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December 2016

Münster Zoo Surprised by Gorilla Birth

1_Gorilla-Jungtier 07_12_16_AWZ MS_cm (1) - Presse

Allwetterzoo Münster recently welcomed the birth of a Western Lowland Gorilla. The Zoo’s Gorilla keepers arrived for work on December 7 and were greeted by mom, Changa-Maidi, holding her just born infant.

The birth was a surprise for keepers. "We did not expect [the birth], especially as various tests had found no pregnancy. The nurse did however wonder about a steady weight gain in Changa." Changa-Maidi’s last offspring was Demba, who will be four-years-old in January.

Zoo staff are currently keeping their distance and allowing mom to bond with her new baby. Once the sex of the infant is determined, a name will also be given. 

2_Gorilla-Jungtier 07_12_16_AWZ MS_cm (4) - Presse4_Gorilla-Jungtier 07_12_16_AWZ MS_cm (3) - PressePhoto Credits: Allwetterzoo Münster 

Changa-Maidi was born in June 1996 at Frankfort Zoo, and she has been a resident of Münster Zoo since April of 2003. The new baby is her fourth birth. Her sons Thabo (born November 2007) and Demba (born January 2013) are also residents of Münster. The new baby’s father is 20-year-old N'Kwango, who has been at the Zoo since 2004.

The Zoo’s Gorilla troop also includes 15-year-old ShaSha and her three-year-old daughter, Jamila. ShaSha has been at the Zoo since September 2012. Her daughter Jamila was born in August 2013. N'Kwango is also the father of Jamila.

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San Diego Zoo Keepers Care for Cheetah Sisters


The Animal Care Center nursery, at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, is currently home to a pair of female Cheetah cubs.

The sisters were born November 19. Unfortunately, their mother wasn’t caring for them after their birth, so the Zoo’s animal care staff had to intervene. A team of eight keepers now cares for the cubs, bottle-feeding them a formula specifically designed for Cheetahs. The cubs are weighed daily to monitor their health, and staff also simulate the grooming that the duo would normally receive from their mother.

Although the girls are yet-to-be-named, keepers have been calling them “Yellow” and “Purple” (due to the colors of the temporary ID markings put on their tails). As the cubs grow, the bottle feedings will become less frequent. Zoo staff plans to introduce solid foods at four weeks of age, and when they reach 70-days-old, they will be weaned from their Cheetah formula.

31403299071_9c9f1c6db9_hPhoto Credits: San Diego Zoo Safari Park

According to staff, guests visiting the Safari Park during the month of December can see the Cheetahs in their nursery, at the Nairobi Station exhibit, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. At this stage in their development, they spend about 22 hours a day sleeping, but they are expected to be more active as they mature. Staff have also shared that the lights in their nursery are usually turned off to simulate the darkness of a den, where they would typically spend their first five weeks with their mother.

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is one of nine breeding facilities participating in the Cheetah Breeding Center Coalition (BCC). The goal of the coalition is to create a sustainable Cheetah population that will prevent extinction of the world’s fastest land animal. San Diego Zoo Global has been breeding Cheetahs for more than 40 years, with more than 150 cubs born. It is estimated that the worldwide population of Cheetahs has been reduced from 100,000 in 1900 to just 10,000 left today, with about 10% now living in zoos or wildlife parks.

Taronga Welcomes Its Largest-Ever Meerkat Litter

Meerkat Pups 13_Photo by Paul Fahy
Taronga Zoo welcomed its largest litter of Meerkats ever, with keepers monitoring the progress of six playful pups.

The pups were born on November 7, but have just begun to venture outside their nest box to explore their habitat.  This is the third litter for experienced parents Nairobi and Maputo.  Previous litters had only two pups each. 

Meerkat Pups 5_Photo by Paul Fahy
Meerkat Pups 18_Photo by Paul Fahy
Meerkat Pups 16_Photo by Courtney MahonyPhoto Credits:  Paul Fahy (1,2,3,5,6,7,8,9), Courtney Mahoney (4,10,11,12)

Keeper Courtney Mahony said the size of this litter came as a complete surprise.

