Sea Lion Pup Dives In at Denver Zoo

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There's a new set of flippers splashing around Colorado's Denver Zoo. A California sea lion pup, born on the evening of June 11, is the first of its species born at the zoo since 2010. Weighing in at just 20 pounds, the unnamed male pup is starting to learn how to swim with the help of his mother,  Luci.

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Photo credits: Denver Zoo

 

 Although pups can see and vocalize at birth, they usually don't learn to swim for a week or two. Keepers say that he's turning out to be very vocal, making lots of sheep-like noises, and he's starting to show a curious and independent personality in his swimming sessions with mom. 

Luci makes a wonderfully attentive mother. At night, she wakes her pup to make sure he is nursing regularly, and keeps a close eye on him when the two are at the seal pool. She's been eating 20 pounds of fish per day to ensure that the pup is receiving milk that is high in nutrients. The pup will spend his first year nursing while transitioning to fish.

Visitors can watch mother and pup exploring the zoo's Northern Shores exhibit, weather permitting. 

The pup is the second offspring for Luci and father, Nick, who welcomed female Ady in 2010. (Luci was born in Orlando, Florida at Sea World in 2001 and came to Denver Zoo two years later. Nick came to Denver Zoo from the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach, California in 2008.) 

California Sea Lions are found along the west coast of North America from Baja California to British Columbia. They are highly social animals, gathering in large groups called colonies. Their streamlined bodies allow them to swim at speeds of 25 to 30 miles per hour (40 to 48 km/hr), and their remarkable vision allows them to see well during the day and at night. They are listed as a species of Least Concern on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List.

Sea Lions are born after a 12-month reproductive cycle. This begins with a 3-month delayed implantation, when the embryo lies dormant before implanting into the uterus. This process is followed by a 9-month gestation period. The little pup has a lot of growing to do: adult males weigh 500 to 800 pounds (227 to 363 kg) as adults, while adult females are between 200 and 250 pounds (91 to 113 kg). 


Orphaned Kangaroo Raised by Wallaby at Adelaide Zoo

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In a world first for conservation, Adelaide Zoo Keepers and Veterinarians saved the life of an orphaned Goodfellow’s Tree Kangaroo, by utilizing a surrogate wallaby mother. It’s a technique never attempted before with a Tree Kangaroo!

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4_Adelaide Zoo Goodfellows Tree Kangaroo April 2015 Photo © Zoos SA Dave MattnerPhoto Credits: Zoos SA

In November last year, zookeepers arrived early one morning to make a horrible discovery. Overnight, a falling branch had crushed the zoo’s three-year-old female Tree Kangaroo, orphaning a five-week-old joey.

Acting on pure adrenalin, zookeepers made the decision to try and save the tiny joey. Due to the young age of the joey, hand rearing was not possible, which meant the only option available was to try and ‘cross-foster’ the joey into the pouch of a surrogate wallaby mother.

‘Cross-fostering’, a special breeding technique that Adelaide Zoo began pioneering in the 1990s, involves the transfer of endangered joeys to the pouch of a surrogate mother of a different wallaby species. This accelerates the breeding cycle of the original wallaby, allowing the female to increase its reproduction rate up to six or eight times in some species. This means Adelaide Zoo can build the captive population of an endangered species much more quickly.

Adelaide Zoo Veterinarian, Dr. David McLelland, says cross fostering has never been attempted on a Tree Kangaroo until that fateful morning. “We’ve had great success over the years’ cross-fostering between wallaby species, but the specialized breeding technique has never been used on a Tree Kangaroo,” David said.

“Not only are tree kangaroos distant relatives of wallabies, they also have many behavioral and physical differences. We had no idea if the Yellow-Foot Rock-Wallaby would accept the Tree Kangaroo joey, but if we wanted to save the joey we had to try our luck.”

The cross-foster procedure, to get the Tree Kangaroo joey to latch on to the new teat, ran smoothly and an anxious couple of days followed as zoo keepers closely monitored the wallaby to determine if the attempt was successful.

Adelaide Zoo Team Leader of Natives, Gayl Males, says tiny ripples of movement over the following days confirmed the joey was alive and thriving, tucked carefully away in its surrogate mother’s pouch.

“We were so excited when we confirmed the joey had made it past the first critical 24 hour period. We were uncertain as to whether the joey was going to be accepted. This joey was completely different from other joeys in body shape and behavior. It certainly wriggled around more than a wallaby joey!” Gayl said.

