In the past year, an impressive number of baby animals have been born at the Santa Barbara Zoo, making it an extremely exciting time to visit. Two of the most popular attractions are the giraffe calves. One, born in March, is named Asha, which means “life” in Swahili, while Buttercup has been part of the Santa Barbara zoo family since November. Because there are only about 100 Masai giraffes in captivity in North America, the birth of each baby giraffe is extremely important for the future of the species. The zoo is especially proud of the two new calves and their sire Michael, whose genes will significantly help diversify the North American Masai population.
Asha and Buttercup are still nursing, but guests can get a closer look at the calves by helping with the adult giraffe feedings, which take place every day from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm. Proceeds from the cost of participating in the feedings support Masai giraffe conservation efforts in Tanzania and Kenya.
In addition to the two giraffe calves, visitors can also get a glimpse of the twin golden lion tamarins born last March. Frequent visitors will see how quickly they are growing at this point. Often seen riding on their parents’ backs, the bright orange monkeys are highly endangered in the Brazilian rainforests, their natural habitat, making these births extremely important for the preservation of the species. Their name comes from the rings of fur around their faces that look like a lion’s mane.
Last November also brought the birth of a giant anteater pup. Even though the pup is still growing, he continues trying to ride on his mother’s back as she gently pushes him off to encourage independence. Observant visitors will notice how the markings on the giant anteater pup line up perfectly with those on his mother. These patterns provide great camouflage from natural predators.