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August 2015

Lynx Kittens Play All Day

20150717_091006_02_Zoo_Vienna_DxOTwo Lynx kittens born June 5 at Vienna’s Schönbrunn Zoo like to play all day!  The kittens scramble up tree trunks and explore their naturally wooded habitat.  But when they take too many chances, mom grabs them gently by the neck and carries them out of the way.20150716_085211_Zoo_Vienna_DxO

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Foto_42_idPhoto Credits: Norbert Potensky, Franz Wunsch

The kittens are still nursing but have started tasting small pieces of meat.  Finding them in their wooded enclosure requires patience – their brown spotted coats provide excellent camouflage for the youngsters, who are about the size of housecats right now.

Lynx are well adapted to live in temperate forests.  Their huge paws act like snowshoes to prevent the cats from sinking into deep snow.  Tufts of hair at the tips of the ears may contribute to their excellent sense of hearing.

Although not listed as threatened, Lynx are under pressure from legalized hunting and loss of habitat in some areas.

See more photos of the kittens below.

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Little Giants Come Out Of Their Shells

Baby Malaysian Giant Pond Turtle-0005-6886Four rare Turtles have come out of their shells at the Houston Zoo!  These Malaysian Giant Pond Turtles are not often seen in zoos due to their large size and low rate of reproduction in captivity.

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Baby Malaysian Giant Pond Turtle-0004-6878Photo Credit:  Stephanie Adams/Houston Zoo

Getting out of a shell can be tough work but baby turtles have a special adaptation on their snout: an egg tooth. Also called a caruncle, the egg tooth is a temporary structure that is used to cut through the egg membrane and break through the shell.  Once there is a hole in the egg, the turtle can break out.

The zoo’s journey to this remarkable hatching began when they acquired a group of juvenile Malaysian Giant Pond Turtles in 2002.  The Turtles have reached maturity, and these hatchlings are the result.

At the Houston Zoo, this species inhabits the moat surrounding the Orangutan exhibit, but the Turtles are very secretive and not often seen.  They feed on fish, plants, and fruits.

Malaysian Giant Pond Turtles are found in rivers and lakes on the Malay Peninsula, Borneo, and Sumatra.  Adults can reach almost three feet in length and can weigh over 100 pounds. Listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Malaysian Giant Pond Turtles are heavily exploited for their meat, and populations are in decline throughout their native range.

See more photos of the Turtles below.

Continue reading "Little Giants Come Out Of Their Shells" »