The Most Adorable Baby Animals At The Zoo

One of the most special events to observe at the zoo is the birth of a baby animal. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums estimates that 800,000 animals are in the care of accredited zoos and aquariums, so the birth of newborn animals is something that the caregivers take very seriously. Not only do animal parents get to welcome their baby to the world, but they are able to continue on the circle of life. Looking through photos of baby zoo animals is not only adorable, but there are tons of interesting facts about what makes them a crucial part of the animal kingdom.

Mother Pandas Raise Their Cubs In A Unique Way

mom and baby panda snuggling together
Maja Hitij/Getty Images
Maja Hitij/Getty Images

This is a baby panda named Meng Yuan who was one of the twin panda cubs born to his mom Meng Meng at a zoo in Berlin, Germany. Their enclosure is worth almost $13 million. When pandas are in the wild they usually raise only one cub at a time, so zookeepers regularly switch out the cubs.

When Meng Yuan and his twin were born they spent the first few weeks of their lives in an incubator. Unfortunately, there are less than 2,000 pandas left in the wild, so seeing them at the zoo is a once in a lifetime experience.

Why Baby Elephants Are Similar To Human Babies

baby elephant playing in the sand
Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The baby Asian elephant seen in this photo is named Kandula. He is shown playing in the sand at the National Zoo in Washington D.C. on his first birthday. Baby elephants are called calves and weigh about 250 pounds when they are born and stand at three-feet tall.

When they first come into the world they can barely see, but they can recognize their mothers by touch, sound, and scent. Calves don’t know what to do with their trunks and will often swing them around or suck on them like how a baby sucks their thumb.

Giraffes Can Already Do This An Hour After They’re Born

baby giraffe sticking its tongue out
Valery Hache/AFP via Getty Images
Valery Hache/AFP via Getty Images

Kim the baby giraffe was born in a zoo in Denmark to a mother named Kimba Kimba. She is part of a program that strives to increase the overall giraffe population without having to take them out of the wild. When giraffe calves are born they drop to the ground because the mother gives birth standing up.

According to National Geographic, this fall can be as long as five feet. When baby giraffes are born they measure at around six-feet tall and weigh between 100 and 150 pounds. They are so agile after birth that within an hour they are able to stand up and walk on their own.

Gorillas And Humans Are Very Similar

woman holding a baby gorilla on her back
Matt Cardy/Getty Images
Matt Cardy/Getty Images

A baby gorilla named Afia is shown taking a piggyback ride from her zookeeper, Joanne Rudd, on Gorilla Island at the Bristol Zoo in England. Afia is taken out to interact with the other gorillas every day in order to build her confidence and show her where she’ll eventually be living.

She eats a diet of sweet potato, leafy lettuce, and pellets and hopes to be reunited with her gorilla family very soon. Gorillas are the closest living relatives to humans and their birth and afterbirth process is similar as well.

A Zebra Needs To Learn To Run Immediately After They’re Born

a mother and baby zebra giving a kiss
Aaron Chown/PA Images via Getty Images
Aaron Chown/PA Images via Getty Images

This photo shows first-time mother Akuna shortly after she gave birth to her unnamed baby at the West Midlands Safari Park in Bewdley, England. Zebras are born with their stripes, but will look brown and white at birth. During a foal’s first two days of life, their mother keeps them extremely close and doesn’t let them socialize until the foal can identify her by sight, smell, and sound.

Within 15 minutes after a foul is born, they are able to stand up and can walk within an hour. Since zebras are very vulnerable to predators, it’s important they know how to run shortly after they are born.

The Vital Reason Penguins Turn Black And White

baby penguin being held by a person
Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP via Getty Images
Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP via Getty Images

One of the most adorable photos taken at the Sumida Aquarium in Tokyo is of this unnamed baby penguin. When penguins are born they are completely covered with gray, white, or brown feathers and will turn black and white as they get older.

There are about 18 different species of penguins and most are found in colder climates. Penguins are black and white because the countershading allows them to hide from various predators. They can’t fly, but they are expert swimmers who spend the majority of their lives in the water. These flightless birds can swim 15 miles per hour and will sometimes leap out as they swim.

Hippos Spend Most Of Their Lives Underwater

baby hippo swimming in a bath
Greg Wood/AFP via Getty Images
Greg Wood/AFP via Getty Images

When Monifa the baby hippopotamus was born at the Taronga Zoo in Australia she had a hard time. She struggled to stand and couldn’t nurse with her mother Petre. In Nigerian, her name means “I am lucky,” and that perfectly describes her successful survival story.

