Extinct outside of conservation areas in their native Africa, this leggy baby Black Wildebeest is a welcome addition to the Newquay Zoo in the UK. Like all Wildebeest, Black Wildebeest are known for their quick tempers, so it will be a while before keepers can get in to examine the baby and determine whether it is a boy or a girl.
Baby Wildebeest eyebrows = no joke
Photo credits: Michelle Turton/Newquay Zoo
Wildebeest are actually a type of antelope and Black Wildebeest are the smallest of the wildebeesty crew. Small is a relative term in this case however as adults grow up to 400lbs!
Animal Collections Manager John Meek explains “Four adults (2 male 2 female) arrived from Zoo Dvur Kralove in the Czech Republic back in March to join a variety of other new species in the zoos new African Savanna exhibit which opened at Easter.
One pair moved to Marwell Zoo in May to expand the breeding programme.
‘Malaga’ who was the resident female at Newquay Zoo was already pregnant when she arrived back in March and gave birth on Wednesday morning. The baby was up and about within 20 minutes and is doing extremely well.
We are thrilled that this is the first birth of a Black Wildebeest in the UK for several decades. This much threatened species which is now extinct in the wild is protected in conservation reserves in Africa.”
Black Wildebeest from South Africa are smaller than the more familiar Blue Wildebeest from East Africa.
Director of Newquay Zoo Stewart Muir said “These may be the smallest of the species but still a very dangerous animal. We sent keepers to the Czech zoo to learn more about them and see them at first hand before they arrived here and they are magnificent animals. It will be a little while yet before we can confirm if the baby is male or female.”
The adult male called ‘Lazar’ is very protective of the baby.
Photographs and video updates will be regularly posted on the zoo’s website at www.newquayzoo.org.uk. On Facebook and Twitter.
Range: Southern Africa
Habitat: Open plains
Diet: Grasses & shrubs
Status: Least Concern
Black wildebeest, or white tailed gnu, are a member of the antelope family as they have horns and hooves. With a lifespan of up to 20 years, they can grow up to 4ft & weigh up to 400lbs. They inhabit the seasonal plains and open woodlands of Southern Africa between which they migrate. Massive herds of thousands of individuals leave the grasslands in May and return to them from the woodlands when November’s summer rain falls.
Lone bulls will guard a territory preferably with shade, water and lush grasses. This will attract groups of migrating females, all who will mate with that male.