L.A. Unleashed

All things animal in Southern
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Category: Zoos & Aquariums

Your morning adorable: Young ocelots make their debut at the Berlin Zoo

Ocelots1

Two young ocelots born at the Berlin Zoo in mid-November were shown off to media photographers in their first major appearance Tuesday.

The kittens, named Viento and Estrella, posed with their mother Sara for a number of alarmingly cute pictures. Mother ocelots and their kittens have a close bond, but even in the wild, father ocelots aren't involved in the care of their young.

Ocelots are native to parts of South and Central America, and their range even extends a bit into Texas, where the Nature Conservancy is working to increase their territory by securing land previously held by ranchers.

Their intricately patterned coats once made ocelots popular targets for hunters who sold their skins for use in the fur trade. Crackdowns on the use of ocelot fur have helped their population to rebound over the past several decades, but habitat loss is still a concern for the species, especially their U.S. population.

See more photos of Viento, Estrella and their mother after the jump!

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Your morning adorable: Baby potto makes its debut at Cincinnati Zoo

Potto1

At Ohio's Cincinnati Zoo, a round-eyed baby potto is just about the cutest thing going. The tiny creature made its public debut shortly before Christmas and remains on display along with its family.

The baby, born on Dec. 8, becomes the eighth potto at the Cincinnati Zoo and only the 16th in any American zoo. Its parents are 10-year-old Lucy and 9-year-old Jabari.

Pottos are small, nocturnal primates that are more closely related to lemurs and lorises than to great apes like chimpanzees and orangutans. They're native to parts of Africa, where they live in treetops and eat things like fruits and insects.

See another photo and a video of the Cincinnati Zoo's potto baby after the jump!

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Edinburgh Zoo to receive two giant pandas through loan program with China

PandaEdinburgh LONDON — Call it panda politics.

China is sending a pair of giant pandas to the Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland as the Asian nation's deputy leader visits the U.K. to boost relations.

Vice Premier Li Keqiang, in London for trade talks with senior British officials, led the signing of the agreement Monday to send the animals to Edinburgh.

A zoo spokeswoman says the male and female pandas are about 7 years old. They will be on a 10-year loan to the zoo and are expected to arrive in the next year from China's Wolong Panda Research Institute.

Li, who is widely expected to succeed Wen Jiabao as China's next premier, is on a four-day visit to Britain to cement trade deals after trips to Spain and Germany.

RELATED PANDA NEWS:

-- Associated Press

Photo: Yangguang, a giant panda at the Wolong Panda Research Institute in China's Sichuan province in an undated photo. Credit: Edinburgh Zoo / Associated Press

Prairie dogs go missing from Columbus Zoo

PDog An Ohio zoo is trying to round up runaway prairie dogs and is asking its neighbors for help.

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium said Friday that 11 of the critters had wriggled their way out of temporary quarters and so far only four have been recovered.

Assistant Curator Jeremy Carpenter says in a statement that there's no reason to believe the animals have left zoo property. But he says nearby residents are being asked to watch for prairie dogs, just in case.

The zoo says the animals are not dangerous.

They were among a group of 20 prairie dogs that arrived from another zoo in November. The newcomers were kept in quarantine, then moved into the temporary housing two weeks ago. They were to be introduced into the zoo's regular prairie dog exhibit in the spring.

RELATED ZOO STORIES:

-- Associated Press

Photo: One of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium's prairie dogs in an undated photo. Credit: Associated Press

Your morning adorable: Waterbuck calf gets a nuzzle at Berlin Zoo

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A waterbuck calf born at the Berlin Zoo in late November is giving the zoo's other resident animal babies -- like the guanaco calf and African lion cubs, for instance -- a run for their money in the unofficial Cutest Zoo Baby competition.

The calf recently joined the zoo's waterbuck herd; young waterbucks don't typically interact much with adults until they've reached a few weeks of age and are ready to be inducted into herd life.

Once a young waterbuck becomes a full-fledged herd member, it sticks close to its mother by following a vivid marker: a bright white marker in the vicinity of her tail, rather like a target.

Waterbucks are native to parts of central and southern Africa, where they stick close to water -- hence the name -- but prefer not to swim in it unless they have to in order to escape a predator.

See more photos of the Berlin Zoo's calf after the jump!

