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June 2012
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August 2012

July 2012

A Pile o' Four! Rare Asiatic Lion Cubs Born at Paignton Zoo


Four little Asiatic Lion cubs (Panthera leo persica) were born on May 15 after a gestation of about 3.5 months to mother Indu and father Mwamba at the UK's Paignton Zoo Environmental Park. This is the parent first success after several failed attempts. 

Neil Bemment, Director of Operations and Curator of Mammals said, “They have come through the critical first few weeks. We have been letting her get on with being a new mum and so far she seems to be doing really well. We are cautiously excited. If she is successful then it will be thanks to a lot of care and attention from the keepers. It is very good news for the species.” 

Asiatic lions are threatened by hunting and habitat destruction. Fewer than 400 survive in the wild in the Gir National Park and Lion Sanctuary (India). There are conservation breeding programs in zoos including a European Endangered species Programme (EEP). The Asiatic lion is smaller than the African lion and has a distinctive fold of skin on the belly. Also, the male's mane is smaller and lighter in colour. 



Photo credit: Paington Zoo

Spotted At Cincinnati Zoo's Nursery: New Cheetah Cub!


A three-week-old female African Cheetah cub is now on exhibit in the Cincinnati Zoo’s Nursery.  She was born at the zoo’s regional Cheetah breeding facility in Clermont County on June 22, but she had to be moved to the zoo’s Nursery after her mother, Lucy, (this is her first litter) could not provide adequate care. In an effort to get the cub back up to speed, zoo nursery keepers are bottle feeding the cub six times a day, every 2.5 hours.

Cheetah Cub2

Cheetah Cub3

Cheetah Cub6
Photo credits: Cincinnati Zoo


To survive, Cheetahs need large tracts of land where they can find enough prey to hunt.  Illegal hunting of the small antelope on which they depend has dramatically diminished Cheetah numbers in the wild.  Local farmers in East and Southern Africa must learn to maintain their livestock and coexist with wild Cheetahs.   Methods including the use of fencing, guard dogs, and donkeys to protect livestock and have helped to conserve the wild prey base and habitat.

The Zoo’s breeding facility is one of only four similar facilities in the United States managed by the Species Survival Plan. In total, there have been 64 cheetah cubs born in Cincinnati.

Introducing ABC ZooBorns! - Cutest Kids Book Ever


ZooBorns' newest, cutest book for young children, ABC ZooBorns!, hits shelves Tuesday, July 24th. Pre-order now from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. With an adorable baby animal for each letter of the alphabet and fun facts for each speices, ABC ZooBorns! is perfect for the youngest readers (ages 2 and up).



ABC ZooBorns! at a glance:

* Features amazingly cute baby critters from zoos and aquariums all over the globe along with toddler friendly text and a full appendix with fun facts on each baby 

* 10% of all ZooBorns book sales go directly to the Conservation Endowment Fund

* Buy in bulk! The books are currently just $8.76 on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. They make perfect gifts!

But as LeVar Burton might say, you don't have to take our word for it! See what the critics have to say:

“Bleiman and Eastland introduce a new group of criminally cute baby zoo animals for each letter of the alphabet in a companion to 2010’s ZooBorns. Crisp, closeup photographs feature cheetahs, flamingos, marmosets, and sloths, among others, while lighthearted prose emphasizes the animals’ unique characteristics.”

Publishers Weekly, May 14, 2012


Tiptoe Through the Meadow: Munich Zoo Hellabrunn Welcomes Three Moose Calves


Guess what's new at Tierpark Hellabrunn? They have overly-long legs, uncertain movements, ears that seem way too big and fuzzy muzzles. If you guessed Moose you guessed right! Known in Europe as Eurasian Elk, the majesty of the animals they’ll grow into, especially the bulls with their impressive antlers, is hard to see right now. However these three little Moose calves, born at the end of May at Munich Zoo, are real attention grabbers. 

After a pregnancy lasting approximately seven and a half months, Anita, a three-year-old cow, gave birth to a healthy girl called Madita on May 21. Two days later, on May 23, another cow, Merle, also age three, gave birth to twin calves in an unproblematic nighttime delivery. The male has been named Merlin and the female, Meli. The proud father of the trio is Josef, a three-year-old bull born in Bavaria.

Moose are native to North America, Europe and Asia. Their habitat is mountain meadows and forests. Moose are herbivores and live on a diet of grass, plants, bushes and saplings. Hellabrunn’s herd now comprises seven animals: Josef, Merle, Anita, Frieda (aged 2) and these three new calves.


