Rhino Calf ‘Crashes’ the Party at Cotswold Wildlife Park

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On August 18, Cotswold Wildlife Park, in the UK, had a rather unexpected arrival. Their Southern White Rhino, Nancy, gave birth to her second calf. Keepers knew Nancy was pregnant, but the actual time of birth came as a bit of a surprise and was a little earlier than expected.

Births in captivity are considered extremely rare, with only fourteen White Rhinos being born in European zoos in the last twelve months. Cotswold Wildlife Park was responsible for two out of the three recorded UK births. The new addition is the sixth member to join the ‘crash’ (the collective noun for a group of Rhinos).  

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3_Baby Rhino in paddock with Nancy (9)

4_Baby Rhino in paddock with Nancy (6)Photo Credits: Cotswold Wildlife Park

 Curator Jamie Craig commented: “After almost forty years of desperately trying to breed from our old group of Rhinos with no success, we are delighted to now have had three calves since 2013. The newest member of the crash was somewhat more of a surprise than we’d like, but at present, all seems to be going well.”

It’s been a remarkable few years for the Rhino family. In 2013, first-time parents, Monty and Nancy (both nine years old), delighted staff and visitors when they produced the first calf in the Park’s forty-three year history - a female named Astrid. Two years later, she has been joined by a baby brother, who is yet to be named. To add to the celebrations, earlier this year, another of the Park’s breeding females, Ruby, gave birth to a male calf, named Ian.

Southern White Rhinos (Ceratotherium simum simum) are the largest of the five Rhino subspecies and range throughout the grassland of Southern Africa. They are currently classified as “Near Threatened” on the IUCN Red List and have always been an important species at Cotswold Wildlife Park, which was founded by Mr. John Heyworth in 1970. His son Reggie Heyworth, Managing Director of Cotswold Wildlife Park, commented: “You wait forty years, then it seems like three come along at once!  This is such a happy event for the Park, and I have to pinch myself when I see six rhinos on the lawn.”

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Rare Horned Guans Hatch at Saint Louis Zoo

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The Saint Louis Zoo announced that two critically endangered Horned Guan chicks hatched at the Zoo on August 7—the first for the Zoo and only the second recorded breeding of the species in the United States. 

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Horned guan adult_David Merritt Saint Louis ZooPhoto Credits:  Ray Meibaum (1, 2, 3); David Merritt (4)

Because these are the first offspring for the inexperienced parents, the chicks are being hand-raised behind the scenes.

At two weeks old, the chicks weighed five ounces, stood about 8 inches tall and had fuzzy brown and black downy feathers. Their unique horns will start to develop at approximately 3 months of age. The horn begins with two bumps on the top of the head. These bumps gradually twist and grow together.

One of the rarest bird species in the world, the Horned Guan population in the wild is down to only 1,000 to 2,000 individuals in southeastern Mexico and Guatemala because their cloud forest habitat has been destroyed for logging, coffee plantations and other cash crops.

“This hatching is an important development in what has been a great effort to save this species; it was the result of many years of hard work,” said Jeffrey P. Bonner, Dana Brown President and Chief Executive Officer at the Saint Louis Zoo. “It took great attention to the welfare of the parents and enormous patience and persistence” from the zoo staff to achieve this milestone.

The parents of the two chicks are a male, age 12, who arrived at the zoo nine years ago and a female, 7, who arrived five years ago from the Cloud Forest Ambassadors Program at the Africam Safari Zoo in Puebla, Mexico, where they hatched. In 2007, the Saint Louis Zoo became the first accredited zoo in the nation to exhibit this species. Currently 56 Horned Guans are found in five institutions primarily in Mexico.  

Large and dramatic, the adult Horned Guan (seen in the bottom photo) has a unique two-inch-long red horn of bare skin extending from the top of its head. This horn is thought to be ornamental to attract a mate. This bird has a bright white chest laced with fine lines of black feathers and a body covered with a jet black plumage that shines an iridescent blue in the sun. They are about the size of a small turkey and are arboreal, rarely coming to the ground in their native mountain forests. Horned Guans are related to some of the most endangered birds in the world—Curassows, Guans and Chachalacas.

The Saint Louis Zoo began working intensively with other species of Guans in 1997, when it received a $25,000 Institute of Museum Services grant to investigate artificial insemination techniques in this highly endangered group of birds.  The zoo was also the location for the first ever hatching of a chick—a common Piping Guan—from the artificial insemination of a cracid species. Cracids are a family of game birds, like the Horned Guan, that are found predominantly throughout the Latin American tropics.

Since then, the zoo has worked with this endangered family of birds in Trinidad and Columbia and, in 2004, founded the WildCare Institute and the Center for Conservation of the Horned Guan. The Horned Guan Conservation Center staff has worked for a decade with its partners to conduct research on this elusive species. The complex dynamics of seed dispersal and habitat utilization are little understood.

The Center also is encouraging improved habitat management—advocating for increasing the protected area that is home to the Horned Guan and working to limit the factors that threaten vulnerable wildlife in this area. In addition, the Center has initiated an education program to teach local communities how to farm in more habitat-friendly ways and to strengthen community conservation participation.

“These programs, coupled with enforcement action, are expected to help reduce the threats caused by illegal timber removal and hunting,” said Center Director Michael Macek. “There is hope for this species thanks to efforts to reduce coffee plantations and to form additional reserves that can provide potential for eco-tourism, resulting in alternative economic opportunities for local communities.”

 


It's A Boy! Baby Giraffe Born At Auckland Zoo

11893970_10153106151701984_8230317602288156455_oEarly in the morning on August 21, a baby Rothschild’s Giraffe was born at New Zealand’s Auckland Zoo!

The male calf was born to mother Kiraka and father Zabulu.  This is the second calf for Kiraka and the first male calf to be born at the zoo since 2010.

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Photo Credit:  Auckland Zoo

For now, Kiraka and her calf are behind the scenes bonding, but the staff expects them to join the herd in the exhibit soon.

Baby Giraffes are born while the mother is standing, and fall six feet to the ground.  The fall breaks the umbilical cord and induces the newborn to take its first breath.  Mom immediately begins licking her baby, and the calf attempts to stand within the first hour of birth.  Shortly afterward, the calf will begin to nurse.  These instincts are important to a calf's survival in the wild.  If the calf can’t get up and move right away, it could fall prey to hungry hyenas or lions.

Once believed to be plentiful across Africa, Giraffes are now known to be in serious decline.  Of the nine subspecies of Giraffes, two are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature – including the Rothschild’s Giraffe.  Threats come from loss and fragmentation of habitat.  Giraffes have already become extinct in seven African countries.   


Jaguar Birth Announced at Ellen Trout Zoo

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Ellen Trout Zoo, in Texas, recently announced the birth of a male Jaguar cub. The cub was born August 20 to 9-year-old mom, Seraphina, and 3-year-old dad, Kabah. The little boy has been named Balam (Mayan word for jaguar). 

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4_11950171_961046077296060_35610520625297344_oPhoto Credits: Ellen Trout Zoo

The new cub, which was born as part of the AZA Species Survival Plan, is an important new addition. The last Jaguar birth at Ellen Trout Zoo occurred in 1996 when a litter of three was born at the East Texas zoo.

Seraphina, unfortunately, was not nursing Balam after his birth. Keepers intervened and are now feeding and caring for him. The cub has been doing well under the Zoo Staff’s care and supervision. He weighed 1.6 pounds at birth and is now up to 2 pounds.

The Zoo has not stated when it will be possible to return Balam to the care of his mother. For now, their objective is to provide the attention he needs to ensure he thrives and develops properly.

The cub is not on public view, at the moment. Staff will post regular updates on the Zoo’s media pages, and they will announce when he makes his public debut.

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Lynx Trio Explores Highland Wildlife Park

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At almost three months old, the Northern Lynx triplets, at RZSS Highland Wildlife Park in Scotland, spent their first few weeks huddled together in the warmth of various dens with their mother, but they are now bravely venturing out to explore their whole enclosure. 

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4_RZSSHWP_2015NorthernLynxCubs9_creditAlexRiddell.JPGPhoto Credits: Alex Riddell/RZSS

Born to mum, Dimma, and dad, Switch, on May 25, this is the fourth consecutive year the couple have had cubs. Una Richardson, Head Keeper for Carnivores at RZSS Highland Wildlife Park, commented, “This is the fourth year in a row they have produced cubs - a real testament to the quality of the animal husbandry and the enclosure here. Dimma gave birth to her previous litters in the bushes at the front of the enclosure, which required us to rope-off the adjacent visitor path, but this year she has opted for the privacy and security of the nest boxes provided in the lynx house.”

