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January 2015

Baby Turtles Saved From Illegal Trafficking

10872821_10152902873899178_5903419042370506900_oEight baby Turtles confiscated from wildlife traffickers are safe in their new home at the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium.

10429310_10152902875009178_7858583633860942406_nPhoto Credit:  National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium

The young Wood, Blanding’s, and Loggerhead Musk Turtles are part of a shipment of more than 200 hatchlings intercepted by the United States Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS).  The Turtles were bound for export to China, where they would feed the demand for Turtle meat, exotic pets, and Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Thousands of Turtles and Tortoises are sold illegally every day in markets throughout China and Southeast Asia.  The International Union for Conservation of Nature, or IUCN, states that up to 50 percent of Asian Turtle species are now Endangered, and that number is rising.  In fact, Tortoises and freshwater Turtles are the most threatened of any major group of terrestrial (land-dwelling) vertebrates – more than mammals, birds, or amphibians.

Visit the USFWS website to learn more about how illegal wildlife trafficking threatens species around the globe.

Help Name This Rare Baby Orangutan!

Baby-orangutan-Jan-1-2015_IMG_8312_Stephanie-Braccini-Saint-Louis-Zoo_webThe Saint Louis Zoo welcomed a rare baby Sumatran Orangutan on December 14, one of only two born in United States zoos in 2014.

Merah_Baby_Dec14_BracciniPhoto Credit:  Stephanie Braccini

The baby, a female, was born to mother Merah, age 45, and father Cinta, age 10.  Mother and baby are doing well, but they will remain behind the scenes for at least a month.  The first 30 days of a baby Orangutan’s life are critical for developing a strong bond between mother and baby.

The baby hasn’t been named yet, and you can help choose the name!  The zoo's Great Ape care team was asked to select a few potential female names, and you can vote for your favorite. The four name choices are: Marigold, Lucy, Cranberry and Ginger.

Now through 11:50 p.m. on January 16, you can cast your vote online in the Name the Baby poll

Zoo staff will reveal the baby’s name at a baby shower in honor of Merah and the newborn on Monday, January 19.

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums Orangutan Species Survival Plan recommended the birth as part of its role in creating a sustainable managed population for this critically endangered species.

"Merah is an excellent and experienced mother," said Stephanie Braccini, Ph.D., Saint Louis Zoo Zoological Manager, Great Apes. "She is carrying the infant, facilitating nursing, essentially doing everything right."

Prior to the birth, Merah's caretakers had conditioned her to allow voluntary ultrasound examinations by zoo veterinarians; these examinations allowed the team to proactively monitor the health and development of the baby during gestation. Merah and her baby continue to be monitored closely by a team of caretakers, veterinarians, and a nutritionist.

This is the fifth baby for Merah, the grandmother of two and the great-grandmother of one. She was born in the Netherlands and became a first-time mother in 1982.

Both Bornean Orangutans, endemic to Borneo, and Sumatran Orangutans, endemic to Sumatra, are highly endangered due to alarming habitat loss. A global demand for palm oil has resulted in widespread deforestation and subsequent drastic declines in the number of Orangutans that survive in the wild.

See more photos of the baby below.

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Lion-tailed Macaque Siblings Are Thick As Thieves at NaturZoo Rheine

4 macaque

It's always so good to see siblings getting along! 

2014 was a good year for NaturZoo Rheine in Germany: last year a total of three Lion-tailed Macaques, an Endangered species, were born at the zoo. 

The two most recent are half-siblings, born on November 10 and December 14. Both mothers, one of which is a first-time mom, have been taking good care of their babies, and now the two half-sibs are starting to get to know each other.

2 macaque

1 macaque

3 macaquePhoto credit: NaturZoo Rheine

Adult Lion-tailed Macaques, both males and females, have gray 'beards' surrounding their faces. Newborns, lacking these beards, are born with pale rosy faces which develop from gray to black. Their beards begin to sprout at about one month old. 

There are 24 Lion-tailed Macaques at NaturZoo Rheine who live in a few small sub-groups, creating the sort of social life they would have in the wild. The births are the result of natural pairings, rather than planned breeding efforts. 

See and read more after the fold.

Continue reading "Lion-tailed Macaque Siblings Are Thick As Thieves at NaturZoo Rheine" »

Baby Boom of Giraffes at Lion Country Safari

Hakuna 12-30

As 2014 came to an end, Lion Country Safari, in Florida, welcomed its fifth giraffe birth of the year! 



