The Houston Zoo experienced quite the baby boom in 2020 and welcomed several new additions to the herd, including Nelson the Asian elephant, Kivuli the okapi, Peter Rabbit the Schmidt’s red-tailed monkey, three bongos, and others. These babies aren’t just cute, they are helping save their counterparts in the wild. Simply by visiting the Houston Zoo, guests are contributing to saving wildlife.
March 31: Traci, Giant Anteater
The Zoo welcomed a male giant anteater baby on the evening of March 31 to mom Olive. Giant anteaters spend the first few weeks of life clinging to their mothers and will typically hitch a ride on mom’s back for almost 12 months. Even though he’s almost as big as Olive at nine months old, Traci can still be found on her back sometimes at the Zoo’s newest addition, South America’s Pantanal.
April 10: Peter Rabbit, Schmidt’s Red-tailed Monkey
In the early hours of April 10, a male Schmidt’s red–tailed monkey was born to mother Njeri and was named Peter Rabbit in honor of Easter weekend. Peter was hand-raised by keepers and veterinary staff members after the infant could no longer hold on to mom before reuniting with mom full-time in August.
May 12: Nelson, Asian Elephant
On May 12, 29-year-old Asian elephant Shanti gave birth to a 326-pound male calf after a short labor. Immediately following his birth, the elephant team and veterinary staff saw that he was hemorrhaging severely from his umbilicus. Upon further investigation, they determined that he tore a vessel in his umbilical cord during birth. The team acted quickly to sedate the one-hour-old calf and get him into emergency surgery. The Houston Zoo veterinarians performed the 30-minute procedure to find the torn vessel, stop the bleeding, and close the hole in the calf’s abdomen. Nelson is thriving under the care of his keepers, and now weighs nearly 1,000 pounds! Guests can see Nelson, and the rest of the herd, in the McNair Asian Elephant Habitat.
July 1: Tenrecs
On June 16, three Madagascar lesser hedgehog tenrecs were born at 11:00 a.m. The tiny newborns weighed only 10 grams (small enough to fit on a small spoon!) at birth and are now 10 times their birth weight. The tenrecs at the Houston Zoo live behind the Children’s Zoo and participate in educational programs and keeper talks. They are ambassador animals helping to educate guests the importance of saving their counterparts, and other animals, around the world.
July 19: Kivuli, Okapi
On July 19, the Houston Zoo welcomed a baby okapi to the world. Mom Sukari (13) delivered the calf in the okapi yard, and within the hour, the calf stood with help from mom. She made her public debut on August 12. The Zoo then held a public naming contest, and the name that was chosen was Kivuli, which means “Shadow” in the Swahili language.
July & August: Bongo Times Three
The Houston Zoo’s male eastern bongo Bobby is a daddy, times three! Over a span of three and a half weeks, the three female bongos each gave birth to healthy calves. Penelope gave birth on July 21 to a male calf, Bernadette on July 29 to a female, and Lily is the most recent mother, birthing her male calf on Aug. 15. All three baby bongos and their mothers can be seen daily in the bongo yard at the Houston Zoo.
Fall: 2 Santa Catalina Rattlesnakes and 40 Bornean Eared Frogs
In the fall, the Herpetology department welcomed some of the Zoo’s smallest new additions, two Santa Catalina Island rattlesnakes and 40 Bornean eared frogs. The rattlesnakes’ birth is an important event, both for the SSP population and for the Houston Zoo, as these offspring are not only genetically valuable, but this was also the first time this species has reproduced at the Houston Zoo.
November 17: Marlie, Howler Monkey
And last, but not least! A baby howler monkey, named Marlie, was born on Nov. 17 to mom Charlie and dad Howie. Both mom and baby are healthy, and after spending time together bonding, they can now be seen with the rest of the howler monkey family in South America’s Pantanal.