Zoo Family Planning

Lincoln Park Zoo is always happy to celebrate new arrivals. As we’ve seen with baby rhino King or the tiny dwarf mongoose in the video below, zoo babies are hard to top when it comes to fostering a connection between people and wildlife.

A baby dwarf mongoose explores its habitat at Regenstein Small Mammal-Reptile House. The new arrival, born in January, is part of the second litter for mom and dad this breeding season. Thanks to Rebecca Garrett for sharing this video!

At the same time, new arrivals bring with them a profound responsibility. We have to be able to care for them at birth and infancy. We also have to have space available for them as they grow, mature and move on to adulthood.

Zoos throughout North America work together in planning new arrivals and ensuring we have space to house them throughout their natural lives. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums Population Management Center, headquartered at Lincoln Park Zoo, is the nerve center for this vital planning.

Biologists at the Population Management Center work with hundreds of species every year, many of which are managed through Species Survival Plans®. Our scientists review all the family trees in a zoo population to make the best genetic matches for breeding. They calculate how many babies are necessary to ensure zoo populations have a healthy range of ages. When necessary, they recommend transfers for animals in zoos and aquariums throughout North America—for breeding purposes, yes, but also to ensure each animal is in a setting where it can thrive.

Our experts are offering an inside look at their work with tonight’s Wine & Wildlife: The Science Behind Zoo Sex. Vice President of Conservation & Science Lisa Faust, Ph.D., and Population Management Center Director Sarah Long will share how zoos take the long view in managing their populations.

As zoos no longer take animals from the wild—except in rare circumstances, typically the rescue of injured animals or orphans—careful planning is essential to keep populations healthy. But our scientists are up to the task, and they continue to develop new ways to safeguard the future.

Everyone enjoys zoo babies. But a lot of work goes into their arrival—not just from mom, and the caregivers but on the planning side as well.

Kevin Bell

Learn More

Animal planning at Lincoln Park Zoo reflects a species life in the wild. Amur tigers, for instance, are naturally suited for solitary lifestyles, coming together only to breed.

Zoo FAQ: How Are the Animals Paired Up?
Gorillas prefer social groups, Amur tigers enjoy the solitary life, but every pairing is carefully planned by experts.

One of the growing dwarf mongooses poses with mom and dad.

Post from the President—Not to Be Dwarfed
President and CEO Kevin Bell introduces the first litter of two dwarf mongooses at Regenstein Small Mammal-Reptile House. Learn how the active little carnivores spend their days.



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