Photos: 36 Adorable Zoo Babies Born in 2011

We've assembled the cutest arrivals on the zoo circuit from across the U.S. Whether or not you go for a meet-and-greet, be sure to cast your vote for the cutest baby in our poll.


    Aurora the Bornean Orangutan, Houston Zoo Baby orangutans cling to their mothers 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Since baby Aurora was rejected by her mom after birth, 50 zoo employees and volunteers are taking turns holding her round the clock.

    (Courtesy Houston Zoo)

    When Aurora's not being cuddled by staffers wearing a faux-fur vest, she's clinging to a stuffed-toy orangutan buddy.

    (Courtesy Houston Zoo)

    Asali the Masai Giraffe, Houston Zoo The 150-pound bundle of joy was nursing and standing on her own just an hour after arriving.

    (Courtesy Houston Zoo)

    After 14 months of pregnancy (yikes!), mom Tyra delivered Asali (“honey” in Swahili) on March 4.

    (Courtesy Houston Zoo)

    Christopher and Connor, the Malayan Tigers; San Diego Zoo The 7.7-pound babies sleep most of the day, nurse on their 12-year-old mama, Mek Degong, when they are awake, and should be ready to make their public debut sometime in July.

    (Courtesy San Diego Zoo)

    Adhama the Hippo, San Diego Zoo About 100 visitors were treated to a real Discovery Channel moment on January 26, when pregnant hippo Funani birthed a calf right in front of their eyes.

    (Courtesy San Diego Zoo)

    Satanic Leaf-Tailed Gecko, San Diego Zoo Don’t let the name of this species scare you: This little lizard is devilishly cute with its orange bug-eyes and minute, signature horns.

    (Courtesy San Diego Zoo)

    Wûshi the Sichuan Takin, San Diego Zoo He's distinguished himself from the 49 other takins (hoofed mammals with characteristics similar to moose, wildebeests, and bison) born before him at the zoo by climbing with aplomb and head-butting everything in sight—including his poor grandmother Bea.

    (Courtesy San Diego Zoo)

    Capybara, San Diego Zoo Yes, these creatures are technically rodents—the world’s largest. But somehow, this not-yet-named baby looks a heck of a lot more cuddly than a rat.

    (Courtesy San Diego Zoo)

    Caspian the Eurasian Eagle Owl, Cincinnati Zoo This fluffy owl chick hatched on March 30—and though he emerged at only around a quarter of a pound, he could grow to have a wingspan of six feet!

    (Courtesy Cincinnati Zoo)

    Zuri the Masai Giraffe, Cincinnati Zoo Four-year-old Tessa became a first-time mom on April 2, when her little Zuri (Swahili for “beautiful”) became the first giraffe to be born at the zoo since 1985.

    (Courtesy Cincinnati Zoo)

    Pancake Tortoises, Cincinnati Zoo Parents Dagwood and Blondie welcomed a pair of babies on April 4. Just like Mom and Dad and the rest of the African species, they have flat, flexible shells, making them much more agile than your average turtle.

    (Courtesy Cincinnati Zoo)

    Garnett’s Galago, Cincinnati Zoo The nocturnal, East African primate already loves learning to run, climb, and leap, taking after its agile parents.

    (Courtesy Cincinnati Zoo)

    Rajasi, Lisu, and Yim, the Clouded Leopards; Nashville Zoo Mid-March was a busy time at this zoo: on March 19, Jing Jai gave birth to 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 Yim ("smile" in Thai).

    (Courtesy Nashville Zoo)

    Chessie the Grevy’s Zebra, Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens The little guy’s arrival was cause for extra celebration, as, unlike other types of zebras, this species is rapidly moving toward extinction: Only an estimated 2,200 remain in the wild today.

    (Courtesy Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens)

    Brute the Giant Anteater, Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens As tough as his name may be, he's pretty tender, clinging to mom Stella-Abril's tail—standard behavior for these little guys—while dad Killroy looks on.

    (Courtesy Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens)

    Baker the Bonobo, Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens One of the newest arrivals on the zoo circuit is this baby girl, born on April 19 to mama (and bonobo-group matriarch) Lorel.

    (Courtesy Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens)

    Baker's mom is 42—the third-oldest bonobo in the nation and the oldest bonobo in North America to give birth (to a living offspring).

    (Courtesy Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens)

    Kasi the Cheetah, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay This furry cub was transferred as a newborn from the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, where the baby’s mother was unable to care for him.

    (Courtesy Busch Gardens)

    Kasi means “one with speed” in Swahili, and he's become fast friends with a Labrador puppy, brought in to help the cub form a social bond.

    (Courtesy Busch Gardens)

    Thomson’s Gazelle, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay This still-unnamed gazelle weighed in at four pounds when she was born on February 25.

    (Courtesy Busch Gardens)

    When she refused to take milk from her mother, staff members began bottle-feeding her five times a day, and she put on weight quickly—a whopping six pounds by April.

    (Courtesy Busch Gardens)

    Aardvark, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay When this not-yet-named baby’s mama was inattentive, zoo staffers stepped in to care for the cub.

    (Courtesy Busch Gardens)
  24. This new male baby is incredibly rare, considering that North American zoos harbor about 35 aardvarks total (not to mention the fact that there are less than a dozen aardvarks born each year).

