Just one month after welcoming a male dama gazelle calf, Cheetah Conservation Station keepers at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo once again welcomed a new member to the herd. A female calf was born in an off-exhibit enclosure the morning of Oct. 9 to 9-year-old mother Fahima and 4-year-old father Edem.
Keepers continue to closely monitor the calf, which has been observed nursing regularly, exploring her environment and behaving normally. She is also steadily gaining weight, growing from 11 pounds at 1 day old to 13 pounds at 6 days old. Animal care staff are allowing the calf to bond with her mom, as well as her 1-month-old half-brother; 1-year-old sister, Asha; 8-year-old aunt, Zafirah; and her 11-year-old grandmother, Adara, in an off-exhibit enclosure. She will make her public debut by mid-to-late November, weather permitting. This is the third calf for Fahima and the fifth for Edem.
Edem arrived in July 2016 from the Zoo’s Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) in Front Royal, Virginia, 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. Edem returned to SCBI in summer 2018 to rejoin its breeding program.
While the dama gazelles are bonding behind the scenes, visitors can see two other species that share their mixed-species exhibit at the Cheetah Conservation Station: Ruppell’s griffon vultures and scimitar-horned oryx. The Zoo will provide updates on the calf on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Native to Chad, Mali and Niger, dama gazelles 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. SCBI conducts veterinary and reproductive research in order to maintain dama gazelle populations.
# # #
Photo Credit: Gil Myers, Smithsonian’s National Zoo
Caption 1: Dama gazelle Fahima and her female calf, born Oct. 9.
Caption 2: Two dama gazelle calves, a female (left) and male (right), were born at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo Oct. 9 and Sept. 7, 2018, respectively.