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Baby animals at Cleveland Zoo make Netflix debut

A baby gorilla looks at another gorilla at the zoo.
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo started its partnership with Netflix last month with the "Baby Gorilla Cam." Now the zoo is launching its "Baby Animal Cam" which will feature otters, rhinos and orangutans in addition to gorillas.

The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is expanding its programming with Netflix by launching a new set of livestreams that feature multiple baby animals.

Viewers can now watch real-time footage of the eastern black rhinos, Bornean orangutans and Asian small-clawed otters, in addition to more footage of the western lowland gorillas. Each livestream includes footage of baby animals and their families, highlighting twin otter pups, two baby orangutans, two baby gorillas and one young rhino.

“Baby Animal Cam” streams on Netflix every Thursday, 2–4 p.m., until Nov. 2.

The original partnership started last month when the story of the zoo’s two-year old gorilla caught the attention of the streaming service, said Cleveland Metroparks Zoo Executive Director Christopher Kuhar.

“Netflix reached out to us, and we were able to share the narrative that's played out here in Cleveland with the story of Kayembe, who was the first gorilla born here in our 140-year history,” he said.

Kayembe, whose name means “extraordinary,” was not properly cared for by his mother at birth, so the zoo’s team had to figure out another way to care for him. They were able to have another female gorilla become Kayembe’s surrogate caretaker.

“It was the earliest a baby gorilla had been surrogated on to another animal,” Kuhar said.

Once the zoo found out another female was expecting, the zoo was able to use that narrative to solidify its partnership with Netflix, he said.

Named “Baby Gorilla Cam” after Kayembe and the recently born Kunda, the zoo engaged more than 11,500 viewers from 45 countries by posting a poll on social media to name to newborn female.

“This this has been a really good opportunity for us to get our story out there and the story about Cleveland spread globally,” Kuhar said.

Recordings of “Baby Gorilla Cam” are still available as on-demand episodes to Netflix users, even as the zoo expands its livestreaming to include more animals.

“Since we have multiple cameras in the four different exhibits, it really provides an interesting opportunity to see a couple of different animals and provide some opportunities for us to highlight the most active or interesting things at that time,” Kuhar said.

Jenna Bal was a news intern at Ideastream Public Media from January 2023 to May 2024.