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Category: Animal Babies

Your morning adorable: The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute's two cheetah cubs are better than one

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Staff at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Virginia have found a creative way to make sure two cheetah cubs born there in December have an upbringing that's as close as possible to what they would have in the wild.

The institute, which is associated with the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is a participant in a conservation breeding program to help the cheetah species survive. Two different cheetah mothers, Amani and Zazi, gave birth to cubs about a week and a half apart.

But there was one problem: Each mother gave birth to only one cub. Cheetah mothers typically have litters of three or four cubs; "singletons" are a rarity. For reasons not entirely clear, mothers are unable to properly care for only one cub. "The theory is that one cub does not stimulate the mother enough to keep producing milk," head cheetah keeper Lacey Braun wrote on the National Zoo's website.

Keepers decided to take Amani's cub, a male, from her in order to hand-raise him. When Zazi's single female cub was born later in the month, an idea was hatched: Why not let Zazi raise the two cubs together as siblings? Zazi took to being the mother of "twins" just fine, and the cubs are energetic and healthy. They had their first trip outside last week, and the institute recently launched a live webcam to allow cheetah fans to watch the cubs' antics online.

See more photos of the cubs after the jump!

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Your morning adorable: Month-old lion cubs mug for the camera at Russian zoo

Lion cubs at the zoo in Nizhny Novgorod

Twin lion cubs born last month at the Mishutka Zoo in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, are clearly hogging the zoo's supply of cuteness.

The cubs were born to mother Jessica (an oddly human name for a lion, we think) and father Richard (Richard the Lionheart, get it?).

Lion cubs don't become fully mature until they're about 3 or 4 years old, so these guys still have a lot of time for playing ahead of them. As adults, they may weigh upward of 400 pounds!

Lions start life with spotted coats, but the spots, much like some humans' freckles, fade over time. Some adult lions still have remnants of their former spots on their legs and bellies, though.

See another photo of the cubs after the jump!

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Your morning adorable: Little penguin chick hatches at Cincinnati Zoo

Little Peguin

One of the youngest residents of the Cincinnati Zoo is also, perhaps unsurprisingly, one of the cutest. A little penguin -- the name of an actual species, not just a phrase to describe its diminutive stature -- hatched there on Jan. 11 and was photographed during a checkup and weigh-in last week.

The chick weighs about a quarter of a pound now, and even when fully grown it will only weigh about 2 pounds or so. It's being raised by keepers, who feed it at two-hour intervals starting at 6 a.m. each day, aviculturist Cody Sowers wrote on the zoo's blog. When it's older, it'll join the adult little penguins in an enclosure at the zoo's section for children.

Little penguins, also called blue penguins or fairy penguins, are native to the coastlines of southern Australia and New Zealand. To date, 22 little penguins have been hatched at the Cincinnati Zoo. See video of the newest chick after the jump!

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Your morning adorable: Dachshund puppy plays in the snow -- in slow motion!

A dachshund puppy is cute without even trying. But catch that dachshund puppy doing something adorable on video, slow down the footage and slap on a charming soundtrack and you have a recipe for YouTube success. That's just what the owners of Iso, a 5-month-old dachshund who has recently become something of a Web star, did to earn a large and rapidly growing YouTube following.

"Iso loves the snow (sometimes)," they write on YouTube. "Luckily we caught him on a good day." They've also posted videos in which little Iso receives a bath and plays with a toy -- both in slow motion, of course. Iso's bathtime video has already received nearly 200,000 views since being uploaded Sunday.

Iso's YouTube channel is called, naturally, IsoInSloMo, and we now count ourselves among his many delighted subscribers, eagerly awaiting his next video installment. Come on, little Iso -- we're waiting.

RELATED CUTE DACHSHUNDS:
Your morning adorable: Sleepy dachshund tucks himself into bed
Your morning adorable: Dachshund wears booties

-- Lindsay Barnett

Video: IsoInSloMo via YouTube

Your morning adorable: Rescued otter pup drinks from a bottle

Ellie, a young river otter pup who was orphaned or abandoned by her mother, is thriving despite her ordeal, thanks to the efforts of volunteers with the group Dorset Wildlife Rescue in southern England.

According to the group, Ellie will soon begin an extensive rehabilitation program, expected to last about a year, through which she'll learn the skills necessary to survive in the wild. When she's "graduated" from the program, she'll be released.

Ellie joins another young otter orphan named Niamh and a host of other rescued animals in various stages of rehabilitation, ranging from bats to deer to birds of prey, at Dorset Wildlife Rescue. 

