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Baby Blackbuck Kicks Up Her Heels

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It's as if she's saying, "I'm here World!" And that is very good news, as this animal is severely threatened.

Last month, in the Kaziranga Forest Trail at the Dublin Zoo, blackbuck parents Honey and Basil welcomed this lively little female - their first offspring. She's also the first ever blackbuck newborn at the Zoo. Team leader Ciaran McMahon said, “We are thrilled with the arrival of our first blackbuck calf. We hope to grow the herd to approximately seven or eight, and the new calf is a great start. The youngster is fit and nimble but still quite shy; however she can be seen bouncing around the elephant habitat between 1:30 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. every day.”

Contrary to what their name suggests, the coloring of female calves like this one is a light tan shade. In adulthood, male bucks have striking black and white fur, and two long, twisted horns (they can be as long as 31 inches, or 46 cm), while females are fawn colored and without horns.

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The blackbuck is a species of the antelope and one of the fastest terrestrial animals in the world, reaching speeds of up to 50 miles per hour (80 km/hr). In India, their country of origin, blackbucks live side by side with elephants and at the Dublin Zo, blackbucks also co-habit with their herd of Asian elephants.

Often called the Indian antelope, due to their native range being in Indian subcontinent (which includes Pakistan and Nepal), dramatically decreased, as it was the most hunted animal in the country. Though now Indian laws prohib it hunting the blackbuck to protect this endangered species, there are still incidents of poaching, because it's flesh and skin get quite a high price in the markets. In addition, man continues to encroach upon its habitat, mostly turning it into grazing areas for cattle -- and those cattle also have spread bovine diseases to the blackbuck. In 2008 the population estimate in the wild was estimated to be a startlingly low 184 antelope.