Earth Day 2022: The Cutest Photos of Endangered Animals Born This Year

These exciting births are giving conservationists hope for the future of endangered animal populations

01 of 10

Cotton-Top Tamarin Monkey

Cotton Top Monkey
Courtesy Chester Zoo

Oh, baby! On April 14, the Chester Zoo shared the happy news that a rare cotton-top tamarin monkey was born to proud parents, Treat and Leo.

The cotton-top tamarin was the first of its kind to be born at the Chesire, England zoo in 22 years, marking a milestone for the wildlife park and the species at large. An estimated 2,000 cotton-top tamarin monkeys live in the wild, making the animals critically endangered, according to the IUCN Red List.

In a release, the Chester Zoo said that all involved in the baby monkey's arrival were "overjoyed," and for a good reason.

"The tamarins have already undergone a large reduction in their numbers and are predicted to decline by a huge 80% in the next 20 years, making them one of rarest of all primate species," the zoo said.

02 of 10

Bornean Orangutan

Courtesy Oregon Zoo

The Oregon Zoo announced on April 13 that their Bornean orangutan Kitra gave birth to her first infant.

Zookeepers said the baby ape is strong and healthy and taking time to bond with mom.

"We're all pretty excited about it," Kate Gilmore, who oversees the zoo's primate area, said in a statement. "It's great to see Kitra taking such good care of her baby. There's still a lot that could happen, so we're being very cautious and giving her as much quiet time as possible. But so far, she seems to be taking to motherhood quite well."

The Bornean orangutan is classified as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. Though exact numbers are unknown, the Bornean orangutan's global population is estimated to be around 104,000.

03 of 10


Media release: zoomiami Verified *NEW BABY ALERT* On Monday, April 11, a critically endangered addax antelope was born at Zoo Miami, weighing in at just over 14 pounds. With a maximum of only a few hundred left in the wild, the addax is one of the most critically endangered animals in the world. The neonatal examination showed the newborn to be in good health and it has since been introduced back to the herd on exhibit where mom is taking excellent care of him! 💓 #zoomiami #newbaby #addaxantelope #endangeredspecies 📸 : Ron Magill 5d
Zoo Miami

April 11 was a special day at Zoo Miami because the park welcomed an incredibly rare addax. The male calf is in good health and receiving "excellent care" from his mother, the Florida zoo said in a statement.

The white antelope's birth is headline-worthy because experts believe only a few hundred (at most) addax remain in the wild, making it "one of the most critically endangered animals in the world," per Zoo Miami. Likewise, the species is considered critically endangered on the IUCN Red List.

Though the species' future remains uncertain, the zoo is confident the calf's birth offers hope for a brighter future.

"The careful breeding of addax populations under human care serves as an insurance policy against a very dire situation in the wild where many experts believe they are soon headed for extinction," Zoo Miami said.

04 of 10

Blue-Eyed Black Lemur

blue eyed lemur
Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

Those eyes! On March 29, the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens announced the birth of a blue-eyed black lemur. The infant was born to parents Hendricks and Hemsworth, the pair's second baby in recent years.

It is too early for the lemur's caretakers to determine the rare animal's sex. Keepers are giving the lemur family time to bond. Tracy Fenn, assistant curator of mammals at the Florida zoo, said in a statement that "the Madagascar team is elated to see this infant thriving in the care of the mother."

Classified as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List, the primate is disappearing in the wild due to habitat loss, the Jacksonville Zoo said. In the wild, blue-eyed black lemurs are only found in Madagascar, where the population is projected to plunge 88% by 2080 because of climate change.

05 of 10

Sumatran Rhino

Sumatran rhino calf

In big news for a struggling species, a Sumatran rhinoceros was born at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary on March 24. Listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List, the female calf born to Rosa the rhino is significant as less than 80 Sumatran rhinos live in the wild today, per the preserve.

The calf's birth takes the total number of Sumatran rhinos at the sanctuary in the Lampung Province to eight, NBC reported.

Over the years, the rhinos have faced widespread poaching and habitat loss, driving the species to the brink of extinction.

06 of 10

Amur Tigers

zoya and cubs
Roosevelt Park Zoo

Good things come in threes at the Roosevelt Park Zoo in North Dakota, where Amur tiger triplets arrived on March 19.

The cubs were the first babies born to Amur tigers Zoya and Viktor. The parents' match was made possible through the Amur Tiger Species Survival Program, per Minot Daily News. The tiger subspecies is currently categorized as endangered on the IUCN Red List, with the World Wildlife Fund estimating that there are about 450 Amur tigers in the wild today.

In a statement shared with PEOPLE, Roosevelt Park Zoo's Jeff Bullock voiced his pride in his team for ensuring the cubs had a smooth welcome into the world.

"The zoo's staff has done a terrific job planning and preparing for this special event, and despite not having all of the technology that others might, they were able to map and track her pregnancy from the time of the breeding introductions to the accurate prediction for the births," Bullock said.

