August 2021. A litter of naked mole rat can already be seen in the Bioparc Valencia in Spain, a very strange and unknown mammal that behaves like an insect, is practically immune to cancer, can change from cold to warm blooded, has developed four mobile teeth, is extraordinarily long-lived and, in the absence of oxygen, acts like a plant.
Given its relevance from the biological point of view, BIOPARC Valencia houses a large group of approximately 100 individuals structured in two completely independent colonies. Each one usually reproduces annually and this summer a new litter of 9 offspring has been born that we can see even suckling from their mother. We can contemplate them in the area that recreates the underground life of the Savannah, through windows where the network of tunnels and rooms that imitate their original habitat can be observed.
Although they are very similar looking mammals, recent births show two very different reproduction strategies among mongooses: a single fertile pair in the entire group in the case of dwarfs and shared breeding in striped ones.
Friday, September 10, 2021.- One of the main objectives of BIOPARC is to show the rich biodiversity of our planet and learn about the impressive variety of survival strategies. In addition, if this information comes from the hand of the best news, such as new births, the satisfaction for the entire park team is maximum.
In this case, the latest joys come from two very similar species that many people confuse, the dwarf and striped mongooses, which have had new litters. Both species are included in the red list of the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature), for the moment with "least concern", being the main threat they face in nature the destruction of their habitat.
The BIOPARC group of striped mongooses (Mungos mungo) is one of the most numerous in Spain with 57 individuals, this time two litters have been born, one of 2 young and the other of 13. After giving birth, the young remain in the nest around 2 weeks and it is from then on when we can see them in the savannah area, near the aviary and the Kopje, where the lions are found.
Dwarf mongooses (Helogale parvula undulata) inhabit the spectacular recreation of a termite mound in the BIOPARC savanna area, next to the burrow of the orichterope. The recent litter is 2 young and the enclosure is temporarily closed from public view so as not to alter the rearing of the new arrivals.
Although they look similar and share organization in collaborative communities, they are two very different species. The larger size and the characteristic pattern of the stripes allow them to be easily recognized. But the most interesting thing is that they have developed very different reproductive strategies, where the hierarchy is decisive. In the case of dwarf mongooses, the highest ranking position is occupied by the oldest female, followed by her partner, with whom she usually remains for life and they constitute the only fertile couple in the entire group. The rest of the females are inhibited, since the dominant one releases hormones in their urine that is a signal for them to lose their reproductive capacity. The other members of the colony participate in the care and feeding of the little ones.
With regard to striped mongoose, the hierarchy is given by the size and age of the individual. There is a dominant male and several reproductive females that usually synchronize their deliveries. In this way, the survival of the young increases since they are cared for all together, even any female with available milk can breastfeed the newborns. The mothers divide up the work, while some are left to take care of the young, others go out to look for food. But not only the mothers participate in this work, the subordinate males take turns on guard, in case a predator lurks and they also help to look for food and take care of the little ones.
The last calving of the year of this antelope completes the herd cycle with four young and consolidates BIOPARC in the program for their conservation. This little-known species was slaughtered in the 19th century to near extinction and today is an example of a successful recovery process.
Valencia, September 24, 2021.- The last days of summer have continued to bring joy to the entire BIOPARC team. A new birth, in this case a blesbok, has brought new life to one of the most admired spaces in the Valencian park, the area that recreates the savannah in the rainy season. The delivery took place at dawn on the 20th and since then the technical team has decided that the mother and the calf, accompanied by another female and her calf from a few months ago, remain in a limited area of the outer enclosure. The objective is to guarantee their well-being and that the upbringing continues to develop normally, ensuring maximum tranquility for the dedicated mother. Given the positive evolution, the first routine veterinary check has already been carried out, which includes the identification of the animal with a microchip and ear tag, and it has been confirmed that it is a female.
If everything goes according to plan, next week we will be able to see how the beautiful blesbok stands out among giraffes, different species of antelopes such as impalas, Kobos or Thomson's gazelles and exotic birds such as jabirus, Cape teal or sacred ibis. The goat is easily recognizable by its cream color much lighter than the adults, which have an intense reddish-brown hue. The little girl will continue her running around the meadow, imitating hers "brothers" of hers and always under the watchful eye of the mother who will continue to give her all the attention for a while.
