Dallas Zoo Welcomes Iconic Texas Hatchlings

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Dallas Zoo recently welcomed their first ever clutch of Texas Horned Lizard hatchlings – 39 babies in all! Also known as “horny toads”, Texas Horned Lizards, were once quite common, but are now disappearing.

This threatened species has vanished in East and Central Texas, and is now decreasing in North Texas, too. While these babies may be only the size of a penny now, they’re helping ensure the survival of this Texas icon.

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3_11222491_10153085148686819_2943863045877479041_oPhoto Credits: Dallas Zoo

The Dallas Zoo has taken an active role in the protection of this threatened reptile. The Dallas Zoo's Texas Horned Lizard Conservation page (http://dzmconservation.wix.com/texashornedlizards#!) provides great information and resources.

Horned Lizards, also known as "horny toads", represent a unique group of lizards that inhabit the southern United States and northern Mexico. The Texas Horned Lizard, Phrynosoma cornutum, is perhaps the most recognizable species of Horned Lizard. It is the largest North American native species of Horned Lizard (Family: Phrynosomatidae) and has the widest distribution of any other Horned Lizard species in the United States.

Once extremely common, they are now in decline throughout much of their range. The Texas Horned Lizard is perhaps the most threatened member of this group, with estimated population declines of greater than 30% across its range (Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, and northern Mexico) and even higher in Texas. Populations have disappeared in East and Central Texas, and are decreasing in North Texas as well.

Staff of the Dallas Zoo is studying the life history of Texas Horned Lizards at the Rolling Plains Quail Research Ranch. The Rolling Plains Quail Research Ranch is 4,700 acre preserve located in Fisher County, Texas. By collecting lizard life history data (including but not limited to population densities, habitat preferences, diet, sex ratios, activity patterns, etc.) they hope to shed valuable light on the ecology of this threatened native Texan.


Pygmy Hippo Calf Gets in the Swim

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A baby Pygmy Hippopotamus born in early June at the Melbourne Zoo is learning how to swim under the watchful eye of his mother Petre.

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Pygmy hippo calf - Mark KeenanPhoto Credit:  Mark Keenan
 

Keepers named the calf Obi, which means “heart” in a Nigerian language. You first met Obi here on ZooBorns last month.

Obi started out swimming in the nursery pool, which is shallow, but quickly graduated to the deep end of the exhibit’s main pool.  Petre is a very attentive mother and makes sure that Obi never strays too far.

Weighing only about 11 pounds at birth, Obi has gained about a pound each day since he was born. 

Pygmy Hippos are classified as Endangered in the wild by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  Because they live in dense rain forests in western Africa, not much is known about the wild population.

See more photos of Obi below.

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The Power of Fluff: Twin Red Pandas Born at Zoo Boise

11745632_10153411505368116_7851586432407812940_nTwin Red Panda cubs born on June 18 at Zoo Boise made their media debut last week.  The cubs, a male and a female, are the fifth litter born to parents Dolly and Winston.10403119_10153411505353116_818709926087821928_n

11737847_10153411505358116_4137842135416914762_nPhoto Credit:  Zoo Boise

Just five weeks old, the cubs still spend most of their time in the den with Dolly, but will soon being to emerge for short periods of time.  The cubs have not yet been named.

Native to the eastern Himalaya mountains, Red Pandas live in forested foothills at relatively high elevations.  They feed primarily on bamboo, but also eat berries, flowers, roots, mushrooms, eggs, and small birds.   

Red Pandas typically breed only once per year, usually in January or February, and cubs are born in June or July.  The cubs remain with their mother in a hollow tree for several months before emerging to explore the forest.

Because their wild habitat is vanishing due to deforestation, Red Panda populations are in decline.  In some areas of their range, poaching is a significant threat.  Red Pandas are classified as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  Zoo breeding programs like the Species Survival Plan aim to maintain a high level of genetic diversity in zoo populations to help preserve this species for the future.


Fruit Bat Pups Hangin’ Out at Zoo Boise

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Zoo Boise is excited to share photos of their two new Ruwenzori Long-Haired Fruit Bat pups.

