New on Earth: Baby Animals in the Wild

A breathtaking glimpse into the lives of the very youngest members of the world’s most majestic and endangered wild mammals.

Sea Otter (Enhydra lutris) mother and newborn pup (just three-days-old)
Monterey, California. © Suzi Eszterhas

About New on Earth: Baby Animals in the Wild

For the last twenty years, Suzi Eszterhas has dedicated her life and her work as a wildlife photographer to capturing the family lives of wild animals throughout the world, focusing particularly on endangered species.

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Often spending weeks, months, or even years with a single animal family, she has photographed many unique moments in the lives of young animals. New on Earth is a collection of her most spectacular photographs—from groundbreaking images of tiger cubs in their den in India, to newborn cheetahs on the African savanna, to brown bear cubs seeing the world for the first time in the Alaskan wilderness.

About Suzi Eszterhas

Suzi Eszterhas is an internationally recognized wildlife photographer whose work is published in books, magazines, and newspapers all over the world, including Smithsonian, Time, BBC Wildlife, New York Times, and others. One of the leading female wildlife and conservation photographers working in a male-dominated field, she has published eighteen children’s books and two photography books.

She works to raise money and awareness for various conservation organizations. Her books, prints, and photo tours have raised over $200k for conservation groups to date. She is the founder and director of Girls Who Click, a nonprofit organization dedicated to encouraging young women to enter the male-dominated field of nature photography.

To view the images as a slideshow, click on the arrows in the top right hand corner of the photos below.


Mountain Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla beringei) mother holding 5 month old twin babies. Parc National des Volcans, Rwanda. © Suzi Eszterhas
A mountain gorilla mother holding five-month-old twin babies. Parc National des Volcans, Rwanda. © Suzi Eszterhas

My experience meeting Kabatwa, and her twins Isango Gakuru and Isango Gato, was one of the most magnificent moments of my career. Twins among any of the great apes are exceedingly rare.

Bengal Tiger (Panthera tigris) 6 week old cub on mother at den Bandhavgarh National Park, India. © Suzi Eszterhas
Bengal tiger: a six-week-old cub on its mother at Bandhavgarh National Park, India. © Suzi Eszterhas

My biggest challenge working at a wild tiger den in India was getting the cubs to accept my presence. Whereas mom was very relaxed around people, her cubs had never seen a human.

Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) mother and newborn calf (days old). Tonga, South Pacific. © Suzi Eszterhas
A humpback whale mother with its newborn calf, only days old. Tonga, South Pacific. © Suzi Eszterhas

It is hard to put into words how it feels to swim with an intelligent 40-ton mammal and its newborn. Being in the water with something so large and strong, and yet so friendly, is truly a spiritual experience.

Hoffmann's Two-toed Sloth (Choloepus hoffmanni) mother and two-month-old baby. Aviarios Sloth Sanctuary, Costa Rica. © Suzi Eszterhas
Hoffmann’s two-toed sloth mother and her two-month-old baby. Aviarios Sloth Sanctuary, Costa Rica. © Suzi Eszterhas

This sloth mom and baby had lost their home tree to logging, and were rescued and rehabilitated by a local sloth sanctuary. I took this photo shortly after they were released back into the wild, in an area permanently safe from logging and other forms of deforestation.

Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus) 3-4 month old cub peeking over mother's body while mother is anesthetized by polar bear biologists Wapusk National Park, Canada. © Suzi Eszterhas
A three- to four-month-old polar bear cub peeking over its mother’s body, while mother is anesthetised by polar bear biologists. Wapusk National Park, Canada. © Suzi Eszterhas

In Arctic Canada I shadowed a scientist collecting data on the effect of climate change on polar bears. He had tranquilised mom to safely weigh her and take blood, hair, and fat samples. Her precious cub climbed on top of her for safety.

Ring-tailed Lemur (Lemur catta) female grooming 1-2 week baby of other female. Berenty Private Reserve, Madagascar. © Suzi Eszterhas
Ring-tailed femur female grooming a one- to two-week-old baby of another female. Berenty Private Reserve, Madagascar. © Suzi Eszterhas

In the photo, a ring-tailed lemur mom is holding her baby while another adult female grooms him. Baby appears less-than-thrilled. The look on his face is priceless.

Sea Otter (Enhydra lutris) mother and newborn pup (just three-days-old) Monterey, California. © Suzi Eszterhas
Sea otter mother and its newborn pup (just three-days-old). Monterey, California. © Suzi Eszterhas

When it comes to cute baby animals, it’s hard to top otter pups, as demonstrated by this little guy in Monterey Bay, California. His natal coat is warm, fluffy, and buoyant. He spends the majority of his day sleeping on mom’s belly wrapped in her arms, or getting groomed.

Sumatran Orangutan (Pongo abelii) 1.5 year old baby dangling from tree branch. North Sumatra, Indonesia. © Suzi Eszterhas
Sumatran orangutan baby dangling from tree branch. North Sumatra, Indonesia. © Suzi Eszterhas

This one and half-year-old Sumatran orangutan is having fun dangling and spinning in Gunung Leuser National Park. Orangutans are critically endangered due to deforestation from the palm oil industry. I am proud to serve as an ambassador for the Sumatran Orangutan Society.

Proboscis Monkey (Nasalis larvatus) infant grabbing mother's nose Sabah, Malaysia. © Suzi Eszterhas
Proboscis monkey infant grabbing mother’s nose. Sabah, Malaysia. © Suzi Eszterhas

In this photo, baby is grabbing mom’s nose, which made me laugh out loud because the species is named for its schnoz: a “proboscis” is a long nose belonging to a mammal. The reason these monkeys have such big noses is sexual selection, i.e., females think it’s sexy.

