Auckland Zoo

Working Together To Conserve New Zealand's Fairy Tern

Auckland Zoo is working in partnership with the New Zealand Department of Conservation https://www.doc.govt.nz/news/media-releases/2021-media-releases/breeding-season-for-rare-tara-iti-offers-hope-for-future/ to conserve New Zealand’s fairy tern – one of the rarest birds in the world.

New Zealand fairy tern / tara iti face many threats in the wild - they nest on low lying shell and sand banks which leaves their nests, and the eggs inside, vulnerable to storms and adverse weather. It also leaves the eggs open to predation and disturbance by off-road vehicles, dogs and humans.

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These factors combined have left the species in a critical condition, and despite intensive management, fairy tern have teetered on the brink of extinction since the 1970s. With fewer than 40 adult birds alive today, they have a current conservation threat status of ‘nationally critical’.

To protect potential offspring, DOC rangers will monitor fairy tern nests that are at risk of flooding or other environmental concerns. This breeding season, with severe winds forecast, DOC staff were able to safely collect and bring eggs to the zoo for incubation. This gives the un-hatched chicks the highest chance of survival, but this method only works if the parents return to the nest to take care of the eggs. To ensure this happens DOC rangers will swap out the fertile eggs for artificial ones until the threat to the eggs has passed.

Unfortunately this wasn’t possible for a few of the eggs - the nests were either washed away or despite the precautions, they were abandoned by the parents. For those eggs, the decision was made to hand-rear any chicks that hatched, a management technique that hasn't been attempted since the 1990’s.

Thankfully, a healthy chick hatched and, in collaboration with DOC, our bird team used their skills and knowledge of hatching and hand-rearing rare native species in the past, to raise the chick at the zoo. Once it reached the right stage in it's development, the chick was taken to a pre-release aviary built by DOC staff where it could safely learn how to fish 'on the wing' before being released into the wild. 

Watch the video to see the process from hatch to release unfold!

It's been a privilege for Auckland Zoo to work on this conservation project with DOC and they hope to build on this success in the future so that together they can reserve the fortunes of this nationally critical taonga.


Auckland Zoo successfully hand-rears golden lion tamarin twins!

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It’s been a long and rewarding journey to get Auckland Zoo's GLT twins, female Aurora and male Raffino, to this point and has required the considerable skill, passion and commitment of the Zoo's primate keepers.

As Primate team leader Amy explains, the decision to hand-rear is never taken lightly as there are always risks involved. The primate team used their expertise, coupled with the best science and the knowledge that the twins would have each other to bond with, to make this decision and without it these critically endangered twins would have simply not survived.

Filmed over the past three and a half months, Auckland Zoo puts their primate team’s mahi on show as they go from feeding the twins around the clock, to weaning them off of milk and onto solid foods like delicious mango, the successful integration with their parents Alonzo and Frida, and finally, welcoming the family unit into their Rainforest habitat!

Auckland Zoo is now one of the few places in the world that can proudly say they've successfully hand-reared golden lion tamarins and will be adding to global knowledge about the species. You can see the new family troop of four at Auckland Zoo this weekend.


Auckland Zoo has chosen a name for their four-week-old rhino calf!

 

Their ungulates team went through 1000+ submissions from the public and chose the name Nyah, which is Swahili for goal or purpose. This is such an apt name for this precious calf who has a very special purpose – connecting with Auckland Zoo’s visitors as well as advocating and raising awareness for her species in the wild.

In this video with ungulates keeper Gemma you can see the calf venture out with mum Jamila into the African Savannah habitat for the first time, and learn how zoo visits and donations help Auckland Zoo support rhinoceros in Africa and Asia.

 


Keeper Helps Nyala Calf Come Into the World

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When a Nyala named Xolani went into labor with her first calf, keepers at Auckland Zoo were thrilled with the opportunity to witness the event – Nyala usually give birth overnight, when no one is there to watch.

