Auckland Zoo

Two Tiny Otters Grow Behind the Scenes at Auckland Zoo

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Great news: two Asian Small-clawed Otter pups were born at Auckland Zoo in New Zealand! The parents are resident otters Jeta and Juno. Because Jeta is a first-time mother, keepers have been carefully making sure that they have as much peace and quiet as possible. 

The pups are just over a month old, and their sex is still unknown at this point. They were weighed last week, and they’re now .97 pounds (440 g) and one pound (461 g). They been growing steadily, putting on about .2 pounds (100 g) a week.

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4 otterPhoto credit: Auckland Zoo

Asian Small-clawed Otters are listed as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List.  They are found in the countries of India, Indonesia, Vietnam, South China, Malay Peninsula, the Philippines,  living in freshwater streams, rivers, and creeks as well as coastal regions, often near dense foliage. They are the smallest of the world's 13 otter species. 

Auckland Zoo Goes Batty!

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New Zealand's Auckland Zoo is celebrating the successful breeding and rearing of Lesser Short-tailed Bat twins. It's the first time this threatened endemic New Zealand species has ever been bred and hand-reared in a zoo. They are known as Pekapeka in Māori. 

The tiny Short-tailed Bats, a male and a female, were born in mid-November weighing a tiny 4 grams—less than a U.S. nickel!—and are now a healthy adult weight of around 14 grams.

New Zealand Centre for Conservation Medicine (NZCCM)Clinical Services Coordinator Mikaylie Wilson says, "While very rare to produce twins (one pup is usual), their mother had given birth to twins earlier but they did not survive. From this experience, we knew she wasn't able to cope with raising two, so the decision was made to pull the first twin at two days, and then the second at two weeks. The second pup was failing to thrive so we pulled it as well."

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3 batPhoto credit: Ian Fish (1,2) / Auckland Zoo

See a video of the baby bats being cared for:


Wilson, who has experience hand-rearing bats in Australia, set up the program for the bats. She says, "We had a portable incubator that closely mimicked a nursery in the wild, keeping them warm and secure. The temperature of the incubator was at 28-29 degrees, and we were feeding them every four hours."

Mikaylie Wilson cared for the bats for five days straight, before training bird keeper Debs Searchfield started to play mom, feeding and caring for them at home.

Searchfield says, "We were a bit sleep deprived, but it was worth it. It's been such a great success to be part of, it's all very exciting and we've learnt a lot about them. Gaining more husbandry skills, hands-on techniques and knowledge will hopefully help the future of this species and other bats in recovery programs."

The bats' parents are descendants of a population from the Tararua Ranges in the lower North Island. They came from a group that were collected and translocated by the Department of Conservation to Kapiti Island in 2005/6. However, a fungal ear infection meant that this group was not suitable for release and the zoo now displays the only Lesser Short-tailed Bats in captivity.

New Zealand has just two native terrestrial mammals: the Long-tailed Bat and the Short-tailed Bat. Adults use echolocation to navigate and catch prey. Unlike most bats, which catch their prey in the air, the Short-tailed Bat has adapted to ground hunting, and spends lots of time on the forest floor, and folds its wings to use as "front limbs" for scrambling around. They eat insects, fruit, nectar and pollen. The Short-tailed bat is the only pollinator of the rare native plant, thedactylanthus or woodrose. They have a heart rate of 250 to 450 beats per minute while at rest, and 800 beats per minute while flying!

Auckland Zoo Welcomes Red Panda Twins

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Auckland Zoo in New Zealand is celebrating the birth of Nepalese Red Panda twins, two very valuable additions to the international breeding program for this threatened species.

The two cubs were born on January 3, each weighing approximately 100 grams. They are the second and third offspring of four-year-old mum Bo and 13-year-old Sagar, who just over a year ago produced their first-born, male Pabu. Sagar, who was relocated from India's Darjeeling Zoo in 2010, contributes a particularly valuable new bloodline into the Australasian region.

"These births are fantastic news, both for Australasia and for the wider Global Species Management Plan through which Red Panda are managed. We're absolutely delighted Bo has had two healthy cubs and that she's proving once again to be such a confident and attentive mother," says acting Carnivore Team Leader Lauren Booth.

