Visitors to Spain’s BIOPARC Valencia on September 20 got a big surprise when a Blesbok gave birth to a calf in its zoo habitat.
Zoo guests watched the entire natural birthing process as the female Blesbok paced during her labor, then lay down to deliver the calf.
The little calf was alert from the moment it was delivered and positioned itself perfectly so mom could clean it off. After a few unsuccessful attempts, the calf finally stood on wobbly legs. The whole process was over in just a few minutes.
Because the delivery went smoothly, zoo staff members saw no need to intervene or assist with the birth.
In nature, these antelope live on South Africa’s grassy plains. A prolonged labor and delivery could leave the mother open to predation by lions or hyenas. The same is true for a newborn Blesbok calf – it must be able to walk and follow its mother within a few minutes of birth or be targeted by a predator.
Blesbok nearly became extinct about 150 years ago due to overhunting. New hunting regulations allowed Blesbok numbers to increase, and the species is no longer threatened with extinction.