Who's at the Zoo

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​We love all the animals here at the Indianapolis Zoo — the big and small, the furry and the feathery. But there are some that hold a special place in the hearts of both our staff and guests. Some have been here since the Zoo opened while others have been born in recent years and we've watched them grow. Like all animals at the Indianapolis Zoo, these special critters are ambassadors and help raise awareness for the conservation of their species. 



Gender: Female

Born: April 24, 2015

Distinguishing characteristics: Calypso is the youngest dolphin at the Zoo. While she continues to grow, there is a definite difference in her size compared to some of our adult dolphins. She is the smallest in the pod. 

Fun facts: Calypso is the daughter of Kalei and Kimo, and the granddaughter of Nova. She is very spunky and curious, having already started to swim away from her mother to explore. Calypso has even been seen playing with her own shadow!​


1-3-10 China-Abbie Mingus.jpgGender: Female

Born: 1985

Distinguishing characteristics: Large tail flukes with jagged lagging edge; light coloration; long and slender; underbite; scars on peduncle (powerful muscle between dorsal fin and flukes) that look like Chinese writing (her namesake)

Fun facts: China is headstrong and enjoys high-energy behaviors like jumping and splashing. She is the mother of Indy and Orin, and she spends lots of time keeping her eye on Orin as he learns about life in the pod.


1-3-10 Indy - Melanie Laurendine.jpgGender: Female

Born: Aug. 20, 2001

Distinguishing characteristics: Curved "C-shaped" dorsal fin; large tail flukes with a chunk missing on her right side; light coloration; long and slender; underbite that matches her mother, China

Fun facts: Indy is very athletic and vocal. She is also coy and impulsive. A little mischievous, Indy is known to splash water at marine mammal staff or guests to get their attention. Indy is the daughter of China and Sundance and is half-sister to Jett and Orin.


1-3-10 Jett-Abbie Mingus.jpgGender: Male

Born: Feb. 2, 2002

Distinguishing characteristics: Scar behind his blowhole; white scar at the base of the leading edge of his large dorsal fin; Jett has rippled markings on the sides of his body.

Fun facts: Jett is a typical teenage boy who acts a little crazy sometimes. He is an athletic dolphin and loves to play with balls. He is eager to learn new behaviors from marine mammal staff and fellow dolphin. Jett is always charged up and wants to be everywhere at one time. He has also formed a bond with Kimo and the two spend lots of time together.


1-3-10 Kalei - Melanie Laurendine.jpgGender: Female

Born: Nov. 16, 2000

Distinguishing characteristics: Dark coloration; short body; petite features (including tail flukes); scar of the left side of her rostrum; black spot on the front of her rostrum; indentation on leading edge of her dorsal fin

Fun facts: Kalei is the daughter of Nova and Sundance, the half-sister to Indy and Jett, and the mother to Calypso. She enjoys playing with balls, eating ice and being pampered.  She is frequently seen playing with her tongue hanging out of her mouth. Kalei likes spending time with people so much that she will seek out marine mammal staff for attention when the other dolphins are relaxing or playing with each other. 


Gender: Male

Born: 1985

Distinguishing characteristics: Large in size (around 500 pounds); blunt rostrum with yellow/orange-ish color on the end; rounded/curved dorsal fin

Fun facts: Large and athletic, Kimo is the oldest male dolphin in our pod. Although he is more laid back in his relationships with other dolphins, he is motivated to do energetic behaviors when working with marine mammal staff. He is the father of Calypso.


1-3-10 Nova .jpg.jpgGender: Female

Born: 1983

Distinguishing characteristics: Dark in color; scar above right eye;  scar on the right side of her stomach; grey speckled belly; petite features (such as her tail flukes)

Fun facts: Nova is the matriarch of the pod, which means she is the most dominant. She is laid-back and patient with both dolphins and humans. She is food motivated and loves back and belly rubs during one-on-one time with her favorite people. She is the mother of Kalei.


