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A year of change at the ABQ BioPark

New faces and exhibits, milestone birthdays and some goodbyes in 2019.

New Arrivals

  • Seven-year-old Niara gave birth to a healthy male calf, Neelix, in January.
  • The ABQ BioPark welcomed Indah, a 5-year-old female Komodo dragon, from the Phoenix Zoo in February. Indah means "beautiful" in Indonesian.
  • Samantha, a Western lowland gorilla, came to the Zoo in April from the Glady's Porter Zoo in Texas.
  • The ABQ BioPark welcomed Mexican wolf cubs for the first time in nearly 15 years in May. Mom Kawi and dad Ryder are paired as part of the Mexican gray wolf Species Survival Plan.
  • Kailash, a male snow leopard was born on May 30 to mom Sarani and dad Azeo.
  • The Zoo opened its Penguin Chill exhibit in July. This exhibit features gentoo, macaroni and king penguins, and is the first of its kind in the Southwest.
  • Camilla the reticulated giraffe gave birth to a healthy baby girl, Sandi, in July.
  • Nia Lewa, a 16-year-old female Western lowland gorilla, joined the ABQ BioPark family in July.
  • In October, the Zoo took in an orphaned mountain lion cub from Nebraska named Larabee. This continues the BioPark's legacy of taking in rescue mountain lions.
  • The Zoo welcomed a new baby red-footed tortoise in October.
  • The ABQ BioPark contributed to the the population of ocelots in AZA zoos, by welcoming two healthy ocelot kittens from mom Lucy and dad Dale this October.  
  • The ABQ BioPark welcomed a 10-year-old female mountain lion named Gillin. Gillin arrived from the Northeastern Wisconsin Zoo and Adventure Park in November.

Milestone Birthdays

50 years old

Memala the Sumatran orangutan

40 years old

Tonka the Sumatran orangutan

Major Mitchell’s cockatoo

30 years old

Brian the siamang

25 years old

Maybelline the Abyssinian ground hornbill

Mr. White the emu

15 years old

Ernie the black vulture

Hasani the Western lowland gorilla

10 years old

Camilla the giraffe

Smilla the hyena

Davi the golden lion tamarin

5 years old

Rio and Desi the chimpanzees

Orlan the Stellar sea eagle

Lucy the ocelot

Thing 1 the flamingo

1 year old

Thorn the Asian elephant

Yeti the snow leopard

Dash the snow leopard

Havoc and Ruckus the spotted hyenas

Penguins Exhibit Opening

The much anticipated Penguin Chill exhibit opened in July with about 30 new gentoo, macaroni and king penguins. The 14,550-square-foot building includes a 75,589 gallon main tank, above-ground and underwater guest viewing areas, a large interactive educational area and an outdoor deck overlooking the Zoo's main park.

Mexican Gray Wolves

The ABQ BioPark welcomed wolf pups for the first time in nearly 15 years this May, but that’s not the only way the Zoo contributed to the conservation of this New Mexico native and critically endangered sub-species of the gray wolf. In the fall, the BioPark welcomed a male and female wolf that will be paired together while they await a permanent pairing at another facility. The Zoo also cared for several wild wolves who were injured from snare traps. Ultimately, wild wolves return to their wild packs after being cared for and rehabilitated at the BioPark.

Landmark Births

This fall’s ocelot birth was full of firsts. Not only were parents Lucy and Dale first time parents, but this marked the first time that the ABQ BioPark welcomed ocelot babies. Lucy’s pregnancy will be used to expand the ocelot management database for other AZA institutions because she did not show the typical signs of being pregnant. Learn more here.

This spring’s addition of wolf cubs to the pack also marked the first time in 15 years that the ABQ BioPark had welcomed baby lobos. Male cub Archer is now nearly indistinguishable from his parents Ryder and Kawi and is expected to help rear any incoming additions to the growing pack.

Partnership With PNM

The ABQ BioPark and PNM came together in 2019 to utilize tree branches collected by PNM to feed some of the BioPark's herbivores like giraffes.


The ABQ BioPark also said goodbye to a number of animals in 2019. Zookeepers surely miss the animals we lost this year, but also appreciate the condolences received from community members.

  • The Zoo lost 18-year-old Sunny the Komodo dragon to age-related kidney failure in January.
  • The Zoo said goodbye to its 20-year-old jaguar Manchas (also known as Onca) in January. The average lifespan for jaguars in 17 years.
  • Poppi the 9-year-old Tasmanian devil passed away in March. The expected lifespan for Tasmanian devils is 5 years.
  • Jambazi, a male reticulated giraffe, left the ABQ BioPark in April for the Cape May County Zoo in New Jersey. He is recommended to breed in his new herd.
  • Tusa, a female Western lowland gorilla, left Albuquerque in May for the Cleveland Metro Parks Zoo in Ohio. She joins a troop of five gorillas and is recommended to breed.
  • Malika, a female reticulated giraffe, left Albuquerque in May for the Lincoln Children's Zoo in Nebraska. She is also recommended to breed in her new herd.
  • Tulivu, a female Western lowland gorilla, left the ABQ BioPark in July for the Cincinnati Zoo as recommended by the Gorilla Species Survival Plan.
  • Shirley, a 16-year-old Navajo sheep who lived at the Heritage Farm at the ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden died in August. Her sister Laverne passed away in October.
  • Darla, the 17-year-old mountain lion, passed away in early December. Her brother Spanky died in August. Both suffered from age-related illnesses. Median life expectancy for mountain lions is 13 years, so the pair well surpassed their peers.
  • Meri the 16-year-old Matschie's tree kangaroo passed away in December due to old age.