Taronga Western Plains Zoo

Black Rhino Calf Makes Public Debut At Taronga Western Plains Zoo Dubbo

 

Minister for Climate Change and the Environment, Frank Sartor yesterday announced the public debut of Taronga Western Plains Zoo’s latest addition – a baby Black Rhinoceros calf.

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“The little female rhino was born on 17 February to first-time mother Bakhita,” Mr Sartor said.“It is the second generation born in the zoo’s breeding program.“It’s terrific that this baby Rhino has become available for public viewing in time for the school holidays.”

A public competition will be announced shortly to name the baby Rhino.

The zoo is widely recognised as a world-class open range zoo, which has an international reputation in Black Rhinoceros breeding, research and conservation. Since the 1990s, the Zoo’s breeding program has produced 11 Black Rhinoceros calves, supporting the survival of this critically endangered species. In total, the zoo is home to almost 1,000 animals.

Mr Sartor said Taronga Western Plains Zoo has been experiencing a recent baby boom – currently on display are four Cheetah Cubs, three Giraffe calves and a Przewalski's Horse foal.

“This baby boom is fantastic for conservation and tourism with 70% of visitors to Dubbo going specifically to visit the zoo,” Mr Sartor said. “Visitors to Dubbo will also be able to see four Cheetah cubs, including two King Cheetah, believed to be two of only 60 King Cheetah in the world.”

Taronga Western Plains Zoo Keepers, such as Nick Hanlon have been monitoring Bakhita and her calf closely to ensure the pair is bonding.

“Bakhitais a fantastic first time mother, doing everything right from the moment she gave birth,” Mr. Hanlon said. “The calf is quite confident and inquisitive but still doesn’t venture too far from mum’s side. “She is quite active and loves a run around the paddock, but like most youngsters she gets tired pretty quickly. “At birth the calf weighed about 30kg and now would be around 40kg. “In time the calf will also play an important role in the international breeding program, either here or at another Zoo.”


Black Rhino Calf’s First Mud Bath At Dubbo Zoo

Taronga Western Plains Zoo’s Black Rhino calf has had its first mud bath, frolicking with mother Bakhita in the muddy conditions produced by recent rainfall in Dubbo.

Bakhita and the calf enjoyed a wallow in the mud before playfully running through puddles in their behind-the-scenes paddock.

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The female Black Rhino calf is now one month old and has been named Sabi Star (pronounced Sarbi Star) by Zoo Keepers. The name was chosen after the beautiful, rare and much loved flower found in Zimbabwe. The Sabi Star only flowers during harsh dry periods which keepers felt signified the struggle for life all livings things face in the wild.

“We all felt the name was so fitting and given the calf’s confident and curious personality, she will no doubt be a star ambassador for her species,” said Black Rhino Keeper Jake Williams  

“Sabi Star is progressing really well and now weighs over 80kgs. She is putting on approximately one kilogram a day.”

Each calf born has an individual personality and it has been evident from day one that Sabi Star is the most confident and inquisitive calf born at the Zoo to date.

Experienced mum Bakhita is continuing to show all the right maternal behaviours which is so important as Black Rhino calves learn from their mothers. They learn what to eat and how to react and respond to new situations, so having a relaxed and calm mother will ensure the calf is also relaxed and calm.

“Sabi Star currently spends most of her time feeding, mimicking her mum’s behaviours, exploring her environment and sleeping. She is growing in confidence every day and follows the lead of Bakhita when going for a gallop around the paddock or exploring the newly formed puddles.”

“She has already started mouthing and exploring food that is provided to her mum and over the course of the next 6 – 12 months she will continue to suckle whilst increasing her intake of solid food,” said Jake.

It is hoped that Bakhita and Sabi Star will make their public debut in early May, in the meantime regular updates are being provided via the Zoo’s social media channels.

Black Rhinos are currently listed as critically endangered with estimates that there are less than 6000 remaining in the wild.

Taronga Western Plains Zoo is internationally renowned for its Black Rhino conservation breeding program and actively funds and supports conservation efforts for wild rhinos in Africa, Indonesia and India. Funding and support for habitat protection and restoration, anti-poaching and rhino protection units and the reduction of human-animal conflict are all vital to ensure Rhino species will continue to survive in the wild.


Five Meerkat Pups Welcomed At Dubbo Zoo

Taronga Western Plains Zoo has welcomed five Meerkat pups at a behind-the-scenes location to new Meerkat breeding pair, Howell and Midra.

Howell and Midra arrived at Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Spring 2020 from two other wildlife parks.  Following their introduction to each other, keepers observed lots of positive breeding behaviour with their first litter of pups being born on 23 November 2020.