DSC_0034Photo Credits: Lion Country Safari

On December 30th, a 70-inch, 165-pound baby boy was born. The baby, named ‘Hakuna’, is safe in the maternity pen with his mom and is joined by fellow newborn, ‘Matata’ (born on Dec. 16). They are visible in the drive-through preserve (section 7, HwangeNational Park) or from the giraffe feeding exhibit at Lion Country Safari.  After three months, they will join the entire giraffe herd.

Female giraffe reproduce year-round beginning at about four years of age. Their conception peak is usually during the rainy season and their gestation lasts approximately 15 months. Giraffe calves are born while the mother is in a standing position and they drop to the ground head first. Life expectancy of a giraffe is approximately 25 years.

Lion Country Safari is dedicated to the captive breeding of a number of rare or endangered species and is proud to participate in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan. This conservation program helps to ensure the survival of selected wildlife species.

Continue reading "Baby Boom of Giraffes at Lion Country Safari" »

Colchester Zoo Welcomes Last Newborn of 2014


On December 22, 2014, Colchester Zoo’s Aardvark, ‘Oq’, gave birth to a healthy baby! 


DSC_1227Photo Credits: Colchester Zoo

The exciting new arrival was the Zoo's last newborn of 2014 and is doing well! Both mom and keepers have a close eye on the baby during these early days.

The Aardvark is a unique animal, only found in Africa. They are almost exclusively nocturnal and love to sleep during the day, curled in a tight circle in their burrow. 

Aardvarks, such as Colchester Zoo’s group, have thick skin which is sparsely covered by hairs and varies in color from brownish grey to a pale sand. The newest little one is currently a hairless light grey, but within 12 months, it will be fully grown, just like its mother, and will soon be venturing out of the burrow. 

Aardvarks enjoy a diet mainly made up of insects, such as ants and termites. Once fully grown, an adult Aardvark can eat up to 50,000 of insect prey in one night!

The new arrival also joins the Zoo’s two other resident females ‘Puq’ and ‘Skyla’, and its dad ‘Adela’ can be seen at Colchester Zoo’s Aardvark Burrow.

With the latest arrival this group continues to be the most successful breeding group in the UK and one of the most successful groups in Europe. 

Spectacled Flying-Fox Orphans Receive Special Care


These amazing photos of Spectacled Flying-Fox orphans are courtesy of NightWings Rainforest Centre in Queensland, Australia. They are just some of the Flying-Foxes that received hands-on care in 2014.



10344204_1411633079128883_5991267839585191739_oPhotos Courtesy: NightWings Rainforest Centre

NightWings Rainforest Centre is still working on completing their bat hospital, nursery and visitor centre. They anticipate being open for the public by 2016 or 2017. Until then, there are dedicated workers who are busy, behind the scenes, with the daily business of rescuing and hand-rearing Spectacled Flying-Fox orphans.

All these amazing images are for sale as cards, prints, tote bags, etc on RedBubble, with 50% of proceeds going towards NightWings Rainforest Revegetation program. Check NightWings facebook page for info on where to purchase or follow this link to RedBubble: 

Listed as “Vulnerable” under EPBC (Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act of Australia) status, the Spectacled Flying-Fox is a large, gregarious bat that roosts in daytime camps. They fly out at night to feed on native fruits and blossoms, with most camps being within 7 km (4 mile) of rainforest. Geographically confined to far north Queensland, Australia, this species is considered a keystone species, with foraging activities resulting in dispersal of pollen and seeds; playing a key role in the reproductive and evolutionary processes of other species and ecological communities. This species is in trouble, with pressure from urbanization, habitat fragmentation, loss of food resource, tick paralysis, and both legal and illegal shooting around orchards. The NightWings founders are all committed bat carers, and the NightWings Rainforest Centre will be helping these animals in 2 ways: the 15 hectare (37 acres), 70,000 tree planting will provide an area of year-round native fruit from multiple rainforest tree species, and the visitor centre (proposed for completion around 2016/17) will feature a full-time bat hospital, nursery and interpretive centre. 

Continue reading "Spectacled Flying-Fox Orphans Receive Special Care" »

New Azara’s Agouti Duo at Cotswold Wildlife Park

Close up baby Agoutis

Cotswold Wildlife Park is home to two new Azara’s Agouti babies!

Close up of baby Agouti on log

Agouti Mother and baby close up

Two baby Agoutis perching on logPhoto Credits: Cotswold Wildlife Park

Jamie Craig, Curator of Cotswold Wildlife Park, said, “Our Agouti family continues to thrive in the exhibit they share with our group of Squirrel Monkeys. The monkeys can be wasteful feeders and the two new baby Agouti have already learned from their parents that loitering under the trees can provide a little extra food from above!”

