The first Andean Bear to be born in mainland Great Britain has emerged from its den at Chester Zoo.
The rare cub, which is yet to be sexed, arrived to parents Lima, age 5, and Bernardo, age 7, on January 11. After spending months snuggled away in its den, the cub has started to venture out and explore for the first time.
Made famous in the UK through the classic children’s character Paddington Bear, the Andean Bear is the only Bear to inhabit South America. They are found in Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia.
The species is listed as Vulnerable to extinction by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Conservation experts from the zoo say the birth of this cub is especially significant given how threatened the species is.
Tim Rowlands, curator of mammals at the zoo, said, “The cub was tiny when it was born but Lima is doing a fantastic job, particularly given that she’s a first-time mum, and the cub is developing quickly. Lima is keeping her new charge close and she certainly has her paws full. But even though she’s not letting it stray too from her side, we can already see that her cub has a real playful side."
“This is a momentous breeding success for us. To become the first zoo in mainland Great Britain to ever breed the species is an amazing achievement,” Rowlands said.
Little is known about Andean Bears in the wild. Information learned from the zoo birth will aid conservationists working to protect these Bears in South America.
Population estimates for the species were last made a decade ago, placing wild numbers at just 20,000. Conservationists are convinced that the Bears' numbers have decreased further, but are unsure how many remain in the wild.
The main threat to the Andean Bear is habitat loss, with some 30% of the forests that contain sufficient food disappearing in the past 20 years. Hundreds of Bears are also illegally killed by farmers and business owners every year, largely to prevent them from raiding crops and livestock.
Chester Zoo works with scientists in Bolivia to study Bear-human conflict.
See more photos of the cub below.
Two Mexican Gray Wolf pups born at Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo swapped places with two wild-born pups in New Mexico as part of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service’s Mexican Grey Wolf Recovery Program.
The pups born at Brookfield Zoo are now integrated with a wild Wolf pack in New Mexico, and the wild-born pups are being reared by the zoo’s Wolves. This process, called cross-fostering, maintains genetic diversity in the wild and zoo-dwelling populations of this endangered species.
In early May, teams from Brookfield Zoo gathered up the largest male and female pups from a litter of five born at the zoo on April 22. At just 11 days old, the pups required feedings every four hours as they were transported by plane and van to the San Mateo Wolf pack’s den in New Mexico.
As the adults in the San Mateo pack moved down the canyon, the zoo’s field team entered the den and counted eight pups in the litter. Two were selected to bring back to the Brookfield Zoo.
Scents are important to Wolves, so each of the new puppies was rolled in their new den's substrate, urine, and feces to ensure that all the pups smelled the same and they’d be accepted as members of their new families. The zoo reports that the zoo's pack is providing excellent care to the pups, and they emerged from the den with their foster siblings in late May.
Keepers Lauren Gallucci and Racquel Ardisana explained the thrill of participating in this meaningful conservation effort. “We began our careers in animal care because we want to make a difference in wildlife education and conservation, connecting zoo guests to the larger issues in our natural world. Having the opportunity to make such a direct impact on the conservation of a species for which we care every day really hit home!”
Native to southeastern Arizona, southern New Mexico, western Texas and northern Mexico, Mexican Gray Wolves were hunted to near-extinction in the 20th century. By 1927, they were thought to be extirpated from New Mexico. The last wild Mexican Gray Wolves known to live in Texas were killed in 1970.
After the species was listed as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act in 1976, plans to reestablish the species began. By the mid-2010s, more than 100 Wolves were living in the recovery area.
The zoo’s participation in the Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Program shows how zoos can partner with other conservation organizations to help save species.
The Jackson Zoological Society is proud to announce the birth of two critically endangered Red Ruffed Lemurs.
On Saturday, May 27, Jackson Zoo keepers arrived at work in the early morning to discover two newborn males in the Lemur exhibit!
New mother, Nekena, arrived at the Jackson Zoo in December of 2016 from Wildlife Safari in Winston, Oregon. She joined the Zoo’s resident father and son, Timmy and Phoenix, respectively, as part of the Red Ruffed Lemur Species Survival Plan.
