Lesser Kudu Calf Born at the Cincinnati Zoo

Posted January 18, 2024

Neonate staff providing supportive care for newborn 

CINCINNATI, OH (January 18, 2023) – A female lesser kudu calf was born Monday morning at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. After vets and keepers observed first-time mom Sabi’s interactions with the baby, they intervened to make sure it got vital nutrients and warmth.  

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“We didn’t see nursing or much interest from first-time mom Sabi, so we stepped in and fed the calf,” said Eric Byrd, zoological manager at the Cincinnati Zoo. “We were also able to give the baby plasma that had been collected from her mom and saved when she had a hoof procedure.  This will provide passive transfer of antibodies.” 

The goal is still to keep the baby with her mom and the herd, but a temporary nursery has been set up in the barn so the Zoo’s neonate staff can provide supportive care.   

“She’s receiving six bottle feedings a day right now and spending days with her dam and the other female, Sabi’s mom Fjorda,” said Byrd.  “The care team gets daily weights, socializes with her, and makes sure that she stays safe with the adults.”  

Sabi is two years old and came to the Cincinnati Zoo in April of 2023 from the Como Park Zoo & Conservatory with Fjorda. Dad is 10-year-old Hobbes, a male that has been at the Cincinnati Zoo since 2017.   

Lesser kudu are sexually dimorphic with the males having a grey-brown hide and horns, while females have a reddish-brown hide and no horns. They are always on the lookout for predators like lions and painted dogs. There is no fixed breeding season for lesser kudu so births occur throughout the year. Females reach sexual maturity at 15-18 months. Pregnancy lasts 7 to 8 months and usually results in the birth of a single calf.  

The herd will remain behind the scenes during the cold months.  The Zoo will post updates on mom and baby on its social channels.