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3 endangered dama gazelle calves born at the Columbus Zoo

The zoo says the calves, which were born throughout January and February in the Heart of Africa region, are thriving.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is celebrating the births of three dama gazelle calves – the rarest of all gazelles – this year.

The zoo says the calves, which were born throughout January and February in the Heart of Africa region, are thriving thanks to additional support from their expert care team.

A female calf was born on Jan. 21 to first-time mother, Kix. The calf was the first birth of the year at the zoo.

The following day, the care team noted that her temperature was a bit higher than normal. As a precaution, she received a catheter and was treated with antibiotics, plasma and meloxicam.

Three days later, her labwork was normal. Kix has remained an attentive mother, the zoo said.

Credit: Grahm Jones / Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

The second was born on Jan. 31, as experienced mother Susie welcomed her female calf with sire, Zultan.

The care team noticed the calf was not nursing overnight. When they stepped in with a bottle, the calf latched quickly and began nursing from her mother in the same feeding session.

After also receiving a catheter for a couple of days, the zoo says the calf is quite playful and spunky. They add she’s taking after her mother, whose full name is Susie Cruise, because she was very active when she was a young calf and liked to run.

The third calf, a male, was born on Feb. 7 to mother, Raisin, and father, Kabili, who also sired Kix’s calf.

While the calf did not have any issues nursing, the care team observed him occasionally splaying, which could results in more serious issues later.

The team used a “hobble” system on his back legs to help provide support and stabilization while he built his strength. The zoo says the system was removed after a few days and he has since been active, strong and healthy.

Credit: Grahm Jones / Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

“Since Heart of Africa opened in 2014, we’ve welcomed 14 dama gazelle calves, and every birth is special and important to the survival of this rare species,” said Shannon Borders, curator of the Columbus Zoo’s Heart of Africa region. “While the dama can weigh up to 165 pounds and is the largest of all gazelle species, the small calves sometimes require additional care and medical attention when they’re first born. We’re proud of the dedication and expertise of our care teams, who stepped in to help ensure that the calves have what they need for their health and overall wellbeing. Already, they’re almost as fast as the adults, and guests will soon have the opportunity to learn more about the species while observing them on our savanna.”

The three calves have not yet been named and continue to bond with their mothers and one another in a behind-the-scenes area. The zoo says the calves have access to yards adjacent to their barns on nicer days.

The Heart of Africa region is currently closed for the winter months and is scheduled to reopen in the spring.

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