Newborn Elephant Otto Explores His Home

Tierpark Hellabrunn's Elephant Temi became a mum for the second time last week, and since then the early movements of her new calf have become somewhat of a routine: Otto drinks, explores his surroundings with his little trunk and even lets his mum get some sleep.      

On Tuesday, Otto was allowed to explore the spacious indoor area of the Elephant House for the first time - naturally always accompanied and under the watchful eye of mum Temi - where he curiously observed how Temi used her trunk to drink from the large bathing pool.

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Elefant Otto_Hellabrunn_2020_MarcMüller (3)
Elefant Otto_Hellabrunn_2020_MarcMüller (3)
Elefant Otto_Hellabrunn_2020_MarcMüller (3)
Elefant Otto_Hellabrunn_2020_MarcMüller (3)

“The little one is developing splendidly”, says Elephant House zookeeper, Lorenz Schwellenbach. “He moves confidently and already knows how to use his little trunk. Many baby elephants are much clumsier than Otto at this age."

He has also been drinking well from the start. The baby elephant drinks regularly with his mum, about 10 - 15 litres a day. In addition, the zookeepers were able to observe during their night watch that both Otto and Temi have relaxed sleep patterns. “Elephants can sleep while standing or lying down. For the past few nights, Temi has slept lying down, which is a good sign and shows that mother and calf have an optimal relationship so far.

The night watch routine began a few days before the birth to allow the zookeepers to keep a close on maternity events in the Elephant House. But now that mother and child are in good health and getting along well, it is no longer necessary to have staff stationed on site anymore.

In the coming days, the little elephant will continue to explore the Elephant House. On his forays, he will discover a variety of flooring substrates such as sand, asphalt and rubber, and come into contact with water. Otto has even taken a short bath in the small drinking pool. The next step is meeting his aunts Mangala and Panang face-to-face for the first time, which will probably take place sometime next week. "The mood within the elephant group is very positive and relaxed - Otto will certainly be welcomed into the herd," adds Schwellenbach.

The birth of the baby elephant at Hellabrunn Zoo has also been welcomed by a famous German celebrity - namesake and comedian Otto Waalkes congratulated the zoo with a drawing. Zoo director Rasem Baban: "We are of course delighted and very honoured." The name Otto is based on the last wish of a friend of the zoo, who left a generous legacy gift.

Photographs: Tierpark Hellabrunn/Marc Müller

Videos: Tierpark Hellabrunn/Andreas Kastiunig

Due to the current government restrictions to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, Hellabrunn Zoo is temporarily closed until 30.11.2020. We are therefore currently unable to hold any press events at the zoo.

New Ibex Kids Explore at Hellabrunn Zoo

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The Alpine Ibex enclosure at Hellabrunn Zoo gained two new members…Trapattoni and Theo. Born in late May and June, the two kids are said to be enthusiastically exploring the rocky terrain in their exhibit.

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4_Alpine Ibex_Hellabrunn_2019_Daniela Hierl (5)Photo Credits: Tierpark Hellabrunn / Daniela Hierl

Within just one hour after birth, an Alpine Ibex kid is able to follow its mother on rock cliffs. As they grow, so will their horns, which will reach over 1 meter long by the time they become adults. Large and backwards-curving, male horns are used to defend their territory and compete for the right to breed with available females. During fight rituals a male will challenge his rival by rearing up on his hind legs and using his horns to ram his opponent with great force.

It will still be a while before the young Ibex at Hellabrunn are ready to assert their authority, but visitors will be able to see them practicing with their horns, which at present are only a few centimeters long.

"A visit to the Alpine Ibex enclosure is definitely worthwhile,” said Rasem Baban, zoological director at Hellabrunn Zoo. “It’s always interesting to watch the little kids test their courage and try new things."

In the mid-19th century, the Alpine Ibex (Capra ibex) was on the verge of extinction, primarily due to the demand for their curved horns and fur as coveted hunting trophies. Less than 100 individuals remained, at that time, and were only to be found in the Gran Paradiso National Park in northern Italy. The population has since recovered thanks to conservation efforts over the years. Today, the species is no longer classified as endangered.

There are currently five populations of Alpine Ibex in Germany, including the regions of Bayrischzell, the Allgäu Alps, and the Benediktenwand.

Hellabrunn Zoo is currently home to nine Alpine Ibex. In addition to the two kids and their mothers, there are four more females and one breeding male.

