Mother’s Day came early for Southern white rhinoceros Tuli, after zookeepers at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo prepared a heart-shaped, breakfast banquet for her and her calf, Nandi.
The rhino mum and her seven-month-old calf were treated to a feast of their favourite hay and pellets, arranged in the shape of a heart, for Mother’s Day.
ZSL Whipsnade Zoo
Mother’s Day came early for Southern white rhinoceros Tuli, after zookeepers at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo prepared a heart-shaped, breakfast banquet for her and her calf, Nandi.
A giraffe calf takes her first steps outside as UK families head back to ZSL Whipsnade Zoo for the first time in months
A giraffe calf at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo has taken her first steps outside, just in time to greet visitors returning to the UK’s largest Zoo after it re-opened last week.
While many people in the UK left their homes for their first family days-out of 2021, four-month-old reticulated giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata) Margaret had her own first adventure outdoors last week.
Born at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo on 8 December at the same time as the world’s first Covid-19 vaccination was being administered – the reticulated giraffe calf was named Margaret by keepers, after the first recipient Margaret Keenan. Until last week, the baby giraffe has stayed inside the warmth and familiarity of the Zoo’s giraffe house with mum Luna and their close-knit family.
Last week, however, the young giraffe was filmed by zoo staff venturing outdoors for the first time and exploring the herd’s spacious enclosure at the 600-acre Zoo. In the footage, Margaret can be seen tentatively following her mother and other members of the herd past a lake, before striding off to explore her environment alone, ‘checking in’ with mum Luna from time-to-time.
Team leader Mark Holden said: “Once again, Margaret seems to be capturing the mood of the nation. First, she was born – a huge boost for the population of her Endangered species - on the same day that the first Covid-19 vaccine was administered, and now, here she is, taking her first steps outside just as the rest of the UK is venturing back out on family adventures, like coming here to ZSL Whipsnade Zoo.
“With 600 acres to explore, we are the perfect place for anyone looking to blow off the cobwebs of lockdown and head into the countryside, where Margaret and the world’s most incredible animals wait to be discovered.”
Families and animal lovers can book tickets for ZSL Whipsnade Zoo at www.zsl.org
Four endangered Amur Tiger cubs at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo have finally taken their first steps outside.
The cubs, born June 23, were finally snapped stepping out as a family after mum, Naya, spent several days carrying them around in her mouth, one-by-one, to help them discover their surroundings. (ZooBorns shared photos of their first outing in a July feature: “Amur Tiger Mum Takes Cubs for First Outing”)
Team leader, Donovan Glyn, said, “Seeing all four of these endangered tiger cubs out and about, playing in the grass together, is the perfect way for us to begin the summer here at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. They are just as energetic and playful as one-month-old kittens would be, and we can’t wait to watch them learn and grow under their mum and dad’s watchful eyes over the next few months.”
“Naya has been such a patient, dedicated mum, picking up each cub in her mouth, and giving them little one-on-one tours of the enclosure, to help them get to know their surroundings and build their confidence.”
The cubs were born only 121 days after seven-year-old tigress, Naya, arrived at the UK’s largest Zoo and was introduced to male mate, Botzman, as part of the European Endangered Species breeding Programme (EEP) which works with zoos across the continent.
Donovan Glyn continued, “There are only 500 Amur Tigers left in the wild, so we are delighted to have four incredible little Amur cubs here at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. It’s great news for the breeding programme, and we know our visitors will be thrilled to see them for themselves and learn more about the importance of protecting endangered species like these.”
The Amur Tiger (Panthera tigris altaica) is classified as “Endangered” by the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species. Thanks to the conservation efforts of organisations like ZSL (Zoological Society of London), which works with Amur Tigers in the Russian Far East, there are now an estimated 500 Amur Tigers left in the wild, ten times the number that were estimated to exist in the 1940s.
More pics below the fold!
Four endangered Amur Tiger cubs, born at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo on June 23, were recently seen being taken for a first look at the world by mother, Naya.
