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Ray-Ray the Addra Gazelle Calf Takes Dinner Seriously

Baby Addra Gazelle at Maryland Zoo

Meet Ray-Ray, the Maryland Zoo's newest Addra Gazelle calf. Born February 5, the calf is strong and healthy. Named after Ravens players Ray Lewis and Ray Rice, the calf isn't quite yet ready to play with the big boys as he weighs just 11lbs 6oz (5.3kg). The Addra Gazelle, also known as the Dama Gazelle, is the largest and tallest of all gazelles. This species is critically endangered due to drought, disease communicated by domestic livestock, and habitat destruction.

Dinner time for a little Addra Gazelle calf at Maryland Zoo1Keeper Cristina Laurie joins little Ray-Ray for dinner time. Photo and video credits: Maryland Zoo

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Ray-Ray's parents are 11-year-old Pearl and 4-year-old Makuru. As Pearl is an inexperienced mother who showed no signs of interest in her calf after his birth, the decision was made to hand-rear him.  “Because this little calf is so significant to the overall population of this endangered species, we decided that a quick intervention was necessary in order to keep him healthy,” stated Mike McClure, general curator of the Zoo.  “He is being bottle-fed six times a day, but because we don’t want him to become imprinted on humans, we will be carefully raising him so it will be easier to integrate him into our herd when he is a bit older.”

Addra gazelles live in Africa’s Sahara desert region, from Mauritania to Sudan. They move seasonally from scrub land during the dry season to desert during the wet season. Addras are also fast and can reach a running speed of approximately 45 mph. “When deciding what his name should be, Zoo staff thought of the Ravens,” stated Don Hutchinson, president and CEO of The Maryland Zoo.  “Ray Lewis epitomizes the strength of the gazelle and Ray Rice the speed.  Naming him Ray-Ray seemed a fitting tribute.”

Addra Gazelle calf in the hay at Maryland Zoo1

The calf’s birth is the result of a recommendation from the Addra Gazelle Species Survival Plan (SSP) coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). SSPs provide breeding recommendations to maximize genetic diversity, with the goal of ensuring the long-term survival of the captive population and the health of individual animals. Currently there are approximately 130 addra gazelle in AZA accredited zoos throughout the United States. Addra gazelle are critically endangered. Poaching and overhunting, for horns and meat, have driven the species nearly to extinction in the wild.

Zoo visitors will be able to see the calf along with the rest of the herd in the spring when temperatures have warmed up and the ground is no longer icy. The Maryland Zoo’s herd is made up of four animals, including Ray-Ray, and can be found in the African Watering Hole exhibit in the Africa section of the Zoo, just past the rhino, ostrich and zebra.