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March 2016

New Aardvark Cub for BIOPARC Valencia

1_BIOPARC Valencia - Bebé oricteropo con 2 días de vida

BIOPARC Valencia is the first zoo in Spain to breed the Aardvark. On March 4, they welcomed a new member of this rare species.

The new cub spends valuable time with his attentive mother, but zoo staff follow special protocol in monitoring the new baby. Keepers work to ensure the proper cleanliness of the baby and also provide special care for his skin, which includes needed moisturization and a special humidifier. During the day, while mother is sleeping, staff keep a careful eye to maintain that the baby is nursing every two hours.

The new cub was the zoo’s first baby for the month of March. The cub and mother are currently off-exhibit, but, with the continued healthy progress of the baby, staff anticipate visitors being able to view them very soon.

2_Bebé oricteropo con 3 días de vida - BIOPARC Valencia (3)

3_Bebé oricteropo con 3 días de vida - BIOPARC Valencia (2)

4_Oricteropos - cerdos hormigueros - madre junto a su cría de 3 días de vida - BIOPARC ValenciaPhoto Credits: BIOPARC Valencia


The Aardvark (Orycteropus afer) is a medium-sized, burrowing, nocturnal mammal that is native to Africa. It is the only living species of the order Tubulidentata.

According to the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature): “Aardvarks were originally thought to be congeneric with the South American Anteaters (Myrmecophaga), until they were put in their own genus: Orycteropus. After 1872, Aardvarks were also put in their own order: the Tubulidentata. But this order was long considered to be closely related to the Xenarthrans and the Pangolins in the now obsolete clade "Edentata" (Lehmann 2007). It is only since the beginning of the 20th century, that Aardvarks have been considered to be basal "ungulates". It was also at this time that the seven then recognized species were merged into the single species Orycteropus afer (Shoshani et al. 1988). Since then, Tubulidentata is the only order of Mammals to be represented by a single living species. To date, 18 subspecies have been described (Meester 1971). However, their validity is doubtful and studies in this regard are ongoing. Finally, at the turn of the millennium, molecular phylogenetic analyses integrated the Aardvarks into the new super-cohort Afrotheria, next to Elephants, Hyraxes, Sea-cows, Sengis, Tenrecs, and Golden Moles.”

Continue reading "New Aardvark Cub for BIOPARC Valencia" »

Zoo Brno’s Polar Bear Cub Sticks Close to Mom


Visitors to Zoo Brno will soon be able to catch a glimpse of their new Polar Bear cub.

The cub was born to mom Cora at the end of November 2015. Until now, the two have been safely tucked away in their nesting box. However, at three-months-old, the new cub is ready to start exploring the exhibit.

Keepers have had a watchful eye on the new family via a nesting box cam. Staff have also been working on getting the pair accustomed to necessary health checks. "First contact went well. Cora was a little nervous, but this is important to gradually get them used to human presence and allow veterinary inspection of the baby, "says keeper, Jaroslav Jasinek.


3_ZooBrnoPolarBearCubAndMomCoraPhoto Credits: Eduard Stuchlik



Keepers currently do no know the sex of the new cub, but once they do, they will allow the public to assist in finding a name—thereby making the public, as a whole, the cub’s honorary ‘godparents’.

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.

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.

World's Tiniest Monkey Species Born at Chester Zoo


A baby Eastern Pygmy Marmoset – the world’s smallest species of Monkey – was born January 3 at Chester Zoo.  

Photo Credit:  Chester Zoo

You can imagine how tiny these infants are – even fully grown, Pygmy Marmosets weigh only one-third of a pound and are about five inches long. The baby is so small that at two months old, it is only now large enough to be spotted by zoo guests.

The itty-bitty infant, who has yet to be named or sexed, is carried by its father Gumi.  The baby’s mother, Audrey, nurses her baby but performs no other parental care, which is typical for this species. 

Eastern Pygmy Marmosets may be the smallest of all Monkeys, but they’re not the quietest.  They emit loud squeaks and whistles, which can be heard throughout the rain forests where they live in Brazil, Ecuador and Peru.  Marmosets are tree-dwellers and feed on insects, fruits, and tree sap.

These petite primates are threatened by habitat destruction and their capture for the pet trade. 

See more photos of the baby Marmoset below.

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Baby Makes Three Generations of Orangutans in Tampa

Bornean orang hadiah and topi 3 feb 20 2016Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo is celebrating three generations of Bornean Orangutans after the birth of two infants in just two months.

Bornean orang josie and gojo 1 feb 13 2016
Bornean orang hadiah and topi 4 feb 20 2016
Bornean orang josie and gojo feb 22 2016Photo Credit:  Dave Parkinson/Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo

Thirty-year-old Josie gave birth to GoJo, a male, in December.  Then Josie’s daughter Hadiah delivered her very first baby, a female named Topi, on February 17 to make three generations of these endangered apes at the zoo. 

In the photos seen here, two-month-old GoJo displays his upright hairdo while Topi snuggles close to her mom. 

