Rockhopper Penguins Enjoy Playtime in a Playpen

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Two Rockhopper Penguin chicks recently went on display at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium.

Visitors will notice that the chicks are currently in a ‘playpen’ in the Zoo’s Antarctic Penguin exhibit. The playpen gives the chicks an opportunity to acclimate to the other penguins and the exhibit. This time also allows its feathers to fully grow in as down feathers are not waterproof. The chicks will remain in the playpen for a few weeks or until all of their feathers are in. The sexes of the chicks have not yet been determined.

The fuzzy pair hatched on December 11 and December 13, 2016. They currently weigh 4.3 and 4.2 pounds. Full grown Rockhopper Penguins weigh between 4.4 and 5.9 pounds.

The two chicks were parent-reared in the Zoo’s penguin exhibit. The eggs were incubated on exhibit and hatched at 32-34 days. At 30 days of age, the chicks were taught to hand feed from keeper staff, and they are now eating whole fish, primarily capelin.

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4_IMG_1660Photo Credits: Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium

The penguins at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium are Southern Rockhopper Penguins (Eudyptes chrysocome). They are found in subantarctic waters of the western Pacific and Indian Oceans, as well as around the southern coasts of South America. They are the smallest yellow-crested, black-and-white penguin in the genus Eudyptes.

Since 1998, 31 Rockhopper Penguins have hatched at Omaha. They are currently listed as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List. This species is primarily affected by: fisheries, loss of habitat, and oil spills.

The Zoo has extended an invitation to the public to help name the chicks. The official entry box is located in front of the Antarctic Penguin display in the Scott Aquarium. Name submissions will be accepted at the location until Thursday, February 23. The chicks’ names will be selected by the keepers that care for them and will be announced on Wednesday, March 8 on the Zoo’s website and social media. The entrants of the winning names will receive a unique Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium gift basket. Both male and female names will be accepted.

More great pics below the fold!

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Chester Zoo Releases Rare Footage of Tuatara Hatching

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Incredibly rare footage of a Tuatara hatching from its egg has been caught on camera at Chester Zoo. It is the first time the intricate process has ever been filmed in such stunning detail.

The egg, from which the youngster hatched in the footage, was laid on April 11, and it hatched on December 5, 2016.

The Tuatara is an ancient reptile that has lived on the planet for more than 225 million years…older than many species of dinosaur.

Last year, reptile experts at Chester Zoo became the first in the world to successfully breed the rare animal outside the species’ native New Zealand.

Now, six more have hatched at the Zoo and leading keepers to believe that they have found the ‘winning formula’ when it comes to breeding the mysterious creatures.

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4_Rare footage of ancient reptile hatching caught on film (2)Photo Credits: Chester Zoo

Only a handful of zoos worldwide work with the species, and the new arrivals are a huge boost to the global population of the reptiles, which are notoriously hard to care for. The Tuatara takes more than 20 years to reach sexual maturity and only reproduces every four years.

Isolde McGeorge, reptile keeper, said, “It took nearly 40 years of research and dedication to achieve the very first breeding of a Tuatara outside their homeland in New Zealand last year. Now, after waiting all that time for the first to successfully hatch, six more have come along.”

“Hatching these remarkable animals is real testament to the skill and expertise of the herpetology team at the zoo. Hopefully this means we’ve found the winning formula in terms of breeding the species, which has been a mystery to science for so long. Tuatara lived before the dinosaurs and have survived almost unchanged to the present day. They really are a living fossil and an evolutionary wonder.”

“Breeding the species is an amazing event and almost as special is the fact we’ve now caught a Tuatara hatching on film for the first time. It’s very, very special footage - footage which has barely ever been recorded before, certainly not in this level of detail. We will be able to learn more and more about these amazing animals from this footage. It’s incredibly unique and a real privilege to be able to witness something so rare.”

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Meet Taronga Zoo’s Tiny Troop of Monkey Babies

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Taronga Zoo recently welcomed four tiny Squirrel Monkey babies to its vibrant group.

Visitors to the Zoo’s new "Squirrel Monkey Jungle Walk" exhibit may spot the new arrivals clinging to their mothers’ backs, like tiny backpacks, as they leap and scurry from branch to branch.

The infants are all under three-months-old. The eldest was born just before Christmas on December 20, and the youngest was born on January 10.

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4_Squirrel Monkeys 12_Photo by Paul FahyPhoto Credits: Taronga Zoo /Paul Fahy

Primate keeper, Janet Lackey, said, “It’s a very exciting time for the family group of 17 Squirrel Monkeys. We are starting to see the older babies venturing off mum’s back and exploring the trees and ropes, and being very playful together. The youngest baby is still clinging tightly to mum as there is quite a big developmental difference between four and six weeks of age.”