The two elusive boys are currently staying close to their mothers, which makes photography of the newborns a bit more challenging.

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Photo Credits: Zoo Boise

Ruwenzori Long-Haired Fruit Bats are important tree pollinators. For example, the baobab tree depends on bat pollination for survival. As the bat reaches into a flower to get nectar, pollen rubs onto their foreheads. This pollen is left on the next flower they visit.

Fruit Bats (or Megabats) constitute the suborder Megachiroptera, and its only family Pteropodidae of the order Chiroptera. They are native to Africa, Asia, Australia and the South Pacific, and are represented by 166 species. In North America, about twelve species of Megachiroptera are managed in Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) institutions. These bats can be divided into three different groups, based on ability to echolocate and roosting behaviors: 1) megabats with audible echolocation; 2) megabats that cannot echolocate and roost in dense cover in small groups; and 3) megabats that cannot echolocate and roost in larger groups in tree canopies.

In North America, two species of Rousette Fruit Bats are commonly housed in zoological collections: the Egyptian Fruit Bat (Rousettus aegyptiacus) and the Ruwenzori Long-Haired Fruit Bat (Rousettus lanosus). These fruit bats are nocturnal and feed predominately on fruit, flower resources and leaves. In captivity, Rousette Fruit Bats will also consume mealworms (Tenebrio molitor). In the wild, Rousette Fruit Bats roost in large crowded colonies, in caves. These cave-dwelling bats have a rudimentary echolocation system, based on audible tongue clicking for navigation. When feeding, these bats rely on vision and sense of smell for locating food resources.

The Ruwenzori Long-Haired Fruit Bat is currently classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.


Another New Addition for Gorilla Troop at Zoo Basel

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On July 16, Zoo Basel witnessed the arrival of another new Western Lowland Gorilla. It is the third birth for mom, Faddama, and it is the second offspring for dad, M'Tongé.

M'Tongé’s first child was born in May to mother, Joas, and was Zoo Basel’s first Gorilla birth in a decade. 

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2_11742718_894160777288330_5266875776503188310_nPhoto Credits: Zoo Basel

New mom, Faddama (age 32), is already a great-grandmother. Her son, Viatu (age 17), resides in Frankfurt. He is not only a father of four but grandfather of two, as well.

Aside from Faddama and her new baby, the troop of Gorillas at Zoo Basel consists of: M'Tongé (age 16), Joas (26), Mobali (son of Joas and M'Tongé), Zungu (13), Goma (56), and Quarta (47).  Quarta is the mother of Faddama, and she full-filled her ‘grand-motherly’ duties and stayed close by her daughter during the childbirth.

The sex of the new baby isn’t known yet, but once staff can examine the tiny Gorilla, a name will be given.

The Western Lowland Gorilla is native to the rainforests of western central Africa.

Gorillas live in groups called troops. Troops tend to be made of one adult male (or silverback) and multiple adult females and their offspring. A silverback is typically a male that is more than 12 years of age.

Females mature at 10-12 years (earlier in captivity) and males at 11-13 years. Female Gorillas mate and give birth in, typically, four-year intervals. Gestation lasts about 8.5 months. Infants are entirely dependent on their mothers. Male Gorillas are not active in caring for the young, but they do play a role in socializing them to other youngsters and work to shield them from aggression within the group. Infants suckle at least once per hour and sleep with their mothers in the same nest.

Infants begin to break contact with their mothers after five months but only for brief periods of time. By 12 months, infants move up to 16 feet from their mothers. At around 18-21 months, the distance between mother and offspring increases and they regularly spend time away from each other. They enter their juvenile period at their third year, and by the sixth year, they begin to sleep in a separate nest from mother.

The Western Gorilla, and its subspecies, is classified as “Critically Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The Mountain Gorilla is also listed as “Critically Endangered”, while the Eastern Gorilla is currently classified as “Endangered”.

Major threats to gorilla survival include habitat destruction and poaching for bushmeat trade. It is also believed that several thousand gorillas, in the Republic of Congo, died from Ebola during the outbreak in 2004.

