ZooBorns: The Newest, Cutest Animals from the World’s Zoos and Aquariums

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10% of all ZooBorns books revenue goes directly to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Conservation Endowment Fund.. Photos: Courtesy Simon & Schuster

10% of all ZooBorns books revenue goes directly to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Conservation Endowment Fund. Photos: Courtesy Simon & Schuster

There’s not much that causes more smiles and coos than an adorable baby. And it doesn’t have to be human. Take a peek at the animal babies in ZooBorns: The Newest, Cutest Kittens and Cubs from the World’s Zoos and ZooBorns: CATS! The Newest, Cutest Kittens and Cubs from the World’s Zoos; you’re sure to be charmed.

These small books contain beautiful photographic studies of baby animals that most of us will never get to see in the wild. That’s especially true because many of the babies featured in ZooBorns books are on the Endangered Species List.

By compiling these collections, authors Andrew Bleiman and Chris Eastland are raising awareness of how zoos protect and conserve endangered species. In addition, they’re contributing 10% of the revenues from each ZooBorns book to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Conservation Endowment Fund.

If you buy a ZooBorns book, you’re sure to get your money’s worth of enjoyment along with a healthy dose of information—all in a palatable format.

Babies at Risk

Tamanduas like this baby are highly effective exterminators. Photo: Jason Collier/Discovery Cove

Tamanduas like this baby are highly effective exterminators. Photo: Jason Collier/Discovery Cove

While reading the two ZooBorns books featured here, I discovered animals I’d never heard of and learned more about others I already knew. You might find you learn something in these books. too.

Have you ever heard of a tamandua, for example? It looks a bit like an aardvark, and its long snout and 16-inch tongue help it snack on “up to 9,000 ants a day!” Got termites? You might want to take a tip from Amazonian Indians, who “sometimes use tamanduas as natural exterminators.” In its own peculiar way, this little guy is cute—night-crawler-like tail, wrinkly skin, bulbous eyes, and all. Lucky for him, his species’ survival is rated as Least Concern (at the time of publication).

But check out Bunyip and Devitt, chubby and fierce-looking Tasmanian devils born at Australia’s Taronga Zoo. Their species is exclusively native to Tasmania, though “a mysterious transmissable cancer epidemic has devastated the wild Tasmanian devil population.” The Taronga Zoo and other partners are trying to save the species by breeding them on the mainland. Tasmanian devils are listed as Endangered; if efforts to save them are unsuccessful, the only one we might ever see is a cartoon character.

Monifa, a pygmy hippopotamus, might have weighed less than you at birth. At 8.4 pounds, she was smaller than each of my own three kids. Monifa’s parents probably stand only “waist-high to humans,” if they are typical. Her species is among the animals on the Critically Endangered list, because, the authors write, “Deforestation from logging in Western Africa threatens the survival of this species.” While a full-sized hippo might not engender such protective feelings, I can assure you that seeing this baby pygmy hippo has a very different effect. She’s hardly what I’d call “cuddly,” but she’s adorable—and it pains me to think that she might be among the last of her kind.

And who could resist Laila, the fluffy snow leopard born in Planckendael, Belgium? This orphan with the big blue eyes could capture my heart in a flash —maybe yours, too. With only 4,000 to 7,500 remaining in the wild, the snow leopard is on the Endangered list. The authors tell us that several groups are working in concert to save snow leopards from poaching, by creating “economic opportunities for local populations.” Laila may never join her kind in the wild, but there’s increasing hope for the survival of her cousins.

What We Do Matters

This precious pygmy hippo is on the Critically Endangered. Photo: Lorinda Taylor/Toronga Zoo

This precious pygmy hippo is on the Critically Endangered. Photo: Lorinda Taylor/Toronga Zoo

Showing each animal at its cutest, most vulnerable stage is more than just good photography; it’s also great marketing for species whose very existence is threatened. By getting readers to appreciate the individuality of each animal baby and the uniqueness of each species, the authors motivate readers to care. And caring is an essential first step.

We humans have a lot of power not only in the marketplace, but also in our governments. What we do and say and buy make a difference. Who we elect matters. If we demand “progress” at the expense of endangered species, we’ll lose the diversity that sustains this planet.

Remember the controversy over the spotted owls in the Pacific Northwest? You might have a similar story in your own part of the world. Logging, or mining, or building roads, bridges, and houses—they all contribute to the lifestyles we enjoy. And each one does damage to the natural habitat of babies like these.

By taking time to fall in love—even a little bit—with these charming and helpless creatures, we begin to understand that their lives matter, too. They’re worth our making lifestyle changes, pushing for legislation to protect them, and choosing carefully what products we buy.

Caring about endangered species doesn’t make the choices we face easier for us; in fact, quite the opposite. But if books like the ZooBorns series can teach the next generation (or remind this generation) that all life is uniquely precious and important, then maybe we’ll all consider more than the bottom line. Maybe our children or our children’s children will no longer need books that list the status of a species on the Endangered Species List. Wouldn’t that be a much richer, more fascinating and delightful world?

The Small Print

Blue Planet Green Living received a complimentary copy of the books reviewed in this post. No other compensation or incentive was provided.

Our policy is to review only those books we feel merit overall positive comments. If we do not like a book more than we dislike it, we do not review it. We are not influenced by free books and provide our honest opinions. For more information, please visit the Policies tab on the top navigation bar.

Blue Planet Green Living has an affiliate relationship with Amazon.com. If you purchase this book or any other products through Amazon by clicking on our affiliate link, we will receive a very small financial compensation from Amazon, which we use to sustain this website.

Julia Wasson


Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)




Words of Warning

Unless we change direction, the consequences are dire. Photo: Julia Wasson

In an online article in The New York Times posted today, writer Elizabeth Rosenthal reports on the worldwide loss of small animal species due to climate change. She writes,

Over the next 100 years, many scientists predict, 20 percent to 30 percent of species could be lost if the temperature rises 3.6 degrees to 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit. If the most extreme warming predictions are realized, the loss could be over 50 percent, according to the United Nations climate change panel.

The article sparked a response from professional storyteller and Ph.D. candidate Chris Vinsonhaler. Vinsonhaler is a river activist and the founder of Iowa River Call, a group dedicated to connecting fourth graders to the Iowa River. Her goal, and the goal of her co-founders, is to instill children with a love of the Iowa River and of nature.

After all, “People protect what they love,” as Jacques-Yves Cousteau proclaimed. And if we want future generations to protect the planet, we must help them learn to love it.

But if we — or the generations to follow us — see nature as “other,” we will stand by as it is destroyed and not concern ourselves until it is truly too late. This is the message of Vinsonhaler’s poem, which is based on the much-quoted poem by Martin Niemoller about the persecution of the Jews.

First It Came

by Chris Vinsonhaler

First it came for the coral reef,
but I was not a coral reef
so I did not
choose to change my lifestyle.
Then it came for the polar bears and penguins,
but I was neither,
so I did not change.
Then it came for the hornbill,
but I was not a hornbill
so I did not speak out.
And then when it came for me
and mine,
there was no way left to change.

What Are We Doing?

With Americans comprising 5% of the world’s population and consuming 24% of the world’s energy, we have plenty of cause for concern about the impact of our actions, Vinsonhaler tells me. “And, of course, the news of acceleration–2010 tying with 2005 as the warmest global year since record keeping began” should convince anyone of the urgent need to find solutions.

What are you doing to mitigate your impact on climate change? What am I doing? And will it be enough?

May Vinsonhaler’s poem serve as an effective warning that motivates us to action, not as a harbinger of dreadful things to come.

Julia Wasson

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)