdeveloped young. The newborn crawls on its own from the birth canal into a pouch on the mother’s body. Inside the pouch, the tiny infant, called a joey, attaches to a teat where it nurses and completes its development. After a few months, the joey begins to peek out of the pouch. Even after emerging completely from the pouch, a joey will seek refuge there, even when it can barely fit inside.
Despite being Australia’s most iconic animal, Koalas are under significant threat due to habitat destruction and fragmentation for agricultural and urban development. Koalas are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Don't miss more photos of Hazel and her joey below!
When a Nyala named Xolani went into labor with her first calf, keepers at Auckland Zoo were thrilled with the opportunity to witness the event – Nyala usually give birth overnight, when no one is there to watch.
As the delivery progressed, the calf’s foot and nose became visible. But when lead keeper Tommy checked on Xolani, he noticed that her labor had stopped. The calf remained only partially delivered.
Photo Credit: Auckland Zoo
Tommy could see that one of the calf’s front legs appeared to be stuck in the birth canal, preventing its delivery. He quickly assessed the situation and approached Xolani, who allowed Tommy to come close. Xolani remained calm and allowed Tommy to gently pull on the calf’s legs, and the calf was safely delivered within minutes.
The male calf, which has been named Usiku, stood within 30 minutes and just a half-hour later, he was nursing. The calf is already integrated into the zoo’s herd of 11 Nyala, which includes one adult male and five adult females, each of whom has one calf.
Tommy’s quick actions are an example of the outstanding care that keepers provide to animals every day. As Tommy explains, “That’s why we’re here!”
Nyala are a large Antelope species native to the woodlands and grasslands of southern Africa. Males sport spiral horns, which are 24-33 inches long. Females do not have horns. Nyala populations are stable, although poaching and habitat loss may impact the species in the future.
Halloween was extra “egg-citing” at the San Antonio Zoo when four Komodo Dragons hatched, making them the second largest, successful clutch of their kind to hatch at the zoo.
Laid in the spring by 14-year old mom, Tiga, the baby reptiles are spending a few weeks in a behind-the-scenes nursery.
“This monumental hatching is a testament to the zoo’s persistence and commitment to conservation,” said Tim Morrow, the zoo’s CEO and Executive Director. “The hatchlings are thriving and we are looking forward to introducing them to zoo guests.”
Photo Credits: San Antonio Zoo
Komodo Dragons are listed as “Vulnerable” by the IUCN, and their numbers are declining in the wild due to limited range and fragmented populations. Known as the largest living lizard in the world, they are native to the Indonesian islands of Komodo, Padar, Flores, Gili Motang, and Rinca. These carnivores can grow up to be 8.5 feet in length and weigh up to 200 pounds in adulthood. In the wild, Komodo Dragons can live up to 30 years.
Animal care specialists at San Antonio Zoo will continue to monitor the new Komodo Dragons as they continue to grow. Within the coming months, the Komodo Dragons can be viewed at the zoo’s Reptile House.
San Antonio Zoo participates in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Komodo Dragon Species Survival Program and actively supports conservation global projects that impact Komodo Dragons through funding and boots-on-the- ground work.
On October 1st, staff at Africa Alive!, in Kessingland, Suffolk, UK, were overjoyed to find a very welcome addition to the park’s growing family of King Colobus Monkeys.
At birth, Colobus Monkeys are covered in white fur that is gradually replaced with black hair matching the adults. The young are not very agile to begin with and are carried around for some time with the female primarily responsible for its care. For this reason, it is difficult to sex the baby at the moment and therefore, it is still to be named.
The parents, Ebony and Bert, arrived from Marwell Zoo in Hampshire and Paignton Zoo in Devon in 2007 and have produced several babies since, with Ebony proving to be an exceptional mother once again.
Photo Credits: Zoological Society of East Anglia/ Africa Alive!
The King Colobus (Colobus polykomos), also known as the Western Black-and-white Colobus, is a species of Old World monkey, found in lowland and mountain rain forests in a region stretching from Senegal, through Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia to the Ivory Coast. The species is currently classified as “Vulnerable” by the IUCN. Their main threats are habitat destruction and hunting by man.
Black-and-white Colobus are herbivores. Their diet is mainly made up of leaves although they will occasionally eat fruit. As leaves do not contain many nutrients, Colobus have special multi-chambered stomachs, similar to those of cows, to extract as much nutrition from their food as possible.
There are very few zoos within Europe that keep this species and none outside of Europe, so this is yet another important addition to the park and will play a crucial role in assisting with the European breeding programme for this species.
Five Henkel’s Leaf-tailed Geckos (Uroplatus henkeli) have arrived at Lincoln Park Zoo – the first-ever successful hatch at the zoo for this rare Lizard species. The hatchlings will be on exhibit at Regenstein Small Mammal-Reptile House in the coming weeks.
Photo Credit: Lincoln Park Zoo
The zoo’s Henkel’s Leaf-tailed Geckos were given a breeding recommendation from the Leaf-tailed Gecko Species Survival Plan® (SSP), which manages the species’ population throughout zoos accredited by the The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The SSP recommendations – which determine the exact individuals that should breed with each other – are made using demographic and genetic analyses conducted by population biologists at the AZA Population Management Center, which is based at Lincoln Park Zoo.