Meerkat pups_photo credit Sebastian Bocaz (3) (1)
Meerkat pups_photo credit Sebastian Bocaz (3) (1)
Meerkat pups_photo credit Sebastian Bocaz (3) (1)

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It’s a Girl! Rare Black Rhino Calf Born in Dubbo

Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo is celebrating the birth of a critically endangered Black Rhino calf, born in the early hours of the morning on Wednesday 24 February 2021.

Keepers arrived at work on Wednesday to find the female calf standing beside mother Bakhita in the Zoo’s behind-the-scenes calving yard.

“This is the fourth calf for experienced mother Bakhita, who is the Zoo’s most successful Black Rhino breeding female and also the first female Black Rhino born here,” said Taronga Western Plains Zoo Director, Steve Hinks.

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Keepers are currently monitoring Bakhita and her calf via CCTV cameras to allow them plenty of space to develop their bond and ensure both mother and calf remain calm.

“This calf is especially important as it carries the legacy of our Black Rhino breeding bull, Kwanzaa who sadly passed away in 2020.”

“Kwanzaa played a prominent role in the Black Rhino conservation breeding program here in Dubbo, siring four calves, and it is such a great feeling to see his final calf arrive safely,” said Steve.  

Both mum and calf are doing well and will remain behind-the-scenes for the next couple of months. This time is important for both mum and calf to bond and to allow the calf to grow and develop before making the move to the Black Rhino paddock on the Zoo circuit.

“The team will provide regular updates on our newest addition via Taronga TV and social media whilst the calf is behind-the-scenes,” said Steve.

Taronga Western Plains Zoo has been very successful in breeding Black Rhinos throughout the history of the conservation breeding program which commenced in the 1990s. This is the fourth calf born into the program in the last six years.

“Our team that care for this species here at the Zoo are experts in their field and this latest success is a testament to their knowledge, husbandry skills and dedication in conserving this remarkable species.” 

Black Rhinos are currently listed as critically endangered with estimates that there are less than 6000 remaining in the wild.

Taronga Western Plains Zoo is internationally renowned for its Black Rhino conservation breeding program and actively funds and supports conservation efforts for wild rhinos in Africa, Indonesia and India. Funding and support for habitat protection and restoration, anti-poaching and rhino protection units and the reduction of human-animal conflict are all vital to ensure Rhino species will continue to survive in the wild.


Zebra foal a late spring arrival at Dubbo Zoo

Keepers at Taronga Western Plains Zoo were delighted to arrive at work on 15 November 2020 to find a male Zebra foal had safely arrived overnight.

The colt is the seventh foal for mum Kioni, who is a very experienced mother and was sired by Bwana, who was transferred to Taronga Zoo, Sydney earlier this year.

The foal has been named Obi by his keepers, meaning heart in the Igbo language of Nigeria.

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“Both mum and her foal are doing extremely well. Obi is very stable on his feet and moving around the paddock alongside Kioni,” said Keeper Carolene Magner.

Kioni is a very natural maternal dam and is quite protective, which is important to ensure the foal stays close by for feeding and safety, to prevent any misadventure from other larger herd members.

“The foal is not venturing too far from mum’s side but that is very normal as Kioni is quite protective and keeping the other herd members at a safe distance. The other females in the group are very interested in the new foal but Kioni is ensuring he stays close by her side at present,” said Carolene.

“We are very happy with how he is progressing over his first week and look forward to watching him grow and develop, and eventually interacting with the other herd members,” said Carolene.

“Mornings are a great time to see Obi as he is most active then, and like most newborns will have a burst of energy and then take a nap.”

Zebra have a gestation period of 12 – 13 months. Taronga Western Plains Zoo is home to 11 Zebra across three groups at present. A breeding herd with new addition Obi and five other females, a small bachelor group next to the Giraffe exhibit and another group on the African Savannah.

There are three subspecies of Zebra in the wild – Plains Zebra, Grevy’s Zebra and Mountain Zebra. The Plains Zebra sub species which Taronga Western Plains Zoo holds is classified as near threatened. The wild population is declining due to competition with livestock for natural resources, hunting for meat and hide as well as the impacts of drought in some range states.

Taronga Western Plains Zoo’s Beads for Wildlife program helps to support the conservation of Zebra in Northern Kenya, through a partnership with Biliqo-Bulesa Conservancy, a branch of the Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT), selling beadwork made by over 600 women in Northern Kenya. With every bead work product sold in the Zoo Shop it is helping to provide an alternate income to livestock for these communities, which would compete with wildlife for natural resources such as water and vegetation in this region. Put simply, more beads sold = less livestock = more wildlife.


Seeing double! Second Spider Monkey baby born at Dubbo Zoo

Taronga Western Plains Zoo is delighted to announce the arrival of another Spider Monkey baby, born on 5 October 2020.