Photo Credit: Munich Zoo Hellabrunn 

8 Pound Pup is First in Breeding Program for Rare Species

Baby Fur Seal and Mom NEAQ 4

Babies often arrive at the most inopportune times! Tuesday night just before midnight, New England Aquarium’s overnight engineer, realized that Ursula, a sweet 14-year-old Northern Fur Seal, might be in labor. She immediately made a phone call, and shortly thereafter, several marine mammal trainers and veterinary staff arrived. They found Ursula in a corner with her newborn pup, which was searching for its mother’s nipples. With some maternal direction and repositioning, the dark brown, 8 lb. pup finally found mother’s milk and settled down for some nursing and bonding. Kathy Streeter, the Aquarium’s marine mammal curator, was thrilled with Ursula’s maternal instincts and care, particularly since this was her first pup.

Baby Fur Seal and Mom NEAQ 2

Baby Fur Seal and Mom NEAQ 1Photo and video credits: New England Aquarium

The birth was the first in the Aquarium’s dedicated program for rare Northern Fur Seals. The newborn is only the 13th Northern Fur Seal to be found in an American aquarium or zoo. Seven of those animals make the New England Aquarium’s new, harbor-side pinniped exhibit their home. Several years ago as the Aquarium planned for the construction of its $11 million New Balance Foundation Marine Mammal Center, staff made a strategic decision to gather Northern Fur Seals from around the country and start a dedicated breeding program.

See and learn more below the fold

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First Ever Critically Endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper Chicks Hatch in the UK

Chick in hand

Fourteen Critically Endangered Spoon-billed Sandpipers were hatched in captivity at Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust Slimbridge Wetland Centre in Gloucestershire this week, a first for the UK and only the second flock ever to have been born in captivity. These latest chicks are part of an emergency conservation breeding mission to ensure the species against imminent extinction in the wild. Four further eggs are expected to hatch in the coming days and, if successful, will bring the total flock size to 30. The size of the flock is critical to triggering breeding behavior in the birds, which are mature enough to reproduce at two years old.

The birds were hatched from eggs taken from the tiny remaining wild population which breeds on the sub-Arctic tundra in the Russian Far East, and flown by helicopter and plane on a week-long journey via Anadyr, Moscow and Heathrow before arriving at WWT Slimbridge. The dramatic decline in Spoon-billed Sandpiper numbers was first observed in 2000. Now fewer than 100 pairs are thought to remain. Russian and international field workers travel each year to the breeding grounds in Chukotka to monitor numbers and have been critical in raising the alarm.

Although the long term decline of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper is thought to have been driven by inter-tidal habitat loss in East Asia, the roots of the current problem have been identified some 5,000 miles (8,000 km) away in coastal Myanmar and Bangladesh, where the birds spend the majority of the year outside the breeding season. Bird trapping by some villagers is suspected to have driven the steep decline in numbers. Local and international conservationists have had some success in stopping this practice by helping villagers find and fund alternative livelihoods. Once these threats have been tackled, birds from the conservation breeding program will be returned to the wild to increase the remaining wild population.

Chick 1



Eggs arrive

Eggs SD
Photo Credit: Photo 1, 2: WWT/Paul Marshall, Photo 3, 4, 5, 6: WWT/Sacha Dench

Continue reading "First Ever Critically Endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper Chicks Hatch in the UK" »

Penguin Chick a Special Delivery


A bundle of fluffy gray feathers arrived at the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo on June 26:  A tiny Black-footed Penguin hatched to mother Right Pink and father Left Pink. (The penguins are identified by colored bands on each wing.)

Though the Pinks have raised several chicks, this Penguin needed a little help entering the world.  A few days before hatching, the chick used its pointy temporary "egg tooth" (located on the top of its beak) to "pip" through both the internal egg membrane and the eggshell.  Normally, the chick would begin coming out of its shell at this point, but in this case, nothing happened.  "The veterinary staff ultimately helped the chick come out of the egg," says zoo keeper Nikki Finch.  "Mom and dad took the chick back right away and starting caring for it."

The Pinks are apparently doing a great job caring for their chick - its weight increased nearly sixfold, from 52 grams to 298 grams, in just 12 days!



