I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville wife and mother with a passion for family travel, (mostly) healthy cooking, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries with you, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark.
September 19, 2018
If I had to be reincarnated as an animal, you’d better believe I’d come back as a zoo baby. I mean, think about it… These little guys live in the lap of luxury, they get waited on hand and foot by the zookeepers, they don’t have to worry about predators or finding food, and they have an adoring crowd of visitors oohing and ahhing over them all day long.
Yes, a zoo baby is the life for reincarnated-as-an-animal me — especially if I get to choose the Nashville Zoo as my home base. This zoo is doing an amazing job of breeding its animals and making sure the offspring survive — I know because I get the emails every time a new Nashville zoo baby is born, and from the sound of things, it’s like a maternity ward over there!
Since fall is decidedly the best time to visit the zoo, I headed over last week to meet the latest crop of younguns for myself. Right now, there are six baby animals on exhibit. Read all about them here, then give your kids the backstory before taking them to see Nashville’s zoo babies in person.
While you’re visiting the Andean bears at Expedition: Peru, head inside the ladies’ room to see two of the zoo’s newest additions: Twin cotton-top tamarins!
Rosa and Mateo were born to proud parents Caqueta and Pancho on May 23rd. Their birth was a big deal at the zoo for a couple of reasons — Although tamarins typically give birth overnight and zookeepers find the babies in the morning, in this case Caqueta gave birth at 4 in the afternoon, allowing zookeepers the very rare opportunity to witness her labor and birth. Also, Caqueta had given birth only once before, and that baby died after a couple of days due to a genetic defect. The twins, on the other hand, are strong, healthy, and very active. It is now all good in this tamarin ‘hood.
Another detail that got zookeepers excited was that father Pancho began carrying both babies on his back shortly after they were born. Typically, it takes a mother tamarin a few weeks to allow the father to get involved, but Pancho is a true Millennial dad and he’s been totally paws-on with his babies from the start — although I’m told he looked ‘completely overwhelmed’ when both babies crawled onto his back at once and at times would run and hide when it all got to be too much for him…
I think we can all relate.
Rosa and Mateo are four months old now and they’re basically in the preschooler phase of their lives, which means they are very active and TOTALLY ADORABLE. They’re no longer climbing on their parents’ backs, but instead are busy learning the ins and outs of tamarining. Yes, I made tamarin a verb. What of it?
While I was there, Rosa and Mateo were practicing grooming their parents and it was the cutest thing ever. They also spent lots of time leaping between the branches in their exhibit. They’ve gotten good at this now, but their zookeeper told me she had ‘about 90 heart attacks’ watching them learn to leap when they were a little younger. I can only imagine!
One thing that’s really neat about these tamarins is that they’re very aware of what’s going on outside their exhibit — I think they watched me as much as I watched them!
Other cool tamarin facts you can share with the kids —
–Cotton-top tamarins are among the most endangered primates in the world. They’re found only in the forests of Colombia and are endangered because of deforestation and the pet trade.
–Baby cotton-top tamarins take about a year and half to fully mature. In the wild, they would live in a family group for several years and in that family group, only the dominant male and female breed. It’s believed the dominant female’s pheromones actually suppress those of the other females so that they can’t get pregnant.
–Caqueta is five years old; Pancho is 14. It’s a true May-December romance!
Onto our next zoo babies!
The meerkats are busy taking care of three brand new members of the family — Harpua, Bioko, and Ghost were born to parents Calvin and Victoria on July 11th. They were born inside one of the zoo buildings overnight and the next morning, Victoria carried the pups outside to a burrow, where they stayed for the first month of their lives without coming aboveground. Victoria and Calvin had three pups last year as well — Now, those older siblings are helping to care for the new babies by bringing them food and playing with them. This way, the older siblings are preparing to be great parents themselves some day.
After a month, the babies came aboveground and began the process of learning how to fend for themselves. Already, their personalities are emerging. Harpua is feisty and brave. Harpua was the first of the three to roam the farthest from the hole. Bioko, like Calvin, is shy and often hangs back in social situations.
Ghost is the easiest of the three to identify — Ghost was named because its light-colored fur. Yes, I know I called Ghost an ‘it.’ Zookeepers won’t know if these babies are male or female until Victoria and Calvin allow them to get close enough for a vet to check them out.
These pups are growing up FAST, so you’ll definitely want to check them out sooner rather than later.
Other fun meerkat facts:
-A colony of meerkats is called a ‘mob.’
-Although up to 30 meerkats can live together in one mob, typically only the dominant male and female mate and produce offspring.
-Each baby meerkat is typically assigned an older ‘mentor,’ who teaches it important life skills like digging and catching prey.
Our final zoo baby is a little bit older, but no less PRESHUS.
Makaio was born in June of 2016 to the zoo’s white-cheeked gibbons, Singwah and Paddy. He’s two now and his fur has changed from white to black, but he’s still adorbs!
Makaio is my favorite zoo animal right now because he’s always on the go and constantly making trouble. My son and I went to the zoo a few months ago and spent quite a while watching Makaio harrass his father, Paddy. Paddy clearly wanted to be left alone, but Makaio was having none of that — Every time Paddy moved away, Makaio went after him and climbed all over him until he couldn’t take it anymore. Paddy finally climbed a tree to escape his son — Makaio quickly climbed another tree right beside him and hopped over to his dad’s tree at the top so that he could harrass poor Paddy some more. We could not stop laughing!
A few more fun facts:
-Makaio is the first white-cheeked gibbon to be born at the Nashville Zoo.
-Female gibbons remain blonde, while male gibbons’ fur darkens to black.
-Makaio’s favorite treat is grapes.
-Makaio will remain with his parents until he reaches maturity, somewhere between the ages of five and seven.
-White-cheeked gibbons are critically endangered. They live in Vietnam and China and they’re losing their habitat to deforestation.
-If you’ve been to the zoo a few times, chances are you’ve heard the gibbons singing. In the wild, gibbons live in small family units of male, female, and young offspring — They often sing in unison each morning to claim their territory.
Head over to the Nashville Zoo pronto to see these zoo babies before they grow up!