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January 2013

Newborn Reticulated Giraffe Stands Tall at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo


Just twenty minutes after his birth, this five-foot, four-inch calf was already walking about on four spindly legs.

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo welcomed its twenty-first Reticulated Giraffe to the herd on January 23rd. Msichana, the calf’s eleven-year-old mother, began birthing at noon as zoo visitors looked on. Caretakers quickly moved her to an indoor stall for privacy, and the one-hundred-and-four-pound baby was born within the hour.

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Photo credits: Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

Daily monitoring finds that the calf and his mother are doing well. The two are already back on display for the public. After he reaches thirty days old, the zoo will give the calf a name.

Peek over the fold. 

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One Masked Baby Meerkat Peeks Out from Behind Mom at Chester Zoo

Meerkat baby at Chester Zoo

Chester Zoo is celebrating the arrival of its newest resident – a Meerkat kit. The tiny newcomer has made its first public appearance after being hidden away in burrows by its parents since being born three weeks ago (approximately January 9). That is the normal time frame for babies to emerge from the den and begin to inspect their surroundings. 

Keeper Chris Grindle said, “The pup is doing really well and has now started exploring its exhibit with the adults. Soon it’ll learn to forage and dig in the sand for grubs. It’s too small to sex at the moment but we should know if it’s male or female in the next couple of weeks.” Once the baby's gender is known, it will be named. 

As a rule, mothers keep their young underground in the first few weeks of life, so it can be hard to tell an exact birthdate, or even know how many kits might be in a litter. In the wild, this also protects them against predators. In addition to Mom's care, kits are tended to by select members of their mob as babysitters, while others stand guard, scanning the horizon and skies for any dangers, ready to alert the group if need be. In fact, the dark patches around their eyes act to cut down on the glare and help them see far into the distance. Meerkats are native to Angola, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa.

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Photo Credit: Chester Zoo

Chester Zoo's Baby Boom Continues with Birth of Second Elephant Calf

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Chester Zoo's Asian Elephant herd got a little larger with the arrival of a second calf in the space of less than 12 weeks... and it's a girl!  After a 22-month gestation, the baby was welcomed into the group at 11:00 p.m. on January 21, by 15-year-old Mom Sithami and eight other elephants. This is Sithami's third baby, so she is an experienced mom. Both she and her calf are doing well -- in fact, the baby was up on her feet within the first three minutes of life.

Tim Rowlands, Curator of Mammals, said, “The natural bonding between Mum and calf -- and the calf with the rest of the herd -- is fascinating and a truly wonderful thing to see. And we just hope that when people come and set eyes on them, they’re inspired to try and do something to help stop the persecution that these magnificent animals face in the wild."

“In India for example," Rowland continued, "elephants are all too often injured or even killed in conflicts with humans because they wander into villages and wreck crops and damage property and the villagers retaliate against them with force. However we run a great conservation program over there, which works hard to put an end to this, helping both man and beast live harmoniously. In fact, not a single elephant has been killed in the villages where we work for over a year! When people come and see our new baby, sometimes unbeknown to them, they’re helping fund this work in the wild. It’s vitally important.”

In December Chester Zoo invited the BBC's Earth Unplugged to meet the herd and cover this birth. You can see Part 1 of the series here, but watch Part 2 of this special report below, where host Chris Howard meets head Elephant Keeper Andy McKenzie to view the CCTV footage of the birth. 

Photo Credit:Chester Zoo

Read more after the fold:

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Nashville Zoo Keepers Administer Emergency Mouth To Snout CPR To Save a Baby Tapir

Tapir calf - Amiee Stubbs

By January 12, Nashville Zoo Animal Care Staff had waited over 13 months for the arrival of the Zoo's second Baird's Tapir in two years. Soon after the calf's delivery it became clear that something was wrong.

The baby’s embryonic sac did not break, so he could not breathe and began to rapidly lose vitality. Zoo staff made the decision to intervene and moved mother Houston out of the stall. They then freed the baby from the sac, verified he still had a heart rate, and immediately cleared his airways and performed mouth-to-nose resuscitation until he was fully breathing on his own. Thanks to their heroic efforts and quick action, the calf is doing well.

Calf with Mother - Amiee Stubbs



Photo credits: Amiee Stubbs / Nashville Zoo

This is the second birth for mom Houston and her mate Romeo, who came to Nashville Zoo from Central America in 2008 to introduce a new genetic line into the United States Tapir population. Veteran ZooBorns readers may recall the 2010 birth of Noah, the pair's first-born.

“This birth is significant because it helps sustain a genetically diverse population of Tapirs in the United States,” said Lanny Brown, hoofstock supervisor at Nashville Zoo. “Tapirs have a gestation period of more than 13 months, so we have been looking forward to this baby for a long time.”

Read more and see the rest of the calf's baby pictures below the fold.

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Bristol Zoo's Critically Endangered Lion Cub Brothers Thriving

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On November 9, 2011, two healthy male Asiatic Lion cubs named Kamran and Ketan were born to mom Shiva at Bristol Zoo Gardens. Now at nine and a half weeks, both cubs are doing well and beginning to reveal their individual personalities. They’re spending more time outside in an off-show enclosure, though guests can now view them at play on a monitor outside the exhibit. 

But they have a story. Unfortunately, only 12 days after they were born, their eight-year-old father Kamal was put to sleep due to severely deteriorating health. Following his death, Shiva began to have difficulties mothering, which forced staff to make the rare decision to intervene and remove the two-week-old cubs for hand-rearing.

Asiatic Lions are classified as Critically Endangered and are part of an internationally coordinated conservation breeding program managed by Twycross Zoo. There are currently only a few hundred Asiatic Lions left in the wild, so every step had to be taken to ensure these cubs survive and thrive. Hand-rearing is a very demanding and challenging process, and is considered a last resort. But just as their father played a role in the conservation breeding program, both cubs are to play a role in the future of the breeding program. 