The as-yet unsexed cubs were born to their seven year-old mum after 108 days of pregnancy and only 121 days (four months) after Naya “met” the dad, Botzman.
Keepers at the UK’s largest Zoo had been anxiously monitoring second-time mum, Naya, using remote camera technology as she gave birth to the first tiger cub at 7.25pm on June 23, and they were then elated to see her give birth to three further cubs over the subsequent five hours.
Team leader, Donovan Glyn, said, “It’s incredible news for us to have endangered Amur Tiger cubs born here at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, but to have four of them is just amazing, especially when you consider there are only 500 left in the wild.”
Naya and her cubs have been getting to know each other in a birthing den in the middle of the Zoo’s large tiger enclosure, with mum only venturing away from her babies occasionally to have a drink.
Donovan Glyn continued, “Having cameras in her den is allowing us to keep a close eye on how they’re all getting on 24/7, and it’s also letting us share in the magic of them taking their first steps.”
“Naya is very attentive, cleaning the cubs regularly and letting them suckle whenever they want to. She has also stayed very calm and relaxed throughout, even when dad Botzman went in to see what was going on. He seemed to take one look at the first cub and decide to give them some space!”
Mum Naya and dad Botzman have been getting on extremely well since Naya arrived at the Zoo in February, and the cubs are a success for the European Endangered Species breeding Programme (EEP) which works with zoos across the continent to breed the endangered species.
Amur Tigers (Panthera tigris altaica) are classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species. Thanks to the conservation efforts of organizations like ZSL (Zoological Society of London), which works with Amur Tigers in the Russian Far East, there are now an estimated 500 Amur Tigers left in the wild, ten times the number that were estimated to exist in the 1940s.
Zookeepers will also be revealing exclusive footage of the cubs on ZSL Whipsnade Zoo’s social media channels over the next few months. Check their website for more info: www.zsl.org/zsl-whipsnade-zoo
ZSL Whipsnade Zoo’s keepers have a couple of exciting new additions to care for, with the arrival of two California Sea Lion pups.
Adventurous male pup, Hanno, was born to first-time mum, Lara, on June 10. Laid-back male, Oakley, was born to second-time mum, Bailey, on June 23.
After giving birth at the UK’s largest Zoo, ten-year-old, Lara, and eleven-year-old, Bailey, have taken to motherhood swimmingly and are already proving to be doting mums to the lively pups.
Team Leader, Tim Savage, is overjoyed at the new arrivals and said, “The first pup was immediately so curious and adventurous, we decided to name him Hanno, after the fifth century oceanic explorer. At night he goes on little missions and explores the sea lion house!”
“Lara’s always been the cheekiest member of the group, but she’s so attentive with Hanno, never letting him out of her sight. Every time Hanno tries to go near the water, she pulls him back. This isn’t Bailey’s first pup, so she’s much more confident and relaxed. She leaves Oakley to snooze while she goes off for a swim.”
Tim continued, “They’ve both had a little splash in the pool, but neither of the pups are strong swimmers yet. Over the next month they will learn to dive, and practice holding their breath, and soon visitors will see them confidently swimming around the pool with their mums, and dad Dominic.”
Covered in fur, the pups will eventually grow to be over two meters long. The new pups are a valuable addition to the colony of California Sea Lions at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo and the European conservation breeding programme for the species.
Originating from the rocky coastlines of the Pacific Ocean, along the west coast of the USA, California Sea Lions (Zalophus californianus) live in large colonies, led by a dominant male and his harem of female mates.
Tim shared, “After a birth, male Sea Lions guard their harem of females, which means they do not leave to get food. Although Dominic has no competition and plenty of food available to him here, he acts in exactly the same way, fasting for a month and making a lot of noise to show this is his territory! Don’t feel too bad for him though, he prepared for his fast by eating lots before the births!”
Summer visitors to ZSL Whipsnade Zoo will be able to see Hanno and Oakley learning to swim alongside the rest of the Sea Lion clan. Visit www.zsl.org to find out more.
