Bactrian Camel Baby Takes Tentative Steps at Bramble Park Zoo

An endangered Bactrian Camel calf was born at the Bramble Park Zoo in Watertown, South Dakota on March 10. After a 13-month gestation period, The Zoo’s 16-year-old female Cindy Lou, gave birth to an unusually large baby. On average, camel calves weigh between 80 and 100 lbs. at birth. This hefty male, affectionately coined Token, weighed in at a whopping 124 lbs.

Token at vet

Due to his size he had a hard time standing after birth and therefore could not nurse from his otherwise attentive mother. Due to the impending blizzard, the decision was made to separate mom and calf in a back corral area and start him on a bottle of colostrum. Between his unsteadiness and the weather, the decision was then made to bring him inside and begin the process of hand raising full-time.

Token camel calf

Token has had some ups and downs, but proves to be resilient. One day the zookeepers noticed he was weak and unsteady and would not stand to eat. When they finally got him up and walking, he was gentle with his rear right leg and it seemed painful when it was bent up towards his belly. He was immediately taken to the vet. After bloodwork, four radiographs (which were very challenging) and urine tests the results showed he had a high white blood cell count, and his right knee was more swollen and he seemed to be favoring it more. It was determined he had an infection in the joint (probably from birth) and he was started on injections. Thankfully, he continued to drink readily during his treatment. The following week he became constipated and was straining to go to the bathroom. A little mineral oil in his bottle did the trick.

Token is now much stronger and weighs approximately 145 lbs. at his 1-month milestone. He is drinking four bottles a day totaling 232 oz. He is getting spunkier and learning camel things, such as how to kick and spit.

The Bactrian camel, Camelus ferus, is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™. Restricted to the Gobi and Gashun Gobi deserts of northwest China and Mongolia, it is one of the rarest large mammals on Earth (currently numbering fewer than 1,500 individuals).


First Wild Population Of Wildcats To Be Established Outside Of Scotland In Over Two Centuries

Wildwood Trust, in collaboration with Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and Vincent Wildlife Trust, is taking the first steps in a groundbreaking new project to establish the first wild population of the functionally extinct wildcat outside of Scotland in over 200 years.

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British wildlife conservation charity, Wildwood Trust, has today (4/20) announced the first steps in a groundbreaking new project to return the functionally extinct wildcat to suitable habitat outside of Scotland, seeing the species return for the first time since the 1800s.

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Working in partnership with leading conservation organisations Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and Vincent Wildlife Trust, along with experts at the University of Exeter, the project will be the first of its kind outside of Scotland and could herald a new dawn for this iconic British species which is on the verge of total extinction in the wild.

The European wildcat is Britain’s rarest mammal and the only native cat species surviving in Britain. The wild population is thought to be less than 300 individuals, living exclusively in the remote Scottish Highlands, but that population has been declared “functionally extinct” which means that there is no longer a viable population left in the wild.

The species was hunted and persecuted to extinction in England and Wales a century ago, resulting in its disappearance. Loss and fragmentation of habitat and more recently interbreeding with domestic and feral cats, means it has not been able to return. Until now.

“Our goal is to return a viable and self-sustaining wildcat population to its former range. As a leading British wildlife conservation charity, we have developed years of experience and expertise in breeding wildcats in support of the existing Scottish conservation project. We are now excited to be utilising these skills to benefit wildcat recovery more broadly across Britain. This will be a long term commitment for Wildwood requiring increased resources and infrastructure so we are relying on the public’s support to help.” Said Laura Gardner, Director of Conservation at Wildwood Trust.

Reintroduction site and breeding facilities

After announcing this exciting new partnership last year, Wildwood is now taking the first steps in building new wildcat breeding facilities. The project partners, in collaboration with the University of Exeter, are currently undertaking research into the best sites for wildcat reintroduction in Britain. Alongside this, the project partnership is working closely with stakeholders and local people to ensure that the needs and views of local communities are taken fully into account.

Wildwood Trust will be breeding wildcats for the future reintroductions and has  launched a fundraising appeal to raise vital funds to build 10 new breeding facilities across its two sites in Kent and Devon. The Trust needs £50,000 to complete the build and is calling on the public to get involved by donating to the project and giving wildcats a brighter future.

Each enclosure will house a breeding pair of cats, whose kittens will later be released into the wild. Wildcat mating usually takes place between January and March with litters of 1-8 kittens born in April-May.

