ABILENE, Texas (PRESS RELEASE) – It was a normal morning at the Abilene Zoo when staff were surprised to discover a newborn Blue Duiker calf hidden within the off-exhibit holding stall. Weighing in at 600 grams, the female baby was in excellent condition and the mother was protecting and nurturing her calf.
“As one of the smallest species of African antelope, it’s challenging to identify when Blue Duiker are expecting,” said Denise Ibarra, General Curator, “ They gain very little weight and due to their reclusive nature it’s difficult to identify behavioral changes which may indicate a pregnancy.”
For the first time, zoo guests will have the opportunity to see the Blue Duiker calf and her mom when they are placed on exhibit in Giraffe Safari on Friday, August 24th.
“We’ve prepared the exhibit with piles of bramble creating hiding spaces for the new calf to feel safe and secure” said Ryan King, Animal Care Supervisor, “The mom will most likely find a place to hide her calf within the bramble, making it a challenge for zoo visitors to find the baby.”
Zoo staff expect the baby to venture out from hiding as she becomes more comfortable in the exhibit.
Blue Duiker are part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan (SSP). Female duikers are scarce within the captive population and this birth is a wonderful addition to the SSP program. The SSP program strives to maintain genetic diversity in captive breeding populations and provides educational awareness to prevent the extinction of species. The Abilene Zoo is a proud participant in over 50 SSP programs.
Blue Duiker adults stand at about 14 inches tall and weigh in around 8 lbs. They are found throughout Central and Southern Africa and dwell in a variety of forested areas including rainforests. Male duikers have a pair of grooved horns that about 5 cm in height. Their hair is typically brown with a blue tint and they feature scent glands resting on either side of the nose.