“We knew that Nairobi was bigger than she was during her previous pregnancies, but we definitely weren’t expecting six pups! Meerkats usually give birth to 3-4 pups, so mum certainly has her paws full this time,” said Courtney.

Courtney said Nairobi appeared to be relaxed and confident caring for the largest litter of pups in Taronga’s history.

“She’s an incredible mother and seems to be taking it all in her stride. She’s so attentive to the pups and she’s getting lots of babysitting help from dad and her eldest daughter, Serati,” said Courtney.

Keepers will confirm the sex of the pups when they have their first veterinary examination next month, but they suspect there are three males and three females. They have begun to do hands on health checks and weigh the pups regularly to ensure they are healthy and comfortable in their presence.

The yet-to-be-named pups have started to sample solid foods, such as mealworms, wood roaches, fruit and vegetables.

“They are growing a bit slower than our two previous litters, but they’re still hitting all the right milestones and starting to show their own little personalities. The biggest pup is a boy and he’s definitely the most adventurous of the six. He’s the first out of the nest box each morning and the first one to explore new things,” said Courtney.

Native to southern Africa’s arid plains, Meerkats live in extended family groups called mobs.  With sharp claws, they dig for insects, spiders, centipedes, and other small animals, which are crushed with sharp teeth.  As social animals, Meerkats have a wide range of vocalizations to convey alarm, fear, and contentment.   The International Union for Conservation of Nature states that there are no major threats to the species.   


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Penguin Peeks Out of Its Egg at Oregon Zoo

121216-100Staff at the Oregon Zoo recorded a rare Humboldt Penguin chick as it peeked out of a tiny hole it had made in its egg in preparation for hatching.

Like most baby birds, Penguins use a sharp bump on their beak called an “egg tooth” to “pip” or create an opening in the eggshell.  Once the initial hole is created, the bird creates a crack around the circumference of the egg, then uses its feet to kick the two halves of the egg apart.  Hatching is usually completed with no help from the parents.

121216-101Photo Credit:  Michael Durham/Oregon Zoo

The Penguin chick’s hatching went smoothly, and parents Blue and Esquela lavished attention on their new offspring.  Adult penguins regurgitate their meals – which consist entirely of fish – creating a sort of “fish smoothie” for their chicks. 

This high-fat, high-protein diet helps Penguin chicks grow rapidly, reaching adult size in about six months.  But the chicks’ coloration gives their age away– they’ll remain grayish-brown for a few years before they develop their tuxedo-like black-and-white markings.  Once the chicks lose their downy feathers and grow their smooth, waterproof, sub-adult plumage, they’ll begin swimming in the zoo’s Penguin habitat.

Several Penguin pairs are sitting on eggs, and the staff expects several more chicks to hatch before the end of breeding season.

Humboldt Penguins, which live along the coastlines of Peru and Chile, are classified as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and in 2010 were granted protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Of the world's 17 Penguin species, Humboldts are among the most at risk, threatened by overfishing of their prey species, entanglement in fishing nets, and breeding disruption due to commercial removal of the guano deposits where the Penguins lay their eggs. Their wild population is estimated at 12,000 breeding pairs.


Como Park Zoo Welcomes ‘Royal’ Giraffe Calf


Como Park Zoo & Conservatory excitedly welcomed a new Reticulated Giraffe on November 10th. The male calf, named Prince, came into the world at 6’ 6” tall and weighed 160 pounds.

The new baby boy is the seventh calf born to mom, Daisy, and the 20th giraffe birth at Como Zoo in the last 22 years. Como’s current herd consists of Clover, Daisy, Skeeter (father) and Prince.

The honor of naming the new Giraffe was given to Como Friends supporters, Gretchen and David Crary, who have been the lead individual donors on ‘Give To The Max Day’ for the past three years.

15128811_10157807363450068_5059878667648259291_oPhoto Credits: Como Park Zoo/"Zookeeper Jill"

The Reticulated Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata), also known as the Somali Giraffe, is a subspecies of giraffe native to savannas of Somalia, southern Ethiopia, and northern Kenya. Reticulated Giraffes can interbreed with other giraffe subspecies in captivity or if they come into contact with populations of other subspecies in the wild.