Breeding wildcats is notoriously difficult, as any noise and disturbance can adversely affect the cats. To ensure the survival and safety of the kittens, stress must be kept to a minimum. With this in mind, the new breeding enclosures will be built off-show at Wildwood Trust’s parks, helping to prepare kittens for life in the wild.

The wildcat is one of the few native predators left in Britain and performs important ecosystem functions. A healthy population of wildcats will help to restore the balance in the ecosystem by controlling numbers of prey animals, such as rabbits and rodents, and of predators such as foxes through competition for food. Predators also remove vulnerable prey, such as the old, injured, sick, or very young, leaving more food for the survival and success of healthy prey animals. Also, by controlling the size of prey populations, predators help slow down the spread of disease.

By dove-tailing their respective skills, knowledge and experience, Wildwood Trust, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and Vincent Wildlife Trust combine a wealth of expertise in species-recovery programmes, particularly in breeding and species reintroductions.

Wildwood’s mission is the protection, conservation and rewilding of British wildlife. Durrell's ‘Rewild our World’ strategy focuses on recovering wildlife, reviving ecosystems and reconnecting people to nature and Vincent Wildlife Trust has worked for over 40 years to monitor and recover mammal species of conservation concern in the UK, Ireland and elsewhere in Europe.


First Big Adventure For A Little Giraffe 

A giraffe calf takes her first steps outside as UK families head back to ZSL Whipsnade Zoo for the first time in months

A giraffe calf at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo has taken her first steps outside, just in time to greet visitors returning to the UK’s largest Zoo after it re-opened last week. 

While many people in the UK left their homes for their first family days-out of 2021, four-month-old reticulated giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata) Margaret had her own first adventure outdoors last week. 

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Born at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo on 8 December at the same time as the world’s first Covid-19 vaccination was being administered – the reticulated giraffe calf was named Margaret by keepers, after the first recipient Margaret Keenan. Until last week, the baby giraffe has stayed inside the warmth and familiarity of the Zoo’s giraffe house with mum Luna and their close-knit family.  

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Last week, however, the young giraffe was filmed by zoo staff venturing outdoors for the first time and exploring the herd’s spacious enclosure at the 600-acre Zoo. In the footage, Margaret can be seen tentatively following her mother and other members of the herd past a lake, before striding off to explore her environment alone, ‘checking in’ with mum Luna from time-to-time. 

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Team leader Mark Holden said: “Once again, Margaret seems to be capturing the mood of the nation. First, she was born – a huge boost for the population of her Endangered species - on the same day that the first Covid-19 vaccine was administered, and now, here she is, taking her first steps outside just as the rest of the UK is venturing back out on family adventures, like coming here to ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. 

“With 600 acres to explore, we are the perfect place for anyone looking to blow off the cobwebs of lockdown and head into the countryside, where Margaret and the world’s most incredible animals wait to be discovered.”  

Families and animal lovers can book tickets for ZSL Whipsnade Zoo at www.zsl.org  


Sloth Born At Brevard Zoo

On the morning of April 8, Brevard Zoo’s animal care staff were greeted by a tiny Linnaeus’s two-toed sloth. Born to 15-year-old mother Sammy and 18-year-old father Dustin, this little one is the third sloth baby in the Zoo’s history and the first in over two years.

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The baby, which has not yet been named or sexed, is tightly clung to Sammy’s underside. Both mother and child appear to be thriving and are sometimes in public view, but they have ample behind-the-scenes space to which to retreat if Sammy chooses.

Keepers used positive reinforcement techniques to train Sammy to stay still for ultrasound exams, enabling veterinarians to monitor the development of the fetus during the 10-month gestation period.

Linnaeus’s two-toed sloths are native to the rainforests of northern South America. In their natural range, sloths help disperse native plants by swallowing seeds in one location and defecating them elsewhere.

Although they are objectively adorable creatures (especially as babies), experts caution against keeping sloths as pets.

“Sloths are high-maintenance animals that need professional care, and they don’t belong in the home,” said Michelle Smurl, the Zoo’s director of animal programs. “They have long claws and sharp teeth that they won’t hesitate to use if they’re scared or stressed. If you can’t make the trip down to South America, the best way to get your sloth fix is to visit your local accredited animal care facility.”


Chester Zoo’s “Lockdown” Baby Giraffe Finds His Feet

A rare Rothschild’s giraffe was born to mum Orla at 3am on 3 March 2021, at the UK’s Chester Zoo.

The “little” guy has been named after Lake Albert in Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda, where Chester Zoo is helping to protect Rothschild's giraffes just like him.

