In a difficult decision for Monarto Zoo male Cheetah, Askari, was humanely put to sleep on Thursday 4 April as his quality of life had rapidly deteriorated due to acute renal failure.
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Zuri hit the six month mark at the end of February, wow how time has flown! Each and every day Zuri is gaining confidence and exploring her surroundings more and more. Zombi is always close by but is giving Zuri the time and space to learn the necessary skills required to be a chimp. Zombi is gradually moving a few metres away from Zuri so that she can develop her crawling skills. She is also letting her climb up onto the mesh areas of the exhibit where she spins and hangs from one arm!
You looking at me?
Monarto Zoo recently welcomed a young Bongo male from Melbourne Zoo. His name is Isaac and he will eventually be a companion animal to our current male Bongo, Rafiki. Rafiki has been living a solitary life at Monarto with the occasional visit from our two castrated male Blackbuck, Chop and Mr. Burns so the arrival of Isaac is very exciting for keepers as well as for him. Isaac arrived safely on Monday 21 January at 6:00pm and was unloaded into one of Monarto's ungulate quarantine yards where he will spend some time until he is cleared by vets to meet his new companion.
Isaac celebrated his first birthday on his last day at Melbourne Zoo, being a young animal it was decided to give him a companion while he is in quarantine and after discussions it was decided we would use Leah, a friendly hand raised Eland. Leah is in the yard next door so they have fence contact and the two of them are getting along well. Isaac is the offspring of the Bongo pair that left Adelaide Zoo in 2008, Binti and Ndugu, and he is one of only five male and three female Bongo in the region.
Team Leader – Ungulates and Carnivores, Monarto Zoo
The past month at the chimp building has been an exciting time with plenty of busy days on the platform and many opportunities for visitors to get a great look at Zuri out and about. Our youngest chimp is becoming more adventurous with each passing day!
The primate and education teams at Monarto Zoo would like to say a huge thank you to the many visitors who contributed to the chimpanzee small change campaign over the school holidays. Five weeks in we have raised $2,300 and the forest full of chimp leaves has been the highlight of the campaign thus far!
The forest of hope.
Spring can be a busy time here at Monarto, endeavouring to complete the many tasks required prior to the heat of summer. The annual medicals for many of our native animals happen around this time, with moves into new enclosures ready for the coming breeding season.
These cute joeys recently had their first ever health checks!
It's been very busy in Monarto Zoo's carnivore department lately. Last week saw us take an opportunity to anaesthetise the Spotted Hyena cub for a health check, micro-chipping, vaccination and DNA sampling. While all of these procedures are necessary, the DNA sample is the one keepers have been waiting for so we can finally stop referring to the cub as 'it'! Since both male and female Spotted Hyenas display very similar looking genitals, the females have a pseudo-penis, DNA is essential to confirm the sex of the cub. So, as it reaches six months old, visually we are almost certain 'it' is a male, but we wait for DNA results to confirm.
After last week's vaccination and first health check on our five little Cheetah cubs, it was determined that the sex ratio of our litter is two males and three females. They're very much on the move now and are doing fine after their check, with no reactions or issues following the procedures. Up to around week five they were spending most of their time in the den, but now they want in on the action and are following mum, Nakula's, every move.
Can you believe little Zuri is already 15 weeks old? Wow, time has flown and now we couldn't imagine the chimp group without her! The last few weeks have been very interesting with Zuri learning to stand and now half crawling, half walking around Zombi's lap. Zombi is being a very protective mum and keeps a finger hold on her at all times as she tries to be adventurous. One morning she let her go just a little bit on the mulch and took a small step backwards. Zuri then came stumbling towards her with open arms. It's a great time to come and see her literally taking her first wobbly steps! She's also a lot more interested in food and is grabbing at any food items Zombi has in her hands. We haven't seen Zuri eat any solid food yet but she is certainly mouthing anything she can reach.
Little Zuri's already enjoying her veggies!
We've had an eventful past couple of weeks over at the chimp house. Soona has finally come into season and had her first major swelling since coming off of birth control. This has been an exciting time for the chimp group; Soona has definitely been receiving a lot of attention from the males and seems to have a soft spot for Sandali, the youngest. Overall, however, the group is still quite settled.
Zuri is getting bigger and cuter everyday!
