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.

By Kate Appleton, Friday, May 29, 2009, 11:12 AM

Indian rhinoceros calf Ramir has a spring in his step—he likes to run laps with the keepers
Indian rhinoceros calf Ramir has a spring in his step—he likes to run laps with the keepers (Courtesy Zoological Society of San Diego)

BRONX ZOO
Bronx River Pkwy, at Fordham Rd., Bronx, N.Y., 718/367-1010, bronxzoo.org, $15, ages 312 $11, kids under 3 free, admission by donation on Wed.

Collared Lemur: Born March 18, 2009
For the first several weeks, all you could see of this newbie was a little paw, a tail, and an adorable round head, all sticking out of mom Vera's thick copper-colored coat. Collared lemurs spend most of their time in trees, using their bushy tails to leap from one treetop to the next. You won't be able to see the lemurs until later this summer, but you can learn more about them in the meantime at the Bronx Zoo's Lemur Life site, which profiles Vera and dad Jean-Luc, who "appreciates a fine piece of fruit." (See a photo)

Moxie the Lion: Born November 6, 2008
Visitors to the Bronx Zoo on Earth Day, April 22, were treated to the debut of African lion cub Moxie. She's a spunky, playful scene-stealer, according to Wildlife Conservation Society director Jim Breheny, who said that the zoo has waited a long time for her birth. The number of lions in sub-Saharan Africa has plummeted, as burgeoning human populations encroach on their habitats. (See a photo)

Banyan the Tree Kangaroo: Born July 4, 2008
A fuzzy reddish joey, Banyan only began venturing around his home in JungleWorld this winter. He often climbs gingerly on branches and then retreats to his mom Arboroo's pouch for a nap. Lately, he also tests out new foods like the green vegetables his mom enjoys. (See a photo)

BROOKFIELD ZOO
3300 Golf Rd., Brookfield, Ill., 708/688-8000, czs.org, $12, ages 311 $8.

Wombat: Born July 8, 2008
For her first nine months, this pudgy wombat joey was staying cozy in mom Kambora's pouch, where she spent the time sleeping, nursing, and occasionally poking out her head or leg. She finally left the pouch for good in April. Her teeth will grow throughout life so that she can keep chewing on tough vegetation like that found in the southern hairy-nosed wombats' natural home, the grasslands of Australia. (See a photo)

DENVER ZOO
Denver's City Park, 2300 Steele St., Denver, Colo., 303/376-4800, denverzoo.org, from $9, ages 311 from $5, ages 65+ from $7, 2 and under free; eight free admission days throughout the year.

Blizzard the Giraffe: Born March 27, 2009
A storm buried Denver in snow the week that reticulated giraffe Blizzard was born—far from the hot, dry savannas of his native sub-Saharan Africa. Topping six feet at birth, energetic Blizzard joined youngsters Timber and Pongo in the giraffe house, and is already running laps around the older calves. (See a photo | Watch a video)

DISNEY'S ANIMAL KINGDOM PARK
3111 World Dr., Lake Buena Vista, Fla., 407/939-6244, disneyworld.disney.go.com/parks/animal-kingdom/, one-day one-park pass $80, ages 3-9 $67, ages 2 and under free.

Vultures: Hatched January 2009
These two chicks are the kind of bald, wizened newborns that resemble old men—with faces only a mother could love, as one Disney employee put it. But they've got flying skills to rival any jet: Ruppell's griffon vultures can stay in the air for up to seven hours a day and have been seen at altitudes of over 37,000 feet in the West African skies. (See a photo)

Tsavo the Elephant: Born June 28, 2008
The heaviest elephant calf born yet at Animal Kingdom, Tsavo tipped the scales at 327 pounds when mom Moyo gave birth after a 21-month gestation. Staff celebrated the big event, as African elephants are endangered and challenging to breed. They had worked with Moyo to monitor her hormone levels and add exercise to her prenatal routine. Now she gets a workout from keeping up with Tsavo. (See a photo | Watch a video)

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)

HOUSTON ZOO
1513 N. MacGregor Dr., Houston, Tex., 713/533-6500, houstonzoo.org, $10, seniors $6, ages 211 $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 317 $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)

NATIONAL ZOO
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)

OREGON ZOO
4001 SW Canyon Rd., Portland, Ore., 503/226-1561, oregonzoo.org, $9.75, ages 311 $6.75, ages 65+ $8.25, ages 2 and under free; $1 discount if you arrive by MAX light-rail.

