ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo Gets Late Christmas Gift

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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.

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Pygmy-hippo-calf-(4)Photo Credits: ZSL Whipsnade

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.


Lazarus the Gazelle Makes a Comeback

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A newborn Thomson’s Gazelle, abandoned by its mother, was taken home by a senior keeper at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo and nursed back to health.

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10484549_974761079206629_7268796461622791201_oPhoto Credits: ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

‘Larry’, who was born October 9th, is one of only four Thomson’s Gazelles in the UK, all of which live at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo.

After the little gazelle, Larry, was born, keepers noticed that his first-time mother was not returning to feed him, and they grew concerned for his survival. Senior staff-members at the zoo were forced to make the difficult decision to step in and hand-rear Larry, requiring Team Leader, Mark Holden, to bottle-feed the calf with goat milk five times a day and at regular intervals during the night.

Mark said, “It’s always a last resort to separate a calf from the group, but little Larry was getting very weak and needed our help. As soon as we got some milk into him he started to improve. We named him ‘Lazarus’---Larry for short---because for a moment there, we really didn’t think he was going to pull through.”

“We put a sky kennel in our lounge for him and he quickly settled into a routine. When he’d had his milk and a little walk-about, he’d just take himself back off to bed. It was a little tricky having Larry in the house. We had to keep an eye on him after each feed and get ready with a towel in case he started to urinate.”

Mark continued, “After two weeks, Larry was healthy enough to go back to ZSL Whipsnade Zoo and be reunited with the group, although he’s still getting a lot of extra care. He’s doing really well now, growing nicely and putting on weight. He has started to eat some solids like grass and hay, and he can be properly weaned in a few months.”


This Guy Knows How to Make an Entrance

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ZSL Whipsnade Zoo’s new Asian Elephant made a grand entrance into the world and arrived just a few days ahead of the zoo’s ‘Elephantastic Weekend’. 

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ZSL Whipsnade_BabyElephant_3Photo Credits: Natasha Jefferies (1); Jenny Soppet Smith (2); ZSL Whipsnade Zoo (3,4,5,6,7)

The brand new male calf was born September 16th to fourth-time mother, Azizah, in one of the zoo’s large grassy paddocks. Other members of the herd of ten Asian Elephants were nearby, showing their support for Azizah as her labor progressed, including the new calf’s siblings. Under the elephant breeding program, nine elephants have been born at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo.

Assistant Curator of Elephants, Lee Sambrook said, “It was wonderful to be able to witness a herd birth at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. We have a great track record with the elephant breeding program here, but seeing a baby born with all his aunties and uncles around in such a natural environment was an incredible privilege. Elephants are such social animals and you could see that the rest of the herd’s presence was just what Azizah needed to stay calm and do what she needed to do. The team of vets and keepers were standing by and monitoring her development, but it was so fantastic that the birth happened naturally, and with the herd’s help, rather than ours."

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo’s ‘Elephantastic Weekend’ was held September 20th and 21st.  It was planned to coincide with the world-wide Elephant Appreciation Day, and helps to raise money for elephant conservation and research projects, through fun family activities, fascinating talks, and unforgettable elephant encounters.

The Asian Elephant is native to Southeast Asia from India in the west to Borneo in the east. They are currently classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List.  In the wild, the pre-eminent threats to Asian Elephants are: loss, degradation and fragmentation of habitat, and poaching for ivory, meat and leather.

More amazing photos below the fold!

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Baby Hippo Takes a Dip at Whipsnade Zoo

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A baby Hippo made a splashing debut at Zoological Society of London's (ZSL) Whipsnade Zoo by taking a dip in the public pool for the very first time.

The five-week-old Common Hippo calf had been snuggled up to mum, Lola, in their private dens, before making its first appearance in the big pool today.

Born just after 9 a.m. on December 11, the tiny tot is Lola and dad, Hoover’s, second calf. The calf is thought to be a little girl, but its sex is yet to be confirmed. In the meantime, keepers have nicknamed the youngster Nelly.

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Zookeeper Steve White said, “After a few tentative steps on the water’s edge, Nelly was soon enjoying paddling around in the pool and blowing bubbles under the surface as she explored her new surroundings.

“She’s extremely playful and inquisitive and loves nothing more than watching what’s going on around her. She was standing and suckling just an hour after she was born, and mum’s been doing a brilliant job really helping her to thrive.” 

Born after an eight month gestation period, baby Nelly will one day weigh a whopping 1.4 tons (1400kg) when she’s fully grown, and reach up to around five feet four inches (1.6 meters) in height. 

Classed as 'Vulnerable' by the Internation Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species, and under threat from poaching and habitat loss in the wild, Nelly is a much welcomed addition to the European Studbook for Common Hippos.


Lynx Kitten Triplets Make Their Public Debut at Whipsnade Zoo

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With their pointy ears peeking out from the long grass, this trio of Lynx kittens played hide and seek as they recently made their public debut at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. The eight-week-old triplets named Ruby, Amber, and Opal, spent their first few weeks snuggled up inside with their mother, Maja, before taking their first tiny, tentative steps outside this week. And now they are big enough to venture out on their own! The playful kittens are getting bolder by the day and are often spotted perched on tree trunks from which to pounce, play fighting in the grass, and snoozing on logs.

Zookeeper Cliff Tack said: “All three kittens are doing fantastically well. Mum kept them well hidden in their den to begin with, but they’re now growing in confidence and becoming a lot more adventurous, especially with the warm weather encouraging them to come out to play.”