“We do have a first time mum in the group, little four-year-old Yamma, and she is doing so impressively well. We are really proud of her,” said Janet.

Keepers are yet to name or determine the sexes of the babies, who are receiving lots of attention from the other adults in Taronga’s Squirrel Monkey group.

“We have noticed some of the aunties in the family group have started sharing the responsibility of looking after the babies. It’s wonderful to see some of our more experienced mums, who haven’t had a baby this season, sharing their mothering skills. It’s also lovely to see some of the younger aunties practicing their mothering skills and the whole community working together to bring up the babies,” said Janet.

Taronga is part of the regional breeding program for Bolivian Squirrel Monkeys (Saimiri boliviensis boliviensis). Squirrel Monkeys are native to Central and South America and, while not endangered, they are still at risk from habitat loss and the illegal pet trade.

More adorable pics below the fold!

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Echidna Puggle Earns its Spikes

Echidnapuggle_Australia’s Perth Zoo has unveiled a spiky new addition: a Short-Beaked Echidna puggle.  

Hatched in September last year, this is the second offspring for parents Chindi and Nyingarn, who were the world’s first zoo-born Echidnas to successfully breed in 2015.  The first and second photos show the puggle at 69 days old.  The remaining photos show the puggle at about six months old, looking more like a spiky adult Echidna.

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PleaseCreditAlexAsbury_1Photo Credit:  Perth Zoo (1,2); Alex Asbury (3,4,5)

The puggle, as baby Echidnas are called, is still growing its protective covering of spines and will remain off display in its nursery burrow for a few more months.

Weighing around 3.5 pounds, the puggle is the 10th Echidna since 2007 to successfully hatch at Perth Zoo.  Perth Zoo is considered an expert in Echidna breeding, having significantly advanced global reproductive knowledge of these unusual egg- laying mammals.

Zoo keeper Katie Snushall said, “This species is notoriously difficult to breed, so to have not just one, but two puggles from zoo-born parents; and in consecutive years is a significant achievement.”

Known as monotremes, Echidnas and Platypus are the only mammals that lay eggs. These species are found only in Australia and New Guinea.

It takes about 10 days for a baby Echidna to hatch from the egg. It is then carried by its mother in a temporary pouch for the first two months until its spikes start to emerge, at which point the mother constructs a nursery burrow and places the puggle safely inside, returning only every two to six days to feed it.

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Tiny Orphaned Dik-dik Hand-reared at Chester Zoo

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A tiny Dik-dik is making a big impression at Chester Zoo. The little Antelope is being cared for by zoo staff after its mother passed away soon after giving birth.

Standing only about 8 inches tall at the shoulders, the tiny Kirk’s Dik-dik is being bottle fed by staff five times a day. He will continue to receive a helping hand until he is old enough to eat by himself. 

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Keepers step in to hand-rear orphaned baby dik dik antelope at Chester Zoo (3)Photo Credit:  Chester Zoo



Assistant team manager Kim Wood and keeper Barbara Dreyer have both been caring for the new arrival, who is currently so light he doesn’t register a weight on the zoo’s set of antelope scales.

Kim said, “The youngster is beginning to find his feet now and is really starting to hold his own. We’re hopeful that, in a few months’ time, we’ll be able to introduce him to some of the other members of our group of Dik-diks.  He may be tiny but he is certainly making a big impression on everyone at the zoo.”   

Kirk’s Dik-diks grow to a maximum size of just 16 inches tall at the shoulders, making them one of the smallest species of Antelope in the world.

The species takes its name from Sir John Kirk, a 19th century Scottish naturalist, as well as the alarm calls made by female Dik-diks.  

Kirk’s Dik-diks are native to northeastern Africa and conservationists say they mark their territory with fluid from glands between their toes and just under their eyes, not dissimilar to tears. Populations in the wild are stable.

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Endangered Mice Bring in New Year at Brevard Zoo

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Just a few weeks into the New Year, Brevard Zoo, in Melbourne, Florida, welcomed two endangered Perdido Key Beach Mouse pups.

The pups’ parents, known among keepers as Hillary and Donald, were first paired in the heat of election season. The exact date of birth is unknown as Beach Mouse pups emerge from their underground burrows at 13-16 days of age, but staff speculates they were born in early January. The sex of each pup has not yet been identified.

