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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Cuteness justified

Posted by: Laura Lockard, Communications/Public Affairs

Come on. We know you do it. Cheat a little in the morning. Sneak in a little around lunch time. Get one more dose before you go home from work. It is worse than any addiction known to mankind… the cuteness craving. So strong it can take up an entire day if you aren’t careful. You nervously close your browser hiding the baby ocelot the minute someone walks by. Constantly dreading the inevitable question from your boss, “What have you been doing all day?”

Ocelot kitten born at Woodland Park Zoo in 2008. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Now you can answer, “Strengthening my concentration.” All that time sneaking quick peeks at baby zoo animals, bear cams and those awesome miniature Egyptian tortoises is now justified! We need those daily doses of cuteness and it might even be making us more focused, enabling our concentration.

Egyptian tortoises hatched at Woodland Park Zoo in 2011. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Researchers recently published a paper on how “cuteness” can contribute to behavioral carefulness in humans. Based on their research, highlighted in an article on Wired.com, humans are found to be highly attuned to the physical features that characterize their young, such as a large rounded forehead, large low-set eyes, and a small chin.

Gorilla Uzumma born at Woodland Park Zoo in 2007. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

These features which have been deemed “cute” were studied previously in how they encourage human nurturing behavior. Now scientists are taking that cute factor one step further and studying the direct connection to concentration. They found that a little dose of cute can reliably up your concentration right afterward.

Snow leopard cubs born at Woodland Park Zoo in 2012. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

What does all this mean? We can finally embrace our cute addictions! We no longer need to sneak quick peeks at the snow leopard cub photos. We don’t need to hide the tawny frogmouth link. And, we can finally put zoo animals on our screensavers and say, “Thank you Woodland Park Zoo, for contributing to my concentration today!”

Concentrate and enjoy…

You're welcome.

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