Taronga Zoo

Red Panda Cub Gets a Helping Hand at Taronga Zoo

Red Panda Cub 9_Photo by Paul Fahy
A Red Panda cub is making a remarkable recovery at Taronga Zoo with the help of a surrogate mom and a cuddly soft toy.

The two-month-old female cub, named Maiya, gets round-the-clock care after sustaining a neck injury while being carried in her mother’s mouth.

Red Panda Cub 7_Photo by Paul Fahy
Red Panda Cub 6_Photo by Paul FahyPhoto Credit:  Paul Fahy/Taronga Zoo

“She’s definitely a little survivor,” said Tamara Gillies, Maiya’s primary keeper. “She’s guzzling down her milk formula, she’s gaining weight every day and the wound on her neck has almost completely healed.”

The cub has also found a fluffy new friend in the form of a soft toy Red Panda, which she clings to while feeding and sleeping.

“The soft toy gives her something with a familiar scent to snuggle and play with. It’s the same color as a real Red Panda and she clings to it using her claws and teeth as she would do with her mum,” said Tamara.

Maiya, whose name means “little girl” in Nepali, was born at Taronga on November 20, 2016 to first-time parents Amala and Pabu. The cub spent her first five weeks in mother Amala’s care before keepers made the difficult decision to intervene.

“It was a hard choice as we’d always prefer for a cub to be raised by its mother. Amala was doing an amazing job for a first-time mum. She was very attentive and we observed all the right suckling and grooming behaviours, but unfortunately the injury to the cub’s neck required urgent veterinary care,” said Tamara.

Tamara said it’s not uncommon for Red Panda cubs to experience neck wounds as mothers often carry their young by the scruff of the neck.

Maiya will remain in Tamara’s constant care for at least another month, but keepers are already taking steps to gradually reintroduce the cub to her parents.

Red Pandas are native to the Himalayan Mountains, where they dwell in the forests.  They feed primarily on bamboo and are in decline due to shrinking habitat.

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Two Koala Joeys Emerge at Taronga Zoo

1_Sydney's Joey (4)_Photo by Paul Fahy

Taronga Zoo’s Koala keepers received an early gift this past festive season…two Koala joeys emerged from their pouches just in time for Christmas!

The tiny face of a male joey appeared in time to catch some of Australia’s warmer weather. The seven-month-old is the second joey for mother Sydney. “It’s a bit hot inside that pouch on steamy summer days, so he’s started to climb out and sit on Sydney’s head or cling to her belly and back,” said Koala Keeper, Laura Jones.

Prior to Christmas, Keeper Laura reported it would not be long before the joey began to spend all its time outside the pouch. “He’s still climbing back into the pouch occasionally, but it’s a tight squeeze and his arms or legs are often sticking out. By New Year’s Eve I don’t think he’ll fit back in,” she said.

Sydney isn’t the only new mum at Taronga Zoo’s Koala Encounter; her neighbor Willow also recently welcomed her second joey.

At eight months old, the female joey is slightly more developed than her tree mate and already starting to sample eucalyptus leaves. “She’s begun to nibble on leaves while mum is having breakfast. She’s a bit awkward and clumsy trying to get the leaves into her mouth, but she’s getting better every day,” said Laura.

2_Sydney's Joey (3)_Photo by Paul Fahy

3_Sydney's Joey (5)_Photo by Paul Fahy

4_Sydney's Joey (2)_Photo by Paul FahyPhoto Credits: Paul Fahy/Taronga Zoo (Images 1-5: Sydney and her male joey; Images 6-12: Willow and her female joey)

The yet-to-named joeys will spend at least another three to four months with their mothers before starting to venture out on their own.

Visitors have begun to meet the two joeys at Taronga’s Koala Encounter, where they also learn more about the threats that Koalas face in the wild.

Laura said it was particularly important for locals to watch out for Koalas on the roads over the Christmas holidays.

“It’s breeding season and that means Koalas, particularly males, will be on the ground more and potentially crossing roads as they range around for territory and search for females. Motorists should be particularly careful when driving at dawn and dusk,” said Laura.

More great pics below the fold!