Greetings again from the ungulate team at Monarto! Well it's been a very busy month up here as you would all be aware, these babies are certainly keeping us on our toes as they get bigger and bigger and bigger. Recently Channel 10 News ran a naming competition for our newest member of the white rhino family. Once the competition was closed we were handed a bound book of name suggestions from people of all ages which included suggestions ranging from Kevin Fitzcrumb, the entire cute and cuddly section of the Swahili dictionary, and even the suggestion of Julia Gillard! It took a while but finally we came up with a shortlist of 18 names from which we as a team agreed upon one.
Everyone wanted to help name this cute calf!
Zookeepers at Monarto Zoo have sifted through hundreds of name suggestions for the female Chimpanzee, born in the early hours of August 21, before settling on Zuri which means beautiful.
I'm sure everyone has heard the fantastic news by now but we're going to share our excitement with you all one more time. The ungulate team has been awaiting the birth of a zebra and Southern White Rhinoceros for some time now and this week they both arrived. For just over a week we have been watching our female zebra, Kenya, closely as her udder continued to get bigger and bigger and on Monday morning we found a damp, wobbly and fluffy little filly suckling happily. The call went out to all staff that we had a new family member, followed by much ohhing, ahhing and cheering. We do love our babies!
This cute filly has already become a favourite at Monarto!
It seems like not so long ago I was writing to you all announcing the safe arrival of Digger, our not so little baby Southern White Rhinoceros. Well they've been at it again! That's right; the ungulate team at Monarto are thrilled to announce that in the not too distant future we should be hearing the pitter patter of not so tiny, baby rhino feet. In May last year while we were all oohing and ahhing over the playful antics of Digger Uhura, the longest-standing member of our Southern White Rhino family, was paying special attention to Satara our star breeding male. The two are no strangers to each other having bred twice before producing beautiful calves Watoto, in 2005, and Jubari, in 2007.
Big Bellied Uhura!
Wow! What an amazing couple of days myself and the primate team have had. When we walked into the building Tuesday morning and found Zombi carrying something we were all a little shocked. I don't know why, we had been expecting the birth but it still seemed such a surprise. I called Zombi over to give her a much needed drink and can't put into words the relief I felt when I saw two blinking eyes and the little bundle all safely wrapped in her arms.
Zombi is proving to be an excellent mum.
For almost a week Zombi has been showing us behaviours that she was ready to give birth any moment and leaving the zookeeping team very disappointed when there was no baby waiting to greet them in the morning. Today, however, was different with keepers finally getting the surprise they were after. The new bub looks bright and strong and is clinging well to Zombi who is in turn, supporting, grooming and protecting it. The group is very interested in the new addition and we were lucky enough to get amazing footage of most of the group crowding around her as she was in labour, checking out her 'bits' and wondering what exactly was going on!
One of the first glimpses of Monarto Zoo's newest addition.
Well the countdown is on for our impending chimp baby! We have all our plans in place, the building prepared and staff are as ready as they can be. Zombi could be due any day and up until the early part of September. She is looking fantastic. Her coat is glossy and her hair has lengthened in the areas that she grows it – Zombi is very distinctive because she doesn't grow hair on her fore and upper inside arms. She has an ever increasing, healthy appetite and comes over each morning for a cup of herbal raspberry leaf tea. Many human females drink the same tea to help prepare the uterus for birth! Zombi and I have formed a close bond since her arrival and she along with Tsotsi are the two chimps I buddied with to train and teach new behaviors. Zombi has always been slow and steady with her progress. She is very eager but it takes her a little bit of time to determine the behavior I'm asking for. Over the last few weeks she's become much more comfortable with presenting her belly and will allow me to gently prod. I must admit touching her belly and then thinking, gee there's a baby in there is a real wow moment!
We knew it wouldn't take long for Monarto Zoo's newest carnivore to become brave enough to step outside the safe walls of its den. During the school holidays our Spotted Hyena cub, now a month old, soaked up its first rays of sunshine while some very lucky visitors watched from the carnivore shuttle bus. Mum, Kigali, was relaxing just outside the den when the cub came out, walked around her, and then over her! It's still a little nervous in the presence of its much larger half-sister, Forest, though it will soon learn it need not worry as Kigali is a great protector.