1-3-10 Orin-Melanie Laurendine.jpgGender: Male

Born: July 12, 2012

Distinguishing characteristics: Second smallest in the pod; crescent shaped dorsal fin

Fun facts: Orin is curious and loves to eat ice. He is so enthusiastic about learning new things that he follows other dolphins around and copies their behaviors! He enjoys playing with Taz. Orin is the son of China and Jett and is half-brother to Indy. He was named after the Atlantean alter ego of DC Comics hero Aquaman.


1-3-10 Taz-Abbie Mingus.jpgGender: Male

Born: 2010

Distinguishing characteristics: Slender shape; yellowish sides and bottom on rostrum

Fun facts: Taz is independent and laid back. He was rescued off the coast of Florida in 2011 when he was an infant. He is very curious about the other dolphins and trainers, and he is best buds with Orin. He makes himself easy to find by whistling a lot. [close]​



1-3-10 Elephant-Ivory-Jackie Curts.jpgGender: Female

Born: 1982

Distinguishing characteristics: Smaller and rounder than the other adults; short, even tusks. She is intelligent, athletic, playful, vocal and a quick learner in the elephant yard.

Fun facts: Ivory has been at the Indianapolis Zoo since 1984. On Aug. 4, 2000, Ivory became the second African elephant in the world to give birth to a calf conceived by artificial insemination. That calf was named Ajani. Since then, she has conceived and  given birth by artificial insemination two more times (Zahara in 2006 and Nyah in 2012).


1-3-10 Elephant - Kalina, Photo by Mark Kaser.jpgGender: Female

Born:  July​​ 20, 2011, to Kubwa

Personality traits:  Lively, excited, and loves to meet new people

Fun Facts:  Kalina loves to splash and play in the water.  She is younger sister to Kedar. Her birth received national media attention.​ Watch this adorable video captured by CBS News.


1-3-10 Elephant - Kedar.jpgGender: Male

Born:  Oct. 18, 2005, to mom Kubwa

​Distinguishing characteristics: Only male in the Indianapolis Zoo herd. Gets along with his "aunties" and sister, Kalina. He is very easygoing. 

Fun facts: Kedar was named in a contest with the Zoo, the Indianapolis Star and WTHR-TV. He has a sister named Kalina who is also here at the Indianapolis Zoo.


1-3-10 Elephant-Kubwa, Photo by Tim Ayler.jpgGender: Female

Born: 1976

Distinguishing characteristics: Tall and slender; narrow ankles, hairy ears

Fun facts: First African Elephant to ever become pregnant and give birth from artificial insemination. Her first calf was a female named Amali born in 2000. Since then, she has successfully given birth to two more elephant calves (Kedar in 2005 and Kalina in 2011) through artificial insemination. Kubwa has been at the Indianapolis Zoo since 1978.


1-3-10 Nyah 6wks 2_Carla Knapp.jpgGender: Female

Born:  June 28, 2012, to Ivory

Personality Traits:  Nyah is very curious; she loves sticking close with her big sister, Zahara and learning what it means to be an elephant.Distinguishing characteristics:  Smallest elephant in the herd

Fun Facts:  Nyah is the youngest member of the elephant herd and is Ivory's third calf. Her name means purpose in Swahili. ​


1-3-10 Elephant - Sophi, Photo by Jennifer Griffin.jpgGender:  Female

Born: 1966​​

Distinguishing characteristics: Largest member and leader of the herd. Can be dramatic and playful at times; majestic.

Fun facts: Sophi is the matriach of our elephant herd. She is the biggest and one of the oldest animals we have at our Zoo. 


1-3-10 Tombi (4) by Joel Sartore.jpgGender: Female

Born: 1976

Distinguishing characteristics: Slender body with a square and narrow head; her even tusks curve inward. Less social than other members of the herd; she is a very calm and stable elephant for her keepers to work with. 

Fun facts: Tombi is not blood related to any elephant in the herd, but she acts as an aunt to many of our elephant calves. Guests often get the chance to meet Tombi up close during behind-the-scenes demonstrations, like animal art adventures.


