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 recently at the Zoo. Thanks to our friends Hendricks Regional Health​ for presenting our Zoo Babies.

Cownose Ray​

We have three tiny additions to our Oceans exhibit! Three cownose ray babies were born June 30, July 23 and July 31. The babies, all of which we believe are female, are already exploring their new home. It's easiest to spot the newcomers when they're next to the adults because they are so much smaller, and they'll still remain that way for a while.

Found from New England all the way down to South America, cownose rays can swim in schools of up to 10,000 in the wild, migrating up and down the coast while they hunt for fish along the ocean floor. Also known as cowfish, it's easy to see how these rays get their names because their foreheads look like a cow's nose. [more...]

Although the babies start out in eggs, they hatch out while still inside the mother, and she gives birth to a live pup following nearly a year-long pregnancy. The babies are born tail-first with their wings folded over their bodies almost like a taco shell. Newborn rays are independent from the start, and our babies are already munching on fish just like the adults.

Although U.S. populations of cownose rays are stable, the species is near threatened in South America, which makes the births here all the more exciting! [close]

Ring-Tailed Lemur

Our ring-tailed lemur troop just grew — by two! Mom Bree gave birth to twin boys on April 2, 2017. We continued the Celtic/Gaelic tradition when choosing names. The red-haired baby is named Rooney, which literally means “red-haired.” He also has beautiful orange eyes. The grey-haired, yellow-eyed baby is named Quigley, which means “the maternal side.”​ Quigley's name is pretty fitting since he is most often seen riding on Bree's back and is also a bit more shy and hesitant to go off on his own. An experienced mom, Bree takes a relaxed but attentive approach to her newborns. Guests might see these adorable new arrivals holding tight to mom's fur or exploring on their own.

The Zoo's troop of seven lemurs, including dad Finnegan, is adjusting well and welcoming the new babies. [more ...]

Native to the island of Madagascar, these endangered animals live in large, highly social groups led by a dominant female. Following a pregnancy that lasts around 20 weeks, females typically give birth to a single infant, though twins will happen occasionally.

Although males often leave the troop once they reach maturity, females typically remain in the same family group throughout their lifetime. In fact, Teagan, Bree's daughter born in 2013, is still part of the Zoo's troop and is regularly grooming Bree and her new babies.


Greater Kudu

Have you herd? Our greater kudu herd has recently expanded — by two! A male calf, Jelani, was born on July 24, 2016, to mom 12-year-old Taraja followed by a female calf, Tootsie, on Aug. 10, 2016, 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 been going outside together on nice days 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 March 23, 2016. ​

At 1-year-old, Mila is an active youngster and can be seen climbing and exploring throughout the Atrium under the watchful eye of Sirih and "aunties" Knobi and Nicky. So far she isn't picky when it comes to her diet. Always sneaking the biggest piece of food she can get away from mom, Mila especially loves her fruit.

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. [more...]

Sumatran orangutans are critically endangered in the wild with only about 6,500 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. Mila is an ambassador for her 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, 2016, 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]​​