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December 2020

November 2020

African Penguin Chick Hatched at Ripley’s Aquarium of Myrtle Beach


Ripley’s Aquarium of Myrtle Beach is pleased to introduce you to their newly hatched penguin chick—the first-ever penguin born at Ripley’s Aquarium of Myrtle Beach! Born October 7, 2020, the newest addition turned six weeks old yesterday and is being hand-raised by husbandry staff behind the scenes in the Penguin Nursery.

African penguin chicks can hold themselves upright at about six days old and begin walking at around three weeks. Both milestones were hit—an exciting and healthy sign for the Aquarium’s firstborn! The soon to-be-named chick is still being acclimated and will join the Penguin Playhouse colony in 2021.


Marvellous Margay Kitten Born at Shaldon Wildlife Trust

Staff at Shaldon Wildlife Trust are overjoyed to have welcomed a very special little kitten born at the zoo in September which is now just starting to venture out of its nest box.

Born to Harley and Lucia, the zoos young pair of margay, this is their first kitten together and marks a continued success with margay at the zoo after their new enclosure won an award at a recent zoo industry awards ceremony.

Still 2
Still 1
Still 2

Zak Showell, director, said “Given how difficult a year its been, having a margay born is a really positive feeling for all the team here”.

Harley was born at the zoo in 2017 and was joined by Lucia from Randers Zoo, Denmark in 2019 as part of the European breeding programme for the species.

Zak also said “This is the only margay to be born in England this year and 1 of only 4 in the whole breeding programme in 2020. Coupled with success of winning an award for their enclosure a few months ago just makes it even better.”

Margay are a small cat found in Central and South America. They are classed as near threatened by the IUCN redlist, an organisation that list how endangered animals are. They face threats such as deforestation, fragmentation and the illegal pet and fur trade in the wild.

Public Can Vote To Name Smithsonian’s National Zoo Giant Panda Cub

The Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute is asking the public to help name the male giant panda cub, now 9.2 pounds of adorable, at the David M. Rubenstein Family Giant Panda Habitat. The Aug. 21 birth was streamed live on the Zoo’s Giant Panda Cam, and since then more than 1 million virtual visitors have tuned in to watch him grow. Voters can select their favorite name from Nov. 16 to Nov. 20 on the Zoo’s website (maximum one vote per day). The name that receives the most votes will be bestowed on the cub. The Zoo will announce the winning name Nov. 23.


Giant pandas are an international symbol of endangered wildlife and hope, and the birth of this cub offered the world a much-needed moment of joy amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The possible names—chosen by the Zoo and Chinese partners—reflect the extraordinary circumstances under which this cub was born and celebrate the collaboration between colleagues who strive to conserve this species. The possible cub names are:

  • Fu Zai (福仔) [fu-tzai]—prosperous boy
  • Xiao Qi ji (小奇迹) [shiau-chi-ji]—little miracle
  • Xing Fu (幸福) [shing-fu]—happy and prosperous
  • Zai Zai (仔仔) [tzai-tzai]—a traditional Chinese nickname for a boy

The Zoo will continue to provide updates on the cub on its website, on social media using the hashtags #PandaStory and #PandaCubdates and in the Giant Panda e-newsletter. Giant panda fans can see the cub, mother Mei Xiang (may-SHONG) and father Tian Tian (tee-YEN tee-YEN) via the Giant Panda Cam on the Zoo’s website. It is one of five live animal webcams hosted on the Zoo’s website.

At 22 years old, mother Mei Xiang is the oldest giant panda in the United States to give birth. Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute reproductive scientists and Zoo veterinarians performed an artificial insemination on Mei Xiang March 22 with frozen semen collected from Tian Tian, who turned 23 years old Aug. 27. This is the first time a zoo in the United States has experienced a successful pregnancy and birth via artificial insemination using only frozen semen. Zoo veterinarians confirmed evidence of a fetus on an ultrasound Aug. 14 and Aug. 17.

As a public health precaution due to COVID-19, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute has updated its hours and entry requirements. The panda house at the David M. Rubenstein Family Giant Panda Habitat is currently closed to provide quiet for Mei Xiang and her cub. Asia Trail—including giant panda viewing—is temporarily closed to visitors for the scheduled repaving of walkways.

In addition to this cub, Mei Xiang has given birth to three surviving offspring: Tai Shan (tie-SHON), Bao Bao (BOW BOW) and Bei Bei (BAY BAY). Tai Shan was born July 9, 2005, and moved to China February 2010. Bao Bao was born Aug. 23, 2013, and moved to China in February 2017. Bei Bei was born Aug. 22, 2015, and moved to China in November 2019. As part of the Zoo’s cooperative breeding agreement with the China Wildlife Conservation Association, all cubs born at the Zoo move to China when they are 4 years old. The Zoo’s current cooperative breeding agreement expires in December 2020.

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Photo Credit: Roshan Patel, Smithsonian’s National Zoo

Joy as rare baby rhino born at Chester Zoo

Zookeepers at Chester Zoo are celebrating the birth of a rare baby rhino.