Agoutis are one of the largest wild rodents of the Americas. They were discovered by 18th century Spanish naturalist Félix de Azara. The scientific name “Dasyprocta” means hairy rectum. The hair on their rump is much longer than the hair on the rest of their bodies. When threatened, they can actually hold it erect much like a Porcupine does with its quills. Related to Chinchillas, they can jump as high as six feet straight up in the air from a standing position to escape predators.

Agoutis have such a great sense of hearing that they can hear fruit hit the forest floor. They also boast an exceptional sense of smell, hiding any extra food that they may have and later locating it with their nose. They are also one of a few species that can open Brazil nuts unaided, using their sharp teeth and jaw strength.

Females give birth to litters of two to four young, after a gestation period of three months. The babies are born in burrows and can run just an hour after birth. It is believed that Agoutis pair-bond for life.

Continue reading "New Azara’s Agouti Duo at Cotswold Wildlife Park" »

Twin Armadillos Are Ready for Action

IMG_9472The National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium welcomed twin Six-banded Armadillos on November 17. 

Dillas2Photo Credit:  National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium

The mother, Dilla, gave birth to one male and one female offspring, which weighed 110 grams each.  Baby Armadillos grow fast – by the time they were five weeks old, each baby weighed about 500 grams! Their father, Marty, is in a separate holding area, giving Dilla room to nurse and care for the babies. The babies will be weaned from their mother at 90 days old, and they will eventually move to another facility accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA).

Armadillos are known for the armor-like plates that cover their bodies and heads.  These bony plates protect Armadillos from predators – only their soft, furry bellies are vulnerable to attack.

Six-banded Armadillos are native to the southern half of South America, where they roam grasslands and open plains in search of fruits and leaves. 

The 2014 AZA Studbook for Six-Banded Armadillos, kept at the Dallas Zoo, states that there are only 23 individuals at 15 institutions (of which 14 are AZA institutions). The Museum & Aquarium holds two of those 23 individual adults as well as the two newborns.

Though they are not considered endangered, Six-banded Armadillos are extensively hunted for meat and medicinal use.


Mom Has Her Paws Full With Tiger Triplets


Jaya the Sumatran Tiger has her paws full as she keeps up with her three cubs, born on October 8 at the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium.



Photo Credit:  Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

Introduced on ZooBorns a few months ago, the three female cubs, named Kirana, Dari, and Indah, weighed between 2.5 and 3 pounds at birth.  They now weigh about 22 pounds each and are beginning to eat small amounts of meat in addition to mother’s milk.

The cubs are starting to show distinct personalities. Kirana is the "sassy" one who likes to run after her sisters and nip at them. Dari is mellow and tends to hang back a bit. Indah is feisty and vocal, often using her voice to get attention from Jaya.

Kirana, Indah, and Dari represent a success in the Species Survival Plan for Sumatran Tigers. Fewer than 400 Sumatran tigers exist in the wild on their native island of Sumatra, and their numbers are dwindling due to habitat loss and poaching.  Only about 80 Sumatran Tigers live in United States zoos.  

See more photos of the cubs below.

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Sacramento Lion Cub Trio Going Public


The Sacramento Zoo’s Lion Cub trio is now on public exhibit! The two female cubs and one male cub are now exploring the exhibit, with curiosity, under the watchful eyes of their mother.



10560376_10152653460894151_6279513775823864708_oPhoto Credits: Amanda Watters

The mother and her nine week old cubs will have periodic access to the exhibit, giving them time for short romps and lengthy catnaps, as well as time away from the public. Zookeepers will be continuing off-exhibit introductions of the sire to the dam and her cubs, creating one family unit over the next few weeks.

ZooBorns introduced the cubs to readers, back in November. The cubs were born October 24. The lioness has been taking excellent care of her charges, in the behind-the-scenes dens, as they learn to follow her (which is important in Lion society as prides are often on the move) and develop all their skills.

Unlike other cat species that are fairly solitary, Lions live in groups or “prides.” If multiple females in a pride have cubs, they will pool them into a larger cub communal group called a “crèche.” These females will take turns caring and overseeing the crèche, until the cubs are around two years of age.   

Lions usually spend 16 to 20 hours a day sleeping and resting, devoting the remaining hours to hunting, courting and protecting their territory. They are highly territorial and keep in contact with one another by roaring loud enough to be heard up to five miles away. African Lions are excellent hunters. Although they are mostly nocturnal, they are opportunistic and will hunt anytime, day or night. Females do 85 to 90 percent of the pride’s hunting while the males patrol the territory and protect the pride.

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