“These mice are really important because they store seeds inside dunes. The seeds they don’t eat sometimes grow into large plants that help maintain the dune’s structure,” said conservation coordinator Amanda Sanford. “Stronger dunes mean more protection for nearby buildings during hurricanes.”

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The Perdido Key Beach mouse (Peromyscus polionotus trissyllepsis) is a subspecies of the oldfield mouse. An oldfield mouse or beach mouse (Peromyscus polionotus) is a nocturnal species of rodent in the family Cricetidae.

This subspecies is only found on Perdido Key, a small island off the Florida Panhandle. They are classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List. Habitat loss, feral cats, and a population decline caused by 2004’s Hurricane Ivan are the main threats to them.

They are nocturnal, spending most of their daylight hours in their burrows. Unlike many species, Beach Mice are monogamous, with mated pairs tending to remain together as long as both live. A typical mouse pair averages 3-4 offspring per litter and has roughly 3 litters per year.

As part of a conservation program that aims to maintain a healthy captive population, many Beach Mice born at Brevard Zoo have been released in their natural habitat.

The breeding and reintroduction program is a collaboration between the Zoo, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Florida Park Service, Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division, Palm Beach Zoo and Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo.


New Langur Is Lucky Number Seven for Parents

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A bright orange, endangered Francois’ Langur was born February 6 at Lincoln Park Zoo and is now on exhibit at Helen Brach Primate House.

The infant is the seventh successful offspring for Lincoln Park Zoo’s breeding pair, Pumpkin (dam) and Cartman (sire), and a part of the Francois’ Langur Species Survival Plan ® (SSP), which cooperatively manages the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited-zoo population. Lead Keeper Bonnie Jacobs serves as Vice-Chair of the Francois’ Langur SSP and has been managing the studbook for this population in the AZA for the past 15 years.

The sex and measurements of the infant are yet to be determined, as the newborn is still clinging tight to mom.

“Pumpkin is an experienced and attentive mother and the entire troop is being supportive,” said Curator of Primates, Maureen Leahy. “We recently updated the Langur exhibit to include more dynamic elements such as vines, sway poles and pulley feeders, so it will be exciting to see the newest addition of the troop grow more independent and explore the habitat.”

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4_20170107_JF_Francois_Langur-7Photo Credits: Julia Fuller / Lincoln Park Zoo

Francois’ Langurs (Trachypithecus francoisi) are classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List due to habitat degradation and hunting. They’re native to the southern Guangxi province of China, northern Vietnam and west-central Laos.

Adults display black body coloration with a white marking from ear-to-ear and a black crest atop the head. Infants are born with a bright orange hue, which scientists believe encourages alloparenting, or ‘aunting behavior,’ among females in the group. Infants’ fur turns black within the first three to six months of life.

With its parents, the Langur infant joins sisters Kieu and Orla, brothers Vinh and Pierre, and adult female Chi on exhibit at Helen Brach Primate House, open daily from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Lincoln Park Zoo. For more information, visit www.lpzoo.org .


Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary Welcomes White Rhino Calf

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There is exciting news from Uganda’s Ziwa Rhino and Wildlife Ranch. On December 26, 2016, their fourth Rhino of 2016 was born. The young male Southern White Rhino was named Noel and is becoming a valuable member of the ranch’s Rhino herd.

The timing of his birth, during the Christmas season, inspired Noel’s name. The strong, healthy boy is seen as a true gift to the Uganda Rhino reintroduction program. According to the sanctuary, it is very befitting that he was born on December 26, considering his mother's name, Malaika, means “angel”.

Uganda was once the only place in East Africa where both White and Black Rhinos lived. Both species were hunted intensively during the British colonial period, and they were finished off during the violent rule of Idi Amin in the 1970s. When Amin came to power in 1971, there were around 100 White and 300 Black Rhinos in northern Uganda. When he was overthrown eight years later in Uganda, only a handful of the Rhinos remained. By the early 1980s, there were none.

Today, with the help of organizations like Ziwa Rhino and Wildlife Ranch and Rhino Fund Uganda, the country’s fragile Rhino population is making a comeback. In 2005, Rhino Fund Uganda and the Uganda Wildlife Authority reintroduced Rhinos as part of the Ziwa project. The focus was to create a safe environment for them to live and breed in peace.

Nineteen Rhinos now live at the ranch and are guarded by approximately 80 park rangers, along with 24- hour security guards. Travelers can visit Noel and his family at Ziwa to learn more about Rhinos and the conservation efforts in place in Uganda to ensure they are around for future generations.

