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October 2018

Super-sized Litter of Capybara Pups Born at Wellington Zoo


The Wellington Zoo welcomed an extra large litter of  Capybara pups on October 25. First-time mother Iapa delivered seven pups - the normal litter size is three to four pups, but the litter size can range from one to eight.  


The care team is keeping a watchful eye on mom and pups to ensure that each is nursing and developing properly.  Keepers noted that Iapa is a bit exhausted but she’s doing well. For now, the new family is living in a private den where Iapa can bond with her babies. 

Capybaras are the world’s largest Rodent species and are native to South America. They inhabit a variety of habitats including forests and grasslands and usually live near water. 

Though not listed as being under threat, Capybaras are hunted extensively for their meat.  They live groups of 10-20 individuals.  

See more photos of the babies below.

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Tiny Giants Born at Cotswold Wildlife Park

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Cotswold Wildlife Park is home to a diverse collection of over 1,500 animals from 250 different species. This includes the Capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris), a giant rodent species from South America that is probably best described by zoologist, Desmond Morris, as “a cross between a Guinea-pig and a Hippopotamus”. It is the largest living rodent in the world and the last remnant of a long line of gigantic grass-eating rodents that evolved in South America over millions of years.

The Park’s new breeding pair were introduced last year and bonded straight away. Due to their large barrel-like build, mammal keepers were unaware their female, Belle, was pregnant until they discovered the newborn twins by her side during their recent morning checks.

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3_Capybara babies first time in the water

4_Capybara babies first dipPhoto & Video Credits: Cotswold Wildlife Park 

Belle and Ollie are proving to be attentive first-time parents, but the arrival of their first pups has not curbed Ollie’s amorous interest in his new partner. Keepers are hopeful the new family group will grow in numbers and the Park’s successful Capybara breeding record will continue.

Curator of Cotswold Wildlife Park, Jamie Craig, commented, “Capybara babies are always extremely popular with the keepers and our visitors. They are born looking like a miniature version of their parents and are soon exploring the enclosure and swimming in their pool. We have had great success with this species over the years and it is reassuring to know that this new pair will continue that tradition”.

After a gestation period of 150 days, females give birth to highly precocial young (just as well considering the vulnerable pups are a food source for many large predators in their native homeland). Anacondas, Caimans, Jaguars and humans hunt this species for their meat. Newborns weigh approximately 1.5kg and are able to graze within hours of birth. (A full-grown Capybara can weigh up to 65kg.) The young will continue to suckle until they are approximately four months old and will stay with their parents for roughly one year.

At just two days old, visitors and keepers witnessed the newborns tentatively taking their first steps into the water.

Water is a vital resource for this semi-aquatic species; it is used not only for drinking, but also to control their body temperature and as an escape from predators. Capybaras usually mate in the water. They can even sleep underwater by leaving their noses exposed to the air. Their water-resistant fur, partially webbed feet and position of their eyes and nostrils on the top of their heads enables them to remain almost completely submerged but still able to hear, see and smell what is happening on dry land nearby.

Unusually for a rodent, even the male’s scent gland, which most other rodents carry on their cheeks, is on the top of his nose. Their scientific name (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris) means ‘water horse’.

Continue reading "Tiny Giants Born at Cotswold Wildlife Park " »

Brevard Zoo Welcomes Masai Giraffe Calf


Brevard Zoo welcomed a newborn Masai Giraffe on October 19. The little one, a male, was born six feet tall and weighed 158 pounds.

The as-yet-unnamed calf arrived around 5:15 a.m., entering the world feet-first. He is the ninth offspring of 18-year-old mother, Johari, and the twelfth sired by 20-year-old Rafiki.


3_181022012Photo Credits: Brevard Zoo

“The newborn Giraffe underwent a neonatal exam, where we checked his overall health,” said Michelle Smurl, the Zoo’s director of animal programs. “He looked to be in great condition at his checkup on Saturday.”

The calf will remain behind the scenes with Johari for a few weeks before making his first appearance in Expedition Africa.

Eight of the Zoo’s nine Giraffe belong to the Masai subspecies, which is native to Tanzania and southern Kenya. Habitat loss, poaching and civil unrest pose the most significant threats to Giraffe in their natural habitat.

Marwell Zoo Welcomes Another Zebra Foal


A Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra has been born at Marwell Zoo in Hampshire, UK.

The first time mother, Dorotka, who is genetically very important to the European population, gave birth to the foal in the early hours of October 21.

