Amazing Rodent Family Grows at Bioparc Valencia

1_Rata topo desnuda - Heterocephalus glaber - BIOPARC Valencia

After a gestation of 70 days, ten Naked Mole-rat pups were born at BIOPARC Valencia.

The new family makes their home in a special exhibit that recreates the underground life of the African Savannah. Part of the galleries that houses them allows visitors to see the intricate tunnels and rooms where the rodents live and raise their young.

2_Febrero 2019 - Nace una nueva camada de ratas topo en BIOPARC Valencia (2)

3_Febrero 2019 - Nace una nueva camada de ratas topo en BIOPARC Valencia (3)

4_Febrero 2019 - Nace una nueva camada de ratas topo en BIOPARC ValenciaPhoto Credits: BIOPARC Valencia

The Naked Mole-rat (Heterocephalus glaber) is a burrowing rodent native to parts of East Africa. It has a highly unusual set of physical traits that allow it to thrive in a harsh underground environment and is the only mammalian thermoconformer, almost entirely ectothermic (cold-blooded) in how it regulates body temperature. One of the most striking features is the skin that is almost free of hair and "transparent" for lack of an insulating layer of fat under it.

The Naked Mole-rat lacks pain sensitivity in its skin, and has very low metabolic and respiratory rates. The species is also remarkable for its longevity and its resistance to cancer and oxygen deprivation.

These curious rodents are the only mammals with a eusocial behavior, which is also a characteristic feature of insects. Like insects, the Naked Mole-rats live in colonies that have overlapping generations and make an organized division of labor and cooperative care of offspring. Likewise, there is only one reproductive female, the "queen", and one to three breeding males or "drones". The rest of the individuals are divided between "soldiers" and "workers". The rest of the females are sterile, because the "queen" inhibits their reproductive capacity and a part of them ingests the excrements of the queen, which are rich in the sexual hormone estradiol, which activates them to be in "breeding" mode and to exercise of caretakers of the children of the queen.

The Naked Mole-rats longevity is superior to other rodents, up to 30 years, and the low presence of cancerous tumors were already known; thanks to a special gene, p16, which prevents the disordered growth of cells.

We also knew of the species’ resistance to the absence of oxygen. A human brain can die after 1 minute without oxygen, but the Naked Mole-rat holds up to 18 minutes without it and arrives at 5 hours with low oxygen levels. What we now know is that this is because this rodent changes its metabolism to anaerobic and uses fructose as energy as plants do, instead of glucose. These latest discoveries open avenues of investigation not only to increase survival, but also to possibly preserve our brain from the damage and degeneration produced by diseases that cause oxygen deficiency in neurons.


Polar Bear Cub Brings ‘Girl Power’ to Tierpark Berlin

1_Erste Untersuchung_Eisbärennachwuchs_Tierpark Berlin_2019 (1)

During her first official veterinary exam, the Polar Bear cub at Tierpark Berlin demonstrated to staff that even a small bear has a lot of power!

New mother, Tonja, and her cub have spent their first eleven weeks tucked in cozy togetherness in the litter cave. The first vet exam not only determined the cub’s health, but the sex as well.

“The little Polar Bear is a cheery, strong girl. We were also able to convince ourselves personally of the development of the cub and are extremely satisfied,” shared Veterinarian/Zoo Director, Dr. Andreas Knieriem.

2_Erste Tierarztuntersuchung Eisbär_Dr.Knieriem_TierparkBerlin_2019

3_Eisbär auf Waage_Dr. Knieriem_Tierpark Berlin_2019

4_Geschlechtbestimmung_Dr.Strauß_Dr. Knieriem_Tierpark Berlin_2019Photo Credits: Tierpark Berlin

Dr. Knieriem led the examination of the new cub, with the assistance of Dr. Günter Strauß and district manager Andrea Fleischer. After mom, Tonja, was lured with a warm soup of meat and carrots into the neighboring box, the vets were able to approach the youngster for the first time.

The female cub was also weighed, vaccinated, and treated for worms. With the three professional staff working together, the exam was over after about 15 minutes.

“The little Polar Bear, with a size of 61 cm from head to butt, proudly weighs 8.5 kg," explained Veterinarian, Dr. Günter Strauss.

