DENVER (CBS4)– Denver Zoo is celebrating their first ever gerenuk to be born at the zoo.
The female calf was born March 6 to mother Layla and father Woody. Gerenuks are known to be shy and are experts at hiding. Visitors to the zoo may be able to catch a glimpse of Blossom in her yard now.
Blossom has just begun venturing out into her yard and enjoys being outside. She also likes to spend time in a cubby hole between some rocks.
Blossom is Layla’s first calf and she is proving to be a very attentive mother, frequently making sure to clean and check on Blossom.
Layla was born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Bay Lake, Florida in Oct. 2008 and arrived at Denver Zoo with her mother, Sushaunna, from there in July 2012.
Woody was born at the Los Angeles Zoo in March 2006 and came to Denver Zoo in May 2007.
Layla and Woody were paired under recommendation of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan which ensures healthy populations and genetic diversity among zoo animals.
The word “gerenuk” means “giraffe-necked” in the Somali language. The small antelope species weighs between 60 and 100 pounds and can stand about three and a half feet tall at the shoulder, but have long, thin necks as well. Gerenuks also have specially designed hips and pelvises which give them the unique ability to stand up completely vertical on their hind legs. This nearly doubles their height as they browse for hard to reach leaves and twigs in trees.
Gerenuks inhabit the bushland, thickets, semi-arid and arid thornbush of eastern Africa. With an estimated wild population of about than 95,000 individuals they are classified as near threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to habitat loss and fragmentation.