The female calf was safely delivered by new mum Ema Elsa following a 15-month-long pregnancy.

The birth was caught on the zoo’s CCTV cameras and shows the little one up on her feet and suckling from mum just 10 minutes later.

Joy as rare baby rhino born at Chester Zoo (5)
Joy as rare baby rhino born at Chester Zoo (5)
Joy as rare baby rhino born at Chester Zoo (5)
Joy as rare baby rhino born at Chester Zoo (5)

Now, the zoo has launched a poll on its Facebook page, inviting the public to help name the precious new arrival. Keepers have shortlisted the names Kasulu (a town in Tanzania), Koshi (meaning ‘to try’) and Kaari (meaning ‘young girl/young daughter’) for voters to choose from.

Conservationists at the zoo say the arrival of the calf – an eastern black rhino - will be ‘celebrated globally’ as fewer than 1000 now remain on the planet.

The population of eastern black rhinos in zoos across Europe is vital to the long-term future of the species, with several rhinos born as a result of the carefully coordinated breeding programme between European zoos having been introduced to Africa to boost wild populations.

Most recently, in June 2019, experts at Chester Zoo spearheaded the transportation of a group of eastern black rhinos from Europe to Akagera National Park, Rwanda.

Andrew McKenzie, Team Manager of rhinos at the zoo, said:

“The birth of a critically endangered eastern black rhino is always very special. And to be able to watch on camera as a calf is born is an incredible privilege - with rhino numbers so, so low it, sadly, isn’t something that’s captured very often. Seeing the little one then get to her feet with a gentle nudge from mum; take her first tentative steps and suckle for the first time is then the icing on the cake. It really is heart-warming stuff.

“The whole team here is overjoyed. Mum and calf have bonded wonderfully and have been showing us all of the right signs. These rhinos have been pushed to the very edge of existence and every single addition to the European endangered species breeding programme is celebrated globally. It’s sadly no exaggeration to say that it’s entirely possible that we could lose them forever within our lifetime and the world’s most progressive zoos are very much part of the fight to prevent their extinction.”

The eastern black rhino is listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as critically endangered. In the wild, they are now found only in Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda.

Experts say the multibillion pound illegal wildlife trade is driving the species towards extinction - the surge in demand of rhino horn stemming from the Asian medicine market.

Andrew added:

“In the short term, Ema Elsa and her new baby will help to highlight the perilous position that this species is in and we hope they encourage more people to join the fight to prevent the extinction of these gentle giants. In the future, as we work to ensure more safe areas, we hope Ema and her offspring, like others before them born into the European breeding programme, are one day able to make the journey back to Africa.”

Conservation scientists at Chester Zoo, working out of the UK’s only zoo-based animal endocrine lab, have developed a technique to track black rhino oestrus cycles via hormone analysis of their dung – helping keepers to decide when best to introduce females to a mate to help optimise chances of a successful mating outcome, and subsequently confirm and track a pregnancy. This method is now being used in Kenya where rangers and vets, using a field lab set up with the help of experts from Chester, are deploying the technique to monitor wild rhino populations.

In addition to rhino breeding, Chester Zoo has, for many years, also supported conservation efforts to protect eastern black rhinos in Africa and continues to fund and provide expertise to numerous sanctuaries, partners and wildlife reserves and to train anti-poaching rangers.

Baby Zebra Meets Giraffes, Rhinos, and More!

Yesterday morning a newborn Grant’s Zebra was born in the stables of the Safari at Burgers’ Zoo. Instinctively, the newborn baby stood up almost immediately to take its first wobbly steps. The foal was immediately taken outside with the family the same day. The mother helped by gently pushing her baby with her head in the right direction. The foal is most likely a female.

Already on its first day of life, the youngster is allowed to enter the large savannah plains, where the newborn zebra cautiously encounters the other inhabitants: giraffes, rhinos and various antelope species, such as wildebeests, and waterbucks. Its mother is very vigilant and protects the baby. Although many people think of zebras as similar in tmperment to horses, they are really wild animals that can kick and bite!

Burgers’ Zoo is home to a herd of Grant’s zebras numbering sixteen individuals. Burgers' Zoo is very successful with the breeding of Grant’s zebras. On average, four to five young are born each year, depending on the number of adult mares living in the herd. This newborn is the third zebra foal of the year. Two foals have already been born this year.

Little Elephant Born at Amersfoort Animal Park

At Amersfoort Animal Park this morning, elephant Kina gave birth to a small calf. “The elephant was born around 10:00 am. Special, because elephants are usually born at night,” says zookeeper Rob Saris. Mother Kina and her calf are doing well.

"The calf has already been nursing and Kina is keeping a close eye on her young," says the zookeeper. "It is Kina's second baby, so she now knows very well what motherhood means." It is still unclear whether the calf is a female or a male: “We can only see the sex when the calf has urinated for the first time,” Rob explains.

