First-Ever Gerenuk Born At Denver Zoo [VIDEO]

By Staff Reporter on March 23, 2013 3:19 AM EDT

Denver Zoo has welcomed the birth of a baby gerenuk named Blossom.

Blossom, a female, is the first gerenuk (Gair-uh-nook) to have ever been born at the zoo. The antelope was born March 6 to mother Layla and father Woody.

"Blossom has just begun venturing out into her yard and thoroughly enjoys it as she runs and jumps to the delight of her first visitors. Between bursts of speed, though, she likes to catch her breath in a cubby hole between some rocks," zoo officials said in a press release.

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Blossom is the first calf to Layla and she is already proving to be an attentive mother by frequently visiting the calf to clean and check on her, the zoo officials have said.

Layla was born at Disney's Animal Kingdom in Florida in October 2008. In July 2012, she arrived at the Denver Zoo along with her mother Sushaunna. Woody was born at the Los Angeles Zoo in March 2006 and arrived at the Denver Zoo in May 2007. Layla and Woody were paired through the Species Survival Plan (SSP) under recommendation of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The organization proposes which animals should mate so as to ensure that captive animals are healthy and genetically diverse, reports LiveScience.

"Gerenuk (Litocranius walleri)" means "giraffe-necked" in the Somali language. This species of antelopes has a long neck. Their head is small in size, but their ears and eyes are large. They can weigh between 60 and 100 pounds. Gerenuks also have specially designed hips and pelvises that help them stand up completely vertical on their hind legs.

There are about 95,000 gerenuks in the wild. They are native to African countries, including Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Tanzania. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified the species as near threatened, as a result of habitat loss and fragmentation.

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