Lincoln Park Zoo

Lincoln Park Zoo Celebrates Birth of Endangered Eastern Black Rhino

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60 pounds, 30 inches (27 kg, 76 cm): Not your average measurements for a newborn.  But when you’re dealing with a baby Eastern Black Rhino, it’s fair to expect things to be a bit outsized. The 'little' rhino, a boy, was born August 26 at Lincoln Park Zoo in Illinois. He’s the first offspring for 8-year-old mom Kapuki and 27-year-old dad Maku and the first rhinoceros born at the zoo since 1989. Right now he’s growing behind the scenes, where animal care staff are keeping a close watch as the baby bonds with mom.

“Mother and baby are both doing wonderfully,” says Curator of Mammals Mark Kamhout. “The calf divides his time between nursing, following mom around, and napping, and that is exactly what a baby rhino should be doing.”

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Photo credits: Lincoln Park Zoo

Watch a video of mother and calf:


The new arrival is a welcome addition for a species that’s facing a conservation crisis in the wild. Black Rhinos are critically endangered and were nearly driven to extinction in the 1990s. Their wild population is currently estimated at 5,055 individuals. Although these creatures are protected, they are still killed illegally for their horns, which are used in folk medicines. 

Rhinos are naturally solitary—and territorial—animals, coming together only for brief intervals to breed. Introductions need to be carefully timed to the female's estrus so that she will be receptive to the male’s approach. The pairing of Kapuki with Maku was recommended by the Rhinoceros Species Survival Plan (SSP), a cooperative breeding and management strategy overseen by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

“This birth is cause for great celebration here at Lincoln Park Zoo and has been much anticipated,” says Kamhout. “The gestational period for rhinos is 15-16 months, and they have incredibly small windows for conception. Together with the zoo’s endocrinologists, we worked to pinpoint the exact window for Kapuki and Maku to get together for breeding. The whole zoo family is delighted at this successful outcome.”

So, how exactly do you pinpoint the right time? See and read more after the fold!

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Tiny Takin Twosome Named at Lincoln Park Zoo

Tak duo 1

Not just one, but two baby Sichuan Takins have been born at Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo, arriving on January 31 and February 9 respectively. Both are males. Just yesterday it was announced that the babies have been named Xing Fu, meaning happy good fortune, and Mengyao, meaning superior handsomeness! Last week Lincoln Park Zoo's animal care experts picked six Mandarin names to honor the species’ roots, and put them out for a public vote.

The species is native to China and surrounding mountain ranges, where they graze on shrubs and grasses. They’re Vulnerable in the wild, a consequence of hunting and habitat loss. Lincoln Park Zoo manages the species in partnership with other zoos through the Sichuan Takin Species Survival Plan (SSP)®, a shared conservation effort managed by the Zoo’s general curator, Dave Bernier.

Tak duo w mom

Tak solo

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Photo Credit: Lincoln Park Zoo

The addition of these two babies brings the Zoo’s Sichuan Takin herd  to five animals, along with their father, Quanli, who arrived from Montgomery Zoo in 2011 as part of an SSP breeding recommendation, and both moms, Jinse and Mei Li, a first-time mom who was born at the zoo herself in 2007. The herd will be on exhibit in the Antelope & Zebra area from 10 a.m.–2 p.m. for the next couple weeks as they adjust to life with the little ones. 

Watch this video of the little ones leaping and pushing around a ball:

All eyes are on newborn Gorilla at Lincoln Park Zoo

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On October 11, a healthy baby Western Lowland Gorilla was born at the Lincoln Park Zoo – an important addition to this critically endangered species.

The baby has yet to be sexed or named and appears to be doing well. Mother Bana, 17, is showing appropriate maternal instincts, while dad Kwan, a 23-year-old silverback, is watchful over the mom and baby pair.

Photos credited to Tony GnauLincoln Park Zoo1

Photos credited to Tony GnauLincoln Park Zoo

“We are cautiously optimistic about the new arrival. So far, Bana and the baby are showing all the signs of a happy, healthy mom-and-baby pair,” said Curator of Primates Maureen Leahy.

The new baby joins a troop of six individuals, all of whom are curious about the new arrival but maintaining a respectful distance as Bana and her offspring bond. According to animal care staff, the new mom is already establishing routines.

