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.
When she hatched in February, the tiny female tortoise weighed just half an ounce — about the size of a single AA lithium battery. The fragile hatchling will remain behind the scenes in Deserts until she grows a little larger.
The first of her species ever hatched here at the Indianapolis Zoo, this birth is also a victory for the conservation of this beautiful species, as spider tortoises are critically endangered in the wild in Madagascar.
When a spider tortoise egg is laid in the wild, it goes through a unique period of suspended development called diapause. By remaining inactive during the coldest part of the year, the egg can then grow when the weather warms up, allowing the baby tortoise to hatch during peak environmental conditions. After our egg was laid in October 2020, Zookeepers replicated that process by carefully lowering the temperature and closely monitoring the egg for four weeks to kickstart development. From there, the egg was incubated at 88 degrees for 120 days until our hatchling emerged from her shell.
Long-tailed macaque Glenda gave birth on New Year’s Day, then macaque Kathy added another baby to our troop on Jan. 3. Both mothers and their infants are doing great. Genevieve is the first baby for 6-year-old Glenda, and Cora is the second for 7-year-old Kathy. Her other offspring, Chi, is still part of our troop as well.
10-year-old Momba also gave birth to her third infant on Nov. 17, 2020. The female, named Juniper, is nursing well and already growing.
Following a pregnancy of about 5 ½ to 6 months, female long-tailed macaques give birth to a single baby. Weighing less than a pound, the newborn will cling tightly to its mother’s stomach as she travels. Momba is an experienced and attentive mother, and keeps her infant close. Her two other offspring, Cynde and Java, are also still part of the troop.
Like all newborn macaques, our baby has a bare face with black hair that will lighten to gray beginning around 3 months old.
We’re also celebrating a first for our Zoo — one of our newcomers was born to a same-sex pair.
Same-sex pairings have also occurred with penguin species in the wild and in other zoos. Our two male birds became first-time dads when their chick hatched on Dec. 15. A female that’s actually paired with another penguin laid the egg and left it with the male couple, who have been caring for it ever since. Gentoo penguins co-parent their young, and just as a female-male pair would do, the two fathers have taken turns tending the nest, incubating the egg and now feeding the chick.
The first of our three chick hatched a week earlier on Dec. 8 and the other hatched on Dec. 27, both to female-male pairs who are also first-time parents. All the adults are doing a great job as caregivers, and while we don’t know the gender of the chicks, the young birds are both growing quickly. The first-born chick weighed 99.7 grams at birth and has grown to 2,000 grams (4 pounds, 6 ounces) at its most recent weigh in. The second chick has already grown to 1,405 grams (3 pounds, 1 ounce) from its birth weight of 114 grams.
These are the first penguin chicks hatched here since 2012, and the first for our Gentoo flock since 2011.
Even the smallest animals born here at the Zoo give us a big thrill!
Our Oceans family welcomed the birth of a tiny female cownose ray on Nov. 11. Zookeepers named the pup Squiggy, because her tail was so squiggly from being curled up before birth.
Female cownose rays will carry their pups for 12 months before giving birth, and all three of our babies were born to different females.
When rays are born, their wings folded tightly over their bodies almost like a taco. They quickly unfurl their fins and learn to glide. At birth, the babies each weighed between 3-4 pounds, and they remain small for a while, making it easy for guests to pick out our youngster from the rest of the rays swimming with the school in our Oceans touch pool.
Cownose rays are a near-threatened species, which makes these births even more special.
Born at 4:35am Nov. 8, this beautiful baby boy weighed 137 pounds and stood about 6 feet tall at birth. His name, Kendi, is an African name meaning “loved one.” The calf is growing fast and he will be several feet taller before his first birthday.
Following a 14-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. Zookeepers said the calf is curious, following close behind mom and nursing well. The other members of the herd have shown interest in interacting, even licking the calf through the stall fence.
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 father, 10-year-old Majani, with his lighter, caramel-colored patches.
JoJo is an incredible, experienced mom, so she had her newborn standing and cleaned before our Zookeepers arrived that morning.
The baby’s name is Halisi (pronounced ha-LEE-see), which means “real” or “true” in Swahili. She is following her mom and nursing well. This is the sixth calf for JoJo.
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. Our new cutie weighed 33.7 pounds at birth.
Against the arid landscape of the African savannah, the kudu’s tan coat marked with thin, white stripes offers great camouflage to protect against predators.
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.
Born just weeks apart on Feb. 25 and March 8, Kabili and Kal are both males and each weighed a little more than 10 pounds at birth.
Our firstborn is the second calf for mom Swann. While most calves are able to stand and begin nursing within just a few hours after birth, our Zookeepers noticed right away this baby was unable to stand. During his exam, Veterinarians discovered some health issues, so the animal care team stepped in immediately to begin providing daily medication and bottle feedings. Through their around-the-clock care, the calf is now fully recovered, healthy and growing.
Our second gazelle baby is the first calf for mom Sparrow. The pair is doing great together — Sparrow is very attentive to her calf and he is nursing well.
The moms and their babies are altogether now as herd and will begin going outside once the temperatures warm up a bit this spring.
Our furry family is always growing and changing! Plan your next visit online and save.
Published April 27, 2021 We’re thrilled to introduce the newest member of our Deserts family, a rare northern spider tortoise! ...
A precious pair of little primates are the first Zoo Babies of 2021! Long-tailed macaque Glenda gave birth on New...
Published Jan. 7, 2021 We’re excited to welcome the arrival of three adorable Gentoo penguin chicks, hatched in December 2020!...
Published July 30, 2020 We’re excited to welcome the newest member of our Plains family. Greater kudu JoJo gave birth...
Published Aug. 30, 2019 We’re excited to welcome our newest Atlantic bottlenose dolphin addition, a healthy boy born to mother...
Have you herd? We have a new member of our Plains family! Greater kudu Jojo gave birth to a female...
Our ring-tailed lemur troop is growing with four new arrivals so far this year! Mom Bree gave birth to healthy...
In the late evening hours of Feb. 11, the Zoo welcomed the birth of a reticulated giraffe, the first female...
When guests got a glimpse of Ray, who was one of the five California sea lions here at the Indianapolis Zoo, it was...