The Reticulated Giraffe is among the most well known of the nine giraffe subspecies. Together with the Rothschild Giraffe, it is the type most commonly seen in zoos. They are known to often walk around with birds on their backs. These birds are called tickbirds. The tickbirds eat bugs that live on the giraffe’s coat, and alert the animals to danger by chirping loudly.

A female has a gestation period of about 15 months and usually has only one young at a time, but a mature female can have around eight offspring in her lifetime. Females return to the same spot each year to give birth. The mother gives birth standing up and the calf falls seven feet to the ground. Calves can weigh up to 200 lbs. at birth and stand as tall as six feet. They are able to stand less than an hour after birth. The young are weaned at around one year of age.

In the wild, giraffes have few predators, but they are sometimes preyed upon by lions and less so by crocodiles and spotted hyenas. However, humans are a very real threat, and giraffes are often killed, by poachers, for their hair and skin. Currently, there are thought to be less than 80,000 giraffes roaming Africa, and some subspecies are thought to be almost completely gone, with fewer than 100 individuals. Reticulated Giraffes are currently classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List.

Como Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). AZA is America’s leading accrediting organization for zoos and aquariums, and accredits only those institutions that have achieved rigorous, professional standards for animal welfare and management, veterinary care, wildlife conservation and research, education, safety, staffing and more. With only 200 accredited members, AZA is building North America’s largest wildlife conservation movement and is your link to helping animals in their native habitats.

Cincinnati Zoo’s Painted Dog Pups are “Cheese-tastic”!


Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden keepers recently selected some “cheesy” names for their African Painted Dog pups. The puppy cheese tray, born October 16 to mom Imara and dad Kwasi, includes Nacho and Muenster (the two males). The female pups have been named: Bleu, Brie, Gouda, Queso, Colby, Swiss, Cotija, Mozzarella and Feta.

“The only thing our primary Painted Dog keepers love as much as dogs is cheese! The cheese theme had an added bonus of offering a large variety of name options,” said Christina Gorsuch, Curator of Mammals at the Cincinnati Zoo and Vice Coordinator of the African Painted Dog Species Survival Plan (SSP).

“African Painted Dogs are born white and black with portions of the black turning to gold when they are 6-8 weeks old. The white marks remain the same from birth; these unique markings will help keepers identify each pup for future vaccinations, physical exams, and day-to-day care. They will eventually learn their names which allow keepers to train them individually and teach important husbandry behaviors,” Gorsuch continued.

All the Painted Dog pack members are participating in the rearing of the eleven pups (one of the litter of twelve did not survive).

“The pups are seven weeks old and completely weaned from their mom’s milk onto meat. The entire pack is fed together 3-4 times a day in order to keep up with the demand of the growing puppy appetites. Anything the pups don’t eat is consumed by the four adults, who will regurgitate meat for the pups, throughout the day and night. They have incredible puppy energy and are running circles around the adults; everything is new and very exciting for them,” said Gorsuch.

(ZooBorns introduced the new family in an article from early November: "Endangered Painted Dogs Arrive By the Dozen")

Mom, Imara:  14500777_10154409897535479_3957877092265095920_oPhoto Credits: Cincinnati Zoo/ Kathy Newton (Image 2)

African Painted Dogs (Lycaon pictus) are one of the most endangered carnivores on the continent, with fewer than 5,000 dogs concentrated in parts of southern and eastern Africa. There are approximately 139 animals (55 males, 49 females, and 35 unknown sex) distributed among 33 North American Zoos and 564 in Zoos worldwide. The Cincinnati Zoo is currently home to 15 Painted Dogs.

The pack at Cincinnati has access to the outdoor exhibit when temperatures are above 50 degrees, so the first public viewing of the pups is likely to be in early spring.

African Painted Dogs, known for their large, round ears and beautiful, multi-colored coats, could once be found all over Africa. Today they are one of the most endangered carnivores on the continent, with fewer than 5,000 dogs concentrated in parts of southern and eastern Africa.

The Cincinnati Zoo supports the conservation of African Painted Dogs and other wildlife in southern Tanzania through the Ruaha Carnivore Project (RCP). The RCP works with local communities to ensure the survival of carnivores and people in and around Ruaha National Park. The third largest African Painted Dog population lives in the Ruaha region and is also home to 10% of Africa’s Lions.

