Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Special Delivery!!!!!

Just born today:

Salome with baby
Repost from the BSG website:

Staff at Bristol Zoo Gardens are celebrating the birth of a baby western lowland gorilla.
The baby was born at lunchtime today (Tuesday September 27) by natural birth to Salome, and both mother and baby appear to be doing well.

The Gorilla House has been temporarily closed to allow the gorillas, including Dad Jock, time to bond with the new arrival.

The youngster, which is yet to be named, is the perfect gift for the Zoo, which this year celebrates its 175th birthday and is participating the European Zoo Association’s Ape Campaign, which aims to raise funds and awareness of the threats facing gorillas in the wild.

Senior Curator of Animals, John Partridge, said: “We are thrilled with the arrival of a baby gorilla. It is still very early days, but Salome is a great mother and has been cradling and cuddling her baby affectionately. We are pleased to say that both Salome and the baby are doing well.”

He added: “Salome keeps the baby very close and we are keen to give the gorillas space, therefore it is still too early to determine the sex of the baby. Naturally the gorilla keepers will keep a very close eye on mother and baby in these crucial first few days and weeks to ensure that they, along with the rest of the gorilla group, are healthy, content and bonding well.”

To see a video of the new baby visit

Monday, 26 September 2011

Aquarium Tour: Freshwater stingrays

Opposite the piranha tank is another large tank containing a variety of Amazonian fish, of which the most spectacular are our group of freshwater stingrays, Potamotrygon motoro. Practically all rays, and their close cousins the sharks, are either confined to the sea or at best occasionally enter fresh or brackish water at estuaries, but the Amazon is home to several species of rays which are fully adapted to fresh water and can no longer enter the sea. It appears that this process began about 15 million years ago, when the rise of the Andes and other earth movements isolated a fairly standard coastal species. Today, around 23 species in three genera can be found across the Amazon basin. Most of these are in the same genus Potamotrygon as those at Bristol. Many are seldom seen in captivity, but P.motoro is perhaps the most widely kept.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Aquarium Tour: Supervillains need not apply

Exiting the walk through tank, on your left is a large aquarium containing what are certainly the most famous fish in South America, Red-bellied piranhas Pygocentrus nattereri. This is the species that is invariably seen on TV and in aquarium shops, as it is one of the commonest species, but actually, depending on how they are classified, there are at least 37, probably more, different forms of piranha throughout tropical South American rivers. How the different species are referred to locally varies, but species of Serrasalmus are often referred to as pirambebas. They are actually closely related to the Pacu I wrote about last week.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Aquarium tour: It came from the Amazon

In the centre of the aquarium is our walk-through tank. One of the first in the world, though now outclassed by many newer buildings, it was actually created from an old 19th century bear pit. That in turn was a modification of the original building, one of two lime kilns that were on the site before it was acquired by the zoo back in 1835. A great deal of the buildings in Clifton and the surrounding area were built with cement made on the Bristol Zoo site.

There are various species of Amazonian fish in the walk-through tank, but the largest are our Pacu, Colossoma macropomum. As you might guess from the name, they are very large fish, about 1m long and probably weighing around 30kg. They are actually fairly closely related to their smaller, but more famous, cousins, the various species of predatory piranha, but unlike them are omnivorous, with a strong preference for vegetation and fruits of trees.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Aquarium tour: The Picasso Triggerfish

One of the most colourful marine fish we have on show is or Picasso Triggerfish, Rhinecanthus aculeatus. Triggerfish belong to the same order as the pufferfish, the Tetraodontiformes, but have a different means of self defence. Their skin is covered with very tough scales, and in the dorsdal and anal fins there are locking spines. When erected, these spines make the fish hard to swallow, and they are also used for wedging the fish into crevices in the reef rock, which is where they spend the night.