The slender-horned gazelle herd at the Living Desert has grown in the past week. Not one, but two healthy male fawns were born in September 2011, increasing the herd to eight; four males and four females. Both boys (one weighing 3.4 lbs. and the other weighing 4 lbs.) haven't been given names yet-it takes about a month to do that, say zoo officials. Pictured on this post are the two new gazelles.
The slender-horned gazelle is an endangered animal that used to thrive in the desert, always on the move with a small herd. It is preyed upon by lions and jackals and in recent decades, its numbers have diminished. It displays the nervous vigilance typical of a prey animal, signaling alarm with a snort or flick of the tail, warning the herd to flee.
As a ruminant, the gazelle swallows its food un-chewed, which allows it to consume large quantities of hard-to-digest plant material at one feeding, then to rest in a safe place to chew its cud. It can go long periods without water, getting most of its water from the vegetation consumed.
At full growth this gazelle with large, dark eyes and long ears only stands 28″ inches tall. It is known for its pale sandy color above with white below to blend with the desert sands. It has a very faint flank stripe and splayed hooves which increase foot surface for walking through deep and extensive stretches of sand. The 15″ inch-long horns are ringed and only slightly curved.
Mating occurs in fall with a 5-month gestation. Babies can walk within minutes. The mother hides them in the shrubbery, snorting at them when she is ready to nurse.
Visit: The Living Desert features desert mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians seen in North America and Africa. It is located at 47900 Portola Ave., Palm Desert/Indian Wells, CA. Open every day Oct. 1 - May 31, admission is around $15 for adult. A shuttle fee into the facility is an additional $6. See the website for hours and details on visiting: livingdesert.org.