(Story courtesy of Lee Richardson Zoo)
GARDEN CITY, Kan. — Lee Richardson Zoo is proud to announce the arrival of two addax calves as our first babies born in 2019. The first addax calf, a healthy 15 lb. male, was born in the early morning on Saturday, January 26, and the second calf, a healthy 16-pound male was born on the afternoon of Wednesday, January 30. The healthy fifteen-pound baby was the first offspring born to Penelope, who was born at Lee Richardson Zoo on 5 January 2015 to Juno who was a first-time mom. The healthy sixteen-pound baby was the second calf born to mom Juno since her arrival at Lee Richardson Zoo. So, Juno, who came to us from Rolling Hills Zoo in Salina, KS, became a mom and a grandmother in the same week. The proud father of both addax calves is Dobby, who came to us from The Louisville Zoo in Louisville, Kentucky.
Both calves were born on a breeding recommendation from the Addax Species Survival Plan (SSP). SSP’s are committees of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums which coordinate captive breeding efforts of rare, endangered, and critically endangered species among accredited zoos, where captive populations serve as a hedge against extinction. These cooperative programs involve zoos with the goal of maintaining healthy, genetically diverse captive populations.
Both babies were born in the barn and had remained in the barn or holding area with their mothers since then due to inclement weather. Over the next few weeks, with warmer temperatures, the calves and mothers will be outside in their African Plains exhibit during the day.
The calves are a welcome addition as it provides hope for the critically endangered wild addax population. Fewer than 300 are thought to remain in the wild. Thirteen captive-bred addaxes were released in Tunisia in 2007 to re-establish the species in its native habitat.
The addax is a large antelope, native to the Sahara Desert and well adapted to the harsh desert climate. They survive on the sparse vegetation that appears after meager rains and can go for weeks to months without actually drinking water. Their body temperature can increase several degrees during the heat of the day, and cool at night to delay sweating and reduce water loss. Broad hooves support their stocky body while walking on soft sand. Poaching, severe droughts, and habitat loss are the main threats to the addax.