03 12/03/2013

Tiny dik-dik antelope makes a big impact at Chester Zoo

The zoo curator who is hand-rearing mini antelope who is not much taller than a TV remote and weighs little more than a bag of sugar.

Dik Dik Hand-reared

All images © Peter Byrne/Press Association

She stands just a few centimetres tall but this tiny new arrival at Chester Zoo is making a big impression. Aluna, the tiny Kirk’s dik-dik antelope, is not much taller than a TV remote.

For now, she is being bottle-fed milk five times a day by the zoo’s dedicated curator of mammals after she failed to bond with her mother. She will be given a helping hand until she is old enough to tuck into a diet of buds, shoots and fruit on her own.

Dik Dik Hand-reared - Tim Rowlands

Playing ‘parent’ to the zoo’s tiny new addition is Tim Rowlands. He said:

“Our little one is growing stronger and stronger by the day and, all being well, it shouldn’t be too long until she‘ll be able to really hold her own. For the time being though her feed times are staggered through the day and she has her first bottle in my living room at home at around 7am. I then pop her into the car and bring her to work where she has another three feeds in my office. Finally, her last one is at 10pm back at my house.

“She’s already pretty quick on her feet and gives us quite the run around in the office. That’s why we’ve called here Aluna which means ‘come here’ in Swahili. It’s rather apt!”

Native to Kenya, Tanzania and Namibia, the dik-dik gets its name from the noise it makes when running for cover. They can live for up to 10 years and reach a maximum size of just 40cm tall, making it one of the smallest antelope species in the world.

Dik Dik Hand-reared - bottle fed


Notes to editors

• Aluna weighs little more than a bag of sugar, around 1.2kgs. At birth she was 700g
• She is 22cms (8 inches) tall
• Kirk’s dik-dik are one of the world’s smallest antelope species
• They lives in a variety of habitats such as woodlands and grasslands
• Only the males have horns