Zoo guests won't be able to see the Penguin chick, whose gender is not yet known, for several months. "Right now, the chick is with the Pinks in the Penguins' night house," says Finch.  The chick will stay with its parents, dining on regurgitated fish, until it is 21 days old or weighs 500 grams.  "After that, we'll take over feeding the chick and train it to eat fish form our hand," says Finch.  Once the chick loses its fuzzy gray down and sports a nice set of waterproof feathers, it will return to the exhibit and meet the rest of the flock.

Black-footed Penguins are native to the coast of South Africa, where they are threatened by human activity.  At one time, nearly 4 million Balck-footed Penguins inhabited South Africa's coastal waters; today fewer than 55,000 remain.  Black-footed Penguins are managed by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums Species Survival Plan.

Photo Credit:  Fort Wayne Children's Zoo


Rock Hyraxes Play "Hide and Seek" at Virginia Zoo


Three new baby Rock Hyraxes are receiving visitors at the Virginia Zoo's Africa - Okavango Delta exhibit.  Born July 5, the little mammals can now be seen with the four adults in the Hyrax habitat –but visitors may have to work to find them.

"Like their parents, the babies like to wedge themselves into crevices, so look for them in between the rocks," said Greg Bockheim, the Virginia Zoo's executive director. He added that the adults often sit high on the rocks and freeze in place to avoid being seen, and that the babies will develop similar behavior as they grow.

Hyraxes are small, heavy-set mammals native to Africa and the Middle East. Their feet have rubbery pads with numerous sweat glands, which together form a kind of suction cup that helps their grip when climbing steep, rocky surfaces.


Photo Credit:  Virginia Zoo / Winfield Danielson

Continue reading "Rock Hyraxes Play "Hide and Seek" at Virginia Zoo" »

Bald is Beautiful for Andean Condor Chicks

Germany’s Potzberg Wildpark has been a hotbed of Andean Condor hatchings, and 2012 is no exception.  Two chicks hatched to parents Josephine and Napoleon in June.  A male hatched on June 2 and a female on June 28.  Since 2009, the pair has produced eight chicks.

When Josephine laid her first egg, she and Napoleon fought in the nest.  To avoid damage to the egg, zoo keepers separated Napoleon from his mate.  But once it came time to brood her egg, Josephine ignored it.  Keepers then removed the egg and incubated it artificially.

The Andean Condor chicks are growing fast.  About the size of a tennis ball at birth, the chicks grow to the size of a basketball by four weeks of age.   As adults, the males have a wingspan of up to 10.5 feet (320 cm) and weigh up to 33 pounds (15 g).  Adult female condors have deep red eyes.

In most birds of prey, it’s difficult to determine a hatchling’s gender, but with Andean Condors, it’s easy.  Males sport a comb on their heads, while females do not.  The chicks are hand fed every three hours and enjoy cozy indoor quarters, where keepers keep a close eye on them. 



Continue reading "Bald is Beautiful for Andean Condor Chicks" »

Seeing Pink at Stone Zoo

AP Flamingo CREDIT Elise Amendola_1
Stone Zoo in Stoneham, Massachusetts announces the hatching of seven Caribbean flamingo chicks.

“It’s always fascinating for our visitors to watch the chicks being raised by their parents. We are expecting a few more eggs to hatch this summer, so guests will have the opportunity to observe these striking birds in various stages of development,” said Frederick Beall, Zoo New England General Curator, who added, “We hope to continue successfully breeding these birds to genetically diversify the colony while increasing our flock.” 

Chick in water CREDIT Elise Amendola AP
Stone Zoo has had a highly successful Caribbean flamingo breeding colony for many years. The first breeding occurred in 1994, and it has continued every year except one with a total of 104 hatches, including the new chicks. The flock at Stone Zoo now numbers more than 42 birds plus seven chicks, which range in age from a few days old to at least 43 years old.  The ideal breeding conditions must include easy access to water as well as a muddy area. Flamingos build their nests by mounding up piles of mud, which can measure up to two feet tall. A single egg is laid and is incubated by both parents. Both parents also rear the chick.

Caribbean flamingo chicks - SZ June 2012

Credit AP Elise Amendola Photo SZ Flamingo

Zoo New England manages Franklin Park Zoo in Boston and Stone Zoo in Stoneham.  Both are accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Zoo New England's mission is to inspire people to protect and sustain the natural world for future generations by creating fun and engaging experiences that integrate wildlife and conservation programs, research, and education.

Photo Credits:  Elise Amendola