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. Baraki 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]

​White-Handed Gibbon

Sing it out —Kopi is our newest arrival to our Forests family! This baby white-handed gibbon was born at 7:15pm on Oct. 23, a day before International Gibbon Day. Kopi is the first baby for mother Koko and father Elliot. The baby's name is an Indonesian word for "coffee," matching Koko's since they both have dark hair. Koko has shown great maternal instincts and is a caring and protective mother. 

In the wild, gibbons live high up in the rainforest canopy throughout Southeast Asia. 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. [more ...]

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.

Since gibbons are native to warmer regions, our new family has only ventured outside when temperatures have reached at least 60 degrees. As the spring rolls on, guests have a better chance to see them in the gibbon exhibit presented by ARAB Termite & Pest Control​[close]


We've been mobbed by cuteness! Our Deserts family welcomed two tiny meerkat pups on Oct. 13 — the first ever born at the Indianapolis Zoo. This is also the first litter for mom Rue. The pups, a boy and a girl, were named Cato and Cashmere after characters from the Hunger Games, just like mom and her sisters, Katniss and Prim.

Their births brought the number of meerkats in our mob up to seven. In the wild, meerkats give birth in underground burrows to help keep the newborns safe from predators. To shield the pups from dust in their subterranean homes, they are born with their eyes and ears closed. The Zoo's newcomers opened their eyes for the first time on day 11. Meerkat babies are also nearly hairless at birth, though a light coat of silver and brown fur begins to fill in after just a few days. [more ...]

These desert-dwellers are highly social critters and live in groups which can include dozens of individuals from multiple families. Within the Zoo's mob, all of the meerkats have been taking turns caring for the pups throughout the day, including the males. Baby meerkats typically nurse for about nine weeks, but grow very quickly. In fact, the pups are already about the same size as the adults![close]

African Lion

Our pride of African lions is three times cuter! Our three cubs, two males and a female, were born on Sept. 21 to first-time parents, mother Zuri and father Nyack. When Zookeepers arrived that day, they found that 9-year-old Zuri had already delivered her first cub sometime during the night or early morning. The others followed around 10am and 1:15pm. 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.[more ...]

The cubs have been gaining popularity with the public and have ventured outside several times this spring. They are gettting much more courageous being outside 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 laying beside mom.  The cubs are still sensitive to colder temperatures, however, guests have the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the entire family on warmer days![close]​