“Bana has been nesting in a quiet corner of the enclosure where she can nurture her infant,” said Leahy. “The baby is nursing regularly and demonstrating positive behaviors like reaching and gripping tightly.”

Zookeepers and vets will closely monitor Bana and her baby to ensure they continue to do well, as the first few weeks are critical in the survival of newborn Gorillas.

This Gorilla birth is the 51st in Lincoln Park Zoo’s proud history working with the species. It came about thanks to a recommendation from the Gorilla Species Survival Plan®, a shared management effort by zoos throughout the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

It provides a welcome boost for a species that’s critically endangered due to habitat loss and hunting. In addition to work at the zoo, Lincoln Park Zoo also conserves Gorillas in the wild through the Goualougo Triangle Ape Project.

Photo Credits:  Todd Rosenberg/Lincoln Park Zoo (top), Tony Gnau/Lincoln Park Zoo

Rare Snakes hatched at Lincoln Park Zoo return to Illinois’ wild prairies


Eighteen of the cutest creepy crawlers in Chicagoland were released into the wild on August 29 as part of a joint conservation effort by Lincoln Park Zoo and the Lake County Forest Preserve District that seeks to restore the Smooth Green Snake to its native prairie home.

Categorized as an Illinois Species in Greatest Need of Conservation, these tiny, jewel-colored snakes have drastically dwindled in population over the past few decades.

“Snakes need champions too,” said Lincoln Park Zoo Reintroduction Biologist Allison Sacerdote, Ph.D. “People like the warm and fuzzy animals, but it is important that conservation stretches across the entire ecosystem.”

After years of development across Illinois, the Prairie State has less than one percent of its original prairie intact.

“Our wildlife monitoring program revealed, that even in areas with the suitable habitat, Smooth Green Snakes were absent or extremely rare despite our habitat restoration efforts,” said Gary Glowacki, Wildlife Biologist of the Lake County Forest Preserve District. “The decline we have seen is largely due to habitat loss as prairies were converted into agriculture, urbanization, and the widespread use of pesticides.”

Essentially, the grasslands and the critters that call them home need all the help they can get.  In the case of the Smooth Green Snake, the help begins with a “head start” at the zoo. Animal care staffers provide optimum conditions for hatching and development so the snakes have a fighting chance when they are released.


Photo Credit: James Seidler

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Teeny Tiny Titi Monkey welcomed at Lincoln Park Zoo


Even though the newest arrival at Lincoln Park Zoo only weighs a few ounces, the diminutive Bolivian Gray Titi (pronounced tee-tee) Mmonkey is a big deal. The baby, born August 18, is the ninth offspring for its parents, and its mother is the oldest of her species to give birth in a North American zoo.

Animal care staffers do not know yet if the little one, which joins a small population of only around 50 other Bolivian Gray Titi monkeys in accredited zoos nationwide, is a boy or a girl – but they do know it is adorable!

“The baby is spending most of its time nestled in the thick fur on mom’s back, but we do get a glimpse of its little face peeking up now and then,” said Curator of Primates Maureen Leahy. “Dad and the siblings are playfully curious with the new arrival, and the whole group is responding appropriately to the addition.”



Mom Delasol, 21, and dad Ocala, 15, are well-versed in the ways of parenting. Just last October they welcomed their eighth offspring together, a male aptly named Ocho, the Spanish word for eight. They are recommended to breed by the Titi Monkey Species Survival Plan (SSP) and are one of the most successful pairs on record.

As the oldest mother in the SSP to produce healthy offspring, Delasol is a testament to the high quality animal care at Lincoln Park Zoo and the special attention paid to aging animals. The birth is particularly significant because Bolivian Gray Titi monkeys are declining in their native South America due to habitat loss and the illegal pet trade.

Titi families are known for being tight-knit, and fathers and siblings pitch in with childcare duties early on. The Titi Monkeys at Lincoln Park Zoo can often be seen sitting closely together on the same branch and intertwining their tails as a bonding behavior.

Photo Credits: Christopher Bijalba / Lincoln Park Zoo.

