Perth Zoo

Meerkat Trio Born At Perth Zoo


Three Slender-tailed Meerkat kits are out of the den at Australia’s Perth Zoo!   Born in September to mom Tilly, the kits have recently opened their eyes and started exploring their habitat.

Tilly is an experienced mother – this is her third litter in the past 12 months.

Meerkat kits grow quickly, and the kits will soon start to eat insects, meat, and vegetables like the adults.  In just a few months, they will be the same size as their parents.

Native to southern Africa, Meerkats are extremely social.  Living in groups of up to 30 individuals, they forage, hunt, and care for their young as a group.  Like many social animals, they have a wide vocal repertoire to communicate alarm, danger, and contentment.  One Meerkat is often on sentry duty, standing erect at the burrow entrance on watch for predators and threats.

Meerkats are plentiful in the wild and not under significant threat. 

Photo Credit:  Perth Zoo

Meet the Remarkable and Diminutive Dibbler


The Dibbler, an endangered carnivorous marsupial, has made a return to Perth, Western Australia, with the release of 54 individuals into a local metropolitan park, this October.

(147) 'Cmon guys - lets play a game and see how many of us we can stack on top of eachother' #DibblerStack

Dibbler groupPhoto Credits: Perth Zoo

The Perth Zoo bred animals were released into a 150 hectare (371 acre) fenced area at Whiteman Park, giving them a chance to establish in the absence of foxes and cats, which have likely contributed to their decline in the wild.

Lisa Mantellato, from Perth Zoo’s Native Species Breeding Program, said: “We have bred Dibblers for release into various habitats in the past, but this is the first time they have been returned to metropolitan Perth. Judging from sub-fossil records, Whiteman Park formed part of the Dibbler’s former natural range. We hope that through this program we can establish a self-sustaining population of Dibblers within the metropolitan parkland.”

Perth Zoo has been breeding Dibblers for release since 1997 resulting in the establishment of two new wild populations. In 1996, the first recovery plan was put in place by the Western Australia Department of Parks and Wildlife, with an aim to increase the species’ numbers and expand their distribution. The 2007 recovery plan maintains the need for a captive breeding colony to establish further populations.

Dr Tony Friend, from the Department of Parks and Wildlife said: “Establishing populations of small carnivores is always challenging and the Dibblers certainly fit that bill with a short life-span, matched with a ‘live fast and die young strategy to life’. So anything that limits the success of the first few years of breeding in the wild can have a big impact.”

Fourteen of the Dibblers will carry tiny radio transmitters, weighing less than one gram each, to assist in determining the success of the reintroduction into the predator-free area. University of Western Australia researchers will undertake the monitoring to learn more about the habits of this crepuscular animal and help inform future recovery actions.

This endangered Western Australian species was once found in coastal areas around the south-west corner of Australia, from SharkBay around to Albany and east to the western parts of South Australia, but by the early 1900s they were thought to be extinct. Only a chance discovery in 1967 revealed the species still survived, though in much smaller numbers. Since then, Dibblers have only been found to survive, in the wild, on two small Jurien Bay islands and in the Fitzgerald River National Park.

The Dibbler is threatened by loss of habitat caused by land clearing, the plant disease Phytophthora, die-back, and wildfires. On top of that, introduced foxes and cats also prey on them.

Perth Zoo’s Native Species Breeding Program breeds threatened Western Australian fauna for release into natural habitat. Since 1992, more than 2700 animals bred at the Zoo including Dibblers, Numbats, Western Swamp Tortoises and endangered frogs have been released into the wild and through this collaboration between Parks and Wildlife and Perth Zoo, a huge effort continues to save the State’s wildlife.

Labor of Love for Perth Zoo Keepers


A rare Javan Gibbon has survived the first few months of life, all thanks to the round-the-clock care and attention provided by the staff at Perth Zoo, Western Australia.



PerthZooOwaGibbon62daysAug212014_6Photo Credits: Perth Zoo

The little male Javan Gibbon, named ‘Owa’ (Indonesian for ‘gibbon’), was born on June 20th, and has had to be reared by Perth Zoo keepers. Six days after his birth, it became evident that his mother, ‘Hecla’, wasn’t producing enough milk to sustain her infant.

Primate Supervisor, Holly Thompson, said, “It is difficult to rear a primate and introduce it back to its family, so it’s not something we took on lightly. However, Perth Zoo has an exceptionally good track record in this area.  We’ve successfully hand-reared four White-Cheeked Gibbons, but Owa is our first Javan Gibbon!”

