Baby Gorilla born at San Francisco Zoo

Baby Gorilla San Francisco Zoo

Baby Gorilla San Francisco Zoo

Cementing the San Francisco Zoo’s reputation as a world-class destination for looking at baby animals, 14-year-old western lowland gorilla Nnenka brought this 5-pound, 1-ounce hairy little bundle of joy into the world Wednesday afternoon.

The Jones Family gorilla preserve will be closed for at least the next few days while the new girl, who doesn’t have a name yet, gets to spending some quality time with her folks and integrating with the rest of the troop. Shortly after her birth at 2 p.m. yesterday, the newborn quickly proceeded to drink a whole bunch and then pass out.

The father is the 31-year-old, 330-pound silverback gorilla Oscar “OJ” Jonesy. Apparently none of the other gorillas in the whoop thought it was odd that he was seeing a woman less than half his age, but the couple is known as the “Royal Family” around the Zoo, so they’re sort of like a primate version of Will & Kate. The mother reportedly had a easy pregnancy that she spent eating potatoes and romaine lettuce. Zoo keepers

also figured out they could use apple sauce instead of cold ultrasound gel so

she could get a snack while receiving her periodic checkups. (Take note, human OB/GYNs.)

In fact, Nneka’s name means “mother is supreme” in Obo, but she had to wait for OJ to give her the sign that it was OK to take care of the baby. OJ, for his part, is turning out to be quite the stud around the preserve, especially for a guy from Columbus, Ohio. In 2008, he fathered a four-year-old male gorilla named Hasani to a different mother.

Here’s what the Zoo has to say about the critically endangered western lowland gorilla (

scientific name: Gorilla gorilla gorilla):

Western lowland gorillas are the smallest of the four gorilla subspecies with a brownish-grey coat with red highlights. Adult males have silver-colored fur on their backs and legs, which is the origin of the name silverback. They are herbivores and enjoy plant-based diets that include fruit, vegetables, leaf-based browse, bark, grain and tubers. They live in family groups called troops averaging four to six members that are led by a dominant older male and consist of multiple females, juveniles and youngmales. Females begin reproduction at age nine or ten and do not produce many offspring. Female gorillas have a pregnancy term of nearly nine months and usually give birth to one infant. The infant will be held by its mother or ride on her back for approximately one year.

The actual number of gorillas in the wild is unknown, since they can live in some pretty remote rainforest regions. According to the World Wildlife Fund, their biggest threats are poaching, habitat destruction and diseases such as the Ebola virus. have contributed to the decline of the species by 60 percent over the past 25 years. There are currently 342 western lowland gorillas at 53 AZA-accredited zoos North America.

Hyena Cubs Rescued in Kenya

Kenya  Rare Hyena Cubs Kenya  Rare Hyena Cubs Kenya  Rare Hyena Cubs Kenya  Rare Hyena Cubs

These photos are of some beautiful Hyena Cubs that were rescued in Kenya in April 2011.

There are four types of Hyena and two are classified as threatened.

Here’s a link to an article at the Kenyan Wildlife Service’s website.

The trio of striped hyena cubs rescued nearly a month ago from Tsavo West, is soon expected to be transferred to the Nairobi Animal Orphanage after responding well to treatment and care by Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) vet officers and animal caretakers.


The cubs (two female and one male), barely a few days old, were found abandoned by pupils at the Riata Primary School in Taveta. They were then later taken to the Taveta station before finally being transferred to the KWS headquarters.

Some interesting facts about Hyenas:

  • They are frequently mentioned in African folklore with many tales of Werehyenas and there are mythical tribes who were believed to be able to turn into Hyenas whenever they wanted.
  • Their body parts are often used in witchcraft !
  • Al-Doumairy was a fifth century Arabian writer who said that Hyenas were vampires who would hunt people down and suck their blood at night.
  • Arab folklore also contains stories about Hyenas hypnotising their victims with their eyes.
  • Laughing like a Hyena is a common expression as their vocalisation does sometimes sound very like a human laugh.
  • In terms of biological families (Phylum) they are closer to cats but physically (Morphology) they are closer to dogs.
  • They have exceptionally powerful jaws that have evolved to break through carcasses and bones.