Dimma, which means 'fog' in Swedish, was born on the 24 May 2010, at Boras Wild Animal Park, in Sweden, and she arrived at Highland Wildlife Park in February 2012. Switch was born May 2010, in Latvia, and came to the Park one month after Dimma

The cubs’ antics are generating quite a stir with keepers and visitors to the Park. Richardson remarked, “Watching the cubs play fighting with each other, running and tumbling about the enclosure, it’s easy to see why they are quickly becoming favorites with both staff and visitors, over the past few weeks. They have been putting on quite a show, especially at feeding time when they routinely play stalk and pounce on sections of meat as big as themselves.”

RZSS Highland Wildlife Park's Lynx are part of the European Zoo Association's coordinated breeding programme and, although the species is not endangered, it has become locally extinct in many areas across Europe, resulting in some sub-populations being considered “endangered” or even “critically endangered”. The Lynx occurred in the UK until possibly as late as the Middle Ages. Loss of habitat, reduced prey availability and illegal hunting are the biggest threats to wild Lynx populations. There have been a number of successful Lynx reintroduction projects within Europe, including in Switzerland and France.

Northern Lynx have a short, thick tail with a blunt black tip. They have distinctive dark tufts on their ears, which are thought to act a bit like antennae in helping to locate prey using their excellent hearing. The Lynx also has exceptional leaping ability, as it is an ambush predator

They also have a pale sandy-grey to rusty-red colored coat, with indistinct spots. In winter, the coat becomes much denser and the large, rounded feet help them travel over deep snow.

Northern lynx mate in late February to early March. They usually have 2 or 3 kittens, which stay with their mother until next breeding season.

More great pics, below the fold!

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Israel's Sand Cat Kittens Back by Popular Demand

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Since so many of you loved our story about Zoological Center Tel Aviv-Ramat Gan's Sand Cat kittens yesterday, we couldn't resist sharing new pictures we received this morning.  The more recent images show the kittens a bit older and with their eyes fully open! Enjoy!

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Photos by Tibor Jager

See more below the fold!

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Kittens Surprise Their Keepers at Tel Aviv Safari Park

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Rotem is a rare Sand Cat, and she lives at the Zoological Center Tel Aviv-Ramat Gan. After her partner, Sela, died about a year ago, keepers began searching for a young male Sand Cat who could take Sela's place. After intensive searching, a match was located at a zoo in Sweden, 3-year old Kalahari.

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4_0924_2015_08_07_014Photo Credits: Tibor Jager

The connection between the two seemed rather hesitant. After a period of getting acquainted, the zookeepers put Rotem and Kalahari together, but they weren't sure that the relationship was going in the right direction. In order to try and ensure a bond, the zookeepers decided to leave the two together in the same enclosure for the night.

Until that point in time, it wasn't customary to leave the Sand Cats together at night, in order to eliminate the possibility of tension and fights when the zookeepers weren't around. Since no violent behavior had been observed between the two since Kalahari's arrival, it was decided to leave them together day and night.

Three weeks ago, early in the morning when the zookeepers arrived at the Safari, they found three tiny kittens in a burrow in the enclosure. Rotem had given birth, and was already devotedly caring for her kittens!

During the period when Sela was Rotem's mate, the zookeepers had managed to document every time the pair mated during the day, as this took place only in the outside yard. Now, as Kalahari and Rotem remained together at night, the night matings weren't documented, so it wasn't possible to count the 60-69 days between mating and birth. Even though Rotem's stomach grew larger, the zookeepers couldn't know when she was expected to give birth.

The small, stocky Sand Cat (Felis margarita) is a species of great importance. They are classified as “Near Threatened” on the IUCN Red List. There are only 200 Sand Cats in European zoos, and many attempts are being made to breed them with the hope that it will be possible to reintroduce them back to the wild.

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Red Panda Cub Born at Longleat Safari Park

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A rare Red Panda cub has been born at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park, in the UK, after keepers launched an international “lonely-hearts ad” to find a mate for the cub's father. It’s the first time the famous Wiltshire safari park has successfully bred Red Pandas, and keepers are delighted with how well the cub, which has yet to be named, is doing.

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4_Red panda mum and dad at Longleat PIC Ian TurnerPhoto Credits: Ian Turner / Longleat Safari & Adventure Park

Dad Ajenda, which means ‘King of the Mountain’, came to Longleat from Germany in 2012, and mum Rufina, meaning ‘red-haired’, arrived from Italy just over a year later, following an appeal by keepers. The birth is particularly welcome as this particular pairing is deemed to be critical to the ongoing success of European Endangered Species Programme for the Red Panda.