According to Holly, life in her department has become a blur of nappies, milk formula and sleepless nights. Their department now features a portacot, and has been essentially turned into a temporary nursery. However, Thompson emphasizes, “It’s certainly a labor of love!”

Currently weighing in at a healthy 860g (1.9 lbs), Owa receives six bottle feeds a day and has just started enjoying mashed fruit and vegetables.

The infant Javan Gibbon visits his mother and father, ‘Jury’, and four-year-old sister, ‘Sunda’, at least twice a day. The group is very interested and protective of him, and it’s anticipated that he will return to his family once he is old enough to be weaned off his milk feeds.

Owa is Hecla’s tenth offspring. Hecla and her mate, Jury, are the world’s most successful breeding pair of Javan Gibbons. Perth Zoo is responsible for the coordination of the Studbook for this unique species, which involves updating the international studbook for Javan Gibbons and advising on suitable breeding and genetics for this species throughout Australasia.

See more great pics and learn more, below the fold!

Continue reading "Labor of Love for Perth Zoo Keepers" »

Meerkat Kits at Perth Zoo

Perth Zoo Meerkat kits2

Perth Zoo has three new residents. These super-cute meerkat kits were born on February 15 and are just starting to explore their home in the Zoo’s African Savannah.

The trio kept to their nest box for the first three weeks but recently began venturing out and playing with the adults and older siblings in their 13-strong meerkat clan.

Perth Zoo Meerkat kits3

Perth Zoo meerkat kit_

Perth Zoo Meerkat Kits March

Photo credits: Perth Zoo

“All of the adult males in the group have been helping mum, Tilly, by sharing the babysitting duties,” Perth Zoo exotics keeper Kaelene McKay said.

“The sex of the kits will be determined at their first health check and vaccination next month.

“The kits are absolutely gorgeous and it’s a real treat to watch them playing together.”

Perth Zoo has two meerkat colonies in its African Savannah.

Found in southern African, meerkats are members of the Mongoose family. They are extremely social animals but are highly territorial and will fiercely defend their home from other meerkat mobs.

In the wild, appointed meerkat sentries keep a look-out for predators while other group members forage for food.

The sentries stand on their hind legs to get a good view of approaching predators and when a threat is spotted, the sentries let out an alarm call and the group dives into its burrow.

Tiny Otters Weigh In at Perth Zoo

2 otter

Four new members of the world’s smallest otter species – the Asian Small-clawed Otter – have made their public debut at Perth Zoo in Western Australia. The four pups were born on December 27 and a few days ago had their first medical checkup with veterinary staff to weigh, sex, microchip, vaccinate and examine their general health.

The vets identified two females and two males ranging in size from 1.14 pounds (520 g) to 1.23 pounds (560 g). Asian Small-clawed Otters weigh only about eight pounds (3.5 kg) when fully grown. 

The pups have recently started learning how to swim. At this age, the parents carry the pups out of the nest box and into the pool, and then carry them back inside again – but the pups will soon start venturing out by themselves.

3 otter

1 otter

4 otterPhoto credit: Perth Zoo

Perth Zoo Chief Executive Susan Hunt said the tiny pups are part of an Australasian breeding program to help protect a species that is threatened in the wild.

“The otters at Perth Zoo have now had 16 otter pups, which is four litters in the past two years. These latest pups are the third litter for parents Asia and Tuan,” Hunt said.

Asian Small-clawed Otters are native to parts of India, southern China, Malaysia and Indonesia. They are highly social animals who pair for life. Males play a critical role rearing the pups, including nest building, swimming lessons and supplying food. Older siblings also take a role in the care of new pups and two older sisters are currently helping rear the new babies.

See and read more after the fold.

Continue reading "Tiny Otters Weigh In at Perth Zoo" »

Perth Zoo's Four Otter Pups Start Swimming Lessons - Taught by Older Brothers!

Otter group 1

Four Asian Small-clawed Otter pups, seen here with their older siblings, were born on March 23 to parents Asia and Tuan at Australia’s Perth Zoo. They've recently begun to venture out of their nest box to explore their surroundings and take a dip. The two males and two females are the third litter born at Perth Zoo in the past 12 months as part of an Australasian breeding program for the species.

The pups have begun taking swimming lessons from their four male older siblings in the afternoons. The big brothers also carry food into the nest box for the youngsters! Though the female is dominant, the males take an active role in rearing pups, including nest building, supplying food to the female and pups during weaning, and teaching the pups to swim. Senior vet, Dr. Simone Vitali, said, “This is very important to the development of the older male siblings, as well as important for the regional breeding program.”