The RCP documents the presence and location of wildlife species through community-reported sightings and photos taken by motion-triggered cameras, or camera traps. The project aims to gather baseline data on carnivore numbers and ecology and work with the local communities to reduce human-carnivore conflict.

Introducing “Lun Lun’s Elegant and Happy Daughters”


The only Giant Panda twins in the U.S. are now no longer known by the identifying letters A and B. Zoo Atlanta’s female cubs can now be called by their new names: Ya Lun and Xi Lun.

The names were recently revealed at the twins’ 100-Day Naming Celebration on December 12, 2016, at Zoo Atlanta.

The winning names came from among seven sets of names supplied by the Zoo’s conservation partners in Chengdu, China. The names Ya Lun (Cub A) and Xi Lun (Cub B) earned just over 11,000 of the more than 23,400 votes cast by Panda fans around the world, in the Zoo sponsored contest, from November 21 to December 4.

Ya means “elegant,” and Xi (pronounced shee) means “happy.” Lun (loon) references daughters of Lun Lun. Together, the monikers mean “Lun Lun’s elegant and happy daughters.”



4_panda_cubs2016_161209_cubb_cuba_ZA_5321Photo Credits: Zoo Atlanta

“We’re thrilled to announce two beautiful and meaningful names for two healthy, thriving, 100-day-old Giant Panda cubs. This is a celebration we share with the City of Atlanta, our longtime partners at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in China, and with our Zoo Atlanta family, which includes friends and fans from around the world,” said Raymond B. King, President and CEO. “As we wish Ya Lun and Xi Lun well today, we celebrate the future of their species together.”

The 100-Day Celebration, which has been followed with all seven Atlanta-born Giant Pandas, is an ancient Chinese tradition that holds that when a child reaches the 100th day of life, he or she has survived the fragility of infancy and may be considered on track for a successful future.

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Red Panda Cubs Loving the Chill of Winter


Zoo Dresden’s Red Pandas have been active this winter. Mom Louanne has been spending time introducing her new cubs to the flora and fauna of their outdoor exhibit, and the entire family has been enjoying the chill of winter, while protected by their beautiful red coats.

The adorable cubs were born July 3 to Louanne and her partner, Manchu. Although yet-to-be-named, the two males and one female are fast becoming zoo favorites.

According to Zoo Dresden, visitors will have their best chance at spotting the Red Pandas around noon, while exploring with their mother.

New father, Manchu, was born at Zoo Madrid in 2008 and has been a resident of Zoo Dresden since 2009. Proud mother, Louanne was born in 2009 at Zoo Amiens in France. She became a resident of Dresden in 2015. According to keepers, the two Red Pandas have been living together since last June, and it worked out right away that their match was successful. "The birth of [the] young animals is something special and a real rarity," says Zoological Director Dr. Wolfgang Ludwig.

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3_Bild_Roter_PandaPhoto Credits: Zoo Dresden

The Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens), also called the Lesser Panda, the Red Bear-cat, and the Red Cat-bear, is a mammal native to the eastern Himalayas and southwestern China. It has reddish-brown fur, a long, shaggy tail, and a waddling gait due to its shorter front legs. It measures at slightly larger than a domestic cat.

The Red Panda is arboreal and feeds mainly on bamboo, but they are also known to eat eggs, birds, and insects. A solitary species, they are mainly active from dusk to dawn and are largely sedentary during the day.

The Red Panda is currently classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Its wild population is estimated at less than 10,000 mature individuals, and the number continue to decline due to habitat loss, fragmentation, poaching, and inbreeding depression. Despite the fact that national laws in their native range countries protect them, their numbers continue to decline.

Red Panda dad, Manchu:


Second Polar Bear Birth of the Year for Germany

1_Eisbären-Junges mit Giovanna_24.11._TierparkHellabrunn2016

Three years after the birth of twin Polar Bears at Hellabrunn Zoo Munich, they are celebrating another arrival. On November 21, Giovanna gave birth to a healthy cub.