The BIOPARC group of blesbok (Damaliscus pygargus phillipsi) is made up of ten individuals: one male, four adult females and five young, and with this last calving the annual cycle of births is concluded. It actively participates in the international program for its conservation (ESB) with several births each year that, upon reaching adults, move to other parks to continue the process of preservation of the species. This antelope is included in the red list of the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) at the moment cataloged as “Least Concern”. It was on the brink of extinction in the 19th century, when it was an attractive trophy in mass hunts. The total number became critical, with about 2,000 individuals. The international alarm against this situation and the efforts for its preservation have motivated that it is now an example of successful recovery, with a population of more than 55,000 individuals that continues to increase.
Blesboks are distinguished by the striking white markings that we see on their faces and by both males and females having long, curved lyre-shaped horns.
The Valencian park is the reference center in Europe for the “ex situ” conservation of the Natal red duiker. Included in the IUCN Red List, this almost unknown antelope can only be seen in Spain at BIOPARC.
Tuesday, September 28, 2021.- The miracle of life has once again surprised the visitors of BIOPARC who have been excited to attend the delivery of a very little-known African antelope, the red duiker of Natal. It all happened last Friday afternoon, when wild nature once again showed its most tender and hopeful face and many people felt on a trip to the distant African jungles to experience a “live documentary”. The diligent mother's demeanor was impressive when, following her instinct not to arouse the interest of potential predators, she ate the placenta. It also stimulated the young, facilitated lactation and was protective. It was also moving to see the goat's first steps and the curiosity it aroused among the rest of the animals that inhabit the same enclosure.
If you visited BIOPARC Valencia in Spain this morning, you might have witnessed one of the most incredible moments in nature. A new life came into the world right before the eyes of visitors to the Park’s Savannah Exhibit. A Blesbok (Damaliscus pygargus phillipsi) was born to the great surprise and amazement of all present. As if in a "live" documentary, around 11:30 in the morning, one of the females in the herd began to show signs of going into labor. This animal and another of the females were in a reserved area of the enclosure, since the BIOPARC Valencia technical team was watching the evolution of the pregnancy and awaiting the birth. These special precautions are aimed at guaranteeing the welfare of the animals at such a delicate moment.
BIOPARC’s Blesbok group is part of an international breeding program for the preservation of the species and is made up of eight individuals: the reproductive male, four adult females, two young from last year and the newborn. The blesboks coexist in a recreation of the African savannah at BIOPARC with giraffes; peculiar species of birds such as the jabirus, the sacred ibis and the Cape teal; and three other species of antelope: kobos, impalas, and Thomson's gazelles. Blesboks are easily distinguished by the striking white markings on their faces that contrast with the reddish brown of their bodies and by both males and females having long, curved lyre-shaped horns. All this life in the savannah passes under the watchful eye of the lions that observe them from the rocks of the Kopje.
Blesboks are diurnal animals that spend most of the morning and afternoon grazing, and resting at noon and at night. Gestation is about 240 days. They usually have one baby per litter and offspring generally arrive in the last stage of spring in late June or early July. They are included in the red list of the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature). They were in serious danger of extinction in the 19th century due to widespread hunting, which reduced their population in the wild to only about two thousand individuals. Thanks to conservation efforts, many populations have recovered and today they are in a stable situation.
The Seba Python is the largest snake in Africa, with an average size of 3 to 5 m in length and a maximum of 8 m. They have a triangular head covered in irregular scales, which are usually blackish-gray brown in color. The head also has two light-colored bands that form a spearhead in the shape of the mouth.
Like many other species of snakes, they are quite solitary, seeking out members of their own species only during the breeding season. They mostly stay on the ground, but sometimes climb trees in a pinch. They can swim well and stay submerged for a long time, to avoid potential threats.
Although they are mainly nocturnal when they are adults, Seba pythons can be active during the day to sunbathe and thermoregulate. Juveniles, however, are usually active at dawn and dusk, preferring to retreat to the safety of a rock formation or hollow tree for the day and night.
They have a reputation for being particularly aggressive. If they cannot escape when threatened, they bite and contract with great ferocity. They have large, recurved teeth and their bites are very painful.
