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February 2015
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March 2015

Meet Blackpool's Newborn Meerkat Pups

A litter of Meerkats was born at the United Kingdom’s Blackpool Zoo on March 6! The teensy pups were photographed before they had even opened their eyes.

10540607_10152852711433392_8059006185792184401_oPhoto Credit:  Blackpool Zoo

Meerkat litters usually contain two to five pups, which are born in an underground burrow.  Members of the troop pitch in to cooperatively raise the young.  For the first three weeks of life, the pups remain in the burrow.

When the pups are about four weeks old, they start to accompany their group on foraging runs, where they eventually learn to capture insects and other invertebrates to eat.  The pups become mature at about one year old.

Well known for their highly social behavior, Meerkats dig elaborate burrow systems to house their group of up to 50 individuals.  Meerkats rely a group member to act as a sentry, usually stationed on an elevated mound or rock, to keep a lookout for danger.  Meerkats have a vast repertoire of calls, grunts, and barks to alert group members to different types of threats.  Certain alarm calls will send the Meerkats into the burrow for protection.

Found in southern Africa, Meerkats are plentiful and not listed as Endangered or Threatened. 


Cheetah Cubs Test Mom's Patience


Four 16-week-old Cheetah cubs push the limits of their mother’s patience every day at Florida’s White Oak Conservation Center.

11015117_891090720941317_4709526921701788625_nPhoto Credit:  Karen Meeks

The cubs, born in December, treat mom (and each other) like a jungle gym.  But what looks like playtime to us is really “cheetah school” for the little ones.  As they climb, bite, swat, and wrestle, the cubs learn important skills that will prepare them for a life on the hunt. 

Known by all as the world’s fastest animals, Cheetahs can run at speeds of 60-70 mph to capture prey on Africa’s savannahs.  Their population is declining in the wild due to habitat loss and persecution by farmers seeking to protect their livestock.  Cheetahs are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Due to their unique health and social requirements, these magnificent cats are very challenging to breed in captivity, but the White Oak Conservation Center is one of the world’s most successful Cheetah breeding facilities.  Working in collaboration with zoos around the country, White Oak is at the forefront of Cheetah conservation.

Newly Described Poison Dart Frog Hatched in Captivity

Photo Jorge GuerrelSmithsonian Tropical Research Institute

Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) and Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) scientists, working as part of the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project, hatched the first Andinobates Geminisae Froglet born in captivity.

Photo Jorge GuerrelSmithsonian Tropical Research Institute (2)

Adinobates geminisae tadpole_3_Photo Brian GratwickeSmithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

Adinobates geminisae tadpole_Photo Brian GratwickeSmithsonian Conservation Biology InstitutePhoto Credits: Brian Gratwicke (Images: 3,4,5,6) ; Jorge Guerrel (Images: 1,2 7,8)

The tiny poison dart frog species only grows to 14 millimeters and was first collected and described last year from a small area in central Panama. Scientists collected two adults to evaluate the potential for maintaining the species in captivity as an insurance population.

“There is a real art to learning about the natural history of an animal and finding the right set of environmental cues to stimulate successful captive breeding,” said Brian Gratwicke, Amphibian Conservation Biologist at SCBI and Director of the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project. “Not all amphibians are easy to breed in captivity, so when we do breed a species for the first time in captivity it is a real milestone for our project and a cause for celebration.”

Scientists simulated breeding conditions for the adult frogs in a small tank. The frogs laid an egg on a bromeliad leaf, which scientists transferred to a moist petri dish. After 14 days, the tadpole hatched. Scientists believe adult Andinobates Geminisae Frogs may provide their eggs and tadpoles with parental care, which is not uncommon for dart frogs, but they have not been able to determine if that is the case. In the wild, one of the parents likely transports the tadpole on his or her back to a little pool of water, usually inside a tree or on a bromeliad leaf.

After the tadpole hatched, scientists moved it from the petri dish to a small cup of water, mimicking the small pools available in nature. On a diet of fish food, the tadpole successfully metamorphosed into a froglet, after 75 days, and is now the size of a mature adult.

Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project scientists are unsure if Andinobates Geminisae Frogs are susceptible to the amphibian-killing chytrid fungus. However, since it is only found in a small area of Panama and is dependent on primary rain forests, which are under pressure from agricultural conversion, they have identified it as a conservation-priority species.

The Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project breeds endangered species of frogs in Gamboa, Panama and El Valle, Panama. The Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project is a partnership between the Houston Zoo, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, New England Zoo, SCBI and STRI. This study was supported by Minera Panama.

More amazing photos, below the fold!

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New Gorilla Baby is ‘Molto Bella’


Lincoln Park Zoo is pleased to announce the birth of a healthy female Western Lowland Gorilla, born on February 24, 2015. 




Photo and Video Credits: Todd Rosenberg / Lincoln Park Zoo

The baby, named ‘Bella’, is staying tucked close to her mother and appears to be doing well. Gorilla mom, ‘Bahati’, age 27, is experiencing motherhood for the third time. Her last pregnancy occurred in 2004, and her two adult offspring now reside in other Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited zoos. ‘Kwan’, age 25, the new infant’s father, and silverback of the family group, continues to keep a watchful eye on mom and baby.

