Moving on to the Animal Kingdom

We did vegetables last week and I can sort of say we did minerals the week before so this week equality demands we head out to see some animals. This is a particularly fun time of year because spring means babies galore. What could be more charming than a baby vulture, all pinfeathers and open maw? Okay, okay, okay, only kidding. How does a brand spanking new piglet sound?

The Denver Zoo is teeming with babies. They have the most adorable polar bear cubs ever. Seriously, look at these pictures and tell me they are not to die for. Koda and Nuka were born on Thanksgiving and they have only been out of the their den for a couple of weeks. Dudley is a giraffe calf born on March 4th. He's out and about in good weather and can be seen with his three-month-old brother, Dash. Since giraffes are pregnant for about fifteen months, I sincerely hope that Dash is a half brother. If not then my sympathies to mom for what must have been a confusing and difficult pregnancy. You can also take a peek at the seven-puppy litter of African Wild Dog puppies that have been able to go outside for about a month now. These pups were bred under the guidance of the Species Survival Plan and are a welcome addition to the population of this endangered species. But wait, there's more. There are three absolutely beautiful African lion cubs frolicking about doing kittenish types of things. There is also a surprisingly cute spotted hyena cub who is just about a month old. It's too young to come out and play but you can see it on the closed circuit video feed.

The Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens is home to several endearing beasties. They have an extremely cute Visayan warty piglet born in March. Dad may be big and gray and freaky looking but baby is sweet and tiny and stripy. (Dad is actually sporting quite the punk rock do, it's rather fetching.) The only in the United States makes its home in the LA Zoo. It is amazing looking. Those things that look like reptile scales are secretly highly specialized hairs. Isn't that the coolest ever? This little guy was rescued from some people who bought it in the Republic of Congo and somehow got it all the way to the LA Airport. He or she (most likely he) seems to have recovered from the ordeal and is doing well on display. The new baby Bornean orangutan is quite the feat of modern zoo keeping. Dad, called Minyak, was not only too depressed to become a dad but he was also too ill. He underwent surgery for his frequently infected air sac two years ago. Since then he gets daily inhalers for his lungs and antidepressants. This interesting plan seems to have worked and he and his mate, Kalim, became parents on February 22nd. Kalim went through an intense mothering course while pregnant and is taking very good care of the baby, called Berani. Isn't that a beautiful story?

I don't know about you but there is no way I can resist a rhino named Satchmo. He lives at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans. He is one of only about 160 Southern White Rhinos in captivity. Speaking of breeding programs, the zoo is trying to teach a gorilla called Casey about breeding by giving him a video. Apparently he likes to watch TV and is a little shy with the ladies so they're hoping he'll get the message from the film. No babies yet but these things take time.

Enough with the mammals already, what about the less cuddly denizens of the zoo? The reptile nursery at the Bronx Zoo is chock full of adorable reptiles. They have some baby yellow-throated day geckos. These little fellows weigh in at .1 grams when first hatched. Can you imagine? Twelve dwarf caiman, the tiniest of the crocodile family, and the cutest, were born last October. A Fly River turtle, aka pig nosed turtle, (and owner of many other mysterious aliases) was hatched about eighteen months ago. The Bronx Zoo is the only zoo in the US to successfully breed these rare and lovely water turtles.

So what are you waiting for? Go see some animals and if you get any really cool pictures please send me a copy. Thanks!