Antelope

Four Markhor Calves for Los Angeles Zoo

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The Los Angeles Zoo excitedly shared news of the birth of four Tadjik Markhor calves. Two calves arrived the first week of May, and two more followed the next week!

The new babies can be seen in the zoo habitat with the rest of their herd.

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4_Markhor Newborn with Mom JEP_2845Photo Credits: LA Zoo

The Tadjik Markhor (Capra falconeri heptneri), also known as the Bukharan Markhor, is an endangered goat-antelope. It is native to Tajikistan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, and possibly also Afghanistan. The animal is one of about five subspecies of Markhor.

The Markhor (Capra falconeri), also known as the “Screw Horn Goat”, is a large species of wild goat that is found in northeastern Afghanistan, northern and central Pakistan, Northern India, southern Tajikistan, southern Uzbekistan and in the Himalayas.

The species, as a whole, was classified as “Endangered” by the IUCN, until 2015 when it was downgraded to “Near Threatened”. Numbers have increased by an estimated 20% for the last decade. The Markhor is notably known as the national animal of Pakistan.


Zoo Miami Celebrates the Birth of Two Females

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Zoo Miami recently announced the birth of two new bovid calves!

On April 19th, after approximately nine months of gestation, a rare Giant Eland was born. The female calf weighed-in at 62 pounds. She is the third calf for the 6-year-old mother and is the 4-year-old father’s first calf, at Zoo Miami.

After remaining off exhibit for a short time to insure that baby and mother had bonded well, they were introduced to their exhibit to join the rest of the herd. Zoo staff reports that both mother and baby are doing very well and adjusting to the exhibit.

Giant Eland (Taurotragus derbianus) are the world’s largest antelope with males often weighing over 2,000 pounds. Females are significantly smaller. They are found in small areas of the savannahs and woodlands of Central Africa. They are currently listed as “Vulnerable” by the IUCN, with major threats being habitat destruction and hunting for their meat.

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6_Giant Eland 8Photo Credits: Ron Magill/ Zoo Miami

On April 23rd, a female Sable Antelope was born at Zoo Miami. The newborn weighed 35 pounds and was the fourth offspring for her 9-year-old mother. Like the Giant Eland, Sable Antelopes have a pregnancy of approximately nine months.

Sable Antelope (Hippotragus niger) are found in savannah woodlands of Eastern Africa, south of Kenya, and down into South Africa. They are considered one of the most majestic and beautiful of the world’s antelopes. Males can weigh close to 600 pounds. They have majestic ridged horns that curve backwards and can approach four feet long. Females are slightly smaller. The males can become a jet-black color, with contrasting white markings on their face when sexually mature, and the females are dark brown.

Though they are not endangered, their population has been substantially reduced from their historic range due to habitat loss and hunting. They are currently classified as “Least Concern” by the IUCN.

Both new girls are on-exhibit daily at Zoo Miami.

 7_Sable 2More great pics of the Sable Antelope calf, below the fold!

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Spring Babies Abound at Los Angeles Zoo

4.2 female ocelot kittensOcelot/Los Angeles Zoo 

Spring means lots of new babies at the Los Angeles Zoo!  Guests can now observe two Sichuan Takin calves and two Chacoan Peccary piglets out in their habitats while an Eastern Bongo calf, two Ocelot kittens, and seven Peninsular Pronghorn fawns remain behind the scenes bonding with their mothers for a few more weeks.

2.2 peccary piglet with adult photo by Jamie PhamPeccary/Jamie Pham
3.4 takin calf photo by Jamie PhamTakin/Jamie Pham

"The Zoo does tend to see a rise in animal babies each spring, but there is a lot more thought and careful planning that goes into the process than one might think," said Beth Schaefer, General Curator at the Los Angeles Zoo. "A majority of our offspring this season are all members of Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) programs which aim to keep the North American populations of these species sustainable while also creating an insurance population, so these animals don't disappear from the planet."  