“The 2017 Breeding and Transfer Plan was published this past February. At that time we had 187 Red Ruffed Lemurs in the Species Survival Plan®(SSP), where we recommended 18 males and 16 females for breeding,” said Christie Eddie, Red Ruffed Lemur SSP Coordinator at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo. “We are in the midst of birthing season and these offspring are among birth reports from five SSP institutions. I expect more to come!”
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the Red Ruffed Lemur (Varecia rubra) as “Critically Endangered”. Found only in a small area of Madagascar, they are the most endangered type of Lemur in the world due to increased cyclones, illegal logging, and the illegal exotic pet trade. According to the IUCN, there are only approximately 35 Lemurs on average per square kilometer in their native habitat and declining rapidly. Less than 65% of newborn young survive to three-months of age in the wild, and there are less than 600 in zoos or refuges in the world.
“We are absolutely delighted to see these two little ones arrive, both for our park and the species as a whole” said Jackson Zoo Executive Director, Beth Poff. “More than a third of the animals at the Jackson Zoo are either endangered or threatened, and although every birth here is special to the staff, adding numbers to an endangered species is that much more precious.”
The Jackson Zoological Society participates in Species Survival Plans for many other animals, including successful births for the Pygmy Hippo and the Sumatran Tiger. The Jackson Zoo also regularly submits information and samples to dozens of ongoing international studies.
Now barely three weeks old, the Red Ruffed Lemur brothers are getting stronger every day. Unfortunately, it was the first pregnancy and birth for their hand-raised mom, Nakena, whose inexperience with newborns was apparent. Vet Tech, Donna Todd, stepped in and has been hand-raising the endangered babies ever since May 27th.
According to the Zoo, the two are like ‘night-and-day’ when it comes to temperament (one decidedly vocal, one much quieter). But both boys are eating well, have bright eyes, are jumping and playing equal amounts, and are more curious about their surroundings every day.
Special public viewings at the Jackson Zoo Vet Hospital are being arranged, and the Zoo hopes to be able to let the public “meet” them (at a distance) within the next month or so.
Visitors and Jackson Zoo members can visit the adult Lemurs during regular zoo hours (seven days a week from 9 am to 4 pm), and follow the Jackson Zookeepers on Instagram (@JacksonZoo) for close-ups and behind-the-scenes photos of all the park residents. People can also “adopt” the baby Lemurs (or their parents) for twelve months by contacting EJ Rivers at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I'm really excited that I'll be attending the American Library Association's Annual Conference in Chicago from Friday June 23 through Sunday June 25, 2017. I'll be working at the IBPA Booth (#3529) helping the IBPA Indie-Publisher and Author-Publisher members with their Author signings.
If you'll be there at #ALAAC17, too, please swing by and say "Hi!"
The light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you,
Cotswold Wildlife Park is celebrating the birth of the first Porcupine twins in the Park’s forty-seven-year history!
The as-yet-unnamed and unsexed twins were born recently to first-time mother, Stempu, and father, Prickle. The newborns are currently on show in the enclosure they share with a trio of inquisitive Dwarf Mongooses.
According to Cotswold staff, the twins are perfect miniature versions of the adults, even born with a full set of quills, which begs the question visitors have been keen to ask keepers: “How does the female give birth without injury?” After a gestation period of approximately one hundred and twelve days (the longest gestation period of any rodent), the female gives birth to offspring covered in soft, moist and flexible quills, enclosed in a thin placental sac. Immediately after birth, the quills quickly harden in the air and become prickly. The babies, also known as Porcupettes, are also born relatively well developed, with eyes open and teeth present.
African Crested Porcupines (Hystrix cristata) are the largest of the twenty-five Porcupine species. They are also the third largest rodent in the world, behind the Beaver and Capybara.
Their Latin name means, “quill pig”. Porcupines possess a spiny defense that is unique among rodents: approximately thirty thousand sharp quills adorn their back. Contrary to popular belief, they cannot fire their quills at enemies, but the slightest touch can lodge dozens of barbed quills into a predator’s body. Quills are modified hairs made of keratin (the same material as human hair, fingernails and the horn of a Rhino). Each quill can boast up to eight hundred barbs. If threatened, Porcupines reverse charge into a predator, stabbing the enemy with its sharp quills. The resulting wound can disable or even kill predators including Lions, Leopards and Hyenas.
