Wildlife

Baby Rhino Born Thanks to Science / San Diego Zoo Safari Park

A female southern white rhino calf, born 30 April to first-time mother Kiazi and father Maoto, curiously checked out her surroundings 18 May at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, under the watchful eye of her attentive mother.

Kiazi’s pregnancy was very exciting for researchers at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. She arrived at the Safari Park in 2008 and, despite breeding regularly since her arrival, she had never before conceived. At 16 years old, she is past the average age that most female southern white rhinos have their first calf.

The birth of Kiazi’s calf gives us a great deal of hope that by feeding low phytoestrogens at our institution and others, we can once again have a healthy, self-sustaining captive southern white rhinoceros population, said Christopher Tubbs, PhD, a senior scientist in Reproductive Sciences at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. With the high level of poaching currently happening in Africa, having a healthy ex situ population of rhinos is as important as ever. This calf is an example of how we are using cutting-edge laboratory science to lead the fight against extinction.

Tubbs and his colleagues have been working for nine years to determine why southern white rhino females born in zoos tend not to bear offspring as often as their wild relatives. This problem is not found in other species of rhinos living in zoos. Through extensive research, it was discovered that the animals may be sensitive to compounds called phytoestrogens found in soy and alfalfa, which are a component of the animals’ diets in zoos. During their 16-month gestation, female calves could be exposed to the compounds through their mother’s diet, resulting in infertility issues later in their life.

On the basis of these findings, the nutritional services team at San Diego Zoo Global changed the diet for southern white rhinos in 2014. First, they reduced the amount of pellets rich with soy and alfalfa that are fed to the rhinos. Next, they developed a grass-based pellet for the rhinos that is low in phytoestrogen and supplies nutrients to support reproduction. Approximately two years after the diet changes, two females became pregnant. Since then, there have been three pregnancies in females that had not successfully reproduced before, which resulted in the birth of two healthy calves.

Although Tubbs and his team have only focused on the potential effects of dietary phytoestrogens in white rhinos, it is likely that a number of species living in zoo settings receive diets containing levels of phytoestrogens capable of affecting reproduction. Therefore, future research efforts will focus on identifying species that are possibly affected, evaluating their sensitivity to phytoestrogens and, if warranted, developing new diets and feeding practices aimed at enhancing fertility.

The research project has reached a real point of urgency, due to the increase in poaching in recent years that has dramatically affected rhino populations in the wild. When the project began in 2007, 13 rhinos were poached (that year). In 2016, 1,054 southern white rhinos were poached in South Africa—with an average of three rhinos killed every day. There are five species of rhinos, with three of those species—black, Javan and Sumatran—listed as Critically Endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. The greater one-horned rhino is listed as Vulnerable and the southern white rhino is listed as Near Threatened.

Kiazi’s calf is the 96th southern white rhino calf born at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park since 1972. Estimated to weigh around 125 pounds at birth, the calf will nurse from her mother for up to 14 months—and she is expected to gain about 100 pounds a month in her first year. When full grown, at around 3 years of age, she could weigh 4,000 to 5,000 pounds. The rhino calf and her mum can best be seen roaming their habitat from the Park’s Africa Tram Safari or a Caravan Safari — via Youtube

Wildlife

Utah’s Hogle Zoo is pleased to introduce their new Amur Leopard cubs, Rafferty and Roman. The cubs were born 17 February and have been bonding with mum, Zeya, behind the scenes, learning all the basics of being an Amur Leopard. Rafferty’s name means one who possess prosperity, and Roman means strong, powerful — via ZooBorns

Wildlife

Orphaned Cougar Cub / Oregon Zoo

A tiny, orphaned cougar cub — with a fuzzy, spotted coat, baby-blue eyes and a surprisingly big voice — has briefly taken up residence behind the scenes at the Oregon Zoo’s veterinary medical centre. The cub, described as loud and rambunctious by zoo vet staff, was rescued this week by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife officers, after a landslide separated the young cougar from its mother — via Youtube

Wildlife

Visitors to Aalborg Zoo, in Denmark, have been enjoying the antics of two adorable Polar Bear sisters. The female cubs were born 26 November to mum, Malik, and the trio emerged from their birthing den in late February — via ZooBorns

Wildlife

Paignton Zoo’s South American Maned Wolves are rearing a litter of three pups. This is the first litter for the pair. The male, Tolock, arrived at Paignton Zoo in September 2016 from Katowice Zoo in Poland, where he was born in 2015. Female Milla was born in December 2012 and arrived in the UK a year later from Nordens Ark Zoo in Sweden — via ZooBorns

Craft, Entertainment, Wildlife

May the fourth be with you everyone! As all the nerds know, today is Star Wars Day, so I wanted to celebrate with this super-cute-squishy little Wampa plush. I knew right away that I wanted to make a plush when I saw Star Wars day coming around, and while we’ve seen the classic characters in plush form all the time, I thought a stumpy little chibi Wampa with a bloody little arm was too good to pass up! The arm is even detachable for use in your own lightsabre battles. I made him with some long-pile minky that I had lying around that I thought suit him wonderfully; with just a scrap of red flannel and a sew-in snap, he came together perfectly — via Choly Knight

Wildlife

Dingo relative rediscovered in remote highlands of New Guinea

Scientists have confirmed the existence of an ancient dog species in one of the world’s most remote places — the mountains of Papua New Guinea and Indonesia’s Papua provinces.

