‘Playful and spunky;’ Columbus Zoo celebrates birth of 3 endangered dama gazelle calves

COLUMBUS — The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is celebrating the birth of three dama gazelle calves— the rarest of all gazelles.

The zoo says the calves were born throughout January and February in the Heart of Africa region and are thriving thanks to additional support provided by the zoo’s 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 next day, the care team noted during a wellness exam that her temperature was a bit higher than normal. As a precaution, she received a catheter and was treated with antibiotics, plasma and meloxicam.

After three days, her lab work was normal. Kix has remained an attentive mother throughout the process, the zoo said.

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On Jan. 31, experienced mother, Susie, welcomed her female calf with sire, Zultan, the zoo said.

The zoo says the care team became concerned when the calf was not observed 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.”

The third calf, a male, was born 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 zoo said. The team used a “hobble” system on his back legs to help provide support and stabilization while he built his strength.

After a few days, the system was removed, and the zoo says he has since been active, strong, and healthy.

“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.

For more information, you can visit the zoo’s website.

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