Chester Zoo

Rare Caterpillars Will Bring Butterflies Back From Near Extinction

! Tiny  rare large heath caterpillars destined for the wild hatch at Chester Zoo (15)

More than 150 rare caterpillars hatched at Chester Zoo are now destined for release into the wild in parts of England, where they have been extinct for a century.

Tiny  rare large heath caterpillars destined for the wild hatch at Chester Zoo (1)
Tiny  rare large heath caterpillars destined for the wild hatch at Chester Zoo (1)
Tiny  rare large heath caterpillars destined for the wild hatch at Chester Zoo (1)Photo Credit: Chester Zoo

Conservationists at the zoo have been using fine art paintbrushes to move the miniscule species into their specially designed habitats at the zoo.

The paintbrushes allow the zoo’s invertebrate keepers to be precise and delicate when handling the precious insects.

After plenty of eating and growth, the tiny youngsters will hibernate over the winter and pupate next year, emerging in the summer as Large Heath Butterflies.

Large Heath Butterflies were once common across the British Isles but over the last 200 years, they have been pushed further and further north. Large colonies previously at home in the boggy mosses of Manchester and Liverpool have long since been lost to local extinction.

As the UK has built its agriculture over the last two centuries, the wet mosslands that the Large Heath needs to survive have been drained and converted into farmland. As the land dried, the food plants for the Butterfly were lost, resulting in a cascade of wildlife disappearance.

The Butterfly can be identified by its orange wings, each bearing six black and white ‘eyespots’ on the underside. Conservationists hope to ensure that they will one day be a common sight across the UK once again.

Ben Baker, Team Manager of the Chester Zoo Butterfly team, said, “Few people realize that the Butterflies we might see in our gardens, forests and mosslands across the UK are heavily under threat, with many species disappearing from their last strongholds throughout England. It is an amazing privilege to play a part in embarking these rare caterpillars on their journey, returning the species to their historic home.”

Chester Zoo supports conservationists and conservation projects across the United Kingdom to prevent the extinction of unique and endangered species, safeguarding diverse and healthy ecosystems.




Chester Zoo Announces New Malayan Tapir Calf

1_Chester Zoo gives a first glimpse of its super-cute new baby tapir  (38)

A rare Malayan Tapir was born at Chester Zoo on July 18. The calf, which has been revealed as a boy, arrived to proud mum, Margery (age 7) and dad, Betong (age 6).

Weighing just 5kg at birth, the ‘precious’ youngster follows a 13-month-long (391-day) pregnancy.

Baby tapirs have distinctive coats when first born, made up of a series of spots and stripes to help camouflage them on the forest floors in their native South East Asia. This pattern will slowly change over the first six months to the unique black and white pattern of their parents.

2_Chester Zoo gives a first glimpse of its super-cute new baby tapir  (60)

3_Chester Zoo gives a first glimpse of its super-cute new baby tapir  (64)

4_Chester Zoo gives a first glimpse of its super-cute new baby tapir  (65)Photo Credits: Chester Zoo

Around half of the world’s Malayan Tapirs have been lost in the last 40 years, with fewer than 2,500 estimated to remain in across Malaysia, Sumatra, Thailand and Myanmar. Hunting, illegal logging, and mass deforestation as land is cleared for unsustainable palm oil production are reasons for the decline in numbers. The species is currently listed as “Endangered” on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN’s) Red List of Threatened Species.

Sarah Roffe, Team Manager, said, “It’s wonderful to hear the pitter-patter of tiny, spotty Malayan Tapir feet again for only the second time ever in the zoo’s long history.”

“Mum Margery is ever so good with the baby. She’s very attentive but also gives him chance to explore and find his feet.”

“The precious calf is another big boost for the international breeding programme, which is working to ensure the already endangered species do not become extinct. In the wild, the Malayan Tapir population has crashed in recent times, largely due to the widespread conversion of their forest habitat to palm oil plantations. If people want to help this wonderful species, then we’d urge them to demand that the palm oil contained in the products they use is from sustainable sources.”

The Malayan Tapir is related to both the horse and the rhinoceros. It is an‘odd-toed’ ungulate (or hoofed mammal), with four toes on each front foot and three on each back foot.

To celebrate the youngster's arrival, keepers at the zoo asked the public to help them to give him a name. The results of the online poll were recently revealed, and the calf's new name is...Rony!

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Chester Zoo Guests Witness Birth of Rare Chimpanzee

1_!Rare chimpanzee born in front of astonished visitors at Chester Zoo arrives to mum Alice (10)

The birth of a critically endangered West African Chimpanzee caught visitors by surprise at Chester Zoo.

