Twins Born to La Palmyre Zoo’s Tamarin Couple

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La Palmyre Zoo’s female Cotton-top Tamarin recently gave birth to twins. This is the first birth for the Zoo’s breeding pair, which was created one year ago. The babies are now four-weeks old and are doing very well.

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_MG_9952Photo Credits: La Palmyre Zoo /Florence Perroux

Cotton-top Tamarins are easily recognizable by the crest of white hair around their head. They usually live in small groups composed of 10 to 15 individuals and spend their day foraging for food. They mainly eat fruits, except during the dry season when fruits are scarcer. During dry seasons, they eat gum, nectar, and insects.

Cotton-top Tamarins are able to produce 40 different vocalizations that are used for delimiting their territory, indicate food or predators.

With Tamarins and Marmosets, all the group members take care of the offspring: the mother breastfeeds her babies but the father and the other individuals carry them when they are not suckling. This cooperation offers advantages: the non-mature individuals practice their future parental skills, and the male reinforces its privileged access and relationships with the female.

An almost total deforestation of the Cotton-tops home range, as well as the capture of thousands of wild specimens for medical research purposes in the 60s, nearly pushed the species to the brink of extinction in it’s native Colombia. It now numbers about 6,000 individuals but is listed as “Critically Endangered” on the IUCN Red List.

Since the end of the 80s, the Proyecto Titi, supported by La Palmyre Zoo, is managing a multidisciplinary conservation programme that has been studying groups of Cotton-top Tamarins in the wild, educating local communities and working to create several protected areas.


Endangered Radiated Tortoises Hatch at Chester Zoo

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Two critically endangered Radiated Tortoises have hatched at Chester Zoo.

The “golf ball-sized” hatchlings, which are usually found in the dry forests of southern and southwestern Madagascar, are the first of their kind to be bred at the Zoo in seven years.

Conservationists at Chester Zoo have been working to hatch the tortoises after seeing at first-hand the ongoing devastation to their forest home in Madagascar.

After eggs were laid in October by 50-year-old mum, Smoothsides. The Zoo’s new duo emerged on January 16, following an incubation of 100 days. The genders of the hatchlings are not yet known.

Both youngsters are currently being cared for in a climate-controlled behind-the-scenes breeding facility. Radiated Tortoises regularly reach the age of 100. The hatchlings parents are 75-year-old dad, Burt, and 50-year-old mum, Smoothsides. Once old enough, the young duo will join the four male and six female adult tortoises, which range from 10 to 75 years, in the Zoo’s Tropical Realm habitat.

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4_Tiny rare tortoises from Madagascar hatch at Chester Zoo (18)Photo Credits: Chester Zoo (Images 11,12: Tortoise dad, Burt)

Boasting star-shaped markings on their shells in yellow and black, the Radiated Tortoise (Astrochelys radiata) is considered one of the world’s most beautiful tortoises and can grow up to half a metre in length. However, they are often victims of their own size and beauty, and conservationists say they are now classed as “Critically Endangered” in the wild.

The number of Radiated Tortoises, like most animals native to Madagascar, is in drastic decline.

Chester Zoo has been caring for the species since 2003 in the hope of creating a genetically viable population, as part of a coordinated European breeding programme. The Zoo is also working closely with field conservation partners, Madagasikara Voakajy, to restore and protect forests in Madagascar.

Deforestation of vital habitat to make way for agricultural land and grazing, hunting for their meat and poaching for the illegal wildlife trade has devastated tortoise numbers. In addition, species introduced to Madagascar by humans, such as rats and pigs, have had further impact as they eat the tortoise’s eggs and babies.

It is estimated that 18 million Radiated Tortoises have already been lost from Madagascar in the last 30 years.

Continue reading "Endangered Radiated Tortoises Hatch at Chester Zoo" »


Polar Bear Cub Nibbles Toward New Milestone

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The Polar Bear cub, at Tierpark Berlin, is reaching toward another important milestone!

The female was born December 1, 2018 to parents, Tonja (age 9) and Volodya (age 7), and ZooBorns shared recent news of the cub’s first checkup in our feature: “Polar Bear Cub Brings ‘Girl Power’ to Tierpark Berlin”.

"The little Polar Bear is now interested in solid food and slowly nibbles meat pieces,” said Curator, Dr. Florian Sick. The new mom currently gets a daily portion of meat and a mix of carrots, lettuce and apples. Her new cub cannot miss the opportunity and occasionally manages to sample her mother’s meal. However, mother still regularly nurses the little bear.

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4_TonjaPhoto Credits: Tierpark Berlin

Zoo Director, Dr. Andreas Knieriem, is pleased with the good development of the cub. "We are very satisfied that the cub is quite cheeky and keeps her mother literally on the run around. Tonja always remains calm. She's just a really good Mama Bear."

