The fuzzyheaded newborn, who is just 10 inches tall, “has won over everyone” at England’s Chester Zoo

By Pearl Chen
January 26, 2010 06:16 PM

A chilly start to life for a baby antelope is warming up quite nicely thanks to the care of handlers at England’s Chester Zoo.

Believed to be abandoned by her mother because of dropped temperatures, this Kirk’s dik-dik antelope is now being hand-reared by dedicated zoo staff. “Mum was doing a good job, but the cold spell of weather had an effect on [her maternal instincts], we think,” the zoo’s PR and Media Manager Rachael Ashton tells PEOPLEPets.com. “It’s probably unlikely” that Mama deer will pick up her caretaking duties again, adds senior keeper Helen Massey to Sky News.

Not to worry, little one. As the first dik-dik born (on Dec. 16, 2009) at the largest zoo in the U.K., the as yet unnamed baby has no shortage of attention. Her parents – brought from Colchester and Hanover zoos in 2008 – may not be around, but she’s in good hands.

Massey bottle-feeds the baby five times a day. The tiny antelope’s diet includes hay and a nutritious concentrate that will temporarily stand in for the fruits, buds, and shoots usually consumed by her species. Until she’s old enough for that staple, she’ll be given a helping hand and lots of warmth. Says Massey: “Our addition is growing stronger by the day, and we hope she will be holding her own in the next few weeks.”

Among the smallest of the antelope species, Kirk’s dik-diks are native to Kenya, Tanzania, and Namibia. They got their name from the noise they make when running for cover, and they mate for life.

“What they lack in stature, they make up for in appeal,” Massey says. The baby, who only stands about 10 inches now, won’t grow too much more: Forty centimeters (16 inches) is roughly the maximum height for these animals. Their lifespan is about a decade.

The fuzzyheaded newborn is not only in good health but is quickly capturing hearts. “She has won over everyone here at the zoo,” says Ashton. “Everyone is wishing her well.”

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