Vote Now for 2012's Cutest Zoo Baby!

It's that time of year again! One of the annual traditions at BT is picking the cutest zoo babies in America, and it's no easy task. We couldn't choose between these three adorable newborns. So please help us determine a winner! And see who the victor is on May 15 at 10 p.m. EST.

The Finalists

  • Maggie the Giraffe

    Birthday: January 12, 2012
    Hometown Zoo: Oakland Zoo, Oakland, California
    Cuddle Report: Singular sensation. Maggie, who has the distinctive box-like patches of a reticulated giraffe, is the zoo's first female giraffe baby in more than a decade, and one of the only 5,000 of her species left.

  • Chận Sūng the Clouded Leopard

    Birthday: March 6, 2012
    Hometown Zoo: Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, Tacoma, Washington
    Cuddle Report: Small fry. The tiny exotic cat weighed just half a pound at birth. Do you agree with the zoo's staff biologist, who declared that there is "nothing more adorable than clouded leopard cubs"?

  • Ebi the Chimp

    Birthday: January 16, 2012
    Hometown Zoo: North Carolina Zoo, Asheboro, North Carolina
    Cuddle Report: Mamma's girl. Ebi and mom Tammy are enjoying serious bonding time without intervention from the zoo's staff.

Finalists Details

Maggie the Giraffe

Maggie—the zoo's first female giraffe baby in more than a decade—was born to mom Twiga and dad Mabusu, away from onlookers, on January 12. She was a massive bundle of joy at 80 pounds, 72 inches, and she had excellent timing, arriving just a few weeks before the zoo hosted a conference for the International Association of Giraffe Care Professionals, which drew a slew of giraffe-loving zookeepers, vets and researchers. Maggie is part of the reticulated giraffe species, so named for their distinctive pattern of brown, box-like patches. Their numbers in the wild have been greatly decreasing; a decade ago there were 30,000, and today there are fewer than 5,000 reticulated giraffes, found mainly in northeast Kenya.

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Chận Sūng the Clouded Leopard

"There is nothing more adorable than clouded leopard cubs," declared staff biologist Andy Goldfarb, who has cared for exotic cats for more than 25 years. And he was present for the birth of the newest cutie (and his sister) born on March 6 to mom Chai Li and pop Nah Fun. Chận Sūng (which means Noble) and his sister Suksn (Mischievous) weighed just a half-pound, and are being hand raised by zoo staffers. Soon, he will move into the zoo's new cub den, where visitors will be able to see him up close as he is fed and cared for. Clouded leopards live mostly in the forest of Southeast Asia, where massive clear-cutting for oil palm plantations has threatened their populations. Exactly how many clouded leopards exist is unknown because the cats are so difficult to study (this is one of only three zoos in the country breeding endangered clouded leopard cubs, along with Nashville Zoo and Smithsonian Institution's National Zoo). "We hope our visitors will fall in love with these cubs," added Goodrowe Beck, "and get inspired to help save clouded leopards in the wild."

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Ebi the Chimp

This new baby girl and her 41-year-old mom Tammy have been enjoying some serious mother-daughter time since Ebi was born on January 16. That's because Tammy—who gave birth to her last baby, Maki, in 1994—is caring for her infant on her own, without any intervention from staff members, and the two need time to bond. They also need to stay warm and cozy indoors, which is why these two won't be in the public eye until at least the start of summer, according to zoo general curator Ken Reininger. Ebi's already made her mark, though, as her birth brought the number of chimps here to a dozen, helping the troop here remain one of the largest in all U.S. zoos.

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