Thanks to the extremely nutritious breast milk, with a fat content of about 30%, the cub’s size has increased rapidly in recent weeks. She currently nurses almost two hours a day, but the little bear has not dared to eat solid food.

According to Polar Bear Curator, Dr. Florian Sicks, zoo visitors will have to wait a bit to catch a glimpse of the new cub.

“Only when the little Polar Bear can safely follow mother, Tonja, will the two leave the nesting hole," Dr. Sicks explained. “This is expected to last until March.”

The cub was born December 1, 2018 to parents, Tonja (age 9) and Volodya (age 7). As in the wild, the father is not involved in the rearing of the cub.

The girl cub does not have a name yet, but Tierpark Berlin staff will announce plans for naming in the near future.


Nashville Zoo Welcomes Four Little Pigs

1_47062418671_7e271ce48a_k

Nashville Zoo is pleased to announce the arrival of four Juliana Pigs. The Zoo welcomed three females (who were born in the same litter) and a male sired by the same father as the females.

These little pigs will stay in the Zoo’s “Critter Encounters”, so guests can interact with them, and they will also be trained to take leashed-walks throughout the Zoo. Other than during colder months where they will have access to a heated indoor area, they will be able to choose to be out and active or retreat into their house when they need to rest.

“We hope when guests interact with our Juliana Pigs they will be inspired to help other species of pigs that are declining in the wild once they see firsthand how intelligent and special pigs are,” said Megan Cohn, Nashville Zoo Contact Area Supervisor.

2_47062416661_460204583b_k

3_47062419471_04f228d3cd_k

4_46148675825_c33d9f6b26_kPhoto Credits: Becky Hardy/Nashville Zoo

Juliana Pigs' intelligence, along with their easy-going temperament and ability to get along with other animals and people, make them great ambassador animals allowing the public to get close and interact with a pig.

They also have an excellent sense of smell. A pig’s nose ends in a floating disk of cartilage attached to muscles, which makes it more sensitive than the human nose. The nose is also strengthened by a pre-nasal bone, which enhances the nose as a digging tool. Pigs are often trained for truffle & mushroom hunting, as well as recently used for law enforcement searches.

Domestic populations of pigs are stable, but some wild populations are endangered. Pigs in general are native to Europe and Asia, but were later introduced as domesticated animals and can now be found throughout the world.

Juliana Pigs (Sus domesticus) are a breed of domestic pig that originated in Europe through selective breeding of various types of pigs. Humans have been raising pigs for more than 9,000 years.

A mature Juliana Pig will weigh between 20-40lbs and be between 10-16" tall. This species does 95% percent of its growing during the first year and is considered an adult at two years. Juliana Pigs more closely resemble a small version of a feral pig than it does the Pot Belly pig.

5_47062415671_de470e22a8_k


Edinburgh Zoo Welcomes Malayan Tapir Calf

1_Tapir_calf_JP_7

A rare Malayan Tapir has been born at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland’s Edinburgh Zoo. The male calf was born to mum, Sayang, and dad, Mowgli, late on January 31.

The birth is the latest chapter in the charity’s success story with this endangered species, with the Zoo having welcomed eight Tapir calves since 2007.

2_Tapir_calf_JP_6

3_Tapir_calf_JP_1

4_Tapir_calf_JP_4Photo Credit: RZSS/Jon Paul Orsi

Malayan Tapirs are increasingly threatened in the wild by habitat loss and hunting, so the European conservation-breeding programme plays a key role in protecting the species from extinction.

Jonny Appleyard, team leader for hoofstock at Edinburgh Zoo, said, “Malayan Tapir populations in the wild are continuing to decline, so all births are incredibly valuable to the breeding programme and we’re really excited about our latest arrival.”

“At the moment he is staying very close to mum, Sayang, but will soon find his feet and start to follow her outside.”

Baby Tapirs are born with brown and white fur, which helps to provide camouflage in their natural rainforest habitats, and they develop the black-and-white adult colouration after a few months.

The baby Tapir was named with the help of the public. Votes were cast from a shortlist put together by RZSS patrons. Almost 9,000 people voted. With an impressive 4,263 votes, the winning name was…Megat (a name with royal significance in Malaysia).