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Taronga Welcomes Its Largest-Ever Meerkat Litter

Meerkat Pups 13_Photo by Paul Fahy
Taronga Zoo welcomed its largest litter of Meerkats ever, with keepers monitoring the progress of six playful pups.

The pups were born on November 7, but have just begun to venture outside their nest box to explore their habitat.  This is the third litter for experienced parents Nairobi and Maputo.  Previous litters had only two pups each. 

Meerkat Pups 5_Photo by Paul Fahy
Meerkat Pups 18_Photo by Paul Fahy
Meerkat Pups 16_Photo by Courtney MahonyPhoto Credits:  Paul Fahy (1,2,3,5,6,7,8,9), Courtney Mahoney (4,10,11,12)

Keeper Courtney Mahony said the size of this litter came as a complete surprise.

“We knew that Nairobi was bigger than she was during her previous pregnancies, but we definitely weren’t expecting six pups! Meerkats usually give birth to 3-4 pups, so mum certainly has her paws full this time,” said Courtney.

Courtney said Nairobi appeared to be relaxed and confident caring for the largest litter of pups in Taronga’s history.

“She’s an incredible mother and seems to be taking it all in her stride. She’s so attentive to the pups and she’s getting lots of babysitting help from dad and her eldest daughter, Serati,” said Courtney.

Keepers will confirm the sex of the pups when they have their first veterinary examination next month, but they suspect there are three males and three females. They have begun to do hands on health checks and weigh the pups regularly to ensure they are healthy and comfortable in their presence.

The yet-to-be-named pups have started to sample solid foods, such as mealworms, wood roaches, fruit and vegetables.

“They are growing a bit slower than our two previous litters, but they’re still hitting all the right milestones and starting to show their own little personalities. The biggest pup is a boy and he’s definitely the most adventurous of the six. He’s the first out of the nest box each morning and the first one to explore new things,” said Courtney.

Native to southern Africa’s arid plains, Meerkats live in extended family groups called mobs.  With sharp claws, they dig for insects, spiders, centipedes, and other small animals, which are crushed with sharp teeth.  As social animals, Meerkats have a wide range of vocalizations to convey alarm, fear, and contentment.   The International Union for Conservation of Nature states that there are no major threats to the species.   

 

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First Echidna Puggles in 29 Years for Taronga Zoo

 Puggles (14)_Photo by Paul Fahy

Taronga Zoo is celebrating its first successful Short-beaked Echidna births in 29 years, with keepers monitoring the progress of three healthy Echidna babies born to three different mothers.

The puggles, as baby Echidnas are called, have just opened their eyes and begun to develop their characteristic spines in the safety and warmth of their nursery burrows in Taronga’s new Echidna breeding facility.

Puggles (4)_Photo by Paul Fahy
Puggles (7)_Photo by Paul FahyPhoto Credit:  Paul Fahy
Echidnas are notoriously difficult to breed in human care, but keepers are pleased with the progress of the tiny trio and first-time mothers, Ganyi, Spike, and Pitpa.

Echidnas are one of only two Australian mammals that lay eggs (the other is the Platypus). The puggle hatches after 10 days and is carried around by its mother in a pouch-like skin fold for up to two months. Once the puggle starts to develop spines it is deposited in a specially-constructed nursery burrow and the mother returns to feed it every 3-6 days.

“All three mothers are doing an amazing job and tending to their puggles as needed. We have one mum, Spike, who is so attentive that she returns to feed her baby every second day,” said zoo keeper Suzie Lemon.

The three puggles all hatched in August. The youngest was born to mother Pitpa, who was the last Echidna born at Taronga in 1987.

“A great deal of mystery still surrounds this spiny species. Echidnas are quite elusive in the wild, so it’s hard to study their natural breeding behaviors,” said Suzie.

Suzie said the sudden success of Taronga’s Echidna breeding program could be attributed to the newly completed breeding facility, which was designed after extensive research and consultation with other zoos and wildlife parks. The facility includes insulated nest boxes to ensure the puggles remain warm and safe as they develop.

“A day in the puggle world consists of lots of sleeping. They can be buried up to 30cm deep in their burrow, so they’ll just sleep and use all their energy to grow and develop,” said Suzie.

