A rare African antelope cub was born in Moscow zoo
On March 23, a pair of Kirk's dik-dik, miniature antelopes native to Africa, had a cub. Now he is less than two weeks old, most of the time he spends beside his mother, however, begins to explore the world with curiosity.
A pair of dik-dik, which became parents, appeared in Moscow zoo relatively recently: the male was brought from Dresden in 2015 from Dresden and the female in 2016 from Hanover. During this time, the animals have brought offspring five times. One of the first cubs born in this pair went to Kazan zoo, the rest will also move to the leading domestic and European zoos in the future.
Kirk's dik-diks are one of the smallest antelopes: adult specimens reach about 30–40 cm in height and 55–70 cm in length, and their weight rarely exceeds 5–6 kg. The graceful body of these ungulates is covered with short sand-gray hair, the muzzle has a characteristic yellow-brown color, and the belly and inner side of the hind limbs are white. A distinctive feature of these antelopes are quite big eyes with expressive eyelashes, large ears and small but very sharp horns. In nature, the dik-diks can be found in the savannas and semi-deserts of Central and East Africa - from Namibia to Somalia.
"Kirk’s dik-diks are listed in the International Red book, and the European studbook is also kept for this species, in which Moscow Zoo takes part as well.
Our specialists managed to create optimal conditions for the maintenance and reproduction of these amazing ungulates that is why they regularly have healthy offspring. Dik-diks are extremely fearful; any noise can cause a lot of stress, which will affect the animal’s health. In the "Ungulates of Africa" pavilion, where these antelopes are kept, there have been created the conditions close to natural: animals have enough space, as well as some shelters – a kind of tents from branches where they can hide at any time to rest from visitors’ attention or just have a sleep. In the summer, when stable good and clear weather comes, dik-diks spend most of the day in the outdoor enclosure. We hope that already in June our guests will be able to see the whole happy dik-dik family together with the newly born cub on the street," – Moscow zoo CEO Svetlana Akulova said.
Now the cub weighs about 500 grams, immediately after birth, he first stood on his feet up in front of his relatives. The zoo staff managed to establish that it is a male. The first two months of life, he will eat mother's milk, and then gradually switch to adult food - grass and leaves. By the way, the dik-diks eat a lot, but drink, on the contrary, very rarely, because they have enough moisture contained in the food.
In the wild, these miniature ungulates spend most of their time in the bushes and thickets, where they hide from cheetahs, leopards and jackals, for whom the dik-diks are a desirable prey. They got their unusual name because of one curious feature: if animals are alarmed or feel danger, they hide in the thickets, making characteristic sounds resembling “dick-dick”.
Captive dik-diks are much quieter than their relatives who live in nature, so they can be easily observed. However, the visitors should not forget that it is not worth making any noise near their enclosures at all - only in this case they will be able to see many interesting manifestations of the life of these graceful animals.