The Alpine Ibex enclosure at the Zoo is located halfway between the Isar entrance and the new Mühlendorf village.

New Kitten ‘Fishing’ for Compliments at Hellabrunn

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Hellabrunn Zoo is thrilled to announce that, Luzi, its female Fishing Cat, gave birth to a kitten on November 1st. Now almost six-weeks-old, the cute offspring is spending more and more time outside the birthing den, giving visitors an opportunity to catch a glimpse of the new arrival as it explores its home.

“This is the first time that Hellabrunn has succeeded in breeding the endangered Fishing Cat. Naturally, we are very proud,” said Zoo Director, Rasem Baban. “The little kitten is truly a joy to behold and I hope it will play a role in raising awareness of the threatened status of this beautiful cat.”

Hellabrunn Zoo also participates in the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP) for Fishing Cats, which of course makes this first breeding success all the more delightful.

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4_Fischkatze mit Jungtier_Hellabrunn 2018_Maria Fencik (4)Photo Credits: Tierpark Hellabrunn / Maria Fencik

Luzi, the Zoo’s female Fishing Cat, has resided in the Jungle World at Hellabrunn Zoo since 2012. She was joined by a male, Sangke, in late 2016. Apparently, the chemistry between the two animals clicked. But as with most cat species, raising the young is a matter for the female. Luzi is a caring mother - she never loses sight of her kitten on its first solo tours of the enclosure.

The gender of the kitten is yet to be determined. This information will be available once the Hellabrunn veterinarian team has conducted the first medical check for the newborn. As with most births at the zoo, the keepers ensure that mother and offspring are not disturbed and away from the public eye for a period after the birth.

Fishing Cats (Prionailurus viverrinus) are medium-sized and native to Southeast Asia. Unlike most other cats, they like to go into the water to hunt fish. The species is threatened by the extensive destruction of its natural habitat, wetlands. As a result, only about 10,000 individuals remain in the wild. The Fishing Cat is classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.  

With a little luck, the newborn kitten will be on view daily from 9 am to 5 pm at Hellabrunn Zoo. The Fishing Cat enclosure is situated in the Jungle World, where the temperature is always a pleasant 25° C, even in the current chilly autumn weather.

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Hellabrunn Zoo Waits Four Years for Sloth Baby

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Visitors to Hellabrunn Zoo might need a little patience to spot one of their newest residents. A Linnaeus's Two-toed Sloth baby, with brown button eyes, can be seen clinging to protective mom Maya, high up in a tree in the middle of the Zoo’s Rhino House. Born on June 18, the new offspring is the first Two-toed Sloth born at Hellabrunn Zoo in four years.

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4_Sloth Baby_Hellabrunn_018_Marc Müller (5)Photo Credits: Tierpark Hellabrunn/ Michael Matziol

The Linnaeus's Two-toed Sloth (Choloepus didactylus) is native to Central and South America usually sleeps between 15 and 20 hours a day. Considering that they can live up to the age of 40, this means they sleep for almost 34 years of their lives.

In the wild, sloths live with their parents for about one to two years. Females become sexually mature at the age of three, while males do not attain maturity until the age of four to five.

Maya is a first-time mom, and the experienced father is 26-year-old Heinz. It is not yet known whether their new baby sloth is a boy or girl.

"Determining the sex of a sloth based on external features alone is subject to error. So it will probably take a while until we are 100 per cent certain of the sex of the pup", explained Carsten Zehrer, curator for sloths at Hellabrunn Zoo. Accordingly, the little sloth has not yet been given a name.

Two-toed Sloths are inhabitants of the rainforest. Like many of the other fauna and flora of this habitat, they are severely impacted by deforestation and the resulting loss of habitat.

Although sloth behavior is not fully understood, it is known that they spend most of their lives hanging upside down from tree branches. Sloths have a low calorie diet, which means they need to conserve the little energy they receive from their food – by moving very slowly and very little. However, sloths are surprisingly strong swimmers, provided they can reach water.

Unlike most other mammals that have hair parting on their heads or backs, the sloth's fur runs in the opposite direction – from belly to back – with the parting on the belly. This upside down hanging fur helps water run right off its body when it rains.

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Two New Yak Calves for Hellabrunn Zoo

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Hellabrunn Zoo is proud to introduce their two male Domestic Yak calves.

Keepers opted for names indicative of the youngsters’ unique coloring. “Skunk” was born on May 18, and “Snowy” on May 25.

