Baby Polar Bear Gaining Strength At Tierpark Berlin

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A tiny Polar Bear cub born at Tierpark Berlin has passed an important milestone and is now just over two weeks old.

Born on December 1 to mother Tonja, the little Bear spends its days snuggled in a private den and tucked against mom’s warm furry body.

The zoo’s curator, Dr. Florian Sick, keeps close tabs on the newborn. Modern camera technology allows Dr. Sick to check on mom and baby in the maternity den from his smart phone at any moment of the day. This allows the staff to observe but not disturb the Polar Bears.

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Tonja und Jungtier_Tierpark Berlin_2018Photo Credit: Tierpark Berlin

From his observations, Dr. Sick notes that the baby nurses about 11 times each 24-hour period. He is hopeful that the baby will be strong enough to survive, but cautions that the mortality rate for young Polar Bears is very high. In the wild, about 85% of Polar Bears do not survive past their second birthday.

Read the baby Polar Bear's birth announcement on ZooBorns.

Polar Bears are generally born in late fall or early winter. Moms and babies remain in the maternity den for several months, and don’t emerge until spring. Tonja makes occasional trips outdoors to drink fresh water, but she does not eat and returns to her cub after just a few minutes. She lives off the thick layer of fat she accumulated last spring and summer. Males are not involved in rearing their young.

Polar Bears face numerous threats in the wild, including climate change, which results in starvation due to habitat loss. Polar Bears hunt their prey – usually Seals – from platforms of floating sea ice. As ocean temperatures rise, sea ice has diminished, and Polar Bears must swim farther off shore to reach the remaining ice. The long swims deplete the Polar Bears’ caloric reserves, making it less likely that they will survive. They cannot hunt in open water.

Polar Bears are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.


Endangered Spider Monkey Born in Australia

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Keepers at Taronga Western Plains Zoo were delighted by the early morning arrival of an endangered Black-handed Spider Monkey baby on October 26 to first time mother, Martina.

The male infant is yet to be named, but both mother and baby are doing well so far.

“Martina is a natural mother, she is showing all the right maternal behaviors. She has had the advantage of watching our two other mothers raise their babies over the past year,” said Keeper Stephanie Sims.

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_AT_051420151016Photo Credit: Taronga Western Plains Zoo

“At present visitors need to have a keen eye or binoculars to spot the newest addition, as the baby is clinging closely to mum’s stomach and looks like a little brown bulge from the viewing area.”

The baby will cling to his mother’s belly for the next few months, and has only in the last week started to hold his head up and look around. During his first year he will slowly gain confidence and start feeding himself, spending small periods of time away from Martina and hanging out with other members of the group. The baby will still rely on his mother though, as Spider Monkey babies are not considered completely independent until approximately three years of age.

“At present father Pedro doesn’t play a hands-on role raising the baby. However, as he gets older, Pedro will spend time wrestling and playing with him which also teaches specific social skills,” said Stephanie.

The two Spider Monkey babies born late last year were at first very curious about the new arrival, getting up close to take a look at the baby. The curiosity has worn off for the time being though.

“As the baby gets older and starts wanting to play with the older two, they will show more interest in him again.”

The Black-handed Spider Monkey regional conservation breeding program has a shortage of breeding males and while every birth is important, having a new genetic bloodline for the program is significant.

“We are really excited that the newest arrival is a male. The two babies from late last year were both females so to have a male this time is really great news,” said Stephanie.

Native to Central America and extreme northern South America, Black-handed Spider Monkeys are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The primary threat is loss of habitat. Large forested areas are essential to their survival, and these tracts are becoming rare in the region. Because they reproduce only once every two to four years, Black-handed Spider Monkey populations cannot quickly rebound when affected by human-caused disturbances.

 


New Kitten ‘Fishing’ for Compliments at Hellabrunn

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Hellabrunn Zoo is thrilled to announce that, Luzi, its female Fishing Cat, gave birth to a kitten on November 1st. Now almost six-weeks-old, the cute offspring is spending more and more time outside the birthing den, giving visitors an opportunity to catch a glimpse of the new arrival as it explores its home.

“This is the first time that Hellabrunn has succeeded in breeding the endangered Fishing Cat. Naturally, we are very proud,” said Zoo Director, Rasem Baban. “The little kitten is truly a joy to behold and I hope it will play a role in raising awareness of the threatened status of this beautiful cat.”

Hellabrunn Zoo also participates in the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP) for Fishing Cats, which of course makes this first breeding success all the more delightful.

