Why Do Humans Find Baby Animals So Cute?
Humans consistently find baby animals adorable. But did you know there is actually a scientific reason why? Scientists believe that the strong nurturing instinct humans have for our own babies leads to an affection for anything that resembles them (which explains why we love cute baby animals as well as toys and dolls that resemble babies). In 1943, Austrian ethologist and zoologist Konrad Lorenz suggested that all infants have certain features in common – such as a large head relative to the body, chubby cheeks, a high forehead, a small nose and mouth, and a round body, as well as playful behavior and a clumsy gait. He proposed that humans just can’t help but gravitate toward anything that fits into this blueprint, which he termed the “baby schema,” because these traits remind us of our own young. Research published in 2009 expanded on this theory by demonstrating that both women and men have an internal trigger that prompts us to notice cuteness and makes us want to look after the cute creature(s). Scientists believe this is evidence of an evolutionary adaptation in humans that helps ensure our survival.
Facts About Baby Animals
Now that you know the science behind why humans are drawn to cute animals, you might be a little curious about the adorable creatures themselves. You’ve seen the cute pictures on your Instagram feed. You’ve watched countless videos of baby animals behaving adorably. You may even have observed some cute baby animal behavior first-hand in your pets! But you probably don’t know many scientific facts about these creatures and why they behave the way they do. We’re here to help! We’ve rounded up a list of baby animal facts so that you can learn more about these amazing – and adorable – creatures. If you are ready to discover some amazing baby animal facts, read on!
#1 Pandas Are Born Tiny and Helpless.
Newborn giant pandas are born tiny, underdeveloped, and incredibly helpless. Pink and wrinkly, they weigh just 3 to 5 ounces – that’s 1/900th of their mother’s weight! In addition to their minuscule size (which is approximately the same as a stick of butter!), baby pandas are also born blind, deaf, and unable to care for themselves. They rely on their mothers for everything – food, protection, and even basic processes like elimination. However, they develop rapidly, and at around 5 months old, baby pandas start to gain independence from their mothers.
#2 Cheetah Cubs Have a “Mohawk” for Camouflage.
Cheetah cubs are born blind and helpless. They must rely on their mothers to keep them safe, but they are sometimes left alone while she hunts for food. Early life – especially when their mother is away hunting – is an extremely vulnerable time for cheetah cubs. To help camouflage them from predators, cheetah cubs have a silvery-gray mantle down their back. It resembles a mohawk and is designed to mimic the appearance of the honey badger, an aggressive animal that predators like lions, hyenas, and eagles have a strong incentive to avoid.
#3 Baby Snow Monkeys Play with Snowballs.
A species of macaques known as Japanese snow monkeys live in the Shiga Highlands of Japan. During the winter months, they can be seen making and playing with snowballs. They’ve been recorded taking their snowballs to the top of a hill, watching them roll for a few moments, and then chasing after the snowballs! While this species is known for many intelligent behaviors, there doesn’t seem to be a larger purpose behind this particular action. In fact, scientists say that the reason these baby macaques play with snowballs is simply to socialize and have fun!
#4 Baby Elephants Can Stand Within 20 Minutes of Being Born.
Baby elephants are called calves. Within 20 minutes of being born, calves are able to stand. Just 1 hour after being born, they can walk. And after just 2 days, they are able to keep up with the rest of the herd. This incredibly fast development is a survival technique. Since the calves are able to keep up with the adult elephants, the herd can continue migrating to find food and water.
#5 Baby Lions Are Born with Spots.
Baby lions are called cubs, whelps, or lionets. Young lion cubs are born with dark rosettes and spots on their thick, sandy-colored coats, not unlike other big cats. However, these markings usually disappear as the lion cubs get older and eventually reach physical maturity at around 3 or 4 years of age.
#6 Baby Hippos Have Bonding Time with Their Mothers.
Hippos give birth to one baby at a time. When a mother hippo is ready to give birth, she separates from the group, called a bloat, and delivers her young. However, this separation isn’t just for the birth event. After delivering her baby, the mother hippo will stay away from the bloat for 1 to 2 weeks in order to bond with her baby. After this bonding period, mother and baby hippo both return to the bloat, where the female community will help defend the baby hippo from outside predators and aggressive male hippos.
Want to learn even more amazing baby animal facts? Check out this adorable video!