Given the horror that 2020 presented to so many, locals would be forgiven for clamoring to all things cute — and few things are cuter than newborn animals.
Locally, the Houston Zoo provided fans with a gaggle of cute and cuddly newborns this year, ranging from a bouncing baby elephant to a red-tailed monkey. Here, then, is an adorable reminder, courtesy of the zoo, of all the babies born there in 2020, spreading some cheer in an otherwise awful year.
Traci, giant anteater: born March 31
Born to mom Olive, Traci spent the first few weeks of life clinging to his mom and will no doubt hitch a ride on her back for almost 12 months. While he’s almost as big as Olive at nine months old, Traci can still be found on her back sometimes at the Zoo’s newest addition, South America’s Pantanal, according to the zoo.
Peter Rabbit, Schmidt’s red-tailed monkey: born April 10
Why the name? Born to proud mother Njeri on April 10, this bundle of joy was named Peter Rabbit in honor of Easter weekend. Peter was hand-raised by keepers and veterinary staff members after the infant could no longer hold on to mom before reuniting with her full-time in August, per the zoo.
Nelson, Asian elephant: born May 12
Few, if any, animal births grab headlines like that of a baby elephant. So it was with great excitement that the zoo announced the arrival of Nelson, who was born to 29-year-old Asian elephant Shanti. Coming in at a whopping 326 pounds, Nelson was born after a short labor.
As CultureMap reported, immediately following his birth, the elephant team and veterinary staff saw that Nelson was hemorrhaging severely from his umbilicus and determined that he tore a vessel in his umbilical cord during birth. The team sedated the one-hour-old calf and performed emergency surgery. Veterinarians performed the 30-minute procedure to find the torn vessel, stop the bleeding, and close the hole in the calf’s abdomen.
Nelson is now thriving and weighs nearly 1,000 pounds and is frolicking at the McNair Asian Elephant Habitat.
Madagascar hedgehog tenrecs: born June 16
The zoo welcomed not one, but three Madagascar lesser hedgehog tenrecs. The tiny newborns weighed only 10 grams (small enough to fit on a small spoon) at birth, but are now 10 times their birth weight, according to the zoo. The tenrecs are ambassador animals, helping to educate guests the importance of saving their counterparts, and other animals, around the world.
Kivuli, okapi: born July 19
Summer baby Kivuli was born to mother Sukari (aged 13). Within the hour, Kivuli was standing with help from mom. She made her public debut on August 12. The zoo then held a public naming contest; the name Kivuli, which means “Shadow” in the Swahili language.
Baby bongos: born July and August
Over a span of three and a half weeks, the three female bongos each gave birth to healthy calves with dad, Bobby. The zoo reports that mom Penelope gave birth on July 21 to a male calf; Bernadette gave birth on July 29 to a female; and Lily, the most recent mother, birthed a male calf on August 15. All three baby bongos and their mothers can be seen daily in the zoo's bongo yard.
2 Santa Catalina rattlesnakes and 40 Bornean eared frogs: born in the fall
It wasn’t just mammals born in 2020. The zoo’s herpetology department welcomed some of the Zoo’s smallest new additions: two Santa Catalina Island rattlesnakes and 40 Bornean eared frogs. The rattlesnakes’ birth is an important event, as these offspring are not only genetically valuable, but this was also the first time this species has reproduced at the Houston Zoo.
Marlie, Howler monkey: born on November 17
Little cutie Marlie was born to mom Charlie and dad Howie. Both mom and Marlie can be seen with the rest of the howler monkey family in South America’s Pantanal.