Getting Wild

Mesker Park Zoo welcomes new faces

Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden has welcomed some new faces from the animal kingdom.

Poppy and Pretzel are three-month-old binturongs, a small mammal. When the twins were born in April, they each weighed less than a pound but since have grown to about five pounds, says Shannon Irmscher, animal curator at Mesker Park Zoo. The female, Poppy, is outgoing and easy to identify with a small gold patch on her chest. The male, Pretzel, has a more laid-back personality; when everyone else is socializing, he likes to sleep, Irmscher says. Originally from Southeast Asia, this pair lives in Mesker’s Children’s Enchanted Forest.

Photo provided by Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden. Soona the ocelot relocated from the Pittsburgh Zoo in May.

Soona, a medium-sized ocelot native to southwestern North America as well as Central and South Americas, joined Mesker from the Pittsburgh Zoo in May.

Irmscher says Soona is a rather shy cat, but zookeepers are hopeful she will warm up to them.

“She did better than I expected when we got her,” Irmscher says.

Soona also will celebrate her seventh birthday in September. Proficient in climbing and leaping, Soona often can be spotted on her tall perch by the Discovery Center.

The zoo at 1545 Mesker Park Drive also celebrated a first: the birth of a howler monkey.

“It was a surprise to all of us,” Irmscher says, adding that Callie, a first-time mother, and baby are doing well after the May birth. Visitors can view the new family in the Amazonia exhibit.

In April, the zoo also welcomed its first Humboldt penguin hatchling. To name the chick, Mesker officials are holding a contest that doubles as a fundraiser for the zoo’s wildlife. To participate, donate $2 per online vote and choose from the names Louie, Maverick, Jester, Rocky, or Pickle. The contest runs Monday, July 31.

Jodi Keen
Jodi Keen
Jodi Keen is the managing editor of Evansville Living and Evansville Business magazines.

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