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February 2015
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March 2015

New Lambs at Philly Zoo Are ‘Spot On’

11025948_10152719069257934_4040006812025222370_oKidZooU, at the Philadelphia Zoo, is home to two new baby Jacob Sheep! 

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11018870_10152719069267934_1840938447650503660_oPhoto Credits: Philadelphia Zoo

Born to mom, ‘Cambria’, both lambs are strong, healthy, and bonding well with their mother. The pair were standing, walking, and nursing within an hour of birth. 

The Jacob Sheep is a rare breed of small, multi-horned sheep. Mature rams weigh about 54 to 82 kg (120 to 180 lb), while adult ewes weigh about 36 to 54 kg (80 to 120 lb). They may have anywhere from two to six horns, but they typically have four. Both sexes grow horns, but females exhibit smaller, shorter, and more delicate horns than rams. They are ‘piebald’ (colored with white spots), and their most common coloring is black-and-white.

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Thorny Devil Hatches at Alice Springs Desert Park

11010557_786505621426797_2790897292437850506_nAlice Springs Desert Park, in NT, Australia, recently welcomed a Thorny Devil hatchling in the Park’s Nocturnal House.

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11041663_786507168093309_8590891587676102699_nPhoto Credits: Alice Springs Desert Park

The Thorny Devil (also known as a ‘Thorny Dragon’, ‘Thorny Lizard’, or the ‘Moloch’) is a species that is native to the dry desert and shrub land of Australia. The average adult reaches a length of 15 to 20 cm (5.9 to 8 inches), and will weigh about the same as a mouse (a max of about 95 g or 3.4 oz). They are known to have an average life span of 12 to 20 years.

Thorny Devils are a difficult species to breed in captivity because they will only breed when in excellent condition, which requires keeping them very well fed on a diet of ants throughout winter, until ready for spring breeding. Incubation at the Alice Springs Desert Park took 3 months, at 29 degrees. Time period for incubation varies according to temperature.

Hatchlings are completely independent and soon after hatching, they start eating ants. Surprisingly, it will take 2 years for the young to reach full adult-size.

As with many species of lizard, the female Thorny Devil is slightly bigger than the male and tends to be slightly paler in color. All Thorny Devil individuals tend to change from a paler to a darker color when they cool down.

The Thorny Devil also has a pretend head at the back of its neck which is used to mislead oncoming predators. It will dip its real head down, when threatened, and will therefore have a slight advantage on other animals.

The new addition, at Alice Springs Desert Park, is an exciting achievement for their reptile team. The last time Thorny Devils bred at the Desert Park was in 2008.


Baby Tapir Arrives in Time for Festival

Asia malayan tapir baby 3 feb 6 2015Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo is home to a breeding pair of Malayan Tapirs known as “Albert” and “Ubi.” On January 30th, Ubi gave birth to the couple’s second offspring, a male named “Tembikai.” 

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Asia malayan tapir baby feb 6 2015

Asia malayan tapir tembikai 5 feb 10 2015Photo Credits: Dave Parkinson

With just 35 of these magnificent Malayan mammals in the population managed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), every birth is significant. For the baby’s safety and needed bonding time with mother, the newborn remained off exhibit, under the watchful eye of animal care staff, for the first month of his life.

Tapirs are among the most primitive large mammals in the world, dating back 20 million years. There are four species of Tapir native to Southeast Asia and in Central and South America, all of which are classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List, due to ongoing decline. In their native range, Malayan Tapirs are found in Burma and Thailand within dense forests, usually near water.

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Gorilla Mom Snuggles in Tight with New Baby

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Como Zoo, in Minnesota, is thrilled to announce the addition of a baby Western Lowland Gorilla to its troop. The female gorilla was born in the evening hours of February 22, 2015, to first-time mother, ‘Dara’, inside the day room of the Gorilla Forest exhibit. At approximately five pounds at birth, the baby gorilla appears healthy and strong. 

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Dara and Infant 1 (2)

IMG_1044 (2)Photo Credits: Como Park Zoo & Conservatory

It is extremely important for mom and baby to bond shortly after birth and for the baby to begin nursing. While bonding wasn’t an issue for the pair, nursing was in question. A few days after birth, zoo staff and veterinary professionals were able to gain access to the baby for a physical that included giving the baby fluids.

