Como Zoo

Como Park Zoo Welcomes ‘Royal’ Giraffe Calf


Como Park Zoo & Conservatory excitedly welcomed a new Reticulated Giraffe on November 10th. The male calf, named Prince, came into the world at 6’ 6” tall and weighed 160 pounds.

The new baby boy is the seventh calf born to mom, Daisy, and the 20th giraffe birth at Como Zoo in the last 22 years. Como’s current herd consists of Clover, Daisy, Skeeter (father) and Prince.

The honor of naming the new Giraffe was given to Como Friends supporters, Gretchen and David Crary, who have been the lead individual donors on ‘Give To The Max Day’ for the past three years.

15128811_10157807363450068_5059878667648259291_oPhoto Credits: Como Park Zoo/"Zookeeper Jill"

The Reticulated Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata), also known as the Somali Giraffe, is a subspecies of giraffe native to savannas of Somalia, southern Ethiopia, and northern Kenya. Reticulated Giraffes can interbreed with other giraffe subspecies in captivity or if they come into contact with populations of other subspecies in the wild.

The Reticulated Giraffe is among the most well known of the nine giraffe subspecies. Together with the Rothschild Giraffe, it is the type most commonly seen in zoos. They are known to often walk around with birds on their backs. These birds are called tickbirds. The tickbirds eat bugs that live on the giraffe’s coat, and alert the animals to danger by chirping loudly.

A female has a gestation period of about 15 months and usually has only one young at a time, but a mature female can have around eight offspring in her lifetime. Females return to the same spot each year to give birth. The mother gives birth standing up and the calf falls seven feet to the ground. Calves can weigh up to 200 lbs. at birth and stand as tall as six feet. They are able to stand less than an hour after birth. The young are weaned at around one year of age.

In the wild, giraffes have few predators, but they are sometimes preyed upon by lions and less so by crocodiles and spotted hyenas. However, humans are a very real threat, and giraffes are often killed, by poachers, for their hair and skin. Currently, there are thought to be less than 80,000 giraffes roaming Africa, and some subspecies are thought to be almost completely gone, with fewer than 100 individuals. Reticulated Giraffes are currently classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List.

Como Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). AZA is America’s leading accrediting organization for zoos and aquariums, and accredits only those institutions that have achieved rigorous, professional standards for animal welfare and management, veterinary care, wildlife conservation and research, education, safety, staffing and more. With only 200 accredited members, AZA is building North America’s largest wildlife conservation movement and is your link to helping animals in their native habitats.

The ‘Force’ Is With These Minnesota Twins


Meet Luke and Leia…the Como Park Zoo’s version of ‘Minnesota twins’!

The Emperor Tamarin twins were born at the Zoo on January 27, and they are the 2nd and 3rd babies born to parents Lara and Roger. Visitors to the Como Zoo’s Primate Building will often see them clinging to big brother Franklin.



4_ComoZooTamarinTwinsPhoto Credits: Como Park Zoo & Conservatory


The Emperor Tamarin is a species allegedly named for its mustached resemblance to the German Emperor Wilhelm II. Both male and female Emperor Tamarins are known to sport the distinctive facial hair.

This species of tamarin is native to the southwest Amazon Basin, eastern Peru, northern Bolivia, and the western Brazilian states of Acre and Amazonas. They prefer Amazonian lowland and lower montane rain forests, as well as remnant, primary, and secondary forests.

They consume a wide range of specimens in their daily dietary routine, including: fruits, flowers, exude of plants (gums and saps), insects, frogs, and other animal prey.

The age of first reproduction in Emperor Tamarins is around 16 to 20 months old, with a gestation period of up to 6 months. Tamarins are seasonal breeders, and breeding is based around food availability, with most births occurring during the wet season when food resources are in abundance.

Tamarin species were once thought to be monogamous, but observations of Emperor Tamarins in the wild shot they often have a polyandrous mating system, with one dominant female mating with multiple males.

Due to the high rate of twins or multiples at birth, Emperor Tamarins rely on parental and paternal care to ensure infant survival. Helpers are either older female offspring of the dominant female that have remained a part of the group, or they are males that have frequent interaction with the dominant female. Infant carrying has a high energetic cost due to the relatively large fetal weight of infants to the weight of adults. Helpers provide the extra support needed for caring of multiple infants. Male Emperor Tamarins have been observed to spend the most time with infants, often carrying several while the mother forages for food. The males have also been observed to be more protective of the young and are known to react faster to distress calls.

