Four Mischievous Meerkats Born at Chester Zoo

Four playful meerkat pups born at Chester Zoo (57)

Four mischievous Meerkat pups have been born at Chester Zoo.

The quadruplets have been tucked away in their den since being born on March 26, but have started exploring their habitat for the very first time.

Four playful meerkat pups born at Chester Zoo (5)
Four playful meerkat pups born at Chester Zoo (5)
Four playful meerkat pups born at Chester Zoo (5)Photo Credit: Chester Zoo

The new arrivals, which have not yet been sexed or named by keepers, were born to first-time parents Huskie and Beagle.

Lead keeper Kirsten Wicks said, “Parents Huskie and Beagle have been minor celebrities since they appeared on Channel 4’s The Secret Life of The Zoo last month. Visitors have been really keen to know how they’re getting on, so it’s amazing to be able to share the great news about their new arrivals.”

“This is their first litter and the pups are doing incredibly well, they have already began learning how to forage for food and are spending lots of time grooming and playing together. It’s the start of a growing, happy new mob!” Wicks said.

Meerkats are native to South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, and Angola and inhabit open country and sparse woody scrublands. Most live in underground burrows in groups of about 30 individuals called a gang or a mob. They mark their territories with scent glands, which are located below their tails. 

Expert diggers, Meerkats can close their ears to keep dirt out while excavating. The dark patches around their eyes help reduce glare on the sunny African savannah. They feed primarily on insects and other invertebrates. At this time, Meerkats are not threatened and are listed as a species of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

See more photos of the quadruplets below.

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Rare Owl Chick Released To The Wild

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Northern Spotted Owls are one of the rarest birds in Canada, with only about 30 individuals remining in the country. That’s why the Northern Spotted Owl Breeding Program is thrilled to announce the successful hatching and return of a Northern Spotted Owl chick to foster parents in the wild.

Researchers collected and incubated an egg which had been laid on March 11. Nicknamed “Egg B,” the egg was monitored closely over the 32-day incubation period. The chick took 85 hours to break out of its egg, emerging on April 15.

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ChickB-18 Newly HatchedPhoto Credit: Northern Spotted Owl Breeding Program

Staff at the Northern Spotted Owl Breeding Program hand-reared the chick, now referred to as “Chick B,” for the first 10 days of its life to increase the chick’s chances of survival.  The chick remained safe and warm, with constant care from staff 24 hours a day. The chick’s specific nutrition and temperature requirements were met as it grew and developed over the 10-day period. Owlets lack the ability to regulate their own body temperature.

After 10 days at the center, Chick B was placed in the nest of an experienced Northern Spotted Owl pair named Scud and Shania. You can see Chick B and its foster parents in the nest on the live stream below or by clicking here. The webcam is hosted by the Fish & Wildlife Compensation Program in partnership with the Northern Spotted Owl Breeding Program.

The mission of the Northern Spotted Owl Breeding Program is to breed Northern Spotted Owls in a captive breeding program for eventual release into over 300,000 hectares of protected old growth forests in hopes that the species will re-establish itself and thrive.  Located in British Columbia, the Breeding Program began in 2007 with a founding population of six adult Spotted Owls. There are currently 20 Spotted Owls residing at the breeding facility, including four breeding pairs. The Program's target is to house 10 breeding pairs by 2020, and release 10-20 offspring each year for the next 15-20 years. 

See more photos of Chick B below.

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Shedd Waits Three Years for New Penguin Chick

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Shedd Aquarium welcomed a new Magellanic Penguin chick on May 12, following the breeding season in late March. This is the first Penguin chick born at the aquarium since Diego in 2015.

The newest arrival will stay in the nest with the parents, who share brooding and feeding responsibilities equally, until around 75 to 90 days-of-age. After one year, a genetic test will determine whether the chick is a boy or a girl. Around that time, the chick will also be given a name.

The chick weighed 95 grams at birth. At two to three months, the chick is expected to reach comparable height and weight of an adult penguin, while preparing to molt and acquire their adult feathers. Animal care staff will weigh the bird daily to ensure continuous growth as a sign of successful rearing. According to Aquarium staff, the weight of the chick on day two was 103 grams, which is consistent with the gain anticipated at this early stage.

