The Lincoln Children's Zoo opens for its 45th season on Friday.

Folks visiting the zoo will find plenty of new furry, feathered and gilled faces to greet them. Here's what you can expect to see in 2011.

Humboldt penguins

The five boys arrived late last fall, after the zoo closed for the season. On Saturday, four penguin girls will be introduced to the boys in the brand new habitat, where the seals used to be.

To celebrate the arrivals, the zoo's Penguinpalooza begins at 10:30 a.m. Saturday and continues all day with special penguin demonstrations by zookeepers, penguin activities for kids and a guest appearance by the zoo's new mascot, Pacific the Penguin.

Penguin facts:

How to tell them apart: Each penguin has an ID band on its flipper; the males are banded on the right, the females are banded on the left. Each penguin has a different colored band that helps you tell them apart. The females -- Thelma, Avery, Riley and Kit -- will get their permanent bands on Saturday. Here's how to know who's who among the males:

Hugo -- yellow green band

Lannie -- blue band

Pengee -- red/pink band

Soren -- orange band

Age: The female penguins are between 2 and 3. The males are up to 8 years old. Penguins can live up to 25 years.

Vitals: Penguins have 70 to 80 feathers per square inch.

Diet: In the zoo, the penguins eat mackerel, smelt and capelin. Each bird eats about 2 pounds of fish per day.

Speed: They can swim up to 17 miles per hour.

FYI: The zoo will receive a fifth female penguin later this year. The arrival was delayed because she's molting, and travel would add to her stress.

Dromedary camels

Two one-hump camels will move into the newly completed camel exhibit. Michael is 7 months old; Courtney is 10 months old. They are named in memory of two Zoo School (Science Focus Program) students, Michael Berg and Courtney Cusick, who were killed in a car accident Jan. 20, 2002, in eastern Colorado. The students were among the first to enroll in Zoo School. Both loved the camels and were known to quip, "we love going to school at a camel lot." The new camels were purchased with memorial funds for the students.

"The donation of two new camels is a perfect way to celebrate Courtney and Michael's joy of life and unique personalities," said John Chapo, the zoo's executive director.

Camels Courtney and Michael are about the size of a llama now. But they should reach full height -- about 7 feet -- by the time they are 18 to 22 months old.

The zoo's new camel area allows visitors of all abilities to get up close and personal and feed them through long tubes. Both camels were hand-raised by a family with young children and are very social.

"Which is part of the reason why we selected them," Chapo said.

Ring-tailed lemurs

This endangered species is found in the wild of Madagascar. New to the Lincoln Children's Zoo, the exhibit features four females and one male. One girl and the boy are offspring of the females.

The word lemur is French and means "the ghost." The lemurs have earned the name because they are quick and can disappear from sight in the forest, Chapo said.

Lemurs use their hands and feet to move through the trees but cannot grip with their tails as some of their primate cousins do, according to National Geographic. Ring-tailed lemurs live in groups known as troops. These groups may include six to 30 animals but average about 17. Both sexes live in troops, but a dominant female presides over all.

Matschie's tree kangaroo

On Sept. 22, 2010, the zoo's adult Matschie's tree kangaroo, Milla, gave birth to a baby boy. The joey, who will be named through a zoo contest, is poking his head out of his mother's pouch fairly regularly, so if you look closely, you might be able to see him. The joey was one of only four Matschie's tree kangaroos born in the U.S. last year.

An endangered species, Matschie's tree kangaroos can only be found in the Huon Peninsula of northeastern Papua, New Guinea, living in some of the last undisturbed rain forest habitat in the world.

Giant amphiuma

This three-toed "giant salamander" will officially join the zoo later this month or early May. Siggie, as he is known (he was named after Sigmund Freud), has spent much of his life at Lincoln High School, where he has been a teaching "assistant" in Steve Ferris' science classroom. Ferris is retiring this year, and Siggie is moving to a new 260-gallon freshwater tank at the zoo.

Nubian goats

This new herd comes to Lincoln from the Indianapolis zoo. The seven goats -- five girls and two boys -- are named after Star Wars characters: Hans Solo, Chewbacca, Padme, Amidala, R2D2, Skywalker and Princess Leia.

Speaking of goats, the zoo also has a new herd of pygmy goats, five adult does and eight adorable kids.


Bender and Fry are the zoo's new 7-month-old llamas. If you're wondering about their names, you must not be a fan of the Comedy Central television's adult cartoon "Futurama."


Two horses have joined this year's stable of ponies, which means people of all sizes and ages can now get a ride around the corral. The horses are Prince Charming and Aladdin, both males. The ponies are Belle, Cinderella and Tinker Bell, all females.

The Hive

Bug Buddies is gone. In its place is a new building called The Hive, which is home to "critters who creep, crawl and fly."

The Hive is not only a place to visit during zoo hours, it also can be reserved for overnight gatherings for those who want to snooze with a snake, tuck in with a tarantula or catch some Zzs with bees.

The old Bug Buddies building is now home to the Rain Forest Room, a new facility available for group meetings, parties and receptions.

Be the first to know - Sign up for Breaking News

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Load comments