CUTEST. STORY. EVER.
Zoo Babies 2009
Meet panda Xi Lan, voted cutest in our poll, plus Miles, a giraffe who wants to be like his big sis, and more aww-inspiring newcomers. Browse the babies, and add your photos and videos from zoos nationwide.
Presley the Gerenuk: Born November 16, 2008
Presley's elongated ears are startling enough, but her unusually long neck is ultimately the most useful and distinctive. Gerenuks (Somali for "giraffe-necked") are African antelopes that rely on their necks to graze on trees and tall bushes instead of grass. Presley doesn't even need to drink; she gets all the water she needs from such plants. (See a photo)
1513 N. MacGregor Dr., Houston, Tex., 713/533-6500, houstonzoo.org, $10, seniors $6, ages 2–11 $6, children under 2 free.
Miles the Giraffe: Born January 30, 2009
Baby Masai giraffe Miles soon got impatient with his daily diet of four bottles of goat's milk mixed with water. He wants to be just like his big sister Neema, and that means reaching for solid foods like grain and bamboo leaves when he gets the munchies. Of course, Miles is learning to avoid her, too, when Neema tries to style his mane and ossicones—ugh! (See a photo | Watch a video)
Oscar the Porcupine: Born March 9, 2009
This spiky round North American porcupine got his name from Sesame Street's resident grouch. You can spot the cute curmudgeon waddling around the McGovern Children's Zoo with parents Kendall and Cody. (See a photo | Watch a video)
Kelyfamata the Coquerel's Sifaka: Born January 6, 2009
Weighing about three ounces at birth, Kelyfamata ("small but mighty" in Swahili) likes to bum a ride from her mom, Zenobia. The only child was the first Coquerel's sifaka born at the Houston Zoo; in the wild, these acrobatic sifakas live in the trees in northwestern Madagascar. (See a photo)
LINCOLN PARK ZOO
2200 N. Cannon Dr., Chicago, Ill., 312/742-2000, lpzoo.org, free.
Darcy the Penguin: Hatched July 10, 2008
A good-natured rockhopper penguin chick, Darcy enjoys playing with rubber toys and gazing at herself in the mirror. She's never far from best friend and twin sister Dixie. Beyond zoos, the penguins live in dwindling numbers along the shores of Australia, New Zealand, and islands near South America, where they stay warm thanks to tightly packed feathers that form a waterproof coat. (See a photo)
MYSTIC AQUARIUM & INSTITUTE FOR EXPLORATION
55 Coogan Blvd, Mystic, Conn., 860/572-5955, mysticaquarium.org, $26, ages 3–17 $19, ages 60+ $23, ages 2 and under free.
Blue Blue the Penguin: Hatched January 27, 2009
Like many kids, African penguin chick Blue Blue was reluctant to test out the water. But once it took the plunge—its very first swim was on April 15—Blue Blue was a natural and didn't want to stop spinning and flipping around. Back on land, the chick often stands between its trainers' ankles, a sign of trust and affection. Stay tuned to find out Blue Blue's gender as it's too young for the necessary blood work. (See a photo)
3001 Connecticut Ave., NW, Washington, D.C., 202/633-4800, nationalzoo.si.edu, free.
Leopards: Born March 24, 2009
The birth of two rare and adorable clouded leopard cubs was a labor of love—not just for mom Jao Chu, but for the zookeepers who worked to coordinate the birth. It's notoriously tough to breed clouded leopards, who are aggressive and sometimes fatally attack their mates or offspring. The leopards, native to Southeast Asia and parts of China, have gorgeous spots, long tails, and flexible ankles that let them scamper down trees headfirst. (See a photo)