Baby Animals (2016) - Documentary

Baby Animals (2016) - Documentary

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Babies. They come in all shapes and sizes. And generally, the bigger the animal, the bigger the baby.

So a baby might be puny compared to its parent but that doesn't mean it's not a mini giant. The phrase "little baby" applies to most infants. But not to elephant calves like Nandi, born weighing as much as 270 pounds. That's a whole lot of baby! Nandi is the newest addition to our African elephant herd, and she's our first baby elephant at the Reid Park Zoo. Just hours after she was born, Nandi could see, smell and walk. Before long, she figured out how to put her most distinguishing feature to good use.

Her trunk contains around 100,000 muscles. African elephants have amazing trunks, and their trunks are so many things to them, they're an arm and a straw, all in one. Their trunks, even more interesting, I think, are used when they greet each other and when they interact with each other. So their trunks are a way that they connect, much like we might hug a friend or shake the hand of someone we've just met. That's what elephants use their trunks for, for their communication. Now, just less than 1-year-old, Nandi spends most of her time checking out anything she can reach.

And if she strays too far, her mother, Semba, cops her back in line. Semba's interactions with Nandi are very gentle and sweet. Semba uses her trunk to touch her and to comfort her and to guide her along, so if she's trailing behind or she's moving too slow, Semba will use her trunk to kinda push her, give her a little boost. But it takes a village to raise a baby elephant. So, when Nandi gets hungry, she can get milk not only from Semba but from any of her aunts, known as allomothers. In the wild, allomothers make sure the calf keeps up with the herd and doesn't end up as a lion's lunch.

But Nandi doesn't have to worry about that here. Nandi is very, very enthusiastic. When she greets her keepers in the morning, when she gets to go out on to the exhibit, she flares her ears out and trumpets and runs really quickly, like a little kid who's excited to go out and play. She will often run out and grab an item, it might be a branch, it might be a piece of hay or a chunk of bark, and she'll hold her trunk up high and wave it around as though it were a flag, and it's just really, really cute. It's hard not to laugh when you watch her, hard not to be in a really great mood.

African elephants are the world's largest land animals. By the time Nandi is 6, she'll tip the scales at more than a tonne. Her big brother, Sundzu, who's 4 four years old, is well on his way. Sundzu was the former baby of the family, and he had a difficult time adjusting, to not being always under mom's feet, but over time, over several months, he really became more curious about Nandi and now plays with her almost every day. It's really sweet, he's very gentle with her.

By playing with Sundzu and interacting with the rest of the herd, Nandi is experiencing a world similar to what she'd face out in the wild, she's learning how to be an elephant. She's just recently encountered our pool, and it's a little different perhaps than a wild stream in that it has slightly steep steps, and so her first venture in, she just ran into the pool and sank. She was okay, she was with her mom and she was able to swim, but that's something that's really important for young calves in the wild, to learn how to negotiate mud wallows and bodies of water so that they can be safe. In the wild, Nandi and the rest of the herd will depend on Nandi's mom, Semba, the dominant female or matriarch. Matriarchs play a critical role in guiding the herd to water and food. The loss of the matriarch can devastate the herd.

Out in the open, the risk in real. One of the problems that we're facing is that matriarchs, just like bulls, do have long tusks and elephants are often poached for their ivory tusks, and it's typically the older elephants, and so a problem can be when older elephants are taken out of the population. The knowledge that they have, that they've not yet passed down to the rest of the herd, is lost with their death.

Nandi will reach sexual maturity at around 12 years old. By then, she'll tower up to 14 feet tall and weigh more than 5 tons. But, for now, all that really matters to Nandi is hanging out with the herd and enjoying her special role as the baby of the family.

They're built like beefy weightlifters, as wide as they are tall. Western lowland gorillas stand at 5'5" but can max out at nearly 350 pounds, making them the largest primates on the planet. But not this girl.

At not quite 2 years old, Anaka is still a relative light weight and a total original. She has this curly hair that really sets her apart from the other individuals in the group. When Anaka was born, she weighed around 4 pounds. Anaka's mother is Sukari, which in Swahili means "sugar". And as far as Anaka's concerned, her mom is the sweetest.

All of the gorilla's moms seem to have their own parenting style, just like humans, and Sukari is the type of mom that, you know, she wants to have an eye on her infant but she has no problem with Anaka goes off and plays by herself for a little bit, as long as she can keep an eye on her. And Anaka appreciates the freedom to roam. She learnt to walk on her own at about 30-weeks-old, but even before that, she cultivated her own style and resisted being babied. Normally, gorilla moms will hold them but within like that first day, Anaka was already riding on Sukari's back, which is really interesting, but she's kinda been that sort of "I'm a tough little girl" all along from day one. But even a tough little girl needs a little help sometimes. When she gets frightened, she's quick to call mom and she can make a loud scream when she's a little bit frightened and everybody thinks, "Oh my gosh, what's wrong?" but it's just her, you know, wanting to be closer to mom.

Huge adult gorillas, like Sukari, can look pretty scary, but they are, in fact, very shy, peaceful herbivores. Unlike other gorillas that sleep in trees, lowland gorillas, like Sukari and Anaka, sleep on the ground. But Anaka and Sukari spend much of their waking hours in the trees, looking for leaves and fruit to eat. Because the food is so small and gorillas are so big, Anaka must eat almost constantly, when she's not resting, or playing with her pals. We have four juveniles in our group and with four juveniles, anytime is playtime really, so they're always chasing, wrestling and making all these interesting noises, these vocalizations that are associated often with these play behaviors. Some of the other youngsters will even give Anaka a lift.

I wonder how that's possible cos they weigh almost about the same, they both weigh about 30 pounds, so I just think, "Oh, how are they doing that?" But I think it's just part of being a gorilla and something they do. Playtime isn't just for the youngsters, every once in a while, mom joins the fun. But at the end of the day, she's still Anaka's mother and protect her. So Anaka is very dependent on her mom and she will sleep with her at night, she rides on her back still. Anytime there is a moment where Anaka's a little nervous, she'll, of course, go right to her mom. Sukari will continue nursing Anaka for another couple of years.

Although lately, Anaka is starting to develop a hankering for solid food, when she can get it. Her mom doesn't actively share with her but her mom does let her pick up food that maybe her mom has dropped. Gorillas are super-social animals that hang out in troops. In the wild, a troop usually has five to ten members.

