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November 2012
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December 2012

Another Okapi for Antwerp!

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The staff at Belgium's Zoo Antwerpen expected female Okapi Yenthe to deliver her baby on Christmas Day, but she had other plans.  At about 3:00 AM on December 16, the zoo’s night watchman alerted keepers when he noticed something unusual in the Okapi house.  Keepers were able to immediately see Yenthe and her new baby from their homes, using a web cam installed at the Okapi house. 

The male baby was named Ngwani, which means “child.”  He is the 49th Okapi born at Zoo Antwerpen since Okapi first arrived at the zoo in 1919.  There are currently eight Okapi at the zoo, including two other calves born in the last two years. 

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Zoo Antwerpen manages the international studbook for Okapi.  In this role, the zoo coordinates breeding recommendations for captive Okapi, with the goal of maintaining a genetically healthy population in zoos worldwide.

Okapi are found only in the dense rain forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo – nowhere else.  They are perfectly suited for life among the vegetation.  Only about 10-20,000 Okapi remain in the wild, and these are under threat from poaching, habitat loss, and ongoing conflict in the region.

Photo credit:  © ZOO Antwerpen / Jonas Verhulst

Star Tortoise Hatchlings Live Life in the Fast Lane

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Just a few inches long, two Indian Star Tortoises hatched at the Taronga Zoo in late October are already living life in the fast lane.  These normally slow-moving babies can really hoof it when lunch is delivered at the zoo.

Once their meal of greens, veggies, and berries is placed before them, the Tortoises climb into their food bowl.  Surrounded by their tasty treats, the Tortoises start munching away. Hibiscus flowers are offered as a special delicacy.

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Taronga Zoo has enjoyed recent success breeding Indian Star Tortoises.  The zoo’s collection includes five adults, a four-year-old, and a one-year-old, in addition to these two new babies. 

Indian Star Tortoises are named for the striking black markings on their high domed shells.  Highly sought after for the exotic pet trade, populations of these Tortoises are declining in their native India and Sri Lanka.  Because Indian Star Tortoises have low reproduction rates, the Taronga Zoo’s breeding program is important to the captive population. 

Photo Credit:  Taronga Zoo

UPDATE! Baby Walrus at Indianapolis Zoo Ready to Meet the Public


You may have read about this baby Pacific Walrus in October, here on This orphaned male calf was found in July off the northern coast of Alaska and rescued when he was estimated to be only 4-6 weeks old — far too young to be without his mother — and suffering from dehydration and lice. 

He was taken in by the Alaska SeaLife Center, which provides care for sick and injured marine animals. Almost immediately the calf showed a very curious personality, so the SeaLife Center staff named him Pakak (PACK’-ACK), which means 'one that gets into everything' in the northern Alaskan dialect of Inupiaq (ee-NYOOP-ee-ak).

Walrus are very tactile and social animals, and the dedicated staff and caretakers at the SeaLife Center provided the social interaction that a Walrus calf would otherwise seek from other Walrus. As a result, Walrus calves almost immediately adjust to human care and therefore are not candidates for release back into the wild following rehabilitation. 

Because the SeaLife Center is it not large enough to be the permanent home to all the wildlife it rescues, the Indianapolis Zoo was selected by the US Fish and Wildlife Service to be selected as Pakak's permanent home. Zoo Marine Mammal Trainer Shauna Gallagher was sent in advance to Alaska to bond with Pakak befoe bringing him to his new home.



Photo Credit: Indianapolis Zoo

Once in Indianapolis, he recieved tender loving care by keepers behind the scenes as he adjusted and got even stronger. He was quarrantined, as is typical, for 30 days, before joining the zoo's other Walrus Aurora. And the newest news is that he just recently became ready to make his public debut. On December 5 he went out on exhibit and has charmed zoo guests ever since. 