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4_Yaknachwuchs_Hellabrunn_2018_Dominik Greenwood (3)Photo Credits: Hellabrunn Zoo /Dominik Greenwood (Images 1,3,4-5,8) / Michael Thomas (Images 2,6-7)

The Domestic Yak (Bos grunniens) is a longhaired domesticated bovid found throughout the Himalayan region of the Indian subcontinent, the Tibetan Plateau and as far north as Mongolia and Russia. It is descended from the Wild Yak (Bos mutus).

Contrary to popular belief, Yak have little to no detectable odor when maintained appropriately in pastures or paddocks. A Yak's wool is also naturally odor resistant.

Gestation lasts between 257 and 270 days and generally results in the birth of a single calf. The mother will find a secluded spot to give birth, and the calf is able to walk within about ten minutes of birth. Females of both the wild and domestic forms typically give birth only once every other year. Calves are weaned at about one-year-old and become independent shortly thereafter.

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Sumatran Orangutan Becomes Adoptive Mother

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Matra, a Sumatran Orangutan at Hellabrunn Zoo, is known as good-natured and an affectionate mother to her offspring. She was born in 1975 and has made her home at the Zoo since 1993. In early October, she gave birth to a lovely little boy.

Not long after the birth of Matra’s boy, 13-year-old Jahe also welcomed a baby into the world. For Jahe, who is a relatively young and inexperienced mother, this represents her first successful pregnancy. The father of the two new arrivals is Bruno (the head of the group), making the two infants half-siblings.

Orangutans are typically solitary animals, but social bonds often form between adult females and their offspring. Keepers report that Jahe experienced apprehension and was overwhelmed soon after her baby’s birth. She willingly handed over her offspring to experienced mom, Matra, who has happily taken on the role of raising both babies. For several days, zookeepers began to notice that, in addition to her own son, Matra was carrying a second baby in her arms and breastfeeding both infants.

"As long as Matra produces enough milk, which she does, she can raise the two babies without any problem," says curator Beatrix Köhler. "The fact that Matra is caring for both babies is not so uncommon. This behavior is known to occur among Orangutans in their natural habitat, as well as in zoos. In the past, zoos have observed that the most experienced mum in the group takes care of all new offspring. This is a great relief for Jahe. One can observe that although she always watches Matra from afar, she is not interested in the child."

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4_OrangUtanMatra+Nachwuchs_TierparkHellabrunn2016_MarcMüller (2)Photo Credits: Hellabrunn Zoo / Marc Müller

Matra, who has lived at Hellabrunn since 1993, is now a mother for the sixth time. Her daughter Jolie, born in 2009 at Hellabrunn, also lives with her. She and the other female members of the group, Sitti and Isalie, have now become accustomed to the new situation with the two new babies. 

"To give Matra some privacy with the babies we have decided to create a temporary retreat space that will be screened off from the public, placing greater distance between the visitors and the animals", explains Köhler. "This allows Matra to decide when she wants to show off her offspring."

Furthermore, the retreat space and the screen, which will be in place until further notice, will also ensure that the other Orangutans continue to feel at ease in the group. "Bruno, in particular, loves the attention of visitors and, despite the new additions to the group, would like to be noticed by you," adds Köhler, who is in constant contact with the keepers and is confident that Matra will be able to handle the situation with two babies well.

Bruno, Hellabrunn's oldest Orangutan, has become a dad thirty times over. In addition to the two newborns, two of his daughters, Isalie and Jolie, also live at Hellabrunn Zoo. He was born in 1969 in Munich. However, he is not the oldest Orangutan residing in a scientifically managed zoo. The oldest is a 60-year-old Sumatran Orangutan, named Puan, who lives in Perth. His achievement is recorded in the Guinness Book of Records.

Continue reading "Sumatran Orangutan Becomes Adoptive Mother " »

Second Polar Bear Birth of the Year for Germany

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Three years after the birth of twin Polar Bears at Hellabrunn Zoo Munich, they are celebrating another arrival. On November 21, Giovanna gave birth to a healthy cub.

The newborn cub is in good health and mum Giovanna has been caring lovingly for her little one. The father of the latest offspring is 17-year-old Yoghi.

The birth at Hellabrunn represents only the second Polar Bear birth in Germany this year, after the birth of a cub at Tierpark Berlin.

