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A perfectly healthy young giraffe named Marius was shot dead at Copenhagen zoo on Febuary 9, 2014 despite an online petition to save it signed by thousands of animal lovers.
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.
A Danish zoo sparked outrage Sunday when it put down a healthy young giraffe to prevent inbreeding as young children looked on, before chopping it up and feeding it to lions.
The fate of 18-month-old Marius shocked animal lovers around the world, with thousands signing an online petition to save him and a billionaire offering to buy him and keep him in his Beverly Hills garden.
However last-ditch efforts to spare Marius were to no avail and he was put down with a bolt gun early on Sunday, zoo spokesman Tobias Stenbaek Bro confirmed.
A crowd of visitors, including small children, looked on as the giraffe was put down. Some grimaced while others took photos as he was autopsied and chopped up.
A full-maned lion later tucked into the giraffe's remains, fed to carnivores at the zoo.
"It was put down at 9:20. It went as planned. It's always the people's right to protest. But of course we have been surprised," Stenbaek Bro said.
The zoo said it had no choice other than to prevent the animal attaining adulthood.
Under European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) rules, in-breeding between giraffes is to be avoided.
Although Marius is healthy, his genes are already well represented at the zoo and he cannot be taken in by the 300 other EAZA-affiliated zoos.
Castration is considered cruel with "undesirable effects." while releasing him in the wild is thought unlikely to succeed.
The giraffe's impending death sparked outrage online, with more than 5,000 people signing a "Save Marius" Facebook petition. More than 3,000 people signed a similar Danish-language online petition and nearly 24,000 an English-language version.
There were reportedly several attempts made to save Marius.
A Swedish zoo, which is not part of the EAZA network, tried in vain to get Marius transferred, the Expressen daily reported.
And another daily, Denmark's Ekstrabladet, quoted a Danish promoter living in Los Angeles, Claus Hjelmbak, as saying he had found a buyer for the animal.
"One of my close friends, a billionaire, said that he wanted to transfer a few million so we could save the giraffe," Hjelmbak was quoted as saying.
"He could easily have lived in his garden in Beverly Hills, but the zoo director was not interested in a sale. I'm angry," the promoter added.
The zoo had made clear from the beginning of the protest that its policy was not to sell the animals.