It would be one male, and an adult male is called a silverback, and he would be with several females that he's breeding with and then, of course, their kids. Lowland gorillas, like humans, have no distinct breeding season. The game is always on. But it's not always easy.

First of all, a female will only start breeding when she's 10 years old, then with a 40% infant mortality rate, she will only actually produce a healthy baby every 6 to 8 years. When a baby like Anaka finally joins the troop, she learns very quickly who's the boss. The dominant male, the silverback. He has a very important job, which is a difficult job, but that's to keep all of the girls in line and to keep peace within that family group. At the silverback's side are females, like Sukari, with their babies.

Slightly further away sit the females without babies. And relegated to the outskirts of the troop are the subadult males. In captivity, as in the wild, anything Anaka and the other youngsters need to know about their world, they learn within this tight structure. They're watching their parents for how to forage, what to eat, how to interact with other individuals. They're learning sort of the social norms of being a gorilla, a wild socialized gorilla. Along the way, one of the big lessons Anaka will learn is that one day she will have to leave all this behind.

And once the kids become old enough and they'll be-- reach sexual maturity, they actually disperse from the group. In the wild, Anaka could typically live as long as 40 years. And maybe even have a few babies. For now, here in the zoo, she is just hanging out and loving life.

Tough, rambunctious, and fast on his feet, this young white rhino doesn't take orders from anybody. Only 2-1/2 months old, and already 220 pounds, this baby, known as Tino, was born to run. When he was first born, he was up on his feet within about half an hour. And from then he actually found his feet very quickly. He had big adventurous little running around in his checking everything out, before he could even really walk properly. In the wild, Tino's fleet feet could keep him safe from predators if he should wander away from his mom.

But here, running's just a way to burn off energy, when he is not wallowing in the mud or exploring his new home. It's all mom can do to keep up with him. And once he stops pounding the turf, Tino's ready to go head to head with the grownups. He very much likes to show the others that he's this big brave thing, and he runs up to them and says, "I'm the boss and I'm gonna push you around."

And then something will give him a fright and he'll run away and squeal like a little child. He's very much a mama's boy, yes. So mama's very good at being very protective of him so he knows he's safe, and he runs up and hides behind mom. Tino's mom, Tamu, could've been carrying this big bruiser for up to a year and a half.

He was born a healthy 110 pounds and since then he is just continued to grow, 2-4 pounds every day. He began drinking milk mere hours after he was born, but soon, Tamu will wean him and show him how to eat short grasses. Food is just the start of the mother-baby bond. White rhinos are some of the most devoted moms in the world. They generally stay with their babies for 2-4 years.

So mom's very much being the teacher of getting him to use his horn, so they do a lot of sparring, where they sorta play fight with both their horns. Teach him to rub on things to shape his horn. She's been very good in showing him the essential parts of life so far. White rhinos are one of the most social rhinoceros species. Females leave their calves in adolescence in tightknit herds of up to 14.

These guys actually depend on their mom or their siblings or even just their herd to keep the mentality. These guys are actually quite depressed if they're alone. At 1-month-old, white rhinos are only about 2 feet tall. But give them a little time.

They are the largest living species of rhinoceros, growing as big as an SUV, and weighing up to 2-1/2 tons. The little nub on Tino's head will eventually develop into two distinct horns. The largest front horn will never stop growing and can reach up to 5 feet.

Horns grow from the skin and are made of compressed strands of keratin, the same material as our fingernails and hair. And just like those, a rhino horn will grow back if it breaks off. Females use their horns to protect their young while males use them against predators and to spar with other rhinos. But these important tools, unique to rhinoceros, are a double-edged sword.

A lucrative horn-poaching business has endangered the rhinoceros population. That's what makes Tino's birth such a triumph. Thanks to the strength of rhinoceros mothers, like Tamu, and conservation areas, like this one, the white rhino has made a huge comeback.

Now reclassified as near threatened, 20,000 live in protected areas. Ultimately what we're tryin' to do is to stop these guys from becoming extinct, and the more we can get these guys up in numbers and start to release them back into the wild. So having this rhino calf born here is another number into that but it's a huge feat for us as well. This little calf's life is a celebration. Once he's ready, he will be sent off to mate. But he has a few frolicking years left before that happens.

For now, after a boisterous day in the park, a nap is in order. Mother Tamu will welcome the break... while at lasts. Majestic and strong, an enduring symbol of the Great Plains.

The bison is the heaviest land animal in North America, reaching a height of 6 feet and weighing up to a ton. Even newborns ate pretty big and cute! Every April or May, the mother bison give birth to babies that weigh-in between 33 and 55 pounds. Though he may look defenseless as a newborn calf, you'd never wanna get between him and his mother. No, you really don't wanna push a bison in the wild. There's a couple reason for that. They have very bad eyesight and they are very big.

So when they don't know what you are, they're gonna charge at you. Big or small, once they get moving, they are hard to stop. This little one's eager to stretch his legs. They get happy, they get excited, they'll kick, they'll buck, they'll bounce around. If one gets excited and starts running, they will all start running. And they just all of sudden, out of nowhere, they get like puppy crazy and it's great.

Despite their massive size, bison are surprisingly swift on their feet. When they have to, they can run up to 40 miles an hour. While bison are powerful symbols of the North American frontiers, they didn't originate here. Like humans, their ancestors reached North America by crossing the Bering Land Bridge some 500,000 years ago. And like us, they started raising families and made themselves at home on the range, which allow them to pay more attention to their grooming.

In captivity and in the wild, a little guy like this sticks to his mom like a shadow. Mama wouldn't have it any other way. They are great mamas. They definitely keep the calf close and they will always put themselves between a calf and a person.

If a person walks up, they'll put themselves. They scoot under them. When they're its first born, they'll bump it up and get it nursing and guide it where it needs to be, to find it, to be able to nurse. And they'll always protect it and put themselves in-between that calf and any kind of danger or person. Barely a day old, the fur on this ginger calf will gradually darken. In 4 months, he'll match his mom.

But not all bison are dark. We have a couple herds of bison here. We have a white bison and we have brown bison here.