“The joey, which we named Makaia, first popped its head out of the pouch around the end of January. It was certainly a sight to see a Tree Kangaroo joey, with its reddish-tan fur, bright blue eyes and long claws riding around in a wallaby!”

“He stayed with his wallaby mum for about three and half months until I took over caring for him and in effect became his third mum. He’s certainly a cheeky little fellow and loves running amok, testing the boundaries, using my home as his personal playground, climbing on everything, pulling toilet paper off the rolls, but he also loves quiet time cuddling with my husband in the evening while we watch TV.”

“He truly is a special little guy and I am so pleased that Adelaide Zoo has the staff and expertise to successfully perform this world first cross-foster. Makaia is the result of all our hard work; we can’t wait to share his amazing story with the world!”

Makaia spends the day at the zoo and goes home with Gayl over evenings and on her days off. He will continue to be cared for full-time until he no longer requires overnight feeds and will be weaned at around 15-18 months old.

Continue reading "Orphaned Kangaroo Raised by Wallaby at Adelaide Zoo" »


Binghamton Zoo Celebrates Arrival of New Porcupine

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The Binghamton Zoo at Ross Park, in New York, is proud to announce the arrival of a Prehensile-Tailed Porcupine. The porcupette was born on Father’s Day, June 21.

Weighing in at 400 grams, the baby has progressively gained weight since birth. Once the sex is determined, a name will be announced. For now, the young porcupine is being monitored by zoo staff and is bonding with mom, Zoey, and dad, Mattie. 

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4_2015_animal_porcupine_baby2Photo Credits: Binghamton Zoo

The birth of this porcupine is a major success for the Prehensile-Tailed Porcupine’s Species Survival Plan. The father, Mattie, came to the Binghamton Zoo in November 2014, under recommendations from the SSP as a breeding candidate for Zoey. Each SSP carefully manages the breeding of a species to maintain a healthy and self-sustaining captive population that is both genetically diverse and demographically stable.

Baby porcupines (also known as porcupettes) are not born with sharp or barbed quills. Instead, the porcupette’s quills are soft and bendable, gradually hardening in the first few days after birth. Their quills will reach maturity after 10 weeks. They are dependent on the mother for nutrition the first 4 weeks after birth, eventually foraging for other food sources. They are completely weaned at 15 weeks.

These porcupines have a prehensile tail that allows them to grasp branches for balance. They also have long, curved claws that enable excellent climbing abilities. They spend most of their time in trees and will den in tree nests, rock crevices, brush, logs, and tangled tree roots.

Prehensile-Tailed Porcupines are native to South America. They feed on the bark of trees, buds, fruits, roots, stems, leaves, blossoms, seeds, and crops like corn and bananas. At the zoo, the porcupines’ diet consists of yams, carrots, greens, and leaf eater biscuits.

The porcupette is currently on exhibit with its parents, Zoey and Mattie, in the New World Tropics building.


Look Who's Hatching: Endangered African Penguin Chick

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Photo credit: Dave Parkinson

Home to the only breeding colony of African Penguins in the state of Florida, Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo has welcomed chick number 9 to its rookery of 15 endangered Penguins.

In addition to helping to raise the number of penguins in the managed population in North America, Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo also helps to support the wild penguin population by partnering with organizations in South Africa dedicated to protecting coastal penguin habitats.

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Rockin’ New Penguin Chick at Shedd Aquarium

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Shedd Aquarium welcomed a Rockhopper Penguin Chick on June 9, 2015. The chick hatched to parents Edward and Annie, following penguin-breeding season in March. The yet-to-be-named penguin weighed 57 grams at birth and came in at 200 grams at a recent weigh-in; full growth is expected after about two to three months. Until the aquarium decides on a name, the tiny bird is being referred to as “Chick #23”. 

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4_Rockhopper Penguin Chick 3Photo Credit: Brenna Hernandez /Shedd Aquarium ; Video Credit: Sam Cejtin /Shedd Aquarium

Chick #23 has been attempting to preen its soft, down-like plumage, which is one milestone Shedd’s animal care team looks for to assess the growth of the bird. While there are no observable sex differences in Rockhopper Penguins, a genetic test after one year of age will determine whether the chick is a boy or a girl.

Guests can try to spot Chick #23 in Shedd’s Polar Play Zone, where it’s currently in its nest with its parents. It will be another month or so before the chick begins to wander on its own.

