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May 2011

Meet Estela, the Hand-Reared Baby Spider Monkey

Photo credits: All by Trent Brownings but last (by zoo staff)

Estela the Spider Monkey is now on view in Melbourne Zoo's Primate Nursery with her grandmother Sonja. Estela was abandoned at birth by her mother Sunshine, so Primate Keepers stepped in to provide 24/7 care to pull the tiny newborn through since her birth on January 17th.

Primate Supervisor Jess McKelson explains "Because Sonja didn't feed Estela, the baby didn't get the crucial protection against infection that comes from the colostrum in mother's milk. So the baby has been very prone to infection, and we have needed to keep her under quarantine conditions at times. But we have still placed a major priority on getting her acquainted with her grandmother, Sonya, so she can learn the behaviours that are natural to a Spider Monkey."




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Rare White Kiwi Chick Born in New Zealand

Rare White Kiwi New Zealand

Earlier this month, the Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Center in New Zealand welcomed a rare white Kiwi chick. Named Manukura, the 8 ounce chick exhibits a recessive gene, which makes its hair-like feathers appear white instead of the typical brown color. White Kiwis are rare in the wild. Pukaha Center officials think this may be the first white Kiwi ever born in captivity.

Manukura the White Kiwi Chick

Photo and video credits: Mike Heydon of Jet Photography

The Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Center works to protect and restore native flora and fauna, which includes a Kiwi breeding and reintroduction program. To help contribute to the care of little Manukura, and future Kiwis, consider donating here or at least friend the little bird on Facebook!

Meet Merlot, the Orphan Harbor Seal Pup

Merlot the baby seal pup at Alaska SeaLife Center 1

Merlot was found on the mudflats outside of Tyonek, Alaska this past Saturday morning. There had recently been a storm in the area and rescuers spent the day trying to find the pup's mother. When none was found, the little girl was flown up to Anchorage and then driven down to the Alaska SeaLife Center. When she arrived she was less than 48 hours old and only weighed 7.5 kilos (16.53 lbs.)

Merlot the baby seal pup at Alaska SeaLife Center 2

For those of you experiencing déjà vu, Alaska SeaLife Center rescued another young Harbor Seal, named Gouda, two weeks ago. ASLC is naming all of their rescues this year after wines and cheeses!

Two Little Lemur Ladies Leap onto the Scene!


Cleveland Metroparks Zoo announces the birth of two Red-ruffed Lemurs, the second litter for mom Vari and her breeding partner Toros. The twin girls, named Carina and Cassiopeia, were born May 8 and are on exhibit with their mom in the Zoo’s Primate, Cat & Aquatics building. While the twins currently spend a lot of time in their nest box, they get braver every day and will soon venture out to explore the rest of their exhibit.





Red-ruffed Lemurs (Varecia rubra) are a critically endangered species native to the island nation of Madagascar off the southeastern coast of Africa. They are active throughout the day, and are characterized by their loud, peculiar sounding vocalizations. Red-ruffed Lemurs in the wild face increasing habitat deforestation, in addition to hunting and commercial exportation. Cleveland Metroparks Zoo participates in the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan for red-ruffed Lemurs as well as the SSPs for ring-tailed, mongoose, crowned and collared lemurs.  SSP programs identify population management goals and make recommendations to ensure the sustainability, health and genetic diversity of those populations.

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Rare "Forest Giraffe" Born at Chicago's Brookfield Zoo


The Chicago Zoological Society, which mangaes the Brookfield Zoo, is pleased to announce the birth of a rare hoofed mammal called an Okapi. Also known as "Forest Giraffes", these elusive hoofed mammals are largely a mystery to zoologists. Births such as this one help to shed light on the behavioral patterns of mother Okapi and how they rear their young in the wild. Brookfield welcomed the first North American Okapi birth back in 1959, and has since successfully bred 30 individuals, including this latest addition to the family.



More photos and reading below the fold...

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Tiger Cub Goes from the Hospital to the Kiddie Pool!

Tiger Cub Splashing at Pittsburgh Zoo 1

In September of 2010 the Pittsburgh Zoo welcomed a litter of little tiger cubs. Shortly thereafter, one of the cubs developed an infection and was hospitalized for weeks as Zoo vets struggled to save her life. Happily, by December the cub was happy and healthy and ready to be reunited with her siblings and mom. Since tiger cubs love to rough-house, keepers wrestled with the little cub to prepare her for the reintroduction. When they put out a tray of water for the active, thirsty cub, she decided to jump right in for more play time.

Tiger Cub Splashing at Pittsburgh Zoo 2

The “menacing” look on the cub’s face represent typical play behavior that helps prepare wild young cubs for hunting in the wild.  

Tiger Cub Splashing at Pittsburgh Zoo 3

Baby Crowned Sifaka Brings Hope and Joy

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Born on January 15, 2011, baby Echo, a crowned sifaka, has staff at the Belfast Zoo jumping for joy! Keepers decided to call the baby Echo, as without successful breeding programmes this species will become nothing more than an echo of the past! 