Top 25 ZooBorns of All Time - Cute by the Numbers

Having just published our 2,000th ZooBorns post, we thought it was time to take a look back and reflect on the last 4 years. We crunched the numbers and identified the Top 25 Most Popular Baby Animals since we founded ZooBorns in 2008. 

#25- Naked into the World: Amani the Baby Aardvark

We innocently entitled this story about a baby Aardvark "Naked into the World." To this day the post attracts some very strange Google keyword searches… well, joke's on them. Detroit Zoo's Aardvark cub, Amani, was our first and, many Aardvarks later, remains our most popular. Full story

Photo credit: Mark M. Gaskill - Phoenix Innovate. Taken at the Detroit Zoo

#24 - What's a Tawny Frogmouth?

Hoover and Sawyer, the two Tawny Frogmouth chicks born at SeaWorld, Orlando made a splash on ZooBorns just three months after we launched. Our first book featured a Fennec Fox on the cover in the US and six foreign language versions. The exception was the Korean publisher who saw fit to put one of these fluff-balls on the cover. Full story

Photo credits: Jason Collier, SeaWorld Orlando 

#23 - Meet "Badger Girl" the Honey Badger

Feisty, stubborn, smelly, and adventurous, at 14 weeks old "Badger Girl," the Honey Badger cub, exhibited all the trademark charms of her species. A few weeks after sharing this story, the Johannesburg Zoo realized Badger Girl was actually a badger boy and shortened his name to BG. Full story

Photo credit: Lorna Fuller / Johannesburg Zoo

#22 - Koala Joeys Galore for Australia's Dreamworld

"Pound" the Koala joey was one of 11 born at Dreamworld in 2011. He also graced the cover of our second book for young children ABC ZooBorns. Check out those claws! Full story

Photo credits: Australia's Dreamworld / Koala COuntry Photographics

#21 - Ruth the Tiny Two-Toed Sloth

Born underweight, this tiny Hoffman's Two-toed Sloth bounced back thanks to Rosamond Gifford Zoo keepers supplanting her nursing with formula. Now Ruth is happy, healthy and as active as Two-toed Sloth ought to be, which is to say, pretty laid back. Full story

Photo credits: Amelia Beamish, Rosamond Gifford Zoo

#20 - Siku the Polar Bear Cub and ZooBorns The Next Generation

Siku was the perfect poster-child (cover child?) for our newest book, ZooBorns: The Next Generation, since he A) is shockingly adorable and B) puts an empathetic face on the tremendous challenges posed by climate change like melting sea ice. Zoo's like the Scandinavian Wildlife Park of Djursland's and organizations like Polar Bears International are working hard to spread the word and educate the public on how to help. Full story

Photo credits: Soren Koch & Himer / Koch Nature Photography

#19 - Meet Beau, the Orphan Echidna Puggle

A relatively recent zoo-born, Beau the Echidna was brought to the Taronga Zoo as a 30 day orphan in late October. This unique looking baby, called a puggle, caught even many longtime ZooBorns fans by surprise. Full story

Photo credit: Ben Gibson / Taronga Zoo

#18 - Double Dose of Baby Sea Otter

Tazo, the orphan Sea Otter was rescued by the Alaska SeaLife Center in the summer of 2010. He enjoys socializing with other Otters, playing in a tote bag full of ice and toys, and eating clams. We here at ZooBorns remain in awe of the rescue and rehabilitation work performed by the Alaska SeaLife Center, which included orphaned walrus calves, Sea Otters, seals and baby Belugas among others this year. Full story

Photo credit: Alaska SeaLife Center

#17 - Munching Baby Marmoset Makes Eyes at the Camera

At just over one month old, the Alma Park Zoo's baby Common Marmoset was smaller than a kiwi fruit and enjoyed mugging for the camera. Full story

Photo credits: Wei

#16 - What's a Tamandua?