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New Giraffe Debuts at Como Zoo

1_11900058_10155989449560068_7294586433678829458_nComo Park Zoo & Conservatory, in Saint Paul, Minnesota, is excited to welcome a new Reticulated Giraffe to its herd. Coming into the world at just under six feet, the baby stands tall with mother, Clover, shadowing over her.

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4_11947787_10156011069485068_5121173980227368983_oPhoto Credits: Como Zoo / Outdoor pics courtesy "Zookeeper Allison"

The female giraffe, born August 24th, is the 6th calf born to Clover and the 19th giraffe birth at Como Zoo in the last 22 years. The yet-to-be named calf weighed 135 pounds and measured 5’ 8” tall, at birth. Como Zoo’s current herd consists of Clover, Daisy, Skeeter (the new calf’s father), Skye, and the new female.

The baby made her public debut, recently, and enjoyed the last of the summer sun with her mom. The giraffes, at Como, have the option to roam their outdoor yard or stay behind the scenes, but Clover is often more apt to stay behind the scenes than the other giraffes at the Zoo.

Giraffes are the tallest of all land-living animal species. They can be as tall as 18 feet and have a prehensile tongue (used for grasping), which can be as long as 18 inches. During the first two years of a giraffe’s life, it doubles in height, often standing over 12-feet tall. Giraffe gestation lasts between 14 and 15 months, after which a single calf is born. Like human fingerprints, the markings or spots of a giraffe’s coat are unique to each individual.

Reticulated Giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulate) are native to the dry savannahs and open woodlands of Somalia, southern Ethiopia, and northern Kenya. Also known as the Somali Giraffe, the Reticulated Giraffe is one of the most well-known of the nine giraffe subspecies. They are currently classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

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Baby Tortoise Will Grow Up Flat As a Pancake

Baby pancake!!

A baby Tortoise hatched on April 4 at the Como Zoo will grow up to be as flat as a pancake – but that’s exactly what this species, called the Pancake Tortoise, is supposed to be.

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Pancake quarterPhoto Credit:  Como Zoo

In their native homes of Kenya and Tanzania, Pancake Tortoises’ flat shells allow them to escape predators by squeezing into tight crevices among rocks.  Their shells are extra flexible, and these reptiles are remarkably good climbers.  The combination of flexibility, speed, and agility is key to Pancake Tortoises’ survival. 

Como Zoo’s little hatchling began as an egg laid in October 2014.  Zoo staff incubated the egg for 170 days at 88 degrees Fahrenheit in hopes of producing a female because Pancake Tortoise gender is determined by incubation temperature. Now the size of a golf ball, the hatchling will grow to about six inches in length and weigh about one pound as an adult. This is the first Pancake Tortoise to hatch at the Como Zoo.

Though they are protected in both Kenya and Tanzania, Pancake Tortoises are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to collection for the pet trade and loss of native habitat to agricultural use.  The Como Zoo participates in the Species Survival Plan for Pancake Tortoises to sustain a genetically viable zoo population.  

Gorilla Mom Snuggles in Tight with New Baby

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Como Zoo, in Minnesota, is thrilled to announce the addition of a baby Western Lowland Gorilla to its troop. The female gorilla was born in the evening hours of February 22, 2015, to first-time mother, ‘Dara’, inside the day room of the Gorilla Forest exhibit. At approximately five pounds at birth, the baby gorilla appears healthy and strong. 

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Dara and Infant 1 (2)

IMG_1044 (2)Photo Credits: Como Park Zoo & Conservatory

It is extremely important for mom and baby to bond shortly after birth and for the baby to begin nursing. While bonding wasn’t an issue for the pair, nursing was in question. A few days after birth, zoo staff and veterinary professionals were able to gain access to the baby for a physical that included giving the baby fluids.

Typically Zoo staff will not intervene unless the health of the infant is compromised or the mother shows no motherly instinct. In this case, the baby and mother were able to work out the situation with guidance from the Como Zoo staff and veterinary professionals. The baby was soon reunited with her mother and shortly after that regular, timely nursing began. Zoo staff continues to monitor the pair. They will likely make their public debut late in the month of March.

