Credit: courtesy Brookfield Zoo

It’s now conventional wisdom that 2017 was one of the very worst years in recent history. It’s also conventional wisdom that the world can’t be entirely terrible as long as it contains cute baby animals. Therefore: behold the new baby gray seal born at the Brookfield Zoo on December 27 to Lily and Boone.

The baby, a male, doesn’t have a name yet. He weighed 36 pounds at birth and is probably more than double that by now; his weight was expected to quadruple by the time he’s weaned at three weeks. “He’s quite a big boy,” says Sondra Katzen, a spokeswoman for the zoo.

The baby and his mom, LilyCredit: courtesy Brookfield Zoo

Gray seals are born with a covering of white hair, called lanugo. Once it falls out and the pups get their gray adult coats, they’re ready to go out into the world. This pup, since he’s a zoo animal, will just be removed to a different tank, away from his mother. Which is just as well, since she’d probably ignore him anyway. “I don’t know if it’s an inbred thing,” Katzen says, “but seal moms don’t want anything to do with their offspring after they’re weaned.”

Don’t be too sad for the seal, though. He’ll get to live and maybe frolic with the harbor seals and sea lions. And at the end of February he’ll make his public debut, after he’s gotten a chance to become acclimated to the animal care staff and his trainer. By then, maybe he’ll have a name. One of the zoo’s donors will get to do the honors.

Although gray seals aren’t an endangered species, there are only 25 living in captivity, spread out among ten zoos and aquariums; five of them are in Brookfield. The baby will leave home eventually, Katzen says, for another facility so he can breed and pass on the cuteness.

Credit: courtesy Brookfield Zoo