Endangered Flying Fox Pup Rescued by Zoo Keepers

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A tiny, critically endangered Rodrigues Flying Fox almost didn't live past her first day at the Oregon Zoo, but the pup is now one-month-old and well on the road to recovery.

"Rods," as Rodrigues Flying Foxes are often called in zoological circles, were once considered the most imperiled bat species on the planet, and each birth is considered an important step toward ensuring their long-term survival.

Oregon Zoo keepers were justifiably thrilled when, Sara, one of several Rodrigues Flying Foxes at the zoo's "bat cave," gave birth to a new pup on March 10. However, the day after the pup’s birth, excitement turned to concern when keepers found the tiny bat on the floor of the habitat, apparently rejected by her mom.

"Rods are big and fuzzy, and most of the time they keep their babies tucked up underneath a wing," said Laura Weiner, Senior Keeper for the zoo's Africa section. "When you see a baby on the ground, that's not a good sign."

The pup, which weighed less than 2 ounces, felt cold to the touch. Keepers scooped her up and rushed her to the zoo's veterinary medical center, where she was warmed, given fluids and determined to be in good health.

After several attempts to reunite the pup with her mother were met with rejection, the baby was returned to the vet hospital, where animal-care staff worked in shifts to administer formula feedings. She's out of ICU now, but she'll remain behind the scenes, until fall, during a long hand-rearing process that currently involves nine bottle feedings a day.

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3_040517BB-106Photo Credits: Oregon Zoo 

Weiner says the tiny survivor is not only "adorable," but a testament to one of the most inspiring conservation stories in history: living proof of the impact people can have, both positive and negative, on wildlife and species conservation.

"Every birth is significant for these bats," Weiner said. "Forty years ago, the Rodrigues Flying Fox was perilously close to extinction. The fact that they are here today shows what a difference people can make in helping wildlife."

The species is native only to Rodrigues, a tiny island in the Indian Ocean about 900 miles east of Madagascar, and plays an important ecological role on the island, where few other pollinators or seed dispersers exist. By the 1970s, much of this fruit bats' forest habitat had been cleared, and the species was on the brink extinction. After a cyclone hit the island in 1979, only 70 individuals remained, making the Rodrigues Flying Fox (Pteropus rodricensis) the most rare bat in the world.

The bats found a champion in English naturalist, Gerald Durrell, who translocated some survivors to form the nucleus of a breeding colony aimed at repopulating the species.

Although the Rodrigues Flying Fox is currently classified as “Critically Endangered” by the IUCN, the population has now increased to around 20,000, thanks to 40 years of conservation activity, including the Rodrigues Environmental Educator Project launched by the Philadelphia Zoo in 1998.

The Oregon Zoo began housing "Rods" in 1994, and has raised more than 40 pups since then, periodically sending bats to other zoos as part of the Rodrigues Flying Fox Species Survival Plan. (SSPs are Association of Zoos and Aquariums programs to ensure species that are threatened or endangered in the wild have sustainable populations in zoos and aquariums).


Polar Bears Get Ready for Important Mother’s Day

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ZooBorns introduced readers to Columbus Zoo and Aquarium's trio of Polar Bear cubs in our featured article posted on International Polar Bear Day: "A Trio of Polar Bears for 'International Polar Bear Day' ".

On November 8, first-time mom, Anana, gave birth to twins at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium (unfortunately, one of the cubs passed away soon after). On November 16, Anana’s own twin sister, Aurora, also gave birth to twins!

Aurora and her twins recently made their much-anticipated public debut, and it was announced that the twins are male and female. Anana and her female cub also made their first public appearance!

The Zoo reports that the three cubs will not be on view together, as female Polar Bears typically raise their young independently.

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and The Wilds staff are naming the twins through one of the many employee initiatives raising funds for conservation.

However, Polar Bear fans can vote for the moniker of Anana’s female cub through a naming contest via the Zoo’s website: www.ColumbusZoo.org/NameTheCub

Just follow the link to their page and cast a vote for one of the pre-selected names before May 2. The names for all the cubs will be announced on Mother’s Day, May 14!