The new baby was safely delivered, in front of a handful of astonished zoo guests, at around 5pm on July 13. The birth followed a seven-and-a-half-month pregnancy for doting mum, Alice (age 27).

Posting on social media, one onlooker described the birth as “honestly one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen” while another said it was “pretty epic.”

2_!Rare chimpanzee born in front of astonished visitors at Chester Zoo arrives to mum Alice (15)

3_Rare chimpanzee born in front of astonished visitors at Chester Zoo arrives to mum Alice (12)

4_Rare chimpanzee born in front of astonished visitors at Chester Zoo arrives to mum Alice (1)Photo Credits: Chester Zoo

Zoo conservationists say the new baby, a female that is yet to named, is in good health and is spending all of her time bonding with mum and other members of the 21-strong group of Chimpanzees.

Primate experts have hailed the youngster as a ‘vital boost’ to the conservation breeding programme for the species. It follows several years of scientific research, which has carefully assessed the genetics of all Chimpanzees in European zoos, confirming the make-up of the group at Chester as hugely important to the future of the species.

It is estimated that as few as 18,000 West African Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) remain in the wild and it is the first subspecies of Chimpanzee to be added to the list of critically endangered apes.

Mike Jordan, Collections Director at the zoo, said, “This new baby is a significant addition to this multi-generational Chimpanzee group at the zoo - and a vital boost to the conservation breeding programme for the critically endangered species.”

“Alice and her daughter have bonded well and she’s doing a wonderful job of caring for her so far. A new baby always creates lots of excitement and Alice has plenty of support from some of the other experienced mums in the group, who are all keen to lend a helping hand.”

"The youngster provides particular cause for celebration given the plight of chimpanzees in Africa. More Chimpanzees are hunted for the illegal bush meat trade than are born each year, causing populations to plummet in the wild. Couple that with the fact that humans are destroying their habitats and it’s easy to see why these fantastic animals – one of our closest cousins – are being pushed towards extinction. This new arrival is a step towards changing the fortunes for the species,” Jordan concluded.

Conservationists at the zoo have been working in Africa to protect some of the world’s rarest Chimpanzee species for more than 20 years. The expert teams have helped protect one of the last major strongholds of the Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee in Gashaka Gumti National park in Nigeria.

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Chester Zoo’s New Giraffe Calf is a 'Rare' Beauty

1_Look who just dropped in! Cameras capture the incredible moment a rare giraffe calf is born at Chester Zoo  (6)

The dramatic moment a rare giraffe entered the world was recently caught on camera at Chester Zoo.

Orla, a highly endangered Rothschild’s Giraffe, gave birth to the six-foot-tall female calf on May 8 after a two-and-half-hour labour (and 477 days gestation).

She has been named ‘Karamoja’. Keepers dedicated the new calf’s name to the people of Karamoja in Uganda, Africa. Karamoja is the region in Uganda where the zoo’s conservationists are working alongside The Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) and the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), to protect some of the last remaining populations of wild Rothschild’s Giraffes in Kidepo Valley National Park.

2_Look who just dropped in! Cameras capture the incredible moment a rare giraffe calf is born at Chester Zoo  (7)

3_Look who just dropped in! Cameras capture the incredible moment a rare giraffe calf is born at Chester Zoo  (8)

4_Look who just dropped in! Cameras capture the incredible moment a rare giraffe calf is born at Chester Zoo  (2)Photo Credits: Chester Zoo

The new birth – the second at the zoo in the space of just eight weeks - is another important boost for the global breeding programme for the endangered animals, with the wild population standing at just 2,650.

Sarah Roffe, Giraffe Team Manager at the zoo, said, “When you’re the world’s tallest land mammal, your entry into the world is a long one… and not always very graceful. But since giraffes give birth standing up, a calf starts off its life with a drop of up to two meters to the ground. This fall breaks the umbilical cord helps to stimulate its first breath.”

“Following the birth, Orla’s calf was then on its feet within 30 minutes – and is already towering above most of the keepers at nearly six feet tall. It’s so far looking strong and healthy and is another special new arrival, coming hot on the hooves of Mburo who was born just eight weeks ago,” Roffe continued.

“Mburo was clearly highly interested in the new thing that had landed near to him. Seeing the two young calves together is wonderful.”

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Dusky Pademelon Joey Peeks Out of Pouch

Rare dusky pademelon born at Chester Zoo begins to peek out from mum’s pouch (5)

Keepers at Chester Zoo are celebrating the birth of the zoo’s first Dusky Pademelon – a small cousin of the Kangaroo from Indonesia.   

