Johannesburg Zoo’s New Borns: July-August 2010

Johannesburg Zoo is buzzing with baby animals. In the last two months, the zoo has had twenty one new-borns, taking the number of animal babies to seventy one in 2010. Babies born in the last two months include: Cape Buffalo, Sitatunga (2), Porcupine, Blue Duiker, Nyala (3), Bapedi Sheep (2), Marabou Stork (2), Spotted Deer, Bush Buck (3), pygmy goat, Scimitar Horned Oryx and Barbary sheep. The first eight months of the year have been a busy breeding season, which indicates that animals are well cared for. Below, please find additional information on the above mentioned babies.

Cape Buffalo
A healthy male calf was born on the 4th of July 2010. It was born in the night, and found by keepers when they called in for duty in the morning. At the zoo buffaloes normally give birth outside their night rooms.

Buffalo calves are a split image of adults just tiny in size. The new calf weighs fifty kilograms and lives on mother’s milk. It will continue as such until the age of three months, when it will be introduced to lucerne, boskos and teff, a diet used by the rest of the herd. Both keeper (Richard Shirinda) and the buffalo herd are delighted with the birth, even though; there are already signs of rivalry with the young sibling, Julius, which was born last year. It has been spotted trying to prevent the young one from getting milk from its mother. Richard has since separated the cow and its new born from the rest of the herd to protect the young one. Buffalos give birth after 11 months and calves become independent at the age of one year and six months.

Buffalos, similar to the rest of the Big Five, are threatened by poaching and as a result its population is declining

Another notable birth was that of three male Sitatunga calves, which were born on the 14th of August 2010. The zoo has not had a Sitatunga birth in the last six months. A Sitatunga birth is not only significant to the zoo but to the greater conservation fraternity. This is because they are endangered, with very few left in the wild. The zoo has a sizeable herd of twenty two.

A Sitatunga calf has impressive survival skills, similar, to other buck, the calf can stand and even start running immediately after birth. Both parents are however protective of the young in the wild. The cow will hide its new born in the reeds and graze away from the location so that predators do not spot the baby. The zoo’s calves weigh about three kilograms each and look similar to their mothers with a reddish colour. However, the colour is expected to change to grayish which is the male colour and it will also grow horns when it is older. The calves feed on mother’s milk and will continue to do so until it is three months.

Sitatungas are semi-aquatic and need to spend a fair amount of time in the water, otherwise their hoofs crack. That is why they like to spend time swimming. To provide for this, the zoo, has not only built a dam in their enclosure but also keeps the rest of the enclosure wet and also provided a feeding bin, which has a through filled with oil. The oil helps with lubricating Sitatunga hoofs, so everytime they feed, they also lubricate their hoofs.

Scimitar horned Oryx
On the 10th of August 2010, a female Scimitar Horned Oryx was born at the zoo, bringing the number of the herd to thirteen. The newborn was born healthy, but typical of the species, the new born needed close attention from it mother for five days, as it was rests a lot in this time.. The new born feeds on milk until it is four months and it expected to switch to lucerne and pellets- the food fed to adults shortly thereafter. Scimitar Horned Oryx are semi dessert animals and they can use their horns to dig for water.

All of the above are already on view and visitors should be able to spot them whilst visiting the zoo. An enclosure that has a baby is identified with a stuck-on triangular baby flag.

You are invited to do a story and take photographs on the animal babies. Should you be interested, please make arrangements with Lillian Manyaka on 011 646 2000 ext 260

Prepared by Lillian Manyaka and issued by Letta Madlala, Brand & Communications Manager on behalf of the Johannesburg Zoo. END.

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