L.A. Unleashed

All things animal in Southern
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Category: Zoos & Aquariums

Your morning adorable: Baby Francois' langur monkey makes his debut at Australia's Taronga Zoo

Baby Francois' langur monkey at the Taronga Zoo

At the Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia, a great deal of excitement surrounds the latest addition to the resident family of Francois' langur monkeys. A male Francois' langur named Keo-co was born Jan. 30 and ventured into an outdoor enclosure for the first time on Wednesday.

Keo-co's older sister, Elke, was born in 2009 and was the first offspring for mother Saigon. Unfortunately, Saigon didn't immediately take to motherhood and zoo staff elected to raise Elke themselves in order to ensure that she was healthy and well cared for. (Elke is now fully grown and still lives at Taronga, but she occupies a different enclosure than Saigon.)

This time around, Saigon seems to have gotten the hang of parenting and the zoo reports that Keo-co is extremely bonded to her. He is being raised both by Saigon and another resident female Francois' langur monkey, Meili. "The two mothers take care of him -- Saigon is the primary caregiver but when she needs a break Meili takes over; they take it in turns," Taronga primate keeper Roxanne Pellat told Australia's AAP news service.

Francois' langur monkeys are native to parts of Vietnam and China. They're endangered in large part due to hunting as a result of their use in some traditional medicines; they're also the victims of habitat loss and other common causes of wildlife population decline. Though members of the species are born with vivid orange coloring, their fur darkens as they age; adult Francois' langurs are primarily black with white markings.

See more photos and a video of Keo-co after the jump!

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Your morning adorable: Rare pygmy hippopotamus born in Swedish zoo

PygmyHippoBaby1

At the Parken Zoo in Eskilstuna, Sweden, the birth of a rare pygmy hippopotamus is a big deal. The baby, a male named Oliver, was born Feb. 15 to mother Krakunia.

As a newborn, Oliver had a bit of a close call because Krakunia, a first-time mother, didn't allow him to nurse. Parken Zoo staff found an interesting way around this problem, as the Telegraph explains:

So desperate were the zookeepers to keep Oliver alive that eventually one of them managed to milk Krakunia, thus allowing them to feed the youngster by hand.

According to the zookeepers, milking a hippopotamus was a world first. Since hippos are large, potentially dangerous animals -- even when pygmy-sized -- they have until now been considered far too dangerous to milk.

Now that's a dedicated zookeeper. Since then, Oliver has been sticking close to Krakunia, and the zoo says he's now thriving.

Pygmy hippos, which were classified as endangered in 2006, are native to parts of western Africa, including Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and the Ivory Coast. Fewer than 3,000 members of the species are thought to remain in the wild.

See more photos and video of Oliver after the jump!

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Your morning adorable: Polar bear cubs explore the outdoors for the first time at Ouwehands Zoo

Two newborn polar bear cubs walk outside their enclosure for the first time at the Ouwehands Zoo

At the Ouwehands Zoo in the Netherlands, twin polar bear cubs born in late November ventured outside for the very first time last week.

The cubs, named Siku and Sesi (Inuit words for sea ice and snow, respectively), were born to mother Freedom and father Viktor. Their maternal grandmother, Huggies, also lives at the zoo.

If you can't get enough of Siku and Sesi, might we recommend checking out their nursery webcam on the Ouwehands Zoo's website? (As we type, the cubs are wrestling under their mother's watchful gaze, making it a little difficult to concentrate on the matter at hand.)

See more photos and video of Siku, Sesi and Freedom after the jump!

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Your morning adorable: Giraffe calf sticks out his tongue at German zoo

Giraffe calf

At the Opel Zoo in Kronberg, Germany, 2011 has already been a big year for giraffe calves. Two Rothschild giraffes -- a male named Karl, born Feb. 10 to mother Catherine, and a male named Luke, born just three days later to mother Lucy -- have been born so far this year, joining a female Rothschild calf named Mary who was born on Christmas.

Karl, Luke and Mary are all half-siblings, sharing the same father, a bull (the term for a male giraffe) named Gregory.

The Opel Zoo is part of a conservation breeding program designed to help the Rothschild giraffes, which were recently classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, bounce back from the brink of extinction in the wild. Rothschild giraffes (also known as Ugandan giraffes or Baringo giraffes) are native to parts of Uganda and Kenya.

See more photos of Karl and Luke after the jump!

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Your morning adorable: The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute's two cheetah cubs are better than one

CheetahCub1

Staff at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Virginia have found a creative way to make sure two cheetah cubs born there in December have an upbringing that's as close as possible to what they would have in the wild.

The institute, which is associated with the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is a participant in a conservation breeding program to help the cheetah species survive. Two different cheetah mothers, Amani and Zazi, gave birth to cubs about a week and a half apart.

But there was one problem: Each mother gave birth to only one cub. Cheetah mothers typically have litters of three or four cubs; "singletons" are a rarity. For reasons not entirely clear, mothers are unable to properly care for only one cub. "The theory is that one cub does not stimulate the mother enough to keep producing milk," head cheetah keeper Lacey Braun wrote on the National Zoo's website.

Keepers decided to take Amani's cub, a male, from her in order to hand-raise him. When Zazi's single female cub was born later in the month, an idea was hatched: Why not let Zazi raise the two cubs together as siblings? Zazi took to being the mother of "twins" just fine, and the cubs are energetic and healthy. They had their first trip outside last week, and the institute recently launched a live webcam to allow cheetah fans to watch the cubs' antics online.

