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Meet El Paso Zoo’s First Birth of New Year

10988333_10153065142952622_5379029355534954236_nThe first birth of 2015, at the El Paso Zoo, was a female Thomson's Gazelle. 


10440938_10153065142967622_2258432596192051485_nPhoto Credits: El Paso Zoo

As with all gazelle and antelope births, at the El Paso Zoo, the babies are initially left to bond with their moms for several hours, or overnight, before brief initial examinations are conducted to make sure babies are healthy and nursing. The babies are immediately placed back with mom and their herd after their exams.

The Thomson’s Gazelle is one of the best-known gazelles. Named after explorer Joseph Thomson, it is sometimes referred to as a “Tommie”.  Native to Africa’s savannas and grassland habitats, particularly the Serengeti region of Kenya and Tanzania, it has a habitat preference for short grasslands.

After mating and a five to six month gestation period, females will leave the herd to give birth to a single fawn. They generally give birth twice yearly with 1-2 fawns. In the first six hours of the fawn’s life, it moves and rests with its mother, but eventually spends more time away from the mother or hides in grasses. The mother will remain in the vicinity of the fawn and return periodically, throughout the day, to nurse the baby. Mothers, in the wild, will defend their young against jackals and baboons, but not against larger predators. Head-butting is her means of defense against the smaller predators.

At around two months of age, the young will begin to spend more time grazing with mother and less time in hiding. However, the mother will also continue to nurse her offspring, during this time period.

The Thomson’s Gazelle is classified as “Near Threatened” on the IUCN Red List. There was an estimated population decline of 60% from 1978 to 2005. Threats to the animal include: tourist impacts, habitat modification, fire management, and road development.