An endangered Przewalski’s Horse foal has been born at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo!
Once classified as extinct in the wild, the Przewalski’s Horse is a rare species of wild horse. Thanks to conservation breeding efforts by organisations, such as the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), the species has been reintroduced to its native habitat in Mongolia.
The Przewalski's Horse (Equus ferus przewalskii) is the last true wild horse. They are the only living, wild ancestor of the domestic horse that has survived to the present day.
They are named after Nikolai Przewalski, the Russian explorer who first brought specimens back for a formal description in the 1870s. But the first time the species was made known to the West was in the 1763 published accounts of a Scottish doctor, John Bell, who travelled with Tsar Peter the Great.
This wild horse has a stocky body with robust, short legs, a short neck and an erect mane. Typical height of the species is about 12–14 hands (48–56 inches, 122–142 cm), and their length is about 2.1 m (6 ft 11 in). On average, they weigh around 300 kilograms (660 lb).
The hooves of the Przewalski's Horse are longer in the back and have a thick sole horn. This characteristic improves the performance of the hooves.
The species is currently classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List. According to the IUCN: “Previously listed as Extinct in the Wild (EW) from the 1960s up to the assessment in 1996. The species was then reassessed as Critically Endangered (CR) due to at least one surviving mature individual in the wild. Successful reintroductions have qualified this species for reassessment. The population is currently estimated to consist of more than 50 mature individuals free-living in the wild for the past seven years. This taxon is threatened by small population size and restricted range, potential hybridization with domestic horses, loss of genetic diversity, and disease. As the population size is small, it is vulnerable to stochastic events such as severe weather. Equus ferus przewalskii qualifies as Endangered (EN) under Criterion D.”
Two endangered Grevy’s Zebra foals were born this September at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo.
Female foal, Katie, was born to first-time mum Nafisa on September 10 and seemed delighted when a playmate joined her nine days later. Male foal, Kito, was born to mum Henna on September 19, and the two youngsters began tearing around their enclosure, much to the amusement of keepers and visitors.
Team Leader, Mark Holden said, “Like all zebras, when Katie and Kito were born they just seemed to be all ears and legs. It wasn’t long before they were bounding around together, running and jumping around at a huge pace, before eventually running out of steam and returning to their respective mums.”
“It’s all typical behaviour for young zebra foals, as they learn what their legs are for, then going back to mum for comfort. Katie and Kito are settling in really well, interacting with the rest of the group of Grevy’s Zebras here at the Zoo and exploring their surroundings.”
Grevy’s Zebras are classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List, and there are thought to be only around 2,600 Grevy’s Zebras left in the wild.
Mark Holden continued, “We’re very privileged at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo to have successfully bred this beautiful but endangered species for 29 years. Kito is our 36th Grevy’s Zebra foal born here as part of the European Endangered Species Programme.”
The Grevy’s Zebra (Equus grevyi) has much narrower stripes than the other two zebras species, and it can live on grasses, which are too tough for cattle to eat or digest. Originally from Northern Kenya and Ethiopia, a whole herd can be seen at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. They are successfully bred at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo as part of the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP).
The EEP is a tool used by zoos, aquariums and wildlife parks across Europe to manage conservation breeding programmes. Each species is managed by a studbook, and the studbook holder is responsible for pairing well-matched animals and recording details such as birthplace and parentage to ensure a healthy and diverse population of animals.
ZSL Whipsnade Zoo recently released the first photos of their new twin Red Panda cubs. The duo, named Bert and Ernie by their keepers, was born June 30.
The cubs had been hiding away in their nesting boxes until recently, when their mum, six year-old Tashi, began carrying them outside for short intervals.
Photo Credits: ZSL Whipsnade Zoo
Senior Keeper at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, Stephen Perry said, “It’s been magical to see the baby Red Pandas out and about for the first time.
“Red Pandas can be difficult to observe due to their shy and secretive nature, their nocturnal habits and the fact that they spend most of their time up trees. We never see much of their babies for the first couple of months of their lives but it’s worth the wait. They’re incredible and beautiful creatures, and a real visitor favorite.
