RARE AYE-AYE BORN AT THE DUKE LEMUR CENTER

EDSHPDSC6945Photos 1, 3, and 4 by David Haring. Photo 2 by Sara Clark.

Meet Melisandre, a rare baby aye-aye born at the Duke Lemur Center on August 13, 2019!

The daughter of 23-year-old Ardrey and 9-year-old Grendel, “Mel” is one of nine aye-ayes at the DLC and one of only 25 of her kind in the United States. She is Ardrey’s sixth infant and Grendel’s first.

Melisandra weighed 81 grams on her first weighing on August 14. Although her birthweight was lower than average, Mel’s keeper, Matt Cuskelly, observed that despite her small size she seemed bright, alert, and strong.

Ardrey is an experienced, attentive mother who spends most of her time inside her nest with her infant. And Melisandre is thriving: By August 16, she’d grown to 98 grams; and on August 27, she tipped the scales at 210 grams. (Way to go, Ardrey!)

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Nocturnal primates with bushy tails and bony middle fingers, aye-ayes are endangered on their native island of Madagascar, where logging, slash-and-burn agriculture, and hunting are suspected to have cut their numbers in half in recent decades.

Some villagers in Madagascar believe these lemurs are evil omens and can curse a person by pointing their middle fingers at them; hence many aye-ayes are killed on sight.

In reality, says DLC curator Cathy Williams, the aye-aye is one of the gentlest lemur species. “They’re not at all aggressive, they’re extremely curious and energetic and they’re very intelligent — they learn very quickly.”

Melisandre’s parents Ardrey and Grendel were deemed a good genetic match by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan. Her grandparents — Morticia and Poe (Ardrey) and Endora and Nosferatu (Grendel) — are the first aye-ayes ever imported to the United States.

When Poe and Nosferatu arrived at Duke from Madagascar in 1987, they represented the only aye-ayes in the world within human care. Morticia and Endora arrived in 1991.

Today, all but one of the aye-ayes in North America — as well as others overseas in London, Frankfurt, Bristol, and the Jersey Channel Islands — are descendants of these eight founders.

Melisandre will stay with Ardrey for two to three years while she learns how to forage for food, build a nest and other aye-aye survival skills.

Visitors won’t be able to see the new infant, but they can see her 36-year-old grandmother, Endora. Just be sure to book a tour before visiting.

In the meantime, the Duke Lemur Center works diligently to maintain a genetic safety net for aye-ayes in the wild. Together, aye-ayes at the DLC and other institutions worldwide form a genetic safety net for their species, and each new birth helps sustain a healthy and genetically diverse population of aye-ayes for the long-term future.

If you want to learn more about aye-ayes AND help support their care and conservation, please consider symbolically adopting Agatha, an aye-aye born at the DLC in 2017, through the DLC’s Adopt a Lemur Program! Your adoption goes toward the $8,400 per year cost it takes to care for each lemur at the DLC, as well as aiding our conservation efforts in Madagascar. You’ll also receive quarterly updates and photos, making this a fun, educational gift that keeps giving all year long! Please visit our Adopt a Lemur homepage to learn more.

To learn more about the DLC’s aye-ayes, visit our Meet the Lemurs webpage.

VIDEO! To watch a video of Melisandre taken on September 19, please click here or on the screenshot below to be redirected to the DLC’s YouTube channel. We love her bright, beautiful eyes!

 


Snow Leopard Siblings Arrive in Omaha

Two Snow Leopard CubsPhoto Credits: Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo

 

Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium is proud to announce the birth of two Snow Leopard cubs on May 22.

When they were one month old, the male and female cubs weighed just over five pounds. The cubs’ parents are Rosemary and Pasha. Rosemary is 5-years-old, weighs approximately 78 pounds, and has lived at the Zoo since 2015. Pasha is 10-years-old, weighs approximately 106 pounds, and arrived at the Zoo in 2012.