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Photo Credit: ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Known as a crepuscular species, European Lynx are most active at dawn and dusk, and the kittens are already showing signs of this behavior – with keepers spotting the cheeky trio at their most playful at the beginning and end of the day. The all-girl trio, who are parents Maja and Timo’s third litter, are a welcome addition to the European StudBook Breeding Program for Lynx. They are already showing off their distinctive pointed ears, and are just beginning to develop spotted markings on their coats which will continue to appear as they get older.

Read some Fun facts and see more pictures, after the jump:

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It's a Boy! Giraffe Born at Whipsnade Zoo

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The ZSL Whipsnade Zoo is delighted to announce the birth of a male Giraffe.  The as yet-unnamed youngster was born on September 30 to proud first-time mother Ijuma and dad Uno. He's just begun exploring his outdoor exhibit.

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The baby boy took his first wobbly steps just a few hours after birth, a nerve-wracking experience for onlooking zoo keepers. He is now very confident on his long legs and can often be seen galloping around the Giraffe barn.

The Whipsnade Zoo staff  reports that Ijuma has been showing good maternal instincts and the other Giraffes, including Dad Uno, are very curious about the new arrival, peering over the fence to get a better look.

Giraffes are native to eastern and southern Africa.  There are nine subspecies, each with a distinctive coat pattern. As a whole, Giraffes are listed as “Least Concern” by the IUCN, but two of the subspecies are classified as endangered and many populations have become fragmented.  The overall population of Giraffes has decreased by nearly half in the last decade. 

Photo Credit:  ZSL Whipsnade Zoo


Baby Pygmy Hippo a Big Splash at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

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She may be tiny, but this rare Pygmy Hippo is making a big splash at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. Born eight weeks ago, the little calf named Georgina is enjoying exploring her new surroundings, paddling around her heated indoor pool alongside mom. The youngster is the second born to parents Flora and Tapon. She arrived just 18 months after the birth of their son Sapo, who was the first male Pygmy Hippo to be born in Europe.

The new baby is an important addition to the European Endangered Species Program and for the conservation of this species worldwide. Pygmy Hippos are considered Threatened. In the wild their numbers have dwindled to less than 3,000. The species is part of ZSL’s Edge of Existence program – a global conservation effort dedicated to threatened animal species which have a unique evolutionary history. 

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Photo Credit: ZSL Whipsnade

Africa section team leader, Mark Holden, said, “Like the name hippopotamus – which means water horse – suggests, Georgina enjoys taking a dip, paddling around, and blowing bubbles under the water. Flora’s a star mum and is really helping the new calf to thrive.”

 

Meet The Magnificent Seven

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It’s lucky number seven for one proud mother at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo – following the birth of cheetah septuplets! The litter of Northern Cheetah cubs spent their first weeks tucked up behind the scenes with mum Dubai before making their public debut in the Zoo’s Cheetah Rock enclosure. At 12-weeks-old the playful youngsters are just beginning to develop their own personalities, with keepers spotting them climbing on rocks and chasing each other in the summer sunshine, becoming more adventurous by the day.

Senior keeper Marie Brown said: “All seven are extremely playful but mum’s very patient with them all and is doing a great job of bringing them up." The cubs are the second litter of Northern Cheetah to be born at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo – and provide a valuable rearing experience for Dubai of this endangered species.

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Photo credits: ©ZSL

 

The septuplets birth comes two years after Dubai gave birth to her first cubs, which were the first litter of Northern Cheetah cubs ever born in the UK.


Newborn Grevy's Zebra Gives Mom the Run-around

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She may be only three-weeks old but a rare baby zebra born at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo is already making her mom earn her racing stripes. The as-yet-unnamed Grevy’s Zebra, born on July 17, can be spotted giving mother Henna the run around and gambolling in the paddock they share with the rest of the herd, including dad Abeba.

Africa section team leader Mark Holden said: “Henna is doing a great job of looking after her new arrival. It’s her first-born so she’s very protective but both of them are doing really well. The foal can often be seen up and running with the rest of the herd or having a rest with mom.” The leggy youngster was born with brown stripes that will turn black as she matures – her striped pattern is as unique as a fingerprint; no two zebra patterns are the same.

She is the 27th foal to be born at the Zoo as part of a European Endangered Species Program and is an important addition to the species which is classified as 'Endangered' on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species -- with only an estimated 2,500 animals remaining in the wild. In the past, particularly in the 1970s and 80s, the Grevy's Zebra suffered declining numbers due to commercial hunting for their skins and have continued to be affected by habitat loss.

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Photo Credit: ZSL Whipsnade Zoo


Little Lynx Lady-trio Born at Whipsnade Zoo

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One proud set of parents at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo have three reasons to celebrate this summer: the birth of European Lynx kitten triplets. The all-female trio, born in June to parents Maja and Timo, have spent their first weeks of life tucked up in their den but have just now begun to explore outside. This is the second litter of Whipsnade’s rare European Lynx, one of Europe’s largest predators. They were born blind and helpless, weighing between 8.5 -15oz and will reach adult-size at around two-years-old. 

Now that they are big enough to venture out on their own, the playful kittens can be spotted perched on logs and playing hide and seek with each other in the long grass while mom keeps a close watch. Senior keeper Carole Day said: “Mum’s doing a sterling job of looking after all three kittens. They are starting to become more adventurous and independent and are having lots of fun exploring their paddock.”

Known to be a crepuscular species, European Lynx are most active at dawn and dusk and the kittens are no exception. Keepers at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo see the cheeky three playing most often at the beginning and end of the day. Whipsnade’s kittens are already showing off their distinctive pointed ears and large padded paws but won’t develop their spotted markings for another few months yet.

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Photo Credit: Michael Abel