The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore recently welcomed a Sitatunga calf to its growing herd. The female calf was born on June 4 to first-time parents, Jess and Jabari.
“She is a healthy eight-pound calf,” stated Erin Cantwell, mammal collection and conservation manager at the Zoo. “This is Jess’ first baby, and she is a very attentive mom. The calf is tiny, but she’s doing quite well.”
The Sitatunga (Tragelaphus spekii) is a species of antelope native to Central Africa. They live in swamps, marshes and flood plains. Outside of protected areas, Sitatunga are vulnerable to over-hunting and habitat loss, as people drain and develop swampland. Currently, Sitatunga are not classified as threatened or endangered.
The Maryland Zoo’s Sitatunga herd is made up of 12 animals, including the new calf, and can be found in two exhibit spaces along the boardwalk in the African Journey section of the Zoo.
“Right now, Jess and her calf are bonding behind-the-scenes," said Cantwell. “Based on their health and the weather, we anticipate it will be a couple of weeks before they will be in the Sitatunga Yard making their public debut.”
The calf’s birth was the result of a recommendation from the Sitatunga Species Survival Plan (SSP) coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). SSPs provide breeding recommendations to maximize genetic diversity, with the goal of ensuring health of the individual animal, as well as the long-term survival of the species population to help save animals from extinction.