1-3-10 Elephant - Zahara, Photo by Don Reynolds.jpgGender:  Female

Born:  Aug. 31, 2006, to mom Ivory

Personality traits:  A great big sister to Nyah; active and alert

Fun facts:  Ivory became the second African elephant in history to successfully conceive and give birth via artificial insemination when Zahara was born. Zahara was named in a contest with the Zoo, the Indianapolis Star and WTHR-TV. [close]


Ajabusana or "AJ"

1-3-10 Giraffe - AJ, Photo by Carla Knapp.jpgGender: Female

Born: Nov. 10, 1998

Distinguishing characteristics: AJ's ossicones (hornlike structures of the skull) are angled inward; 14 feet tall

Fun facts: AJ is outgoing and friendly. If you feed a giraffe at the Indianapolis Zoo, you will most likely be feeding AJ.  She is food motivated and easy going. AJ was born here at the Zoo and is also Takasa's sister.​


Gender:​ Male

Born: March 11, 2010

Distinguising characteristics:​ Majani is lighter in color than both of the females. His ossicones are wider apart than the other giraffes. 

Fun facts: ​ Majani was named for the Swahili word meaning "grass," and he is very shy. He is Mshangao's father.


​Gender:​ Male

Born: Jan. 9, 2016

Distinguising characteristics:​ Mshangao is the smallest of the four giraffes. He bears a coat of lighter, caramel-colored patches like his father Majani.

Fun facts:​ Mshangao is the sixth calf, all males, for Takasa. His name means "surprise" or "amazement" in Swahili. 


1-3-10 Giraffe Takasa CU.jpgGender: Female

Born: July 3, 1997

Distinguishing characteristics: Takasa has calcium deposit bumps on her forehead, which are not harmful (like freckles on humans); 14 feet tall.

Fun facts:  Although Takasa is intrigued by visitors, she is typically very shy around strangers. She is very particular about things and is often referred to as a princess. Takasa was born here at the Zoo. She is AJ's sister and Mshangao's mother. [close]​



Gender:​ Male

Born:  Sept. 21, 2015

Distinguising characteristic​​s:​ Enzi, like his brother and sister, continue to grow very quickly. He is more laid back but very curious. He enjoys chasing and stalking kids at the glass on exhibit. 

Fun facts:​ Enzi, meaning powerful,  is courageous and likes climbing on rocks and limbs outdoors.


Gender: Male

Born: Sept. 21, 2015

Distinguising characteristic​​s: Mashaka is the mischievious cub and enjoys playing with Nyack's mane. He also enjoys wrestling his siblings. 

Fun facts:​  Mashaka loves exploring the exhibit in the afternoons and loves playing with his entire family, especially with Nyack, their father. His name means "troublemaker."​


Gender:​ Male

Born: Dec. 7, 2007​

Distinguising characteristics:​ Nyack sports a large mane that helps give him the appearance of a larger size. He can often be heard roaring on exhibit as he is a very vocal lion. He weighs about 350 pounds.

Fun facts:​ Nyack is very laid back and tolerant of the new cubs. He allows them to investigate and play with his mane. He loves spices and boomer balls as enrichment.


Gender:​ Female.

Born:  Sept. 21, 2015

Distinguising characteristic​​s​:​ Sukari is oftentimes seen very close to mom Zuri. She enjoys hanging out with Zuri or lying beside Nyack. 

Fun facts:​ Sukari, like her brothers, love ice treats! She enjoys climbing on the rocks and limbs in the exhibit with her brothers.​ Her name means "sweet".​​ 


Gender:​ Female

Born: ​Aug. 2, 2006

Distinguising characteristic​​s:​ Zuri is our female lion, and therefore, does not have a mane. She can be found in the exhibit keeping an eye on her three cubs. She weighs around 325 pounds, just 25 pounds less than our male lion. 