Just days old in the photo below, this baby Tamandua was still nameless when we included him in the first ZooBorns kids' book. Apparently he was never named and, to this day, children and moms write in asking us what the critter's name is. Tamandua toddlers like little Nameless here hitch a ride on mom’s back for the first part of their life. This baby was born at Discovery Cove. Full story

Photo credits: Photo credits: David Collier / Discovery Cove

#15 - Rare Pygmy Loris Twins Born at Moody Gardens

Moving slowly through the tree tops and weighing only a pound or less in adulthood, the Pygmy Slow Loris lives up to its name. Random ZooBorns fun fact - Slow Lorises have been ZooBorns Co-founder Andrew Bleiman's favorite animal since he was 6! Moody Gardens announced the rare birth of Pygmy Slow Loris twins in 2010. Full story

Photo credit: Moody Gardens

#14 - Thermonuclear Otters

Lethally cute, we dubbed these North American River Otter triplets the "Thermonuclear Otters." Born at the Columbus Zoo, the pups remained secluded in the den with mom for the first two months. Full story

Photo credits: Grahm Jones

#13 - Meet the World's Smallest Rabbit

Columbia Basin Pygmy Rabbits are the world's smallest and among the rarest. Native only to a single area of Washington State, the species was declared extinct in the wild in the '90s, after the remaining 14 bunnies were scooped up and taken into the equivalent of bunny protective custody at Oregon ZooFull story

Photo credits: Michael Durham / Oregon Zoo

#12 - Baby Otter Swim Lessons

Surprising fact: baby otters actually need to be taught how to swim! Not so surprising fact: the process is obscenely adorable! Watch mom teach her pups at the Columbus Zoo. Full story

Otter Pups Columbus Zoo
Photo credits: Grahm Jones

#11 - Arctic Fox Pups at Aquarium of the Pacific

Arctic Foxes have heavily pigmented eyes, which function like built-in sunglasses, to protect them from the glare of sun on snow. These playful pups were born at Aquarium of the Pacific in 2011. Full story

Photo credits: Aquarium of the Pacific

#10 - Black Jaguar Baby

ZooBorns fans love shots of mothers and cubs. Here a newborn black Jaguar is carried by her mother, named Venus, at the Park of the Legends zoo in Lima. Full story

Black Jaguar
Photo credits: AP Photos/Karel Navarro

#9 - Feisty Snow Leopard Kitten Born at Binder Park Zoo

One of ZooBorns very first posts, this Snow Leopard kitten born at Binder Park Zoo also has the honor of being the most popular Snow Leopard kitten of the many we've showcased over the years. Full story

Photo credit: Binder Park Zoo

 #8 - A Face Any Mother Would Love

The Everland Zoo in Seoul, Korea is always full of surprises and their resident photographer, In Cherl Kim, is always there to capture them. This guy is The Master. Check out his Flickr page. These Bat-eared Fox pups look like cartoon characters. Full story

Bat-eared Fox
Photo credits: In Cherl Kim

#7 - A Tiny Baby Dik-Dik

Rejected by its mother, this tiny Kirk's Dik-Dik was hand-raised by keepers at England's Chester Zoo where he apparently assists with light clerical work... Standing just 10 inches tall, the baby is bottle fed five times a day and appears to be doing well. Full story

Photo credits: Press Association

#6 - South Africa Welcomes Prince Harry…

Prince Harry the Pygmy Hippo at the Cango Wildlife Ranch was an international superstar who helped raise visibility for the plight of his endangered species. Full story

Photo credits: Cango Wildlife Reserve

#5 - Rare Sand Kitten Birth Gives Hope for Conservation

Once plentiful in numbers in the dunes of Israel, the Sand Cat has become extinct in the region. This was Safari Zoo's first successful Sand Cat birth, which joined Israel's Sand Cat Breeding Program in order to help reintroduce the species into the wild. Full story

Sand Kitten
Photo credit: Tibor Jager

#4 - Pile O' Otter Babies

Asian Small-Clawed Otters are the smallest species of otter and also one of the noisiest. In addition to the photo, we couldn't resist posting the video, which incidentally, remains our most popular. Turns out otter pups chirp like birds! Full story

Photo credits: Jason Collier SeaWorld Orlando


#3 - National Zoo Announces Rare Clouded Leopard Birth

In 2009, these Clouded Leopard cubs were the first born in 16 years at Smithsonian National Zoo. Many Clouded Leopard posts later, they are still the most popular of their species. Full story

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Photo credit: Tracy A. Woodward / The Washington Post

#2 - It's a Mouse... It's a Deer... It's a Mouse Deer!

