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December 2015

“It’s So Fluffy!” Cotswold Wildlife Park


Here’s something to add more ‘fluffy’ to your day…a herd of cute baby Mini-Lop Rabbits! The wee fluffy ones were born in the Children’s Farmyard Barn, at Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens, in the UK.

The bunnies are four-weeks-old and now starting to come out of their nest and explore.

The baby rabbits make their home in the Children’s Farmyard at Cotswold Wildlife Park, where all the animals may be approached and in some cases touched or stroked.

The Mini-Lop is a popular breed of rabbit that is quite often seen in rabbit shows. They are also popular in the pet trade. Bob Herschbach discovered the breed at a German National Rabbit Show in Essen, Germany in 1972. The rabbit was then known as Klein Widder. The first Mini-Lops were originated from the German Big-Lop and the small Chinchilla Rabbit.

Mini-Lops are known to be friendly and playful and can be taught tricks and commands.

Rabbits and Guinea Pigs living at Cotswold Wildlife Park are unwanted pets that have been donated to the facility. The Park does not breed small animals for the pet trade. As with their endangered inhabitants, Cotswold Wildlife Park endeavors to manage all species in a responsible manner.



First Western Lowland Gorilla Birth for Fort Worth Zoo

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The Fort Worth Zoo, in Texas, proudly announced their first-ever Western Lowland Gorilla birth. The male primate was born on Saturday, Dec. 5 to first-time parents Gracie and Elmo.

The yet-to-be-named ape is staying close to his mother as he gets acclimated to his surroundings in the Zoo’s World of Primates exhibit. He will be viewable in indoor or outdoor exhibits, at various times during the day, which will be dictated by weather conditions and his activity level.

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4_Photo 2Photo Credits: Jeremy Enlow / Fort Worth Zoo

 The Fort Worth Zoo is the only zoo in the nation to house representatives of all four great ape species: Gorillas, Orangutans, Chimpanzees and Bonobos.

The Western Lowland Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) is one of two subspecies of the Western Gorilla that lives in montane, primary, and secondary forests and lowland swamps in central Africa in Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.

Females don’t reach sexual maturity until the age of 8 or 9. Gestation is about 9 months and newborns typically weigh about four pounds. Infants ride on their mothers’ backs from the age of four months to two or three years of age. Infants remain dependent on the mother for up to five years.

Western Lowland Gorillas are listed as “Critically Endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to hunting and disease. Gorillas also have an alarmingly low reproductive rate (at an observed rate of 3 percent population increase), so even if there was a drastic decline in hunting and disease, it could take at least 75 years for population recovery to occur in optimistic scenarios. The Fort Worth Zoo participates in a cooperative breeding program for Gorillas that maintains a healthy, self-sustaining population of vulnerable animals to help prevent their extinction.


New Brazilian Tapir Steps Out at Chester Zoo


Keepers at Chester Zoo have announced the arrival of a rare Brazilian Tapir.

The female calf, which has not yet been named, was born early in the morning of December 5 to experienced parents Jenny and Cuzco.

Weighing just a few kilograms at birth, she is expected to more than double in size within just two to three weeks.



4_Tapir-10Photo Credits: Chester Zoo

Young Tapirs are born with spots and stripes all over their bodies, heads, and legs. But they lose these patterns in the first year of their life.

Tim Rowlands, curator of mammals, said, “With her brown coat currently covered in white stripes and spots, our new Tapir calf resembles a little humbug on legs at the moment. Lowland Tapirs lose this patterning over time but, for a newborn, it’s a great form of camouflage, as predators will often mistake young calves for specks of sunlight on the forest floor.

“At just a few days old she is tiny, but Tapirs grow very quickly and we expect she will double in weight in just a matter of weeks. She already has bundles of energy and is quite demanding on mum in particular, but Jenny is very experienced and knows exactly what to do.

“We hope that our new arrival will be another great ambassador for the species and their cousins in the wild who, sadly, fall victim to a number of devastating threats that has resulted in a huge loss of wildlife across South America.”

The Brazilian, or Lowland Tapir, (Tapirus terrestris) is one of five species in the tapir family. The Lowland Tapir is the largest native terrestrial mammal in the Amazon. They can be found near water in the Amazon Rainforest and River Basin in South America, east of the Andes.

Lowland Tapirs are excellent swimmers but also move quickly over land. They feed on a diet of fruits, berries, and leaves. Their closest relatives are horses and rhinoceroses.

They reach sexual maturity in their third year. Females have a gestation period of 13 months (390 to 395 days) and typically have one offspring every two years. Newborns weigh about 15 pounds and will double their weight in the first 14 to 21 days. The young are fully weaned in about four to six months from birth.