5_Tapir_calf_JP_5

6_Tapir_calf_JP_2b

7_Tapir_calf_JP_3


Eleven New Ungulate Calves at Saint Louis Zoo

1_Speke's gazelle_Antilles_Saint Louis Zoo_web

Over a 10-week period, from November 20, 2018, through January 30, 2019, eleven calves from six different ungulate species were born at the Saint Louis Zoo!

The new calves— three Speke’s Gazelles, two Addaxes, a Soemmerring’s Gazelle, a Grevy’s Zebra, two Lesser Kudus and two Lowland Nyalas — are healthy and have been bonding with their mothers behind the scenes at Red Rocks.

New zebra foal, Nova, and her mom can be seen in their habitat, weather permitting.

2_Speke's gazelle_Cranberry_Saint Louis Zoo_web

3_Speke's gazelle_Bravo_Saint Louis Zoo_web

4_Addax_Anubis_Saint Louis Zoo_webPhoto Credits: Saint Louis Zoo /Speke’s Gazelle Calves (Images 1-3), Addax Calves (4-5), Soemmerring’s Gazelle (6), Grevy’s Zebra foal (7), Lesser Kudu calves (8-9), Lowland Nyala calves (10-11)

These important births were recommended by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plans (SSP), which are responsible for maintaining genetically healthy populations of these ungulate species in North American zoos.

Five of these SSPs are coordinated by Zoo staff. The Saint Louis Zoo’s WildCare Institute Center for Conservation in the Horn of Africa and Saharan Wildlife Recovery Center supports conservation of unique species in Africa.

More great pics below the fold!

Continue reading "Eleven New Ungulate Calves at Saint Louis Zoo" »


Meet the Cincinnati Zoo’s Little ‘Peanut’

1_39888032973_31dd180d67_o

The baby Tamandua born December 20, 2018 at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden now has a name! Although the pup’s sex is yet-to-be-determined, the Zoo announced that it would be called “Mani”.

“We wanted to give the pup a Spanish name, since Tamanduas are primarily from Spanish speaking countries, and both of its parents have Spanish names. We chose the name Mani, which means “peanut,” because we were able to watch Mani grow from the size of a peanut via weekly ultrasounds on mom, Isla,” said Cincinnati Zoo Interpretive Animal Keeper Colleen Lawrence. “We fell in love with the pup when it was only a blip on a screen.”

2_33044915348_c893ba10dc_b

3_46127892714_7ee14e419b_b

4_45938338095_aaeb0e2c25_bPhoto Credits: Lisa Hubbard (Images 1,3,4)/ DJJAM Photo (Images 2, 5-12)

Five-year-old Isla, a first-time mom, has taken care of the pup exactly the way she should, so it is healthy and growing fast. Care team members think the baby is a boy, but it’s difficult to be 100% certain of the sex of Tamanduas when they’re this young.

Keepers report that little Mani can be seen through the windows of the Zoo’s Animal Ambassador Center (AAC), clinging to Isla.

Also called the “lesser anteater”, the Tamandua uses its long snout to sniff out ant, termite and bee colonies. Long claws enable it to dig into nests, and a long sticky tongue licks up the insects. A single Tamandua can eat up to 9,000 ants in a single day!

(More great pics below the fold!)

Continue reading "Meet the Cincinnati Zoo’s Little ‘Peanut’" »


Rare Baby Macaw, Venomous Snakes Arrive at LA Zoo

Blue Throated Macaw Chick 1-9-19 By Tad Motoyama _5459

The Los Angeles Zoo is celebrating the arrival of two tropical Snake species and a Blue-throated Macaw, one of the rarest birds in the world.

Lachesis clutch 2019
Lachesis clutch 2019Photo Credits: Tad Motoyama (1,3,4,5); Ian Recchio (2,6)

Eight Bushmasters, which are venomous Pit Vipers native to Central and South America, hatched in December (second photo from top). This is the fourth clutch of this species to hatch at the Los Angeles Zoo since the first pair of Bushmasters arrived at there in 2008.  The little hatchlings will eventually grow six to 10 feet long and weigh up to 15 pounds. Bushmasters inhabit forests and though their bites can be fatal, these Snakes are rarely encountered by humans.