One insurance population currently thriving at the L.A. Zoo is a breeding group of Peninsular Pronghorn, a species of antelope native to Baja California Sur, Mexico. The Zoo recently welcomed seven Peninsular Pronghorn fawns, born between March 4 and April 8. In 2002, the L.A. Zoo joined the Peninsular Pronghorn Recovery Project in the Vizcaino Desert Biosphere Reserve of Baja California Sur, Mexico because the species’ numbers were dwindling in the wild due to hunting, habitat destruction, and cattle ranching.

On April 4, the L.A. Zoo celebrated the birth of two endangered Chacoan Peccary piglets. These medium-sized animals are found primarily in Paraguay and Bolivia, and they have a strong resemblance to pigs. Chacoan peccaries are social animals that live in small herds of up to 10 individuals, and they are known for their tough snouts and rooting abilities. The L.A. Zoo is currently working with the only conservation project in existence for this endangered species called the Chaco Center for the Conservation and Research (CCCI) and hopes to help care for and breed this species whose numbers are dwindling primarily due to habitat loss and hunting.

More photos and video below.

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Brevard Zoo Keepers Raising Rare Oryx Calf

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On February 28, Brevard Zoo welcomed its second Scimitar-horned Oryx calf of the year!

Unfortunately, first-time mother, Kitcha, displayed no interest in the female newborn. Tests performed the day after birth showed the calf had not yet nursed, and a decision was made to pull her from the exhibit. She is now living in an area where she can see and smell the rest of the herd, and she is currently being hand-reared by the Zoo’s dedicated animal care staff.

“She was quite small as a newborn, so we are monitoring her weight and food intake,” said Michelle Smurl, the Zoo’s director of animal programs. “For the first four days, she was eating every four hours. As her weight increases, we increase her food intake and she is now eating three times a day.”

Mom, Kitcha, was born at Brevard Zoo in 2009. The new calf’s father, Nuri, came from Smithsonian’s National Zoo and now lives at Lion Country Safari. Nuri also fathered the male calf born at Brevard on February 3.

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The Scimitar-horned Oryx (Oryx dammah) is also known as the Sahara Oryx. It is a straight-horned antelope that stands just over 1 m (3.3 ft) at the shoulder. Both sexes have horns, but those of the females are more slender.

They are social and prefer to travel in herds. Their habitat in the wild was steppe and desert, where they ate foliage, grass, herbs, shrubs, succulent plants, legumes, juicy roots, buds, and fruit. They can survive without water for nine to ten months because their kidneys prevent water loss from urination (an adaptation to desert habitats). They can also get water from water-rich plants.

Both males and females reach sexual maturity at 1.5 to 2 years of age. Gestation lasts about nine months, after which a single calf is born, weighing 20 to 33 pounds (9.1 to 15.0 kg). Twin births are very rare. Both mother and calf will return to the main herd within hours of the birth. The female separates herself from the herd for a few hours while she nurses the calf. Weaning starts at 3.5 months, and the young become fully independent at around 14 weeks old.

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Tiny Orphaned Dik-dik Hand-reared at Chester Zoo

Keepers step in to hand-rear orphaned baby dik dik antelope at Chester Zoo (17)
A tiny Dik-dik is making a big impression at Chester Zoo. The little Antelope is being cared for by zoo staff after its mother passed away soon after giving birth.

Standing only about 8 inches tall at the shoulders, the tiny Kirk’s Dik-dik is being bottle fed by staff five times a day. He will continue to receive a helping hand until he is old enough to eat by himself. 

Keepers step in to hand-rear orphaned baby dik dik antelope at Chester Zoo (19)
Keepers step in to hand-rear orphaned baby dik dik antelope at Chester Zoo (3)Photo Credit:  Chester Zoo



Assistant team manager Kim Wood and keeper Barbara Dreyer have both been caring for the new arrival, who is currently so light he doesn’t register a weight on the zoo’s set of antelope scales.

Kim said, “The youngster is beginning to find his feet now and is really starting to hold his own. We’re hopeful that, in a few months’ time, we’ll be able to introduce him to some of the other members of our group of Dik-diks.  He may be tiny but he is certainly making a big impression on everyone at the zoo.”   

