The St. Louis Zoo had an exceptional year when it came to zoo babies. As a Christmas treat, I give you the cute, the furry, the frolicking, and the fun.
Kalama was born in August, 2008. There are now only 2,200 Grevy’s Zebras in the wild, but there’s a healthy population in zoos. The same can also be said of our next baby, a giraffe who was famous literally from birth.
Typically giraffes will give birth in private, but not this time. This little guy was born in June, in front of an audience of hundreds. There’s even a YouTube video of his birth.
The St. Louis Zoo giraffes share an enclosure with Speke’s gazelles and the zoo’s sole ostrich. The ostrich and the baby have had a fascination each other from the beginning, and will take turns following each other around the enclosure. However, both are motivated by curiosity, not friendship, as the ostrich will peck at the giraffe, and the giraffe kick at the ostrich. However, neither hurts the other and they do seem to keep each other entertained.
Domestic asses are common, but wild asses are critically endangered. That’s why the zoo’s breeding program is so important. And successful, too! The zoo didn’t have one Somalia Wild Ass baby this year, it had three, including this little one, born in June.
The President of the zoo, Dr. Bonner, wrote that one of the problems the zoo has with the Somalia Wild Ass is their name— leaders of school groups aren’t sure about saying their name because of the negative connotations associated with “ass”. After reading this, every time I stop by the enclosure I chant, “Say it loud, say it proud: Ass! Ass! Ass!”
I have not been kicked out of the zoo. Yet.
The stars this year at the zoo have been the five Amur tiger cubs born April 28, and named Peter, Ivan, Andrea, Zhanna, and Tikva. The two males and three females have consistently been a hit with the crowds, and no wonder: they’re fascinating to watch. If you’re not familiar with Amur tiger, this species was originally named the Siberian tiger. They’re the largest cat in the world, and one of the rarest, so these five babies were greeted with relief, as well as delight.
The cubs’ Mom, Kalista is a first time mother, but has proven to be exceptional— managing to care for her rather large brood with only a small assist from the veterinary staff for a couple of the lower weight cubs.
Then there’s Sofiya. Sofiya is an Amur Leopard cub, the rarest cat in the world. She was a twin, but her brother did not survive birth. In addition, first time mother, Mona, rejected her daughter, and so Sofiya was hand raised by zoo staff.
Sofiya is lovable and charming, playful and clever. She’s fearless and funny, and astute and will stalk birds flying overhead and enamored photographers with equal enthusiasm.
Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year.