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After a five-year hiatus, Cheetah Conservation Station keepers at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo are celebrating a baby boom of critically endangered Dama Gazelles.

A male calf was born in an off-exhibit enclosure on August 30 to ten-year-old mother, Adara. The second calf, a female, was born during the night of September 16 to eight-year-old Fahima. A third and final calf, a male, was born September 18 to seven-year-old Zafirah. The Zoo’s three-year-old male, Edem, sired all three calves.

Edem arrived at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in July 2016 from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) following a breeding recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan (SSP). The SSP scientists determine which animals to breed by considering their genetic makeup, nutritional and social needs, temperament and overall health.


3_zafirah_and_calf_2Photo Credits: Michelle Chatterton/Smithsonian's National Zoo (Image 1: female calf (L) born to Fahima; male calf (R) born to Zafirah); Gil Myers/Smithsonian's National Zoo (Image 2: male born to Adara / Image 3: Zafirah and her male calf)

Keepers have been closely monitoring the calves, who appear to be healthy and behaving normally. For the next several weeks, the calves will remain in a quiet, off-exhibit area where they can bond with their mothers and acclimate to the habitat. They will make their public debut in mid-to-late October, weather permitting.

For now, visitors to the Zoo can see proud father, Edem, at the Cheetah Conservation Station in the morning before 10 a.m. The Zoo will provide updates on the new calves via their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages.

Native to Chad, Mali and Niger, Dama Gazelles (Nanger dama, formerly Gazella dama) are listed as “Critically Endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Less than 500 Dama Gazelles remain in the wild due to habitat loss from human and livestock expansion, hunting and drought. The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) conducts veterinary and reproductive research in order to maintain Dama Gazelle populations.