Dad can currently be seen by guests in the Asian Highlands exhibit. This pair also had a cub named Victoria in 2017. Victoria recently went to live at the Binder Park Zoo near Battle Creek, Michigan.

Snow Leopards are listed as “Vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List. There are only an estimated 2,700 - 3,300 Snow Leopards left in the world. The main threats facing them include loss of habitat, retaliatory killing from predation on livestock, and illegal trade in furs, bones and other body parts.

Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium is a dedicated member of the Snow Leopard Species Survival Plan (SSP), a program that works to maintain a genetically stable assurance population of Snow Leopards in zoos. Research conducted by the Zoo’s nutrition and reproductive physiology departments has provided valuable information to the Snow Leopard SSP that is helping to improve the care and management of these amazing cats around the world.

In addition to efforts taking place on Zoo grounds, Omaha’s Zoo and Aquarium supports the Snow Leopard Trust, an organization working out in the field within Snow Leopard habitat. Snow Leopard Trust focuses primarily on community education directed toward improving the relationships between herders and big cats by creating incentives for the community to protect Snow Leopards and their ecosystem. To learn more about Snow Leopard Trust’s mission, visit: www.snowleopard.org


Germany's First Giant Panda Cubs Born at Zoo Berlin

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Behind the scenes in the Panda Garden at Zoo Berlin, first-time Giant Panda mom Meng Meng snuggles her tiny newborns into the warm, soft fur of her face. On August 31, Berlin’s Panda population doubled as Germany welcomed its first-ever Panda offspring – two of them!

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Csm_Panda-Nachwuchs_Zoo_Berlin__2__148f5b0a07Photo Credit: Zoo Berlin

The past month at Zoo Berlin has been particularly tense and exciting, with plenty of waiting and crossed fingers. Finally, on August 31 at 6:54 p.m., the moment everyone had been waiting for arrived: following a gestation period of 147 days, female Panda Meng Meng, 6, gave birth to her very first cub. The joyous event came just one week after experts from Zoo Berlin and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) were able to perform an ultrasound scan that determined Meng Meng was indeed pregnant.

Immediately after giving birth, the new mother knew just what to do: she placed the tiny creature gently on her belly and began to warm it lovingly with her big paws, warm breath, and the soft fur of her cheeks. But mother and child weren’t alone for long, as at 7:42 p.m. – just under an hour later – a second cub was born!

“Meng Meng and her two cubs coped well with the birth and are all in good health,” reports Zoo Director Dr. Andreas Knieriem. “Even though these are the first offspring born to our young female Panda, she is already doing a wonderful job as a mum. In the beginning, the young have to feed roughly every two to three hours and are dependent on the body heat of their mother to keep warm.”

Like all baby Giant Pandas, Germany’s first Panda cubs were born pink with fine white down and a disproportionately large tail. Though they are helpless, the youngsters came out with strong lungs and immediately put them to good use. Meng Meng responds to their loud squeaks by carefully guiding the little ones to her teats to feed. As Pandas that give birth to twins usually only raise one of the cubs, in close cooperation with Chinese experts of the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding Zoo Berlin has decided to actively support Meng Meng in the rearing process to ensure the survival of both cubs.

“There are only 1,864 adult Giant Pandas currently living in their natural habitat,” says Knieriem. “As a result, every single new cub represents an important contribution to the conservation of the species.” The young Pandas are therefore currently on alternating, two-to-three-hour shifts with their mother, and are otherwise being cared for in a cozy warm incubator by the Chinese breeding experts. Vets have even managed to conduct an initial examination – with promising results. At two weeks old, the cubs had more than doubled their birth weights to 431 grams (about one pound) and 343 grams (roughly 12 ounces). They are nursing so well from Meng Meng that supplemental bottle feedings are no longer needed. The cubs’ genders have not been determined yet.

The young Panda family will stay behind the scenes for a while and will not be on view to Zoo visitors until further notice. For Panda dad Jiao Qing, 9, on the other hand, life goes on as normal. Male Pandas are not involved in the rearing of their young, so he can be found relaxing and munching on bamboo in the Panda Garden.

