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April 10, 2011 - April 16, 2011

Los Angeles Zoo is Bursting with Babies!

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Photo credits: Tad Motoyama

The Los Angeles Zoo’s Koala joey, Peninsular Pronghorn twins and desert Bighorn Sheep made their media debut yesterday.

The Zoo’s baby boom kicked off last year with the July 6 birth of a female Koala. Since newborn Koalas spend about six months developing in the mother’s pouch, this joey has just recently begun to emerge. Baby Koalas are commonly referred to as joeys. When a Koala is born, it is just three-fourths of an inch long. After birth they climb into the mother’s pouch and stay there for six months. For the following six months, they are weaned from milk to eucalyptus as they stick their heads out of the pouch to eat partially digested leaves. After a year, they leave the pouch for good.

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Although they are often referred to as a “Koala bear,” Koalas belong to the marsupial family. Marsupials are mammals whose females typically rear their young in a pouch through early infancy. Other members of the marsupial family are Kangaroos, Wallabies, Wallaroos, Wombats and Opossums. Native to Australia, Koalas have a very low metabolic rate requiring them to conserve energy and to sleep between 18 and 20 hours a day. They spend about three of their five active hours eating a diet that consists entirely of eucalyptus leaves. Koalas consume 2 ½ pounds of leaves per day and rarely drink water due to the moisture found in eucalyptus leaves.

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March 20, brought the birth of a female Desert Bighorn Sheep. This species is native to the high mountains and deserts of the south western United States and northern Mexico. Preferring to reside in places with rocky terrain and access to water, they completely avoid forested areas.

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Bighorn Sheep can be seen in our local San Gabriel Mountains, though their population is threatened by many factors including drought, predators, disease and fires. The most recognizable characteristic of the Bighorn Sheep is the male’s massive, spiraled horns and their majestic faces. These horns may add up to one third of their total body weight when they’re full grown. Females have much smaller horns.

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On March 1, two Peninsular Pronghorn, one male and one female, were born. Native to Baja California Sur, Mexico, these graceful animals are mostly active at dawn and dusk. Hunting, cattle ranching and agriculture have resulted in the significant decrease of this critically endangered species.

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Newborn Pronghorns take their first steps within 30 minutes of birth. By the time they are four days old, they can outrun humans. After just a week, fawns can run faster than dogs and horseback riders over short distances. They are the second fastest land mammal and the fastest ungulate (hoofed mammal), clocking in at anywhere from 40 to 60 miles per hour. They can maintain this speed, without showing any sign of distress, for an hour or longer.

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Typically, a Pronghorn mother will have one or two fawns weighing in at around seven or eight pounds. When they reach adulthood, pronghorns weigh up to 125 pounds and reach a height of 35 inches. The females are usually 10 to 25 percent smaller then males.


Rare Gremlin-like Sifaka Lemur Born at Maryland Zoo!

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The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore is welcoming its newest arrival – a male Coquerel’s Sifaka (CAHK-ker-rells she-FAHK) baby born on Tuesday, February 15, 2011.  “This is a highly significant birth for the Sifaka population in North America,” stated Mike McClure, general curator.  “There are only eight accredited zoos that house the 50 Coquerel’s Sifaka in the U.S. and this tiny baby represents 2% of the total captive population in the country.”

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Photo and video credits: Maryland Zoo

The Maryland Zoo’s Sifaka pair, Anastasia, age 7 and Gratian, age 8 are the first time parents of baby Otto, which was born sometime between 9:00 am and 10:00 am on February 15.  His birth weight was 100 grams, which falls in the average birth weights range of 85-115 g. “For comparison’s sake, 100 grams is just about the weight of a deck of cards,” said Meredith Wagoner, mammal collection and conservation manager at the Zoo.  “Sifaka are born almost hairless and resemble tiny bald gremlins, however their white hair soon grows in and they begin to resemble their parents.”

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Tiny Tim the Tortoise has “Grape” Expectations

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What the Dickens? This tiny month-old Egyptian Tortoise at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, Bedfordshire, UK, is dwarfed by a juicy grape. He is part of a small litter born to a group of Tortoise seized by HM Customs and Excise last year that were destined for the illegal pet trade. Weighing in at just 6g on hatching, the tiny Tortoise will grow to 500g over the next 10 years, when he might just be big enough to enjoy a whole grape to himself. These critically endangered creatures originate from Egypt and Libya, but visitors to Whipsnade Zoo can see the pint-sized chap taking one of his slow jaunts around his specially designed miniature home.

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Photo credits: ZSL Whipsnade Zoo


Rare Camel Baby Gets Kisses from Mom

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It's little wonder this doting mum can't get enough of her newborn - as he's one of the most endangered animals in the world. But like all children, the adorable baby Camel preferred to squirm in embarrassment and duck out of the way of his mother's sloppy kisses. The critically endangered Camel, named Lemmy, was too slow and got a loving smacker right on his hairy head. Little Lemmy is one of the newest Bactrian Camels to be born at Longleat Safari Park, to mum Bhali, 13, and dad Khan, nine. He was born weighing a hefty 65 lbs after a gestation period of 13 months, and is now busy exploring his large enclosure at the park. Now one month old, Lemmy is one of eight Bactrian Camels at the park - and is the first to be born at Longleat in two years.

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Photo credits: BNPS

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Clouded Leopard Twins for National Zoo!

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A female Clouded Leopard at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) in Front Royal, Virginia, gave birth to a litter of two cubs Monday, March 28. Staff had been on a pregnancy watch of the two-year-old Sita for one day. Sita gave birth to the first cub at 1:15 p.m. and the second cub at 1:25 p.m. The male cub weighed 9.48 ounces and the female cub weighed 7.76 ounces. This is the first litter for Sita, who came from the Nashville Zoo, and the father, two-year-old Ta Moon. The cubs are being hand-reared by SCBI staff.

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Photo credits: Mehgan Murphy, Smithsonian's National Zoo

The cubs’ births are significant as they represent a second generation of genetically valuable clouded leopards at SCBI. Ta Moon’s birth in March 2009 marked the first time clouded leopard cubs were born at SCBI after 16 years. The breeding of clouded leopards has been a challenge, primarily because of male aggression. These new cubs are the direct result of SCBI’s scientific breakthrough in animal care science to introduce males to their mates when they are six months old. This allows the pair to grow up together and reduce the risk of agressive attacks.

More images below the fold...

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