At the Indianapolis Zoo, there are very different ideas about what makes a baby adorable. For example, if a human baby had bristles, tusks, webbed feet or a dorsal fin, there would be cause for alarm. But at the Zoo, we're fortunate enough to welcome to the world baby animals of many species. 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. Take a closer look at some of the adorable and amazing babies born at the Zoo within the last 12 months.
What's orange, striped and cute all over? A tiger cub! Since she was born at
6:48pm on July 10, Zoya has captured the hearts and interests of thousands of
people across Central Indiana. Nearly 7,000 votes poured in from fans across
North America during a two-week Facebook poll to name the cub. This feisty little cub is growing healthy and strong. She weighed just 6.2 pounds at her first weigh-in on July 26, but by Sept. 24, she had already grown to 22.7 pounds. By the time she went outside for the first time in November, keepers estimated she weighed about 45 pounds. According to keepers, Zoya is very playful toward Andrea, who has proven to be a nurturing first-time mother. The name Zoya means
“life” and is a variation of Zoe that’s popular in Russia and the Ukraine where
these big cats originate. One of six surviving tiger sub-species, Amur tiger populations
once numbered in the tens of thousands. Now, less than 500 of these endangered
tigers are estimated to live in the wild. Living in the Tiger Forest at the Indianapolis Zoo, Zoya will be
an ambassador for her species, highlighting the need for continued conservation
efforts. Zoya's birth brings the number of Amur tigers at the Zoo to four, including Petya, the cub's first-time father, and Cila, one of several tigers born previously here at the Indianapolis Zoo.
Our pink feathered flamboyance has a new additions! On July 9, we welcomed the first Caribbean flamingo chick ever hatched at the Indianapolis Zoo and the second and third followed just days later.
These bright pink birds are native to the Caribbean and Galapagos regions and get their color from eating shrimp. You'll definitely be able to tell the chicks apart from the rest of the group – born with white-gray plumage they won't be fully pink until 9 months old, and will reach full plumage by age 4. Make sure to check out the flamingo exhibit in Encounters this fall to see our newest Zoo babies!
Four adorable warthog piglets have
joined our Plains family! Born on May 1, the two male and two female piglets
weighed about 4 pounds at 10 days old and continue to grow at a steady, healthy
pace. As they grow, they will acquire two pairs of tusks from their upper and
lower canine teeth. Warthogs get their name because of these wart-like lumps on
top of their head that serve as protection as well as an excellent mechanism
for digging! These intriguing mammals enjoy activities such as rooting in the
dirt or grazing on hay while kneeling on their front wrist pads. If you see
them dashing to a den or burrow with their tails held straight in the air, this
means they feel threatened. Even though warthogs may seem ferocious they would
rather skedaddle than engage in any sort of fight!
On April 14, a new face joined the Zoo's lemur troop! The new lemur is Maki! She was named through a poll on Facebook where all three of the names that were voted on were proposed by the 2014 Indianapolis Prize winner and lemur conservationist, Dr. Patricia Wright!
This is the third baby for Bree, who is pictured with her baby at left. Bree is an excellent mom and keeps close tabs on her youngster, so keepers have not been able to get an exact weight yet. Bree is allowing the baby's older sister, Teagan, to groom her, but she is not letting any of the other lemurs near the baby quite yet. At birth, ring-tailed lemurs weigh less than 3 oz. Moms will carry their babies on their chest for up to two weeks before the baby moves around to ride on mom's back. At 4 months old, the baby will start eating solid food and venturing out on its own, though it won't wander far from its mother until age 5 months when it's fully weaned. Baby lemurs are immediately accepted into the group and actually benefit from their mother's position in the group.
Two rainbow lorikeet chicks became the first members of the
Zoo Babies Class of 2014 when they hatched during the week of Jan. 20. These
brightly colored birds are commonly found in the Australian bush, where they
sing cheerful songs and drink nectar. When they're born, lorikeets weigh about
an ounce and are small enough to fit in a Zookeeper's palm, which you can see
from this photo taken during one of the chicks' first health checkups. Although
these chicks look pretty plain when they hatch, they’ll soon sport an array of
rainbow-colored plumage! When the birds mature, guests will be able to visit
these tropical and playful birds in Flights of Fancy: A Brilliance of Birds.
Eastern Yellow-Billed Hornbill
It's an Indianapolis Zoo first — and second! Two eastern yellow-billed hornbill chicks hatched on Aug. 14, and are the first of their species to be born here. Eastern yellow-billed hornbills made their Zoo debut in 2010 in our Plains exhibit. The two chicks are growing stronger every day, and the first-time parents are watching over the youngsters with extra care. You can see in the photo at left how mom feeds her babies (with their little bills just peeking out of the nesting box). Eastern yellow-billed hornbills are carnivorous birds that have super-strong beaks — their namesake feature — and can grow up to be 33 inches tall.