See more photos of Meng Meng and her babies below.

Continue reading "Germany's First Giant Panda Cubs Born at Zoo Berlin" »


Little Geckos Will Become 'Giants'

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Two baby Madagascar Giant Day Geckos (Phelsuma grandis) hatched last month from eggs laid by adults currently living in the rainforest habitat at the Tennessee Aquarium.

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DSC_9341Photo Credit: Tennessee Aquarium

In spite of their name, the babies are only a few inches long right now. The Aquarium's experts are caring for these tiny reptiles behind the scenes in a special Gecko nursery.

The Aquarium’s herpetology team says the pair are currently growing well and “eating like champs.”

The Madagascar Giant Day Gecko has a bright green body with brilliant red markings. The red markings fade as the Gecko ages, so the adults are mostly green in color. In the wild, these Geckos feed on insects, small reptiles, nectar and pollen. Adults can grow to around 12 inches in length.

Geckos are a type of Lizard. Madagascar Giant Day Geckos are native to the tropical forests of northern Madagascar, and a few other locations to which they have been introduced by humans.

Madagascar Giant Day Geckos are rumored to be the inspiration for the Geico Gecko of advertising fame.


Delightful Duo of Red Panda Cubs for Chester Zoo

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Chester Zoo’s two Red Panda cubs have been revealed as a boy and a girl, during their first ever health check-up.

The precious twelve-week-old twins, classed by conservationists as endangered in the wild, were born on June 22 to mum, Nima, and dad, Koda, who have kept them tucked up in their nest boxes since birth.

Now, specialist vets and keepers have had their very first look at the delightful duo, examining the pair during the health check, where they were weighed, sexed and vaccinated. Each of the fluffy youngsters was given a full, clean bill of health.

James Andrewes, Assistant Team Manager at the zoo, said, “These Red Panda twins are wonderful, important new additions to the carefully managed breeding programme for the species, which is working to increase the safety-net population in Europe as numbers in the wild continue to decline. Happily, both cubs are developing very well indeed and the health MOTs we’ve been able to perform confirmed that mum Nima is clearly doing a great job of caring for them.”

James continued, “We also discovered the genders of each of the cubs - one male and one female - and returned them to their mum as soon as we’d finished giving them a quick once over. Nima took them straight back to her nest and it’ll be a few weeks now until the cubs start to develop the confidence to come out and explore by themselves. Before they’re able to stand on their own feet, it is though possible that some lucky people will have the occasional glimpse of Nima carrying them from nest to nest by the scruffs of their necks.”

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4_Adorable red panda twins born at Chester Zoo have first health check up (2)Photo Credits: Chester Zoo

Red Pandas are found in the mountainous regions of Nepal, India, Bhutan, Myanmar and southern China where their wild number is estimated at fewer than 10,000 – a 40% decline over the past 50 years.

This decrease is a direct result of human actions, such as widespread habitat destruction, trapping for the illegal pet trade and poaching for their iconic red fur – which in some countries is used to make hats for newly-weds as a symbol of happy marriage.

Conservationists at Chester Zoo have called on the public help to fight the illegal wildlife trade that is driving species to extinction around the world. People can report any suspicious activity they may spot, online or on holiday, via the zoo’s online illegal wildlife trade reporting form: www.chesterzoo.org/illegalwildlifetrade    

In recent years, Chester Zoo has been fighting for the future of the Red Panda through habitat-focused conservation projects in the Sichuan Mountains of China, where they can be found among the bamboo forests.

Continue reading "Delightful Duo of Red Panda Cubs for Chester Zoo" »


‘The Wilds’ Sees Greater One-horned Rhino Birth

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The Wilds, in Cumberland, OH, proudly welcomed a Greater One-horned Rhinoceros calf on August 24.

The female calf is receiving excellent care from her mother and is the eighth Greater One-horned Rhino to be born at The Wilds. The birth is a significant achievement as the species nearly went extinct during the 20th century.

