LA Zoo

Los Angeles Zoo is Bursting with Babies!

Photo credits: Tad Motoyama

The Los Angeles Zoo’s Koala joey, Peninsular Pronghorn twins and desert Bighorn Sheep made their media debut yesterday.

The Zoo’s baby boom kicked off last year with the July 6 birth of a female Koala. Since newborn Koalas spend about six months developing in the mother’s pouch, this joey has just recently begun to emerge. Baby Koalas are commonly referred to as joeys. When a Koala is born, it is just three-fourths of an inch long. After birth they climb into the mother’s pouch and stay there for six months. For the following six months, they are weaned from milk to eucalyptus as they stick their heads out of the pouch to eat partially digested leaves. After a year, they leave the pouch for good.


Although they are often referred to as a “Koala bear,” Koalas belong to the marsupial family. Marsupials are mammals whose females typically rear their young in a pouch through early infancy. Other members of the marsupial family are Kangaroos, Wallabies, Wallaroos, Wombats and Opossums. Native to Australia, Koalas have a very low metabolic rate requiring them to conserve energy and to sleep between 18 and 20 hours a day. They spend about three of their five active hours eating a diet that consists entirely of eucalyptus leaves. Koalas consume 2 ½ pounds of leaves per day and rarely drink water due to the moisture found in eucalyptus leaves.


March 20, brought the birth of a female Desert Bighorn Sheep. This species is native to the high mountains and deserts of the south western United States and northern Mexico. Preferring to reside in places with rocky terrain and access to water, they completely avoid forested areas.


Bighorn Sheep can be seen in our local San Gabriel Mountains, though their population is threatened by many factors including drought, predators, disease and fires. The most recognizable characteristic of the Bighorn Sheep is the male’s massive, spiraled horns and their majestic faces. These horns may add up to one third of their total body weight when they’re full grown. Females have much smaller horns.


On March 1, two Peninsular Pronghorn, one male and one female, were born. Native to Baja California Sur, Mexico, these graceful animals are mostly active at dawn and dusk. Hunting, cattle ranching and agriculture have resulted in the significant decrease of this critically endangered species.


Newborn Pronghorns take their first steps within 30 minutes of birth. By the time they are four days old, they can outrun humans. After just a week, fawns can run faster than dogs and horseback riders over short distances. They are the second fastest land mammal and the fastest ungulate (hoofed mammal), clocking in at anywhere from 40 to 60 miles per hour. They can maintain this speed, without showing any sign of distress, for an hour or longer.


Typically, a Pronghorn mother will have one or two fawns weighing in at around seven or eight pounds. When they reach adulthood, pronghorns weigh up to 125 pounds and reach a height of 35 inches. The females are usually 10 to 25 percent smaller then males.

Leaping Lizards in L.A. and Tampa Bay

My rock! Baby Giant Horned Lizard at the LA ZooToday we bring you back-to-back reptile babies, which means half of our readership just got really excited and the other half just got an uninvited lunchtime surprise! Huge kudos to the L.A. Zoo for breeding the first ever Giant Horned Lizards to be successfully hatched at a North American zoo. “This clutch is a milestone event for the L.A. Zoo and zoos across the continent. These lizards will serve as ambassadors for their species and aid in the study of this species,” said Los Angeles Zoo Curator of Reptiles and Amphibians Ian Recchio. When they first hatched, the lizards weighed about one gram and were roughly the size of a nickel. “Giant” is a relative term, so don’t expect them to grow too large; these fierce-looking lizards will reach a maximum length of about 10 inches when full grown, large for this family of lizards.

Fresh out of the egg Giant Horned Lizard hatchling says hello

King of the hill, horned lizard styleAbove photo credits: Tad Motoyama / L.A. Zoo

Though little is known about the giant horned lizard, they are one of the species that is able to squirt blood out of their eyes as a defense mechanism. While this is an interesting and unique trait, Recchio says “L.A. Zoo reptile keepers haven’t witnessed it first hand and that’s a good thing. When horned lizards perform this action it means they are under stress and feel threatened. Since the lizards haven’t displayed this behavior at the Zoo, it indicates they are comfortable in their environment here.”

Mexican Beaded LizardStay away from my stick! - Mexican Beaded Lizard at Busch Gardens Tampa BayPhoto credits immediately above and below: Matt Marriott / Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Next we have a baby Mexican Beaded Lizard, one of only two species of venomous lizards in North America, hatched on January 16, 2011 at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. Beaded lizards have venom glands in their lower jaws that allow them to chew venom directly into their prey. There is no anti-venom to counteract a beaded lizard bite. Zoo staff named the new beaded lizard "Gaspar" to honor Tampa’s annual pirate festival Gasparilla, during which beads are tossed out from parade floats.

See more photos below the fold

Continue reading "Leaping Lizards in L.A. and Tampa Bay" »

Little Peccary Piglets in Los Angeles

On August 23, the Los Angeles Zoo welcomed two Chacoan Peccary piglets. This relative of the pig is native to Bolivia, Argentina and Paraguay. They were thought to be extinct until 1972 when biologists found the species hidden away in a secluded section of Paraguay. 

Baby peccary piglets los angeles zoo 1b

Baby peccary piglets los angeles zoo 1b

Baby peccary piglets los angeles zoo 1b
Photo credits: Tad Motoyama / Los Angeles Zoo

In the wild, low growing species of cactus make up most of the peccary’s diet.  Like hogs, peccaries have a well-developed snout used to root out bulbs, roots, tubers and rhizomes of a variety of plants. Unlike the domestic pig, the peccary is a slow and dainty eater; they do not devour their food rapidly.