The female baby is yet to be named and was born to mother, Margarita and father, Pedro and is the second offspring for the pair.

“Margarita is an experienced mother and is taking to the role like an old hand. She is doing a good job caring for her newborn,” said Primate Keeper Rachel Schildkraut.

“The other juveniles in the group have shown a little bit of interest in the new arrival, coming over to have a closer look,” said Rachel.

This is the second Spider Monkey baby born to the group in the past two months, with the first arriving in late August 2020.

“The first baby is developing well and whilst he is still attached to mum, he is starting to occasionally reach out for things nearby and spends a lot of time looking around.”

Spider Monkey babies cling to their mothers with an amazing grip and suckle as needed for the first few months of their lives. After approximately three to four months the babies become more active and move to riding on their mother’s back and start exploring a little more.

“Our first baby can occasionally be observed dorsal riding, or riding on his mother’s back, but he is still a little uncoordinated.”

“The best vantage spot to view the Spider Monkey babies is from the deck at the Zoo Café,” said Rachel.

The Black-handed Spider Monkey conservation breeding program at Taronga Western Plains Zoo has now welcomed four females and three males since the arrival of Pedro the breeding male from France in 2014.

Black-handed Spider Monkeys are found in Mexico and throughout Central America and are classified as Endangered with habitat loss the primary cause of their decline.


Fall leaves pint-sized echidna puggle needing a helping hand from Taronga Wildlife Hospital

 

An adorable short-beaked echidna puggle is the one of the latest patients to be brought into the Taronga Wildlife Hospital and is now being hand raised after an interesting turn of events saw it requiring specialist care. 

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The puggle was brought into the Taronga Wildlife Hospital last month from the Central Coast after members of the public saw it drop about 4m to the ground from a tree where a raven and magpie were perched. The puggle had scratches and lacerations to its back so it’s suspected that it was taken from its burrow by a bird of prey before being dropped after proving an unsuccessful meal.

After arriving at the Taronga Wildlife Hospital, the puggle was assessed by a team of vets and vet nurses including x-rays, blood tests and a thorough look over, and thankfully deemed to be in surprisingly good health considering its ordeal.

Senior Keeper Sarah Male is now responsible for hand-raising the puggle. This includes second-daily feeds of a specially formulated echidna milk formula which the puggle laps off her palm followed by a bath. The puggle then returns to its makeshift burrow to sleep off the feed for 48hours before Sarah repeats the process all-over again.

“Despite its ordeal, this little puggle doing so well. Since arriving at the hospital its lacerations have almost completely healed, it’s putting on weight and is also starting to grow a thin layer of fur all of which are all promising signs.

“While the puggle is improving every day, it is still very young and in the wild would still be dependent on mum, so will require ongoing care for the next few months.  I’ve hand-raised of lots of animals throughout the years at Taronga but such a young echidna puggle is a new experience for me,” said Male.

Echidnas are only one of two species of monotremes in the world, meaning they are unique mammals that lay eggs and also suckle their young. Sadly, it is not it is not uncommon for the Taronga Wildlife Hospital to care for echidnas as they come into contact with cars on the road or are attacked by domestic pets such as dogs and cats.

This puggle joins more than 1,400 native wildlife patients who are treated by specialist vets and vet nurses across Taronga’s hospitals in Sydney and Dubbo each year. The Taronga Wildlife Hospital is open 365 days a year providing care to an array of Australian. Help our hospital team continue to their vital work by donating to our Wildlife Recovery Appeal: taronga.org.au/wildlife-recovery

 


Spider Monkey baby born at Dubbo Zoo

Baby on 14th Sept by Keeper Sasha Brook

Spring has sprung early at Taronga Western Plains Zoo with the birth of a male Spider Monkey baby on 24 August 2020.

The baby boy was born overnight with keepers arriving at work to see mother Jai doting over her newborn. This is the second baby for Jai and father Pedro, with their first baby Isadore born in October 2017.

 

“Jai was a natural mother first time around and is clearly still a calm mother taking caring for her second baby in her stride,” said Primate Keeper Sasha Brook.

“We are really happy with the maternal behaviours Jai is displaying and because we have a good rapport with her we are able to get up close to check on the baby and how it is doing and we are very pleased to see him doing well,” said Sasha.

Spider Monkey babies cling on to their mothers with an amazing grip and suckle as needed for the first few months of their lives. After approximately three to four months the babies become more active and move to dorsal riding on the back of their mother and start exploring a little more.

“Visitors to the Zoo may find it difficult to see the new arrival at present as he is clinging to his mum’s tummy however, when they move to dorsal riding they are easier to see.”