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4_Eisbären-Junges mit Giovanna_25.11._TierparkHellabrunn2016Photo Credits: Tierpark Hellabrunn

In their natural habitat, expectant females dig a den in a snowdrift, which provides shelter for giving birth and provides protection for the vulnerable newborn. At Hellabrunn Zoo, ten-year-old Giovanna has a birthing den, where she has retreated since the beginning of the autumn.

Following this voluntary seclusion by Giovanna, zookeepers were curious to find out if another cub would be born in the Polar World exhibit this year. Zoo curator Beatrix Köhler monitored Giovanna's behaviour via a video stream from the birthing den, "On the afternoon of 21 November, it became apparent that Giovanna was in labour. Unlike the birth of the twins Nela and Nobby, which could be clearly watched via video link, Giovanna gave birth to her third cub in a sitting position, so that the actual birth could not be seen."

The new cub is getting bigger and more active with each passing day. Giovanna keeps her little baby warm by holding it either at her neck or between her paws. "One can clearly see that Giovanna is an experienced mum. She handles her offspring with loving care and regularly checks to make sure everything is okay," explains Beatrix Köhler.

According to keepers, the cub currently weighs about 600 grams and is approximately 20 cm tall. However, the sex of the newborn cannot yet be determined.

Without siblings to compete with, the new arrival is expected to grow quickly in size and weight, thanks to mother's milk. The cub’s eyes will open for the first time after about four and a half weeks.

Christine Strobl, Mayor and Chairman of the Supervisory Board at Hellabrunn Zoo, is extremely delighted, "The birth of another Polar Bear cub is a wonderful success for the zoo and represents a significant development in the conservation of this endangered species."

It may take some time before visitors will be able to see the newborn Polar Bear cub in the outdoor enclosure. The cub is expected to emerge, for the first time, towards the end of winter when it is strong enough to step outside. As with Giovanna and Yoghi’s twins, Nela and Nobby, dad will not play a part in raising the new cub. Female Polar Bears do not allow the male near their young, as the fathers may see their own offspring as potential prey and attempt to harm them.

A video link of the birthing den is available for visitors in the zoo’s Species Conservation Center, where visitors can have a view into the den via Live Stream.

Continue reading "Second Polar Bear Birth of the Year for Germany " »

“It’s the Great Pumpkin…!”


Pumpkins and Jack-o-Lanterns are indicative of the fall season…and Halloween.

Zoo Keepers work hard to keep their animals healthy and happy. Enrichment toys and activities are an important tool that Keepers utilize to help in that pursuit. Enrichment items encourage natural behavior and stimulate the senses…and what could be more stimulating, this time of year, than celebrating by tearing into a bright orange pumpkin!

Happy Halloween from ZooBorns!

2_Red pandas Jung and Nima get into the Halloween spirit at Chester Zoo on Pumpkin Day

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4_Amur tiger with pumpkin_Woburn Safari Park


Image 1: (Lynx) Tierpark Hellabrunn / Marc Muller

Image 2: “Red Pandas, Jung and Nima, get into the Halloween spirit”/ Chester Zoo

Image 3: (Snow leopard) Woodland Park Zoo

Image 4: (Amur Tiger) Woburn Safari Park

Image 5: Piglets-in-a-pumpkin/ Tierpark Berlin

Image 6: “Andean Bear, Bernie, tucks into honey-coated treats”/ Chester Zoo

Image 7: “Black Jaguar, Goshi, enjoys and early treat”/ Chester Zoo

Images 8, 9: Elephant Pumpkin Stomp/ Denver Zoo

Image 10: (Chimpanzee)/ Detroit Zoo/ Jennie Miller

Image 11: (Bison)/ Detroit Zoo/ Jennie Miller

Image 12: (Giraffe “Mpenzi”)/ Detroit Zoo/ Jennie Miller

Image 13: (Hippo)/ Woodland Park Zoo/ Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren

Image 14: (Tiger)/ Woodland Park Zoo/ Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren

Image 15: (Maned Wolf)/ Woodland Park Zoo/ Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren

More adorable Halloween pics, below the fold!

Continue reading "“It’s the Great Pumpkin…!”" »

“Q” & A at Hellabrunn Zoo Munich

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The youngest European Elk (Moose in North America), at Hellabrunn Zoo Munich, was born on May 23. 

This year every offspring born at Hellabrunn Zoo Munich will get a name starting with “Q”…so the new calf has been named Quanita. She is doing well and is under the great care of her mother Anita. Staff report that Quanita has also started to become more acquainted with her half-brother Quebec, who is one week older.

