Longleat Safari Park

Longleat’s Cheetah Cubs Enjoy a Day-Out

1_Cheetah cubs Winston and Poppy with their mum Wilma in their outdoor paddock for the first time at Longleat Safari Park PIC Caleb Hall (3000x2000)

A rare pair of Cheetah cubs has ventured outside for the first time at Longleat Safari Park.

Thirteen-week-old cubs, Poppy and Winston (who were named by the public), are the first of their kind to have been born at the Wiltshire, UK wildlife attraction.

The brother-and-sister duo, still sporting juvenile fur, was allowed outside to explore their paddock under the watchful eye of mum Wilma.

“It’s amazing to see how fast they are developing and fascinating to watch their reactions to the outside world,” said keeper Eloise Kilbane.

“Both of them were initially a little disconcerted by the wet grass and kept trying to wipe the water off their paws. Poppy also got a leaf stuck to her back and couldn’t quite work out how to get it off!

“However it wasn’t long before they were demonstrating the Cheetah’s famous turn of speed as they chased each other around,” she added.

2_Cheetah cubs Winston and Poppy with mum Wilma at Longleat Safari Park PIC Caleb Hall (3000x2089)

3_Cheetah cubs Winston and Poppy explore their outdoor paddock for the first time at Longleat Safari Park PIC Caleb HallPhoto Credits: Longleat Safari Park / Caleb Hall

The Cheetah is officially classified as ‘Vulnerable’ on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species, which means it is very likely to become ‘Endangered’ unless the circumstances threatening its survival and reproduction improve.

In 2008 the IUCN estimated there to be around 7,500-10,000 adult Cheetahs in Africa and there are concerns the numbers have decreased significantly since then.

The births, which come almost five years after Cheetahs first arrived at Longleat, are particularly welcome as the cubs are part of the European Endangered Species Programme.

“Both mum Wilma and dad Carl have very valuable genetics within the European population as they came to us from a captive breeding population in Pretoria, South Africa,” said Eloise.

“This means Winston and Poppy, are also genetically distinct from the vast majority of the Cheetah within Europe, which means their birth is even more important,” she added.

Despite being the fastest developing member of the cat family, the cubs will remain reliant on mum for up to two years.

Cheetahs are the world’s quickest land animals, capable of top speeds of 71 miles per hour. While running they can cover four strides in a second, with each stride measuring up to eight metres.

Longleat Safari & Adventure Park is a member of the British and Irish Association of zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA). The facility celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.


Chirpin' Cheetahs! Twin Cubs Born at Longleat Safari

Cheetah cubs at Longleat PIC BNPS
Two fluffy Cheetah cubs are chirping their way into the hearts of fans at Longleat Safari Park.

The cubs, a male and a female, were born in September and will remain indoors with their mother Wilma until they are 12 weeks old.

In the video below, you can hear the tiny cubs chirping and purring as they climb on their mother.  Cheetahs are among the most vocal of all cats and produce a variety of chirps, growls, and purrs.  They cannot roar like big cats.  

Cheetah cubs sitting at Longleat PIC BNPS
Photo Credit:  Longleat Safari Park

Cheetahs are the fastest-developing members of the cat family. The cubs opened their eyes after just six days, began moving around on their own within three weeks, and started chewing on bones at five weeks.

The birth of these cubs is extremely important to the European Endangered Species Programme, which manages the breeding of rare species in European zoos to maintain a high level of genetic diversity. 

“Both mum Wilma and dad Carl have very valuable genetics within the European population as they came to us from a captive breeding population in Pretoria, South Africa,” said keeper Eloise Kilbane.  “This means they, and their offspring, are genetically distinct from the vast majority of the Cheetah within Europe.”

“It’s crucial for us to be able to widen the gene pool as much as possible within the breeding programme to maintain genetic diversity and create a healthy population,” she added.

Cheetahs are the world’s fastest land animals, capable of top speeds of 71 miles per hour.

Cheetahs are classified as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which in 2008 estimated that only about 7,500-10,000 adult Cheetahs remain in Africa.  Many believe that the numbers have decreased significantly since then.


