Lincoln Park Zoo is a magical place—an urban oasis full of life. This year, the zoo celebrated arrivals of all shapes, sizes, and colors. Meet the zoo’s newest additions, from small to big, feathery to fuzzy.
There’s never a dull moment at Lincoln Park Zoo, and this spring and summer were no exception. With an influx of babies, the zoo has been busy providing world-class care to its newest residents. From wolf pups to gorilla babies to a rhino calf, these recent arrivals, along with others, are serving as important ambassadors for their endangered counterparts in the wild. Lincoln Park Zoo is proud to participate in Species Survival Plans® (SSP), a collaborative effort among zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to oversee the population management of hundreds of species. From Regenstein African Journey to McCormick Bird House, here are the zoo’s newest additions and their significant stories.
A Big Arrival
This March, the zoo shared some big news at Regenstein African Journey. Through fecal samples collected by Animal Care staff, the Davee Center for Epidemiology and Endocrinology determined that eastern black rhino Kapuki was pregnant. Rhino Watch began, and zoo supporters eagerly followed along, awaiting the birth of a critically endangered rhino calf. After 15 months, Kapuki gave birth to a healthy male calf on the evening of May 19. The calf stood on his own after only 53 minutes, quickly completing his first of many milestones.
“Although the calf is adorable, its birth means so much more than that,” says Curator of Mammals Mike Murray. “This new calf gives us hope for the sustainability of the species.”
The calf is currently nursing and will continue to do so for roughly two years. Eastern black rhinos sport two horns, and the newborn’s second horn began growing in late August. Despite their toughness, rhinoceros horns are made of the same protein as human hair and fingernails: keratin. Thanks to a generous longtime zoo supporter, the calf was named Romeo.
Although initially hesitant to explore, Romeo is now making quite the splash while wallowing in his outdoor yard at Regenstein African Journey.
A Rock Hopper
Romeo is not the only ‘aww-some’ new arrival at Regenstein African Journey. The zoo welcomed female klipspringer calf Ayana on April 12. Although not every female subspecies of klipspringer has horns, her horns began growing in late August.
Klipspringers, a dwarf antelope species, measure 20 inches in height and weigh an average of 24 pounds. Their hooves have a rubbery texture that helps the species grip rock, which is fitting since klipspringer means “rock jumper” in Afrikaans.
A Playful Pack
Some lucky guests have been able to spot the elusive flashes of ‘red’ at Pritzker Family Children’s Zoo. On April 13, four critically endangered red wolf pups were born. The litter, comprised of two male and two female pups, is the first at the zoo since 2010. Lincoln Park Zoo has been involved in multiple reintroduction efforts since 2005, including the Red Wolf Recovery Program, to assist the wild population with cross-fostering of zoo-born pups into wild family groups. This recent litter, however, will remain in the zoo population.
According to Animal Care staff, the pups are very lively and enjoy romping around their habitat. To encourage species-specific behaviors, the red wolves are given daily food items that represent species they would find in nature.
“With a whole chick or rabbit or quail, the pups must use their mental and physical capacities to determine how to deconstruct the item for consumption,” says keeper Amanda Barnes. “These items allow the pups to encounter prey that they would naturally interact with while hunting in the wild.”
The pups have been busy exploring their outdoor habitat and learning new things each day. They were especially interested in the black-crowned night heron colony nested in the treetops above their yard, according to Animal Care staff, until the birds left for their fall migration. It’s been quite ‘paw-some’ watching the pups grow, play, and become adventurous.
The baby boom continued on a very special Mother’s Day this year at Regenstein Center for African Apes. On May 12, critically endangered western lowland gorilla Rollie received the perfect gift: a healthy male infant. The infant was welcomed into Kwan’s family troop. Exactly one month later, on June 12, Bana gave birth to a healthy male infant, as well.
“Having two offspring born close together provides such an exciting time for guests and gorillas alike,” says Curator of Primates Jill Moyse. “The infants will have the opportunity to grow, develop, and explore their surroundings together and learn from one another.”
To pay homage to the zoo’s work with the Goualougo Triangle Ape Project, the infants were named after two conservation sites in the Republic of Congo. The zoo named the first infant Mondika (mon-dee-ka), while Lincoln Park Zoo supporter and Life Trustee John Hart named the second infant Djeke (jek-ay).
Being so close in age, the infants appear similar, yet their unique noses set them apart. Mondika has a small dimple at the top of his nose between his nostrils, while Djeke’s nose is very flat and smooth.
Kwan’s troop is very inquisitive and can be seen watching both mothers care for their infants. Animal Care staff have even observed Kwan gently interact with Mondika by touching him with one outstretched finger.
It’s been a milestone-filled few months at Regenstein Center for African Apes, as both Mondika and Djeke continue to grow in size and strength each day.
All the way at the south end of the zoo, Farm-in-the-Zoo welcomed two litters of piglets from two Guinea sows this spring and summer. The first litter, including two males and two females, was born on June 14. The second litter, including three males and six females, was born on September 7.
Summer Snow Sighting
Snow in the middle of June wasn’t likely, but guests were still in for a ‘cool’ treat at Regenstein Birds of Prey. On June 17, the zoo’s resident snowy owl pair, Stanley and Freya, welcomed a healthy female chick. This is the fourth consecutive year the pair has hatched chicks, making them experienced and attentive parents.
Speaking of new chicks on the block, McCormick Bird House welcomed quite a few new arrivals this year. Known for their mustaches, two Inca tern chicks, hatched April 9 and July 15, joined the free-flight habitat. Additionally, for the first time in zoo history, two male snowy-headed robin chats joined the flock. This species of small perching birds can be identified by the single brush stroke of white extending from their forehead to the nape of their neck. Last, but certainly not least, one Nicobar pigeon hatched. A richly decorated species, these pigeons are easily identified by their metallic coloring. All the chicks are doing well and growing stronger each day.
An Inside Look
As technology becomes more advanced, the zoo has been able to take wildlife enthusiasts on the journey of pregnancy, birth, and growing infants.
Zoo supporters were ‘there’ every step of the way with Kapuki, as fecal analysis indicated pregnancy, as Animal Care and veterinarians conducted an ultrasound, as video footage revealed the birth, and as the calf made his debut.
“From diet formulation to fecal analyses to behavioral monitoring, science is in every step of the process,” says Maureen Leahy, vice president of Animal Care and Horticulture. “These births are exciting for the sustainability of species, but also because they are a result of years of science and care in action.”