It's been two years since we shared the Paignton Zoo's baby Mouse Deer and we still get comments claiming the post is fake! The Lesser Malay Mouse Deer, a species of Chevrotain, is very real, and very small.  Full story

Photo credit: Ray Wiltshire / Paignton

#1 - What's Cuter Than a Fennec Fox? Trick question… Nothing!

This photo single handedly introduced ZooBorns to 500,000 new visitors. Twice as popular as our friend the Mouse Deer, this Fennec Fox kit from Korea's Everland Zoo, has since become the ZooBorns' mascot. Many many more Fennec Fox posts...

Photo credit: In Cherl Kim

Want the cliff notes? Enjoy our  "executive summary", or Pyr-Aww-mid below. This graphic provides a handy snapshot of the cast of characters that make-up and help to ensure you get your daily recommended dietary allowance of adorable animals. Finally, don't forget to order our newest book, ZooBorns: The Next Generation in time for Christmas! 10% of all sales goes to conservation and at $9.99, it's a perfect stocking stuffer. 

Click image to enlarge


Bronx Zoo Hatches Extremely Rare Yellow-headed Box Turtles

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Five Chinese Yellow-headed Box Turtles have hatched at the WCS Bronx Zoo.They are a part of WCS’s strategy to save some of the most critically endangered turtle species in the world. 

Chinese Yellow-headed Box Turtles are considered to be one of the 25 most endangered turtles in the world, with fewer than 150 individuals remaining in the wild. They once thrived in streams in the highlands of the Anhui Province of eastern China. But the population collapsed due to human consumption, use in traditional medicine, pollution, habitat loss, and the pet trade. 

Chinese Yellow-headed Box Turtles require the artificial manipulation of specific environmental and climatic conditions in order to be stimulated to breed. But the experts at WCS’s Bronx Zoo were able to successfully recreate these conditions in propagation areas in the zoo’s Reptile House. 

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“The biology of the species requires the adults to hibernate prior to breeding,” said Don Boyer, Curator of Herpetology at WCS’s Bronx Zoo. “We carefully monitor the environment and gradually reduce the temperature in order to induce a natural state of hibernation. Following hibernation, turtle pairs are introduced and carefully monitored to watch for evidence of courtship and breeding activities.”

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Photo Credit: Julie Larsen Maher

Read more about WCS's fine conservation efforts below the fold:

Continue reading "Bronx Zoo Hatches Extremely Rare Yellow-headed Box Turtles" »

Panda Cub Has a Ball at His Exam

PandaBabyExam18_003_WebPhoto credit: Ken Bohn / San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo's Giant Panda cub, Xiao Liwu, was eager to play with a plastic ball during his 18th exam. Panda keepers gave the cub the ball to test his coordination and encourage him to play with new objects. Follow Xiao Liwu's progress and antics on the Zoo's Panda Cam! Don't miss the awesome video below.

New Baby Dolphin a Success for Research Technology at Dolphin Cove

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A 3.5 foot-long, 35-pound Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin was born at Discovery Cove in Florida on November 30 at 10:22 a.m. -- and it's a girl! The little calf is continuing to develop, nurse and bond with her mother.

Her birth is notable, because it marks the first time a Dolphin at Discovery Cove has successfully given birth to a calf conceived through the use of “sperm-sexing” research, which involves separating sperm carrying a female-producing X chromosome from sperm carrying a male-producing Y chromosome. This scientific advancement affords Discovery Cove the opportunity to manage its species’ genetic diversity and social environment.