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4_Anana's polar-bear-cub-slide-29521c932bd2f67d7bdc2ff0000bf4b43Photo Credits: Columbus Zoo and Aquarium (Images 1-4: Anana and her daughter / Images 5-8: Aurora and her male and female twins)

Continue reading "Polar Bears Get Ready for Important Mother’s Day" »


Baby Giraffe's First Moments

Calf and mum. Photo credit Simon Dower  Zoos SA 2
In full view of zoo visitors, Myeisha the Giraffe delivered a baby at Australia’s Monarto Zoo on April 19.

This calf is Myeisha’s fourth and is the first giraffe born at Monarto Zoo in eight years.

Mum giving birth. Photo credit Simon Dower  Zoos SA
Giraffe calf and mum. Photo credit Simon Dower  Zoos SA
Giraffe calf and group. Photo credit Simon Dower  Zoos SAPhoto Credit:  Simon Dower/Zoos SA

Giraffe keeper Vaughan Wilson said the not-so-little bundle of joy was thriving and settling in well with the rest of the herd in the waterhole habitat. Baby Giraffes typically weigh 100-150 pounds at birth and stand about six feet tall.

As you can see in the video, female Giraffes give birth standing up. The six-foot drop to the ground stimulates the newborn’s breathing and breaks the umbilical cord.
 
“The birth went really well and shortly after being born, the little one was already on its feet getting used to its long legs,” Vaughan said. “It’s feeding really well and the other females who live in the waterhole habitat are fascinated by the new arrival.”
 
“It’s a bit like a giraffe maternity ward at Monarto Zoo at the moment, with our giraffe Kinky also expected to give birth any day now, and several more of our females expecting in the coming months," Vaughan said.
 
Giraffes are classified as Vulnerable to Extinction in the wild, so the calf is an important contribution to the zoo breeding program.  Zoos around the world are working to secure the future of the world’s tallest animal, which is facing an uncertain future in the wild.
 
Habitat loss, poaching, and civil unrest has seen giraffe numbers plummet from around 155,000 in 1985 to just 97,000 in 2015, which equates to a decline of almost 40 per cent over three giraffe generations. This devastating decline led to the Giraffe’s reclassification as Vulnerable to Extinction last year by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

 


Cheetah Trio Debuts in Dubbo

Cheetah cubs on exhibit April 2017 SM (17)

Three Cheetah cubs made their public debut last week at Taronga Western Plains Zoo.  Born on October 20, the cubs, one male and two females, have been growing and developing well behind the scenes under the watchful eye of mother, Kyan. 

Cheetah cubs on exhibit April 2017 SM (9)
Cheetah cubs on exhibit April 2017 SM (13)Photo Credit: Taronga Western Plains Zoo

“The cubs are just over five months old now and are thriving. They are all developing quite distinct personalities and growing in confidence every day,” said zoo keeper Jordan Michelmore. 

Keepers have named the three Cheetah cubs.  The male has been named Obi, which means “heart” in Nigerian.  The females have been named Nyasa, which means “water” in Malawi and Zahara, which translates to “flower” in Swahili. 

“It has been a real pleasure watching them grow so far. Obi is very shy whilst Nyasa, the smallest of the trio, is actually the bravest and usually is the first to try new things. Zahara is also quite confident,” said Jordan.  “Kyan is becoming a little more relaxed now that the cubs are getting older. She is still quite protective and always keeps a watchful eye on them.”

Read more info and see additional photos of the cubs below.

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‘Kids’ at Zoo Basel Enjoy Springtime

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Thirteen exuberant Dwarf Goat kids are delighting visitors of Zoo Basel! The springtime births began on March 18, and the father to all of the ‘kids’ is two-year-old Wingu.

The movements of the young Dwarf Goats are a bit clumsy at the moment, but as they develop both their social and motor skills, they will soon be experts. Like all goats, Dwarf Goats are also considered to be good mountaineers and climbers.

Their hooves are an important climbing aid: the sole surface of each hoof is soft and supple, and therefore can adapt to any terrain unevenness, while the hoof edge is significantly harder. The hoof claws can also be moved against each other, so the animal always has sufficient ground contact, even at steep points.

