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New Animals, Bouncing Babies, and Animal Experiences to See at the Zoo

Philadelphia Zoo is thrilled to announce the birth of endangered species and rare breeds as well as the arrival of a species that hasn’t been at the Zoo for nearly 100 years, and a new way to see two of our endangered lemur species.

There are some new must-see additions at Philadelphia Zoo! The Zoo is proud to announce the hatching of two Humboldt penguin chicks, a vulnerable species; the birth of two Arapawa goats, a rare breed with less than 500 individuals in the world; and the return of red-tailed monkeys, a species that last lived at the Zoo in 1928. Plus, take a walk to Lemur Island, where you can now share a space with our families of ring-tailed and mongoose lemurs, an endangered and critically endangered species.

“We are delighted to share these exciting hatchings, births, and animal experiences with our guests, members, and greater Zoo community,” says Vice President of Animal Well-Being Rachel Metz. “Part of Philadelphia Zoo’s mission is to inspire action for wildlife and habitats, and watching baby animals grow, learning about a species that hasn’t been at the Zoo for nearly 100 years and engaging with endangered lemurs in a brand-new space is sure to connect our guests to wildlife in a new and exciting way.”

Below is a full rundown of all the new babies, animals and experiences happening at the Zoo!

Lemur Island

Step inside and share a space with our family of ring-tailed and mongoose lemurs at Lemur Island! This brand-new walkthrough experience takes you inside their exhibit located outside of PECO Primate Reserve—no fences, moats, or barriers of any kind. This experience brings you right next to these endangered species, helping guests grow a greater appreciation of what makes them so amazing and why they need our protection.

“Philadelphia Zoo has one of the most diverse collections of lemur species in North America,” says the Andrew J. Baker Curator of Primates and Small Mammals Michael Stern. “We love seeing the joy on guests’ faces as they enter the experience and come within feet of these lemur families. We are thankful to all the Zoo teams who worked together to bring this experience to our guests for 2023.”

Humboldt Penguin Chicks

On April 24 and April 28, the Zoo welcomed two Humboldt penguin chicks to 7-year-old parents male Schwimmer and female Geller. We’re happy to share that the chicks are growing bigger and stronger each day, and the first-time parents are taking great care of them. Humboldt penguin chicks are completely dependent on their parents until they molt into their first set of waterproof feathers at around 3 months old. Until then, the chicks are covered in soft, gray down feathers. We do not yet know their sexes and haven’t chosen names just yet. Philadelphia Zoo works with the Species Survival Plan (SSP) breeding program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The goal of this program is to manage populations of threatened and endangered species, maximize genetic diversity over time and ensure healthy populations into the future. The chicks currently live in a burrow that is easily visible to visitors, and will start spending more time outside their burrow in July.

“We’re thrilled to welcome these two chicks to our growing flock,” says Curator of Birds Pete Bibeault. “Humboldt penguins are facing a number of threats in the wild, including loss of food due to commercial fishing. The work we do here at the Zoo participating in the Species Survival Program helps ensure this species continues. Parents Schwimmer and Geller were on an SSP breeding recommendation, and are considered to be the most genetically valued pair in our flock.”

Arapawa Goat Kids

On May 1, the Zoo welcomed two Arapawa goat kids to 6-year-old mom Sawyer. The doeling and buckling were both underweight at birth, and for the first 24 hours, were cared for by our veterinary and keeper teams. The two have made a full recovery and are now thriving and growing in mom’s care. The female kid required a little extra care, after our veterinary team noticed she had contracted tendons in her front legs. Our veterinarians created splints for her to wear to stretch them out, and now she’s walking, running, jumping and playing with her brother without any issues. Our staff have named the pair Georgina and Lucas, a nod to the Star Wars creator George Lucas since their due date was May 4th (May the Fourth be with you, a play on the phrase, “may the force be with you”)! You can spot them in the birthing yard at KidZooU, separate from the other goat exhibits.

The kids were conceived through laparoscopic artificial insemination. The Zoo works with Dr. Rachael Grately from Tufts University Veterinary Field Science, who is nationally recognized expert in small ruminant reproduction. Arapawa goats were selected to be bred onsite at KidZooU to help preserve the breed from going extinct; there are thought to be less than 500 of them left in the world. The breed is classified as critically endangered by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. Their births increase the number of these goats in the U.S. and more importantly, add genetic diversity to this U.S. population.

Since their genetics are so valuable, once weaned from mom Sawyer, Georgina and Lucas will go to other facilities later this fall.

“We are proud to work with experts around the country and the world to protect this rare goat breed,” says Curator of KidZooU Tara Routzhan. “These goats have great personalities and are wonderful to work with. We are grateful to our veterinary and keeper teams for jumping in and helping the kids during their first hours after birth.”

Red-tailed Monkeys

The Zoo is celebrating the arrival of two beautiful red-tailed monkeys to its growing family. This species was last housed at the Zoo in 1928—nearly 100 years ago! The pair, 10-year-old male Ahnmom and 5-year-old female Lulu, were brought to the Zoo on an Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan breeding recommendation. The two can be seen bouncing, playing and eating inside their habitat at Monkey Junction. Red-tailed monkeys are classified as Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), yet are still threatened by deforestation. This species is native to central Africa, including Kibale National Park in Uganda, where the Zoo has been supporting conservation work for more than 20 years.

“The Zoo knows that in order for wildlife conservation to succeed, the needs of people must also be addressed,” says the Andrew J. Baker Curator of Primates and Small Mammals Michael Stern. “This is why we support New Nature Foundation’s approach of empowering people to meet their needs in sustainable ways. In Uganda, the work includes fuel efficient stoves, cooking briquettes made from recycled waste and a comprehensive education campaign. Together with our partners around Kibale we are creating a new way forward, facilitating a conservation strategy where both people and wildlife not only survive but thrive.”

Be sure to stop by the updated Watering Hole eatery on your next Zoo visit. The fresh landscaping brings a relaxing vibe to the space. While families unwind and grab a bite to eat, kids can grab a ride on the SEPTA PZ Express Train. The track for the train has been reimagined to take guests on a longer route through the space. Watering Hole offers made-to-order deli sandwiches and salads with a delightful selection of craft and domestic beers, refreshing wines and yummy light fare. Situated right near the Zoo’s seasonal feature experience, “Staying Power: Be Distinct or Go Extinct,” which features gigantic dinosaurs and larger-than-life insects, this is the perfect spot to lunch, chill and regenerate during your Zoo visit.

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