The calf and mom, Sanya, are doing well and have been bonding in pasture on The Wilds property. The Animal Management team has been monitoring the pair closely and has not needed to provide any immediate assistance, as Sanya is an experienced mother and the calf appears to be strong and healthy. Calves usually weigh more than 100 pounds at birth and gain a few pounds every day. An adult Greater One-horned Rhino can reach weights of approximately 4,000 to 6,000 pounds.

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Sanya, born at the Toronto Zoo in 1999, has now given birth to five calves since arriving at The Wilds in 2004. The calf’s father, Jahi, was born at Zoo Tampa in 2011, moved to the Central Florida Zoo in 2013 and then arrived at The Wilds in 2017 as per a breeding recommendation through the Species Survival Plan® (SSP), a program coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to maintain genetic diversity of threatened and endangered species in human care. This newborn is Jahi’s first offspring.

The Wilds, home to three Greater One-horned Rhinos, is one of only 30 facilities in North America to care for this species. The Wilds is also home to 15 Southern White Rhinos. In total, more than 500 animals representing 28 species from around the world make up the animal population at the open-range, natural landscape at The Wilds.

Once listed as an endangered species, the Greater One-horned Rhino (Rhinoceros unicornis) has seen a steady population increase thanks to strict government protection and is now listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species as “Vulnerable”. According to the World Wildlife Fund, there were only 600 individuals surviving in their native ranges of India and Nepal by 1975. Since then, researchers estimate the population has grown to exceed 3,000 Greater One-horned Rhinos living in these areas.

“We are thrilled to welcome this little rhinoceros into our Wilds family! Every rhinoceros is important to the survival of his or her species. While there has been some success in rhinoceros conservation recently, unfortunately, there are still threats to all rhino species. They are being poached for their horn, even though it is made only of keratin— the equivalent of fingernails—and they are facing habitat destruction in their native ranges. We are proud to be able to contribute to rhino conservation by welcoming this incredible new arrival, as the calf represents hope for future generations of Greater One-horned Rhinos,” said Dr. Jan Ramer, vice president of The Wilds.

The new calf may be visible to guests during either an Open-Air Safari or Wildside Tour. For more information about The Wilds or to book your visit, please visit www.TheWilds.org .

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Female White Rhino for Dubbo Zoo

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Taronga Western Plains Zoo has welcomed a female White Rhino calf!

The calf was born, behind-the-scenes, in the early hours of August 18 to mother, Mopani, at 16 months gestation. The new baby weighed in at 74kgs.

“The calf required some initial veterinary assistance over the first two days of her life, but being a very strong calf went from strength to strength,” said Keeper Supervisor Pascale Benoit.

“The calf is the third offspring for experienced mother Mopani, sired by White Rhino bull, Khulu who sadly passed away earlier this year. This birth heralds another breeding achievement for the rhino conservation breeding programs at Taronga Western Plains Zoo,” said Pascale.

Pascale continued, “The team is thrilled to welcome another precious White Rhino. Being a female, this little one will one day play an important role in the regional breeding program, hopefully creating a new genetic bloodline.”

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Both Mopani and her calf are now on exhibit, along with two other females in the herd. Mopani is a very protective and caring mother and has bonded well with her calf. She is taking motherhood in her stride again.

“We are really proud of Mopani and the maternal behaviors we are observing. She is very protective of her calf and is keeping the other herd members at a distance at present,” said Pascale.

NSW Environment Minister, Matt Kean, thanked all the zoo staff for their incredible care for the new calf, as well as all the animals at Taronga Western Plains Zoo.

“With about 19,000 White Rhinos left in the wild, every rhino birth is vital. It shows how critical the conservation work undertaken by Taronga is – not just for rhinos but our native animals that are also under threat. These conservation efforts wouldn’t be possible without the dedication from zoo staff.”

The White Rhino calf is yet to be named. Taronga Western Plains Zoo is planning to run a naming competition on its Facebook page to help find a name for the newest member of the White Rhino herd.

