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Celebrating zoo moms

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

With the recent baby boom at Woodland Park Zoo, we have posted endless photos and updates on all the fuzzy and feathered new faces that call the zoo home.

But with Mother’s Day and Mom & Me presented by Verity Credit Union just around the corner, let’s not forget about the amazing animal moms who are working hard every day to care for these little ones.


Original photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo; modified.

When you watch lion mom Adia at play with her high energy cubs, you can see just how youthful she herself is—giving as good as she gets with the four little tail biters that never turn down a game of tag. At just 3 years old, it wasn’t long ago that Adia was a cub herself.

Adia watching over a playful cub. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

But motherhood has certainly brought out the lioness in young Adia. Caring for four cubs is no easy task for a first-time mom, but her instincts kicked in the moment she gave birth, and she hasn’t missed a beat since.


Screen capture from internal keeper cam.
Junior, like all jaguar dads, isn’t involved with his babies’ daily care, which leaves first-time mom Nayla with all the fun of raising her triplet cubs, born in March. All appear to be doing well under her watch in their behind-the-scenes den. In the wild, a jaguar will give birth in a den and keep her vulnerable, growing cubs there for weeks before emerging as a family.

Video: Jaguar cubs exploring their den.

Nayla is showing that very same instinct, keeping her cubs tucked away and guarded. It’ll be several more weeks before she is ready to emerge onto the exhibit with her triplets, which will by then all be big enough and coordinated enough to navigate their way around our award-winning Jaguar Cove.


Original photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo; modified.

Tasha has proven to be such a protective mom, keeping her babies so closely guarded that we couldn’t even visually confirm we had two sloth bear cubs until weeks after their birth! Now that the young family has made their debut, visitors get to see firsthand how devoted Tasha is to their well-being. 

Tasha watching one of her little climbers. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

She keeps an eye on the duo as they climb and explore, and shows them where all the best spots are for snacking, sunning, and lounging around. The babies cling to her back for rides and she carries them ably even as they grow bigger before our eyes.


Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

First-time porcupine mom Molly is a master snuggler, cozying up to her porcupette, Gavin, for some bonding.

Gavin got a quick checkup and weigh-in from his keepers when his newborn quills were still soft enough to handle. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

When porcupines give birth, they tuck their young ones hidden away to keep them protected while they go out to explore for food. Molly showed that very same instinct after giving birth, tucking Gavin away in a behind-the-scenes den while she’d venture out onto her Northern Trail exhibit to eat and explore. Gavin has now joined mom out on exhibit and the prickly pair can be spotted on the ground or up in the trees.


Once a zoo baby herself, this is Maria at one year old, seen here with keeper Celine Pardo just before an exam. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Born at the zoo in 2010—one of the first chicks hatched in the colony after the opening of our new, award-winning penguin exhibit—Humboldt penguin Maria is now a mom herself. 

Maria’s chick gets a quick inspection from a zookeeper before being returned to its parents behind the scenes. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

She hatched her first chick on April 27, just two days after her own 3rd birthday, with partner Pizarron. Unlike the other zoo moms spotlighted here, Maria has an active partner in Pizarron, who at 13 years old is an experienced dad. Pizarron is teaching Maria how to tend to the chick and the pair is doing well, keeping it fed and comfortable in their nesting burrow. Maria’s chick is one of 8 hatched this year. In the next few weeks, the chick will get some swimming lessons from keepers in a behind-the-scenes pool to prepare it for its exhibit debut, coming later this summer.


Original photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo; modified.

Tree kangaroo Elanna gave birth to a joey the size of a lima bean in June, then carried it in her pouch for months before the little thing finally began to emerge. Elanna pulled double duty as restaurant and shelter for the joey’s long infancy, and even as the baby left her pouch and grew more independent, he was known to duck back inside just for the comfort of mom-and-me time.

Video: Tree roo joey behind the scenes with mom.

Since these endangered animals are so shy and sensitive, Elanna and her joey live in a behind the scenes area of the zoo to give them the quiet they need to thrive together. Zoo fans have watched Elanna and joey for weeks now on our exclusive, behind-the-scenes animal cam, which ended its run this week. With tens of thousands of eyes on mom, we have to say she never disappointed, and boy was she tested by baby’s high energy at times, as you can see in this video!

Moms all around the community

Photo by Mat Hayward/Woodland Park Zoo.

It’s not just the moms of our zoo babies that make Woodland Park Zoo special—it’s the thousands of moms and families who visit the zoo every day and make this place a part of their own family traditions. We celebrate all moms this weekend with the 23rd annual Mom & Me presented by Verity Credit Union on May 11. Moms get half off admission at the event, and families of all ages will enjoy special activities throughout the day. Don’t miss our keeper talks focusing on the zoo moms and babies on exhibit now. Get the full schedule at See you there!


rs gold said…
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