Latest Zoo News

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Click on any of the headlines below to learn more about today's hot topics:​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

•​ Macaques Will Make a Splash in 2018!

The new species coming to the Indianapolis Zoo is going to make a splash in 2018!

Work is already under way to create a brand new habitat for a troop of long-tailed macaques. These incredibly curious primates are highly adaptable to different habitats and climates, though they generally live near water. They're also very adept swimmers, which makes this species a good fit for the Oceans area.

When it's complete, the macaques' habitat will feature pools surrounded by open, grassy areas as well as a few raised platforms that extend over the water. Not only will this design reflect the architectural styles found in Southeast Asia, we hope it will encourage the macaques' unique — and very fun — natural diving behaviors that guests can watch through multiple glass viewing windows.

Widespread throughout Southeast Asia, the long-tailed macaque is the smallest of about 20 macaque species and grow to roughly the size of a house cat. Also called crab-eating macaques, these primates are highly social, typically living in groups of about 20-30 individuals led by the females.

With one of the largest geographic ranges of any primate, there are many areas of the world where humans and macaques live side-by-side. While some cultures hold these animals as sacred, others view them as pests that disrupt urban spaces. Like all animals at the Indianapolis Zoo, our macaques will be ambassadors for their species, highlighting an important conservation message about how humans and animals can coexist. [close]​

• Tailgating for Tigers has Games, Food & Brews to Benefit Big Cats

Enjoy a night of food, drinks, games and community — at a brand new location — to benefit this cause for paws! The Indianapolis Chapter of the American Association of Zoo Keepers is partnering with Metazoa Brewing Company for Tailgaiting for Tigers 2017.

Join us from 6-10pm on Saturday, Sept. 23, at Metazoa to support the SaveTigersNow.org campaign of the World Wildlife Fund. Guests (21 and older only) can play tailgating games, eat delicious food, drink local beer, bid on silent auction items and listen to some great music. 

Proceeds from Tailgating for Tigers helps protect the five remaining endangered tiger subspecies. SaveTigersNow.org focuses on saving tigers across their habitat through anti-poaching efforts, gaining support from governments to protect and connect tiger habitat, and clamping down on illegal tiger trade. ​In 2016, we raised $2,600 to help protect endangered tigers. With your support, we can protect tigers and their habitat for future generations to enjoy!

Stay up to date with all of Indy AAZK's activities by following them on Facebook. [close]

​​​•​​ Plains Exhibit Welcomes Two New Residents

Two new Addra gazelles recently made their debut in Plains. Sparrow, a 5-year-old female, joined us from the Baltimore Zoo, while 3-year-old female Swann came from the San Antonio Zoo. Guests can see these newcomers in the giraffe exhibit. Although they look alike, Sparrow is the taller of the two, while Swann has a short tail and one horn that is slightly crooked. We're proud to be one of only 22 zoos in the U.S. with this critically endangered species. ​​

Also known as the Dama gazelle, the Addra is the largest of gazelles and the most endangered of the gazelle species. Their legs and necks are longer than other gazelles, and this serves them well when eating . Addra gazelles may stand on their hind legs to eat from trees and other plants as high as six feet from the gound. You can also tell Addras from other gazelles by the distinctive white spot on their neck.  [close]

• ​​Sweet Baby Rays Make Way in Oceans

We have three tiny additions to our Oceans exhibit! Three cownose ray babies were born June 30, July 23 and July 31. The babies, all of which we believe are female, are already exploring their new home. It's easiest to spot the newcomers when they're next to the adults because they are so much smaller, and they'll still remain that way for a while. 

Found from New England all the way down to South America, cownose rays can swim in schools of up to 10,000 in the wild, migrating up and down the coast while they hunt for fish along the ocean floor. Also known as cowfish, it's easy to see how these rays get their names because their foreheads look like a cow's nose. 

Although the babies start out in eggs, they hatch out while still inside the mother, and she gives birth to a live pup following nearly a year-long pregnancy. The babies are born tail-first with their wings folded over their bodies almost like a taco shell. Newborn rays are independent from the start, and our babies are already munching on fish just like the adults. 

Although U.S. populations of cownose rays are stable, the species is near threatened in South America, which makes the births here all the more exciting! [close]​​

​​​• ​​Orangutans Kim and Max Continue Making Improvements

The newest arrivals to our Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center are improving steadily and enjoying their new home. Kim, a 39-year-old orangutan, and her baby Max moved here last fall from the Jackson Zoo in Mississippi. At the time, Kim was very overweight and 9-month-old Max was showing signs of slow development. Indianapolis was selected to provide a new home for mom and baby based on the strength of our state-of-the-art facilities, expert veterinary staff, skilled ape caretakers and management philosophy.