“As with any birth, we are cautiously optimistic about the latest arrival. Bahati is an experienced mother whose maternal instincts are what we would hope to see with a newborn gorilla,” said Maureen Leahy, Curator of Primates.

The new baby joins a troop of six individuals, including two-year-old half-sisters ‘Nayembi’ and ‘Patty’ who were born at Lincoln Park Zoo in fall 2012.

“It’s really amazing to see this family group grow and adapt,” said Leahy. “Between the family group and bachelor troop, the gorillas at Regenstein Center for African Apes are a great representation of the species from newborn baby to fully mature silverback and several stages in-between.”

Kwan and Bahati were recommended to breed as a part of the Western Lowland Gorilla Species Survival Plan (SSP). 

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Otter Pups Venturing out with Their Fam

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Keepers at Taronga Western Plains Zoo are excited by the birth of three Oriental Small-Clawed Otter pups, born January 8, 2015.

Otter pups_6.3.15_MT (4)

Otter pups_6.3.15_MT (2)

Otter pups_6.3.15_MT (5)Photo Credits: Taronga Western Plains Zoo

The litter consists of two females and one male, and all are yet to be named. Keepers will name two of the siblings, but they are seeking name suggestions for one of the female pups, via the Zoo’s facebook page.

This is the second litter for mother, ‘Emiko’ and father, ‘Pocket’. Both are exceptional parents, and they are taking great care of their offspring.

“Emiko and Pocket are very hands-on parents and have been displaying ideal nurturing behaviors,” said Keeper, Ian Anderson. “The pups have been in the den, to date, and we have been monitoring them via a video camera, to ensure they are growing and developing well.”

This birth of this litter continues the breeding success for the Oriental Small-Clawed Otters at the Zoo, with the first litter born to the breeding program in January 2014.

“The older siblings born in 2014 have been assisting their parents with the daily care of the pups including grooming and babysitting the new arrivals. Oriental Small-Clawed Otters are a special species and live in large families, so it is anticipated that the family will remain together for the near future,” said Ian.

The Otter pups are currently on display sporadically as they spend a lot of their time in their den. Over the coming weeks they will start to venture out with their parents and older siblings, more often, to explore their exhibit and to learn to swim.

“By the end of April we will expect to see the pups out and about more regularly in the exhibit…,” said Ian.

More pics below the fold!

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A Wee Bit O’ Green for St. Patrick’s Day

Chameleon Hatchlings 1_Photo by Paul Fahy

Taronga Zoo has welcomed more than 20 baby Chameleons, with the last of three clutches of eggs hatching this past week. About 5 cm long, the hatchlings are the first born at the Zoo in over five years.

Chameleon Eggs_Photo by Lorinda Taylor (4)

Chameleon Eggs_Photo by Lorinda Taylor (5)

Chameleon Hatchling_Photo by Paul Fahy (1)Photo Credits: Taronga Zoo/ Paul Fahy (Images: 1,4,5,6,7) ; Lorinda Taylor (Images: 2,3,8,9,10,11)

Currently housed in a special temperature-controlled area behind the scenes at Taronga’s Reptile World, the hatchlings have begun feeding on crickets and turning on a bright green color display for keepers.

Reptile supervisor, Michael McFadden said the Chameleons, which are native to Yemen and Saudi Arabia, would be mature and able to showcase their full color palette within a year.

“Veiled Chameleons are a visually amazing species that we’re fortunate to have at Taronga. While they’re not endangered, they do play an important educational role in helping us to get people excited about reptiles and reptile conservation,” said McFadden.

Normally a shade of green or brown while at rest, Veiled Chameleons can change color when frightened, courting or defending territory.  “You’ll see shades of green, yellow, aqua and even very dark brown or black depending on their temperature, mood and reproductive behavior. However, they don’t change color to match a particular background like you see in cartoons,” said Michael.

Built for a life in the trees, Veiled Chameleons also have zygodactyl feet that can easily grasp branches. Their eyes can rotate independently and look in two directions at once, and their tongue can project 1.5 times their body length to capture prey.

“They can literally look forwards and backwards at the same time, which enables them to be on the watch for predators and food at all times,” said McFadden.

Visitors to Taronga Zoo will be able to see these amazing adaptations in action when up to four of the new hatchlings go on display once they reach maturity. The remaining hatchlings will move to other Australian zoos and wildlife parks, once they reach 2-3 months of age.

More amazing pics, below the fold!

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It Was a Christmas ‘Tail’ for ZooAmerica


On Christmas Day 2014, ZooAmerica, in Hershey, Pennsylvania, welcomed three baby Ringtails (Ring-tailed Cats). The two females were named ‘Holly’ and ‘Noel’, and their brother was named ‘Kringle’.



10440989_801055709943487_8664207098030456769_nPhoto Credits: ZooAmerica (Image 1: Kits at 5 weeks old; Image 2: 12 days old; Image 3: three weeks old; Image 4: Four weeks old; Image 5: Six weeks old; Image 6: Seven weeks old; Image 7: Eight weeks)


The three kits are now on exhibit with their mother, ‘Acacia’. They continue to spend a great deal of time in their nest box, sleeping or nursing; but they can also be seen, occasionally, out playing.