Here is a video of some lion cubs, tiger cubs and baby hyenas. Very cute.

A baby Aardvark and some facts

A photo of  a baby Aardvark

A photo of a baby Aardvark

Here’s a lovely photo of a baby aardvark born in the Busch Gardens theme park in Tampa Bay, Florida. He’ll probably grow up to be just over a metre long and could weigh up to 120lbs.

Other names for Aardvarks which are sometimes used:

  • African antbear
  • anteater
  • Cape anteater

The name Aardvark actually means “ground pig” or “earth pig” in Afrikaans. Aard meaning Earth and Vark meaning pig.

Their numbers were thought to be declining but this may be because they are very shy and so are not often seen. They are however very rare outside of Africa and there aren’t many in zoos around the world.

They spend much of their time underground in their burrows which can be up to 30 metres long so this could explain why they aren’t in many zoos.

They are the only species left in the order Tubulidentata.

For a bit more cuteness here’s another picture.

A mother aardvark with it's baby

A mother with it’s baby

A photo of an African Pygmy Hedgehog in a teacup and a few facts

Pygmy hedgehog in teacup

Photo of a tiny cute baby pygmy hedgehog in a teacup.

I saw this photo of some baby African pygmy hedgehogs in a teacup and they were so lovely I did a bit of research to find out a bit more. They look like pretty ideal pets as they are very gentle, don’t need much room, are quite cheap to look after and above all are a little bit different. With only a few hundred in the UK it would certainly be something a bit different.

Here are some key facts:

  • They can cost around £190 in the UK. That’s around $250 US. Many breeders have long waiting lists.
  • Pygmy hedgehogs are around a quarter the size of standard hedgehogs
  • They love being handled
  • They are far more common in the US than the UK where they were first bred around 25 years ago
  • Chocolate brown is the most common colour but it’s also possible to get albino varieties
  • They live for about three to five years
  • A hedgehog’s body is covered in around 6,000 spikes (also called quills)
  • In some areas in the US you need a license to have a pet hedgehog but check with your local authorities
  • In the UK you don’t need a license for these domesticated hedgehogs but of course you can’t have a normal hedgehog as a pet. These are wild and endangered
  • The scientific name of the genus to which African Pygmy Hedgehog belongs is Atelerix which means ineffective fighter.

There’s a lot more information about Domesticated Hedgehogs at Wikipedia.

Here’s a very cute video of a kitten meeting a pet hedgehog for the first time.

A picture of a piglet painting

A piglet painting

An artistic piglet

This piglet looks like he’s having a lot of fun with some paints and sponges. I hope he got a good clean afterwards.

A few good pig facts:

  • Pigs are very social creatures.
  • Their society is based around the harem: a dominant male surrounded by groups called “sounders”, each made up of a sow and her litter or piglets.
  • They stay together as a family until the young come of age.
  • Sounders continually communicate through a variety of noises including grunts, squeaks and sniffs.
  • Pigs are very clean animals.
  • They are the only farm animals that make a separate sleeping area which they always keep very clean.
  • They only have a bad reputation because they sometimes don’t look very clean.
  • Pigs are also very intelligent.
  • Just like dogs they can be house trained and can be taught to do all sorts of tricks and to fetch and walk at heel in the same way that dogs are.
  • In the nineteenth century they used to dress up pigs in fancy waistcoats and get them to do tricks. They were known as learned pigs.

Here’s a video of a well trained pig.

For a bit more reading here’s an article on pigs in Wired from a while ago. They talk about a BBC documentary called “Move over Babe” which features two pigs called Hamlet and Omelette who were trained to play video games and who actually excelled at it.

A tiny baby orangutan.

A photo of a baby orangutan

A photo of a baby orangutan

Orangutans are one of our closest animal relatives and this tiny baby does look very human. We share 96.4% of our genetics with these amazing creatures who are classified as great apes. Just like us. The sound an orangutan makes is a longcall and if you want to know what that sounds like just click here.