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April 2015

Rare Giraffe Calf Surprises Keepers at Zoo Basel

Kordofan_giraffe_majengo_mutter_sophie_ZOB0584When keepers arrived at Switzerland’s Zoo Basel in the early morning on April 1, they were greeted by a brand-new arrival:  female Giraffe Sophie had just delivered a healthy baby boy!

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Kordofan_giraffe_majengo_vater_xamburu_ZOB0966Photo Credit:  Zoo Basel

A video camera installed in the barn revealed that Sophie became restless at about 4:45 AM and kept looking at her belly.  After just a few hours of labor, her calf was born at 7:10 AM.  Another female Giraffe, named Kianga, was present during the birth and the calf’s father, Xamburu, looked on.  Though both were very interested in the new arrival, Sophie would not allow them to get too close.

The calf, named Majengo, easily walked onto a scale later in the day and weighed in at 123 pounds.  He stood about six feet tall.  For now, Majengo gets most of his nourishment by nursing, but he has already nibbled on leaves and alfalfa hay.

The Giraffes at Zoo Basel are members of a rare subspecies known as the Kordofan Giraffe.  Found in southern Chad, the Central African Republic, Cameroon, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kodofan Giraffes inhabit some of Africa’s most hostile regions.  Only about 3,000 Kordofan Giraffes are thought to remain in the wild.  They can be distinguished from other Giraffe subspecies by their pale spots.

See more photos of the rare calf below.

Continue reading "Rare Giraffe Calf Surprises Keepers at Zoo Basel" »


First Vet Visit for Taronga's Lion Cub Trio

Lion cubs vaccination_SM_7.4.15 (38)Three Lion cubs born at the Taronga Western Plains Zoo on February 28 had their first veterinary visit this week, and all were pronounced healthy and strong.

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Lion cubs vaccination_SM_7.4.15 (30)Photo Credit:  Taronga Western Plains Zoo
 

The cubs, a male and two females, are the first Lion cubs ever born at the zoo, so the staff is especially thrilled with the new arrivals.  The cubs have not yet been named.  This is the first litter for mother Maya and father Lazarus.    

Maya and Lazarus were introduced in 2014 and breeding behavior was observed almost immediately after the introduction.  Staff monitored Maya carefully throughout her pregnancy, and keepers have been monitoring Maya and her cubs via a video camera in their den since birth, allowing them time to bond together on their own. 

The staff is taking a hands-off approach, allowing Maya to use her natural mothering instincts.

At their veterinary check-up this week, the cubs each weighed about 11 pounds, more than doubling their birth weights.  In the coming weeks, the cubs will begin to eat solid food and explore their surroundings. 

Wild African Lions are classified as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, with populations decreasing due to human-animal conflict, depleted prey base, and habitat loss.  

See more photos of the cubs below.

Continue reading "First Vet Visit for Taronga's Lion Cub Trio" »


River Safari Cares for Abandoned Manatee Calf

IMG 1 Baby manatee Canola

Born August 6th, 2014, female Manatee calf ‘Canola’ is the offspring of Wildlife Reserves Singapore’s largest Manatee, 23-year-old ‘Eva’. For unknown reasons, Eva abandoned her latest calf, despite having successfully raised eight offspring in the past and being a grandmother of two.

IMG 2 Aquarist Keith So bottle-feeds baby manatee Canola

IMG 4 Aquarist Keith So conducts physical check on baby manatee Canola

Baby manatee Canola swimming with manatee herd at River Safari's Amazon Flooded ForestPhoto Credits: Wildlife Reserves Singapore

To ensure that animals in River Safari retain their parental behaviors, zoologists strive to have the parents raise their offspring. In the case of Canola, there was no other option but to have aquarists hand-raise the newborn.

The 33kg (73 lb) abandoned calf, at River Safari’s Amazon Flooded Forest exhibit, had to be watched 24 hours for the first few days, fed every two to three hours during the first three months, and re-introduced gradually to her family. It was a Herculean task that the team of aquarists dived into to give baby Canola a fighting chance to live.

