In the space of three months, Africa Alive! has experienced three high profile births that are simply….black & white!
The first was a West African black crowned crane chick that hatched on the 24th of April. Classified as ‘Vulnerable’ in the wild, in recent decades, wetlands and grasslands throughout the crane’s range have been devastated by drought, the development and expansion of intensive agriculture, and by large scale dam, drainage and irrigation projects. A number of black crowned-cranes are kept in captivity worldwide, although they are moderately difficult to keep and do not breed readily, so this, the first ever successful hatching and rearing of this species at Africa Alive! is a wonderful achievement by all the staff involved and of course, our male Pongo and female Purdy who did all the hard work.
The second was twin black & white ruffed lemurs that were born on the 24th of May. Mum Acacia arrived from Touroparc in France in October 2013 and dad Rube only arrived from Munster zoo in Germany in April last year, so we were thrilled to have them breed so soon after getting together. Ruffed lemurs are the only lemur species to keep their young in a nest and if the mother needs to move them, she picks them up, one at a time, in her mouth. However, they develop rapidly and by three or four weeks of age they are able to follow her around on her own. Critically endangered in the wild, this species is part of a European Endangered species breeding Programme (EEP) and so our twins are a really valuable addition, not only to Africa Alive!, but also to the European captive population as a whole.
The third birth was a Chapman’s zebra. The strong, healthy (and very cute) foal was born on the 14th of July and is being closely watched over by his mother ‘Fennel’ and father ‘Max’ as well as the rest of the herd. Father ‘Max’ came from Schwerin zoo in Germany, back in July 2013 and his mother ‘Fennel’ was born here at Africa Alive! back in 2012.
Born after a gestation period lasting twelve months, it will suckle from mum for at least six months and will start to nibble at grass after just a few days. The foal will be fully independent at about a year and sexually mature at two and a half years old.
The foal can be seen with its parents and the other zebras on the ‘Plains of Africa’ in their wonderful 7-acre savannah setting, mixing with giraffe, white rhino, blesbok (a type of antelope) and ostrich, simulating a typical scene from the African plains.