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Published September 23rd 2019
Wildlife conservation wins - one baby animal at a time
The arrival of a new baby is always exciting, but it's especially exciting when it's an adorable baby animal at the zoo. Not only is it thrilling for zoo visitors to see these curious, and often amusing, baby animals but it is particularly important for conservation as the zoo's breeding programs help to protect the future of endangered species.
At Taronga Zoo Sydney the first half of 2019 has seen a number of important new arrivals. In January the zoo welcomed three Sumatran Tiger cubs, then a baby Chimpanzee in May, as well as a Western Lowland Gorilla baby in June. When you include even more baby animals born at Taronga Western Plains Zoo this year you could say there has been a baby boom at the zoo.
So what makes these new arrivals so important and when is the best time for zoo visitors to catch a glimpse?
Sumatran Tiger cubs, Mawar, Pemanah & Tengah Malam Photo: Rick Stevens
The Sumatran Tiger triplets born in January are one of the big attractions at the zoo as part of the Tiger Trek exhibit. The female cubs are named Mawar (rose in Indonesian) and Tengah Malam (midnight in Indonesian), and the male cub is Pemanah (archer in Indonesian). They are incredibly cute and playful as they find their feet in the rainforest and bamboo forest habitats of their zoo home. At eight months old the tiger cubs weigh over 30kgs and eat around 1.2kg of meat every day. Each cub has unique markings on their foreheads or at the base of their tail which allows the zookeepers to identify them.
While the birth of the cubs is great for the zoo it is also vitally important for the survival of this species. It's shocking to learn that there are less than 400 tigers remaining in the forests of the Indonesian island of Sumatra consigning them to the critically endangered list. The biggest threats to the species in the wild are habitat loss due to unsustainable palm oil plantations and the threat of poaching due to the illegal wildlife trade. The good news is that Taronga is part of a regional breeding program to help prevent the extinction of this species. With the wild population numbers so critical the breeding program is more important than ever, and each of the 21 tigers that have been born at Taronga since October 1980 are a crucial addition to the worldwide population.
Keeper's Tip: The best time to see the tiger cubs at Taronga is in the morning as this is when they are at their most active
Chimpanzees are another species which are under threat in the wild from habitat destruction, illegal trade and disease. Taronga has a commitment to the conservation of the species and provides support for work in the field through partnerships such as the Jane Goodall Institute Australia.
The chimpanzee community at Taronga Sydney totals 21 animals, including new arrival Safiri, who was born in May this year. Like human babies, newborn chimpanzees are quite helpless relying on, and kept close to, their mothers. While mother Shiba is still very protective of Safiri he keepers have noticed that Shiba has started placing Safiri on the ground in front of her and is teaching her to sit up. Chimpanzee infants usually stay with their mother until they are at least 5 - 7 years old.
Keeper's Tip: To catch a glimpse of Safiri and the chimpanzee community head to the Eastern viewing windows or the Chimpanzee Keeper Talk which takes place at 12pm daily
Western Lowland Gorillas are another species listed as critically endangered in the wild. While the exact number of gorillas remaining is difficult to know, as they inhabit some of the most dense and remote rainforest in Africa, it is estimated that there could be as few as 300 000 left in the wild. Threats include habitat destruction, poaching and disease.
Another threat is due to the mining of a mineral called coltan which is used in the production of mobile phones, computers and electronics. As part of its commitment to the conservation of gorillas, Taronga encourages people to recycle their mobile phones through their "They're Calling on You" campaign. This campaign provides opportunities for guests to drop off their old mobile phones and tablets at the Zoo which are then sent to be recycled. This helps to put downward pressure on the need to mine coltan in critical gorilla habitats.
The birth of a female Western Lowland Gorilla at Taronga in June brought the zoo's troop total up to eight gorillas. The infant has been named Fikiri which means "to consider". Fikiri is already climbing on structures, sitting up and trying to grip onto plant material. According to keepers she has also been seen sucking her thumb.
Keeper's Tip: Fikiri can be seen with mum Frala throughout the day. There is also a keeper talk scheduled every day at 2.30pm
With so many new arrivals and warmer weather approaching, now is the perfect time to visit Taronga Zoo. Plus by visiting the zoo you are also supporting wildlife conservation as all proceeds from the zoo are used for the mission of creating a shared future for people and wildlife.
For a full list of what's on each day, you can visit the website here or download the free App.
To avoid disappointment it is also worthwhile to check out the closures and works page before you visit. This tells you about any scheduled routine maintenance and any animals not currently on display.
For more information about visiting Taronga Zoo please visit the website here.