Year in Review: Baby Animals of 2014

This year, we fell in love with many new fuzzy faces and cuddly cuties.  Here are a few of our favorite baby animals of 2014!


Best Peek-a-Boo:
Nashville Zoo had a bounty of little kangaroo joeys popping up left and right this fall.  Here’s one of them:

Kangaroo joey peeking out from pouch

Photo by Aimee Stubbs / Nashville Zoo.


Cutest Yawn:
Three male lion cubs were born at Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle on October 24. We love the middle guy’s yawn! Spending 16-20 hours of the day sleeping or resting, lions are the laziest of the big cats. In the wild, they can be found lying on their backs with their feet up or taking a snooze up in a tree.

Three lion cubs

Photo by Photo by Dr. Darin Collins / Woodland Park Zoo.


Bounciest Baby:
A baby klipspringer was born on March 30 at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. The term “klipspringer” is Afrikaans for “rock jumper”, and this little antelope sure does live up to her name!

Photo by Lincoln Park Zoo.

Photo by Lincoln Park Zoo.


Cutest Snout:
Busch Gardens welcomed a Southern tamandua (or lesser anteater) on April 13. In the wild, tamanduas inhabit Central and South America.

Southern tamandua

Photo by Busch Gardens.


Best Belly Rolls:
This little roly-poly hippo calf, born at Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo, Australia on September 11, is just irresistible. In the wild, hippos live in sub-Saharan Africa. The hippopotamus is the second heaviest land mammal in the world!

Baby hippo and mama

Photo by Anthony Dorian / Taronga Western Plains Zoo.


Rarest Birth:
Chimelong Safari Park, a zoo in southern China, announced the birth of giant panda triplets this summer. Panda triplets are incredibly rare, and usually, at least one of the cubs do not survive. Born on July 29, these three panda cubs have all survived and mother Juxiao is tending to each of them.

pandatriplets

Photo by Chimelong Safari Park.


Coziest Hug:
The Memphis Zoo welcomed a male baby bonobo on April 28 named Mpingo (EM-pingo), which is a type of African tree.  The wood from mpingo trees are used to make musical instruments, and so mpingos are sometimes referred to as “trees that make music”. According to Matt Thompson, Director of Animal Programs, “He certainly brings harmony and joy to the group.”

Baby bonobo and mother

Photo by Laura Horn. Courtesy of Memphis Zoo.


Cutest Hybrid:
Butterfly is a geep (goat-sheep hybrid) born at My Petting Zoo in Scottsdale, Arizona. Born in July, she has the features of a goat and the curly wool of a lamb!

Geep: goat-sheep hybrid

Photo by My Petting Zoo.

We hope you enjoyed our roundup of adorable animal babies of 2014! Happy New Year!

Baby Hippo at Taronga Western Plains Zoo

Baby hippo

A baby hippo was born on September 11 at the Taronga Western Plains Zoo. Photo by Anthony Dorian / Taronga Western Plains Zoo.

A baby hippo made its grand entrance at the Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo, Australia.  Born to mother Cuddles and father Mana on September 11, the calf weighs 40 kg. The sex of the newborn has yet to be determined by zoo staff.

“It’s very much early days still, so we are keeping a close eye on both mum and calf, but so far Cuddles is proving to be a good, attentive mother,” said Hippo Keeper, Carolene Magner.

She added, “Over the coming months we will start to see the calf grow and develop more and hopefully start to come out of the water with its mother at feed time.”

Baby hippo and mama

Photo by Anthony Dorian / Taronga Western Plains Zoo.

Baby hippo and mama

Photo by Anthony Dorian / Taronga Western Plains Zoo.

To learn more about the hippo calf, see the Taronga Western Plains Zoo website.

For more information about hippos, see our hippo facts article.

Featured Animal: Hippopotamus

Meet our featured animal: the hippopotamus!

Hippo family

Here are five fun facts about hippopotamuses:

  • The hippo is second heaviest land mammal in the world.
  • The body of the hippopotamus is well suited for aquatic life. Their eyes, ears and nostrils are located at the top of their head, so they are able to see, hear, and breathe while mostly submerged.
  • Due to their dense bodies, hippos do not swim. Instead, when in the water, they tap their feet along the ground to propel themselves.
  • When out of the water, hippos secrete a red-colored substance to cool their hairless skin. The secretion is referred to as ‘blood-sweat’ but is actually neither of those fluids.
  • As herbivores, they feed on short grass for six hours a night, consuming up to 68 kg (150 lb.) of food.

Learn more at our hippopotamus facts page!

Baby Pygmy Hippo at Tampa Zoo

Baby pygmy hippo and mother

Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa, Florida welcomed a baby pygmy hippo on November 15. The female pygmy hippo calf weighs about 10 pounds. As an adult, she will grow to be about 350-550 pounds and stand about three feet tall at the shoulder. Pygmy hippos are much smaller than their relative, the Nile hippo.

The little calf has not yet been named, but the zoo is launching a naming contest on its Wild Wonderland website. The zoo’s animal care team has selected several African names starting with the letter Z in honor of mother hippo “Zsa Zsa.” The name that receives the highest number of votes through Monday, December 3, will be declared the winner.

The birth is the second in the zoo’s history and a great step in preserving the population of these rare hippos. “The birth of this rare and endangered nocturnal forest species marks only the 55th individual in the managed population within North American and underlines the importance of our
conservation efforts with this species,” said Dr. Larry Killmar, vice president of animal science and conservation. “With fewer than 3,000 pigmy hippos in the wild, each birth is vital if we have any hope of saving this truly unique species.”

In the wild, the pygmy can be found in West Africa in lowland forests. The species is mainly confined to Liberia, with small numbers in neighboring countries. The animals are comfortable both on land and in water, but rest and forage near waterways. They can most often be seen in shady sites near swamps, riverbanks or muddy areas.

Zoo Hippo on the Run in Montenegro

When a private zoo on a small island on Lake Skadar in Montenegro was flooded, Nikica, an 11-year old hippopotamus, seized the opportunity for freedom. As waters rose, she was able to bob to the top of her enclosure and escape.  Though currently being tracked by zoo officials, the two-tonne hippo could pose a threat to people. Villagers have been warned to keep a safe distance. “When I left my house to feed my cow, I saw a hippo standing in front of the stall,” said a farmer, Nikola Radovic. “I thought I was losing my mind.”

Watch the video footage of Nikica here below.

For more info about the hippo escape, see The Times Online. For more stories of animal escapes, see our 2009 wrap-up of Great Animal Escapes.

To learn more about hippos, see Animal Fact Guide’s article: Hippopotamus.