August 21, 2015 4:44 PM EDT

In Kaikoura, New Zealand, a forest trail begins along a crystal-clear stream that feeds into the Pacific Ocean.

Are those dogs barking? Splash! What was that big, black creature that just swam by? Ten minutes into your hike, the mystery is revealed: hundreds of baby fur seals are having an unsupervised pool party. These pups are leaping, twirling, and diving into the freshwater pool fed by a raging waterfall.

Just as uplifting? Baby leatherback turtles hatching on the shores of Trinidad. Or a baby giraffe taking its first wobbly steps in Kenya. Or an alligator emerging from its shell in Louisiana.

For the animal lovers and wildlife photographers, spring and summer are the prime times to observe rambunctious youngsters and their fiercely protective mamas, whether out in nature or in a preserve. You can book a trip to cuddle a koala in Queensland, spot rare cave chicks in Cook Islands, or peek in on the world’s teeniest primates in Peru. Read on.

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