African births and a Scottish farewell!
November 18, 2009 § 9 Comments
Despite the cooler weather, our African species have continued to breed successfully at Edinburgh, and we are pleased to announce yet more births this week! However, we also say farewell to an iconic Scottish species as they head for pastures new. Read on to find out more.
We are pleased to announce that a Senegal bushbaby was born on the 5th August. The youngster has now been identified as a male and has been named Bertrand! His birth came just four months after the birth of his older brother Bobo, born on the 2nd April. Breeding usually occurs twice a year in this species, and we are thrilled that our pair are fulfilling their full breeding potential. And, given that they have a gestation period of approximately 123 days (around four months), we can surmise that they don’t waste any time when it comes to these sort of things!
At birth, young weigh only around 0.012kg, and are often carried around in their mother’s mouth! This is one of the reasons why the keepers have only just managed to sex and name this youngster. However, they do grow quickly and become independent at around just two months old. Bertrand will no longer be seen clinging onto his mother; instead he will be bouncing around the enclosure with brother Bobo! This species is particularly adept at leaping from branch to branch, using their large back legs to make jumps of up to 5 metres at times!
Males mature at around 10 months old, and in the wild would disperse away from the parental territory at this age. Bobo and Bertrand may begin to feel pressure from their father as they mature, and are likely to be moved to another collection, where they can be paired with breeding females. Why not stop by their nocturnal enclosure and see if you can spot them bouncing about whilst they enjoy the winter in Edinburgh?
I challenge anyone to get a better picture of zoo bushbaby than this!
We are also pleased to announce the birth of a Grevy’s zebra foal on the 17th October. The young female has been named Lois and is already out and about in the African Plains enclosure, with mother, Emily. Zebra gestation is a staggering 13 months long, after which a sizable, light brown foal is born. This colouring aids the young zebra in camouflage, helping to keep them safe whilst they are still young. The foal also begins to walk around an hour after being born. This improves its chances of survival, helping it to keep up with its mother, and escape from predators. This is particularly important in the wild, as the Grevy’s zebra has been found to be a preferred prey species of lions!
This birth is excellent news for this endangered species. With more than one breeding female in our group at Edinburgh Zoo we will keep our fingers crossed for more births to come. Watch this space!
The young foal enjoys exploring the ‘African Plains’ enclosure
Finally, we wave goodbye to the Scottish wildcats this week as they leave the zoo for another collection. Three male wildcats were housed at Edinburgh temporarily as part of our involvement with the EAZA European Carnivore and Scottish Wildcat campaigns. The presence of this beautiful, Scottish species, helped to raise awareness of their plight, and money for their conservation in the wild. However, their enclosure, which is situated directly behind the old polar bear enclosure, is now needed for development of the old polar bear enclosure into a new enclosure for a new species.
Additionally, these three bachelor boys, all born in June 2008, will now be sexually mature. They will therefore be ready to be paired with females, in order to contribute towards the growing captive breeding population of this species. Currently, there are only around 40 individuals of this wild cat sub-species kept within captivity; and with a wild population estimated at only 400 individuals, continued captive breeding efforts remain very important. We hope that Sìm, Stùibhart and Baen will settle in well to their new homes.
One of the wildcats enjoys some enrichment created by this year’s summer school