Calgary Zoo recently welcomed the arrival of 14 healthy Vancouver Island marmot pups during the 2015 breeding season.
Faced with the arduous task of naming the babies, human keepers took inspiration from a galaxy far, far away and chose to award Star Wars-inspired names to the furry, newborn creatures.
A handful of the pups were given names like Luke, Leia, Han Solo, Jabba, and Yoda, after the franchises most iconic characters.
Such baby joy brings new found hope for the endangered species, which is considered to be one of the rarest mammals in the world.
“This has been an excellent year for us with a healthy population of new pups that will bolster the wild population,” Dr. Doug Whiteside, Senior Veterinarian of Calgary Zoo and Vancouver Island Marmot Recovery Team member, said in a media release.
Having participated in the captive breeding program for nearly 20 years, Whiteside added, “We have been fortunate to have played a key role in the reproductive and health-based research on the species in addition to the behavioural research carried out as part of our Husky Energy Endangered Species Program.”
Currently, Calgary Zoo holds two-thirds of the captive population of Vancouver Island marmots. Formerly one of the most endangered mammals in North America, it is estimated that there are now 300 marmots in the wild, an increase from a mere 30 at one time.
Of the 14 captive bred marmots, 13 are expected to be released into the wild in 2016.