Red Panda Double-Trouble at Longleat

1_Baby red pandas at Longleat PIC Ian Turner

A rare set of Red Panda twins has been born at Longleat. It’s only the second time the species has bred successfully at the Wiltshire, UK wildlife attraction.

Twin Red Panda births are extremely rare and keepers are delighted with the pair’s progress. The new arrivals are doubly welcome, as their parents are a key factor in the ongoing success of the European Endangered Species Programme for the Red Panda, due to their diverse genetics.

Dad Ajenda (which means ‘King of the mountain’) arrived at Longleat from Germany in 2012, and mum Rufina (meaning ‘Red-haired’) arrived from Italy just over a year later.

“We’re delighted with how well Rufina is looking after the young cubs, and both mother and babies are doing brilliantly,” said Keeper Sam Allworthy.

“Cubs don’t tend to start venturing out on their own for the first three months, and Rufina, like all Red Panda mums, regularly moves the cubs to different nesting areas. This is perfectly natural behavior but makes keeping track of the babies, or even confirming what sex they are, somewhat problematic for us, although we are pretty sure both babies are female,” she added.

The species has been recently re-classified as ‘Endangered’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN); meaning populations are continuing to decline. An ‘Endangered’ species is one which faces a very high risk of extinction in the near future.

2_Close up of one of the red panda twins at Longleat PIC Ian Turner

3_Red panda cub twins at Longleat PIC Ian Turner

4_Mother and baby red pandas at Longleat PIC Ian TurnerPhoto Credits: Ian Turner/Longleat

In the wild, the Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens) inhabits the Himalayan mountains of China, India and Nepal, where they are threatened by habitat destruction and hunting.

They live among bamboo forests and spend much of their time in trees. The Red Panda communicates with squeaks, chattering noises and chipmunk-like sounds.

Although it shares the same name, the Red Panda is not related to the Giant Panda. In fact, the Red Panda is not related to any other animals, making it unique.

Red Pandas are solitary animals, and they only really ever come together to breed. As with the Giant Panda, female Red Pandas are only fertile for just one day a year and can delay implantation until conditions are favorable. They give birth to between one and four young at a time, and the cubs are born with pale fluffy fur, which darkens to the distinctive red coloration of the adults over the first three months.

About two-thirds of their food intake is made up of bamboo. Bamboo is not the most nutritious of foods, so they have to eat a lot of it to survive. As bamboo is relatively low in calories, Red Pandas tend to spend much of their time either eating or sleeping. Keepers at Longleat supplement the diet with a mix of fruits, eggs and the occasional insects, along with a special type of bamboo cake, which the Pandas are especially fond of.

Red Panda Mum, Rufina:

5_Red panda mum Rufina at Longleat PIC Ian Turner


Red Panda Cub Born at Longleat Safari Park

1_Red Panda Baby at Longleat PIC Ian Turner

A rare Red Panda cub has been born at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park, in the UK, after keepers launched an international “lonely-hearts ad” to find a mate for the cub's father. It’s the first time the famous Wiltshire safari park has successfully bred Red Pandas, and keepers are delighted with how well the cub, which has yet to be named, is doing.

2_Red Panda Baby at Longleat four PIC Ian Turner (1900x1267)

3_Red Panda Baby at Longleat two PIC Ian Turner

4_Red panda mum and dad at Longleat PIC Ian TurnerPhoto Credits: Ian Turner / Longleat Safari & Adventure Park

Dad Ajenda, which means ‘King of the Mountain’, came to Longleat from Germany in 2012, and mum Rufina, meaning ‘red-haired’, arrived from Italy just over a year later, following an appeal by keepers. The birth is particularly welcome as this particular pairing is deemed to be critical to the ongoing success of European Endangered Species Programme for the Red Panda.

Like their famous, but unrelated, namesakes the Giant Pandas, Red Pandas are increasingly endangered in the wild. The species was officially designated as ‘Vulnerable’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2008 when the global population was estimated at about 10,000 individuals. A ‘Vulnerable’ species is one which has been categorized as likely to become ‘Endangered’ unless the circumstances threatening its survival and reproduction improve.

“We’re delighted with how well Rufina is looking after the young cub, and both mother and baby are doing brilliantly,” said keeper Robert Curtis.