The Seba python is now confined primarily to game reserves, national parks, and isolated sections of the African savanna. Due to hunting for their meat and skin, there has been a great decline in this species in recent years.
A birth is always a joy and this is double when, in addition, it is a reason for optimism for the planet's biodiversity. The BIOPARC technical team closely followed the evolution of the females in the dril group and, early in one of these last days of the cold storm, the satisfactory news arrived. As it is one of the primate species in greatest danger of extinction in Africa, the keepers could not hide their happiness, since the birth of this male occurs within the international conservation program (EEP) in which the Valencian park has a featured role. After verifying that the mother's upbringing was developing normally and given that the group is very cohesive, it can now be seen in the area that recreates the riverside forests of the Equatorial Africa area, in the "multispecies" enclosure where they coexist with sitatungas, pygmy hippos, talapoins and Nile geese.
Drills (Mandrillus leucophaeus) are included in the red list of the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) as “endangered”, the first step to consider their situation “critical”. The Valencian breeding group is made up of the imposing male Rafiki, the adult females Abuja and Kianja, mother of the newborn, and the offspring of the last six young. It is a little known species compared to other primates such as baboons and success in ex situ conservation is vital to guarantee its survival. In this way, when they reach adulthood, BIOPARC has already transferred several of the calves born in Valencia to other zoological institutions, favoring the creation of other groups to achieve the maximum possible genetic variability.
BIOPARC Valencia remains open to the public following all the sanitary recommendations and the new COVID-19 measures and calls for collective responsibility in the development of the visits.
The third Mhorr gazelle that is born this year in the Valencian park is a great joy for the conservationist world that has literally prevented the tragic disappearance of this beautiful African antelope that is still in "critical danger" on the IUCN Red List.
BIOPARC Valencia is a true reserve of life and also of life in danger of extinction . Its active participation in more than 40 endangered species preservation programs (EEP) have, in just a few years, made it a reference center for various species and their genetic reserve. And a paradigmatic one is, without a doubt, the Mhorr gazelle ( Nanger dama mhorr ) also called Dama gazelle that became extinct in its habitat and has survived thanks to the intense efforts of conservationists and parks such as BIOPARC.
In 2014 the first females arrived at the park from Rotterdam (Holland) and in 2015 a male from Madrid to create a breeding group at BIOPARC Valencia within the International Conservation Program of this species classified as "critically endangered" by the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Numerous specimens have been born within this herd and many of them have been transferred to other parks to continue the very important challenge of definitively saving the emblematic Mhorr gazelle from extinction. This beautiful female is the third birth of this unusual year in which, in the middle of a period of confinement when the park was closed to the public, the first was born. That calf was a breath of hope for the BIOPARC team and for many people who value the importance of protecting each species to conserve the planet's biodiversity . And with this sentiment, by popular vote, that first calf was named Hope.
We can see the group in a multispecies enclosure in the savannah living with other antelopes, the addax ( Addax nasomaculatus ). Slender and with a bright coat of an intense reddish color, their white markings stand out on the face, throat and lower part of the body. Indiscriminate hunting killed them in their habitat and only the effort and vision of the future of Professor José Antonio Valverde prevented their extinction. The group of 11 gazelles that he transferred to Spain for their protection are the germ of a recovery that continues today. There is currently a population of more than 300 specimens living in various European, North American and South African zoological institutions . And the ambitious reintroduction plan continues in different projects in North Africa. This beautiful gazelle is an example of the necessary involvement of the conservation world in all areas. The cooperation for its conservation in situ and ex situ and the very important awareness of the population to motivate a change of attitude towards the protection of nature.
Baby Naked Mole Rats have been born at @Bioparc Valencia ! The naked mole rat (Heterocephalus glaber) is an exclusively underground rodent that lives in the subsoil of the arid zones of the so-called “Horn of Africa” (Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti). The permanent semi-darkness in which it lives has motivated a peculiar anatomy, reducing the size of its eyes and visual capacity. Their legs are very short and allow them to move quickly in tunnels, both forward and backward. The head is disproportionate, with tiny eyes and ears. Of particular note are the large and unique mobile incisors that separate and move independently and are used to excavate the hard earth and create a complex system of tunnels that can measure several kilometers in length.