“Tashi is a brilliant mum, and when the weather gets warmer you sometimes catch her carrying the babies between nesting boxes to find the coolest one for them.”
Bert and Ernie are part of the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP), a tool used by zoos, aquariums and wildlife parks across Europe to manage conservation breeding programmes. Bert and Ernie are also the fourth and fifth cubs born to experienced mum Tashi, at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo.
“Having such a confident mum there is great because it means we can just leave them to it and not interfere. We just check in on Tashi, the boys and their dad, Blue, once a day to make sure everything’s okay,” remarked Perry.
Red Pandas, which are classified as “Vulnerable” by IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species, are found mainly in Nepal, India, Bhutan, Myanmar, and southern China. There are thought to be around 10,000 Red Pandas left in the wild. It is estimated that their numbers may have decreased by as much as 40% over the last 50 years due to massive habitat loss, increased human activity and poaching.
As an international conservation and science charity, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) works in Nepal, as well as over 50 other countries, for worldwide conservation of animals and their habitats, through ground-breaking science, conservation projects, as well as two Zoos: ZSL London Zoo and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo.
Keepers at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo are celebrating the birth of a Greater One-Horned Rhino calf.
Weighing in at a whopping 76kg (almost 12 stone or 167 lbs.), the calf, which keepers have named Bali (Nepali for ‘strong’) was born on the evening of September 6th, after a 17-month gestation. This is the fourth calf for 19-year-old mother, Behan. Her other calves have all moved to other Zoos to breed, as part of the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP).
Bali is the 14th Greater One-Horned Rhino calf to be born at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, which has an exceptional record with its breeding programme for the species. ZSL Whipsnade Zoo was one of the first Zoos in the world to breed the species in 1957. ln the past 12 months, there have been only four Greater One-Horned Rhino births in three European zoos, with only one other in the United States of America. Young Bali was born just in time to celebrate World Rhino Day on September 22nd.
Deputy Team Leader Veronica Watkins, said, “The whole team is very excited to see the safe arrival of our newest rhino. To be involved in bringing one of these endangered animals into the world makes all of our efforts feel worthwhile, and it makes celebrating World Rhino Day this year feel extra special.
“The labour was relatively straightforward. Behan was restless the previous night so we suspected the birth was imminent, but once her waters broke we were able to monitor her carefully through CCTV cameras, without interfering in the process.
“The following day Bali was up and about, looking around at everything inquisitively. Behan, who has always been an excellent mother to her calves, was staying very close to him.”
Keepers at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo had a late Christmas present when ‘Flora’, the Pygmy Hippo, gave birth to a much needed boy on Boxing Day.
The Zoo’s keepers say they are especially proud of the baby’s mum, 28-year-old Flora, who has been battling cancer. Flora was featured in ITV’s documentary series ‘The Zoo’ last year, and although she is still living with a tumor in her mouth, vets say she has responded fantastically well to the treatment and the cancer did not affect her pregnancy at all.
The tiny hippo calf is a particularly welcome addition to the Zoo because there is a shortage of male Pygmy Hippos within the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme.
Senior Keeper, Steve White said, “Flora’s calf was due on Christmas Day, but the little one kept us waiting until the evening of Boxing Day. We knew Flora must be going into labor because she went off her food, which never happens! After six hour labor, the calf was born, a 7 kilo, perfect miniature of his mum. Since then, the baby hippo has been happily waddling around and seems to love spending time in water. On his first weigh-in, he was so slippery it was like picking up a big bar of soap!”
“We’re delighted for Flora, who has come through a difficult year and is now proving once again to be an attentive, experienced mum. She’s contributed three calves to the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme and she’ll now retire from breeding.”
Pygmy Hippos (Choeropsis liberiesis) are classified as “Endangered” by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, and teams at international conservation charity ZSL are working in Liberia and Sierra Leone to research and protect the species.