Curious Cubs Explore at Planckendael


An Asiatic Lioness named Lorena gave birth to three adorable cubs on January 25, at Planckendael Zoo. This is the first litter for Lorena, and the two boys and one girl recently explored their outdoor exhibit for the first time.

Lorena was seen taking her children by the scruff of the neck in an effort to keep them in line. These mini-lions are not only cute and beautiful, but they are also very curious. They are attracted to adventure, and do so with the craziest antics. It will be a busy period for mom Lorena.

They were also recently given names: the boys are called Raman and Ravi, and the girl was named Rani.



4_Fotolink_welpen-3Photo Credits: Planckendael / Jonas Verhulst


Mom Lorena was also born at Planckendael. She was one of five cubs born to mom Kolya in 2010, and she has now taken over the role of ‘Mother Hen’, previously held by her mother. New dad, Jari, has been at Planckendael since 2014.

The Asiatic lion (Panthera leo persica), also known as the Indian lion or Persian lion, is a lion subspecies that exists as a single population in India's Gujarat state.

The Asiatic Lion was first described by the Austrian zoologist Johann N. Meyer under the trinomen Felis leo persicus.

The Asiatic lion is one of five big cat species found in India, along with the Bengal Tiger, Indian Leopard, Snow Leopard and Clouded Leopard. It formerly occurred in Southeastern Europe, Black Sea Basin, Caucasus, Persia, Canaan, Mesopotamia, Baluchistan, from Sindh in the west to Bengal in the east, and from Rampur and Rohilkund in the north to Nerbudda in the south. It differs from the African Lion by less inflated auditory bullae, a larger tail tuft and a less developed mane.

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Herd Trumpets Baby Elephant's Arrival

A baby Asian Elephant arrived to the sound of a trumpeting herd on June 16 at Planckendael in Belgium.

Baby-olifant-qiyo-planckendael-jonas-verhulst5Photo Credit:  Jonas Verhulst


Mom Phyo Phyo delivered her female calf, named Qiyo, surrounded by her five female herdmates and offspring in a special sand-floored stable in the zoo’s Elephant barn.  This scenario mimics the way Elephants deliver their calves in the wild.

In the video below, you can hear loud trumpeting as the calf falls to the ground amid the birth fluids. Her arrival causes quite a stir as the other Elephants reach out to touch the newborn with their trunks.

Phyo Phyo had a normal 22-month-long pregnancy, and her experience rearing four other calves is a huge advantage for the new baby.  Within just 15 minutes, Qiyo stood on her shaky legs, and just a half hour later, she was nursing.  Zoo keepers estimate Qiyo’s birth weight at about 190 pounds.

Phyo Phyo is an excellent mother and protects Qiyo from the zoo’s two playful and curious juvenile Elephants, Kai-Mook and May Tagu. By having the other female Elephants present at the birth, their chances of successfully caring for their own future babies is greatly increased.

Qiyo’s father, Chang, was not present for the birth, which is just as it would be in nature.  Chang is a gentle Elephant and the zoo staff expects to introduce him to Qiyo very soon.

Asian Elephants are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  They survive in small fragments of forest scattered across southeast Asia.  

See more photos and video of the baby Elephant below.

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Long, Tall Baby Born at Planckendael

10959667_871843349524570_4741286656375262046_nPlanckendael Zoo, in Belgium, recently witnessed the birth of the largest animal ever born at the zoo.




Photo Credits: Planckendael

On February 7th, ‘Diamond’ gave birth to a boy who measured just a little over 6 ½ feet! Mother and baby are doing well, and the newcomer is fitting right in with the rest of the herd at the zoo.

(More great photos, below the fold!)

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Giraffe Born on Valentine's Day Has a Heart-shaped Spot


A baby Giraffe born on Valentine’s Day at Belgium’s Planckendael Zoo bears a very special birthmark – a heart-shaped spot on the haunches!

Photo Credit: Planckendael / Steffanie Klaassen

Zoo keepers knew that female Giraffe Barbie was about to give birth sometime around February 14, so they separated her from the herd and set up a closed-circuit camera to keep watch through the night.  Barbie is an experienced mother, having delivered three other calves, and the entire birth process went smoothly.  Zoo keepers were thrilled to see the newborn stand and begin nursing right on schedule.  Barbie licked her newborn clean as it stood on long, wobbly legs. 

The baby’s gender has not yet been confirmed, so zoo keepers have not yet named the calf.  All babies born at Planckendael in 2014 will have names beginning with the letter P, so zoo keepers are searching for beautiful African names that begin with P.

Barbie and her newborn will remain indoors for a few weeks until warmer temperatures arrive.  Planckendael participates in the European breeding program for Giraffes and supports in situ conservation efforts in Niger.

See more photos of the baby Giraffe below the fold.

