Spring has not even officially sprung yet, but zoos and aquariums nationwide are celebrating the births of baby animals.
The Oakland Zoo in California recently announced the birth of three meerkat pups, now part of the current mob (group of meerkats).
"It has been wonderful watching the mob raise the pups," zoological manager Victor Alm said. "It has truly been a collective effort and all the adults are taking their turns caring for and teaching the new pups their different roles and jobs needed to be a productive meerkat."
Clouded leopard cubs are a rite of spring at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute's facility in Front Royal, Va.
The cubs are now part of an international program to conserve the species, which is threatened by deforestation and hunting.
Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo Safari Park
"Wesa" the California condor chick is the first such chick of the season at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The chick is being "puppet reared."
"The puppet is like a fancy glove," explained Rob Webb, senior condor keeper, "It covers our hands so the chick does not get any beneficial experiences from people. We do not want it imprinting on people or getting used to us when it goes out into the wild. We want it to be a nice, wild animal, not relying on people for food."
A baby orangutan delivered by C-section is doing well at Zoo Atlanta. Mother Blaze, now recovered, spends most days running over to her son, squeaking softly to him, and then hugging him onto her chest.
Keepers are providing the baby boy with environmental enrichment so that he is stimulated both mentally and physically. He is fascinated by his own reflection in a provided mirror.
A juvenile harbor seal had a rough start to life. Found off the coast of Delaware, he was suffering from abrasions and a severe respiratory infection.
Thanks to round-the-clock care provided by dedicated staff at the National Aquarium's Marine Animal Rescue Program, he is now on the mend. He has been enjoying a hearty diet of smelt and herring fish.
Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium
Five lion cubs were recently born at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium. During their last exam, the three females were found to weigh 19 to 22 pounds each, while the two males both came in at 23 pounds.
Mother "Mfisha" keeps the cubs in line and gently cleans each with her tongue.
San Diego Zoo Safari Park
A baby boy southern white rhino named "Kayode" is already said to be taking charge of his habitat at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in California.
"Kayode is a little tank, a very cute little tank, and he is showing lots of personality," said Jane Kennedy, lead keeper at the park.
"He loves running and interacting with his mom, sticking out his tongue, and showing the buffalo in his enclosure he's a rhino and he's in charge."
The giant Pacific octopus at the National Aquarium is just a baby, but as an adult it could weigh up to 90 pounds.
Aquarium staff members are providing enrichment to encourage cognitive development. One such brainteaser involves providing the octopus with a container in which food has been hidden. The octopus learns how to open the container and, with its 1,800 suction cups, finds the tasty fishy morsels.
The Audubon Zoo in New Orleans is proudly showing off its baby babirusa. Babirusas are forest-dwelling wild pigs native to Malaysia.
This youngster seems to follow mom wherever she goes in their sun-filled exhibit.
Five-week-old baby gorilla "Gladys Stones" is melting hearts at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.
She was actually born at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Texas, hence her first name. "Stones" is to recognize the Stones Family who cared for her during her first few weeks of life before she traveled to Cincinnati.
Gladys appears to be very happy at her new home, affectionately grabbing primate keepers by the shirt with her fingers.
An orphaned polar bear cub found near Alaska's northwest coast is set to become a New Yorker.
The 3-to-4-month-old male cub was rescued two weeks ago by hunters who say they unwittingly shot the bear's mother near Point Lay, Alaska, according to the Anchorage Daily News.
The bear has been called Kali (the Inupiat name for Point Lay) and is being cared for at the Alaska Zoo in Anchorage but will be sent to the Buffalo Zoo later this spring, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced last week.
In Buffalo, Kali (pronounced "Cully") will be raised alongside a 4-month-old female polar bear cub nicknamed Luna, whose mom Anana was having trouble taking care of her. Letting the two cubs interact and play together could help ensure that they don't get too attached to their human keepers.
"At the Buffalo Zoo, both cubs would benefit from each other's company during this important period in their development," Randi Meyerson, coordinator of the Polar Bear Species Survival Plan, said in a statement. "Peer-raising animals is generally preferred over human-rearing whenever possible."
Buffalo might only be a temporary home for Kali; officials are considering the Saint Louis Zoo as a final destination for the bear.
"We recognize that the Saint Louis Zoo is in the process of building a state-of-the-art polar bear exhibit expected to be completed in 2015," Dan Ashe, director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, said in a statement. "Our goal is to work with the Zoo to ensure the proper standards of care are met for the polar bears who will eventually find a home in Saint Louis."
The polar bear is the largest species of bear on the planet. An adult male weighs between 775 and 1,200 pounds (351 and 544 kilograms) and will reach its full adult size between the ages of 8 and 14 years. Adult females are half the size of their male counterparts -- 330 to 650 pounds (50 to 295 kg) -- and reach full size at around age 5 to 6 years. Polar bears in captivity typically live into their 30s.
In the wild, polar bears are found in Russia, Alaska, Canada, Greenland and Norway's Svalbard archipelago, and the animals are threatened by declining Arctic sea ice, oil development, pollutants and hunting. In May 2008, United States listed the polar bear as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, while in Canada and Russia they are listed as a species of special concern.
More from LiveScience.com:
World's Cutest Baby Wild Animals
Endangered Beauties: Images of Polar Bears
Gallery: Polar Bears Swimming in the Arctic Ocean
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