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We may be closed to visitors once more, but our animals are thriving and keeping zoo keepers busy as usual.
The little western lowland gorilla born just days before Christmas is making tremendous progress under the care of its mum, Touni. The newborn gorilla is constantly with her and will be at her side for several years to come.
Lynsey Bugg, Curator of Mammals, said: “Touni is a marvellous mum, she is very attentive just as she was with her first infant, Ayana, who was born almost four years ago.”
The new gorilla was the second to be born here at the Zoo in less than four months. In August 10-year-old Kala, gave birth to Hasani.
He is now being given supportive care by a small team of dedicated keepers as his mother required additional support with her infant. But now, at five months old, he is developing well and tips the scales at around 5kg.
The birth of these two western lowland gorillas is important for the breeding programme, as the species is Critically Endangered.
An aye-aye has also been born here at Bristol Zoo – one of the most unusual and endangered species of lemurs in the world.
The aye-aye is famed for having a long middle finger which it uses to find food inside logs and trees. Five-year-old Tahiry gave birth to her youngster in Twilight World where she and her mate, Peanut, live.
Aye-ayes are classified as Endangered in their native Madagascar – the only place where aye-ayes are found in the wild. This is because their forest homes are being destroyed for agriculture and timber.
Keepers have so far only heard the tiny aye-aye making noises and have caught a glimpse of its tail. It is likely to be some weeks before it emerges from the safety of the nest box where it was born.
Another Zoo youngster is Kiri, a Goodfellow’s tree kangaroo [pictured, right], who recently turned one and is now fully weaned from his mother, Kitawa.
Kiri, which means ‘laugh’ in the species’ native country, Papua New Guinea, is an important addition to the conservation breeding programme for the species, which is threatened by habitat loss and predation by invasive species such as dogs, along with the expansion of palm oil plantations.
At the Zoo’s sister site, Wild Place Project, a six week old dik-dik calf is thriving under the watchful eye of its parents, Éclair and Croissant. The new dik-dik has been named Pudding and is the fifth dik dik in the walled garden area of Wild Place, alongside Streusel and Macaroon.
Dik-diks are among the smallest antelopes in the world and when born weigh just 750gm. Even when fully grown they stand just 46cm (16in) high.
Nearby, Wild Place Project’s youngest zebra foal, Vera, is now seven months old and more playful than ever. She can often be seen rolling in the sand inside the giraffe house or chasing her parents, Pete and Florence, around the paddock.
In Bear Wood, twin lynx kittens, now six-months-old, are becoming increasingly bold and adventurous, spending more and more time away from their mother, Loka. The pair are now around half their parents’ weight, at around 9kg.
The pair, called Lox and Kinsey, will not be fully independent of their mother for a few more months yet, and will reach full maturity at around three years old.
In November 2020 Bristol Zoological Society, which operates Bristol Zoo Gardens and Wild Place Project, announced its new strategy which includes plans to relocate Bristol Zoo to its Wild Place Project site to create a world-class zoo and to safeguard the future of the organisation.
Bristol Zoo Gardens will continue to welcome visitors into 2022, and Wild Place Project will remain open throughout the development phase until it becomes the new Bristol Zoo in 2024.
The new Bristol Zoo will offer spacious, modern facilities, significant growth in conservation and education work and a ground-breaking, innovative visitor experience.
During the first national lockdown, Bristol Zoological Society launched an appeal to help ensure the future of its work ‘saving wildlife together’. As the third lockdown gets underway, this appeal continues to be vital to help safeguard the future of the Society, which is a registered charity.
To find out more about the appeal, or to make a donation, visit bristolzoo.org.uk/bzsappeal.
Now faced with a third closure, the BZS Appeal is more important than everDonate
Now faced with a third closure, the BZS Appeal is more important than ever