SALINA, KANSAS - Rolling Hills Zoo welcomed a new addax calf to the herd, born on July 17, 2023. This is the first offspring for mother, Felicity, and the sixth by Ajax, the calf’s father.
While still needing final confirmation, the calf is believed to be a female, and weighed 13 lbs. at birth. Along with this newest addition, Rolling Hills Zoo has had eight successful addax births.
“We are excited to watch Felicity care for her calf,” commented Brenda Gunder, RHZ Curator. “Compared to other addax mothers we have had here, Felicity ‘talks’ to her calf a great deal. These throaty vocalizations sound like short gravely ‘moos’.”
When visiting the zoo, if you don’t see the calf up and about, just take a minute and look closely at the ground. There are a few depressions there made by the adults, and the calf is likely lying flat in those or along the fence line.
While it is extremely hot on some summer days, Addax have developed a tolerance to heat and can withstand temperatures over 100° Fahrenheit. They do this by storing heat until it can be lost passively at night through a protective mechanism that keeps the brain cooler than the rest of the body.
Today, this nomadic desert-living species is the most threatened ungulate (hoof stock) in the Sahara, and quite possibly the world, listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List. Over the last hundred years addax populations have plummeted due to excessive hunting and the advent of modern weapons and desert-going vehicles. Today addax can only be found in two small populations, one in the desert of eastern Niger and the other across the border in Chad.
Rolling Hills Zoo participates in conservation breeding programs for addax as part of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP), with the primary goal of maintaining genetically diverse stable captive populations. By doing so, the AZA Addax SSP, along with Sahara Conservation and its partners, are working to reintroduce this critically endangered species to former range sites in the wild.
While yet unnamed, Rolling Hills Zoo invites guests to see the zoo’s new addax calf, another boost to the world’s addax population.
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