By Alyssa Mechler

Zoo moms are essential to the survival of their species, at the Lee Richardson Zoo, we have many zoo moms. Why are zoo moms so important? Moms are essential for their species to survive. 

Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited institutions help aid in the population management of certain species by maximizing genetic diversity and managing demographic distribution to ensure a stable population for the future through Species Survival Plans (SSP). 

But we couldn’t do it without the moms. They also help to educate others about their species. Zoo moms come in all sizes, from Johari, the 2,500-pound black rhinoceros, to Sugar, the 600-gram Goeldi’s monkey.

Ayubu, the 5-month-old black rhino, is a result of an SSP breeding recommendation and his first-time mom, Johari, is doing a wonderful job. Cleo, the reticulated giraffe, resides with her second calf Jasiri. Born last summer, Jasiri is also a result of an SSP breeding recommendation. 

All zoo moms can help further genetic diversity. Some youngsters move on to other zoos when they get old enough. Others, like KJ the camel stay longer. Mona, the Bactrian camel, and her 5-year-old son, KJ enjoying the day at the zoo. Don’t be fooled though, Mona is the smaller of the two. 

Another zoo mom who is together with her daughter is Amali, the African lion. Amali had five cubs in May 2015, Lulu and her four brothers. Lulu’s brothers moved to the Denver Zoo as a part of the SSP, but Lulu can be seen with Amali here in Garden City. In the wild, male lions also leave the pride they are born into.

Zoo moms are all different, but they are all equally important and just as appreciated. Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 9th, so come visit the Lee Richardson Zoo with your family and see how many zoo moms you can spot! Habitats will have a small pink ‘Zoo Mom’ sign posted to share if they are one of the many mamas of the zoo. This Mother’s Day, we would like to say “Happy Mother’s Day” to all the moms in Garden City from all of us here at the Lee Richardson Zoo.

Alyssa Mechler is an education specialist at Lee Richardson Zoo.