Samudra the Elephant: Born August 23, 2008
Life got off to a precarious start for Samudra, whom friends call Sam. His mom, Rose-Tu, got confused and almost trampled the baby at birth. Staff speculate that Rose-Tu was startled because she'd never seen a birth before—she was the zoo's youngest elephant until Sam came along. Sam now fits in just fine and will soon meet Tusko, his 13,500-pound dad. (See a photo | Watch a video)

RIPLEY'S AQUARIUM OF THE SMOKIES
88 River Road, Gatlinburg, Tenn., 865/430-8808, ripleysaquariumofthesmokies.com, $22, ages 611 $12, ages 25 $5.50.

Jellyfish: Born mid-April 2009
These translucent bell-shaped moon jellyfish can't quite compete for cuteness, but they are fascinating and tiny, just under an inch long for now. Within a year, the jellyfish will reach dinner-plate size; once they get about half that size, they will be put on view. (See a photo)

Sea Horses: Born early April 2009
Here's a role reversal: It's the female who lays the sea horse eggs in the male's pouch, where he fertilizes and cares for them until their birth. Lined sea horses, which eventually grow to be six inches tall, are poor swimmers and rely on their colors for camouflage. (See a photo)

SAN DIEGO ZOO'S WILD ANIMAL PARK
15500 San Pasqual Valley Rd., Escondido, Calif., 760/747-8702, sandiegozoo.org/wap, $35, ages 311 $26; a two-park ticket for the Wild Animal Park and the San Diego Zoo, $60, ages 311 $43.

Amara the Cheetah: Born February 18, 2009
This lovable cub likes to be tickled—just watch out for those claws! Zookeepers are raising Amara, born to first-time mom Kenya, as a precaution. A cheetah's natural impulse is to abandon a single cub because raising it takes too much effort and there's a limited chance of its survival. Besides, the staff has played a proud role from the very start. Researchers set the lovin' mood for Amara's parents by playing sounds that cheetahs make when mating. It's the first time bioacoustics have successfully resulted in an animal's birth. (See a photo)

Ramir the Rhino: Born December 23, 2008
Indian rhinoceros calf Ramir, whose name means "interesting" in Hindi, put on 200 pounds in his first six weeks—that's what happens when you slurp more than a gallon of milk five timesa day. All that milk has Ramir revved up. He runs laps with the keepers, climbs on hay bales, and plays with balls. (See a photo)

Damai, Kucing, and Harimau Kayu the Tigers: Born November 13, 2008
It's easy to stir up trouble with siblings in tow, as precocious Sumatran tiger cub Damai was quick to figure out. She's been known to try sneaking up on mom with her partners in crime, brothers Kucing and the shy Harimau Kayu. The three wrestle together and enjoy ripping stuff apart and chewing on things like hay inside a paper bag. (See a photo)

SAN FRANCISCO ZOO
1 Zoo Rd., San Francisco, Calif., 415/753-7080, sfzoo.org, $15, ages 414 $9, ages 65+ $12, ages 3 and under free; discount rates for San Francisco residents.

Hasani the Gorilla: Born December 8, 2008
Six-month-old Hasani has already proven he's a survivor. Abandoned by his mom shortly after birth, the gorilla was been cared for by zookeepers, who filled in with feedings, cleanings, and cuddles. They recently found a surrogate mom, Bawang—a pro who's brought up three kids of her own and survived some hard knocks. (She, too, was raised by humans.) The two hit it off when they met in late April: Bawang snuggled with her new boy and lifted him over her head, winning a smile. (See a photo | Watch a video)

ZOO ATLANTA
Grant Park, 800 Cherokee Ave., SE, Atlanta, Ga., 404/624-5600, zooatlanta.org, $19, ages 311 $14, children under 3 free.

Xi Lan the Panda: Born August 30, 2008
Spunky cub Xi Lan is the younger brother of Mei Lan, who will be 3 in September. There isn't much sibling rivalry so far. In fact, the two barely spend time together as giant pandas are solitary by nature. Zookeepers do note that Xi Lan is the more adventurous one; he loves to clamber right to the top of his climbing structures. He's expected to reach 255 pounds by adulthood. (See a photo | Watch a video)

IT'S A BABY!