Moving swiftly from rock to rock, the baby markhor followed shyly behind her mother in front of an anxious crowd waiting to see the Rosamond Gifford Zoo’s newest addition. “Boy, is she fast already,” remarked zoo director Ted Fox of the goat species that is the national animal of Pakistan.
On July 20 at 11:30 a.m., the zoo announced that the first baby markhor in nine years was born and weighed 5.8 pounds. Her name will later be decided, but for now they are referring to her as Baby. “We’re a little superstitious about naming the animals too quickly, especially with a goat that has a lot to learn, maneuvering through the rocks and so forth,” said Fox.
Proud mama Edith stayed close by as her young daughter explored the rocky terrain. It was only a week ago that the baby and her mother were released into the exhibit to adjust to the other two markhor. According to Lorrell Walter, director of public relations at the zoo, Edith has stayed busy concealing the baby behind rocks for protection. Father Sunny also approached the crowd, showing no signs of being intimidated by the onlookers snapping photographs of the new family.
Like many species at the zoo, the markhor is one of the most endangered animals in Central Asia, hunted for their horns, which are sold as trophies on the Asian black market. The population is also on the decline, due to a habitat divided by war. The zoo is home to two of three subspecies of markhor.
“We’ve been working on expanding our herd over the past year, and the addition of some younger animals is allowing us to make valuable contributions to the North American populations,” said Fox. In addition, the zoo is one of 12 zoos in the world that exhibits the markhor and plays an active role in maintaining the studbook for the species. According to Fox, it shouldn’t be long before their other female markhor at the zoo, Dizzy, has a newborn herself.
Baby is on display daily at the zoo, 1 Conservation Place.