Rare dusky pademelon born at Chester Zoo begins to peek out from mum’s pouch  (21)
Rare dusky pademelon born at Chester Zoo begins to peek out from mum’s pouch  (21)
Photo Credit: Chester Zoo

The joey has just started to peek out from the pouch of first-time mother Styx. 

Dusky Pademelons, also known as Dusky Wallabies, are small, hopping marsupials found in forests on the island of New Guinea, as well as some neighboring islands. 

Infants are born 30 days after mating and then continue to grow inside their mother's pouch until they fully emerge at around seven months.

Dave White, Team Manager of the zoo’s Twilight team, said, “Just like Kangaroos and other marsupials, newborn Dusky Pademelons will climb up to the safety of mum’s pouch to nurse when they are merely the size of jellybeans. It’s in that pouch that they receive all of the nourishment and protection they need as they develop, right up to the moment they are old enough to begin exploring the outside world for themselves.” 

“An adult Dusky Pademelon’s pouch has a powerful muscle to prevent the joey from falling out, but it won’t be too long until it’s ready to fully emerge and start hopping around on its own two feet. That’s when we’ll discover whether it’s a boy or a girl and choose its name,” White said.

The Dusky Pademelon is listed as Vulnerable to Extinction by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Its population is estimated to have declined by 30% in the last 15-20 years, largely due to trapping, hunting and habitat loss.

Tim Rowlands, the zoo’s Curator of Mammals, said, “Relatively little is known about the Dusky Pademelon and we’re working to better understand these fantastic animals. Through the scientific observations we’re making at the zoo, and all that we’re learning as mum brings up her new joey, we’re able to better document Dusky Pademelon behavior. This could help add to the baseline of data that already exists and help other conservation teams to ensure its long-term survival in the wild.”

See more photos of the joey below.

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Six Baby Lemurs Climb Into View At Chester Zoo

! The first ring-tailed lemurs born in Chester Zoo’s new Madagascar zone cling onto their mums  (22)
Five endangered Ring-tailed Lemur babies - including two sets of twins - and the zoo’s first-ever baby Black Lemur, a species which is Vulnerable to Extinction in the wild in Madagascar, are the latest arrivals at Chester Zoo.

Born between mid-January and early March, each of the babies weighed less than a tennis ball at birth.

The first baby black lemur ever born at Chester Zoo (7)
The first baby black lemur ever born at Chester Zoo (7)Photo Credit: Chester Zoo

Lemurs are born with their adult markings. But because they spend most of their time riding “piggyback” on their mothers, the care team can’t yet tell if the babies are male or female.

Wild Lemurs are found only on the island of Madagascar. As a group, Lemurs are one of the planet’s highest conservation priorities.

Madagascar has already lost up to 90% of its forests, which means that many species living in these environments are now on the brink of extinction.

Dr. Nick Davis, Deputy Curator of Mammals, said, “Madagascar is a truly inspirational place; home to incredible, unique wildlife that cannot be found anywhere else on the planet. Yet we can report first-hand that we are on the brink of losing many of these species forever. Conserving Madagascar’s lemurs is urgent and critical. That’s why any birth is important, but to have six rare baby Lemurs born within weeks of each other is great news for the breeding programme.”

Chester Zoo has been working with Madagasikara Voakajy in the country’s Mangabe New Protected Area, in a bid to save the unique animals that live there.

See more baby Lemur pics below!

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Birth of Giraffe Caught on Camera at Chester Zoo

1_Rare giraffe calf born at Chester Zoo (8)

Zookeepers at Chester Zoo have released CCTV footage showing the incredible birth of an endangered Rothschild’s Giraffe – as well as his adorable first steps!

The leggy new arrival was born March 5 to twelve-year-old mum, Dagmar, and eight-year-old dad, Meru.

Giraffe experts at the Zoo monitored the three-and-half-hour labour live on camera as Dagmar dropped her new calf six feet to the floor, landing on a bed of soft straw.

The healthy male youngster, who is yet to be named, was then up on his feet and suckling for the first time just over an hour later.

Sarah Roffe, Giraffe Team Manager at Chester Zoo, said, “When a Giraffe mum drops her calf to the floor it can look a little dramatic – but it’s not such a long drop when the baby is six foot tall. Nevertheless, to see the birth and the very first steps of an animal as rare of the Rothschild’s Giraffe is an incredibly special thing.”

Roffe continued, “Dagmar is so far being the model mum. She’s staying close to her calf and letting him suckle, which of course is vital in these early few days. The milk is filled with important nutrients like colostrum, which will help the little one to grow and reinforce an inseparable bond between mum and baby.”

