Additions Amp Cheer at The Living Desert

By Frieda Noone

One of the new addax calves and its mother enjoy a moment at The Living Desert.

One of the new addax calves and its mother enjoy a moment at The Living Desert.

PALM DESERT – A joyful several weeks of new life have unfolded at The Living Desert, with two female addax born within two weeks of each other. Lucky visitors were able to observe the births of the calves in as they both occurred during the day in October and November.

The births were the successful result of The Living Desert’s addax breeding program. Both of the mothers, Midori and Asani, were bred by the park’s male breeder, Mozzarella. Midori’s calf weighed 6.3 kilograms and Asani’s calf weighed 6.5 kilograms. The two calves passed their well-baby exams and are now on exhibit with the park’s other four addax. They will be named after zookeepers have had an opportunity to observe their personalities.

“It’s always exciting when new life is born here, and having two addax born within two weeks of each other was especially thrilling,” said Stacey Johnson, president / CEO of The Living Desert. “These two amazing antelope are sure to fascinate our visitors with their unique traits and personalities.”

Although critically endangered and extremely rare in their native habitat of the Sahara desert due to unregulated hunting, the addax does well in captivity. Also known as the white antelope and the screwhorn antelope, the addax has long, twisted horns that have two to three twists and are typically 22 to 31 inches long. Addax are a buffy white with a tuft of longer brown hair on top of the head. The hue of its remaining coat changes with the seasons, turning grayish brown in the winter and almost completely white or sandy blonde in the summer.

Addaxes are nocturnal and well adapted to living in the Sahara, since they can live without water for long periods of time. They mainly eat grasses, bushes and leaves. They have a strong social structure and herds are led by the oldest female.

The Living Desert also has announced the arrival of Shilo, a three-and-a-half-year-old fossa, to the zoo’s 400-plus wildlife population. The fossa was acquired from the North Dakota Zoo in Bismarck through the Species Survival Plan of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

“Shilo is a beautiful fossa, our first, and we’re thrilled to have her join our wildlife population,” said Johnson. “Fossas are an endangered species, and fascinating mammals. We’re looking forward to learning what she’ll teach us about her species.”

Shilo weighed approximately 13 pounds upon arrival at The Living Desert and is currently in special care and quarantine to monitor her health, well-being and behavior in the new surroundings. Fossas are only found in the forests of Madagascar and belong to a unique family of Malagasy carnivores.

Many people became acquainted with fossas in the 2005 DreamWorks animated film “Madagascar,” in which they were humorously portrayed as the villains in the movie. They are extraordinary acrobats, with a long tail that enables them to move so swiftly amongst tree branches.

The Living Desert, located 47900 Portola Avenue, is dedicated to conservation and education. For more info, call 760.346.5694 or visit livingdesert.org.

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