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Penguin trainers at Shedd will continue to monitor the chick for activity, vocalizations, hydration levels and more. Technology plays a big role in this process, as sensors can track temperature and humidity in the habitat, and cameras allow for off-site screening which allows for fewer disturbances to the natural process of raising chicks.

Before any hatchings, animal care staff at Shedd Aquarium use candling, the process of holding a strong light to an egg, to observe inside the egg to determine if it is fertile, track growth, check for steady movements and more. Trainers start the process at seven days after an egg is laid and continuously monitor progress week-to-week.

The Magellanic Penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus) is native to South America and breeds in coastal Argentina, Chile and the Falkland Islands, with some migrating to Brazil.

Its nearest relatives are the African, Humboldt Penguin and the Galápagos Penguin.

The Magellanic Penguin was named after Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, who spotted the birds in 1520. The species is currently listed as “Near Threatened” on the IUCN Red List.

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Zoo Celebrates First Blue-billed Curassow Chick

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Nashville Zoo’s avian staff welcomed their first Curassow chick on May 5.

After 30 days of incubation, Nashville Zoo keepers and veterinary staff assisted the chick in hatching. Keepers opted to assist the chick due to inactivity during the second day, after its initial pip in the shell membrane. Keepers noticed the shell membrane was dry instead of wet, and they decided intervention was necessary.

“This is a very valuable animal, and we need to do everything we can to help it survive,” said Shelley Norris, Nashville Zoo Avian Area Supervisor. “This egg hatching is significant because Curassows are critically endangered in the wild.”

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4_41137968845_508862919c_oPhoto Credits: Kelsey White/Nashville Zoo

There are only 54 Blue-billed Curassows in zoos across the country and only about 750 in the wild. The population has been in decline due to habitat loss and fragmentation.

This is the first chick born from breeding pair, Albert (3) and Victoria (5), who both arrived in Nashville in 2015.

The Curassows at Nashville Zoo have laid eggs in the past. However, the eggs were either not viable or the female knocked the eggs out of the nest.

“She [Victoria] has no idea that she’s supposed to sit on the eggs,” Norris said. “We think it’s because she’s young and things haven’t kicked in yet."

Nashville Zoo's avian staff is currently working with Houston Zoo and the Species Survival Plan on where to best place this chick.

The Blue-billed Curassow (Crax alberti) is a species of bird in the family Cracidae, which includes the Chachalacas, Guans, and Curassows.

The bird is native to Columbia. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist lowland forest. The species is threatened by habitat loss and is currently classified as “Critically Endangered” by the IUCN.

Blue-billed Curassows are believed to live in the same areas in Columbia as Cotton-top Tamarins, a primate species that was recently introduced in the Nashville Zoo's new Expedition Peru exhibit. The Zoo is contributing to the conservation project “Proyecto Titi” that benefits sustaining the Cotton-top Tamarin population, which could potentially also benefit the Blue-billed Curassows with the installation of camera traps to monitor the species.

“We’re learning how best to care for them,” Norris said. “Right now, this species is just so critical, we basically are just keeping them alive in general until we can find a solution in the wild.”


Tulsa Zoo Waits Five Years for Toucan Chicks

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The Tulsa Zoo is proud to announce the hatching of two Toucan chicks.

The pair was recently observed inside their nest box at the zoo’s Conservation Center. They are the first Green Aracaris to have hatched at the zoo since 2013.

According to keepers, the chicks will fledge (develop feathers) at around five-weeks-old. However, the parents will continue to care for and feed the chicks until they are around six to eight-weeks-old.

This hatching at the Tulsa Zoo was in conjunction with the Green Aracaris SSP (Species Survival Plan®), which manages species in Association of Zoos and Aquariums-accredited institutions across the nation.

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3_32257422_10151038533294996_637756090305478656_nPhoto Credits: Katie Story & Karen Guess/ Tulsa Zoo

The Green Aracari (Pteroglossus viridis) is a Toucan found in the lowland forests of northeastern South America, in the northeast Amazon Basin, the Guianas, and the eastern Orinoco River drainage of Venezuela.

At a max size of about 12–16 inches long and an adult weight of around 110–160 grams (3.9–5.7 oz.), it is one of the smallest members of the Toucan family.

The IUCN Red List currently classifies the species as “Least Concern”.


More Sunshine for Denver Zoo’s Orangutans

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Denver Zoo’s six-week-old Sumatran Orangutan has been enjoying the warmer spring weather. Keepers have seen the little female several times in the outdoor exhibit, clinging tightly to mom.