Hippos spend at least 16 hours a day underwater and have the innate ability to close their nose and ears to block it out. They also have membranes that shield their eyes from the water. These creatures are also extremely loud with their snorts, grumbles, and wheezes measuring around 115 decibels.

Koalas Can Only Eat One Food

a baby koala holding a measuring stick
Rolf Vennenbernd/picture alliance via Getty Images
Rolf Vennenbernd/picture alliance via Getty Images

Duisburg Zoo in Germany keeps their animals in-check by measuring their growth progress, which can be seen here with a nameless female baby koala. Similar to bears, koala mothers will only raise one baby at a time. Baby koalas are called joeys and are born blind.

Koalas are marsupials and will live inside their mother’s pouch until they develop eyes, legs, and fur. When the joeys are done growing in the pouch, they will attach themselves to their mother’s back to get around the land. These marsupials can only eat eucalyptus leaves and will sleep up to 20 hours a day.

Porcupines Can’t Actually Shoot Their Quills

a baby porcupine being fed a snack
George Rose/Getty Images
George Rose/Getty Images

It’s difficult not to notice the striking physical features of this baby porcupine at the Exotic Animal and Wildlife Rescue Center in Marshall, North Carolina. Porcupines are the third-largest rodents in the world behind the beaver and capybara. They can’t actually shoot their quills out of their body.

Instead, when they feel threatened they will tense up and attack predators by swatting their tail to get some of their 30,000 quills into the predator’s skin. Most porcupines are nocturnal and like to feast on berries, stems, twigs, grass, and tree bark.

Foxes Prefer Not To Live In Packs

a baby fox outside by a lot of green foliage
Galen Rowell/Corbis via Getty Images
Galen Rowell/Corbis via Getty Images

Mother foxes are called vixens and will do anything to protect their pups. A typical litter of baby foxes ranges from one to 11 and they are born blind. Foxes are not pack animals and prefer to only remain as a small family when the parents are raising the litter for about seven months.

They are mostly nocturnal and their vertical pupils help them see in dim light. The red fox (pictured) is the most common species and they are said to have a “magnetic sense,” which helps them hunt. One of the oldest records of a fox dates back to a 16,500-year-old cemetery with the remains of a man and his pet fox.

Lions Are At A Risk Of Becoming Extinct

a lion cub sticking out its tongue
Morne de Klerk/Getty Images
Morne de Klerk/Getty Images

This lion cub is having the time of his life at the Monarto Zoo in Adelaide, Australia. When a lioness is ready to give birth she temporarily leaves her pride and will hideout with the cubs for around one to two months after they are born.

Male lions usually play no role in the cubs’ upbringing, so the lioness must teach them to hunt. The life expectancy of a lion is between 10 and 14-years-old and they are currently at risk of extinction. Female lions are the main hunters and the males are usually found guarding the pride’s territory and the cubs.

The Unfortunate Truth For Tiger Cubs

a baby white tiger being held up
Nigel Treblin/DDP/AFP via Getty Images
Nigel Treblin/DDP/AFP via Getty Images

After this white tiger and his brother were born at the Serengeti Park in Hodenhagen, Germany, their parents rejected them. Zookeepers knew they still needed to be cared for, so they stepped up to make sure the cubs were given plenty of nurturing attention.

The cubs were most likely rejected because tigers are solitary creatures who spend most of their time alone looking for food. Tiger cubs are born helpless and at least half of them don’t live past the age of two. In the wild, a mother tigers has to leave the cubs while she hunts and usually won’t find enough food to feed the litter.

Polar Bears Can Grow To Be Almost One Thousand Pounds

a baby polar bear running around with her mother
Rolf Vennenbernd/DPA/AFP via Getty Images
Rolf Vennenbernd/DPA/AFP via Getty Images

Polar bears thrive when they get the chance to run around outside. This is a photo of a female polar bear cub named Nanook running around at the zoo where she was born in Germany with her mother Lara. In the wild, polar bear cubs are usually born in the comfort of their mother’s snow den.

They are born weighing only 16 to 24 ounces and are about a foot tall, but will grow up to be around nine-feet tall and between 330 and 990 pounds. Polar bear cubs spend the first few months of their lives in the den but will get the instinct to venture out into the wilderness shortly after.