Keepers have begun to weigh the puggles every three days to monitor their body condition and general development. The heaviest of the trio weighs over 500 grams, while the youngest weighs about 250 grams.

“This is a big step forward for Taronga. By monitoring the puggles so closely we’ve now got a good broad understanding of their growth cycle and development,” said Suzie.

Keepers have yet to choose names or determine the sexes of the three puggles, which won’t start to explore outside their burrows until early next year.

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Glider Joey Gets Special Care at Taronga Zoo

YBG Joey 1_Photo by Paul Fahy

A tiny Yellow-bellied Glider joey has found a surrogate mum at Taronga Zoo, after the joey and her mother survived a collision with a barbed-wire fence.

Taronga vet nurse, Felicity Evans, has been providing round-the-clock care to the female joey, carrying a makeshift pouch and feeding her six times a day from a dessert spoon.

“She gets really excited about food and can be quite a messy eater. She’ll grab hold of the spoon and pull it down so she ends up with milk all over her paws and stomach. I have to carefully clean her fur afterwards and wipe off her little milk moustache,” said Felicity.

YBG Joey 2_Photo by Paul Fahy

YBG Joey 3_Photo by Paul Fahy

YBG Joey 4_Photo by Paul FahyPhoto Credits: Paul Fahy/Taronga Zoo

 

The 10-week-old Glider and her mother arrived at Taronga Wildlife Hospital in early July after being rescued by WIRES wildlife carers on the Central Coast.

The mother was found with a series of injuries, including a major tear in her gliding membrane (the joey still inside her pouch), after becoming entangled in a barbed-wire fence. She had also stopped producing milk, forcing hospital staff to step in to care for the joey.

The yet-to-be-named joey has since made a remarkable recovery in Felicity’s care, growing from 48 grams to 80 grams in two weeks.

“She’s got a big personality for such a tiny animal. She climbs all over me and is very vocal if I have to wake her up for a feed. She doesn’t like being interrupted during sleep,” said Felicity.

The joey will remain in Felicity’s care for another few months, as she grows and gradually transitions to eating a special Glider mix and solid foods, such as fruit and fly pupae. The joey’s mother is also on the mend at Taronga Wildlife Hospital, where she continues to receive antibiotics and treatment for her wounds.

“Mum is eating well and healing nicely. Her range of movement is restricted, but she’s working out what she can and can’t do and getting better with practice,” said Felicity.

Unable to be released due to the extent of her injuries, the mother will remain in care at Taronga where she will become an important ambassador for her species.

Also known as the Fluffy Glider, Yellow-bellied Gliders have remarkably soft fur and can glide up to 140 metres in a single leap. Listed as a vulnerable species due to habitat loss, they can still be found in bushland at the edge of Sydney, such as Bouddi National Park.

More adorable pics, below the fold! 

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New Joey ‘Gliding’ Into Hearts at Taronga Zoo

1_Jiemba_Photo by Paul Fahy (4)

He may be small enough to climb along a keeper’s arm, but Taronga Zoo’s newest Yellow-bellied Glider joey is preparing to play a big role in protecting his vulnerable species.

The joey is the 16th born at Taronga, which has the world’s only successful breeding program for Yellow-bellied Gliders.

At five months of age, the joey recently left his mother’s pouch and will soon meet students taking part in Taronga’s Project Yellow-bellied Glider.

“He’s going to become our newest Yellow-bellied Glider ambassador, which is a very important role,” said Keeper, Wendy Gleen.

Also known as the Fluffy Glider, Yellow-bellied Gliders have remarkably soft fur and can glide up to 140 metres in a single leap. Listed as a vulnerable species, in Australia, due to habitat loss, these marsupials can still be found in bushland at the edge of Sydney, Australia, such as Bouddi National Park.

Taronga Zoo, in New South Wales, Australia, has joined forces with more than 160 school students from the Central Coast to help protect Gliders and their habitat through Project Yellow-bellied Glider. The project will see students become Yellow-bellied Glider guardians, habitat experts, and active participants in the development of wildlife corridors.

