By Bianca M. Caraza, Global Animal
Recent news of one Texan baby has Americans in shock and awe of his (comparatively) enormous size. JaMichael Johnson, born to proud parents Janet Johnson and Michael Brown, was born earlier this week in the town of Longview, proving once and for all that everything really is bigger in Texas. And while JaMichael doesn’t have the honor of being the world’s largest baby (this title belongs to a 23 lb tyke born in 1879), there are some animals, and their poor, enduring mothers, who definitely deserve that recognition. Here are seven amazing animal species who bear some impressive babes.
1. Girraffa camelopardalis
First on our list is the silly-looking and spotted giraffe. While giraffe’s aren’t quite as hefty as other species, they do have the height on their side. The common baby giraffe reaches the impressive height of 6 feet, eventually growing more than double that, from 16 to 20 feet, and are born at around 165 lbs. But infant size isn’t the only thing a mother giraffe has to worry about — their gestation period is 15 months!
2. Ursus maritimus
The polar bear is indeed fearsome, the largest carnivorous animal on earth, it stalks and kills its prey most effectively and mercilessly. However frightening a fully grown bear, though, they seem to start out just as adorable. Despite their massive size (males weigh between 770 and 1,500 lbs), polar bear cubs are born incredibly tiny, somewhere around 2 lbs. The incredible thing about polar bear cubs is not how physically great they are at birth, but how quickly they grow — sometimes ten and sixteen times their weight in a few short months.
3. Hippopotamus amphibious
The hippopotamus is the second largest land animal, coming in close to the elephant. The name hippo comes from the Greek term for “river horse,” quite fitting for the semi-aquatic hippo as their calves are actually born underwater and must swim up to the surface for their first breath. A hippo calf can weigh from 60 to 100 lbs, growing up to the average weight of 1½ to 3 tons.
4. Elephas maximas, Loxodonta Africana, and Loxodonta cyclotis
The elephant seems to be as intelligent as it is enormous. The elephant holds the record for the title of biggest land animal in the world as well as the animal with the longest gestation period. A mother elephant can expect 22 months of pregnancy, followed by a whopping 250 lb, 3 ft tall calf. That, dear readers, is one big baby. Because of their high levels of intelligence and lack of predators besides man, the elephant is not born with many survival instincts which must be learned from his elders. Baby elephants, though enormous, are extremely dependent on their mothers, nursing up to three years, and other childless female elephants known as “all mothers,” which assist in caring for the calf.
5. Delphinapterus leucas
Found in the freezing arctic regions of the ocean is the beluga or white whale. Belugas are a fairly large species, male whales weighing up to 3,500 lbs and measuring around 18 ft in length. Their babies are usually born in a small period of time between late July and early August and while their adult counterparts are gorgeous pure white, baby belugas arrive a light shade of gray. Belugas are a massive feat when it comes to birthing, born almost 5 ft long and 180 lbs.
6. Balaenoptera musculus
The blue whale is truly the world’s largest animal. Almost 100 ft long and 180 metric tons, it’s the largest animal ever known to exist. The largest population of blue whales can be found in the arctic, and while these beautiful, peaceful creatures have been hunted mercilessly by man, they still survive and live to swim another day. While extremely powerful, the blue whale is something of a gentle giant, living off of a tiny crustacean called krill. Baby blue whales are born averaging 3 tons (about the same size as a fully grown whale’s tongue) and about 25 ft long. In order to catch up to a proper adult size, the baby blue whale gains 200 lbs a day for his first year.
7. Apteryx haastii
The kiwi bird, native to New Zealand, is not large by any stretch of the imagination. Around the size of a domestic chicken, the pudgy, flightless bird was named for a strong resemblance to the brown prickly kiwi fruit. The kiwi bird’s offspring cannot be compared in size to the 3 ton baby blue whale or even JaMichael Johnson. The laying of a kiwi bird egg, however, is possibly the most impressive and painful feat known worldwide. A female kiwi lays a single egg half her own weight. That’s comparable to a human woman giving birth to a 75 lb baby, or a 1 ton infant rhino! Each and every fertile female kiwi bird deserves a big round of applause for maintaining a species that’s so very difficult to bear.