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Toronto Zoo’s Panda Cubs Reach Another Milestone

Image 28 - Toronto Zoo Giant Panda Cubs at 8 weeks

We can’t get enough of the Giant Panda cubs at the Toronto Zoo! They recently reached another milestone. Not only did they turn eight-weeks-old, but their eyes are now partially open! They are sensitive to both light and dark, but do not have any resolution yet.

Not only are their eyes opening, but their vocalizations are becoming stronger each day, developing from what once was a quiet squeak to what can now be described as a stronger squawk!

Image 29 - Toronto Zoo Giant Panda Cubs at 8 weeksPhoto Credits: Toronto Zoo

 Both cubs continue to grow, with their last weights both being over 2,000 grams (4.4 lbs.), and they average 48 cm (18.9 in.) in length from the tip of their head to tip of the tail!

This is still a very critical time for these cubs. Mom, Er Shun, and her cubs will remain in the maternity den, which is not viewable to the public. However, Er Shun periodically has access to her day room to promote exercise and to give her a chance to eat her bamboo.

Although Er Shun and the cubs are not on exhibit, and media are not permitted in the maternity area of the Giant Panda Exhibit, Toronto Zoo staff will continue to provide updates, photos and video as they become available.

It all started on October 13th when the Toronto Zoo announced the birth of the two Giant Panda cubs. ZooBorns shared the initial birth announcement, and we have been sharing updates as released by the Zoo.

The Toronto Zoo has stated that Er Shun and her twin cubs would be living within the private maternity area, inside the Giant Panda House, for approximately four to five months.

Giant Panda mothers are known for only looking after one cub at a time, so keepers are helping raise the twins using a method called ‘twin swapping’. One baby is left with the mother, and the keepers switch the twins every few hours, so each one gets care and milk directly from mom. Since the beginning, Er Shun has been demonstrating excellent maternal instincts, and she began cleaning and cradling the first cub soon after its birth.

As the maternity area of the Giant Panda House is not visible to the public, Toronto Zoo staff have been providing regular updates on the progress of the cubs, via the zoo’s website and social media:

The Giant Panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) is native to only a few mountain ranges in central China, usually at elevations between 5,000 – 10,000 feet. In these cool, misty forests, Giant Pandas forage for bamboo, which comprises 99% of their diet, about 10 to 16 hours a day.

Giant Pandas reach sexual maturity between the ages of four and eight and may be reproductive until age 20. Their gestation period ranges from 95 to 160 days. In about half of their pregnancies, twins are birthed. In the wild, usually only one twin survives, due to the mother selecting the stronger cub to care for and neglecting the weaker.

Only about 1,600 Giant Pandas remain in the wild. About 300 live in zoos and breeding centers around the world, mostly in China. Giant Pandas are listed as “Endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Their population is threatened by continued habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, and by a very low birthrate-- both in the wild and in captivity.


Jacksonville Zoo Announces Sex of New Sumatran Tiger

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The Sumatran Tiger cub, at Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens (JZG), had its first wellness check recently, and the Zoo’s vets confirmed that the cub is healthy and… a female!

The cub is almost 48 cm (19 inches) long, weighs 3.46 kg (7.5 pounds). She's eating well and mom is taking excellent care of her. Mom normally feeds in a separate room for the first few days. When the mother separates from the cub, Zoo Staff gradually extend the time period to see how comfortable she is. Once the staff have gained the trust of the mother and feel she is comfortable, they cautiously and quickly take that opportunity to exam the cub. The entire check up lasted about five minutes.

Guests can try to catch a glimpse of the cub via television monitor in the Zoo’s ‘Land of the Tiger’ exhibit building.

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4_JZG female Sumatran Tiger cub_nPhoto Credits: John Reed / JZG

The cub was born in the early morning hours of November 19, less than a week before Thanksgiving. She is the first tiger born at JZG in 35 years, and the fifth Sumatran Tiger born in the U.S. this year. First-time mother Dorcas (also known as Lucy) is 4-years-old and came to JZG from the Oklahoma City Zoo. Berani, the 14-year-old father, is also a first-time parent who came to JZG from the Akron Zoo.

ZooBorns introduced the new cub to our readers in an article from the beginning of the month: “Zoo Thankful for First Tiger Cub in Over Three Decades

The Sumatran Tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) is the smallest of the six subspecies in existence today. They are only found on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia. Originally, nine tiger subspecies were found in parts of Asia, but three subspecies have become extinct in the 20th century. Less than 400 Sumatran Tigers remain in the wild. They are currently classified as “Critically Endangered” on the IUCN Red List.