“Cubs don’t tend to start venturing out on their own for the first three months, and Rufina, like all Red Panda mums, regularly moves the cub to different nesting areas. This is perfectly natural behavior but makes keeping track of the baby...somewhat problematic for us!” Curtis added.

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Rare Little Giant Born at Longleat in the UK

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A rare, baby Giant Anteater has been born at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park, in the UK! The endangered South American mammal, named Julie-Poppet, was born in early July. She is only the third Giant Anteater to be born at the Wiltshire safari park.

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4_11760212_1003863489654570_2895968901775459719_nPhoto Credits: Longleat Safari & Adventure Park

The Giant Anteater is classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, and Julie-Poppet is now a significant part of the preservation of her species. Between 2000 and 2010, the total population of the species declined by 30%.

“To have a successful birth with our anteaters is fantastic, as the species is under increasing threat in the wild,” said keeper Catriona Carr. “It’s especially good to see mum and Julie-Poppet showing all the usual signs of a mother and baby relationship in the early stages.”

“For the first six months Maroni will carry the baby on her back virtually all the time. The baby takes milk by moving around underneath mum and only very rarely lets go.”

“The baby aligns itself to the pattern on mum’s back to provide camouflage from any predators who might prey on the young. It’s so effective that it’s almost as if the baby becomes invisible,” she added.

Mum Maroni, who was born in France, and German dad Bonito arrived at Longleat five years ago as part of a coordinated European Breeding Programme for the species.

Continue reading "Rare Little Giant Born at Longleat in the UK" »


Rare Armadillo Born at Longleat

1_Baby three banded armadillo on hand at Longleat PIC Ian Turner (1200x913)

A rare Southern Three-Banded Armadillo has been born at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park, in the UK. Born at the end of April, Charlie, as he has been nicknamed by keepers, is only the second armadillo to be successfully reared at the Wiltshire park.

2_Baby three banded armadillo with mum at Longleat PIC Ian Turner (1200x958)

3_Baby three banded  armadillo and its mum at Longleat PIC Ian TurnerPhoto Credits: Ian Turner

Keeper Emily Randall said, “Charlie is doing really well and putting on lots of weight. When he was born he was about the size of a golf ball, and although his armour was very soft, his claws weren’t!”

Emily continued, “The Three-Banded is one of only two species of armadillo that can roll into a defensive ball, in fact it is known as the ‘ball armadillo’ in Brazil. The ears can be fully tucked into the shell, and the head and tail interlock to make an incredibly strong seal. In captivity they can be expected to live for up to 20 years.”

“Charlie’s mum, Hattie and dad, Knobbly, who is 14, have been living here at Longleat since 2012. We’re really proud of Hattie and Knobbly and the rest of the armadillo family we have had here at Longleat. Charlie will now be the third generation of the same family who has been born in the park.”

The armadillo’s diet mainly consists of ants and termites. When it detects prey, it digs a hole and puts its nose into it, using its long, sticky tongue to lap up any insects.

The defense system of the Southern Three-Banded Armadillo is so effective it’s safe from the majority of predators. Adult pumas and jaguars are the only South American mammals powerful enough to be a natural threat. However, the main danger to the species is the destruction of its natural habitat to graze livestock.

The species has suffered a 30% decline in population, in the last 10 years, in its native South America. It has been classified as “Near Threatened” on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List of Threatened Species.


Baby Meerkat Emerges from the Burrow at Longleat

Baby meerkat at Longleat Safari and Adventure Park two PIC Ian TurnerA baby Meerkat is making its first public appearance at the United Kingdom’s Longleat Safari & Adventure Park.

Baby meerkat at Longleat Safari and Adventure Park one PIC Ian Turner
Baby meerkat and adult at Longleat Safari and Adventure Park PIC Ian TurnerPhoto Credit:  Ian Turner
 

Although born in May, the pup has spent the last two months inside an underground den with first-time parents Cassie and Pipsqueak.  This week, the baby is venturing outside for the first time!

“It’s been a long wait but the pup is now loving the outside and can be regularly spotted alongside the six other adults in this group,” said Longleat’s Darren Beasley.  “All the older Meerkats take turns in keeping watch over the baby and share any tasty bugs that they find.”   Keepers don’t know the baby’s gender yet.

