Seal of Dane County County of Dane
County Executive's Office

Henry Vilas Zoo Welcomes New Babies to its Family

August 22, 2012
Casey Slaughter Becker, Office of the County Executive 608.267.8823 or cell, 608.843.8858
County Executive

Prairie Dog Pups, More Baby Geoffroy’s Marmosets Ready for Visitors


Henry Vilas Zoo is welcoming new residents after a zoo baby-boom, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced today.


“The fact that our world-class zoo continues to grow is a testament to the excellent care our new zoo babies’ parents are given,” said Parisi.  “Every new animal is an opportunity to  come back to the zoo and learn something different and exciting about the world we live in.”


In addition to new baby seal, Lucille, the zoo is welcoming prairie dog pups born early this summer.  Prairie dogs are very social rodents famous for living in large groups and creating extensive burrows, or “towns.”  Prairie dogs are extremely important to the ecosystem – they are a keystone species, so they impact a large range of plants and animals around them (including 170 vertebrate species). 


Right now, visitors can see the new prairie dog pups practicing their “alarm calls.”   When they spot danger, prairie dogs will chirp a warning to the group so that they can flee to safety in their burrows.

The zoo is also welcoming another set of baby Geoffroy’s marmosets.  Geoffrey's marmosets are found in the forests of Brazil in South America. The animals live in family groups that help the mother raise her babies.  The new babies can often be seen riding on their dad and older brother or sister’s backs.  This helps the older siblings learn how to raise their own babies.


Geoffrey's marmosets are found in the forests of Brazil in South America, and the zoo’s animals are on loan from the government of Brazil.  The marmosets diet consists of fruit, insects, and gums from trees in the wild.  Zoo staff supplement this regimen a special diet specifically for small monkeys.


“We are thrilled to be able to share our exciting new additions with guests at Henry Vilas Zoo,” said Zoo Director Ronda Schwetz.  “We work closely with other zoos on Species Survival Plans (SSP) to make sure our animal births ensure future generations for each species.  In general, our staff’s expertise in ensuring a successful outcome for all of our infants is something that we are immensely proud of.”

The zoo’s new babies are on display and ready for visitors.  They can be seen every day from 9:30am to 5pm.  The public can also keep up to date on everything new at the zoo at vilaszoo.orgor on the zoo’s Facebook page at