Having recognised the need for a purpose built facility to address the conservation issues facing many of Arabia's species His Highness Dr. Sheik Sultan bin Mohammed al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah officially opened the Breeding Centre for Endangered Arabian Wildlife on the 15th of May 1998.
The Centres aims and objectives are:
|Updates & News|
|Arabian Partridges "released": A couple of months ago several pairs of Arabian partridge were "released" onto into the main display camp at Arabia's Wildlife Centre. Despite the initial concerns for their safety and all the birds are still there.|
|Ivan takes his first bath: Part of growing up involves experiencing new things and for Ivan who has recently been given a large water something as routine as this needed investigating.|
|Cheetah cubs healthy: The four Cheetah cubs born late last year are all doing extremely well and have been developing as expected.|
|Jackal pups growing well: The two male Jackal pups born earlier this year, despite having a rough start, have developed really well.|
|Arabian Leopard: Following months of negotiations, the Breeding Centre is proud to welcome Al Wadei, an Arabian leopard that has been rescued from a private exhibit in the Republic of Yemen.|
|Eurasian Griffon Vultures: With the closure of the Bilquis Zoo in Yemen several other animals needed new homes and so 6 Griffon vultures accompanied Al Wadei, the Arabian leopard, on his journey to the Breeding Centre.|
|Long eared Hedgehogs: The Breeding Centre has recently received a pair of Long-eared Hedgehogs from the Scientific Research Centre in Kuwait.|
|Births & Hatchings|
|Nubian Ibex kids born: With the onset of spring the Nubian Ibex female all give birth within a few days of one another and the Ibex Mountian at Arabia's Wildlife Centre becomes a nursery for a few weeks.|
|Arabian Wolf: Earlier this year the staff at the Breeding Centre thought that a female Arabian Wolf had given birth. Unfortunately the pups were born underground and it wasn't until recently when a pup emerged from the den for the first time that they knew for sure.|
Arabian Partridges or Black-headed Partridges are the largest species of partridge in the world and inhabit the rocky slopes and mountain valleys of southern Oman, Yemen and southeastern Saudi Arabia. Two years ago the Breeding Centre received a small group of adult birds from The National Wildlife Research Centre in Ta'if, Saudi Arabia, which was followed by a shipment of eggs a few months later.
From this stock ten pairs were kept for breeding while 5 pairs were released onto the "Ibex Mountain" at Arabia's Wildlife Centre for display purposes. The "mountain" is approximately 50 m long and has a maximum height of 8 meters. There are numerous hiding places and the birds can walk freely to the other areas of the enclosure although they preferred to remain close to the "mountain" at first.
Prior to their release the partridges had been in a 3 x 3 meter cage under several palm trees situated next to the "mountain". After the first week a single male was released and was followed by a female the following week and pairs each subsequent week thereafter until all the birds had been released. Once all the birds were out the cage was removed but they continued to be fed in the same place.
It has now been 2 months since they were released and despite the fact all the birds can fly they have remained on the "mountain". However they are slowly expanding the area in which they forage and pairs have been seen as far away as the Children's Farm (500 m) and although a few may stay away for as long as 2 or 3 days all the birds are regularly seen feeding on the "mountain".
Recently the first clutch of eggs was found but unfortunately they were too exposed and were eaten by predators. Hopefully, the females will learn to hide their eggs and we can look forward to a natural reproducing Partridge colony.
Part of growing up involves experiencing new things and discovering a world you hadn't even considered before. For Ivan, who is now eight months old, every day still seems to bring new and interesting things to investigate. Who would ever have thought that something as routine as a water trough could be exciting?
Because Ivan was still quite a lot smaller than the deep-water troughs built into the leopard enclosures, he had a little bowl for water that was too small for any accidents. When he recently decided that it could be quite a fun game to drag it around the enclosure it was decided that he is now old enough to have a trough like all the other leopards.
As you will see from the photo sequence, big water troughs for little leopards proved a most successful invention!!! Not only did Ivan have a great time trying to scoop the water out of the trough and then splashing through the water and even lying in the strange new stuff but the keepers got great pics and had a good giggle too!!
