Prague Zoo

Prague Zoo Breeds a Rare Pesquet's Parrot

The Prague Zoo is thrilled to announce it has successfully bred a Pesquet’s parrot, a first for any zoo in continental Europe. The birth also marks a rare achievement for zoos all around the world. The chick, who was bred behind the scenes, is about two months old and requires hand-feeding by keepers around the clock (about every five hours!). The Pesquet's parrot’s (also known as the Dracula parrot) diet consists mostly of fruit. This is actually the reason their heads are mostly featherless – and thus they can avoid getting their feathers covered in sticky fruit juices.

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The Pesquet's parrot’s range is the rainforests of the lower parts of the New Guinea Highlands. Here natives hunt it for its red feathers, which they use for decorating headdresses.

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Critically Endangered Sumatran Orangutan Born at Prague Zoo

A young Sumatran orangutan was born on Tuesday, November 17 - only the third in the history of the Prague Zoo! They don't know the sex of the baby yet, but the good news is that mom Mawar feeds and takes good care of her infant regularly. Aside from Father Pagy, the newborn baby is the only descendant of orangutans who came to the zoo from the forests of Sumatra.  The child is therefore genetically extremely valuable to the conservation of the species.

Video: Miroslav Bobek

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Prague Zoo’s New Aardvark on Exhibit with Mom

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Prague Zoo announced that visitors might be able to catch a glimpse of the zoo’s new baby Aardvark. The cub was born on April 22 and will now be on-exhibit, with mom, for a few hours each day.

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4_32191933_1697232347027355_7189550399081152512_oPhoto Credits: Prague Zoo

The Aardvark (Orycteropus afer) is a medium-sized, burrowing, nocturnal mammal that is native to Africa. Elephant Shrews, Hyraxes, and Elephants are among the closest living relatives of the Aardvark.

It has a long pig-like snout, which is used to sniff out food. It is a nocturnal feeder and subsists mainly on ants and termites, which it will dig out of their hills using its sharp claws and powerful legs.

The Aardvark also digs to create burrows in which to live and rear its young.

After a gestation of about seven months, females generally give birth to one cub. At around nine weeks of age, the youngster is able to leave the burrow to accompany mother in search of food.

Although they are not considered common anywhere in Africa, their large range allows them to maintain sufficient numbers. The IUCN currently classifies the Aardvark as “Least Concern”; however, they are a species in a precarious situation. Since they are so dependent on such a specific food source, if a problem arises with the population of termites, the species as a whole would be affected drastically.


Rare Malayan Tiger Cubs Show Their Personalities

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Two Critically Endangered Malayan Tiger cubs at the Prague Zoo are beginning to show their personalities.

The cubs – one male and one female – were born on October 3 and only recently came out of the den with their mother, Banya. The animal care team chose the name Bulan for the male and Wanita for the female.

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25497962_1558310120919579_5646591906181534560_nPhoto Credit: Prague Zoo

From the start, Wanita was smaller than her brother. She experienced some health problems shortly after birth and has since recovered completely, but Wanita has yet to catch up with her brother’s growth.

Bulan currently weighs 17.5 pounds, and Wanita weighs 13.1 pounds. But keepers say that Wanita makes up for her smaller size with a big personality. Feisty little Wanita is not afraid of anything, while Bulan is more timid. Plus, Wanita has figured out how to roar properly!

Both cubs are healthy and active, and have begun tasting bits of meat in addition to nursing from Banya. They are hugely important to the global effort to save this rare Cat species from extinction. Experts say only 250-340 Malayan Tigers remain in the wild – a precariously low number – and only about 200 are of breeding age. They inhabit only the Malay peninsula in Southeast Asia.

Fragmentation of habitat is a major threat to Malayan Tigers, as is illegal poaching for use of body parts in traditional Asian medicine.

See more photos of Wanita and Bulan below.

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Update: Cheetah Quints Growing Up at Prague Zoo

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Five Cheetah cubs born May 15 at Prague Zoo are growing up fast!  We introduced you to these fluffy quintuplets on ZooBorns back in June and the cubs are now thriving under the care of their six-year-old mother, Savannah.

The cubs are still behind the scenes at the zoo, but should move into their exhibit yard later this summer.