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4_Fischkatze mit Jungtier_Hellabrunn 2018_Maria Fencik (4)Photo Credits: Tierpark Hellabrunn / Maria Fencik

Luzi, the Zoo’s female Fishing Cat, has resided in the Jungle World at Hellabrunn Zoo since 2012. She was joined by a male, Sangke, in late 2016. Apparently, the chemistry between the two animals clicked. But as with most cat species, raising the young is a matter for the female. Luzi is a caring mother - she never loses sight of her kitten on its first solo tours of the enclosure.

The gender of the kitten is yet to be determined. This information will be available once the Hellabrunn veterinarian team has conducted the first medical check for the newborn. As with most births at the zoo, the keepers ensure that mother and offspring are not disturbed and away from the public eye for a period after the birth.

Fishing Cats (Prionailurus viverrinus) are medium-sized and native to Southeast Asia. Unlike most other cats, they like to go into the water to hunt fish. The species is threatened by the extensive destruction of its natural habitat, wetlands. As a result, only about 10,000 individuals remain in the wild. The Fishing Cat is classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.  

With a little luck, the newborn kitten will be on view daily from 9 am to 5 pm at Hellabrunn Zoo. The Fishing Cat enclosure is situated in the Jungle World, where the temperature is always a pleasant 25° C, even in the current chilly autumn weather.

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Rare Baby Aye-aye Debuts at Denver Zoo

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Denver Zoo was one of the first zoos in North America to care for Aye-ayes and is home to three of the only 24 Aye-ayes in the U.S. The Zoo’s newest Aye-aye, Tonks, who was born on August 8, has now emerged from the nest box and is starting to actively explore her habitat.

Visitors will be able to see Tonks, along with her mom, Bellatrix, and dad, Smeagol, in their exhibit in Emerald Forest at Denver Zoo.

However, seeing these elusive, nocturnal lemurs isn’t always easy. Lead Primate Keeper Becky Sturges offered the following three tips for visitors to help spot the Aye-aye family in the Zoo’s exhibit:

Visit Early…and Late: The best times to spot the Aye-ayes is soon after the Zoo opens around 10:30 a.m. and late in the afternoon, when Tonks tends to play and explore to burn off her last amount of energy before bedtime. Let Your Eyes Adjust: Spend at least five minutes letting your eyes adjust to the darkness in the exhibit and keep cell phone lights off. Look Up: Tonks is very adventurous and likes to explore the entire habitat, but she tends to spend more time on branches in the higher areas.”

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3_Tonks1_EditedPhoto Credits: Denver Zoo

Aye-ayes are (Daubentonia madagascariensis) a rare species of lemur that are classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. They are native only to remote parts of Madagascar. They are also one of the most distinctive looking animals on the planet due to a number of unique adaptations, including coarse dark hair, long bushy tails, rodent-like teeth, piercing eyes and skeletal hands that feature extra-long middle fingers with hooked claws. Aye-ayes are born weighing just a few ounces and reach up to 5 lbs. as adults. They have been known to live up to about 20 years.

For more information about Tonks and Denver Zoo’s history with Aye-aye, visit the Zoo’s website: https://www.denverzoo.org/zootales/what-does-it-take-for-a-baby-aye-aye-to-survive-and-thrive/


Columbus Zoo Sees First Elephant Calf in Ten Years

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On Thursday, December 6, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium welcomed the much-anticipated birth of an Asian Elephant in the Zoo’s Asia Quest region. The female calf is the first elephant born at the Columbus Zoo in almost 10 years, and she is the first to be born at the Zoo as a result of artificial insemination.

Mother, Phoebe, is 31-years-old and arrived at the Zoo in January 2002. While Phoebe has had the opportunity to breed with 30-year-old, Hank, at the Columbus Zoo, the attempts were unsuccessful and she was also artificially inseminated with sperm from Hank and a male from another zoo. The father of the calf is not yet known and will be determined through a DNA test, with results expected in the coming weeks. Artificial insemination enables an elephant to be impregnated at her most fertile time. While still a relatively rare procedure for elephants, attempts to artificially inseminate elephants are becoming more frequent in an effort to bolster the numbers of endangered elephants, whose populations are rapidly declining in their native range.

The new calf joins the herd of six Asian Elephants in the Asia Quest region: males, Hank and Beco, and females, Phoebe, Connie, Sundara (Sunny) and Rudy. There have been three successful Asian Elephant births at the Columbus Zoo throughout the Zoo’s history, and all three have been born to Phoebe —this most recent calf, Beco in 2009 and male, Bodhi, who was born in 2004 and now resides at Denver Zoo. Coco, who passed away at the Columbus Zoo in 2011, was the sire of Beco and Bodhi.

