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Just in time for Mother's Day: zoo babies in the West

Just in time for Mother's Day: zoo babies in the West
Three cheetah cubs, one male and two females, were born Jan. 6 at the San Diego Safari Park. (Ken Bohn / San Diego Zoo Global)

It's hard not to smile at the site of a baby, especially a furry one. Moms make it hard to spot their offspring in the wild, but you can get a look at adorable zoo babies in San Diego, Anchorage and Denver.

Each zoo is actively engaged in education, conservation and helping save species from extinction.

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San Diego: San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Southern white rhino (near threatened status)

On Feb. 7, a southern white rhino named Kacy gave birth to her third calf, a 125-pound male named Justin.

He is the 97th southern white rhino calf born at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park since 1972. Over the next year, he will gain about 100 pounds a month. As an adult, Justin will weigh between 4,000 and 5,000 pounds.

Because of poaching, southern white rhinos are classified as near-threatened on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species. The species is native to Africa, with approximately 18,000 remaining in the wild.

The southern white rhino is the closest relative of the critically endangered northern white rhino. The last northern white rhino male died in March, leaving behind only two females, both located at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya.

Cheetah cubs (vulnerable status)

On Jan. 6, the Safari Park also welcomed three cheetah cubs who were born to Malana, an inexperienced mother. After two were accidentally injured, all three were transferred to the Ione and Paul Harter Animal Care Center Nursery when they were 7 weeks old.

Cheetahs are primarily found in Africa and are classified as vulnerable on the Red List of Threatened Species because of due to habitat loss, poaching, the illegal pet trade and other issues. In 1900, the world's cheetah population was about 100,000. Today, it is about 7,100, and 10% live in wildlife centers and zoos.

San Diego Zoo Global helped form the Breeding Center Coalition to create a sustainable cheetah population over the next decade.

Red-necked wallabies

Two of the joeys, in surrogate pouches.
Two of the joeys, in surrogate pouches. (Ken Bohn / San Diego Zoo Global)

Three red-necked wallaby females arrived at the Safari Park's Harter Animal Care Center Nursery in April from another zoo. They range in age from 5 to 6 months, and are being bottle fed a special marsupial milk substitute and some solid food.

Each is about a foot tall and weighs two to three pounds. As adults, they will weigh between 26 pounds and 35 pounds and measure about 3 feet long from head to tail.

A 6-month-old red-necked wallaby is hand-fed at the Safari Park's nursery.
A 6-month-old red-necked wallaby is hand-fed at the Safari Park's nursery. (Ken Bohn /San Diego Zoo Global)

Wallabies are part of the kangaroo family and are native to Australia.

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Anchorage: Alaska Zoo

Brown bear cubs

Four orphaned male brown bear cubs now at Alaska Zoo in Anchorage will go to the Oakland Zoo once their new habitat is ready this summer.

Two were rescued from Deadhorse, Alaska, and two came from South Anchorage. Alaska Zoo has been rescuing injured and abandoned wildlife since 1969.

Denver: Denver Zoo

Linne's two-toed sloth

A sloth named Baby Ruth was born Jan. 28 at the Denver Zoo.
A sloth named Baby Ruth was born Jan. 28 at the Denver Zoo. (Denver Zoo)

Baby Ruth, a female Linne's two-toed sloth, was born Jan. 28 to a sloth named Charlotte Greenie, who's 21 years old. Baby Ruth began clinging to her mother immediately and will cling almost exclusively to Charlotte until she's about 6 months old.

The baby sloth clings to her mother at the Denver Zoo.
The baby sloth clings to her mother at the Denver Zoo. (Denver Zoo)

Although this species is not threatened, two of the six species of sloth are endangered: the pygmy three-toed sloth (critically endangered) and the maned sloth (vulnerable).

African wild dog (Lycaon pictus)

Nicknamed African painted dogs for their colorful markings, only about 6,600 African wild dogs are left in the wild.
Nicknamed African painted dogs for their colorful markings, only about 6,600 African wild dogs are left in the wild. (Denver Zoo)

Tilly, an African wild dog at the Denver Zoo, had a litter of three males (Nigel, Theodore Roosevelt and Livingstone) and one female (Cholula) on Nov. 20. Nicknamed African painted dogs for their colorful markings, only about 6,600 African wild dogs are left in the wild, because of habit loss, infectious disease and conflicts with humans.

Unlike wolves and dogs, African wild dogs have four, rather than five, toes.
Unlike wolves and dogs, African wild dogs have four, rather than five, toes. (Denver Zoo)

Thirty-two puppies have been born at the Denver Zoo since 2001. In Botswana, the zoo is tracking wild dogs with radio and GPS collars to help reduce conflicts with humans.

Info: Denver Zoo

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