Antwerp Zoo

Tapir Birth Caught on Camera!

Fotolink_tapirbabyQ (8)
Romance is a powerful motivator, even for Malayan Tapirs.  Luckily, this love story at Zoo Antwerp resulted in a healthy baby Tapir being born on March 6.  Fotolink_tapirbabyQ (6)

Fotolink_tapirbabyQ (7)
Photo Credit:  Jonas Verhulst


One night 13 months ago, keepers arrived in the morning to find male Tapir Nakal’s stall empty.   He had used his flexible snout to open a door and pay a nocturnal visit to female Tapir Kamal. 

The tiny calf weighed only nine pounds at birth, about 35 times less than its parents.  Kamal and the calf are together 24 hours a day, and the calf appears to be nursing well.  For now, Nakal lives in a separate stall to avoid possible agression with the calf.  The calf is the sixth born at Zoo Antwerp.

You can see the entire birth on the surveillance camera video above.  The calf emerges at about two minutes, and is standing at the four minute mark.

Young Tapirs have white blotches on their bodies, which provide camouflage in the dappled shade of the southeast Asian rain forests where they live.  By the time they are six months old, the calves lose their spots and gain the solid black and white fur of adults.

Malayan Tapirs are the largest of the world’s five Tapir species.  They are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, primarily due to loss of habitat. 

See more photos of the Tapir calf below.

Continue reading "Tapir Birth Caught on Camera!" »

Loving Hands for Springhare Baby


On August 3, Antwerp Zoo, in Belgium, welcomed a delicate new Springhare in their animal nursery!  The tiny creature’s mother, Mel, showed a healthy curiosity in her new baby, but failed to nurse.  Keepers are now working round the clock, hand-feeding the new baby.




Springhare_antwerp_1Photo Credits: Antwerp Zoo

The new Springhare at Antwerp Zoo is being kept in a darkened room, inside a special incubator.  Keepers feed the fragile baby every two hours with a small syringe of puppy milk, and its diet is supplemented with fennel tea, which is good for intestines. The baby is also weighed regularly to ensure the food intake is successful.

If the love and attention it receives during hand-feeding goes well, the baby Springhare will next be moved to a nesting box. There, it will be warmed with stones and a heat lamp. The baby would also be introduced to solids, and he would hopefully be weaned in a matter of about 70 days. 

Native to South Africa, the nocturnal, tunnel-digging Springhare is not a hare, but is a member of the order ‘Rodentia’. Although, 20 years ago they were classified on the IUCN Red List as “Vulnerable”, their outlook has improved to a level of “Least Concern”.

See more photos below the fold.

Continue reading "Loving Hands for Springhare Baby" »

Antwerp Zoo Welcomes 50th Okapi Calf

The endangered Okapi is the symbol of Belgium’s Antwerp Zoo, and rightly so – the 50th Okapi calf to be born at the zoo arrived on December 27.  Named Oni, this female calf is part of the zoo’s important Okapi breeding program, which began when the first Okapi arrived there in 1919.

Oni2Photo Credit:  © ZOO Antwerpen / Jonas Verhulst

Oni is the second calf to be born to female Hakima and is doing well, according to zoo staff.  Like all Okapis, Oni has a unique pattern of stripes on her hindquarters.  She joins a group of seven Okapi at the zoo, including her sister Mchawi, who was born in 2011.

Antwerp Zoo manages the worldwide studbook for Okapi and coordinates the European breeding program for the species.  In this role, the zoo maintains data on every zoo-born Okapi in the world, reviews the data, and determines which pairings will result in the highest genetic diversity in any offspring.   Efforts like this are crucial to the survival of the endangered Okapi, whose wild population has plummeted by 75% in the last decade. 

There are currently 170 Okapi in zoos worldwide, but scientists estimate that 270 Okapi are needed to sustain a genetically healthy captive population. To reach this target, 13 Okapi births are needed each year for the next several decades 

Closely related to Giraffes, only 10,000 Okapi survive in the dense rain forests of Africa’s Congo basin.  Deforestation, hunting, and political instability threaten their future.  The Antwerp Zoo supports an Okapi reserve that serves as a refuge for these animals.

Spectacled Bear Cub Ventures Outside For The First Time

Zoo Antwerpen Spectacled 1

A Spectacled Bear cub, born recently at Zoo Antwerpen in Belgium, ventured outside, into its enclosure for the first time. The youngster wasted little time exploring all the the exhibit has to offer, sniffing out every square inch and even bravely testing its claws by climbing the many trees in what it now calls home. The cub is making a name for itself as quite the daredevil and is already being called "a little rascal" its keepers.

Zoo Antwerpen Spectacled 2

Zoo Antwerpen Spectacled 3
Photo Credits: Jonas Verhulst / Zoo Antwerpen

The baby was born recently to mother Zamora and father Gladstone, and until now has spent all of its time in its den with Mum. Because of this, keepers have yet to be able to determine the sex of the youngster. However, this hasn't stopped them from getting a jump on the naming process. Keepers have selected three potential names if the baby is a boy (Olivier, Orson and Oberon), and three potential names if its a girl (Olivia, Ona and Onora). The public has the opportunity to vote for their favorite name here.

See and learn much more after the fold!

Continue reading "Spectacled Bear Cub Ventures Outside For The First Time" »

Antwerp Zoo's Baby Aardvark Gets A Little TLC


Last week, Antwerp Zoo in Belgium welcomed a pink, wrinkly and bald bundle of joy. Born to mom Curly, the baby Aardvark is recieving around the clock care from keepers. Though its upright ears and weight are a sign of good health, nursing has been a challenge for Curly. The cub feeds every three hours, and the keepers must often hand-nurse. Currently the sex of the cub is unknown. Once the sex has been determined, a name will be selected.