Fun facts:​ Zuri gave birth to her first litter of cubs in September 2015. She is a very attentive and protective mother to her three cubs, Mashaka, Enzi and Sukari.  ​[close]​​



1-3-10 Azy-10-11-Mike Crowther.jpgGender:  Male​

Born:  Dec. 14, 1977

Personality traits: Intelligent, social leader and patient

Fun facts:  Of all the orangutans at the Indianapolis Zoo, Azy is the oldest and largest male. He is also the dominant male. Despite his size, he is calm and gentle. Azy is eager to learn new tasks, especially those that provide a mental challenge. Azy has extensive experience in cognitive testing and has participated in studies of tool use, quantity judgment, and counting. He is great at using computers, with many years of experience. He is called the George Clooney of orangutans.


1-3-10-Basan 2-Carla Knapp .jpg.jpgGender:  Male

Born:  Sept. 13, 2001

Personality traits: Playful, fun, loves hiding in barrels and wraps up in blankets

Fun facts:  Basan can be shy at first, but is gaining confidence. He likes to do somersaults and loves all kinds of food. He is very inquisitive and also enjoys playing with water, taking whatever containers are available and filling them up. ​Basan is Mila's father.


1-3-10 Orangutan Charly3-Jackie Curts.jpgGender:  Male

Born: March 7, 1994

Personality traits: Shy, creative and playful

Fun facts:  Because Charly is extremely shy, you might find him alone in one of the Oasis buildings. His artistic side shines through when he builds elaborate nests each night, using blankets and sheets. Charly also enjoys observing people. Charly likes many different kinds of food, particularly sweet potatoes, yogurt, grapes, seeds and fruit smoothies. He will only eat his apples, though, if they are cooked!


1-3-10 Katy Approach1 - Mike Crowther.jpgGender:  Female

Born: Dec. 18, 1988

Personality traits: Quick learner, sometimes shy and observant

Fun facts:  Many people describe her as one of the most beautiful orangutans they have ever seen. While initially shy around other orangutans, she has gained confidence and great social skill​s. She also enjoys spending time with her human caretakers, especially watching them put things together and using tools. A quick learner, she enjoys using the computer. She is also a great at whistling, a skill she uses to get the attention of people she likes. Katy is Rocky's biological mother, but they were separated when he was very young. Now that they've been reunited, they do spend time together and are forming a playful relationship.


Gender: Fe​male

Birthday: Dec. 18, 1978

Personality traits: Sweet yet stubborn at times; also very fond of males 

Fun facts: A Bornean orangutan, Kim and her baby, Max, came from the Jackson Zoo in Mississippi. Kim is losing weight and increasing her mobility. Kim can be a picky eater, but she enjoys sugar-free gelatin, peanuts and fruit. She li​kes carrots, but only if they are cooked! She prefers to sit on newspapers and other paper products, and she keeps a very close eye on Max. 


1-3-10 Knobi2 Oct2011-Mike Crowther.jpgGender:  Female

Born:  Sept. 30, 1979

Personality traits: Social, active and most dominant female

Fun facts:  Knobi is very confident and assertive. She has a very close relationship with Azy. Knobi likes to keep things neat and tidy, frequently picking up anything that's out of place and wiping down dirty surfaces. Knobi has adopted Rocky and is teaching him what it means to be an orangutan. Knobi was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, but her condition is successfully managed with a balanced diet and regular activity. Knobi is a little particular about the food she eats. She likes apples and peanuts, but she will absolutely not eat tomatoes!


1-3-10 LucyOct2011-Jackie Curts.jpgGender: Female.

Born: Feb. 11, 1984.

Personality traits: Gentle, although she challenges Knobi's dominance.

Fun facts:  Earning the nickname "Lightning Lucy" for her quickness, Lucy is one athletic orangutan! When she arrived, she weighed 217 pounds, almost 100 pounds more than a healthy weight for an adult female orangutan. But as a result of an improved diet and exercise, she lost nearly 100 pounds and looks terrific. She gets along well with Azy and likes to spend time with him. Otherwise, she can be pretty shy.