07 of 10

Eastern Black Rhino

eastern black rhino calf named Kyiv

On March 4, about 600 miles away from Ukraine, a critically endangered eastern black rhinoceros calf was born at the Dvůr Králové Zoo in the Czech Republic. The male calf was named Kyiv, a gesture made to support Ukraine amid Russia's invasion.

"The name is another expression of our support for the Ukrainian heroes," zoo director Premysl Rabas said in a statement shared on the sanctuary's website, per an English translation.

The baby rhino was born into a subspecies considered critically endangered on the IUCN Red List. The Associated Press reports that there are an estimated 800 eastern black rhinos in the wild today, a population reduced by poaching.

Kyiv the calf is now one of 14 eastern black rhinos living at the Czech wildlife park, the firstborn there in nearly four years old.

08 of 10

Eastern Bongo potterparkzoo Verified Potter Park Zoo is excited to announce the birth of a critically endangered eastern bongo calf! The yet-to-be-named female marks the first bongo birth at the zoo since 2014, and the fourth in its history. The calf’s parents, Maverick and Uzuri, were paired as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP), which oversees only a handful of eastern bongo births each year. Only around 100 eastern bongo are thought to remain in the wild, and their ornate horns and striking orange coat make them an ongoing target for hunting and poaching. For now, the calf is indoors with mother Uzuri. Animal care staff report that the calf appears healthy and is gaining weight. Watch Potter Park Zoo's social media feed for news on an upcoming naming contest and updates on when the calf will venture into the outdoor exhibit. Read more: Edited · 4w

The Potter Park Zoo in Lansing, Michigan, welcomed a baby eastern bongo on March 8. The female calf is growing up healthy and strong, according to a birth announcement from the zoo.

The young antelope was born to parents Maverick and Uzuri, who were connected as a match through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Species Survival Plan.

While roughly 300 eastern bongos live in accredited zoos, experts believe only 100 of the critically endangered creatures — native to Kenya — live in the wild today, per the park.

"With such a precarious situation for this species in the wild, the importance of captive breeding populations to help keep this species from going extinct is increasing, and we are excited that Potter Park can contribute to this effort," Potter Park Zoo's director of animal health, Dr. Ronan Eustace, said about the birth.

09 of 10

Amur Leopards

Amue leopard cubs

Meow! Two Amur leopard cubs were born at the Niabi Zoo on February 23, the park announced on Facebook. The birth is being celebrated within and beyond the Coal Valley, Illinois, where the zoological sanctuary is located.

The cubs — one male and one female — were born to Amur leopards Iona and Jilin.

"We are honored and excited to have been able to contribute to such an important conservation program for such a critically endangered species," Niabi Zoo director Lee Jackson said in a statement on the births. "It speaks very well of the regard in which Niabi is held in the international conservation community, and to the expertise of the Niabi Zoo animal care staff."

Categorized as critically endangered by the WWF, the organization speculates that the big cat may be the most endangered on earth, with just 90 adult Amur leopards thought to be out in the wild today.

10 of 10

Sumatran Orangutan

San Diego Zoo Celebrates the Birth of a Critically Endangered Sumatran Orangutan Infant SAN DIEGO (Jan. 18, 2022) – A new year brings new beginnings—and that is especially true for Indah, a 35-year-old female Sumatran orangutan at the San Diego Zoo, who gave birth to her third infant earlier this month. The healthy 2-week-old male was born on January 4, and has been named Kaja, after an island in Kalimantan, the Indonesian part of Borneo, that houses rehabilitated orangutans prior to release in the wild. He is the first orangutan born at the Zoo in more than seven years, when Indah gave birth to her daughter Aisha back in 2014. “To witness the birth of such a majestic critically endangered animal is a remarkable experience and brings us hope for the future,” said Erika Kohler, interim executive director of the San Diego Zoo. “His birth increases the population by one and that is a necessary step in our ongoing efforts to gain a deeper understanding of orangutans so we can conserve the species where they live.” Although the infant orangutan was deemed healthy, Indah experienced some complications following the birth. Zoo team members reached out to community-based experts for help, including neonatal anesthesiologists and OB-GYN specialists. Indah is recovering, and will be on habitat intermittently. Both her and the infant are being monitored closely by wildlife health and wildlife care specialists. “It was extremely rewarding to see the understanding and collaboration put forth by our talented team and community consultants to provide the necessary care for Indah and her infant,” said Meg Sutherland-Smith, director of veterinary services at San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. “We will continue to stay vigilant; and at the same time, remain hopeful.” Sumatran and Bornean orangutans are listed as Critically Endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. The decline in their population
San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo rang in 2022 with a sweet start — the birth of Kaja the Sumatran orangutan on January 4, according to NBC San Diego.

The California zoo cites the orangutan subspecies as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List, the population's global numbers dwindling due to poaching and deforestation.

"To witness the birth of such a majestic critically endangered animal is a remarkable experience and brings us hope for the future," Erika Kohler, interim executive director of the San Diego Zoo, said in a news release. "His birth increases the population by one, and that is a necessary step in our ongoing efforts to gain a deeper understanding of orangutans so we can conserve the species where they live."

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