Keepers Raise Tiny Dik Dik at Pueblo Zoo

10648408_10152351559991744_4913354173236862633_oWhen a Kirk’s Dik Dik was born in mid-October at thePueblo Zoo, keepers were thrilled.  But when his mother did not feed the male calf, keepers stepped in to provide daily care.

Photo Credit:  Pueblo Zoo

Though they look like miniature deer, Dik Diks are small antelope that stand just over a foot high at the shoulder.  Found on eastern Africa’s savannahs, Dik Diks may appear small and vulnerable.  But their excellent eyesight and ability to run up to 26 miles per hour enable them to escape predatory lions, hyenas, and wild dogs. 

In addition, Dik Diks run in zig-zags as they escape, further confounding their pursuers.  As they flee, females emit an alarm call that sounds like “dik dik,” hence their name.

Dik Diks are widespread in Kenya and Tanzania, and populations are considered stable.

Tiny Dik-dik Plays Big Sister at Chester Zoo

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A tiny Kirk’s Dik-dik antelope, which was hand-reared by keepers after being rejected by her mom, has stepped in to help her much-smaller sibling. Eight-month-old Aluna is now playing the big sister to new arrival Neo at Chester Zoo in England, and the two have struck up a charming bond. 

Keeper Claire McPhee says, "Dik-dik mothers do not always take to their young, and unfortunately Neo and his mum didn’t quite hit it off. But happily, his not-so-big sister Aluna ­- who herself didn’t manage to bond with her mum - is drawing on her own experiences and is being a real calming influence on him. They spend lots and lots of time in each other’s company and she’s really helping with his development in his crucial early days.

“Little Neo is only 20 centimeters (8 inches) tall and a little bit shy, nervous and jumpy around other Dik-diks. But Aluna is dishing out lots of special care and attention and it’s helping him integrate into the wider family group. She’s helping him to settle in nicely and it’s lovely to see.”

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The Kirk's Dik-dik is native to Kenya, Tanzania and Namibia and is named after the sound it makes when fleeing danger. They can live for up to 10 years and reach a maximum size of about 16 inches (40 cm) tall, making them one of the smallest antelope species in the world. 

The tiny new arrival, born October 10, now weighs little more than a bag of sugar at 2.8 pounds (1.3 kg). Keepers chose the name Neo as it means ‘gift’ in Swahili. Aluna, born in February, was previously featured on ZooBorns. Aluna means 'come here' in Swahili. 

The last photo is a throwback: a younger Aluna visits with Curator of Mammals Tim Rowlands, who bottle-fed her five times a day.      

Tiny Dik-dik Antelope Makes a Big Impact at Chester Zoo


She stands just a few centimetres tall but this tiny new arrival at Chester Zoo is making a big impression. Aluna, the tiny Kirk’s Dik-dik Antelope, is not much taller than a TV remote. 

For now, she is being bottle-fed milk five times a day by the zoo’s dedicated curator of mammals after she failed to bond with her mother. She will be given a helping hand until she is old enough to tuck into a diet of buds, shoots and fruit on her own.


Photo credits: Chester Zoo

He said: “Our little one is growing stronger and stronger by the day and, all being well, it shouldn’t be too long until she‘ll be able to really hold her own. For the time being though her feed times are staggered through the day and she has her first bottle in my living room at home at around 7am. I then pop her into the car and bring her to work where she has another three feeds in my office. Finally, her last one is at 10pm back at my house.

“She’s already pretty quick on her feet and gives us quite the run around in the office. That’s why we’ve called here Aluna which means ‘come here’ in Swahili. It’s rather apt!”

Many more photos below the fold...

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What's a Dik-Dik?

The world's smallest antelope, Dik-Diks reach only 12"-16" in adulthood. On September 10th, the Phoenix Zoo welcomed a newborn Dik-Dik to first-time mother "Gidget." Weighing under 2lbs, smaller than most guinea pigs, the tiny calf has grown quickly since birth.

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Read more about new baby Dik-dik "Moon" in a first hand account from the Phoenix Zoo's Hoof Stock Keeper by clicking "Continue reading" below and follow them on Twitter here.

Continue reading "What's a Dik-Dik?" »