A rare antelope has been born at the Brookfield Zoo. This newest member of the the addax, or white antelope, species is being heralded as a significant birth, given their endagered status.
The male addax antelope calf was born to a four-year-old antelope named Sara on June 7. His father is 11-year-old Winston. The pair were put together as a breeding couple as a part of the Addax Species Survival Plan (SSP), coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Weighing in at 19 pounds, the baby antelope was born while visitors at the zoo watched.
There are only about 300 addax antelopes left in the wild worldwide, most of whom live in the African country of Niger, with scattered numbers in Mauritania, Chad, and possibly Mali. In addition, around 200 of the species are currently living in captivity.
Brookfield Zoo has been home to addax antelopes since 1935. During that time, 141 calves of the species have been born there, but with only 500 members of the species remaining, every new member of the species born gives the addax a better chance to avoid extinction. This species was once prevalent in Africa.
Addax antelopes are the most best-evolved of all antelopes for desesrt living, having wide hooves and a body design featuring a low center of gravity that allows them to walk across sand more easily. They go almost all their lives without drinking water, getting all the moisture they need from food and dew. Body fat within the animals is adept at storing water, providing a long-term solution for moisture. The distinctive horns can grow to be up to three feet long, and spiral up to three times in older animals. Calves are born with horn buds that begin to grow into horns in their first few weeks of life.
After birth, the new baby addax started playing in his pen and grazing. In addition to mother and son, the three other white antelopes at the zoo are 15-year-old Mona, 13-year old Martha, and Mali, who is five.
The Brookfield Zoo, operated by the Chicago Zoological Society, made a video available on YouTube, showing the young calve in its first hours and days of life. The group is looking to reintroduce addax born in captivity into fenced-in reserves in Tunisia.
Three more addax antelopes, along with a trio of dolphins, at the zoo are currently pregnant. All three of the white antelopes expected to be born this summer are females.