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.
Zuri the Masai Giraffe
Four-year-old Tessa became a first-time mom on April 2, when her little Zuri (Swahili for "beautiful") became the first giraffe to be born at the zoo since 1985. Masai Giraffes are the largest of the giraffe subspecies; they can grow up to 17', and their tongues alone extend a foot and a half in length. Less than a half hour after Zuri's arrival, she attempted to stand for the first time, and an hour after that she was nursing, no doubt worn out and hungry from her eventful day.
Born April 5 to mom Sandy and dad Andy, this wide-eyed creature—an East African primate—is also called a "greater bushbaby," due to its childlike cry. Because its highly protective parents have been keeping their bundle of joy tucked safely away in a cozy box, not much is yet known about the infant—not even its gender, which is why the zoo staff has yet to come up with a name.
Parents Dagwood and Blondie welcomed a pair of babies on April 4. Details on them are scarce, as they have not been named (reptiles at the zoo, said a spokesperson, are often not given names at all) and their genders are yet to be determined (the only way to figure out whether a turtle is a boy or a girl is through blood tests, which can take some time). But, just like Mom and Dad and the rest of the African species, they have flat, flexible shells, making them much more agile than your average turtle.
Caspian the Eurasian Eagle Owl
This fluffy owl chick hatched on March 30—and though he emerged at only around a quarter of a pound, he is part of one of the largest owl species in the world and could grow to have a wingspan of six feet. Eurasian eagle owls, found all across Europe and Asia as well as in parts of North Africa, feed mostly on small mammals (Caspian likes mice) and as adults can prey on larger ones such as foxes and young deer.
COLUMBUS ZOO AND AQUARIUM
$14, ages 60 and older $10, ages 2–9 $9, ages 1 and under free; 50 percent off admission in January and February; 4850 West Powell Rd., Powell, 800/666-5397, colszoo.org
Ariki the North Island Brown Kiwi
Humans aren't the only species to experience fertility issues: The Columbus Zoo had been trying to breed its female kiwi (an endangered species) for nine years. Its efforts paid off on March 23, when, after pairing the gal with a new male, this fluffy brown male chick was born. The arrival of Ariki (a Polynesian word for "chief") was quite a monumental one: The Columbus Zoo is only the third zoo in North America since 1975 to successfully hatch a kiwi chick.
Wilbur the Bonobo
The entire social structure of the bonobo community revolves around sex, which explains why it took some time—and the aid of a paternity test!—to identify the father (a male named Donnie) of baby Wilbur, born just before the new year. Doting mama Ana Neema has two other offspring, nine-year-old Bila Isa and four-year-old Gilda. Bonobos are endangered inhabitants of the Congo jungle who eat mainly fruit. The creatures share more than 98 percent of the same DNA with humans—which may explain that preoccupation with carnal relations.
From $20, ages 60 and older $19, ages 4–12 $15, ages 3 and under free, 14000 International Rd., Cumberland, 740/638-5030, thewilds.org
Talk about a birthday party! Between March and April, each of the seven Sichuan takins living in this 10,000-acre open-range habitat gave birth to a baby. Since the facility simulates the animals' wild habitat, all of the takins live in herds and the kids are cared for in nursery groups, just as they would be in the Himalayan Mountains. Colloquially known as "goat antelopes" since they have characteristics of both of those animals, the takin babes weighed just 12 to 15 pounds at birth, but eventually they'll reach 500 to 800 pounds.
Open March 1–November 30, $8, ages 62 and older $6, ages 2–12 $5, ages 1 and under free, 423 W. 38th St., Erie, 814/864-4091, eriezoo.org
Huey and Opie, the Goats
Born in March on a farm in southwest Pennsylvania, two male kids—a curly Angora named Huey and a Nubian named Opie—are being raised at the zoo. They're bottle-fed by staffers three times a day as they bleat with joy and wag their little tails (much to the delight of onlookers). They may look small now, but they grow up fast—especially the Nubian, who should reach about 175 pounds by his first birthday.