White Storks go wild

 

Twenty one Storks bred at Cotswold Wildlife Park have taken flight in one of the UK’s most ambitious rewilding programmes – The White Stork Project. For the third year running, the Park have successfully bred chicks for this pioneering scheme which aims to restore wild Stork populations to Britain – a sight not seen since the 15th century. It is the first Stork rewilding programme of its kind in the UK.

The team at Cotswold Wildlife Park, together with the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation, are responsible for the captive management aspect of the project and bred the youngsters from a captive population received from rehabilitation centres in Poland. Twenty four adult pairs live in a large netted enclosure at the Park where they are given the highest standard of care to facilitate successful breeding. Eight chicks hatched in 2018 and last year 24 were successfully raised and released. Despite an incredibly challenging start to the year weather-wise (including the wettest February on record in the UK and three severe storms in just one month – far from ideal incubation and rearing conditions), this year the birds still managed to rear 21 chicks.

The chicks hatched in May and to maximise their chance of survival, the husbandry team at the Park “assist” fed the chicks on the nest (pictured above). Once fully fledged and separated from the adults, the birds were weighed, sexed, microchipped and fitted with highly visible leg rings to make them easily identifiable after their release. In August, they were transferred to Knepp Castle Estate in West Sussex for release into the wild – a momentous moment for the entire team.

Jamie Craig (pictured right), Curator of Cotswold Wildlife Park, said: “It is an honour for the Park to be involved in such a fantastic project, releasing these birds into the stunning surroundings at Knepp and watching them soar on the thermals gives an enormous sense of pride and achievement for all involved”.

Scientists at the University of East Anglia (UEA) are tracking these White Storks in a bid to find out about migratory habits that disappeared more than 600 years ago. These birds are providing valuable data that will enable the researchers to gain insights into the life and migratory choices of the reintroduced Storks. Previously unpublished data from the 2019 trial reveals that many of the Storks spent the winter in Southern Europe and Northern Africa, where they have adapted to take advantage of new food resources and gather in large numbers. GPS trackers were fitted to eight of the Storks released this year. Last month they embarked on their first migratory journey and several of the youngsters have crossed the channel and are making their way south. Latest tracking data received on 14 October 2020 reveals that two juveniles have crossed the Strait of Gibraltar into Morocco.

The White Stork Project aims to have at least 50 breeding pairs across the south of England by 2030. To find out more about The White Stork Project, please visit: https://www.whitestorkproject.org.


IT’S A BOY! MARYLAND ZOO WELCOMES NEW ADDITION TO KUDU HERD

 

BALTIMORE, MD -- The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore is welcoming a male lesser kudu calf, born on Monday, October 5, 2020 in the late afternoon.   The birth is the result of a recommendation from the Lesser Kudu Species Survival Plan (SSP), coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). SSPs provide breeding recommendations to maximize genetic diversity, with the goal of ensuring the long-term survival of the AZA population and the health of individual animals.

The calf, which has been named Kadett, was born to seven-year-old Meringue and sired by ten-year-old Ritter. He is the second offspring for Meringue.  “The calf was standing and nursing within an hour of being born, which is very good. He has long, spindly legs and huge ears right now; he’s very cute at the moment,” said Erin Grimm, mammal collection and conservation manager. “Meringue is taking great care of him and we are pleased with his progress so far.”  Kadett stands about three-feet-tall and weighs in at about 14 pounds. “Right now he will remain in the barn bonding with Meringue for a couple of weeks. His first turn out into the habitat will be weather dependent, but we hope to have them outside before it gets too cold,” continued Grimm.

Lesser kudu (Tragelaphus imberbis australis) are one of eight species of African spiral-horned antelope. Male lesser kudu horns can grow to be 72 inches long, with 2 ½ twists. In the wild they live in dry, densely thicketed scrub and woodlands of northern east Africa. Interestingly, they rarely drink water, apparently getting enough liquid from the plants that they eat.  The Maryland Zoo’s kudu herd is made up of four animals and can be found in the African Watering Hole habitat along with addra gazelle and saddle-billed storks.

 


A piggyback from mum: eight baby squirrel monkeys at Basel Zoo

 

After two years without any offspring, Basel Zoo’s squirrel monkeys now have a whole troop of new arrivals. Eight tiny monkeys are currently clinging to their mothers’ backs.

