PREPARE YOUR HEARTS, BABY ANIMAL FANS: Look, we thought it, like you thought it, like everyone thought it: This fall, on the wee infant animal end of life, would be fully owned by Pup 681 one, the rescued otter pup who made her way, with some keepers' help, from California to the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. We basically closed the books on the competition for our hearts, at least for the season, because watching an otter "learn how to otter," which was one of her directives, can shut down all other contenders. And yet... there are still baby animals eliciting the "awwws" out there, daily, and one of the buzzed-about beasties just happens to be in Santa Barbara. So very close, so very cuddly, and so dang cute: It's a baby giant anteater, a boy, and he was just born on Nov. 6, so, yep, he's just getting his sea legs with this whole "being on the planet" thing. (Do anteaters get "sea legs" or "earth legs"? Discuss, lovers of language.) Nope, he doesn't yet have a name, though we imagine he's hearing "awww" enough from the staffers of the Santa Barbara Zoo that he well might think that's his given handle. And, nope, he isn't yet on exhibit, but he will be, in another week or so.
"SECOND BIRTH": He's baby #2 for Anara and Ridley -- yep, they're both giant anteaters, as you might expect -- and he's also the second male. The first pup is headed for Staten Island this November, so if you wanted to see him -- he was born last March -- you'll now need to make for New York. But you can see his baby brother, very soon, in Santa Barbara. "A total of 27 giant anteaters have now been born at the Santa Barbara Zoo since 1975," says the animal park, so if you swing by to eye this long-proboscis'd cutie, you'll be witnessing a legacy that's some four decades along. Of course, there are several doings at the zoo at any one time, but bet that visitors over the next few weeks'll be looking to get their heart-tugging dose of anteater sweetness.