It may have been the Year of the Goat, but 2015 brought in much more at the Indianapolis Zoo. In the last year, the Zoo has seen the birth of 12 animals. From orangutans and dolphins to tiger cubs and meerkat pups, these newborns help raise awareness for the conservation of their species. The newest zoo baby, Mila, a Sumatran orangutan, was born on March 23. She can easily be spotted at the Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center by her brightly colored hair. In case you missed it, here are the other new additions to the zoo family recently.
A reticulated giraffe, Mshangao (which means “amazement” in Swahili), was born in January. He was the first giraffe born at the zoo since 2011.
September brought three new African Lion cubs: Enzi, Mashaka, and their sister Sukari. Also taken from Swahili, Enzi means “powerful,” Mashaka means “troublemaker,” and Sukari means “sweet.” One of two Greater Kudu calves, Lulu was born on September 9 while the other female of the herd, Shani, was born earlier on July 29.
Baby animals aren’t the only thing new this summer. In connection with The Nature Conservancy, the Indianapolis Zoo is launching a new dolphin presentation at the dolphin pavilion that teaches guests about the conservation efforts needed in the Gulf of Mexico. More specifically, they will learn how Indiana plays a role in this effort. The presentation includes images filmed on location at the Gulf to give the viewer a real-world look at the conservation efforts needed for the area. Admission for the dolphin pavilion is free with admission.
Also new this summer and only available through Labor Day is the Nature Connects exhibit. Presented by Citizens Energy Group and Indiana Members Credit Union, the Nature Connects: Art with LEGO Bricks exhibit showcases the work of Lego artist Sean Kenney through 12 vibrant sculptures. From a monarch butterfly on a milkweed plant, to a glaring snow leopard, these sculptures are composed of tens of thousands of LEGO bricks and took hundreds of hours to complete.
The full exhibit is comprised of more than 50 sculptures that together use more than one million LEGO pieces, with the Monarch taking the prize for the most at 60,549 pieces. Kenney says he and his team are always creating new sculptures to add to the exhibit. Kenney’s favorite piece, a mama polar bear with her two cubs, is the largest in size and weight (8 feet long, 5 feet tall, and 625 pounds). As a father of two young children, Kenney says, “I see myself in this sculpture and feel very proud.”
Set up in the 3.3-acre DeHaan Tiergarten outdoor garden, the exhibit is a thrill to experience. Through Kenney’s sculptures, zoogoers will learn about the connections in nature and the conservation efforts from the most successful animal conversationalists who have been honored by the Indianapolis Prize, the world’s leading award for animal conservation implemented by the Zoo a decade ago.
After strolling through the gardens, you can visit the Family Nature Center to try your hand at building animals with LEGO bricks. Available May 21 to September 5 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., the exhibit is free for Zoo members and included in general admission.
The Indianapolis Zoo is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday through Sunday and holidays from now until Labor Day. —Ariel Elmore