As 2019 draws to a close, we’re looking back at some of the amazing births we’ve had at the zoo this year, all of which are crucial additions for the European Ex-situ breeding Programme.
For the first time in ten years, we welcomed a critically endangered mountain bongo calf at the end of September. The last time we celebrated the birth of a mountain bongo at Marwell was over ten years ago, so this is really special, not just for us as a zoo, but for the conservation of the species as a whole.
Two playful calves were born earlier this year in February and April. Named Shaka and Kojo, the pair share a paddock with the rest of their herd as well as the mountain bongo. Lesser kudus have never been bred at Marwell before, so the births are a great contribution to the population of this declining species.
The rare Grevy’s zebra foal was welcomed into the world on 26 September to second-time mum Nafeesa. She has been named Uma and is another brilliant addition to conservation efforts of this endangered species. Marwell’s Conservation Biologist, Dr Tanya Langenhorst, says; “Often people don’t realise how rare this particular species of zebra is. There are fewer Grevy’s zebra left in the wild than black rhino, so we are incredibly lucky to see them here at Marwell.”
This species has been extinct in the wild since the year 2000. In June and July we were thrilled to welcome two female scimitar-horned oryx calves, since named Khalisa and Ailsa. Each birth is exceptionally special as the species only exists today due to breeding programmes in captivity.
Guianan squirrel monkeys
In October we said hello to two cheeky Guianan squirrel monkeys. The babies are the first to be born at Marwell for 15 years. The mothers are Gwyneth, age six, and Reyes, age four, and the father is Max, a 13-year-old, who arrived from Cotswold Wildlife Park in April 2019.
Three chicks hatched this year and added to our flamboyance of Greater flamingos! The animal team has been working hard to encourage the birds to nest by adjusting a few husbandry techniques this year. The chicks are much bigger these days but are still recognizable by their grey feathers.
Other brilliant births this year include a critically endangered okapi calf, a mouse deer, a roan antelope, a plains zebra and an endangered Przewalski’s horse. We hope to continue our successes for these amazing animals in 2020 and beyond!