Keepers say six-year-old Dorotka is looking after her yet-to-be-named foal very well and they can be spotted together in their paddock behind the Amur leopard enclosure.

After tragically losing a foal in 2014, the last successful breeding of this vulnerable species at the zoo was in August 1997, so the new foal is very special and increases the Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra group at the zoo to four.




4_JB_Marwell_HartmansZ_22-10-2018_001Photo Credits: Marwell Zoo

Marwell manages the International Studbook and the European Ex situ Programme (EEP) for the Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra, which are mainly found in Namibia, but also Angola and South Africa.

Tanya Langenhorst, Conservation Biologist at Marwell Wildlife, who is the international studbook and EEP coordinator for the species, said, “Our latest arrival is a much welcome addition as it has been a long stretch at Marwell without Hartmann’s Zebra foals. Dorotka came to us from Zoo Usti in the Czech Republic and is genetically very important. This foal is her first and it’s great to see them both doing so well.”

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Orphaned Mountain Lion Cubs Bond at Oakland Zoo

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Two non-related Mountain Lion cubs are being cared for at Oakland Zoo’s veterinary hospital. In recent weeks, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) rescued the cubs separately.

The male and female cubs, both approximately 9-10 weeks of age, are doing well and are being attended by Zoo vet staff around the clock. Because the cubs were orphaned too young to have the survival skills necessary for release, they will ultimately be permanently placed at an appropriate permanent facility when they are strong enough.

“We are so pleased that the Oakland Zoo was willing and able to play a role in saving the life of these cubs,” said Nicole Carion, CDFW’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Coordinator. “Returning injured or orphaned wildlife to the wild is always the ideal outcome, but in situations like this -- where an animal is too young to have the necessary survival skills -- placing it back in the wild would be a death sentence. In those cases, we rely on zoos with experienced wildlife specialists and resources to step in and provide critical care. These cubs are small and in need of a temperature-controlled environment where they can stay warm. The Oakland Zoo’s veterinary facility was exactly what these animals needed, at exactly the right time.”


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3_male at Oakland Zoo Vet Hospital

4_femal_kitten_at_vet_hospitalPhoto Credits: Oakland Zoo

The male, first to arrive in late September, is from Modoc County. The cub was orphaned after its mother, which was reportedly killing sheep in the area, was shot and killed under a legal depredation permit. In the state of California, a person who suffers property damage by Mountain Lions is entitled to obtain a depredation permit to protect their property.

The second cub, a female, was discovered in Lake County after a property owner heard ‘chirps’ from what he believed to be a bird over a period of seven days. Mountain Lion cubs make a high-pitched ‘chirping’ sound when calling for their mother. The property owner did not disturb the animal until he observed the cub’s health was in serious decline.

According to Katie Woolery, Assistant Director at Sonoma Wildlife Rescue, an adult Mountain Lion, struck and killed by a car, was discovered five miles away around the same time but it’s not confirmed that this was the cub’s mother.

CDFW placed the female cub with Sonoma Wildlife Rescue on September 12, where it was examined and treated. The cub was severely dehydrated, emaciated, covered in parasites and burrs.

“While we don’t know for sure what caused this female cub to become orphaned, we do know that one of the biggest threat to Mountain Lions in California is traffic, with 107 animals killed by automobiles in 2016 alone,” said Amy Gotliffe, Director of Conservation at Oakland Zoo.

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Playtime with Pumpkins at Woodland Park Zoo

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Woodland Park Zoo’s twin Red Pandas are four-months-old, and they are now exploring their outdoor backyard. With Halloween around the corner, the cubs were also treated to their first playtime with pumpkins!

The sisters, named Zeya (ZAY-uh) and Ila (EE-la), were born June 19 to mom, Hazel, and dad, Yukiko. They represent the first successful birth of Red Pandas at the zoo in 29 years.

Zeya and Ila, who currently weigh 7 pounds each, have been living with mom off public view in an indoor, climate-controlled space, where the first-time mom can nurse and bond in a quiet environment. A camera in the den has allowed animal care staff to monitor the family to ensure the cubs are thriving and mom is providing appropriate care; human contact has been minimal except for neonatal exams and quick wellness checks as part of the zoo’s exemplary animal welfare program.

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4_2018_10_19 red panda cubs-1Photo Credits: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo

Recently, Hazel and her cubs have been given daily access to their outdoor yard in the mornings so the cubs can begin to climb trees, lie in their elevated hammock and enjoy the beautiful Seattle fall weather.