Unlike Bushmasters, which hatch from eggs, a Mangrove Viper gave birth to five babies on December 26 (third photo from top). In Snakes that give birth to live offspring, the eggs are held inside the body until they hatch, resulting in live birth. This is the first time Mangrove Vipers have reproduced at the zoo. Mangrove Vipers are venomous Pit Vipers that live in India, Bangladesh, and Southeast Asia.

Staff working behind the scenes at the Avian Conservation Center are hand-rearing a Blue-throated Macaw chick that hatched in December (top photo). Normally, the chick’s parents would care for and feed the chick, but they experienced some minor health issues that required medication and could not feed their baby. Staff took over and offer food via a syringe several times a day.

Found only in a small region of Bolivia, fewer than 250 Blue-throated Macaws live in the wild. In the past, these Macaws were heavily exploited for the pet trade. Though this practice has been greatly reduced, trapping still occurs. Today, the Macaws' biggest threat comes from clearing of suitable nesting and feeding trees. These birds are listed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

See more photos of the Macaw chick and a Bushmaster hatching from its egg below.

Continue reading "Rare Baby Macaw, Venomous Snakes Arrive at LA Zoo" »


Handsome Elephant Born at Rosamond Gifford Zoo

Baby 1-24-19 by Maria Simmons

A healthy Asian Elephant was born at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, New York, on January 15.

The male calf arrived at 5:30am and is the second calf born to female, Mali, and bull elephant, Doc (both age 21). At birth, the baby weighed 268 pounds and measured about 3 feet tall.

The Rosamond Gifford Zoo is among 30 accredited zoos that participate in the Species Survival Plan for Asian Elephants overseen by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA).

Mom and Baby by Ashley Sheppard

Laying down in hose day 5Photo Credits: Rosamond Gifford Zoo

“Asian Elephants are critically endangered in the wild, so it’s a huge accomplishment to be able to breed them in human care,” Onondaga County Executive, Ryan McMahon, said. “I congratulate the zoo and its dedicated animal care staff, as well as the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine team that assisted them in preparing for this birth.”

“An elephant’s gestation period ranges from 20 to 24 months. Mali’s pregnancy lasted an estimated 660 days,” said Zoo Director Ted Fox. “After determining the pregnancy was progressing well over a year ago, the elephant care and veterinary team began preparing for a Christmas 2018 due date,” Fox said.

In recent months, the team conducted birthing drills in the elephant husbandry barn, using a life-size inflatable elephant to represent Mali and a giant boat buoy to represent the baby.

Mali started showing signs of active labor at 5:30 a.m. January 15, and the baby was born less than a half hour later. Mother and baby are reportedly both doing fine, and staff will monitor them closely while giving Mali and her newborn time to bond.

The zoo will be posting photo and video updates on its social media platforms so the public can see the baby’s progress leading up to a springtime introduction to the public.

The zoo is in the midst of a construction project to expand its Asian Elephant Preserve from 4.5 acres to 6 acres and improve viewing access to elephants and other species on the Wildlife Trail. The construction is expected to be completed by Memorial Day weekend.

Asian Elephants are the species the Syracuse Zoo is most famous for helping to save as part of its AZA wildlife conservation mission. Of several thousand zoos and aquariums in North America, only 232 have passed the rigorous inspections required for AZA accreditation. Of those, 30 have Asian Elephants and only 11 have breeding programs for this endangered species.

The new addition brings the zoo’s elephant herd to eight animals, including a three-generation family group that includes Mali and Doc’s first calf, Batu, a male who turns 4 in May, and Mali’s mother, Targa, 35. The Preserve also is home to the calves’ three unrelated “aunties” -- matriarch, Siri, who turns 52 this year, as well as Romani, 41, and her daughter Kirina, 23.

Asian Elephants are classified as “Critically Endangered” in their native habitat in Asia and India due to habitat destruction and hunting and poaching by humans. Only about 30,000 are estimated to remain in the wild.

The zoo’s successful participation in the AZA Species Survival Plan, its state-of-the art elephant care facilities – including a 50,000-gallon elephant watering hole with green infrastructure – its experienced elephant care team and its Cornell Veterinary team set it apart as a model for elephant programs around the world.