Baby Meerkats are born virtually naked and helpless with their eyes closed. They spend the first weeks of life underground and are completely reliant on their mother’s milk.  Once they begin venturing outside, they stay close to their burrows under the watchful eye of a Meerkat babysitter.

At around two months of age the pups, although still nursing, will start foraging for insects and other food items with the rest of the group but it can take up to 16 weeks for them to be completely weaned.

Native to southern Africa, Meerkats spend much of their day sunbathing.  Lying on their backs, their dark-skinned, sparsely-furred bellies act as 'solar panels' to warm them up.

Meerkats have a wide vocabulary with a variety of alarm calls. Meerkats are relatively long-lived, particularly in captivity where individuals can live for up to 12 years or more.


"Thunderbirds" Thriving After Stormy Start

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Zoo keepers at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park have nicknamed five Chilean Flamingo chicks “Thunderbirds” after the eggs were abandoned by their parents during a thunderstorm.

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Photo Credit:  Longleat Safari & Adventure Park

A violent thunderstorm apparently caused the parents to flee the nest and take shelter.  When the adult Flamingoes did not return to the nest, zoo keepers at the United Kingdom zoo collected the eggs from the nests and placed them in an incubator, where they hatched.  Now about a month old, the five chicks are fed by syringe five times per day.

Adult flamingos build a volcano-shaped nest and lay a single egg, which they then usually sit on for around a month.  “It’s extremely unusual for all the parents to abandon their eggs at the same time, however the storm was particularly severe and the adults decided to head for cover – leaving us to look after the eggs,” said Longleat’s Mark Tye.

All Flamingo chicks are born with white plumage, which they keep for around three years.  The bright red pigment in Flamingoes’ feathers is derived from pigments in the small crustaceans and other microscopic plants that the birds eat.  In zoos, special pigments are added to the Flamingoes’ diet to maintain their brilliant hues.

Chilean Flamingoes are native to lakes high in the Andes Mountains of South America and can easily withstand cold temperatures.


UPDATE! Snowy Adventure for Longleat Lion Cubs

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Last time you read about these eight Lion cubs here on ZooBorns, they were taking their first stroll with their mothers out in the habitat at Longleat Safari and Adventure Park. This time, they got out to play in inches of fluffy white snow. All four male and four female cubs were born back in August -- and between the two forays into the elements, it can be seen how much they've grown.

This group is so big because they are actually two different families, with 2 of each gender born to different first-time mothers Nikata and Louisa. All are fathered by Hugo, the zoo's majestic male. The cubs practiced plenty of climbing, crouching and pouncing on each other... and their parents.

Keeper Bob Trollope said, “Nikata and Louisa don’t seem to have any problem joining in the rough and tumble games with their cubs. However, they are extremely protective and are nowhere near as accommodating with us!”

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Photo Credit: I.Turner 


Eight Lion Cubs Muddy Their Noses at Longleat Safari and Adventure Park

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A spot of rain did nothing to dampen the spirits of eight Lion cubs at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park as they ventured outside for the very first time this week. The eight cubs, four males and four females, were born back in August, but hadn’t joined the rest of the pride until now. 

They certainly made up for lost time. Even the pouring rain didn’t seem to be a problem for the youngsters, who played and explored their new surroundings under the watchful gaze of moms Nikata and Louisa. Both the first-time mothers have impressed keepers with their attentive behavior.

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Within minutes of being released, the cubs were covered in mud and leaves and were taking turns trying to balance their way along a slippery fallen tree trunk. Several of the braver individuals practiced their ambush skills on Mom, although they were rather more cautious when dad Hugo came over to say hello.

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Keeper Bob Trollope said, “Both mums have four cubs with two of each sex. Hugo is also a first time father, but he's considerably less interested in the youngsters and soon went back to what male lions do best – sleeping!” 

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Longleat is famed for its Lions, which are kept in two separate prides. However this is the first time the ‘woodland’ pride has had cubs. At birth the cubs weighed just 2.2 pounds (1 kgm), but they now tip the scales at almost 18 pounds (8 kgs)! Males usually reach their full size by the age of two, while females will be about three years old before they’re fully grown. Adults can weigh up to 440 pounds (200 kgs).