These little monkeys with their striking yellow coats were all born at Basel Zoo between 10 May and 17 June.  There is a good reason for the previous lack of offspring: the group was made up entirely of females for two years, until a new male arrived at the zoo at the end of 2019. The recent glut of children was the gratifying result. It has been 34 years since there were this many young squirrel monkeys at the zoo at once.

Of the eleven females in the current group, only the oldest (26) and the two youngest (3) have no young at the moment. The oldest of the three males (13) is the breeding stud and thus the father of the eight babies. 

At Basel Zoo, the squirrel monkeys share an enclosure with the woolly monkeys. The two species get along well: the older squirrel monkey children like to climb all over the woolly monkeys and are sometimes even permitted to ride on their backs.

Males only tolerated during mating season

Squirrel monkeys live in female groups consisting of a mother, her adult daughters and their offspring. Males are expelled from the group at the age of two or three, after which they live in bachelor groups. The strongest bachelors gain huge amounts of weight just before mating season and switch into a female group to produce offspring. Mating season is therefore an exceptional time for this monkey species. At Basel Zoo, this lasts from November to January and the baby monkeys are born five months later. This lines up perfectly with the beginning of insect season, as insects are one of squirrel monkeys’ favourite foods. After mating season, the females will no longer tolerate the presence of males and will drive them away again.

Unlike many primates, squirrel monkeys mark their territory with scent marks and use these as a way to communicate with each other. They do not have special glands for this purpose – they simply urinate over their hands and feet and then rub them into their fur, spreading the scent all over their body and passing it on as they wander around on the branches and ropes. They rub their backs or chests against important parts of the enclosure to pick up the scents of other members of the group or to leave their own scent behind.

Squirrel monkeys can differentiate between the smells of group members and those outside of the group. This ‘urine washing’ becomes particularly vigorous during the mating season.  As a result, squirrel monkeys have their own characteristic smell. The zoo keepers are careful not to clean the climbing structures too thoroughly, to ensure that the scent marks are not removed.

Insect hunting

Squirrel monkeys are also called saimiris. They live in the rainforests of the southeastern Amazon basin, northern Bolivia, southern Peru and eastern Brazil, primarily on riverbanks.  They eat fruit and insects. Around 80% of their time searching for food is spent hunting insects and other small animals. If no fruit is available, they will feed entirely on insects.

Squirrel monkeys are not endangered in the wild, but the population trend is clearly declining. Loss of habitat and hunting are particular issues for this species. A European breeding programme (EEP – EAZA ex-situ programme) coordinates the species’ breeding in zoos, with Basel Zoo serving as the coordinator. The programme covers over 900 animals.


Captain Cal Meets Other Two Mountain Lion Cubs Orphaned in Zogg Fire

 

Exciting Captain Cal update from Oakland Zoo! Today Captain Cal finally ventured out of his crate (still bandaged heavily but walking)! He walked up to the partition between himself and the other two orphaned mountain lion cubs (females) that were also rescued from the Zogg Fire.

Based on their first meeting, this looks to be a great bond the 3 will form with each other! It’s sad that they ended up in the situation they have because of the devastating fire, but we are so happy that Captain Cal now has these two girls to grow up with for companionship and comfort.

Very soon the partition will be removed; it’s part of the introduction process that occurs in two phases. We anesthetized him to change his bandages today and the burned pads are improving daily. We’re very optimistic and happy!

Follow Captain's chronicles here: https://www.oaklandzoo.org/blog/captain-cal


Meerkat triplets: no school holidays for the baby meerkats

 

As soon as the baby meerkats emerged from their den at Basel Zoo, their lessons at meerkat 'school' began. After all, practice makes perfect!

The tiny meerkat triplets peeked out of their den for the first time on 19 September. Their mother gave birth to them in the underground passageways four weeks earlier. The trio are now confidently darting  around between the adults’ legs and watching everything they do very closely.

Venomous animals on the menu

The offspring were born after a pregnancy lasting just eleven weeks. Meerkats are carnivorans belonging to the mongoose family. They live in large social groups and can be found in the open, dry areas of southern Africa. They like to eat insects, snakes and other reptiles. However, they first have to learn how to catch them, a process that is not without its dangers. This is why baby meerkats go to ‘school’. Step by step, they follow the older animals and observe them looking for food and catching prey. Initially, they are given prey that is already dead, but later they learn how to catch venomous animals themselves and how to eat them safely.

