The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore is welcoming its newest baby, a male sitatunga calf born on Sunday, September 10, 2017. The calf, which has been named Marcus, was born to four-year-old Mousse and sired by one-year-old Chopper. He currently weighs seventeen pounds and is quite healthy.
“The baby is nursing well, and Mousse has been very attentive to his needs, which we expected as she is an experienced mother,” stated Erin Cantwell, mammal collection and conservation manager at the Zoo. “The two are just beginning to meet others in the herd and explore the outdoor behind-the-scenes area together. We hope that zoo visitors will able to spot Mousse and Marcus in the sitatunga yard next to the tortoises beginning this week!”
The sitatunga (Tragelaphus spekii) is a species of antelope native to Central Africa. They live in semi-aquatic swamps, marshes and flood plains. Outside of protected areas, sitatunga are vulnerable to over-hunting and habitat loss, as people drain and develop swamp land. Currently, sitatunga are not classified as threatened or endangered. The Maryland Zoo’s sitatunga herd is made up of nine animals, including the new calf, and can be found in two exhibit spaces along the boardwalk in the African Journey section of the Zoo.
The calf’s birth was the result of a recommendation from the Sitatunga Species Survival Plan (SSP) coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). SSPs provide breeding recommendations to maximize genetic diversity, with the goal of ensuring health of the individual animal, as well as the long-term survival of the species population to help save animals from extinction.