Thankfully, even in winter the temperatures in Arabia are hot enough to dry the wettest leopard quickly!!
Find out more about Arabian leopards
Late last year, the centre proudly announced the birth of the first litter of cheetah cubs born at a government-funded institute on the Arabian Peninsula. Grumpy, is a first time mom and has set an exemplary example of raising her family even though as a hand reared cheetah, she had only instinct to follow.
The cubs, two males and two females, have developed according to textbook descriptions and are still gaining weight on target. Much to their indignation, the cubs were first handled at two weeks of age when they were weighed for the first time. At only fourteen days old, the weight of each cub was already higher than the stressed, dehydrated and malnourished eight-week-old cubs that were admitted to the centre four years ago after confiscation from illegal traders trying to import cheetah into the UAE. The litter has been weighed weekly to monitor their progress and to provide a more accurate estimate of the correct weight at each development stage.
Their tooth development has also been monitored as closely as possible. Checking a young animal's tooth development is often the best way to estimate their age accurately. From the rate of development that has been monitored with this litter it is suspected that many of the young confiscations admitted to the centre in the past were younger than originally estimated. Considering their weights upon arrival at the centre, the recovery and subsequent normal development of these young cheetahs can only be a testament to the dedication of the nursing staff who nursed them all to adulthood.
The cubs will be left with Grumpy until they are a year old to allow her to teach them all that she would have in the wild.
Find out more about Cheetah
Hand raising the two Jackal pups (born 14th January 2003) named Shams & Qamar, meaning sun and moon respectively, has been an enjoyable experience for the staff at the Breeding Centre. The pups, now seven weeks old, weigh approximately 1.5 kilograms quite an increase from their 200-gram birth weight.
There has been a competitive feeling amongst the staff feeding the pups who have all wanted to be the first to see each new stage of their development. The pups eyes started to open at 15 days and once fully open, they became more active, initially wobbling around and then walking more strongly. At 20 days they were observed squatting and urinating without stimulation and by 30 days both were defecating on their own.
At four weeks meat was mixed into their milk and by five weeks of age they were weaned. Their diet now consists of meat with a mineral supplement, mixed with rice, cooked pumpkin and carrots. Shams has discovered that dried figs are his favourite snack; in the wild fruit forms a large part of the Jackals diet.
The pups often greet "Smudge" the Breeding Centre's resident Jack Russell Terrier with the begging behaviour typical of some canid species in an attempt to get her to regurgitate food. This consists of nudging and biting at the side of her mouth, sometimes even inserting their muzzle into her mouth. Despite never having been "taught" to do this them seem to know what to do instinctively.
Overnight their ears became more upright, creating the impression that they have enormous heads. During the last few weeks the colour of their coat has changed becoming lighter on the flanks and underbelly, they now have pale "eyebrows" that give them a serious expression. As with all pups, one minute they are playful, wrestling and investigating and the next they are fast asleep. When taken out for walks they move very fast with a typical jackal lope.
Find out more about the Asiatic Jackal
Following months of negotiations, the Breeding Centre is proud to welcome Al Wadei, an Arabian leopard that has been rescued from a private exhibit in the Republic of Yemen.
The young leopard was illegally housed in Sana'a in atrocious conditions. He was wild caught as a juvenile and then subjected to constant taunting by local visitors who paid a small fee to view the animals. Patriots were encouraged to agitate Al Wadei with sticks just to hear him roar. The tiny 2x1m cage in which he was held during his two years in these squalid conditions provided no space for exercise or escape from his own excrement.
Together with the EPAA, the Breeding Centre arranged and secured his release and on the 8th of January he was finally tranquillised and removed from Bilquis Zoo forever.
He underwent a full medical health check under general anaesthesia before relocation. By the time he awoke, Al Wadei was safely ensconced in a comparatively palatial transport box and on his way to the airport. The short flight from Yemen to the UAE was uneventful and a hungry but relaxed leopard finally arrived at the breeding centre in Sharjah early on Thursday morning, the 9th of January. He was immediately released into his new enclosure under strict quarantine conditions until the veterinary staff is sure that he carries no disease that may threaten the health of the leopards already resident at the centre.
