Newquay Zoo welcomes two baby nyala antelope
Published: Mar 3, 2017Recently, we welcomed not just one but two baby nyala antelope in to the world. Keepers David Fomm and Tracey Twomey tell us about them...
Recently, we welcomed not just one but two baby nyala antelope in to the world. We have two nyala (pronounced “inYahla”) families here at Newquay Zoo and two females have given birth within a week. The babies are gorgeous!
Nyala generally breed throughout the year, with mating peaks in Spring and Autumn. For these animals, gestation lasts around seven months, and typically a single calf is born. Both our mothers are staying very close to their young, keeping them safe and warm and away from anyone else, which includes us keepers!
Our calves were able to stand within just a few minutes of being born, but (like Bambi) were a little unstable for a period of a few days. We microchip them, sex them within the first 24 hours - they then get a chance to explore their new surroundings.
The males and females look totally different, the males have horns, are slate grey to dark brown in colour with white stripes across their backs and can weigh up to 275 pounds. The females, however, are a bright chestnut colour, similarly with white stripes across their backs but their hair is shorter and can weigh up to 150 pounds.
There is a strong dominance hierarchy among nyala males, being typical males they love to stand up to fellow males and show them who is boss. They stand up tall lifting their tail and lowering their heads whilst moving towards each other. Often resulting in clashing horns to demonstrate their strength and size.
The nyala, also called inyala, are mid-sized members of the antelope family and are native to southern Africa, in the wild they can often live in family groups of up to 10 and usually inhabit a spot not too far from nearby water. Here at Newquay Zoo they live in the Savannah and feed on the Cornish foliage, hay, pellet feed and some fresh spring greens such as cabbage and finely chopped apple.
Our little calves started nibbling on hay almost straight away, but, continue to suckle from Mum until 6 months old. After that they will slowly stop feeding from Mum and eat more solid food. They have been keeping nice and warm in their indoor enclosure (I don’t blame them!) although once they are old enough they will venture outside and start to explore their new surroundings, no doubt with mum very close by.