Click on any of the headlines below to learn more about today's hot topics:
The Indianapolis Zoo is excited to announce the first orangutan birth for the Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center. Sirih, the Zoo's 23-year-old Sumatran orangutan gave birth to a healthy baby girl at 5:07pm on March 23. She is doing everything a mother should do and both baby and mom are doing well.
Thousands of Zoo fans helped name this adorable newcomer. Her name is Mila (pronounced MEE-lah) which means "dear one."
Sirih and Mila go out into the public spaces of the Center on most days, however we expect there will be days when Sirih chooses to stay behind the scenes. Guests can catch glimpses of baby clinging tightly to mom by looking for her distinguishable lighter colored hair. Sirih keeps her baby very close.
Sumatran orangutans are critically endangered in the wild with only thousands left. Orangutans are found only on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra, and these great apes continue to face increasing threats, primarily habitat loss due to agricultural development for crops like palm oil. This new arrival is an ambassador for the species, and will engage and empower visitors to play a role in conservation efforts.
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.
Sirih and first-time father, 14-year-old Basan , were recommended as a breeding pair through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Species Survival Plan , a program ensuring a sustainable, genetically diverse and demographically varied AZA population. Thanks to our friends at Hendricks Regional Health for presenting Zoo Babies. [close]
Here at the Indianapolis Zoo, it's all about making connections — to animal conservation and our community. So our new temporary exhibit fits in perfectly! Join us this summer to enjoy the Nature Connects®: Art with LEGO® bricks exhibit presented by Citizens Energy Group and Indiana Members Credit Union. This engaging and educational exhibit features 12 animal sculptures constructed with hundreds of thousands of LEGO® bricks.
Visitors will see a polar bear and her cubs, sea horses floating by a coral reef and a snow leopard, to name a few. Artist Sean Kenney's remarkable creations will all be set amid the stunning scenery of White River Gardens. Plus, the little ones can build their own conservation-inspired creation using LEGO® bricks inside the Family Nature Center.
This temporary exhibit, which continues through Labor Day, is free for Zoo members and included with regular admission. Save time and money on your visit by purchasing advance tickets online. [close]
As a global conservation organization, the Indianapolis 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.
The new dolphin presentation will be unveiled this summer. Come celebrate the world we share together and see how the blue thread of water connects us all. [close]
Some exciting changes are under way in our Oceans area, and if you've visited recently, you may have seen the new Living Reef exhibit. Nestled within the alcove near the underwater viewing window for the seals and sea lions, this engaging and educational exhibit is full of uniquely beautiful corals and colorful reef fish.
While these incredible sea creatures, including five different coral species, may seem small, they are vital to a healthy ocean ecosystem. Corals build huge reefs and are home to 25 percent marine animals. However, coral is fragile, so conservationists like Carl Safina, a finalist for the 2016 Indianapolis Prize, help conserve the ocean and the species that live within it.
You can play a part, too! Certain plastics can cause harm to coral and other marine animals, and recycling is a simple way to help protect our world's precious waterways. If you're considering a saltwater tank for your own home, choose animals that were raised by aquarists and not removed from a coral reef.
We're planning more new Oceans exhibits to open later this spring, so watch for more details coming soon! [close]
• Flights Of Fancy Welcomes New Chicks
Chirp, chirp! We have four new feathered friends in Flights of Fancy! Two red-collared lorikeets and two Forsten's lorikeets hatched last month and they're all doing well. These little ones are growing fast and currently weigh around 70 to 90 grams. Our newest arrivals will remain in a private area behind the scenes until they get a little older, when they'll join the rest of our flock in Encounters.
Similar in appearance to the rainbow lorikeet, the red-collared lorikeet is distinguishable by its black belly and red collar on the back of its neck. Red-collared are also the largest of the lorikeet species, which are all native to Australia. Though our fuzzy little chicks still have their gray down feathers, some of the species' signature colors are staring to appear on their wings and head, as seen in the photo. It will still be several more months before their adult plumage arrives. Our Forsten's lorikeet chicks, originally found on the islands of Indonesia, are slightly younger and still mostly covered with gray down. They'll be recognizable as adults by the dark blue — almost purple — feathers on their heads.
Lorikeets are unique because of their specialized brush-tipped tongues, which are ideal for soaking up flower nectar. Guests can see incredible adaptations at work during our daily bird feeding opportunities. [close]
The spring's warmer weather has allowed guests to view our healthy 3-month-old giraffe explore his home for the first time. The baby has exceeded several expectations, like chewing on tree trimmings while it typically takes four to five months for newborns to eat solid food. He has also discovered how to use his long, prehensile tongue to strip the bark from bigger branches — an important skill for giraffes.
While the zoo received several name suggestions, Mshangao (ma-SHAN-goe), meaning "amazement" or "surprise" in Swahili, was chosen during a public naming poll on the Zoo's Facebook page. The poll drew nearly 4,000 votes in total.
