New zoo animals: Baby animals rated by cuteness (SLIDE SHOW)

Check out spring's new arrivals at New York zoos. We apply our patent-pending cute-o-meter to the baby animals and give you the chance to pick your favorite.

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  • North American river otters

    Photograph: Julie Larsen Maher © WCS

    The newest addition to Wildlife Conservation Society’s menageries, these pups were born in February but have only just been let loose on the Prospect Park Zoo's Discovery Trail. They're the first North American river otters to be born in a New York zoo since 1956.

    TONY's patent-pending cute-o-meter: 9/10

    North American river otters
  • Babydoll lamb

    Photograph: Julie Larsen Maher © WCS

    Kiwi, a babydoll lamb, was born in early March and can be seen in the Tisch Children's Zoo in Central Park Zoo.

    TONY's patent-pending cute-o-meter: 8/10

    Babydoll lamb
  • Alpaca

    Photograph: Julie Larsen Maher © WCS

    This male baby alpaca is the most recent addition to the farm at Queens Zoo. You think its's cute? Mother and baby alpacas are known to hum to one another. That's cute.

    TONY's patent-pending cute-o-meter: 9/10

    Alpaca
  • Baringo giraffe calf

    Photograph: Julie Larsen Maher © WCS

    This newborn is the latest addition to the Bronx Zoo's herd of eight giraffes in the Africa Plains exhibit, which also features lions, zebras and wild dogs. (Don't worry—they keep them separated).

    TONY's patent-pending cute-o-meter: 7/10

    Baringo giraffe calf
  • Baringo giraffe calf

    Photograph: Julie Larsen Maher © WCS

    At birth, the female calf was approximately six feet tall—she could look down on you with a stank eye already. She may grow to be 16 feet.

    Baringo giraffe calf
  • Black-necked swan cygnets

    Photograph: Julie Larsen Maher © WCS

    One of the new brood hitches a ride on a male swan. The young travel this way for warmth, ease of transportation and protection from predators. Scientists are only just beginning to investigate the genetic similarities between swans and Park Slope parents. Incongruously, you won't find these hatchlings in Prospect Park Zoo, but in the Bronx Zoo's Heart Lake, located on the western side of the menagerie between the Southern Boulevard entrance and the Birds of Prey exhibit.

    TONY's patent-pending cute-o-meter: 7/10

    Black-necked swan cygnets
  • Dingos

    Photograph: Julie Larsen Maher © WCS

    Four dingos—the first to be seen in New York zoos for 40 years—have joined the western grey kangaroo, rock wallabies and emus in Prospect Park Zoo's Australian Walkabout exhibition. The wild dogs are on view in male and female pairs. And who knows, if love blossoms, perhaps we'll be rating baby dingos in the next few years.

    TONY's patent-pending cute-o-meter: 7/10

    Dingos
  • Chacoan peccary

    Photograph: Julie Larsen Maher © WCS

    This species of hog was thought to be extinct until the 1970s. There are approximately 3,000 in the wild and three at the Queens Zoo, called Walker, Palito and Chili.

    TONY's patent-pending cute-o-meter: 6/10. Add two points if the peccaries spontaneously break into "I'm a Survivor."

    Chacoan peccary
  • Indian fruit bats

    Photograph: Julie Larsen Maher © WCS

    The Bronx Zoo's indoor JungleWorld area has welcomed 21 of these giant bats, nicknamed "flying foxes" for their coloring and doglike facial features. During the day, you'll be able to see them roosting upside-down from tree branches.

    TONY's patent-pending cute-o-meter: 5/10

    Indian fruit bats
  • Pot-bellied seahorses

    Photograph: Julie Larsen Maher

    These small fries are the latest success story of the New York Aquarium's breeding program, especially as pot-bellied seahorses are a threatened species according to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

    Seahorse babies are not of women born, and consequently the scourge of Shakespearean characters called Macbeth. The female deposits eggs in the male’s brood pouch, whereupon he fertilizes them. The male then holds the eggs for about a month until they hatch and swim free.

    TONY's patent-pending cute-o-meter: 6/10

    Pot-bellied seahorses

North American river otters

Photograph: Julie Larsen Maher © WCS

The newest addition to Wildlife Conservation Society’s menageries, these pups were born in February but have only just been let loose on the Prospect Park Zoo's Discovery Trail. They're the first North American river otters to be born in a New York zoo since 1956.

TONY's patent-pending cute-o-meter: 9/10


Baby alpacas and river otters and babydoll sheep—oh my giddy aunt, the cuteness is overwhelming. To try to calm ourselves, we decided to apply a rational scientific method to quantify the adorableness of the new zoo animals in New York, both newborns and recent acquisitions. Presenting the TONY patent-pending cute-o-meter, which is basically a cardboard box full of staffers cooing over photos of cute animals while an intern takes readings from a noise dosimeter.

In all seriousness though, the successful breeding of species by the Wildlife Conservation Society (wcs.org) is no mean feat, and we heartily commend its efforts. Additionally, the acquisition of animals like the endangered Chacoan peccaries helps to educate zoogoers on these creatures and their threatened habitat. You should strongly consider donating to the WCS.

Now back to enjoying the baby animals. Vote for which new zoo animal you think deserves the totally made-up accolade of Cutest in Show.

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