The quiet and calm environment at the centre has already had a positive impact on the new arrival who has quickly learnt where and how to go about getting his dinner. Once the quarantine period is over, he will be introduced into the captive breeding program already successfully established at the centre.
These vultures were previously kept in appalling circumstances in the Bilquis Zoo in Sana'a, a private zoo that was recently closed down by Yemen Authorities. New homes had to be found for the many of the animals at the zoo and the Breeding Centre was able to accommodate 6 Griffon Vultures, which are indigenous to the Arabian Peninsula and so compliment the collection at the Centre very well.
Although their new cage was never designed for such large birds it is a vast improvement from their tiny overcrowded cage in Yemen and they seem to appreciate the freedom to spread their wings and move around. They are often seen sunning themselves on the various perches provided.
Shortly after their arrival the birds were all caught and examined and had identification rings put around their legs. Despite their recent stressful experiences, they all appear to be in good health and are adapting well to their new routine. As soon as their quarantine period is over they will be transferred to an open display at the Wildlife Centre.
Arguably one of the cutest creatures, hedgehogs have long enjoyed a popular status amongst people of all ages. A pair of Long-eared Hedgehogs which were transferred from the Scientific Research Centre in Kuwait during January are the first to arrive at the Breeding Centre and complete the Centres' hedgehog collection. Preparations are already underway to move them to Arabia's Wildlife Centre where the public will be able to see these little creatures for themselves.
Since the distribution of these hedgehogs only stretches as far south as Kuwait, very few people in the UAE and the rest of Arabia know that they exist. They are the smallest species of hedgehog found on the Arabian Peninsula, and are easy to distinguish from the more common Ethiopian hedgehog (Paraechinus aethiopicus) due to their most characteristic feature: their "long ears". This is slightly misleading as their ears are actually smaller than those of the other two species of hedgehog found in Arabia but stick out above the spines, giving the illusion that they are in fact longer. Another less obvious feature unique to the Long-eared Hedgehog is the lack of a middle "parting" between the spines on the forehead, which is present in both of the other species.
Find out more about Long eared Hedgehogs
The past few weeks have been filled with an air of excitement as four new additions to the Arabian Wildlife Centre have been born. Born only days apart the four new friends have been practically inseparably as they stroll about the artificial mountain in the display camp like they own the place, jumping from ledge to ledge with grace and ease as if the gaps between were nothing more than a mere few inches. The first of our new arrivals was a male, born on 28th February 2003 weighing in at 1.9Kg. The next was twins, a male and a female born on 2nd March 2003. The male weighed 1.75Kg were as the female came in just under at 1.45Kg. And finally the last, but definitely not the least, of the fabulous four was also a male born on 3rd March 2003 and weighing a grand total of 2.0Kg.
Along with the new kids, the adult Ibex can also be seen wandering about the display camp or up on the mountain from the comfort of the cafeteria, along with the resident sheriff of the mountain, an Arabian Partridge named 'Stevie',(see Arabian Partridges released) patrolling his rocky range and warding off any suspicious characters.
On the 26th January 2003, Bianca, the female Arabian wolf at Arabia's Wildlife Centre gave birth to her second litter. Unfortunately she had chosen to give birth in a burrow and not the den that had been provided.
As a result the Breeding Centre's staff were unable to examine the pup/s without demolishing the den and causing undue stress. During the first few days after she had given birth Bianca was extremely aggressive and her mate was removed to prevent any further injuries to either of the wolves.
Initially there was some concern that she might abandon the pup/s so an extremely close eye was kept on her behaviour until the staff were confident that she was nursing the pup/s. It wasn't until the pup/s was already a couple of weeks old that the first sounds and a fleeting glimpse of a pup were reported.
Now four weeks old the pup has started venturing further away from the den and is regularly seen playing with its mother in full view of the public. Having been able to a good look at the pup the staff agree that it is female and have called her "Skocs" after her father. A little bolder everyday she still runs for the safety of the den when the staff come to feed her mother or clean the cage.
Find out more about Arabian Wolves.
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