Marwell Zoo celebrates birth of tiny antelope

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Marwell Zoo has a tiny new arrival – a Kirk’s dik-dik calf.

And the little antelope is already winning guests over with big black eyes and a wiggly nose.

A spokesperson for the zoo saidL “We are thrilled to have welcomed a second tiny dik-dik calf to Marwell Zoo, a sibling for Mdalasini who was born in March this year. Mdalasini was the first Kirk’s dik-dik ever to have been born at Marwell so the arrival of a sibling and playmate is a great achievement for our team.

“We have developed their habitat over the past year to make it more suitable for the species and the new arrivals are a great reward. Our newest little arrival was born to mother, Caramel and father, Jos on Tuesday September 9th.

“The youngster and its mother were initially left to bond behind the scenes but are now enjoying their habitat with the rest of the group. These tiny antelope are native to Africa where they thrive in arid savanna habitats, riverine woodland and rocky hills.”

A Marwell Animal Keeper said: “We knew mum was expecting and she was close to her due date, but for the calf to be born out on the hardstand was a surprise to our animal team and the rest of the Kirk’s dik-dik.  It’s settled in well with the rest of the group and has been seen spending time with mum Caramel and sister Mdalasini throughout the habitat. When they are young they take themselves to sit in safe places around the habitat to rest. It’s a welcome addition to the group.”

Kirk’s dik-dik can be found in Kenya, Tanzania and Namibia and are currently listed on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List as Least Concern.

With its large eyes and ears, the species is one of the smallest in the antelope family and are named dik-dik after the alarm call “zik-zik” they make when threatened.

They are active during the day and night, alternating between resting and feeding. They typically seek shade during the hottest part of the day and can survive without drinking water at all.

Dik-diks have a particularly long nose which helps them keep cool in hot, arid habitats. It enables them to effectively recycle the water most mammals lose through their lungs when breathing.

They are known to run in a zig-zag pattern to avoid predators such as leopards, cheetahs, jackals, African Wild dogs, lions and eagles. Dik-diks are known to mark their territory with a tar like substance produced by their eyes! They also scent mark using glands in their hooves.

Did you know?

  • When fully grown, Dik-dik typically weigh around 4kg around the same as a European Hare, domestic cat or slightly less than Humboldt penguin.
  • Females can give birth twice a year as gestation is 180 days
  • When disturbed dik-dik freeze.  The male will slowly move his head to locate the danger.
  • They can run up to 26mph!
  • In the wild, females leave their calves hidden for safety and return several times during the day to feed them. They only spend one hour per 24 hours with their offspring.
  • Dik-dik eat trees and shrub leaves, stems, twigs, buds, flowers, seed pods and fruit. Acacia is a particular favourite.

Photo: Helen Pinchin

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