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4_Asian Elephant Calf 3827 - Grahm S. Jones  Columbus Zoo and AquariumPhoto Credits: Grahm S. Jones/ Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

To provide Phoebe and her new baby with time to continue developing a strong bond, they will remain in a behind-the-scenes area. The Zoo will announce viewing information for guests as it becomes available.

“We are very proud to welcome Phoebe’s calf into the elephant herd here at the Columbus Zoo,” said Columbus Zoo President/CEO Tom Stalf. “Each birth contributes to the global population and sustainability of this endangered species and is one worth celebrating as a sign of hope for the future of these incredible animals.”

Elephants have the longest gestational period of all mammals, lasting approximately 22 months. Over the last several months, Phoebe has participated in regular ultrasounds to monitor the development of the calf through the imaging, as well as blood collections to monitor her hormone levels throughout her pregnancy. Phoebe and the unnamed calf will continue to be monitored around the clock by the Zoo’s expert animal care team to ensure they receive the best care possible.

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is a long-time supporter of several direct elephant conservation initiatives benefitting both African and Asian Elephants, including annual donations to the International Elephant Foundation and several research projects and grants over the last 23 years. Many of these research projects have focused on improving human-wildlife coexistence and monitoring elephant populations in their native ranges. Zoo visitors also have the opportunity to learn about elephant conservation and how they can contribute to the sustainability of this endangered species at the Zoo’s Elephant Conservation Station inside the “Vanishing Giants” building located in the Asia Quest region.

Continue reading "Columbus Zoo Sees First Elephant Calf in Ten Years" »


Sleepy Little Polar Bear Dreams of Christmas

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One can only wonder what the sleepy little bear is dreaming about…perhaps Santa or a white Christmas?

Although still blind, deaf and about the size of a guinea pig, the growing Polar Bear cub at Tierpark Berlin is now twelve-days-old.

The cub still spends most of the day snugly nestled in mother, Tonja's, warm fur. Tonja gave birth to her youngster on the afternoon of December 1.

According to keepers, the newborn’s appetite is healthy, too. "The young animal now drinks at a fairly regular rhythm of two hours," explains Eisbären- curator, Dr. Florian Sicks. "So far we are very satisfied with the development. As in the last few years, Tonja takes excellent care of her offspring.”

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4_Tonja putzt ihr Jungtier_Tierpark Berlin_2018Photo Credits: Tierpark Berlin

Approximately 30 days after birth, eyes and auditory canals will open up for the young Polar Bear, as well. 

The new father, Volodya, moved to Zoo Berlin in the summer of 2018. In the wild, Polar Bears live as loners and the males are not involved in the rearing of juveniles.

Thanks to new camera technology, the experts at Tierpark Berlin are able to follow the events in the litter cave around the clock. The mortality rate of young Polar Bears is particularly high. In their natural habitat, about 85% of the bears do not reach an age older than two years.

Since absolute rest for mother and offspring is a decisive factor for the success of the rearing, no one will approach the nesting cave in the coming weeks. Also, the Polar Bears are currently not visible to visitors.


Elusive Wildcat Kitten Caught on Camera

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A rare Scottish Wildcat has been born at Chester Zoo. The female kitten is part of a breeding programme that is striving to save Britain’s rarest mammal from extinction.

As few as 100 Wildcats – also known as the ‘Highland tiger’ – are estimated to remain in the UK.

The animals once thrived in Britain but were hunted to the brink of extinction for their fur and to stop them from preying on game birds. As the only remaining wild feline species, Scottish Wildcats are now protected under UK law but are still under huge threat from habitat loss, crossbreeding with domestic cats, and disease.

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3_Britain’s rarest mammal – the Scottish wildcat – has been born at Chester Zoo (34)

4_Britain’s rarest mammal – the Scottish wildcat – has been born at Chester Zoo (30)Photo Credits: Chester Zoo (Images 7-11: wildcat mum "Einich")

Chester Zoo is one of a number of conservation partners, which form Scottish Wildcat Action - a coordinated effort to bring the tenacious hunters back from the brink.

Conservationists have hailed the latest kitten as “another lifeline for the species” and it is hoped that future generations will be reintroduced to the wild.

Tim Rowlands, the zoo’s Curator of Mammals, said, “Unlike domestic cats who can have several litters a year, Scottish Wildcats will usually only have one, so every birth is really, really significant.”

“The kitten was born to parents, Einich and Cromarty, in August but, given their incredibly elusive nature, had not been caught on camera until now. It’s ever so special to see just how active the kitten already is and how she’s already starting to practice the skills that these magnificent, stealth hunters use to pounce on their prey.”

Tim continued, “Conservation breeding in zoos is a key component in the wider plan to prevent Scottish Wildcats from disappearing altogether – and each new arrival offers another lifeline for the species. The hope is that the safety net population being bred by our carnivore experts will be released into the highlands of Scotland in the future. We’re very much part of the vision to restore and maintain a wild population of the stunning Scottish Wildcat for the long term.”