Since they first arrived, Kim and Max have made incredible progress. After spending some time behind the scenes to meet some of our other orangutans and adjust to their new environment, the mother-son duo recently began exploring the Center's public spaces for the first time. Our dynamic habitat was designed to stimulate orangutans' natural abilities, with lots of cables, fire hoses, ladders and other features to encourage climbing. By taking advantage of the additional room and vertical space, Kim is steadily losing weight and her mobility has also increased drastically. Max is also showing significant improvement. Our keepers say he's brighter, more playful and more energetic.  

In the coming weeks, Kim and Max will continue to explore their new home. Come meet them and the other orangutans at the Center.  [close]​​​

​​• ​New Brown Bear Cubs Arrive i​n Forests​​

If you do a double take while wandering past our brown bear habitat, you're not imagining things. You may see two bear cubs wrestling, splashing around in the water or playing with some logs. We are the temporary home to two cubs who are destined for the Great Plains Zoo in South Dakota, which is building a new brown bear exhibit.

These females named Sitka and Juneau are nearly 2 ½ years old. Discovered by Yellowstone National Park rangers 19 months ago, the orphaned cubs were malnourished at half the weight they should have been, and it was determined they could not be released back into the wild. The Palm Beach Zoo has housed and cared for them over the last year.

While the bears are here at the Indianapolis Zoo, you'll see Juneau and Sitka outdoors sometimes and other times you'll see our adult bear, Kiak and Mikal. But we don't have plans to introduce them together. The cubs will be here at the Indianapolis Zoo through the summer and early fall before they are moved to their new home in South Dakota. [close]

• ​Indianapolis Zoo and St. Vincent Health Announce New Partnership​

The Indianapolis Zoo is pleased to announce a new 10-year relationship with St. Vincent Health as the naming partner for both the St. Vincent Dolphin Pavilion and the St. Vincent Dolphin Gallery.

"This new collaboration combines the strength of two non-profit organizations dedicated to the health of the world – both human and wildlife" said Zoo President and CEO Michael Crowther.  "We have expanded on what was already a strong partnership between two leading organizations in our community."

The new commitment will help engage, enlighten, and empower Zoo guests about personal responsibility and action, and the role each person plays in ensuring a healthier world for all.

​St. Vincent already supports the Zoo's playground and Christmas at the Zoo's LED Energy efficient lights, both of which are presented by Peyton Manning Children's Hospital at St. Vincent. Zookeepers, Zoo Educators and dolphin Trainers also visit Peyton Manning's Children's Hospital at St. Vincent to spend time with the patients and teach them about wildlife and conservation.  [close]​

​​• ​Ring-Tailed Lemur Troop Welcomes Twins

Our ring-tailed lemur troop just grew — by two! Mom Bree gave birth to twin boys on April 2. We stuck with the Celtic/Gaelic theme with names. The baby with red hair and orange eyes is named Rooney, which literally means “red-haired.” The baby with gray hair and yellow eyes is named Quigley, which means “the maternal side.” Quigley's name is pretty fitting since he is most often seen riding on Bree's back and is also a bit more shy and hesitant to go off on his own.An experienced mom, Bree takes a relaxed but attentive approach to her newborns. Guests might see these adorable new arrivals holding tight to mom's fur or leaving Bree's side to explore on their own. They are growing fast, and Rooney already weighs over 1 pound!

With the recent warm weather, Bree and the babies have been outside with the rest of the Zoo's troop, which now includes seven members. The Zoo's other lemurs, including dad Finnegan, are adjusting well and have been welcoming to the new babies.

Native to the island of Madagascar, these endangered animals live in large, highly social groups led by a dominant female. Following a pregnancy that lasts around 20 weeks, females typically give birth to a single infant, though twins will happen occasionally. Although males often leave the troop once they reach maturity, females typically remain in the same family group throughout their lifetime. In fact, Teagan, Bree's daughter born in 2013, is still part of the Zoo's troop and is regularly grooming Bree and her new babies.

Thanks to Hendricks Regional Health for presenting Zoo Babies.​

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•​ Indianapolis Zoo Awards Grants for Global Conservation

As the world's wildlife faces ever-increasing peril, the Indianapolis Zoo has elevated its commitment to conservation efforts across the globe. Through a grant program and initiatives on grounds, the Zoo is dedicated to partnerships with researchers and organizations protecting animals in crisis.

Zoo support for projects fund equipment, research and increase awareness, changing hearts and minds of the Indianapolis community and those far beyond.

