Twelve litters of black-footed ferrets, a species once nearly extinct, were born at the Smithsonian National Zoo this year. The litter pictured here came into the world on July 23.
In total, 50 kits, the term for baby ferrets, were born this year, and 49 have survived. The sizes of the litters this year were larger than those in previous years.
Black-footed ferrets once lived in the short- and middle-grass prairies of the western Great Plains. Today, they are an endangered species as a result of disease and a 98-percent loss of the North American prairie ecosystem.