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4_Elk_offspring_Hellabrunn_2016_Marc Mueller (4)Photo Credits: Tierpark Hellabrunn / Marc Mueller

The Elk (Eurasia) or Moose (North America), Alces alces, is the largest extant species in the deer family. The palmate antlers of the males distinguish Elk/Moose; other members of the family have antlers with a dendritic ("twig-like") configuration. They typically inhabit boreal and mixed deciduous forests of the Northern Hemisphere in temperate to subarctic climates. The species used to have a much wider range but hunting and other human activities have greatly reduced it. Elk/Moose have been reintroduced to some of their former habitats. Currently, most are found in Canada, Alaska, New England, Scandinavia, Latvia, Estonia and Russia.

Their diet consists of both terrestrial and aquatic vegetation. Their most common predators are wolves, bears and humans. Unlike most other deer species, Elk/Moose are solitary animals and do not form herds. Although generally slow-moving and sedentary, they can become aggressive and move quickly if angered or startled. Their mating season in the autumn can lead to spectacular fights between males competing for a female.

On average, an adult stands 1.4–2.1 m (4.6–6.9 ft) high at the shoulder. Males (or "bulls") normally weigh from 380 to 700 kg (838 to 1,543 lb) and females (or "cows") typically weigh 200 to 490 kg (441 to 1,080 lb). The head-and-body length is 2.4–3.1 m (7.9–10.2 ft), with the vestigial tail adding only a further 5–12 cm (2.0–4.7 in). Typically, the antlers of a mature bull are between 1.2 m (3.9 ft) and 1.5 m (4.9 ft).

Continue reading "“Q” & A at Hellabrunn Zoo Munich" »

Hellabrunn’s Emu Chicks Go to ‘Daddy Day Care’

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Hellabrunn Zoo Munich currently has five new Emu chicks! The chicks hatched between May 8th and May 14th, and the new mob is currently under the protective care of their ten-year-old father “Kanoro”.

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4_Emu_chicks_Hellabrunn_2016_Marc Mueller (1)Photo Credits: Marc Mueller

The Emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae) is the second-largest living bird by height, after the ostrich. It is endemic to Australia where it is the largest native bird and the only extant member of the genus Dromaius.

Emus are soft-feathered, brown, flightless birds with long necks and legs, and can reach up to 1.9 metres (6.2 ft) in height. Emus can travel great distances and sprint at 50 km/h (31 mph). They forage for a variety of plants and insects, but have been known to go weeks without eating. They drink infrequently, but take in large amounts of water when opportunity arises.

Breeding takes place in May and June, and fighting among females for a mate is common. Females can mate several times and lay several clutches of eggs in one season.

The male does the incubation; during this process he hardly eats or drinks and loses a significant amount of weight. Incubation takes 56 days, and the male stops incubating the eggs shortly before they hatch. The temperature of the nest rises slightly during the eight-week period. Although the eggs are laid sequentially, they tend to hatch within two days of one another, as the eggs that were laid later experienced higher temperatures and developed more rapidly. During the process, the precocial Emu chicks need to develop a capacity for thermoregulation. During incubation, the embryos are kept at a constant temperature but the chicks will need to be able to cope with varying external temperatures by the time they hatch.

Newly hatched chicks are active and can leave the nest within a few days of hatching. They stand about 12 cm (5 in) tall at first, weigh 0.5 kg (17.6 oz), and have distinctive brown and cream stripes for camouflage, which fade after three months or so. The male guards the growing chicks for up to seven months, teaching them how to find food.

Chicks grow very quickly and are fully-grown in five to six months; they may remain with their family group for another six months or so before they split up to breed in their second season.

During their early life, their father, who adopts a belligerent stance towards other Emus, including the mother, defends the young Emus. He does this by ruffling his feathers, emitting sharp grunts, and kicking his legs to drive off other animals. He can also bend his knees to crouch over smaller chicks to protect them. At night, he envelops his young with his feathers. As the young Emus cannot travel far, the parents must choose an area with plentiful food in which to breed.

In captivity, Emus can live for upwards of ten years.

In the 1930s, Emu killings in Western Australia peaked at 57,000, due to rampant crop damage. In the 1960s, bounties were still being paid in Western Australia for killing Emus. Since then, wild Emus have been granted formal protection under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. Their occurrence range is between 4,240,000 and 6,730,000 km2 (1,640,000–2,600,000 sq mi), and a 1992 census suggested that their total population was between 630,000 and 725,000. The bird is now classified as “Least Concern” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

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