In the wild, the rare white bison are considered sacred among some Native American religions. Whatever the color, baby bison are quick studies. This fellah was standing on his own at 10 minutes old and nursing within a half hour.

For the next 18 months, they will continue to nurse, but he's also fully equipped to start grazing at only 5 days old. As goes a bison calf learned, it does know how to nurse. They are born with all their teeth. They have this full set of baby teeth. So they can actually start picking up how to eat hay, how to do all that, how to drink water and how to start surviving from the time they are very small. By the time he is 9 months old, this guy can weigh up to 400 pounds.

The males and females do develop differently. Males get bigger. They have a lot more shag around their heads. Both do have horns.

On an adult bull, these horns can grow up to 2 feet long. Males keep growing for up to a dozen years, but females reach their maximum size when they reach sexual maturity at age 3. Males, however, are late bloomers and don't usually mate until they are around 6 years old.

Adult bison are almost too big to tangle with, but in the wild, the calves can fall prey to bears and wolves. They find safety in numbers. They all know to follow a herd, which I think, is a skill essential for surviving in the wild, because they are prey animals.

It keeps them alive to be in a herd and they've learned that. So if he were in the wild, this vulnerable bison calf has got the whole herd to protect him until he grows majestic and strong. Until then, he can just practice some speedy and graceful running. Graceful might take a little longer. Except for their size, these big babies couldn't be more different.

Each is a mini version of its giant parents and each is a keen student, learning how to make its way in the world. : Every animal has a mother, but not all mothers look after their young. Those that do, form one of nature's strongest bonds. A devoted mom will defend her little ones with her life. Which is why it's never a good idea to get between a mother and her baby. Now you see her, now you don't.

When she's not hanging out with her mom this little lemur loves to leap. >> Joslin is one of our newest additions. People have described ringed-tailed lemurs at this age as the "popcorn phase".

When she first started getting off of mom and gaining some independence that she never strayed far at all. Now she's all over the exhibit, and when she-- has gotten to this point she would essentially pop all over the place, bounce around. Jocelyn wasn't always so jumpy.

She started out clinging to her mom's chest, then graduated to riding piggyback. Now, at almost three months, Jocelyn took a leap of faith, and started exploring her surroundings. She spends about a third of her time on the ground more than any other lemur species. Though she's curious about her world she never strays far from her mom, Jushy. And this first-time-mom has much to teach her daughter.

She's doing a wonderful job. We're very, very impressed with how calm she is from the outside. And it's so important for infants to learn from their mother's. Jushy is a very-- as lemurs go a very smart animal, very manipulative with her enrichment items and Jocelyn watches every moment of it. Jushy is also teaching Jocelyn how to be strong and independent. In the wild, female ringed-tailed lemurs protect their home, get first dibs on food, and get groomed before adult males.

Mothers and daughters stay together in the wild. Eventually, Jocelyn would either inherit her mom's ranking, or have to fight her to win the role of alpha female. Even though Jocelyn doesn't have to worry too much about the social hierarchy here, it's still important for her to learn how to be large and in charge. She gets to practice her assertiveness skills on her dad, Frodo. As Jocelyn is learning her role as a young maturing female, she engages with her dad from time-to-time. Sometimes as simply, Jocelyn jumping on Frodo's back or off his head.

And the fact, that he's just being a good dad, and sitting and taking it and tolerating it is the mark of a good dad for a ringed-tailed lemur. Dad sort of takes a backseat in family rituals, when Jushy and Jocelyn wrap their tails around and huddle together to create a lemur ball to fall asleep dad's not invited. In the wild, snuggling protects lemurs from the harsh weather. Here in captivity, Jocelyn and her mom huddle together to share some one-on-one time. Except for their behavior, it's hard to tell the difference between Jushy and Frodo just by looking at them.

They are the same size, and share many of the same features including their signature black and grey tail, which is longer than their body. Lemurs can't hang from their tails but those flashy appendages aren't just for show, sometimes, they're exclamation marks. Lemurs do use their tails, but it's more for things like communication, their emotions come through in how they use their tail. But it's also used as balance, when they're jumping that tail helps with balance in-flight basically.

Flight safety is crucial for a bouncing baby lemur, like Jocelyn. Falls, predators and harsh weather kill up to half of all baby lemurs in the wild before their first birthday. Here at the zoo, Jocelyn's as safe as can be. Luckily, ringed-tailed lemurs reproduce easily in captivity.

Which gives this baby of an endangered species a fighting chance. She has no concern in the world. When she's not sleeping and nursing, she's just always on the go.

She's a very independent little girl. She's very playful too. And she's even started to groom with her mother and her father which is really nice to see that reciprocating behavior, so she's just always active. You can really see the process of her growing and maturing. With her natural curiosity, and Jushy's careful guidance, Jocelyn will grow up to be fearless and confident, just like her mom.

Like many primates, the white-cheeked gibbon is a bit of a mama's boy. But this guy holds a little tighter than most. This is Tualang. In the wild, he would be found swinging through the rainforest of South-east Asia on his own. In captivity, Tualang still living with his parents, while practicing his moves. They are known as the true brachiators of the jungle.

And what that basically means is they do hand-over-hand swing from branch to branch. With gibbons, they're the true acrobats. They literally would let go one branch before they grab on to another. And they can make leaps of up to 30 feet in one swing.

Tualang was born at the zoo to parents Millie and Henry. At birth, he looked exactly like his mom, covered in oatmeal-colored fur. But now, just over a year old, Tualang resembles his dad, with black fur and those namesake white cheeks.

Tualang is quite the handful, he's practically the same size as his mother, but she still carries him pretty much everywhere. Mom carries the infant around, the infant will hold on to the fur, and hold on really tight. But the infant also learns very early on that it has to hold on tight because mom always has to be on the move. For a gibbon in captivity, Tualang isn't ready to wean himself from Millie just yet. The bond between mother and infant is very strong, and usually, the rearing of that infant is a long extended period of time. Nursing between the infant to mom is not just important for nourishment, but it's also important for keeping that bond going.

Infants will nurse for several reasons, obviously, for nutrition, but they'll also nurse because of comfort. It makes them feel comfortable, it makes them feel secure. In this particular case I think our gibbons seems to be all about motherhood, so she's probably going to let him nurse as long as he wants.