Shedd Aquarium houses two types of penguins in the Polar Play Zone exhibit: Rockhoppers (Eudyptes chrysocome) and Magellanics (Spheniscus magellanicus). The Rockhopper is the smaller, yet more eccentric penguin of the two breeds.

Rockhopper Penguins are listed as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Since 1991, Shedd has been part of a successful penguin breeding program and has contributed to a variety of global rescue efforts. Chick #23 is one of more than 30 Rockhopper Penguins currently at Shedd.

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Tiny Java Mouse Deer Debuts at Artis Zoo

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Natura Artis Magistra, in the Netherlands, is home to a newly born Java Mouse Deer. The Java Mouse Deer (Tragulus javanicus) is a species of even-toed ungulate from the family Tragulidae. At maturity it reaches the size of a rabbit, making it one of the smallest ungulates on earth.

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3_Java mousedeer 2 Foto Edwin ButterPhoto Credits: Edwin Butter / Artis Royal Zoo

Mouse Deer are native to forests of South and Southeast Asia, with a single species in the rainforests of Central and West Africa. The species residing at Artis is native to the Indonesian island of Java. Although other Mouse Deer in Southeast Asia are very similar to the Javan species, researchers determined there are enough differentials to consider the Java Mouse Deer a completely separate species.

Although called a deer, they do not grow antlers. Both sexes have elongated canine teeth, but they are especially prominent in males, where they project out on either side of the lower jaw. These teeth become effective weapons for the males in fights over females. The Asian species typically weigh between 1.5 and 17.6 lbs (0.7 and 8.0 kg).

Java Mouse Deer are primarily herbivores. Their diet consists primarily of that which is found on the ground in the dense vegetation they prefer to inhabit.

Mouse Deer are timid and solitary, but they often live in pairs. The young fawns are weaned at about three months of age and reach sexual maturity between five and ten months.

The Java Mouse Deer is currently classified as “Data Deficient” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The data deficiency is due to the inconclusiveness regarding the distinct separation of the Tragulus species, in addition to the lack of information on Tragulus javanicus. Although listed as “Data Deficient”, it is highly probable that a decline in the number of Java Mouse Deer, in the wild, is occurring and the IUCN status could easily change to “Vulnerable” in the near future.


Ducklings Stand Beak to Beak Against Extinction

White Winged Ducklings-1 (2)With fewer than 250 remaining in the wild, hopes are high that a pair of rare white-winged ducks hatched at the Chester Zoo can boost this endangered species.

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White Winged Ducklings-17Photo Credit:  Chester Zoo

The duo can be seen swimming in their exhibit pond, but zoo staff are keeping a close watch on the ducklings. Curator of Birds Andrew Owen said, “Our two new white-winged ducklings are very important birds given that their numbers are extremely low in the wild. Our dedicated bird team will be keeping a very close eye on them to make sure they make it through to adulthood."

White-winged ducks are on the brink of extinction, with their wetland and forest habitats significantly destroyed by human activity.  Only a few populations remain along riverbanks in India and Indonesia.  In some locations, such as Java, Thailand, and Malaysia, white-winged ducks have not been seen for many years.  They are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Chester Zoo participates in the European breeding program, which builds an insurance population in zoos should the wild population be lost completely.  In addition, zoos are working in Southeast Asia to preserve habitats, which will benefit this and many other species.


Herd Trumpets Baby Elephant's Arrival

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A baby Asian Elephant arrived to the sound of a trumpeting herd on June 16 at Planckendael in Belgium.

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Baby-olifant-qiyo-planckendael-jonas-verhulst5Photo Credit:  Jonas Verhulst

 

Mom Phyo Phyo delivered her female calf, named Qiyo, surrounded by her five female herdmates and offspring in a special sand-floored stable in the zoo’s Elephant barn.  This scenario mimics the way Elephants deliver their calves in the wild.

In the video below, you can hear loud trumpeting as the calf falls to the ground amid the birth fluids. Her arrival causes quite a stir as the other Elephants reach out to touch the newborn with their trunks.

Phyo Phyo had a normal 22-month-long pregnancy, and her experience rearing four other calves is a huge advantage for the new baby.  Within just 15 minutes, Qiyo stood on her shaky legs, and just a half hour later, she was nursing.  Zoo keepers estimate Qiyo’s birth weight at about 190 pounds.

