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.
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. 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 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.
JoJo is an experienced and attentive mother. Her male calf born in 2017, Hasani, is still part of the herd and he seems curious about the newcomer, as well. Bakari is the calf’s father.
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.
Mom, Lily, and dad, Kazi, welcomed the birth of four adorable piglets on April 17. Female warthogs can give birth to up to eight babies, though smaller litters are more common. Our new piglets include three boys named Leonard, Rollo, and Ragnar, and a girl, named Astrid. Lily is an experienced and caring mother to her youngsters.
Native to the grasslands of Africa’s southern Sudan and southwestern Ethiopia, these warthogs stay in burrows built by aardvark. Female warthogs will stay in the burrow when giving birth to protect their newborn piglets.
Within about three months, piglets will venture farther away from their parents. For now, Kazi, their father, doesn’t seem to mind their playful personalities.
Warthog piglets typically only weigh 1-2 pounds at birth, though these Zoo babies won’t stay small for long. A typical mature period is about 20 months for boars. Visit these adorable piglets near the exit of Plains while they’re still young! Thanks to our friends Hendricks Regional Health for presenting our Zoo Babies.
The newest member of the family was born June 4 to mom Sheridon, and join three other baby lemurs born earlier this year.
Bree gave birth to twins, boys named Murphy and Owen, on March 14. Twins are not common, however this is the second year in a row Bree has had twins. The first baby lemur of 2018, a girl named Nora, was born back on March 6.
The Zoo’s troop of lemurs has adapted to the newcomers and welcomed all the babies.
At birth, they weighed less than 10g each and easily fit into the palm of a keeper’s hand. Right now, they look very different than our adults, with zebra-striped tails and bright orange bands on their backs that will fade as they grow, slowly changing to the gray and brown tones that are characteristic of adults.
Native to the western United States and into northwestern Mexico, these reptiles like to live in desert regions around lots of rocks that provide basking spots as well as shelter and protection. Females lay 5-10 eggs in a clutch, hidden in rocky crevices. While they will protect the eggs until they hatch, the juveniles are left to fend for themselves after hatching.
Sirih, our 23-year-old Sumatran orangutan gave birth to Mila at 5:07pm on March 23, 2016.
At 1-year-old, Mila is an active youngster and can be seen climbing and exploring throughout the Atrium under the watchful eye of Sirih and “aunties” Knobi and Nicky. So far she isn’t picky when it comes to her diet. Always sneaking the biggest piece of food she can get away from mom, Mila especially loves her fruit.
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 about 6,500 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. Mila is an ambassador for her 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.
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