The students have also helped select a name for Taronga’s newest joey, with keepers choosing ‘Jiemba’, at the suggestion of students from St Joseph’s Catholic College at East Gosford. The name means “laughing star” in the language of the Wiradjuri people of central NSW.

2_Jiemba_Photo by Paul Fahy (24)

3_Jiemba_Photo by Paul Fahy (1)

4_Jiemba_Photo by Paul Fahy (5)Photo Credits: Paul Fahy/Taronga Zoo

Keepers are hoping that Jiemba will prove his star power when he meets the students during a visit to Taronga in August. Keepers have been helping to feed and care for the joey in recent weeks to assist with his weaning process and ensure he is comfortable around people.

“An encounter with a little Glider like Jiemba can help people form an emotional connection with Yellow-bellied Gliders and inspire them to take action to protect gliders in the wild,” said Wendy.

Wendy said people could help ensure a future for Yellow-bellied Gliders, in the wild, by protecting mature trees and planting native trees and shrubs to create wildlife corridors.

“The biggest problem for these Gliders is local bushland being broken up by development along the eastern seaboard where they’re found. It takes 120 years for mature trees to produce nesting hollows, so they are irreplaceable in our lifetime,” she said.

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Wallaby Joey Surprises Taronga Zoo Keepers

1_Wallaby Joey_Photo by Paul Fahy (16)

Keepers at Taronga Zoo are celebrating the unexpected birth of an endangered Brush-tailed Rock-Wallaby – more than a year after its father left the Zoo!

The joey recently started peeking out from mother Mica’s pouch to the surprise of keepers and delight of keen-eyed visitors.

“We weren’t planning for another joey, so it was quite a shock when we started seeing something moving inside the pouch,” said Keeper, Tony Britt-Lewis.

2_Wallaby Joey_Photo by Paul Fahy (8)

3_Wallaby Joey_Photo by Paul Fahy (9)

4_Wallaby Joey_Photo by Paul Fahy (10)Photo Credits: Paul Fahy / Taronga Zoo

 

The birth is the result of a phenomenon known as embryonic diapause, which enables certain mammals to extend their gestation period and time the birth of their young.

The reproductive strategy, which is used by a number of marsupial species (including: Kangaroos, Wallabies and Wombats), usually occurs when adverse environmental conditions threaten the survival of the mother and her newborn.

“It’s an interesting survival mechanism that allows the mother to delay the development of the embryo in drought conditions or if she already has a joey in the pouch,” said Tony.

Experienced mother Mica was carrying another joey in her pouch up until August last year, some five months after the only resident male, Sam, had moved to another wildlife park. Keepers suspect that Mica mated with Sam soon after giving birth to the joey growing in her pouch, and the resulting embryo stayed dormant while her pouch was occupied.

Tony said keepers are yet to determine the sex of the surprise joey, but it appears to be very healthy and about six months of age.

“Mica is a confident and attentive mum and her joey looks to be very strong. It shouldn’t be long before we start to see it venturing out of the pouch to take its first wobbly steps,” he said.

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Orphaned Possum Brothers Find New Mother

1_Possum Twins (8)

Two orphaned Ringtail Possums have found a surrogate mum at Taronga Zoo.

Taronga staffer, Di Scott, is providing round-the-clock care to the twin brothers, carrying a makeshift pouch and waking at 3am to feed and toilet the joeys.

The four-month-old Possums, nicknamed ‘Ernie’ and ‘Bert’, arrived at Taronga Wildlife Hospital with their mother last week. Their mother was left paralyzed after a suspected collision with a car at Northbridge and sadly didn’t survive.

2_Possum Twins (6)

3_Possum Twins (3)

4_Possum Twins (2)Photo Credits: Taronga Zoo

 

The twins were losing weight rapidly on arrival but have since made a remarkable recovery in Di’s care.

“It was really hard to tell them apart when they arrived, so the hospital staff put a spot of nail polish on one their toes to help with identification,” said Di.

“They’ve actually got quite distinct little personalities. Ernie is bouncy and boisterous, while Bert is quiet and shy in comparison.”

The Possums are learning to lap a special milk mixture from a dish and starting to nibble on solid foods, such as leaves and native flowers.

“I can hear them munching away on the flowers in the middle of the night. Their favorite is bottlebrush and they fight over the same part of the flower-- like true brothers,” said Di.