Learning by imitating

Identifying dangers, whether in the air or on the ground, is a skill that has to be learned. There are up to 30 different sounds to learn. Baby meerkats learn by imitating the behaviour of the adults: they sit back on their hind legs and practice watching the sky attentively, just like their ‘teachers’. If there is any danger, the ‘watchers’ emit a cry of alarm and all the creatures disappear into the burrow.

Sleeping is the only thing that young meerkats do not have to learn to do, as after an exhausting day at school, they naturally cuddle up together and their mother wraps herself around them.

Basel Zoo is currently home to 14 meerkats of varying ages.


It's a Boy! Franklin Park Zoo Welcomes Tiny Pygmy Hippo

 

Say hello to Franklin Park Zoo's tiny new addition: a male pygmy hippo 💚 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

This adorable little calf was born on October 5 and his arrival marks the first ever successful birth of this endangered species for Zoo New England! Years of careful work, planning, and dedication by our animal care and veterinary staff contributed to this birth. Zoo New England participates in the Pygmy Hippo Species Survival Plan, and each new birth contributes to the continued survival of this species. Thanks to the wonderful training program between Cleo and her care team, our staff was able to monitor her throughout her pregnancy via ultrasound. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

Baby will be bonding with Mom, Cleo, behind-the-scenes before making his exhibit debut, so stay tuned for updates! Learn more at: https://www.zoonewengland.org/hippobaby ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

#Hippo #PygmyHippo #EndangeredSpecies #SavingSpecies #FPZoo #FranklinParkZoo #ZooNewEngland #BabyAnimals #CuteOverload #ZooBorns #repostios #repostw10


Potoroo Joey Emerges at Longleat

 

Potoroos, like the one seen here in a recent video filmed at Longleat, are born weighing just 0.3 grams. Within the first ten minutes of being born the young will climb up into its mother’s pouch and attach itself to one of her teats. It stays like this for the first one and a half to two months of its life. When the infant has developed fur, it starts to spend time outside of the pouch.  It gradually spends more and more time outside until it is four or five months of age and the mother forces it to stay out, which usually coincides with the birth of a new infant.  The young are weaned by five months of age but stay close to the mother until they are about a year old. Most female potoroos will be looking after three young at any one time, with one infant who is out of the pouch but still suckling or keeping close to her, a newborn in her pouch, and an embryo which starts to develop but then remains dormant until the young in the pouch is old enough to leave. 


Flamingo Baby Boom at Longleat

 

🐦 Longleat's flock of flamboyant Chilean flamingos is experiencing a summer baby boom – with fourteen chicks already hatched and more on the way.

All chicks are born with white plumage, which they keep for around three years, and a straight bill, which gradually droops down as they grow.

Keeper Lauren Hooper-Bow said: “We are extremely pleased with the high hatching success rate among the flamingos this year.

“With the number of eggs still to hatch, it could be our best year to date and it’s particularly welcome as in 2019 heavy snow showers prevented the flamingos from sitting on any of their eggs.

“This year’s success is likely to be down to a combination of factors including good weather during the egg hatching period, having a large colony and the fact so many of the eggs were fertile,” she added.

Flamingos lay a single egg on top of a tall cone nest. Fully grown they are around a-metre-and-a-half tall, and can weigh anywhere up to seven kgs.

They live 15-20 years in the wild, however in captivity, and safe from predators, they can reach ages of 70 years.

Chilean flamingos can survive at high altitude in the Andes Mountains. They are also significantly more able to deal with the cold than their Caribbean counterparts.

In the wild, flamingos eat small crustaceans and other microscopic animals and plants, which are obtained by filter feeding.

When adult, the continuously-moving beak acts as an efficient filter for food collection when water is pumped through the bristles of the mouth.

The flamingos’ famous pink plumage comes from pigments in their diet which is replicated in their special feed at the park.


Penguin chicks! First three to hatch this breeding season

 

The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore is excited to announce the hatching of three African penguin chicks – the first to hatch during the 2020-2021 breeding season at Penguin Coast. The chicks hatched on September 18th, September 22nd and October 4th.

