Community & Environment

Summer brings with it births for Hamilton Zoo

Summer has been a busy time for the keepers at Hamilton Zoo with several recent births including the arrival of a zebra, a cotton-topped tamarin, a bison calf and kunekune piglets.

The zoo’s keepers have been kept busy looking after their new additions including a gorgeous female bison calf, called Raelene, born on the 16 December.  Raelene was born to Milena and Kaiya the bison and stays close to mum. Bison calves are a distinctly different colour from their parents, as in the wild this helps them camouflage into the landscape to help protect from predators.

Seven kunekune piglets were born to mum Stitch and dad Gavin on the 25 October. Kunekune is a breed spread widely throughout New Zealand. Characteristically, they are relatively small and are short legged with a pot tummy and a short-upturned nose.

Cheridan Mathers, Hamilton Zoo Curator says: “The piglets are doing well, eating solid food now and spend a lot of their day snoozing in the sun or wallowing in the mud.” To visit these new arrivals head down to the bottom of the zoo.

The cotton-topped tamarins became first time parents on the 13 December, with mum Bianca, who was in fact born at Hamilton Zoo in 2008, and dad Mishka, lovingly caring for their new baby.  Remarkably, tamarins’ parental behaviour is learned rather than instinctive, which is fortunate as Bianca had previously helped raise her siblings, so this experience has proved exceptionally helpful with raising her first baby. For the first few days after birth the as-yet unnamed baby was seen clinging to mum, however recently both parents have been sharing the babysitting duty and the baby can be seen on either parents’ back. It will cling onto the front of mum when it needs to suckle. The gender of the baby hasn’t been determined yet, so they don’t have a name, however all three are doing great. The new family can be seen at the Parrot Court.

On Christmas Day, a special arrival was the birth of a beautiful male foal to Marbles and Malawi, the zebras. Mum and baby are doing very well, with the new baby staying very close to mum to drink and play. The zebra herd at the zoo is now seven-strong and doing well together.

Finally, if you are heading down to Hamilton Zoo this month, why not take your camera with as you could enter the zoo’s competition ‘Snapped at the Zoo’. To enter and be in with the chance of winning a top prize, including a family annual pass to the zoo go to hamiltonzoo.co.nz.

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