Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Kudos for NC Zoo Kudus

The North Carolina Zoo recently announced the birth of a new kudu calf in their African Plains exhibit. Here's the little girl getting one of her first vet checks. A little known fact about me: I am a huge fan of kudus. I worked with them for many years both at the Dallas Zoo and the African Plains exhibit at the NC Zoo where this gal was born. She's quite an armload for a baby. This photo reminded me of what fantastic little hiders they are and how many hours we would spend searching the exhibit to find them for exams. Being excellent at hiding is how they stay safe from predators in the wild. Mom helps them locate a spot to lie down, and they immediately curl up and blend right into their surroundings, often staying still and silent as the trees for hours on end.   

The NC Zoo plains exhibit is spectacular, if you haven't seen it, I highly recommend a visit. You will think you've stepped right out onto the African Plains, for real. They house a number of African antelope and rhinos on about a hundred acres of rolling hills and grasslands right next door to their African elephant exhibits. The exhibit has several thickets of trees, a pond and a lake. 

It isn't easy to find babies in all that tall grass. We would sit hidden for hours with our binoculars trained on the mother antelope until she would magically call the baby out of hiding. In actuality, their calls are infrasonic, too low frequency to be heard by most predatory species, including humans. But it seems as if they make some magical silent agreement and then mother and baby move in tandem to meet for nursing. That's when we'd follow them to get a better idea of where to locate the calf for its exam. Of course, we didn't dare touch the calf until the herd moved away from it again. They don't take kindly to babies being messed with. One oryx mother beat the crap out of the truck because we had her baby in the back for a medical check up.

Soon, this little kudu girl will grow. And grow. And grow, into one of the largest and most lovely of all the African antelope species. Though they can be fairly docile most of the time, they will take you out if they feel cornered or threatened. A little known fact about kudus: they will do pretty much anything for a grape. I helped train the NC Zoo's kudu herd to voluntarily come into smaller, enclosed holding areas from the exhibit using nothing more than a clicker and a bunch of grapes. 

Anyway, kudos for Mr. Kudu, his baby mama, and his keepers on their latest kudu calf. 
All photos appear courtesy of the NC Zoo.


Andi Lea said...

That baby is too adorable. I had to make out loud 'awww' sounds.

Zooleft said...

You always seem to read the post before I even get done editing it. LOL! She is very cute! :D