Otter Pups at Taronga Western Plains Zoo

Otter pup at Taronga Western Plains Zoo.

Fuzzy face! Pictured above is one of the Oriental small-clawed otter pups born at Taronga Western Plains Zoo recently. Photo by Taronga Western Plains Zoo.

Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo, Australia welcomed two male Oriental small-clawed otter pups on January 24.

“The pups have been in the den to date and we have been monitoring them via a video camera, to ensure they are growing and developing well,” said Senior Keeper, Ian Anderson.

“Emiko and Pocket are being really attentive parents, we are really happy with their nurturing behaviours, as they are both first-time parents so it is a big learning curve for them.”

One of the otter pups is named Kali, which means “river” in Indonesian. You can suggest a name for the other pup on the Taronga Western Plains Zoo’s Facebook page!

Otter family

Photo by Taronga Western Plains Zoo.

Otter family

Photo by Taronga Western Plains Zoo.

Baby Dolphin at Discovery Cove

Discovery Cove in Orlando welcomed a female dolphin calf on March 18 at 3:45 am. The calf weighs about 22 kg (48 lbs.) and is 1.2 m (47 in.) long.  The baby dolphin is doing well, nursing and bonding with her mother Natalie.

Dolphin calf and mother

The baby female dolphin born at Discovery Cove is doing well, bonding with mother Natalie. Photo by Discovery Cove.

Learn more about the calf at discoverycove.com. View our bottlenose dolphin page to learn more facts about dolphins.

Featured Animal: Grizzly Bear

Meet our featured animal: the grizzly bear!

grizzlybear

Here are five fun facts about grizzlies:

  • During the warmer months, grizzly bears eat a lot of food. They may intake 40 kg (90 lbs.) of food each day, gaining over 1 kg (2.2 lbs.) of body weight a day.
  • Their long rounded claws are the size of human fingers.
  • When grizzly bears hibernate in the winter, their heart rate slows down from 40 beats per minute to 8, and they do not go to the bathroom at all during these months of slumber.
  • Grizzly bear cubs are born blind, hairless, and toothless.
  • Detecting food from great distances away, grizzlies have an astute sense of smell, even better than that of a hound dog!

Learn more at our grizzly bear facts page.

San Diego Zoo Gorilla Baby

On March 12, Imani, an 18-year-old gorilla at the San Diego Zoo, gave birth to a 4.6 pound baby via caesarian section. The infant was treated for pneumonia and other complications after birth at the animal hospital.

But 12 days later, baby and mama were reunited!  Imani immediate cradled her baby in her arms and has been doting on the newborn ever since.

n this photo taken on Monday, March 24, 2014, and provided by the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, a 12-day old baby gorilla is physically introduced to her mother, Imani, for the first time at the San Diego Zoo. (AP Photo/San Diego Zoo Safari Park, Matt Gelvin)

In this photo taken on Monday, March 24, 2014, and provided by the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, a 12-day old baby gorilla is physically introduced to her mother, Imani, for the first time at the San Diego Zoo. (AP Photo/San Diego Zoo Safari Park, Matt Gelvin)

Baby Elephant at Twycross Zoo

Baby elephant at Twycross Zoo.

The baby elephant born on March 4 at Twycross Zoo is now on view! Photo by Twycross Zoo.

The Twycross Zoo welcomed a baby Asian elephant on March 4! The healthy female calf will nurse 11 liters (~3 gallons) of milk a day from her mother Noorjahan until she is 12 months old.

Dr. Charlotte Macdonald, Head of Life Sciences, said: “The calf was born at approximately 2.30am and was up on its feet after a matter of minutes. The infant has bonded very well with mum, who is doing an exceptional job of taking care of her.”

Sarah Chapman, Head of Veterinary Services, added: “The herd’s behaviour was monitored by the vet and animal teams via CCTV, and it was good to see that all members of the herd were very excited by the new arrival and very interested in the infant. All the females continue to take a huge interest in the calf and are very protective of her. This is perfectly natural, with Aunties playing a very important ‘babysitting’ role in the natural herd structure.”

The IUCN lists the Asian elephant as endangered. In the wild, they live in fragmented populations in various countries across southeast Asia. Their population has been dramatically reduced and the quality of habitat is declining.

Photo by Twycross Zoo.

Photo by Twycross Zoo.

Learn more at the Twycross Zoo website.

Tiny Tyrannosaur Fossil Discovered in Alaska

A fossil of a small tyrannosaur that lived 70 million years ago was recently discovered in northern Alaska. The pygmy dinosaur, called Nanuqsaurus hoglundi (which means “polar bear lizard”), is believed to be a close relative of Tyrannosaurus Rex.

N. hoglundi was much smaller than the T. Rex. Its skull measures 25 inches as compared to the T. Rex‘s 60-inch skull.  Researchers have postulated that the pygmy tyrannosaur’s smaller stature was an adaptation to the cooler Arctic climate. Although the Arctic would have been much warmer in the Cretaceous Period than it is today, bouts of cold temperatures would have caused variations in the food supply.

Below is an illustration of the relative size of N. hoglundi (A) as compared to its larger cousin T. Rex (B and C). Although N. hoglundi was only about half the size of the T. Rex, it still was an impressive 23 feet from head to tail.

Tyrannosaurs

Nanuqsaurus hoglundi (A) as compared to T. Rex (B and C) and other species. The scale bar equals 1 meter. Courtesy PLoS.

Learn more at Discover Magazine and Smithsonian.

Featured Animal: Toco Toucan

Meet our featured animal: the toco toucan!

Toco toucan

Here are five fun facts about toco toucans:

  • Measuring 63.5 cm (25 in.) in length, the toco toucan is the largest of all toucans.
  • Toucans regulate body temperature by adjusting the flow of blood to their beak. More blood flow means more heat is released.
  • Toco toucans use their beaks to pluck and peel fruit, their main source of food.
  • Although they spend a lot of time in trees, they are not very good at flying. Toucans mainly travel among trees by hopping.
  • Toucans nest in the hollows of trees. They often move into cavities created and abandoned by woodpeckers.

Learn more at our toco toucan facts page!

VIDEO: How Wolves Change Rivers

As we discussed in our gray wolf facts article, gray wolves are keystone predators. They help maintain a healthy ecosystem by preying upon weak animals, thereby strengthening the herd as a whole.

In this video, George Monbiot reveals how the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park after a 70-year absence not only changed the ecosystem of the park, it also altered the physical landscape.

Help Name Toronto Zoo’s Polar Bear Cub

The Toronto Zoo needs your help in naming its polar bear cub!  The staff have selected their top six names, and you can vote for your favorite at their website.

Vote here >

Here’s a video of the little cub playing in his outdoor den for the first time:

UPDATE: After 14,000 votes, the winning name was Humphrey!