Published January 20, 2014
This isn't your average baby animal photo album.
Of these four adorable animals, born in the first few weeks of 2014, three are from endangered species.
An estimated 27,000 species are lost every year to extinction, according to biologist Edward O. Wilson. For endangered species, these new births are a special reason to celebrate.
Birthdate: January 2
Place of Birth: Opel-Zoo
City: Kronberg, Germany
Katja, born at Germany's Opel-Zoo, is the newest addition to the shrinking population of Rothschild giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis rothschildi), which are also known as Baringo or Ugandan giraffes.
The giraffes are found in Uganda and west-central Kenya but no longer roam in Sudan. Rothschild giraffes were named after famous British zoologist and naturalist Lord Walter Rothschild, who originally described them on an African expedition in the early 1900s.
Rothschild giraffes are easily distinguishable from other giraffes because they have five horns instead of two. They also have less defined coloration on their coat than the reticulated giraffe and paler coloration than the Masai giraffe.
According to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, there are only 670 of these giraffes left in the wild, with another roughly 450 in captivity. The Rothschild and reticulated giraffe are two of the most common giraffe species seen in zoos today.
Gray Seal Pup
Birthday: January 1
Place of Birth: Brookfield Zoo
City: Chicago, Illinois, United States
This unnamed baby gray seal pup is the first of its species born at the Brookfield Zoo. Brookfield now has six gray seals—the most in any North American institution.
This baby animal isn't endangered, but his species is still threatened in the wild. Threatened species are protected by conservation organizations such as the World Wildlife Federation (WWF).
Gray seals (Halichoerus grypus), also known as the Atlantic gray seal and the horsehead seal, are listed as "of least concern" on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of threatened species.
There are an estimated 290,000-300,000 gray seals in the world, with several populations reported as increasing over the past few years. The sea mammals can be found in three different areas of the Northern Hemisphere: along the coast of Newfoundland, between the Faroe Islands and northwestern Russia, and in the Baltic Sea.
Coquerel's Sifaka Lemur
Birthday: January 5
Place of Birth: Sacramento Zoo
City: Sacramento, California, United States
The Sacramento Zoo's Coquerel's sifaka lemur (Propithecus coquereli) was born into a diminishing population of the sociable primates.
Coquerel's sifaka lemurs are native to the dry deciduous forests of Madagascar's southern desert. The herbivores can live up to 30 years in the wild. (Read more about sifakas here.)
According to the Sacramento Zoo, there are an estimated 10,000 Coquerel's living in Madagascar. There are only 59 in captivity.
Birthday: January 3
Place of Birth: San Diego Zoo
City: San Diego, California, United States
Tanu is the fifth baby for mother Bakavu. He's also the 140th Grevy's zebra born at San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The Grevy's zebra (Equus grevyi), also known as the imperial zebra, is the largest species in the Equidae, or horse, family.
An estimated 2,250 of these zebras are left in the wild. The population of Grevy's zebras in northern Kenya recently suffered from an anthrax outbreak in 2005. Unvaccinated animals, such as cattle, spread the disease to local Grevy's zebras, common zebras, giraffes, and donkeys. According to the African Wildlife Foundation, there are half as many of these zebras today as there were just 20 years ago.
See related stories:
Follow Angie McPherson on Twitter.
the baby animals are so adorable. In this so complex world, it so enlightning to
see these innocent and beautiful creatures making their first debut.
They are all just so cute,I hope to see all these beautiful animals when I go to Africa on vacation this coming Summer 2014.
I remember reading an article in 1996 about tigers becoming extinct. Now so many more are endangered. I hope my great grands get to see their beauty.
Feed the World
National Geographic explores how we can feed the growing population without overwhelming the planet in our food series.
Latest Photo Galleries
Summer’s almost gone, but beaches are forever.
The Portuguese man-of-war is infamous for its painful sting, but one photographer finds the beauty inside this animal's dangerous embrace.