Bunny, a Reindeer at Brookfield Zoo, gave birth to a fawn on April 2 after a 7½-month gestation. Within just a few minutes of the birth, the fawn was up and walking.
The fawn, Bunny’s second, weighed just over 12 pounds at birth but is expected to double her weight in just two weeks, thanks to the richness of her mother’s milk. She will soon graze on solid food but will continue to nurse from Bunny for about six months.
Reindeer fawns are born with dark fur that absorbs radiant heat from the sun, which is important in the chilly northern regions where Reindeer live. At about two to three months, fawns begin to shed their dark fur as lighter-colored fur grows in. At about one month of age, little antler buds begin to develop, followed by short spikes within the first year.
Reindeer differ from other Deer species because their noses are covered with fur and both sexes have antlers. The antlers are made of solid living bone and no two sets are alike. Antlers grow out of small bony platforms called pedicles and are covered with velvet, a soft tissue that supplies necessary nutrients. Males shed their antlers in November and December and females in January or February. Both genders begin growing a new set of antlers in early spring.