As the delivery progressed, the calf’s foot and nose became visible. But when lead keeper Tommy checked on Xolani, he noticed that her labor had stopped. The calf remained only partially delivered.

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Tommy could see that one of the calf’s front legs appeared to be stuck in the birth canal, preventing its delivery. He quickly assessed the situation and approached Xolani, who allowed Tommy to come close. Xolani remained calm and allowed Tommy to gently pull on the calf’s legs, and the calf was safely delivered within minutes.

The male calf, which has been named Usiku, stood within 30 minutes and just a half-hour later, he was nursing. The calf is already integrated into the zoo’s herd of 11 Nyala, which includes one adult male and five adult females, each of whom has one calf.

Tommy’s quick actions are an example of the outstanding care that keepers provide to animals every day. As Tommy explains, “That’s why we’re here!”

Nyala are a large Antelope species native to the woodlands and grasslands of southern Africa. Males sport spiral horns, which are 24-33 inches long. Females do not have horns. Nyala populations are stable, although poaching and habitat loss may impact the species in the future.

See more photos of the Nyala below.

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Auckland Zoo’s Kiwi Chick Arrives for Special Month

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Auckland Zoo is part of ‘Operation Nest Egg’ (O.N.E), a national programme helping to increase Aotearoa’s Kiwi population. The Zoo’s latest fluffy hatchling is the second Kiwi chick this season. The chick is the first to hatch in October, which is also noted as “Save Kiwi Month”.

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Operation Nest Egg (O.N.E.) involves collecting eggs from selected areas around New Zealand, incubating and caring for them from hatch until they are at an age where they can be released to predator free islands or sites. These sites allow the chicks to grow big and strong while not under threat from predators, and then finally, when they reach around 1.2kg – a size where they are better able to defend themselves – they are released back to the mainland on predator-managed sites.

Sadly, only 5% of chicks that hatch in the wild will reach breeding age due to introduced mammalian predators, which has contributed to the decline of New Zealand’s national bird. Auckland Zoo, working together with the Department of Conservation, Kiwis for Kiwi, and Thames Coast Kiwi Care has successfully contributed to the survival of Northland and Coromandel Kiwi.

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Cotton-top Tamarin Duo Arrives at Auckland Zoo

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Auckland Zoo recently welcomed two critically endangered Cotton-top Tamarin babies to the world.

The pair was born on the evening of June 11. It has been 16 years since the Zoo has bred Cotton-top Tamarins.

Primates team leader, Amy Robbins, says that both babies and parents are doing well, so far. “We’re all buzzing about the new arrivals. It’s exciting to have our Cotton-top parents starting to build their troop, and being a critically endangered species makes the babies arrival even more special. They’re showing signs of being great parents, with Mum feeding and Dad carrying them.”

Keepers won’t know the sex of the pair for some time, but the Zoo will be providing updates on their progress.

The new troop are still adjusting to the world, but Amy says they’re becoming more and more confident, so visitors may get a glimpse of the two new babies during their next visit.

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The Zoo’s Cotton-top parents, “Mr. and Mrs. Nuri” (male from Germany and a female from Italy), have settled in well since their arrival in December and share their Rainforest home with three female Agouti’s.

Cotton-top Tamarins are critically endangered in the lowland forests of South America having lost 80% of their original habitat over the last 40 years to deforestation for agriculture, paper and timber supplies.

For this reason, Auckland Zoo’s Cotton-tops have an important advocacy role to help visitors connect with the species and be a voice for their wild cousins. Consumers can help the cause by buying only rainforest friendly paper products to help protect our forests for future generations.

The Cotton-top Tamarin (Saguinus oedipus) is a small New World monkey weighing less than 0.5 kg. They are arboreal (tree dwelling) in wet tropical forests or dry thorn forests in northern Colombia. They live in the mid to lower levels of the forest and have an important role as a seed disperser within their ecosystem.

These primates live in family groups of about 15 animals. Tamarins are monogamous animals (mate for life). Females dominate Tamarin society and only one female has babies at a time in each group. Males care for the babies and even assist at the birth and look after them throughout the early stages.