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4_zwergziegen_jungtiere_ZO52458Photo Credits: Zoo Basel

The Nigerian Dwarf Goat is a miniature dairy goat of West African ancestry. The original animals were transported from Africa on ships as food for captured carnivores being brought to zoos; the survivors were then maintained in herds at those zoos.

Nigerian Dwarf Goats are popular as pets and family milkers due to their easy maintenance and small stature. However, because of their high butterfat, they are also used by some dairies to make cheese. They are registered by the American Dairy Goat Association, the American Goat Society, and the Nigerian Dwarf Goat Association.

Aside from their diminutive physique, they are modest, resistant and well adapted to their native tropical conditions.

Continue reading "‘Kids’ at Zoo Basel Enjoy Springtime" »


Polar Bear Cubs Entertain Guests of Aalborg Zoo

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Visitors to Aalborg Zoo, in Denmark, have been enjoying the antics of two adorable Polar Bear sisters.

The female cubs were born November 26 to mom, Malik, and the trio emerged from their birthing den in late February.

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4_33187808693_7ffd569648_kPhoto Credits: Ulli Joerres

The Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus) is a carnivorous bear that is native to the circumpolar north including the United States (Alaska), Canada, Russia, Norway and Denmark (Greenland).

Polar Bears generally have their first set of cubs between the ages of four and eight years. Due to delayed implantation, the gestation period can range from about 195 to 265 days. Pregnant Polar Bears den in the fall and give birth, generally to two cubs, in the winter. The cubs grow quickly on their mother’s fat-rich milk before emerging from the den in the spring.

Polar Bears are at the top of the Arctic food chain and primarily eat seals. Their populations are declining due to the disappearance of sea ice, and experts estimate that only 20,000-25,000 Polar Bears are left in the wild. Some scientists believe if the warming trend continues two-thirds of the population could disappear by the year 2050.

The Polar Bear is currently classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. At least three of the nineteen subpopulations are currently in decline.

More great pics below the fold!

Continue reading "Polar Bear Cubs Entertain Guests of Aalborg Zoo" »


Burgers’ Zoo Welcomes Banteng Bull Calf

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A Banteng calf was born at Burgers’ Zoo on April 12! The little bull is healthy and weighed-in at about 15 kilos (33 lbs.). Although he is currently sporting a brown coat, within his first year, it will eventually change to a black color.

The Banteng (Bos javanicus), also known as ‘tembadau’, is a species of wild cattle native to Southeast Asia.

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4_LI9A4686Photo Credits: Burgers' Zoo

Banteng have been domesticated in several places in Southeast Asia, and there are around 1.5 million domestic Banteng (called Bali cattle). These animals are used as working animals and for their meat. Banteng have also been introduced to Northern Australia, where they have established stable feral populations.

The Banteng is similar in size to domesticated cattle, measuring 1.55 to 1.65 m (5 ft 1 in to 5 ft 5 in) tall at the shoulder and 2.45–3.5 m (8 ft 0 in–11 ft 6 in) in total length, including a tail 60 cm (2.0 ft) long. Body weight can range from 400 to 900 kg (880 to 1,980 lb).

The species exhibits sexual dimorphism, allowing the sexes to be readily distinguished by color and size. In mature males, the short-haired coat is blue-black or dark chestnut in color, while in females and young it is chestnut with a dark dorsal stripe. Both males and females have white stockings on their lower legs, a white rump, a white muzzle, and white spots above the eyes.

Their build is similar to that of domesticated cattle, but with a comparatively slender neck and small head, and a ridge on the back above the shoulders. The horns of females are short and tightly curved, pointing inward at the tips, while those of males arc upwards, growing 60 to 75 cm (24 to 30 in) long, and being connected by a horn-like bald patch on the forehead.

Banteng prefer to live in sparse forests where they feed on grasses, bamboo, fruit, leaves, and young branches. They are generally active both night and day. But in places where humans are common, they adopt a nocturnal schedule. Banteng tend to gather in herds of two to 30 members.

The wild Banteng is classified as “Endangered” by the IUCN. The populations on the Asian mainland have decreased by about 80% in the last decades. The total number of wild Banteng is estimated to about 5,000-8,000 animals. Reasons for the population decline are: reduction of habitat, hunting, hybridization with domesticated cattle, and infections with cattle diseases.