The zoo anticipates putting Hazel, Zeya and Ila in the outdoor public exhibit by mid-November/early December. Guests to the zoo can see the zoo’s other Red Panda, a four-year-old male, named Carson, in the Wildlife Survival Zone.

“This is very exciting to see our cubs graduate to the next stage of their development in their outdoor yard,” said Mark Myers, a curator at Woodland Park Zoo. “While they sometimes decide to sleep in, they are usually exploring their yard by mid-morning. They have demonstrated great motor skills and agility so far, always under the watchful eyes of Hazel.”

Hazel and Yukiko were paired under the Red Panda Species Survival Plan, a conservation breeding program across accredited zoos to help ensure a healthy, self-sustaining population of Red Pandas.

Red Pandas share the name of Giant Pandas, but more closely resemble raccoons. Recent studies suggest they are closely related to skunks, weasels and raccoons. An endangered species, fewer than 10,000 Red Pandas remain in their native habitat of bamboo forests in China, the Himalayas and Myanmar, and share part of their range with Giant Pandas. Their numbers are declining due to deforestation, increased agriculture and cattle grazing, and continuing pressure from growing local populations.

Woodland Park Zoo supports the Red Panda Network, whose multi-prong approach aims to conserve this flagship species in Nepal. You can help support the project by adopting a Red Panda through the zoo’s ZooParent Adoption Program.

Fall/winter zoo hours are 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily through April 30. For more information or to become a zoo member, visit or call 206.548.2500.

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Two Przewalski’s Horse Foals Born One Day Apart


Taronga Western Plains Zoo has double the reason to celebrate with the birth of two endangered Przewalski’s Horse foals just one day apart. The species was once completely extinct in the wild.

Keepers are delighted with the arrival of a female Przewalski’s Horse foal to mother Mila on October 9, and a male foal to mother Tegus on October 10.

IMG_1104Photo Credit: Taronga Western Plains Zoo

The sire of both foals is Nikolai, and both mothers are first time moms, creating further genetic diversity in the herd. The mothers are each being very protective of their foals, a natural maternal behavior.

“Both foals were born on exhibit during the day time, much to the delight of visitors,” said Keeper Jacinta Vaughan. “The foals were standing and suckling quickly and we couldn’t be happier with how both mums are doing given they are first time mothers.”

The Przewalski’s Horse foals are yet to be named but are both doing well so far. The foals will stay close to their mothers’ sides as they grow, and they will start to explore their surroundings over the coming months.

“This year has been very successful for the Przewalski’s Horse breeding program with four foals born to date and potentially another one on the way in the coming few months,” Jacinta said.

The two new foals bring the total Przewalski’s Horse herd to 14, with four foals in the herd, including Dash born in January and Khan born in May this year.

“It’s so wonderful to see the foals of varying ages in the herd. Khan and Dash are already interacting with each other and enjoy galloping around the paddock, so I am sure the two latest additions will join them once they are a little older and more confident,” said Jacinta.

Przewalski’s Horses are classified as Endangered, but were once extinct in the wild. Prior to reintroduction programs in the early 1990s, Przewalski’s Horses were last seen in the wild in the Gobi Desert, in south Mongolia. Their numbers dwindled as a result of human interference such as poaching and capture. Today, their main threats are habitat loss and low genetic diversity.

See more photos of the foals below.

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Baby Giraffe At Virginia Zoo Gets Supportive Care


The Virginia Zoo welcomed a male Masai Giraffe calf on October 13, 2018. This is the first baby for mom Noelle, who is five years old, and the sixth calf for dad Billy.

Noelle gave birth during the early morning hours in her indoor enclosure. Zoo keepers had been monitoring Noelle throughout her pregnancy, and in preparation for the calf’s impending birth, extra bedding was added to her stall to soften the calf’s delivery (Giraffes give birth standing up).

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Virginia Zoo Photo2
Virginia Zoo Photo2Photo Credit: Virginia Zoo

Within an hour or two of birth, most Giraffe calves can stand, walk, and nurse on their own. However, this calf got an unusually slow start, which caused concern among the staff. Though the calf did finally stand and walk a few hours after birth, he was not observed to nurse in the first 24 hours after his arrival. After Veterinary and Animal Care Staff assessed the situation and consulted with Giraffe experts at other zoos, they decided to temporarily separate mom and baby and begin supportive care, which included a regimen of antibiotics and intravenous fluids.

The calf’s neck was shaved to accommodate his medical procedures.  At birth, the calf weighed 123 pounds, and stands just under 6 feet tall. He has not yet been named.

