Even the animal kingdom’s most revered — and feared — predators didn’t start out that way. From helpless cubs to blind pups, check out some adorable baby animals!
1. Gray Wolf Pups
Each spring, female wolves usually give birth to a litter of about 5-6 pups. Like their domesticated dog relatives, wolf pups are born blind and deaf. Unlike domesticated dogs, however, wolf pups spend the first three weeks of their lives living in their den — also around the same time they begin play fighting with their siblings.
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2. White Lion Cub
Though they may have a reputation as one of the animal kingdom’s fiercest creatures, newborn lions are about as helpless as you can get — at least for the first few weeks of their lives. Weighing in at around 3.5 pounds at birth, lion cubs are under the close, watchful eyes of their mothers. If lions are lucky enough to make it past the severe hurdles of the first parts of their lives — and more don’t reach adulthood than do — it will be up to 5 years before they fully reach maturity.
3. Hippopotamus Calf
Talk about a big baby — hippo calves can weigh up to a whopping 110 pounds at birth! Hippo calves spend most of their time underwater — it’s where they eat, it’s where they rest, and it’s even where they’re born. So when do they get on land? Well, when their mothers, who mostly eat grass, are hungry.
4. Hyena Cub
Don’t be fooled by that innocent face — hyena cubs are fierce right from the start. Indeed, 1 in 4 hyena cubs die at the hands of their siblings within the first month of life. As you might expect, it’s all about a fight for dominance — something understood by hyenas far earlier than most other mammals.
5. Persian Leopard Cub
Leopard cubs have much in common with their big cat kins, like the lion cubs described earlier. This guy here is a Persian leopard, critically endangered in its native Southwest Asia. For the first two years of their lives, leopards learn the ropes of survival, at which point they venture off on their own. Yep, leopards are loners.
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6. African Buffalo Calf
Though the African Buffalo is quite dangerous to humans, perhaps the deadliest animal on the African continent, they are very devoted to protecting their young. Bulls hang around with herds to protect their calves, who travel in the middle of the herds — furthest away from predators. If the herd takes notice of a calf in distress, they’ll do everything they can to ward off predators.
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7. Baby Raccoons
Like many mammals, raccoon kits are born deaf and blind, and they stay that way for about the first three weeks of their lives. They are quite tiny — measuring in at about 4 inches and weighing somewhere between two and two-and-a-half ounces at birth.
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8. Polar Bear Cubs
Polar bear moms are particularly loving towards their offspring, and are known to aggressively defend their cubs if need be. Weighing in at about 2 pounds at birth, cubs stay in dens with their mothers until they’ve reached a weight of about 25 pounds. They’ll stick with their mamas until they’re about two-and-a-half years old.