But Tualang's father, Henry, is not completely out of the picture. A little rough housing with dad helps Tualang's development. During the stages of development with the infant both parents are involved. So the infant will learn different types of behaviors from either parent.

Playtime, things like that-- a lot of those things actually come from dad. The nurturing part comes from mom. It's pretty similar to how we raise our own kids.

Tualang's family is close. But Henry and Millie don't want him hanging around forever. Like any young adult, he's going to have to move out soon because among grown-up gibbons three is a crowd. Gibbons are unique because they're one of the few primates that are actually monogamous. They'll pick a mate for life. This becomes a very complicated structure within that pair because they have to keep that bond together.

If they have an offspring that offspring has to leave once it reaches maturity because it is considered a threat to that dynamic. Millie and Henry serenade each other with vocal duets that can be heard a couple of blocks away... ...and can go on for 17 minutes. Sometimes, Tualang even joins in. One of the unique things about gibbons is they usually-- that mated pair will form a synchronized call and it's very unique to that pair.

And the pattern and the rhythm of that vocalization let's them know who is making the call. And they recognize each other through that sound. During this time with his parents, Tualang is learning vital skills he'll need when it's time for him to settle down with a female gibbon.

Tualang has a lot of growing up to do, but he doesn't have to pack his bags just yet. He has at least six more years before he needs to find his own place. Until then, he is just hanging out with mom and dad. Their name actually means "person of the forest". And, like a person, a baby orangutan needs his mom. The largest arboreal mammal in the world lives only in the Southeast-Asian islands of Borneo and Sumatra.

Males can weigh as much as 240 pounds. They're the only true arboreal apes spending as much as 95% of their lives in the trees. Orangutans are a very intelligent animal. They're one of the great apes, so they're very closely related to us.

And in that aspect they have higher brain function than other species. They use tools to access food, so they do a lot of different things that really show how smart they are. Like this little guy, a 2-1/2-year-old Sumatran orangutan, named Pongo.

Pongo loves to show off and make sure all the other apes know just how clever he is. Pongo like most orangutans his age feels like he has a lot to prove. He has a ton of energy, always climbing around.

But if he should wander beyond his comfort zone, he hurries back to his mom for re-assurance. His mom is 19-year-old Blaze. She'll hold him until he feels secure again. Pongo is Blaze's first baby. It wasn't an easy birth. Blaze had suffered complications from other failed pregnancies.

So Pongo had to be delivered through caesarean section. But it doesn't matter how he arrived, now, they have lots of mother-son cuddle time. As for Pongo's father, Benny, he couldn't care less.

A typical orangutan dad, he has no interest in family life. Males have pretty much zero to do with raising their offspring. They'll breed with the females, and then they go on their way. Benny has developed large cheek pads or flanges to advertise that he is the primary breeder in this group. As a Sumatran orangutan like his dad, Pongo will grow up to look slightly different from his Bornean cousins.

Borneans tend to have a little bit larger of those cheek pads. Bornean orangutans also are little bit darker and orange, they have more of an auburn color, whereas Sumatrans have a little bit more of a lighter color to them. Pongo is always on the move in way or another. Sometimes he even uses his feet, but not if he can help it. Like all orangutans, he prefers to let his fingers do the walking. It's similar to if a kid was using the monkey bars at a gym.

They swing underneath the branch or vine that they're using to travel. They'll also climb hand-over-hand. He has a natural aptitude for it, but success comes from trial and error, and by watching his mom, Blaze.

For Pongo, hanging out with mom is like a training session. Every day she has something new to show him. By far the most important lesson is how to become independent because orangutans are a natural born loners. Most primates, including you and I, live as groups in families. Whereas orangutans, for the most part, live by themselves in the wild they are solitary animals. And the main reason is just the food distribution.

Because of their size, orangutans need lots of food. And that means lots and lots of fruit. But in the rainforest, fruit isn't all that plentiful in one place. So they kind of have to spread out and that's why they live by themselves.

Really the only time you'll see orangutans living together is when a mother is raising her young. Blaze has been carefully raising Pongo for the last two and a half years. But now, her little baby boy is getting bigger and more adventurous.

He would be what we call an older infant phasing into a young juvenile right now. Pongo can pretty much perform all the skills that his mom can. He explores and keeps testing his limits... ...and his mom's patience. He sometimes discovers that he's too big to do what he used to do as a younger ape.

That means he tends to get stuck in certain spots way high up. Mom is always there for support, like, if he gets stuck up high on a platform where he can't get down mom is always there to come down and catch him. And when that happens, Pongo is not too old that he can't still enjoy an awesome ride on his mom's back.

Being an orangutan mom is a 24-hour, 7-day a week job, for the first several months the infant does nothing but hang on to the mother, so, it was important that she knew that she needs to let Pongo hang on her at all times. Female orangutans can have their first baby at around age 12. And they can only have a baby every seven or eight years. Since on average, they live to 45, it means they can only produce four babies in their entire lifetime. That's one of the lowest numbers among all mammals. That's why mom has to take especially good care of the babies.

She carries them constantly for their first year. The world is a dangerous place for an orangutan. Orangutans out in the wild face a lot of threats right now, they have a lot of pressure on them. Habitat loss is the big one. I mean, this is due to the agriculture that's going on over there, specifically palm oil.

There are a lot of palm oil plantations that are popping up where orangutans are found. So, more than ever in the wild, the mother-infant relationship is crucial. Every second spent soaking up mom's wisdom helps increase the chance of survival. Most birds need lots of parental care once they hatch, and the tiny hummingbird is no exception.

That's because at roughly 2-1/2 inches long, and weighing as little as .1 ounces, it's one of the world's smallest birds. Luckily, hummingbird hatchlings have devoted moms to help them navigate this enormous world.

Humming birds belong to the order of birds called Apodiformes which means "footless". While they do have feet, they're too weak for walking. But, when you can fly like this who needs to walk. They use their feet like landing gear. Everybody loves hummingbirds.

How can you not love hummingbird? They're fascinating and they're beautiful, and they pollinate. But one interesting fact is that they really are the only bird that can hover and fly backwards they're-- they're amazing acrobatics in the air. They need that agility to navigate around the flowers they pollinate. This little guy barely 3 weeks old hasn't quite mastered the air yet.

But he's working on it. Baby hummingbirds sit on the edge of their nest and flap their wings up and down, up and down, up and down. Until you can start to see them get a little bit of lift, but they don't necessarily let go. But they're getting those wing muscles really amped up for their maiden voyage. In the wild, that voyage could take the young hummingbird anywhere from the coast of Alaska to the very tip of South America. Through some of the most diverse and extreme environments in the world.

Which makes this little guy one of the toughest critters in the animal kingdom. That strength starts with learning how to defend its territory. One way is by using its gorget, the flat iridescent feathers around its head that flash bright colors in the sun. Depending on the circumstances, a flash can signal no trespassing, but it can also mean I'm available.

There's a number of different courtship behaviors that hummingbirds have - many of them sing... ...they also will position themselves in such a way to flash all that beautiful gorget area and all the color to the female. When this little guy is old enough to mate he'll try to impress the female with his fancy J dive. It goes up very, very high, while the female is perched lower, and right in front of her, right when he gets down to eye level with her he makes this noise with his tail feather, it's a very high-pitched squeak and then goes back up and repeats these dives over and over and over again.

And once the deed is done, the female gets busy building a home for her new family. Hummingbird nests are really amazing. They're made of anything that you can see around us here they use all these different plant materials and they use spider web that is what holds the whole nest together.

Besides being strong, spider silk is expandable. As the babies grow, the nest will stretch along with them. You'll start out with a very small, sort of, cup-shaped nest, and you'll see mom pushing it out with her-- her rear end and her feet until she makes this nice dip in the center. And then, when the youngsters get bigger and bigger they can push on this as well. So, for instance, you may see a nest that's this big, but as the babies grow and just before fledging it may be that big. This newborn's nest took a week to build.

Every mother designs her nest a little differently before laying her tic-tac size eggs. Some are what I like to call the Martha Stewart of hummingbird household making because they'll elaborately decorate the sides of their nest. They adorn their nest with twigs, mosses, lichen, and even paint chips. This hummingbird is an only child, but not for long, mother hummingbirds generally lay two eggs one day apart. The very, very first thing a chick has to do is get out of the egg.

Once that happens, then they need to be nourished by their mother for 21/23 days. With absolutely no help from dad. When you are a mother hummingbird you really are all on your own.

The dad really does not help in any way, shape or form except to inseminate the female. Mom feeds her chicks roughly every 20 minutes. It's almost like sword swallowing, and then, mom will fly away, goes and gathers more nectar and insects. The long slender beak and a super long tongue help the hummingbird collect flower nectar all while beating her wings 50 times a second. Although the chick is still too young to feed himself he's working on his tongue exercises in anticipation of that day. From the moment the chick hatches, he's vulnerable.

There's nocturnal predators and there's diurnal predators, anything from-- something the size of a snake to something the size of a praying mantis. But mom is never too far away. A mother hummingbirds' role is protection and food, and then, she'll also keep the baby chick warm at night. When this little one was 20-days-old, it was finally time to fledge.

It may not go very far from the nest and it also might go right back in to the nest. It all depends on their confidence level. Until he feels ready to spread his wings for good, mom will keep feeding for up to four weeks. Kids, sometimes it feels like they'll never move out.

But once he's out of the nest there no going back. Adult hummingbirds lead solitary lives, and can usually live to 12 years of age. While he's here, this little guy can still enjoy mom's sweet home cooking. So many baby animals are born defenseless, but under the tutelage of their doting mothers, they quickly become masters of their universe. FEMALE NARRATOR: Babies are vulnerable and for many species, there's safety in numbers. Being part of a gang is essential for the survival of some animals when they are young.

For Australian fur seals, black bears, meerkats and alpacas, the more really is the merrier. There's nothing cuter than puppies. Or maybe there is.

Seal pups might just edge out the canines in the cute battle. It's hard not to like them. Their friendly critters are very social and don't stray too far from their group.

The Australian fur seal or brown fur seal stays close to land throughout its life. Australian fur seals are a really charismatic creature. They're one of the top predators in the marine ecosystem.

They're distributed throughout Southern Victoria, Southern New South Wales or in Tasmania and some parts of South Australia. The Australian fur seal is different from other seals in that its flippers are strong enough, that it can run around on the rocks. They start off small and cute, but they'll grow up to be pretty big.

Australian fur seal is a brownish color and they have a golden hue to them as well. They're quite a large fur seal in Australia. They're about 100-kilos for a female. That's 220 pounds. And an adult male can be up to 6-feet long and weigh 660 pounds.

Seal babies, like this little guy, are called pups. He, like all other pups, looks slightly different than adults. When seal pups are born, they have what we call the lanugo coat, which is really dark brown.

Their coat is not only darker, it's also softer and thicker. It keeps them warm and dry underneath like a wetsuit. But in a few months, as they get older, they'll begin to shed their coat, a process called molting, and they will turn the same grey color as the adults. Unlike other species of seals and sea lions, this little guy will grow up to be quite the socializer.

They quite like lying next to each other and around each other as a lot of other species prefer to be sitting on their own on their own rocks. Every October, large groups of seals take that love of socializing to a whole new level. It's time to make babies.

The mating process of the Australian fur seal, that goes over a few months from October right through to December when the males come ashore and they start holding harems and they guard those harems very vigorously against other males. A breeding colony can have as many as 1,500 single seals. Loud aggressive males become so focused on protecting their harem and their breeding ground that they won't even go out to sea to grab a bite. The breeding colony is a noisy place. It's full of seals and full of harems and fighting males and seals running in and out of the water, trying to get access to females and pups being born.

It's an amazing place to see. As soon as this little guy is born, he calls for his mommy. The birthing process can take several hours. And then straight away, they start calling to each other. So that they develop the bond that they need in order to find each other later on when the female goes foraging in such a big colony. Each pup has a distinct voice.

That personalized call allows the mom to find her own pup among so many youngsters after she's gone out for some grub. And a pup makes sure he's heard. We don't know what they say, but they certainly make a lot of noise.

Mom's shopping run can take a couple of days. While he's home alone, this pup takes advantage of his free time to play with his pals. I love watching the pups.

They're just always out for an adventure and they have so much fun. They're very curious about the world around them and they're really exploring. They're quite inquisitive.

