Everyone is waiting for April the giraffe to have her baby, so the world can ooh and ahh over the newborn calf. Here are stories for five other adorable baby animals born in zoos.
Fiona the Preemie Hippo
Fiona the preemie hippo recently tipped the scales at 100 pounds, but when she was born she only weighed 30. That’s less than half the weight of a normal hippo baby.
Her mother rejected her, and it looked like Fiona might die. But staff at the Cincinnati Zoo stepped in and cared for Fiona. They helped Fiona overcome several health hurdles. Today, Fiona is healthy and can walk up an exercise ramp that leads to a pool.
April the giraffe might be famous, but no other zoo has ever raised a premature baby hippo. Fiona is the first.
Surprise Giant Panda Twins
Giraffes aren’t known for being especially difficult to breed in captivity, but giant pandas are. That’s why it was such a shock when panda mother Yang Yang gave birth to not one, but two pink tiny pandas.
The director of the Vienna Zoo, where the twins were born, explained how a camera in their private pen caught the action.
“It sounded as though two cubs were squealing, but we only ever saw one. On Friday, the zookeepers were first able to make out two of them on the screen.”
Panda cubs are rarely seen because the mother keeps them warmly hidden between her paws. The baby pandas weigh a little less than a hamburger.
Magical Liger Cub
A traveling zoo in Russia faced a dilemma whenever their tiger, Princess, went into heat. She was sexually frustrated. Since she got along well with her neighbor, a lion named Caesar, the zookeepers decided to leave the animals face-to-face to see what happened. Sixteen weeks later, their baby, Tsar, was born.
Tsar is a liger, a cross between a male lion and a female tiger. These baby animals are usually not that healthy, so the zoo pampers Tsar with milk, treats, and playtime so that he can grow up and live a long life. Tsar will grow, and grow, and grow–due to a genetic abnormality from hybridization, ligers never stop growing.
Rare Wolf Cubs
Wolves used to roam all over the world, surpassed in the reach of their territory only by man. Different subspecies of wolf lived in different areas, but after the industrial revolution, the Mexican gray wolf almost went extinct.
Reintroduction programs have brought the wolves back to protected areas of Arizona and New Mexico, and the five pups born at the Brookfield Zoo will be important for increasing the population’s genetic diversity and educating the public about these often misunderstood animals.
Three of the wolf cubs stayed at the zoo, but two will grow up in the wild. They were put in a den with wild pups of a similar age, and the parents raised the pups as their own to become part of a wild pack.
Colo the Gorilla and a New Baby Orangutan
The first gorilla born in captivity was Colo at the Colombus Zoo in 1956. Colo lived a long time and only died this January at the age of 60. She had three children, 16 grandchildren, and a dozen great-grandchildren. Colo’s birth, life, and babies were important milestones in animal conservation and breeding.
Recently, the Brookfield Zoo celebrated the birth of another great ape–the orangutan. The female baby orangutan is on display to the public in the enclosure where she lives with her family. Her birth is important because there are less than 100 orangutans in zoos throughout North America and are critically endangered in the wild.