02 09/02/2017

Keepers step in to hand-rear orphaned antelope calf at Chester Zoo

Keepers at Chester Zoo have stepped in to raise a young antelope.

The tiny Kirk’s dik-dik is being bottle fed by staff five times a day following the sad death of its mum, who passed away not long after giving birth to the now 19-centimetre tall youngster.

He will be given a helping hand until he is old enough to eat by himself.

Dik dik at Chester Zoo

Assistant team manager Kim Wood and keeper Barbara Dreyer have both been playing ‘mum’ to the new arrival, who has been named Thanos. He is currently so light he doesn’t register a weight on the zoo’s set of antelope scales. 

Kim said: 

The youngster is beginning to find his feet now and is really starting to hold his own. He is doing ever so well and is getting stronger by the day. We’re hopeful that, in a few months’ time, we’ll be able to introduce him to some of the other members of our group of dik-diks.

He may be tiny but he is certainly making a big impression on everyone at the zoo.

Kirk’s dik-diks grow to a maximum size of just 40cm, making them one of the smallest species of antelope in the world.

The species takes its name from Sir John Kirk, a 19th century Scottish naturalist, as well as the sound it makes when fleeing from danger.

Kirk’s dik-diks are native to North East Africa and conservationists say they mark their territory with fluid from glands between their toes and just under their eyes, not dissimilar to tears.