Phyo Phyo is an excellent mother and protects Qiyo from the zoo’s two playful and curious juvenile Elephants, Kai-Mook and May Tagu. By having the other female Elephants present at the birth, their chances of successfully caring for their own future babies is greatly increased.

Qiyo’s father, Chang, was not present for the birth, which is just as it would be in nature.  Chang is a gentle Elephant and the zoo staff expects to introduce him to Qiyo very soon.

Asian Elephants are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  They survive in small fragments of forest scattered across southeast Asia.  

See more photos and video of the baby Elephant below.

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Zoo Basel Announces New Addition to Gorilla Troop

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It has been ten years since Zoo Basel has been able to share news of a Western Lowland Gorilla birth, but the day is finally here. On May 19, gorilla mom, Joas, and father, M’Tonge, welcomed their newborn at the Swiss zoo.

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4_gorilla_joas_direkt_nach_geburt_ZO26631Photo Credits: Zoo Basel

The newest addition to Zoo Basel’s gorilla group has caused plenty of excitement among the other members. The baby is doing well, and mom, Joas, is content to bond with and care for her newborn.

The newborn was welcomed, not only, by his 26 year-old mother and 16 year- old dad, but also the rest of the gorilla troop: Faddama, Quarta, Zungu, and Goma.

Gorillas are ground dwelling, predominately herbivorous apes that are native to the forests of central Africa.

Gorillas live in groups called troops. Troops tend to be made of one adult male (or silverback) and multiple adult females and their offspring. A silverback is typically a male that is more than 12 years of age.

Females mature at 10-12 years (earlier in captivity) and males at 11-13 years. Female Gorillas mate and give birth in, typically, four-year intervals. Gestation lasts about 8.5 months. Infants are entirely dependent on their mothers. Male Gorillas are not active in caring for the young, but they do play a role in socializing them to other youngsters and work to shield them from aggression within the group. Infants suckle at least once per hour and sleep with their mothers in the same nest.

Infants begin to break contact with their mothers after five months but only for brief periods of time. By 12 months, infants move up to 16 feet from their mothers. At around 18-21 months, the distance between mother and offspring increases and they regularly spend time away from each other. They enter their juvenile period at their third year, and by the sixth year, they begin to sleep in a separate nest from mother.

The Western Gorilla, and its subspecies, is classified as “Critically Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The Mountain Gorilla is also listed as “Critically Endangered”, while the Eastern Gorilla is currently classified as “Endangered”.

Major threats to gorilla survival include habitat destruction and poaching for bushmeat trade. It is also believed that several thousand gorillas, in the Republic of Congo, died from Ebola during the outbreak in 2004.

More pics, below the fold!

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Black-Necked Swan Cygnets Hatch at Zoo Zurich

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Black-Necked Swan cygnets have hatched at Zoo Zurich. The grey offspring can be seen following their graceful parents in the water or riding, stylishly, on their backs. 

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4_10333657_979323328785639_3986113645097048609_o (1)Photo Credits: Peter Bolliger / Zoo Zurich

The Black-Necked Swan is native to South America. They are found in freshwater marshes, lagoons, and lake shores in southern South America. They breed in the Chilean Southern Zone, Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego, and on the Falkland Islands. In the austral winter, they migrate northwards to Paraguay and southern Brazil.

Adults average 40 to 49 inches (102 to 124 cm) and weight 7.7 to 14.8 lbs (3.5 to 6.7 kg). The wingspan ranges from 53 to 70 inches (135 to 177 cm). The body plumage is white with a black neck and head, and the bill is grey. The Black-Necked Swan has a red knob near the base of the bill and a white stripe behind the eye. The sexes are similar, with the female being slightly smaller. The cygnets are covered in light grey plumage, and they have a black bill and feet. They will develop the characteristic black neck in their second year.

The Black-Necked Swan is the smallest member of the genus: Cygnus. Its nearest relatives are the Black and Mute Swan, and like their relations, they are mostly silent.

Swans reach sexual maturity between 4 and 7 years of age. However, they can form socially monogamous pair bonds from as early as 20 months of age. These bonds last for many years, and in some cases, they can last for life. The female lays four to six eggs in a mounded nest of vegetation. Both Black-Necked parents regularly carry their cygnets on their backs. Their diet consists of vegetation, insects, and fish spawn.

The Black-Necked Swan is currently listed as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

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