Eighteen Ornate Box Turtles Hatch at Lincoln Park Zoo


Lincoln Park Zoo's eighteen newly-hatched Ornate Box Turtles have a big future ahead. These quarter-sized turtles are part of a conservation effort between Lincoln Park Zoo and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) that aims to restore the dwindling population of the threatened Ornate Box Turtle across the state. “Our job at Lincoln Park Zoo is to give these little guys the best possible head start. In a sense, we are a turtle nursery,” said General Curator Dave Bernier. “We love to work on these types of conservation projects, especially when an Illinois species that literally lives in our backyard is involved.”

The hatchlings will spend their first year at the zoo’s Kovler Lion House before being released into their natural home -- Illinois sand prairie. But it will take a village: Their zoo turtle team consists of Bernier, zoo reptile experts, and, unexpectedly, the exotic carnivore keepers at the Kovler Lion House. They will live in groups of six surrounded by comfy moss that they can use for nesting, and the climate will be kept warm and balmy – just the way turtles like it. Animal care staff will feed them specially formulated, high nutrient turtle chow. 

Photo Credit: Lincoln Park Zoo

When the turtles are mature enough to be released, the zoo’s partners from USFWS will help them settle into their new home at Lost Mound Sand Prairie, a Unit of Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge in Savanna, Ill. Located within the former Savanna Army Depot, the area used to be home to many Ornate Box Turtles before habitat loss caused by years of military activities drastically reduced the species’ population.

Read more about the conservation efforst after the jump:

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A Baby Gorilla for Lincoln Park Zoo


Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo has a new baby - a healthy, Western Lowland Gorilla, the first to be born at the Zoo since 2005. The baby has yet to be named. First time mom, Bana, is a 16-year-old. Dad Kwan, a 22-year-old silverback, seems proud of his new offspring and has stayed protectively close to mother and baby. Born on November 19, the baby joins a troop of 7 at the Zoo. The other gorillas are "respectfully curious" according to Curator of Primates, Maureen Leahy.

“Bana has taken very well to motherhood,” said Leahy. “She is showing all of the signs of a doting new mom and is appropriately tender toward and watchful over her infant. The baby is gripping tightly to Bana and making great eye contact with her during this crucial bonding time.”

Keepers are watching closely to make sure Bana and her baby continue to do well, as the first few weeks are critical in the survival of newborn Gorillas.



Photo Credit: Lincoln Park Zoo


More pics below the fold...

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Check Out Those Chompers!

Gibbon baby at Lincoln Park Zoo by John Kortas

Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo has confirmed their newest swinging sensation, a baby white-cheeked gibbon, is a boy – and boy is he cute! The 3-month-old critically endangered ape has also been given a name. “The baby has been named Sai, (pronounced ‘sigh’), which means ‘son’ in Burmese said Lincoln Park Zoo Curator of Primates Maureen Leahy. “He is the third offspring – all sons – for the mother Burma and father Caruso.” Lincoln Park Zoo is significantly involved in ape conservation efforts in the wild to help secure a long term future for endangered apes.

Gibbon baby at Lincoln Park Zoo by John Kortas 2

“Sai has been transforming right before my eyes over the last 3 months,” said Leahy. “His hair is beginning to darken in color, his baby teeth have grown in – he’s got an impressive set of choppers – and he’s already starting to venture an arm’s length away from his mother, reaching out to test his long arms on hanging vines,” said Leahy.  Check out the chompers on this little guy below!

Gibbon baby showing off his chompers by Anita YantzPhoto credits: #1 and #2 John Kortas, #3 Anita Yantz, #4 Lisa Rank (below) 

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Just Hanging Out With Mom!

Baby sloth clings to mom at Lincoln Park Zoo 1

A one-week-old Hoffman’s two-toed sloth clings to its mother today at Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo. The youngster was born on Feb. 15 to the 20-year-old, first-time mom. Despite the mother being new and inexperienced, animal care staff reports that she is being very attentive and caring to the youngster. The baby is nursing, clinging well, and appears healthy. The baby has not yet been named, and its sex is currently unknown. The mother and baby can been seen daily in the zoo’s Regenstein Small Mammal-Reptile House.

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Baby sloth sleeps on mom at Lincoln Park Zoo 3Photo 1 and 3 credits: Lincoln Park Zoo / John Kortas. Photo 2 credits: Lincoln Park Zoo / Julie Ann Platt