The newborn cub is in good health and mum Giovanna has been caring lovingly for her little one. The father of the latest offspring is 17-year-old Yoghi.

The birth at Hellabrunn represents only the second Polar Bear birth in Germany this year, after the birth of a cub at Tierpark Berlin.

2_Eisbären-Junges mit Giovanna_30.11._TierparkHellabrunn2016

3_Eisbären-Junges mit Giovanna_23.11._TierparkHellabrunn2016

4_Eisbären-Junges mit Giovanna_25.11._TierparkHellabrunn2016Photo Credits: Tierpark Hellabrunn

In their natural habitat, expectant females dig a den in a snowdrift, which provides shelter for giving birth and provides protection for the vulnerable newborn. At Hellabrunn Zoo, ten-year-old Giovanna has a birthing den, where she has retreated since the beginning of the autumn.

Following this voluntary seclusion by Giovanna, zookeepers were curious to find out if another cub would be born in the Polar World exhibit this year. Zoo curator Beatrix Köhler monitored Giovanna's behaviour via a video stream from the birthing den, "On the afternoon of 21 November, it became apparent that Giovanna was in labour. Unlike the birth of the twins Nela and Nobby, which could be clearly watched via video link, Giovanna gave birth to her third cub in a sitting position, so that the actual birth could not be seen."

The new cub is getting bigger and more active with each passing day. Giovanna keeps her little baby warm by holding it either at her neck or between her paws. "One can clearly see that Giovanna is an experienced mum. She handles her offspring with loving care and regularly checks to make sure everything is okay," explains Beatrix Köhler.

According to keepers, the cub currently weighs about 600 grams and is approximately 20 cm tall. However, the sex of the newborn cannot yet be determined.

Without siblings to compete with, the new arrival is expected to grow quickly in size and weight, thanks to mother's milk. The cub’s eyes will open for the first time after about four and a half weeks.

Christine Strobl, Mayor and Chairman of the Supervisory Board at Hellabrunn Zoo, is extremely delighted, "The birth of another Polar Bear cub is a wonderful success for the zoo and represents a significant development in the conservation of this endangered species."

It may take some time before visitors will be able to see the newborn Polar Bear cub in the outdoor enclosure. The cub is expected to emerge, for the first time, towards the end of winter when it is strong enough to step outside. As with Giovanna and Yoghi’s twins, Nela and Nobby, dad will not play a part in raising the new cub. Female Polar Bears do not allow the male near their young, as the fathers may see their own offspring as potential prey and attempt to harm them.

A video link of the birthing den is available for visitors in the zoo’s Species Conservation Center, where visitors can have a view into the den via Live Stream.

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One of the World's Rarest Turtles Hatches at Chester Zoo

A rare Chinese three-striped box turtle has hatched at Chester Zoo (7)
One of the world’s rarest turtles has hatched at Chester Zoo:  a Chinese Three-striped Box Turtle, a Critically Endangered species, emerged from its egg after an 85-day incubation period. 

Despite their name, Chinese Three-striped Box Turtles are found not only in China but also in Vietnam, Hong Kong, and areas of Laos and Myanmar. They are regarded by conservationists as one of the top 10 most threatened turtles on the planet. 

The zoo’s new youngster weighed just over half an ounce at hatching. Keepers have named it Satsuma after the petite Satsuma Mandarin orange due to the Turtles’ small stature and soft orange color.

A rare Chinese three-striped box turtle has hatched at Chester Zoo (2)
A rare Chinese three-striped box turtle has hatched at Chester Zoo (1)
A rare Chinese three-striped box turtle has hatched at Chester Zoo (6)Photo Credit:  Chester Zoo

The Turtles’ beautiful coloring is partly to blame for its endangered status:  They and many other Turtle species are widely collected in Southeast Asia for food and their supposed medicinal properties, which are unproven.  They also command high black market prices within the pet trade.

Zoo managers hope that this little Turtle’s arrival can shine a light on the issues facing the species and influence the fight to save Asian Turtles. 

Chester Zoo is part of efforts to breed safely net populations of the 10 Turtle species most at risk of extinction.  The zoo also works in Sumatra and Philippines where it is helping to protect nesting areas and habitat for critically endangered species.  

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