Cheetah Siblings Get Extra Care in San Diego


Visitors hoping to glimpse three Cheetah cubs at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park weren’t disappointed when the trio debuted on February 22.  The three siblings – one male and two females – watched the people, explored their surroundings, played with each other and, typical of any infant, after one of their five daily feedings, settled in for a long nap.

The 7-week-old Cheetahs were born January 6 at San Diego Zoo Global’s off-site Cheetah Breeding Center to an inexperienced mom named Malana. In an effort to care for her cubs, Malana inadvertently caused minor injuries to them. After being with their mother for five weeks, the cubs were taken to the Animal Care Center to be monitored for medical issues. Keepers will keep close watch over them, feeding them a special diet of soft carnivore food and formula, and weighing them to monitor their health. After they turn 12 weeks old and receive their three-month immunization, they will be returned to their home at the Cheetah Breeding Center.

Photo Credit: Ken Bohn

The Cheetah siblings don’t have names yet, but keepers call them “Purple,” “Yellow,” and “Blue” because of the colors of temporary ID markings placed on their tails. Purple is the smallest of the two sisters, and keepers describe her as feisty and very playful—and she has a big appetite. Yellow is also very playful and loves cuddling with her siblings; and Blue, the only male, loves to play and take extra-long naps.

Cheetahs are native to Africa and a small part of Iran. They are classified as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. It is estimated that the worldwide population of Cheetahs has dropped from 100,000 in 1900 to just 7,000 today, with about 10 percent living in zoos or wildlife parks.

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is one of nine breeding facilities that are part of the Cheetah Breeding Center Coalition (CBCC). The goal of the coalition is to create a sustainable Cheetah population that will prevent extinction of the world’s fastest land animal. San Diego Zoo Global has been breeding Cheetahs for more than 40 years, with more than 160 cubs born to date.

Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. Their work includes on-site wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents.


Tiger Cubs Get Their 6-Week Exams - And Their Names


Two male Sumatran Tiger cubs at Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens had a big week: they received their first round of vaccinations and were named!

Born on November 20, 2017 to mom Dorcas and dad Berani, the two male cubs are growing well and appear to be in great health. You first met the cubs here on ZooBorns.

The larger of the two cubs weighs 14 pounds and is named “Rocky.” His slightly smaller brother, who weighs about 12 pounds, was dubbed “Jaggar.”

Tiger-cubs-5Photo Credit: Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens

The zoo’s veterinary staff gave each feisty cub a physical exam, including weighing the cubs, checking their eyes, and inspecting their tiny canine teeth. They cubs were vaccinated against respiratory infections and feline distemper – the same vaccinations given to house cats. Each cub was also microchipped for identification.

While the animal care team can be “hands-on” with the cubs, they never interact directly with adult Tigers. Thanks to daily training sessions that build trust between the animals and the care team, Dorcas voluntarily moves to an adjoining pen while the team examines the cubs.

Over the next two months, the cubs will receive two more rounds of vaccines including boosters and a rabies vaccination.

The now six-week-old cubs need to grow bigger before they are able to explore the outdoor habitat of the public viewing areas. Until then, a live-streaming video of the cubs in their behind-the-scenes nursery den is available on the Zoo’s YouTube channel.

Rocky and Jaggar spend much of their time nursing, sleeping, or being groomed by mom. Each day, the cubs are becoming more mobile and playful, much to the delight of faithful “cub cam” viewers.

See more photos of the cubs below.

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Rare Sri Lankan Leopard Cubs Born at Zoo Brno

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Two Endangered Sri Lankan Leopard cubs at the Czech Republic’s Zoo Brno had their first veterinary checkup last week.

Born in November 2017 to female Nayana, the cubs – one male and one female – were proclaimed healthy and strong by the veterinary team. Each weighs a little over four-and-a-half pounds.  

26173533_1636575439714201_4204586484020348069_oPhoto Credit:  Zoo Brno

The cubs have spent their first weeks of life tucked into the den with Nayana, where they nurse, sleep, and play with each other.  They are the first Ski Lankan Leopard cubs to be born at the zoo in 17 years.

Sri Lankan Leopards are one of nine Leopard subspecies recognized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).  (Some taxonomists recognize only eight Leopard subspecies.) Even though Leopards are considered highly adaptable and live in mountains, forests, deserts, and grasslands in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, all Leopard subspecies are in decline. Sri Lankan Leopards are listed as Endangered by the IUCN, with the primary threats coming from loss of habitat, loss of prey species, and poaching for body parts.


Rare Malayan Tiger Cubs Show Their Personalities


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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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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Tiger Cubs Get Their First Checkup at Jacksonville Zoo

Cub one with closed eyesJacksonville Zoo and Gardens is celebrating the birth of two critically endangered Sumatran Tiger cubs. The cubs’ mother, 6-year-old Dorcas, gave birth at 11:40 a.m. on November 20. The Tigers’ keepers were able to keep an eye on the process using a closed-circuit camera system.

Both cubs are male and represent the second litter for Dorcas and father, Berani. The Zoo’s first Sumatran Tiger birth in its 102-year history is big sister Kinleigh Rose, born on November 19, 2015 – two years and a day before the arrival of her little brothers. 