 


Civet Twins at Newquay Zoo

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Newquay Zoo, in Cornwall, UK, is excited to announce the birth of twin Owston’s Civets.  The young pair, named Tai and Quy, are the offspring of mother, Dong Ha, and father, Bao.  Dong Ha was born and bred at Newquay Zoo, and Bao originated from the Carnivore & Pangolin Conservation Center in Vietnam. 

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13_11728730_10152893681066423_3730226673489094267_oPhoto Credits: Newquay Zoo

Senior Carnivore Keeper, Owen Taylor recently said, “This is a magnificent achievement for all of us here at Newquay Zoo, as the civet species is very vulnerable due to ongoing population decline. So, to have these two new arrivals is a great conservation result and helps us maintain the ongoing survival of this species.”

John Meek, Curator, added, “The arrival of the Owston's Civets is a welcome addition to the animal population [at the zoo], as this extraordinary species are actually illegally hunted for their fur and often eaten in local restaurants in Vietnam. So, to be able to continue to preserve this species is a fantastic win for Owen and the team.”

Owston’s Civet (also known as Owston’s Palm Civet) is named after wildlife collector Alan Owston and is native to Vietnam, Laos, and southern China.

A civet is a small, mostly nocturnal mammal that is native to tropical Asia and Africa. The term civet applies to over a dozen different mammal species. The best-known species is the African Civet, which historically has been the main species from which a musky scent, used in perfumes, was obtained.

Civets have a broadly cat-like appearance, though the muzzle is extended and often pointed, much like an otter or mongoose. They range in length from 17 to 28 inches (43 to 71 cm) and in weight from 3 to 10 lbs. (1.4 to 4.5 kg).

The civet will spend most of their days asleep and start their foraging for food at dusk. Occasionally they will venture up the trees to look for food but prefer to spend most of their time on the ground, using their long snouts to dig into the soil for food.

The civet produces a musk (also called civet) that is highly valued as a fragrance and stabilizing agent for perfume. Both male and female produce the secretion. The secretion is harvested by killing the animal or by removing the glands.

Owston’s Civet is currently listed as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List due to an ongoing population decline. It is estimated there has been a loss of more than 30% of the population over the last three generations (about 15 years), due to over-exploitation, habitat destruction, and degradation.


Zoo Brno Visitors Witness Zebra Birth

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On July 15, lucky visitors, to the African Village Exhibit at ZOO Brno, witnessed the birth of a Chapman’s Zebra!

The foal was born, at the Czech zoo, to mom Arwen and dad, Elvis.

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4_11033075_919117998126619_5975114748841858847_oPhoto Credits: Zoo Brno (Images 1 - 4); Marie Pilátová (Images 5 - 11)

The Chapman’s Zebra is a subspecies of the Plains Zebra. Like their relatives, they are native to the savannah of northeast South Africa, north to Zimbabwe, west into Botswana, the Caprivi Strip in Namibia, and southern Angola.

The Chapman's Zebra eats mainly grass and occasionally shrubs. They are currently at low risk status on the IUCN Red List, but like other animals, are still under threat because of habitat destruction and illegal poaching.

Chapman's Zebra is distinguished by stripes on the lower halves of the legs, which break up into many irregular brown spots. The pastern is not completely black on the lower half. When foals are born they have brown stripes, and in some cases, adults do not develop the black coloration in their fur and keep their brown stripes. Males usually weigh 600–800 pounds and stand at 48–52" tall. Females approximately weigh 500–700 pounds and stand as tall as the males

Like most members of the horse family, zebras, in general, are highly social. Their social structure, however, depends on the species. Like horses, zebras sleep standing up, and only sleep when neighbors are around to warn them of predators.

Female zebras mature earlier than the males, and a mare may have her first foal by the age of three. Males are not able to breed until the age of five or six. Mares may give birth to one foal every twelve months. She nurses the foal for up to a year. Like horses, zebras are able to stand, walk and suckle shortly after they are born.

Amazing pics of the birth, taken by Zoo Brno visitor Marie Pilátová, below the fold!

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