Cute is the word

An­i­mal ba­bies make peo­ple go ‘awww’.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - LIFESTYLE - By SUE MAN­NING

A Ben­gal tiger which made the cover of and Chris East­land.

WHAT makes a good baby pic­ture? On ZooBorns. com, the ba­bies have to be wild. Maybe ob­scure. Pos­si­bly en­dan­gered. Mostly, they have to be cute. “Cute al­ways comes first,” said Chris East­land, an artist and pho­tog­ra­pher from Brook­lyn, New York, who joined forces with An­drew Bleiman of Chicago to cre­ate two years ago.

Their web­site delivers birth an­nounce­ments from zoos and aquar­i­ums around the world, and gets about a mil­lion hits a month.

The men are pub­lish­ing a pair of hard­cover books through Simon & Schus­ter – ZooBorns! – a 32-page chil­dren’s book re­leased last month, and a longer book for all ages also called ZooBorns, out last week. The US As­so­ci­a­tion of Zoos and Aquar­i­ums (AZA) gets 10% from sales.

“It’s win, win, win for us,” says Jill Ni­coll, AZA’s se­nior vice pres­i­dent of mar­ket­ing. The AZA ben­e­fits not just be­cause of the roy­al­ties, but be­cause pro­mot­ing zoo ba­bies is good for the con­ser­va­tion cause. “And, it’s cute,” she adds.

Bleiman has not counted since midyear, but as of then, they

by An­drew Bleiman

n On­line: have fea­tured around 600 births from 165 dif­fer­ent species.

The great thing about an­i­mals, he says, is there are so many species. “There are tens of thou­sands, maybe hun­dreds of thou­sands of in­sect species alone,” he says. “There are plenty of species left to share.” So are some an­i­mal births too ugly to make the cute cut? “We don’t do a lot of in­sect lar­vae or spi­ders. Some or­gan­isms are too un­pleas­ant to put on the site. There is noth­ing cute at all. A tiny frac­tion of the pop­u­la­tion would pine af­ter a baby spi­der,” Bleiman says.

They did post the July birth of a Cae­cil­ian, a leg­less am­phib­ian, at the Ten­nessee Aquar­ium. “Some peo­ple found it creep­y­crawly and oth­ers were fas­ci­nated,” Bleiman says. “We show ugly birds all the time. Some think they are cute and oth­ers re­coil.”

They also hold off on some an­nounce­ments, wait­ing for cute­ness to set­tle in. Baby pan­das are a good ex­am­ple, East­land says. They are born pink, fur­less and no big­ger than a stick of but­ter. By around four months, they are melt­ing hearts.

“The all-time most pop­u­lar post was the fen­nec fox,” East­land says. Radar Ears, from Seoul, is on the cover of one book and in­side the other. A Ben­gal tiger made the cover of the chil­dren’s book and its twin is in­side.

Lions and tigers are al­ways a big hit, and East­land likes po­lar bear and panda cubs be­cause of the ob­vi­ous mes­sage. But at ZooBorns, the suc­cess of any photo de­pends on how many W’s peo­ple put at the end of the word “aw”, East­land says.

“It’s hard to en­gage peo­ple in the con­ser­va­tion side of this,” East­land says, “but it is our biggest mes­sage, and we try to de­liver it through adorable­ness.” – AP This photo re­leased by the Los An­ge­les Zoo/Tad Mo­toyama shows koalas at the Los An­ge­les Zoo in Cal­i­for­nia. This photo ap­pears on the ZooBorns web­site. This book cover re­leased by Simon & Schus­ter shows fen­nec fox pup Radar Ears, from Seoul, on the cover of

by An­drew Bleiman and Chris East­land.

Baby love: This un­dated photo re­leased by San Fran­cisco Zoo/Ge­orge Nik­itin shows Hasani, a Western Low­land Go­rilla, at the San Fran­cisco Zoo in Cal­i­for­nia. This photo ap­pears in ZooBorns!


This photo re­leased by Dis­cov­ery Cove/Ja­son Col­lier shows a baby Taman­dua (or Lesser Anteater) at Dis­cov­ery Cove in Or­lando, Florida.


This photo re­leased by Assini­boine Park Zoo/Dar­lene Stack of Rooby, a Red Kan­ga­roo, at the park zoo in Man­i­toba, Canada, ap­pears on the ZooBorns web­site.

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