Three baby animals – a bonobo, giraffe and jaguar — lured us to the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. It’s hard for us – especially David — to resist the cuteness of little creatures. And after seeing an intriguing PBS program about bonobos (a species of chimpanzee), we were especially eager to go.
The zoo’s most recent arrival was a female bonobo born in early November. She was only 23 days old when we were there. Her mother, Kuni, had her so protectively cradled in her arms that it was nearly impossible to see her. But David got the two on camera.
The other bonobos romped on the swing set, played with their blankets, and chased and wrestled with each other. (The zoo gives each of them a blanket when the weather starts to get chilly.) Their behaviors and antics were so much like us humans that it was eerie! Actually, they and the common chimpanzee are our closest existing non-human relatives.
Another cutie was Twiga, a recticulated giraffe born last July. Like all giraffes, his birth required about a six-foot drop from the birth canal to the groun! He arrived in the world already weighing 128 pounds and standing 5’6″ tall. Now five months old, Twiga was a bit hesitant about stepping away from the far corner of the pasture. But when he did step out, he strode across the pasture with the elegance of his elders.
The oldest of the new animals was Henry, a jaguar born on New Year’s Day, 2009. Both of his parents were born in the wild, which makes Henry the prize of the zoo. His wild roots make him much in demand with other zoos wanting to breed him with jaguars born in captivity. He’s got a great future ahead of him. While he matures, the cuddly-looking little guy struts his stuff in the jaguar exhibit.
Triga, Henry and the yet-to-be-naned bonobo made our visit to the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens an especially fun outing.