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3_New Rhino Baby with Mother ZiwaPhoto Credits: Ziwa Rhino and Wildlife Ranch

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is a collaborative effort between the Rhino Fund Uganda, a Ugandan NGO committed to the restoration of Uganda's Rhinoceros population and the Uganda Wildlife Authority.

The sanctuary offers a secure place where Rhino populations can be expanded by breeding, protected from human and non-human predators and gradually be re-introduced into Uganda's national parks, while at the same time, allowing the public to enjoy these majestic animals, as the project moves forward.

A team of approximately 80 park rangers and security guards keep a 24-hour watch on the Rhinos to ensure their safety. The 70 square kilometres (7,000 ha) sanctuary is surrounded by a 2 metres (6.6 ft) electric fence to keep the Rhinos in and the intruders out.

The sanctuary is also home to at least 40 mammal and reptilian species, including: monkey, antelope, hippopotamus, crocodile and numerous bird species. In addition to Rhino trekking on foot, tourist activities include birding, canoe rides and nature walks.

The sanctuary is located approximately 180 kilometres (110 mi), by road, north of Kampala, Uganda's capital and largest city. This location is near Nakitoma Village, Nakasongola District, in the Kafu River Basin, off the Kampala-Gulu Highway.

For more information on ways to help the sanctuary or plan a visit to the ranch, please see their website: www.rhinofund.org


Gorilla Infant Gets Fitting New Name at Zoo Atlanta

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A female Western Lowland Gorilla born to mom Kudzoo on September 18, at Zoo Atlanta, has been named Mijadala.

The infant’s new moniker emerged as the winner of public vote in a contest conducted from Tuesday, January 31 through Monday, February 6. Voting cast for the new name raised more funds for Gorilla conservation than did three other names in the running: Adia, Fahari and Tisa. Zoo Atlanta invited the public to back each vote with a $1 donation, and all funds raised by the naming will benefit the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, the Zoo’s longtime partner in Gorilla conservation.

“Every newborn Gorilla is a gift, both in the wild and within zoological populations, and it’s very important to raise awareness of the ways the future of these populations intersect,” said Raymond B. King, President and CEO. “With the gift of Mijadala’s birth, we’re excited to also be able to send a celebratory gift to field programs that are working every day for the protection of wild gorillas and their habitats in Africa.”

The name Mijadala, which means “discussions” in Swahili, was inspired by the infant’s unusually vocal nature; her caregivers say she is the most vocal Gorilla infant ever born at the Zoo. Mijadala, or “Mija” for short, is the 23rd Gorilla born in Zoo Atlanta’s Ford African Rain Forest and is a granddaughter of the legendary late Willie B. She is the ninth offspring of silverback Taz and has two full siblings: Merry Leigh, 5, and Macy Baby, 11. Macy Baby now lives at the Riverbanks Zoo & Garden in Columbia, S.C..

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4_Western lowland gorilla infant Mijadala_Zoo AtlantaPhoto Credits: Zoo Atlanta

Western Lowland Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) populations in the wild have declined dramatically since the time of Willie B., the founder of Mijadala’s famous Zoo Atlanta family tree. The species is currently classified as “Critically Endangered”, and according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), over a 25-year period, the combined threats of poaching, illegal hunting for the bush meat trade, habitat loss and emerging diseases such as Ebola have reduced Western Lowland Gorilla populations by 60 percent, with declines of as much as 90 percent in some parts of their range in western Africa.

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Trio of Malayan Tiger Cubs Born at Cincinnati Zoo

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Three Malayan Tiger cubs were born February 3 at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden and are now being cared for in the Zoo’s nursery. First-time mom Cinta’s maternal instincts did not kick in, and vets, concerned that the cubs' body temperatures would dip too low without the warmth of mom's body, made the call to remove them from the den.

“It’s not uncommon for first-time Tiger moms not to know what to do. They can be aggressive and even harm or kill the cubs," said Mike Dulaney, Curator of Mammals and Vice Coordinator of the Malayan Tiger SSP. “Nursery staff is keeping them warm and feeding them every three hours.”

The cubs will be cared for in the nursery for now and will move to Cat Canyon when they’re weaned and no longer require constant care. Visitors should be able to see them playing and running around in their outdoor habitat in early spring.

“The three will grow up together. They will not be re-introduced to their mom as she would not recognize them as her own after a prolonged separation,” said Dulaney.

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4_IMG_5597Photo Credits: Images: 1,2,5,12 (DJJAM Photo)/ Images: 3,4 (Cincinnati Zoo)/ Images: 6-11,13 (Cassandre Crawford)/ Image: 14 (Lisa Hubbard) 

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