The Los Angeles Zoo is excited to announce several Spring additions to the Zoo’s animal community now in the nursery, and in habitats around the Zoo.
One of the most notable was the birth of six extremely endangered Peninsular pronghorn fawns, three males and three females, born between February 27 and March 25 from three different mothers.
The arrival of these fawns is a great leap for the Zoo’s conservation efforts of this critically endangered species native to Baja California Sur, Mexico. Once numbering in the thousands, today there are less than 25 Peninsular pronghorn surviving in the wild due to hunting, habitat destruction, and cattle ranching. There are currently between 200 to 300 in human care in Zoos throughout North America.
Since 2002, the Los Angeles Zoo has participated in the Peninsular Pronghorn Recovery Project in the Vizcaino Desert Biosphere Reserve of Baja California Sur, Mexico and in 2007 established a breeding herd at the Zoo as a part of a Species Survival Plan for Peninsular pronghorn.
“With this species’ numbers rapidly dwindling, we felt the need to have a back-up population in the United States in case a disease outbreak affected the population in Mexico,” said Josh Sisk, Curator of Mammals at the Los Angeles Zoo.
“It is our hope to successfully return and release pronghorn back into the wild someday, but for now we are focusing on raising the numbers. The births of these six pronghorn fawns is definitely a positive step in the right direction.”
This unique species of pronghorn, once on the brink of extinction, is the world’s fastest living hoofed mammal with speeds reaching nearly 60 miles per hour. The fawns are usually up and walking within an hour of being born and running after a few days. The sandy-colored antelopes have the same size eyes as an African elephant, proportionally quite large, and can see for miles.
Guests can also observe two Nubian ibex, both female, born on April 10.
The Nubian ibex is a relatively small, mountain-dwelling goat that can be found in portions of Algeria, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Yemen, Lebanon and Sudan. The species inhabits rugged desert and precipitous cliffs with altitudes of up to 8,500 feet. Their uniquely shaped ankle bone and suction-like hooves allow this graceful ibex to climb rocky cliffs with ease.
There are now a total of seven Nubian ibex in the herd, including the two female kids.
Born one day later on April 11, the Zoo welcomed a critically endangered, male Eastern bongo baby just months after the birth of a female calf in January. The large antelope, native to Kenya, became another breeding priority at the LA Zoo after numbers began dwindling to less than 100individuals in the wild due to poaching and logging.
The bongo is rather mobile right after birth, often seen walking within the hour and nursing within the first 24 hours. The antelope species has a chestnut-red coat with 10-14 vertical stripes, a coloration that is effective camouflage for the bongo’s forest habitat in the wild.
Perhaps the most distinct physical characteristic that sets the bongo herd apart from other hoofstock in the Zoo’s collection are their large ears. Unlike many antelope that live on open plains, the bongo relies on hearing more than eyesight given the obstructions of the thick forest in which they reside in the wild.
There are now a total of six Eastern bongo in the herd, including the new male.
Another wonderful addition was the birth of a male Sichuan takin born on April 12.
This stocky goat-antelope is native to China’s remote mountain forests and has short legs, large hooves, and a well-developed spur that makes them sure-footed on steep terrain and rocky cliffs. Although they are considered national treasures in China, takin continue to be threatened by overhunting, habitat loss, and fragmentation.
There are now a total of five takin in the herd including the new kids.
All of the Zoo’s new hoofstock babies can now be observed in their habitats with the rest of their herds daily, weather permitting.