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Photo credits: Auckland Zoo

See video:

"Following Pabu's birth, we've learnt to read Bo's behavior well so we can gauge the best time to check on and weigh the cubs to track their progress, but otherwise remain hands-off. They have now opened their eyes and are moving about in the nest box a little more, and will sometimes 'huff' at us. Their weights have shot up to 403 grams and 423 grams respectively - above average, so we know they're getting plenty to eat, but they still have a lot more growing to do!"

Booth says like one-year-old Pabu, who will relocate to another zoo in Australia within the next six months, the yet-to-be named and sexed cubs will also in time leave Auckland Zoo to contribute to the international breeding program.

"As zoos we work together to ensure genetic diversity is achieved for insurance populations like the Red Panda - which is vital, but it is an insurance policy, not a solution. Increasingly, we're part of conservation efforts in the wild. Auckland Zoo continues to grow its support of Red Panda Network, whose outstanding community education and forest guardianship programs in eastern Nepal (key Red Panda territory) are playing a vital role in helping protect this species that's threatened by habitat loss and poaching."

 See and learn more after the fold!

Continue reading "Auckland Zoo Welcomes Red Panda Twins" »

The Kiwi Hatching Season Begins at Auckland Zoo

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Auckland Zoo's first Kiwi chick has successfully pipped its way through the shell of its egg, officially kicking off this year's Kiwi breeding season. The parents of this yet-to-be-named chick are Two-Toes (Dad) and Binky (Mum) from a private farm in Tanekaha. Tanekaha Community Group is a collection of 20 farms that have been funded by Northland Regional Council to make their farms a safe haven for breeding kiwis. 

From now until March next year, Auckland Zoo's bird team will be working hard incubating, hatching, rearing and releasing Kiwi chicks as part of the BNZ Operation Nest Egg program. The program was started to help increase the survival of Kiwi chicks from wild nests, which are heavily preyed upon by stoats. To date, Auckland Zoo has released 266 kiwi chicks into the wild.

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3 kiwiPhoto credits: Aukland Zoo

Zookeeper Michelle Whybrow filmed the hatching of their second Kiwi chick of the season, also from a Tanekaha farm:


About the size of domestic chickens, Kiwis are flightless birds related to ostriches and emus. These shy, nocturnal birds are found only in New Zealand. All five species of Kiwi are decreasing in number, threatened by loss of habitat and by mammalian predators introduced by humans.  To learn more about the recovery effort coordinated by the BNZ Operation Nest Egg Program, click here

A Speedy Giraffe Delivery at Auckland Zoo

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Auckland Zoo is celebrating the arrival of its 31st giraffe calf:  a 5.5 foot (1.7 m) female, delivered in record time to 12-year-old giraffe mum, Rukiya. The fifth offspring for Rukiya and 13-year-old dad Zabulu was born at 11:10 am on August 3, following a labour of less than three hours - Rukiya's fastest delivery to date.

The yet-to-named calf was standing within half an hour, with experienced mum Rukiya taking it all in her stride as she demonstrated her exceptional mothering skills. This included having her newborn successfully suckle from her the minute it could stand, something keeping staff have not seen at any other giraffe birth.

"Rukiya really took us by surprise this time. She was incredibly relaxed the day before the birth and right up until she started going into labour, and gave us none of the usual and obvious signs she was ready for action.  She also stayed amazingly calm throughout the labour - which was significantly shorter than her others and by far the easiest and most relaxed," says Pridelands keeper, Kathryn McKee, who has been present for all five of Rukiya's births.

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Photo credits: Kathrin Simon / Auckland Zoo

Watch a video of the birth below:


See the rest of the story after the fold.

Continue reading "A Speedy Giraffe Delivery at Auckland Zoo" »

UPDATE! Auckland Zoo's Baby Red Panda Gets a Name

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You may have first read about this baby Red Panda from Auckland Zoo HERE on ZooBorns. As a result of a vet check, it was determined that they had a little boy! Born on Christmas Eve, he is the first offspring of three-year-old mom Bo and 12-year-old dad Sagar. He has been healthy and growing at a normal rate. 