"Protecting tigers involves protecting the animals they prey upon,” said John Lukas, Conservation and Science Manager at JZG. “Illegal hunting and snaring removes natural tiger food from the forest and forces tigers to kill domestic livestock to survive.”

To combat extinction of those tigers in the wild, Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens supports a Wildlife Protection Unit on the island of Sumatra. The unit patrols the national forest, removing traps and snares that harm Sumatran Tigers and their prey, and they also keep poachers out of the reserve.

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Rescued Manatee Finds A Home At Cincinnati Zoo


A two-year-old Manatee rescued in Florida arrived at the Cincinnati Zoo to continue his rehabilitation before being released back into the wild.

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Djjam (8)Photo Credit:  Cincinnati Zoo
BamBam was rescued from a canal in Brevard County, Florida in January 2015.  He was treated for severe cold stress at SeaWorld Orlando before moving to the Cincinnati Zoo in October.

“He is quite energetic, which is what you’d expect from a young Manatee in a new environment. The cold stress on his tail has caused some tissue damage, however it does not appear that his mobility is compromised at all,” said Cincinnati Zoo curator Winton Ray. “Upon his arrival in Cincinnati, BamBam weighed 335 pounds, which represents a healthy, 100-pound weight gain since June.”

He joined 25-year-old Manatee Betsy, who weighs almost seven times as much as he does, in the zoo’s Manatee Springs tank. “Since being introduced to Betsy, keepers have seen exactly what they expected and were hoping for,” says Ray. “He is very ‘clingy’ towards her, and she is patient and gentle with him.”

The Cincinnati Zoo is one of two United States zoos outside of Florida that participate in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Manatee Rescue, Rehabilitation and Release Program. The goal of this program is to rescue and treat sick or injured Manatees and then release them back into the wild.

A subspecies of West Indian manatees, Florida Manatees are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  They are at risk from both natural and man-made causes of injury and mortality. Exposure to red tide, cold stress, and disease are all natural problems that can affect Manatees. Human-caused threats include boat strikes, crushing by flood gates or locks, and entanglement in or ingestion of fishing gear.

See more photos of BamBam below.

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Tiger Cub Gets Life-Saving Help From Keepers

Staff at Zoo Miami have intervened to support a critically endangered Sumatran Tiger cub whose health was failing.

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The male cub, who you met on ZooBorns shortly after he was born on November 14 to four-year-old Leeloo, had been developing well.  But because this was Leeloo’s first cub, keepers kept an extra-close watch on the little one’s development by weighing him regularly.  After two weeks of weight gain, the cub lost weight for several days in a row. 

Keepers believe that the single cub was not creating enough nursing stimulation, therefore Leeloo’s milk production had begun to diminish, which is not uncommon in first-time mothers with single cubs.  In the wild, a cub like this would probably not survive.

To support the cub and ensure that he develops properly, keepers have begun separating the cub from Leeloo regularly and offering supplemental bottle feedings.  Fortunately, the cub tolerates the feedings well, and more importantly, Leeloo accepts him back after the feedings, grooms him, and socializes with him.  This is crucial for the cub’s development so he can learn how to be a Tiger and socialize with other Tigers – and vitally important to his future as he breeds and contributes to the survival of his species.

Sumatran Tigers are native only to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, where fewer than 500 of these magnificent cats remain.  Excessive deforestation for the planting of palm oil plantations has been a major factor in the decline of Sumatran Tigers.  They are listed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

See more photos of the cub below.

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Woodland Park Zoo’s Gorilla Baby Needs Hands-On Care

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Attempts to introduce a first-time mother Gorilla to her new baby continue every day at Woodland Park Zoo, in Seattle, Washington. For the next three months, the Zoo will keep providing hands-on care for the newborn female Gorilla before evaluating next steps.

The unnamed baby Western Lowland Gorilla was born November 20 to 19-year-old Nadiri (NAW-duh-ree).

After giving birth naturally, Nadiri did not pick up her baby and, instead, walked away. Staff immediately stepped in for the safety and welfare of the baby and to allow the new mom to rest.

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4_15_12_2 Gorilla Baby JDL-3Photo Credits: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/ Woodland Park Zoo

Because Nadiri does not have experience with motherhood, the Zoo prepared for different eventualities while Nadiri was pregnant, including human intervention.

The Woodland Park Zoo’s Gorilla and veterinary staff are providing 24/7 care for the baby, behind the scenes, in the Gorillas’ sleeping quarters in a den next to Nadiri. Here, the mom and the other two members in her group can see the baby; and the baby is immersed in the sights, sounds and smells of Gorillas.