The new baby was born March 25 to mom, Nias, and dad, Berani. The infant's unique name, Cerah, means “bright” in Indonesian and is often used to refer to sunshine.

(ZooBorns shared news and pics of Cerah’s arrival in an article from April: “Denver Zoo Celebrates the ‘Sunshine’ of Spring”)

Mom, Nias, is 29-years-old and arrived at Denver Zoo in 2005. Berani is 25-years-old and arrived in 2017. The two were paired together under recommendation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan® Program, which oversees the population management of select species within AZA member institutions and enhances conservation of those species in the wild. The coupling proved to be a fast success, as Nias and Berani met in July of 2017 and conceived Cerah less than a month later.

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4_32271308_10156550044412122_7603192785188945920_oPhoto Credits: Denver Zoo

The Sumatran Orangutan (Pongo abelii) is one of the world’s most endangered great apes. It is among the many species being pushed to the brink of extinction in South East Asia by hunting, forest clearance and the planting of palm oil plantations, which are destroying vast areas of rainforest. There is intense demand for the oil, which features in all sorts of every day products, throughout the world, from food to cleaning materials and cosmetics.

The species currently has an official classification of “Critically Endangered” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.


Prague Zoo’s New Aardvark on Exhibit with Mom

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Prague Zoo announced that visitors might be able to catch a glimpse of the zoo’s new baby Aardvark. The cub was born on April 22 and will now be on-exhibit, with mom, for a few hours each day.

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4_32191933_1697232347027355_7189550399081152512_oPhoto Credits: Prague Zoo

The Aardvark (Orycteropus afer) is a medium-sized, burrowing, nocturnal mammal that is native to Africa. Elephant Shrews, Hyraxes, and Elephants are among the closest living relatives of the Aardvark.

It has a long pig-like snout, which is used to sniff out food. It is a nocturnal feeder and subsists mainly on ants and termites, which it will dig out of their hills using its sharp claws and powerful legs.

The Aardvark also digs to create burrows in which to live and rear its young.

After a gestation of about seven months, females generally give birth to one cub. At around nine weeks of age, the youngster is able to leave the burrow to accompany mother in search of food.

Although they are not considered common anywhere in Africa, their large range allows them to maintain sufficient numbers. The IUCN currently classifies the Aardvark as “Least Concern”; however, they are a species in a precarious situation. Since they are so dependent on such a specific food source, if a problem arises with the population of termites, the species as a whole would be affected drastically.


Spectacled Bear Cub Makes Debut at Tierpark Berlin

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Tierpark Berlin’s new Spectacled Bear recently made his public debut. He was seen hesitantly following him mother and stepping tentatively through the grass.

After spending almost four months in the birthing den, twenty-year-old mother, Julia, is now happily spending time out in the fresh air with her new cub. Keepers say there is plenty for the youngster to explore in the large outdoor habitat, with its high rocks, climbing trees, and small hills.

“The cub seems quite confident,” said Bear Curator, Dr. Florian Sicks. “Young Spectacled Bears become increasingly independent from the age of three or four months and learn to climb early. That’s important in the wild, as they need to be able to clamber up trees to escape from predators.”

The climbing trees at Tierpark Berlin reach up to nine metres high, but young spectacled bears can easily scale even such dizzying heights.

“The new Spectacled Bear cub represents an important contribution to the global population of this bear species,” explains Zoo and Tierpark Director, Dr. Andreas Knieriem. “So I’m particularly pleased that the cub is developing so well.”

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4_32089893_10156196391715149_48858461332570112_oPhoto Credits: Tierpark Berlin

The IUCN Red List classifies the Spectacled Bear (Tremarctos ornatus) as “Vulnerable”. The main threat to their survival is habitat destruction caused by deforestation and conversion of land for agricultural use. Spectacled Bears that wander onto fields in search of food (either crops or domestic animals) are also often killed by their human rivals. Spectacled Bears are primarily herbivorous, but occasionally add protein to their diet in the form of insects, rodents, and sometimes, larger animals like domestic sheep.

Tierpark Berlin’s young Spectacled Bear was born on December 26, 2017. He is the seventh cub for mom, Julia, and the second offspring for father, Carlos. The new cub is currently unnamed, but if a sponsor is found, he or she will be able to work with the keepers to decide on a suitable name.