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Zebra Plays Outside for the First Time at Planckendael

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A newborn Grevy's Zebra colt has joined the herd at Planckendael in Belgium! The colt, born December 2, has been named Oscar. He joins a herd of eight other Zebras, including his year-old sister Noni, mom Betina, and father Chris.

Grevy's Zebras, also known as Imperial Zebras, are the world's largest living species of horse. These horses are territorial and live in small groups that consist of a several females and one dominant male. Non-dominant males form separate 'bachelor' groups. Individual Zebras have stripe patterns on their hind legs that are as unique as a human's fingerprint.

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5 zebraPhoto credit: Planckendael Zoo

Grevy's Zebras are the most Endangered of the three species of Zebra, with an estimated 2,500 individuals left in Ethiopia and northern Kenya. Over the past 30 years, their numbers have decreased by 80 percent. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, these Zebras have undergone one of the greatest reductions in habitat range of any African mammal. This habitat loss and degradation is largely due to overgrazing by livestock. Zebras are forced to compete with livestock not just for food but also for limited sources of water. They are also threatened by poaching and disease. 

Zoo Planckendael participates in the European breeding program to conserve this species, and also supports the Marwell Wildlife conservation project in Kenya. Using transmitters attached to collars, the group collects data on the movements and territories of wild Zebras in order to set up effective management and conservation strategies to save the species. 

Baby Koala Noses Its Way Out of the Pouch at Planckendael

Koal CU

The Koala family in Planckendael has had a baby! After seven months, Dad, Goonawarra, and Mom, Guwara, welcomed their little bundle, who recently announced itself from Mom’s pouch with a fairly loud squeak! Koalas are timid, sensitive to stress and fussy eaters. It can be difficult to see them in zoos, but this little one made it easy to snap some photographs. The baby seems to be most active in the afternoon.

Like other marsupials, the baby is born after approximately 34 days, though underdeveloped. Emerging hairless and blind and about the size of a bean, it makes its way into the mother’s pouch, where it attaches itself to the nipple. There, in safety and security, it continues to develop and grow over a period of about six months. Then they are ready to peek into the world, as this little one has done.

Once the gender of the baby is known, he or she will receive an Aboriginal name with a beautiful meaning, starting with the letter N -- thus following a tradition that all born at the zoo in 2012 will have names beginning with an N. 

Koal look up

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Koal ear

Photo Credit: Planckendael / Jonas Verhulst

First Red Panda Birth at Planckendael!


For the first time in Zoo Planckendael's history, a baby Red Panda has been born! The timid little new born is difficult to spot, but if you're lucky, you'll catch him scampering from one nest box to another under the watchful eye of her mother, Lolita. The female cub, named Nangwa (Tibetan for "appearance") by keepers, is an ambassador for her imperiled species. The Red Panda is listed on the IUCN Red List as "Vulnerable" because of habitat loss in their native Nepal. Timber from their natural environment is increasingly cut down for fuel and construction. Additionally, their reddish-brown fur is highly sought after.





Photo credit: Planckendael

Grevy Zebra Foal for Planckendael


There is a new baby Grevy’s Zebra, at KMDA Planckendael, born last Monday evening. Mom Betina gave birth to a strong and healthy female foal weighing just over 66 pounds (30 kg). She looks just like a mini-version of her mother and has been named Noni, an African name meaning gift of God.

Grevy's Zebra are endangered; Planckendael takes an active part in the European breeding program for this zebra species and has done so successfully. There are now 5 in Planckendael Grevy's on African Savannah living with their giraffe herd: Mom Betina, mares Fanny and Asra, breeding stallion Chris and now Noni, the new foal.

This is the first foal of young stud Chris. He arrived at Planckendael last year as a new breeding stallion and immediately took to his task! After about 13 months gestation, he was father. Noni is the fourth foal for Betina.


Photo Credit: Planckendael

Baby Giraffe Born in Belguim


There's a brand new baby giraffe calf on the savanna at the KDMA 's Planckendael in Belgium. Born to mom, Diamond, in late July after a gestation period of 15 1/2 months, the newborn is probably a male, weighing about 132 pounds (60 kg). The mother gave birth peacefully over 3 1/2 hours in the stable of her lodge, with her keepers nearby. That is a long time for a giraffe birth, but it is shorter than it was for Diamond the first time she gave birth. The calf was on its feet in only 20 minutes and is estimated to be 5' 9' (1.8 meters) tall.

Once the baby's gender is confirmed, they will start a poll for names on their website, There will be five African names the keepers provided from which to choose.

The newborn is getting used to the outdoors first in a small part of the savanna arena. The door remains open to the stall so mother and baby can go in or out as they please. Soon the new calf will be able to explore the greater plains together with his or her family, to which baby makes five:  Mom Diamond, Sarah, Barbie, and the lone male, Karega Baridi.



Photo Credit: Planckendael/KDMA

Did you know that giraffes are are the tallest land animals in the world and yet they have only seven cervical vertebrae, just like a mouse (and like us!)?