Irish News

Thursday 10 July 2014

Animal attraction: baby boom brings a million through gates

Fiona Ellis

Published 26/12/2013|02:30

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15/12/13 A Lion watches the people at Dublin Zoo this afternoon Pic: Marc O'Sullivan
A lion at Dublin Zoo earlier this month. Photo: Marc O'Sullivan

IT HAS been another booming year at Dublin Zoo as a raft of new arrivals helped attract almost a million visitors.

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The Phoenix Park attraction welcomed 11 newcomers during the year, including seven newborns and four animals from other zoos.

Excitement is already brewing for more babies, as early indications suggest the four female Asian elephants at the zoo are pregnant.

Bernhardine, the matriarch, is the furthest along in her pregnancy. Hormonal samples have been sent for analysis to find out more about the others.

But it could be a long wait that stretches into 2015 -- the average gestation period for an Asian elephant is 22 months.

The director of Dublin Zoo Leo Oosterweghel said it was becoming a major international centre for breeding protected and endangered animals.

"The arrival of the okapi has been particularly exciting, it is a privilege to see such a rare and beautiful animal," he said.

"Over the past two decades Dublin Zoo has transformed into a world-class centre of learning.

"It is also an integral part of many European breeding programmes for endangered species."

Ussuri, a two-year-old male Amur tiger, was the first new arrival to the zoo. Ussuri joined Zeya and Shilka, two 11-year-old sisters, in their habitat located in the 'Fringes of the Arctic' area.

But the first newborn came on April 26 -- not your average sized baby, Jabari is a male southern white rhinoceros.

The calf was born to mother Ashanti and weighed a whopping 50kg.

Also in April, baby monkeys made an appearance. Two white crowned mangabeys named Jomoro and Awiane were born to mums Monifa and Malull. And a white-faced-saki monkey named Inka came into the world.

When summer arrived so did Zhen and Bao, male and female twin red pandas who were born on July 14 weighing just 150 grams.

The latest baby born in the zoo is a female white crowned mangabey, born on November 11.

As well as welcoming lots of baby animals, several animals came to stay from Rotterdam Zoo in the Netherlands. Kumar, a seven-year-old male Asian lion, came to town in April and in September two male okapi with their unusual white-and-black striped hindquarters and front legs joined the zoo family.

Irish Independent

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