By mid-March, the two will first go on a discovery tour of the grounds and will then be on exhibit for visitors to see.


Baby Gorilla Bonds with Surrogate Mom

Exploring her home

The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens has introduced Gondai, a Western Lowland Gorilla infant born on September 28, to a surrogate mother, 30-year old Bulera. While surrogacy was “Plan B” for the Gorilla care team, hoping instead that Gandai’s biological mother Kumbuka would be willing and able to care for the infant, the pairing with Gandai and Bulera is a joyful occasion and the two Gorillas are bonding well.

Bulera and Gandai - Lynded Nunn
Happy girlPhoto Credit: Jacksonville Zoo and Garden (1,3), Lynded Nunn (2), John Reed Photography (4,5,6)

Keepers at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens intervened after Gandai’s birth when Kumbuka was observed incorrectly positioning the infant. The team has provided around-the-clock care for five months with the goal of introducing her to the troop as soon as it would be safe to do so. Kumbuka and the rest of the Gorillas were in close contact with the infant throughout the assisted-rearing process to reinforce their bonds. Bulera showed strong interest in Gandai from the beginning.

On the morning of February 26, Gandai was placed on a soft pile of hay in a large family room in the Gorilla building. Kumbuka was given access to the room and allowed to have free contact with the infant. Keepers were cautiously optimistic when Kumbuka eventually approached the little one and showed some interest. Kumbuka was initially curious and was even observed holding the baby for a few minutes. Unfortunately, her interest waned and by the end of the day, Kumbuka was actively avoiding Gandai. She did not bring Gandai into her nest to sleep overnight. When keepers saw Kumbuka’s frustration rising the next morning with every approach from Gandai, they knew it was time to consider Plan B.

At 9am on February 27, Kumbuka was given the opportunity to leave Gandai’s room, which she did without hesitation. Bulera was immediately given access to the baby. Immediately the keepers could tell this was a better fit. She was holding the baby within minutes and comforting her with soft vocal rumbles. She carried her around the enclosure, cuddled with her, brought her into her nest to sleep and responded quickly to any cries. Even better, Gandai is smitten with her adoptive mother.

Bulera is an experienced mother who raised 22-year old Madini and George who recently turned four. She is a confident and relaxed mother with a calm demeanor. The fact that young George is fully weaned, precocious, and enjoys independence, and has a close relationship with his father and playmate Patty, facilitated Bulera being available as a surrogate for Gandai.

The situation is still fluid as keepers continue to monitor the two behind-the-scenes and around the clock. Decisions are being made on who to introduce to Bulera and Gandai in next steps when they indicate they are ready.

Kumbuka is contently spending time with silverback Lash. She is not showing any concern about the situation. Keepers are disappointed that Kumbuka was not interested in mothering Gandai, but glad that the two can continue to live in the same group and develop a relationship. They anticipate that she will ultimately play an aunt role to Gandai, like she has done with the other offspring in the group.

See more photos of the baby Gorilla below.

Continue reading "Baby Gorilla Bonds with Surrogate Mom" »


Third Litter of Capybara Babies at Belfast Zoo

(1) Curator Raymond Robinson was delighted as he witnessed a third set of Capybara babies born this year.

Belfast Zoo is delighted to announce the birth of their third set of Capybara babies in the past year!

The Zoo’s Capybara couple, Chester and Lola, has produced happy ‘capy’ babies three times in the last nine months. The loved up couple welcomed the first pair in April 2018, followed by the second set in July, and the most recent babies in late December.

Belfast Zoo is now home to an impressive herd of 17 Capybaras. The newest male and female offspring have not yet been named.

(2) Parents Chester and Lola are great carers for their offspring  as all have grown into adulthood successfully.

(3) The capybara is often referred to as a giant guinea pig.Photo Credits: Belfast Zoo

Capybaras are the largest rodents in the world and are often found on Central and South American riverbanks, beside ponds and in marshes. The semi-aquatic mammal can dive underwater for up to five minutes and typically live in family groups of 10 to 40. The vocal animals communicate using barks, whistles, huffs and purrs. The species’ biggest threat is their skin, which is in high demand in South America.

Zoo curator, Raymond Robinson, said, "Although the species is not currently classified as endangered, Capybaras are facing increasing danger in their natural habitat, so it is important for zoos to raise awareness of this species and help to sustain their population. We are delighted at Lola and Chester’s successful births over such a short period of time. Our Capybara’s reside in a grassy habitat along our lake walk and live alongside some other South American species including Giant Anteater and Darwin’s Rhea. We hope our visitors will enjoy seeing our little Capybara babies over the upcoming half-term holidays.”


Endangered Gibbon Born at Assiniboine Park Zoo

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The Assiniboine Park Zoo is thrilled to announce the birth of a White-handed Gibbon on February 4.

