A black-and-white ruffed lemur, a warthog piglet, and an orangutan named Dumadi are a few of Atlanta's cuties. As these fun facts and photos prove, baby animals are (almost) just like us!
Grant Park, 800 Cherokee Ave., SE, Atlanta, Ga., 404/624-5600, zooatlanta.org, $18, ages 3-11 $13, children under 3 free.
LEMURS: Born Apr. 16, 2008
Two black-and-white ruffed lemurs were born in nests made high in the Living Treehouse, the zoo's open-air aviary. Apart from zoos, these lemurs are found only on Madagascar, an island off the southeast coast of Africa, where they're threatened by deforestation.
Who Knew? Lemur moms carry infants in their mouths during their first few weeks, which is rare behavior among primates.
Aww...See the photo
WARTHOG: Born Apr. 16, 2008
The special warthog habitat, which opened in 2007 in the African Plains section, recently welcomed a piglet that has yet to be named. As the baby grows, she will develop tusks that can be up to six inches long.
Who Knew? Warthogs do more than grunt and squeal. They often resort to body language (head angles, tail flicks) to communicate—rather like we do.
Aww...See the photo
ORANGUTAN: Born Oct. 22, 2006; adopted June 20, 2007
Dumadi, whose mother died shortly after his birth, was reared by humans at Indiana's Fort Wayne Children's Zoo for months until Zoo Atlanta stepped in. Now Dumadi lives with his surrogate mom, Madu, and stepbrother, Bernas, in a habitat that mimics the forests of Indonesia.
Who Knew? It was key that Dumadi and Madu bond quickly, as orangutans can only learn natural behaviors by observing and copying their moms. And they stay dependent on their moms up until they're 8 or even 10 years old, the longest childhood of any animal except for humans.
Aww...See the photo
Last Year's Babies: Where Are They Now?
PANDA: Giant panda cub Mei Lan was fully weaned from her mother, Lun Lun, in March and has clearly been eating her bamboo—she's up to 110 pounds. The zoo posts frequent panda updates. Keeper Heather Baker Roberts wrote on May 9: "This morning when I tossed some extra bamboo into the habitat for Mei Lan, she stood up on her 'knees' and reached out her forepaws seemingly to catch the bamboo. She was not tall enough, of course, and could not reach it, but it was still very cute."
WATERBUCK: Obi is no longer the littlest waterbuck calling the African Plains exhibit home. He has a younger sister, Binti, who was born in summer 2007.
GORILLA TWINS: Kali and Kazi, who will turn 3 on Halloween, are a rare example of twin western lowland gorillas. Mom Kuchi has her hands full trying to keep an eye on the two as they scamper around the exhibit. A tomboy, Kazi often winds up pinning her brother to the ground.
GIRAFFE: Abu, now 3, got two new playmates when Glenda and Mona recently arrived from Disney. The 2-year-old girls have helped brighten the mood after the death of Masai giraffe Betunia, 23, in August.
PANDA CUB: September 6, 2006
Mei Lan was the only giant panda born in the U.S. in 2006, and she's one of 11 in the country. (There are fewer than 3,000 giant pandas in existence worldwide.) Mei Lan began life about the size of a human hand; at seven months, she's already weighing in at 30 pounds. Zookeepers post updates about Mei Lan and her mother, Lun Lun, on the website, which also hosts a panda cam. Note that the zoo offers 15-minute Panda Habitat Tours. Tickets are free with admission, but you can bypass the often-lengthy lines by making an online reservation at $5 per person for nonmembers.
Who Knew? The zoo studied the development of cubs raised in different ways and concluded that those that were mother reared for at least 12 months were much more active than those mother reared for four to five months and then placed with other cubs of their age. Curator Rebecca Snyder wrote on the zoo's blog that she suspects "one of the reasons for this difference is that mothers initiate and stimulate more play behavior."
WATERBUCK: Born August 16, 2006
Obi, whose name means "heart" in Swahili, lives in the mixed-species African Plains exhibit alongside zebras, gazelles, and giraffes. In the wild, waterbuck call the grassland savannahs of Africa home.
Who Knew? Waterbuck are dimorphic, meaning that the males and females look different. The males have curved horns, with ridges along the bottom.
GORILLA TWINS: Born October 31, 2005
Kali and his sister Kazi are the only pair of Western lowland gorilla twins to be reared entirely by their mother (Kuchi) while in captivity. The two made big news because just six cases of twin gorilla births at North American zoos have been recorded since 1966. You can read posts about the twins' antics—and their older siblings—here.
Who Knew? While lowland gorillas can look tough and occasionally beat their chests, they're mild and bright animals who live in social groups led by a dominant male.
GIRAFFE: Born September 23, 2005
Abu, a reticulated giraffe whose name means "firstborn son" in Swahili, is already about 10 feet tall; the average adult height is 15 feet. While he was born at the Buffalo Zoo, he now lives with Betunia, a female 23-year-old Masai giraffe, in Zoo Atlanta's African Plains habitat.
Who Knew? The reticulated and Masai giraffe subspecies are both from East Africa and are differentiated by the color markings on their fur.
KANGAROO: Uluru, a red kangaroo who gave birth to a joey last spring, has another joey currently in her pouch. It has already been spotted sticking its head out.