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"The initial transition was a very important time for the cubs,’ says Lynsey Bugg, Assistant Curator of Mammals. "We placed straw from their previous enclosure on the ground for familiarity, and gave each cub a cuddly toy to snuggle with to mimic mum. We also worked closely with the Vet Team to monitor their fluid intake while we got both cubs used to feeding from artificial teats."

A team of five keepers are dedicated to care for the cubs, who were initially fed five times over a 24 hour period. While the cubs got used to the new feeding regimine, keepers could spend up to two hours doing each feed. Both cubs have their weight, temperature and respiratory rate checked daily, and keepers monitor their activity level to ensure they’re progressing well. 

"Alongside the challenge of feeding when hand-rearing, we need to prevent the cubs from imprinting on the keepers, so we make sure we treat them the way that their mum would when we handle them," continues Lynsey. This involves picking them up by the scruff of the neck and brushing them with a coarse brush -- which replicates them being licked by their mother’s coarse tongue -- all to ensure they go on to be a fully functioning social animal.

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"I’m very proud of my team," says Lynsey. "However, I’ll deem the hand-rearing a success when our two young males are fully weaned and then go on to breed themselves. After all, protecting this incredible species is what we’re all working toward."

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Photo Credit: Bristol Zoo

Watch this video of the two nursing and being quite curious about the camera!

UPDATE! Snowy Adventure for Longleat Lion Cubs

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Last time you read about these eight Lion cubs here on ZooBorns, they were taking their first stroll with their mothers out in the habitat at Longleat Safari and Adventure Park. This time, they got out to play in inches of fluffy white snow. All four male and four female cubs were born back in August -- and between the two forays into the elements, it can be seen how much they've grown.

This group is so big because they are actually two different families, with 2 of each gender born to different first-time mothers Nikata and Louisa. All are fathered by Hugo, the zoo's majestic male. The cubs practiced plenty of climbing, crouching and pouncing on each other... and their parents.

Keeper Bob Trollope said, “Nikata and Louisa don’t seem to have any problem joining in the rough and tumble games with their cubs. However, they are extremely protective and are nowhere near as accommodating with us!”

Cub family

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Photo Credit: I.Turner 

Hold On Tight, Baby Sifaka!


Meet Beatrice of Swabia, the newest addition to a noble line of Coquerel’s Sifakas at Duke Lemur Center. She has a close-knit family: a five-year-old mother, Rodelinda, an eight-year-old father, Marcus, and an older sister, 23 month-old Bertha of Sulzbach. (Duke Lemur Center is certainly proud of their Sifakas: the whole family is named after Roman Emperors.)

Photo credits: David Haring / Duke Lemur Center

Beatrice of Swbabia—Beatrice for short—is a healthy little heir. She weighed a respectable 107 grams at her birth on December 19th, and has since been growing in leaps and bounds.  She clings tightly to her mother, another sign of good health, but also spends some time with her father and sister who hold and groom the new baby.

Sifakas are named for their distinctive “shif-auk!” call.  They are known for their graceful sideways leaping across the ground, a dance that they share with ten other diurnal members of the lemur family Indriidae.


“Sifakas are really one of the Lemur Center’s flagship species,” says Andrea Katz, the Duke Lemur Center animal curator. The Duke Lemur Center was the first to ever successfully breed Sifakas. Only 56 Coquerel’s sifakas live in captivity. The Lemur Center owns every single one and manages them either on-site or through cooperative breeding loans with 9 other institutions across the United States. 

“We’ve learned a lot over the years about sifaka behavior, breeding behavior, mother-infant behavior… I think it’s fair to say that the Lemur Center is really viewed as the expert on Sifaka breeding management.”

Take a leap across the fold!

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Baby Giraffe is Standing Tall at Burgers' Zoo


Just two days ago on January 25, this female giraffe was born at Burgers’ Zoo in The Netherlands.   The baby is named Annelieke, but the zoo staff has already nicknamed her Lieke.

Female giraffes give birth standing up.  The baby emerges front feet first, followed by the nose, head, neck, body, and hindquarters.   The baby drops about six feet to the ground and within minutes, struggles to stand up.   With encouraging licks from mom’s 18-inch-long tongue, the baby eventually stands upright on wobbly legs – at least for a few seconds!  Zoo staffers rarely assists in giraffe births, and most babies stand and nurse successfully within the first few hours of life. 


Photo Credit:  Burgers' Zoo

Why the hurry to get the baby on its feet? In the wild, baby giraffes are easy prey for hungry lions and hyenas.  The sooner the baby can walk and follow the herd, the better.

There are nine subspecies of giraffes, with each found in fragmented populations across central, eastern, and southern Africa. 


It’s a Snow Day for Zoo Antwerp’s Lion Cub


You’ve met Nestor, the male Lion Cub born at Zoo Antwerp on August 29, on the pages of Zooborns before:  once when he was first introduced to the public, and again when he was learning to navigate waterways in his exhibit.  Now, Nestor is learning about a new natural phenomenon:  snow!



Photo Credits:  Zoo Antwerp

Nestor’s mother Maouli is always nearby to guide the brave little Lion in his explorations, but he seems determined to learn on his own.  But even courageous cubs need to check in frequently with mom just to be on the safe side.

Now five months old, Nestor is the only male lion remaining at Zoo Antwerpen.  Nestor’s father, Victor, died recently from age-related conditions.  Victor was nearly 19 years old and seemed to enjoy the affections of his young offspring.   Like Victor, Nestor will one day be an important part of the conservation breeding program for African Lions, which are in decline in their native African home. 

See more photos of Nestor below the fold!

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