Ferret Baby Boom at the Zoo

Black-footed ferrets, once nearly extinct, are having a populous -- and adorable -- season at the National Zoo.

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Mehgan Murphy, Smithsonian's National Zoo
The black-footed ferret was once believed to be extinct. About 1,000 exist in the wild today.
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Mehgan Murphy, Smithsonian's National Zoo
Say aww! There have been 50 black-footed ferret kits born at the National Zoo this year, and all but one have survived.
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Mehgan Murphy, Smithsonian's National Zoo
Once nearly extinct, the remaining animals in the wild were captured inthe late '80s. Since then, nearly 500 kits have been born at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, and almost 200 of those have been reintroduced to the wild.
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Mehgan Murphy, Smithsonian's National Zoo
Litter sizes were larger than usual this year, say Zoo reps. Five of the litters born this year included six kits instead of the usual three or four kits.
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Mehgan Murphy, Smithsonian's National Zoo
The most recent litter was born July 23.
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Mehgan Murphy, Smithsonian's National Zoo
This fall, the kits will travel to the National Black-Footed Ferret Conservation Center in Colorado to prep for release into the wild, known as "preconditioning."
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Mehgan Murphy, Smithsonian's National Zoo
The black-footed ferret was once believed to be extinct. About 1,000 exist in the wild today.
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Mehgan Murphy, Smithsonian's National Zoo
Black-footed ferrets only go into heat once a year. Forty-eight of the babies born this year were born via natural breeding, with two others born as the result of artificial insemination.
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Mehgan Murphy, Smithsonian's National Zoo
You can view one of the litters on the Zoo's website via FerretCam.
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