FAMILY TRAVEL

The 35 Cutest Zoo Babies of 2012

Trying to figure out what to do with the kids this weekend? We found 23 zoos around the country (some with free admission!) with adorable new additions, from Anala the Indian rhino in Miami to Kiazi the De Brazza's monkey in Denver.

Crested Wood Partridges
The McCormick Bird House welcomed three crested wood partridge chicks on January 7. The fuzzy new arrivals—part of a dimorphic species, meaning males and females differ in appearance—are growing quickly thanks to steady diet of insects gathered by mom and dad. Males have bluish-purple feathers as well as a large red crest on the head (which gives the species its name), while females have green feathers and no crest.

 

INDIANA

Fort Wayne Children's Zoo

$13.50, children 2-14 $8.50, children 1 and under free; 3411 Sherman Blvd.; 260/427-6800; kidszoo.org

Dingo Pups
Generally considered pests in their native Australia (thanks to the wild dogs nabbing one too many grazing sheep), dingoes in these parts are simply cute and lovable—especially when they arrive as tiny pups, seven at a time, as they did here on January 30. That's when mom Naya and dad Mattie became proud parents to four male and three females-the first dingoes to be born at the zoo since 1988. Mattie and Naya are one of only about 75 pairs of pure dingoes worldwide (most have hybridized with domestic dogs). The litter of pups is notable not only for its size (most dingo litters have just three or four pups), but for its coloration. Most litters include only one type of coat and ninety percent of wild dingoes are ginger-colored like Mattie and Naya, but this litter included three ginger-colored pups, two cream-colored pups, and two black-and-tan pups. It took a while to come up with names for all seven (though they were nicknamed Chuck, Tiny, Polar Bear, Chippy, Dot, Blaze, and Streak). The keepers finally decided on names inspired by towns or parks in Australia: Mawson, Bunyip, Tingoora, Elsey, Airlie, Brumby and Yengo.

 

Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden, Evansville

$8.50, children 3-12 $7.50, children 2 and under free; 1545 Mesker Park Dr., Evansville; 812/435-6143; meskerparkzoo.com

Klipspringer
Adding to the slight population of klipspringers in zoos across North America (which stands at about 30), this male calf was born on January 6. The baby, which is as of yet unnamed, will nurse for up to six months and then subsist on a diet of apples, carrots, greens, grapes, alfalfa, and zoo grains. Klipspringers are small, African, hoofed animals that are very surefooted and can easily navigate rocky terrain—and are appropriately named with the Afrikaan word for "rock jumper." They typically weigh about 40 pounds and stand an average of 22 inches tall (and males have horns that stand an additional 4 to 6 inches high). But, though they are small, they are big romantics-living monogamous lives, remaining within feet of their mate at all times, and taking turns eating and watching for predators.  

 

KANSAS

Lee Richardson Zoo, Garden City

Free to walk through, $10 vehicle charge to drive through; 312 E Finnup Dr., Garden City; 620/276-1250; leerichardsonzoo.org

Black Goeldi's Monkey
These elfin South American primates are known for leaping from tree to tree, sometimes covering up to 13 feet in a single bound. But here, a pair named Domingo and Sucre took their leaping to new heights, diving into a romance after meeting through an "online dating service" (coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Callimico Species Survival Plan). And lo and behold, on February 12, they became proud parents to the zoo's newest addition. The baby, whose sex is yet to be determined, is difficult to see, as it's teensy—even the parents themselves weigh under a pound each—and has only just begun venturing off of mom Sucre's back, which it had been clinging to for two weeks. But it's sure to feel secure on its own in no time, as Sucre, say the zookeepers, "is showing excellent maternal instincts." The zoo is asking for the public's input on naming the baby, and has set up a spot on its website where folks can vote on a variety of keeper-chosen names: Tiago, Paz, or Mateo for a boy; Dania, Tadea, or Liliana for a girl.

Bactrian Camel
Camel couple Mona and Khan apparently don't believe there can be too much of a good thing, as they welcomed their eighth calf together on the morning of March 8. Described as "strong and feisty" by keeper Sara Niemczyk, the silver-grey baby girl stood nearly 5 feet tall and weighed 121 pounds (and will eventually reach 1,000!), and was quickly on its feet, nursing from mom. The infant, like most, has spent much of her time sleeping—often in strange and alarming positions (due the fact that camel babies are extremely flexible)! She remains unnamed, as the zoo is asking for public input on two keeper-chosen names: Mai and Tuya. This type of camel is endangered, with only 600 to 900 left in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia. The Kansas weather is a little less severe, but the camels have adapted to harsh desert extremes, with coats that allow them to tolerate temperatures from 120 degrees to minus 16 degrees, while thick eyelashes and closable nostrils keep out blowing sand and broad flat feet support them on soft ground.

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.
 

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