Gender: Male

Birthday: Nov. 22, 2015

Personality traits: Full of energy with a bit of mischievous side​

Fun facts: When he first came here from the Jackson Zoo in Mississippi, Max was showing signs of slow development. Now, this young Bornean orangutan is full of energy, and continues to make great progress in his appetite, activity and coordination. Bright-colored items often spark his interest. He also likes to eat fruit and baby cereal, but will bite down on the spoon when being fed, which shows his mischievous side. Kim is Max’s mother.  ​


Gender: Female

Born: March 23, 2016

Personality traits: Active and has no fear; always exploring. She enjoys being around her Aunt Nicky and Aunt Knobi.

Fun facts:  Mila means "dear one" in Indonesian. A Sumatran orangutan, she is the daughter of Sirih and Basan and is the youngest of the Zoo's great apes. Guests can catch her climbing and swinging around in the Atrium of the Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center. This growing girl is a big eater – often trying to eat handfuls of food all at once or taking her mom's hard-boiled eggs and protein bars. ​


Gender:  Female

Born: July 1, 1984

Personality traits: Sweet and calm

Fun facts: Nicky enjoys spending time in small groups. Like many female orangutans, food is her top priority and she is an enthusiastic eater. Remarkably sweet and calm, she has developed very good social skills with other orangutans.


1-3-10 Rocky 10-11-Mike Crowther.jpgGender: Male

Born: Sept. 25, 2004

Personality traits: High energy, very social and playful

Fun facts:  Rocky is inquisitive and loves attention from both orangutans and people. This makes him a quick and eager learner. Rocky is like a typical young boy and he can sometimes pester the other orangutans! He loves attention and likes to find trouble. Knobi has become like his adoptive mother.


Gender: Female

Birthday: Dec. 7, 1992

Personality traits: Quiet and curious

Fun facts: Sirih joined us from the Frankfurt Zoo in Germany, so her first language is German! While our Zookeepers are working to teach her English, they have had to learn a little German in the process. Sirih also loves making her sleeping nests so tall that she can barely peek out of the top!​ Sirih is a caring and attentive mother to Mila.​ 



1-3-10 Rhino - Gloria, Photo by Don Reynolds.jpgGender:  Female

Born:  March 5, 1979

Personality traits:  Gloria is more alert than the other rhinos. She is always keeping an eye on everyone.

Distinguishing characteristics: Gloria has no hair on her ears; her top horn is longer than Mambo's top horn; she has the smallest body.​


1-3-10 Mambo 4- Kristen Dickman.jpgGender:  Female

Born: 1995

Personality traits: Very easy going and laid back

Distinguishing characteristics: Her top horn is much smaller compared to the others; she has hairy ears and a hole in her left ear.​


1-3-10 Rhino - Spike, Photo by Lou Taylor.jpgGender:  Male

Born:  Sept. 3, 1988

Weight:  Over 5,000 lbs.

Personality traits:  Spike, like Mambo, is laid back. He is also extremely lazy. 

Distinguishing characteristics: Spike is the tallest of the group and the only male. His horns are larger than Mambo's and Gloria's and has a little hair on his ears. [close]

Sea Lions


1-3-10 Sea lion (Diego) by Joel Sartore.jpgGender:  Male

Born:  June 16, 2004

Distinguishing characteristics: Dark coloration; largest sea lion (about 500 pounds)

Fun facts: Diego is a crowd pleaser. He likes to learn new things and is always eager for his training sessions. He likes to play during his training, and will bring up rocks he grabs from the bottom of the pool. He was born at the Indianapolis Zoo and is the son of Marcy.


Gender: Female

Born: 2012

Distinguishing characteristics: Holly is much smaller than the adult sea lions, however she is not as small as Ivy or Joy. She is a little bit older than Joy, so their size difference is a good way to tell them apart.

