Latest Zoo News

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

•​Macaques Will Make a Splash Memorial Day Weekend!

This Memorial Day weekend, macaques will make a splash in their brand-new exhibit – Sharing One World: Long Tailed Macaques. Indianapolis Zoo members can enjoy exclusive preview days on May 24-25 and the exhibit will open to the public May 26. Long-tailed macaques are a unique monkey species that spends time in the water cooling off, playing or escaping predators. Unlike other macaques, long-tailed macaques are the only ones that swim throughout their entire life – making them the perfect addition to our Oceans Area.

Native to Southeast Asia, the macaque lives side by side with humans in an urban setting and are at times seen as pests. Like all animals at the Indianapolis Zoo, the macaques are ambassadors for their species, sharing a conservation message about the importance of humans coexisting with animals. As the human population continues to grow, human and wildlife will have to share the same space. Hoosiers can learn to share urban areas with wildlife, just as the people in southeast Asia have learned to share space with the long-tailed macaque.

We have a troop of 29 macaques with 22 females and 7 males. The monkeys are led by a male named Graham. We also have a baby boy named Paul and a baby girl named Ren. Local schools suggested names for the troop, and our keepers matched each macaque to his or her name based on their unique personalities.

Once open, the macaques' habitat will feature pools surrounded by 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. [close]

•​Azy Gains International Recognition 

He's one of our most recognizable residents — he even has his own limestone statue that greets guests arriving at the Zoo's entrance! Now people from all over the world are getting to know our 40-year-old orangutan, Azy, through a stunning portrait that's receiving international acclaim.

Mark Edward Harris, a world renowned travel photographer, came to the Zoo in January to create a one-of-a-kind photo series of the 12 orangutans living at our Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center. Mark's ongoing series on the orangutans at the Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center was first published in 2017 in The Travel Photo Essay: Describing a Journey Through images. Now, the photograph of Azy has been placed on the short list for the Sony World Photography Awards. This award recognizes the best international photography taken in the last year, and Mark's shot of Azy made the cut!

Mark has taken photos of celebrities like Keanu Reeves, Bruce Willis and K-pop star PSY. And now he's photographed Azy – who is sometimes called the George Clooney of orangutans. With long dreadlocks and large cheek flanges Azy is considered a very handsome ape. In addition, Azy is widely known in the scientific community for his role in the remarkable ongoing research with Dr. Rob Shumaker.

Azy came to the Zoo in 2010 and has since become a favorite of many visitors. Now, he is becoming a favorite of people across the world. [close]

•​​Help Save a Species at Bow​ling for Rhinos

Join the American Association of Zoo Keepers from 5:30-9pm April 28 at Woodland Bowl for this year's Bowling for Rhinos. Tickets at the door are $35 and includes two games of bowling, shoe rental, entertainment and pizza. Advanced registration saves $10 and includes a T-shirt.

In 2017, Bowling for Rhinos raised $14,000 dollars to support the International Rhino Foundation. This year, all proceeds from the event will be donated directly to Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and Action for Cheetahs in Kenya, Ujung Kulon National Park in Java, Indonesia and Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park and Way Kambas National Park in Sumatra, Indonesia.

In 2013 there were 1,006 rhinos poached in South Africa alone. This number is steadily increasing with high demands in parts of China and Vietnam. This number may not sound high, but since there are only 29,000 rhinos left in the world, it is possible they will become extinct in our lifetime. Parks need funds to protect the remaining wild rhinos that need assistance against poachers. [close]

•​Zoo Nutritionist Co-Authors Important Study

 The Zoo's Director of Nutrition, Dr. Jason Williams, was the co-author of an article titled "Current Practices in Aquatic Animal Supplementation" that was recently published in the scholarly publication "Journal of Zoo and Aquarium Research." Dr. Williams holds a Ph.D. in animal nutrition from Texas A&M University and has been the Zoo's Director of Nutrition since 2006.

The study, which took approximately 2 years to complete, focused on diet supplementations for aquatic animals that need additional nutrition than that given in just their food. Information was gathered from 70 facilities and showed a wide variation in how nutritional supplements are used for marine mammals. Dr. Williams' research was significant for helping animal care professionals provide their animals with the nutrients they need while also avoiding over-supplementation, which can be harmful.

While past studies have led to advances in how feeder fish are caught, processed, stored and fed to marine animals, there have been limited updates to how supplements are provided in the diet. New recommendations have been made as a result of Dr. Williams' study.​ [close]

•​Indianapolis Zoo Awards International Conservation Grants

 Conservation is at the heart of the Indianapolis Zoo's mission and through this year's grant program, we're supporting researchers protecting some of the earth's most threatened and endangered species!

"Our commitment to conservation begins locally in Indiana and reaches around the world," said Indianapolis Zoo President Dr. Rob Shumaker. "We are privileged and honored to support the work of our remarkable colleagues who are making an authentic difference for animals across the planet."

In 2018, the Zoo's grants and on-grounds programs support 14 dedicated groups making incredible impact, assisting with efforts that ensure animals like orangutans, African elephants and hirola — Africa's most endangered antelope — thrive for future generations.

Consideration for the grants are given to science and research activities; measurable impact; activities that benefit animals reflected at the Zoo; and projects that help prevent illegal activities in areas where conflicts between people and wildlife exist.