Mshangao continues to grow healthy and strong, standing well over 6 feet. Zookeepers say he is adventurous and enjoys romping around the giraffe barn throughout the day and cozying up to his aunt Ajabusana (AJ), the Zoo's other female giraffe. Mshangao is the sixth calf — all males — for 18-year-old mother Takasa and is the first giraffe born at the Zoo since 2011.
Beginning in May, guests will have an opportunity to meet members of the herd up close duringpublic feeds. Until then, the public has the opportunity to meet Mshangao from afar on warmer days. The giraffe exhibit and feedings are presented by Meijer.Indianapolis Zoo babiesare presented by Hendricks Regional Health. [close]
Sing it out — we have a new arrival in our Forests family! A baby white-handed gibbon, named Kopi, was born at 7:15pm on Friday, Oct. 23, which was a day before International Gibbon Day. This is the first baby for mother Koko and father Elliot. While the newborn's gender is not yet known, both baby and mother are doing very well. Koko has shown great maternal instincts and is a caring and protective mother to her infant. The baby has dark hair like Koko's.
Now 6 months old, the baby is becoming more independent, venturing away from mom to explore and interacting with Elliot. Kopi has also started eating solid foods, although the baby will continue to nurse as well.
In the wild, gibbons live high up in the rainforest canopy and rarely come down to the ground. These lesser apes use their long arms to swing effortlessly between tree branches. While a baby gibbon will use its great grip and arm span to hang on tight to mom as she travels, Koko also provides her infant a seat by holding her legs up.
Known for their elaborate daily vocalizations, gibbons sing to attract mates and announce their territory. When a baby joins the family, the youngster will eventually start singing along with its parents' duets.
Guests can see (and hear) our new family in the gibbon exhibit presented by ARAB Termite & Pest Control. Thanks to Hendricks Regional Health for presenting Zoo Babies. [close]
Our lion cubs are growing up quickly! Now weighing between 70-85 pounds, Zoo veterinarians and keepers are pleased with the progress of our two males and one female African lion cubs. The trio has begun eating meat, exhibit stalking behaviors and continue to grow more active with each passing day. These are the first lions born at the Zoo since 2003.
Through a poll on the Zoo's Facebook page, the public helped to choose the names of the cubs. For the male names, Enzi (ehn-ZEE), meaning "powerful", and Mashaka (mash-AH-kah), meaning "troublemaker", received the most votes while Sukari (sue-CAR-ee), meaning "sweet", was the top female name.
Now 7 months old, the cubs are outside regularly with first-time parents Zuri and Nyack. They are becoming more adventurous and have even started climbing on the rocks and limbs in their exhibit, presented by MainSource Bank. Mashaka is the mischievous cub and enjoys playing with dad's mane. Both Mashaka and Enzi enjoy wrestling with each other, while Sukari likes hanging out and lying beside mom.
In the wild, lions live in family groups, called prides. Males, distinguishable by their thick, dark manes, are the defenders of the pride and its territory, while the females hunt and provide for the group. Yet, the youngsters still rely on their mother for survival. Zuri has shown excellent maternal behavior and is a caring, protective mom. Nyack is very tolerant of the cubs and allows for them to investigate and play with him. Both have gotten more comfortable with the trio exploring the longer they've been on exhibit.
Guests can see the family in the newly renovated exhibit presented by MainSource Bank, where windows and expanded viewing areas allow for guests to get closer to the lions than ever before.
Indianapolis Zoo babies are presented by Hendricks Regional Health. [close]
The Indianapolis Zoo is pleased to announce it has earned the Quarter Century Award, recognizing 25 years or more of continuous accreditation through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Initially accredited by AZA in 1981, the Zoo was accredited most recently in 2015, marking 34 years of continual accreditation for the Zoo and renewing its commitment to the advancement of animal conservation. Additionally, the Zoo was selected as the recipient of the AZA's 2015 Exhibit Award for Innovation for the Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center, which opened in May 2014.
The Quarter Century Award was established in 2015, and the Zoo joins a group of 119 of the nation's top zoos and aquariums in receiving the award. For the Zoo's accreditation, it underwent a thorough review by the AZA's independent Accreditation Commission to ensure the Zoo has and will continue to meet rising standards, which include animal care, veterinary programs, conservation, education, safety and other areas. The AZA requires zoos and aquariums to successfully complete this extensive process every five years to remain accredited. Look for the AZA logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium to know you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things.
The Zoo, which is home to nearly 1,400 animals and 31,000 plants, was the first in the nation to be triple accredited as a zoo, aquarium and botanical garden. It's also one of the largest zoos in the U.S. that receives no direct tax support. In addition to being a leader in global conservation, the Indianapolis Zoo is one of the state’s largest attractions, hosting more than a million visitors annually. [close]