Keepers at Highland Wildlife Park are excited to announce the arrival of a Muskox calf.
Mum, Karin, who was born in the Czech Republic in 2002, gave birth to the male calf on June 2, 2014. This is a major event for the Park as Muskox are difficult to breed due to high neonatal mortality rates. The last Muskox calf to survive until adulthood in the UK was born in 1992.
Last year, Belle the Muskox calf sadly passed away at Highland Wildlife Park at around five months old due to an injury inflicted by one of her parents. Musk-ox calves are notoriously difficult to rear in captivity as their weak immune systems means that they are highly susceptible to disease and infection, and the inherent aggressiveness of the adults further complicates the situation. This year keepers are working hard to make sure this new arrival has a successful outcome.
Douglas Richardson, Head of Living Collections at Highland Wildlife Park, said:
“Although we are very pleased with our latest Muskox calf, we are certainly not out of the woods yet and have a long way to go before we can confidently say that we have been successful. He is growing well and is being closely monitored by his keepers, but the young of the species are extremely fragile and in light of losing last year’s calf, we have altered our husbandry protocol to hopefully avoid a similar problem. He will remain off show with his mother for some time yet and will be named at a later date.”
The new Muskox calf may be small now, but it will grow quickly and could weigh an impressive 300 kilograms when mature. As he continues to grow, the calf and his mother will be gradually introduced to one of their large grass enclosures and later to his father.
A social species, the Muskox typically form mixed herds of around ten to 20 animals, but they can sometimes contain as many as 100. They are a conservation success story. Hunted nearly to extinction for their fur and meat, a combination of conservation regulation, reintroductions and natural recolonization have taken the Muskox to a place where they are now classified as being of least concern on the IUCN Red List.