POSTED: Monday, November 4, 2013 - 12:00pm
UPDATED: Monday, November 4, 2013 - 12:04pm
BATON ROUGE, LA — BREC’s Baton Rouge Zoo is excited to announce the arrival of a new male Nile lechwe. Born at the Baton Rouge Zoo in the early morning hours of November 2, the baby is now on exhibit with its mother and doing well.
Native to the floodplains of the Nile River Valley in Sudan and Ethiopia, the Nile lechwe is currently listed as Endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Red List. It is estimated that their population in the wild has declined by more than 50 percent over recent years due to hunting and increased competition for food as cattle farming increases.
“We’ve been extremely pleased with the success we’ve found in breeding our Nile lechwe as part of the greater Species Survival Plan (SSP),” said Sam Winslow, General Curator. “The SSP is a program through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums that we participate in, as well as all accredited zoos across the country. The goal of the SSP is to maintain a healthy population among endangered animals that is both genetically diverse and demographically stable, and that’s exactly what we’ve been able to do with our Nile lechwes.”
At birth, the lechwe weighs about 13 or 14 pounds, and will stay hidden in the brush for two to three weeks before joining the herd. A special feature for this antelope is its longer hooves. Unlike most antelope, these hooves are great for walking and running in wet, swampy environments, a helpful adaptation for their habitat that experiences regular flooding. The Nile lechwe is also a capable swimmer when faced with deeper water.