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Cub one with closed eyesPhoto Credit: Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

“One of the biggest pleasures as the Zoo’s Tiger-management program evolves, is watching the effect that it has on the wellness of our animals,” said Dan Dembiec, Supervisor of Mammals. “Dorcas started out as a skittish and shy Tigress, but she is now a confident and skilled mother.  She is a natural at providing her cubs with the necessary care to help them develop, and this is reflective of the care that she has received from the staff at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens.”

The cubs received their first medical exam on November 28. Zoo Animal Health staff were able to quickly and efficiently examine the cubs because of the exceptional bonding and training the keeper staff has established with the mother. Dorcas trusted her keepers and was therefore willing to be separated from the cubs when keepers requested it.

Dr. Yousuf Jafarey gave the cubs’ brief physical examinations and determined they look healthy, are nursing well, and have no congenital health problems. Both cubs weighed 4.5 pounds. Within minutes the cubs were back with their mother in the nesting box, behind-the-scenes in the Tiger viewing building.

The cubs will not be on exhibit for several months. They still require a series of health examinations and vaccinations. They’ll continue to strengthen the bond with their mom, and even require a swim test before the cubs are ready to explore their outdoor habitat in public viewing areas. A live video feed of the nest box can be seen in the Tiger viewing building, on either side of the donor wall.

The birth of two Sumatran Tiger cubs is especially significant because the Zoo’s Tigers are part of a globally-managed species program. Zoological facilities around the world, including Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens’ work to maintain a healthy population. There are currently less than 400 Sumatran Tigers in the wild.

See more photos of the cubs below.

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Attack of the Snow Leopard Cub!

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A Snow Leopard cub born this summer at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) Bronx Zoo has made its public debut.

The female cub, who has not yet been named, plays and wrestles with her mother, K2, in the photos and video below. Baby animals develop important skills through play, and K2 is proving to be a patient teacher even when her cub is in “attack mode.”

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Julie Larsen Maher_8053_Snow Leopard Cub_HIM_BZ_09 07 17 Photo Credit: Julie Larsen Mayer/WCS

The cub is the second-generation offspring of Leo – a Snow Leopard who was rescued as a young orphaned cub after being found in the high mountains of northern Pakistan in 2005. Leo was brought to the Bronx Zoo in 2006 as part of a historic collaboration between WCS and the U.S. and Pakistani governments.

The cub’s father, Naltar, was sired by Leo in 2013.

“This Snow Leopard cub is special not only because it is an ambassador for its species, but because of its lineage," said Dr. Patrick Thomas, WCS Vice President and General Curator, and Bronx Zoo Associate Director who was part of the delegation who brought Leo from Pakistan. “Leo and his descendants, including this cub, will help bolster the health and genetics of the Snow Leopard population in AZA-accredited zoos.”

More than 70 cubs have been born at the Bronx Zoo – more the than any other zoo in North America – and the Bronx was the first zoo in the United States to exhibit the species in 1903. The Bronx Zoo breeds Snow Leopards as part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP), a cooperative breeding program designed to enhance the genetic viability of animal populations in zoos and aquariums accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). 

Snow Leopards are native to remote mountains of Central Asia and parts of China, Mongolia, Russia, India and Bhutan. WCS has worked for decades on Snow Leopard conservation programs in the field with current projects in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and western China. Past projects have also included work with Snow Leopards in Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia.

In Pakistan, WCS has been implementing a community-based conservation program since 1997 to help protect the Snow Leopard and other wildlife. The program includes education, training, and institution building for community resource management. WCS has helped create over 60 natural resource committees and trained over 100 community rangers to monitor Snow Leopards and other wildlife and stop deforestation and poaching that threatens these species and local livelihoods.

As a result of ongoing conservation efforts, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recently reclassified Snow Leopards from Endangered to Threatened. The species’ survival is still at risk and continues to face threats that stem from human activities such as habitat loss and illegal killings.

See more photos of the playful cub below.

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Cheetah Cubs Born at Basel Zoo


After spending months tucked away with their mother, two Cheetah cubs born at Basel Zoo can now be seen by zoo visitors. The cubs have been named Opuwo and Onysha.

Born on July 18 to first-time mother Novi and father Gazembe, the cubs’ birth is the result of careful planning and strategy by the zoo staff. 

Geparden_mit_jungtieren_ZOB7306Photo Credit:  Basel Zoo

Cheetahs are solitary animals and will only tolerate having a partner nearby during mating season. To encourage breeding, male and female Cheetahs take turns living several enclosures behind the scenes. This allows each Cat to become familiar with a potential mate’s scent, which may encourage breeding.

If a female Cheetah shows interest in a male Cheetah, the zoo keeper must place them together immediately and hope that sparks fly. So far, this strategy has been successful for Basel Zoo with a total of 29 Cheetah cubs born there to date. The first Cheetahs arrived at Basel Zoo in 1936, but the first successful breeding occurred in 1993. Breeding Cheetahs remains a challenge for zoos. Of the more than 100 zoos holding Cheetahs in the EEP (European Endangered Species Programme), only around ten zoos had cubs this year.