Crowned sifakas are critically endangered in the wild with numbers so low that exact figures are unknown. There are only approximately twenty crowned sifakas in zoos across the world and with infant mortality rates currently at 80%, staff at Belfast Zoo are ecstatic with the new arrival and his progress. Parents Linoa and Andry are the last breeding pair of crowned sifakas in the British Isles and Belfast Zoo’s group is extra special as they are on loan from the Madagascan government. Echo’s birth now brings Belfast Zoo’s group total to five. 

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Sifaka belfast 1 web

“We were all very anxious in the first couple of weeks after Echo’s birth”, explains zoo curator, Julie Mansell. “When we discovered that Linoa was pregnant we were filled with both excitement and apprehension. We all know that the statistics are against us, but Echo is doing very well.”

Zoo manager, Mark Challis is thrilled, saying, “I am very proud of the zoo... All the hard work has certainly paid off. This achievement is colossal and let’s hope that it is an achievement that we can repeat in the future."

The crowned sifaka is a type of lemur, a group of primates found only in Madagascar.  Sifakas are classified as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature as they believe Sifakas face a very high risk of extinction in the wild.

Baby Wallaroo Peeks Out of the Pouch

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This doe-eyed Eastern Wallaroo was born in mid-August 2010 at the Oakland Zoo, but he's just now coming into the world. Why? 

Wallaroo babies, called Joeys, are technically born after only one month's gestational period - fur-less, blind, and about the size of a kidney bean (1’’long). This tiny newborn will crawl unaided from the birth canal to the mother’s pouch where it begins to nurse. There it will continue to develop, not making an appearance until it is six to eight months old.

Typically, a Joey will not start coming and going from the safety of its pouch with any regularity until approximately ten months of age... but can be seen for short periods between eight and nine months.  It will feed from mother's milk for 18 months, though on warm days during that time it may go out of the pouch to have a little bite of grass.

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Related to the kangaroo, there are four types of Wallaroos: Eastern Wallaroos, the Northern, the Barrow Island Wallaroo and the Euro. The Eastern Wallaroo, like this one, is found throughout Australia.They seek refuge from the sun in caves and under ledges by day and feed at night, finding water by digging in dry creek beds. The dingo and the Wedge Tail eagle are predators of young Wallaroos. Once fully grown though, they can remain completely still to avoid being seen by predators, but are also capable of escaping at quite high speeds.

Clouded Leopard Cubs at 2 Months Old

Clouded Leopard cub up close at Nashville Zoo

Today we check back in on the Nashville Zoo's playful trio of Clouded Leopard cubs. Because of high infant mortality rates, these cubs are being hand-raised by Zoo staff. Nashville Zoo participates in the Thailand Clouded Leopard Consortium, which leads a multi-faceted conservation program that includes a viable self-sustaining breeding program. Don't miss the video below which is one part fascinating and three parts frolicking.

Two Tiny Turtles in Tennessee

This month two rare baby turtles have give staffers at the Tennessee Aquarium two more reason to celebrate World Turtle Day on Monday May 23.

"A spiny turtle hatched on May 1st and last week a four-eyed turtle hatched,” said Bill Hughes, Tennessee Aquarium senior herpetologist.  “Both species are considered endangered in the wild.”

Spinosa turtle web 1

Spinosa web 2 

Spiny turtles have shells with distinctive pointed edges and are sometimes known as cogwheel turtles. The Tennessee Aquarium, Knoxville Zoo, Tulsa Zoo and Zoo Atlanta are the only public institutions in the United States to have successfully bred this species. This new spiny baby will remain off-exhibit until it gets a little bigger, but guests can view a rather small spiny turtle hatched in 2009 in the Turtle Gallery on Level 2 of the River Journey building.

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Four-eyed turtles get their name from the ocelli, or false eye markings that occur on the back of the head. The current U.S. zoo population of this species consists of the 28 individuals at the Tennessee Aquarium and one male at the Charles Paddock Zoo in California. “Adult males and females have different ocelli patterns,” said Hughes. “This baby’s head pattern is similar to a female’s, but so far all of the ones we’ve hatched have had the same pattern.” This hatchling will also remain off-exhibit until it gets a little larger, but guests can view two hatchlings from 2009 in the Turtle Gallery nursery tanks.

Like many Southeast Asian turtle species, spiny turtles and four-eyed turtles have been overharvested in the wild for food and traditional medicine trade. Successful breeding programs such as the Aquarium’s help maintain assurance populations in case numbers of their wild counterparts fail to rebound. Collins encourages Aquarium visitors to explore the exhibits at a turtle’s pace to appreciate the special adaptations and extremes in form of each species. Said Collins, “When people develop an awareness and appreciation for these remarkable animals they’re more likely to help protect them.”