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Animals normally lay beside each other and do the sleeping animation. Eventually, the two animals will get up and make either the 'stork and the baby' icon or the 'hearts' icon. When you see two animals sleeping beside each other in your zoo, they are mating.(or they're just randomly sleeping with each other). Sometimes, the female won't get pregnant right away, but after it mates and is not pregnant, it usually mates again, or one of the mates will make a sound like a roar, which will not be shown in the "Current Activity" area.
Disturbing them as they do the animation will stop the mating and your female will not be pregnant.
In Zoo Tycoon 2: Endangered Species, Purchasing a Breeding Center (which can be unlocked in Campaign Mode) will help endangered animals breed easier. Even without Endangered Species, animals will also be more likely to breed when they are satisfied with their environment, including their enrichment, food, etc. Some animals, however, have specific mating requirements related to their species. For example, male lions succeed better in mating with multiple females to breed with.
Some animals, mostly carnivores, give birth to two children. Herbivores usually give birth to only one offspring at a time. Mothers can't mate or get pregnant again until all her children at the time are grown up to be adults.
Guests find baby animals more interesting and are sometimes willing to give up a more generous donation to see them.
When your critically endangered, endangered, or extinct animals mate and give birth to a baby; you will get a special balloon at your front gate, corresponding to the child's gender. If it is a female child, there will be purple balloons shaped like stars. If it's a boy, then there's a blue balloon shaped like a circle. If there is a female and a male, then the two kinds of balloons will be together.
If a male mates with two females, (or more) before any of them gives birth, on his family tree, it will have the last female he mated with. When the females give birth it will show both of them as mates and both their children are his.
When a baby is born, it will be dirty. Some parents will clean their child, eliminating the need for the player or a Zookeeper to clean them, but other parents will merely leave their children as they are.