Zoo staff have monitored the calf around the clock since his birth and continue to provide supportive care and supplemental feedings. They report that the calf appears to be gaining strength. He spends time with his mother each day so the two can bond and to encourage nursing.

“We’re hopeful that the calf will continue to respond to treatment,” said Greg Bockheim, Executive Director of the Virginia Zoo. “I’m confident our staff is providing the best care for the newborn and we’ll just have to be patient with the process.”

Masai Giraffes are one of four species and five subspecies of Giraffe found in Africa. Male Giraffes can grow up to 18 feet tall and weigh between 1,800 and 4,300 pounds. Females are between 13 and 15 feet tall and weigh between 1,200 and 2,600 pounds. Giraffes are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

See more photos of the calf below.

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Zoo Miami’s New Pygmy Hippo Calf “Jumps Right In!”


An endangered male Pygmy Hippo was born on August 4 at Zoo Miami. After several weeks of private time, bonding with his mother, the yet unnamed calf recently made its public debut.

Zoo staff were very careful to ensure that the infant’s introduction to the exhibit was done slowly and with an abundance of caution. The exhibit pool is being kept at a reduced level until staff are confident that the baby is a good swimmer and can navigate the exhibit well.

Initial indications were that this baby would have no trouble adjusting as once he was given access to the pool with his mother, they both jumped right in! In very little time, he was swimming quite well and soon started to jump and dive freely, seeming to thoroughly enjoy his new surroundings! The plan is to give mother and son access everyday beginning at approximately 10:00AM and then bring them back into their sleeping area at approximately 3:00PM. As the infant becomes more independent and comfortable in the exhibit, he and his mother will gradually be given access for longer periods of time.

2_11Photo Credits: Zoo Miami / Ron Magill


This is only the second Pygmy Hippo birth in Zoo Miami’s history, with the last one being born in 2010 and both belonging to 26-year-old Kelsey. Kelsey was born at the Baton Rouge Zoo in Louisiana and arrived at Zoo Miami in May of 1993. “Ralph” is the 5-year-old first time father. He was born at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska and arrived at Zoo Miami in March of 2017. Ralph will remain separated from mother and son as in the wild, Pygmy Hippos are solitary and the father has no role in raising the young and could be a potential threat to the baby should he have access.

Pygmy Hippos are a much smaller version of their well-known cousins, the common River Hippo, and usually weigh between 400 and 600 pounds, whereas River Hippos can reach 6,000 pounds. In addition, they are less aquatic than River Hippos and are usually seen alone or in pairs rather than in large groups.

Pygmy Hippos are also more rare and are classified as endangered with only about 3,000 individuals believed to be in the wild, where they feed on a variety of plants and fruits. They are restricted to small isolated populations within the interior forests and rivers of Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, and the Ivory Coast, where they are threatened by deforestation and hunting for meat. Because of their rarity and shy behavior, very little is known about their habits in the wild.

More great pics below the fold!

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Marwell Zoo Welcomes Grevy’s Zebra Foal

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An endangered Grevy's Zebra has been born at Marwell Zoo in Hampshire, UK.

First-time mother, Imogen, gave birth to the female foal in the early hours of October 12 at the Wild Explorers exhibit.

Keepers say both mother and the yet-to-be-named foal are doing very well. The latest arrival takes the total number of Grevy’s Zebra at the zoo to eight and is the first foal to be sired by resident stallion, Fonzy.

Ian Goodwin, Animal Collection Manager for Hoofstock, said, “Imogen is looking after her foal very well. It’s great to watch her exploring her new surroundings at Wild Explorers, where we highlight the conservation work we carry out in Africa.”

“Our new arrival is a very important and welcome addition to the endangered species breeding programme.”

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4_Zoo Photographer - Credit Jason Brown - Grevys foal (12)Photo Credits: Jason Brown

In the late 1970s, there were 15,000 Grevy’s Zebra in the wild. Today there are estimated to be around 2,800 remaining.

The Grevy’s Zebra has suffered one of the most drastic population declines of any African mammal due to climate change, habitat loss and competition with increasing livestock numbers.

Ian added, “Since 2003, Marwell Wildlife has been working with partners in northern Kenya to conserve Grevy's Zebra. We employ a team of conservation biologists and scouts who work in the field and they have been instrumental in helping to create a national conservation strategy for the species.”

According to Ian, Marwell also manages the International Studbook and the European Ex situ Programme (EEP) for Grevy’s Zebra.

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