A Species “Saved” from Extinction Is Born in BIOPARC Valencia

The third Mhorr gazelle that is born this year in the Valencian park is a great joy for the conservationist world that has literally prevented the tragic disappearance of this beautiful African antelope that is still in "critical danger" on the IUCN Red List.

BIOPARC Valencia is a true reserve of life and also of life in danger of extinction . Its active participation in more than 40 endangered species preservation programs (EEP) have, in just a few years, made it a reference center for various species and their genetic reserve. And a paradigmatic one is, without a doubt, the Mhorr gazelle ( Nanger dama mhorr ) also called Dama gazelle that became extinct in its habitat and has survived thanks to the intense efforts of conservationists and parks such as BIOPARC.

In 2014 the first females arrived at the park from Rotterdam (Holland) and in 2015 a male from Madrid to create a breeding group at BIOPARC Valencia within the International Conservation Program of this species classified as "critically endangered" by the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Numerous specimens have been born within this herd and many of them have been transferred to other parks to continue the very important challenge of definitively saving the emblematic Mhorr gazelle from extinction. This beautiful female is the third birth of this unusual year in which, in the middle of a period of confinement when the park was closed to the public, the first was born. That calf was a breath of hope for the BIOPARC team and for many people who value the importance of protecting each species to conserve the planet's biodiversity . And with this sentiment, by popular vote, that first calf was named Hope.

We can see the group in a multispecies enclosure in the savannah living with other antelopes, the addax ( Addax nasomaculatus ). Slender and with a bright coat of an intense reddish color, their white markings stand out on the face, throat and lower part of the body. Indiscriminate hunting killed them in their habitat and only the effort and vision of the future of Professor José Antonio Valverde prevented their extinction. The group of 11 gazelles that he transferred to Spain for their protection are the germ of a recovery that continues today. There is currently a population of more than 300 specimens living in various European, North American and South African zoological institutions . And the ambitious reintroduction plan continues in different projects in North Africa. This beautiful gazelle is an example of the necessary involvement of the conservation world in all areas. The cooperation for its conservation in situ and ex situ and the very important awareness of the population to motivate a change of attitude towards the protection of nature.

Eleven New Ungulate Calves at Saint Louis Zoo

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Over a 10-week period, from November 20, 2018, through January 30, 2019, eleven calves from six different ungulate species were born at the Saint Louis Zoo!

The new calves— three Speke’s Gazelles, two Addaxes, a Soemmerring’s Gazelle, a Grevy’s Zebra, two Lesser Kudus and two Lowland Nyalas — are healthy and have been bonding with their mothers behind the scenes at Red Rocks.

New zebra foal, Nova, and her mom can be seen in their habitat, weather permitting.

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3_Speke's gazelle_Bravo_Saint Louis Zoo_web

4_Addax_Anubis_Saint Louis Zoo_webPhoto Credits: Saint Louis Zoo /Speke’s Gazelle Calves (Images 1-3), Addax Calves (4-5), Soemmerring’s Gazelle (6), Grevy’s Zebra foal (7), Lesser Kudu calves (8-9), Lowland Nyala calves (10-11)

These important births were recommended by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plans (SSP), which are responsible for maintaining genetically healthy populations of these ungulate species in North American zoos.

Five of these SSPs are coordinated by Zoo staff. The Saint Louis Zoo’s WildCare Institute Center for Conservation in the Horn of Africa and Saharan Wildlife Recovery Center supports conservation of unique species in Africa.

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Endangered Addra Gazelle Receives Special Care

1_Addra calf Carina-Carla Knapp

The Indianapolis Zoo welcomed the birth of a rare Addra Gazelle on September 29, 2017.

After the birth, the female calf, named Carina, was not receiving the care she needed from her first-time mother. Keepers monitored the situation and decided the best option was to hand-rear, to ensure she would receive adequate care for her survival.