The twins will remain in Di’s care until they are ready to feed themselves. They’ll then stay at Taronga Wildlife Hospital until they are old enough to begin a soft release program, where they’ll be transferred to a specialized wildlife carer and ultimately released back into the wild.

Di said the Possums’ story should serve as a reminder to watch out for wildlife on the road, as native animals are often hit by cars.

Taronga Wildlife Hospital cares for and treats about 1,000 injured or orphaned native animals every year, including Wombats, Wallabies, Possums, Echidnas, birds and Sea Turtles.

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Taronga Zoo’s Meerkat Pups Given Names

1_TarongaZooTwo-month-oldMeerkats

The two-month-old Meerkat pups at Taronga Zoo were recently given names to reflect their African heritage. Meet ‘Lwazi’ and his sister ‘Serati’! The playful siblings were born January 7 to first-time mom, Nairobi, and dad, Maputo.

The Zoo has been celebrating this birth of its first Meerkat pups in nearly seven years. Check out our earlier article that introduced the pair: "Meerkat Pups Go Exploring at Taronga Zoo"

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3_TarongaZooMeerkats

4_TarongaZooTwo-month-oldMeerkatsPhoto Credits: Rick Stevens

“They may be young, but they’re already showing signs of their own little personalities. Our male is the bigger of the two and he’s more adventurous and inquisitive, while the female is quieter and prefers to stay close to mum,” said Keeper, Courtney Mahony.

“This is all new for them and they learn by observing their mum and dad, so we’re very lucky that Nairobi and Maputo are proving to be fantastic and attentive first-time parents. Nairobi is letting the pups suckle and grooming them at the right times and Maputo protects them, huddles over them and curls up with them at night.”

Gestation for Meerkats is about eleven weeks. In the wild, Meerkats give birth in underground burrows to help keep the newborns safe from predators. To shield the pups from dust in their subterranean homes, they are born with their eyes and ears closed. Meerkat babies are also nearly hairless at birth, though a light coat of silver and brown fur begins to fill in after just a few days.

These desert-dwellers are highly social critters and live in groups, called mobs, which can include dozens of individuals from multiple families.

The babies nurse for about nine weeks, and they grow very quickly. Though they weigh only about an ounce at birth, by six months old, the pups are about the same size as the adults.

The Meerkat, or Suricate (Suricata suricatta), is a small carnivoran belonging to the mongoose family. They are native to all parts of the Namib Desert in Namibia and southwestern Angola, and in South Africa.

They are currently classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. In the wild, they are present in several large and well-managed protected areas. However, population densities can fluctuate due to predation and rainfall variations.


Meerkat Pups Go Exploring At Taronga Zoo

Meerkat Pups_Photo by Paul Fahy (5)
Two Meerkat pups born January 7 at Australia’s Taronga Zoo are already practicing the skills they’ll need as adults. 

Meerkat Pups_Photo by Paul Fahy (9)
Meerkat Pups_Photo by Paul Fahy (15)Photo Credit:  Paul Fahy

 
The pups, which are the first to be born at Taronga Zoo in nearly seven years, have just started venturing out of their nest box.  At less than one month old, they’re already eating solid food like mealworms and insect larvae.  The pups are also practicing to be sentries by standing on their hind legs.  Meerkats take turns standing as sentries to protect their social group from predators and other threats.

Keepers think that the pups are a male and a female, but the genders will be confirmed later this month when they have their first vaccinations and veterinary exam.   Keepers perform quick health checks and weigh-ins regularly to ensure that the pups are healthy and comfortable in the presence of keepers.

As with all Meerkat young, the yet-to-be named pups are developing very quickly. Despite only weighing less than an ounce at birth, they now weigh more than a quarter of a pound.  

Meerkats are native to southern Africa, where they inhabit arid locales such as the Kalahari and Namib Deserts.  Living in clans of about 20 individuals, Meerkats construct large networks of underground burrows.  Aside from acting as sentries, they exhibit other social behaviors such as babysitting and protecting young of other group members.  Meerkats are not under significant threat and are classified as Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

See more photos of the Meerkat pups below.

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