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Cheetah cubs remain with their mother for one to one-and-a-half years, and they are weaned at three to six months. The cubs spend a lot of time napping and playing. Play helps the cubs develop agility, as well as hone their chase and attack behaviors.  

Every cub born under human care is important to the future of Cheetahs as a species. They are listed as Vulnerable to Extinction on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. Fewer than 7,000 Cheetahs remain in eastern and southern Africa. Threats include conflict with humans, shrinking wild areas as farms and cities expand, and illegal trafficking in body parts. 

As a population, Cheetahs have very low genetic diversity, a possible cause of their low reproductive rates. Current conservation measures include cooperative programs across all countries in which wild Cheetahs are found.

 


Cheetah Quintuplets Born at Prague Zoo

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The Czech Republic’s Prague Zoo welcomed a litter of five Cheetah cubs on May 15.

Mother Savannah, age 6, is caring for her quintuplets behind the scenes. The litter includes three male and two female cubs. The family is expected to move into their viewing habitat later this summer.

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Well known as the world’s fastest land animals, Cheetahs are skilled hunters. Their bodies are built for efficient sprinting. Reaching speeds of up to 70 mph, Cheetahs can run down even the fastest of prey. However, they maintain these high speeds for only a minute or two, then give up the chase. Cheetahs are successful in about half of their hunts.

Depending on where they live, Cheetahs target small Gazelles or the young of larger Antelope species when hunting. Prey is taken down with a swat of the dewclaw or a bite to the neck.

Cheetahs are in steep decline in the wild. Found only in Africa and a small part of Iran, fewer than 7,000 wild Cheetahs remain.  As farms and cities expand, Cheetahs’ home ranges are reduced. Due to a genetic bottleneck in the population during the Ice Age, all Cheetahs exhibit genetic similarity. This can lead to reproductive problems and low birth rates, especially when Cheetahs are under human care. Some zoos have found success breeding these Cats by keeping them in large groups, rather than individual pairs.

Currently, Cheetahs are classified as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, but conservationists have called for reclassifying Cheetahs as Endangered. Most of the African countries where Cheetahs live have created action plans for protecting these majestic Cats.

 


Prague Celebrates First Elephant Conceived and Born at Zoo

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Staff at the Prague Zoo are celebrating the April 5 birth of a male Asian Elephant, the first to be both conceived and born at the zoo.

Other Elephants have been born at the zoo, but they were conceived at other zoos, and the females were subsequently moved to Prague.  Elephants are pregnant for an average of 640 days.

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Foto_1_L1010502_export – kopiePhoto Credit:  Miroslav Bobek/Prague Zoo

This was the first baby for female Janita and male Tamara.  Keepers monitored Janita closely in the weeks leading up to her due date.  Levels of progesterone were measured frequently – these levels drop to nearly zero when the birth is imminent. 

Keepers were present during the birth and monitored this first-time mom closely.  Though the birth went smoothly, Janita became aggressive toward her calf immediately after the birth.  The zoo’s veterinarians say that this is not unusual in inexperienced Elephant moms and may be attributed to the pain associated with giving birth. To keep the calf safe, keepers pulled him aside while Janita quieted down. 

The baby was then gradually brought closer to his mother, and her behavior changed.  About four hours after the birth, the baby nursed from Janita.

Keepers report that both Janita and her baby are progressing well.  Asian Elephants are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, due to loss and fragmentation of habitat.  Elephants require huge home ranges to survive, so there are frequent conflicts with humans as their ranges shrink.  Elephants are also hunted illegally for their ivory tusks, which are present only in male Asian Elephants, though females may have small tusks present inside the mouth.


Baby Aardvark's Big Adventure

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A baby Aardvark born last summer at the Prague Zoo recently explored his outdoor enclosure for the first time with his mother, Kvida.

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The baby, named Kito, munched on some tasty mealworms - an Aardvark favorite - during his big adventure.  Kito’s expedition took place on a recent sunny winter day, and keepers report that Kito was very curious about his surroundings.  He climbed over logs and squeezed in between rocks, testing his skills.  Weighing nearly 50 pounds, Kito is strong and healthy. In the wild, baby Aardvarks remain with their mothers for about a year before moving off to live on their own. 

Aardvarks are native to Africa, where they emerge from burrows at night to feed on ants and termites.  They break open termite mounds using powerful font legs, and insects are taken up using their long, sticky tongue.   Up to 50,000 insects can be consumed in one night.

