The National Zoo euthanized the 15-year-old Speke’s gazelle named Bati today after animal care staff determined his health had declined significantly due to his advanced age. Per standard procedure, a necropsy will be performed.
He was the oldest documented Speke’s gazelle living in a zoo and the only Speke’s gazelle living at the National Zoo. He was born at the St. Louis Zoo May 6, 1995, and came to the National Zoo in 1996.
Bati fathered six calves. His only living offspring is a 12 ½-year-old male named Makale at Florida’s Jacksonville Zoo. Makale is the second-oldest living Speke’s gazelle at a zoo in the United States and the fourth-oldest at any zoo in the world.
Speke’s gazelles were named after John Hanning Speke, a British explorer who discovered East Africa’s Lake Victoria as the source of the Nile, and following his death many East African animals were named after him. Speke’s gazelles are among the smallest gazelles and have an expected life span of 12 years. They have S-shaped horns, and the males’ horns are larger and broader than the females’. When scared or threatened, the skin inflates on the top of their muzzles, intensifying their already loud snorts used to warn each other of danger. Speke’s gazelles live in the dry, open plains of Ethiopia and Somalia.
Their population has declined due to hunting and poaching in Africa, as well as over-grazing by domestic animals. Speke’s gazelles are listed as endangered on the World Conservation Union’s (IUCN’s) Red List of Threatened Species.