Like their famous, but unrelated, namesakes the Giant Pandas, Red Pandas are increasingly endangered in the wild. The species was officially designated as ‘Vulnerable’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2008 when the global population was estimated at about 10,000 individuals. A ‘Vulnerable’ species is one which has been categorized as likely to become ‘Endangered’ unless the circumstances threatening its survival and reproduction improve.

“We’re delighted with how well Rufina is looking after the young cub, and both mother and baby are doing brilliantly,” said keeper Robert Curtis.

“Cubs don’t tend to start venturing out on their own for the first three months, and Rufina, like all Red Panda mums, regularly moves the cub to different nesting areas. This is perfectly natural behavior but makes keeping track of the baby...somewhat problematic for us!” Curtis added.

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Panda Twins Cause Giant Stir at Smithsonian’s Nat. Zoo

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Giant Panda Mei Xiang (may-SHONG) gave birth to twins at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo on August 22. The panda team witnessed the first cub’s birth at 5:35 pm.  A second cub was born at 10:07pm. 

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4_20191285443_22e6b35e63_kPhoto Credits: Smithsonian's National Zoo / (Images 9 & 10: Connor Mallon)

A panda team of three keepers retrieved one of the cubs per the Zoo’s Giant Panda Twin Hand-Rearing protocol. The cub was placed in an incubator and was cared for by veterinarians and panda keepers. At this time, it has not been confirmed if the retrieved cub was the first born or second born. The retrieved cub was vocalizing very well and appeared healthy. It weighed 138 grams.

Giant Pandas give birth to twins approximately 50 percent of the time. This is only the third time a Giant Panda living in the United States has given birth to twins.

The panda team will alternately swap the cubs, allowing one to nurse and spend time with Mei Xiang, while the other is being bottle fed and kept warm in an incubator. The sex of the cubs won’t be determined until a later date.

As of this morning (August 24), the zoo reports that the panda cubs are doing well, but the panda team had a challenging night. When they tried to swap the cubs at 11p.m., Mei Xiang would not set down the cub she had in her possession. Consequently, the panda team cared for the smaller cub throughout the night until 7:05 am, when they successfully swapped the cubs. The panda team supplemented the smaller cub with formula by bottle-feeding. They were concerned that the smaller cub was not getting enough volume, so they moved to tube feeding which went well and quickly.  Their goal is for each cub to spend an equal amount of time with their mother.  Keepers stated, the newborn cubs are vulnerable and this first week is incredibly important and the risk remains high. The panda team is doing great work, around the clock, and will continue to keep the public posted.

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Baby Sloth Cuddles With Furry Friend

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A baby Two-toed Sloth at the London Zoo has two special friends:  a zoo keeper and a stuffed toy Sloth to cuddle with.Yawning sloth baby at ZSL London Zoo - July 2015 (c)ZSL

Sloth baby on toy sloth at ZSL London Zoo - July 2015 (c)ZSLPhoto Credit:  ZSL London Zoo
The baby, born in June to second-time parents Marilyn and Leander, needed a helping hand when his mother stopped producing milk and was unable to care for her infant.

Keepers have named the young male Edward after the character Edward Scissorhands, due to his impressive claws, which will grow up to four inches in length and enable him to cling on and climb easily through the trees in his habitat.

To help strengthen Edward’s little limbs, keepers fitted his Sloth-teddy with carabiners so that it can be hung from a branch, enabling the youngster to cling the same way he would with mom.

Edward gets a bottle of goat’s milk every three hours, but, befitting the notoriously slow nature of Sloths, keepers sometimes have to wait for him to stir from a deep slumber before feeding can begin.  When Edward is hungry, he lets keepers know by emitting a loud, sneeze-like squeak.

Detailed records are maintained on everything the infant does, including eating , sleeping, and even Edward’s potty-habits. Sloths leave their high tree-top habitats only once a week to go to the toilet, so by keeping track of his poop, Edward’s keepers can account for any weight losses or gains.

Two-toed Sloths are slow-moving, tree-dwelling, nocturnal herbivores, found in tropical forests in Central and South America. Sloths are strong swimmers and can drop from a tree branch into a river to swim across it. When sleeping, Sloths often curl up in a ball in the fork of a tree.