Hoofed Stock

Seeing Double: Two Rare Onagers Born In One Day


Keepers at the United Kingdom's Chester Zoo are celebrating the arrival of two exceptionally rare Onagers.  The foals were born within hours of each other to two different mothers on July 4 after year-long pregnancies.

Photo Credit:  Chester Zoo
The Onager is an Asiatic wild ass and was once found in abundance across the deserts of Mongolia, China, and Iran. Now, they are found in just two protected areas and over the past 16 years their numbers have declined by more than 50%.

“Onagers are the rarest equid species in the world and one of the rarest animals that we have here at the zoo, so we were absolutely delighted to have two foals arrive - one male and one female - during same night!” said Tim Rowlands, curator of mammals at Chester Zoo.

“We hope the foals themselves will one day go on to contribute to the international breeding program for the species, which is working to ensure there’s a sustainable population in zoos,”  Rowlands said.

The species is listed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature after decades of illegal poaching, overgrazing, and disease passed on from farm animals. Research suggests that only 600 Onagers remain in the wild and very few zoos in the world work with the animals due to the challenges of breeding and keeping the species.

Chester Zoo is part of an international conservation effort and is helping to save Onagers from extinction through this successful breeding program.

Reindeer Calf is Stone Zoo's First

Baby exam 2 (3)
A Reindeer calf born on April 27 is the first ever born at the Stone Zoo in Massachusetts and is already in the exhibit with mother Holly and father Cornelius.Reindeer calf

Reindeer and baby 3 (2)
Mom and baby 2
Mom and babyPhoto Credit:  Zoo New England/Dayle Sullivan Taylor
The newborn male Reindeer, which weighs 15 pounds, appeared healthy, bright and alert at his first well-baby examination. As with any new birth, the veterinary and animal management staffs are closely monitoring the mother and baby. 

“We are thrilled to share news of this exciting birth,” said John Linehan, Zoo New England President and CEO. “Holly is a protective first-time mother and she is being very attentive to her newborn calf. The baby has been standing and walking, and he is nursing well. Visitors are going to take great delight in watching this baby grow up.”

The gestation period for Reindeer is about 7 months. Pregnant Reindeer do not shed their antlers until a few days to a week after giving birth. Reindeer are the only species of cervid (member of the deer family) where both males and females have antlers.

The Reindeer is one of 36 species of deer in the world. These animals can be found in the arctic tundra, as well as in boreal forests in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. They have been domesticated in Scandinavia for thousands of years. The Reindeer has two thick coats – an outer coat and undercoat – that help it stay warm in cold temperatures. The Reindeer’s two-toed hooves help prevent slips and falls in icy conditions. Reindeer are herbivores and feed on leaves, bark, moss and lichen.

Z is for Zebu at Zoo Basel


A shy Dwarf Zebu calf born on April 14 at Switzerland’s Zoo Basel is becoming more spirited as it grows.

The male calf is the second for the mother, five-year-old Conny.  Zoo officials were especially pleased with the smooth delivery of this calf, because Conny had already delivered one calf by Cesarean section and had miscarried another calf. 


10153242_676010172436726_2468899010021385578_nPhoto Credit:  Zoo Basel

Zoo officials say the Dwarf Zebu calf was so shy that he hid behind his mother’s legs most of the time.  But curiosity has gotten the better of the calf, and he has started approaching the other cows, looking for milk. 

When the calf approaches the bull, he is immediately chased away and runs to his mother.  But during his photo session, the calf was not at all shy about checking out the photographer.

Dwarf Zebu are one of more than 700 domestic cattle breeds worldwide.  They have a large hump on their shoulders, a droopy dewlap, and large ears.  Because they are tolerant of hot, humid conditions, Zebu are widely used in tropical countries to pull heavy loads and for their milk and meat.  Zebu originated in Southeast Asia.

Two Little Reindeer Born at Prague Zoo

Nose pose

Prague's Zoo Praha has two new baby reindeer, a boy and a girl. The male was born on Friday the 13th and the female came along about three days later. They went out in the zoo's large paddock for visitors to see for the first time on April 20. The mothers can be seen with their babies following closely behind them.  The father of both is Mirda, who himself was born in Prague Zoo.

Their large, broad hooves spread apart to form a nearly circular print and help them navigate the soft ground that covers much of the tundra in which they live in the wild. They also aid in digging for food under the snow. 