A total of 17 Spectacled Bear cubs have grown up at the Tierpark Berlin. Bear curator, Dr. Florian Sicks, has been the coordinator of the European Endangered Species Programme for the Spectacled Bear since October 2017. It is his job to keep the population of these bears in Europe as stable and healthy as possible. This great responsibility is only given to zoos and curators with a high level of expertise.


Seal Welcomes Third Pup at Aquarium of the Pacific

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The Aquarium of the Pacific is pleased to announce that one of their Harbor Seals, named Shelby, gave birth to a pup on April 20. Shelby is one of the Aquarium’s original animals and was two-years-old when the nonprofit facility opened in 1998.

Most seals give birth to young starting at four to five-years-of-age. So at twenty-two years old, Shelby is considered a mature mom. This is her third pup. Shelby gave birth to her first pup, a female named Bixby, in April 2012 at age seventeen and her second, a male named Toby, in 2013. Bixby was moved to a zoo in the Midwest in 2015 with other female Harbor Seals, and Toby is slated to move to an aquarium in the southeast in May. Troy, the Aquarium of the Pacific’s only male Harbor Seal, is the father of all three pups and has lived at the Aquarium since 2007.

“Shelby has had a normal, healthy pregnancy, and with her success at giving birth to two pups here at the Aquarium in recent years, we were cautiously optimistic about the arrival of her third pup. It is particularly special to the Aquarium that one of our charter animals has given birth to the next generation, in the year of our twentieth anniversary,” said Dudley Wigdahl, Aquarium Curator of Mammals and Birds.

Shelby and her female pup are currently in the holding area next to the Seal and Sea Lion Habitat at the Aquarium. The shades will at times be open and closed periodically to allow for privacy for the mother and pup to bond.

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Photo Credits: Aquarium of the Pacific

New mom, Shelby, is a Pacific Harbor Seal. Harbor Seals (Phoca vitulina) can be found in the eastern Pacific Ocean, from the southern coast of Alaska to the northern portion of Baja, Mexico.

Their color and markings are unique to each seal, like a human’s fingerprints. Some have light-colored fur of almost white to silver or gray with darker circular or ring marks. Others have darker fur with light-colored markings. They range in size from 4 to 6.6 feet long and weigh between 110 to 375 pounds (males tend to be larger than females).

They may spend up to 85 percent of the day diving for prey, primarily schooling and bottom-dwelling fishes such as herring, surfperch, rockfish, salmon, and hake. They are also partial to some invertebrates, including crustaceans, and they get the water they need from their food. They can live about twenty-five to thirty years in the wild and longer under human care. Harbor Seals are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act. While the species is not currently listed as endangered or threatened, Harbor Seals are sensitive to human encroachment.

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Tierpark Berlin Welcomes New Porcupette

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The North American Porcupine family at Tierpark Berlin made a ‘prickly’ welcome to their newest offspring.

The baby arrived on April 20, and for a brief moment, the porcupette was soft and furry. However, the quills began to harden soon after the birth, just like those of mom and dad.

This is the second North American Porcupine birth at Tierpark Berlin. The baby joins older sister, Pixie.

"Although the Porcupine looks very cute with their short legs and their otherwise rather chubby body shape, they are extremely defensive," said Zoo Curator, Dr. Florian Sicks. "This is ensured by the approximately 30,000 spines, which are up to 75 mm long and barbed at their ends. Also, the high-contrast brown-white coloring of the spines is a warning signal for cougar, lynx or golden eagle, better to keep a distance."

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The species is also known as the Canadian Porcupine or Common Porcupine. It is a large rodent in the New World porcupine family. In their natural habitat in Canada, the US, and northern Mexico, the North American Porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum) spends much of the day asleep in trees or caves.

Tierpark Berlin’s Zoo Director, Dr. Andreas Knieriem, shared his thoughts about the successful breeding of the new porcupette’s parents: "Although the Porcupines moved to the zoo only in 2016, they have become an integral part of the future North American part of the zoo.”

“The fact that Oskar and Anni got offspring so quickly is not only a pleasure for the visitors, but also a confirmation for us that they feel comfortable here. They are a popular motif, and their sight is now so much the zoo, that we have immortalized them in our new zoo Animal Park.”