RELATED CUTE OTTERS:
Your morning adorable: Hungry Asian small-clawed otters jump for joy, blow our minds
What's better than one keyboard-playing otter? Two keyboard-playing otters, of course

-- Lindsay Barnett

Video: Dorset Wildlife Rescue via YouTube

Your morning adorable: African wild dog puppies get a checkup at Illinois' Brookfield Zoo

10 African wild dog puppies, six males and four females, huddling together

The birth of a big litter of African wild dog puppies at Illinois' Brookfield Zoo late last year is great news for their endangered species. The litter, born to 6-year-old mother Kim and 4-year-old father Digger on Thanksgiving, contains a whopping 10 healthy puppies who were examined by a zoo veterinarian on Thursday.

The puppies, much like their domestic cousins, needed to be vaccinated against canine diseases -- the spread of distemper from domestic dogs is one cause for their steep population decline in the wild -- and have microchips implanted for identification purposes.

Brookfield is a participant in the Assn. of Zoos and Aquariums' Species Survival Plan program to ensure the survival of African wild dogs. Kim and Digger's puppies are the third and largest African wild dog litter to be born at the zoo so far.

African wild dogs have an "it takes a village" approach to parenting: Not only do Kim and Digger care for the puppies, but Digger's brother Duke also plays a big role in their lives. In wild packs of African wild dogs, all adults pitch in to care for the young, regardless of their biological parentage.

See more photos and video of the puppies after the jump!

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Your morning adorable: Young ocelots make their debut at the Berlin Zoo

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Two young ocelots born at the Berlin Zoo in mid-November were shown off to media photographers in their first major appearance Tuesday.

The kittens, named Viento and Estrella, posed with their mother Sara for a number of alarmingly cute pictures. Mother ocelots and their kittens have a close bond, but even in the wild, father ocelots aren't involved in the care of their young.

Ocelots are native to parts of South and Central America, and their range even extends a bit into Texas, where the Nature Conservancy is working to increase their territory by securing land previously held by ranchers.

Their intricately patterned coats once made ocelots popular targets for hunters who sold their skins for use in the fur trade. Crackdowns on the use of ocelot fur have helped their population to rebound over the past several decades, but habitat loss is still a concern for the species, especially their U.S. population.

See more photos of Viento, Estrella and their mother after the jump!

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Your morning adorable: Baby potto makes its debut at Cincinnati Zoo

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At Ohio's Cincinnati Zoo, a round-eyed baby potto is just about the cutest thing going. The tiny creature made its public debut shortly before Christmas and remains on display along with its family.

The baby, born on Dec. 8, becomes the eighth potto at the Cincinnati Zoo and only the 16th in any American zoo. Its parents are 10-year-old Lucy and 9-year-old Jabari.

Pottos are small, nocturnal primates that are more closely related to lemurs and lorises than to great apes like chimpanzees and orangutans. They're native to parts of Africa, where they live in treetops and eat things like fruits and insects.

See another photo and a video of the Cincinnati Zoo's potto baby after the jump!

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Your morning adorable: Waterbuck calf gets a nuzzle at Berlin Zoo

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A waterbuck calf born at the Berlin Zoo in late November is giving the zoo's other resident animal babies -- like the guanaco calf and African lion cubs, for instance -- a run for their money in the unofficial Cutest Zoo Baby competition.

The calf recently joined the zoo's waterbuck herd; young waterbucks don't typically interact much with adults until they've reached a few weeks of age and are ready to be inducted into herd life.

Once a young waterbuck becomes a full-fledged herd member, it sticks close to its mother by following a vivid marker: a bright white marker in the vicinity of her tail, rather like a target.

Waterbucks are native to parts of central and southern Africa, where they stick close to water -- hence the name -- but prefer not to swim in it unless they have to in order to escape a predator.

See more photos of the Berlin Zoo's calf after the jump!

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Your morning adorable: Dachshund puppy tries to play with his reflection in a mirror

It's hard to argue with the cuteness of a baby animal's confusion about the concept of mirrors. Whether it's a golden retriever puppy, a Brussels griffon puppy or a cute tabby kitten, if it is a baby animal who mistakenly believes its mirror image is another baby animal, it's sure to be adorable.

Now we have the pleasure of adding to the above list of charmingly confused youngsters this smooth dachshund puppy, Smokey, whose introduction to mirrors was caught on video by YouTube user steva44.

This does leave us with a bit of a conundrum, though: We now find ourselves in the difficult position of deciding whether Smokey or Lyska, a bootie-wearing dog who doesn't like it one bit, is the cutest wiener dachshund we've ever seen. We'll no doubt be pondering that for some time to come.

RELATED FUNNY DOG VIDEOS:

-- Lindsay Barnett

Video: steva44 via YouTube

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