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.
10-year-old Momba gave birth to her third infant on Nov. 17. The new baby doesn’t yet have a name, but 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.
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. He is already growing and 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, the babies 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.
This is the second calf for Kalei, who is an attentive mother. The baby is nursing well and will remain behind the scenes with mom for a while. The Zoo’s Facebook fans voted to name the calf Maui after the demigod in Polynesian mythology.
Mom and baby spend lots of time rubbing their pectoral fins together, which is a sign of affection between dolphins. Maui has been improving his maneuvering skills and starting to independently swim short distances away from mom. The energetic newborn is nursing well and continues to grow. Maui recently weighed in at 66 pounds, which is nearly double what he weighed at birth. To help with the extra calorie needs for nursing, Kalei is eating more high-fat fish.
Maui and the other members of our bottlenose dolphin pod are ambassadors to their counterparts in the wild. The dolphin presentation in the Dolphin Pavilion sheds light on the health of the waters where dolphins live in the wild and what we can do here in Indiana to make their world a healthier place. The presentation features local families and the steps they take each day to avoid single-use plastics to help ensure healthy oceans free of plastic that put dolphins and other sea animals at risk.
Two radiated tortoises hatched on Aug. 3, 2019. Each weighing less than an ounce at birth, our newborns have a healthy appetite and they doubled in size within the first month! Still, the babies will remain small and fragile for quite a while, so they’ll remain behind the scenes for a few more months until they grow a little larger.
Radiated tortoises get their name from striking patterns on their shells. This hard, domed carapace is actually part of the tortoise’s skeleton, specifically the ribs and part of the spine. And as the tortoise grows — adults can weigh 35 pounds with a shell length up to 16 inches — so will its shell.
Though tiny, our babies are very important for the survival of this species. Native to the island of Madagascar, radiated tortoises are critically endangered in the wild. Poachers regularly take them from the wild for the pet trade. In 2018, one of our Zookeepers traveled overseas to help with the massive rehabilitation effort of 10,000 rescued radiated tortoises. Watch Andrew’s story.
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