ZSL Whipsnade Zoo welcomes rare baby wolverines

Two baby wolverines have been caught on camera by zoo keepers, following a breeding first for the international conservation charity ZSL. The kits, born in February, are rare additions to the species within the UK.

Tuesday, 26th March 2019, 3:00 pm

The as-yet unsexed siblings were born to three-year-old mum Fi and ten-year-old dad Puff, as part of a European-wide breeding programme.

The Numbers of wolverines, also known as “gluttons” or “skunk bears”, in the wild are decreasing, so the breeding programme is of global significance.

Female Fi arrived at the UK’s largest Zoo in September 2018, and keepers observed positive signs between her and Puff, including playful chasing around their wooded enclosure.

Wolverine Kitts. Photo by ZSL Whipsnade Zoo
Wolverine Kitts. Photo by ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Despite this, it was difficult for keepers to predict when they could expect new arrivals, because the gestation period - between one and two months – is often delayed as female wolverines save implantation of a fertilised embryo until conditions are right.

Team Leader Donovan Glyn said: “We were delighted when we discovered that Fi had given birth to twins last month and have been carefully observing mum and her babies.

“Even though we don’t know their sexes yet, we’ve nicknamed them Logan and Hugh for now, in honour of their superhero namesake!

“We’re one of only three zoos in the UK to look after wolverines, and we are so excited to have our first ever wolverine kits born here at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo.

Puff October 18. Photo by ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

“They have not yet opened their eyes but will do any day now, and we’ve seen Fi taking meat for the kits to lick and try - the beginning of the weaning process.

“As we would expect, Fi has been a very protective mum, staying by their side and ensuring that no-one, including their dad Puff, gets too close!

“Puff, in turn, has been very respectful, keeping his distance and letting them have some space.

“Visitors to the Zoo might be lucky enough to see them, even at this early stage, because Fi has started to pick up each one in her mouth and take them out into the paddock for short periods of time, feeding and licking them in a makeshift nest area outside before delivering them back to their warm, inside den.

Fitti the wolverine - James Ford. Photo by ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

“By Easter, we expect them to be out and about exploring for several hours a day.”