Typically Zoo staff will not intervene unless the health of the infant is compromised or the mother shows no motherly instinct. In this case, the baby and mother were able to work out the situation with guidance from the Como Zoo staff and veterinary professionals. The baby was soon reunited with her mother and shortly after that regular, timely nursing began. Zoo staff continues to monitor the pair. They will likely make their public debut late in the month of March.

Gorillas have an eight and a half month gestation period, followed by an unassisted birthing process. Offspring are born nearly helpless except to cling to their mother’s fur and to nurse. Young Gorillas stay with their mothers for several years after birth. At birth, baby Gorillas weigh between 4 and 5 pounds. Each animal at Como Zoo has its own Birth Management Plan. Como has been recognized by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) as a leader in Gorilla care and conservation for 56 years.

Gorilla mothers are very protective of their babies. A Gorilla mother will carry the baby on her chest for the first three months. At about 6-months-old the baby will move to ride on the mother’s back and begin playing and moving around on the ground close to mother. “Gorillas are very family oriented,” said Jo Kelly, Senior Zookeeper. “Mom will let other family members see the baby and they will take their cues from mom as to how close they can be.” When the baby is older and able to move around on its own, other family members, including dad, will play with the baby.

The baby’s father, ‘Schroeder’, a 29-year-old Silverback Western Lowland Gorilla, has been at Como Zoo since 1991. Schroeder’s troop includes females ‘Dara’ (age 11), ‘Nne’ (age 26 and pronounced E-Nee), and ‘Alice’ (age 12) who also gave birth to a baby in November 2014. Sadly, Alice’s baby passed away shortly after birth. Alice and Dara both came to Como Zoo as part of the AZA Gorilla Species Survival Plan (SSP). The Gorilla SSP serves 52 zoos across the United States to help guide the management of the Gorilla population.

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UPDATE: Rhino Calf's Horn Starts to Sprout!

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An Eastern Black Rhinoceros calf born on December 28 at Switzerland’s Zoo Zurich is out to prove that she’s growing up.  Not only is this little female calf, named Olmoti, starting to grow her horn, she’s also practicing her charging skills, as seen in the video below.

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11043098_922767824441190_1390896438203456598_oPhoto Credit:  Zoo Zurich/Enzo Franchini



Video Credit:  Nicole Schnyder

You first met Olmoti
here shortly after her birth.  Now over two months old, her horn is beginning to grow on her snout.  You can see the little “button” that will slowly grow into a horn. 

In the video, Olmoti charges at her mother in little bursts, a skill all Rhinos use as a defense against unfamiliar things. Rhinos have relatively poor eyesight, so when taken by surprise, they may rush at people, vehicles, stationary objects, or other Rhinos to frighten them off.

Unfortunately for Rhinos, their horns led to a 96% loss in population from the 1970s to the 1990s, putting these unique animals on the brink of extinction.  Demand for Rhino horn, which is made of keratin like your hair and fingernails, has exploded in the last 40 years.  Sold on illegal markets, Rhino horn is used in traditional Asian medicine and for traditional dagger handles in Yemen. 

Thanks to enhanced protection and Yemen signing the Convention on International trade in Endangered Species (CITES), Black Rhino populations are slowly increasing.  However, these animals are still Critically Endangered, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  


Tapir Calf Makes His Debut

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A Tapir calf born on February 27 at the Czech Republic’s Zoo Brno made his media debut at the ripe old age of four days!

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10865951_854118047959948_2961697233514094174_oPhoto Credit:  Zoo Brno

Known as Lowland or South American Tapirs, young calves of this species sport white stripes and spots, which offer excellent camouflage in the dappled shade of the forest.  As they grow, calves lose their spots and turn a solid grayish-brown color.

Lowland tapirs rest in the forest during the day, and emerge at night to feed on leaves, bark, and fruits.  They are good swimmers, and will enter rivers to shed skin parasites or escape predators.

Tapirs’ long, flexible snouts are their most unusual feature.  Called a proboscis, this snout is actually made up of the upper lip and nose.  The proboscis can grasp food and strip leaves from trees and small shrubs.

In their native range, which covers large portions of eastern South America, Lowland Tapirs are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  Tapirs are hunted for their hides and meat.  Loss of forest habitat also contributes to their decline.   


Newborn Lemur Looks like Grandpa

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It has been just a few months since the famous lemur, known as ‘Zoboomafoo’, passed away at the age of 20, and fans of the popular television show mourned the loss. Duke Lemur Center, home to Zoboomafoo, is excited to share the encouraging news of the birth of his fifth grandchild! 