With Zookeepers attending to the calf around the clock, Carina was bottle-fed several times a day and received all the care she would have been given from her mom.

Today, Carina is an energetic, playful, and healthy young gazelle. She has been reintroduced to the rest of the Indianapolis Zoo’s herd and now spends much of her time venturing outside on warm, sunny days.

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3_Addra calf Carina CU-Carla KnappPhoto Credits: Indianapolis Zoo/Carla Knapp

The Addra Gazelle (Nanger dama ruficollis) is native to Africa, particularly the Sahara desert and the Sahel. Its habitat includes grassland, shrubland, semi-deserts, open savanna and mountain plateaus. Their diet includes grasses, leaves, shoots, and fruit.

Addra Gazelle’s are considered the largest type of gazelle. Although they tend to need more water than some of their desert relatives, they can withstand longer periods of drought. They are also a diurnal species (active during the day).

The species is currently classified as “Critically Endangered” on the IUCN Red List. It has disappeared from most of its former range due to overhunting and habitat loss.

Two Rare Gazelles Born at Columbus Zoo

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The Columbus Zoo & Aquarium welcomed not one but two rare Dama Gazelle calves in January. A male Dama Gazelle calf was born on January 14 to mom Layla and dad Zultan. Just three days later, a female calf was born to first-time mom, Susie Cruisie. Susie’s calf had difficulty nursing, so the animal care staff stepped in to provide bottle feedings. The calf is doing well and returns to the herd after each feeding.

The calves have not yet been named, and they are bonding with their mothers behind the scenes.

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Gaz 3Photo Credit: Columbus Zoo & Aquarium

The breeding of these Gazelles was recommended as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan® (SSP). The species is Critically Endangered, with fewer than 300 Dama Gazelles left in their native African range in Chad, Mali, and Niger. The biggest threats to Dama Gazelles are habitat loss due to livestock overgrazing, land development, and uncontrolled hunting. The Columbus Zoo supports the Sahara Conservation Fund (SCF), which monitors the Dama Gazelles’ population and their distribution in their native range.

Dama Gazelles are the largest of all Gazelles, with adults weighing up to 165 pounds. Both males and females have S-shaped horns. Calves are born after a gestation period of about six months, and can run as fast as adults by the time they are one week old.


Gazelle Extinct in the Wild Is Born in Valencia

BIOPARC Valencia - Gacela Mhorr recién nacida - 9 de noviembre 2017 (2)
A Mhorr Gazelle, which is extinct in the wild, was born while amazed visitors watched at Spain’s Bioparc Valencia on November 9.

The newborn immediately tried to stand while its attentive mother hovered close by. It was eventually successful and nursed from mom shortly after.

BIOPARC Valencia - Gacela Mhorr recién nacida - 9 de noviembre 2017 (2)
BIOPARC Valencia - Gacela Mhorr recién nacida - 9 de noviembre 2017 (2)
BIOPARC Valencia - Gacela Mhorr recién nacida - 9 de noviembre 2017 (2)Photo Credit: Bioparc Valencia

Mhorr Gazelles, once found in western regions of Africa’s Sahel and the Sahara Desert, became extinct in the wild in 1968. Since then, European, African, and Middle Eastern zoos have developed breeding programs for Mhorr Gazelles. Some individuals have been reintroduced to their former native range as part of an effort to reestablish the wild population.

Mhorr Gazelles (Nanger dama mhorr) are one of three subspecies of Dama Gazelles. The other two are Addra Gazelles (N. d. ruficollis) which live in the eastern Sahel and Sahara, and the nominate subspecies, Dama Gazelles (N. d. dama), which lives in the central region between the other two subspecies.

Scientists continue to debate whether each are separate subspecies based on genetic sampling.

These Gazelles are well-adapted to arid habitats, requiring little water and feeding on grasses, acacia leaves, and fruits.