Golden Girl Goes for Dragons!

On August 8, the first of 22 Komodos hatched at the Los Angeles Zoo.  Over the course of the next 11 days, 21 additional Komodos hatched.  Several of the young Komodos that hatched at the Zoo are currently exploring their newly renovated exhibit in the Winnick Family Children’s Zoo.

CAPTION: Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association (GLAZA) Trustee Betty White and Curator of Reptiles and Amphibians Ian Recchio pose with a Komodo dragon hatchling at the Los Angeles Zoo on Tuesday, September 14, 2010, prior to releasing the hatchlings into their newly renovated exhibit located in the Winnick Family Children’s Zoo.  Photo Credit: Tad Motoyama.


Continue reading "Golden Girl Goes for Dragons!" »

L.A. Celebrates the Hatching of 22 Dragons!

On August 8, 2010 the first of 22 Komodo dragons hatched at the L.A. Zoo.  Over the course of the next 11 days, 21 additional Komodos hatched.

La zoo komodo

Lima, the Zoo’s female Komodo dragon, laid 23 eggs back in January so hatching 22 was a huge success!. Fewer than 10 zoos in North America have been able to breed Komodos; this marks the L.A. Zoo’s first success at breeding them.

La zoo komodo 5

La zoo komodo 2

La zoo komodo 4

Photo Credits: Tad Motoyama / L.A. Zoo

Continue reading "L.A. Celebrates the Hatching of 22 Dragons!" »

LA Zoo Delivers Your Fennec Fox Fix

Here at ZooBorns we're no strangers to Fennec Fox kits. One we've dubbed Radar Ears holds court over our Facebook page. Today L.A. Zoo announced the debut of three new baby Fennecs. The three kits, born on May 24, are being raised by their parents in the Winnick Family Children’s Zoo.  It takes patience and a keen eye to spot the littermates as they are great hiders.

Fennec Fox Female with 2 Pups 7-24-10_Tad Motoyama 2024



Photo Credits: Tad Motoyama / Los Angeles Zoo

Fennec Foxes are the world's smallest wild canine, weighing in at just under 3.5 pounds in adulthood. In contrast to their small stature, Fennecs have distinctively large ears that can reach a length of up to six inches; about one-third of their body length.  Their ears serve as “radiators” that dissipate heat enabling the foxes to stay cool. They also enhance the fox’s acute sense of hearing, helping them detect prey.

Fennec Foxes are nocturnal animals native to the deserts of North Africa that hunt small rodents, birds, eggs, lizards and insects. Their cream-colored coats allow them to blend in with their desert surroundings.

And while we're at it, these pictures of juvenile Fennec Foxes from Germany's Zoo Darmstadt are too good not to share...


Fennec fox baby  zoo darmstadtPhoto Credits: Joachim S. Mueller

First Ever Harbor Seal Birth for Los Angeles

Last month, a male Harbor Seal was born at the Los Angeles Zoo; this marks the Zoo’s first success at breeding Harbor Seals. The baby will remain off exhibit with his mother, Asia, until he is old enough to be introduced to the other adult seals. The pup’s father, Alfred, is a blind harbor seal that was discovered in 2007 on the shores of Cape May Point, N.J. 

Baby seal los angeles zoo 2



Baby seal los angeles zoo 3_picnik
Photo Credits: Tad Motoyama

Continue reading "First Ever Harbor Seal Birth for Los Angeles" »

Three Little Pigs

If you had to give out an award for the prettiest of all pigs, the Red River Hog would be a top contender. While the little hoglets don't have the orange-red fur of their parents, they do sport fashion forward camouflage stripes. These three little pigs were born at the LA Zoo at the end of May. Definitely worth a visit if you live in the area. On a sidenote, I think the music in the video is perfectly suited for piggy adventuring.

Red river hogs la zoo 2

Red river hoglets la zoo 1Photo credits: Tad Motoyama / LA Zoo

Continue reading "Three Little Pigs" »

L.A. Zoo Announces Birth of BigHorn Sheep

On Monday, April 26, 2010, a female desert bighorn sheep was born at the Los Angeles Zoo.  The healthy newborn lamb is on exhibit with her parents in the North American area of the Zoo. As male desert bighorn sheep mature, they develop massive spiraled horns that may add up to one third of their total body weight.  Females have much smaller horns.  However, both sexes have excellent vision and hearing as well as an innate ability for climbing rugged terrain.




Photo Credits: Tad Motoyama / Los Angeles Zoo

Continue reading "L.A. Zoo Announces Birth of BigHorn Sheep" »

Colobus Defies Contraception

Born on November 27, 2009, a snowy white Kikuyu colobus monkey was a welcome holiday surprise for the Los Angeles Zoo!  The gender of the furry primate has yet to be determined, but at birth it weighed about a pound and measured around eight inches long.

Baby Colobus 12-3-09_Tad Motoyama rs 

Because breeding is closely monitored to comply with the Species Survival Program and the L.A. Zoo's colobus monkeys are genetically well represented in zoos, the mother was placed on implant contraceptives in October 2008.  They were meant to be effective for a period of two years. Oops!

Colobus Baby 12-4-09_Tad Motoyama rs

Colobus monkeys live in highly cohesive social groups so despite the "unplanned" nature of the event, father, mother and another adult female are all playing attentive and supportive roles.  

Colobus & Baby 12-3-09_Tad Motoyama rs 

The L.A. Zoo is inviting visitors to participate in a naming contest for the newborn through January 11, 2010, so if you live in Southern California, or have been looking for an excuse to visit (like naming a baby monkey) now's your chance. The winner will receive a free behind-the-scenes-tour of the Zoo for up to six people!