Otter check 1

Otter side

Otter fish

Pictures courtesy of Perth Zoo.

The Asian Small-clawed Otter is the smallest of the 13 otter species, weighing just 3.5kg when fully grown. They live in streams, rivers, marshes, and rice paddies, and also along sea coasts and in mangroves. They are found in parts of India, southern China, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

See more pictures and continue reading the pups' story after the fold:

Continue reading "Perth Zoo's Four Otter Pups Start Swimming Lessons - Taught by Older Brothers!" »

Tiny Tortoises Hatch in Perth


The Perth Zoo in Australia had another successful season in their efforts to conserve Western Swamp Tortoises with 33 successful hatches. The zoo has been working hard since 1989 to help conserve this critically endangered species by rebuilding their wild population through a captive breeding and reintroduction program. Since the program's initiation, the zoo has hatched more than 800 tortoises, 600 of which have been successfully reintroduced to the wild. 

In order to help increase the hatching success, after tortoises lay their eggs, keepers dig them up and place them in incubators. They remain here for four to six months until the hatchlings emerge. This year, the zoo was able to capture rare footage of two tortoises emerging from their shells, which can be found below. After they are born, the hatchlings are weighed and marked with nail polish on their shells so that they can be individually identified.


Photo credits: Daniel Scarparolo / Perth Zoo

Hatchlings are raised at the zoo for about three years until they reach 100 grams in weight. At this point they are released into one of four sites that are managed by the Western Australian Department of Environment and Conservation to help boost the wild population. In addition, the zoo maintains an "insurance population" of 150-200 Western Swamp Tortoises in case of an unforseen  drastic decline in wild number.

See more photos after the fold!

Continue reading "Tiny Tortoises Hatch in Perth" »

Norbert the Nabarlek Becomes Perth Zoo’s Pint-sized Ambassador


A rarely-seen young Nabarlek, found curled up in his mother’s pouch after she was killed by a car, has taken up residence at Australia’s Perth Zoo.  Nabarleks are also known as Pygmy Rock Wallabies.

Named Norbert, he is the only Nabarlek in a zoo anywhere, according to the Perth Zoo.



Photo Credit:  Perth Zoo

Norbert was discovered by a wildlife rehabilitator, who provided care for several months.  At the time Norbert was taken in, he weighed just 6.5 ounces (186 grams).  Because he doesn’t have the skills to survive in the wild, Norbert was brought to the Perth Zoo where he will become a pint-sized ambassador for this little-known species.  

Perth Zoo Director of Animal Health and Research Dr. Peter Mawson said adult Nabarleks are only about 12 inches (30 cm) tall.  They are rarely seen because they inhabit remote areas and emerge only at night to feed on ferns and reeds.

Nabarleks are in the macropod family of marsupials, which includes kangaroos and wallabies.  “An interesting feature is that because of the tough nature of the plants included in their diet, the four or five molar teeth in each section of the jaw progressively move forward during the Narbalek’s life, ensuring that it is never without the teeth it needs to chew its tough food. Narbaleks are the only macropod that do this,” said Dr. Mawson.

Guests can meet Norbert starting this weekend at the Perth Zoo.

Related articles

World's First Breeding of Zoo-Born Echidnas at Perth Zoo


Perth Zoo’s groundbreaking Echidna breeding program has produced two puggles (baby Echidnas) and a breeding milestone: These puggles represent the first successful breeding from zoo-born Echidnas and have shown that Echidnas breed at a younger age than previously thought.

The puggles were born to four-year-old first-time mothers Mila and Chindi, both bred and born at Perth Zoo.  The new additions were named Nyingarn (Nyoongar for Echidna) and Babbin (Nyoongar for friend).  The puggles weighed less than one gram each when they hatched in August and spent their first two months in their mothers’ pouches before being deposited in nursery burrows. DNA testing will reveal the puggles’ genders.






“Until now, it was believed female Echidnas did not breed until the age of five so these latest births have shed new light on Echidna reproduction,” Environment Minister Bill Marmion said.  The groundbreaking work of the Perth Zoo’s Short-beaked Echidna breeding program could help conserve its endangered cousin, the Long-beaked Echidna.  The Perth Zoo has produced eight of the 24 Short-beaked Echidnas that have been bred in captivity.

Short-beaked Echidnas are part of a group of mammals called monotremes.  Females lay a single egg, which is incubated for about 11 days before it hatches.  The baby, called a puggle, completes its development in the mother’s pouch.  As adults, Short-beaked Echidnas are covered with spines.  They feed on insects, which are collected with their long, sticky tongues.

Photo Credit:  Perth Zoo