The international team led by scientists from Indonesia’s University of Papua captured evidence of the New Guinea highland wild dog during a 2016 expedition to an austere, high-altitude region near the Grasberg mine, one of the world’s largest copper mines.

The discovery is the first confirmed sighting of the species in more than 40 years.

The dogs are believed likely to be the same species as the New Guinea singing dog, a wild dog that has been bred in captivity since several pairs were taken from the remote New Guinea highlands on both sides of the border in the 1950s and 1970s.

There are about 200 New Guinea singing dogs in zoos around the world, but little is known about the ancient breed famous for their unique vocalisations.

However, scientists are certain it shares ancestry with the Australian dingo — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science, Wildlife

How a simple implant could make native animals toxic to feral cats

A new approach to target and kill destructive feral cats is being developed in South Australia, in a bid to help save threatened native animals.

The task of reducing the feral cat population has been difficult due to the lack of effective and humane broad-scale control techniques.

In a lab at the University of South Australia, researchers have created a rice-sized implant that can be injected into native animals, making them toxic to feral cats.

Anton Blencowe, polymer chemistry expert at the university, said it was a unique approach that could help safeguard a range of endangered species.

It’s got a toxin in the middle, and then it’s got a special coating around the outside so that we can make the animals toxic to cats, he said.

But at the same time make sure the implant is not toxic to native animals.

The implant contains a natural poison from seeds of native plants and is covered by protective coating.

It remains inert until it comes into contact with the feral cat, and while it’s harmless to the native animal, to the predator it’s highly deadly once ingested — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Wildlife

A Mishmi Takin calf, named Nanook, was born on 19 February at Kolmården Wildlife Park. Mother to the handsome male calf is Aisha, and his father is Hobbit.

Nanook is the first successful Takin birth for the Swedish zoo. He was born in the early morning of a cold, snowy day. The name Nanook was chosen by the keepers, in honour of his day of birth, and means polar bear in Inuit. At birth, Nanook weighed-in at a healthy 7 kilos — via ZooBorns

Wildlife

Denver Zoo is excited to announce its first successful birth of a Fishing Cat. The cub, whose sex is not yet known, is named Miso-Chi and was born on 25 January — via ZooBorns

Wildlife

Meet the designer cats with wild blood / Vox

Bengals, Savannahs, and Toygers, explained.

By breeding house cats with wild animals, humans developed hybrid cats that look like little leopards. Bengal cats are a breed that was developed by breeding domestic cats with Asian Leopard Cats. The first American Bengal breeder is a woman named Jean Mill, but her work has continued through other breeders. We met one of those breeders, Anthony Hutcherson, when we went to film the cats at the Westminster Dog Show. Besides Bengals, we also saw another hybrid breed: Savannahs. Instead of Asian Leopard Cats, Savannahs were developed by breeding house cats with Servals. Unlike the other two breeds, the last breed we met, Toygers, are not hybrid cats. Breeder Judy Sugden created the breed by carefully breeding domestic cats with qualities that resemble wild tigers — via Youtube

Science, Wildlife

Night parrot sighting in Western Australia shocks birdwatching world

A group of four birdwatchers from Broome has photographed Australia’s most mysterious bird, the night parrot, in Western Australia.

The sighting is all that more remarkable when you consider that the night parrot was not confirmed as still alive in Australia until three years ago, and that the photograph was taken in a patch of spinifex 2,000 kilometres from where the bird was rediscovered in Western Queensland.

While the group described the parrot as a fat budgerigar, the sighting was the equivalent of winning the bird watching lotto — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Wildlife

A litter of six endangered Painted Dog puppies were born at The Wilds in December. After being cared for exclusively by their mother and the other pack members, the pups have now begun exploring the publicly visible areas of The Wilds property — via ZooBorns

Wildlife

There is exciting news from Uganda’s Ziwa Rhino and Wildlife Ranch. On 26 December 2016, their fourth Rhino of 2016 was born. The young male Southern White Rhino was named Noel and is becoming a valuable member of the ranch’s Rhino herd — via ZooBorns

Wildlife

3 Malayan Tiger Cubs in the Nursery / Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

Three Malayan tiger cubs were born on Friday, 3 February, at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden and are now being cared for in the Zoo’s nursery. First-time mum Cinta’s maternal instincts did not kick in and vets, concerned that the cubs’ body temperatures would dip too low without the warmth of mom’s body, made the call to remove them from the den. The cubs will be cared for in the nursery for now and will move to Cat Canyon when they’re weaned and no longer require constant care. Visitors should be able to see them playing and running around in their outdoor habitat in early spring — via Youtube

Wildlife

Striped marsh frog (Limnodynastes peronii) originally uploaded by Red Wolf

Don’t know if this guy snuck in the front door or hitch-hiked in on one of the dogs. The dogs displayed zero interest in him, but he did manage to pick up quite a bit of dog hair as he trekked through the house before being relocated to the back yard