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.
The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore
Jack and Nutmeg the African Penguins
It's been like a scene out of Happy Feet around here ever since parents Conan and Samantha Teapot (aka "The Teapots") welcomed baby boy Jack and sister Nutmeg on December 21 and 25, 2011—just a few months after having their first two chicks, Mako and Megamouth. Since poking their way out of their eggs, Jack and Nutmeg have begun to lose their fluffy gray juvenile feathers while they learned to swim, bonded with their siblings, and started being socialized with the rest of the 55 penguins. "Keepers will watch them very closely to make sure they are not being chased by curious adult penguins," explained a zoo publicist.
St. Louis Zoo
Tundra the Mountain Bongo
Score one for another endangered species: the mountain bongo, an antelope subspecies that lives in just a few mountain forests in Kenya. That's because 52-pound Tundra was born here on December 27, 2011, to mom Kalani and dad Jinjo, his birth the result of a breeding recommendation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Bongo Species Survival Plan, a cooperative breeding program that manages bongo in AZA zoos. And his existence will be a boon to the zoo's long-term antelope behavior research project, for which mom and infant will be recorded via time-lapse video, 24-7, for a full month.
Studebaker the Banteng Calf
Adding to the collection of bantengs named after carmakers (a tradition begun by the keepers at the parents' previous zoo homes), Studebaker, a 42-pound bull, arrived to mom Bentley and dad Knox on January 9. Studebaker was born with a beautiful red coat, but like with all males of this endangered species of shy wild Southeast Asia cattle, it will gradually darken to black by the time he reaches adulthood. He made his adorable public debut with his herd at Red Rocks on January 31, and, so far, has been sticking very close to mom.
Rosamond Gifford Zoo, Syracuse
Humboldt's Penguin Chicks
Talk about your baby boom! A total of six penguin chicks have already hatched at this zoo in 2012. "It appears our mild winter weather started the breeding season a bit earlier than usual," said zoo director Ted Fox. The first chick of the year, born on January 9, hatched to parents Wylie and Mara, with four other penguin couples—Frederico and Poquita, Mario and Montana, Jake and Bianca, and Phil and Carmen—each welcoming their own in the weeks that followed. The youngest chick-who tripled in size in just its first nine days of life-was one of the fuzzy babes introduced at a press conference by county executive Joanie Mahoney, who cupped it in her hands and announced that she had named her Cocotea, for a Latin American flock of the species. She then invited the public to take part in a naming contest for two of the birds, and the zoo wound up receiving more than 1,100 suggestions; Alberto and Hota won in a vote from a list of finalists. Humboldt penguins are named after the Humboldt Current, a cold nutrient-rich ocean current that flows along the west coast of South America, and are endangered with only 12,000 to 30,000 remaining in the wild.
Ty the Patas Monkey
In honor of this cute new baby boy, the zoo has introduced a way to let the whole world watch Ty's progress: through a webcam, mounted over the trees and swinging rope bed where he and his pals climb, swing, play, and sleep. "We know our entire community shares in the joy whenever there is a new baby at the zoo," said Janet Agostini, president of Friends of the Zoo, which funded the webcam. "Our group of patas monkeys is very active, and this web cam will give people the chance to watch them as often as they'd like." Ty was born on January 17 to parents Sara and M.J. "Ty is Sara's first baby," said zoo director Ted Fox. "She has proven to be an excellent mother, no doubt due to the skills she learned by watching and assisting her mother, Addie, care for [siblings] D.J. and Kibibi over the past year." The Rosamond Gifford Zoo is one of only 15 American zoos to house patas monkeys, found in areas of Africa from the western rainforests through the savannahs of Kenya. They are one of the fastest primates, capable of reaching speeds upwards of 30 mph.