Mount Omei Babblers

An Amazing April for Battersea Park Children’s Zoo with new births and new residents

24th May 2024

In a whirlwind of activity, Battersea Park Children's Zoo (BPCZ) is celebrating a series of extraordinary conservation milestones that took place last month. From the hatching of a critically endangered pancake tortoise, and the release of hundreds of threatened harvest mice into the wild, the zoo is proving to be a beacon of hope for endangered species. Adding to the excitement, BPCZ has recently welcomed a pair of vulnerable Mount Omei Babblers, marking a new chapter in their commitment to preserving the threatened species. Plus the joyful arrival of meerkat pups.

Meerkat pup’s birth - 8th April
Two female meerkat pups, Annie and Amalia were born at the zoo on 8th April 2024, the pups are now just starting to explore their outside enclosure.

Meerkat pups are born blind and without fur, relying entirely on the excellent care of their parents for the first few weeks of their life. A month on, and the pups are venturing out of the den and have been stealing hearts every day!
Meerkats are native to the arid, open plains of Southern Africa, feeding on a variety of insects, small mammals and some vegetation.

Critically endangered pancake tortoise hatches - 11th April
A critically endangered pancake tortoise hatched - a second hatchling at the zoo of this fragile species in less than 12 months!

After a lengthy incubation period of 143 days, the hatchling finally emerged from its shell and is being cared for by the expert keepers in the behind the scenes nursery enclosure.

The zoo team incubated the egg, which was laid at the zoo by one of the adult tortoises, at 31.5 degrees Celsius in the hopes of producing a female hatchling - but it will be a few years before the sex will be known for certain.

This fragile species is listed as critically endangered, meaning they are on the edge of extinction. Their decline is mostly a result of intense harvesting for the exotic pet trade as well as habitat destruction.

The hatchling represents hope for this amazing species, and is one of only 4 hatched within UK zoos over the last year.

140 threatened harvest mice released into the wild - 28th April
Harvest mice born into the breeding programme run by the zoo and their sister site, the New Forest Wildlife Park, were reintroduced into restored habitats in Ealing, in partnership with Ealing Wildlife Group. A population of the zoo's mice joined more from the breeding programme run by EWG.

The reintroduction took place at Perivale Wood Nature Reserve, a habitat where harvest mice have been extinct for over 45 years.

This project is an ongoing example of what can be achieved through community, collaboration and conservation. BPCZ is proud to have contributed to a reintroduced population of over 1800 harvest mice into restored habitats in Ealing. Surveys carried out year on year have shown that these releases are proving to be a success, with harvest mice becoming established within the ecosystem and restoring biodiversity.

The native species are increasingly under threat, making the fight against biodiversity loss in habitats across Britain a priority. Harvest mouse populations have been in decline across the country due to habitat loss for many years, making conservation projects like this even more vital.

Threatened species Mount Omei Babblers - 30th April
BPCZ welcomed a male and female pair of Mount Omei Babblers to the zoo, as part of the European Breeding Programme (EEP) for this threatened species.

This species is endemic to China, where they inhabit mountainous ranges in south-central Sichuan. Due to their restricted distribution, these birds are listed as vulnerable by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Placing them at a high risk of extinction in the wild.

Following the zoo’s ongoing breeding success with the critically endangered Bali starling, they are proud to begin working with another threatened species of Asian songbird. Joining Battersea Park from Chester Zoo, the arrivals have been brought together as a new breeding pair, with BPCZ joining the collaborative effort to conserve these special birds.

The main threat to this species is the loss and fragmentation of forest within its natural range, much of which has been cleared or degraded by logging and agriculture. This species is CITES Appendix II and is protected in the province of Sichuan. China banned the export of wild birds in 1999, but enforcement remains a challenge, as evidenced by the presence of these birds in markets as distant as Sumatra.

Births of rare Bagot Goats - 20th March, 11th and 12th April
3 sets of twin Bagot kids were born at BPCZ with the adorable additions significantly contributing to the conservation of this rare British breed.

The zoo's new male kids will eventually join a conservation grazing project in Southern England, while the female will remain in the zoo's breeding programme.

Jamie Baker, Animal Manager at Battersea Park Children’s Zoo said “April has been an exhilarating month at the zoo, marked by the arrival of several new members. As conservation is at the heart of our mission, each successful birth fills us with immense joy. These new births and arrivals are a testament to the unwavering dedication of our keepers and our enduring commitment to supporting rare and endangered species.”

BPCZ Lowerres 09094

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