Lifestyle & Belief

There are 31 newborns at the National Zoo! Photos of cute baby animals!


Black-footed ferrets were thought extinct until 1980, when a colony of ferrets was discovered in Wyoming. Today all black-footed ferrets are descended from 18 ferrets in that colony.


Smithsonian's National Zoo

Things are especially cute the National Zoo right now. In the last several weeks, 31 babies have been born!

What's more, many of them are endangered species. Here is a look at seven of the specialest, cutest, most babiest ones of all:

1. Baby scimitar-horned oryx

(Lisa Ware/Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute/Flickr Commons)

Extinct in the wild, a rare scimitar-horned oryx was born at the National Zoo in Washington, DC on May 15. Scimitar-horned oryx once lived in the arid plains and deserts of northern African countries of Egypt, Senegal and Chad. Reintroduction efforts have begun in Tunisia.

Those little nubbins on his head will grow into curved horns that are several feet long.

Fun fact: When scimitar-horned oryx are coping with a shortage of water, they are able to raise their body temperature by several degrees, up to 116 degrees Fahrenheit, in order to avoid sweating and thus conserve water.

2. Baby fishing cat

Tallie Wiles/Smithsonian's National Zoo/Flickr Commons)

A fishing cat, recently named Hunter, was born April 15. Inhabiting India and Southeast Asia, fishing cat populations are declining and the species is considered endangered because of habitat loss and hunting for food and fur.

(Susan Murray/Smithsonian's National Zoo/Flickr Commons)

The first pair of twin fishing cats was born at the National Zoo in May 2012. Only one other facility accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums has successfully bred fishing cats since 2009.

Fun fact: When swimming, fishing cats use their short, flattened tail like a rudder, to help direct them in the water.

3. Baby short-eared elephant shrew

(Clyde Nishimura/Smithsonian's National Zoo/Flickr Commons)

A short-eared elephant shrew was born May 8 at the Zoo’s Small Mammal House. The short-eared elephant shrew is the smallest of the 17 living species of elephant shrew, weighing between less than one-third of an ounce and 1.5 ounces at birth. 

Although the tiny shrew has been active since birth (we don't know yet if it's a boy or a girl), it stayed hidden for the first few days of its life, which is normal. Keepers are now getting glimpses of the shrew as it comes out of its den to explore.

Fun facts: These insect-eating mammals are more closely related to elephants than shrews. Their name comes from their noses’ resemblance to the trunk of an elephant. 

They are also among only a handful of monogamous mammals and have been studied for their mating behavior.

4. Baby red pandas

(Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute/Flickr Commons)

A red panda gave birth to two surviving cubs May 27. This species is vulnerable because of habitat loss.

Red pandas live in the cool temperate bamboo forests in parts of China, Nepal and northern Myanmar. There are fewer than 10,000 adult red pandas left in the wild. Their name says panda, they look like raccoons and they have previously been placed in the bear family, but red pandas are doing their own thing in the Ailuridae family. So much so, actually, that Rusty, a red panda in residence at the National Zoo has quite the adventure story to tell his children.

Fun fact: A year ago, Rusty the red panda escaped from the National Zoo and took a tour of the Adams Morgan neighborhood before being safely caught and returned to the zoo.

5. Baby loggerhead shrikes

(Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute/Flickr Commons)

Three loggerhead shrike chicks were recently born at the National Zoo. Loggerhead shrikes live in parts of the US, Canada and Mexico. Their numbers have declined due to loss of habitat and pesticides. "Loggerhead" refers to their relatively large head compared to the rest of their body. 

They look sweet enough there in the nest, but get a load of how they handle their prey: 

Fun fact: Known as the "Butcher Bird," loggerhead shrikes impale their prey on thorns or barbed wire before eating it.

6. Baby leaf-tailed gecko

(Lauren Augustine/Smithsonian's National Zoo/Flickr Commons)

A leaf-tailed gecko hatched June 2. These are nocturnal geckos from Madagascar threatened with extensive habitat loss from cattle grazing, logging, and agriculture and collection for the pet trade.

Leaf-tailed geckos are the smallest in their genus of geckos and are named after their flat, leaf-like tails which allow them to camouflage better than anyone in the forests of Madagascar.

Fun fact: They are also called the "Satanic leaf-tailed gecko" because, I mean, look at those eyes.

7. Baby black-footed ferrets

(Smithsonian's National Zoo/Flickr Commons)

Black-footed ferret kit season is in full swing at the National Zoo. Twenty-four ferrets have been born so far, and 10 more ferret mothers are due in the next few weeks.

Black-footed ferrets were thought extinct until 1980, when a colony of ferrets was discovered in Wyoming. Today all black-footed ferrets are descended from 18 ferrets in that colony.

Fun fact: They subsist almost entirely on prairie dogs. They eat about 100 prairie dogs a year.

(Smithsonian's National Zoo/Flickr Commons)