Cincinnati, OH (July 16, 2015)— Blakely, the Cincinnati Zoo’s resident nursery dog and part-time nanny, has been called into action to do what he does best, snuggle and play. His new companion is 3-week-old baby takin “Dale,” who was brought to the Zoo’s nursery to be hand-reared after his mother, “Sally,” ignored him. Sally, born at the Zoo in 2009, and the calf’s father, “Harry,” are first time parents.
Nursery keepers give Dale a bottle every three hours from 6am – midnight, and Blakely provides socialization and teaches certain behaviors through play. He has provided this service for a cheetah, an ocelot, bat-eared foxes, an aardvark, a warthog and brother wallabies (see 2014 TODAY.com story on Blakely’s nanny work). Dale will remain in the nursery with Blakely for the next few weeks and join the other takins in Wildlife Canyon in the fall.
Takins are large, muscular, hoofed mammals that reside in mountainous bamboo forests. Native to the Himalayas and Western China, they weigh anywhere between 550 and 770 pounds, and have a height range between 3 and 4 feet. Both males and females have unique horns that curve backwards and outwards, and range between 10 and 12 inches in length. Takins generally live for 12 to 15 years and have a diet of grasses, leaves, buds, and shoots. They are most active in the early morning and late afternoon, using their split hooves to move easily over the rocky terrain. Their main predators are bears and wolves which they ward off with low roars and bellows.
Dale’s arrival marks the Zoo’s seventh live takin birth. The Cincinnati Zoo is one of only 17 institutions in the U.S. that houses takins. Check them out in Wildlife Canyon, and come meet Dale and Blakely in the Zoo’s nursery located in the Children’s Zoo!