With all three subspecies, small, fragmented populations in the wild are a concern for the future of these Gazelles. There are only five remnant populations remaining in the wild, and some number fewer than 100 individuals. All Dama Gazelles are listed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. Zoos and other breeding programs are the only hope for the survival of these elegant and graceful Gazelles.




Zoo Welcomes Baby Boom of Endangered Gazelles


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.

Endangered Dama Gazelles Arrive with the Spring

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The entrance of spring has brought the births of many animals at BIOPARC Valencia, and among them is the Dama Gazelle.

In 2014, three females and a young male arrived at BIOPARC Valencia with the aim of creating a breeding group. The park recently welcomed the birth of two calves and expects the arrival of a third calf any day now. This was the "premiere" of the park’s male as a father, and the new calves offer hope for the survival of this beautiful species.

2_Crías de gacela Mhorr en la Sabana africana de BIOPARC Valencia - marzo 2017 (3)

3_Crías de gacela Mhorr en la Sabana africana de BIOPARC Valencia - marzo 2017 (2)Photo Credits: BIOPARC Valencia

The Dama Gazelle (Nanger dama), also known as the Addra Gazelle or Mhorr Gazelle, is a species native to Africa in the Sahara desert and the Sahel.

This Gazelle has been classified as “Critically Endangered” on the IUCN Red List. It has disappeared from most of its former range due to overhunting and habitat loss, and natural populations only remain in Chad, Mali, and Niger. Its habitat includes grassland, shrubland, semi-deserts, open savanna and mountain plateaus. Their diets includes grasses, leaves (especially Acacia leaves), shoots, and fruit.

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. 

Lazarus the Gazelle Makes a Comeback


A newborn Thomson’s Gazelle, abandoned by its mother, was taken home by a senior keeper at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo and nursed back to health.



10484549_974761079206629_7268796461622791201_oPhoto Credits: ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

‘Larry’, who was born October 9th, is one of only four Thomson’s Gazelles in the UK, all of which live at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo.

After the little gazelle, Larry, was born, keepers noticed that his first-time mother was not returning to feed him, and they grew concerned for his survival. Senior staff-members at the zoo were forced to make the difficult decision to step in and hand-rear Larry, requiring Team Leader, Mark Holden, to bottle-feed the calf with goat milk five times a day and at regular intervals during the night.

Mark said, “It’s always a last resort to separate a calf from the group, but little Larry was getting very weak and needed our help. As soon as we got some milk into him he started to improve. We named him ‘Lazarus’---Larry for short---because for a moment there, we really didn’t think he was going to pull through.”

“We put a sky kennel in our lounge for him and he quickly settled into a routine. When he’d had his milk and a little walk-about, he’d just take himself back off to bed. It was a little tricky having Larry in the house. We had to keep an eye on him after each feed and get ready with a towel in case he started to urinate.”

Mark continued, “After two weeks, Larry was healthy enough to go back to ZSL Whipsnade Zoo and be reunited with the group, although he’s still getting a lot of extra care. He’s doing really well now, growing nicely and putting on weight. He has started to eat some solids like grass and hay, and he can be properly weaned in a few months.”

Mhorr Gazelle Learns to Trust Its Legs in Hungary

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Budapest Zoo & Botanical Garden recently welcomed its newest resident, a newborn Mhorr Gazelle. The newcomer, a male, was born to Evita, a thirteen-year-old female who is an experienced mother. The baby has been named Ebo. Ebo is receiving a special milk formula every two and a half hours, as this has been shown to be an effective way to make sure young Gazelle receive proper nutrition.

The Mhorr Gazelle is a subspecies of Dama Gazelle, which is native to Northwest Africa. It is one of the most endangered ungulates in the world as there are none left living in their native habitat. As a result, the Budapest Zoo has been participating in a breeding program for the gazelle to help conserve this vanishing species since 2008. This birth, along with the many others that have come as a part of this successful breeding program, can be considered a huge success for their conservation.

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Photo credits: Kis Tiygriss

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