There are currently 45 Aardvarks in zoos throughout Europe and only about 30 in the US. Aadrvarks are native to sub-Saharan African, where they eat ants, termites, fruits and other insects. The name Aardvark comes from the Afrikaans word "erdvark", meaning "earth pig", likely due to the animals ability to dig and burrow.

Photo Credit ZOO Antwerpen / Jonas Verhulst

UPDATE: Mom is a Patient Playmate for Antwerp Zoo’s Lion Cub


Nestor, the Lion cub born at Belgium’s Antwerp Zoo on August 29, loves to play.  His favorite toy?  Mom! 

This energetic six-month-old cub has been featured several times on ZooBorns, from his first days on exhibit, playing in water, and enjoying the snow.  Now Nestor is honing his hunting skills through play. 



Photo Credit:  Antwerp Zoo

Nestor’s mother, Maouli, is a willing and patient playmate for her little cub. But like all Lion moms, she lets her offspring know when he’s gone too far.  And when she lets loose with a Lion-sized snarl, Nestor is sure to take notice.

Africa’s wild Lions are in decline.  Recent studies suggest that fewer than 30,000 Lions survive on the continent.  Their numbers have dropped due to habitat loss and encroachment of human activity. 

See photos of Nestor and Maouli at the end of a play session below the fold!

Continue reading "UPDATE: Mom is a Patient Playmate for Antwerp Zoo’s Lion Cub" »

It’s a Snow Day for Zoo Antwerp’s Lion Cub


You’ve met Nestor, the male Lion Cub born at Zoo Antwerp on August 29, on the pages of Zooborns before:  once when he was first introduced to the public, and again when he was learning to navigate waterways in his exhibit.  Now, Nestor is learning about a new natural phenomenon:  snow!



Photo Credits:  Zoo Antwerp

Nestor’s mother Maouli is always nearby to guide the brave little Lion in his explorations, but he seems determined to learn on his own.  But even courageous cubs need to check in frequently with mom just to be on the safe side.

Now five months old, Nestor is the only male lion remaining at Zoo Antwerpen.  Nestor’s father, Victor, died recently from age-related conditions.  Victor was nearly 19 years old and seemed to enjoy the affections of his young offspring.   Like Victor, Nestor will one day be an important part of the conservation breeding program for African Lions, which are in decline in their native African home. 

See more photos of Nestor below the fold!

Continue reading "It’s a Snow Day for Zoo Antwerp’s Lion Cub" »

Another Okapi for Antwerp!

Okapi 6

The staff at Belgium's Zoo Antwerpen expected female Okapi Yenthe to deliver her baby on Christmas Day, but she had other plans.  At about 3:00 AM on December 16, the zoo’s night watchman alerted keepers when he noticed something unusual in the Okapi house.  Keepers were able to immediately see Yenthe and her new baby from their homes, using a web cam installed at the Okapi house. 

The male baby was named Ngwani, which means “child.”  He is the 49th Okapi born at Zoo Antwerpen since Okapi first arrived at the zoo in 1919.  There are currently eight Okapi at the zoo, including two other calves born in the last two years. 

Okapi 3

Okapi 2

Okapi 1

Okapi 5

Zoo Antwerpen manages the international studbook for Okapi.  In this role, the zoo coordinates breeding recommendations for captive Okapi, with the goal of maintaining a genetically healthy population in zoos worldwide.

Okapi are found only in the dense rain forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo – nowhere else.  They are perfectly suited for life among the vegetation.  Only about 10-20,000 Okapi remain in the wild, and these are under threat from poaching, habitat loss, and ongoing conflict in the region.

Photo credit:  © ZOO Antwerpen / Jonas Verhulst

Cub vs. Stream: An Update on Zoo Antwerp’s Little Lion


Zoo Antwerp’s Lion cub made headlines on ZooBorns when he made his public debut about a month after he was born on August 29.  Now the male cub, named Nestor, has started exploring the Lion family’s large outdoor enclosure with his mother, Maouli.  (All of the babies born at Zoo Antwerp in 2012 have names that begin with N.)

As he toddled across the yard, Nestor’s biggest obstacle was a small stream in the exhibit.  After some hesitation, he dared to make the crossing, but alas, he fell in!  His second attempt was equally unsuccessful, resulting in another dunking (even though mom tried to lend a hand – er, paw).  But like the brave little Lion he is, Nestor was undeterred, and his third try was the charm – he made it! 




Baby Lion Growling

Like Nestor, wild Lions face challenges too – though theirs are much more serious.   Changes to their wild east African habitat have caused some Lion populations to shrink by more than half.  Zoos around the world are breeding Lions to maintain a healthy, genetically diverse captive population.

Photo Credit:  Zoo Antwerp

First Photos of Zoo Antwerp's Lion Cub


Patience has paid off for fans at Zoo Antwerp!  The Lion cub born there on August 29 made its public debut this week.  The cub spent the first month of its life indoors with its mother, Maouli, but is now enjoying time in an outdoor pen where it can be seen by visitors.   The youngster is getting more independent every day, but still stays close to mom.





The cub’s gender is not yet known.   When the cub gets its first veterinary checkup, the sex will be determined and it will get its first set of vaccinations.  Once the gender is known, the cub will be named.  The name will start with N, like all of the babies born at Zoo Antwerp in 2012. 

Though Lions are at the top of the food chain, they are still vulnerable to human-induced changes in their environment, especially in areas outside preserves and national parks.  Wild Lion populations have shrunken by half in some areas of sub-Saharan Africa.  Managed breeding in zoos is helping to ensure a strong genetic foundation for this magnificent species.

Photo Credit:  Zoo Antwerp