At this time, Aardvarks are not under threat, and so are listed as a species of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.


Giant Anteater Birth Is a First for Prague Zoo

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Prague Zoo is celebrating yet another breeding success. On January 20, a baby Giant Anteater was born. For Prague Zoo it is the first baby anteater born in its breeding history. The proud parents are mom, Ella, and dad, Hannibal, who arrived at the zoo in summer 2014.

A baby Giant Anteater is truly an exceptional sight; it looks like a miniature version of its parents, and spends the first few weeks on its mother's back. When visitors carefully focus on the mom Ella, they will see the small anteater holding firmly on to her.

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Ella and Hannibal came to Prague Zoo in 2014, after a twelve-year break in the breeding of Giant Anteaters. Ella comes from Warsaw, and Hannibal from Madrid. They both grew accustomed to their new environment quite quickly, but it took roughly three months for them to bond. A certain role in this may also have been played by the fact that, in nature, male anteaters are normally larger than females, but for the Prague pair it was the opposite case. Ella, who is now three years old, was roughly one quarter larger than Hannibal when she arrived, and weighed ten kilograms more, even though they are both the same age.

Ella takes exemplary care of her baby, and, when she feels danger, actively defends it. The baby anteater currently weighs 1,990 grams (4.4 lb), and is doing well. Starting February 5, visitors to Prague Zoo have been able to see him in the ‘Exhibition of Giant Anteaters’.

For now, the mother and baby spend most of their time in the nesting box, which will remain covered for some time. Visitors will have the greatest chance of seeing them when Ella walks to the exhibition next door, where she gets fed around noon.

Giant Anteaters arrived in Prague Zoo in the 1950s, but attempts to breed them always ended in failure. That is why this year's baby is a huge success, and the breeders themselves are, obviously, extremely happy with the birth.

The Giant Anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla), also known as the Ant Bear, is a large insectivorous mammal native to Central and South America. It is one of four living species of anteaters and is classified with sloths in the order Pilosa.

Giant Anteaters have a very peculiar appearance. Their tubular snout conceals a long, sticky tongue up to 60 cm long. They specialize in collecting social insects, especially termites and ants, of which they can consume up to 30 thousand a day (in the zoo they are fed a special mash). They rake apart hard termite mounds using their strong, long claws.

The Giant Anteater is classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. According to the IUCN: “Myrmecophaga tridactyla is at risk from habitat loss in parts of its range, and this is a significant threat to Central American populations in particular. Where this species inhabits grassland habitats it is particularly susceptible to fires. In Brazil, burning of sugar cane plantations prior to their harvest leads to the death of significant numbers of giant anteaters due to severe burn injuries (F. Miranda pers. comm. 2013). Animals are sometimes killed on roads or by dogs. Giant anteaters are hunted for food throughout their distribution, and are additionally hunted as a pest, for pets or for illegal trade in some parts of their range.”

“It has been recorded from many protected areas. It is listed on several national Red Data lists, and is protected as a national heritage species in some provinces in Argentina. There is a need to improve fire management practices, especially in sugarcane plantations and within the regions of grassland habitat occupied by this species. Population and genetic data, as well as habitat use information, are needed, especially for areas that are being subjected to land use change. A reintroduction program is being carried out in Corrientes province, Argentina.”


World's Tiniest Hoofed Mammal Born at Prague Zoo

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A tiny Lesser Mouse-Deer was born on November 1 at the Prague Zoo.  This species is the smallest of all known hoofed mammals.  Adults have bodies about the same size as rabbits, have legs the size of pencils, and weigh only about four pounds.

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DSC_5337_exportPhoto Credit:  Prague Zoo

Mouse-Deer fawns usually stand within 30 minutes of birth, an important survival tactic for these leaf-eating animals.  Females will safely tuck their fawns into the brush and leave them hidden while they go out to feed.  Fawns are weaned when three to four months old, and are sexually mature at about six months.

This fawn is the second born at the Prague Zoo since they acquired Lesser Mouse-Deer in 2011.  Also known as Lesser Malay Chevrotains, this species is found across Southeast Asia.  The wild population is not well studied, but for now, Lesser Mouse-Deer are not under significant threat.