The most important stronghold for the species is Java, with the biggest populations in Ujung Kulon National Park and Baluran National Park.


Orangutan Mom Welcomes First Born Son

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A beautiful male Sumatran Orangutan was born at Basel Zoo on March 4 and has been given the name ‘Ombak’. Ombak is a Malay word that means ‘wave’ or ‘surge’.

According to keepers, the infant’s 17-year-old mother, Kila, has become a very caring parent since the birth of her child. Ombak is Kila’s first child, but the role of mother is not a new one to her: her mother died when she was nine years old and Kila “adopted” her then two-year-old sister Maia (10), who now also lives at Basel Zoo.

Kila currently shares her enclosure with male Orangutan Bagus (15), who is showing a friendly interest but maintaining a respectful distance from her and her child. Kila has also been isolating herself in confusing situations, such as when the enclosure is being cleaned. Whether or not Bagus is Ombak’s father remains unclear: other candidates are Vendel (17) and Budi (13).

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4_orang_utan_kila_mit_jungtier_ombag_ZO55304Photo Credits: Basel Zoo

Kila arrived at Basel Zoo from Leipzig in 2012. When she first arrived at the Zoo, keepers recall she was a “little minx: nothing could frighten her and she was always the first to try out something new”. However, as soon as her new son, Ombak, was born her temper changed completely. She is now extremely cautious when she heads out into the outdoor enclosure, and her forays are only very short. She has also become a picky eater, whereas before she ate absolutely everything that was put in front of her. Despite her reticence, Kila likes to show her baby off to the Zookeepers. She even lets Zoo vets take a closer look at Ombak, but only if she is given a reward.

Baby Ombak is still entirely dependent on his mother and clings steadfastly to her fur. This clinging reflex is vital to the survival of newborn Orangutans. In the wild, Orangutans move about high up in the tops of tropical rainforests, and mothers need their hands to climb.

Orangutans are loners, so juveniles cannot learn from other members of the group, as Chimpanzees or Gorillas do. Their mothers are their only source of knowledge. Ombak will be reliant on, and suckled by, his mother for six to seven years, and only after this period is over can Kila become pregnant again. This is one of the longest gaps between births of all mammal species.

Ombak and Kila live with Vendel, Revital (17), Ketawa (4), Budi, Bagus and Maia who all came to Basel in 2012 as new arrivals after the renovation of the Zoo’s monkey house (except for Ketawa who was born at Basel Zoo).

Sumatran Orangutans (Pongo abelii) are currently classified as “Critically Endangered” by the IUCN. The species is already extinct in many regions of Sumatra. There are currently just 14,000 individual animals still living in the forests to the north of the island.

Basel Zoo supports an Orangutan conservation project in Borneo with 40,000 US dollars a year. The Kinabatangan Orangutan Conservation Programme aims to maintain the last rainforest areas in northeastern Malaysia. The diverse flora and fauna should be protected, including the Orangutans. The project integrates the local population’s interests into its nature and species conservation activities. Basel Zoo has supported the project since 2010.

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Litter of Seven Otters Born at Wingham Wildlife Park

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On March 16, a female Smooth-coated Otter, living at Wingham Wildlife Park in Kent, UK, gave birth to seven beautiful babies.

The new mum, Pong, originally arrived at Wingham Wildlife Park in August 2011, from the Rare Species Conservation Centre, a small zoological park on the outskirts of Sandwich in Kent, which the team at Wingham Wildlife Park took over and re-branded as Sandwich Wildlife Park in January 2017.

Pong is now almost seven-years-old, and this is her second litter of pups, with her first litter having been moved to other zoos in the UK, France and even the Czech Republic. Just like the last litter of pups, the father is nine-year-old Bob, whose birthday is just one day after the babies on March 17.

Bob was named by the park's Facebook followers, along with his other girlfriend, “Sheila”. Bob arrived at Wingham Wildlife Park in January 2013 from the Saigon Zoo & Botanical Gardens in Southern Vietnam.

