The 35 Cutest Zoo Babies of 2012
Trying to figure out what to do with the kids this weekend? We found 23 zoos around the country (some with free admission!) with adorable new additions, from Anala the Indian rhino in Miami to Kiazi the De Brazza's monkey in Denver.
Cofi the Giraffe
Mom Cupid delivered one very big girl on January 27: Cofi, her 6'2", 176-pound baby. But she was already an old pro: this was Cupid's fifth calf. Cofi is the second for father Jafari—Tesa, another female in the herd, gave birth to his first daughter just two months before. Cofi's name in Swahili means "born on Friday" (which she was) and her arrival brings the park's reticulated giraffe population to 19. Cupid will nurse and care for her little one until about the end of April, when they will then join the other creatures of Serengeti Plain exhibit.
What's furry, striped, and about the height of an iPhone? An emu chick, of course. These two busted out of their dark-green eggs on February 5 and 6 after tapping for a while from the inside. This signal tipped off zookeepers that the little guys were getting ready to hatch, prompting them to place the eggs in an incubator. The flightless birds are part of the ratite order, along with ostriches, rheas, cassowary, and kiwis.
Anala the Indian Rhino
Baby Anala is still an infant, but already she's been hailed as a history maker: The female Indian one-horned rhinoceros is the first of her highly endangered species to be born in the history of all South Florida zoos—and one of only three born in U.S. captivity in 2011. She's the first offspring for both mom Kalu (who gracefully endured a 16-month pregnancy) and dad Suru, who arrived at Zoo Miami in 2003 as part of a breeding loan with the San Francisco Zoo. Anala was born on December 29, 2011, and spent several weeks cloistered with mom but is now on view for visitors. "She's a very curious baby that shows little or no fear," says a zookeeper, "and she has an adorable habit of resting her head on top of her mother's while she is sleeping." Get all your "awwwws" in now, though: Anala, like all Indian rhinos, could reach a whopping 6,000 pounds by the time she's full-grown.
Golden Lion Tamarin
The latest addition here is a yet-to-be-named tiny Golden Lion Tamarin, who has been thriving since her birth on February 25—and that's saying a lot, considering that her early days were marred by tragedy. Two other infants were born with the tiny babe to mom Robin, but they did not survive: One died at birth, while another died just four days later, following a fatal fall. Infant mortality is not uncommon in golden lion tamarins, say zoo officials, as they weigh only around two ounces at birth. But mom will get some time to recover from her losses as dad Theo took over caring for the baby after just a few weeks, as is customary for the African-native creatures.
With a snout like a pig's, ears like a donkey's, and a tongue like an anteater's, this strange little wrinkly calf has an interesting life of insect-devouring and daytime-burrowing ahead of it. Born on January 12 to mom Jessi and dad Hoover, this as-yet-unnamed babe—whose sex is still unknown—was fragile, as all aardvark infants are, and has received plenty of top-notch care from zoo staffers. But soon the "earth pig," as is the translation for the Afrikaans word aardvark, will be inhaling up to 90,000 insects with its sticky, six-foot-long tongue in a single day, just like the rest of its species. Also on the menu: ants, and fruits such as the aardvark cucumber (a spiny fruit from their native southern Africa). To accommodate aardvarks' desire to burrow and escape the sun during the day, the zoo provides the creatures with plenty of burlap sacks, boxes, and the occasional sand pile. Though this new addition will remain out of view for a while, there's a live video monitor set up so that zoo visitors can get a glimpse of the babe in the aardvark building.