“This new arrival is a special addition to the international breeding programme for this endangered species, which is working to boost numbers in zoos and safeguard its future.”

2_Rare giraffe calf born at Chester Zoo (1)

3_Rare giraffe calf born at Chester Zoo (22)

5_Rare giraffe calf born at Chester Zoo (4)Photo Credits: Chester Zoo

Rothschild’s Giraffes are highly threatened in the wild and have suffered a 90% decline in numbers in recent decades, making them one of the world’s most at-risk mammals. Estimates indicate that fewer than 2,650 now remain across Africa.

Conservationists from the zoo are currently working in Uganda as part of a vital project to protect Rothschild’s Giraffes in the wild. The team – working with partners The Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) and the Uganda Wildlife Foundation (UWA) – are fighting to protect the last remaining wild populations of Rothchild’s Giraffes.

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Endangered Radiated Tortoises Hatch at Chester Zoo

1_Tiny rare tortoises from Madagascar hatch at Chester Zoo (17)

Two critically endangered Radiated Tortoises have hatched at Chester Zoo.

The “golf ball-sized” hatchlings, which are usually found in the dry forests of southern and southwestern Madagascar, are the first of their kind to be bred at the Zoo in seven years.

Conservationists at Chester Zoo have been working to hatch the tortoises after seeing at first-hand the ongoing devastation to their forest home in Madagascar.

After eggs were laid in October by 50-year-old mum, Smoothsides. The Zoo’s new duo emerged on January 16, following an incubation of 100 days. The genders of the hatchlings are not yet known.

Both youngsters are currently being cared for in a climate-controlled behind-the-scenes breeding facility. Radiated Tortoises regularly reach the age of 100. The hatchlings parents are 75-year-old dad, Burt, and 50-year-old mum, Smoothsides. Once old enough, the young duo will join the four male and six female adult tortoises, which range from 10 to 75 years, in the Zoo’s Tropical Realm habitat.

2_Tiny rare tortoises from Madagascar hatch at Chester Zoo (15)

3_Tiny rare tortoises from Madagascar hatch at Chester Zoo (2)

4_Tiny rare tortoises from Madagascar hatch at Chester Zoo (18)Photo Credits: Chester Zoo (Images 11,12: Tortoise dad, Burt)

Boasting star-shaped markings on their shells in yellow and black, the Radiated Tortoise (Astrochelys radiata) is considered one of the world’s most beautiful tortoises and can grow up to half a metre in length. However, they are often victims of their own size and beauty, and conservationists say they are now classed as “Critically Endangered” in the wild.

The number of Radiated Tortoises, like most animals native to Madagascar, is in drastic decline.

Chester Zoo has been caring for the species since 2003 in the hope of creating a genetically viable population, as part of a coordinated European breeding programme. The Zoo is also working closely with field conservation partners, Madagasikara Voakajy, to restore and protect forests in Madagascar.

Deforestation of vital habitat to make way for agricultural land and grazing, hunting for their meat and poaching for the illegal wildlife trade has devastated tortoise numbers. In addition, species introduced to Madagascar by humans, such as rats and pigs, have had further impact as they eat the tortoise’s eggs and babies.

It is estimated that 18 million Radiated Tortoises have already been lost from Madagascar in the last 30 years.

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‘Extinct’ birds hatch at Chester Zoo

'Extinct' birds hatch at Chester Zoo (6)

Two chicks belonging to a species that was declared extinct in the wild 47 years ago have hatched at Chester Zoo.

The Soccoro dove, which originates from Socorro Island located 400 miles off the west coast of Mexico, vanished from the wild completely in 1972.

'Extinct' birds hatch at Chester Zoo (10)

'Extinct' birds hatch at Chester Zoo (5)

The introduction of sheep that ate plants the doves depended on for food and shelter, and invasive species such as cats that preyed upon the birds, are believed to be the main factors behind their demise.

Now, there are less than 200 Socorro doves existing entirely in zoos around the world, with just 23 in the UK – including Chester Zoo’s latest arrivals.

The chicks, which hatched on 7 November and fledged 20 days later, were raised by ‘foster parents’ – a pair of barbary doves – as adult Socorro doves have a poor track record of incubating eggs and raising their own chicks.

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Chester Zoo's Top 10 Baby Animals of 2018

Conservationists at Chester Zoo have celebrated an unprecedented number of births in 2018, including some of the world’s rarest and most at-risk species.

1. Precious sun bear cub Kyra is first of her kind to be born in the UK (8)

Sun Bear

Adorable cub Kyra was the first Sun Bear to be born in the UK. Her birth was caught on the zoo’s CCTV cameras and people around the globe watched Kyra’s first moments with her mom. Kyra’s parents, Milli and Toni, were both rescued from poachers in Cambodia.    

Conservationists estimate that less than 1,000 Sun Bears remain in the wild across Southeast Asia. Deforestation and commercial hunting for their body parts have decimated their numbers.

2. Baby Stevie is the arrival of the decade… for Chester’s chimpanzees  (3)

Chimpanzee

Critically endangered Western Chimpanzee Stevie was the first of her kind to be born at Chester Zoo in nearly 10 years.

Stevie’s birth followed a scientific project, spanning several years, which carefully assessed the genetics of all Chimpanzees in zoos across Europe. The study confirmed that the troop of Chimps at Chester Zoo is the highly-threatened West African subspecies – one of the rarest in the world – establishing them as a critically important breeding population. It is estimated that as few as 18,000 West African Chimpanzees now remain in the wild.

3. Elephant calf Anjan astonishes scientists after being born three months after expected due date (2)

Asian Elephant

After an unusually long pregnancy believed to have lasted 25 months, Asian Elephant Thi Hi Way gave birth to a healthy male calf, who keepers named Anjan.

A major Chester Zoo project in Assam, northern India, has successfully found ways to eliminate conflict between local communities and the nearby Asian Elephant population, offering a blueprint for the future conservation of the species.

4. Greater one-horned rhino calf Akeno gives new hope to species (2)

Greater One-horned Rhino

The momentous birth of Greater One-horned Rhino calf Akeno, born to mom Asha, was captured on CCTV cameras at the zoo.

Keepers watched as Asha delivered her calf safely onto to soft bedding after a 16-month-long gestation and 20-minute labor.

At one stage, the Greater One-horned Rhino was hunted almost to extinction and less than 200 survived in the wild. Thankfully, steps to protect the Rhinos were taken just in time and today there are around 3,500 in India and Nepal.

5. Secretive okapi calf Semuliki is a star in stripes (2)

Okapi

A rare Okapi calf named Semuliki arrived to first-time parents K’tusha and Stomp. The Okapi is found only deep in the forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo and its highly secretive nature contributed to it being completely unknown to science until 1901.

Despite being a national symbol and protected under Congolese law, Okapi populations declined in the wild by nearly 50% over the past two decades and the species is now listed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

6. Tiny forest dragons help uncover new information about the species (4)
Bell’s Anglehead Lizards

A clutch of rare baby  Bell’s Anglehead Lizards – also known as Borneo Forest Dragons – hatched at the zoo, helping conservationists uncover more about the species’ breeding patterns, life cycle and habits.

The Lizards’ wild south Asian habitat however, is being decimated to make way for unsustainable palm oil plantations – a threat which is pushing many species in the region to the very edge of existence.

7. Rare silvery gibbon adds to record baby boom at the zoo  (2)
Silvery Gibbon

The birth of a tiny Silvery Gibbon astonished visitors to the zoo who were able to admire the infant just minutes after its birth. 

Conservationists hailed the arrival of this highly endangered primate, with just 4,000 of its kind now remaining on the island of Java, Indonesia, where the species is now listed as endangered by the IUCN.

8. Fluffy flamingo chicks are pretty in pink  (2)

Flamingos

Keepers were tickled pink by the arrival of 21 Flamingo chicks. Each of the fluffy newcomers was carefully hand fed by the zoo’s bird experts four times a day for five weeks until they were developed enough to fully feed for themselves.

Flamingo chicks are white or grey in color when they first hatch, resembling little balls of cotton wool, and begin to develop their famous pink plumage at around six months old.

9. Tiny babirusa triplets arrive in zoo ‘first’ (3)

Babirusa

The first set of Babirusa triplets were born at the zoo, a huge boost to the species which has experienced a recent population crash on the island of Sulawesi, Indonesia.

Once considered fairly common, the rapid decline comes as result of hunting for their meat and habitat loss, which has seen Babirusas disappear from many parts of the island.

10. Black rhino birth a surprise to visitors  (5)

Eastern Black Rhino

The arrival of Jumaane, a rare Eastern Black Rhino calf, left a handful of lucky zoo visitors in shock as his birth took place right in front of them.

Conservationists now estimate that fewer than 650 Eastern Black Rhino remain across Africa – a staggeringly low number driven by an increase in poaching to meet demand for rhino horn, which supplies the traditional Asian medicine market.

The birth of Jumaane is another vital boost to the Europe-wide breeding program which is crucial for the conservation of this critically endangered species.