The Zoo just wrapped up a naming contest for the cub through Facebook, and the results are in: By an overwhelming majority, the public voted for the name Pabu, which means puff-ball of fluffy.  The other choices had been Nepalese words, since the Red Panda is found in the wild in Nepal. They were: Sundar (meaning beautiful/, Bhushan (adornment), HImal (snow mountain), and Mohan (charming). 


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Photo Credit: Auckland Zoo

The IUCN Red List classifies this animal as Vulnerable. It is threatened by illegal hunting and deforestation. Remaining populations are fast becoming fragmented and isolated from each other. It is uncertain how many remain in the wild today, but estimates suggest it may be as low 2500 individuals. There are close to 500 individuals in zoos worldwide.

Aukland Zoo Breeds Critically Endangered Archey's Frogs

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For the first time ever, Archey's Frogs have been successfully bred in captivity. Aukland Zoo is the only facility in the world to keep this critically endangered New Zealand species. 

Laid in October, the eggs hatched in early December. Twice before, other facilities had attempted to breed Archey's Frogs from wild-caught individuals, but the young did not survive to adulthood. Aukland Zoo now has seven healthy young frogs, bred from their own long-term captive population. 

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Photo credit: Aukland Zoo

Watch Archey's Frogs wiggle their way through different developmental stages:

What makes Archey's Frogs unique? Read more after the fold.

Continue reading "Aukland Zoo Breeds Critically Endangered Archey's Frogs " »

Sleepy Red Panda Baby a Welcomed Addition to Auckland Zoo

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Keepers at the Auckland Zoo say the birth of a rare Nepalese Red Panda baby in the early hours of December 24 was the best Christmas present they could have received. It is the first to be born at the zoo since 2002, weighing in at just 105 grams (equal to a medium sized tomato). Now, at four weeks old, the little one is estimated to have grown to 240 grams, a little over half a pound.

The cub, the first offspring of three-year-old mom Bo and 12-year-old dad Sagar, is an extremely valuable addition to the international breeding program for this species. The IUCN Red List classifies this animal as Vulnerable. It is threatened by illegal hunting and deforestation. Remaining populations are fast becoming fragmented and isolated from each other. It is uncertain how many remain in the wild today, but estimates suggest it may be as low 2500 individuals. There are close to 500 individuals in zoos worldwide.

“This birth is a fantastic result, especially as Bo was only introduced to Sagar last August, given that female Red Pandas come into season just twice a year and a male has only a one to two-day window to mate a female,” said Carnivore Team Leader Bruce Murdock. “We couldn’t ask for a better mum in Bo. She’s doing an exceptional job, staying in the nest box for long periods and feeding her cub up to six times a day, and being very attentive.” 

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Photo Credit: Auckland Zoo

Dad has been to the nest box to check out his offspring, but leaves the parenting to Bo. Murdock added, “We’re keeping a regular watch on this cub, but taking a very hands-off approach so Bo can continue to do the great job she’s been doing.”

Murdock says Red Pandas develop slowly and are dependent for at least three months, so it could be another eight to 10 weeks before visitors see the cub venturing out and around the enclosure with Bo. A full vet check will be done in late February, and at that time its gender will be confirmed.

All that nursing and growing causes cub-naps, as seen in the video below:


Read more about Red Panda conservation after the fold: 

Continue reading "Sleepy Red Panda Baby a Welcomed Addition to Auckland Zoo" »

Otter Twins in Auckland - Handfuls of Fluff

Jana and Juno, the Auckland Zoo's resident otter couple, spent a year in courtship before they decided they liked one another. Asian small-clawed otters mate for life but are "notoriously fussy" about who that mate will be. Well a few weeks ago Jana gave birth to two fluffy male pups, weighing just 400-500 grams or just about a pound.

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I will trade you anything for your handful of otter
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"Otters don't develop their waterproof coats until three months, so for now with their big strong heads on top of their little uncoordinated bodies and their soft furry coats, they're incredibly cute - rather like cuddly little baby bull dogs." explained Auckland Zoo otter team leader, Amy Dixon. These little pups are the first Asian small-clawed otters born at an Australasian zoo in six years.

Thanks to Abbey Allpress for the tip!