At present, there are 17 males and 16 females in Europe, and with many of these coming from a single pair imported in to the UK from Cambodia several years ago (Pong’s parents), more individuals, which are at least half unrelated to the rest of the European population, is once again good to see.

The park looks forward to Bob hopefully breeding with Sheila in the future, who came from Zoo Negara in Malaysia which would give some completely unrelated offspring in the European genepool. With 10 of these individuals living at Wingham Wildlife Park at present, this gives the park the largest collection of Smooth-coated Otters in Europe.

Having babies is always very exciting for the staff at Wingham Wildlife Park, and the keepers for those animals are always very proud when the babies are born and are growing well and looking healthy.

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4_20170413_082621(0)Photo Credits: Markus Wilder/ Wingham Wildlife Park (Image 2: Hollie Wetherill, Head of Carnivores at Wingham Wildlife Park, holding one of the pups)

On April 13, the babies were removed for just a short time from Pong to allow the head of carnivores, head keeper, and curator of the park to weigh the pups, give them a visual health check, microchip them and find out what sex they are. In the end, it turned out that the babies consisted of two females and five males: making the sex ratio in Europe almost equal. At four-weeks-old, especially with one mum rearing seven hungry mouths, their weights came up between 390g and 500g, with most of them weighing just over 390g, with one extra hungry baby in the bunch.

Tony Binskin, the owner of Wingham Wildlife Park said of the arrival, “It has been a couple of years since we last had baby Otters, so this was a really nice sight to see! Even though this is quite a few mouths to feed, we know from past experience that Pong is a great mum, and have no worries about her.”

At four-weeks-old, they now all have their eyes open, however they are still far from independent so it will still be a little while before they start to venture outside. For now, they are spending all their time curled up in a tight ball of babies in their nest box, which Pong had been preparing for a few days before giving birth.

When the babies start to venture outside it will be an exciting time for the staff at the park, as Tony finished by saying: “Baby Otters are definitely some of the most interesting animals in the whole park. It is always a very tense moment however when mum first teaches the babies about the water, as she picks them up, one by one, and dunks them in the pond. Just like the babies, we’re always at the side of the enclosure for this experience, holding our breaths until the swimming lesson is over!”

The Smooth-coated Otter (Lutrogale perspicillata) is the only extant representative of the genus Lutrogale. This Otter species is found in most of the Indian Subcontinent and eastwards to Southeast Asia, with a disjunct population in Iraq. As its name indicates, the fur of this species is smoother and shorter than that of other Otters.

The Smooth-coated Otter is currently listed as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Their range and population are shrinking due to loss of wetland habitat, contamination of waterways by pesticides, and poaching.

Park staff encourages fans of the new pups to check their Facebook page for updates about when these beautiful animals will start to venture outside and make their public debut: https://www.facebook.com/WinghamWildlifePark


Bunny Has a Baby Just In Time For Easter

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We normally think of Bunnies at Easter and Reindeer at Christmas.  But on April 12, a Reindeer named Bunny at the Brookfield Zoo delivered a fawn just a few days before Easter.

This is the first Reindeer birth at the zoo since 1980.  Bunny and the sire, Karl, arrived at the Brookfield Zoo in 2015 and 2016, respectively. 

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Photo Credit:  Brookfield Zoo



The male fawn weighed about seven pounds at birth, but is expected to grow rapidly, fueled by his mothers’ rich milk.  Within just one hour of birth, the fawn was up and walking.  A one-day-old Reindeer fawn can outrun a human.

Reindeer are pregnant for six-and-a-half to eight months. Fawns are born with dark fur that acts as camouflage and absorbs heat from the sun, an important feature for a species that lives in cold climates.  By the time the fawn is a few months old, it will shed its dark fur as lighter-colored fur grows in.  Little antler buds will also begin to develop in a few months.  In most Reindeer populations, both sexes grow antlers.

Reindeer, called Caribou in North America, live in Norway, Finland, Siberia, Greenland, Alaska, Canada, and a few other locations. However, herds have been reported to be smaller in size than usual. This apparent decline has been linked to climate change.  There are 14 subspecies of Reindeer, including two that have gone extinct.  Reindeer are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.