Scientists at the SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Reproductive Research Center in San Diego, pioneered the ability to preferentially produce female or male Dolphin offspring though sperm-sexing and artificial insemination. The baby represents the 15th Dolphin calf produced worldwide using sex pre-selection technology, and the 25th Dolphin born at Discovery Cove since the park opened in 2000. Discovery Cove’s parent company, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, has one of the most successful dolphin breeding programs in the world.

Photo Credit: Discovery Cove at SeaWorld 

UPDATE! Oregon Zoo's Baby Elephant Has a Name

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Though the baby Asian Elephant born at the Oregon Zoo has been described as a little "spitfire" by her keepers, she has been given a rather delicate name, chosen by public vote: Lily!  Born on November 30, weighing 300 pounds 136 kilos), the calf is nursing well and now weights 316 pounds (143 kilos). She stands a little more than three feet tall (.91 meters) at the shoulder. You can read about her birth from our Zooborns post by clicking HERE.

And there's more exciting news: The zoo has announced that baby Lily will be able to be seen by the public with her mom, Rose-Tu, for the first time starting this Friday, December 21. They will be together in the indoor viewing area of the zoo's Asian elephant exhibit between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

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Photo Credit: Oregon Zoo

Significant Birth: These Two Baby Jaguars, at Milwaukee County Zoo


The Milwaukee County Zoo announced the birth of two Jaguar cubs. The two babies were born on November 13 to first time mother Stella, and to father, Pat. Zookeepers continue to monitor Stella and her cubs in an area not visible to the public, mainly via video feed, and report the cubs are nursing, sleeping, and even hissing and scratching. They will nurse until about 5 to 6 months of age, and begin to sample meat once they are about 5 weeks old.

The cubs will receive their first exams and vaccines from Zoo veterinary staff at six weeks of age, and at the same time their sexes will be determined.  The cubs currently weigh about 5.4 and 5.9 pounds (2.4-2.8 kgs). Both are steadily gaining weight. 

This birth is significant in that the father is a rescued, wild-born animal and considered a founder to the population. Pat not only brings new genes to the captive Jaguar population, but serves as an ambassador to the wild population and to the conservation of the species. At approximately 14 years old, Pat has adapted extremely well to his Zoo surroundings -- and now has the added success of siring offspring. The last time the Zoo displayed jaguar cubs was 1975. 



Photo Credit: Amanda Ista, Milwaukee County Zoo


World's First Breeding of Zoo-Born Echidnas at Perth Zoo


Perth Zoo’s groundbreaking Echidna breeding program has produced two puggles (baby Echidnas) and a breeding milestone: These puggles represent the first successful breeding from zoo-born Echidnas and have shown that Echidnas breed at a younger age than previously thought.

The puggles were born to four-year-old first-time mothers Mila and Chindi, both bred and born at Perth Zoo.  The new additions were named Nyingarn (Nyoongar for Echidna) and Babbin (Nyoongar for friend).  The puggles weighed less than one gram each when they hatched in August and spent their first two months in their mothers’ pouches before being deposited in nursery burrows. DNA testing will reveal the puggles’ genders.






“Until now, it was believed female Echidnas did not breed until the age of five so these latest births have shed new light on Echidna reproduction,” Environment Minister Bill Marmion said.  The groundbreaking work of the Perth Zoo’s Short-beaked Echidna breeding program could help conserve its endangered cousin, the Long-beaked Echidna.  The Perth Zoo has produced eight of the 24 Short-beaked Echidnas that have been bred in captivity.

Short-beaked Echidnas are part of a group of mammals called monotremes.  Females lay a single egg, which is incubated for about 11 days before it hatches.  The baby, called a puggle, completes its development in the mother’s pouch.  As adults, Short-beaked Echidnas are covered with spines.  They feed on insects, which are collected with their long, sticky tongues.

Photo Credit:  Perth Zoo