They run around together in gangs and they fall off rocks and they throw kelp around and they play together. When mom does get back, she's usually bringing home seal favorites like fish, octopus or crustaceans. Now that this pup has reached 2-months-old, it's time for him to take his first swimming lesson. It will be another 8 months, before he can learn how to catch his own fish.

In the meantime, he's still very much dependent on mom and her precious milk. But eventually, he will be cut off. The weaning process happens up to a month prior to the mother having another pup and generally speaking, she just starts to push the older pup away. She wants to wean that pup before she has the next one, otherwise, the older pup might out-compete the new one. By the time he hits 11 months, this pup will be fully weaned.

When he's full-grown, he'll be able to dive some 600 feet to forage. When he does, this pup will have to stay on the lookout for natural predators like sharks and orcas. But for today, his biggest worry is getting a little shuteye -- in a really noisy place. The big black bear. Massive.

Strong. Well, maybe one day. For now, they're just hangin' around. I don't know if they learn that or they're born with it cause they're awesome climbers. I've never seen one fall and they can climb like crazy.

Baby bears are incredibly nimble. Climbing is a good skill for these North-American black bear cubs to have if they wanna find food and escape enemies in the wild. So is wrestling, as it develops fighting and defense skills that adults need.

Instinct doesn't die completely in captivity, but these 4 cubs, Scout, Blue, Kaptain and Klondike live in a place called Bearizona in-- you guessed it, Arizona, so they can concentrate on growing up. When they're born, they're tiny. They're size of a Twinkie or a stick of butter. Then as they get bigger, they get longer and taller. Right now, I think, they're 12 to 15 pounds. Bear cubs are born while their mother is hibernating during the winter months.

These cubs don't have their mom with them. In the wild, they would stay with her for 17 months, hibernating a second time with her through their first birthday. When they finally emerge from their den, the young bear stick close to their mom until late summer. At that point, females will stay within mom's territory, while males stray farther away to venture off on their own.

But these cubs aren't really interested in leading a solitary life. Scout is little around She's a tough bear for bein' the only female in there. And then Blue is pretty much a trouble maker. He always, always has been. He likes to stir up trouble. And Kaptain and Klondike are pretty curious or more the explorers, like that.

They're starting to get a feel for that they're a bear, so they're acting big and tough now. They're already expert climbers. But eventually, these guys will be able to run up to 30 miles per hour to avoid any danger.

And they're getting lots of practice chasing each other, even though they don't really need it here. In the wild, bear cubs will be vulnerable to predators such as coyotes, wolves and even other bears. But bear cubs can't rely on their mobility alone to survive in the wild. They would need to learn how to stay away from people. They would also need to learn how to build their own housing, how to travel and look for food. It wouldn't be presented to them.

And these cubs love their food. No wonder they're growing so fast. By 5 years, these bear cubs will reach their full size. A female like Scout could weigh 330 pounds. And a male like Klondike, twice that. They will eat as much as 20,000 calories a day before hibernating.

With up to 85% of their diet being vegetation, that's a lot of berries, nuts and grass. But their fondness for food and keen sense of smell could get these bear cubs in trouble if they were in the wild. People will feed 'em, people leave trash cans open. That's a easy way for them to get food.

They don't have to work for it. They like the ease of the capture of the food and they kind of get in the neighborhoods and get into trouble that way. But here at the zoo, they're staying out of trouble. These cubs play all day. They jump at each other.

They'll bounce and launch at each other, which is great. They roll around, they bite, they wrestle. They're always playin', that's great. For Scout, Blue, Kaptain and Klondike, playing together is an important part of exploring their new world. They can climb, play and learn all in the company of their furry friends.

In the wild, meerkat pups live in underground burrows, the tunnel under the blistering hot deserts of southern Africa. But these baby meerkats at the Perth Zoo, were born just 6-1/2 weeks ago. They belong to a complex group or colony made up of as many as 20 other members.

Each group is a family made up of the alpha female and alpha male. Everybody else in the group is siblings or their offspring. In this family, the dominant female is Tilly.

She is the breeding female. She is also the mother of all of the juveniles that have born in this exhibit. And as such she is the boss of the group. Like most alpha females, Tilly is older, wiser and larger than any other female in the family. Tilly's a really relaxed and experienced mom. She's had quite a few number of baby's here and she does a really good job with looking after her babies.

What the meerkat pups need most from their mom is her sweet milk. But to keep that milk flowing, Tilly needs to stock up on some serous calories. In the wild, she would leave the colony and forage all day. So what does that mean for these little defenseless guys? Not to worry. Mom has that covered.

Because only the dominant pair actually mate, there are lots of other members ready and able to help out. Quite often an older sibling or a baby sitter will stay with the kits and look after them, while the mom goes out and feeds to get enough of a milk supply. But the other family members do more than just babysit. They actually teach these little guys how to coexist together.

Older siblings in this group are really good at teaching young kits things about life. So they do teach them, primarily, how to eat and that's mainly just that the little kits will trundle along behind their older brothers and sisters and watch how they physically eat food. They can also pass on some killer grooming tips, because it's always important to look your best. The father of these pups is the group's alpha male. While he plays a key role in the family, he's nowhere near as important as Tilly.

The alpha male is, basically, the female's stud, I suppose. Yes, he's the breeder and he likes to protect that breeding right. Like, so he's basically the only one who will mate with the alpha female. In the wild, because a dominant female like Tilly won't mate with members of her own family, the dominant male has to come from another group. Since they've been born, the pups have been learning how to perfect the one thing that meerkats are famous for, standing up on their back legs for sentry duty.

I love when the little babies are learning to stand up. How to do sentry duty. Their little legs are a bit wobbly sometimes.

So in the beginning stages, they find it quite difficult. They'll try and stand up and, sort of, fall over. In the wilds of Africa, sentry duty is key to the pup's survival. Obviously being quite little, you're bit of a snack-sized for anything that might wanna come and eat you. So things like birds of prey, other predators, like any of your, sort of, terrestrial carnivores will quite often try and take a little meerkat pup. As they get older, these pups will develop an excellent sense of sight, smell and hearing.

