CHITTENANGO, N.Y. — From a jaguar cub and twin lemurs to a baby camel and a kangaroo that recently left his mother’s pouch, the Wild Animal Park in Madison County is booming with babies.
The private zoo located on 12 acres just north of the village of Chittenango will open for the season on Saturday. And a lot has happened since the park closed for the season last year.
“We made a lot of changes and we have a lot of babies,” said Animal Handler and Manager Danielle Head. “It’s baby galore.”
The zoo introduced the male jaguar cub on Facebook this week and is having a naming contest. When the male matures he will be paired up with Keeya, the zoo’s female jaguar. For now the jaguar cub will make appearances at the zoo and is being cared for off the property where he is being bottle-fed.
The petting zoo area is stock full of babies, including baby pigs and goats and a young camel, who is less than two months old. The young female camel is a bactrian camel — meaning she has two humps. She is still being bottle-fed but guests can start feeding her grains later in the summer, Head said.
The baby camel is housed with 18 baby goats, which are called kids. Three were born on Wednesday and more are expected to be born soon, Head said.
The zoo also welcomed a baby spider monkey, and had several piglets and twin lemurs born at the zoo recently. A baby kangaroo left its mother’s pouch this week and will be available for guests to hold and take photos with this season.
One of the most notable births was a zebra that was born during a massive snow storm in March. He was name Blizzard. Another baby zebra was born in late December. His name is Popcorn. Popcorn and Blizzard share the same father.
In addition to babies, the zoo has welcomed several new animals during the off-season, including a Timber rattlesnake and a binturong, also known as a bearcat. Both are located in the main building where guests enter the park. There is also a new herd of blackbuck antelope.
Head said one of the most exciting new features is the parakeet house, which allows guests to feed 400 parakeets.
“The public doesn’t know about it yet,” Head said. “I think people will be excited.”
The colorful birds will sit in trees or land on people to eat seeds off of sticks, which guests can purchase.
Over the past two years the zoo has grown with popularity and has made numerous improvements. A major improvement for the 2017 season is a new sounds system for the park. A popular feature at the zoo is its area of bounce houses for children. A new slide has been added this year.
Owner Jeff Taylor has also added a special area of the park to honor one of the zoo’s biggest fans who passed away this year.
As guests approach the giraffe enclosure, a special corner of benches has been dedicated to Regan Shetsky. Regan, 3, died Jan. 4 after she was hit by a car in the parking lot of her Syracuse nursery school. The Wild Animal Park was her favorite place, according to her mother Kelly…