Fun Facts: Holly was rescued after being found stranded on Malibu beach. Since coming to the Indianapolis Zoo she has been thriving.​


Gender: Female

Born: June 2014

Distinguishing Characteristics: The youngest of all our sea lions, Ivy has the shortest body and face.

Fun Facts: Ivy was rescued following multiple strandings in La Jolla, Calif. If you hear a sound that sounds like a lamb coming from our sea lion exhibit, it's Ivy! Her vocalization is very unique and distinct from the barks of the other sea lions. ​​


Gender: Female

Born: ​June, 7 2013

Distinguishing Characteristics: Though not as small as Ivy, still not as large as the other adults. She can often be spotted playing with the other sea lion pup, Holly.

Fun Facts: Joy was born at the Marine Mammal Center in Santa Barbara, Calif. Her mother was being treated there and couldn't care for her, so the staff stepped in to care for her.


1-3-10 Marcy-Jackie Curts.jpgGender:  Female

Born: June 13, 1987

Distinguishing characteristics: Smaller size; slender body; narrow face; lack of markings (led to her name, "no mark" to "Marcy")

Fun facts:  Marcy has been at the Zoo since its opening in White River State Park. Marcy has a distinctly loud bark and she is a habitual sneezer. When she eats she always folds large herring in half before eating them. She knows a wide variety of behaviors including balancing a ball, doing flipper stands and giving the occasional kiss. Marcy is the mother of Diego.


1-3-10 RayCU3_CarlaKnapp_jpg.jpgGender:  Male

Born: 2007

Distinguishing characteristics: Missing his right eye; when his fur is dry, it has a slight reddish tint 

Fun facts: Ray was originally found stranded off the coast of California in November 2011 suffering multiple gunshot wounds. He was rehabilitated and rereleased into the wild before he was found again in March 2012 following another attack, which left him blind in his right eye. Ray is a very vocal sea lion. He is masculine and easily distracted by what the other sea lions are doing. ​



Gender: Male

Born: June 24, 2012 at the Peoria Zoo

Distinguishing Characteristics: Long fur around face and has bigger cheek stripes; he and his brother Maxim are the largest of the Zoo’s Amur tigers 

Fun Facts: Luka’s name means “light” in Russian. He is a twin brother to Maxim. ​


Gender: Male

Born: June 24, 2012 at the Peoria Zoo​

Distinguishing Characteristics:  Long fur around face and can often be seen sticking his tongue out; he and his brother Luka are the largest of the Zoo’s Amur tigers

Fun Facts: Maxim’s name means “the greatest” in Russian, and he is a twin brother to Luka.


Gender: Female

Born: July 10, 2014; born at the Indianapolis Zoo

Distinguishing Characteristics: Smallest of the Zoo's Amur tigers. Zoya is an active and curious cub. She loves to play and practice her stalking behaviors. This feisty little feline is fascinated by new discoveries. Enjoy this adorable video of  Zoya experiencing her first snowfall​​

Fun Facts: Zoya's name means "life" in Russian and was chosen by Facebook users during a two-week poll to name the cub. [close]



1-3-10 Walrus Aurora 2007-Don Reynolds.jpgGender:  Female

Born:  1995

Distinguishing characteristics: Currently the larger of the Zoo's two walrus and weighs around 1,800 pounds; she has no tusks because hers were removed due to an infection

Fun facts:  Aurora acts as a surrogate mother figure to Pakak. She is attentive to ​​him. She is curious by nature and likes to learn new things. An interesting behavior Aurora has is sucking on her flippers.​


1-3-10 Pakak-Jackie Curts.jpgGender:  Male

Born:  June 2012 

Distinguishing characteristics: Smaller than Aurora; will grow to nearly 3,000 pounds as an adult; his tusks are beginning to develop

Fun facts: Pakak was found stranded off the Alaska coast when he was just an infant. His name means "one who gets into everything," which is very fitting! He is very curious about his surroundings and he is a fast learner.  [close]​​​