“We are very fortunate that Hadiah was able to observe her mother’s labor and delivery just two months before her own experience,” said Angela Belcher, animal care manager for primates.  “As a first time mother, it took her some time to learn how to properly handle the infant, but much progress has been made in the last few days and she has the benefit of a great role model.”

Topi spends her days being cradled or carried by Hadiah, and is totally dependent on her mother for care.  For several months Topi will nurse exclusively, then will be gradually introduced to solid foods.  Orangutans have the longest childhood of any animal other than humans:  Offspring stay with their mothers for six to eight years.

Bornean Orangutans are one of two Orangutan subspecies (the other is the Sumatran Orangutan), and all Orangutans are endangered.   About 50,000 Bornean Orangutans remain in the wilds of Malaysia and Borneo; only about 6,000 Sumatran Orangutans remain on the Indonesian island of Sumatra.  Both subspecies are threatened by human activities, especially the conversion of forest habitats to palm oil plantations.  In 2015, raging fires intentionally set to burn Bornean land before plantation development had devastating effects on the forests – more than 2 million hectares (nearly 5 million acres) were burned. In addition, poaching and the pet-trade remain major threats to Orangutans across most of Borneo.

Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo participates in the Bornean Orangutan Species Survival Plan (SSP), a program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) designed to maximize genetic diversity in zoo-dwelling populations of rare animals.  Nine Bornean Orangutan have been  born at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, and there are fewer than 100 Bornean Orangutans in 24 AZA-accredited institutions in North America.

See more photos of the babies below.

Continue reading "Baby Makes Three Generations of Orangutans in Tampa" »

Endangered Red Panda Cubs Are a Living Legacy


Auckland Zoo started the New Year celebrating the arrival of two Nepalese Red Panda cubs. The twins were born just after 3am on January 14, 2016. According to staff, everything is going well with mum and the cubs.

The two are an extremely valuable addition to the international breeding programme for this endangered species.



4_12792216_10153453714196984_7060545283068029138_oPhoto Credits: Auckland Zoo



"By watching the nest box cameras we've set up, we can see they have both been suckling. We couldn't ask for a better mum in Bo," said Carnivore's team leader Lauren Booth.

The twins are the fifth and sixth offspring of six-year-old mum Bo (who arrived at Auckland Zoo in mid-2012) and the last of 15-year-old Sagar, who was euthanized in December 2015.

"The average lifespan of a Red Panda is eight to 12 years, so Sagar reached a great old age for a Red Panda, but due to his age he had developed a spinal condition that was at the point where treatment was not able to increase his quality of life," says Lauren.

"Ever since arriving from Darjeeling Zoo in 2010, he had an amazing personality. He's left a great legacy within the region fathering six cubs over the course of three years. With these two being the last of his legacy with Bo, it was nice to have this positive to focus on as we said a difficult goodbye."

Lauren says that Red Pandas develop slowly and are dependent on Mum for at least three months, so it will be some time before visitors see the cubs venturing out of their nest box and around the enclosure with Bo.

"We're keeping a regular watch on the cubs, but taking a very hands-off approach so Bo can continue to do the great job she's doing, and we minimize any potential stress for her," she says.

Affectionately called 'little fluffs' by the Zoo’s keepers, the pair received their first weigh-in and checkup mid-February. They are being weighed weekly and keepers say they are both doing really well!

Visit Auckland Zoo's facebook page​ for further details and updates about the cubs.

Continue reading "Endangered Red Panda Cubs Are a Living Legacy" »

Zoológico de São Paulo Cares for Orphaned Opossums


Zoológico de São Paulo recently became home to a pair of Bare-tailed Woolly Opossum joeys. The siblings were orphaned when their mother was attacked and killed, in their forest, by a domestic dog. The joeys were found, unharmed, clinging to their mother’s body.

Zoo technicians have been hand-rearing the brother and sister. Initially they required milk, but they have now progressed to solids and are now feeding themselves pureed fruit with insects.



4_12711313_1109650209069365_5662784713940919874_oPhoto Credits:Paulo Gil - Zoo / SP

The Bare-tailed Woolly Opossum (Caluromys philander), also called the White-eared Opossum, is a species from South America. Its range includes Bolivia, Brazil, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela. It is a species restricted only to moist forests.

Like other members of the genus Caluromys, the Bare-tailed Woolly Opossum is a strongly arboreal species of marsupial, differing from other didelphid opossums in having a comparatively large encephalization quotient and smaller litter size. Its name comes from its naked, prehensile tail.

It feeds on fruits, nectar, invertebrates and small vertebrates. Bare-tailed Woolly Opossums actively climb through the upper canopy of trees as they look for fruit and insects.

Continue reading "Zoológico de São Paulo Cares for Orphaned Opossums" »

Chattanooga Zoo Hatches Hellbender Eggs


The Chattanooga Zoo is pleased to announce the successful hatching of a group of Hellbender eggs collected from the wild in East Tennessee. This is the first Hellbender hatching on Chattanooga Zoo grounds.

The Chattanooga Zoo has been working on Hellbender conservation on-site and infield since 2009. Due to catastrophic population collapse across the state, the Chattanooga Zoo teamed up with the Nashville Zoo’s Ectotherm department to collect eggs and begin setting up a head start program for east and middle Tennessee.