    (Courtesy Busch Gardens)

    Hoffman’s Two-toed Sloth, Lincoln Park Zoo This babe hugs his first-time mom tightly as she hangs upside-down from the trees (the main activity for these mammals, the slowest in the world).

    (Courtesy Lincoln Park Zoo)

    The unnamed offspring arrived on February 15 and will get around by being carried by his mama, like all baby sloths, for up to five months.

    (Courtesy Lincoln Park Zoo)

    Rusty, Bordeaux, Chianti, and Mena, the Red-Ruffed Lemurs; Denver Zoo After a quick gestation period of just over 100 days, first-time mom Sixpence gave birth on March 12 to a brood of four. When fully grown, the Madagascar natives will be about three feet long, with tails about the same length.

    (Courtesy Denver Zoo)

    Cole, the Mini-Nubian Goat, Central Park Zoo Cole and his siblings—Dawn, Lucy, and Ringo—are collectively known as the “new kids on the block.”

    (Courtesy Central Park Zoo)

    The newcomers live in the Children’s Zoo, where visitors are welcome to pet the critters.

    (Courtesy Central Park Zoo)

    Goeldi’s Monkey, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Mom Lola already has nine other children, so she’s clearly a pro—which may explain why her as-yet-unnamed baby clung to her constantly for the first several weeks. Even fully grown, it will always be a little bitty thing: Adult Goeldi’s monkeys are only slightly larger than your average squirrel.

    (Courtesy Cheyenne Mountain Zoo)

    Akoni and Safara, the Red River Hogs; Cheyenne Mountain Zoo The new hogs—endangered in their native Africa—are learning how to root, wallow, and squeal.

    (Courtesy Cheyenne Mountain Zoo)

    First-time parents Ari and Huey welcomed their boy and girl on March 23.

    (Courtesy Cheyenne Mountain Zoo)

    D.J. the Patas Monkey, Rosamond Gifford Zoo This little African primate is a total ham who likes to make faces at the visitors, especially when they’re snapping her photo.

    (Courtesy Rosamond Gifford Zoo)
  34. Humboldt Penguins, Rosamond Gifford Zoo In March, lucky mom and dad Poquita and Frederico welcomed a pair of penguins, and another couple had a third within four days.

    (Courtesy Rosamond Gifford Zoo)
  35. These birds need to undergo a blood test to determine their gender, and since it’s zoo tradition to give the Chilean and Peruvian natives Latino names, the boy-girl facts are a must.

    (Courtesy Rosamond Gifford Zoo)

    Daniel the Masai Giraffe, Santa Barbara Zoo Zookeepers got a major shock on an early January morning when they discovered that Audrey the giraffe—who hadn’t shown any obvious signs of pregnancy—had delivered a calf, weighing 106 pounds and standing 5'9" at birth.

    (Courtesy Santa Barbara Zoo)

    Golden Lion Tamarin, Santa Barbara Zoo Upon his February 19 arrival, this bright orange baby (still unnamed) was roughly the size of a C-size battery.

    (Courtesy Santa Barbara Zoo)

    For months, the little one clung tightly to mama’s back, letting go only long enough to nurse.

    (Courtesy Santa Barbara Zoo)

    Clouded Leopards, Smithsonian National Zoological Park On March 28, mom Sita and dad Ta Moon welcomed a pair of cuddly cubs, one boy and one girl.

    (Courtesy Smithsonian National Zoological Park)

    For now, these two are being raised at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Va.

    (Courtesy Smithsonian National Zoological Park)

    Wattled Crane, Smithsonian National Zoological Park On March 20, a male crane was hatched at the Smithsonian, just the third of its kind in the zoo’s history.

    (Courtesy Smithsonian National Zoological Park)

    Unlike its white parents, the baby has soft yellow feathers, and its signature below-the-beak wattle is quite small.

    (Courtesy Smithsonian National Zoological Park)

    Ariki the North Island Brown Kiwi, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium The zoo had been trying to breed its female kiwi (an endangered species) for nine years, and the arrival of Ariki (a Polynesian word for "chief") was especially monumental: The Columbus Zoo is only the third zoo in North America since 1975 to successfully hatch a kiwi chick.

    (Courtesy Columbus Zoo and Aquarium)

    Wilbur the Bonobo, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium Bonobos are known for their frisky nature, so it took some time—and the aid of a paternity test—to identify the father of baby Wilbur, born just before the new year. Doting mama Ana Neema has two other offspring, nine-year-old Bila Isa and four-year-old Gilda.

    (Courtesy Columbus Zoo and Aquarium)

    An Ma the Francois Langur, Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden An Ma—part of a group of leaf-eating monkeys who are native to the Indian subcontinent—was born on February 8; though her fur is already turning black and gray, she was born bright orange, which made her hard to miss.

    (Courtesy Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden)

    Chiquita, Bonita, and Vinny, the Maned Wolves; Natural Science Center of Greensboro While the fuzzy brown babies certainly look related, their personalities could not be more different: Chiquita is sassy, Bonita is gentle, and Vinny is, so far, inscrutable.

    (Courtesy Natural Science Center of Greensboro)

    All three enjoy running and hiding—especially from humans.

    (Courtesy Natural Science Center of Greensboro)

    Sichuan Takins, the Wilds Talk about a birthday party! Between March and April, each of the seven Sichuan takins living in this 10,000-acre open-range habitat gave birth to a baby.

    (Courtesy the Wilds)

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