It is typical for wild Cheetah mothers to move their newborns to new hiding places, so the family’s move to the zoo’s outdoor habitat on October 6 aligns with this instinct. 

Cheetahs are classed as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. According to an estimate by the IUCN, there were only 7,500 Cheetahs in all of Africa in 2008. This number is now thought to have dropped to 5,000.

See more photos of the Cheetah cubs below.

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Snow Leopard Cub Takes It Outside

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When Woodland Park Zoo keepers opened the door allowing Aibek, a 2-month-old Snow Leopard, to leave the maternity den for the first time, the cub zipped outside so fast that he beat his mom into the outdoor habitat.

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2017_09_19 Aibek snow leopard 900-1wmPhoto Credit: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo

Aibek immediately began pouncing, climbing, and stealthily sneaking around the enclosure amid a light drizzling rain. He climbed to the top of the habitat’s rocky hill and promptly found a spot that was nearly out of sight to the crowd that had gathered to greet him – typical of Snow Leopards, which are elusive in the wild, too.

You first met Aibek, who was born July 6, on ZooBorns when he was just a few weeks old. Like all wild Snow Leopards, he spent the first two months of his life snuggled in a cozy den with his mother, feeding exclusively on her milk. While mom Helen and her cub were bonding in the den, keepers were able to conduct occasional wellness checks and observed that Helen was providing excellent care for her cub. Now a healthy 10 pounds, Aibek has started eating meat but still nurses from his mom.

Aibek is the first single cub to be born at the zoo. Snow Leopards typically have litters of two or three cubs, so keepers expected Aibek to be rather timid since he had no siblings to wrestle and play with. But so far, Aibek has demonstrated confidence as he explores the outdoors, and Helen is an experienced mother who knows how to keep her cub safe.

Snow Leopards are listed as a Vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. These cats live in the high mountain ranges of Russia and several Central Asian nations, including in Afghanistan, China, India, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal and Pakistan. According to the Snow Leopard Trust, the wild population of Snow Leopards is estimated to be between 3,920 and 6,390 individuals.

More photos and info below!

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Clouded Leopard Cubs Climb to New Heights

21231255_1427079080661866_5978684021896106567_nToronto Zoo’s four-month-old Clouded Leopard cubs are transitioning to a new play space and zoo guests can now see the sisters during limited times on most days.

Their new den has climbing logs positioned just right for the growing cubs to develop their skills.  Right now, the logs are low (at “toddler” level) but they can be repositioned for more challenging exercise as the cubs grow. Clouded Leopards are extremely agile and can even climb on the underside of tree branches, as one of the cubs demonstrates in the photos.

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Born May 13, the cubs were first introduced to ZooBorns readers here. They’ve been under human care ever since they were a few days old because their mother did not care for them properly. By the time the two female cubs were two months old, they were thriving, as reported on ZooBorns.

Keepers report that one of the cubs is more adventurous than her sister and is often the first to dive in to new experiences. They often play wrestle together and seem to enjoy ripping apart banana leaves.

Each cub weighs about eight pounds, and they now eat solid foods – nearly a pound per day each!

Clouded Leopards live in the Himalayan foothills of Southeast Asia, where their numbers are decreasing. About 10,000 Clouded Leopards remain in the wild, but the population is fragmented into groups no larger than 1,000 animals. The forested areas are not large enough to sustain the populations in the long term. Clouded Leopards are poached for the commercial wildlife trade, and body parts are sold on the black market for traditional Asian medicines, which are proven to have no actual health benefits. Clouded Leopards are listed as Vulnerable to Extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.

See more photos below.

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Confiscated Tiger Cub Finds Refuge at San Diego Safari Park


A tiny male Bengal Tiger cub that was being smuggled into the United States is receiving care at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The young Tiger was confiscated by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officers, who discovered the cub while inspecting a vehicle entering the U.S. from Mexico on August 23.

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Once the cub was safely at the Safari Park, veterinary staff performed a thorough health exam and determined that he was in good health. “His heart and lungs sound good, his blood work looked great and, since he took a bottle from us, it’s a good sign he’ll continue to thrive,” said Dr. Jim Oosterhuis, principal veterinarian.

“I estimate the cub to be between 5 and 6 weeks old, and he weighs in at a little over 6 pounds,” Dr. Oosterhuis said. “He has teeth coming in, so he’ll be teething in the next week or two—so, animal care staff will have a little chore getting him through that.”

The cub is being cared for in the Safari Park’s nursery, and once his location became known, hundreds of eager fans gathered outside the nursery window hoping to see the tiny Tiger. He is now viewable most of the day, except when he is taking a ‘catnap,’ according to his keepers. The cub receives a bottle six times a day with a special formula made for exotic carnivores and is thriving under the watchful eyes of his care team. He is steadily gaining weight and now weighs more than seven pounds. His teeth are coming in and he’s chewing on everything in sight—stuffed toys, blankets, even his paws.

Guests watching the cub through the nursery window might see keepers using a wet cotton ball to give the cub a bath. This procedure mimics how wild mother Tigers bathe their cubs after feedings.

See more photos of the Tiger cub below.

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