Mr. Wah Yap Hon, Curator at River Safari, said, “Hand-raised animals tend to imprint on their human caregivers. The babies will attach themselves to, and learn certain behaviors from their human foster parents, and may not have a chance to bond with their family or other members of their species. In the case of Eva and Canola, we stepped in as a last resort to ensure the survival of this precious baby.”

Similar to caring for a human baby, hand-raising an animal baby requires planning and hard work. For Canola, it involved bottle-feeding every two to three hours, from 8am to 10pm daily, for the first three months. To increase her fat intake and substitute her mother’s highly nutritious milk, Canola was given a special milk formula infused with canola oil, which inspired her name. To ensure Canola’s safety, the aquarists moved her to a shallow holding pool, to minimize the risk of other manatees crowding her and making it challenging for her to rise to the water’s surface to breathe.

“Under the doting care and great team effort of her human caregivers, Canola steadily gained weight and hit all the important developmental milestones of a healthy calf. By December, Canola started swimming with the rest of the herd in the main aquarium, forming close bonds with her species,” said Wah.

Since February, Canola’s caregivers have gradually cut down on her milk intake to four feedings a day, to accommodate her increasing diet of vegetables. Manatees spend six to eight hours a day grazing on aquatic plants, which is why they are also known as ‘sea cows’. Adults typically consume 50-100kg 110lb to 220lb) of vegetation a day, equivalent to 10-15 percent of their body weight.

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Rosamond Gifford Zoo ‘Feeling Cheesy’ about Otter Duo

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The Rosamond Gifford Zoo is home to two new North American River Otters. The adorable male pups were born March 8th to six-year-old mom, ‘Brie’, and nine-year-old dad, ‘Johann’, and the cheese-tastic newborns have been named ‘Monterey’ and ‘Jack’. 

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RGZotters_5_JaimeAlvarezPhoto Credits: Jaime Alvarez (Images:1,2,4,5,6,7,8); Maria Simmons (Images:3,9)

The pups weighed about four ounces at birth and were born blind. Newborn otters don’t open their eyes till about four to five weeks of age, and they require significant care by their mother in order to survive. Due to this fact, and Brie’s previously unsuccessful attempts at rearing offspring, zoo staff installed cameras in the otter’s nest box. This has allowed keepers to monitor her pregnancy, and due to their observations, staff made the decision to pull her pups for hand-rearing.

“It is always exciting to have new babies at our zoo. Our animal staff has had remarkable success over the years in hand-rearing animals. I wish them continued success with these new otter pups and commend them for their hard work,” said County Executive Joanne M. Mahoney.

“We are very pleased to welcome Monterey and Jack and look forward to their growth and development over the next few months,” says Zoo Director Ted Fox. “Their father, Johann, is extremely energetic and a guest favorite. The eventual introduction of the pups to the otter exhibit will prove to be a very exciting time for our guests and staff.”

Monterey and Jack will be introduced to the otter exhibit at a later date. For now, the zoo intends for guests to observe feedings. While the pups are being raised behind the scenes, parents Brie and Johann can still be seen daily in the otter habitat, located in the social animal area of the zoo. 

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Meet the New Kids at the Maryland Zoo

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The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore is happy to announce the birth of twin African Pygmy Goat kids.  The kids, one male and one female, were born, March 10th, to the Zoo’s African Pygmy Goat pair, ‘Lex’ and ‘Lois’.  

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Photo Credits: Jeffrey F. Bill / Maryland Zoo

“We are so excited to have kids in the Farmyard again,” stated Carey Ricciardone, mammal collection and conservation manager at The Maryland Zoo. “The two new babies have been behind the scenes with Lois since their birth, giving them time to bond. Luckily she’s an experienced mother and is taking very good care of her kids.”

 The twins, named ‘Chloe’ and ‘Clark’, currently weigh 9 and 10 pounds respectively. “They are busy exploring their environment, napping and playing with their mother,” continued Ricciardone. “As always, our staff will continue to monitor them closely to ensure that they are doing well.”

Zoo visitors can now see Lois and her kids in the Zoo’s Farmyard area next to the sheep.  “Because they are pygmy goats, they are quite small and they do seek shady cool places to hang out sometimes,” concluded Ricciardone.  “They are becoming very active and will be jumping all over the place. I think everyone will really enjoy watching them grow!”

Pygmy Goats originated in the Cameroon Valley of West Africa. They were imported into the United States from European zoos in the 1950s, for use in zoos and as research animals. They were eventually acquired by private breeders and quickly gained popularity as pets and exhibition animals due to their good-natured personalities. Females can reach a maximum weight of about 75 lbs (34 kg), and males can grow up to 86 lbs (39 kg). Wither height ranges from 16 to 23 inches (41 to 58 cm). Their color and pattern of their coats can vary significantly.


Little Blue Penguins Hatch at Cincinnati Zoo

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The Cincinnati Zoo is home to five species of penguins, and their colony of Blue Penguins recently increased their census with the hatching of their newest chicks!

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Photo Credits: Cassandre Crawford/ Cincinnati Zoo

The Blue Penguin (also known as: Little Blue Penguin, Fairy Penguin, or Little Penguin) is the smallest species of penguin. It is native to the coastlines of southern Australia and New Zealand. They grow to an average of about 13 inches (33 cm) in height and 17 inches (43 cm) in length. Their name alludes to their slate-blue plumage.

Blue Penguins are diurnal and spend the biggest part of their day swimming and foraging for food at sea. During breeding and chick rearing seasons, they leave their nests at sunrise, forage for food throughout the day and return to nest just after dusk. Blue Penguins rub tiny drops of oil, from a gland above their tail, onto every feather. This task of preening with oil helps keep their feathers waterproof while swimming.

Blue Penguins mature at different ages. A female will mature at around two-years, and a male will, however, reach maturity at about three-years-old.  They remain faithful to their partner during breeding season and hatching. They will swap burrows at other times of the year, but they also exhibit site fidelity to their own nesting colony.

Nests are situated close to the sea in burrows excavated by the birds or other species. They will also nest in caves, rock crevices, under logs or in a variety of man-made structures (nest boxes, pipes, stacks of wood, buildings). They are the only species of penguin capable of producing more than one clutch of eggs per breeding season. The one or two, white or mottled brown, eggs are generally laid from July to mid-November. Incubation can take up to 36 days, and the chicks are brooded for 18-38 days. They fledge after 7-8 weeks.

The Blue Penguin is classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List. However, their populations are threatened by a variety of terrestrial creatures, such as: cats, dogs, rats, foxes, and large reptiles. Due to their diminutive size, some colonies have been reduced in size by as much as 98% in just a few years. A small colony near Warrnambool, Victoria, Australia was reduced from approximately 600 penguins in 2001 to less than 10 in 2005. Because of this threat, conservationists pioneered an experimental technique using Maremma Sheepdogs to protect the colony and fend of potential predators. 


White Rhino Born at Cotswold Wildlife Park

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Cotswold Wildlife Park celebrated an incredible milestone, recently. First-time mother, ‘Ruby’, gave birth to the Park’s first male White Rhino. The comparatively tiny calf is healthy and nursing well from Ruby, who is proving to be an exceptional mother. 

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Baby Rhino and Ruby together

DSCF6823Photo Credits: Cotswold Wildlife Park

Keepers, and a few lucky visitors, were present when Ruby gave birth at 12.30 pm on Friday, March 27th. In less than ten minutes, the fifteen month pregnancy was over, and thankfully, after a relatively quick labor, a new baby was welcomed into the family-run Burford Collection. Keeper Chris Kibbey caught the special moment on film.

Curator of Cotswold Wildlife Park, Jamie Craig, commented: “Although we were expecting the birth, it still took us by surprise, at the time. After careful preparations for a nice, quiet arrival, ‘Ian’ was born in full view of many of the staff here at lunchtime on Friday, and Ruby allowed us a full graphic view of his entry into the world – an experience we will never forget. Although still very early days, he seems strong and Ruby appears to be an attentive mother.”

