News & Politics

You’re Probably Stressed. Here Are Some Adorable Baby Zoo Animals.

Take a self-care break with these tiny critters.

A cheetah cub in June 2020. All photographs courtesy of Smithsonian's National Zoo.

We’re barely more than a week into the new year and it already feels like 2022 can’t come soon enough. Why not take a little break from doom-scrolling to gaze upon the National Zoo’s adorable baby animals instead? Unclench your jaw, release your shoulders, and let these sweet babies give you a momentary reprieve from reality.

Cheetah cubs

Photograph courtesy of Smithsonian's National Zoo.

SPOTTED: Nine-month-old cheetah cubs Jabari, Hasani, Erindi and Amabala hanging out on a hammock. The cub crew is currently learning the command “out” to leave their weigh-in area. Speaking of scales: the kitties have surpassed 50 pounds, meaning they are bigger than the average house cat but still smaller than a golden retriever.

Brown kiwi

Photograph courtesy of Smithsonian's National Zoo.

A pair of kiwi bird brothers were born last spring at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, and the tufted chicks look just like the fuzzy fruit of the same name. Although the species is notoriously stubborn, the eldest brother is allegedly a pretty chill bird. (We would like to know his secret).

California sea lion

Photograph courtesy of Smithsonian's National Zoo.

Sea lion pups Charger and Celia are both almost two years old. Confident male Charger loves playing with toys, hanging by the underwater viewing window, and frolicking with pup pal Celia.

Spider tortoise

Photograph courtesy of Smithsonian's National Zoo.

How lucky is this guy to just disappear into a shell? The zoo was surprised by the hatching of a quarter-sized tortoise in July — a welcome surprise for the critically endangered reptile. Spider tortoises don’t grow much bigger than a grapefruit, so this baby in a half-shell will remain preciously petite. 

Giant panda bear

Photograph courtesy of Smithsonian's National Zoo.


Of course, no baby animal list would be complete without our panda prince Xiao Qi Ji. The giant panda cub has developed a saucy personality over the past four months, and recently popped up on the tip of his paws to scale the rocks in his habitat. Take a look for yourself:

Daniella Byck
Lifestyle Editor

Daniella Byck joined Washingtonian in 2022. She was previously with Outside Magazine and lives in Northeast DC.