Reindeer are a species of deer found in the far northern areas of arctic Europe, Asia, and North America extending onto the tundra above the tree-line. They are called Caribou in America. Domesticated for thousands of years, they were mainly used as beasts of burden and farmed for milk, meat and their hides, reindeer have been the economic basis of the Lapp culture. Today they are raised in many areas of the world outside of their native arctic.




Photo Credit: Tomáš Adamec, Zoo Praha

Meet Blossom the Blesbok Calf, Born at Belfast Zoo


The flowers at Belfast Zoological Gardens are not the only things ‘blossoming’ this spring, as keepers are celebrating the birth of Blossom, the Blesbok calf. Its father, Basel, arrived in Belfast in 2009 from Africa Alive in Suffolk and was soon joined by mother, Daphne. The pair’s relationship has since ‘blossomed’ and they welcomed their first calf on March 5. 

Blesbok are a species of antelope that are indigenous to the open grasslands of South Africa. This species was first discovered by settlers in the 17th century and their numbers were said to be so huge that they filled the horizon. However, blesbok were hunted for their skin and for meat and by the 19th century they were on the verge of extinction. Protective measures have since been put in place and the population has sufficiently increased to the point that the species has been removed from the endangered list.

Zoo Manager, Mark Challis, said, “The zoo team are all delighted to be playing an active role in the conservation of this beautiful species which has been brought back from the brink of extinction by conservation efforts.  We only became home to blesbok in 2009 and this is the first time that a blesbok has been bred in Ireland.  Let’s hope there will be many more in the future! ”

Mom follows

Photo Credcit: Belfast Zoo

Two New Animal Babies for Prague Zoo


In the Children's Zoo at Zoo Praha in Prague something special happened: two furry babies - an alpaca llama and dwarf zebu -- were born. Both are thriving under the care of their mothers.

Alpaca are related to the camel and the llama. Once nearly driven to extinction by Spanish conquerors, a small number survived high in the Andes Mountains, thanks to their adaptability. Now they populate the mountain plateaus in Chile, Bolivia and Peru. Highly pirzed for their luxurious coats, the alpaca has been a treasured blessing to the people who live near them. Their fleece grows in abundance, in 22 naturally different shades, from black to champagne color, and is easy to shear to make coats, hats, and the like. They are very low maintenance, needing little to drink or eat. They nibble at grasses and do no harm to trees and other plants. 



Dwarf Zebu like the ones below are a kind of cow and stand about 4 feet tall (1.22 meters), with a large hump on the shoulders. They have long, slender legs, and a large dewlap -- a fold of loose skin that hangs from the neck. Unlike many other horned animals, their horns point forward.

Found primarily in Sri Lanka, India, and Nepal, they have been mostly domesticated and become very helpful draft animals. Their small size allows them to survive on scarce food supplies, so they are easier to maintain than larger cattle.

Due to the gentle nature of both, these animals make perfect ambassadors for their species in the Children's Zoo, where kids can get up close as they learn about them. 

Calf and mom

Photo Credit: Tomas Adamec/Prague Zoo

Special Delivery: Sitatunga Baby at Fort Wayne Children's Zoo


When a baby sitatunga was born the morning of November 10, Fort Wayne Children's Zoo keepers kept a watchful eye on the tiny new calf and his mother, Shiloh. Hoofstock usually stand and nurse within a few hours of birth, but this calf wasn’t able to stay on his feet. “He was too weak to stand, and since he couldn’t stand, he was unable to nurse,” says African Journey Manager Amber Eagleson.

By that afternoon, keepers decided to bottle-feed the calf to help him gain strength. “We bottle-fed him every four hours,” Eagleson says. “At first, he would only take a small amount because he was so weak, but by Friday afternoon he was steadily drinking from the bottle.” 

Shiloh did her part by waiting patiently when her calf was moved to a separate stall at feeding time. When keepers returned the calf to her, she groomed him vigorously to remove all traces of human scent. By Monday, keepers saw the calf nursing for the first time.

“We’re still giving him a bottle and weigh him once a day,” Eagleson says. The calf weighed only 7.5 pounds (3.4 kg)  at birth - significantly less than the other sitatunga calves born at the zoo, but he’s catching up. “If his weight increases over the next week, we’ll drop the bottle feedings and let mom take over completely,” Eagleson says.  She adds that keepers hope to name the baby in the next few weeks.

The Fort Wayne Children's Zoo has had great success breeding these unique marsh-dwelling antelope. Five calves have been born there since 2006.


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Photo Credits: Fort Wayne Zoo