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.
Even the smallest animals born here at the Zoo give us a big thrill!
Two of our newcomers, a male and a female, were born between Sept. 26-27 while the third arrived between Oct. 15-16.
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’ll remain small for a while, making it easy for guests to pick out the youngsters from the rest of our rays.
Cownose rays are a near-threatened species, which makes these births even more special.
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. 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.
Both Jojo and her calf are healthy and doing great. Caliente is nursing well, and she recently started going into the large Plains yard to explore with the rest of our kudu herd. Jojo is an experienced mother and watches her calf attentively.
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.
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.
Our newest arrivals, two females named Keely and Shea, were born June 16, 2019, to mom Bree. It’s the third set of twins in as many years for our troop’s matriarch. Bree is a very experienced mother — and now a grandmother, too, after her 6-year-old daughter Teagan gave birth on May 7, 2019, to another set of twins. These spunky youngsters, a male named Wyatt and a female named Delaney, are growing fast and are noticeably bigger than Bree’s babies.
Teagan is a caring and attentive mother to her twins. She keeps a close eye on them as they have started venturing off on their own and exploring in the yard. Teagan is also the mother of Nora, who was born on March 6, 2018, and is now almost fully grown.
In the late evening hours of Feb. 11, the Zoo welcomed the birth of a reticulated giraffe, the first female calf since 2000. Named Makena (ma-kay-nah), which means “happy one” or “abundance” in Swahili, the calf weighed 134 pounds and stood about 6 feet tall at birth. She is already growing and will be several feet taller before her first birthday.
The newborn is the seventh calf — and only female — for 21-year-old mother Takasa. 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. Zookeepers said the calf is also curious and adventurous, exploring her surroundings though never venturing too far from her watchful mom.
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 her father, 8-year-old Majani, with her coloration. Both have lighter, caramel-colored patches compared to Takasa’s darker, cinnamon-colored spots.
The Zoo’s giraffe herd, which is now up to five, will remain inside its climate-controlled indoor facility throughout the winter. The new family is expected to make its debut in the spring.
A baby white-handed gibbon named Kavi was born on Tuesday, Jan 8, to mother Koko and father Elliot.
Koko is an experienced and attentive mother and keeps her newborn very close. Kavi has dark hair just like Koko that will gradually grow in fuller with maturity.
Newborn gibbons use their strong grip and long arms to hang on to their mothers as they travel. These little primates will be strong enough to start venturing out on their own at around 4 months olds.
Known for their vocalizations, these lesser apes use their songs to communicate with other gibbons in the area, attract mates and announce their territory. Eventually Kavi will join in Koko and Elliot’s daily duets.
The first macaque born at the Indianapolis Zoo is a girl named Cynde, born to mom Momba sometime during the night between Aug. 1-2, 2018. While she stays close to mom most of the time, she has also been spending time with some of the other females in the troop as well as independently exploring in the yard.
An experienced mother and one of the dominant females in our troop, Momba is very caring and nurturing with her baby.
The second birth, a boy named Chi (pronounced Ky), was born Sept. 1, 2018, to mom Kathy. Graham, the dominant male of our troop, is the father of both babies.
While we have several youngsters in our troop, this newest additions will be easy to pick out. Macaques are born with a head full of dark hair that lightens as they grow older as well as a wrinkly pink face.
Newborn macaques stay with their mothers for several months, clinging tightly to her chest for protection, before beginning to explore independently.
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