Section Head of Primates, Chris Kibbey, commented, “Dad, Prickle, and mum, Stempu, were introduced in October 2016, and it wasn’t long until love blossomed and keepers were delighted to recently discover little Porcupettes running around the enclosure. The babies are born about Guinea Pig-sized and although are born with quills, they are soft at birth, making things considerably easier for mum. The twins are doing really well and have already developed their mother’s habit of stamping their feet, indicating their frustration at keepers disturbing them.”
Four-year-old Stempu is notorious for her feet stamping (her name means ‘stamp’ in Swahili), and she protects her first litter with great ferocity. Her pups were recently caught on camera stamping their tiny feet. Three-year-old Prickle (also the collective noun for a group of Porcupines) is far more relaxed and both are proving to be formidable parents.
Another area of great curiosity from visitors is: “How do Porcupines actually mate?” Mating is a ‘thorny’ challenge due to the spines and quills of the participants, but the answer was discovered in the first scientific study of its kind (published in the Italian Journal of Zoology in 1993*). The nineteen-month study into the mating habits of African Crested Porcupines found that the male prepares for mating by ‘stepping’ with his hind legs on the spot, followed by the female raising her tail onto her back, relaxing her quills, anchoring them firmly against her body and raising her rear. This enables the male to mount her without risking injury from her quills. The male’s forelegs do not hold onto the female’s back at any point. He clasps her sides with his front paws and carefully balances on his hind feet. The study also uncovered that this monogamous species showed an exceptionally long mating pattern (one to five minutes), compared to the known mating behaviors of other Porcupine species.
The African Crested Porcupine is found in Italy, North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa. The Romans were credited with introducing this species to Italy, but fossil and sub fossil remains suggest it was possibly present in Europe in the Upper Pleistocene (approximately 11,700 years ago). They have been extinct in heavily settled parts of Uganda since the 1970s.
African Crested Porcupines have been found at altitudes of 11,480 feet on Mount Kilimanjaro.
Porcupines are formidable opponents. In addition to piercing a predator’s skin with their barbed quills, they hiss, growl, click their teeth, stamp their feet and rattle their spines in warning when threatened. The crest of spines and quills can be erected at will to make the animal look enormous and threatening.
This Porcupine species feeds on a variety of roots, bark, bulbs and fallen fruit.
They are currently classified as “Least Concern” by the IUCN. Because they eat cultivated crops they are seen as agricultural pests, and farmers use dogs to hunt them. Farmers are also known to illegally use poison to kill them. They are also killed for their quills, which are used as ornaments and talismans. In North Africa, they are killed and sold for use in traditional medicine.
Porcupine Papa, "Prickle":
Today is ‘World Giraffe Day’, and what better way to celebrate than by announcing a new Giraffe birth!
On June 8, the Fort Worth Zoo welcomed a male Reticulated Giraffe to the herd. At birth, the soon-to-be named calf weighed 185 pounds and stood roughly 6 feet tall. When fully grown, he will weigh up to 3,000 pounds and measure about 18 feet from head to hoof.
The Fort Worth Zoo houses Reticulated Giraffes, and their name describes the mammal’s chestnut-brown rectangular markings. Like human fingerprints, each Giraffe pattern is different. Native to the African savannas, a Giraffe’s most distinguishing feature is its long neck, which can account for 7 feet of its height.
The new calf, along with the rest of the herd, will soon join several other species in the Zoo’s new African Savanna exhibit, scheduled to open next year. Guests will not only see mixed species interacting and sharing the space, but will also have an opportunity to stand eye-to-eye and feed these gentle giants.
According to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF): “World Giraffe Day is an exciting annual event initiated by GCF to celebrate the longest-necked animal on the longest day or night (depending on which hemisphere you live!) of the year – 21 June – every year!
Not only is it a worldwide celebration of these amazing and much loved animals, but an annual event to raise support, create awareness and shed light on the challenges giraffe face in the wild. By supporting World Giraffe Day (WGD) you directly help save giraffe in Africa. With only 100,000 giraffe remaining in the wild, the time is right to act NOW!