The specie is currently classified as “Critically Endangered” by the IUCN due to large-scale deforestation and habitat destruction, as the Columbian northwestern lowland forests have been reduced to 5% of their previous area. It is estimated that there are only 6,000 individuals left in the wild.

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Flamingo Chick Hatches While Zoo Visitors Watch

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There’s a new addition to the Greater Flamingo family at New Zealand’s Auckland Zoo. The little chick hatched on January 9 in the Flamingo exhibit as an amazed group of zoo visitors looked on.

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26805241_10155289488526984_7604419657559629367_nPhoto Credit: Auckland Zoo

This is the first time a Flamingo chick hatched on exhibit at the zoo, and it’s also the first chick to be parent-reared at the zoo. (All of the other chicks hatched at the zoo have been hand-reared by zoo staff.)

The chick’s parents are Cheviot and Neil, who are also the parents of a young female named Otis. For the first few days after hatching, Cheviot and Neil shared the task of sitting on the chick until it learned to walk. Now, the chick explores on its own, with mom or dad close by.

As you look at these photos of the chick over its first nine days of life, you can see how the chick has changed.  At first, the chick had a gold-colored egg tooth at the tip of its beak. This tiny projection is found in reptiles and some birds and helps the chick to internally pip and break through its eggshell.  It eventually falls off as it is no longer needed.

Just after hatching, the chick had a red bill and plump pink legs. After about a week, the chick’s beak and legs turned very dark purple.

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Endangered Ducklings Hatch at Auckland Zoo

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A paddling of Whio Ducks has hatched at Auckland Zoo! These special ducklings are the first Whio born at the New Zealand facility in five years, and as part of their breed-for-release programme, they are destined for life at a beautiful North Island river.

Over the next eight weeks, as they continue to grow, they will eventually head to a duckling ‘boot-camp’ at a Department of Conservation facility in Turangi. There they will build up their muscles and learn to fly, which will prepare them for a new life in the wild. In 2002 Auckland Zoo successfully released eleven Whio chicks.

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This iconic native New Zealand bird features prominently on the countries $10 currency note, and it is nationally endangered. They require clean, fast flowing streams to swim in, and because of this, are a key indicator of the health of native rivers.

Once found in the North and South Island, of New Zealand, their numbers have reduced greatly due to pollution and predation.

Whio releases into the wild are a great example of the work that Auckland Zoo does behind-the-scenes with partners like DOC Whio Forever, in an effort to conserve native wildlife.

Although these new ducklings are off display, adult Whio can be seen by Zoo visitors swimming in the streams in The High Country aviary in Te Wao Nui.

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Endangered Red Panda Cubs Are a Living Legacy

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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.

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"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.

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It's A Boy! Baby Giraffe Born At Auckland Zoo

11893970_10153106151701984_8230317602288156455_oEarly in the morning on August 21, a baby Rothschild’s Giraffe was born at New Zealand’s Auckland Zoo!

The male calf was born to mother Kiraka and father Zabulu.  This is the second calf for Kiraka and the first male calf to be born at the zoo since 2010.

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Photo Credit:  Auckland Zoo

For now, Kiraka and her calf are behind the scenes bonding, but the staff expects them to join the herd in the exhibit soon.

Baby Giraffes are born while the mother is standing, and fall six feet to the ground.  The fall breaks the umbilical cord and induces the newborn to take its first breath.  Mom immediately begins licking her baby, and the calf attempts to stand within the first hour of birth.  Shortly afterward, the calf will begin to nurse.  These instincts are important to a calf's survival in the wild.  If the calf can’t get up and move right away, it could fall prey to hungry hyenas or lions.

Once believed to be plentiful across Africa, Giraffes are now known to be in serious decline.  Of the nine subspecies of Giraffes, two are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature – including the Rothschild’s Giraffe.  Threats come from loss and fragmentation of habitat.  Giraffes have already become extinct in seven African countries.