“The baby is strong and healthy, and has a hearty appetite,” said Harmony Frazier, Woodland Park Zoo’s senior veterinary technician and an animal infant specialist. “We bottle feed her human infant formula on demand so she’s eating every couple of hours. She’s steadily gaining weight and currently weighs 5.8 pounds, a healthy weight for a 2-week-old Gorilla [as of December 3],” said Frazier.

“The best outcome for the baby Gorilla is to have her mom raise her, so, several times a day Nadiri is given access to her baby,” said Martin Ramirez, Woodland Park Zoo’s mammal curator. “Nadiri consistently enters the den for each introduction session. While she still hasn’t picked up her baby, she remains next to her. When the baby cries, she sometimes touches her in a calming manner. When Nadiri is in her own den, she watches her baby and grunts contentedly,” explained Ramirez. “It isn’t strong maternal behavior yet, but we’re encouraged by these positive sessions and gestures of interest.”

The zoo closely monitors and evaluates each introduction session. “As long as the sessions remain positive, we’ll keep moving forward with providing opportunities for Nadiri and her baby to bond. If Nadiri shows any inappropriate behaviors, we will discontinue the sessions and assess other options,” added Ramirez.

After the holidays, the Zoo has plans to name the baby Gorilla.

Continue reading "Woodland Park Zoo’s Gorilla Baby Needs Hands-On Care" »

UPDATE: Columbus Zoo Polar Bear Still Needs Helping Hand


The Polar Bear cub, at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, is now one-month-old!

Two cubs were born November 6, at the Ohio zoo. (ZooBorns posted a November 23rd article sharing the story.) Animal Care staff first observed new mom, Aurora, caring for the newborns. However, despite her efforts, only one cub survived.



4_12244571_10153301035967106_2713312182985211251_oPhoto Credits: Columbus Zoo & Aquarium

Initially, Aurora was caring for her surviving cub, and the Columbus Zoo animal team, in conjunction with recommendations from other Polar Bear breeding facilities, made the decision not to intervene. Polar Bear cubs are difficult to hand rear and disrupting Aurora’s maternal care was not advised.

Unfortunately, the surviving cub was pulled from the den by the Zoo’s Animal Care staff after Aurora stopped caring for it. Aurora began taking breaks from caring for her cub. When these breaks continued throughout the day and became longer, the Zoo’s Animal Care staff made the decision to remove the cub from the den and began to hand-rear the newborn.

A little over one month later, the cub is doing well. The hand rearing team stays with her 24 hours each day, and she is feeding every 3 hours. The cub is growing at a rapid pace, and as of last week, she was 14.25 inches from the end of her snout to the tip of her tail.

She continues to gain weight and keepers are anxiously waiting when her eyes will open, which should happen very soon. The Polar Bear cub care staff are taking the approach of ‘one day at a time’ and adjusting to her daily needs.

Polar Bears are native to the circumpolar north, including the United States (Alaska), Canada, Russia, Norway and Denmark (Greenland). They are at the top of the Arctic food chain and primarily eat seals. Polar Bear populations are declining due to the disappearance of sea ice, and experts estimate that only 20,000-25,000 Polar Bears are left in the wild. Some scientists believe if the warming trend continues two-thirds of the Polar Bear population could disappear by the year 2050. They are currently classified as "Vulnerable" on the IUCN Red List.

New Okapi Royalty at Antwerp Zoo

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Zoo Antwerpen’s royal resident, Yenthe the Okapi, recently gave birth to a new princess. The new calf, Qira, was born November 15. She weighed in at 24 kg (53 lbs) and was 85 cm (2.7 ft) tall.

Antwerp Zoo has a special connection to this beautiful animal. The Zoo is coordinator of the European breeding programme for the Okapi, and the prolific stripes of this endangered species are used in the Zoo’s logo.

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4_fotolink-okapi-qira (2)Photo Credits: ZOO Antwerpen / Jonas Verhulst

 The new calf and her mom are bonding and doing well. Yenthe’s gestation period was exceptionally long; she counted 443 days, instead of the typical 410 to 440 days. Following the tradition of giving all 2015 babies names starting with “Q”, the small Okapi was named Qira (meaning Sun). Qira is steadily gaining weight and can be identified by the unique stripe pattern on her buttocks and legs.

Zookeeper, Patrick Immens, said, “Qira seems a very easy baby. She drinks well and follows mama, Yenthe, very easily. She even steps onto the scale with ease…”

Three Okapi are now living at the Zoo: Yenthe, Qira, and the proud father, Bondo. The “royal family” is considered to be invaluable to the breeding program of this endangered species. Yenthe and Bondo are said to be an exceptionally good match due to their genetic makeup, and their contribution to the European breeding programme is invaluable.

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