Learn about all the 2018 conservation initiatives and how you can help make a difference.  ​[close]

• ​​Egyptian Tortoise New in Desert Dome

Keeping warm in the far-end exhibit of our Deserts biome is our new Egyptian tortoise! Also known as Kleinmann’s tortoise, with a range of 3-5 inches long, they are the smallest species in the Northern Hemisphere. 

As their name implies, they live along the northern coasts of Africa, where the habitat is hot, arid and shrubby. The patterning on their shells helps distribute heat coming down from the hot desert sun, which they need in moderation to keep their cold-blooded bodies healthy. ​[close]​

•​ Welcome New Addra Gazelle Calf

On Sept. 29, the Zoo welcomed baby Carina into the world. Carina is a rare addra gazelle, a species that is critically endangered. The Zoo’s animal care staff noticed that Carina was not receiving any maternal care from her rst-time mom. Staff stepped in to hand-rear Carina to ensure the calf would thrive – in the photo, you can see one of our staff members Laura taking care of our calf. Carina was bottle-fed several times a day and received all the care she would have gotten from her mom. 

While addra calves are mostly brown when they're born, the color fades to white as they grow. Carina is still noticably smaller than the adults in her herd, but she's starting to show the adult coloring and her horns are also growing in. She's energetic and playful and has started venturing outside with the rest of the Addra herd. To catch a glimpse of the young gazelle, visit Plains as the temperatures warm up this spring and summer. Zoo Babies are presented by Hendricks Regional Health.


•​ Finalists Announced for 2018 Indianapolis Prize

Officials from the Indianapolis Prize — the world's leading award for animal conservation — are thrilled to announce six champions of conservation advancing as Finalists for the 2018 Prize.

These heroic men and women have not only tried, they've succeeded in saving some of the planet's most threatened species, from lemurs to snow leopards!

The 2018 Finalists are: large mammal conservationist Dr. Joel Berger who's working with muskoxen in the Arctic; penguin conservationist Dr. P. Dee Boersma; legendary ocean conservationist Dr. Sylvia Earle; snow leopard conservationist Dr. Rodney Jackson; primate and biodiversity conservationist Dr. Russ Mittermeier; and conservationist, writer and animal advocate Dr. Carl Safina.

Learn more about these conservation heroes at [close]

​•​​​​ Zoo Membership Director among United Way's 100 Heroes

The United Way of Central Indiana has unveiled their 100 heroes, and Marisol Gouveia, the Zoo's Director of Membership, has been chosen!

Marisol, who joined the Zoo's staff in March 2010 before becoming the Membership Director in 2014, is being celebrated for her dedication to improving the community and her involvement in organizations around Indianapolis. In addition to her dedicated work at the Zoo, she volunteers for Little Flower Neighborhood Association, Partners in Housing, Indianapolis Neighborhood Resource Center, Young Non-Profit Professionals Network, Purdue Extension, Sherman Park Reuse Initiative and Slow Food Indy.

Marisol's passion has allowed her to touch the lives of hundreds of people in the community and improve the way they live. Congratulations Marisol!  [Close]​

•​ Indulge with Fine Food and Wi​ne at Elegant Vintages Wine Auction

On March 24, connoisseurs of fine wines are invited to our Elegant Vintages 20th Annual International Wine Auction presented by Fifth Third Private Bank at the Conrad Indianapolis. ​The proceeds made from this event help to fund the care of more than 1,200 animals and 34,000 plants we have here at the Zoo.

In addition to fine wines, this year's auction will also include many other items such as gift packages, dinners, luxury get-aways, fine jewelry, original art, sports memorabilia, one-of-a-kind sculptures, behind-the-scenes tours of the Zoo and more.

Tickets are available at different levels. All guests will enjoy a delicious dinner paired with incredible wines. Upgrade to the Patron Level for access to the Turkle and Associates and Phases Skin Care and Laser Center VIP Patrons' Reception as well as upgraded wine and champagne served during the cocktail hour and early access to bid on silent auction items. For the ultimate experience, Connoizooers can enjoy all those benefits plus premium seating and premium wine with dinner. [close]

​​​• Zoo Announces Two-Year Executive Transition Plan

To address the planned retirement of President & CEO Mike Crowther in January 2020, the Zoo's Board of Trustees announced recently it will split the role of President and CEO into two positions for 2018 and 2019. Crowther remains CEO, and Zoo Director Dr. Rob Shumaker becomes President. After Crowther retires, the president and CEO position will become one.

"We've had extraordinary success under Mike's leadership on all fronts over the past several years," said Jim Powers, chairman of the Zoo's Board of Trustees. "Our primary goal is to continue that trajectory without losing momentum. Our Transition Committee included some of our region's most accomplished leaders, and they developed an outstanding path forward."

Chaired by Stifel Nicolaus & Company Managing Director Mike Bosway, the Transition Committee also included Citizens Energy President & CEO Jeff Harrison, OneAmerica Senior Vice President Kelly Huntington, and E&A Companies President & CEO Devin Anderson.

Shumaker has been with the Zoo for eight years and holds bachelor's, masters and doctoral degrees from George Mason University. He's also held positions at Smithsonian's National Zoo and the Great Ape Trust. He lives in Indianapolis with his wife, Anne; son, William; and daughter Carly.

All departments of the Zoo will report to Shumaker under the new structure, and he will report to Crowther. 

Crowther will oversee the Master Plan which will ensure the Zoo remains a beloved community destination, create fun and exciting experiences for guests and invent new and innovative ways for the Zoo's animals to make choices and lead enriched lives. [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]​​​​​​