Henkel's Leaf-tailed Geckos are named for their distinctive namesake tail. That remarkable appendage and their rough brown and green skin helps these Lizards camouflage themselves against tree bark with uncanny ease.
Tiny pads on the feet of Henkel's Leaf-tailed Geckos produce a strong adhesive effect, enabling them to climb and cling to a variety of surfaces. In the wild, these Lizards spend most of their time in the treetops, feeding on insects. They descend to the ground only when laying eggs in leaf litter on the forest floor.
Although adults can grow to 11 inches long, hatchlings are much tinier, as you can see in the photos. The newcomers are welcome arrivals for a species that is classified as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
These Lizards are found only in Madagascar, where they face threats from logging operations and from deforestation as people burn the forest to make small farms. They are also collected illegally to supply the pet trade and are routinely taken from protected areas within Madagascar.
ZooParc de Beauval announced that Sheila, one of its three female Gorillas, gave birth to a baby on October 27 in full view of zoo visitors. The infant is the first Great Ape born in France this year.
Photo Credit: ZooParc de Beauval
So far, the baby and Sheila appear to be doing well. The infant’s gender has not been confirmed, although the staff suspects it is a male. For now, the care team feels no need to intervene or interrupt the bonding process between mother and baby.
Though the baby is nursing and Sheila is exhibiting appropriate maternal behavior, the staff remains cautious because, as with all babies, the first few days are always precarious.
The baby’s arrival created great interest among the other members of the Gorilla troop, who often gather around Shelia and her new baby. The baby’s father is Asato, the troop's large male silverback.
Western Lowland Gorillas are classified as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Threats include Gorillas being illegally hunted for bushmeat and the prevalence of infectious diseases such as the Ebola virus. Past Ebola outbreaks have resulted in a 95% mortality rate in some Gorilla populations. Conservationists estimate that it could take up to 130 years for the Gorilla population to recover completely. The current population is estimated at a few hundred thousand individuals.
Gorillas’ dire scenario in the wild makes the birth of this infant at ZooParc de Beauval even more important to the survival of the species.
The Wellington Zoo welcomed an extra large litter of Capybara pups on October 25. First-time mother Iapa delivered seven pups - the normal litter size is three to four pups, but the litter size can range from one to eight.
The care team is keeping a watchful eye on mom and pups to ensure that each is nursing and developing properly. Keepers noted that Iapa is a bit exhausted but she’s doing well. For now, the new family is living in a private den where Iapa can bond with her babies.
Capybaras are the world’s largest Rodent species and are native to South America. They inhabit a variety of habitats including forests and grasslands and usually live near water.
Though not listed as being under threat, Capybaras are hunted extensively for their meat. They live groups of 10-20 individuals.
Cotswold Wildlife Park is home to a diverse collection of over 1,500 animals from 250 different species. This includes the Capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris), a giant rodent species from South America that is probably best described by zoologist, Desmond Morris, as “a cross between a Guinea-pig and a Hippopotamus”. It is the largest living rodent in the world and the last remnant of a long line of gigantic grass-eating rodents that evolved in South America over millions of years.
The Park’s new breeding pair were introduced last year and bonded straight away. Due to their large barrel-like build, mammal keepers were unaware their female, Belle, was pregnant until they discovered the newborn twins by her side during their recent morning checks.
Photo & Video Credits: Cotswold Wildlife Park
Belle and Ollie are proving to be attentive first-time parents, but the arrival of their first pups has not curbed Ollie’s amorous interest in his new partner. Keepers are hopeful the new family group will grow in numbers and the Park’s successful Capybara breeding record will continue.
Curator of Cotswold Wildlife Park, Jamie Craig, commented, “Capybara babies are always extremely popular with the keepers and our visitors. They are born looking like a miniature version of their parents and are soon exploring the enclosure and swimming in their pool. We have had great success with this species over the years and it is reassuring to know that this new pair will continue that tradition”.
After a gestation period of 150 days, females give birth to highly precocial young (just as well considering the vulnerable pups are a food source for many large predators in their native homeland). Anacondas, Caimans, Jaguars and humans hunt this species for their meat. Newborns weigh approximately 1.5kg and are able to graze within hours of birth. (A full-grown Capybara can weigh up to 65kg.) The young will continue to suckle until they are approximately four months old and will stay with their parents for roughly one year.
At just two days old, visitors and keepers witnessed the newborns tentatively taking their first steps into the water.
Water is a vital resource for this semi-aquatic species; it is used not only for drinking, but also to control their body temperature and as an escape from predators. Capybaras usually mate in the water. They can even sleep underwater by leaving their noses exposed to the air. Their water-resistant fur, partially webbed feet and position of their eyes and nostrils on the top of their heads enables them to remain almost completely submerged but still able to hear, see and smell what is happening on dry land nearby.
Unusually for a rodent, even the male’s scent gland, which most other rodents carry on their cheeks, is on the top of his nose. Their scientific name (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris) means ‘water horse’.