36 Adorable Zoo Babies Born in 2011
Meet Chiquita the sassy wolf pup, Aurora the clingy orangutan, and plenty more cuddly newcomers at zoos across the country.
Kasi the Cheetah
This cute cub, named Kasi (Swahili for "one with speed"), was transferred here as a newborn in February from the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, where the baby's mother was unable to care for him. These days, he is being tended to around the clock by zoo staff. He's also cohabitating with a seemingly unlikely friend: a female Labrador puppy, brought in to help the cub form an important social bond. (Zoos often bring in canines to befriend orphaned cheetahs, as the two species get along surprisingly well.) Since being introduced to each other in April, the furry tots have become fast friends—there's no fear of separation anxiety either: Animal curator Tim Smith says that Kasi and Mtani (Swahili for "close friend") will live out the rest of their lives together.
This still-unnamed mammal weighed in at four pounds when she was born on February 25. When she refused to take milk from her mother, staff members began bottle-feeding her five times a day, and she put on weight quickly. By April, she clocked in at six pounds, which is at least a fifth of her adult weight—female Thomson's gazelles, which are native to the East African plains, can reach 30 to 50 pounds when fully grown.
JACKSONVILLE ZOO AND GARDENS
From $13.95, ages 64 and older $11.95, ages 3–12 $8.95, ages 2 and under free, 370 Zoo Pkwy., Jacksonville, 904/757-4463, jacksonvillezoo.org
Chessie the Grevy's Zebra
Mom Eclipse gave birth on February 26 to this foal, who weighed in at 108 pounds and stood 3.5' tall upon arrival. Recently dubbed Chessie, he's got brown stripes that will turn black like Mama's by his first birthday. His arrival was cause for extra celebration as, unlike other types of zebras, this species is rapidly moving toward extinction: Only an estimated 2,200 remain in the wild today.
Brute the Giant Anteater
The zoo auctioned off naming privileges for this baby at a recent fund-raising event, and the winners decided to name the guy Brute. But tough as his name may be, he's pretty tender, clinging to mom Stella-Abril's tail—standard behavior for these little guys—while dad Killroy looks on. When mom was pregnant, zookeepers were able to perform ultrasounds by bribing Stella-Abril with a special treat of ripe avocado (anteaters have a soft spot for ripe fruit). As adults, these Central and South American creatures' palates are mainly focused on one thing, as they ingest up to 35,000 ants and termites a day. No teeth are required, which is good, since they don't have any. Their long, fast tongues do all the work.
Baker the Bonobo
One of the newest arrivals on the zoo circuit is Baker, a baby girl born on April 19 to mama (and bonobo-group matriarch) Lorel. A new bonobo is always cause for excitement, as it is the most threatened primate species, with only about 20,000 left in the Democratic Republic of Congo (and 290 in less than 20 zoos around the globe). But in this case, it's even more of a thrill than usual, as Baker's mom is 42—the third-oldest bonobo in the nation and the oldest bonobo in North America to give birth to a living offspring.
LINCOLN PARK ZOO
Free, 2001 N. Clark St., Chicago, 312/742-2000, lpzoo.org
Hoffman's Two-toed Sloth
Who knew slothfulness could look so sweet? This babe hugs his first-time mom tightly as she hangs upside down from the trees (which is the main activity for these mammals, the slowest in the world). The unnamed offspring, whose gender is still unknown (and whose name thus undecided), arrived on February 15 and will get around by being carried by his mama, like all baby sloths, for up to five months. Now that's attachment parenting.
Sai the White-Cheeked Gibbon
Parents Burma and Caruso (who may very well be together forever, as scientists believe that gibbons mate for life) welcomed their third baby on January 6. Sai, which means "son" in Taiwanese, is currently a golden tan shade, but he'll turn black with signature white cheeks by age 2. This species is endangered, but Sai seems to enjoy living dangerously: He's been hard at work learning how to swing on vines, sans mama, which puts him right on track developmentally.
MESKER PARK ZOO & BOTANIC GARDEN
March–October $8.50, ages 3–12 $7.50; November–February $5.50, ages 3–12 $4.50; ages 2 and under free year-round; 1545 Mesker Park Dr., Evansville, 812/435-6143, meskerparkzoo.com