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2018 in Review

It's been an incredibly busy year at the ABQ BioPark

Dec. 5, 2018 - Wow! It’s been a busy year here at the ABQ BioPark. We thank the community for all of your support. As we head forward to another exciting year ahead, let’s take a moment to reminisce about a few of our biggest news items from 2018.

New Arrivals

  • This year was an exciting one for the elephant team, who welcomed baby Thorn to mother Rozie in May.
  • The Zoo also welcomed baby hyena sisters Havoc and Ruckus, the first hyena cubs born at the ABQ BioPark in 31 years. Keepers held a special gender reveal party using pumpkins with pink pudding inside.
  • Black-and-white ruffed lemurs Darby and Nuit welcomed baby Izy in April.
  • In January, Sarani, a 7-year-old female snow leopard, made her public debut at the BioPark. She and Azeo welcomed their first cub together in May.
  • Father Nine and mother Chatamik welcomed a new Cape griffon vulture chick in January.
  • In June, the Zoo welcomed a female Guam kingfisher chick. The species is extinct in the wild and only exists in zoological facilities.
  • The BioPark also said howdy to three new 1-year-old cheetah brothers named Garbanzo, Pinto and Borracho. The group started acclimating to their new home in October.
  • Male Tasmanian devils Cola and Schweppes traveled all the way from Tasmania to make their new home at the ABQ BioPark in late October.
  • The ABQ BioPark also welcomed new residents Cheza the African painted dog in March and Dale the ocelot in April.

Otter Exhibit Opening

The Aquarium opened its much-anticipated river otter exhibit in July, featuring rescue otters Chaos and Mayhem. Learn more about the otters and the grand opening of the exhibit.

Revamped Pollinator Exhibit at the Garden

The ABQ BioPark opened its new Butterflies and Bees exhibit at the Botanic Garden in August. The immersive exhibit features a variety of native pollinators including moths, butterflies, bees and beetles.

Another Successful Trip to West Africa

  • Staff returned to the Ivory Coast to continue the ABQ BioPark’s partnership to help save the West African slender-snouted crocodile. This year, they worked in the field for the first time. Read more about this year’s trip.
  • In addition, this August the BioPark hosted four zookeepers from Zoo National d’Abidjan for two weeks. Learn more about their visit.

Ghost Ranch Work

Ghost Ranch restoration project, 2018. BioPark staff working.

The ABQ BioPark took part in a planting workshop at Ghost Ranch in August.

The area suffered a catastrophic flash flood in 2015, which caused significant damage to historic buildings and the surrounding landscape.

The flood damage posed environmental risk to the historic site, as well as to the adjacent Rio Chama watershed.


Botanic Garden featured in Forbes

Forbes recognized the Botanic Garden as one of the best in the U.S. in its article “13 Ways To Enjoy The Most Beautiful Gardens In The United States Year-Round.

River of Lights featured in USA Today

The River of Lights was included as one of the best botanical garden holiday lights displays in the United States by USA Today.

Shelldon Released into the Ocean

After spending a year as an ambassador turtle at the Aquarium, Shelldon the loggerhead sea turtle was released into the Atlantic Ocean in October to live a wild life. Shelldon was a rescue turtle that the ABQ BioPark acquired through a special conservation program organized by North Carolina Aquarium.  

Social Media

We also shared some incredible social media moments with our followers!


The ABQ BioPark also said goodbye to a number of animals in 2018. Zookeepers surely miss the animals we lost this year, but also appreciate the condolences received from community members.

  • Samson the Asian elephant moved to Portland in April. He’d been a resident of the BioPark since 2003, but is fitting in nicely at the Oregon Zoo.
  • Annabelle the cheetah was euthanized in late October. She was 16 years old. The median lifespan of cheetahs in human care in Association of Zoo and Aquarium accredited facilities is 11.6 years.
  • Nancy the ABQ BioPark’s 19-year-old female Komodo dragon was euthanized in July. 
  • The Zoo also said goodbye to its 11-year-old male De Brazza’s monkey Andy, Digger the African painted dog, Gaylord the red river hog and Makayla the Tasmanian devil.

Milestone Birthdays in 2018

  • Moe the hippo: 45 years!
  • Huerfanita the gorilla: 45 years!
  • Rubi the orangutan: 25 years!
  • Manchas (Onca) the jaguar: 20 years!
  • Albert the elephant: 20 years!
  • Binyarra & McLovin the kangaroos: 10 years!
  • Pixel the orangutan: 5 years!
  • Pogo the klipspringer: 5 years!
  • Jazmine the elephant: 5 years!
  • Francis and Spring the capybaras: 5 years!
  • Yuree the red kangaroo: 5 years!
  • Kenya and Dixie the lions: 5 years!