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Photo Credits: Duke Lemur Center

Zoboomafoo’s real name was ‘Jovian’, and his legacy lives on in seven surviving offspring and five grandchildren.  Jovian’s television legacy continues, as well.  The PBS children's show “Zoboomafoo”, aired from 1999 to 2001 and continues to entertain children in syndication.

Newborn granddaughter, ‘Isabella’ is a Coquerel’s Sifaka. She was born to Jovian’s oldest son, ‘Charlemagne’, and his mate, ‘Pompeia’, at the Duke Lemur Center on Jan. 25, 2015.  Weighing a healthy 3.8 ounces (110 grams) at birth, the baby and mom received a clean bill of health from veterinarians.

Though she is Jovian's fifth grandchild, Isabella is the first to be born at the Lemur Center.

Lemur Center veterinarian, Dr. Cathy Williams, said, “Successful births like Isabella really embody what we try to do here at the Lemur Center, which is to breed these animals that are extremely endangered in the wild, to learn about them, to give them a good existence and to try to prevent them from going extinct.”

As Isabella’s due date approached in January, lemur keepers checked mother, Pompeia, every morning for a new baby. In the early hours of January 25th, keepers discovered Pompeia sitting high up in her suite, with the baby clinging tightly to her tummy.

Lemur keepers and veterinarians kept a close watch on the newborn for signs of illness. They observed Isabella clinging tightly to mother’s abdomen and nursing, and she continues to gain weight -- all signals that the baby is healthy and mom is providing good care.

After a week to allow mom and baby to bond, dad Charlemagne (‘Charlie’ to his keepers), was slowly introduced to the infant. Within a few days Pompeia was letting the new dad groom and lick the infant. The family now spends all day together, while keepers observe the family’s interactions.

“Charlie put his head down close to the baby and started to ‘sing’ to the baby,” said keeper supervisor, Britt Keith.  Coquerel’s Sifakas use quiet, soft vocalizations, similar to a low “coo”, as they greet one another and touch noses. “He’s going to be a great father, just like his father [Jovian] was.”

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Fennec Fox Sibs Make Debut

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A Fennec Fox couple, at the Chattanooga Zoo, are proud parents to two new kits! The boy and girl were welcomed, January 23rd, by first time mother, ‘Sophie’, and father, ‘Barkley’. 

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FennecKitsChatt6Photo Credits: Chattanooga Zoo

The yet-to-be-named kits, and their mother, are in perfect health and adjusting very well. The duo recently made their public debut and can now be seen, on exhibit, with their parents, at the Zoo.

Father of the kits, Barkley, was paired with Sophie through the Species Survival Plan (SSP) program, as a recommended breeding pair. Barkley arrived at the Chattanooga Zoo from the St. Louis Zoo in October 2014. The genetics that Sophie and Barkley hold are rare and highly valuable in the Zoo’s breeding pool. The breeding pair quickly became fond of each other, and they are now considered an SSP success story.

More awesome pics, below the fold!

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The Weasley Brothers Are at Exmoor Zoo

1617589_827313147339283_2315922715855448080_oMeet ‘Mumbles’ and ‘Wiggles’, also known as the ‘Weasley Brothers’! The two Yellow Mongoose brothers were born, in late January, at Exmoor Zoo

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10835119_823784224358842_8545213686022901356_oPhoto Credits: John Hammond/Exmoor Zoo

According to Zoo Curator, Danny Reynolds, the zoo has looked after the species for more than 15 years, but this is the first time they have had success with babies reaching the age of Mumbles and Wiggles. The parents had a litter in the past, but due to the mothers advanced age, she was unable to produce enough milk. This time around, zoo staff decided it would be in the best interest of the brothers to intervene, and they began hand rearing the pair.

Zoo staff will be providing extended hands-on care for the brothers, over the next eight weeks. Then, the duo will be placed on exhibit, for visitors to observe.

The Yellow Mongoose is sometimes referred to as the ‘red meerkat’. Their average adult weight is about 1 pound, and they generally reach a length of about 20 inches. Their native habitat is in open country, from semi-desert scrubland to grasslands in Angola, Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, and Zimbabwe.

The Yellow Mongoose is carnivorous, consuming mostly arthropods, but they are known to dine on other small creatures, such as: lizards, snakes, and eggs of others species.

They generally mate between July and September, and they usually give birth between October and December. Usually, two offspring are produced, and they are weaned at about 10 weeks of age. They reach adult size after 10 months.

The Yellow Mongoose is currently classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List.

More adorable pics, below the fold!

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