Once wide-ranging across Kenya, Uganda and Sudan, the Rothschild’s giraffe has been almost eliminated from these areas and now only survives in a few small, isolated populations.

Encouragingly, they are starting to recover with the support of conservation programmes such as those supported by Chester Zoo but they’re still threatened with habitat loss and an ongoing poaching crisis, which has seen giraffes hunted for their tails to be used as good-luck charms.

Working with The Giraffe Conservation Foundation and Uganda Wildlife Authority to monitor, track and protect the giraffe population in Uganda’s Kidepo Valley National Park, Chester Zoo is delighted that even with the challenges the pandemic has thrown their way, numbers are slowly increasing. It’s positive news and they must push on and do all they can to help prevent the extinction of these gentle giants.


Tree Kangaroo Joey Naming Announcement… Introducing Taro!

Taronga's ridiculously cute tree kangaroo joey 'Taro' has finally decided to fully emerge from his mother's pouch. At 10 months old and weighing just under 2kg, the little late bloomer was a touch hesitant in venturing out of his mum Kwikal's pouch earning himself the nickname 'pouch potato'.

Taking inspiration from the joey's nickname, keepers have settled on the name 'Taro' for the youngster, which is a form of sweet root vegetable, one of his favourite treats popular in his native homeland of Papua New Guinea. 

Taro has become incredibly active and confident over the last couple of weeks. Guests will have the opportunity of witnessing Taro exploring and attempting to climb to the tops of trees in the final days of the school holidays. 

Guests can also take advantage of their “Dine and Discover” vouchers and receive $25 off the purchase of their Zoo ticket and animal encounters as well as $25 off any food and beverage purchase. To find out more and book your tickets, please head to www.taronga.org.au/buy-tickets 


Jacksonville Zoo And Gardens Welcomes Critically Endangered Gorilla Infant

A male western lowland gorilla was born at Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens early Friday morning. This is the fifth gorilla born at the Zoo, and the first since 2018.

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The male was born to mother Madini and father Lash. This is the third viable offspring for 44-year-old Lash and the second for 24-year-old Madini. Her daughter, Patty, still resides at the Zoo and will be 6 years old on May 9.  

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Madini and Lash were recommended to breed by the Gorilla Species Survival Plan (SSP). This group of zoo professionals cooperatively manages the gorilla population at zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). They are responsible for making science-based breeding and transfer recommendations as well as providing support and guidance on all aspects of gorilla management at AZA institutions to maintain a healthy, diverse, and sustainable safety-net population to enhance conservation of this species in the wild.

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Madini was born in 1996 to mother Bulera, and they both were transferred to Jacksonville in November 2006. Lash was born on Christmas Day in 1976, and he moved to Jacksonville in 1998. He lived in a bachelor group with Rumpel for eight years before being introduced to Madini and Bulera.

This infant is now the ninth member of the largest gorilla group in the Zoo’s history. This includes the last infant to be born, 2-year-old Gandai, who was reared by keepers after her deaf birth mother, Kumbuka, could not properly care for her. After five months of bottle feeding and teaching her how to be a gorilla, keepers introduced her to a surrogate mother, Bulera. Since then, the mother and daughter have been slowly reintroduced to surrogate father, Rumpel; surrogate brother, George; surrogate sister, Madini; Madini's daughter, Patty; and ultimately her biological mother, Kumbuka, and biological father, Lash.

“We have many reasons to celebrate this new infant. He will further enrich the social environment and experience of his amazing group and strengthen the sustainability of the Gorilla SSP. Although raising Gandai was an incredibly rewarding experience, the gorilla care staff is elated to see this infant thriving in the care of his own mother,” said Tracy Fenn, Assistant Curator of Mammals.

Western lowland gorillas are the most widespread of the gorilla subspecies inhabiting forests and swampland of central Africa, however the subspecies is critically endangered due to deforestation, poaching, and introduced diseases. Mature male gorillas, or “Silverbacks” are much larger than females. Infants usually weigh around four pounds at birth and are dependent on their mothers for up to five years.

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens will be raising awareness of species like the western lowland gorilla at Party for the Planet on Saturday, April 24. This event is presented by The Wild Things, a young professional group at the Zoo, and is a celebration of Earth Day, Endangered Species Day, and World Oceans Day. Guests are encouraged to donate old cell phones to help save gorilla species in the wild. Visit JacksonvilleZoo.org/PartyForThePlanet for more info.

About Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

For over 100 years, the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens has aimed to inspire the discovery and appreciation of wildlife through innovative experiences in a caring environment. Starting in 1914 with an animal collection of one red deer fawn, the Zoo now has more than 2,000 rare and exotic animals and 1,000 species of plants, boasting the largest botanical garden in Northeast Florida. The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens is a nonprofit organization and a portion of every ticket sold goes to the over 45 conservation initiatives Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens supports around the world, and here in NE Florida. JZG is proud to be an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. For more information, visit jacksonvillezoo.org.


Peek Into Penguin Lifecycle During Nesting Season At Shedd Aquarium

The penguin colony at Shedd Aquarium has begun its annual nesting season, which provides a unique peek into their lifecycle as the Magellanic and rockhopper penguins begin building their nests, attracting mates, and pairing up. The weeks-long nest-building process is signaled by changes in the daily light cycle and the addition of materials like lavender sprigs and rocks to the habitat for the birds to gather for their nests.

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Occasionally, nesting results in eggs laid and potentially hatched, where the bonded penguin pair would take turns sitting on the nests to keep the eggs or chicks warm. It is expected that eggs may start to be seen throughout April and May. While not every egg laid by the penguins is fertile, last year, four Magellanic chicks – Porter, Popi, Dee, and Sir Elio – joined the penguin colony following the nesting and mating season. The four new arrivals contribute to Shedd’s participation in a conservation effort among aquariums accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) in a cooperatively managed Species Survival Plan for Magellanic penguins, which are listed as nearly threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). 

While the penguins may have gone “offline” from programs like the virtual penguin encounter for their nesting season, guests who visit Shedd Aquarium can observe the birds in the colony and get an up-close look at this season. For anyone unable to visit or looking for a deeper connection to the aquatic animal world, there are still several virtual animal encounters offered through May 31, 2021.

By purchasing a ticket or participating in a program, you are helping to support Shedd Aquarium’s mission and dedication to top-quality animal care. For additional ways to support Shedd Aquarium and help fuel its mission, please visit https://www.sheddaquarium.org/about-shedd/support-us.

Photo credit: ©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

Video credit: ©Shedd Aquarium/Sam Cejtin


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New prime-mate arrives at Taronga Zoo Sydney with the birth of adorable François’ Langur baby

Taronga Zoo Sydney is celebrating the birth of a critically endangered male François’ Langur, one of the world’s rarest monkey species, who has arrived just in time to delight guests these school holidays. At just over three weeks old, the adorable new arrival is doing well and has been named Manchu by his Primate Keepers – which means pure in a local Chinese dialect.

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Like all François’ Langur babies, the little one was born with vibrant orange fur, an incredible contrast to his mother Meli and the rest of the troop who are all black in colouring. It is believed that colour distinction makes it easier for adults to identify and look out for infants. 

“It is not uncommon in François’ Langur communities for other female monkeys to lend a hand raising infants. This is known as allomothering, and it lets mum have a break but also benefits the development of the infant as they are exposed to experienced members of the troupe,” says Primate Supervisor Mel Shipway. 

“François’ Langur babies develop quite quickly, and we have already witnessed Manchu attempt to climb and move independently from mum. He is also starting to show patches of black fur across his body and some white stripes on his face, so we aren’t too sure how long he will be orange in colour, all infants develop at different rates”, says Shipway.

“Langurs are lesser-known species of monkey, but they are beautiful and vibrant creatures, we would love guests to come see this adorable new addition to the Taronga's primate family” says Shipway

The birth of Manchu brings the total number of Langurs at Taronga Zoo to 11. While the monkeys can be lightening fast as they move through the exhibit, the group are fed daily at 9.30 am, 12 pm and 2.45 pm which make great viewing times.  

François’ Langurs are a critically endangered species found in China and Vietnam and continue to be heavily poached for traditional medicines and face habitat loss through mining and deforestation.

With an estimate of only around 1,500 individuals left in the wild, this species like many other primates are in trouble. The birth of this male at Taronga is great news for François Langurs, as he will be an incredible ambassador for his species and wild relatives.

Manchu joins many new arrivals these Easter School Holidays including Birubi the Long-nosed fur seal pup, Humphrey the koala joey, a Tree Kangaroo joey, seven Bolivian Squirrel Monkeys and of course Amalie an Australian sea lion pup!

Guests can also take advantage of their “Dine and Discover” vouchers and receive $25 off the purchase of their Zoo ticket and animal encounters as well as $25 off any food and beverage purchase. To find out more and book your tickets, please head to www.taronga.org.au/buy-tickets