Taronga actively supports conservation efforts for wild rhinos in Africa, Indonesia and India, including providing funds and support for habitat and reforestation, anti-poaching and rhino protection units and reduction of human-animal conflict. Taronga is also a founding member of the International Rhino Foundation.

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Paradise Park Hatches First Caribbean Flamingo

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Staff at Paradise Park are thrilled at the hatching of their first Caribbean Flamingo chick!

Director Alison Hales commented, “We love our flamingo group, and were delighted when two eggs were laid this summer. However one egg was infertile and then the second pair stopped incubating about a week too early. Keepers decided to put the egg in an incubator, not knowing if it would hatch, but within days the egg started chirping! The chick hatched successfully on 19th August – it’s early days but, so far, it’s growing well on two-hourly feeds of a special ‘fish soup’ prepared by Keeper Becky.”

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Keeper Becky Waite explained, “We are so excited to have a Caribbean Flamingo chick. Our flock was very small until last summer, when five arrived from Slimbridge Wetland Centre. With a bigger flock size, we were in a stronger position to achieve breeding success. One pair did lay an egg earlier in the summer, which sadly was not fertile. But this did trigger the flock to build nests. The shallow pond area is an ideal location as the mud is the perfect building material.”

Becky continued, “Both parents were hatched at Chester Zoo in July 2002, so are 17-years-old. They came to Paradise Park in 2004. This egg was laid on 20th July and hatched on 19th August, so took 31 days to incubate. Due to the parents having stopped incubating the egg a few days before it was due to hatch, we stepped in and put the egg in an incubator. For the first few days, I am feeding the chick every two hours between 6am and 10pm.”

Flamingos form strong pair bonds, and just one egg is laid, with both male and female feeding the chick on a special ‘crop milk’. They are long-lived birds that can reach the age of 40, and are able to breed starting from age six.

Paradise Park would like visitors to note that, at this time, the chick is not on display.

Check with Paradise Park’s website for ‘Flamingo Chick Updates’: www.paradisepark.org.uk/flamingo-chick-update/  

More adorable pics below the fold!

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New Ibex Kids Explore at Hellabrunn Zoo

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The Alpine Ibex enclosure at Hellabrunn Zoo gained two new members…Trapattoni and Theo. Born in late May and June, the two kids are said to be enthusiastically exploring the rocky terrain in their exhibit.

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4_Alpine Ibex_Hellabrunn_2019_Daniela Hierl (5)Photo Credits: Tierpark Hellabrunn / Daniela Hierl

Within just one hour after birth, an Alpine Ibex kid is able to follow its mother on rock cliffs. As they grow, so will their horns, which will reach over 1 meter long by the time they become adults. Large and backwards-curving, male horns are used to defend their territory and compete for the right to breed with available females. During fight rituals a male will challenge his rival by rearing up on his hind legs and using his horns to ram his opponent with great force.

It will still be a while before the young Ibex at Hellabrunn are ready to assert their authority, but visitors will be able to see them practicing with their horns, which at present are only a few centimeters long.

"A visit to the Alpine Ibex enclosure is definitely worthwhile,” said Rasem Baban, zoological director at Hellabrunn Zoo. “It’s always interesting to watch the little kids test their courage and try new things."

In the mid-19th century, the Alpine Ibex (Capra ibex) was on the verge of extinction, primarily due to the demand for their curved horns and fur as coveted hunting trophies. Less than 100 individuals remained, at that time, and were only to be found in the Gran Paradiso National Park in northern Italy. The population has since recovered thanks to conservation efforts over the years. Today, the species is no longer classified as endangered.

There are currently five populations of Alpine Ibex in Germany, including the regions of Bayrischzell, the Allgäu Alps, and the Benediktenwand.

Hellabrunn Zoo is currently home to nine Alpine Ibex. In addition to the two kids and their mothers, there are four more females and one breeding male.

The Alpine Ibex enclosure at the Zoo is located halfway between the Isar entrance and the new Mühlendorf village.