This is the first offspring for mom, Maya, and dad, Samson, who were matched on a recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan Program and selected to be the first residents of the Zoo’s new Gibbon habitat, which opened in June 2017.

“Maya and Samson appeared to be a really good match right from the start, and we have been looking forward to this possibility for some time, so this is very exciting news for our staff, volunteers and visitors,” said Grant Furniss, Sr. Director, Zoological Operations.

For the past week, the Gibbon family has been enjoying privacy in an off-exhibit holding area where the animal care team can discreetly monitor them to ensure that both mom and baby are doing well. Maya is proving to be an attentive mother and the baby is doing well, so the Gibbons have now been given access to their indoor habitat, which is currently closed to visitors.

The baby’s sex is not yet known, as staff are currently taking a “hands off” approach and will only intervene and examine the baby if necessary.

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4_Assiniboine Park Zoo  White-Handed Gibbons  Maya and SamsonPhoto Credits: Assiniboine Park Zoo

White-handed Gibbons (Hylobates lar) are small tailless apes with soft, thick fur that can vary from black to a pale fawn colour. They live in trees and are among the fastest of all primates, using their very long arms to swing effortlessly among the branches.

They are currently classified as “Endangered” by the IUCN, due to habitat loss and hunting. They are found mainly in tropical rainforests in Southeast Asia, where palm oil production is on the rise. Palm oil is found in many food products, cosmetics, soaps, candles, and even fuel. Visitors to the Zoo can learn what they can do to bring change to the palm oil industry by supporting companies that use traceable, sustainable palm oil.

The Assiniboine Park Zoo has a very successful history with breeding Gibbons. Maya was born at the Assiniboine Park Zoo in January 2011. Her parents, Mel and Manju, both lived in Winnipeg before being transferred to Safari Niagara in 2011 when the former monkey house was decommissioned. Samson’s father, Chan, was also born at Assiniboine Park Zoo in 1992 and lived here for two years, before moving to Edmonton.


Orphaned Mountain Lion Cubs Thrive at OKC Zoo

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The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden recently welcomed a litter of orphaned Mountain Lion cubs. The cubs, two males and a female, are approximately ten-weeks-old and arrived at the OKC Zoo in late January after being rescued from the wild.

Born in the Black Hills of South Dakota, the Mountain Lion cubs were found by game officials with the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks. Realizing the cubs’ mother was deceased and they were too young to survive on their own, game officials immediately intervened and began providing 24/7 care for the orphaned cubs. They also contacted the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to locate a permanent home for the litter because recovered cubs cannot return to the wild according to South Dakota state protocol.

Learning of the cubs’ situation, the OKC Zoo made the decision to take in the litter and provide a forever home for both male cubs at its Oklahoma Trails habitat. The female cub will be relocating to AZA-accredited Cameron Park Zoo in Waco, Texas later this summer, but will remain with her brothers at the OKC Zoo until then.

“By bringing these orphaned cubs to the OKC Zoo and providing them with the care, veterinary monitoring and enriching environment needed to thrive we are ensuring their survival.” said Tyler Boyd, OKC Zoo animal curator. “Since it opened in 2007, Oklahoma Trails has been home to Mountain Lions, and we are excited to watch these brothers grow and become beloved ambassadors for the habitat. We want to connect our guests to the importance of caring for native wildlife and wild places, and communicate why it’s vital to protect both.”

The male cubs were given the names Toho, meaning “cougar god”, and Tanka, from Wakan Tanka meaning “great spirit” in the Lakota language. The female cub has been named, Tawakoni, which is inspired by the Wichita tribe and means “river bend among red sand hills.”

According to the Zoo, all three cubs are in good health and weighed 9-10 lbs. at their last check. Once the cubs complete their 30-day quarantine at the OKC Zoo’s Joan Kirkpatrick Animal Hospital, they will be on public view at the Oklahoma Trails exhibit.

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4_OKC Zoo Mountain lion cubs (3) credit Jennifer D'AgostinoPhoto Credits: OKC Zoo/ Jennifer D'Agostino

The Mountain Lion (Puma concolor) is known by many names including catamount, cougar, panther or puma. Native to the Americas, Mountain Lions once roamed most of the United States including Oklahoma, but now the largest populations inhabit the western U.S.

Impressive in size and strength, Mountain Lions are considered apex predators meaning they are not prey to any other animals. These large carnivores are built for hunting and actually help control deer and other animal populations from reaching unhealthy levels. Adults are recognized for their solid tawny coats but cubs are born with spots that vanish before they are a year old. Cubs are also born with blue eyes that change to yellow around 16-18 months old.


Rare Chimpanzee Twins Born At Bioparc Valencia

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Valentine’s Day was extra special at Bioparc Valencia this year  when female Chimpanzee Marlin gave birth to twins. 