All things that will help them detect the approach of enemies. But in the meantime, the rest of the colony totally has their back. If their siblings or other relatives sense a predator coming, they will immediately sound the alarm. And that would usually send a response to the rest of the group to run away and hide. In time, these newborn meerkats will learn to master 30 different types of call, each with its own specific meaning. For these pups, being born to the dominant female Tilly, doesn't give them any special rights.

In a couple of years, when they finally become sexually mature, they will have to fight like all the others to assert their dominance within the colony. And while it may look like they're just goofing around with their brothers and sisters, they're really getting ready for that big day. A really big part of being a meerkat kit is learning how to play with your siblings and some of that play is actually to go on later in life and learn how to fight other meerkats. So all meerkat kits do a lot of tumbling, wrestling, play-biting and that sort of thing.

So that is really important. For these baby meerkats, power is truly in numbers. Everything they do is for the family, and in turn everything they do is for them.

Soon enough they will learn that in the long run, showing their devotion to the family can help them move up the ranks and possibly even help them become the next dominant male or female. But for now sneaking up on your brother and tagging him is just a fun game. Maybe it's the huge eyes or the long eyelashes or the friendly trot. Maybe it's the way they stick together. But it's hard not to love alpacas. They're gentle, curious and playful.

And their peaceful temperament seems to match their tranquil environment. Baby alpacas are called crias and they don't waste anytime sitting around once they're born. Their bodies are highly developed at birth so that they can escape predators right away. Crias birth in the day time, which is great.

They are up and walking usually within 30 minutes, which is very speedy. They're up and running around within a few hours. This incredible ability is common to all species of the camelid family. Llamas, camels, vicuñas and guanacos.

Crias have to start drinking milk within a few hours of birth, otherwise, they're unlikely to survive. Within a couple of weeks, they begin to feed on grass, hay and other plants. Alpacas originally came from South America, high up in the Andes Mountains at an altitude of around 12,000 feet.

They adapted to survive in a harsh environment. Alpacas have been domesticated for thousands of years, but they were only recently introduced to other parts of the world like here in Akaroa, New Zealand. Shamarra Alpaca Farm raises Alpacas for their fiber. It's soft and luxurious and can be processed into clothing.

Alpaca fiber's very fine. It's as fine as cashmere or finer than cashmere. It comes in 22 different colors and has excellent thermal properties. It's warmer than sheep wool and also stronger than sheep wool. The fur of a cria is particularly soft.

This baby fleece is known as alpaca royal. We shear all our alpacas. The youngest ones are about 7 or 8 months the first time they're shorn. But we shear them every year.

Yep, so all the babies get shorn as well. Alpacas reach full maturity around 2-years-old. Eventually, they can grow to 3-feet tall at the shoulder blade.

Alpacas are social animals and they live in groups with one dominant male, several females and, of course, their offspring. The males do tend to be a little bit more rambunctious. They tend to wrestle a lot, which is quite sweet. Females are a little more lady-like than the boys. One of the things a young alpaca cria learns is to stick with the herd and that keeps it safe from predators. In their native South America, pumas and foxes pose a constant threat.

In North America, coyotes are a dangerous foe. But here in New Zealand, alpacas have no natural predators. This makes it an ideal place to farm them. What I love about alpacas, just their lovely nature. They're so soothing.

They're quiet. Just something endearing about alpacas. You just, sort of, fall in love with them.

Growing up with company makes life a little sweeter. Playing and hanging out with siblings and playmates, helps these animals explore and learn. For these creatures, the more definitely is the merrier. What is cute to us is dinner to others.

Calves like these have to learn to run and walk quickly to escape scary predators. In the wild the giraffe, the pronghorn, the zebra, and the muskox need to learn fast or die young. This is Lester. Lester was 117 pounds at birth, but just wait until he grows up.

At just 1 year old he used to be the baby around here, but lately, competition is fierce. Three months ago, this male showed up. And then a month ago this unnamed female showed up. She was a whopping 192 pounds at birth.

The biggest baby this zoo has ever seen. But Lester doesn't seem to mind. And all three of our calves, they hang pretty closely together.

They love to play, they'll chew on each other's ears, chew on each other's hair just to hang out and have a good time. All three calves were born to different mothers, but they all have the same dad, Duke. Duke is our adult male and he has fathered 14 calves here at the zoo.

Duke is a little distant, he does his own thing usually when he's out on exhibit. But he likes our female keepers the most, his favorite food is bananas. We give him a banana every morning when he shifts on to and off of exhibit. And he can be very stubborn at times, he likes to stay close to our adult females, if they're not going out yet he likes to kind of hang back until they're out on exhibit also.

All of Dukes calves have hit the ground running, literally. When they're born, they have a 6 foot fall to the ground. And within an hour they're running around that's to help them survive.

In the wild babies are prime targets for predators, so they don't have time to waste. Giraffe females even synchronize their breeding cycles, so they all give birth at once. Safety in numbers. Lester was born in captivity, but that doesn't mean he necessarily had an easy start. His mother died only three months after he was born. Within the first couple of days he was sad.

He made noise, he went out on exhibit and when she wasn't there, he was making noise looking for her. In the wild, a dead mother would surely be the end of Lester since male giraffes usually don't take part in the parenting process. But thankfully, zookeepers stepped in and took over. Lester was still nursing when his mother died, so they had to find a different source of milk to keep him fed. When Lester's mom passed away, they obviously had to make some kind of supplement for him, because he wasn't eating the grain and the brows the way our adult giraffes were, so we tried a couple different kinds of grain, and milk, and milk replacement pellets. It definitely requires a different level of care, a more intense level of care.

But even through hardship, Lester has maintained a great attitude. Lester has definitely a very unique personality, his mom was a wonderful calm giraffe. So when his mom passed away in May, the keepers took care of him very closely, so he's very desensitized to being around us.

He'll walk right up to us when we give him his grain and he's just a very good giraffe. He's got a very sweet personality. And now with these new baby giraffes joining the family, Lester seems to be getting back to his old self. That's what I love about the new calves being here is that that's kind of brought that out in him again. He was not a loner, but he was much more calm than a giraffe his age normally would be. So now that we have these new little ones, he's really kind of just started hanging out with them and acting a little more fun.

Fortunately, calm little Lester has a fun friend in this still unnamed baby female. She is definitely the liveliest of the bunch, she's a very dainty little girl, she steps around all our mud puddles. She's made the group very lively actually. It's wonderful having all the young ones there and just seeing them play and chase each other.