“There are now six youngsters on the Spider Monkey island including the most recent baby born into the group and we are hopeful there is another baby on the way,” said Sasha.

“It is really amazing to see the different ages in the group now and the watch the juveniles interact with the adults. Pedro is particularly good with the youngsters and is often observed playing with them.”

The Black-handed Spider Monkey conservation breeding program at Taronga Western Plains Zoo has now welcomed four females and two males since the arrival of Pedro the breeding male from France in 2014.

“Having another male born into the group is really exciting, it widens the genetic diversity in the group which benefits the regional conservation breeding program.”

“One day once he is mature he may move to another Zoo and sire babies of his own,” said Sasha.

Black-handed Spider Monkeys are found in Mexico and throughout Central America and are classified as Endangered with habitat loss the primary cause of their decline.


Giraffe calf a welcome winter arrival at Dubbo Zoo

Giraffe calf Layla on exhibit

Keepers at Taronga Western Plains Zoo are delighted by the arrival of a female Giraffe calf born in the early hours of the morning on Wednesday 1 July 2020.

The calf has been named Layla by her keepers, meaning born overnight in Swahili. Layla is the fifth calf for experienced mother Asmara and was sired by Unami.

 

“Layla is doing very well so far, she is a very confident calf and is already following the herd around rather than sitting in a secluded area of the paddock like most newborn calves,” said Giraffe Keeper Jack Foley.

“Visitors over the school holiday period were very lucky as she was out on exhibit with the herd from one day old, so lots of people saw her in those first couple of weeks as she was finding her feet.”

“Giraffe calves are like any other newborn, active for a period of time and then resting. The best time to see Layla is in the mornings when she is generally more active,” said Jack.

Taronga Western Plains Zoo has a successful history breeding Giraffe and has become the region’s breeding powerhouse for the species. The Zoo often transfers Giraffe to other Zoos throughout Australia. Recently a mother and calf were transferred to Taronga Zoo, Sydney and three males were transferred to the African Savannah exhibit in Dubbo to join the bachelor herd.

The gestation period for a giraffe is 14 – 16 months. Giraffe numbers have been declining in the wild over the past decade with the global population falling up to 40 per cent in the last 30 years as a result of poaching for bush meat and habitat encroachment.

Taronga is active in supporting the plight of Giraffes in the wild, with a well-established partnership with Biliqo-Bulesa Conservancy, one of the largest community conservancies under the umbrella of the Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT). The conservancy has improved wildlife security in important animal populations including Giraffe, among other species, by creating a safer ground for their movement and improving rangeland health.

Taronga Western Plains Zoo now has 11 Giraffe in the main breeding herd and another seven Giraffe in the bachelor herd on the African Savannah.


Female White Rhino for Dubbo Zoo

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Taronga Western Plains Zoo has welcomed a female White Rhino calf!

The calf was born, behind-the-scenes, in the early hours of August 18 to mother, Mopani, at 16 months gestation. The new baby weighed in at 74kgs.

“The calf required some initial veterinary assistance over the first two days of her life, but being a very strong calf went from strength to strength,” said Keeper Supervisor Pascale Benoit.

“The calf is the third offspring for experienced mother Mopani, sired by White Rhino bull, Khulu who sadly passed away earlier this year. This birth heralds another breeding achievement for the rhino conservation breeding programs at Taronga Western Plains Zoo,” said Pascale.

Pascale continued, “The team is thrilled to welcome another precious White Rhino. Being a female, this little one will one day play an important role in the regional breeding program, hopefully creating a new genetic bloodline.”

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Both Mopani and her calf are now on exhibit, along with two other females in the herd. Mopani is a very protective and caring mother and has bonded well with her calf. She is taking motherhood in her stride again.

“We are really proud of Mopani and the maternal behaviors we are observing. She is very protective of her calf and is keeping the other herd members at a distance at present,” said Pascale.

NSW Environment Minister, Matt Kean, thanked all the zoo staff for their incredible care for the new calf, as well as all the animals at Taronga Western Plains Zoo.

“With about 19,000 White Rhinos left in the wild, every rhino birth is vital. It shows how critical the conservation work undertaken by Taronga is – not just for rhinos but our native animals that are also under threat. These conservation efforts wouldn’t be possible without the dedication from zoo staff.”

The White Rhino calf is yet to be named. Taronga Western Plains Zoo is planning to run a naming competition on its Facebook page to help find a name for the newest member of the White Rhino herd.

Taronga actively supports conservation efforts for wild rhinos in Africa, Indonesia and India, including providing funds and support for habitat and reforestation, anti-poaching and rhino protection units and reduction of human-animal conflict. Taronga is also a founding member of the International Rhino Foundation.

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