There are two new kids on the block at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. A Nigerian Dwarf Goat, named Hazel, gave birth to the female twins June 24 in the Kids’ Zone area of the zoo.
This is the third birth for 4-year-old Hazel, who has been at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium for only a few months. Her two 3-year-old offspring, Newman and Hanson, are among the herd of goats roaming the feeding, petting and grooming area at Kids’ Zone.
“We’re elated by the birth of these goats,” Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium Land Animal Curator Natalie Davis said. “Kids’ Zone is meant to instill children with a sense of wonderment about animals; help them gain an increased level of respect for all living things; and teach them about the need to protect and care for animals.”
The newborn goats, along with some recently acquired kids, bring a whole new meaning to the term “Kids’ Zone” at the zoo. With the birth of the twin sisters, the Contact Junction portion of the child-friendly area is now home to 17 Nigerian Dwarf Goats.
Nigerian Dwarf Goats are noted for their wide range of color patterns, which include combinations of black, brown or gold mixed with white, as well as for their easy-going temperaments.
Adult males can reach a maximum size of 19–23.5 inches (48–60 cm), and females can grow to about 17–22.5 inches (43–57 cm).
These herbivorous miniature goats (Capra aegagrus hircus) are of West African descent. They have been domesticated as dairy goats and can be found all over the world. Highly adaptable, Nigerian Dwarf Goats can live in climates ranging from cold to hot and dry.
Despite their size, Nigerian Dwarf Goats are known for expressing a high quantity of milk. Their production ranges from 1 to 8 pounds of milk per day (one quart of milk weighs roughly 2 pounds), with an average doe producing about 2.5 pounds of milk per day. Their milk has a higher butterfat content than milk from full-sized dairy goats, making Nigerian Dwarf Goat milk excellent for cheese and soap making.
The gestation period for goats is 145 days, or just under five months. Twins are quite common among goat births.
Nigerian Dwarf Goats are gentle, friendly, and can easily be trained to walk on a leash. Their size and temperament enable them to be excellent "visitor" animals for nursing homes and hospitals.
The Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium herd typifies the range of sizes among the species, with some goats on the smallish side and others a bit larger.
The goat herd fits in nicely with the Kids’ Zone mission of helping visitors – especially children – get closer to animals, learn more about them and participate in activities.
In the case of the goats, children learn to “care” for them in two ways. There’s the emotional connection of caring about another living thing, and there’s the hands-on participation of physically caring for the goats by giving them handsful of feed or grooming them with brushes.
In addition to goats, Kids’ Zone is home to mobs of meerkats, three species of lemurs, and a large assortment of other animals, including snakes, frogs, several species of tortoise, lizards, arachnids and small fish like piranha and African cichlids.
Stroll through Animal Avenue to see the meerkats, lemurs and many other animals. There’s also a large spider-web net play structure here, as well as a log to crawl through and other structures can climb and sit on.
The Kids’ Zone Magical Movement area features a playground with a dual slide and other equipment children can use to imitate the ways in which animals might sit, crawl, hop, jump, perch and twirl in the wild. There’s also a sprayground – just right for cooling off on warm summer days.