Kirk’s Dik-diks grow to a maximum size of just 16 inches tall at the shoulders, making them one of the smallest species of Antelope in the world.

The species takes its name from Sir John Kirk, a 19th century Scottish naturalist, as well as the alarm calls made by female Dik-diks.  

Kirk’s Dik-diks are native to northeastern Africa and conservationists say they mark their territory with fluid from glands between their toes and just under their eyes, not dissimilar to tears. Populations in the wild are stable.

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Visitors Watch Blesbok Give Birth

2BIOPARC Valencia - blesbok recién nacido - sept 2016 (2)Visitors to Spain’s BIOPARC Valencia on September 20 got a big surprise when a Blesbok gave birth to a calf in its zoo habitat.

Zoo guests watched the entire natural birthing process as the female Blesbok paced during her labor, then lay down to deliver the calf. 

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BIOPARC Valencia - Nacimiento de un blesbok a la vista de los visitantes - 2016 (3)Photo Credit:  BIOPARC Valencia



The little calf was alert from the moment it was delivered and positioned itself perfectly so mom could clean it off.  After a few unsuccessful attempts, the calf finally stood on wobbly legs.  The whole process was over in just a few minutes.

Because the delivery went smoothly, zoo staff members saw no need to intervene or assist with the birth.

In nature, these antelope live on South Africa’s grassy plains.  A prolonged labor and delivery could leave the mother open to predation by lions or hyenas.  The same is true for a newborn Blesbok calf – it must be able to walk and follow its mother within a few minutes of birth or be targeted by a predator.

Blesbok nearly became extinct about 150 years ago due to overhunting.  New hunting regulations allowed Blesbok numbers to increase, and the species is no longer threatened with extinction. 


Doubling-Up on Cuteness at The Maryland Zoo

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The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore released news of two of its newest babies: a male Lesser Kudu calf (born June 18th) and a male Sitatunga calf (born June 25th).

The Kudu calf was born to six-year-old Lemon and sired by five-year-old Ritter. He currently weighs almost 19 pounds and has been named Jalopy.

The Sitatunga calf, named Chopper, weighed 13.1 pounds at his first health check. His mother is six-year-old Lela, and the father is eight-year-old Lou.

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4_Kudu Lemon & Jalopy DSC_9702Photo Credits: The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore

“The calves are being well cared for by their mothers inside their barns,” noted Margaret Inness, assistant general curator at the Zoo. “We like to give them time and space to bond during their early days and keep them as relaxed as possible for the health and wellbeing of all.”

Both calves now have limited access to the outdoor areas for a few weeks as they become acclimated to the yards and zoo visitors.

The Lesser Kudu calf had a few complications at birth, including a heart murmur discovered by veterinarians during his first health check. “This little guy had a bit of a rough start, but he’s nursing well and gaining weight as he should,” continued Innes. “Lemon is taking great care of him and we are pleased with his progress so far.”

Lesser Kudu (Tragelaphus imberbis australis) are one of eight species of African Spiral-horned Antelope. Male Lesser Kudu horns can grow to be 72 inches long, with 2 ½ twists. In the wild, they live in dry, densely thicketed scrub and woodlands of northern east Africa. Interestingly, they rarely drink water, apparently getting enough liquid from the plants that they eat.

At The Maryland Zoo, the Lesser Kudu herd of five can be found in the African Watering Hole exhibit, along with Addra Gazelle and Saddle-billed Storks.

The Sitatunga (Tragelaphus spekii) is a species of antelope native to Central Africa. They live in semi-aquatic swamps, marshes and flood plains. Outside of protected areas, Sitatunga are vulnerable to over-hunting and habitat loss, as people drain and develop swampland. Currently, however, Sitatunga are not classified as threatened or endangered.

The Maryland Zoo’s Sitatunga herd is made up of ten animals, including the new calf, and can be found in two exhibit spaces along the boardwalk in the African Journey section of the Zoo.