“It’s amazing to me that we are in our 53rd year working with African penguins. We are always excited to watch the colony grow each year, and happy to announce that three chicks have hatched already this breeding season,” said Jen Kottyan, avian collection and conservation manager. “We expect to hatch 10 chicks during this breeding season, but of course that is all dependent on the penguins.” 

            Penguin breeding recommendations are made by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) African Penguin Species Survival Plan (SSP).   Breeding season for the African penguins (Spheniscus demersus) at Penguin Coast began in mid-August this year and will last until the end of February. “Right now it is spring in South Africa, when these penguins would normally begin breeding in their colonies,” continued Kottyan. “Although it is fall here, we like to mimic the breeding season so we can monitor the chicks as they hatch and grow during our winter, and then they make their debut as juveniles when temperatures warm up in April.”

Penguin chicks hatch 38-42 days after the eggs are laid. The Penguin Coast team monitors development of the eggs by candling them about a week after they are laid to see if they are fertile and that the chick is growing. The eggs are then placed back with the parents.

 “With African penguins, both the male and the female take turns incubating the eggs,” said Kottyan. “Once the eggs hatch, parents take turns caring for their offspring; they each protect, feed, and keep the chick warm for 2-3 days and then switch off.”

            At Penguin Coast, chicks stay with their parents for about three weeks after they hatch and are fed regurgitated fish from their parents. During this time, the animal care team and veterinarians keep a close eye on the development of the chicks, weighing and measuring them every few days to make sure that the parents are properly caring for each chick.  When a chick is three-weeks-old, the team removes it from the nest, and starts to teach the chick that they are the source of food. This step is critical as it will allow staff to provide long term care for the birds including daily feeding, regular health exams and both routine and emergency medical care. 

            When they first hatch, chicks are about the size of a human palm.  Covered in dark gray downy feathers, the chicks grow fast. They reach their full size, about six pounds, around three months of age. At the same time, their fluffy down is finished being replaced by waterproof feathers.

            While the penguin chicks are not viewable to the public, juvenile and adult penguins can be seen

at Penguin Coast. Penguin Feeding programs are offered twice daily, free with admission, and Penguin Encounters are offered throughout the year for an additional fee.

            The Maryland Zoo has been a leader in breeding African penguins for over 50 years, winning the prestigious Edward H. Bean Award for the “African Penguin Long-term Propagation Program” from the AZA in 1996.  The Zoo has also won a Plume Award from the Avian Scientific Advisory Group (ASAG) recognizing excellence in husbandry and future management of a species or group of similar species. In 2016, Penguin Coast won Top Honors in the AZA Award for Exhibit Design category. Jen Kottyan is a member of the AZA African Penguin SSP Steering Committee, a group of penguin experts from all over North America, which guides and serves as a voting body for official SSP business and decisions that require more discussion.  The members of the Steering Committee are available to all accredited zoos and aquariums which house African penguins to assist them with questions or issues regarding the penguins in their colonies.

            The Maryland Zoo has the largest colony of African penguins in North America with 104 birds, including the newest hatchlings. Sadly, African penguins are extremely endangered. The 2019 penguin census showed another dramatic decline in South Africa, with approximately 13,500 pairs, a loss of 2,000 pairs from 2018. The global population, which includes Namibia, is now around 18,500 pairs, down from well over 2 million pairs in the 1920s, which is a 99.2% decline over the past 100 years.

The Maryland Zoo also participates in AZA’s Saving Animals From Extinction (SAFE) program. SAFE programs use the collective expertise within AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums to substantially improve the conservation status of species in the wild.  Several Maryland Zoo staff currently serve in leadership or advisory roles in the Penguin SAFE program. Mike McClure, General Curator is Project Coordinator for the SAFE Marine Movement project which monitors marine foraging and movement patterns of African penguins in and around breeding colonies in South Africa. Jess Phillips, Area Manager for Penguin Coast, is the Project Coordinator for the SAFE Disaster Relief program, which has helped governmental and non-governmental organizations in South Africa and Namibia formalize a disaster management plan for the individual penguin colonies in South Africa, as well as providing equipment and identifying training protocols needed to train first responders and volunteers in the event of a disaster such as an oil spill or severe weather which could harm the penguins.

For updates on the chicks in the coming weeks, please visit www.marylandzoo.org or our www.facebook.com/marylandzoo.


Captain Cal Update