Gorillas have an eight and a half month gestation period, followed by an unassisted birthing process. Offspring are born nearly helpless except to cling to their mother’s fur and to nurse. Young Gorillas stay with their mothers for several years after birth. At birth, baby Gorillas weigh between 4 and 5 pounds. Each animal at Como Zoo has its own Birth Management Plan. Como has been recognized by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) as a leader in Gorilla care and conservation for 56 years.

Gorilla mothers are very protective of their babies. A Gorilla mother will carry the baby on her chest for the first three months. At about 6-months-old the baby will move to ride on the mother’s back and begin playing and moving around on the ground close to mother. “Gorillas are very family oriented,” said Jo Kelly, Senior Zookeeper. “Mom will let other family members see the baby and they will take their cues from mom as to how close they can be.” When the baby is older and able to move around on its own, other family members, including dad, will play with the baby.

The baby’s father, ‘Schroeder’, a 29-year-old Silverback Western Lowland Gorilla, has been at Como Zoo since 1991. Schroeder’s troop includes females ‘Dara’ (age 11), ‘Nne’ (age 26 and pronounced E-Nee), and ‘Alice’ (age 12) who also gave birth to a baby in November 2014. Sadly, Alice’s baby passed away shortly after birth. Alice and Dara both came to Como Zoo as part of the AZA Gorilla Species Survival Plan (SSP). The Gorilla SSP serves 52 zoos across the United States to help guide the management of the Gorilla population.

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Baby Orangutan Delivered by C-Section at Como Zoo

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A healthy baby Sumatran Orangutan was delivered by Caesarean section on January 7, and the Como Zoo is celebrating this precious arrival.

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Sleepy (2)Photo Credit:  Como Zoo

An entire team of 15 medical professionals was on hand to deliver 27-year-old Markisa’s baby.  The staff had known for some time that Markisa would require a C-section, because she had one in the past.  The baby weighed nearly three and a half pounds, which is a robust weight for an infant Orangutan.  The baby was delivered at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Medical Center by Dr. Micky Trent, the lead veterinarian for Como Zoo, with the consultation of an extensive pre-appointed medical team comprised of human obstetricians, neonatologists, and veterinary anesthesiologists.

“C-sections are very rare in that there are only about a dozen recorded within the International Orangutan Studbook that has tracked more than 1,200 births in captivity,” said Como Zoo primate keeper Megan Elder, who serves as the International Studbook Keeper for the World Association of Zoos & Aquariums and the Vice-Chair for the North America Orangutan Species Survival Plan (SSP).

This is a very important birth both for the Como Zoo and for the species. Markisa was recommended for breeding by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Orangutan SSP because of her status as one of the most genetically valuable female Sumatran Orangutans in North America. 

Markisa returned to Como Zoo and is recovering from her procedure. The newborn is being bottle-fed by zoo staff during the time she is separated from Markisa.  The baby will be introduced to Markisa over the course of several weeks.  

About 200 Orangutans are currently on exhibit in zoos throughout the U.S.  Their native population, found primarily in Sumatra and Borneo, has dwindled due to commercial logging, agriculture, hunting and poaching –all of which put the species under the threat of extinction.

See more photos of the baby Orangutan below.

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A Pile of Arctic Fox Pups for Como Zoo

Artic Fox Kit at Como Zoo 2

On Saturday, May 20, Como Zoo's Arctic Fox mom, Aurora, gave birth to 9 pups! While that might sound like a lot, Arctic Foxes have been known to give birth to litters of 19 pups or more! 

Weighing-in between 1.8 and 2.2 ounces, the pups, also called kits, are resting with their mother and are not currently on public display. Zephyr, the papa, is proudly frolicking in his exhibit space. Pups are helpless and blind when first born. They nurse until they can eat solid food. Both parents care for the pups. 

Arctic Fox Pup Como Zoo 1

Artic Fox Kit Sleeping at Como Zoo 3

A full grown Arctic Fox is about 10 -16 inches long and weighs about 6-12 pounds. It has short legs and a long bushy tail that it uses like a fluffy scarf by wrapping it around itself when sleeping. Its long hair is white in the winter and "blue" or gray in the summer. Its head has a stubby muzzle, small ears, and large eyes. Its feet are lined with fur, which helps it conserve heat.

Arctic Fox Kit Litter at Como Zoo 4A pile of pups