Zoos, schools, NGOs, governments, institutions, companies and conservation organisations around the world are hosting events on 21 June every year to raise awareness and support for giraffe in the wild.”
For more information on ‘World Giraffe Day’, please see GCF’s website: https://giraffeconservation.org/
More great pics below the fold!
Unicorn Hunting by A.R. Hellbender
Caught between her family's expectations and her own conscience, a reluctant unicorn hunter, Caoilinn "Cal" Valderan, questions the morals of slaying these mystical creatures, and finds herself in a position where she must choose between them and humanity... In this coming of age story, Cal must not only defend her principles and values, as she finds herself caught in a battle between light and darkness, but she must find answers to what others dare not even to question...What's queer about it? The author explains:
Cal spends the entirety of the book in love with her next-door neighbor and fellow unicorn hunter, Adryan. But in a medieval society in which women are not the first pick when it comes to jobs, she hardly has a chance. Adryan's engagement to Cal's brother changes everything for Cal and makes her abandon life as she knows it and live in the forest with the unicorns.
Add your review of the author-published "Unicorn Hunting" in comments!
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June 21st, 2017: Awesome Con was a great time! Thank you to everyone who came by to say hello: I'd never done a show in Washington DC before and it was really terrific to meet everyone! YOUR CITY HAS AMAZING STUFF IN IT TOO, NOW YOU KNOW.
I am Kickstarting a new book! It's called WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE PUNCHES A FRIGGIN' SHARK and/or other stories and it's gonna be great, in my not-at-all-biased opinion!!
Kaboodle, a 14 year-old Walrus at SeaWorld Orlando, welcomed her first calf in early June. This is a first for the SeaWorld Orlando family, and they are justifiably excited!
According to SeaWorld’s animal care ambassadors, who kept a close watch on Kaboodle throughout her pregnancy, mom and calf immediately bonded and have been inseparable ever since.
Guests won’t be able to see Kaboodle and her calf, just yet. The adorable pair is currently under 24-hour care with their husbandry team to make sure than mom and calf are growing and thriving together.
Check with SeaWorld’s social channels and website for updates: https://seaworld.com/
The Walrus (Odobenus rosmarus) is a large flippered marine mammal with distribution about the North Pole in the Arctic Ocean and subarctic seas of the Northern Hemisphere. It is the only living species in the family Odobenidae and genus Odobenus. This species is subdivided into three subspecies: the Atlantic Walrus (O. r. rosmarus) which lives in the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Walrus (O. r. divergens) which lives in the Pacific Ocean, and O. r. laptevi, which lives in the Laptev Sea of the Arctic Ocean.
Adult Walruses are recognized by their prominent tusks, whiskers, and bulkiness. Adult males in the Pacific can weigh more than 2,000 kg (4,400 lb) and are exceeded in size only by the two species of Elephant Seals.
Walruses live mostly in shallow waters above the continental shelves, spending significant amounts of their lives on the sea ice looking for benthic bivalve mollusks to eat. Walruses are relatively long-lived, social animals, and they are considered to be a "keystone species" in the Arctic marine regions.
Gestation lasts 15 to 16 months. The first three to four months are spent with the blastula in suspended development before it implants itself in the uterus. This strategy of delayed implantation, common among pinnipeds, presumably evolved to optimize both the mating season and the birthing season, determined by ecological conditions that promote newborn survival. Calves are born during the spring migration, from April to June. They weigh about 45 to 75 kg (99 to 165 lb) at birth and are able to swim.
Mothers nurse for over a year before weaning, but the young can spend up to five years with the mothers. Calves are born with robust whiskers, which help identify the shellfish they can eat. Because ovulation is suppressed until the calf is weaned, females give birth at most every two years, leaving the Walrus with the lowest reproductive rate of any pinniped.
Walruses live about 20-30 years in the wild.
While Walruses are not yet classified as a threatened species by the IUCN, they have been adversely affected by global climate change. That’s where SeaWorld Orlando has stepped in to help. With the permission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the park has been able to aid and care for orphaned Walrus calves.