The Rhino calf’s father, ‘Monty’, and mother, ‘Ruby’, are both nine years old. In 2009, Ruby (along with another female called ‘Nancy’) made the eleven thousand kilometer journey from Mafunyane Game Farm, in South Africa, to the UK to join the young male, Monty, at their new Oxfordshire home. It was hoped that, one day, they would successfully produce the Park’s first ever Rhino calf. Monty has since fathered two calves. Nancy gave birth to a female, ‘Astrid’, in 2013, and now Ian has followed twenty months later.

Females only reproduce every two-and-a-half to five years, so the window of opportunity for successful reproduction is limited. Unbelievably, these iconic animals were once the rarest subspecies of any Rhino, and they were on the verge of extinction in the early 1900s. It was believed only twenty to fifty animals remained in their native African homeland, during that time period. However, thanks to excellent and sustained protection, they are now the most common of the five Rhino subspecies. The White Rhino is currently classified as “Near Threatened” on the IUCN Red List.

The calf has been named ‘Ian’ in memory of the highly respected South African conservationist, Ian Player, who spearheaded efforts to rescue the Southern White Rhino from extinction. The Park’s original Rhino pair, called ‘Lebombo’ and ‘Somtuli’, arrived from Umfolozi in 1972 as a direct result of Ian’s Rhino conservation initiatives with South Africa’s Natal Parks Board. His memory lives on in the Park’s Rhino family.

Visitors to Cotswold can see the new calf daily from 10am to 6pm (last entry at 4.30pm) in the solar powered Rhino House.

More pics and incredible video, below the fold!

Continue reading "White Rhino Born at Cotswold Wildlife Park" »


Jaguar Cub Debuts at San Diego Zoo

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A three-week-old Jaguar cub made his first public appearance this weekend at the San Diego Zoo.

Born on March 12 to Nindiri, the male cub has just begun to explore the world outside his den.  The cub, who has not yet been named, is Nindiri’s third cub and weighs just under five pounds.

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Photo Credit:  Ken Bohn

The cub’s eyes are now open and he’s becoming steadier on his paws, so the zoo staff feels he is ready to safely explore the different terrain outside his den.  So far, he has navigated through piles of hay and investigated a rock – both important steps in his development.

Jaguars are the largest cats in all the Americas and are powerful predators, able to kill prey in a single strike.  Their jaws are extremely powerful, enabling them to pierce the skulls of their prey with just one bite. 

Though they are widely distributed from Mexico to Argentina (plus a very small population in southern Arizona in the United States), Jaguars are listed as Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  Primary threats include loss of habitat, illegal hunting, and persecution by farmers and ranchers.  


Two Clouded Leopards Born at Nashville Zoo

Cub with keeper 2015 - Amiee Stubbs

Two Clouded Leopard cubs born at the Nashville Zoo will help build a sustainable population of these vulnerable cats.

The cubs, both female, were born on March 13 and March 18 and are being hand raised together.

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Photo Credit:  Amiee Stubbs

“Nashville Zoo is on the forefront of Clouded Leopard care and conservation,” said Karen Rice, carnivore supervisor. “The birth of these two cubs aids in our conservation efforts and benefits the long-term plan to create a sustainable captive population.”

Clouded Leopards are notoriously reclusive, which makes introducing the cats to potential mates a dangerous proposition.  In fact, male Clouded Leopards have been known to attack and kill potential female partners. To reduce these fatal attacks, Clouded Leopard cubs are hand raised and introduced to their future mates at a young age. Since 2009, 26 Clouded Leopards have been raised at the Nashville Zoo and have gone on to live and reproduce at zoos worldwide.

Clouded Leopards are considered Vulnerable to extinction due to deforestation, poaching and the pet trade. As a founding member of the Thailand Clouded Leopard Consortium, Nashville Zoo works with organizations around the world to improve husbandry, breeding, and genetic diversity for this species.