Meet Ray-Ray, the Maryland Zoo's newest Addra Gazelle calf. Born February 5, the calf is strong and healthy. Named after Ravens players Ray Lewis and Ray Rice, the calf isn't quite yet ready to play with the big boys as he weighs just 11lbs 6oz (5.3kg). The Addra Gazelle, also known as the Dama Gazelle, is the largest and tallest of all gazelles. This species is critically endangered due to drought, disease communicated by domestic livestock, and habitat destruction.
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Addra gazelles live in Africa’s Sahara desert region, from Mauritania to Sudan. They move seasonally from scrub land during the dry season to desert during the wet season. Addras are also fast and can reach a running speed of approximately 45 mph. “When deciding what his name should be, Zoo staff thought of the Ravens,” stated Don Hutchinson, president and CEO of The Maryland Zoo. “Ray Lewis epitomizes the strength of the gazelle and Ray Rice the speed. Naming him Ray-Ray seemed a fitting tribute.”
The calf’s birth is the result of a recommendation from the Addra Gazelle Species Survival Plan (SSP) coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). SSPs provide breeding recommendations to maximize genetic diversity, with the goal of ensuring the long-term survival of the captive population and the health of individual animals. Currently there are approximately 130 addra gazelle in AZA accredited zoos throughout the United States. Addra gazelle are critically endangered. Poaching and overhunting, for horns and meat, have driven the species nearly to extinction in the wild.
Zoo visitors will be able to see the calf along with the rest of the herd in the spring when temperatures have warmed up and the ground is no longer icy. The Maryland Zoo’s herd is made up of four animals, including Ray-Ray, and can be found in the African Watering Hole exhibit in the Africa section of the Zoo, just past the rhino, ostrich and zebra.