Both of the calves’ births are the result of a recommendation from the Species Survival Plan (SSP) for each species, coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). SSPs provide breeding recommendations to maximize genetic diversity, with the goal of ensuring health of the individual animal, as well as the long-term survival of the species population to help save animals from extinction.

More great pics, below the fold!

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How To Feed a Baby Blesbok

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When a baby Blesbok born this summer at Spain's Bioparc Valencia wasn't able to get enough milk from its mother, zoo keepers stepped in to offer bottle-feedings to get the calf off to a strong start.

The little calf gulps down his bottles quickly and cooperates well at feeding time.

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Cuidador de BIOPARC Valencia alimentando con biberón a una cría de blesbok recién nacida - verano 2016Photo Credit:  Bioparc Valencia
Blesbok are a type of antelope that live on the plains and grasslands of South Africa, preferably near water.  They live in herds, grazing on grasses and following the seasonal rains. 

Centuries ago, Blesbok herds stretched for miles across the grasslands, but they were hunted to near extinction in the late 1800s.  After hunting regulations were enacted, Blesbok numbers strongly rebounded and they are no longer threatened with extinction.

The name “Blesbok” is derived from the Afrikaans word for “blazed antelope,” a reference to the prominent white blaze on the faces of adults. 

See more photos of feeding time below.

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Impala Calves Leap Into Action

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The savannah at Spain’s BIOPARC Valencia is full of activity now that three Impala calves are running and playing with each other.

Born just a few weeks apart this spring, the Impala calves are part of the zoo’s small herd which mimics the social conditions these antelopes would experience in the wild.  Pregnant females separate themselves from the herd before giving birth. Calves are usually born at midday, and when the calves are a few weeks old, they rejoin the herd.  Young Impalas are grouped into nurseries, where they are watched over by adults.

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BIOPARC Valencia - Las crías de impala son el centro de atención para los habitantes de la Sabana (2)Photo Credit:  Bioparc Valencia

Impala are native to eastern and southern Africa, where they inhabit woodlands and the edges of savannahs, often near water sources.  Only the males have the distinctive lyre-shaped, spiral horns, which are used during disputes with other males over territorial boundaries and mating rights. Impalas are generally active during the day, feeding on vegetation.

Impalas are not currently under threat, although like all wild animals, their habitat is slowly being encroached upon by growing human activity.  Fortunately, about a quarter of all Impalas live within protected parks and reserves in Africa.

See more photos of the calves below.

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Three New Antelope Calves for the Maryland Zoo

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The Maryland Zoo, in Baltimore, recently welcomed a male Lesser Kudu on December 18, 2015…the first Lesser Kudu to be born at the Zoo!

The Zoo also welcomed two more members of the genus Tragelaphus, female Sitatunga calves born on December 7 and Christmas Day, 2015. The girls are the third and fourth Sitatunga calves born this season at the Zoo, joining males Riri and Carl (born in April and June respectively).

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4_Sitatunga Remy & calf Jess _JFB6820  Photo Credits: The Maryland Zoo / Images 1,2,5,6 : Lesser Kudu / Images 3 and 4 : Sitatunga

The first of the female Sitatunga calves was born to two-year-old Remy and has been named Jess by zookeepers. She currently weighs approximately 21 pounds. The second female calf, named Noel, weighed almost 15 pounds at her last health check. Her mother is two-year-old Mousse. Eight-year-old Lou sired both girls.

“Both calves are healthy and are being well cared for by their mothers, inside the warmth of the Africa Barn,” stated Carey Ricciardone, Mammal Collection and Conservation Manager at the Zoo. “As a first time dam, Mousse is very protective of Noel, but Remy is a much more relaxed mother.”

Both calves will remain behind the scenes in the barn until warm weather returns.

The male Lesser Kudu calf, Kaiser, was born to two-year-old Meringue and sired by five-year-old Ritter. “This little guy has long, spindly legs and huge ears right now; he’s adorable,” continued Ricciardone. “Meringue is taking great care of him and we are pleased with his progress so far.”

Kaiser stands about three-feet-tall and weighs in at 26 pounds. He will also remain off exhibit with his mother until spring.

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