Keepers Help Gorilla Baby Reach Milestones

1_exploring her home

Dedicated Gorilla keepers at Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens have spent the last four months preparing baby Gandai for the time she can rejoin her mother, Kumbuka, and the rest of their Western Lowland Gorilla troop.

Kumbuka gave birth to little Gandai on September 28. Although Kumbuka’s initial maternal behavior toward the baby was perfect and normal, keepers noticed the new mother was cradling and carrying her youngster improperly---similarly to the way that she behaved when she lost two previous offspring at another zoo.

It is theorized that Kumbuka’s hearing disability may prevent her from detecting when her youngsters are in distress. The extremely difficult decision was made to remove Kumbuka’s baby for short-term assisted rearing by Gorilla care staff.

(ZooBorns shared news of the infant’s birth, as well as amazing photos, in a recent feature: “Western Lowland Gorilla Born at Jacksonville Zoo”)

2_hanging on tight

3_infant holding on

4_happy girlPhoto Credits: Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens/ John Reed Photography

Before the infant can be reintroduced, she needs to achieve specific milestones including walking, taking a bottle through mesh, the ability to hold on when being carried, and various developmental criteria. Keepers are proud to say Gandai has been making great strides in reaching these goals.

Gandai’s keepers have taken turns providing around-the-clock care since the decision was made to remove her from the troop. While assistance-rearing the young Gorilla, keepers have not just cared for Gandai like a mother would, but they have also focused on getting her to a point where she can return to her real mother. Keepers report that it has been both a demanding and rewarding journey.

To get little Gandai strong, and to teach her all the things a Gorilla would need to know to fit in with the Zoo’s troop, the keepers and Gandai went through what is affectionately being called “baby boot camp”.

Zoo staff were initially concerned with Gandai’s gripping ability in her right hand, so strength conditioning was made a priority. Gandai will need to be able to both position herself on Kumbuka when carried and to right herself when being held or sitting.

It is also crucially important that Gandai be able to navigate her habitat by herself. She will need to be able to come when called to take supplemental bottles and feedings. Most parents will relate when the keepers express their excitement, as Gandai is nearly phased-out of overnight bottles. She has been taught to take a bottle through the mesh barrier that separates the troop from keeper staff. Additionally, Gandai has been introduced to soft solid foods and is thoroughly enjoying banana, steamed sweet potatoes and cooked broccoli.

Continue reading "Keepers Help Gorilla Baby Reach Milestones " »


Zoo Wroclaw Welcomes Eleventh L’Hoest’s Monkey

1_MLC_7473-Edit

The L'Hoest's Monkey family group at Zoo Wrocław is maintained at the level of eight to ten individuals to prevent inbreeding and overcrowding. Over the years they’ve successfully raised ten offspring, mostly females.

The youngest addition to the Zoo’s family came into the world recently---on Christmas Day. The mother is Hermione, and the father is the dominant male, Heos. The sex of the toddler is still unknown, but the caregivers suspect it to be a female.

2_slider koczkodan gorski 2019-01-10

3_MLC_7478-Edit

4_DSC06982Photo Credits: ZOO Wroclaw

The L'Hoest's Monkey (Cercopithecus lhoesti) is one of the least common monkeys in zoological gardens in the world. Only 14 zoos have it in their collection. The species is found in the upper eastern Congo basin. They mostly live in mountainous forest areas in small, female-dominated groups.

The species is currently classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List. However, the ongoing military conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (over 20 years already) prevents an accurate estimation of the population size in the wild. In this situation, conservation breeding in zoological gardens becomes a necessity for the survival of the species. Zoo Wrocław plays an important role in the conservation efforts.

“It is believed that the L'Hoest's Monkey’s Red List status of ‘vulnerable’ is not accurate anymore, and the population may be actually close to extinction. Even if the conflict in the Congo is over, it is hard to say what we will find there. Hence, breeding programs in zoos ensure a safe population, which will hopefully make possible the reintroduction of the species to the natural environment in the future,” said Anna Mękarska, specialist in the conservation of species from Zoo Wrocław.

5_DSC06970

6_DSC06992