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Caption this: Ring-tailed lemur goes for his weigh-in at Germany's Hagenbeck Zoo

LemurScale

At the Hagenbeck Zoo in Hamburg, Germany, keepers recently conducted an "animal census" of sorts. Zoo residents -- including ring-tailed lemurs like this fellow, crocodiles, sharks, rays and even a giant millipede -- were weighed, measured and given a general once-over.

Ring-tailed lemurs and other members of the lemur family, of course, are known more for their jumping ability than for their ability to sit still on a scale -- which means that it was probably a smart plan on this keeper's part to give this little guy a snack to entice him to stay put.

MORE FUNNY LEMURS:

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Angelika Warmuth / AFP/Getty Images

Your morning adorable: Red lechwe calf explores her snowy enclosure at England's Chester Zoo

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At the Chester Zoo in northern England, a red lechwe calf named Astrid is becoming accustomed to the snow, despite the fact that her species hails from the swamplands and flood plains of Africa.

Astrid, who was born at the zoo earlier this month, is being hand-raised by keepers because her mother failed to properly care for her. (She even spent Christmas at the home of one of her keepers.)

There are several types of lechwe, a family of African antelope; another type is the also-darn-cute Nile lechwe. ("Lechwe" is the Bantu word for antelope.)

Astrid's species is well-adapted to life in the water; the lechwe is known for its swimming skills and ability to move about quickly in shallow water and mud. It tends to be less surefooted on solid ground than it is in the water, but Astrid seems to be getting along just fine.

See more photos of Astrid after the jump!

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Your morning adorable: Reticulated giraffe calf sticks close to his mother at Frankfurt Zoo

Giraffe calf

At Germany's Frankfurt Zoo, a male reticulated giraffe calf named Tebogo made his public debut last week. His name translates to "thankful" in the Tswana language.

Tebogo, who was born to mother Monique without human help and discovered by keepers on the morning of Dec. 9, is the 16th reticulated giraffe to be born at the zoo. Monique is the mother of nearly half of those calves -- prior to Tebogo, she had given birth to four sons and two daughters.

Tebogo was considered an especially large giraffe calf, according to zoo staff -- at birth, he already weighed more than 180 pounds. He won't be considered fully grown until he's about 3 years old.

See more photos of Tebogo and his mother after the jump!

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National Zoo's giant pandas Mei Xiang and Tian Tian to have an extended stay in U.S.

giant pandas WASHINGTON — Washington's pandas will stay at the National Zoo at least a little while longer.

Mei Xiang (may-SHONG) and Tian Tian (tee-YEN tee-YEN) are on a 10-year, $10-million loan from China that expires at the end this year. The Smithsonian's National Zoo continues to negotiate a new agreement for panda breeding and research.

Zoo spokeswoman Karin Korpowski-Gallo said Wednesday that China has granted a temporary extension for Mei Xiang and Tian Tian to remain until a new agreement is signed. Officials expect one in January.

Pandas have a long history in Washington. The first panda couple, Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing (sing-sing), arrived in 1972 after President Nixon's historic visit to China, and lived more than 20 years at the zoo.

RELATED PANDA NEWS:

-- Brett Zongker, Associated Press

Photo: Tian Tian, left, and Mei Ziang play in their enclosure at the National Zoo in 2007. Credit: Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press

Columbus Zoo's new python is named for celebrity zookeeper Jack Hanna

Hanna the Python Jack Hanna

COLUMBUS, Ohio — An Ohio zoo has settled on a familiar name for the new snake that has replaced her record-breaking mother.

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium says its new reticulated python will be called Hanna -- which happens to be the last name of the zoo's celebrity zookeeper, Jack Hanna.

Hanna the snake was acquired last month from the same private breeder who had sold the zoo her mother, Fluffy. At 24 feet, Fluffy was the longest snake in captivity when she died in October of an apparent tumor.

At 18 feet, Hanna is a little shaver compared to her mom.

The zoo says a name-the-snake contest on Facebook awarded Hanna the most votes -- slightly more than the second-place name, Fuzzy.

Jack Hanna says having a namesake chokes him up.

RELATED REPTILE NEWS:

-- Associated Press

Photos: (left) Hanna the python in an undated photo. Credit: Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. (Right) Jack Hanna in 2009. Credit: Charles Sykes / Associated Press

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