It’s been nearly 30 years since the Oakland Zoo has experienced the joy of an eland birth, so keepers were very excited on April 21st when after a 9 month gestation, one of our young female eland, Etana, gave birth to a healthy female calf. Etana began her labor in the early afternoon and almost exactly 3 hours later she gave birth to her first calf, a daughter named Bali. Eland have extremely precocious young and Bali was up on all 4 feet and nursing within 30 minutes of being born!
Common eland are a species that “tucks” during the first 10 to 14 days after birth, with calves lying extremely still and hidden in vegetation to hide from predators. For the first week Bali spent most of the day hidden, curled up in a tiny little ball in a big straw bed. She would stand to nurse and play and then immediately “tuck” herself right back into her favorite hiding spot. Common eland calves grow very quickly, due in large part to the nutritiously rich milk provided by their mother. Eland milk is twice as fattening as the milk of domestic cattle! We have been immensely enjoying this great privilege of having a front row seat to Bali’s growth and development. At just 3 days old we saw her learn how to coordinate the movement of all 4 legs as she began bucking, running, and leaping about. As a prey species, eland calves have to develop very quickly. At just 6 days old we saw Bali start to munch her first solid food, sampling the fresh weeds picked for her and her mom. As the days passed Bali showed great coordination, hopping about and cornering on a dime, and she stopped hiding and began following her mother throughout the day.
When she was 13 days old we decided it was time to introduce her to the big exhibit and the rest of her animal family.
Bali ventured onto the Veldt to meet the rest of the eland herd, her aunties Bella and Kashka, as well as our Dama Gazelle, Bhoke. Leaving the nursery area and moving to the big exhibit was filled with firsts for Baby Bali. She had room to run, waterfalls and pools to explore, rocks to climb, and many other big adventures! Bali demonstrated the eland’s remarkable running speed and agility while galloping and leaping across the Veldt with her herd. Adult eland have been clocked running at speeds up to 42mph, and can easily jump heights of over 5 feet. At 14 days old Bali was introduced to the giraffe and she did very well! The younger giraffe spent some time investigating and chasing her, curious about this new baby, but after some initial fireworks everyone is getting along splendidly.
On your next trip to the zoo visit us on the African Veldt and enjoy this unique opportunity to see some great natural behaviors in our eland herd, as well as some fascinating interactions between different species. Please come by Oakland’s own mini safari and help us welcome our newest little addition!
Keepers Amy and Sara