Continue reading "Elusive Wildcat Kitten Caught on Camera" »


Tiny Polar Bear Cub Born at Zoo Sauvage

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On the morning of November 27, zoo keepers arrived at Zoo Sauvage and heard the strong cries of a newborn cub coming from the Polar Bear den. Female Aisaqvak had given birth to a cub.

No Polar Bear had raised a cub at Zoo Sauvage since 2009, and the Polar Bear care team worked diligently to bring about another pregnancy. In 2011, a new adult male named Yellé arrived, and the team had high hopes that he and Aisaqvak would produce a cub. But despite the fact that the two Bears showed great interest in each other over several years, Aisaqvak did not become pregnant. A new male named Eddy arrived from the Aquarium du Québec in 2015, but over two seasons, he and Aisaqvak did not produce a cub. The staff decided to bring back Yellé in 2017, and breeding success was finally achieved in 2018.

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2Screen Shot 2018-12-09 at 11Photo Credit: Zoo Sauvage

Why did Aisaqvak and Yellé produce a cub this year and not in previous years? No one knows for certain, but the staff is overjoyed at the baby’s birth. The cub is significant because it introduces new genetic material into the zoo-dwelling population of Polar Bears. Aisaqvak was born in the wild, and Yellé has never reproduced before.

Newborn Polar Bears are very tiny in comparison to their mothers. Babies weigh just over one pound, while Aisaqvak weighs 727 pounds. The cub’s chances of survival are still precarious. However, the team sees hopeful signs that Aisaqvak is taking excellent care of her newborn. In addition, closed-circuit cameras allow the staff to watch every move as Aisaqvak and the baby bond in their private den. They two will remain in the den for several months, which is how mother and baby Polar Bears behave in the wild. Cubs begin walking at about three months of age. The baby’s gender will not be known for several months.

Wild Polar Bear populations are decreasing, as are populations within zoos. Polar Bears are classified as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). In 2006, 364 Polar Bears resided in zoos worldwide. In 2015, only 298 Polar Bears lived in zoos. Wild Polar Bears face threats from warming seas and shrinking sea ice, which affect their ability to hunt and capture prey.


Baby Baboon Joins a Big Family

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Oakland Zoo is celebrating its newest addition to the Hamadryas Baboon troop, which is now three generations strong.  Adult female Mocha gave birth to a baby boy, named Mousa, on November 3.  Mousa is Mocha’s first baby and she is proving to be a great mom. Mocha’s parents, Maya and Martijn, are still part of the troop, which now includes 17 members. 

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Baby Baboon born 20181103-3145Photo Credit: Oakland Zoo

 

Like most Baboon mothers, Mocha brought her baby outdoors when he was just one day old. In the close-knit troop, the other members have shown continuous support and have kept an eye on Mocha and the new baby. 

“Initially, Mousa’s aunts and uncles were especially interested in Mousa and formed an entourage going everywhere that they went, never more than a foot or two away and often much closer.  At almost three weeks old, Mousa is doing great,” said Andrea Dougall, Zoological Manager at Oakland Zoo. 

Mousa’s father, Kusa, was brought to Oakland Zoo by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) to begin his own harem with the offspring of Martijn. The genetic diversity that came with Kusa’s arrival strengthens the populations of Hamadryas Baboons at AZA-accredited U.S. zoos. Oakland Zoo’s animal care staff continues to work closely with the SSP to maintain and increase genetic diversity within the troop. 

Read more and se additional photos of Mousa below.

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Baby De Brazza’s Monkey for La Palmyre Zoo

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Zoo de La Palmyre announced the arrival of a De Brazza’s Monkey baby.

According to representatives from the French zoo, the one-month-old newborn is reportedly doing well and has started to eat solid food, though it is still suckling. Among cercopithecidae species, weaning is usually completed around one-year-old. The baby is yet-to-be-named, as the keepers haven’t confirmed its sex with certainty.

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4_MG_8208Photo Credits: Florence Perroux/Zoo de La Palmyre

De Brazza’s Monkeys (Cercopithecus neglectus) are born with a yellow-brown fur that darkens as they grow up. Adults have an orange crescent-shaped band of hair on their forehead and a white beard. De Brazza’s Monkeys mainly feed on fruits but also consume leaves and insects, and they frequently forage on the ground.

In the wild, the species is common and widespread. As it occurs in dozens of African countries, it is not threatened in short term but locally suffers from habitat destruction. Cercopithecidae are also hunted for their meat or because they sometimes destroy crops.