Baby animals are cuteness personified. But is there an actual reason for this cuteness besides giving us much to go gaga about over these adorable little things?

Let's start with the hyena. While adults are often maligned and fall into the ‘only a mother could love them’ category, their babies are little black fur-balls of the cutest kind.

Baby Animals Is There A Quota On Cuteness 1

Hyena pup

(Image: Simon Vegter)

Another creature with a sloped spine but a lot loftier, a baby giraffe has to literally drop into this world (from a height of about two metres!) when it is born, then struggle to stand on those long, matchstick legs.

Baby Animals Is There A Quota On Cuteness 2

Giraffe calf

(Image: Simon Vegter)

Zebra foals? Almost carbon-copies of their mothers (although each zebra's stripes are as individual as a human's fingerprints), only in miniature form.

Baby Animals Is There A Quota On Cuteness 3

Zebra foal

(Image: Simon Vegter)

Or if you prefer spots to stripes, cheetah cubs with their blackened fuzz which helps keep them camouflaged and safe from predators (think polecat and honey-badger impersonations). They're adorable – cavorting with their siblings and chasing insects.

Baby Animals Is There A Quota On Cuteness 4

Cheetah cub

(Image: Nicky Firer)

It is just impossible to resist. In baby season, there's an astounding array of wobbly legs, fluffy coats, big-eyed wonder and adorable antics while on safari.

Spring is in the air

November is the peak cuteness month. Spring is sprung once the first rains arrive. Rains are often dramatic afternoon thunderstorms, closely followed by sunshine.

Almost overnight, the parched earth, tree skeletons and brown grasses transform into a 40-shades-of-green wonderland with lush new shoots, tender leaves and bright blossoms.

Baby Animals Is There A Quota On Cuteness 5

Impala calf

(Image: Nicky Firer)

It’s birthing season for many, especially the plains game like impala, wildebeest, zebra, buffalo and many antelope species.

The science of cuteness

Konrad Lenz, an Austrian zoologist, proposed in the 1940s that infantile features cause us to see baby animals as cute –things like large heads, rounded faces, big eyes, common to most baby animals.

Baby Animals Is There A Quota On Cuteness 6

Lion cub

(Image: Simon Vegter)

Later scientists proved that the cuteness factor of all young is directly related to the amount of care and nurturing it receives. It all boils down to the survival of the species. Babies are at their most vulnerable – they are slower, smaller and still have lots to learn to survive – like not putting its snout down a honey badger's burrow, or venturing close to a lion's den.

Baby Animals Is There A Quota On Cuteness 7

Elephant calf

(Image: Simon Vegter)

Secret Season

With 'oohs' and 'aahs' at almost every bend, it's a very rewarding time to be on safari in the world-renowned game reserves of Southern Africa like Kruger and Chobe National Parks.

Baby Animals Is There A Quota On Cuteness 8

Leopard cub

(Image: Simon Vegter)

But even better, the green/rainy season is often far more affordable (especially in Botswana), is less-crowded and is the most spectacular time for birders.

See our earlier blog, Kruger Secrets: The best month to visit for the scoop.

You may also want to look at
Feature Baby predators in the making Lion cub and male lion
Bush Babies: Tomorrow's Predators in the Making ...
September 20, 2016 by Alison

It's baby season for big cat and canine predators in southern Africa and, on any game drive in one of the bigger parks and reserves, you're very likely to come across some very cute additions to the pride or pack or solitary cats.

Feature Kruger Safaris November 2021 Highlights Woodland kingfisher Simon Vegter
Kruger Safaris November 2021 Highlights
December 14, 2021 by Dianne Kokkonidis

The cat's out of the bag! November really could be the best time of year to go on safari in Kruger. We've always loved how the bush comes alive after the first rains in November. Flowers bloom, leaves turn green and baby animals abound. Everything smells fresh and new and there's a feeling of anticipation in the air.

00 Feature Kruger Secrets Best Month to Visit Leopard
Kruger Secrets: The Best Month to Visit
November 24, 2017 by Onne

Everyone always says the dry season (June to September) is the best time of year to visit the Kruger National Park in South Africa. And that is mostly true, but let me share a secret with you. Please don't tell anyone else. The best month to visit Kruger is...


About the author

Briony Chisholm
Briony Chisholm

Briony Chisholm has been travelling the back roads of South Africa for as long as she can remember – she’s from one of those families. The safari writing, however, only started a couple of years’ ago, and she loves it. She can even tell you the difference between safari vehicles now. Briony lives in Cape Town from where she does much armchair travelling and as much real travelling as she can fit in.