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11B24596-BEB5-436D-83C5-2FD9CAB354ADPhoto Credit: Bioparc Valencia

The staff had already been on alert for Malin’s approaching due date.  Malin is an experienced mother, so the staff was not overly concerned, but they added bedding to the Chimps’ indoor quarters and kept a close eye on Malin.

On February 14, they were surprised to discover that Malin had delivered twins! The sex of the infants is not yet known, but the staff can tell them apart by their ear color: one has dark ears and the other has light ears.  

Twins are somewhat rare in Chimpanzees.  Most females give birth to just one infant.  Despite the extra demand of carrying and nursing two babies, Malin is providing excellent care for her youngsters.  

Chimpanzees are native to the forests if western and central Africa.  They are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  

 


National Aviary Aids Thousands of Abandoned Flamingo Chicks

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Staff from the National Aviary traveled to South Africa to assist with the rescue of nearly 2,000 Lesser Flamingo chicks that were abandoned due to severe drought. 

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EFAEF0A6-5750-411E-AC28-97FCA5ACF575 Photo Credit: National Aviary

In response to an international call for expert volunteers to aid in the care of 1800 Lesser Flamingo chicks abandoned by their parents due to drought conditions near their nesting site, the National Aviary has sent avian specialist Teri Grendzinski to the SANCCOB rescue center in South Africa. 

A lack of water resulting from low rainfall, high temperatures and failing infrastructure at the Kamfers Dam in Kimberly, in the Northern Cape, led adult Flamingos to abandon their hatchlings.  The chicks were airlifted to rescue and rehabilitation centers in South Africa.

Ms. Grendzinski, who has more than 25 years of experience and has helped hand-raise multiple Flamingo chicks through the years, is on site in South Africa, where she is lending her expertise and providing hands-on assistance.  

Volunteers are working round the clock to prepare food, and hand-feed, bathe and clean the chicks, as well to provide exercise opportunities for the older chicks. As these chicks are destined for release if all goes well, care protocols are being created to prevent the birds from imprinting with their caregivers, and to foster other natural behaviors. Ms. Grendzinski has been reporting in daily with a detailed account of her work there and providing insight into the long-term challenges ahead as the chicks grow, mature and fledge. 

Lesser Flamingos are the smallest Flamingo species and are native to sub-Saharan Africa.  They are listed as Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to the low number of breeding sites. Most of the breeding sites are threatened by human activities.  

 

 


Amazing Rodent Family Grows at Bioparc Valencia

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After a gestation of 70 days, ten Naked Mole-rat pups were born at BIOPARC Valencia.

The new family makes their home in a special exhibit that recreates the underground life of the African Savannah. Part of the galleries that houses them allows visitors to see the intricate tunnels and rooms where the rodents live and raise their young.

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4_Febrero 2019 - Nace una nueva camada de ratas topo en BIOPARC ValenciaPhoto Credits: BIOPARC Valencia

The Naked Mole-rat (Heterocephalus glaber) is a burrowing rodent native to parts of East Africa. It has a highly unusual set of physical traits that allow it to thrive in a harsh underground environment and is the only mammalian thermoconformer, almost entirely ectothermic (cold-blooded) in how it regulates body temperature. One of the most striking features is the skin that is almost free of hair and "transparent" for lack of an insulating layer of fat under it.

The Naked Mole-rat lacks pain sensitivity in its skin, and has very low metabolic and respiratory rates. The species is also remarkable for its longevity and its resistance to cancer and oxygen deprivation.

These curious rodents are the only mammals with a eusocial behavior, which is also a characteristic feature of insects. Like insects, the Naked Mole-rats live in colonies that have overlapping generations and make an organized division of labor and cooperative care of offspring. Likewise, there is only one reproductive female, the "queen", and one to three breeding males or "drones". The rest of the individuals are divided between "soldiers" and "workers". The rest of the females are sterile, because the "queen" inhibits their reproductive capacity and a part of them ingests the excrements of the queen, which are rich in the sexual hormone estradiol, which activates them to be in "breeding" mode and to exercise of caretakers of the children of the queen.

The Naked Mole-rats longevity is superior to other rodents, up to 30 years, and the low presence of cancerous tumors were already known; thanks to a special gene, p16, which prevents the disordered growth of cells.

We also knew of the species’ resistance to the absence of oxygen. A human brain can die after 1 minute without oxygen, but the Naked Mole-rat holds up to 18 minutes without it and arrives at 5 hours with low oxygen levels. What we now know is that this is because this rodent changes its metabolism to anaerobic and uses fructose as energy as plants do, instead of glucose. These latest discoveries open avenues of investigation not only to increase survival, but also to possibly preserve our brain from the damage and degeneration produced by diseases that cause oxygen deficiency in neurons.