Working in partnership with the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency, the Nashville Zoo, The University of Tennessee, and Lee University, the Zoo will rear this group of juvenile Hellbenders for several years, until they are mature enough to monitor in the wild. Once they reach maturity, they will be released into a suitable stream in East Tennessee where species sightings no longer occur.

Creating head start programs for this species will give each individual animal a better chance of survival. Because they will be larger when released into the wild, they are easier to study, either by traditional methods or radio transmitters, which is essential for gathering data.

“Without human intervention of field research, head start programs, habitat protect and restoration, and animal reintroductions, we will lose the species to extinction. Our Ectotherm department and partners work diligently to better understand these animals in efforts to save and protect them for years to come,” David Hedrick, Chattanooga Zoo Ectotherm Keeper III.



4_12764396_10153257841245764_2773365435553700467_oPhoto Credits: Chattanooga Zoo

Formerly found in streams throughout middle and east Tennessee, Hellbenders have experienced a steep decline throughout the state over the past thirty years. Declining populations are due to degraded water quality, sedimentation, pollution, and habitat loss from dams and other developments. A decade of field research has recently verified only six remaining streams that have healthy, self-sustaining populations in Tennessee. The Chattanooga Zoo hopes, through conservation efforts, public education, and partnerships, to be able to help reverse this trend of population decline in Tennessee Hellbenders.

The Hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis), also known as the Hellbender Salamander, is a species of Giant Salamander endemic to eastern North America. A member of the Cryptobranchidae family, Hellbenders are the only members of the Cryptobranchus genus, and are joined only by one other genus of salamanders (Andrias, which contains the Japanese and Chinese Giant Salamanders) at the family level.

The Hellbender is the largest aquatic salamander in the United States and grows to an average size of 12-15 inches, but they can be as long as 29 inches. They are nocturnal and exist on a diet of: crayfish, small fish, tadpoles, toads, and water snakes. They absorb oxygen from the water through their skin and can be found slowly crawling across the bottoms of clear, silt-free mountain streams.

The species is classified as “Near Threatened” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The Ozark Hellbender is particularly imperiled; drastic population declines were documented in the late 1980s and 1990s. It is listed as “Endangered” in Missouri and may soon be listed as Endangered federally.

Hellbenders are present in a number of Eastern US states, from southern New York to northern Georgia, including parts of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri, and even a small bit of Oklahoma and Kansas.

Vernacular names for the Hellbender include: snot otter, devil dog, mud-devil, grampus, Allegheny alligator, mud dog, water dog, and leverian water newt.

*The Chattanooga Zoo would like to express their gratitude for the financial assistance of local conservation partners in the effort to save the Hellbender: Terminal Brewhouse, and Mohawk Canoes.

The Living Desert Debuts Bighorn Lamb

1_Bighorn Lamb Feb 2016 - 3

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is excited to announce the birth of a Bighorn lamb. The female was born February 18 and weighed in at 3.9 kilograms at her newborn wellness check. Zoo officials say both mother and baby are doing well.

“We are thrilled with the birth of this Bighorn lamb, as they are native to our area and play an important, iconic role in our desert habitat,” said Allen Monroe, President/CEO of The Living Desert. “The Living Desert participates with other zoos from around the country in the Bighorn Sheep Species Survival Plan (SSP) and we are proud of our participation in the efforts to preserve this endangered species.”

The lamb’s father is five-years-old Dante who sired seven lambs at the San Diego Wild Animal Park prior to arriving at The Living Desert in the summer of 2014. The mother, Margo, is almost eight-years-old and also came to The Living Desert from the San Diego Wild Animal Park in 2009.

Bighorn lambs are born with soft, woolly, light-colored coats and small horn buds. Within a day, a lamb can walk and climb as well as its mother. A lamb will stay with its mother for the first year of its life.

2_Bighorn Lamb Feb 2016

3_Bighorn Lamb Feb 2016 - 2Photo Credits: The Living Desert

Bighorn Sheep (Ovis canadensis) are one of two species of mountain sheep in North America. They range in color from light brown to grayish or dark brown, and have a white rump and lining on the backs of all four legs. Bighorn Sheep get their name from the large, curved horns on the males, or rams. They are legendary for their ability to climb high, steep, rocky mountain areas.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, there were between 1.5 million to two million Bighorn Sheep in North America. Today, there are less than 70,000.

The SSP Programs significantly contribute to field conservation efforts, species recovery, veterinary care for wildlife disease issues, establishment of assurance populations, and many other species-focused conservation efforts.

“As the national SSP Coordinator for the Bighorn Sheep, I am so excited to welcome this lamb. She will help provide genetic diversity to our managed populations,” said Maureen McCarty, The Living Desert’s Special Projects Coordinator and the Bighorn Sheep SSP Coordinator.

The new lamb is currently on exhibit with the herd at The Living Desert.

The Living Desert is an AZA-accredited zoo and gardens, located in Palm Desert, California, that is dedicated to conservation and education. It is a family-friendly place to explore nature and create meaningful experiences for visitors that are remembered for a lifetime. For more information visit: