The little female calf is in good health and developing well. In accordance with the zoo’s alphabetical naming by year of birth system (all animals born in 2023 will be given names beginning with "X"), the zookeepers decided on the catchy name "Xankysha". Joy at Hellabrunn Zoo: The greater kudu calf is now strong enough to join the herd in the enclosure. She was previously too small to do this in the first few weeks after birth and had been lying in the stable where she was regularly visited by her mother. In the wild, kudu calves lie motionless in thick grass or undergrowth until they are strong enough to follow their mother and herd. During this time, mother and calf are only together for a few minutes each day when the young offspring is suckled.
"For the mum, Xankysha is her first born, so she was a bit restless and a little excited when the zookeepers came into the stable the next morning," says Carsten Zehrer, curator and head of zoology at Hellabrunn Zoo. “The calf weighed 14.2 kilos at birth and has developed very well. The mum is doing a great job looking after her little one and the other members of the herd also reacted positively to the offspring on their first stroll together in the enclosure.”
Zoo director Rasem Baban adds: "We are delighted to receive this wonderful news about the healthy African antelope species calf. We have been observing the Kudu offspring very closely over the past few weeks with the help of our colleagues from animal care and the veterinary team. The greater kudu is not endangered in its homeland - nevertheless, they are great ambassadors for urgently needed nature and species conservation on the savannahs of Central, East and South Africa."
Greater kudus are among the largest antelopes on Earth and certainly one of the most beautiful. Their coats are decorated with white vertical stripes along their torso. Other distinguishing features include a white chevron which runs between the eyes and large, round ears. Adult males have corkscrew horns that can reach a length of over one metre. The horns begin to grow between the ages of 6-12 months at a rate of a half a twist a year until the age of six when they reach two and a half twists and are fully grown. The bulls also have a luxuriant beard and neck mane. The large antelopes are fast runners and can leap over obstacles up to three metres high.
In their native homeland in eastern and southern Africa, the greater kudus’ natural habitat is sparely wooded savannahs. At Hellabrunn Zoo, the antelopes live in a spacious outdoor enclosure, which they share with the Hartmann's mountain zebra, the common eland and three female ostriches.
Importance for humans
Greater kudus are hunted for meat and kept on game farms or cattle ranches. Here, they do not compete with other livestock for food as they have a different diet, but instead complement them. Unlike cattle and sheep, kudus are not grazers.