See more photos of the cubs after the jump!

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Tiger that mauled three teens at San Francisco Zoo appears to have been provoked, report says

Tatiana A female Siberian tiger killed in a hail of police gunfire after fatally mauling a man at the San Francisco Zoo on Christmas Day 2007 likely was provoked into leaping and clawing out of its enclosure, a federal investigator said in documents obtained by The Associated Press.

The tiger named Tatiana killed 17-year-old Carlos Sousa Jr. and injured his friends, brothers Paul and Kulbir Dhaliwal, leaving claw marks etched in the asphalt and claw fragments in the bushes outside its pen. Claw marks were also discovered near the top of the enclosure wall, which was lower than federal safety standards dictate, showing that the big cat was able to get enough leverage to pull itself out.

β€œIt appears the tiger was able to jump from the bottom of the dry moat to the top of the wall, and gain enough purchase over the top to pull herself out over the moat wall,” wrote Laurie Gage, a tiger expert who investigated the scene for the United States Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, which oversees the nation's zoos.

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Your morning adorable: Little penguin chick hatches at Cincinnati Zoo

Little Peguin

One of the youngest residents of the Cincinnati Zoo is also, perhaps unsurprisingly, one of the cutest. A little penguin -- the name of an actual species, not just a phrase to describe its diminutive stature -- hatched there on Jan. 11 and was photographed during a checkup and weigh-in last week.

The chick weighs about a quarter of a pound now, and even when fully grown it will only weigh about 2 pounds or so. It's being raised by keepers, who feed it at two-hour intervals starting at 6 a.m. each day, aviculturist Cody Sowers wrote on the zoo's blog. When it's older, it'll join the adult little penguins in an enclosure at the zoo's section for children.

Little penguins, also called blue penguins or fairy penguins, are native to the coastlines of southern Australia and New Zealand. To date, 22 little penguins have been hatched at the Cincinnati Zoo. See video of the newest chick after the jump!

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Crocodile at Ukraine aquarium swallows cellphone

KIEV, Ukraine β€” Workers at a Ukrainian aquarium didn't believe it when a visitor said a crocodile swallowed her phone. Then the reptile started ringing.

The accident in the eastern city of Dnipropetrovsk sounds a bit like "Peter Pan," in which a crocodile happily went "tick-tock" after gulping down an alarm clock.

But Gena, the 14-year-old croc who swallowed the phone, has hardly been living a fairy tale: He hasn't eaten or had a bowel movement in four weeks and appears depressed and in pain.

Gena noshed on the Nokia phone after Rimma Golovko dropped it in the water. She had stretched out her arm, trying to snap a photo of Gena opening his mouth, when the phone slipped.

"This should have been a very dramatic shot, but things didn't work out," she said.

Employees were skeptical when Golovko told them what happened. "But then the phone started ringing and the sound was coming from inside our Gena's stomach and we understood she wasn't lying," said Alexandra, an employee who declined to give her last name as she wasn't authorized to speak publicly.

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Your morning adorable: African wild dog puppies get a checkup at Illinois' Brookfield Zoo

10 African wild dog puppies, six males and four females, huddling together

The birth of a big litter of African wild dog puppies at Illinois' Brookfield Zoo late last year is great news for their endangered species. The litter, born to 6-year-old mother Kim and 4-year-old father Digger on Thanksgiving, contains a whopping 10 healthy puppies who were examined by a zoo veterinarian on Thursday.

The puppies, much like their domestic cousins, needed to be vaccinated against canine diseases -- the spread of distemper from domestic dogs is one cause for their steep population decline in the wild -- and have microchips implanted for identification purposes.

Brookfield is a participant in the Assn. of Zoos and Aquariums' Species Survival Plan program to ensure the survival of African wild dogs. Kim and Digger's puppies are the third and largest African wild dog litter to be born at the zoo so far.

African wild dogs have an "it takes a village" approach to parenting: Not only do Kim and Digger care for the puppies, but Digger's brother Duke also plays a big role in their lives. In wild packs of African wild dogs, all adults pitch in to care for the young, regardless of their biological parentage.

See more photos and video of the puppies after the jump!

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Giant pandas Mei Xiang, Tian Tian to stay five more years at National Zoo in Washington

Tian Tian the giant panda

Washington's beloved pandas, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, will be allowed to stay at the Smithsonian National Zoo for five more years, Chinese officials announced Wednesday amid a lavish state visit by China's president.

The panda pair will remain in Washington until December 2015 for cooperative research under a five-year, $2.5-million extension of the 10-year, $10-million agreement that expired last month, said China Wildlife Conservation Assn. Secretary Gen. Zang Chunlin.

The announcement came as Chinese President Hu Jintao was in Washington, where he met President Barack Obama at the White House.

Pandas have a long history intertwined with U.S.-China politics. The first panda couple, Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing, arrived in 1972 as a gift to the American people and lived more than 20 years at the zoo after President Richard Nixon's historic visit to China. Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing produced five cubs, but none of them survived.

"This is a great opportunity for the American people to know more about Chinese culture and this is also an opportunity to advance our friendship and to deepen understanding," Zang said through an interpreter.

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