Kangaroos Can Travel At 40 Miles Per Hour

two baby kangaroos eating a star-shaped fruit
James D. Morgan/Getty Images
James D. Morgan/Getty Images

These kangaroo joeys named Dot and Matilda got to enjoy a special treat at the Wild Life Sydney Zoo in Australia. When joeys are born they aren’t completely developed, so they will crawl into their mother’s pouch. These marsupials won’t leave until they are between seven and 10 months old.

Kangaroos are some of the most diverse species in the world with 47 varieties including the rock wallaby and red kangaroo. They are also one of the fastest animals who can hop on their powerful hind legs at 40 miles per hour going 10-feet high.

Find Out Just How Fast Cheetahs Can Go

A baby cheetah in the arms of a keeper
Friso Gentsch/picture alliance via Getty Images
Friso Gentsch/picture alliance via Getty Images

A baby cheetah can be seen grasped in the arms of its beloved zookeeper at the All-Weather Zoo in Muenster, Germany. Its mother Namoja gave birth to a litter of seven and was resting. Cheetah cubs are born blind and are covered in a thick fur called mantle, which protects them from predators.

In the wild cheetahs have a 90 percent mortality rate and about three-quarters of them won’t make it past three months. The cheetah is the fastest land animal in the world with speeds up to 70 miles per hour and they can accelerate to this speed in only three seconds.

Meerkats Can Recognize Voices

baby meerkats being held up
Tim Whitby/Getty Images
Tim Whitby/Getty Images

Zookeeper Suzi Hyde at the London Zoo has been hand-rearing meerkats Lia and Roo ever since their mother abandoned them. Baby meerkats are called pups and are born underground where they are safe from predators. When they are born, pups are blind, deaf, and practically hairless.

In a study from 2011, scientists found that meerkats have the ability to recognize the voices of their clan. Although meerkats are social and affectionate animals, they can get very territorial and fight with other clans if they pose a threat. One of their favorite foods is scorpions and they are one of the few animals who are immune to their poison.

Wolf Puppies Have Many Threats To Their Livelihood

An animal keeper carries two wolf puppies
Daniel Bockwoldt/picture alliance via Getty Images
Daniel Bockwoldt/picture alliance via Getty Images

About eight weeks after wolf puppies are born at the Wild Life Park in Germany they get a medical examination, microchipped, and vaccinated against infectious diseases. Right after wolves are born they’re completely blind and deaf with very little sense of smell.

Wolf puppies are able to grow quite rapidly and will gain between 2.6 and 3.3 pounds every week for the first 14 weeks of their life. Up to 60 percent of the puppies don’t reach maturity because of disease, lack of food, and predators such as golden eagles and bears.

Why Baby Flamingos Look So Different From Their Parents

A Caribbean flamingo feeds its baby
John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

A baby flamingo seems almost unrecognizable from its parents when it’s born. At the Stone Zoo in Stoneham, Massachusetts this Caribbean flamingo is seen feeding its young one some food. Flamingo chicks are born gray and white and won’t turn pink, orange, or red for their first three years of life.

Their baby feathers are a lot fluffier than their adult ones in order to help keep them warm. In the photo, the mother is holding her bent beak upside down because that’s the only way to feed her chick. The word “flamingo” comes from the Spanish “flamenco,” meaning fire.

The Importance Of Being A Female Lemur

A baby ring-tailed lemur hugging her mom
Ben Birchall/PA Images via Getty Images
Ben Birchall/PA Images via Getty Images

Ethel the ring-tailed lemur is seen at Bristol Zoo Gardens in the United Kingdom giving her newborn baby a hug. She and her twin sister Mavis have given birth to their babies within days of each other for the last few years. This is because many female lemurs will organize their pregnancies to be around the same time.

Outside of zoos and other wildlife sanctuaries, Madagascar is the only home to the total lemur population. Females usually are the leaders of the lemur groups and will snatch food away from males, kick them out of their sleeping spots, and show signs of physical aggression to assert their dominance.

Orangutans Have An Arm Span Of Over Six-Feet Long

a baby orangutan posing for a photo
Jami Tarris/Getty Images
Jami Tarris/Getty Images

This is one of the many orangutans in Sumatra, Indonesia who were left orphaned to be illegally sold as pets. Luckily, she was rescued and taken to the SCOP Care Center where she loves to have fun on the playground. The females give birth about once every eight years and the infants will stay with their mother for about six to seven years.

Orangutans have some of the largest arm spans and can stretch them over six and a half feet. Humans share about 97 percent of their DNA with these creatures, which is why the Malay translation of their name is “human of the forest.”