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.
$14, ages 65 and older $12, ages 2–12 $9, ages 2 and under free, 3777 Nolensville Pike, Nashville, 615/833-1534, nashvillezoo.org
Rajasi, Lisu, and Yim, the Clouded Leopards
Mid-March was a busy time at this zoo: In less than one week, two litters of endangered clouded leopards arrived. First, on March 19, Jing Jai gave birth to three cubs, though only two survived: Rajasi, a male (named for a fierce forest creature in Thai mythology), and Lisu, a female (named for a tribe in northwest Thailand). Four days later, Lom Choy delivered a single baby, Yim ("smile" in Thai). All three weighed just a half pound at birth, but now they're gaining that same amount every week, thanks to a special feline milk diet. The later that clouded leopards are introduced to potential mates, the more likely they are to be aggressive, so these cubs are being hand-reared to make it easier to introduce them to potential mates at a younger age and help them adapt to a zoo environment.
$12, ages 2–11 $8, ages 65 and older $6.50, ages 1 and under free; free admission on the first Tuesday of every month after 2 p.m.; 6200 Hermann Park Dr., Houston, 713/533-6500, houstonzoo.org
Aurora the Bornean Orangutan
And you thought your kid was needy: Baby orangutans cling to their mothers 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for at least their first six months of life. That fact was complicated for baby Aurora, who was rejected by her mom after she was born on March 2; as a solution, a mix of zoo employees from every department, as well as trained volunteers—50 in all—are taking turns wearing a furry faux orangutan vest and holding the baby round the clock until she's ready to move about by herself. Talk about being raised by a village.
Asali the Masai Giraffe
After 14 months of pregnancy (yikes!), mom Tyra delivered this little—make that big—bundle of joy on March 4: Asali ("honey" in Swahili) weighed 150 pounds and stood more than 6' at birth, and she was nursing and standing on her own just an hour after arriving. Mom Tyra, who has had five other calves, must have been very proud of her quick learner.
SMITHSONIAN NATIONAL ZOOLOGICAL PARK
Free, 3001 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, D.C., 202/633-4888, nationalzoo.si.edu
On March 20, a male crane was hatched at the Smithsonian, just the third of its kind in the zoo's history. Unlike its white parents, the baby has soft yellow-and-white feathers (mature, brilliant white plumage won't appear till age 2), and its signature below-the-beak wattle is quite small. That wattle, similar to a dog's tail, is a good indicator of the bird's state: It contracts when the crane's scared and expands when it's being aggressive.
On March 28, mom Sita and dad Ta Moon welcomed a pair of cuddly cubs, one boy and one girl. But these two won't be on view at the National Zoo, instead being raised at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Va., which is not open to the public, and then most likely sent to other institutions once they turn 6 months old. For now, the Smithsonian has made some YouTube videos available to track the cubs' progress. One helpful hint for telling who's who: The little guy is laid-back, and his sis is the fussy one!
SEE MORE POPULAR CONTENT: