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ABQ BioPark Zoo welcomes diminutive ‘rock jumper’ antelope Zeelie

A keeper holds baby klipspringer Zeelie, born recently at the ABQ BioPark Zoo to mother, Raisin, and father, Pogo. (Courtesy of ABQ BioPark)

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

They may be small, but a klipspringer’s climbing ability is rock solid.

Baby female klipspringer Zeelie, born at the ABQ BioPark Zoo on Oct. 20 and weighing in at under 2 pounds, is certainly small.

Even at maturity, klipspringers are among the smaller antelope species, standing about 20 inches at the shoulders and weighing from 20 to 40 pounds, zoo manager Lynn Tupa said Tuesday.

Zeelie was standing, walking and nursing within a few hours of her birth to mother, Raisin, and father, Pogo.

“The baby was strong and healthy at her first baby exam, and mom and dad are doing a great job,” Tupa said.

Zeelie is currently being hidden away by her mother in their private enclosure and likely won’t be seen in the open display yard for a couple of weeks, and not until outdoor temperatures reach 55 or 60 degrees, Tupa said.

A notable characteristic of the klipspringer is the split down the middle of each of its hooves, giving the appearance that the animal is supported by two short and cylindrical blunt toes on each foot. It is from these tiny toe-like pegs, each no bigger than a dime, that Klipspringers can balance themselves on most surfaces, and easily bound across rocky terrain and steep cliffs.

A Dutch word, klipspringer means “rock jumper.”

In the wild, klipspringers inhabit a large range that extends from northeast Africa down to South Africa, and into coastal Angola and Namibia.

Even though these diminutive herbivores are a prey species for other animals, they are not an endangered species in the wild, Tupa said. This is due partly to their coat, which helps them blend into the landscape, their ability to run and climb to avoid predators, not having horns that are valuable on the black market, as rhino horns or elephant tusks are, and that they are widely distributed through their habitat range. The end result is a “stable population,” Tupa said.

Klipspringers live for about 15 years and form lifelong pairs. “Once a baby reaches eight months to a year, the parents chase it out, which is why we typically only have a breeding pair on display at the zoo,” she said. “We would never have a herd of klipspringers.”

The birth of Zeelie is the third for mother Raisin and is part of the Klipspringer Species Survival Plan, managed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Zeelie, Raisin and Pogo are currently the only klipspringers residing at the zoo.

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