Zoo Babies presented by Hendricks Regional Health

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Cubs, pups, calves, chicks — no matter what they're called, baby animals are adorable! ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​At the Indianapolis Zoo, our animal breeding efforts are a key part of our animal conservation mission as they help to ensure the sustainability of a healthy, genetically diverse and demographically varied animal population. Learn more about the babies born at the Zoo within the last 12 months. Thanks to our friends Hendricks Regional Health​ for presenting our Zoo Babies.

Greater Kudu

Have you herd? Our greater kudu herd has recently expanded — by two! A male calf, Jelani, was born on July 24 to mom 12-year-old Taraja followed by a female calf, Tootsie, on Aug. 10 to 3-year-old mom JoJo. Bakari is the calves' father. Both Taraja and JoJo are experienced mothers, and are caring and attentive to their newborns. The herd has started going outside together and the youngsters have enjoye​​d exploring their new surroundings.  

Greater kudus are native to eastern and southern Africa. These woodland antelopes can weigh up to 600 pounds, however females are noticeably smaller than males. Their tan coats marked with thin, white stripes offer great camouflage on the arid African savannas. [more ...]

In the wild, female kudus will form groups of mothers and calves. Moms will give birth in areas of tall grass that provide the babies with protection from predators, which is especially important during the first few weeks. During that time, kudu mothers spend most of their time grazing and only tend to the calves for short periods to nurse. When the calf is a little older, mom returns and the two spend the next several months together bonding. [close]​

Sumatran Orangutan

The Indianapolis Zoo's first orangutan baby is here and her name is Mila, which is pronounced MEE-lah and means "dear one." Sirih, our 23-year-old Sumatran orangutan gave birth to Mila at 5:07pm on Wednesday, March 23. Sirih and daughter are both doing well. Sirih is doing everything an orangutan mom should do and baby has a tight grip on mom. The newborn let out a strong and healthy cry right after being born. While the baby's weight is not known, a normal newborn orangutan weight is around 3 to 4 pounds.

Sirih and her baby go out into the public spaces of the Simon Skjodt International Orangutan 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 distinguisable lighter colored hair. [more ...]

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.

Sumatran orangutans are critically endangered in the wild with only thousands left. Orangutans are found in the wild only on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra, and these critically endangered 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.​ 

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. [close]

​Reticulated Giraffe

Even as a newborn, this Zoo Baby already stood 6 feet tall! In the morning hours of Jan. 9, our Plains family welcomed the birth of Mshangao, the first reticulated giraffe born at the Zoo since 2011. His name, which means "amazement" or "surprise" in Swahili, was chosen through a public naming poll that drew nearly 4,000 votes. Most recently, visitors have been able to see Mshangao, the sixth calf for 18-year-old mother Takasa, in the Plains exhibit during warmer days this spring. 

Following a 15-month pregnancy, female giraffes give birth standing up. While their arrival into the world is somewhat abrupt, newborn giraffes are extremely resilient and are typically up on their feet in less than an hour. The Zoo's spirited newcomer stood up and began nursing soon after birth and continues to do so regularly. [more ...]​​

It typically takes four to five months for newborns to begin eating solid foods, however, Mshangao has already started chewing on tree trimmings that are part of the adults' diet. Mshangao has also discovered how to use his long, prehensile tongue to strip the bark from bigger branches — an important skill for giraffes.

Native to Sub-Saharan Africa, giraffes bear a beautiful coat of brown spots that helps provide camouflage on the arid plains. While every giraffe's pattern is unique, the Zoo's youngster currently takes after his first-time father, 5-year-old Majani, with his coloration. Both have lighter, caramel-colored patches compared to Takasa's darker, cinnamon-colored spots.

Starting in May, guests will have an opportunity to meet members of the herd up close during seasonal public feeds. The giraffe exhibit and feedings are presented by Meijer. [close]​​