Every zoo animal has a unique story and a journey all their own. Some animals come to the Fort Wayne Children’s zoo as adults and some are born here and move on to new adventures at other zoos. The lemur and wildebeest babies born at the zoo in 2014 fall into a different category. They’re growing up right here in Fort Wayne and zoo guests get to see it all!
Back in September one of the zoo’s ring-tailed lemurs, Kyna, gave birth to a healthy baby girl. Zoo keepers named her “Madi” and guests had a chance to see mom and baby on exhibit for a few weeks before the close of the 2014 season. Madi has grown quite a bit and is almost as big as the other three lemurs in her troop. Zoo keeper Helena Lacey explains lemur behavior, “Madi would stay with her family in the wild, so she stays with them at the zoo. She’s weaned now and eats the same diet as the adults.” Lacey has also begun training Madi using operant conditioning. Zoo keepers train animals on behaviors such as moving indoors when it gets cold out and standing on a scale for monthly weight checkups.
Lacey stated that while there is no plan to relocate Madi to another zoo, it is always a possibility, “Lemurs are a managed species, so it’s always a possibility that she may have to go to another zoo. If she did go, mom would likely go with her.” (Ring-tailed lemurs are managed by the Association of Zoos & Aquarium’s Species Survival Plan.)
Over in the zoo’s African Journey lives a juvenile wildebeest named Sangria. She was born the morning of July 9, 2014 to the delight of many guests who were lucky enough to be near the savannah that day – Surprise! (Zoo keepers weren’t expecting the baby for another week.) Sangria is nearly a year old now and African Journey Area Manager Amber Eagleson doesn’t anticipate her leaving any time soon.
Eagleson discusses the wildebeest breeding program, “We’re trying to build and sustain our own wildebeest population. We have a new male coming this year who’s not related to any of our females.” Genetic diversity is important in zoos and the new male could potentially breed with all three of the zoo’s females.
Could there be another baby boom on the African Journey savannah in 2016? Time will tell…
Click on the photos to enlarge:
Animal babies are sponsored by Lutheran Children’s Hospital.