Babes of summer

With the unofficial end of the summer upon us, it’s a good time to check out some of the zoo babies that arrived over these three months. As with humans, summer zoo babies never get the same attention as those born in the other nine months. Here’s their celebration.

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 Fluffy clouds on the move

On 6 june, two adorable clouded leopard cubs were born at the Houston Zoo. The cubs are the first offsprings for mama Suksn and papa Tarak, and the first of the species born at the zoo. They are growing fast and honing their climbing skills. With their status listed as “vulnerable,” the common practice in zoos is to hand-raise the newborns.

Deep in the Himalayan foothills, rare clouded leopards are distinguished from snow leopards by spotted dark grey fur. Their flanks are marked by dusky-grey irregular blotches yielding the clouded pattern – suggesting the English name.

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The long and the tall and the graceful

Baby giraffes are a riot. All spindly legs and longs necks, they struggle to find immediate balance and grace within the herd. This male calf, born on 9 august at the Czech Republic’s Zoo Praha, is already integrated, but stays close to mother Fary.

While giraffes are not endangered, according to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF), over the last decade their numbers have decreased by over 40%.

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Orange is the new brown

Striking, orange twins were born on 20 july to mother Kimmer and partner Kovu at the San Diego Zoo. Golden Lion Tamarin infants are about the size of a stick of butter (adults weigh about 1-1 1/2 pounds and are approximately 9” tall). At 30 days, the twins will be examined by the zoo veterinarian to determine their sexes.

From the Atlantic coastal rain forests near Rio de Janiero, the Golden Lion Tamarins are among the most endangered mammals on earth due to deforestation and habitat loss. Those found in US zoos are on loan from the Brazilian government for captive breeding. Some born here have been reintroduced into the wild.

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The newest nose-y neighbor

Sweet Zathras, a male Brazilian tapir, was born on 4 august to mama Jenny at the United Kingdom’s Chester Zoo. Striped and spotted as a baby, Zathras will lose the camouflage markings as he ages.

These herbivores use their long snout to feed in the Amazon rainforest, and as excellent swimmers, flee to water to cool or when frightened. They are listed as endangered according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, as they are hunted for their meat and skins.

And in other zoo nooz…

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Unlikely best buds

This too-cute-for-words cheetah (no, it’s not an ewok) and pup are an unlikely couple. Born on 18 june at San Diego Zoo Safari Park, Ruuxa is getting to know this Rhodesian ridgeback puppy.

The two were paired after the cheetah was rejected by his mother and had to be hand raised as an animal ambassador. The cheetah and domestic dog will be grow up together. The dog will serve as the cheetah’s lifelong companion. The dog’s body language helps relax and comfort the cheetah, particularly in new surroundings.

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The Waddler’s Ball

Two of the Magellanic Penguin chicks born at the Aquarium of the Pacific this summer are getting ready for their public debut. You can watch live on 27 august at 5:15am EDT/8:15am PDT as the young birds join the rest of the colony.

These South American penguins – after hatching in their nest burrows and being cared for by their parents, Kate and Avery – were moved behind the scenes to learn how to swim and receive feedings from staff members.

You can adopt a penguin chick and get an opportunity to name it.

Check out some spring zoo babies too.

Photos: Houston Zoo/Stephanie Adams, Petr Hamernik, Santa Barbara Zoo, Steve Rawlins, Ken Bohn, Hugh Ryono

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