The kits will stay with their mother for about a year. They will then travel to other zoos, with the expectation of them staring families of their own.

The Ringtail is a mammal of the raccoon family. They are native to Central America, Northern South America, California, Colorado, eastern Kansas, Oklahoma, Oregon, Arizona, Nevada, Utah and Texas.

Continue reading "It Was a Christmas ‘Tail’ for ZooAmerica" »

Baby Orangutan Hangs on Tight


Asmara, a 16-week old Sumatran Orangutan at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, went into her exhibit for the first time last week. Until now, Asmara and her mother, Tara, have been living in an off-exhibit bedroom adjacent to the main exhibit.


Photo Credit:  Fort Wayne Children's Zoo

On their first day in the exhibit, Asmara clung tightly to her mother as Tara explored high up in the trees.  Zoo keeper Angie Selzer watched nervously, but all went well. "Tara climbed very high right away, but Asmara clung tightly just like she would in the wild," she said.

Prior to the big day, the exhibit underwent extensive baby-proofing.  Zoo keepers covered the floor with soft straw and checked the trees, walls, and vines for potential safety issues.  The City of Fort Wayne's tree crews even got involved, helping to reinforce the vines and hammocks.

Born on November 22 to Tara and her mate, Tengku, Asmara is important to the future of Sumatran Orangutans, which are Critically Endangered.  About 320 Sumatran Orangutans live in zoos worldwide, and an average of 15 babies are born each year in the world’s zoos. In the wild, these red-furred apes are found only on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia, where the population is in drastic decline due to illegal hunting and the destruction of their forest homes to build palm oil plantations.

Fewer than 7,000 Sumatran Orangutans remain in the wild. Some experts predict Orangutans could become extinct in the wild within a few decades if circumstances remain unchanged.

Tapir Birth Caught on Camera!

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Romance is a powerful motivator, even for Malayan Tapirs.  Luckily, this love story at Zoo Antwerp resulted in a healthy baby Tapir being born on March 6.  Fotolink_tapirbabyQ (6)

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Photo Credit:  Jonas Verhulst


One night 13 months ago, keepers arrived in the morning to find male Tapir Nakal’s stall empty.   He had used his flexible snout to open a door and pay a nocturnal visit to female Tapir Kamal. 

The tiny calf weighed only nine pounds at birth, about 35 times less than its parents.  Kamal and the calf are together 24 hours a day, and the calf appears to be nursing well.  For now, Nakal lives in a separate stall to avoid possible agression with the calf.  The calf is the sixth born at Zoo Antwerp.

You can see the entire birth on the surveillance camera video above.  The calf emerges at about two minutes, and is standing at the four minute mark.

Young Tapirs have white blotches on their bodies, which provide camouflage in the dappled shade of the southeast Asian rain forests where they live.  By the time they are six months old, the calves lose their spots and gain the solid black and white fur of adults.

Malayan Tapirs are the largest of the world’s five Tapir species.  They are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, primarily due to loss of habitat. 

See more photos of the Tapir calf below.

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New Guy at Staten Island Zoo ‘Gets to the Point’


Staten Island Zoo is home to a new African Crested Porcupette!



Photo Credits: Staten Island Zoo

The male was born in early January and was donated to Staten Island Zoo by the Bright’s Zoo, in Tennessee, on recommendation of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) Program.  The new guy has been given the African name, ‘Bintu’, which means “precious/beautiful one”.

The African Crested Porcupine is the largest rodent in Africa. It lives in hilly, rocky habitats in sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa and Italy. “Porcupine” comes from the Latin ‘porcus’ for pig and ‘spina’ for spine. The name was given based on their appearance, as porcupines are not related to pigs.

Porcupines primarily eat roots, tubers, bark and fallen fruit. They are also known to eat cultivated root crops, and they are considered agricultural pests in some areas.

Wild predators include owls, leopards, and pythons. The porcupine warns predators to retreat by stamping their feet, clicking teeth, growling or hissing, and raising their quills and vibrating them to produce a rattling sound. If the predator doesn't retreat, the porcupine will run backwards and ram their attacker with the quills. Scales on the quill tips lodge in the skin of the predators, much like a fishhook, and become difficult to remove.

Crested Porcupines are terrestrial. They seldom climb trees, but they are able to swim. They are also nocturnal and monogamous. Porcupines prefer to reside, solitarily, among roots and rocks, and will often inhabit holes made by other animals. They reserve the use of burrows for larger family units.

Female Crested Porcupines will, generally, have only one litter per year. After a gestation period of about 66 days, one or two well developed young will be born in a chamber within a family burrow. The young weigh about 1,000 grams (2.2 lbs), at birth. They will leave the den, under adult supervision, about one week, after birth. Crested Porcupines reach adult weight (13-27 kg or 29-60 lbs.) at one to two years of age, and they are often sexually mature just before then.

They are currently classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List.

More adorable pics, below the fold!

Continue reading "New Guy at Staten Island Zoo ‘Gets to the Point’" »