"The advancement of wildlife conservation is our mission, and building long-term partnerships with conservation organizations that have proven successful allows us to maximize the resources entrusted to us by our supporters and generated by our operations," said Mike Crowther, Zoo President and CEO. "We are committed to sharing our strength with those working locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally to save species."

Over the years, animals from the savanna to the sea have benefitted from the Zoo's involvement in these initiatives, including elephants, tigers, macaws and many more. 2017 funding recipients include some of the Zoo's long-standing conservation partners as well as several organizations and projects that are new to the Zoo. Learn about all the projects and how you can meet some of the incredible men and women making a difference. [close]

•​ Look at her Grow! Mila's Making Milestones​

Sumatran orangutan Mila — the first great ape ever born at the Indianapolis Zoo — just celebrated her first birthday in March and since then, she continues to grow more and more every day. The celebration was decked out with festive enrichment and a giant birthday card for guests to sign and share personal messages.

At 1-year-old, Mila is an active youngster and can be seen climbing and exploring throughout the Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center Atrium under the watchful eye of Sirih and "aunties" Knobi and Nicky. So far she isn't picky when it comes to her diet. Always sneaking the biggest piece of food she can get away from mom, Mila especially loves her fruit.

Orangutan mothers spend seven to 10 years actively bringing up a baby. Sirih will model what life as an orangutan looks like for her daughter, as the youngster learns to climb, build nests and interact with surroundings including the other apes, Keepers and Zoo visitors.

Mila is the second offspring for Sirih, who had a daughter in 2003 while she lived at the Frankfurt Zoo in Germany. Recommended as a pair through the AZA's SSP program, both mother and first time father, 14-year-old Basan, are Sumatran orangutans, a species listed as a critically endangered by the IUCN, with only about 6,500 left in the wild. [close]

​​•​ Rocky's Vocalizations Gain Worldwide Attention​​​

Groundbreaking data from the Indianapolis Zoo's Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center gives clues to the evolution of human speech. 11-year-old Rocky revealed a previously unknown level of vocal learning for orangutans.​​

The research, conducted at the Zoo in 2012 by scientist Dr. Adriano Lameira, was published today in Scientific Reports, and provides key insight to understanding how speech in humans evolved from the time of ancestral great apes.

The results showed that Rocky not only learned new sounds, but controlled the action of his voice in a "conversational" context as he took turns exchanging utterances with a social partner. In an imitation "do-as-I-do" game, Rocky copied the pitch and tone of sounds made by researchers to make vowel-like calls. Prior to this research, many researchers still presumed that great apes' sounds were driven only by reflex.

England's Durham University's Dr. Lameira, the lead author on the research, analyzed Rocky's ability to exert fine and precise vocal control, giving the orangutan a unique capacity to learn new vocalizations — a historic first. Dr. Rob Shumaker, the Indianapolis Zoo's Director, is a co-author on the publication.

"This important work fundamentally alters our understanding of the capabilities of orangutans. It also reveals the significant value of carefully conducted studies with apes living in highly enriched, behaviorally naturalistic zoos," said Shumaker. "Research that expands our awareness of orangutan intelligence inevitably leads to a greater commitment for their conservation in the wild."

Want to learn more? Check out our blog. [close]​​

•​ New Presentation Highlight Connection to Dolphins in the Gulf

As a global conservation organization, the Zoo often reaches beyond the borders of Indiana to preserve a future for wild things and wild places. And beginning this summer, Zoo guests will learn how they, too, can help animals and an ecosystem hundreds of miles away.​​

The Indianapolis Zoo and The Nature Conservancy, both known for leadership in protecting wildlife globally, are partnering to increase awareness for conservation efforts in the Gulf of Mexico, which has lost huge portions of its wetlands, sea grass beds and oyster reefs. When guests come to the Zoo's Dolphin Pavilion to connect with our Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, they will also learn about the role Indiana plays in ensuring a healthy Gulf and be empowered to help make a difference for dolphins.

Dolphins living in the Gulf face many threats, including oil spills and pollutants. Living upstream, Hoosiers have a lasting impact on the health of the Gulf and the dolphins that make it their home. Indiana's Wabash River contributes 11 percent of the nutrients that create dead zones in the Gulf, leaving large areas where marine life cannot live, thrive or eat.

To help highlight the connection, the Zoo and TNC have worked together during the last year to bring the story back to Indiana with new Zoo programs and an incredible new dolphin presentation. With images filmed on location in the Gulf and displayed through an enhanced video-and-sound experience, we'll take guests on a trip through Indiana and down to the Gulf to meet people committed to making a difference for dolphins hundreds of miles away from Midwest.

Come celebrate the world we share together and see how the blue thread of water connects us all.
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