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.
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!
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.
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.
Born: Feb. 2, 2002
Distinguishing characteristics: Scar behind his blowhole; white scar at the base of the leading edge of his large dorsal fin; like his mother, Ripley, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Distinguishing characteristics: Appears to be wearing eye shadow; rippled lagging edge of dorsal fin (her namesake); ripple markings down the side of her body; light coloration
Fun facts: Ripley is strong-minded, curious and loves learning new things. She shows how excited she is by making lots of squeaks, squawks and other dolphin vocalizations, and splashing water to get someone's attention. Ripley is the mother of Jett.
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]
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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"
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.
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.
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.
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]
Born: Sept. 21, 2015
Distinguising characteristics: 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.
Born: Sept. 21, 2015
Distinguising characteristics: 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."
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.
Born: Sept. 21, 2015
Distinguising characteristics: 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".
Born: Aug. 2, 2006
Distinguising characteristics: 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]
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.
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.
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!
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 skills. 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.
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!
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.
Born: March 23, 2016
Personality traits: Quiet and curious; becoming more active every day as she starts to climb and explore a little on her own, all while staying close to mom
Fun facts: Mila is pronounced MEE-lah and means “dear one” in Indonesian. She is the daughter of Sirih and Basan. Guests can catch glimpses of baby clinging tightly to mom by looking for her distinguishable lighter colored hair.
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.
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.
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.[close]
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.
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.
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]
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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]
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.
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]