Lion (Panthera leo) with 7-8 week old cub approaching adult male Masai Mara Reserve, Kenya. © Suzi Eszterhas
A seven- to eight-week-old African lion cub approaches a male. Masai Mara Reserve, Kenya. © Suzi Eszterhas

In the golden morning light of Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve, a lion cub meets her dad for the first time. The cub in the photo regarded her father for a few minutes, almost shyly, before climbing up. Her raised paw shows she was hesitant. She needn’t have worried—dad gave her a big sniff of approval.

Leopard (Panthera pardus) six-week-old cub nuzzling mother Jao Reserve, Botswana. © Suzi Eszterhas
A six-week-old leopard cub nuzzling its mother. Jao Reserve, Botswana. © Suzi Eszterhas

Here, a leopard cub rubs up under mom’s chin in what I’ve come to know as the big cat nuzzle. It’s very common behavior, but among leopards you’ll only ever see it between a mom and her cubs because they’re otherwise solitary.

Kangaroo and her 8 month old joey. © Suzi Eszterhas
Kangaroo and her eight-month-old joey. © Suzi Eszterhas

At birth, kangaroo joeys are the size of a grape; pink, hairless, and blind. They live exclusively inside mom’s pouch for the first four months. This joey is eight months old and while he’s still fond of the pouch, he’s spending longer periods of time outside.

Black-backed Jackal (Canis mesomelas) 6 week old pups at sunset. Masai Mara Triangle, Kenya. © Suzi Eszterhas
Six-week-old black-backed jackal pups at sunset. Masai Mara Triangle, Kenya. © Suzi Eszterhas

When these jackal pups reach a year of age, they’ll go off to find their mate for life and start a family of their own. Something really special about jackal families is that grown pups don’t always leave. Sometimes they stick around and help mom and dad raise the next season’s litter.

Brown Bear (Ursus arctos) 3-4 month old triplet cubs climbing on mother's back as she cools off in water Katmai National Park, AK. © Suzi Eszterhas
A triplet of three- to four-month-old brown bear cubs climbing on their mother’s back as she cools off in water. Katmai National Park, Alaska, USA. © Suzi Eszterhas

I’ve seldom seen triplet brown bear cubs; singles and doubles are far more common. It was June, and mom was looking to cool off. At first the cubs, who were about five months old, followed her in, then quickly clambered onto her back as they began to submerge.

African Elephant (Loxodonta africana) young calf (less than 3 weeks old). Masai Mara Conservancy, Kenya. © Suzi Eszterhas
An African elephant calf, less than three weeks old, with its mother. Masai Mara Conservancy, Kenya. © Suzi Eszterhas

Mother elephants use their trunks to communicate with their calves, offering reassurance or, in the case of this one-month-old in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, simply moving baby along. African elephants live in matriarchal societies, and the bond between mom and calf is one of the strongest in the animal kingdom.

African Wild Dog (Lycaon pictus) 5 week old pups playing. Northern Botswana, Africa. © Suzi Eszterhas
Five-week-old African wild dog pups playing. Northern Botswana, Africa. © Suzi Eszterhas

African wild dogs live in packs and are incredibly social, which means pup play is pretty much nonstop. They’re constantly snuggling each other, jumping on each other, or exploring together in a small group. They’re quite fun to photograph.

Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) 8 week old cub playing on mother's head Maasai Mara Reserve, Kenya. © Suzi Eszterhas
An eight-week-old cheetah cub playing on mother’s head Maasai Mara Reserve, Kenya. © Suzi Eszterhas

Cheetah cubs are among the most playful of all mammals, which means their moms are among the most tolerant. By pouncing on mom’s head, this eight-week-old cub is improving her hunting skills and coordination, and building strength. But I think play is also emotional—I’ve seen so much joy in baby animal play.

Capybara (Hydrochaeris hydrochaeris) baby resting on mother. Pantanal, Brazil. © Suzi Eszterhas
A capybara baby resting on its mother. Pantanal, Brazil. © Suzi Eszterhas

For capybara babies, it’s typical to lay on or beside mom while napping. And it doesn’t even have to be mom: Capybaras live in groups and practice alloparenting, a system where adults other than the parents help raise the young.

Bison (Bison bison) cow and calf playing. Yellowstone National Park, MT. © Suzi Eszterhas
A bison cow and calf playing. Yellowstone National Park, MT. © Suzi Eszterhas

With baby-animal play, the parents don’t always appear to appreciate the encounter. But many, like this female bison in Yellowstone National Park in Montana, clearly enjoy it. Mom went head-to-head with baby for several minutes, much to my delight.

Bat-eared fox (Otocyon megalotis) with 13 day old pup(s) in den. Masai Mara Reserve, Kenya. © Suzi Eszterhas
A male bat-eared fox with his 13-day-old pups in the den. Masai Mara Reserve, Kenya. © Suzi Eszterhas
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While working with a bat-eared fox family, I observed some fascinating behavior: The fathers are just as involved as the mothers in raising their young. Pictured here is dad, snuggling his two-week-old pups. I’ve since learned that highly-engaged fatherhood is typical among canine species, including jackals and coyotes.

New On Earth HC c
New on Earth: Baby Animals in the Wild, by Suzi Eszterhas. Published by Insight Editions.