Some of our older females that don't have any offspring, they hover around her, they'll come check on her and take care of her. Giraffes grow up fast. In the wild, Lester would be weaned between 9 to 12 months.

By 1 to 3 years old, he would leave to join an all-male group. And then when he's around 7 or 8, start a family of giants all his own. But here at the zoo, he gets a bit more time to just play around and be a young giraffe having fun. Twins are usually double the trouble. But when you've got two sets of twin baby pronghorns, well, that's four times the work. And four times the meat for a predator looking for a tasty treat.

Pronghorn are very vulnerable to a few predators in the wild, the biggest one is wolves and coyotes. When baby pronghorns are born, they take a couple of hours to get up and go. So mom usually leaves them hidden in some tall grass to wait until she comes back to nurse them. But mum isn't worried about her newborns, because baby pronghorns have no smell to them, so they can stay hidden even when predators are very close. Besides hiding baby pronghorns don't have any defenses, so it's up to them to eat as much as they can so they can grow fast. Baby pronghorns are basically miniature versions of the adults, but they are so cute.

They've got these huge brown eyes with these wonderful eyelashes, great big ears, slender legs. And they like to hit the bottle pretty hard. The animals take 30 seconds to a minute to take that milk in. It's every three hours from 7:00 in the morning until 10:00 at night and then we start to cut back.

They are being bottle-fed at this point in time, because their mothers were not particularly good mothers. Our other mother, who we affectionately call Blue tag, was really interested in both her twins initially. She cleaned them off, she let both of them nurse. But then she lost interest and we were losing the twins, because they were hungry and she was not nursing them.

But luckily these twins have each other to lean on even if they can't depend on mom. What you'll see quite often is they'll be resting together, one will get up and start to graze and that will sort of get the other one up and grazing. Both sets of twins love to eat together and they're never far apart. They're also keeping a careful eye on the adults in the herd, which is how they'll learn proper pronghorn behavior without their mothers to teach them.

So they're going to hopefully, adapt to typical pronghorn behavior by watching what the adults are doing. Watching the adults will teach the babies how to survive like where to find the tastiest treats, how to hide from predators, and most importantly how to move fast, their main defense. And a pronghorn needs to learn how to use these, they're a cross between horns and antlers and both males and female have them.

Although a female's prongs are smaller and develop later. Little male is already developing little horn buds, so if you were to touch the top of its head, you'd feel two little bumps. Baby pronghorns have to grow up fats, so they can survive a long cold winter.

Pronghorn have this great thick coat for winter, which they will shed, so they'll be shaking their coats and out will emerge a summer coat which is much thinner. Light-colored fur helps pronghorns blend into the tall dry grasses where they live. They literally disappear into that grass and you have to look quite carefully for them. Hiding is important for babies to avoid being eaten, but sometimes they also have to run away and pronghorns are amazing runners.

So as a car goes down the highway or you're driving down the highway at about 100 kilometers an hour, pronghorn can run about that fast. That's almost as fast as a cheetah and pronghorns can keep up their high speeds even longer. The babies often bound around inside the zoo enclosure, building up their muscle, so they can make those high-speed runs. It's hard for predators to sneak up on pronghorns, they have protruding eyes which means they can see pretty far on each side. Pronghorn also have these giant ears, they're great for flicking flies, but they're also paying attention to the landscape and what's going on around them.

Pronghorns are very curious creatures, hunters used to tie rags to poles and wave them until the pronghorns came over to see what was going on. Flagging isn't allowed anymore, the pronghorns still like to get a close look at the action. Alright. When they're not investigating, pronghorns are usually eating, sitting down or doing both at once. If they fall asleep, it's usually for only 10 minutes at a time. That's because the threat of predators is always lurking and a gentle herbivore has to stay alert.

But luckily, these babies are watching out for each other, making sure that no nearby wolf is going to get a two-for-one meal. Moms come in all stripes, but if you're baby zebra, you should count your lucky stars that you get a zebra mother. All zebra moms are very good moms, they're very protective.

And you don't wanna get too close to a baby zebra, 'cause mom is going to give you one of those mean kicks. Baby zebras start to walk just 20 minutes after birth and after an hour they can run. That's important, because zebra herds are always on the move to find food and water. And if a predator comes around, zebras have to start hoofing it. They are horses, they have endurance and they can really run.

Zebras are a tasty treat for cheetahs, hyenas, and lions, so being bale to take off and run at a moment's notice will keep these babies alive. When danger's around, that whole herd will all take off at the same time. All hoof stock has that fight or flight instinct and generally gonna be a flight thing. The whole herd gets scared, they're all gonna run.

When danger's close by, zebras bark or whinny to warn each other. Their ears are always pricked up to listen for predators. And a zebra's eyes sit on the side of its head, so it can see nearly all the way behind it. But those aren't a zebra's only secret weapons, their stripes evolve to help keep them safe.

They group together and those stripes create a confusing pattern to predators. You can tell the younger zebras apart, because they're born with brown and white stripes, which darken as they age. Even though they all look the same to us, zebra stripes are also how babies can recognize their moms. And babies stick close to their moms, so when the herd takes off they don't get left behind. Moms and baby zebras have very good bonds, they're very strongly connected.

Female zebras stay with their herd, but after two years male zebras break off to start their own herd as a zebra dad. Zebra dads are good dads, they are very protective and nothing else is gonna hurt his herd. Moms and dads know their babies by a unique smell. New moms usually keep their babies away from the herd for a few days to make sure her baby can recognize her before they join the rest of the herd.

Zebra parents never adopt an orphan baby, so if anything happens to its parents, a young zebra is on its own. And a baby zebra is an easy target without a mom to protect it. They nurture their foals up to two years, they will not mate again until that foal is ready to be pushed away from mom. But before that happens, babies have a lot to learn.

Baby zebras nurse until they are about 8 to 12 months old, but they also like to nibble on grass, just like mom. The babies have the advantage here of being able to learn foraging from their mom. Besides mom, baby zebras often spend a lot of time with their siblings. Zebras love to chase each other. Baby zebras are very playful, play is learning, play is good, play is social.

So it'

2021-05-03 07:23

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