Olifantje geboren in DierenPark Amersfoort
Olifantje geboren in DierenPark Amersfoort
Olifantje geboren in DierenPark Amersfoort
Olifantje geboren in DierenPark Amersfoort

Amersfoort Zoo is currently temporarily closed due to the current Covid-19 measures and the newborn calf cannot be admired in the park yet. “Everyone can watch the calf's first steps via the live webcams”, says Rob. When the park opens its doors again, the elephant will occasionally be seen in a safe 1.5 meter opening. Visitors will enter the courtyard in small groups and accompanied by a guide. In addition, if the weather permits, the baby will explore the outdoor enclosure together with the herd every day. “As a visitor you will therefore have to be lucky to be able to spot the little one,” explains the animal caretaker.

Joy and sorrow are close together in the park these days. The escape and loss of two chimpanzees had a major impact on the animal handlers and other employees. “The grief is great, but this elephant birth is a ray of hope for all involved in this difficult time,” says Rob.

Giraffe born at Basel Zoo


On 4 November, a giraffe was born at Basel Zoo, which had been waiting for the birth for several days. Everyone is delighted to see that the mother, Sophie, and Rohaya are both doing well.

The female calf was born to mother Sophie (9) in the antelope house in the late afternoon, at 4:34 p.m. Precisely one hour later Rohaya stood up on her long, wobbly legs for the first time. The baby’s father is Xamburu (11).


Sophie is an experienced mother. However, this birth at Basel Zoo required a bit of patience: almost three weeks passed between the first signs that Sophie was about to give birth and the actual arrival of the little one. At this point, things went quickly, and the little one slipped elegantly (as is usual for giraffes) from a height of two metres onto the bed of straw prepared by the zoo keeper.

The antelope house is currently being renovated, so visitors can only see the mother and child when they spend time outside. The house is scheduled to reopen in December. The giraffe group in the antelope house is now made up of five animals.

Endangered subspecies of giraffe

Basel Zoo has been keeping Kordofan giraffes since 2011. Unlike all other subspecies, Kordofan giraffes only have small, irregular spots on their inner legs. They are classified as critically endangered by the IUCN. There are only around 1,400 of these animals left in the wild, and their numbers are declining. Kordofan giraffes can be found in Chad, northern Cameroon, the Central African Republic and possibly also in western Sudan. Loss of habitat, wars and hunting have particularly affected their numbers, meaning that zoos play a very important role in maintaining genetically healthy populations.

Kordofan giraffes are rather rare in zoos: of a total of 394 zoos that record their data in the Zoological Information Management System (ZIMS), just 22 have this subspecies of giraffe. This means only 88 of the 2,029 giraffes kept by zoos are Kordofan giraffes. Every single new birth is vital in keeping zoo populations genetically healthy. Giraffes living in zoos provide an opportunity to show visitors that the creatures are increasingly rare in their natural habitat. There are only around 68,000 giraffes remaining in the whole of Africa.

Indianapolis Zoo Welcomes 6-foot Baby!

INDIANAPOLIS — At 4:35am Nov. 8, the Indianapolis Zoo welcomed the birth of a male reticulated giraffe. The calf weighed 137 pounds and stood about 6 feet tall at birth. He is already growing and will be several feet taller before his first birthday. 

The newborn is the first calf for 3-year-old mother Kita. Following a 14-month pregnancy, female giraffes give birth standing up. While their arrival into the world is somewhat abrupt, newborn giraffes are extremely resilient and are typically up on their feet in less than an hour. Zookeepers said the calf is curious, following close behind mom and nursing well. The other members of the herd have shown interest in interacting, even licking the calf through the stall fence. 

Giraffe Calf 2020_2_Melanie Laurendine
Giraffe Calf 2020_2_Melanie Laurendine
Giraffe Calf 2020_2_Melanie Laurendine

Native to Sub-Saharan Africa, giraffes bear a beautiful coat of brown spots that helps provide camouflage on the arid plains. While every giraffe’s pattern is unique, the Zoo’s youngster currently takes after his father, 10-year-old Majani, with his lighter, caramel-colored patches. 

The tallest mammal on land, giraffes are one of Africa’s most iconic species, yet they are still vulnerable to extinction. To support a healthy population of animals in human care, the Zoo maintains an active giraffe breeding program through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan.Like all of the Zoo’s animals, this newborn will be an ambassador and help to raise awareness for conservation of the species. 

The Zoo’s giraffe herd, which is now up to five, will spend much of the winter inside its climate-controlled indoor facility. The new family is expected to make its debut in the spring, and at that time, guests will have an opportunity to meet members of the herd up close during public feeds. 

Tapir Twins Update

Major milestone for Franklin Park Zoo's little female – she successfully reunited with mom, Abby, this week! The calf was seen nursing within hours – even gaining weight since the intro – and Abby has been acting like the wonderful seasoned mom that she is. The pair will remain behind the scenes to continue bonding before making an exhibit debut. The male tapir calf remains at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, receiving around-the-clock care.
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